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Canadian Tire closing all National Sports stores amid higher-than-expected revenues – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News



The Canadian Press

Published Thursday, February 18, 2021 10:03AM EST

Last Updated Thursday, February 18, 2021 12:06PM EST

TORONTO – Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd. says it’s closing all its National Sports stores to reduce overlap in the company’s sporting goods assortment after an internal evaluation.

All 18 of the retail stores across southern Ontario will be closing, Gregory Craig, the retailer’s chief financial officer, told investors on Thursday.

“This has been a difficult decision, particularly due to its impact on people,” he said during a conference call. “We’re making every effort to place affected employees within our family of companies.”

The company, which operates multiple retailers including Canadian Tire, Mark’s, SportChek, Atmosphere, Sports Experts and Pro Hockey Life, made the announcement as it reported that its fourth-quarter profit and revenue both rose significantly compared with a year ago.

National Sports, which carries sportswear, shoes and gear, was launched in 1968 as National Gym Clothing Ltd., according to its website.

Closing National Sports is part of the company’s strategy to increase operational efficiencies and focus on core assets, said Greg Hicks, president and CEO of Canadian Tire Corp.

“It’s a smaller banner for us, for sure, but the decision to close the business is a matter of focus,” he told investors. “There’s always been a fair amount of overlap with this banner and both SportCheck and (Canadian Tire).”

In addition to a density of physical stores, he said there is an overlap between e-commerce capabilities as well.

An evaluation of the company’s portfolio as part of its operational efficiency program with an “investor mindset” led to the decision to close the stores, Hicks said.

“This was a business that was receiving just enough capital for maintenance needs over the years, and just wasn’t a core asset for us,” he said, adding: “We just couldn’t find a continued purpose.”

Meanwhile, the decision came as Hicks told investors that the company’s fourth-quarter results were “nothing short of phenomenal” and that its full-year results were strong despite the challenges of operating during a pandemic.

The retailer said its net income attributable to shareholders totalled $488.8 million or $7.97 per diluted share for the quarter ended Jan. 2.

The result was up from $334.1 million in net income attributable to shareholders or $5.42 per diluted share in its fourth quarter a year earlier.

Revenue was $4.87 billion, up from $4.32 billion.

On an adjusted basis, Canadian Tire said it earned $8.40 per diluted share, up from $5.53 a year earlier.

Analysts on average had expected an adjusted profit of $6.69 per share and $4.83 billion in revenue, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 18, 2021.

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Canada's inflation rate rises to new 30-year high of 4.8% – CBC News



The Consumer Price Index increased at an annual pace of 4.8 per cent in December, as sharply higher prices for food led to the cost of living going up at its fastest rate since 1991.

Statistics Canada reported Wednesday that grocery prices increased by 5.7 per cent, the biggest annual gain since 2011.

The price of fresh produce is being walloped by two things, the data agency said: “Unfavourable weather conditions in growing regions, as well as supply chain disruptions.”

The price of apples has increased by 6.7 per cent in the past year, and oranges by almost as much — 6.6 per cent. 

The U.S. is the major supplier of oranges to Canada, and because of bad weather and a plant disease called citrus greening, the major growing region of Florida is on track to produce the smallest number of oranges since 1945. 

That’s causing the price of frozen concentrated orange juice to skyrocket on commodities markets.

“If you’re an orange juice drinker, it means your prices are going to be going up at the store,” analyst Phil Flynn, with Chicago-based commodity trading firm Price Group, told CBC News. “The cost of orange juice has almost doubled here in the last few months, and that’s going to be passed down to the consumers.”

Other types of food are going up quickly, too. The price of frozen beef has gone up by almost 12 per cent in the past year, while ham and bacon are up by about 15 per cent.

Kendra Sozinho, a manager at the Fiesta Farms grocery store in Toronto, says costs from suppliers are going up faster than she’s ever seen “We’re seeing almost every single supplier increasing their pricing whech then increases our pricing,” she told CBC News in an interview. “I’ve been here for 20 years and I’ve never seen a jump like this.”

