Uber Canada signs deal with union offering workers dispute representation – Business News

The Canadian Press – Jan 27, 2022 / 7:19 am | Story: 358213

Rogers Communications Inc. reported a fourth-quarter profit of $405 million, down from $449 million in the same quarter last year, while revenue rose.

The telecoms company says earnings amounted to 80 cents per diluted share for the quarter ending Dec. 31, down from 89 cents per share for the same quarter last year.

Revenue came in at $3.92 billion, up from $3.68 billion in the same quarter last year, as it added wireless subscribers and its media division got a boost from the return of live sports broadcasting ads.

On an adjusted basis, Rogers says it earned 96 cents per diluted share, down from 99 cents per share a year ago.

Analysts on average had expected an adjusted profit of 92 cents per share, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

The company’s guidance for 2022 includes revenue growth of four to six per cent, not including any boost from its planned takeover of Shaw Communications Inc. that it says remains on track for the first half of the year.

The Canadian Press – Jan 27, 2022 / 6:57 am | Story: 358209

Global stock markets and Wall Street futures sank Thursday after the Federal Reserve indicated it will raise interest rates soon to cool inflation.

London and Frankfurt opened lower. Market benchmarks in Tokyo and Seoul fell by an unusually wide margin of more than 3%.

The Fed said Wednesday in a statement that it “expects it will soon be appropriate” to raise rates. Investors expect as many as four increases this year, starting in March. Monthly bond purchases that push down long-term rates by injecting money into the financial system would be phased out in March, the Fed said.

“The Fed’s decision will reverberate globally, meaning that the era of low interest rate, ultra-low interest rate, is over,” said Francis Lun, CEO of Geo Securities in Hong Kong. “All the central banks will start to fight inflation instead of trying to stimulate the economy.”

In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London was down 0.2% at 7,452.31 and Frankfurt’s DAX lost 1.5% to 15,233.46. The CAC 40 in Paris fell 1% to 6,918.14.

On Wall Street, futures for the benchmark S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.5%.

On Wednesday, the S&P 500 ended down 0.1% following the Fed announcement after being up 2.2% earlier in the day.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.4%. The Nasdaq composite ended little-changed, shedding a 3.4% gain earlier.

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo fell 3.1% to 26,170.30 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong retreated 2% to 23,807.00.

The Kospi in Seoul sank 3.5% to 2,614.49 after a stunning market debut for LG Energy Solutions, one of the biggest makers of batteries for electric cars. It ended the day with South Korea’s second-highest stock market value behind Samsung Electronics after its initial public offering drew 13 trillion won ($11 billion) in bids.

The Shanghai Composite Index declined 1.8% to 3,394.25 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 shed 1.8% to 6,838.30.

India’s Sensex lost 0.8% to 57,423.10. New Zealand declined after inflation accelerated to a 30-year high of 5.9% over a year earlier in the final quarter of 2021. Jakarta advanced while Bangkok and Singapore fell.

On Wednesday, major Wall Street indexes rose immediately after the Fed statement but gave up their gains as Chair Jerome Powell took questions about how and when the central bank will let its balance sheet shrink after buying trillions of dollars of bonds through the pandemic. That would put upward pressure on market interest rates.

The selling accelerated as Powell acknowledged high inflation that has squeezed businesses and consumers isn’t getting better. That could force the Fed to get even more aggressive about raising rates and removing its support for markets.

The last time the Fed raised rates and shrank its balance sheet at the same time was in late 2018. The S&P 500 lost nearly 20%.

“Since the December meeting, I’d say the inflation situation is about the same but probably slightly worse,” Powell said.

Powell said there is room to raise interest rates without hurting the labor market, and wouldn’t rule out the possibility that the Fed could raise short-term rates at any of its seven remaining meetings this year or opt for a larger-than-usual increase at any one of them.

The Fed’s near-zero interest rates helped to boost stock prices for nearly two years, but markets have been volatile since Powell and other officials in mid-December said plans to wind down economic stimulus might be accelerated to fight surging inflation.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude lost 30 cents to $87.05 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.75 to $87.35 on Wednesday. Brent crude, the price basis for international oils, shed 39 cents to $88.35 per barrel in London. It advanced $1.76 the previous session to $89.96.

