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2 new cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, 1 person in hospital –



Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health said Tuesday he is encouraged by the continued low number of COVID-19 cases in the province, but reminded people they must stay home if they feel sick after an uptick in potential exposures in recent weeks.

“In a couple of our recent cases, people kept going to work and were going out in the community even while they had symptoms,” Dr. Robert Strang said. 

“So I have to take some time today to stress how important it is for people who feel unwell, even if they think they have mild cold symptoms, that they need to stay home or go home quickly.” 

He urged anyone with symptoms to isolate from other people and do an online self-assessment to get tested. 

Strang also asked employers to ensure staff can stay home if they feel sick or if they have been to a location where there’s an exposure notice and require isolation until they get a test result. 

Two new cases

Nova Scotia reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and one person is now in hospital.

One case is in the central health zone and is linked to a close contact, according to a news release. The second is in the northern zone and is linked to travel outside of Atlantic Canada.

Strang said 33 new cases have been identified since the last briefing on Dec. 21. On Monday, Nova Scotia reported a combined total of 13 new cases of COVID-19 between Dec. 25 and 28.

Of that total, 18 have been close contacts of known cases, 10 have been travel related and five are still under investigation.

There are currently 30 active cases in Nova Scotia.

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Nova Scotians have ‘stepped up’

Strang said the low daily case numbers are encouraging and makes it appear that Nova Scotians “stepped up” to follow the protocols over the holidays.

But he did say the next week will be critical to determine whether or not cases will spike in Nova Scotia.

New household gathering limits across Nova Scotia that came into effect ahead of the holidays require gatherings to be limited to 10 people total, including household members. Strang also said Tuesday he heard reports some households were doing multiple, rotating groups of 10, which is against the rules. 

One ticket issued

Nova Scotia RCMP issued one ticket in the past week. A woman in Aylesford, N.S., was fined $697.50 on Dec. 26 for failing to comply with orders under the Emergency Management Act.

Halifax Regional Police did not issue any summary offence tickets in relation to gatherings over the Christmas holidays.

Strang said if case numbers continue to be low into January, he and the premier will consider lifting COVID-19 restrictions that were extended earlier this month.

New variant of COVID-19

Canada halted flights from the United Kingdom early last week after a new strain of the coronavirus was found in southeast England.

“We know that there are many strains of the coronavirus already. A new one is not actually unexpected,” Strang said at a briefing last week.

The new variant has been identified in Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec and Alberta. Strang said as of Tuesday, there is no evidence that the new variant is in Nova Scotia.

Immunizations continue

Strang said vaccinations were paused over the holidays but clinics are operating once again.

So far, 2,290 Nova Scotians have been vaccinated.

Health Canada approved Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 23 and the first doses started arriving the following day.

Nova Scotia is expected to receive 3,700 doses of the Moderna vaccine this week.

Cases in the Atlantic provinces

The latest numbers from the Atlantic provinces are:

  • P.E.I. reported two new cases on Tuesday. The province has six active cases.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case on Tuesday. There are 19 active cases and one person is in hospital.
  • New Brunswick reported two new cases on Tuesday and has 31 active cases. There are three people in hospital and two of them are in the ICU.

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TD Bank CFO Ahmed to head securities unit, move seen as CEO succession play



TD Bank Group on Thursday named Chief Financial Officer Riaz Ahmed chief executive of its securities unit and head of wholesale banking, a move some investors interpreted as a sign he will succeed CEO Bharat Masrani.

For Ahmed, 58, the change marks a return to his TD roots. He began his career at the bank in 1996 as an investment banker in the securities division, following which he served as its CFO and chief administrative officer. He has been part of TD Bank‘s executive team for nine years, and CFO for over five.

“Cross-training in the capital markets role … increases the likelihood of (Ahmed) succeeding Masrani when he retires, but I doubt it would be soon, as that would create unnecessary turnover atop TD Securities,” said Brian Madden, portfolio manager at Goodreid Investment Counsel.

“Maybe Masrani announces his retirement next year (or the following) and leaves early in 2023” or 2024.

Masrani’s compensation arrangements anticipated his retirement in 2020, TD said in its 2019 shareholders meeting proxy circular. But he was granted stock options worth C$1.9 million ($1.5 million), vesting in five years, on the condition that he remain available to serve as CEO throughout that period.

Ahmed replaces Bob Dorrance, who will retire on Sept. 1 after about 16 years at the bank, Canada’s second-biggest lender by market value said in a statement.

When asked about TD’s succession plans, a spokesperson said: “Today we are celebrating Bob Dorrance’s incredible career and accomplishments, and the appointment of top executives to critical, leadership roles.”

At a time when diversity, particularly in executive and board ranks, has come under increased scrutiny, Ahmed’s appointment as CEO would mean TD, the only one of Canada’s six biggest lenders to have a non-Caucasian at its helm, would retain that aspect.

