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Tesla robot walks, waves, but doesn't show off complex tasks

Tesla robot walks & waves

An early prototype of Tesla Inc.'s proposed Optimus humanoid robot slowly and awkwardly walked onto a stage, turned, and waved to a cheering crowd at the company's artificial intelligence event Friday.

But the basic tasks by the robot with exposed wires and electronics — as well as a later, next generation version that had to be carried onstage by three men — was a long way from CEO Elon Musk's vision of a human-like robot that can change the world.

Musk told the crowd, many of whom might be hired by Tesla, that the robot can do much more than the audience saw Friday. He said it is also delicate and “we just didn’t want it to fall on its face."

Musk suggested that the problem with flashy robot demonstrations is that the robots are “missing a brain” and don’t have the intelligence to navigate themselves, but he gave little evidence Friday that Optimus was any more intelligent than robots developed by other companies and researchers.

The demo didn’t impress AI researcher Filip Piekniewski, who tweeted it was “next level cringeworthy” and a “complete and utter scam.” He said it would be “good to test falling, as this thing will be falling a lot.”

“None of this is cutting edge,” tweeted robotics expert Cynthia Yeung. “Hire some PhDs and go to some robotics conferences @Tesla.”

Yeung also questioned why Tesla opted for its robot to have a human-like hand with five fingers, noting “there’s a reason why” warehouse robots developed by startup firms use pinchers with two or three fingers.

Musk said that Friday night was the first time the early robot walked onstage without a tether. Tesla's goal, he said, is to make an “extremely capable” robot in high volumes — possibly millions of them — at a cost that could be less than a car, that he guessed would be less than $20,000.

Tesla showed a video of the robot, which uses artificial intelligence that Tesla is testing in its “Full Self-Driving” vehicles, carrying boxes and placing a metal bar into what appeared to be a factory machine. But there was no live demonstration of the robot completing the tasks.

Employees told the crowd in Palo Alto, California, as well as those watching via livestream, that they have been working on Optimus for six to eight months. People can probably buy an Optimus “within three to five years," Musk said.

Employees said Optimus robots would have four fingers and a thumb with a tendon-like system so they could have the dexterity of humans.

The robot is backed by giant artificial intelligence computers that track millions of video frames from “Full Self-Driving” autos. Similar computers would be used to teach tasks to the robots, they said.

Experts in the robotics field were skeptical that Tesla is anywhere near close to rolling out legions of human-like home robots that can do the “useful things” Musk wants them to do – say, make dinner, mow the lawn, keep watch on an aging grandmother.

“When you’re trying to develop a robot that is both affordable and useful, a humanoid kind of shape and size is not necessarily the best way,” said Tom Ryden, executive director of the nonprofit startup incubator Mass Robotics.

Tesla isn’t the first car company to experiment with humanoid robots.

Honda more than two decades ago unveiled Asimo, which resembled a life-size space suit and was shown in a carefully-orchestrated demonstration to be able to pour liquid into a cup. Hyundai also owns a collection of humanoid and animal-like robots through its 2021 acquisition of robotics firm Boston Dynamics. Ford has partnered with Oregon startup Agility Robotics, which makes robots with two legs and two arms that can walk and lift packages.

Ryden said carmakers’ research into humanoid robotics can potentially lead to machines that can walk, climb and get over obstacles, but impressive demos of the past haven't led to an “actual use scenario” that lives up to the hype.

“There’s a lot of learning that they’re getting from understanding the way humanoids function,” he said. “But in terms of directly having a humanoid as a product, I’m not sure that that’s going to be coming out anytime soon.”

Critics also said years ago that Musk and Tesla wouldn't be able to build a profitable new car company that used batteries for power rather than gasoline.

Tesla is testing “Full Self-Driving” vehicles on public roads, but they have to be monitored by selected owners who must be ready to intervene at all times. The company says it has about 160,000 vehicles equipped with the test software on the road today.

Critics have said the Teslas, which rely on cameras and powerful computers to drive by themselves, don't have enough sensors to drive safely. Tesla's less capable Autopilot driver-assist system, with the same camera sensors, is under investigation by U.S. safety regulators for braking for no reason and repeatedly running into emergency vehicles with flashing lights parked along freeways.

In 2019, Musk promised a fleet of autonomous robotaxis would be in use by the end of 2020. They are still being tested.





