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Cargill is shuttering its High River meat-packing plant after it was linked to more than 350 cases of coronavirus – Financial Post

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CALGARY — The Cargill meat-packing plant in southern Alberta announced Monday it is temporarily shutting down as the result of COVID-19.

The High River facility, which employs about 2,000 workers, has been linked to more than 350 cases of the novel coronavirus.

A company spokesman called it a difficult decision as the plant is considered an essential service.

“Considering the community-wide impacts of the virus, we encourage all employees to get tested for the COVID-19 virus as now advised by Alberta Health Services as soon as possible,” Jon Nash said in a statement.

Production is to stop once meat already in the plant is processed to avoid any food waste.

“We will process approximately three million meals currently in our facility as quickly as possible. We greatly appreciate our employees who are working to complete this effort,” Nash said.

It’s not clear how long the plant will be shut down or if workers will be paid while they’re off.

The plant, just north of the town of High River, processes about 4,500 head of cattle a day — more than one-third of Canada’s beef-packing capacity.

Cargill had earlier announced that its second shift of workers was being shut down. It also had said it was bringing in several new safety protocols, including temperature testing, enhanced cleaning and sanitizing, use of face coverings, screens between employee stations and a ban on visitors.

The president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401, which represents the Cargill employees, said the shutdown is better late than never. But the union still has many questions.

“We still have grave concerns about their transparency. What are they saying to their workers? Are the workers going to get paid? What does the future look like?” asked local president Thomas Hesse. “It isn’t just about pausing the plant … creating economic anxiety among these vulnerable workers is another problem.”

The union had been calling on Cargill to shut the plant down for two weeks to allow workers to self-isolate and to give the plant a thorough cleaning.
Hesse said three-quarters of members expressed concern about their safety during a union conference call Sunday.

He said he personally knows that one long-term Cargill employee is “fighting for his life” in hospital. The worker is on a ventilator and in an induced coma, said Hesse.
He wants an independent third party to assess the plant.

An official with the Canadian Union of Public Employees in Alberta said the shutdown is overdue, since cases at Cargill were causing a cross-contamination of another essential service in the town of 12,000 people.

Lou Arab said five employees at Seasons Retirement Communities in High River have tested positive for COVID-19. Three of them are married to meat-packing workers.
“The plant needs to be shut down until they figure out what’s going on and until they know it has been made safe,” Arab said.

“It’s going beyond the plant and it’s going into the community.”

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What do the new CMHC rules mean for homebuyers? – Globalnews.ca

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Getting mortgage default insurance is about to get harder after Canada’s federal housing agency announced stricter lending standards on Thursday.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) says it will no longer allow homebuyers to use borrowed funds for their down payment, will require a higher credit score from at least one borrower and will lower the threshold for how much debt applicants can carry compared to their income.

The changes, which come into effect July 1, will reduce the purchasing power of homebuyers who opt for CMHC insurance and likely leave insured mortgage applicants in pricey markets with fewer options, according to mortgage brokers.

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CMHC’s new debt-ratio policy will lower homebuyers’ purchasing power by up to 11 per cent, according to Robert McLister, founder of rates comparisons site RateSpy.com.

For example, someone making $60,000 a year with a five per cent down payment and no pre-existing debt would be able to afford a home with a maximum home price that is roughly 11 per cent lower than what they would have been able to buy before the new rules, according to McLister’s calculations.

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Economists say the measures could discourage some prospective homebuyers from entering the market.

CMHC said it will require a credit score of at least 680, up from the current minimum of 600. It will also lower the maximum amount of debt applicants are allowed to carry compared to their income.

To measure the latter, lenders use two key metrics: the gross debt service ratio (GDS), or the share of income used to cover the mortgage and other housing costs like property taxes, and the total debt service ratio (TDS), the share of income used to cover housing costs plus the cost of servicing other debts.

CMHC is lowering the maximum GDS from 39 per cent to 35 per cent and the maximum TDS from 44 per cent to 42 per cent.






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Changes to the GDS threshold and the credit score minimum will have the greatest impact on affordability, said James Laird, co-founder of financial products comparisons site Ratehub.ca and president of mortgage brokerage CanWise Financial, in a statement via email.

Banning the use of borrowed funds to finance down payments will likely have a more marginal effect, as most Canadians rely on savings, investments and financial help from family for down payments, Laird added.

Mortgage insurance, which protects lenders from the risk of borrowers defaulting on their payments, is mandatory in Canada for loans with a down payment of less than 20 per cent.

Mortgage default insurance is available from CMHC as well as private companies such as Genworth MI Canada Inc. and Canada Guaranty Mortgage Insurance Co.

