As provinces, countries and the world as a whole struggle to re-start economies, some policymakers are pitching a four-day work week as a way to help generate tourism spending.
New Zealand’s prime minister is recommending a compressed work week as a way to encourage more weekend travel within the country, where about 60 per cent of tourism is domestic.
The theory is that more flexible working arrangements will help promote more staycations that are generally conducive to long-weekend travel. And it’s being welcomed by some politicians in B.C., too.
“It’s a very interesting idea that should be considered,” said Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau. “It’s one example of the kind of nimbleness that we need to think about when we approach this COVID-19 recovery.”
She has long been a supporter of a shorter work week, even highlighting it in her campaign platform to become the next leader of the B.C. Green Party.
In the past, she has praised the benefits of productivity and work-life balance, and says the current pandemic could be the impetus to trigger healthier long-term habits.
A mandatory four-day work week…would increase costs and add regulatory complexity for employers in every sector.– Jock Finlayson, Business Council of British Columbia
“In a suite of possible approaches, this seems to be one that would be well-suited to British Columbia — particularly given our domestic tourism as an important part of our local recovery,” she told CBC News.
Furstenau believes it’s not a policy that should be mandatory, and therefore would not require legislative changes, but rather suggests it be led by employers. Still, she believes government can play a role.
“You don’t want to impose a top-down approach to this, but rather encourage businesses to consider it,” she said. “There could be incentives provided by federal or provincial governments.”
So is a four-day work week something the current NDP government would endorse for British Columbians?
“I think I will leave that up to the entrepreneurial spirit of British Columbian businesses and the workers,” said Labour Minister Harry Bains when asked about it a news conference Thursday.
“Many already have different work schedules; some work four days on, four days off; others have staggered hours,” he said. “At the end of the day, we as a government want to make sure we support those businesses and their initiatives.”
‘B.C. is not New Zealand’
Some in the province’s business community are not welcoming the idea so warmly — especially if a compressed work week was required, rather than simply encouraged.
“In the current pandemic-driven economic crisis, business does not support government-imposed measures that would further increase operating and labour costs, and thus make it harder for companies to hire back employees,” said Jock Finlayson, chief policy officer of the Business Council of British Columbia.
He said the approach makes no sense for firms that have seen revenues drop significantly or collapse altogether, adding there is no need at this point for the province to consider ‘drastic steps.’
“B.C. is not New Zealand… A mandatory four-day work week, especially if not accompanied by proportionate pay reductions, would increases costs and add regulatory complexity for employers in every sector,” Finlayson said in a statement.
‘A number of ideas — and that’s a good one’
B.C.’s tourism industry has all but come to a halt since the pandemic hit in March and is looking at its options.
“There’s a number of ideas — and that’s a good one,” said Walt Judas, CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of B.C., who calls it a novel concept.
He believes extending weekends would encourage people to hop in their car and go further afield than a two-day weekend, so it could benefit some communities as people travel between regions.
“Any initiatives like this we would certainly want to look at to see if it is, in fact, a motivation for people to travel. We’d like to think it is, but on the other hand people may still choose to stay closer to home,” he said in an interview Thursday.
However, even if B.C. does benefit from a bump in domestic travellers, many of the most popular outdoor activities in the province are free.
“Having people travel to other jurisdictions is great, but if they’re only on a hiking trail and not spending money at a restaurant or going to an attraction or staying at a hotel — that doesn’t help businesses that are desperate for visitors.”
Judas also wonders whether tourist facilities will be ready to accept an influx in visitors in time to cash in on the peak summer tourism season from May-September.
“It’s the nearby, short-haul travel market that is your bread and butter,” he said, adding the bulk of tourism dollars in the province are generated from residents of British Columbia.
Enbridge to boost tolls on key pipeline based on 2019 economy – BNNBloomberg.ca
A year ago, the economy looked rosy and crude prices were riding high. Enbridge Inc. now will be getting a bit of a boost from that due to a nearly decade-old contract provision that will increase what the company charges to transport oil on Canada’s largest pipeline network.
The increase comes as the Canadian oil industry has been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic and pipelines out of Canada are running partly empty after oil sands producers slashed about 25 per cent of output with demand for their product waning.
Enbridge’s Mainline system, which runs from Hardisty, Alberta, to the Chicago area, ships about 75 per cent of Western Canada’s oil output. The toll on the 2.9 million barrel-a-day system from Alberta to the Chicago area will rise 18 cents a barrel, or 3.9 per cent, starting July 1, Enbridge said. The increase is based on an index of Canada’s economic growth from the prior year, a formula approved by regulators in 2011.
The Canadian economy grew 1.7 per cent last year but has contracted so far this year due to the pandemic. Still, Enbridge says the contract provision has kept prices from rising even higher.
In the past, shippers would have been forced to pay more when oil demand and volumes on the pipeline were lower. The provision “shields shippers from throughput risk which, in current circumstances with decreased oil demand and declining volumes on the Mainline, would have otherwise resulted in a significant toll increase under the previous negotiated settlement,” Jesse Semko, a company spokesman, said in an email.
Enbridge discussed the toll changes with companies that ship on the lines in the middle of May before submitting them to the Canadian Energy Regulator, Semko said.
Lower demand for oil from U.S. refineries has made exporting Canadian crude less economic. The price difference between Canadian heavy oil in Alberta versus the U.S. oil hub of Cushing, Oklahoma, is about US$4 a barrel, according to NE2 Group pricing.
That’s too narrow a difference to cover the cost of most oil shipments on Enbridge’s pipeline system at current tolls.