The dollar edged up to 115.00 yen from Wednesday’s 114.55 yen. The euro declined to $1.1200 from $1.1254.

The Canadian Press – | Story: 358208

Uber Technologies Inc. has signed an agreement with a private sector union that will provide representation to Canadian drivers and couriers, but does not unionize workers.

The San Francisco, Calif-based tech giant said Thursday that it is partnering with United Food and Commercial Workers Canada, a union representing at least 250,000 workers at companies including Maple Leaf Foods Inc., Loblaw Companies Ltd. and Molson Coors Beverage Co.

The partnership will give UFCW Canada the ability to provide representation to about 100,000 Canadian drivers and couriers, if requested by the workers, when they are facing account deactivations and other disputes with Uber.

Workers will not be charged for the representation services, which will be jointly covered by Uber and UFCW.

“We’ve come together to find common ground and blaze a new trail towards a better future for app-based workers,” said Andrew Macdonald, Uber’s senior vice-president of global rides and platform, in a release.

“Through this agreement, we’re prioritizing what drivers and delivery people tell us they want: enhancing their flexibility to work if, when, and where they want with a stronger voice and new benefits and protections.”

Uber drivers and couriers are considered to be independent contractors because they can choose when, where and how often they work, but in exchange, they have no job security, vacation pay or other benefits.

The move to offer Uber workers more supports in Canada comes as the tech giant is facing increasing global pressure to recognize couriers and drivers as employees and to, at least, better compensate and give them more rights.

UFCW Canada previously said drivers often spent more than 100 hours logged onto the Uber app and awaiting work each week, leaving them paid well below minimum wage for the hours they spend providing rides.

It has also complained that Uber drivers are subject to deactivation if their ratings — scores offered as feedback by consumers — drop below a certain threshold. UFCW Canada has said this practice can force a driver out of work, if they refuse customer demands to ignore traffic rules or city bylaws.

The union has also raised concerns about what little recourse Uber drivers and couriers have when they face harassment and abuse on the job because they are not eligible for workers’ compensation, vacation pay, overtime or pension protection.

As part of UFCW Canada’s agreement with Uber, both groups say they will work to encourage provinces to mandate policies providing gig workers with new benefits and other rights.

“This is just a starting point for the many issues we need to address,” said Paul Meinema, UFCW Canada’s national president, in a video announcing the agreement.

“Uber Canada and UFCW Canada will jointly advocate for industry-wide legislative standards like minimum wage guarantees, a benefits fund, a path to organizing, and other rights for workers in the app-based sector.”

Uber spent much of last year pitching Canadians on a model it calls Flexible Work+. The model asks provinces and territories to force Uber and other app-based companies to create a self-directed benefit fund to disperse to workers for prescriptions, dental and vision care, RRSPs or tuition.

Workers have said the model still won’t offer all the protections they desire and accused Uber of using the pitch to avoid treating drivers and couriers as employees.

The Canadian Press – Jan 26, 2022 / 8:14 pm | Story: 358193

The U.S. Federal Reserve signaled Wednesday that it will begin a series of interest-rate hikes in March, reversing pandemic-era policies that have fueled hiring and growth — and stock market gains — but also stubbornly high inflation.

Chair Jerome Powell said at a news conference that inflation has gotten “slightly worse” since the Fed last met in December. He said raising the Fed’s benchmark rate, which has been pegged at zero since March 2020, will help prevent high prices from becoming entrenched.

Seeking to calm fears that higher rates might hurt the economy, Powell said the central bank can manage the process in a way that prolongs growth and keeps unemployment low. “I think there is quite a bit of room to raise interest rates without threatening the labor market,” he said.

Economists said they were surprised by the likely timing and intensity of rate hikes sketched out by Powell, who said the economy is stronger now than in 2015, when the Fed began to raise rates slowly. “The Fed is signaling that they are going to be moving earlier, and maybe at a quicker pace, than we thought,” said Steve Rick, chief economist at CUNA Mutual Group.

