The temporary closure of an Alberta meat processing facility due to a COVID-19 outbreak isn’t expected to result in beef shortages, but the reduction in capacity will mean that ranchers will bear the brunt as their costs rise and prices for their product fall.
Meanwhile, a second plant — JBS plant in Brooks, Alta. — recorded 96 cases as of Wednesday. It has reduced operations, according to the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, which represents the 60,000 beef farms and feedlots in the country.
The CCA says it is trying to ensure the facility remains open, though a union representing federal meat inspectors says it’s a matter of time before it is forced to temporarily halt production.
These two facilities make up 70 per cent of Canada’s beef processing capabilities, according to the CCA.
Occupational Health and Safety is conducting investigations looking into “potential exposure of workers” to the novel coronavirus at both the Cargill and JBS plants.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw confirmed Wednesday one JBS worker had died but the cause of death is not known. It is not known to be a case of COVID-19, she said, so an investigation is taking place to determine the cause.
Alone, the Cargill plant processes some 4,500 head of cattle daily or more than one-third of the country’s total beef-processing capacity.
With the Cargill closure and JBS’s reduction, Canada has likely seen a reduction of nearly 40 per cent in its processing capacity, said Mike von Massow, an associate professor in the food, agricultural and resource economics department at The University of Guelph.
However, shoppers aren’t likely to see empty freezers in the grocery store meat section any time soon.
“In the short run, I don’t think we as consumers will see any tangible difference,” he said.
The prime minister echoed that message Tuesday, reassuring Canadians they would continue to find beef products on grocery shelves.
“We are not at this point anticipating shortages of beef, but prices might go up,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his daily update on the coronavirus pandemic.
“We will of course be monitoring that very, very carefully.”
COVID-19: Brooks mayor responds to skyrocketing confirmed cases, meat plant concerns
Beef producers and associations have said they will prioritize ensuring Canadian supply before exports, he said.
Canada exports about 45 per cent of its beef and cattle production annually, according to the national association, and ships to 56 countries, with the U.S. receiving 74 per cent of beef exports.
The closure is expected to be brief.
It’s likely the Cargill plant will be closed for about two weeks — the duration of the virus’s incubation period, said von Massow. That’s roughly how long the temporary closure of a pork processing plant in Quebec lasted.
Olymel announced March 29 it would temporarily close its hog slaughter and cutting plant in Yamachiche, Que., for 14 days after nine plant employees tested positive for COVID-19. The closure gave employees the time to self-isolate at the recommendation of the public health department. The plant resumed operations on April 14.
A two-week closure allows staff to self-isolate to prevent further spread, deep clean a facility and implement any other measures to help physical distancing after reopening, said von Massow.
During a closure, inventories can be diverted and processing capacity can be increased at other facilities to avoid a shortage, he said. It would take months-long closures, as well as multiple plants shuttering to create a possible shortage.
Ranchers, though, are likely to suffer even from these short-term closures, he said.
If they have to send their cattle further for processing, transportation costs rise and that will come out of the price they’re paid for their product. If they decide to hang on to their animals longer, they’ll face increased overhead costs, like feed, said von Massow.
In the past week, ranchers have seen a nearly 30 per cent drop in price, said Dennis Laycraft, executive vice president at CCA.
The group’s economic scenarios project the industry could lose more than $500 million in revenue by the end of June. It is calling for immediate government action.
That includes improving the availability of cash advances, said Laycraft.
“It’s not easy to deal with lenders when the value of your product is falling sharply and no one’s really sure what it’ll be worth in that environment.”
The group also wants price insurance program premiums brought back down to normal levels, he said.
“For young and newer producers that have more debt, that’s a pretty important thing.”
© 2020 The Canadian Press
Telus selects Nokia, Ericsson as 5G suppliers – Yahoo Canada Finance
Vancouver-based national carrier Telus has selected Nokia and Ericsson as its 5G vendors, a press release from the company said.
The news comes the same day that Bell announced it too would use Ericsson to provide radio access network (RAN) equipment.
“Our team is committed to rolling out superior network technology from urban to rural communities, fueling our economy and driving innovation as we power Canadians into the 5G era through an unparalleled network experience,” Telus’ CEO Darren Entwistle said in the release.
“Our 5G deployment will support economic growth and diversity that will be essential for the virtualization of health, education, teleworking, and stimulating the economic growth and recovery given the impact of COVID-19.”
