A group representing more than 43,000 Ontario doctors says that essential workers at grocery stores and food processing plants should be among the first to receive COVID-19 vaccines once healthcare workers and long-term care residents have been protected.
The Ontario Medical Association says that health-care workers and “older adults living in long-term care or retirement facilities” should be the first in line for vaccines but that subsequent phases should focus on ensuring that other workers at high risk of exposure get vaccinated, such as employees at grocery stores and food production facilities and those working in transit.
The OMA says that other groups that should also be prioritized include people living in shelters, group homes and prisons, teachers and school staff and other older adults not vaccinated in the first phase.
“It boils down to the fact that essential care workers or essential workers aren’t necessarily safe just by being deemed essential,” OMA President Dr. Samantha Hill told CP24 on Wednesday afternoon. “It is crucial that if we consider these people and the services they offer essential to society’s wellbeing that they be protected to the ultimate capacity that we can. Before we had a vaccine that meant PPE (personal protective equipment) and social distancing. When we do have a successful vaccine it will still mean PPE and distancing but it will also mean access to the vaccine.”
The recommendations from the OMA come after the United Kingdom announced that it has approved the Pfizer vaccine for distribution in that country.
Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu also released a statement on Wednesday in which she said that Health Canada’s review of the Pfizer vaccine “is ongoing, and is expected to be completed soon.”
Speaking with CP24, Hill said that the principal behind the recommendations being made by the OMA is “minimizing harm.”
She said that healthcare workers, for example, make up nearly 10 per cent of all confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ontario and are much more likely to contract the disease caused by the novel coronavirus than any other single group.
“The recommendation quite simply put is that those with the highest risk need to be vaccinated first and that includes obviously physicians and other frontline health care workers like nurses and personal support workers and it also includes adults living in long-term care facilities or retirement facilities,” she said.
On Wednesday, Premier Doug Ford was asked about how his government will prioritize which groups of people will get access to the vaccine first and he said that the “goal is to make sure that all frontline health care workers, long term care workers and rural northern indigenous communities get taken care of” first.
Ford, however, said that he “wouldn’t disagree” with the OMA’s proposal to prioritize frontline workers in subsequent phases of the rollout.
“I think they’re great comments but that’s going to be up to the task force and General (Rick) Hillier and the Minister of Health to put that list together,” he said.
Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott has previously said that her government expects to receive a combined 2.4 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna Inc. COVID-19 vaccines during the first three months of 2021, which would be enough to protect 1.2 million Ontarians.
Barrick Gold profit beats expectations as copper, gold prices surge
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -Barrick Gold Corp reported a 78% jump in first-quarter profit on Wednesday, beating analyst expectations thanks to rising gold and copper prices, and said it was on track to meet annual forecasts.
Production in the second half is expected to be higher than the first, the gold miner said, thanks in part to the ramp-up of underground mining at the Bulyanhulu mine in Tanzania and higher expected grades at Lumwana in Zambia.
Barrick’s first-quarter gold production fell to 1.10 million from 1.25 million ounces due partly to lower grades at its Pueblo Viejo mine in Dominican Republic.
Adjusted profit surged 78% to $507 million in the quarter ended March 31, from $285 million a year earlier, and Barrick announced a 9 cent per share quarterly dividend.
Stronger prices helped boost Barrick’s revenue from its copper mines in Chile, Saudi Arabia and Zambia by 31% from the fourth quarter. Overall earnings per share were $0.29, ahead of analysts’ estimate of $0.27.
“We expect a positive stock reaction to the earnings beat and strong cash flow,” said Credit Suisse analysts.
POTENTIAL FOR SOUTH AFRICA MERGER
Barrick CEO Mark Bristow, who has championed mergers across the gold industry, said he backed the idea of South Africa-listed miners Goldfields and AngloGold Ashanti combining.
Speculation has been swirling around the two companies and Sibanye-Stillwater, whose CEO Neal Froneman floated the idea of a three-way merger in March.