The Fed’s rate hikes will make it more expensive, over time, to borrow for a home, car or business. The Fed’s intent is to temper economic growth and cool off inflation, which is at a 40-year high and eating into Americans’ wage gains and household budgets.

“The best thing we can do to support continued labor market gains,” Powell said, “is to promote a long expansion, and that will require price stability.”

The central bank’s latest policy statement follows dizzying gyrations in the stock market as investors have been gripped by fear and uncertainty over just how fast and far the Fed will go to reverse its low-rate policies, which have nurtured the economy and the markets for years.

The broad S&P 500 index fell nearly 10% this month and fell slightly Wednesday.

Asked about the stock market’s wild volatility, Powell stressed that the Fed’s “ultimate focus” is on the “real economy.” But he suggested that the recent market moves are a positive sign: “We feel like the communications we have with market participants and the general public are working.”

High inflation has become a serious political threat to President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats, with Republicans pointing to rising prices as one of their principal lines of attack as they look toward the November elections.

Biden said last week that it was “appropriate” for Powell to adjust the Fed’s policies. And congressional Republicans have endorsed Powell’s plans to raise rates, providing the Fed with rare bipartisan support for tightening credit.

“The risk is for a faster pace of Fed tightening given the stickiness of inflation,” said Kathy Bostjancic, an economist at Oxford Economics, a consulting firm.

Supply-chain and labor-market constraints have lasted longer than the Fed anticipated. Consumer prices are rising at 7% — well above the Fed’s long-run inflation target of 2% — and Powell said the outlook for the U.S. economy remains uncertain.

Powell said that while he thinks shipping bottlenecks and labor constraints will ease over time, it’s critical for Fed policymakers to have “humility” and to be “nimble’’ in their decision-making.

For now, Powell said Fed policymakers are “of a mind to raise the federal funds rate at the March meeting, assuming that conditions are appropriate for doing so.”


The Canadian Press – Jan 26, 2022 / 3:50 pm | Story: 358168

Moderna has begun testing an omicron-specific COVID-19 booster in healthy adults.

The company announced Wednesday that the first participant had received a dose. Earlier this week, competitor Pfizer began a similar study of its own reformulated shots.

It’s not clear whether global health authorities will order a change to the vaccine recipe in the wake of the hugely contagious omicron variant. The original vaccines still offer good protection against death and severe illness. Studies in the U.S. and elsewhere show a booster dose strengthens that protection and improves the chances of avoiding even a milder infection.

Moderna pointed to a small study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday that showed antibodies able to target omicron persisted for six months after a booster dose, although the levels were dropping.

Moderna’s new study will enroll about 600 people who already have received either two doses of the company’s original shots or two plus a booster dose. All the volunteers will receive a dose of the experimental omicron-matched version.

The Canadian Press – Jan 26, 2022 / 12:33 pm | Story: 358134

Canada’s broadcasting regulator says a prominent Dark Web marketplace has been taken off-line after it levied $300,000 in fines against four individuals linked to the business.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission says Canadian HeadQuarters was one of the largest Dark Web marketplaces in the world and significantly contributed to harmful cyberactivity in Canada.

The CRTC says the business also known as CanadianHQ specialized in the sale of spamming services, phishing kits, stolen credentials and access to compromised computers, which purchasers used for malicious activity.

The CRTC issued warrants in Montreal in 2020 and 2021 to help investigate four individuals, who allegedly sent emails mimicking well-known brands in order to obtain personal data including credit card numbers, banking credentials and other sensitive information.

The CRTC says Marc Anthony Younes, Souial Amarak and Moustapha Sabir are each facing $50,000 penalties for sending commissions that violate anti-spam legislation, while Chris Tyrone Dracos has been fined a heftier $150,000 for aiding in the commission of violations.

The Dark Web is a covert part of the internet often used for sales of illicit goods and services because it offers anonymity and makes it hard for authorities to trace unlawful activity.

The Canadian Press – Jan 26, 2022 / 11:29 am | Story: 358123

Pablo, meet Crypto.

Heirs of Pablo Picasso, the famed 20th-century Spanish artist, are vaulting into 21st-century commerce by selling 1,010 digital art pieces of one of his ceramic works that has never before been seen publicly — riding a fad for “crypto” assets that have taken the art and financial worlds by storm.

