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Hospitality workers urge Ottawa to put employees first in any COVID-19 related bailout – CBC.ca

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Canada’s hard-hit hospitality industry is asking for more help from government to survive the economic impact of COVID-19. But even as hotel owners are seeking more aid from Ottawa, some workers say they’re not making good use of relief programs already out there.

Hotel workers staged demonstrations in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver this week, to draw attention to the plight of an industry that has been hard-hit by the ongoing pandemic.

Hotel bookings are down by 90 per cent in some cases, which has created a drastic drop in demand for workers.

The industry was effectively shut down just as many others were in the early days of the pandemic. The Hotel Association of Canada says most hotels did their best to maintain staffing levels, hoping for a return of paying customers.

Some took advantage of an emergency government program known as the Canada emergency wage susidy, or CEWS, which paid up to 75 per cent of an employee’s salary, as long as they remained on the payroll.

Room attendant Leonora Mulholland lost her job at a downtown Toronto hotel in March when the pandemic struck, but she says her employer eventually brought her back on once CEWS began.

But it didn’t last long. She was laid off again in August.

After 21 years working for the same hotel, she questions why her loyalty wasn’t reciprocated by her employer.

WATCH | Hotel worker Leonora Mulholland explains what workers want:

Leonora Mulholland, a laid-off hotel room attendant from Toronto, says the federal government should work with employers so they’re able to benefit from the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, and workers are put first. 0:50

Mulholland was one of about two dozen hospitality workers at a physically distanced demonstration in Toronto this week asking the government to step in and force hotels to use the wage subsidy to hire back like her back.

“I feel insecure,” she said. “Who knows what’s going to happen? How long this pandemic is going to be? We don’t know.”

Susie Grynol, president and CEO of the Hotel Association of Canada, says the industry is sympathetic to the plight of workers, but the industry shut itself down in the interest of public health, which is why the sector needs the government to step up with more support so that hotels can survive long enough to keep employing their workers long term.

“It’s put our industry on life support,” she said in an interview. “We missed the summer season. We’re heading into the off season and we’re not projected to recover until next summer, which means we’re not even halfway through this.”

Many hotels took advantage of CEWS, but recent changes mean the government now pays only about two thirds of the payroll costs, leaving hotels with next to no revenue on the hook for paying one third of the salaries for workers they don’t need.

Shelli Sareen of Unite Here, a union that represents more than 300,000 workers across North America, primarily in the hospitality sector, said industry relief must reach workers, not just hotel owners. (Jacqueline Hansen/CBC)

“The changes to the wage subsidy program has meant that we can’t keep on every employee that we had previously,” Grynol said. “That means that some of our inactive workers are now going to be laid off permanently.”

In the recent throne speech, the government gave a vague promise of more help coming for the industry, but was short on details.

Grynol says the industry is asking Ottawa to roll back CEWS to its original terms and help the industry secure access to credit because loans from banks are drying up. And, if possible, they would love some help on fixed cost items such as property taxes. 

“We’re hoping that we are going to see some support from government so that we can stabilize and ultimately bring back all of our employees,” she said.

Leonora Mulholland has worked at Toronto’s Royal York Hotel for more than two decades, but was laid off in August. ‘Who knows what’s going to happen?” she said. (Jacqueline Hansen/CBC)

The organizers of this week’s demonstrations say they agree that the industry needs more targeted help, but they’re wary of that help coming as a bailout for hotel operators that may do little to help the rank and file.

“Our concern is that any sector relief that’s provided to the industry would go straight to the pockets of the multimillion dollar corporations or the owners of the hotels,” said Shelli Sareen, secretary treasurer of Unite Here, a labour union representing 300,000 workers across the U.S. and Canada.

A blank cheque without accountability, “won’t benefit our members or the hospitality workers [and] frontline workers that have been most heavily impacted by the pandemic,” Sareen said.

Mulholland knows that the hotels themselves must be feeling the pain as well. But whatever the plan to help the industry is, she hopes the workers on the bottom like her get remembered along with the owners at the top.

“When they apply, the employers should put the workers first,” she said. “Not just apply, get the money, and keep it to themselves.”

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COVID-19: Alberta positivity rate reaches milestone of 10.5 per cent, province adds 1,828 new cases – Edmonton Journal

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Article content continued

Yiu said AHS also plans to increase the number of people who do contact tracing to 1,800 by the end of the year. She said it has been challenging to keep up with the demand following the surge in cases over the past six weeks.

Meanwhile, health-care workers are asking Albertans to stay home if they can and wear a mask at all times if they have to go out in public. In a media release on Friday, United Nurses of Alberta president Heather Smith said health-care workers won’t be able to get the virus under control if Albertans don’t follow public health measures.

On Thursday, Edmonton Public Schools recorded single cases linked to Bessie Nichols, Calder, Dr. Lila Fahlman, Homesteader, Eastglen, McNally, Harry Ainlay, Queen Elizabeth, Delton, Jan Reimer, T.D. Baker, Crawford Plains, Thorncliffe, Stratford, Kim Hung, Ross Sheppard and Evansdale. Two cases were linked to Mount Royal, Dr. Margaret Ann Armour and M.E. LaZerte.

Edmonton Catholic School Division recorded single cases linked to St. Francis Xavier, St. Elizabeth, St. Peter Centre, LINC – Daytime program, LINC – Evening program, Archbishop MacDonald, St. Oscar Romero,  St. Bonaventure, Our Lady of the Prairies, Mother Margaret Mary, LINC One World One Centre, St. Edmund and Holy Trinity. Two cases were linked to Our Lady of Peace.

