As of Tuesday, January 18th, Quebecers will need to show their proof of vaccination to buy hard liquor or any product at the SAQ or cannabis from the SQDC.
Christian Dubé, Quebec’s Health Minister, made the announcement in a late morning press conference joined by vaccine program director Daniel Paré and associate deputy health minister Lucie Opatrny. He added that the same rules will apply to some “non-essential” businesses in the future, without being specific on the scope or the timeframe.
Currently, people who have received two vaccine shots and proof through an app or on a printout can enter places like bars and restaurant dining areas (when they are open), but Dubé says that the vaccine passport will soon require three doses to work. He said that the government would give people enough time to get their third shot before implementing the change.
Following the announcement, Quebec Liberal Party Leader Dominique Anglade criticized the Legault Government’s handling of the Omicron variant stage of the pandemic. While her party says it would also cut off the unvaccinated’s access to the SAQ and SQDC, Aglande tweeted (in French) “It feels like we are on a boat without a rudder and without a compass. I call upon François Legault to regain control of the management of the pandemic.”
As of tomorrow night, December 31st, aka New Year’s Eve, Quebec will be under a 10pm to 5am curfew. Restaurant dining areas will also close and home gatherings will be banned, except when it comes to caregivers and people who live alone.
Quebec Premier François Legault made the announcement at an early evening press conference joined by National Director of Public Health Dr. Horacio Arruda and Christian Dubé, the Minister of Health and Social Services.
The premier added that places of worship must close, with the exception of funerals which will be limited to 25 people. Stores, including grocery stores, must close for the next three Sundays except for pharmacies, gas stations and dépanneurs.
Legault admitted that the hospitalization rate for the Omicron COVID-19 variant weren’t as high as other variants such as Delta but said that the record-breaking spread means caution necessitates measures like this. He added that the curfew is necessary because “a minority of people” won’t respect the rules and a curfew just for the unvaccinated would be too hard to enforce.
While the Quebec Government is still allowing home gatherings up to ten people for Christmas, that number drops to six people, or two home bubbles, on Sunday, December 26th. On that same date, restaurants need to only allow six people or two family bubbles sit at the same table.
Quebec Premier François Legault made the announcement at an early evening press conference alongside Christian Dubé, the Minister of Health and Social Services, and National Director of Public Health Dr. Horacio Arruda.
Legault added that while Christmas parties of up to ten people are allowed, he encourages everyone to cancel them if possible and to only go to one (on either the 24th or the 25th). He also said that people over 60 who haven’t received their third vaccine dose are the most vulnerable and should take the most precautions (two meters, open windows, etc.) if going out.
Dubé also said that while cases are skyrocketing (the reason for these measures and the others announced on Monday), they are monitoring the situation in hospitals closely to see if the predictions they received that hospitalizations will increase proportionally come true or if they don’t, as in some other areas with similar vaccination rates.
Legault stressed the importance of vaccination and also testing, but Arruda reminded people that the PCR tests are prioritized for symptomatic people.
While the restrictions announced today weren’t as severe as some were suspecting, the government isn’t ruling out adding more measures.
The COVID-19 pandemic is still very much upon us, and with the Omicron variant spreading like wildfire, I think we can all agree that the Christmas holidays are going to suck this year. That said, no one wants to make things worse by getting slapped with a fine for violating public health rules, or thrown in jail for crimes that are painfully common during the season.
As per what’s become a bit of a Forget the Box holiday tradition, I’m here to help. This article is going to give a crash course on the new Quebec COVID-19 rules in effect as of today, as well as other tips for getting through the holidays in one piece. I’m not a doctor, or a psychologist, I’m just a law school grad who likes to research and help others.
First, let’s talk about the Omicron variant and why it’s driving case numbers up. It is a COVID-19 variant discovered in late November 2021. While research on the variant is ongoing, one thing is clear: it’s spreading fast, and is likely to overtake the Delta variant in the 89 countries it has been detected in, Canada-included.