For an exclusive interview before the formal launch this week, Picasso’s granddaughter, Marina Picasso, and her son Florian Picasso opened up their apartment — which is swimming in works from their illustrious ancestor — in an upscale Geneva neighborhood. There they offered up a glimpse, however tantalizingly slim, of the piece behind what they’re billing as an unprecedented fusion of old-school fine art and digital assets.

They’re looking to cash in on and ride a wave of interest in non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, which have netted millions for far-less-known artists and been criticized by some as environmentally costly get rich schemes.

A Picasso, his family’s promoters say, would mark the entry of a Grand Master into the game.

In economics jargon, a fungible token is an asset that can be exchanged on a one-for-one basis. Think of dollars or bitcoins — each one has the exact same value and can be traded freely. A non-fungible object, by contrast, has its own distinct value, like an old house or a classic car.

Cross this notion with cryptocurrency technology known as the blockchain and you get NFTs. They are effectively digital certificates of authenticity that can be attached to digital art or, well, pretty much anything else that comes in digital form — audio files, video clips, animated stickers, even a news article read online.

“We’re trying to build a bridge between the NFT world and the fine art world,” said Florian Picasso, the artist’s great-grandson.

The artist’s descendants are playing close to the vest, to drum up interest and protect — for now — a family heirloom. They’re showing only a sliver of the underside of the work linked to the NFTs, a ceramic piece about the size of a large salad bowl. The exposed parts show forms like a thick yellow line, a dribbling green splotch, and a brushed-on number “58” at the base.

Marina Picasso says the cherished pottery piece dates to October 1958, when she was a child.

“It’s a work that represents a face, and it’s very expressive,” she said. “It’s joyful, happy. It represents life … It’s one of those objects that have been part of our life, our intimate lives — my life with my children.”

Sotheby’s is hosting an auction in March that will include a unique NFT as well as the actual ceramic bowl. A first-phase, online sale of more than 1,000 other NFTs starts Friday through the Nifty Gateway and Origin Protocol platforms.

Florian Picasso said they agreed on the colorful ceramic piece because it was “a fun one” to start.

An NFT Picasso brings with it almost epochal symbolism, something like when the Beatles collection was finally put up on iTunes. The family and its business managers say the aim is to create a younger community of Picasso fans.

“Everything is evolving,” said Florian Picasso, insisting that the NFT honors the great artist.

“I think it fits within Picasso’s legacies because we are paying tribute to him and his way of working, which was always being creative,” he said.

How quaint seem those days of yore when Picasso, as the legend has it, would simply doodle on a napkin as payment for a restaurant meal — his handiwork supposedly carrying a value far in excess of the cost of the food and drinks he had enjoyed.

Some of the proceeds will be donated — one portion to a charity that aims to help overcome a shortage of nurses, and another to a nongovernmental organization that wants to help reduce carbon in the atmosphere. The NFTs will also come with music put together by Florian Picasso, who is a DJ and music producer, along with songwriter John Legend and rapper Nas.

Even a full rendering of that track isn’t being publicly released just yet: Florian Picasso played a snippet for a reporter, then turned it off.

“And to hear more, you gotta purchase the NFT,” he quipped.

The Canadian Press – Jan 26, 2022 / 10:24 am | Story: 358110

DesRosiers Automotive Consultants says Canada produced just over 1.1 million light vehicles last year for the lowest level of production since 1967.

The low production numbers, down from 1.4 million in 2020 and close to two million in 2019, came as the auto sector globally was hit by a shortage of semiconductor chips caused by pandemic-related production issues and a surge in demand for electronics.

Canadian production was hit especially hard as automakers prioritized chips for their more profitable models like pickups and SUVs, pushing down Canada’s share of production to under nine per cent.

Canada’s share of North American production has been on the decline for years, from 17 per cent in 2009 to 14.1 per cent in 2014 to around 10 per cent before the pandemic.

DesRosiers said Toyota led production among the five big automakers in Canada with about 427,000 units, while at the other end of the spectrum GM produced about 36,500.

