33718
33941
S&P/TSX
14630.72
+4.48
+0.03%
S&P-CDNX
801.86
+12.34
+1.56%
S&P-500
2172.47
-2.97
-0.14%
NASDAQ
5212.20
-5.49
-0.11%
Dow
18448.41
-33.07
-0.18%
Dollar
0.7736
+0.0007
+0.09%
Oil
46.81
-1.71
-3.52%
Gold
1325.10
-4.60
-0.35%
Silver
18.505
-0.051
-0.275%


Mail strike notice issued

UPDATE: 2:40 p.m.

The union representing a majority of workers at Canada Post has issued a 72-hour notice of job action as it tries to bargain a collective agreement with the Crown corporation.

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers says the notice spells out what actions it is planning, but stops short of a full-blown walkout.

CUPW national president Mike Palecek says Canada Post forced the labour disruption by refusing to accept a request from the federal labour minister to continue negotiations with the help of a special mediator.

But a spokesman for the agency says that's not the case.

The union's strike mandate was set to expire at midnight.

The two sides have been in negotiations for more than nine months but are far apart on key issues including pay equity for rural carriers and proposed changes to the Canada Post pension plan.


ORIGINAL: 11:20 a.m.

An 11th-hour effort was underway Thursday to avert a work stoppage at Canada Post, even as both sides in the labour dispute dug in their heels, declaring an apparent impasse.

With a strike mandate set to expire at midnight, the federal government stepped in, saying it would appoint a special mediator in hopes of breaking the stalemate.

Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk offered the mediation service late Wednesday after months of bitter disagreement, and encouraged both sides to come together.

"I expect both parties to work with this special mediator to come to a resolution and avoid a work stoppage," Mihychuk said in a brief statement. "I continue to closely monitor the situation."

Officials from both Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers appeared to go into a media lockdown shortly after the minister's announcement, refusing to say whether there was any room for movement in the talks.

But the union said it was retaining its right to serve the Crown corporation with a 72-hour strike notice should the mediation effort fail before midnight.

As of late Wednesday, the union was accusing Canada Post of stalling the talks by continuing to make unacceptable demands.

The Crown agency also complained Wednesday that union bargainers were being unrealistic.

"The union continues to press for more than $1 billion in demands with no appreciation for the current and troubling future state of the postal service caused by declining mail volumes and increasing pension obligations," said Canada Post spokesman Jon Hamilton.

"Canada Post remains committed to negotiating agreements that are fair to our employees, and allow us to continue to provide affordable pricing and service to Canadians."

A pay equity issue pitting rural and urban carriers against each other and a proposed move from a defined benefit pension plan to a defined contribution plan for new employees are the main stumbling blocks in the dispute.

The union claims rural postal workers earn, on average, nearly 30 per cent less than city carriers.

"Canada Post's proposal on pay equity (for rural carriers) was nothing more than an attempt to complicate and delay that process," the union told its members in a statement.

"Canada Post wants to drag out pay equity with binding arbitration, a process that could take years or even decades."

Other issues include "precarious part-time and temporary employment, no improvements in staffing, the ability to close all 493 protected CUPW staffed retail locations eliminating up to 1,200 full-time jobs," the union said.

Should the union give formal notice of a strike, mail and parcel deliveries could be disrupted by as early as Monday.

The Crown corporation also has the option to lock out workers after Thursday.





Cost of raising an athlete

Cheryl Simundson can still vividly recall the time her daughter, two-time Olympic bobsled champion Kaillie Humphries, stood on a chair during a family dinner more than 20 years ago and announced her plans to win gold for Canada.

"OK," Simundson said she told the seven-year-old at the time, before telling her to sit down and finish dinner.

The Calgary mom knew she would support her kids in any endeavour they chose, and for Humphries that would now mean a long journey of emotional — and financial — help.

"Raising an Olympian," said Simundson, "(there) never is an end to it."

