The federal government has reached agreements with Novavax and Johnson & Johnson to secure millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine candidates.
The deals hinge on Health Canada approval but if trials proceed as planned, deliveries in Canada would begin at the start of 2021. The government has also inked deals with pharmaceutical firms Pfizer and Moderna for access to millions of doses of their unique candidates.
“Taken together, our vaccine agreements with Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax, and Johnson & Johnson, will give Canada at least 88 million doses, with options to obtain tens of millions more,” said Trudeau during a press conference on Monday.
“Once a vaccine is proven to work, we’ll also need to be able to produce and distribute it here at home.”
To date, Novavax will supply 76 million doses of NVX-CoV2373, Moderna will supply 56 million of mRNA-1273, Johnson & Johnson will supply 38 million of Ad26.COV2.S, and Pfizer will supply 20 million BNT162.
Trudeau also announced the government would be spending $126 million to expand the bio-manufacturing facility at the National Research Council in Montreal, with a projected deadline of mid-2021.
“This funding will increase this facility’s ability to manufacture vaccines and will strengthen the NRC’s partnerships with vaccine developers.”
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch says the candidate still has a variety of regulatory hurdles to overcome before it gets the green light but this step indicates Canada is well positioned in the global race to find a COVID-19 vaccine.
“It’s wonderful to see that the federal government is looking at vaccine candidates, looking at which ones could be successful. We appreciate that some of these might not be successful and we’re sort of hedging our bets and we’ll have access to vaccines when they become available,” he told CTV News Channel on Monday.
This follows news last week that Chinese customs halted the shipment of CanSino Biologics’ vaccine candidate to Canada, denying the opportunity to commence human trials here.
“Due to the delay in the shipment of the vaccine doses to Canada it is evident this specific opportunity is over and the NRC is focusing its team and facilities on other partners and COVID-19 priorities,” the National Research Council said in a statement on Thursday.
Trudeau responded to the move on Monday, saying he had hoped the long-standing partnership between the Canadian government and CanSino would have proved fruitful amid COVID-19 after successfully partnering with the company to combat the Ebola virus.
“Unfortunately China didn’t grant export permits for the vaccine to Canada so we’re continuing to focus on the many other paths that are very promising,” he said.
While multiple trials testing various vaccine candidates are progressing around the world, there is currently no accepted cure or vaccine for the novel coronavirus.
The prime minister said Canadians should be reassured that Health Canada’s regulatory process will yield a safe and reliable vaccine.
“Every step of the way, we’re ensuring that the safety of Canadians is foremost. We will not see testing protocols approved until they are safe for Canadians, we will not move forward on a vaccine until we are confident that it is safe for Canadians.”
Ford sweetens deal for autoworkers in Canada, Unifor ratifies contract – Detroit Free Press
Phoebe Wall Howard
| Detroit Free Press
SUVs and electric power star at the Los Angeles auto show
High-profile debuts include Ford’s electric Mustang SUV, a sub-$20,000 Chevy SUV, Land Rover Defender and Bollinger Motors electric SUV and pickup
Ford Motor Co. reached a three-year deal with Unifor National that includes wage increases, bonuses and other benefits for its factory workers in Canada plus a massive financial investment in battery electric vehicles, the company announced Monday.
The union voted 81% in favor of the collective bargaining contract, which includes $1.5 billion (U.S.) in investments to bring battery electric vehicle production to Oakville and a new engine derivative to Windsor, Unifor confirmed.
“This is the single biggest investment in the Canadian auto industry in years,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National president. “The vote … shows Unifor members have a clear vision of a strong and prosperous Canadian auto sector.”
Highlights include $1.4 billion (U.S.) to retool and build new battery electric vehicles in Oakville, “including a crossover utility vehicle, and $148 million for Windsor powertrain facilities,” Unifor said. “Ford has committed to source new 6.X L engines to the Windsor Engine Plant and sole source 5.0L engine assembly and current component machining to the Essex Engine plant, along with any derivatives,” Unifor said.
Engines used for the Ford Mustang and Ford F-Series are built in Canada currently.
The union spotlighted these elements:
- A 5% wage increase over the life of the agreement, along with a 4% lump sum.
- A productivity and quality bonus of $5,418 .
