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COVID-19: Fifty-six new COVID-19 cases in Ottawa; Ontario sees jump as planning underway for mass vaccinations – Ottawa Citizen

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Provincial experts met with local health officials from across Ontario on the weekend to discuss an accelerated rollout after changes announced late last week.

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Ontario reported 1,299 new cases of COVID-19 and 15 additional deaths as of late Saturday, a jump over the previous day when the province reported 990 new cases.

Ottawa Public Health reported 56 new COVID-19 cases and no new deaths. Thirty-one COVID-19 patients are in hospital and three are in intensive care. There have been a total of 15,110 cases in Ottawa.

Two new school outbreaks were reported in the city: At Gloucester High School, one student and one staff member tested positive; at the Ottawa Islamic School, one staff member tested positive. There are six ongoing outbreaks in child care and schools, 20 ongoing outbreaks in health-care institutions and four ongoing outbreaks in the community.

Ongoing outbreaks continue in parts of The Ottawa Hospital Civic campus and at least one city shelter.

Ottawa’s surveillance data puts it near the top of the provincially rated “orange zone” when it comes to pandemic restrictions, with indicators suggesting cases could soon be going up.

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As of late Saturday, Ottawa’s seven-day average rate of infection among 100,000 people was 37.3 per cent. Anything above 39.9 is in the red category, where more restrictions kick in. The city’s positivity rate is at 2.1 per cent (1.3 to 2.4 per cent is in the orange zone). And its reproduction number was at .95 (below the 1.0-1.1 for the orange zone).

Toronto Public Health, meanwhile, reported 329 new cases, with 192 in Peel and 116 in York Region. Those three regions have been the hotspots in the province.

Provincial officials met with local vaccine officials from across Ontario on the weekend to discuss plans for accelerated rollout after changes announced late last week.

Among the most significant was approval to delay second doses of vaccines for up to four months in order to speed up mass vaccinations with one dose. Canada has also now approved a total of four COVID-19 vaccines and is getting more doses earlier than anticipated.

Canada will get eight million COVID-19 vaccines before the end of March, 36.5 million vaccines by the end of June and 107.9 million before the end of the summer, according to Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand.

That should allow most Canadians over 18 to be vaccinated by the beginning of summer.

In Ottawa, pop-up clinics for people over 80 in select high-risk neighbourhoods began Friday and are continuing. But, in light of more available vaccines, the city expects to begin mass vaccination clinics for over 80s as early as March 17, said Anthony Di Monte, chief of emergency and protective services.

The planned ramp-up comes as signs are pointing to the beginning of a third wave in Ottawa, likely leading to more restrictions.

Not only does wastewater surveillance indicate that more people in Ottawa are infected with COVID-19, but for the first time more contagious variants of concern have been detected in the wastewater.

Meanwhile, the province is scheduled to begin COVID-19 vaccine pilot projects in some pharmacies in Kingston, Toronto and Windsor this week, using the first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not recommended for people over 65.

There have been a total of 308,296 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Ontario and 7,067 deaths since the pandemic began.

Across Canada, 884,086 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed since the pandemic began and 22,213 people have died.

COVID-19 BY THE NUMBERS

Ontario

(As of Saturday afternoon)

1,299: New confirmed cases

308,296: Total cases

15: New deaths

7,067: Total deaths

606: Currently in hospital

273: Currently in ICU

179: On a ventilator

30,192: Doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered in 24 hours ending March 7 at 10:30 a.m.

890,604: Total vaccines administered

271,807: People fully vaccinated

Ottawa

(As of Saturday at 3 p.m.)

56: New confirmed cases

15,110: Total cases

0: New deaths

442: Total deaths

31: In hospital

3: In ICU

37.3: COVID rate per 100,000 population

2.1 per cent: Positivity rate

0.95: R(t) number

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Canadian National challenges Canadian Pacific with $33.7 billion Kansas City bid

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By Shreyasee Raj

(Reuters) -Canadian National said on Tuesday it had offered to buy Kansas City Southern railroad for about $33.7 billion, and shares of U.S. company soared as investors anticipated a potential bidding war with Canadian Pacific.

Canadian Pacific had agreed a deal to acquire Kansas City Southern for about $25 billion last month. Either combination would create a North American railway spanning the United States, Mexico and Canada as supply chains recover from being disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The acquisition interest in Kansas City Southern also follows the ratification of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement last year, that removed the threat of trade tensions which had escalated under former U.S. President Donald Trump.

Kansas City said it would evaluate Canadian National’s offer. If it found it could lead to a better deal, Canadian Pacific will be given the opportunity to raise its bid.

Canadian National’s cash-and-stock offer, worth $325 per share, is at a 26.8% premium to Kansas City Southern’s offer as of Monday’s trading close.

“We are surprised by this move given the healthy valuation Canadian Pacific had already offered to Kansas City Southern shareholders,” Stephens analyst Justin Long wrote in a note to clients.

Kansas City Southern shares rose 15.8% to $297.12, indicating most investors deemed it unlikely the company would stick with Canadian Pacific’s offer.