Torstar Corp. co-owner Bitove makes 'no apologies' amid tension with business partner

Infighting at Torstar Corp.

One of the co-owners of Torstar Corp. said he is making "no apologies" for the way he runs the newspaper business after his partner filed for a court order to wind up its parent company.

Nordstar Capital Inc. co-owner Jordan Bitove said in a statement that he has worked to make the company resilient, more accountable and more competitive.

"I’ve done this to ensure that the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest newspaper, can continue to deliver the news, opinion and stories our diverse audiences seek and the investigative journalism our democracy depends upon – while upholding The Star’s incredible legacy and building a brighter, stronger future," he said.

Bitove said he has focused on building a product centred on the trusted journalism that readers demand, while using that demand to build a sustainable business.

"The preferred playbook of some investors is to cut costs to the bone, strip the product bare, and shrink newsrooms to extract short-term benefit for shareholders."

The statement comes after Bitove's business partner Paul Rivett described an erosion of the partners' relationship in a filing to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice earlier this month and called for an asset sale to wind up the company.

In the court filing, Rivett claims Bitove changed his mind about previously agreed upon plans, failed to provide a budget at the Toronto Star, which he oversees as publisher, ignored proper corporate governance and disregarded his responsibilities to Torstar and Nordstar.

Rivett did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday, and the claims have not yet been tested in court.

Rivett has asked the court to appoint PricewaterhouseCoopers to manage an asset sale to resolve the "impasse" between the two parties and says dissolving Nordstar is the only way to create a clear path forward for the companies under its umbrella, which also include Metroland Media Group and NorthStar Gaming Inc.

"Given the operational state of the companies, the applicants, employees of the controlled companies, and Torstar’s news readers all stand to suffer irreparable harm if interim relief is not granted," the filing said.

It also said Bitove resigned from Nordstar's board of directors on Aug. 13.

Unifor, which represents more than 10,000 media workers, said in a statement Friday that it was "disheartened" by the court application.

"(The) unexpected news was completely disrespectful to the hard-working Toronto Star staff who felt blindsided by this information – or rather, lack-of," said Unifor national president Lana Payne.

"Journalists and media workers often put their lives on the line to provide fact-based reporting to the public and they deserve better."

Unifor Local 87-M represents many Toronto Star employees.

Nordstar acquired Torstar in 2020, taking the company private, including the Toronto Star and various local news outlets it operates in other cities.

Prior to the deal closing, Nordstar upped its bid for Torstar from $52 million to $60 million in response to a rival offer for the media conglomerate.

The purchase was financed by a loan from investment firm Canso Investment Counsel Ltd.

Rivett was previously president at Fairfax Financial before joining up with Bitove, who was part of the ownership consortium that built the SkyDome, now the Rogers Centre.



Lululemon settles lawsuit against Peloton over alleged patent infringement

Lululemon settles lawsuit

Lululemon Athletica Canada Inc. has reached a settlement with Peloton Interactive Inc. over allegations the exercise equipment maker copied several of the apparel company's designs.

A notice of voluntary dismissal filed in a California court on Friday said the companies negotiated a "mutually agreeable settlement" of the trademark dispute.

In a joint statement, Lululemon and Peloton said they are "pleased the matters could be resolved amicably, resulting in dismissal of the pending litigation" between them.

"Without admissions of any kind, in an effort to resolve the dispute, Peloton has agreed to phase out certain designs identified in the complaint by lululemon," the statement said.

The settlement came a day after a New York court dismissed a lawsuit by Peloton filed in anticipation of a trademark complaint by Lululemon.

The Vancouver-based company had sent Peloton a cease-and-desist letter last November alleging the exercise equipment maker had copied several of its product designs.

In response, Peloton launched its own lawsuit against Lululemon asking the court to pre-emptively declare that it had not infringed on Lululemon patents.

A Federal Court in New York on Thursday tossed out Peloton's suit, calling it "an anticipatory action that warrants dismissal."

Former partners Lululemon and Peloton launched a co-branding relationship in 2016.

Lululemon provided the stationary bicycle and treadmill maker with apparel, and Peloton sold the merchandise with its own trademark alongside Lululemon's logo.

Peloton ended the relationship in 2021 and shortly after announced its own private label, Peloton Apparel, amid a pandemic-fuelled boom in athleisure.

