Economy slowly starting up

By: Jag Dhatt

Amidst the fear and unknown of the coronavirus pandemic, the light is beginning to show at the end of the tunnel. It may not be as bright as we’d like, but at least it’s showing a path that looks better than it was even two weeks ago.

Last week, the province of Saskatchewan outlined a 3-phase plan to begin the reopening of some services, retail stores, parks, and yes, even certain social gatherings.

Yesterday, British Columbia outlined a 4-phase plan to reopen the province. The first phase involves the opening of the following:

Mid-May:

  • Elective surgeries
  • Dentistry, physio, massage therapy, and chiropractors
  • Retail sector
  • Hair salons and other personal services
  • If distancing measures are sufficient, then restaurants
  • Office-based worksites
  • Most provincial parks
  • Beaches and outdoor spaces

June:

  • Hotels and resorts
  • More parks and some overnight camping
  • Film industry

July:

  • Some entertainment, such as movies. NO LARGE CONCERTS

August:

  • Gyms and other recreational centres – provided, distancing measures are sufficient.

September:

  • K-12 education, with partial opening to school this year
  • Post-secondary education, with a mix of online and in-class instruction

There are no plans of reopening clubs or casinos in the near future.

While all of this looks promising, it’s important to note that not all provinces and states are in the same position to reopen within similar times. For example, there are still large numbers of cases in Ontario and Quebec, and thus, their plans may be different or delayed.

For the transport industry, the outlook is also promising. Although no manufacturer has given definite dates, there are plans to reopen manufacturing and assembly plants within a month, and that’s news that dealerships and transport companies have been wanting to hear.

The one aspect that has taken a hit is freight rates, and drivers and owner/operators are hopeful that rates stabilize as quickly as possible. Based on quick calculations, for a single owner/operator, the current freight rates cannot sustain his or her family. One person we spoke to said he was not making ends meet. But this is a topic of discussion for another time.

Since early March, the pandemic has caused hardships for many individuals, families, and even businesses. Whether they recover or not is yet to be seen and one can only hope that hardships won’t be permanent.