One investor that took a different view is Chilton Investment Co, which has a less than 1% stake in Kansas City Southern. Citing regulatory hurdles, it said it preferred a deal with Canadian Pacific.

“There’s more overlap with Canadian National deal which makes it harder to get (regulatory) approval. The Surface Transportation Board (STB) doesn’t like overlap,” Chilton CEO Richard Chilton said.

Canadian National CEO Jean-Jacques Ruest said his network and that of Kansas City Southern are “highly complementary networks with limited overlap.” They only run parallel for 65 miles, between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Kansas City Southern has domestic and international rail operations in North America, focused on the north-south freight corridor connecting commercial and industrial markets in the central United States with industrial cities in Mexico. Calgary-based Canadian Pacific is Canada’s No. 2 railroad operator, behind Canadian National.

The STB updated its merger regulations in 2001 to introduce a requirement that Class I railways have to show a deal is in the public interest. Yet it provided an exemption to Kansas City Southern given its small size, potentially limiting the scrutiny that its acquisition will be subjected to.

Canadian Pacific agreed in its negotiations with Kansas City Southern to bear most of the risk of the deal not going through. It will buy Kansas City Southern shares and place them in an independent voting trust, insulating the acquisition target from its control until the STBLatest clears the deal. Were the STB to reject the combination, Canadian Pacific would have to sell the shares of Kansas City Southern, but the current Kansas City Southern shareholders would keep their proceeds.

Canadian National said it was willing to match these terms. It said its offer does not require approval from its own shareholders because of how much cash it has, eliminating a condition in Canadian Pacific’s offer.

Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment, which is Canadian National’s biggest investor with a 14.25% stake, said it fully supports the combination.

A private equity consortium led by Blackstone Group Inc and Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) made an unsuccessful offer last year to acquire Kansas City Southern. But it was Canadian Pacific’s announcement of a deal with Kansas City Southern that spurred Canadian National into action, as it raised the prospect of losing out to its rival, according to people familiar with the matter.

(Reporting by Shreyasee Raj and Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli, Anil D’Silva and David Gregorio)

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CEO shake-up at Canada’s Nutrien could pave way to M&A: shareholders

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By Rod Nickel and Maiya Keidan

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) – Investors expect the new chief executive of Canada‘s Nutrien Ltd to swing deals as part of a more aggressive growth strategy, after an abrupt shake-up at Canada‘s biggest agriculture company.

Nutrien, the world’s biggest fertilizer producer by capacity, surprised shareholders on Sunday by promoting its chairman, Mayo Schmidt, to CEO, replacing Chuck Magro, who had led the company since it formed from Agrium’s 2018 merger with Potash Corp.

Schmidt, raised on a Kansas farm, is best known for leading the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool grain cooperative’s acquisition of competitor Agricore United in 2007, creating Viterra Inc, one of Canada‘s biggest grain handlers. He subsequently bought Australia’s ABB Grain before leading the sale of Viterra to commodity trader Glencore PLC in 2012.

“Acceleration of M&A is a natural progression as we enter the next commodity supercycle,” said Michael Underhill, chief investment officer at Capital Innovations LLC, which owns Nutrien shares. “I would not bet against him.”

Nutrien shares were down 1.3% on Tuesday, after falling 3.5% on Monday. They have risen about 35% year over year, riding soaring corn prices, but gained only 2% since they began trading in 2018.

Some investors had grown uncertain about Nutrien’s growth strategy under Magro, said Mike Archibald, vice-president and portfolio manager at AGF Investments, which owns C$136 million ($109 million) worth of the company’s stock.

Archibald said now the strategy looks likely to shift to deals.

“The incoming CEO does have a history as a deal-maker so, to the extent he lives up to what he’s done in the past, we should expect sometime in the next 12 months that we’ll get something happening on the M&A front,” Archibald said.

POTENTIAL DEALS

Nutrien could try to acquire U.S. nitrogen fertilizer rival CF Industries, which has a $10-billion market capitalization, or accelerate the company’s roll-up of smaller farm retail stores, Archibald said. A CF spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Conversely, Schmidt could sell off the retail business to focus on fertilizer production, Archibald said.

Nutrien declined an interview request for Schmidt. A company spokeswoman said Schmidt’s plans include following the company’s climate change initiatives, which Magro unveiled this month.

Schmidt may also eye selling Nutrien’s phosphate fertilizer business, even though it recently got a boost from U.S. duties against Russian and Moroccan imports, said Brian Madden, senior vice-president at Goodreid Investment Counsel, a Nutrien shareholder.

The CEO change is positive, as Schmidt has an exceptional record of creating shareholder value, said Scotiabank analyst Ben Isaacson. He added that Nutrien could look to consolidate the nitrogen industry.

Schmidt would find it difficult to sell Nutrien itself, Madden said. There is no obvious domestic acquirer and the Canadian government rejected a foreign bid for Potash Corp in 2010.

“Schmidt has got cred in the ag world,” Madden said. But he added that abruptly changing chief executives is not how successions should occur at large companies.

 

 

(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg and Maiya Keidan in Toronto; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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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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