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Aurora stock still sliding as it reveals executive Battley was asked to leave – CTV News

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EDMONTON —
Shares in Aurora Cannabis Inc. continued to fall on Tuesday as the company confirmed that it asked key executive Cam Battley late last week to step down as chief corporate officer.

The Edmonton-based pot provider’s shares were down 5.6 per cent or 15 cents to $2.50 on the Toronto Stock Exchange early Tuesday.

On Monday, they fell almost 10 per cent as the market absorbed news released late Saturday that Battley, who has often been the public face of the company for investors, would immediately step down.

The Saturday release didn’t say why Battley was leaving but an emailed statement on Tuesday said Battley was asked last Friday to “step away” from his role as part of the evolution of the company’s leadership strategy.

In the earlier release, Aurora CEO Terry Booth wished Battley well in Australia — the release noted Australian authorities had approved his appointment as a director for MedReleaf Australia, a private medical cannabis company in which Aurora has a 10 per cent stake as well as 50 per cent voting rights.

Analysts have blamed recent steep declines in cannabis company shares on falling recreational sales in Canada due to high inventory levels, noting the market hasn’t grown as much as expected since recreational pot became legal in 2018.

“As a leader in the expanding global cannabis sector, Aurora continues to evolve the company to address the conditions of the industry and the company’s leadership ambitions in Canada and the U.S.,” said the email supplied by Jon Filson, senior manager of corporate communications.

“This includes changes to the leadership of the company with the departure of chief corporate officer, Cam Battley, who was asked to step away from his role on Dec. 20, 2019.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 24, 2019.

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COVID-19 medical coverage now available even though Canadians advised to avoid international travel – CBC.ca

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Canadians yearning to travel abroad — despite the COVID-19 pandemic — can now get medical insurance to cover costs if they get sick with the coronavirus while travelling. 

In March, when the virus began its global spread and Canada advised against non-essential travel abroad, travel insurance providers stopped selling COVID-19 medical coverage.

Now, several insurance providers have resumed offering the coverage along with their regular travel insurance plans. 

Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and travel agency Flight Centre have also joined in, offering free COVID-19 medical coverage to passengers booking certain international flights and vacation packages. 

Travel insurance broker Martin Firestone said he’s surprised by the spate of offers — considering Canada’s advisory against international travel remains intact due to the ongoing pandemic. 

“Your country is now currently under a Level 3 travel advisory, and you’ve got airlines enticing people with free medical coverage,” said Firestone with Travel Secure in Toronto.

“Whether you have coverage or not, you may be in a very precarious position with [available] hospital beds and treatment and the ability to be flown back to Canada.”

Travel insurance broker Martin Firestone said he’s surprised by all the COVID-19 coverage offers for travellers, considering Canada is advising Canadians not to travel abroad. (CBC)

Many companies providing COVID-19 coverage told CBC News they’re responding to consumer demand.

“People are looking to travel,” said Richard Job, Flight Centre’s vice-president of commercial partnership. “They are able to travel if they want to, and we just want to enable that to take place as safely as we can.”

International travellers returning to Canada must self-isolate for 14 days

WATCH | The future of air travel: 

Technology could play a big role as airports and airlines develop new ways to help passengers feel safer. 3:43

Who’s offering coverage?

At least three insurance providers, Medipac, Tour+Med and Blue Cross (in Ontario and Quebec) now offer COVID-19 medical coverage as part of their regular travel insurance plans — or as a top-up. 

Manulife announced this week it will start offering the coverage in October. 

The plans vary. For example, not all providers cover daily expenses if an infected traveller is forced to quarantine abroad.

Each company said it offers medical coverage for all ailments, including COVID-19, for up to $5 million — with the exception of Manulife, which has capped COVID-19 coverage at $200,000.

Manulife declined to comment on the cap. 

Air Canada is offering free COVID-19 medical coverage for select vacation packages and international flights. (Sophia Harris/CBC)

Airline industry offering free coverage

Flight Centre and the airlines are providing free coverage only for COVID-19 illnesses and related expenses, such as accommodation costs while being quarantined. The offers are available for a limited time — ranging from the next seven months to a year. 

Customers booking vacation packages with Flight Centre, Air Canada Vacations and WestJet to select destinations — which exclude the United States — are covered for up to $100,000 in medical bills. WestJet provides the same coverage for international flights, excluding the U.S. 

Sunwing will cover up to $200,000 in COVID-19 medical expenses for passengers booking any of its vacation packages and flights departing on or after Oct. 16. Air Canada (which is separate from Air Canada Vacations) currently provides the same $200,000 coverage for customers purchasing international fights, including to the U.S. 

Although the Canada-U.S. land border is closed to non-essential traffic, Canadians can still fly to the U.S

Firestone questions if $200,000 would be enough to cover a severe case of COVID-19 in the U.S., where medical costs can run high. 

“What if the bill is $500,000?” he said. “Then it becomes your problem.”

Manulife, which is partnering with Air Canada to provide the coverage, declined to comment. 

Air Canada said that passengers wanting extra protection can consider purchasing an extensive travel insurance plan.

What about snowbirds?

Medipac’s main customers are snowbirds heading to the southern U.S. where the COVID-19 infection rate remains high. But the insurance provider said it’s confident it won’t be bombarded with COVID-19 claims, because Medipac’s clientele will likely play it safe. 

“The people that we’re tailoring our product to are going to do what they’ve always done, travel down as a couple, go to their winter residence,” said Medipac spokesperson Christopher Davidge.

“We’re not talking about cramming into a discount airline … and staying at a resort hotel and going to a theme park.”