The numbers in Quebec have gone from less than five hundred cases a day to nearly four thousand a day because of Omicron, and as a result the provincial government has imposed new health measures that started yesterday. Here’s a quick summary (the complete English version of the new rules is available for download on the Quebec government’s website):
As of yesterday, December 20, 2021, at 5pm, primary and secondary schools are closed until January 10, 2022 when in-person schooling is expected to resume for primary school students. Secondary schoolers will be doing remote learning when classes resume. Bars, taverns, gyms, movie theatres, spas and concert venues are closed until further notice. Restaurants are only allowed to operate at 50% capacity and limit their hours from 5 am to 10 pm.
As of when this is being written, religious services must operate at 50% capacity, attendees must remain seated and vaccine passports are required. Weddings and funerals can take place with a maximum of 50 people. For funerals those 50 can be on a rolling basis, meaning once 50 people have paid their respects, another 50 can replace them. If the wedding or funeral does not require a vaccine passport of its attendees, the maximum number allowed drops to 25 people.
For gatherings in private homes, be they with family or chosen family, the current legal limit is ten people, but the government said that may change. If the gathering is outdoors, that number increases to 20 people, but the cold weather will likely deter the latter.
Working from home is now required of all non-essential workers including civil servants. Failure to obey these rules can result in massive fines, and maybe even encounters with the police like the ones that went viral last holiday season.
The non-mandatory recommendations by the government include avoiding social contact. This can be especially hard on one’s mental health, as people always feel lonelier over the holidays when ads are promoting the merits of togetherness.
Try keeping the TV or Youtube or a podcast on to break the painful silence, and take the isolation as an opportunity to brush up on a skill, learn a new one, or take up a new solo hobby. Do not hesitate to seek help if you feel yourself slipping under the strain of new rules and the fear of getting sick, despite your attempts to cope.
Seeking help takes immense courage and you’re not weak if you do so. If you’re in a mental health crisis Call 811 and press two to speak to a social worker who can direct you to mental health services in your area or text 686868 to chat anonymously with a crisis worker for free 24/7.
As of today, rapid tests will be available free every 30 days in certain pharmacies throughout Quebec. In order to adhere to government rules regarding the lowered capacity of stores and other businesses, some chains like Jean Coutu are offering the rapid testing kits only by appointment.
One testing kit is good for up to five tests, and you should absolutely get one. The test is sensitive enough to pick up the infection marker of the virus even if you’re asymptomatic, so taking one right before a holiday gathering might be a good idea, but there’s a shortage of tests so use yours wisely.
Don’t bother with mistletoe this year; given the pandemic, that kind of random kissing is just silly.
When it comes to alcohol and cannabis, the chemicals that make family gatherings tolerable for so many, remember that driving while under the influence is a criminal offense that can result in fines and jail time. If intoxicated, crash with your host, accept a lift home, have someone call a taxi or an Uber for you, but if you’re female or female presenting, it is ill advised to ride the latter two alone, given the history of drivers taking advantage of women under the influence.
Last but not least, let’s talk about fireworks. They’re popular to set off on New Year’s Eve, but they are also extremely dangerous. Asian language news channels seldom censor the consequences of mismanaged fireworks, which show footage of protruding hand bones and fingers blown off.
In Montreal, fireworks must be handled by someone over the age of 18, and it is illegal to hold fireworks once the fuse is lit. It is also illegal to set off fireworks in windy conditions or in a location where they’ll fly over an audience; for more information check out of the City of Montreal’s website.
The holidays are once again being ruined by the pandemic, but with a few precautions, we can perhaps make them a little less awful. Stay safe, stay sane, wear a mask, and get vaccinated.
Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noël, Feliz Navidad, and Maligayang Pasko!
Featured Image by Joe Buckingham via WikiMedia Commons
As of 5pm today, bars, gyms, movie theatres, performance venues, casinos as well as elementary and high schools in Quebec must close. Meanwhile, restaurant dining areas can only be open from 5am to 10pm.
