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Fitch issues new warning over federal spending, government debt – BNN

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OTTAWA – A major global credit rating agency is issuing a new warning about federal debt that it says may become more difficult to tackle once the pandemic passes.

Fitch Ratings downgraded Canada’s triple-A credit rating in June, dropping the country to an “AA+” rating over what it called “the deterioration of Canada’s public finances” due to COVID-19.

The decision came out before the Liberals released an updated outlook in early July for federal spending, which projected a deficit of $343.2 billion and a debt of over $1.2 trillion.

Those figures were before the Liberals promised last week to spend $37 billion to revamp income support programs for hard-hit workers.

Fitch says in a note that gross government debt will be 120 per cent of economic output, which is “significantly higher” than the median for a double-A rating.

The ratings agency said it expects government spending to drop sharply starting in 2021, but the growing deficit will make reining in spending and the debt more challenging over the medium-term.

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ByteDance plans TikTok IPO if U.S. clears deal: sources – Yahoo Canada Finance

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ByteDance plans TikTok IPO if U.S. clears deal: sources
FILE PHOTO: Small toy figures are seen in front of a Tiktok logo in this illustration taken

NEW YORK (Reuters) – China’s ByteDance is planning a U.S. initial public offering of TikTok Global, the new company that will operate the popular short video app, should their proposed deal be cleared by the White House, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The filing of an IPO for TikTok Global, in which Oracle Corp <ORCL.N> would also own a stake, would be on a U.S. stock exchange and could come in about a year, the sources said, requesting anonymity because the matter is confidential.

ByteDance and Oracle did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco and Echo Wang in New York; Editing by Chris Reese)

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Commerce Dept. issues order prohibiting WeChat, TikTok dealings – MarketWatch

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The U.S. Commerce Department said Friday it is prohibiting transactions involving Tencent’s
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WeChat and Bytedance’s TikTok. “While the threats posed by WeChat and TikTok are not identical, they are similar. Each collects vast swaths of data from users, including network activity, location data, and browsing and search histories,” the release said. As of Sept. 20, any provision of service to distribute or maintain the WeChat or TikTok mobile applications, constituent code, or application updates through an online mobile application store in the U.S. is barred, as is any provision of services through the WeChat mobile application for the purpose of transferring funds or processing payments within the U.S. The order makes no mention of the Oracle
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-0.41%

deal with TikTok but said “the President has provided until November 12 for the national security concerns posed by TikTok to be resolved.”

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COVID-19 medical coverage now available even though Canadians advised to avoid international travel – CBC.ca

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Canadians yearning to travel abroad — despite the COVID-19 pandemic — can now get medical insurance to cover costs if they get sick with the coronavirus while travelling. 

In March, when the virus began its global spread and Canada advised against non-essential travel abroad, travel insurance providers stopped selling COVID-19 medical coverage.

Now, several insurance providers have resumed offering the coverage along with their regular travel insurance plans. 

Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and travel agency Flight Centre have also joined in, offering free COVID-19 medical coverage to passengers booking certain international flights and vacation packages. 

Travel insurance broker Martin Firestone said he’s surprised by the spate of offers — considering Canada’s advisory against international travel remains intact due to the ongoing pandemic. 

“Your country is now currently under a Level 3 travel advisory, and you’ve got airlines enticing people with free medical coverage,” said Firestone with Travel Secure in Toronto.

“Whether you have coverage or not, you may be in a very precarious position with [available] hospital beds and treatment and the ability to be flown back to Canada.”

Travel insurance broker Martin Firestone said he’s surprised by all the COVID-19 coverage offers for travellers, considering Canada is advising Canadians not to travel abroad. (CBC)

Many companies providing COVID-19 coverage told CBC News they’re responding to consumer demand.

“People are looking to travel,” said Richard Job, Flight Centre’s vice-president of commercial partnership. “They are able to travel if they want to, and we just want to enable that to take place as safely as we can.”