WATCH | Grocery store manager explains why prices are going up:

Grocery costs going up

59 minutes ago

Duration 0:38

Kendra Sozinho at Fiesta Farms in Toronto says consumers are seeing higher prices because grocers are dealing with sharply higher prices themselves. 0:38

Economist Tu Nguyen with consultancy RSM says food price increases could be set to get even worse in the coming weeks and months because of new rules forbidding unvaccinated truckers from entering the country.

“The current bout of inflation is driven by supply chain disruptions, pent-up demand and inflation expectations,” she said. “While pent-up demand is expected to ease as pandemic spending winds down, supply chain and inflation expectations remain paramount challenges.”

Prices for oranges and orange juice are set to rise because of bad weather and a citrus disease in Florida, which supplies most of Canada’s oranges. (Bruna Prado/Getty Images)

Expect a rate hike soon  

Food is far from the only thing becoming more expensive.

Shelter costs have risen by 5.4 per cent in the past year, faster than the overall inflation rate. And unlike the global forces at play pushing up food prices, the factors driving up shelter costs are all Canadian-made, TD Bank economist James Marple said.

“The one exception to the global nature of the current inflationary environment, is housing inflation, which is both domestically driven and, outside of increased incidents of extreme weather driving up insurance prices, directly related to the Bank of Canada’s policy stance,” he said.

Politicians weigh in

Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre placed the blame for high inflation squarely at the foot of the federal government, noting that as a country with abundant energy and food resources, Canada should have a built-in advantage when it comes to keeping a lid on prices.

“The biggest increases for consumer products have been those that we source right here at home, not those that depend on foreign supply chains,” he told reporters in Ottawa.

“Home price inflation is a home-grown problem,” he went on, arguing that record government spending under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is to blame for inflation. “The more he spends, the more things cost,” Poilievre said.

The Prime Minister, for his part, rejected that claim and said his government has a plan in place to face the inflationary challenges that many countries are facing.

WATCH | Trudeau talks about record high inflation:

Trudeau says inflation is a ‘global challenge’

2 hours ago

Duration 1:34

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says inflation is a challenge facing many countries and his government has a fiscal plan in place to get past it. 1:34

Lending rates were slashed to record lows in the early days of the pandemic to stimulate the economy. But two years of rock bottom mortgage rates have proven to be jet fuel for Canada’s housing market, causing many policy makers to suggest the time has come for the Bank of Canada to hike its rate to cool things down.

After Wednesday’s inflation report, investors think there’s about a 75 per cent chance of a rate hike as soon as next week, when the bank is set to meet. 

“Inflation is likely to come down over the next year, but getting it there will require tighter financial conditions and rate hikes by the Bank of Canada,” Marple said. 

Semiconductor shortage persists

And an ongoing lack of semiconductor microchips continues to drive up the price of just about anything with a microchip in it.

That includes durable goods like washing machines and other household appliances, the price of which have gone up by 5.7 per cent in the past 12 months. New car prices are up by even more — 7.2 per cent. 

If there was one area of relief for consumers, it was gas prices, where the price to fill up at the pump fell by 4.1 per cent during the month. That’s the biggest monthly drop since April 2020. But compared to a year ago, gas prices are still 33 per cent higher than they were in December 2020.

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Pfizer’s COVID pill is in short supply. Should unvaccinated be prioritized? – Global News



With a limited supply of Pfizer’s new COVID-19 treatment, Paxlovid, bound for Canada, the country’s top doctors have identified groups that should be first in line to get the pills — including unvaccinated older Canadians.

Giving unvaccinated Canadians access to this COVID-19 medication isn’t only the right thing to do, it’s smart public health policy, says one bioethicist.

“It would be ethically unjustifiable, and it would not be scientifically sound to withhold this limited drug from unvaccinated people,” said Dr. Kerry Bowman, a bioethicist at the University of Toronto.

In clinical trial data submitted to Health Canada, the drug was found to reduce risk of hospitalization and death by 89 per cent, according to Dr. Supriya Sharma, Canada’s chief medical adviser.

