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Braid: In face of E.U. export bans, Canada's mediocrity may keep vaccine shipments coming – Calgary Herald

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Whatever emotions Canada provokes in Europe, envy isn’t one of them

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Canada’s vaccine supply depends entirely on “the kindness of strangers,” to misuse the great line from the Tennessee Williams play.

There is no single COVID-19 vaccine dose that isn’t made and shipped from somewhere else, mostly from Europe. And vaccine nationalism is intensifying there.

On Thursday, the European Union is expected to decide on new measures that could potentially block exports.

Canada is not on the E.U. list of more than 100 countries officially exempted from export bans. This doesn’t mean Canada will be deprived, but certainly suggests it’s possible.

The drift to protectionism isn’t new. The first European export restrictions took effect in January.

But the latest move is an escalation, clearly based on public anger at the surprisingly weak vaccine rollout in many E.U. countries.

The U.K. is the main target. With post-Brexit grievances still fresh, the Europeans are furious that Britain hasn’t sent a single dose across the Channel but has received 10 million from Europe.

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As if to rub it in, the U.K. has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, far ahead of any E.U. country.

There’s a risk that if bans get rolling they will spread and affect shipments to Canada — just as the provincial vaccination plans are ramping up with decent supplies of Pfizer and Moderna doses.

On Wednesday, Health Minister Tyler Shandro boasted that 500,000 Albertans have received at least one dose.

“More than 146,400 doses were administered during the past week, including more than 27,600 reported on March 21 alone,” he said.

This is real progress. But it must continue. Alberta now has more cases of the highly infectious variant strain than any other province. We had 1,908 such cases Wednesday. Ontario, with nearly four times our population, recorded 1,443.

The only way out is mass vaccination, as quickly as possible.

Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist Anna Giroba administers the COVID vaccine to Ivan Brown at the Evergreen Village location in Calgary on Thursday, March 18, 2021.
Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist Anna Giroba administers the COVID vaccine to Ivan Brown at the Evergreen Village location in Calgary on Thursday, March 18, 2021. Photo by Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

Ottawa says it has assurances that shipments to Canada, which mainly come from Moderna and Pfizer European facilities, will not be affected by the latest E.U. rule changes.

Similarly, the Alberta government has no information that suggests a sudden shut-off. But we heard that before, and then Pfizer suddenly cut deliveries in January to retool its plant in Belgium.

By maddening irony, our best hope for continuing supply may be Canada’s complete dependence, as well as our low vaccination rates.

The E.U. rules are aimed at exports to countries that already have high vaccination success as well as capacity to produce vaccine, but ship few or no doses to the E.U.

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Canada has no production capacity and therefore no way to export, unless we give away supply we buy elsewhere.

Our vaccination rates are also well down the international lists.

Several websites compile vaccination comparisons based on national statistics. You have to wonder if some nations aren’t stretching their success in order to look good at home.

But there’s no doubt that the U.S. and U.K. are going extremely well.

The New York Times tracker shows that the U.K. has vaccinated 43 per cent of the population once, although only 3.6 per cent have received two shots.

Members of the public receive a dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine at Lichfield cathedral, which has been converted into a temporary vaccination centre, in Lichfield, central England on March 18, 2021.
Members of the public receive a dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine at Lichfield cathedral, which has been converted into a temporary vaccination centre, in Lichfield, central England on March 18, 2021. Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. has vaccinated 25 per cent once, and 14 per cent are fully inoculated.

Both nations far outstrip major E.U. countries. In France, the count is 9.5 per cent with one shot and 3.7 per cent with two. In Germany, it’s 9.3 per cent and 4.1 per cent.

Belgium, where Canada’s Pfizer doses are produced, has vaccinated 8.8 per cent of the population once, and 3.9 per cent twice.

Canada is squarely in the mediocre middle. We’ve vaccinated 9.7 per cent once, and only 1.7 per cent twice.

Whatever emotions Canada provokes in Europe, envy isn’t one of them.

National mediocrity may be the very thing that ensures the kindness of strangers, as long as we keep paying them. It’s not the best feeling.

Don Braid’s column appears regularly in the Herald

dbraid@postmedia.com

Twitter: @DonBraid

Facebook: Don Braid Politics

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Canadian Business During the Pandemic

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In 2019 the world was hit by the covid 19 pandemic and ever since then people have been suffering in different ways. Usually, economies and businesses have changed the way they work and do business. Most of which are going towards online and automation.

The people most effected by this are the laymen that used to work hard labors to make money for there families. But other then them it has been hard for most business to make such switch. Those of whom got on the online/ e commerce band wagon quickly were out of trouble and into the safe zone but not everyone is mace for the high-speed online world and are thus suffering.

More than 200,000 Canadian businesses could close permanently during the COVID-19 crisis, throwing millions of people out of work as the resurgence of the virus worsens across much of the country, according to new research. You can only imagine how many families these businesses were feeding, not to mention the impact the economy and the GDP is going to bear.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said one in six, or about 181,000, Canadian small business owners are now seriously contemplating shutting down. The latest figures, based on a survey of its members done between Jan. 12 and 16, come on top of 58,000 businesses that became inactive in 2020.