Christian Dubé, Minister of Health and Social Services, made the announcement just a few hours before the new regulations come into effect. He did so in a virtual press conference joined by the National Director of Public Health Dr. Horacio Arruda and Quebec vaccination program head Daniel Paré.
Today was the day when the restrictions announced on Thursday came into effect with Quebec stores, restaurants and other businesses limited to 50% capacity and private gatherings limited to 10 people.
The government says that these additional restrictions are necessary because the Omicron Variant of COVID-19 is spreading way faster than they anticipated even on Thursday and they are expecting that to mean increased hospitalizations.
As of Monday, businesses in Quebec, including stores, restaurants, cinemas, and bars, will once again be limited to 50% capacity. Private gatherings will also be limited to ten people, including for the holidays.
Quebec Premier François Legault made the announcement at an early evening press conference and cited the increased spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, claiming that experts have told him hospitalizations will increase unless contact is limited.
Mask wearing will be required in schools again. After the holidays, primary schools will re-open when planned, but high schools will be remote until January 10th.
Office Christmas parties, karaoke and dancing will also be banned as of Monday.
Jason C. McLean and Special Guest Dawn McSweeney discuss some of the big news stories of the week including the first person sent home because of Bill 21, a subreddit thwarting Kellogg’s plans to hire scab workers and more. Plus a Legault rant!
There is currently quite a buzz about climate change, especially in light of the recent COP26 talks.
Protesters outside COP26 demanded climate action, while world leaders primarily negotiated climate goals and funding mechanisms at COP26. In other words, they talked.
What COP26 really was, was an exercise in international goal-setting, not really in policy-making, as we see via COP26’s focus on incentives and goals rather than action. World leaders have now gone home from COP26 to formulate proactive solutions and policies on their own. Although COP26 did seem to bring about an increased honest willingness to save some forests and reduce coal consumption, this is far from enough to curb global warming to COP26’s goal of 1.5 degrees.
Genuine and dedicated protesters of course were right to be there but will do better to keep up their efforts aimed at their respective governments at home, as that is where climate action begins and needs their pressure in order to be implemented.
For the time being, governments will need to take action themselves in order to accomplish COP26’s 1.5 degree goal. Protesters should keep up the pressure to encourage climate change bills to be at least presented in legislatures on an ongoing basis, as likely those that do pass worldwide will be seen as seminal to solving climate issues.
Very recently Trudeau and world leaders have shown they are entirely capable of taking bold action to solve a crisis, as they did to fight the Covid pandemic. They must now become at least as bold working to keep everyone safe from climate change as they were bold working to keep everyone safe from Covid.
Trudeau can begin shifting from talk to action by adopting energy transition strategies that have long been shifting countries such as Germany and Sweden from majority fossil-fuel based energy production to renewable energy production. This will utilize COP26 promises as a basis for directing policies, subsidies and mandates toward building more power generation from hydro, wind and solar.
Canada will need to build better power-sharing infrastructure as well, such as a true east-west power grid in Canada. This way daily peak energy demand on our energy grid can be offset by energy produced geographically where peak demand has passed or not yet arrived. Canada is geographically large enough for this to work.
Action needs to be bold enough to take the form of direct laws, as it has been for a long time with regards to transportation when we mandated catalytic converters on all new cars and improved fuel economy, to reduce pollution and greenhouse gases.
Canada must now do the same for housing as it did transportation: New home construction needs to be mandated to include geothermal heating and cooling systems, solar panels, green roofs and better insulation. This type of mandate upon the construction industry is nothing new as the existence of electric and fire codes prove.
Urban planning and zoning must be focused away from single-detached homes and towards low-rise multiplexes such as townhouses and triplexes. This housing style reduces distances and therefore carbon intensity for everything from transportation to water infrastructure to fire response.
Heat loss is also reduced. Personal front and back yards remain, unlike in high-rise developments which result in anonymity potentially dangerous corridors, and dependence on elevators and building management.