- Inflation protection bonuses and major changes to the New Hire Program, including an eight-year wage grid, and reinstatement of afternoon and midnight shift premiums.
- A 20% wage differential (re-instated) for skilled trades workers.
- Paid domestic violence leave.
- Racial justice advocacy.
“… It’s safe to say we hit a home run on both fronts,” said John D’Agnolo, chair of the Unifor Master Bargaining Committee, in prepared remarks. “… Members … showed unwavering solidarity through some very intense weeks of bargaining.”
Ford goes all in
Ford issued the news first, touting the agreement as a victory for all involved.
“Based on the collective agreement ratified by employees today, Ford is committing to transform its Oakville Assembly Complex from an internal combustion engine (ICE) site to also become a BEV manufacturing facility, starting in 2024, as well as introducing a new engine program at its Windsor operations,” Ford said in a statement.
Ford said increased efficiency measures now include competitive alternative work schedules to maximize production flexibility.
Ford of Canada’s provided additional detail in the contract for its hourly employees:
- 2.5% wage increase twice over the life of the agreement
- $5,418 (U.S.) ratification bonus for full-time permanent employees and $374 (U.S.) for temporary employees
- Reduced grow-in period for new hires from 11 years to eight years
“Working collaboratively with Unifor, and as discussions continue with both the federal and provincial governments, this agreement is an important step toward building a stronger future for our employees, our customers and our communities,” Dean Stoneley, president and CEO, Ford of Canada, said in prepared remarks.
“By introducing battery electric vehicle production at Oakville Assembly Complex, we are cementing our Canadian operations as a leader in advanced automotive manufacturing,” he said.
The pattern collective bargaining agreement will be used as a baseline now for discussion with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and then General Motors. The agreements cover about 17,000 Unifor members at the Detroit Three, although the union actually represents more than 19,000 workers at the companies — 9,000 at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, 6,300 at Ford and 4,100 at GM.
The Ford agreement, which had tentative approval on Sept. 22, involves investment of both the automaker and Canadian government officials. The package, mostly paid by Ford, is meant to transform the auto industry in Canada into a major player in electrification, Dias said previously.
Details of the deal have not been revealed by the company or elected officials.
Auto industry forecasters had indicated Ford might close Oakville, where it builds the Ford Edge SUV. Production of the Edge and Lincoln Nautilus are scheduled into 2023.
The investment plan involves building five models of electric vehicles, making Canada a player in the rapidly growing electric vehicle market for the first time. Retooling will start in 2024 with the first vehicle rolling off the assembly line in 2025, Dias said.
“We generally have a good bargaining relationship with Ford,” Dias told the Free Press after the ratification. “We ended up with major investment from Ford in 2016, too. Ford has a history of finding solutions.”
He noted that Ford is the top-selling brand in Canada.
“This deal with Ford is incredibly important,” Dias said. “When we went into bargaining with Ford, we had no product beyond 2024.”
While global demand for electric vehicles now is in the single digits, he noted, California and other markets are shaping public policy that directly impact the future of internal combustion engines.
Looking ahead, Dias has pointed out Fiat Chrysler’s Windsor Assembly plant needs additional product. The company cut its third shift at Windsor as the company ended Dodge Grand Caravan production in August.
The focus, he said, “is definitely going to be job security. We lost the entire third shift in Windsor Assembly — 1,500 people laid off. We need one or two vehicles in Windsor to get back that shift. It’s really going to be about stabilizing the footprint over the next three years.”
Targeting Ford for the pattern was the right move, Dias said. “The fact that the economic pattern is already established will save us from fighting with the other two” automakers.
OPEC in trouble as oil outlook worsens – RT
OPEC has worked vigilantly to bring the oil market into balance, but with demand recovering more slowly than expected, the cartel may be out of options.
Just when they thought they had rebalanced the oil market, OPEC members were served an unpleasant surprise from exempted fellow Libya. The country’s warring factions reached a ceasefire, and some long-shuttered oil ports have been reopened, along with the fields that feed them. By the end of the month, the National Oil Corporation plans to boost the average daily output of the nation from less than 100,000 bpd to 260,000 bpd. Meanwhile, OPEC+ has relaxed its production cuts by 2 million bpd. The market, according to Mercuria chief executive Marco Dunand, cannot handle this.