An estimate by the CFIB last summer said one in seven or 158,000 businesses were at risk of going under as a result of the pandemic. Based on the organization’s updated forecast, more than 2.4 million people could be out of work. A staggering 20 per cent of private sector jobs.

Simon Gaudreault, CFIB’s senior director of national research, said it was an alarming increase in the number of businesses that are considering closing.

We are not headed in the right direction, and each week that passes without improvement on the business front pushes more owners to make that final decision,”

He said in a statement.

The more businesses that disappear, the more jobs we will lose, and the harder it will be for the economy to recover.

In total, one in five businesses are at risk of permanent closure by the end of the pandemic, the organization said.

The new sad research shows that this year has been horrible for the Canadian businesses.

 

The beginning of 2021 feels more like the fifth quarter of 2020 than a new year,” said Laura Jones, executive vice-president of the CFIB, in a statement.

She called on governments to help small businesses “replace subsidies with sales” by introducing safe pathways to reopen to businesses.

There’s a lot at stake now from jobs, to tax revenue to support for local soccer teams,”

Jones said.

Let’s make 2021 the year we help small business survive and then get back to thriving.”

The whole world has suffered a lot from the pandemic and the Canadian economy has been no stranger to it. We can only pray that the world gets rid of this pandemic quickly and everything become as it used to be. Although I think it is about time, we start setting new norms.

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Shopify shares edge up after falling on executive departures

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By Chavi Mehta

(Reuters) -Shopify Inc shares edged higher on Thursday, recovering partially from the previous day’s fall, with analysts saying the news of planned senior executive departures may have limited impact due to the company’s deep talent pool.

Chief Executive Officer Tobi Lutke said in a blog post on Wednesday the company’s chief talent officer, chief legal officer and chief technology officer will all leave their roles.

“We remain confident it (Shopify) can continue to execute at a high level, despite the departures,” Tom Forte, analyst at D.A. Davidson & Co said, pointing to the company’s “deep bench of talented executives.”

Shopify, which provides infrastructure for online stores, has seen its valuation soar in the past year as many businesses went virtual during the COVID-19 lockdowns, turning it into Canada‘s most valuable company.

Shopify declined to comment further on Lutke’s statement suggesting current company leaders would step in to fill the three roles. After chief product officer Craig Miller left in September, Lutke took on the role in addition to CEO.

The Ottawa-based company is Canada‘s biggest homegrown tech success story, founded in 2006 and supporting over 1 million businesses globally, according to the company.

Jonathan Kees, analyst at Summit Insights Group, called the timing of the departures “a little alarming” but said the specific roles make it less concerning, given that the executives leaving are “more back-office roles.”

Lutke said each one of them had their individual reasons to leave, without giving details.

“I am willing to give Tobi’s explanation the benefit of the doubt,” Kees added.

Toronto-listed shares of Shopify were up 3.5% at C$1526.41 on Thursday, giving it a market value of C$188 billion ($150 billion). It ended down 5.1% on Wednesday.

“While we would refer to the departure of three high-level executives as ‘significant,’ we would not refer to it as a ‘brain drain,'” Forte added.

($1 = 1.2541 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Dan Grebler)

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Almost half of Shopify’s top execs to depart company: CEO

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By Moira Warburton

(Reuters) – Three of e-commerce platform Shopify’s seven top executives will be leaving the company in the coming months, chief executive officer and founder of Canada‘s most valuable company Tobi Lutke said in a blog post on Wednesday.

The company’s chief talent officer, chief legal officer and chief technology officer will all transition out of their roles, Lutke said, adding that they have been “spectacular and deserve to take a bow.”

“Each one of them has their individual reasons but what was unanimous with all three was that this was the best for them and the best for Shopify,” he said.

The trio follow the departure of Craig Miller, chief product officer, in September. Lutke took on the role in addition to CEO.

Shopify, which provides infrastructure for online stores, has seen its valuation soar in the last year as many businesses went virtual during COVID-19 lockdowns. It has a market cap valuation of C$182.7 billion ($146 billion), above Canada‘s top lender Royal Bank of Canada.

It is Canada‘s biggest homegrown tech success story, founded in 2006 and supporting over 1 million businesses globally, according to the company.

“We have a phenomenally strong bench of leaders who will now step up into larger roles,” Lutke said, but did not name replacements.

Shopify said in February revenue growth would slow this year as vaccine rollouts encourage people to return to stores and warned it does not expect 2020’s near doubling of gross merchandise volume, an industry metric to measure transaction volumes, to repeat this year.

Chief talent officer, Brittany Forsyth, was the 22nd employee hired at Shopify and has been with the company for 11 years. She said on Twitter that post-Shopify she would be focusing on Backbone Angels, an all-female collective of angel investors she co-founded in March.

Shopify shares fell 5.1% while the benchmark Canadian share index ended marginally down.

($1 = 1.2515 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Toronto; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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