Across Canada, there are 69,255 active cases and 12,407 deaths related to COVID-19 as of Thursday.

jlabine@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/jefflabine

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Canada doubles Moderna vaccine order, daily COVID-19 cases could top 10,000 by January – Reuters

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FILE PHOTO: Canada’s Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand takes part in a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada September 25, 2020. REUTERS/Blair Gable

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada has doubled the number of doses of Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine it has on firm order, Procurement Minister Anita Anand said on Friday, while the country’s top doctor warned that daily new cases could top 10,000 by January.

“Canada is exercising options for an additional 20 million doses of the Moderna vaccine candidate. This will bring Canada’s total allotment of this vaccine to 40 million doses to be delivered in 2021,” Anand said at a health briefing.

A regulatory review of the Moderna vaccine is ongoing. Canadian health authorities are expected to approve Pfizer Inc’s competing vaccine candidate within the next week. The country has signed supply deals with seven manufacturers.

Canada reported 6,495 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, as infections surge across the country. Ontario, one of the worst-hit provinces, tightened restrictions in three areas on Friday, but did not expand lockdowns.

“If we stay on the same trajectory, we could reach 10,000 cases daily by January,” Canada’s chief public health officer, Theresa Tam, said, edging back earlier estimates that Canada would hit that landmark by mid-December.

Officials warned that Canadians will need to remain vigilant to slow the spread of the virus, even as vaccines begin to be rolled out. Canada is readying a plan to distribute the first six million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in early 2021.

Anand said she is hopeful Canada will start getting vaccine shipments as soon as January and downplayed comments by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who earlier this week said his province had been assured shipments would start arriving by Jan. 4.

“We are working with a timeframe … of Q1 2021,” she said. “We are very hopeful it will be within the January timeframe,” she added.

Anand also said FedEx Corp and Innomar Strategies, a Canada-based division of AmerisourceBergen, had been contracted by the federal government to provide logistical support on vaccine delivery.

Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Editing by Leslie Adler and Grant McCool

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2 TSX Stocks That Can TRIPLE in a Year – The Motley Fool Canada

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The S&P/TSX Composite Index rose 39 points on December 3. Canadian stocks have gained considerable momentum in the late fall after stuttering a little to start this season. Moreover, investors have reason to celebrate, as vaccines are coming down the pipe in early 2021. With luck, we will see a return to normalcy. Today, I want to look at two TSX stocks that can still offer explosive growth in the near term. Let’s dive in.

Why I’m still bullish on this TSX stock

Casinos and hotels across North America took a massive hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Great Canadian Gaming (TSX:GC) is a Richmond-based company that operates gaming and entertainment facilities across the country. Back in the summer, I’d suggested that investors should be ready to jump on this TSX stock. Its shares have climbed 40% over the past three months as of close on December 3.

The stock surged on news that the private equity firm Apollo Global Management offered $3.3 billion for the casino firm. However, this has received pushback from shareholders.

Great Canadian Gaming released its third-quarter 2020 results on November 10. Predictably, the suspension of operations for most of the third quarter resulted in a major pullback in revenues, profit, and EBITDA. However, the company reiterated that it was moving forward with its GTA capital-development programs.

This TSX stock is still positioned for big things once this subsector gets back into operation. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that most Canadians will be vaccinated by September 2021. That is good news for the casino industry, even if it must deal wit headwinds in the next few months.

This technology stock erupted over the past week

Earlier this week, I’d discussed the surge for BlackBerry (TSX:BB)(NYSE:BB). The TSX stock soared on news of a collaboration with Amazon that will forward BlackBerry’s automotive software reach. Its shares have climbed 24% week over week as of close on December 3.

Investors can expect to see BlackBerry’s third-quarter fiscal 2021 results on December 17. BlackBerry has been inconsistent for investors looking for an explosive technology stock. However, this collaboration with Amazon has huge potential. The cloud software, called IVY, will allow automakers to read vehicle sensor data and improve systems and performance. BlackBerry’s automotive software QNX is already used in 75 million vehicles around the world.

Its promising footprint in automotive software isn’t the only reason to snag this TSX stock. The company has also made huge strides in cybersecurity. Its $1.4 billion acquisition of Cylance added a dynamic presence to its cyber security stable. The company should continue to boost BlackBerry’s artificial intelligence and IoT capabilities. This is great news for investors.

Shares of BlackBerry last had a solid price-to-book value of 2.1. A better-than-expected Q3 FY2021 could push the TSX stock to have an even more impressive December. I’m targeting BlackBerry in late 2020 and early 2021.

On the topic of Amazon and AI stocks…

This TSX Stock Could Hold The Key to What 1 CEO Says Is Worth 35 Amazons

WHAT in the world could be worth “35 Amazons”? The answer is a radical breakthrough that Wired says is “the rocket fuel of the AI boom.”

We encourage you to act quickly if you want to get in on this opportunity, because the story of the coming boom is already starting to leak out and this trend looks ready to take off.

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John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Fool contributor Ambrose O’Callaghan has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. David Gardner owns shares of Amazon. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon. The Motley Fool recommends BlackBerry and BlackBerry and recommends the following options: long January 2022 $1920 calls on Amazon and short January 2022 $1940 calls on Amazon.

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