As batteries are currently deemed to be the future solution to transportation, to power electric vehicles, subsidies already provided to automobile manufacturing and high-tech should now require battery innovation, production and safe end-of-life cycle recycling and disposal take place domestically. This will ensure jobs, supply and innovation in Canada.
Products such as paper and cardboard need to be legislated to be made of recycled materials only. This will force use of material municipal recycling programs already collect but then leave unused, while reducing the logging of trees and expenditures of re-planting forests. Plastic packaging needs to be eliminated and replaced with biodegradable paper and material as plastics are not only very polluting as waste products, but are also very carbon intensive to produce.
The farming industry needs to be reformed to be able to produce more food organically, as fertilizers and pesticides are carbon-intensive and cause many other negative environmental externalities such as soil nutrient depletion.
Finally, we will have to begin making oil and gas companies partners in fighting climate change as they currently produce and deliver most of Canada’s energy. These companies will have to acknowledge that the oil and gas products they sell have no long-term future, and their survival depends on their switching to generating and delivering renewable power instead. They must be clearly mandated to do so, and as such, some subsidies to them may be required.
Trudeau and world leaders have a plethora of climate solutions to choose from, and Canada is already far enough behind other countries in many fields. Nevertheless, the media attention and protests generated by COP26 demonstrate a great enthusiasm for climate change initiatives. If such enthusiasm can be focused toward every government at every level, and better yet also at passing individual specific bills that address climate change, climate talks would lead to far more climate action.
Featured Image Via COP26 on Flickr Creative Commons
And she had reason to celebrate. Not only did Plante get re-elected Mayor of Montreal with a higher percentage of the vote than she got in 2017, her party Projet Montréal increased its seat count in City Council by three. Projet will now control 11 of the city’s 19 boroughs as well.
“Montrealers confirmed 2017 was not a fluke,” Plante said in her victory speech, “but the beginning of an era … and that you can lead the city of Montreal with a smile.”
Projet’s Incumbent Re-Election Streak Continues
One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that when a Projet candidate wins a new council seat or borough mayorship, they generally get re-elected. The only time this doesn’t seem to work is when they switch parties before running in the next election (former leader Richard Bergeron, anyone?). That incumbent re-election streak continued, for the most part, last night, and now we can add Mayor of Montreal to the positions it encompasses.
Projet’s dominance in the Plateau, Rosemont and Sud-Ouest continues for the third (and fourth, in the case of the first two boroughs mentioned) election in a row. And now Verdun is squarely in the Projet column (Antoine Richard, Borough Mayor candidate for Denis Coderre’s Ensemble Montréal, and his recent sketchy real estate dealings may have played some part in that).
Outremont, on the other hand, goes against this incumbency narrative with Projet only retaining one of the two Borough Council seats they won in 2017 and incumbent Borough Mayor Philipe Tomlinson of Projet losing to Ensemble’s Laurent Desbois. It’s by only 23 votes, so there will probably be a recount.
The Montgomery/Plante Saga is Over (Maybe) and CDN/NDG Makes History
Montreal’s most populous borough, Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (CDN-NDG) had become the most controversial and most difficult to call. Sue Montgomery was elected Borough Mayor under the Projet banner in 2017, but after a very public booting from the Projet caucus and subsequent court cases, she formed her own borough-specific party Courage to run to keep the same job.
Projet nominated Gracia Kasoki Katahwa, the first black woman Administration Council of the Ordre des infirmières du Québec, as their candidate to replace her. Meanwhile, former interim opposition leader (when Coderre was in the private sector) Lionel Perez became the Ensemble candidate for the job.
At first, on Election Night, it looked like Perez had won. Several networks and other media outlets even called the race for him. But then on Monday morning, as the final votes were being counted, his lead started to shrink and just before noon, Kasoki Katahwa was declared the winner by just 83 votes, making history as the first Black woman elected to a mayorship in Montreal.