With another Olympic Games over, many young Canadians may now feel the drive to embrace a sport and work their way onto the podium.

But raising a star athlete isn't cheap and the return on investment for most families will rarely, if ever, add up to the millions of dollars someone like Michael Phelps garners from endorsement deals.

Annual costs for a high-performance athlete range from $10,000 to $30,000, said Katie Misener, an assistant professor at the University of Waterloo's recreation and leisure studies department.

"Over their career, it's easily a six-figure investment, with no guarantee of a return," she said in an email.

The majority of the financial burden often comes down to the equipment required for a child's choice of sport, said Marvin G. Ryder, an assistant professor at McMaster University's DeGroote School of Business.

"Pray to God that they ask you to be a long-distance runner," he said.

The most expensive summer sports include sailing and equestrian events, he said, where the costs of owning, moving and maintaining a boat or horse can add up to roughly $500,000 a year.

Archery and shooting also rank highly, as they require bows and guns, as well as arrows and ammunition, he added.

Winter sports can also include steep costs. Consider hockey, where the costs of skates, a helmet and pads can quickly add up.

Simundson recalls paying $100,000 for a better bobsled for Humphries. Her daughter has since paid that back.

Even sports that would require little equipment can surprise parents at more competitive levels, said Chris Chard, an associate professor at Brock University's sport management department.

Chard estimates a competitive swimmer can set a family back roughly $15,000 annually, between club fees, swimsuits that costs hundreds of dollars and only last a few races, and other expenses like travel and nutrition.

Once kids compete internationally, there's often some funding available to help offset such costs, noted Ryder, but the journey there is often self-funded.

And the odds of a payoff, in terms of making the Olympics and standing atop the podium, are slim. The kids who advance to the highest level of a sport are a fraction of one per cent of those who enter it, both Ryder and Chard said.

Of those who actually make it and win, few can bank on a sizable pay out.

"There just isn't a big, big cheque waiting for you in most cases," said Ryder.

In fact, government and other types of funding are often barely enough to support the athlete and parents have to plan to supplement that, he added.

Simundson said athletes receive little funding to support them in the four years between Olympic showings, pointing out that their monthly stipends make it difficult to pay for housing, utilities, gas and food.

"So they're having to go out and get other jobs," she said.

The likelihood of a college scholarship payout isn't great either, Chard noted.

Despite the myriad number of costs and challenges, he maintains there's still reason for parents to help their children pursue their Olympic dreams.

"You just support them and build them up and make sure that they're going to do OK."



ICBC seeks 4.9% rate hike

UPDATE: 11:50 a.m.

An increased number of vehicle crashes in the province and the growing cost of repairs and claims are behind a push by ICBC for a hike in basic auto insurance rates.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone insists the government wants to ensure that ICBC rates remain as affordable as possible and has taken steps to do so.

“The reality is that ICBC continues to face mounting costs as a result of the frequency, complexity, and severity of bodily injury claims, in addition to higher vehicle repair costs,” Stone said in a statement. “In fact, the number of crashes in B.C. jumped from 260,000 in 2013 to 300,000 last year.

“Added to this, vehicles are more expensive to repair than ever before – vehicle damage costs totalled $1.36 billion in 2015 alone, up 17 per cent from 2014.”

Injury claims topped $2 billion for the first time in 2014 and reached $2.4 billion last year, according to government figures.

“The actual cost of these pressures would have required a rate increase of 15.5 per cent,” said Stone.

He said $472 million has been transferred from ICBC’s optional side of the business to offset some of the cost.


The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia will be seeking a 4.9-per-cent hike to its basic auto insurance rates.

The corporation has submitted its application to the B.C. Utilities Commission, with interim approval expected in early September, covering rates effective Nov. 1.

Mark Blucher, the corporation's president and CEO, says a final decision is due by the spring and ICBC estimates the increase will add about $3.50 per month to the cost of basic insurance coverage.