Lululemon alleged Peloton began selling "copycat products" that closely resembled several of the retailer's best-selling styles.

"Peloton imitated several of Lululemon’s innovative designs and sold knock-offs of Lululemon’s products, claiming them as its own," the company alleged in court documents filed last November.

"These knock-offs include Peloton’s Strappy Bra, Cadent Laser Dot Legging, Cadent Laser Dot Bra, High Neck Bra, and Cadent Peak Bra, which collectively infringe six different lululemon patents."

In court documents, Peloton argued Lululemon’s allegations lacked merit.

"Even a quick comparison of the Lululemon patented designs with the allegedly infringing Peloton products reveals numerous clear and obvious differences that allow the products to be easily distinguished."





Property owner ordered to pay for repair of ruptured natural gas line

Must pay for gas line break

A Civil Resolution Tribunal member has ordered a Prince George-area property owner to pay FortisBC Energy Inc. more than $1,400 for the cost of repairing a ruptured natural gas line.

In a decision issued this week, CRT vice chair Shelley Lopez found the owner at fault for the July 2021 mishap on his five-acre rural property because he had failed to obtain a valid BC 1 Call ticket and had not exposed the line by hand digging before deploying his excavator.

The owner had countered that Fortis failed to provide an accurate sketch and to adequately mark the gas line with a tracer line and alleged that, after he previously obtained a ticket in 2018, a technician from the company could not fully trace the line but said that he could still go ahead and dig on certain areas of the property.

The tickets last two years, Lopez noted, and did not accept the owner's "apparent assertion that it is impractical for him to have to call BC 1 Call every time he wants to dig around his property."

Moreover, Lopez found the technician who visited his property after he obtained the previous ticket did not authorize the owner to dig in the area where the gas line was damaged in July 2021.

It was not a complete win for Fortis. The company had been seeking $2,387.45 but Lopez settled on $1,429.55 and agreed with the owner's assertion that he should not be responsible for the amount Fortis on spent digging and searching for a tracer wire after the rupture.

In invoicing the owner, Fortis did not separate out the cost of repairing the line from the cost of the search for the tracer wire, Lopez noted, and allowed $1,100 for the cost of the search, based on the owner's "undisputed" description of the repair work two Fortis employees carried out in the aftermath.

According to Lopez, the owner bought the property in April 2018 and sometime later the same year, obtained a BC 1 Call ticket to determine where the utilities were located but did no excavation work at the time.

In 2019, asked Fortis to locate the gas line because he wanted to build a shop and install a gate and fencing at the beginning of his driveway near the road. The technician could only identify about 30 feet out from the house, meter and main line.

In summer 2020, the owner dug and installed the gate and posts at the beginning of the driveway without any trouble. Then, in July 2021, he decided to add fencing “off the edges” of the gate.

He marked the post to angle away from the gate and driveway “into the bush line” and hand dug just over two feet down where he hit “very hard compact clay” that he believed was undisturbed and left him feeling safe to continue digging to a four-foot depth with an auger on his excavator.

"As he inserted the auger to clean out the hole, he 'caught' the gas line that was on the hole’s edge," Lopez said.

Lopez found it "unreasonable and below the standard of care" for the owner to have proceeded with digging by machinery on the basis that in 2019, the technician said he "thought" the gas line ran down the middle of the driveway.



Cascades Casino Delta celebrates grand opening

New Delta casino opens

A major new entertainment attraction in South Delta has officially opened for business as Gateway Casinos & Entertainment celebrated the grand opening of the Cascades Casino Delta on Thursday.

Company officials and dignitaries were on hand for the afternoon celebration which included a media tour and ribbon-cutting for the new gaming facility and its eateries.

It features 160,000 square feet of entertainment space with a gaming floor as well as Gateway's signature restaurants – The Buffet, Summit Bar and MATCH Eatery & Public House, which will feature a multi-season patio and the Bud Room. 

The gaming features 500 slots, 18 table games and stadium-style gaming.

The project has created hundreds of new jobs in Delta.

"This is a wonderful day for Delta and Gateway Casinos. I am proud to say, despite the challenges of the pandemic over the last two and a half years, we finally reached our destination," said Gateway's Chief Operating Officer, Rob Ward. "This new property is testimony to the resiliency and determination of a great many people who kept their focus and worked hard together to create a state-of-the-art entertainment destination for the City of Delta."

