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Amazon same-day delivery

Online retailer Amazon says customers in Toronto and Vancouver that are signed up for its Prime service are now eligible for same-day deliveries as part of their premium plan.

The offer is good for eligible orders over $25.

The Seattle-based company says eligible purchases placed in the morning through Amazon.ca will be delivered by 9 p.m. the same day in areas with Vancouver and Toronto postal codes.

Orders placed later in the day will be delivered to eligible areas by 9 p.m. the next day, including weekends.

Amazon Prime is a premium service that costs $79 per year but eligible for a 30-day free trial. It includes free delivery within two days of orders placed through Amazon.ca.

Same-day orders to locations in Vancouver and Toronto are also available to customers without a Prime membership for a fee — $11.99 per order plus an additional fee based on weight.

Amazon rival Indigo offers free shipping within Canada for orders over $25 for delivery in one to nine business days. It will also deliver items to its retail stores for free, with no minimum purchase required.





Rogers beefs up radio assets

Rogers Media has signed an agreement to buy Tillsonburg Broadcasting Company Ltd., which owns the radio licences for CJDL-FM and CKOT-FM, which are marketed as Country 107.3 and Easy 101.

The two brands serve London, Kitchener-Waterloo, Woodstock, St. Thomas and smaller communities in Southwestern Ontario.

Rogers (TSX:RCI.B) said the deal is expected to close by early 2017, pending approval from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

The company's radio stations in Southwestern Ontario already include CHST-FM (102.3 Jack FM) in London, and CKGL (570 NEWS), CHYM-FM (CHYM 96.7) and CIKZ-FM (Country 106.7) in Kitchener.

Rogers said that Carolyn Lamers, part-owner and general manager of CJDL-FM and CKOT-FM, will remain with the stations to assist with the transition of ownership and contribute to future growth.

Telecom giant Rogers currently owns 51 AM and FM radio stations across Canada.



Less pay for Alberta workers

Hard economic times have prompted an organization that bargains for Alberta's unionized building trades to sign a deal that includes lower pay for some workers in the hope of keeping them on the job.

The agreement that is to start Jan. 1 covers employees who do daily upkeep and prepare for shutdowns and overhauls at oilsands, energy, petrochemical and other industrial plants

Brett McKenzie, executive director of the General Presidents' Maintenance Committee, said union members are to be paid 75 cents an hour less than if they were doing construction work. There are also some changes to overtime and benefits.

The three-year deal aims to help contractors, who employ union members, to win maintenance contracts as industrial construction activity in Alberta winds down.

"These concessions are necessary to keep us in the game, to keep us on the inside of the fence," said McKenzie.

"If our contractors are not in a position to win contracts, we are not going to be in a position to provide jobs and opportunities for the members of the local unions in Alberta."

The agreement covers carpenters, electricians, ironworkers, labourers, millwrights, operating engineers, pipefitters, sheet-metal workers and other trades.

There is no ratification vote.





Clean Power goes to court

The federal appeals court in Washington began hearing oral arguments Tuesday in the legal fight over President Barack Obama's plan to curtail greenhouse gas emissions.

The Clean Power Plan, which aims to slow climate change by reducing power-plant emissions by one-third, has been challenged by more than two dozen mostly Republican-led states, including Texas, and allied business and industry groups tied to fossil fuels. The states deride the carbon-cutting plan unveiled by the Environmental Protection Agency as an "unlawful power grab" that will kill coal-mining jobs and drive up electricity costs.

The Supreme Court has delayed implementation until the legal challenges are resolved.

Implementation of the rules is considered essential to the United States meeting emissions-reduction targets in a global climate agreement signed in Paris last year. The Obama administration and environmental groups also say the plan will spur new clean-energy jobs.

Regardless of which side prevails at the appeals level, the issue is considered likely to end up being decided by the Supreme Court.

The federal plan aims to help stave off the worst predicted impacts of climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions at existing power plants by about one-third by 2030. The plan also encourages further development of alternative energy sources such as wind and solar by further ratcheting down any emissions allowed from new coal-fired power plants.

Under the Clean Air Act, certain challenges to new EPA rules skip the federal district court and go directly to the appeals court. A three-judge panel had been scheduled to hear the case in June, but whichever side lost was considered likely to seek a review by the full appeals court.

In a rare step, the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit elected to hold Tuesday's "en banc" review before the smaller panel's decision, which is allowed under procedural rules when the case at issue "involves a question of exceptional importance." By using its discretion to skip a step, the appeals judges are potentially shaving months off the time before the case could be heard by the high court.

Six of the 10 appeals judges were appointed by Democratic presidents. Chief appeals judge Merrick Garland, who was nominated by Obama to fill a vacant Supreme Court seat, has recused himself from the case.