Blucher says more crashes, more damage to vehicles, higher repair costs and a leap in injury claims are some of the reasons for the rate increase.

He says in the past, the corporation has offset claims costs by relying on investment income but low interest rates and challenging market conditions mean that is no longer an option.

The 4.9-per-cent boost is lower than the 5.5 per cent approved in 2015, but Blucher says without internal measures, such as the transfer of $472 million from the corporation's optional insurance business, ICBC would have needed a 15.5-per-cent increase to cover 2016 costs.



34285


CIBC sees big jump in profit

CIBC is reporting a big jump in third-quarter profit, which rose nearly 50 per cent from a year ago to $1.44 billion, partly due to the sale of its minority investment in American Century Investments.

The Toronto-based bank had $978 million of net income during the same quarter last year.

CIBC says that without the gains from the American Century Investments sale, its profit was up eight per cent to $1.07 billion from $990 million.

On a per-share basis, net income for the three months ended July 31 was $3.61 — up from $2.42 in last year's third quarter.

After adjustments, CIBC earned $2.67 per share, up from $2.45 a year ago.

Revenue for the quarter was $4.14 billion, up from $3.52 billion during the same period last year.



6,000 strollers recalled

Health Canada is calling almost 6,000 strollers sold under the brand name Safety 1st.

The Step n Go Travel Systems strollers were manufactured in China and distributed by Mississauga, Ont.,-based Dorel Juvenile Canada.

The federal agency says a tray folding mechanism can partially disengage on one side when an infant car seat is attached, posing a fall hazard.

Health Canada says about 5,787 of the affected strollers were sold in Canada between May 2015 and June 2016. Dorel Juvenile Canada has eight consumer reports about the trays disengaging but there are no reports of any injuries.

Health Canada says anyone who owns one of these strollers should stop using it with a car seat attached and contact the company for a free repair kit.

Three models are affected, identified as 01451CCYA, 01451CDGI and 01451CDGJ. The numbers are on a sewn-in label at the back of the stroller.

The recall also covers some 20,000 units which were sold in the United States.



TD Bank profits climb

TD Bank is reporting a third-quarter profit of $2.36 billion, up four per cent from a year ago on strong earnings from its U.S. retail banking operations.

Last year, the bank earned $2.27 billion during the three months ended July 31.

On a per share basis, TD earned $1.24 during the third quarter, compared with $1.19 during the same period last year.

After adjustments, the bank earned $2.42 billion during the quarter, or $1.27 per share, up from $2.29 billion or $1.20 per share a year ago.

TD raked in $8.70 billion in quarterly revenue, up from $8.01 billion.



Judge tosses Starbucks suit

A federal U.S. judge has thrown cold water on a lawsuit that claimed Starbucks defrauded customers by adding ice to its cold beverages.

Judge Percy Anderson tossed out the potential class-action lawsuit because a reasonable customer would know that a portion of iced coffee or tea would include ice and they'd be able to see it through the clear plastic cups the beverages are served in. In fact, he said, even a child would get it.

"As young children learn, they can increase the amount of beverage they receive if they order 'no ice,'" Anderson said in a ruling issued Friday in U.S. District Court. "If children have figured out that including ice in a cold beverage decreases the amount of liquid they will receive, the court has no difficulty concluding that a reasonable consumer would not be deceived into thinking ... some portion of the drink will be ice rather than whatever liquid beverage the consumer ordered."

Alexander Forouzesh sued Starbucks Corp. in May for fraud, breach of warranty and false advertising, among other claims.

The Los Angeles man said the chain was cheating customers out of iced coffee and tea by filling cups as much as halfway with ice.

Forouzesh said Wednesday that he plans to appeal and was insulted by the judge's remarks about children.

"Any child can figure out that they're being deceived by Starbucks, as well," he said. "It's not right. The whole point is that we're being deceived."

A Starbucks spokeswoman said the company was pleased with the decision and the judge's remarks.