The complex also includes an adjoining new hotel with 120 rooms, which is to be operated by Delta Marriott. It will open at a later date, but details on its construction progress and the opening date have not been released by Delta Marriott.

Back in 2016, the BC Lottery Corporation announced Delta was chosen as the preferred host local government for a new gambling and entertainment facility.

BCLC said an evaluation committee selected Delta based on a variety of factors including strong market potential, community plans and transportation access.

In 2018, the application by Gateway received final city council approval, following a public hearing, and subsequently BCLC approval.

At the time, Gateway estimated the complex would cost around $70 million.

The City of Richmond had conveyed opposition and wanted the facility located elsewhere in Delta, citing concerns including potential impacts to the River Rock Casino Resort’s business. The City of Delta indicated to Richmond, as well as BCLC, that the Town & Country site was the only location it would consider for a gaming facility.

The grand opening was originally anticipated to take place in 2020, but delays getting final provincial approvals, and then more significantly the COVID-19 pandemic, delayed the construction. Gateway now says it is a $99.3 million project.

When approved, Gateway described it as a "modest sized" casino, but after six months a review would take place on potential expansion. Any substantial change to the gaming equation would require city approval.

Gateway today also announced that, as part of the opening ceremonies, the recognition of the Delta Community Foundation as the official beneficiary of the GatewayGives charitable donations program.

GatewayGives charities are selected locally by employees of Gateway Casinos in the communities where they operate.

Starting Sept. 29 through Oct. 31, a portion of the casino's food and beverage sales in MATCH will be donated to the foundation.



Indigenous leaders want corporate reconciliation efforts to extend beyond Sept. 30

Corporate support lacking

Chelsee Pettit spent much of the summer collaborating with designers to create and manufacture apparel reflective of the Indigenous values she hoped would be on people's minds when Canada marks its second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

But in the days leading up to Sept. 30, she noticed many companies had not had the same forethought and were scrambling to place bulk orders with her store, Aaniin.

"It's just a little funny how last-minute other organizations that are all non-Indigenous are, and they're pushing that (work) back onto Indigenous people," said Pettit, an Anishinaabe woman.

"We're not like big box stores that just have disposable T-shirts and are at everybody's beck and call. Working with us ahead of time as opposed to just laying it on us a week before the day, I think would be super helpful."

Pettit has tried her best to accommodate last-minute orders, but she and other members of the Indigenous business community see the trend as a sign of how much more work corporate Canada has to do to turn support for Indigenous communities into a 365-day-a-year effort.

While many businesses encourage staff to don orange shirts — a tradition started by residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad in 2013 — or to sell wares in the bright hue on Sept. 30, those efforts quickly fade. Companies often don't do much more to elevate Indigenous voices and causes.

"It is positive that we are seeing education happen and awareness-building happen, but it can be quite triggering and harmful for Indigenous Peoples who see it as one day of performative action and nothing throughout the rest of the year," said Tabatha Bull, president and chief executive of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.

Bull and Pettit say if an employer is looking to make a mark on truth and reconciliation goals, they should also be doing that work all year round.

Those efforts should begin with educating staff about both long-standing and new traumas Indigenous Peoplesface and how to support those affected.

Pettit recallsbeing at work in 2021, when the remains of 215 children were found at a former residential school site in British Columbia.

"My boss at the time was like, 'Oh, well, everybody knew about that already' and just like kind of brushed it off, but I was feeling very emotional that day for obvious reasons, so there's tons of work that has to be done," she said.

That's borne out in studies too.

A 2021 report from equity organization Catalyst Canada found about 52 per cent of the 86 Indigenous respondents surveyed are “on guard” at work and about 60 per cent feel psychologically unsafe on the job.

The study was based on a survey of 820 Canadian workers from various under-represented groups, but Catalyst isolated results from Indigenous respondents for this report because their need to feel on guard was so significant.

Krystal Abotossaway, president of the Indigenous Professional Association of Canada, said she has seen more companies move toward reflecting on what they can do to improve their corporate culture and support Indigenous communities in recent years.

Land acknowledgments, which note which Indigenous Peoples lived and took care of a site events are being held on, are an increasingly common and good start, she said.

Bull counts at least 200 companies, including Bank of Montreal, Uber, Walmart and Rogers, as members of the CCAB's Progressive Aboriginal Relation program — an initiative helping them build cultural awareness and make progress on reconciliation plans.