Read more:

Canada approved Paxlovid, Pfizer’s new oral COVID pill. What you need to know

Ethically speaking, Bowman explained, it’s “very dangerous” to make “judgments” about choices patients make, as well as “about how much health care they can receive based on the choices that they made.”

“It would be a dangerous precedent, and it’s not in alignment with the Canada Health Act,” Bowman said.

As for the science, keeping people out of the hospitals — unvaccinated or not — is key to emerging from the pandemic, he explained.

“From a triage point of view, (vaccination status) is not relevant information…we don’t want highly sick people in the intensive care unit with COVID that don’t have to be there,” Bowman said.

“And so if, in fact, you could avert some of the unvaccinated entering our ICU and taking up space, which is what everyone’s upset and complaining about, all the more reason to do that.”

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: O’Toole says Pfizer’s Paxlovid shipment of 30,000 treatment courses is ‘insufficient’'

COVID-19: O’Toole says Pfizer’s Paxlovid shipment of 30,000 treatment courses is ‘insufficient’

COVID-19: O’Toole says Pfizer’s Paxlovid shipment of 30,000 treatment courses is ‘insufficient’

Very few courses of this treatment are arriving in Canada in the weeks ahead. Canada has already received an initial shipment of 30,400 treatment courses, Procurement Minister Filomena Tassi said on Monday, and 120,000 more are expected to be delivered between now and the end of March.

There are over 330,000 active cases of the COVID-19 confirmed across the country right now, though that’s considered to be an underestimate.

But far from being the best option for all of those active cases, Paxlovid is only an effective treatment option for a small group of people in Canada to begin with, according to Health Canada. To receive a course of the COVID-19 treatment, an individual must be over 18, and must first test positive for COVID, either with a PCR or a rapid antigen test.

The person must also be within their first five days of having symptoms, and be sick enough to need the medicine without being so sick they need to go to the hospital.

“Paxlovid is just yet another piece of the puzzle that helps us manage this illness in people who may be at more risk,” said Dr. Gerald Evans, an infectious disease specialist at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. “For instance, those very small few who are not vaccinated at the moment.”

Read more:

Paxlovid, Pfizer’s oral COVID-19 pill, approved in Canada

Evans added that if you are fully vaccinated, you probably shouldn’t be concerned about others having access to Paxlovid before you.

“If you’re fully vaccinated, you don’t need this drug,” Evans said.

“The effectiveness of vaccination is clearly better than it is for a new antiviral medication like this that’s come out. So being fully vaccinated, you’re way ahead of the game.”

Some individuals who are fully vaccinated might find themselves needing the treatment, such as “an elderly person with a solid organ transplant,” Evans said, but those people are the exception, not the rule.

Who gets priority access to Paxlovid?

The final priority list will be up to the provinces and territories to decide, Health Canada said on Tuesday, but the federal government has provided those regions with “interim implementation considerations” for the first batches of Paxlovid that have arrived.

“(The) first consideration is prioritizing individuals who are at the highest risk for severe illness and hospitalizations,” said Anne Génier, a spokesperson for Health Canada.

Those individuals, Genier added, include immunocompromised Canadians, those over 60 who live in certain at-risk settings and aren’t fully vaccinated, and those over 80 “whose vaccinations are not up to date.”

Click to play video: 'When will Pfizer COVID-19 antiviral treatment arrive in B.C.?'

When will Pfizer COVID-19 antiviral treatment arrive in B.C.?

When will Pfizer COVID-19 antiviral treatment arrive in B.C.?

Global News contacted every province and territory to determine the criteria they’ll use in deciding who gets first access to the limited supply of Paxlovid.

In Quebec, people who are immunocompromised will be given priority access to the treatment, regardless of their vaccination status, a spokesperson told Global News. New Brunswick’s government, meanwhile, said Paxlovid “will only be provided to individuals who are among the public health priority groups for the time being.”

