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B.C. to end referral fees to help ease sky-high strata insurance costs –



The B.C. government is moving to end referral fees, provide more transparency and close loopholes in a bid to address sky-rocketing strata insurance fees.

Finance Minister Carole James introduced the legislation on Tuesday as a “first step” to address the challenge many condo owners are facing in the wake of ever-climbing property values and excessive exposure to earthquake risk.

Another strata insurance premium horror story surfaces in East Vancouver.

Another strata insurance premium horror story surfaces in East Vancouver.

“This is an extremely complex issue playing out in the private insurance industry, but that doesn’t lessen our government’s commitment to doing what we can to make the situation better,” James said.

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B.C.’s condo owners have struggled under an average cost increase of around 40 per cent over the past year, according to an interim report presented to the province last week by the industry’s regulator.

Insurers are incurring losses mostly from minor claims, particularly those resulting from water damage, poor building maintenance and initial construction quality issues, said the BC Financial Services Authority, whose final report is expected in the fall.

Investigation finds strata insurance industry is ‘unhealthy’

Investigation finds strata insurance industry is ‘unhealthy’

The government aims to end the charging of referral fees between insurers or insurance brokers and property managers or other third parties, as well as require the disclosure of commissions.

“We heard the commissions could have been up to 20 per cent of the cost,” James said. “That is a very large amount and by disclosing that, we believe it will create competition.”

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Read more:
B.C. condo insurance rates up 40% in ‘unhealthy’ market, regulator finds

The policy would also lay out what strata corporations are required and not required to insure, and have strata corporations inform homeowners about any policy changes, such as higher deductibles.

About 1.5 million residents in B.C. live in strata properties, which can range from under $1 million to more than $200 million in insured value.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Toronto to open cooling centres as heat warning issued for city – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News



Miriam Katawazi,

Published Wednesday, July 1, 2020 5:03PM EDT

Last Updated Wednesday, July 1, 2020 11:20PM EDT

A heat warning has been issued for Toronto as temperatures are expected to rise significantly over the next few days.

Environment Canada warned that daytime temperatures between Thursday and Sunday will range between 31 C and 33 C.

On Wednesday, the weather agency also said that overnight temperatures will range between 20 C and 22 C for the next few days.

“Environment and Climate Change Canada issues a heat warning when it forecasts two or more consecutive days with daytime maximum temperatures of 31 C or warmer, together with minimum nighttime temperatures of 20 C or warmer,” the weather agency said.

The City of Toronto has said that 15 emergency cooling centres will be open starting at 11 a.m. on Thursday for the entire duration of the heat warning.

“Extreme heat is associated with negative health impacts ranging from heat stress to heat stroke and death,” the city said in a statement Friday evening.

“During periods of hot weather, the safety of all residents is the priority.”

The city has launched an interactive map online for people looking for an emergency cooling centre near them.

“The emergency cooling centres will offer a publically accessible, air-conditioned place for residents to rest indoors and receive a cool drink,” the city said.

“Staff who are trained to assist residents affected by the extreme heat will be on hand. Strict infection prevention and control measures will be in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

All the centres will operate during the heat warnings from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. except the Metro Hall located 55 John Street, which will run 24 hours.  

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'No mask. No ride': Uber will require drivers and passengers to wear face masks indefinitely – USA TODAY



Uber is extending its mask requirement indefinitely throughout the U.S. and Canada as coronavirus cases continue to rise across several states.

The company previously said that both drivers and riders are required to wear masks during trips through June. On Wednesday, the company said it’s extending that rule.

“Extending our ‘No Mask, No Ride’ policy is the right thing to do,” Uber said in a statement. “We want to send a clear message to everyone using Uber that we all have a role to play to keep each other safe.” 

The decision was made based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The company also notes the public rise in coronavirus cases. Texas, New Mexico and California are among the states with infections trending upward. 

The news comes in tandem with the company’s launch of a campaign running on TV, social media and in the app. It’s called “No mask. No ride” and depicts drivers and Uber Eats delivery people working during the pandemic. 

Coronavirus: COVID-19 drug remdesivir priced at $390 per vial for some patients, $520 for others

Uber also conducted a survey of 600 random Uber and Lyft drivers, finding that Uber drivers feel safer with COVID-19 related safety guidelines in place, the company said. The company added selfie technology for drivers in May that detects whether a driver is wearing a mask before they start a shift.

More than a million drivers have gone through mask detection already, the company said. Drivers have completed more than 100 million trips while wearing masks, a number that would be much higher if Uber Eats trips were included, the company said. 

It also sends notifications to riders reminding them to wear a face covering before their driver arrives. 

Uber’s business was hit hard after the pandemic was declared as people urged to stay home didn’t need to take as many rides. The company shed swaths of its workforce as a result, and CEO Dara Khosrowshahi waived his base salary through the end of the year. 