In an interview for Bloomberg, Dunand said demand was still weaker than previously expected, and any additional oil flowing into markets would fail to be absorbed. This means a looming build in floating storage as this month, global inventories rose by between 500,000 bpd and 1 million bpd—and that’s excluding the Libyan restart— while drawdowns over the final quarter were seen at 1 million bpd.
In his bearish outlook for the immediate term, Mercuria’s head is in sync with the head of another commodity trading major, Trafigura. The third super trader, however, is surprisingly optimistic. Also in an interview with Bloomberg, Vitol’s chief executive said earlier this month he expected global crude oil inventories to shrink considerably by the end of the year. While both the heads of Trafigura and Mercuria expect stocks to build first before starting to decline, Vitol’s chief said he expected a drawdown of some 250-300 million barrels by the end of the year.
Reports emerged earlier this month that commodity traders—including the Big Three—were chartering more tankers to store crude oil offshore, sparking concern we could see something like a repeat of this spring when hundreds of millions of barrels of unsellable oil had to be dumped on tankers because onshore storage was full. After the lockdowns ended, demand began improving. This moderate demand boost, however, fell short of pretty much all expectations.
One particularly worrying trend is the slow rate of economic recovery among emerging countries—the main drivers of oil demand growth. Except for China, most are still battling the coronavirus and its effects on their economies. India is a good case in point: its oil demand is seen to be the worst affected by the coronavirus as the country itself suffers the second-highest total case count in the world.
Some analysts believe, however, that demand in China is about to start slowing down soon. It will be a long-term trend, according to the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, and a result not just of Covid-19 but of Beijing’s emission-reduction goals. Over the next 20 years, the energy research organization said, China’s oil demand was likely to grow at an annual pace of 3 to 4 million bpd, after growing by double-digit rates in the past few years.
According to Mercuria’s Dunand, oil demand during the fourth quarter will average 95 million bpd. That’s down from a market consensus of 97 to 98 million bpd, made in spring. And the rate at which excessive inventories will be drawn is seen weaker than previously expected. Add to this a dramatic build in diesel inventories because refiners, Dunand noted to Bloomberg, are dumping jet fuel into the diesel pool, and Libya’s restart of production and the outlook for prices once again becomes grim.
According to the head of Mercuria, the biggest problem on the oil market is the diesel stock oversupply. With many countries in Europe restricting movement again, whatever improvement there had been in fuel demand—especially jet fuel—will likely slow down further now, if not reverse if a full-blown second wave of infections hits the continent. And the problem will persist.
Meanwhile, OPEC is out of options. The cartel and its partners in OPEC+ will discuss the next steps later this year, with the original plan involving a further relaxation of the cuts, by 2 million bpd, from January 2021. The way prices are moving now and likely to move during the final quarter, this may become a topic of arguments within the group, as some members need oil revenues more urgently than others.
Amazon looks to fill 3,000 jobs at newest Vancouver tech hub – Vancouver Sun
Online retail giant Amazon will be filling 3,000 new jobs at its latest tech hub, in the former downtown Vancouver post office.
Almost to 800 positions are already available, while the rest are expected to be filled when construction at The Post, between Georgia and Dunsmuir at Homer Street, nears completion in 2023, said Jesse Dougherty, an Amazon-vice president and Vancouver lead, in a statement.
“Amazon’s investment has tangible benefits for the broader economy and community — from the people we employ, to the small businesses we empower, to the charities we support, to the academic opportunities we fund. We’re proud to reaffirm our commitment to Canadian cities at this critical time,” said Dougherty.
The jobs span several departments across the company, including Alexa, Amazon advertising, retail and operations technology, and include roles such as software development engineers, user experience designers, speech scientists working to develop Alexa, cloud computing solutions architects, and sales and marketing executives.
It was previously reported that Amazon would be the sole corporate tenant at The Post, with plans to occupy 18 floors in the complex’s north tower and 17 floors in the south tower.
“The city of Vancouver is so excited to see Amazon creating an additional 3,000 well-paying jobs for people who want to work and live in our city,” said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart in a statement. This “highlights the strength of our tech sector and shows that Vancouver is where companies want to establish themselves and grow.”
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