While the new CMHC rules do not apply to Canada’s private mortgage insurers, they could adopt the new policy on a voluntary basis.

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Private mortgage insurance providers could become “the only games left in town” for homebuyers in expensive markets like Toronto and Vancouver, where borrowers generally have higher debt ratios, McLister noted.⁠

McLister is critical of CMHC’s decision to tighten the rules at a time when the economy is already reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 public health restrictions.

“Normally, you don’t rock the boat when you’re already taking on water,” McLister wrote in a blog post shortly after the policy announcement. “But that’s what CMHC has done,” he added.

Canada’s housing agency has said it’s concerned that already high household debt levels will soar in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis, increasing the risk that overstretched homeowners won’t be able to keep up with their mortgage payments.

The new rules “will protect homebuyers, reduce government and taxpayer risk and support the stability of housing markets while curtailing excessive demand and unsustainable house price growth,” said CMHC head Evan Siddall in a statement.

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— With files from the Canadian Press

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

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Unexpectedly Strong Jobs Report Sends Oil Soaring – OilPrice.com

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U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures are trading at their highest levels of the week on Friday and inside the price gap created on March 9 when the market opened sharply lower, officially starting the coronavirus-related plunge. The price action strongly suggests the buying is getting stronger especially if traders fill the gap.

The market was initially supported after a report said OPEC and its allies led by Russia would meet on Saturday to discuss extending record oil production cuts and to approve a new approach that aims to force laggards such as Iraq and Nigeria to comply better with the existing curbs.

A second surge in the market occurred following the release of a much better-than-expected U.S. Non-Farm Payrolls report. This surprisingly strong report is a sign that the economy is improving much faster than previously expected, meaning that demand will pick up at a much faster pace than currently estimated.

OPEC+ Wants an Extension and Better Compliance

Saturday’s meetings would start with talks between members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and be followed by a gathering of the OPEC+ group, an OPEC+ source said, after Algerian and Russian media reported the meetings, Reuters reported.

Two OPEC+ sources said Saudi Arabia and Russia had agreed to extend the deeper cuts until the end of July but they said Riyadh was also pushing to extend them until the end of August.

Three OPEC sources said…

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Canada postpones critical 5G spectrum auction by six months – Yahoo Canada Finance

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Canada's Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Navdeep Bains speaks during a meeting of the special committee on the COVID-19 outbreak, as efforts continue to help slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada May 20, 2020. REUTERS/Blair Gable
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Due to COVID-19, Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains has postponed the critical 3500MHz spectrum auction for 5G by six months to June 2021.” data-reactid=”23″>Due to COVID-19, Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains has postponed the critical 3500MHz spectrum auction for 5G by six months to June 2021.

A press release from his department indicated that postponing the auction will allow telecom carriers focus on “providing essential services to Canadians” during the pandemic. 

The new date is set for June 15, 2021. 

In general, 5G operates over traditional and new cell radio frequency bands that include the low- (sub-1GHz such as 700MHz), mid- (1.6GHz, around 3.5-3.8GHz), and millimetre-wave (mmWave, such as 28GHz) ranges. 

The 3,500MHz band is critical specifically in cities where thousands of small cells will be deployed in order to be used for applications like self-driving cars and many consumer applications.

The sum of opening bid prices for the auction is $558 million. Last year’s 600MHz spectrum auction raised $3.57 billion. 

“Canada’s telecommunications service providers are doing their part in this difficult time, providing essential services to keep Canadians connected as we face the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic together,” Bains said in the release. 

“A number of providers have raised concerns, and the government is implementing measures to address them. The government will continue to reach out to telecommunications service providers—and to the private sector more broadly—to understand their challenges and support them to ensure that Canadians have access to high-quality networks and broad coverage at low prices.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Recently, Telus and Bell announced plans to partner with Nokia and Ericsson as a 5G supplier. Rogers is partnered with Ericsson to provide 5G services.” data-reactid=”31″>Recently, Telus and Bell announced plans to partner with Nokia and Ericsson as a 5G supplier. Rogers is partnered with Ericsson to provide 5G services.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Additionally, Bains indicated that the first tracking report on the 25 per cent reduction in wireless service prices over the next two years will be available online in July 2020.” data-reactid=”32″>Additionally, Bains indicated that the first tracking report on the 25 per cent reduction in wireless service prices over the next two years will be available online in July 2020.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Download the Yahoo Finance app, available for&nbsp;Apple&nbsp;and&nbsp;Android&nbsp;and sign up for the&nbsp;Yahoo Finance Canada Weekly Brief.&nbsp;&nbsp;” data-reactid=”33″>Download the Yahoo Finance app, available for Apple and Android and sign up for the Yahoo Finance Canada Weekly Brief.  

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