Others have yet to take on such work. Bull thinks they're slower to act because they feel overwhelmed and afraid of having difficult conversations.

"Some corporations are just not even knowing what the right question is to ask," she said. "I think we need to move beyond that, if we're going to really progress as a country."

Abotossaway said they can start by marking other Indigenous days and use them as an opportunity to educate.

Among those she suggested are Red Dress Day, which commemorates the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and International Inuit Day, National Indigenous Peoples Day and Louis Riel Day, which celebrates the life of the late Métis leader.

The efforts shouldn't stop there, she added. Companies should reflect on how their governance structures, hiring policies, talent pipelines and workforce education programs align with Indigenous needs, she said.

"We've seen a lot of learning and development content come out, but that's usually just one course and it might be just an hour long," she said.

"Is it mandatory or is it not mandatory? And then how many of your employees or workforce are participating in it?"

Abotossaway and Bull agree any corporate actions on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation or other days should involve Indigenous Peoples at every step — even if the action is selling orange apparel.

Bull said, "If you're going to create an orange shirt, ensure that you're working with an Indigenous artist, ensure that the Orange Shirt Society or an Indigenous organization benefits from that and you're not making a profit off of the orange shirt or Sept. 30."



S&P/TSX composite up more than 200 points, U.S. stock markets also rise

TSX up more 200+ points

Gains in the technology sector helped lead the way higher as Canada's main stock index rose more than 200 points in late-morning trading, while U.S. stock markets also gained ground.

The S&P/TSX composite index was up 225.73 points at 18,667.57.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 101.73 points at 29,327.34. The S&P 500 index was up 27.21 points at 3,667.68, while the Nasdaq composite was up 134.18 points at 10,871.69.

The Canadian dollar traded for 72.90 cents US compared with 72.96 cents US on Thursday.

The November crude contract was down 64 cents at US$80.59 per barrel and the November natural gas contract was up 10 cents at US$6.98 per mmBTU.

The December gold contract was up US$13.60 at US$1,682.20 an ounce and the December copper contract was up three cents at US$3.45 a pound.



Inflation hits record 10% in 19 EU countries using euro

Inflation hits 10% in EU

Inflation in the European countries using the euro currency has broken into double digits as prices for electricity and natural gas soar, signaling a looming winter recession for one of the globe's major economies as higher prices undermine consumers' spending power.

Consumer prices in the 19-country eurozone rose a record 10% in September from a year earlier, up from an annual 9.1% in August, EU statistics agency Eurostat reported Friday. Only a year ago, inflation was as low as 3.4%.

Price increases were beyond what market analysts had expected and are at their highest level since record-keeping for the euro started in 1997. Energy prices were the main culprit, rising 40.8% over a year ago. Food, alcohol and tobacco prices jumped 11.8%.

“I’m already looking a lot more for special offers,” said Myriam Maierhofer, a 64-year-old trainer and coach for staff development, who was shopping Thursday at weekly outdoor market in Cologne, Germany. “I don’t throw away so much so quickly, so I’ve become more economical with food. And this morning, I also turned down the heating in the rooms again.”

Inflation has been fueled by steady cutbacks in supplies of natural gas from Russia and bottlenecks in getting supplies of raw materials and parts as the global economy bounces back from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Russian cutbacks have sent gas prices soaring to the point where energy-intensive businesses such as fertilizer and steel say they can no longer make some products at a profit.

Meanwhile, high prices for utility bills, food and fuel are leaving consumers with less money to spend on other things. That is the main reason economists are predicting a recession, or a severe and long-lasting downturn in economic activity, for the end of this year and the first months of next year.

The European Central Bank is raising interest rates to combat inflation by keeping higher prices from being baked into people's expectations for wages and prices, it but can't by itself lower energy prices.

Friday's inflation reading was likely to be a matter of “grave concern” for the ECB, said Jessica Hinds, senior Europe economist at Capital Economics. She said the central bank's rate-setting council was likely to raise its benchmark rates by an outsized three-quarters of a percentage point at its next meeting Oct. 27.

Higher interest rates make it more expensive for people and businesses to borrow, invest and spend, dampening demand for goods and thus restraining inflation. Inflation is far above the ECB's goal of 2% considered best for the economy.

