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Bank of Canada keeps key interest rate target on hold, citing pandemic-related risks – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Craig Wong, The Canadian Press


Published Wednesday, September 8, 2021 9:43AM EDT


Last Updated Wednesday, September 8, 2021 1:49PM EDT

OTTAWA — The Bank of Canada kept its key interest rate target on hold Wednesday as it warned the fourth wave of the pandemic and supply bottlenecks could weigh on the economic recovery.

The central bank held its target for the overnight rate at 0.25 per cent, what it calls the effective lower bound.

“The governing council judges that the Canadian economy still has considerable excess capacity, and that the recovery continues to require extraordinary monetary policy support,” the bank said in its decision.

The central bank said it continues to expect the economy to strengthen in the second half of the year though the fourth wave, and supply issues may cause problems for the recovery.

It also repeated its commitment to hold its trendsetting rate at near-zero until the economy is ready to handle an increase in rates, which it doesn’t expect to happen before the second half of 2022.

The rate decision follows a report last week that the economy contracted at an annualized rate of 1.1 per cent in the second quarter and Statistics Canada said its initial estimate for July pointed to contraction of 0.4 per cent for the first month of the third quarter.

TD Bank senior economist Sri Thanabalasingam said the Bank of Canada will be paying close attention to the upcoming employment and inflation figures.

“A solid gain in jobs in August alongside a tempering of price pressures should leave the bank on track to gradually reduce monetary stimulus in coming quarters,” Thanabalasingam wrote in a report.

“However, if the employment report disappoints or inflation picks up further, the bank’s governing council will face a more difficult trade off. Boosting monetary stimulus could further aid the recovery, especially given the Delta variant risk, but runs the risk of accelerating price growth.”

Thanabalasingam said he’ll be watching for any details Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem may provide in his speech Thursday about the bank’s thinking about the future.

In addition to keeping its key rate on hold, the Bank of Canada also said Wednesday that it would maintain its quantitative easing program by buying bonds at a target pace of $2 billion per week.

By buying Government of Canada bonds, the Bank of Canada helps keep interest rates low and boosts the economy.

Stephen Brown, senior Canada economist at Capital Economics, said there are some emerging downside risks to the economic outlook, but he did not expect those risks to prevent the bank from tapering its asset purchases at its next rate announcement at the end of October.

“Even though the recovery has been delayed by a few months, it is still on the right track and some recent positive developments in the narrower labour market indicators that the bank monitors, such as the employment rate of younger workers, suggests the bank will be happy to reduce the amount of additional stimulus that it is providing,” Brown wrote.

The Bank of Canada aims to control inflation by making changes to its policy rate.

The central bank noted that inflation remains above three per cent as expected, boosted by base-year effects, gasoline prices, and pandemic-related supply bottlenecks.

However, it said the factors pushing up inflation are expected to be transitory, but their persistence and magnitude are uncertain and will be monitored closely.

“Wage increases have been moderate to date, and medium-term inflation expectations remain well-anchored,” the policy statement says.

The annual pace of inflation rose to 3.7 per cent in July, marking the biggest increase since May 2011, and compared with a year-over-year increase in the consumer price index of 3.1 per cent in June.

The Bank of Canada’s next interest rate decision is scheduled for Oct. 27, when it will also update its outlook for the economy and inflation in its fall monetary policy report.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 8, 2021.

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33 trapped miners safe after rescue, 6 more on long trek out of mine near Sudbury – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Liam Casey, The Canadian Press


Published Tuesday, September 28, 2021 7:54AM EDT


Last Updated Tuesday, September 28, 2021 11:14AM EDT

Thirty-three of 39 miners who were trapped underground in northern Ontario since Sunday have returned safely to the surface, the workers’ union said Tuesday as a rescue operation continued.

United Steelworkers, which represents workers trapped in Totten Mine near Sudbury, Ont., said they are pleased with the rescue operation thus far.

“A team of doctors is on site, checking workers as they emerge,” said the union, which represents 30 of the 39 staff members trapped in the mine. “No one has been physically injured in the incident or in the evacuation.”

Vale, the company that owns the mine, said it expects everyone to emerge Tuesday.

The employees were trapped in the mine on Sunday when a scoop bucket being sent underground detached and blocked the mine shaft, Vale said.

As a result, it said the “conveyance system” for taking workers to and from the surface became unavailable.

