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Almost 800 Loblaw employees to be laid off

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Grocery chain Loblaw Companies Ltd. has announced the closure of distribution centres in Laval, Que., and Ottawa which will result in the elimination of nearly 800 jobs.

About 545 employees north of Montreal will be affected by the end of 2021 as the distribution centre is relocated to the automated complex of an Ontario subcontractor.

 

The grocery chain is also shutting a warehouse in Ottawa that will impact 230 workers.

Loblaw spokeswoman Catherine Thomas said the company is committed to fairness for employees and will work with the unions to minimize the impact of the closures.

“We will begin negotiations shortly, setting transition plans and finding solutions for those colleagues — including a long, two-year wind down, and support for those who want new opportunities within Loblaw or beyond,” she wrote in an email.

 

The decision to relocate the distribution centre comes as a labour contract expires at the end of the month, according to a spokeswoman for the United Food and Commercial Workers’ Union.

“There is never a good time to learn such news, but at least we don’t have just a few weeks’ notice,” Roxanne Larouche said in an interview. “That leaves us time.”



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Thomas said volumes from Ottawa and Laval are moving to a facility in Cornwall, Ont., that’s been open for more than a decade. The automated distribution centre will expand to be among Canada’s most modern distribution centres and an undisclosed number of workers will be added to handle the greater volumes.

“Our customers expect us to be a modern retailer, and we continue to invest in our stores and our people to do just that. In 2020, we will invest more than $1 billion to improve our business, creating new jobs and modernizing our workforce and stores,” said Thomas.

The owner of Loblaw, Provigo, Maxi and Shoppers Drug Mart (Pharmaprix in Quebec), will continue to distribute fresh and frozen food from Boucherville, a suburb south of Montreal, where some 550 people work.

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Oil prices fall as weaker China growth, U.S. output stoke demand concerns

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Oil prices fell on Tuesday, with Brent down a second straight day, after Chinese data showed slowing economic growth and U.S. factory output dropped in September, raising fresh concerns about demand amid patchy recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Brent Crude was down by 43 cents, or 0.5%, at $83.90 a barrel by 0132 GMT after falling 0.6% on Monday. The contract is still up nearly 7% this month.

U.S. oil fell 33 cents, or 0.4%, to $82.11 a barrel, having risen 0.2% in the previous session and nearly 10% this month.

Factory output in the United States dropped the most in seven months last month as a global shortage of semiconductors slowed auto production, further evidence that supply constraints are a strain on economic growth.

In China, the world’s second-biggest economy, bottlenecks also contributed to a decline in the growth rate to a one-year low as energy shortages and sporadic outbreaks of coronavirus hit the country.

China’s daily crude oil processing rate fell again last month to the lowest level since May last year.

But with temperatures falling as the northern hemisphere winter approaches, prices of oil, coal and gas are likely to remain elevated, analysts said.

“A frigid winter has the potential to send energy prices even higher,” Citi Research commodities analysts said in a note, after upgrading their forecast for Brent oil for the rest of 2021 to $85 a barrel from $74 a barrel.

Colder weather has already started to grip China, with the temperature forecast to fall to near freezing point in areas of the north, according to AccuWeather.com.

Also helping keep a lid on prices, U.S. oil output is rising. Production in the largest shale formation in the U.S. is expected to gain further next month, according to an official report.

 

(Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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Ecuadorean indigenous communities sue to halt oil development

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Indigenous communities from Ecuador’s Amazon on Monday sued the government to halt plans by President Guillermo Lasso to increase oil development in the country, calling the expansion efforts a “policy of death.”

Lasso, a conservative ex-banker who took office in May, issued two decrees in the first days of his administration meant to facilitate the development of oil blocks in environmentally sensitive jungle areas and attract more foreign investment for mining projects.

Leaders of Amazonian  indigenous communities are asking the Constitutional Court, the country’s highest judicial body, to nullify the decrees.

“The Ecuadorean government sees in our territory only resource interests,” said Waorani leader Nemonte Nenquimo, in remarks outside the court, surrounded by dozens of supporters.

“Our territory is our decision and we’ll never allow oil or mining companies to enter and destroy our home and kill our culture.”

Lasso has said he will seek international investment to increase oil production to 1 million barrels per day by the end of his term in 2025.

He also wants to make mining one of the country’s top sources of income.

The indigenous communities plan to present a separate suit against the decree related to mining, they said in a statement.

Expanding oil extraction will put in danger some of the world’s most biodiverse jungle, home to dozens of indigenous communities, the indigenous leaders said.

The energy ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“They seek to continue this policy of death,” said Leonidas Iza, who heads the CONAIE indigenous organization. “This isn’t a problem of the indigenous, it’s one of civilization.”

Indigenous groups have said they could hold protests against Lasso’s social and economic policies.

 

(Reporting by Tito Correa; Writing by Alexandra Valencia and Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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Brazil’s Votorantim and Canada Pension Plan to form energy joint venture

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Privately-owned Votorantim SA, one of Brazil’s biggest diversified industrial groups, has announced a plan with Canada Pension Plan to consolidate their energy assets in Brazil to create a listed integrated renewables platform, they said on Monday.

The joint venture between Votorantim Energia and CPP Investments, Canada Pension Plan ‘s global investment arm, will include another stakeholder, Companhia Energetica de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo’s power generation company known as CESP.

CPP Investments will invest an additional 1.5 billion reais (C$340 million) to increase the venture’s capital base, the companies said.

The new company will have net revenue estimated at 5.8 billion reais based on the 2020 results, and a diversified energy matrix with an installed capacity of 3.3 gigawatts (GW), of which 2.3 GW is hydroelectric sources and 1.0 GW in wind power, they said.

The company will already be born with a pipeline of projects that combine hydro and solar sources, as well as hybrid solutions, totaling 1.9 GW, they said in a statement.

The new company will also be one of the largest energy traders in Brazil, with more than 2.6 average GW sold in 2020 and a portfolio of more than 400 customers.

“By consolidating our assets in a single company, Votorantim and CPP Investments intend to start a new cycle of growth and value generation together with CESP’s shareholders,” said Joao Schmidt, Votorantim’s chief executive.

 

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Chris Reese)

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