Projet had re-won the control it got in the borough in 2017. Peter McQueen was handily re-elected to his fourth consecutive mandate as City Councilor for NDG and Magda Popeanu to her third in CDN. Despina Sourias won her first mandate in Loyola, but the party’s second in that district (Christian Arseneault had won Loyola as the Projet candidate in 2013 before leaving the party and withdrawing from the election).
With Borough Mayor, Projet continued its incumbent re-election streak. Plante found out about Kasoki Katahwa’s win during a press conference, delcaring “CDN-NDG, we’re coming home!” and added that the party’s plan for the borough had been “interrupted” last mandate.
As for Montgomery, she finished fourth in the Borough Mayor race behind Kashoki Katahwa, Perez and Matthew Kerr, candidate for Balarama Holness’ Mouvement Montréal party. None of the Courage candidates were elected.
If you add Montgomery’s votes (3087) to Kashoki Katahwa’s (11 940), you get 15 027, which is close to the 14 463 votes Plante got in CDN-NDG for Mayor of Montreal. So most of those who voted Montgomery at the Borough Mayor level probably also voted Plante at the City Mayor level, meaning Montgomery could have been a spoiler for Perez if 84 people had stayed home.
But that didn’t happen. And now CDN-NDG has made history.
Coderre, Montrealers Just Aren’t That Into You
While Plante said this vote proved Projet’s victory four years ago wasn’t a fluke, it also proved that Montreal voters rejecting Denis Coderre in 2017 wasn’t just a momentary case of bad election timing following the disaster of the Formula-e, but rather a rejection of his whole arrogant tenure as Mayor.
The pit bull ban, the fake granite tree stumps, abusing his power as Ville-Marie Borough Mayor to block car sharing (even though people in the borough had resoundingly voted for other people for Mayor and the destruction of nightlife. And that’s just the old 2017 Coderre.
The new 2021 Denis Coderre, who claimed to have learned from his mistakes, made a slew of new ones during the campaign. There was the promise of skyscrapers taller than the Mountain, the pledge to put the John A. MacDonald statue back in Place du Canada and the plan to ban drinking in parks after 8pm…all of which he backtracked on.
And then there was the Verdun Borough Mayor candidate who had been engaging in sketchy, though not technically illeagal, practices as a real estate agent but Coderre kept on his ticket. Plus the revelation that Coderre himself was on the payroll of reno-victing giant Cogir during his four-year break from politics.
Coderre always saw Montreal Mayor as a consolation prize and one he was entitled to. After being a Cabinet Minister and then ceding Federal Liberal leadership to Justin Trudeau, he should at least have this.
Dirty politics and Montreal have always gone hand-in-hand, that wasn’t going to change in the long run. This random chick from Abitibi got lucky, but things would soon be back to normal.
He wasn’t really trying. Not when he was Mayor and not during this campaign. The arrogance and entitlement were palpable. Until it was too late.
If Coderre stays on as Leader of the Opposition this time, I’ll be stunned. If he doesn’t but tries to run again next time, I’ll be less stunned. If he does that and his party accepts him back, well, the loss is really on them.
By now, I hope Denis Coderre realizes that Montreal is not a consolation prize and that Montrealers, or at least Montreal voters, really aren’t that into him. And that the only fluke was when Mélanie Joly split the progressive and anti-establishment vote in 2013 and he won.
Balarama Holness Says He’s Here to Stay
Speaking of Joly and vote-splitting then jumping to Federal politics, that’s exactly what I suspected Balarama Holness might be after. However, now that the dust has settled, I realize that the Mouvement Montréal leader didn’t end up being a spoiler for either Coderre or Plante.
Also, his co-candidate was Idil Issa in Peter-McGill, the same district Joly should have picked for hers if she had wanted to stay in municipal politics. If your co-candidate wins their council seat but you aren’t elected Mayor, you get to take their seat.
While Joly’s candidate in Peter-McGill did win, she had placed her co-candidate in NDG against the heavily-favoured McQueen, ensuring there was nothing holding her back from a Federal run if she didn’t get the top job in the city. Holness, on the other hand, chose a running-mate in a district where she had a shot.