Too Many Pipelines
For years, Canadian oil producers struggled with a shortage of export pipelines. Since the coronavirus pandemic and the drastic decline in output, Canada has gone from having too few pipelines to too many. Mainline volumes are expected to be down by 300,000 barrels a day this year, according to Enbridge.
The Mainline includes several pipelines that carry light, medium and heavy oil from Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin, where they link to pipelines running into eastern Canada and South to pipelines connected to the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Enbridge’s toll increases weren’t matched by other pipeline operators. The Federal government-owned Trans Mountain Pipeline running from Alberta to the Vancouver area cut rates for shipping light crude from Edmonton to Sumas, British Columbia, by 32% on May 1. TC Energy Corp. plans to keep rates to Texas unchanged for uncommitted shipers starting July 1 on its Keystone pipeline after lowering them April 1.
TELUS Health: Accelerating virtual health care innovation to help restart the economy – GlobeNewswire
MONTREAL, June 02, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — François Gratton, Group President of TELUS and Chair of TELUS Health and TELUS Québec, will address members of the Chamber of Commerce via virtual chat to discuss three current themes: what we’ve learned so far about the COVID-19 pandemic, contributing to economic recovery by accelerating health care virtualization, and the role of business in employee safety and wellness.
“Overnight, the COVID-19 crisis triggered major changes in our lives and, in particular, greater awareness of health and wellness in our society. Today more than ever, access to health care is everyone’s business. I firmly believe that we have some fantastic opportunities to take advantage of as we write new pages in our history,” stressed Mr. Gratton.
Virtual health care represents an opportunity for businesses as their employees’ health and safety is more than ever a key concern. It is also an opportunity to reduce absenteeism, stimulate productivity, and increase retention of talents who want the flexibility to balance work and family. Following the introduction of our various health solutions, tens of millions of Canadians now have access to virtual health services.
TELUS Health is one of Canada’s largest providers of healthcare technology services, with a wide array of products and services covering the entire healthcare ecosystem. Restarting the economy also means virtualizing tools for health professionals, from medical consultations to home follow-up. This allows them to see patients safely while respecting social distancing.
“Today, all employers are being called upon, through the decisions they make about the benefits they offer employees, to consider the offering of virtual care solutions such as those provided by TELUS Health’s Akira and Babylon applications, connecting Canadians and their families to health professionals over their phones, and giving them the opportunity to get an opinion anytime, anywhere,” added Mr. Gratton.
Over the last 10 years, TELUS has invested over $3 billion in transforming Canada’s health care sector. As soon as the COVID-19 started, TELUS Health has made a clear commitment: to do everything we can to facilitate access to health care, and to help protect and support organizations in the pursuit of their activities.
Over 3,000 members of the TELUS Health team, based primarily here in Montreal, are working to develop virtual solutions to streamline access to health care for all citizens. Moreover, TELUS will make major investments of more than $850 million in the Greater Montreal area over the next four years to speed up the rollout of our leading-edge solutions.
TELUS investments will prioritize the following:
- Network robustness, speed and reliability as the virtualization of activities at our companies, hospitals and clinics accelerates exponentially Ongoing development of our virtual solutions
- Sustaining our community efforts, as shown by the partnership with the CHUM Foundation to expand Montreal’s screening capacity and the emergency fund our TELUS Community Board has set up to meet the essential needs of a dozen charitable organizations such as the Fondation du CHU Ste-Justine, Tel-Jeunes and La tablée des chefs
- TELUS has committed $150 million to support Canadians through the COVID-19 crisis.
To stay informed of the measures being taken by TELUS during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit telus.com/covid19.
This news release contains statements that are forward-looking, including regarding the anticipated amount of our investments and our investment priorities. By their nature, forward-looking statements require TELUS to make assumptions and predictions and are subject to inherent risks and uncertainties. There is significant risk that the forward-looking statements will not prove to be accurate. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements as a number of factors could cause actual expenditures to differ materially from the forward-looking statements in this release. Accordingly, the statements in this news release are subject to the disclaimer and qualified by the assumptions, qualifications and risk factors referred to in our 2019 annual management’s discussion and analysis and our Q1 2020 management’s discussion and analysis, and in other TELUS public disclosure documents and filings with securities commissions in Canada (on SEDAR at sedar.com) and in the United States (on the Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval System, administered by the US Securities and Exchange Commission at sec.gov). The forward-looking statements contained in this news release describe our expectations at the date of this news release and, accordingly, are subject to change after such date. Except as required by law, TELUS disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise forward-looking statements.
TELUS (TSX: T, NYSE: TU) is a dynamic, world-leading communications and information technology company with $14.8 billion in annual revenue and 15.3 million customer connections spanning wireless, data, IP, voice, television, entertainment, video and security. We leverage our global-leading technology to enable remarkable human outcomes. Our long-standing commitment to putting customers first fuels every aspect of our business, making us a distinct leader in customer service excellence and loyalty. TELUS Health is Canada’s largest health care IT provider, and TELUS International delivers the most innovative business process solutions to some of the world’s most established brands.
Driven by our passionate social purpose to connect all Canadians for good, our deeply meaningful and enduring philosophy to give where we live has inspired our team members and retirees to contribute more than $700 million and 1.3 million days of service since 2000. This unprecedented generosity and unparalleled volunteerism have made TELUS the most giving company in the world.
For more information about TELUS, please visit telus.com, follow us on Twitter (@TELUSNews) and Instagram (@Darren_Entwistle).
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