Central banks around the world are rapidly raising rates, led by the U.S. Federal Reserve, which is aiming to bring down inflation that hit 8.3% in August. Eurozone inflation has eclipsed the United Kingdom's 9.9% registered last month.

European officials call the natural gas cutbacks from Russia energy blackmail aimed at pressuring and dividing European governments over Western sanctions and their support for Ukraine. Russia blames technical problems.

The rising gas prices that have resulted mean higher heating bills and higher electricity costs because natural gas is used to generate power, heat homes and run factories.

European Union energy ministers on Friday adopted a windfall levy on profits by fossil fuel companies and other measures to ease the energy crisis, while individual countries also have allocated hundreds of billions to provide relief to households and businesses.

With consumer prices in Germany rising by 10.9%, hitting double digits for the first time in decades, the government announced plans to spend up to 200 billion euros ($195 billion) to help with surging gas bills in Europe's largest single economy.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Thursday that the government was reactivating an economic stabilizing fund previously used during the global financial crisis and the coronavirus pandemic.

Christian Schrader, 35, who was shopping at the market in Cologne, was less worried about food prices but said that “you start to think about which rooms need to be heated in the flat and try to explain to the children that we only play in one room.”

A bigger worry was “the social dimension,” he said. “Inflation has often been a driver for social division, for extreme tendencies, for populism. This dimension worries me more.”



New rocket company fails to achieve launch on second attempt

2nd rocket launch fails

A year after its first rocket launch failed, a new aerospace company was unsuccessful early Friday in its second attempt to place multiple satellites into orbit.

Firefly Aerospace's Alpha rocket was unable to lift off from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, and follow a planned arc over the Pacific Ocean toward space.

A live video feed showed the launch countdown go to zero and then abort at 12:52 a.m. Friday.

“The vehicle went into auto abort after ignition. This is designed into the system to ensure safety,” the company said in a Twitter post. "The team scrubbed tonight’s launch attempt and is reviewing data to determine our next launch window."

The rocket's payload included multiple small satellites designed for a variety of technology experiments and demonstrations as well as educational purposes.

The mission, dubbed “To The Black,” was the company's second demonstration flight of its entry into the market for small satellite launchers.

The first Alpha was launched from Vandenberg on Sept. 2, 2021, but did not reach orbit.

One of the four first-stage engines shut down prematurely but the rocket continued upward on three engines into the supersonic realm where it tumbled out of control.

The rocket was then intentionally destroyed by an explosive flight termination system.

Firefly Aerospace said the premature shutdown was traced to an electrical issue, but that the rocket had otherwise performed well and useful data was obtained during the nearly 2 1/2 minutes of flight.

Alpha is designed to carry payloads weighing as much as 2,579 pounds (1,170 kilograms) to low Earth orbit.

Other competitors in the burgeoning small-launch market include Rocket Lab and Virgin Orbit, both headquartered in Long Beach, California.

Firefly Aerospace, based in Cedar Park, Texas, is also planning a larger rocket, a vehicle for in-space operations and a lander for carrying NASA and commercial payloads to the surface of the moon.



Wave of retirement hits Canadian workforce as healthcare, education lose workers

Retirement wave hits

Canada is facing a wave of retirements driven by workers in high-pressure sectors, with an increasing number retiring before they turn 65. 

A new analysis of labour force survey data by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) found that 73,000 more people retired in the year ending August 2022 compared to a year earlier, a jump of 32 per cent. 

Two-thirds of those excess retirements were in four industries: health care, construction, retail trade, and education and social assistance.

Senior economist David Macdonald said it’s highly unusual to see retirements at this level. But a closer look at some of the industries in question paints a picture of burnout, stress and ongoing pandemic difficulties leading to workers retiring earlier than they perhaps planned. 

While retirements are expected to go up gradually as baby boomers retire, 2022 is seeing a clear spike, said Macdonald. 

“This is very focused on some specific areas, which … makes it more of a short-term trend,” he said.

The retirement wave began earlier in 2022, Macdonald found. By April 2022, retirements in health care in a year had almost doubled, with 19,000 excess retirements compared with a year earlier. 

This likely means there’s a wave of highly skilled nurses leaving the profession, perhaps due to burnout after two years of the pandemic, said Macdonald. 