Unfortunately, neither Issa nor any other Ensemble candidate won a seat. It wasn’t the best first outing for a new party vote-wise, but they and Holness did impress me by bringing some new ideas to the table such as the City-State and defunding the police. Overall, he helped push Plante and Projet closer to their base (something they probably would have done on their own, but he helped).
Holness says he plans to stay in Montreal and I welcome that decision. His biggest critique of Plante and Projet wasn’t the direction they wanted to head in, but that they weren’t getting there fast enough.
With four years to build his party and critique City Hall from the sidelines of power while growing stronger roots in various communities, he could have a much stronger showing next time. He’s already got the debating chops and the ideas, his party just needs to work on their ground game and get-out-the-vote.
The real winner this year is Montreal. Not only did we dodge the Coderre bullet (that would have been a disaster, and one we already experienced at that), but we decided to make the major political shift of 2017 stick and continue, at least for another four years. We’re not going back to business-as-usual.
Yes, that’s an odd thing to say when we’re talking about a slew of incumbent victories, but the business-as-usual I’m referring to is the way the city operated for decades leading up to 2017. Four years ago we rejected the cronyism, corporatism and paternalism that has governed our city since before I was born. The faces changed, the direction didn’t.
Four years ago we opted for an approach that emphasizes affordable, livable communities, ecologically sustainable development and international participation on our terms, not on our dime. Did Plante and Projet get everything right? No. Especially when it came to diversity and use of the police.
But they have taken steps to improve and fix their mistakes and are still headed on the same path. And Montrealers decided to vote for another four years on that path instead of regressing, And for that reason, Montreal is the real winner of the election.
As Plante said, it wasn’t a fluke, but the beginning of an era.
As Montrealers head to the polls for the second day in a row (and the fourth nonconsecutive day if you count the advanced voting last weekend) to choose their next mayor, city council, borough councils and borough mayors, we’re announcing the results of our poll. FTB readers have, once again, chosen Valérie Plante of Projet Montréal as the next Mayor of Montreal.
The incumbent mayor handily won the poll with 313 votes, beating former mayor Denis Coderre’s 194 votes, which landed the Ensemble Montréal leader in second place. First-time contender Balarama Holness, who entered both the mayoral race and our poll later than the other two, finished third with 30 votes.
The other candidates for Mayor of Montreal barely registered, if they did at all. None of the Above and Undecided got 24 and 22 votes respectively.
These results are close, proportionally at least, to the most recent actual election polls. Also, FTB readers endorsed Plante in 2017 as well, making it the first time our largely progressive readership aligned with the actual results of an election (federal, provincial or municipal).
Will that be the case again tonight after all the votes have been counted? We’ll have to wait and see.
While I don’t pretend to know why people responding to our poll voted the way they did, I also voted for Plante and Projet Montréal and personally endorse both her and them. So I can at least offer a few reasons why, which could align with the thinking of FTB readers:
With better environmental planning (including newer parks and green spaces which also facilitate walking around town), improved access to public transit and eliminating roadblocks to a happy society like police quotas, Plante and Projet had quite a few positive accomplishments over the past four years.
Plante and Projet handled the COVID-19 pandemic response as well as any municipal government in Quebec could. While relief benefits to individuals and lockdowns were in the hands of the Federal and Provincial governments respectively, the city’s public health department’s contract tracing efforts helped curve the third wave and Montreal had lower numbers proportionally than other parts of Quebec. Plante also made a number of major streets pedestrian-only during the summer to help local restaurants and bars attract more local business with terrasses.
While her administration had its flaws, which many people, including myself, have pointed out over the past four years, overall, they are headed in a more forward-thinking and progressive direction.