Lumber giant faces charges

The Alberta government has charged a pulp mill with several offences under the Environmental Protection Act.

West Fraser Mills in Hinton, Alta., faces a total of six charges after the release of a substance in September 2014 that allegedly wasn't immediately reported to Alberta Environment.

The company also faces one charge of failing to follow safety rules while unloading a chemical from a truck.

James Gorman, vice president of external and government relations at West Fraser, said in a statement that the company did notify authorities of an incident after a material was delivered to the wrong location at the mill site.

"As soon as this was discovered, our employees reacted immediately to remedy the situation and notified the appropriate agencies," said Gorman.

He said the company takes safety and environmental responsibilities very seriously, and West Fraser reviewed, corrected and improved its material handling activities following the incident.

Both the company and officials with Alberta Environment declined to provide further details about the incident, including which substance was released, because the issue is before the courts.

West Fraser's first court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 19 in Hinton.

The company calls itself one of North America's largest lumber companies with 40 mills across Western Canada and the southern United States.



Shomi to pull the plug

Video streaming service Shomi announced Monday it will shut down at the end of November, two years after it launched.

"The business climate and online video marketplace have changed markedly in the last few years," David Asch, senior vice-president and general manager for Shomi, said in a statement.

"Combined with the fact that the business is more challenging to operate than we expected, we've decided to wind down our operations."

Asch said the company remains proud of the service it launched and the role it played in the evolving video landscape in Canada.

Shomi was launched by Rogers and Shaw in November 2014 in an effort to grab the attention of a growing number of people watching TV and movies online.

It was seen as a competitor to Netflix and other similar web streaming services.

"We tried something new, and customers who used Shomi loved it," Melani Griffith, senior vice-president of content at Rogers, said in another statement.

"It's like a great cult favourite with a fantastic core audience that unfortunately just isn't big enough to be renewed for another season."

Rogers said it expects to incur a loss on investment of approximately $100 million to $140 million in its third quarter, which ends Friday.



Magna to acquire BOCO

Magna International Inc. (TSX:MG) will increase its capacity to make automotive latches, hinges and other closure components through the purchase of the BOCO Group of Companies, in a transaction announced Monday.

The Ontario-based auto parts company didn't disclose the purchase price but said BOCO has annual sales of more than $148 million and employs 450 people at operations in Germany and China.

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of 2016.

Magna has 309 manufacturing operations and 99 product development, engineering and sales centres in 29 countries. In total, it employs more than 152,000 people.



GoodLife Fitness expanding

GoodLife Fitness says it will be adding 600 positions between now and next August as it expands its club network in several provinces.

The company, based in London, Ont., has announced plans for 15 new GoodLife clubs — about half of them in various Ontario cities. It's also adding clubs in Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia and one in Moncton, N.B.

The number of employees per club ranges from 30 to 50 depending on the size of the location.

The 480 full-time and 120 part-time positions will include personal trainers, general managers, assistant general managers, fitness managers, club administrators, front-desk staff and child minding associates.

The company currently employs 14,400 people under its GoodLife banner prior to the additional jobs.

In Quebec, the company operates under the Energie Cardio or Econofitness brands, which aren't included in the jobs announcement. There are currently 48 clubs in Quebec, rising to 50.



Pfizer won't break up

Drug giant Pfizer says it won't split into two publicly traded companies, despite pressure from investors frustrated by its lagging stock price, ending years of Wall Street speculation over its strategy and future.

The biggest U.S.-based drugmaker said Monday it believes it is best positioned to maximize shareholder value in its current form, but it reserves the right to split in the future if the situation changes.

For several years, the maker of Viagra and the pain treatment Lyrica has been under growing pressure from analysts and investors who argued that by splitting up, the resulting two companies might grow faster than one.

As a result, Pfizer has been reporting detailed financial results for each of its business segments, information that would be required by regulators for a split. Earlier this year, Pfizer promised a decision by the end of the year, but then it reorganized and renamed those segments — a sign a breakup was less likely.

Chances of the breakup began to fade even more over the summer, due in part to increasing sales for key new drugs from Pfizer and rising prospects for its drugs under development.

Pfizer CEO Ian Read told analysts last month that the prospect of a split was not a "make-or-break decision" for the company. The company recently said it had spent $600 million on preparations for such a split.

"Given that Pfizer has been talking down expectations for a separation in recent months, we think the stock will only be down modestly on this news," Jeffries analyst Jeffrey Holford wrote to investors.

Shares of Pfizer Inc. fell 56 cents, or 1.6 per cent, to $33.71 in midday trading Monday. The stock is up almost 6 per cent over the past year.