Vale said the trapped miners have been staying in underground “refuge stations,” some 900 to 1,200 metres underground, as part of the company’s standard procedures.

The workers began making their way out Monday night through a “a secondary egress ladder system,” the company said.

“We thank the impacted employees for their patience and perseverance and the mine rescue teams for their tireless dedication and support,” said Gord Gilpin, head of mining for Vale’s Ontario operations. “This has been an incredible team effort.”

A rescue team met the miners Monday and prepared them for the long journey to the surface.

The union said the miners had to scale a system of ladders, with each ladder being about six metres long and with a staging area at every break.

“When an incident like this unfortunately happens, everyone comes together,” said Nick Larochelle, president of USW Local 6500

“The miners support each other, the highly trained mine rescue teams come together and the whole community waits patiently praying for the safe return of every one of the 39 miners to surface.”

The company said the trapped miners had access to food, water and medicine. The union added that miners had been able to make phone calls to both communicate with rescuers and to call loved ones.

Totten Mine opened in 2014, in Worthington, Ont., and produces copper, nickel and precious metals. It employs about 200 people.

The province’s Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, said an inspection team will investigate the incident once the rescue operation is finished.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2021.

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Caisse to sell off remaining oil assets by next year – CBC.ca

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Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec says it will divest all of its oil investments by next year as part of the pension plan’s plan to help combat climate change by cutting its carbon footprint in half by 2030.

The province’s public pension fund unveiled its climate change strategy on Tuesday.

A core plank of the policy is to divest all assets that produce crude oil products by the end of 2022. 

“The climate situation affects everyone, and we can no longer address it with the same methods used a few years ago,” CEO Charles Emond said. “We have to make important decisions on issues such as oil production and decarbonizing sectors that are essential to our economies.”

The pension plan has been selling off assets in the oil sector, but the declaration means it will move ahead with selling off what it has left — currently about one per cent of its total portfolio of $390 billion.

The fund also says it will move its oil money to other investments, with a view to buying up $54 billion in “green assets” by 2025.

Overall, the pension fund says it plans to reduce its total carbon footprint by 60 per cent by 2030.

“With this new strategy, we are demonstrating our leadership as an investor and enter the next stage of climate investing. We believe this is in the interests of our depositors, our portfolio companies and the communities we invest in,” Emond said.

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Instagram pausing Instagram Kids, eyes changes – Business News – Castanet.net

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Instagram is putting a hold on the development of Instagram kids, geared towards children under 13, so it can address concerns about access and content.

Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, wrote in a blog post Monday that a delay will give the company time to “work with parents, experts, policymakers and regulators, to listen to their concerns, and to demonstrate the value and importance of this project for younger teens online today.”

The announcement follows a withering series by the Wall Street Journal, which reported that Facebook was aware that the use of Instagram by some teenage girls led to mental health issues and anxiety.

Yet the development of Instagram for a younger audience was met with broader push back almost immediately.

Facebook announced the development of Instagram for kids in March, saying at the time that it was “exploring a parent-controlled experience.” The push back was almost immediate and in May, a bipartisan group of 44 attorneys general wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, urging him to abandon the project, citing the well being of children.

They cited increased cyberbullying, possible vulnerability to online predators, and what they called Facebook’s “checkered record” in protecting children on its platforms. Facebook faced similar criticism in 2017 when it launched the Messenger Kids app, touted as a way for children to chat with family members and friends approved by parents.

While concerns about Instagram for kids is ongoing, Mosseri said that Instagram believes it’s better for children under 13 to have a specific platform for age-appropriate content, and that other companies like TikTok and YouTube have app versions for that age group.

“We firmly believe that it’s better for parents to have the option to give their children access to a version of Instagram that is designed for them — where parents can supervise and control their experience — than relying on an app’s ability to verify the age of kids who are too young to have an ID,” he wrote.

Mosseri said that Instagram for kids is meant for those between the ages of 10 and 12, not younger. It will require parental permission to join, be ad free, and will include age-appropriate content and features. Parents will be able to supervise the time their children spend on the app, oversee who can message them, who can follow them and who they can follow.

While work is being paused on Instagram Kids, the company will be expanding opt-in parental supervision tools to teen accounts of those 13 and older. More details on these tools will be disclosed in the coming months, Mosseri said.

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