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Canada has already received 1st shipment of Pfizer antiviral pill, procurement minister says'

COVID-19: Canada has already received 1st shipment of Pfizer antiviral pill, procurement minister says

COVID-19: Canada has already received 1st shipment of Pfizer antiviral pill, procurement minister says

Nova Scotia, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia did not provide specifics on their priority groups. However, Ontario, Alberta and B.C. all said they are currently working to determine eligibility and would have more details to share in the near future.

Manitoba did not directly answer Global News’ question. Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon governments did not respond by the time of publication.

At the end of the day, Paxlovid is just another tool in the pandemic toolbox, said Evans.

“I don’t think this is a game changer,” he said.

“What this is about, is yet another very effective tool we can use in a portion of the population.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Airlines worldwide rush to change flights over U.S. 5G dispute – CBC News



Airlines across the world, including the long-haul carrier Emirates, rushed Wednesday to cancel or change flights heading into the U.S. over an ongoing dispute about the rollout of 5G mobile phone technology near American airports.

The issue appeared to impact the Boeing 777, a long-range, wide-body aircraft used by carriers across the world. Two Japanese airlines directly named the aircraft as being particularly affected by the 5G signals as they announced cancellations and changes to their schedules.

Dubai-based Emirates, a key carrier for East-West travel, announced it would halt flights to Boston, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Miami, Newark, New Jersey, Orlando, Florida, San Francisco and Seattle over the issue beginning Wednesday. It said it would continue flights to Los Angeles, New York and Washington.

In its announcement, Emirates cited the cancellation as necessary due to “operational concerns associated with the planned deployment of 5G mobile network services in the U.S. at certain airports.”

“We are working closely with aircraft manufacturers and the relevant authorities to alleviate operational concerns, and we hope to resume our U.S. services as soon as possible,” the state-owned airline said.

The United Arab Emirates successfully rolled out 5G coverage all around its airports without incident. But in the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration worries that the C-Band strand of 5G could interfere with aviation equipment.

A passenger uses a laptop aboard a commercial airline flight from Boston to Atlanta on July 1, 2017. The airline cancellations come even after mobile phone carriers AT&T and Verizon say they will postpone new wireless service near some U.S. airports planned for this week. (Bill Sikes/The Associated Press)

Of particular concern in the 5G rollout appears to be the Boeing 777, a major workhorse for Emirates.

Japan’s All Nippon Airways Co. Ltd. said in a statement that the FAA “has indicated that radio waves from the 5G wireless service may interfere with aircraft altimeters.” Altimeters measure how high a plane is in the sky, a crucial piece of equipment for flying.

“Boeing has announced flight restrictions on all airlines operating the Boeing 777 aircraft, and we have cancelled or changed the aircraft for some flights to/from the U.S. based on the announcement by Boeing,” ANA said.

Japan Airlines Co. Ltd. similarly said that it had been informed that 5G signals “may interfere with the radio altimeter installed on the Boeing 777.”

“We will refrain from using this model on the continental United States line until we can confirm its safety and we regret to inform you that we will cancel the flight for which the aircraft cannot be changed to the Boeing 787,” the airline said.

WATCH | 5G launch delayed near some U.S. airports:

FAA agreement delays 5G rollout near some U.S. airports

9 hours ago

Duration 2:04

The U.S. aviation regulator, the FAA, came to a last-minute deal to avoid turning dozens of airports into no-fly zones for certain planes, but the bigger issue about whether 5G could interfere with airplanes’ ability to land remains unresolved. 2:04

Chicago-based Boeing Co. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Air India also announced on Twitter it would cancel flights to Chicago, Newark, New York and San Francisco “due to deployment of the 5G communications” equipment. It said it would try to use other aircraft on U.S. routes as well.

The cancellations come even after mobile phone carriers AT&T and Verizon will postpone new wireless service near some U.S. airports planned for this week.

The FAA will allow planes with accurate, reliable altimeters to operate around high-power 5G. But planes with older altimeters will not be allowed to make landings under low-visibility conditions.

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