“I’m a South African, and this country has such a great mining history and it would be great to see a real gold business come out of the many failed discussions that we’ve seen,” said Bristow.
Goldfields declined to comment. In a statement, AngloGold Ashanti said it was focused on delivering on its growth plan to unlock value from its portfolio of gold assets.
Bristow also said he had met with the Democratic Republic of Congo’s new mines minister and other officials and was continuing to work on getting $900 million belonging to its Kibali mine joint venture out of the country.
“We have a solution, it just needs to be sanctioned by the appropriate authorities which haven’t been around for a while,” he said, referring to a recent government overhaul by President Felix Tshisekedi.
(Reporting by Helen Reid in Johannesburg and Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Bernadette Baum)
Loblaw gets quarterly sales, profit boost from online demand surge
Retailer Loblaw Cos Ltd beat market estimates for quarterly revenue and profit on Wednesday, as its online sales more than doubled on soaring demand from homebound buyers for groceries and other essentials during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lockdowns and other virus-related restrictions in Canada, including reduced store capacity, during the first three months of the year pushed consumers to stockpile groceries and other essential items.
Loblaw, one of the biggest retailers in Canada, said that the momentum from the first quarter has continued into the current quarter, adding that it expects to exceed its own full-year profit expectations.
However, the company has warned that its food retail unit, which saw a surge last year at the peak of stockpiling, would not be as robust in the current quarter. In the first month of the ongoing quarter, food same-store sales have declined slightly, Loblaw said.
For the second quarter, the company expects to incur pandemic-related costs of about $65 million to $75 million, compared with $282 million a year earlier.
Net earnings available to its common shareholders rose to C$313 million, or 90 Canadian cents per share, in the quarter ended March 27 from C$240 million, or 66 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items, the retailer earned C$1.13 per share, beating the average analysts’ estimate of 87 Canadian cents per share.
Its revenue rose to C$11.87 billion ($9.67 billion) in the first quarter from C$11.80 billion a year earlier, surpassing analysts’ estimate of C$11.72 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
($1 = 1.2277 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Mehr Bedi in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)
Bombardier in talks to amend bondholders’ agreement after breach claim on asset sales
(Reuters) – Bombardier on Monday contested a bondholder’s claims that its recent sales of non-core assets breach the terms of certain notes, and said it would seek bondholders’ consent to amend terms on eight bond issues.
Bombardier has emerged as a pure play business jet maker after divesting assets including the sale of its transportation business to Alstom, which it completed in January, to pay down debt and boost earnings.
The company said it launched consent solicitations with respect to outstanding senior notes or debentures, following the claims by the unnamed bondholder that the asset sales constitute a breach of certain covenants under the indenture governing the 2034 notes.
Bombardier said in a statement these claims are without merit and it has not breached any covenant, adding that after evaluating various options it had determined requesting bondholders to amend the terms of the bonds was the most “expedient and efficient path” to maintain value and protect itself and its stakeholders.
If the amendments are approved, Bombardier will make a consent payment of $1.25 per $1,000 principal amount for applicable series of notes, and C$1.25 per C$1,000 principal of Canadian dollar-denominated 7.35% debentures due 2026, the statement said.
Bombardier also flagged early first-quarter revenue that would beat analysts’ estimates, as rising vaccinations encourage wealthy travelers to return to flying.
Bombardier reports earnings on Thursday.
The jet maker said it expects first-quarter adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) from continuing operations of $123 million, above analysts’ average estimate of $89 million, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
The company expects business jet revenue to rise by 18% to $1.3 billion in the first quarter, from a year ago, beating Wall Street’s estimate of $1.18 billion.
Bombardier stock closed up 3.3%.
While deliveries are roughly the same, Bombardier’s product composition is shifting toward its flagship Global 7500 jets, a revenue driver.
Bombardier said it remains on track to deliver between 110-120 business aircraft in 2021. The company’s full-year deliveries fell 20% to 114 jets in 2020.
(Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru and Allison Lampert in Montreal; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Karishma Singh)
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