British supermarket giant Tesco suspended a Chinese supplier of Christmas cards on Sunday after a press report said a customer found a message written inside a card saying it had been packed by foreign prisoners who were victims of forced labour.
“We abhor the use of prison labour and would never allow it in our supply chain,” a Tesco spokesperson said on Sunday.
“We were shocked by these allegations and immediately suspended the factory where these cards are produced and launched an investigation. We have also withdrawn these cards from sale whilst we investigate.”
Tesco, Britain’s biggest retailer, donates £300,000 ($520,000 Cdn) a year from the sale of the cards to the charities British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK and Diabetes UK.
The Sunday Times said the message inside the card read: “We are foreign prisoners in Shanghai Qingpu Prison China. Forced to work against our will. Please help us and notify human rights organization.
“Use the link to contact Mr Peter Humphrey.”
Contact information for British man
Peter Humphrey is a British former journalist and corporate fraud investigator.
Humphrey and his American wife, Yu Yingzeng, were both sentenced in China in 2014 for illegally obtaining private records of Chinese citizens and selling the information to clients including drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline. The couple were deported from China in June 2015 after their jail terms were reduced.
The message inside the card was found by a six-year-old girl, Florence Widdicombe, in London, the Sunday Times said. Her father contacted Humphrey via the LinkedIn social network.
“We didn’t open them on the day that we got them. We opened them about a week ago. We were writing on them, and on my sixth or eighth card somebody had already written in it,” Florence told Reuters.
Florence’s father, Ben Widdicombe, said he felt shocked after his child found the note, “but I also felt the responsibility to pass it on to Peter Humphrey as the authors asked me to do.”
Writing in the Sunday Times, Humphrey said he did not know the identities or the nationalities of the prisoners who put the note into the card, but he “had no doubt they are Qingpu prisoners who knew me before my release in June 2015 from the suburban prison where I spent 23 months.”
Tesco said it had a comprehensive auditing process in place.
Tesco auditing process
“This supplier was independently audited as recently as last month and no evidence was found to suggest they had broken our rule banning the use of prison labour,” the spokesman said.
“If a supplier breaches these rules, we will immediately and permanently de-list them.”
The cards were produced at the Zheijiang Yunguang Printing factory, which is about 100 kilometres from Shanghai Qingpu prison, Tesco said.
The company, which prints cards and books for food and pharmaceutical companies, says on its website it supplies Tesco.
Two phone calls and one emailed request for comment to the company went unanswered after usual business hours on Sunday.
Humphrey and his wife said in their trial they had not thought they were doing anything illegal in their activities in China.
RBC warns house price correction could be deepest in decades | CTV News – CTV News Toronto
A housing correction, which has already led to four consecutive months of price declines in the previously overheated Greater Toronto Area market, could end up becoming “one of the deepest of the past half a century,” a new report from RBC warns.
New data released by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) last week revealed that the average benchmark price for a home in the GTA fell six per cent month-over-month in July to $1,074,754.
Sales were also down a staggering 47 per cent from July, 2021.
In a report published on Aug. 4, RBC Senior Economist Robert Hogue said recent data from real estate boards underlines that higher interest rates are beginning to take a “huge toll” on the market.
Hogue said that with further hikes to come, prices will likely continue to slide in the coming months.
That prediction, it should be noted, goes against a report from Royal LePage last month which painted a rosier forecast for sellers in which values would more or less holding for the rest of the year following some declines in the second quarter.
“Our expectations for further hikes by the Bank of Canada—another 75 basis points to go in the overnight rate by the fall— will keep chilling the market in the months ahead,” Hogue said. “We expect the downturn to intensify and spread further as buyers take a wait-and-see approach while ascertaining the impact of higher lending rates. Canada’s least affordable markets Vancouver and Toronto, and their surrounding regions, are most at risk in light of their excessively stretched affordability and outsized price gains during the pandemic.”
The Bank of Canada has hiked the overnight lending rate by 225 basis points since March and has warned that further hikes will be necessary given that inflation remains at a near 40-year high.
In his report, Hogue pointed out that the housing correction “now runs far and wide across Canada” but he said that it is particularly pronounced in the costlier markets of Toronto and Vancouver.
In fact, Hogue said that housing resale activity in Toronto is at its slowest pace in 13 years, outside of the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The stockpile of available homes is also up 58 per cent from a year ago, he noted.
“With more options to choose from and higher interest rates shrinking their purchasing budgets, buyers are able to extract meaningful price concessions from sellers,” he said, pointing out that the average price of a home in the GTA is down 13 per cent from March. “We expect buyers to remain on the defensive in the months ahead as they deal with rising interest rates and poor affordability.”
While Hogue did say that condos in the City of Toronto are likely to remain “relatively more resilient” he said that prices elsewhere will continue to fall for the time being, especially in the 905 belt “where property values soared during the pandemic.”
The July data from TRREB suggested that the average price of a home in the GTA was still up one per cent from July, 2021.
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Canada Revenue Agency plans email blitz to get Canadians to cash outstanding cheques worth $1.4-billion – The Globe and Mail
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is planning a massive e-mail notification campaign to reach Canadians across the country who have uncashed cheques worth a net $1.4-billion.
The e-mail notifications will target recipients of the Canada child benefit and related provincial and territorial programs, as well as recipients of the GST/HST credits and the Alberta Energy Tax Refund.
The CRA said it plans to send approximately 25,000 e-mails in August, another 25,000 in November and a further 25,000 e-mails by May, 2023.
However, even without receiving an e-mail notification, the agency said a taxpayer can check if they have a cheque by logging into My Account, a secure portal on its website to check if they have an uncashed cheque over a period of six months. It added that representatives can also view uncashed cheques of their clients.
Each year, the CRA said it issues millions of payments to Canadian taxpayers in the form of refund benefits. These payments are issued by either direct deposit or by cheque.
“Over time, payments can remain uncashed for various reasons, such as the taxpayer misplacing the cheque or even a change of address which did not allow for delivery,” the agency said in a statement.
The CRA said since the e-mail notification initiative was first launched in February, 2020, about two million uncashed cheques valued at $802-million were redeemed by May 31, 2022.
The average amount per uncashed cheque is $158 with some of them dating as far back as 1998, the agency said.
As of May, 2022, there were an estimated 8.9 million uncashed cheques with the CRA. In May, 2019, about five million Canadians had an estimated 7.6 million uncashed cheques.
“As government cheques never expire or stale date, the CRA cannot void the original cheque and re-issue a new one unless requested by the taxpayer,” the statement read. “These upcoming e-notifications are to encourage taxpayers to cash any cheques they have in their possession.”
The agency said taxpayers can register for the direct deposit option on its website to receive payments directly into their bank accounts.
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