Western provinces demand a border reopening plan from Ottawa

OTTAWA — The chorus for a clear plan on how to reopen Canada’s borders to international travellers grew louder Tuesday as Canada was on the brink of hitting a vaccine milestone.With nearly 75 per cent of eligible Canadians having a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, Western premiers demanded the Trudeau government come up with a clear, “science-based” plan with dates and exactly what fully vaccinated Canadian and foreign travellers should expect in terms of vaccine proof, testing or quarantine requirements.“Come Thursday, we expect the federal government to have a plan and then we’ll work on building consensus around that,” B.C. Premier John Horgan said ahead of a planned first ministers meeting. “We need to have a targeted approach to this.”Yet even though the federal government touted hitting the vaccination threshold of nearly 75 per cent with a first dose, and its expectation that 20 per cent will be fully vaccinated in the coming weeks, it warned the highly contagious Delta variant may prolong some COVID-19 restrictions and require a slower phased-in approach to borders.Health Canada’s original modelling that predicted measures could ease when 75 per cent of Canadians were partially vaccinated and 20 per cent were fully vaccinated did not take account of the Delta “variant of concern” first identified in India, said chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam, and now Canada needs higher vaccination coverage to achieve protective herd immunity.“Should we aim for higher? Yes, I think we should,” said Tam. “That gives us a better buffer for managing the COVID situation.”The latest cautions from Tam come as Ottawa grapples with how to certify vaccinations for aspiring travellers, and how soon to reopen the borders. Restrictions on non-essential travel at the Canada-U.S. border are due to expire or be renewed June 21. Although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with U.S. President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the G7 summit, there was no word on a joint reopening plan.Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic Leblanc said Ottawa understands “the urgency of coming up with a secure, reliable, probably digital proof of vaccination,” and is working with provinces, which hold health and vaccination data.Tam said Canada is on track to be in a position by early July to remove “layers” of protection for vaccinated travellers to come to Canada “and not put the country at risk.”But Tam said travellers should expect “distinctions” will be made between those who are vaccinated and those who aren’t “until such a time as we can tolerate the risks in Canada, no matter whether someone is vaccinated or not.”Leblanc and other federal officials were mum on what form a “reliable national proof of vaccination” might take — officials have told the Star that Canadians may be able to upload provincial vaccine documents into the ArriveCan app. The premiers, however, say it’s time Ottawa took the lead.Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe wrote Leblanc saying the federal government should “immediately develop and make public a comprehensive plan for cross-border travel.”The Trudeau government has given only the broad brush strokes of a plan. Last week Leblanc said as soon as early July, fully vaccinated returning Canadians may be able to skip the three-day hotel quarantine and the 10-day isolation at home upon presentation of a negative pre-departure test, and a negative on-arrival test.But Moe said “many important details and timelines remain unclear. For example, there is a lack of clarity surrounding when mandatory quarantines will be lifted for fully vaccinated travellers, and if Canada will require proof of vaccination for foreign travellers.”For weeks, leading business groups, and politicians on both sides of the border, have called on Ottawa to present a border reopening plan.Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc

Western provinces demand a border reopening plan from Ottawa

OTTAWA — The chorus for a clear plan on how to reopen Canada’s borders to international travellers grew louder Tuesday as Canada was on the brink of hitting a vaccine milestone.

With nearly 75 per cent of eligible Canadians having a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, Western premiers demanded the Trudeau government come up with a clear, “science-based” plan with dates and exactly what fully vaccinated Canadian and foreign travellers should expect in terms of vaccine proof, testing or quarantine requirements.

“Come Thursday, we expect the federal government to have a plan and then we’ll work on building consensus around that,” B.C. Premier John Horgan said ahead of a planned first ministers meeting.

“We need to have a targeted approach to this.”

Yet even though the federal government touted hitting the vaccination threshold of nearly 75 per cent with a first dose, and its expectation that 20 per cent will be fully vaccinated in the coming weeks, it warned the highly contagious Delta variant may prolong some COVID-19 restrictions and require a slower phased-in approach to borders.

Health Canada’s original modelling that predicted measures could ease when 75 per cent of Canadians were partially vaccinated and 20 per cent were fully vaccinated did not take account of the Delta “variant of concern” first identified in India, said chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam, and now Canada needs higher vaccination coverage to achieve protective herd immunity.

“Should we aim for higher? Yes, I think we should,” said Tam. “That gives us a better buffer for managing the COVID situation.”

The latest cautions from Tam come as Ottawa grapples with how to certify vaccinations for aspiring travellers, and how soon to reopen the borders. Restrictions on non-essential travel at the Canada-U.S. border are due to expire or be renewed June 21. Although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with U.S. President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the G7 summit, there was no word on a joint reopening plan.

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic Leblanc said Ottawa understands “the urgency of coming up with a secure, reliable, probably digital proof of vaccination,” and is working with provinces, which hold health and vaccination data.