Even if you haven’t taken a trip in months, you’re still required to wear a mask. 

“For riders who may be taking their first trip since the pandemic began, please know that your driver is required to wear a mask or face cover – and you are too,” Uber said. 

Lyft also has a mask requirement in all 50 states, and airlines have instituted similar policies to aid in coronavirus prevention efforts. 

Follow Dalvin Brown on Twitter: @Dalvin_Brown. 

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Are Oil Bulls In For A Disappointing July –



Are Oil Bulls In For A Disappointing July? |

Nick Cunningham

Nick Cunningham is an independent journalist, covering oil and gas, energy and environmental policy, and international politics. He is based in Portland, Oregon. 

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    The oil market continues to tighten, but the surge of coronavirus cases in the U.S. could derail the rally in crude prices.  OPEC+ can claim most of the credit for engineering an oil price rally, keeping upwards of 9.7 million barrels per day (mb/d) offline for several months. The one-month extension through July added to the effort, as did the improved compliance. “Although there is still the danger of demand outages in view of increased new cases of Covid-19, OPEC+ seems to have the market under control at the moment,” Commerzbank wrote in a note on Wednesday. 

    The resurgence of demand has also boosted prices, despite the fact that demand remains significantly impaired relative to pre-pandemic levels. A smaller oil market has “rebalanced” and might even trade at a deficit for the remainder of 2020. 

    But the coronavirus continues to spread like wildfire in the U.S., Brazil, and India. The U.S. posted 48,000 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, a record high. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, warned that cases could top 100,000 per day if the current rate of infection is not slowed. 

    In the oil capital of Houston, ICU capacity is at 97 percent. Meanwhile, a total of 38 states now have an Rt value of over 1.0, meaning that each infected person is infecting more than one additional person – a sign that the spread is accelerating.

    At least 19 states have paused or rolled back their reopening plans. New economic data shows that the nascent rebound has stalled in much of the country, and is now going into reverse.

    Raymond James downplayed the significance of new closures in terms of its effect on the oil market, calling new shutdowns “geographically localized.” 

    In a global context, the trend is still broadly moving towards reopening, the bank said. “While it is understandable that these stories are played up by the media, the fact of the matter is that these occurrences are essentially noise against the overarching backdrop of re-opening that continues to advance, so far,” Raymond James analysts wrote in a note. The bank noted that of the 4.31 billion people that lived under some version of a lockdown in recent months, 3.56 billion are in areas that have now reopened, or 83 percent. 

    Related: Oil Rallies On Bullish EIA Inventory Data

    Others see more trouble ahead. Although the oil price rally has stalled at about $40 per barrel, “the downwards correction could justifiably have been greater” due to the renewed spike in Covid-19 cases in the U.S. and the potential negative impact on demand, Standard Chartered wrote in a report. 

    “[W]e remain wary of the sustainability of apparent increases in gasoline demand, as record-high new coronavirus cases in the top three gasoline-consuming US states (California, Texas and Florida) raise  demand risks, and are at odds with recent market commentary based on a V-shaped recovery,” Standard Chartered said. 

    “Record-high inventories, increasing risks to demand, and the potential rapid return of shut-in production suggest to us that price recovery has run far ahead of what data trends can support, and that the longer oil prices take to correct lower, the larger that correction will likely need to be,” the bank added.

    Standard Chartered also said that China’s strong oil import demand in recent weeks has less to do with a sharp recovery than it does with “bargain-hunting in crude oil after the collapse in prices.” Commodity markets are “unlikely to be powered by a V-shaped recovery in import demand from Asia ex-China.” 

    A few other negative factors are worth keeping an eye on. OPEC+ is leaning towards relaxing the production cuts at the end of the month, potentially returning 2 million barrels per day to the market. Although nothing has been decided, sources told Reuters that the production cuts could ease from 9.7 mb/d to 7.7 mb/d as soon as August. 

    Libya – which is not participating in the OPEC+ agreement – may also return some supply to the market. The bulk of the country’s output has been offline during the past year due to the civil war, but the failed siege on Tripoli by the Libyan National Army has led to negotiations and the potential restart of oil terminals. 

    Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has threatened a new price war if Angola and Nigeria do not up their compliance with the production cuts, according to the Wall Street Journal.

    For now, though, oil traders are ignoring most of these bearish signals. The EIA reported a strong draw in crude inventories for the week ending on June 26, leading to price gains during midday trading on Wednesday. 

    The EIA data will likely lead crude benchmarks “to keep their gains,” and the enthusiasm could “stay for a while, with traders longing for the next bunch of positive news,” Rystad Energy’s oil markets analyst Louise Dickson said in a statement. However, Dickson noted a rather large caveat in the next sentence. 

    “Keep an eye on Covid-19 though and how reported infections increase in the US and beyond, that’s the Joker in the oil card deck,” the analyst said. 

    By Nick Cunningham of

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