GM, however, did restart production in November at the Oshawa assembly plant it had closed in 2019, and just this week announced it had added a second shift to the plant that now produces the Chevy Silverado. The company also plans to retool its Ingersoll, Ont., operation this year to produce electric delivery vehicles.

Andrew King, managing partner at DesRosiers, said Canada’s auto industry is going through both short-term transitory difficulties and long-term structural change as plants announce revised mandates and companies start to embrace the wave of electrification.

“While it seems unlikely that Canada will, in the near term at least, fully recover lost production ground, there does exists a clear opportunity to revitalize and adapt this critically important sector.”

The Canadian Press – Jan 26, 2022 / 9:19 am | Story: 358094

Canada’s main stock index rebounded in late-morning trading as the Bank of Canada held its key interest rate target steady, while U.S. stock markets also traded higher.

The S&P/TSX composite index was up 274.85 points at 20,865.83

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 185 points at 34,482.73. The S&P 500 index was up 46.96 points at 4,403.41, while the Nasdaq composite was up 217 points at 13,756.30.

The Canadian dollar traded for 79.19 cents US compared with 79.18 cents US on Tuesday.

The March crude oil contract was up US$1.57 at US$87.17 per barrel and the March natural gas contract was up 17 cents at US$4.06 per mmBTU.

The February gold contract was down US$18.30 at US$1,834.20 an ounce and the March copper contract was up four cents at US$4.49 a pound.

The Canadian Press – Jan 26, 2022 / 9:18 am | Story: 358093

Fresh off the heels of creditor protection, Reitmans (Canada) Ltd. has announced plans to launch an online marketplace for women’s clothing.

The Montreal-based company says RCL Market will be available online this fall and feature its three brands, Reitmans, Penningtons and RW&CO.

Reitmans says the marketplace will also offer “hand-picked quality value products offered by partner brands” and is inviting interested vendors to apply to sell clothing on its new site.

Jackie Tardif, president of the Reitmans brand, says the company’s e-commerce business has grown exponentially in recent years and RCL Market will further transform the way its customers shop online.

Reitmans said earlier this month it had paid $95 million and exited creditor protection after nearly two years.

The company said it paid court-appointed monitor Ernst & Young Inc. to distribute funds to creditors according to the plan of arrangement.

Reitmans filed for creditor protection and obtained an initial order under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act in May 2020.

The women’s clothing retailer operates 412 stores consisting of 241 Reitmans, 93 Penningtons and 78 RW&CO locations.

The Canadian Press – Jan 26, 2022 / 7:18 am | Story: 358074

The Bank of Canada is keeping its key interest rate target on hold at 0.25 per cent, but warning it won’t stay there for much longer.

The trendsetting rate has been at its rock-bottom level since March 2020 during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic as the economy went into a downturn and three million jobs were lost.

The central bank today says the rebound since then and especially over the last few months has been stronger than it anticipated.

In a statement, the bank’s senior decision-makers say the economy is running at capacity, including a labour market that is by most standards back at pre-pandemic levels.

The rebound is why it now says it will no longer promise to keep its key policy rate at 0.25 per cent, adding that rates will need to rise to bring inflation back to the central bank’s two per cent target.

The central bank warns in its updated economic outlook that inflation rates are likely to creep above five per cent for the first quarter before easing by the end of the year.

The Canadian Press – Jan 26, 2022 / 7:00 am | Story: 358080

TD Bank Group says it plans to hire over 2,000 people to fill new technology roles this year.

The bank says the new positions will focus on technologies and processes to drive investments and power “the future of banking.”

TD’s hiring plans come amid an industry-wide focus on attracting and retaining technology talent.

The bank says attracting skilled workers is critical to the company’s technology transformation and development of new capabilities, including engineering, automation tools, artificial intelligence, cloud technology, and advancing cybersecurity defences.

Greg Keeley, senior executive vice-president of platforms and technology at TD, says the pandemic has accelerated the integration of technology into the bank’s services.

He says growing the bank’s pool of skilled tech talent is critical to its overall strategy, including the acceleration of its cloud-based technologies to increase the speed of delivering new digital products and services to customers.

TD says it’s focused on hiring employees with skills in software development, IT operations, machine learning and automation.

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