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Digital Policy Salon: Remote Work and the Elusive COVID-19 Silver Bullet

Welcome to the third issue of the Digital Policy Salon briefing. We hope everyone is acclimatizing to
Digital Policy Salon
Digital Policy Salon: Remote Work and the Elusive COVID-19 Silver Bullet
By ICTC-CTIC • Issue #3 • View online
Welcome to the third issue of the Digital Policy Salon briefing. We hope everyone is acclimatizing to our new norm as we all navigate creative workflows and find ways to stay meaningfully connected with the people in our lives.
In the wake of numerous shutdowns, Canadians across the country find themselves working and studying from home: but for whom is remote work, or education, accessible? This week’s issue features a policy update on federal responses to COVID-19, a set of lessons for Canada from France, and a look at the digital infrastructure challenges faced by many Canadians.
If you find any of the stories you read in this Digital Policy Salon briefing particularly interesting, you can click the share button below each article to keep friends and colleagues on social media informed—it’s the 2020 version of sending a newspaper clipping.

COVID-19 Policy Updates 🇨🇦
Last week we updated you on the latest policy changes across Canada, covering everything from health policy, to economic policy, to finance. A lot has happened in the seven days that have passed since then.
Federal Responses to the Public Health Crisis
The government passed $107 billion worth of emergency funding yesterday in response to COVID-19, a process that can take months took place in just a matter of hours. Among other things, the legislation:
  • Provides $500 million in financial support to the provinces and territories to facilitate healthcare services;
  • Establishes the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which provides support for up to 16 weeks to workers who lose their income as a result of COVID-19;
  • Establishes a $300 ‘top-up’ on the Canada Child Benefit for each child, delivered in May;
  • Initiates a 6-month pause on the obligation to repay Canada Student Loans; and
  • A 10% wage subsidy for small businesses.
One week ago, the federal government received 500,000 applications for EI in just 7 days, up from 27,000 applications that same week last year. According to a recent survey by Angus Reid, 44% of Canadians say that they or someone in their household has lost work due to COVID-19. Of those, 37% say they are financially unable to handle an additional $100 of expenses over the next month. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit is intended to help small businesses, freelancers, and gig-economy workers, who were previously unable to access traditional means of support like EI.
Economic Policy Measures
The Bank of Canada further reduced the benchmark interest rate to 0.75%, to ensure Canadian companies and households have access to low-interest credit and can continue supporting their employees, customers, and families. Other new economic policy measures include work to ensure USD liquidity for Canadian businesses, adjustments to the Government of Canada’s Bond Buyback Program, a new Canada Mortgage Bonds Program, and measures to provide rapid loans and financial and credit insurance support. In addition, Farm Credit Canada is receiving $5 billion for loans to agricultural sector businesses experiencing hardship.
The Bank is asking Canadian retailers to continue accepting cash where possible to accommodate Canadians who depend on cash as their sole means of payment.
International Travel
The Canadian border remains closed to non-Canadian citizens, with the exception of Canadian permanent residents and diplomats.
  • The U.S.-Canada border is closed to all non-essential travel, effective for 30 days as of March 21st, 2020. Commercial travel and essential travel by workers will be allowed to ensure local economies and critical infrastructure are supported. 
  • In order to get stranded Canadian citizens and permanent residents home, the Government of Canada is working with Canadian airlines and foreign governments to facilitate a series of in-bound commercial flights to Canada. Emergency loans have been made available for Canadian citizens and permanent residents without the financial means to return home. Inbound travelers will be subject to a mandatory 14-day isolation period.
  • Airline companies are required to deny boarding to travellers who display symptoms of COVID-19 for a period of 14 days, regardless of citizenship status.
These regulations come into effect as more than a million Canadian citizens and permanent residents return home to Canada. - Mairead Matthews | email 
Our Perspective
Critical COVID-19 Insights from ICTC’s Senior Economist Living in France
Design Thinking for Smarter Communities: 
Supplying Digital Infrastructure & Tools Across Canada
Special Events

Join Us For a Virtual Panel Discussion
Research Visualized
In just three months, COVID-19 has spread out of Wuhan, China to over 180 countries, becoming a global pandemic. As the epicentre of the disease moved from East Asia to Western Europe we are seeing large scale shutdowns in most major economies as governments implement social distancing and self-isolation measures to curb the rapid spread of the disease and flatten the curve.
Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 from Jan 21 to Mar 21 - Sources: ICTC, WHO, and ECDC
Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 from Jan 21 to Mar 21 - Sources: ICTC, WHO, and ECDC
This mechanical shock to the economy has produced a large (and hopefully temporary) drop in both aggregate supply and aggregate demand, and a global recession now looks inevitable. While it is still unclear what the ultimate impact of the virus will be, the nature and speed of economic recovery will depend, in large part, on the policy response of major governments to this exogenous shock. - Akshay Kotak | email
Interviews in the Field
James Watson, Director of Sales & Marketing at Semios
James Watson, Director of Sales & Marketing at Semios
What We're Reading
Canada's Spartan Bioscience Developing Portable COVID-19 Test
Our Research
Class, Take Out Your Tablets: The Impact of Technology on Learning and Teaching in Canada
Twitter Highlights
Tech West Canada
🇨🇦Our colleagues in Ottawa have been asking how #COVIDー19 is affecting Western Canada's #tech community. Fill out this survey we created to have your say and be heard📣
@TechManitoba @AlbertaEconomy @BCTradeInvest @colabsyxe @wearebctech
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