Denis Coderre, the principal opponent, was (and would be) a disaster. Just remember the Formula-e, the pit bull ban and all that spending for the 375eme (tree stumps, etc.). Now factor in his work, when not in power, for a reno-viction giant and you know where his priorities will lie. While many have criticized (and rightly so) Plante’s approach to homelessness, a Coderre administration promises to create more homeless through reno-victions.
While Balarama Holness has some good progressive ideas and wants to go further than Plante on some of what Projet has done and is proposing (his main criticism of the Mayor isn’t her ideas, but that she hasn’t made them all happen), he doesn’t seem to have the ground game to come close to winning and the prospect of four more years of Coderre is just too great a risk.
Well, that’s how I see it and how the majority of our readers responding to our poll voted, the real choice is up to Montrealers tonight. We’ll announce the winner and provide analysis in the next few days.
Featured Image via ProjetMontreal.org
If you haven’t already voted in the actual 2021 Montreal Municipal Election, you have until 8pm tonight. Find out where on the Elections Montreal website
Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney just watched the English Debate between Valérie Plante, Denis Coderre and Balarama Holness and share their thoughts on it and the 2021 Montreal Municipal Election (November 6th and 7th)
It’s official. Quebecers who want to use certain services or take part in certain activities deemed “non-essential” need to present proof of being adequately vaccinated against COVID-19 to do so. Quebec is the first Canadian province to implement a COVID vaccine passport, but with Ontario, BC and Manitoba working on their own systems, it won’t be the last.
People will also need to present ID along with the passport.
Where Do You Need the Quebec Vaccine Passport?
There is a rather extensive list of where vaccine passports are now required on the Quebec Government’s website. Here are just some of the places and activities:
Restaurants (including fast food and on terrasses)
Bars (including on terrasses)
Shopping mall food courts
Outdoor sports with close contact
Outdoor concerts, sporting events, shows and other events with over 50 people in attendance
Indoor weight lifting, swimming and gymnastics (ie. going to the gym)
There are some exemptions, for example, homeless people who want to eat at shopping mall food courts.
How Do You Get the Quebec Vaccine Passport?
Android users (as of yesterday) and iPhone users can download the “VaxiCode” app from either the Google Play Store or the App Store. Make sure to include the quotation marks when searching for it as it is a rather new app.
Once installed on your phone, you can either scan the QR code you were sent after your second vaccine shot or enter information and have the app locate your vax info. You’ll need to enter your name, date of birth, Medicare card number, mother’s maiden name, father’s name, postal code and the date of your first vax shot along with its brand.
Once the info is located and successfully added, you’ll be able to open up the app, click on your name and display the new QR code generated, along with your ID, to staff at the restaurant you wish to sit down at, or wherever else you want to go. You can also forgo using a phone and print a paper copy of your QR code (business card size is recommended, as is getting it laminated).
At some point a duck needs to be called a duck: Any reliable source will show that Canada’s real estate market has been inflating proportionately higher than all other economic sectors for the past 20 years or so. If we look at the real cause and real effects of this, we’ll see very easily that no one, including the middle class, have to be left behind, problems such as homelessness can be greatly alleviated, and all that has to change is for government to do a better job of managing the economy.
Simply reading the definition of the term ‘hyperinflation’ on an economics site plainly shows that the real estate sector in Canada qualifies. Canada, like most western democracies, has been increasing its money supply while lowering interest rates since the 2008 financial crisis and even since the dot com boom and bust in 2000.
As is cultural practice and tradition, the middle class has been moving more and more of what is available to them of this new and cheaper money into real estate. This increase in money availability of course increases demand while flow of course raises prices.
The easy money and low interest rates also attract international investors into the sector, who in turn drive up prices even higher and faster. Of note is that a few recent policies, in Vancouver and Toronto for example, have finally begun to target international real estate speculators in Canada.
Where does this new money come from? The Bank of Canada, of course. Like all western democracies, Canadian currency is managed by a central bank with the goals of maintaining a healthy economy and keeping inflation low but still positive.