A similar case is still percolating in Chicago's federal court. The coffee company is due to file its defence in that case Thursday.



Real estate to remain strong

A credit union is forecasting that British Columbia's housing market will remain strong for the next two years as a growing population and limited housing supply continue to push prices up, particularly on Vancouver Island.

However, Central 1 Credit Union says a new tax on foreign buyers will cause a substantial but temporary 10 per cent drop in Metro Vancouver sales that will extend into 2017.

Senior economist Bryan Yu says the tax puts further downward pressure on a market that has already been slowing after a very strong spring.

He expects Metro Vancouver sales to rebound due to the strong local economy and lack of supply, although he says prices will grow at a much slower rate than they did in the first part of 2016.

The annual median price of a home in the region grew nearly 20 per cent this year to $705,000, but Yu says prices will rise just 4 per cent in 2017 and 4.4 per cent in 2018 to $765,000.

He says the declines in Metro Vancouver are being offset by gains on Vancouver Island and, to a lesser extent, in Interior B.C., where people are relocating for work and more affordable housing.

"You're also seeing the in-migration flows, not only from other provinces, like Alberta ... but also I think from Metro Vancouver, pushing into these more affordable areas," Yu says in an interview.

During the recession, few new homes were built in these regions and they suffered from excess supply, he says. But now, most of the extra housing stock has been sold off.

At the same time, Victoria has seen two per cent employment growth, with lifts in tourism, the film and television industry, and the public sector.

All these factors are helping to drive a 20 per cent annualized rise in home prices in Victoria, while Nanaimo is seeing an eight to 10 per cent bump, Yu says.

"I'm a little bit more cautious about Kelowna because they have a relatively weaker job market," he says, adding that job losses in Alberta's oilsands continue to impact Interior B.C.

In late July, the B.C. government announced a 15 per cent tax on Vancouver-area properties purchased by foreigners. The levy has caused uncertainty, likely prompting some foreign buyers to pull out of the market and impacting local confidence in real estate, Yu says.

But he says the bigger picture is that B.C.'s economy is still doing very well. Employment in the province grew 3.5 per cent over the past year, while in Metro Vancouver it grew 5 per cent.

Housing starts are projected to remain above 40,000 units in 2017 and 2018, he says.

After a year of runaway unaffordability in Metro Vancouver, Yu stresses that price deceleration would actually be quite healthy.

"We don't want to see 10, 15 per cent growth year over year. It's largely unsustainable," he says.

"We will see a decline in sales that will cool the market, and will decelerate prices, but I don't think it's going to be as drastic as some others may be believing."



Contract talks stall

It appears contract talks at Canada Post have stalled as a strike mandate for more than 51,000 members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers is set to expire.

The postal agency's biggest union has until midnight Thursday to serve the Crown corporation with a 72-hour strike notice.

The union is accusing Canada Post of continuing to make unacceptable demands.

The added urgency of the strike mandate deadline saw federal Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk directly intervene in the negotiations Tuesday by sitting at the table after the bargaining teams held days of intensive talks.

CUPW national president Mike Palecek has scheduled a news conference for Thursday to provide an update to the union's perspective of the negotiations.

But the union's bargaining team told members that, unless Canada Post backed away from its proposals, it would serve notice of an impending work disruption.

"If nothing changes between now and tomorrow, we will be issuing our 72-hour notice of strike activity," the CUPW negotiating team told its members.

Should the union pull the plug on bargaining, there could be disruptions to mail delivery by Monday, although it wasn't clear Wednesday what action would be taken.

Once the strike mandate expires, Canada Post employees would likely have to vote again on an extension.

That vote could take upwards of two months to complete, setting the timeline for a potential delivery disruption at the start of the busy Christmas mailing season.

The Crown corporation also has the option to lock out workers after Thursday.