Tam said Canada is on track to be in a position by early July to remove “layers” of protection for vaccinated travellers to come to Canada “and not put the country at risk.”

But Tam said travellers should expect “distinctions” will be made between those who are vaccinated and those who aren’t “until such a time as we can tolerate the risks in Canada, no matter whether someone is vaccinated or not.”

Leblanc and other federal officials were mum on what form a “reliable national proof of vaccination” might take — officials have told the Star that Canadians may be able to upload provincial vaccine documents into the ArriveCan app.

The premiers, however, say it’s time Ottawa took the lead.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe wrote Leblanc saying the federal government should “immediately develop and make public a comprehensive plan for cross-border travel.”

The Trudeau government has given only the broad brush strokes of a plan. Last week Leblanc said as soon as early July, fully vaccinated returning Canadians may be able to skip the three-day hotel quarantine and the 10-day isolation at home upon presentation of a negative pre-departure test, and a negative on-arrival test.

But Moe said “many important details and timelines remain unclear. For example, there is a lack of clarity surrounding when mandatory quarantines will be lifted for fully vaccinated travellers, and if Canada will require proof of vaccination for foreign travellers.”

For weeks, leading business groups, and politicians on both sides of the border, have called on Ottawa to present a border reopening plan.

Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc

Source : Toronto Star More   

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‘Colour-coded’ retirement security: Study finds economic marginalization and inequity follow people into old age

Indigenous and racialized seniors have much lower retirement incomes and higher poverty rates than their white counterparts, which a new study says reflects how economic marginalization and inequity follows people into their old age.Overall, white Canadian seniors enjoy the most retirement security with an average yearly income at $42,800, way above the $32,200 for their peers in the Indigenous communities and $29,200 for visible minorities over the age of 65.Based on 2016 census data, the report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found 13.7 per cent of white seniors lived in poverty compared to 21.5 per cent among Indigenous seniors and 19.8 per cent among racialized seniors, according to the Low Income Measure After Tax or LIM-AT.Hence, it’s not surprising that seniors from marginalized groups have to count on public pensions and benefits to make up for lagging retirement incomes, says the study, titled “Colour-coded Retirement,” released Wednesday.“The data reveal that there are real consequences of economic marginalization and systemic racism. Elders and seniors are financially insecure in retirement, if they can retire at all, because the opportunities for saving are so limited,” says Hayden King, a report co-author and executive editor of the Yellowhead Institute, a First Nation-led research centre.Senior white Canadians, who made up 85 per cent of the senior population in the country, have the most diverse sources of income of all groups. About a third of their income comes from public pension sources such as the Canada and Quebec Pension Plans, Old Age Security (OAS), and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS); a third from retirement contributions to work and individual pension plans; and the rest from investment and employment earnings as well as other sources.In comparison, public pension accounts for 47 per cent of Indigenous seniors’ and 40 per cent of racialized seniors’ retirement income, respectively.These two groups — accounting for 14.8 per cent of the population over age 65 in Canada — had less money to draw from their employers’ pension plan and own retirement savings, or investment income. They were more likely to rely on employment income.RPPs and RRSPs account for a third of white seniors’ retirement income, versus 25 per cent for Indigenous seniors and 21 per cent for racialized seniors.On the whole, racialized Canadian households have less spare money to contribute to those plans than white Canadian households. And when they do, their contributions are lower.Chinese households were an exception with an average contribution of $10,000 in 2015, which was higher than the $7,600 contribution made by white households. In comparison, Black families only made a $4,600 average contribution.“The overall low share of the racialized and Indigenous population that contribute to RPPs points to reduced retirement security for the next generation of workers,” the report warned.Among racial minority groups, retirement incomes also vary among those who were born in Canada versus those who are immigrants.While only 3 per cent of Chinese seniors and 1 per cent of South Asian seniors are Canadian-born, their average retirement income is higher than their immigrant peers. In the case of Black Canadians, however, being Canadian-born offers no income advantage.“Canadian-born Black seniors’ income is virtually identical to that of Black immigrants, with the result that Canadian-born Black seniors’ average income continues to be 25 per cent lower than Canadian-born white seniors’ income,” said the report.“This provides us with insight into the continuing impact of anti-Black racism on seniors’ income.”The study also shows the differences between First Nations, Métis and Inuit seniors’ income, as well as their respective contributions to RPPs and RRSPs.First Nations seniors have the lowest average income of any Indigenous group, at $33,500 for men and $26,300 for women, followed by their Inuit ($39,900 and $32,150) and Métis ($41,765 and $28,285) counterparts. Métis seniors were most likely to contribute to private pension and retirement savings plans, while their First Nations peers had the lowest participation rate.Researchers said there is also a consistent gender gap with senior women of all demographic backgrounds having lower retirement incomes and higher poverty rates than senior men. The study found the overall racialized senior population’s total income averaged $33,900 for men and $25,000 for women. While visible minority male seniors’ average income is 36 per cent lower than their white male counterparts, senior racialized women’s average income is 26 per cent below their white female peers.“It is only when the economic impacts of underlying racism and sexism are addressed that we will achieve equal access to a secure retirement for all,” said the 49-page report, funded by the Canadian Race Relations FoundationIt said the data shows that GIS and OAS pension — both adopted as anti-pover

‘Colour-coded’ retirement security: Study finds economic marginalization and inequity follow people into old age

Indigenous and racialized seniors have much lower retirement incomes and higher poverty rates than their white counterparts, which a new study says reflects how economic marginalization and inequity follows people into their old age.