To do this in the past two decades, the Bank of Canada has had to increase the overall money supply and lower interest rates to such a degree that as a side effect it has substantially contributed to pushing Canada’s real estate sector into hyperinflation mode. Now, the Bank of Canada of course does not choose to or have the goal of facilitating hyperinflation in any sector, and of course not one as important as Canada’s real estate market.
Let’s ask why our central bank, which always acts in the public interest generally, has been increasing the money supply and keeping interest rates historically absurdly low. The reason is the overall poor management of the economy. Who manages the economy? Government, of course. The central bank is only a reactionary institution to overall economic trends and not a policy setter itself, all proactive policy is set by government.
Successive federal, provincial and municipal governments have been serving the needs of investors above and beyond those of the general population. When this happens, investors are put at the helm of the whole economy and any problem with the investor class needs to be solved above all problems.
If the stock market crashes or there is a dot com boom and bust or an international financial crisis, investors are propped up by subsidies and policies by governments with almost no questions asked. Central banks don’t have much choice but to follow suit and prop up investors as it has become their sole means of saving the overall economy.
All three levels of government have been serving investors above all, from federal corporate welfare and industry-specific subsidies at the provincial level, to permits, zoning changes and subsidizing gentrification at the municipal level. This policy direction from governments has itself also contributed to real estate hyperinflation through increasing the availability of investment capital for real estate purchases, increasing pressure for apartments to be converted into condos and for land to be sold to real estate developers.
The middle class acts as a whole with one of their primary or main goals remaining home ownership. They divert more and more of their disposable income into real estate, furthering the upward spiral of real estate prices and rendering much of them ‘house-poor’ and otherwise lowering their consumer purchasing power until their home is finally paid off.
As government funds are diverted to investors, fewer funds proportionately are available for public services. Health care and schools suffer, just for example. People become less healthy and educated negligibly on a yearly basis, but considerably over time.
Advocates and activists for societal causes such as homelessness have fewer resources while the number of homeless increases. The reduced availability of affordable apartments due to gentrification and condoization further causes an increase in homelessness. Hyperinflation in the housing market forces some middle class members to entirely abandon home ownership and choose rental apartments instead, further crowding out those in the rental market and increasing homelessness further.
While it is true that profit and investment gains are ultimately good for everyone, this goodness is allotted extremely unequally, with top investors benefitting greatly and lower income earners benefitting almost negligibly. The middle class can be easily persuaded to feel good about their investment gains while reaping a proportionately low percentage of these gains and having to divert increasingly larger amounts of their budgets toward housing. Government overly pandering to investors therefore causes the economy to be incapable of providing conditions favourable to universally affordable housing.
The simple subsidizing of social housing is often cited as a key solution by activists in response to this situation. This is a band-aid only, at best, as causal problems are not solved. The best long-term solution would be a large-scale shift in political momentum toward long-term investment in everyone’s health, education and well-being, which will create a society of more innovation, able and productive people.
Increasing funding of public services while simultaneously reducing funding of the investor class re-allocates resources from inflationary and already well-off recipients, to include disadvantaged and potentially seminal ones. Creating broad improvements in prosperity and economic conditions rather than simply inflating investment values requires less central bank corrective intervention, which in turn reduces inflationary pressures on the real-estate sector.
With less real estate inflation, the middle class would once again gradually increase its purchasing power, which in itself is a positive driver of economic conditions, and be able to leave more room in the rental real estate market.
Housing-as-a-human-right type policies can come and go as governments do, election-to-election. Correction of general economic conditions generally outlast any single government mandate and provide the economic conditions necessary for universal housing affordability and solve real estate hyperinflation entirely. Only then will central bank policies be able to be normalized and the housing market will correct.
The investor class must realize that investing in the health and education of everyone will provide them with better employees. Governments must realize that directing public funds to the public, rather than investing in investments, reduces drains on public funds and provides for better economic conditions long-term. The middle class must realize that their own governments are the cause of the real estate hyperinflation they suffer through.
Featured Image: Recreation of the UP balloon house from the National Geographic Channel