Canada’s most populous province is also driving the retirement wave, making up 66 per cent of the extra retirements in the year ending August despite having less than 40 per cent of Canada’s workers. Teachers retired in droves; two-thirds of extra retirements in education were in Ontario.

Retirement in teaching drove the trend in the year ending August; 21,000 of the 73,000 additional retirements were in education services. 

Wage increases in Ontario’s public sector have been restricted by Bill 124, which may be a factor in health care and education workers deciding they’ve had enough, said Macdonald.

“There’s a breaking point,” he said.

“Those professions have not returned to normal. They are substantially different from how they were in 2019."

In the year ending June, extra retirements in retail trade peaked with an extra 13,000 workers. In July, it was construction that saw retirements jump. 

It’s not just the boomer generation that’s contributing to this wave, either. A surprising number of workers younger than 65 are retiring early, said Macdonald. 

In August 2021, the largest age group retiring were between 65 and 69, at 38 per cent of total retirements. A year later, that group made up 33 per cent of retiring workers, while the next youngest group of workers aged 60 to 64 had gone up three percentage points to 31 per cent. Retirements among workers 55 to 59 also went up.

“People are retiring, not because they're hitting 65, they're retiring for some other reason," said Macdonald.

There was also a wave of retirements at the beginning of the pandemic, as many workers decided to retire early instead of going through unemployment, he said.

If Canada goes into a recession, something similar might happen in some sectors, such as finance or real estate, said Macdonald. 



Relationship breaks down between Torstar owners, one seeks order to wind up company

Impasse in Torstar ownership

One of the owners of Torstar Corp. is seeking a court order to wind up the media company, citing "irreparable" damage to the relationship with his business partner.

Paul Rivett, one of the owners of Nordstar Capital Inc., an investment company that purchased Torstar in 2020, filed an application to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice earlier this month that says immediately dissolving Nordstar is the only way to create a clear path forward for the companies under its umbrella. 

The court document filed on Sept. 1 delves into the erosion of Rivett and partner Jordan Bitove's relationship. Rivett claims Bitove changed his mind about previously agreed upon plans and failed to provide a budget at the Toronto Star, which he oversees.

The filing also says Bitove ignored proper corporate governance and disregarded his responsibilities to Torstar and Nordstar. 

The claims have not yet been tested in court.

Neither Rivett nor Bitove, who each own half of Nordstar, immediately responded to a request for comment and Bitove has not filed a response in court.  

Nordstar owns Torstar Corp., Metroland Media Group and NorthStar Gaming Inc.

"Given the operational state of the companies, the applicants, employees of the controlled companies, and Torstar’s news readers all stand to suffer irreparable harm if interim relief is not granted," the filing says.

Rivett has asked the court to appoint PricewaterhouseCoopers to manage an asset sale to resolve the "impasse" between the two parties.

The court document says Bitove resigned from Nordstar's board of directors on Aug. 13.

In 2020, Nordstar acquired Torstar, taking the company private, including the Toronto Star and various local news outlets it operates in other cities.

Prior to the deal closing, Nordstar upped its bid for Torstar from $52 million to $60 million in response to a rival offer for the media conglomerate.

The purchase was financed by a loan from investment firm Canso Investment Counsel Ltd.

Rivett was previously president at Fairfax Financial before joining up with Bitove, who is known for helping launch the Toronto Raptors basketball team and was part of the ownership consortium that built the SkyDome, now the Rogers Centre.

———

Torstar holds an investment in The Canadian Press as part of a joint agreement with subsidiaries of the Globe and Mail and Montreal's La Presse.



WestJet ramps up fleet with purchase of 42 more airplanes

WestJet buys 42 planes

WestJet is making a substantial addition to its fleet with the purchase of 42 aircraft.

The Calgary-based airline announced the agreement with Boeing for the purchase of the 737-10 MAX planes on Thursday.

WestJet Group chief executive officer Alexis von Hoensbroech says the order will start delivering at the end of 2024 through to 2028, expanding the fleet by 65 aircraft over six years. 

The purchase, which was on top of an existing order of 23 aircraft, includes the option to add 22 more planes depending on demand. 

WestJet says the Boeing 737-10 MAX provides the lowest cost per seat among mid-range aircraft and is part of the airline's plan to offer more affordable flights.

WestJet wouldn't yet say whether the 42 additional aircraft will service WestJet alone or if they will also fly under Swoop, the airline's ultra-low-cost carrier.



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