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In today's Morning Brief, a big-picture look at who is feeling the worst economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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In this pandemic, lower wage = lower job security

The pandemic is hitting lower-wage jobs the hardest. 

According to a recent report published by CIBC Economics, every Canadian who lost their job as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic was making a below-average wage.  (Statistics Canada reports the average wage in 2020 was about $31 an hour.)

Numbers from Statistics Canada show the country lost a total of 213,000 jobs in January. All of those jobs were part time. Retail sectors in Ontario and Quebec were particularly hard hit as those provinces locked down to combat the spread of the virus.

"This is a very abnormal and asymmetrical crisis," said CIBC deputy chief economist Benjamin Tal. The pandemic is "a service-oriented crisis and that sector is populated by low-paying jobs." 

WATCH | COVID-19's unequal economic recession:

COVID-19’s unequal economic recession

The National

1 month ago


Tal's report also finds that higher-income Canadians — those earning $27.82 or more per hour — "have experienced net job gains" during the pandemic.

"So the surprise here is that, not only did high-wage earners not experience job loss, but in fact they have gained almost 350,000 jobs over the past year," he said.

That disparity is even being felt in the job-search process, said Toronto-area employment counsellor David McKay. This new era of physically distant networking and Zoom interviews can present another layer of difficulty for lower-income job seekers.  

"The sorts of people that have been hit hardest by this are often people who have less access to technology or less access to the skill set needed to operate the technology," McKay said. Read more on this story here.

This is why they call it the red planet


This is the surface of Mars, as seen by NASA's Mars Perseverance rover as it landed on the planet last Thursday. The descent was captured by high-definition video cameras, and now NASA has shared those pictures with the world. See more of them here.

In brief

It's a renter's market for businesses planning to have staff one day return to the office. According to Altus Group, which collects data on commercial real estate transactions across the country, office availability in Ottawa increased from 8.8 per cent in the last quarter of 2019 to 10 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020. In Toronto, office availability rose from 8.7 per cent to 12.4 per cent in the same time period. Vancouver — 5.9 per cent to 9.1 per cent. Huge jumps. But the offices of the post-pandemic future are going to have to change to accommodate more people working from home. Read what that could look like here.  

WATCH | Pandemic has led to slump in demand for office space, broker says:

Pandemic has led to slump in demand for office space, broker says

CBC News

10 days ago

Toronto police are investigating a possible hate crime after four Toronto District School Board teachers received a racist letter in response to an anti-Black racism course they teach. The hate mail was sent last week to Newtonbrook Secondary School in a nondescript envelope with no return address. Inside was a torn Toronto Star article about the anti-Black racism course. It was covered in handwritten, hateful comments about young Black boys and the education system. Detectives told CBC News the hate crimes unit is one of the departments investigating. Read the reaction here.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden will come together in a virtual meeting today — Biden's first bilateral with a world leader. The pair are expected to release a road map for renewing the Canada-U.S. relationship. It will focus on joint priorities such as tackling climate change, confronting the COVID-19 pandemic and restarting the North American economy. One senior U.S official said the road map will be much more than a routine diplomatic communique — it will serve as a to-do list for both governments. Read more here.

A once-secret U.S. State Department document suggests former prime minister Pierre Trudeau may have asked one of Quebec's top business leaders to "make it as tough as possible" for the newly elected Parti Québécois government in 1976 and to quietly move jobs out of the province. Those details come from declassified telegrams that were recently republished by the U.S. State Department's Office of the Historian. Author and former PQ leader Jean-Francois Lisee calls the revelation a bombshell. But a former member of Trudeau's cabinet, Marc Lalonde, said the account may not be accurate. Read the details from the declassified telegram here.

Episode 6 of Evil by Design is out today. More than 80 women from around the world have accused the fast-fashion mogul Peter Nygard of rape, sexual assault and human trafficking in incidents across four decades and at least four countries. He denies it all, and claims his accusers are lying as part of a vast conspiracy. Timothy Sawa spoke to the women who came forward to speak out against Nygard. 

Now for some good news to start your Tuesday: The winner of this year's Arctic Inspiration Prize is hoping to create social change through music. Darlene Nuqingaq is a retired music teacher who has lived in Nunavut for more than 30 years. She's just been awarded $1 million to create a program that will help children and youth express themselves through music. Her program will see children being taught "culturally appropriate" songs, drum dances and music readiness in the first year. The same students will go on to learn the fiddle in the second year and the accordion in the third year. Graduates of the program will then mentor younger participants. Read what Nuqingaq hopes her project can accomplish.

Front Burner: Why Facebook banned news on its platform in Australia

Facebook is lifting its Australian news blockade.

It had blocked users from seeing and sharing news after the Australian government proposed legislation that would force tech giants to pay for news on their platforms.
But now the two sides have struck a deal, ending a battle that many other countries — including Canada — are preparing to fight.

James Temperton is digital editor of Wired's U.K. edition and host of the Wired podcast. Today on Front Burner, he reports on Facebook's Australia news ban and shares his thoughts on what other countries can learn from it

Today in history: February 23

1906: Ontario-born Tommy Burns becomes Canada's first world heavyweight boxing champion. He held the title for two years.

1970: The Junos (then known as the Gold Leaf Awards) are presented publicly for the first time, in Toronto.

1994: Two-year-old Karlee Kosolofski from Rouleau, Sask., survives for six hours outside in bitterly cold weather. Her core body temperature when she is found is just 14 C. 

2014: Canada wins its second consecutive Olympic men's hockey gold medal, defeating Sweden 3-0, and closes the Sochi Games with 25 medals.

With files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press and Reuters

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