The employment insurance system absorbed almost 1.3 million people in the last three weeks, new figures show, as a key COVID-19 benefit wound down.
A breakdown of applications for the simplified EI program shows that overall there had been more than 1.5 million claims as of late this past week, among them 1.15 million people who were automatically transferred when their emergency benefit ran out.
The figures are enormous for a system that in one day this month handled 246,000-plus claims. In the spring, officials worried the 87,000 applications on one March day would make the decades-old system burst its seams.
Figures obtained by The Canadian Press also show that more than 84 per cent of applications had been processed, which experts who reviewed the numbers noted was a positive sign for the transition off the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, better known as the CERB.
Couple that with the more than 300,000 people who turned to a suite of new benefits on the first day they were available, and the figures provide a hint at the ongoing need for income support even as employment has picked up.
Figures on claims can be “valuable in providing a partial, real-time assessment” of the impact COVID-19 has on the labour force, officials wrote to Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough in April.
At the time, they were writing in a briefing note about providing regular updates on CERB recipients and payments as “the labour market landscape continues to evolve across the country.”
The Canadian Press obtained a copy of the briefing note under the Access to Information Act.
The CERB ceased to exist on Oct. 3, although people can still retroactively apply for CERB payments until Dec. 2. The government expected up to four million people would use the revamped EI and three additional benefits for those not EI-eligible.
Up to 2.8 million people would need EI, based on internal projections from the department that oversees the program. About one million more would likely need the three new benefits.
On the first day it was available this past week, 240,640 people applied for the Canada Recovery Benefit. By that same Monday, a further 107,150 applied for a caregiving benefit and 58,560 applied for the new two-week sickness benefit, both of which had opened for applications the previous week.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives had estimated about 5,000 people would use the taxable sickness benefit. Its senior economist David Macdonald said the vastly higher number suggests some EI-eligible workers may have found it easier to apply for the sickness benefit.
“There will be plenty of honest confusion among people as to where they might apply next, and they might take the path of least resistance, which is going to be these (recovery) programs,” said Macdonald, who has closely tracked aid figures.
Mikal Skuterud, a professor and labour economist at the University of Waterloo, said there may also be people who are EI-eligible but apply for the CRB because of other differences in the programs, such as how quickly benefits are clawed back, how long they last, and how much tax is taken off at the source of payments.
“There are some big issues there, but that’s kind of unfair to criticize the government because designing these kinds of income-support programs for self-employed people is a quagmire,” he said.
The first EI payments went out this week, with just over 84 per cent of applicants receiving benefits, a figure experts noted as positive.
The labour market has recouped about 2.3 million of the three million jobs lost when the pandemic first struck. A new round of restrictions amid rising COVID-19 case counts threatens some of those gains.
Given the unknown future path of COVID-19, Scotiabank senior economist Marc Desormeaux said the government will have to be very careful about when it winds down the pandemic benefits.
Ending programs too soon could lead to weak business results as fewer people have money to spend, leading to potential bankruptcies or closures, creating job losses and making employment weak anew.
“We want to try and recover more quickly to the extent that we can, because these things have a way of reinforcing themselves,” he said in an interview.
“At this point, we’re comfortable with these (benefits) being in place, just to provide that certainty and a cushion against potential second-wave impacts.”
Lee Kun-Hee, force behind Samsung's rise, dies at 78 – Business News – Castanet.net
Lee Kun-Hee, the ailing Samsung Electronics chairman who transformed the small television maker into a global giant of consumer electronics but whose leadership was also marred by corruption convictions, died on Sunday. He was 78.
Lee died with his family members by his side, including his only son and Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, the company said in a statement.
Samsung didn’t announce the cause of death, but Lee had been hospitalized since May 2014 after suffering a heart attack and the younger Lee has been running Samsung, South Korea’s biggest company.
“All of us at Samsung will cherish his memory and are grateful for the journey we shared with him,” the Samsung statement said. “His legacy will be everlasting.”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in sent senior presidential officials to pass a condolence message to Lee’s family at a mourning site. In the message, Moon called the late tycoon “a symbol of South Korea’s business world whose leadership would provide courage to our companies” at a time of economic difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Moon’s office said.
Lee’s family said the funeral would be private but did not immediately release details.
Lee inherited control of the company from his father, and during his nearly 30 years of leadership, Samsung Electronics Co. became a global brand and the world’s largest maker of smartphones, televisions and memory chips. Samsung sells Galaxy phones while also making the screens and microchips that power its major rivals — Apple’s iPhones and Google Android phones.
Its businesses encompass shipbuilding, life insurance, construction, hotels, amusement parks and more. Samsung Electronics alone accounts for 20% of the market capital on South Korea’s main stock exchange.
Lee leaves behind immense wealth, with Forbes estimating his fortune at $16 billion as of January 2017.
His death comes during a complex time for Samsung.
When he was hospitalized, Samsung’s once-lucrative mobile business faced threats from upstart makers in China and elsewhere. Pressure was high to innovate its traditionally strong hardware business, to reform a stifling hierarchical culture and to improve its corporate governance and transparency.
Like other family-run conglomerates in South Korea, Samsung has been credited with helping propel the country’s economy to one of the world’s largest from the rubbles of the 1950-53 Korean War. But their opaque ownership structure and often-corrupt ties with bureaucrats and government officials have been viewed as a hotbed of corruption in South Korea.
