As the COVID-19 crisis continues to sweep the nation and the globe, companies across Canada have continued to respond with a number of initiatives designed to support essential workers and foster community connection. There have been countless supply donations for hospitals, free meal initiatives for healthcare workers and long-distance truckers, local support movements in solidarity with local business owners, and more. The individual and corporate responses to the impacts of the virus have been something of a sunbeam during these strange and uncertain times.
As a result, social media has seen a surge in locally-based community trends and hashtags such as #SupportLocal, #ThankATrucker and #CommunityOverCOVID. There have been countless heartwarming stories surrounding local businesses and the people of Calgary – but what does it really mean to support one another in the face of COVID-19? What is #CommunityOverCOVID?
Jeremy Ho, Cofounder of Monogram Coffee, shares the impact of COVID-19 on their day-to-day operations and thanks the people of Calgary for coming together to continue their support.
Since the launch of their original Altadore location in 2015, Monogram has been committed to serving the Calgary community through coffee and has always placed the wellbeing of their customers and team at the forefront. That’s why, in an early effort to minimize the risk of COVID-19, all three Monogram Coffee locations were some of the first businesses in the city to close their doors.
Monogram transitioned to online alternatives with free shipping options as a way to remain connected with the community while putting public health and safety first. The public response to this adjustment has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Ho. “People appreciate still being able to get the coffee they love, delivered directly to their homes.”
Not only have people continued to buy Monogram coffee online, the shop’s email and social platforms have been continually flooded with notes of encouragement and thanks. “Customers have also been purchasing gift cards,” says Ho, “as their way of saying ‘don’t worry, we will come back when this is over’”.
Grateful for the sense of community and determined to give back, Monogram Coffee launched an initiative at the beginning of April to provide frontline workers with free coffee. Relying on a public nomination system, Monogram has sent coffee to hundreds of workers around the city as their way of saying thanks. “This is beyond coffee, food, anything,” says Ho, “We have to stay together as a community and make an effort to support each other, our workers, and all our great local businesses.”
Monogram Coffee’s story is just one of many others like it. In Calgary, during these strange times, #CommunityOverCOVID is an entire city coming together to look after its most vulnerable members. It is loyalty and love between businesses and customers, it is personalized thank you notes on every take-out order and signs of support in front windows, it is donations to hospitals and essential workers. It is stories like this one that highlight Calgary’s character and reminds us that as long as we look after one another, things will be okay again.
Taxpayers Federation calls for transparency on World Cup costs
From the Canadian Taxpayers Federation
Author: Carson Binda
“Toronto taxpayers can’t afford to pay for soccer games that are almost a hundred million dollars over budget already”
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling on Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim to release updated cost estimates for the FIFA World Cup games scheduled for 2026. The CTF is also warning Toronto taxpayers that FIFA bills are spiralling in that city.
“Vancouver taxpayers deserve accountability when hundreds of millions are on the line,” said Carson Binda, British Columbia Director for the CTF. “Costs have ballooned in Toronto and Vancouver needs to be honest with its taxpayers about how much the soccer games are going to cost.”
Recent financial estimates have blown past the initial budget in Toronto. In 2022, Toronto expected the total cost of hosting world cup games would be $290 million. That number has now ballooned by 31 per cent to $380 million.
“Toronto taxpayers can’t afford to pay for soccer games that are almost a hundred million dollars over budget already,” Binda said. “That’s unacceptable when taxpayers are getting clobbered with higher taxes.”
Currently, the cost to host seven games in Vancouver is up to $260 million, however the provincial and municipal governments have consistently failed to produce updated cost estimates.
“What are Premier David Eby and Mayor Ken Sim hiding?” Binda said. “They need to stop hiding the numbers and tell taxpayers how much these soccer games are going to cost us.”
Canada’s struggling private sector—a tale of two cities
From the Fraser Institute
” the private sector must generate the income used to pay for government bureaucrats and government programs. When commercial centres have lower median employment incomes than capital cities, the private sector may be in real distress. “
According to almost every indicator including economic growth, business investment, entrepreneurship, and the employment and unemployment rates, Canada’s private sector is struggling.
A novel way to think about the sorry state of the private sector is to compare income levels in “commercial” cities (basically, cities with little to no provincial or federal government activity and largely characterized by private business activity) with income levels in capital cities, which are dominated by government.
Since the beginning of COVID (February 2020) to June 2023, government-sector job growth in Canada was 11.8 per cent compared to just 3.3 per cent for the private sector (including the self-employed). Put differently, the government sector is booming while the private sector is anemic.
The marked growth in employment in the government sector compared to the private sector is also important because of the wage premiums paid in the government. A 2023 study using data from Statistics Canada for 2021 (the latest year of available data at the time), found that—after controlling for factors such as sex, age, marital status, education, tenure, industry, occupation and location—government workers (federal, provincial and local) enjoyed an 8.5 per cent wage premium over their private-sector counterparts. And this wage gap does not include the more generous pensions typically enjoyed by government workers, their earlier retirement, and lower rates of job loss (i.e. greater job security).
According to a separate recent study, five of the 10 provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec and New Brunswick) have a distinct commercial centre other than the capital city, and in all five provinces in 2019 (pre-pandemic) the median employment income in the capital city exceeded that of the commercial centre, sometimes by a wide margin. For example, the median employment income in Quebec City was $41,290 compared to $36,660 in Montreal. (The study used median income instead of average income to control for the effect of a small percentage of very high-income earners that can influence the average income for a city.)
Remember, the private sector must generate the income used to pay for government bureaucrats and government programs. When commercial centres have lower median employment incomes than capital cities, the private sector may be in real distress.
Equally as telling is the comparison with the United States. Twenty-three U.S. states have a capital that’s distinct from their main commercial centre, but among that group, only five (North Dakota, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Ohio and Kentucky) had capital cities that clearly had higher levels of median employment income compared to the main commercial centre in the state. This is not to say the U.S. doesn’t have similar problems in its private sector, but its commercial centres generate higher median employment incomes than the capital cities in their states, indicating a potentially better functioning private sector within the state.
Many indicators in Canada are flashing red alerts regarding the health of the economy. The comparative strength of our capital cities compared to commercial centres in generating employment income is yet another sign that more attention and policy reforms are needed to reinvigorate our private sector, which ultimately pays for the government sector.
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