Overall, white Canadian seniors enjoy the most retirement security with an average yearly income at $42,800, way above the $32,200 for their peers in the Indigenous communities and $29,200 for visible minorities over the age of 65.

Based on 2016 census data, the report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found 13.7 per cent of white seniors lived in poverty compared to 21.5 per cent among Indigenous seniors and 19.8 per cent among racialized seniors, according to the Low Income Measure After Tax or LIM-AT.

Hence, it’s not surprising that seniors from marginalized groups have to count on public pensions and benefits to make up for lagging retirement incomes, says the study, titled “Colour-coded Retirement,” released Wednesday.

“The data reveal that there are real consequences of economic marginalization and systemic racism. Elders and seniors are financially insecure in retirement, if they can retire at all, because the opportunities for saving are so limited,” says Hayden King, a report co-author and executive editor of the Yellowhead Institute, a First Nation-led research centre.

Senior white Canadians, who made up 85 per cent of the senior population in the country, have the most diverse sources of income of all groups.

About a third of their income comes from public pension sources such as the Canada and Quebec Pension Plans, Old Age Security (OAS), and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS); a third from retirement contributions to work and individual pension plans; and the rest from investment and employment earnings as well as other sources.

In comparison, public pension accounts for 47 per cent of Indigenous seniors’ and 40 per cent of racialized seniors’ retirement income, respectively.

These two groups — accounting for 14.8 per cent of the population over age 65 in Canada — had less money to draw from their employers’ pension plan and own retirement savings, or investment income. They were more likely to rely on employment income.

RPPs and RRSPs account for a third of white seniors’ retirement income, versus 25 per cent for Indigenous seniors and 21 per cent for racialized seniors.

On the whole, racialized Canadian households have less spare money to contribute to those plans than white Canadian households. And when they do, their contributions are lower.

Chinese households were an exception with an average contribution of $10,000 in 2015, which was higher than the $7,600 contribution made by white households. In comparison, Black families only made a $4,600 average contribution.

“The overall low share of the racialized and Indigenous population that contribute to RPPs points to reduced retirement security for the next generation of workers,” the report warned.

Among racial minority groups, retirement incomes also vary among those who were born in Canada versus those who are immigrants.

While only 3 per cent of Chinese seniors and 1 per cent of South Asian seniors are Canadian-born, their average retirement income is higher than their immigrant peers.

In the case of Black Canadians, however, being Canadian-born offers no income advantage.

“Canadian-born Black seniors’ income is virtually identical to that of Black immigrants, with the result that Canadian-born Black seniors’ average income continues to be 25 per cent lower than Canadian-born white seniors’ income,” said the report.

“This provides us with insight into the continuing impact of anti-Black racism on seniors’ income.”

The study also shows the differences between First Nations, Métis and Inuit seniors’ income, as well as their respective contributions to RPPs and RRSPs.

First Nations seniors have the lowest average income of any Indigenous group, at $33,500 for men and $26,300 for women, followed by their Inuit ($39,900 and $32,150) and Métis ($41,765 and $28,285) counterparts. Métis seniors were most likely to contribute to private pension and retirement savings plans, while their First Nations peers had the lowest participation rate.

Researchers said there is also a consistent gender gap with senior women of all demographic backgrounds having lower retirement incomes and higher poverty rates than senior men.

The study found the overall racialized senior population’s total income averaged $33,900 for men and $25,000 for women. While visible minority male seniors’ average income is 36 per cent lower than their white male counterparts, senior racialized women’s average income is 26 per cent below their white female peers.

“It is only when the economic impacts of underlying racism and sexism are addressed that we will achieve equal access to a secure retirement for all,” said the 49-page report, funded by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation

It said the data shows that GIS and OAS pension — both adopted as anti-poverty measures — are crucial sources of income for senior women who are First Nations or racialized immigrants.

The increase in OAS by the federal Liberal government for those 75 and older in the 2021 federal budget is a step in the right direction to narrow retirement income disparities, said the study.

It recommends measures to eliminate barriers to equitable employment opportunities and increased access to workplace-based pension plans and retirement savings

Nicholas Keung is a Toronto-based reporter covering immigration for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @nkeung

Source : Toronto Star More   

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