Ahmed’s appointment comes after TD’s wholesale banking unit recorded an 8% revenue decline in the second quarter from a year ago, contributing to the bank’s overall underperformance versus some rivals.

Kelvin Tran, currently executive vice president for enterprise finance, will replace Ahmed as finance chief.

Dorrance, who has headed TD Securities since 2005, will stay on as chairman of TD Securities and serve as special adviser to Masrani.

TD shares were flat at C$87.12 on Thursday afternoon, compared with a 0.2% gain in the Toronto stock index. The shares are up 21% this year, versus a 15% gain in the benchmark.

($1 = 1.2303 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Nichola Saminather in Toronto; Additional reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in BengaluruEditing by Nick Zieminski and Matthew Lewis)

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AIB agrees to life and pensions joint-venture with Canada Life



Allied Irish Banks on Wednesday said it would form a joint venture with Canada life as it seeks to plug gaps in its life, savings and wealth products.

The joint venture will be equally owned by Canada Life, a subsidiary of Great-West Lifeco Inc.

“The move to create this joint venture is aligned with AIB’s stated ambition to complete its customerproduct suite and diversify income,” AIB said in a statement.

“Through this strategic initiative AIB intends to offer customers a range of life protection, pensions, savings and investment options enhanced by integrated digital solutions withcontinued access to our qualified financial advisors.”

The Irish lender highlighted Canada Life’s “deep experience” of the Irish bancassurance market through Irish Life Assurance, which is also a subsidiary of Great-West Lifeco.

AIB currently operates under a tied agency distribution agreement with Irish Life, and will enter into a new distribution agreement with the new joint venture company.

Chief Executive Colin Hunt highlighted the need to plug gaps in AIB’s life, savings and wealth products when he set out the bank’s medium-term targets last December.

AIB expects its equity investment in the joint venture will be around 90 million euros ($107.51 million), equating to around 10bps of CET1.($1 = 0.8372 euros)

(Reporting by Graham Fahy;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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Interac: Canada’s Latest Payment Solution Phenomenon



Few can argue that digital payment methods aren’t central to modern-day society. In recent times, increasing numbers of payment solutions have come to the forefront, offering consumers more choice regarding their transaction preferences. Canada, in particular, has embraced a wide-ranging selection of secure, forward-thinking options. Of those available throughout the country, Interac has piqued the interests of local consumers the most. So, let’s look at why this payment solution is an especially popular option throughout Canada. 

Usable Across Various Markets 

It speaks volumes about Interac’s versatility in that it’s usable across a variety of different industries. Since being founded in 1984, the Canadian interbank network has become integral to numerous markets, including local air travel. Air Canada, which has been operating since 1937, has expanded their accepted payment methods, and now passengers can pay for their flights using Interac. According to the airline’s official website, the Interac Online service lets consumers pay for their tickets via the internet directly from their bank account. 

Not only that, but Interac is also available at Walmart. In November 2020, the two organizations partnered together to expand in-store and online payment options. Walmart has adapted well to the digital trend, with American Banker reporting that they’ve opened Interac Flash sale points throughout their stores. 

Source: Unsplash

Aside from the above, Interac has also taken the digital world by storm. Following its rapid rise to prominence, the solution has also altered the online casino industry, with platforms like Genesis Casino now accepting the transaction type. The provider, which features Interac Canadian casino options, uses the popular payment method to enhance transaction speeds of deposits and withdrawals, as well as security. Players can use Interac Online and Interac e-Transfer to make deposits or withdrawals from their desktops or mobiles as the platform is fully optimized. 

A Reflection of Modern-Day Society 

In recent times, Interac recorded a 55 percent increase in transactions between April and August 2020 compared to the same period the previous year, as per BNN Bloomberg. These figures somewhat reflect the current state of e-Commerce and modern consumerism. Following the rise of Interac and other payment methods, it’s now less troublesome for consumers to complete in-store and online purchases. 

Source: PxHere

There’s an ever-growing perception that land-based businesses need to adapt within the digital era and accept forward-thinking payment methods. According to Cision, Interac is of utmost importance to the Canadian economy, and a year-on-year increase in Interac Debit payments of 333 percent reflects that. Not only that, but Interac e-Transfer payments are growing at 52 percent each year. This Interac-oriented trend appears unlikely to fade over the coming years, with the network being selected as the country’s provider for a new real-time payment system, as per Lexology. 

Consumer Habits are Changing 

There can be no doubt that consumerism has changed drastically over the past decade. The popularity of Interac suggests that a cashless future may be on the horizon, with increasing numbers of shoppers enjoying the security of online payment methods. While it’s currently unclear if that will happen, Interac appears to be prevalent for the long run.

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