Pfizer said Monday that a split would not help the competitive positioning of its businesses, and such a move would create disruptions and increased costs.

The drugmaker's most likely path forward involves hunting for more acquisition targets, according to Bernstein analyst Dr. Tim Anderson, who had pressed Pfizer repeatedly on its quarterly results conference calls to break up.

Pfizer has been buying several companies and products to help make up for a wave of sales losses to cheaper, generic competition, most notably for the cholesterol pill Lipitor. It also attempted and failed at two mega-acquisitions, of Britain's AstraZeneca Plc in 2014 and this year of Ireland's Allergan Plc.

Both those deals had been structured as tax inversions, meant to allow Pfizer to move its headquarters from New York — but just on paper — to a country with lower tax rates to reduce its U.S. tax bill. AstraZeneca rebuffed Pfizer, and the U.S. Treasury Department set up new rules that effectively blocked the Allergan acquisition.

Last month, Pfizer said it would spend about $14 billion to buy cancer drug developer Medivation, and it is buying rights to AstraZeneca's portfolio of approved and experimental antibiotic and antifungal pills. In June, Pfizer completed a $5.2-billion acquisition of Anacor Pharmaceuticals Inc., which could get a new eczema drug, crisaborole, approved by January.

"A critic could argue that Pfizer is back to being the same old Pfizer as before, relying on (mergers and acquisitions) to grow and to refill its pipeline, but at the expense of growing larger in the process depending on the size of deals it chases," Anderson said in a research note.



GM workers vote on deal

Unionized workers at General Motors will decide today whether to accept a new contract with the auto giant.

Unifor is holding votes in three Ontario communities: Oshawa, St Catharines and Woodstock.

The union says results are expected sometime in the evening.

GM and Unifor hammered out the agreement last week.

It includes wage increases, signing bonuses and lump sum payments, but the union also agreed that new hires will start with a defined contribution pension plan, rather than the hybrid plan for current employees.

The company has also promised to invest in its Canadian operations.

If the GM workers accept the proposed contract then Unifor will use it as a basis for negotiations with Fiat-Chrysler.



'Golden decade of trade'

Calling for a "new golden decade" in China-Canada relations, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Friday he wants to return to the days when his country had better relations with Canada than it did most other western countries.

Trade between the two nations should more than double over the next ten years, Li told the several hundred gathered in Montreal for a luncheon hosted by the Canada China Business Council.

With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the audience, Li brought up the memory of the Canadian communist recognized as a hero in China, surgeon Norman Bethune, to illustrate the strong history between the two nations.

Bethune, born in Ontario in 1890, is credited with bringing modern medicine to parts of China during the 1930s war with Japan and was written about famously by Mao Zedong.

"In the most difficult time for China, Dr. Bethune gave selfless support to the Chinese people," Li said.

Li also recognized Canada's wheat sales to the country while it was recovering from a famine in the 1960s.

"Canada took the lead in breaking the trade embargo against China," he said.

The Chinese premier told the audience "let's move towards the days when Canada-China relations were much better than with many other western countries."

He later called for "a new golden decade" between Ottawa and Beijing.

Former Quebec premier Jean Charest, who was in attendance, told reporters that he's "stunned" by how quickly Canada and China are taking steps to improve relations.

Li's three-day visit to Canada comes just weeks after Trudeau made a trip to China last month.



Inflation dips to 1.1%

The country's annual inflation rate was an unexpectedly low 1.1 per cent in August as lower fuel prices dragged it to the lower reaches of the Bank of Canada's target range.

Statistics Canada's latest reading of the consumer price index was weaker than the 1.3 per cent year-over-year increase in July, as the number neared the fringe of the central bank's ideal range of one to three per cent.

Economists had expected inflation to ring in at 1.4 per cent in August, according to Thomson Reuters.

Statistics Canada said prices rose in most major categories compared with a year earlier — with the cost of electricity, air transportation and passenger vehicles contributing the biggest upward pushes to the overall inflation rate.

A closer look at last month's numbers revealed Canadians paid 14.5 per cent more for apples compared with a year earlier, 9.3 per cent more for fresh or frozen fish and 5.3 per cent more for cigarettes.

But increases like those were offset by lower prices for items like gasoline, which dropped 11.5 per cent, fuel oil, which fell 11.8 per cent and natural gas, which slid 9.9 per cent.

The Bank of Canada's core inflation rate, which omits some volatile items like gasoline, was 1.8 per cent last month after hitting 2.1 per cent in July.

Statistics Canada also released fresh retail trade numbers Friday that showed total sales slipped 0.1 per cent in July, compared with the previous month. Total retail sales in July were just over $44.1 billion.

In British Columbia, the inflation rate was 2.0 per cent, down from 2.1 in July.

 



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