International travellers returning to Canada must self-isolate for 14 days

WATCH | The future of air travel: 

Technology could play a big role as airports and airlines develop new ways to help passengers feel safer. 3:43

Who’s offering coverage?

At least three insurance providers, Medipac, Tour+Med and Blue Cross (in Ontario and Quebec) now offer COVID-19 medical coverage as part of their regular travel insurance plans — or as a top-up. 

Manulife announced this week it will start offering the coverage in October. 

The plans vary. For example, not all providers cover daily expenses if an infected traveller is forced to quarantine abroad.

Each company said it offers medical coverage for all ailments, including COVID-19, for up to $5 million — with the exception of Manulife, which has capped COVID-19 coverage at $200,000.

Manulife declined to comment on the cap. 

Air Canada is offering free COVID-19 medical coverage for select vacation packages and international flights. (Sophia Harris/CBC)

Airline industry offering free coverage

Flight Centre and the airlines are providing free coverage only for COVID-19 illnesses and related expenses, such as accommodation costs while being quarantined. The offers are available for a limited time — ranging from the next seven months to a year. 

Customers booking vacation packages with Flight Centre, Air Canada Vacations and WestJet to select destinations — which exclude the United States — are covered for up to $100,000 in medical bills. WestJet provides the same coverage for international flights, excluding the U.S. 

Sunwing will cover up to $200,000 in COVID-19 medical expenses for passengers booking any of its vacation packages and flights departing on or after Oct. 16. Air Canada (which is separate from Air Canada Vacations) currently provides the same $200,000 coverage for customers purchasing international fights, including to the U.S. 

Although the Canada-U.S. land border is closed to non-essential traffic, Canadians can still fly to the U.S

Firestone questions if $200,000 would be enough to cover a severe case of COVID-19 in the U.S., where medical costs can run high. 

“What if the bill is $500,000?” he said. “Then it becomes your problem.”

Manulife, which is partnering with Air Canada to provide the coverage, declined to comment. 

Air Canada said that passengers wanting extra protection can consider purchasing an extensive travel insurance plan.

What about snowbirds?

Medipac’s main customers are snowbirds heading to the southern U.S. where the COVID-19 infection rate remains high. But the insurance provider said it’s confident it won’t be bombarded with COVID-19 claims, because Medipac’s clientele will likely play it safe. 

“The people that we’re tailoring our product to are going to do what they’ve always done, travel down as a couple, go to their winter residence,” said Medipac spokesperson Christopher Davidge.

“We’re not talking about cramming into a discount airline … and staying at a resort hotel and going to a theme park.”

Snowbird Perry Cohen said he and his wife, Rose, plan to take all necessary precautions when they likely head to their condo this winter in Deerfield Beach, Fla., near Fort Lauderdale. 

“Our community is pretty safe,” said Cohen, who lives in Toronto. “We’re not going to look for large crowds. We’re not running to the bars and the restaurants.”

Even so, Cohen said COVID-19 coverage is a game changer because he and his wife would never consider heading south if they couldn’t purchase it. 

“Why take the risk?” he said. “I like a complete package to know I’m looked after.”

Perry Cohen said he and his wife, Rose, plan to take all necessary precautions when they likely head to their condo this winter in Deerfield Beach, Fla. (Submitted by Perry Cohen)

Cases ‘going up again’ 

But not all eager travellers will be swayed by COVID-19 coverage. 

Avid international traveller Suzanne Chojnacki said she and her husband will stay put for now because they still have many concerns — such as getting stuck abroad if the country they’re visiting suddenly closes its borders.

“The [COVID-19 case] numbers are going up again,” said Chojnacki who lives in Richmond Hill, Ont. “So it’s really not a good time to think about going away — for us.”

Current plans offering travellers COVID-19 coverage don’t include compensation if a customer cancels a trip due to the pandemic. Firestone said that’s because cancellation insurance typically covers unexpected mishaps, not a “known” issue such as the coronavirus.

“It’s just so known, it’s not even funny.”

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