Snowbird Perry Cohen said he and his wife, Rose, plan to take all necessary precautions when they likely head to their condo this winter in Deerfield Beach, Fla., near Fort Lauderdale. 

“Our community is pretty safe,” said Cohen, who lives in Toronto. “We’re not going to look for large crowds. We’re not running to the bars and the restaurants.”

Even so, Cohen said COVID-19 coverage is a game changer because he and his wife would never consider heading south if they couldn’t purchase it. 

“Why take the risk?” he said. “I like a complete package to know I’m looked after.”

Perry Cohen said he and his wife, Rose, plan to take all necessary precautions when they likely head to their condo this winter in Deerfield Beach, Fla. (Submitted by Perry Cohen)

Cases ‘going up again’ 

But not all eager travellers will be swayed by COVID-19 coverage. 

Avid international traveller Suzanne Chojnacki said she and her husband will stay put for now because they still have many concerns — such as getting stuck abroad if the country they’re visiting suddenly closes its borders.

“The [COVID-19 case] numbers are going up again,” said Chojnacki who lives in Richmond Hill, Ont. “So it’s really not a good time to think about going away — for us.”

Current plans offering travellers COVID-19 coverage don’t include compensation if a customer cancels a trip due to the pandemic. Firestone said that’s because cancellation insurance typically covers unexpected mishaps, not a “known” issue such as the coronavirus.

“It’s just so known, it’s not even funny.”

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Some airlines are now offering free COVID-19 insurance – CTV Toronto

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TORONTO —
Many people don’t feel safe flying amid the COVID-19 pandemic and there are still government warnings in place against non-essential travel.

That is why airlines are now offering free COVID-19 insurance coverage.

But at least one travel expert says that may not be enough of a reason to book a flight anytime soon.

Martin Firestone, the president of Travel Secure, said, “I think insurance companies are looking to get back some lost sales that don’t exist right now and the airlines are of course looking for business.”

Taking a flight is more stressful these days with social distancing, mandatory temperature checks and having to wear a mask for the duration of a flight.

Now as summer comes to an end this is the time of year that many Canadians plan vacations to Mexico, Cuba and other parts of the Caribbean, but due to COVID-19 many travelers may opt to stay home this winter.

In an effort to try filling seats, Air Canada and WestJet are now offering free COVID-19 insurance coverage on some flights of up to $100,000 and Manulife has announced it will roll out a COVID-19 policy in October that will provide up to $200,000 in coverage.

The coverage for someone testing positive for COVID-19 would pay for emergency hospital and medical costs, quarantine accommodations and transportation home via ambulance or air ambulance.

Firestone said people need to realize that if they get a serious case of COVID-19 while travelling in another country and are hospitalized and on a ventilator for weeks, the costs could add up to much more than the coverage currently being offered.

“A claim upward of a half a million dollars is a possibility and the insurance company’s exposure may be capped at $100,000 to $200,000. Who is going to pay the rest? That would be the consumer,” said Firestone.

Firestone said COVID-19 insurance policies come at a time when borders to the U.S. remain closed and the Canadian government continues to warn against non-essential travel.

“I think this is a marketing plan that someone has devised, but a lot of thought has not really gone into it, because it totally goes against the government’s position on travel at this time,” Firestone added.

Many Canadians will be tempted to book vacations to sunny destinations as the cold weather arrives, but Firestone said until travel advisories are lifted and there is a vaccine people may want to stay put.

“The next two or three months I’m suggesting to hold tight and stay home,” Firestone said.

Even though some airlines are including free COVID-19 insurance coverage that is not the same as travel medical insurance. If you book a trip you still need to pay for that yourself in case something else happens while you’re away.

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B.C. RCMP reminds Tesla owners not to push limits with automation feature – News 1130

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SURREY (NEWS 1130) — B.C. Mounties are reminding Tesla owners not to test the autonomous driving feature on our roads.

On Thursday, the RCMP said they had charged a man from B.C. with dangerous driving after an officer pulled over a speeding Tesla on a central Alberta highway that appeared to be driving itself in July.

According to the RCMP, the car appeared to be travelling over 140 km/h and both front seats were completely reclined and two people in the car appeared to be sleeping.

Cpl. Mike Halskov, with BC RCMP’s traffic services, says if you’re thinking of doing the same and testing out the autopilot system in your Tesla, please think again.

“I don’t think anyone should rely 100 per cent on any automated systems that are equipped with some vehicle. They’re not foolproof. And that is why steering wheels are still in vehicles, even the ones with automated systems in it because there does need to be the human component,” he says.

In the case of the Tesla in Alberta, a 20-year-old is accused of speeding and dangerous driving and has a court date in October.

RELATED: Sleeping driver of speeding Tesla on Alberta highway faces criminal charge: RCMP

While each traffic stop is different, Halskov says there are penalties under our Motor Vehicle Act you could face in B.C.

“If somebody is testing their automated systems and they’re taking liberty with the Motor Vehicle Act … [by] excessive speed or whatever the case may be, certainly those tickets would apply,” he says.

In some cases, the penalty could be worse, with a potential for a criminal charge depending on how dangerous the scenario is.

So for Tesla owners thinking of testing the feature, Halskov adds “You’re putting yourself and your passengers and the motoring public in harm’s way by doing so, and the outcome can be tragic for you and or other people, and obviously we don’t want that to happen.”

“So don’t rely 100 per cent on your automated systems in your car if you do have them. There does need to be driver input and the driver does need to be paying attention to what’s happening and have their hands on the wheel and providing some input where it may be required.”

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