"After 9 months of negotiations, including 60 days of conciliation followed by more than 70 days with the help of mediators, both sides remain far apart," said Canada Post spokesman Jon Hamilton.

"The union continues to press for more than $1 billion in demands with no appreciation for the current and troubling future state of the postal service caused by declining mail volumes and increasing pension obligations.

"Canada Post remains committed to negotiating agreements that are fair to our employees, and allow us to continue to provide affordable pricing and service to Canadians."

A pay equity issue pitting rural and urban carriers against each other and a proposed move from a defined benefit pension plan to a defined contribution plan for new employees are the main stumbling blocks in the dispute.

The union claims rural postal workers earn, on average, nearly 30 per cent less than city carriers.

"Canada Post's proposal on pay equity (for rural carriers) was nothing more than an attempt to complicate and delay that process," the union told its members in a statement.

"Canada Post wants to drag out pay equity with binding arbitration, a process that could take years or even decades."

Other issues include "precarious part-time and temporary employment, no improvements in staffing, the ability to close all 493 protected CUPW staffed retail locations eliminating up to 1,200 full-time jobs," the union said.



Nfld. boasts about oil & gas

The Newfoundland and Labrador government has delivered some encouraging news about its potential offshore oil and gas resources, saying new seismic data is pointing to huge reserves in West Orphan Basin.

Premier Dwight Ball announced Wednesday that an independent assessment of nine parcels in the basin found they could contain 25.5 billion barrels of oil and 20.6 trillion cubic feet of gas.

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, which regulates the province's offshore industry, has already issued a call for bids that closes in November 2016.

Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady says the data have revealed 350 leads and prospects — more than 50 of which are in the West Orphan Basin.

Ball says the new estimates should encourage more oil and gas exploration, despite the dramatic downturn in the industry.

"We do recognize that exploration is down globally due to current challenges in the oil and gas industry," he said in a statement.

"Still, we are cautiously optimistic about positive results of the licensing round in November 2016. We are fully expecting more exploration work by the leading oil and gas companies in the world."

The assessment was conducted by Beicip-Franlab, based in Paris.



Tim Hortons' new president

Tim Hortons Canada has named a new president for the second time since being acquired by Restaurant Brands International (TSX:QSR) in late 2014.

Replacing David Clanachan as president is Sami Siddiqui, who was head of finance for Tim Hortons.

RBI said Clanachan has been elevated to chairman of RBI Canada.

Clanachan has been chief operating officer at Tim Hortons since August 2012 and was appointed president in December 2014.

Prior to joining Tim Hortons at the outset of 2015, Siddiqui had been a senior director of global finance for Burger King.

RBI is the parent company of Burger King and Tim Hortons.



Ford recall over stalling

Ford is recalling more than 88,000 cars and SUVs in North America, including 7,353 in Canada, because the engines can stall without warning due to a fuel pump problem.

The recall covers certain Ford Taurus and Police Interceptor sedans, Ford Flex wagons, Lincoln MKS sedans and Lincoln MKT SUVs from the 2013 through 2015 model years. All have 3.5-litre turbocharged six-cylinder engines.

The 3.5-litre Ford Flexes and Lincoln MKT were build at Ford's plant in Oakville, Ont., between Sept. 12, 2011 and May 31, 2015.

Ford says the fuel pump control modules can fail, and the engines may not start, or they could stall, leaving drivers without the ability to restart them. The company says it's not aware of any crashes or injuries from the problem.

Dealers will replace the control module at no cost to owners.

Ford says it's working with parts makers to ship new modules quickly. The company will notify customers to bring their vehicles in for repairs starting the week of Oct. 17.

Concerned owners can go to Ford.com and click on "safety recalls" near the bottom of the page to see if their vehicles are part of the recall. They'll have to key in the vehicle identification number. Those whose vehicles are in the recalled and are concerned about stalling should contact their local dealer, the company says.



More Business News

Recent Trending
Member of the RTNDA
34457
Press Room
31567