Lee Kun-Hee was convicted in 2008 for illegal share dealings, tax evasion and bribery designed to pass his wealth and corporate control to his three children. In 1996, he was convicted of bribing a former president. But in both cases, he avoided jail after courts suspended his sentences, at the time a common practice that helped make South Korean business tycoons immune from prison despite their bribery convictions.
Most recently, Samsung was ensnared in an explosive 2016-17 scandal that led to South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s ouster and imprisonment.
Lee Jae-yong was sentenced to five years in prison in 2017 for offering 8.6 billion won ($7 million) in bribes to Park and one of her confidants to help secure the government’s backing for his attempt to solidify control over Samsung. He was freed in early 2018 after an appellate court reduced his term and suspended the sentence. But last month, prosecutors indicted him again on similar charges, setting up yet another protracted legal battle.
Lee Kun-Hee was a stern, terse leader who focused on big-picture strategies, leaving details and daily management to executives.
His near-absolute authority allowed the company to make bold decisions in the fast-changing technology industry, such as shelling out billions to build new production lines for memory chips and display panels even as the 2008 global financial crisis unfolded. Those risky moves fueled Samsung’s rise.
Lee was born on Jan. 9, 1942, in the southeastern city of Daegu during Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. His father, Lee Byung-chull, had founded an export business there in 1938, and following the Korean War, he rebuilt the company into an electronics and home appliance manufacturer and the country’s first major trading company.
When Lee Kun-Hee inherited control of Samsung from his father in 1987, Samsung was relying on Japanese technology to produce TVs and was taking its first steps toward exporting microwaves and refrigerators.
A decisive moment came in 1993 when Lee Kun-Hee made sweeping changes to Samsung after a two-month trip abroad convinced him that the company needed to improve the quality of its products.
In a speech to Samsung executives, he famously urged, “Let’s change everything except our wives and children.”
Not all his moves succeeded.
A notable failure was the group’s expansion into the auto industry in the 1990s, in part driven by Lee Kun-Hee’s passion for luxury cars. Samsung later sold near-bankrupt Samsung Motor to Renault. The company also was frequently criticized for disrespecting labour rights. Cancer cases among workers at its semiconductor factories were ignored for years.
Earlier this year, Lee Jae-yong declared that heredity transfers at Samsung would end, promising the management rights he inherited wouldn’t pass to his children. He also said Samsung would stop suppressing employee attempts to organize unions, although labour activists questioned his sincerity.
The 52-year-old Lee expressed remorse for causing public concern over the 2016-17 scandal, but did not admit to wrongdoing regarding his alleged involvement.
Lee Kun-Hee resigned as chairman of Samsung Electronics before the 2008 conviction. But he received a presidential pardon in 2009 and returned to Samsung’s management in 2010.
“As South Korea’s most successful entrepreneur, (Lee Kun-Hee) received a dazzling spotlight, but he had many vicissitudes full of grace and disgrace,” the ruling Democratic Party said in a statement. “We hope a ‘new Samsung’ will be realized at an early date as Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong promised.”
Job losses to come in wake of Cenovus-Husky transaction, but scale unknown – Calgary Herald
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Business Council of Alberta president Adam Legge acknowledged likely job losses.
“No one likes to see any further job losses than what this province has already been experiencing, and that’s the likely, unfortunate outcome of these kinds of mergers,” he said. “(It will be felt) through everything from real estate to job losses.”
Cenovus said Sunday they had yet to make any decisions on their office space.
In past Alberta oil and gas mergers, including the 2009 deal between Petro-Canada and Suncor, sublease space was added to the market as companies aimed to cut redundancies. The same could happen here, speculated Greg Kwong, the Calgary managing director for real-estate brokerage company CBRE.
“The public can focus on the fact that (Cenovus) is doing this to create efficiencies and come out a stronger, merged company,” Kwong said. “We’re mostly worried that this is a trend we’re going to see more of, maybe not to this magnitude, but with all companies struggling in this environment they’re going to look for efficiencies.”
Legge praised the merger from a business standpoint, saying it should make Cenovus more resilient and diverse and give the company “a new lease on life.”
“This is great news for Cenovus. It expands their footprint, gets them into some of the downstream retail market, which it sounds like they’ve been looking at for quite some time,” he said. “It’s probably a sign of more to come in the sense that as companies look to thrive in a new landscape, the reality is they’ll need to survive through scale.”
Husky Energy Bought Out By Rival Cenovus – VOCM
Husky Energy is being swallowed up by rival Cenovus Energy Inc. in an all-stock deal valued at $23.6 billion, the companies announced early Sunday.
The statement said both companies’ boards of directors have approved the transaction that’s expected to close in the first quarter of next year, and has everything to do with the downturn in the industry as companies seek strategies for survival amid COVID-19.
The Calgary-based companies said the combined company will be the third largest Canadian oil and natural gas producer, based on total company production.
The announcement comes as Husky, like most petroleum producers, has been re-evaluating its investments across the board.
It’s not clear yet how the deal will affect Husky’s operations in Newfoundland and Labrador, which includes the idled West White Rose extension project and the SeaRose FPSO.
The company had already laid off dozens of workers in the province earlier this month.
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