During its Q1 2020 earnings, CFO Doug French said its focus right now is to help its customers during the COVID-19 crisis.
In its Q4 2019 earnings, the carrier said it was not going to pre-announce its 5G launch plans but that its initial module, or the first phase of the 5G rollout, would be with Huawei until the government approves its RFP.
Bell and Telus use Huawei’s network equipment in some areas. The federal government is still reviewing whether or not it intends to ban the Chinese telecommunications manufacturer from participating in Canada’s 5G rollout.
Rogers also uses Ericsson as a 5G vendor.
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North American equity markets rally in spite of widespread unrest – BNNBloomberg.ca
1:15 p.m. ET: North American equity markets extend gains into midday, oil rallies
North American equity markets were solidly in positive territory through the midday trade, with the S&P/TSX Composite Index up 0.9 per cent, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining 0.8 per cent, the S&P 500 rising 0.4 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite modestly higher, up 0.1 per cent.
U.S. benchmark oil West Texas Intermediate accelerated higher into the afternoon, rising more than three per cent to US$36.55 per barrel to trade at session highs.
That helped lift the TSX energy sector, which led the way on the composite with a 3.4-per-cent gain on the session.
The Canadian dollar continued to move higher against its U.S. counterpart, gaining a third of a cent to trade at 74.04 cents U.S., though the greenback has been broadly weaker against almost all of its major-market peers.
9:35 a.m. ET: North American equity markets rally in spite of widespread unrest
North American markets notched gains into the early trading day Tuesday, with the S&P/TSX Composite Index and Dow Jones Industrial Average both up half a per cent, the S&P 500 gaining a third of a per cent and the Nasdaq Composite Index up a more modest 0.1 per cent. The gains came in spite of widespread civil unrest in the United States, as some police responded with force to demonstrators protesting against systemic racial inequities.
In Toronto, shares of BlackBerry Ltd. rose about seven per cent to extend Monday’s gains after an unconfirmed report from StreetInsider said the company has held talks with Fairfax Financial over a deal for Fairfax to acquire the remainder of BlackBerry’s shares. In an email to BNN Bloomberg, BlackBerry declined to comment on rumours or speculation.
Crude oil prices were higher, with U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate up half a per cent to US$35.0 per barrel, though it had briefly breached the US$36 level earlier in the day. Crude has gotten a boost from the OPEC+ group’s production curtailments, and there are reports the group may extend those cuts for another month to support prices.
Alberta’s Western Canadian Select also gained, rising 1.55 per cent to US$29.51 per barrel.
The Canadian dollar extended Monday’s surge against its U.S. counterpart, gaining another two-tenths of a cent to 73.90 cents U.S.
All Addition Elle and Thyme Maternity stores in Canada to close down – CBC.ca
Reitmans will shutter 77 Addition Elle and 54 Thyme Maternity stores across Canada as part of its restucturing process, the Montreal-based retailer announced Tuesday.
Last month, the 94-year-old fashion chain announced that it would restructure its operations partly because of COVID-19, which hammered retailers hard.
In addition to its eponymous chain focusing on work clothes for career-aged women, Reitmans also runs the Addition Elle, Thyme Maternity, RW & Co. and Penningtons chains.
As past of the restructuring process, Reitmans has decided to permanently close Addition Elle and Thyme Maternity. The former focuses on plus size fashions. The latter on maternity wear.
The move will result in the loss of about 1,400 jobs — 1,100 in store and about 300 at head office.
“The strategic decision to close two beloved Canadian fashion brands was not made lightly, but it is necessary to enable our business to move forward as a profitable organization,” CEO Stephen Reitman said.
“All of the efforts we put forth to turn these brands around were derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic and, unfortunately, we can no longer afford the required resources to bring them back to profitability.”
Locations of both chains are set to reopen in the coming days, subject to physical distancing restrictions across the country, but the two retail chains will be in wind-down mode, liquidating as much inventory as possible to pay back creditors.
The last day for Thyme Maternity will be July 18.
The last day for Addition Elle will come the next month, on August 15.
Company wide, before the restructuring process began Reitmans had 576 stores across Canada, including 259 Reitmans, 106 Penningtons and 80 RW & CO. locations. Many stores for the surviving three brand names will also close, as the company plans to put more focus into selling online.
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