Netflix picked up subscribers in Canada to add nearly 16 million global customers during the first three months of the year, helping cement its status as one of the world’s most essential services in times of isolation or crisis.
The quarter spanned the beginning of stay-at-home orders in the U.S., Canada and around the world, a response to the coronavirus pandemic that apparently led millions to latch onto Netflix for entertainment and comfort when most had nowhere to be but home.
Netflix more than doubled the quarterly growth it predicted in January, well before the COVID-19 outbreak began to shut down many major economies. It was the biggest three-month gain in the 13-year history of Netflix’s streaming service.
The numbers — released Tuesday as part of Netflix’s first-quarter earnings report — support a growing belief that video streaming is likely to thrive even as the overall U.S. economy sinks into its first recession in more than a decade.
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Alberta partners with fast-food restaurants to distribute 4 non-medical masks to every resident – Globalnews.ca
The Alberta government will provide every resident with four non-medical face masks, as the province continues its phased approach to relaunch the economy.
Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced Friday morning that the government has partnered with A&W, McDonald’s Canada and Tim Hortons to distribute the masks at the restaurants’ drive-thru locations.
The masks will be free of charge.
“Alberta is the first and so far, as far as I know, the only province that has decided to distribute masks province-wide,” Shandro said. “This program will help Albertans get back to work and enjoy everyday activities safely.”
While mask use is not mandatory, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health has recommended Albertans wear a non-medical mask when two metres of physical distance cannot be maintained, such as on public transit.
A total of about 20 million non-medical masks will be distributed at a cost of around $20 million. Shandro said partnering with the fast-food restaurants will cut down on the distribution cost to government, which is around $350,000.
“These three partners are doing it without added expense to the Alberta taxpayer,” Shandro said.
The drive-thru pickup also provides safe physical distancing for Albertans, as people will be able to stay in their vehicles.
Shandro said the three restaurant companies have about 600 drive-thru locations in the province, and 95 per cent of Albertans live within 10 kilometres of one of these locations.
The province is working on a plan to ensure distribution of masks is possible to the remaining five per cent of the population, Shandro said.
“Even if you don’t have an A&W, a McDonald’s or a Tim Hortons in your community, you will be able to get your four masks,” he said.
The government’s distribution cost is “for us to be able to pay for the gap distribution for the other five per cent of folks who may not be able to get to a drive-thru,” according to Shandro.
Distribution will be done on the honour system.
“We’re not asking for folks to bring in their health-care card and get a punch to show that they’re already picked up,” Shandro said.
“This is on the honour system, but Albertans are responsible and they’ve shown us that. Throughout the response to this pandemic, Albertans have shown us that they are responsible.
“Obviously there may be some folks who will be unable to make their way to a drive-thru — I’m thinking about one of my parents in particular — and whether it’s me or one of my siblings who has to go pick up for my parents, that’s going to be the case. And the folks at the 600 stores, the employees, are going to just have to trust Albertans and we’re going to have to trust Albertans.”
Alberta’s Dr. Hinshaw lays out best practices for wearing face masks to slow COVID-19 spread
The health minister stressed the three-layered, non-medical face masks are not part of the provincial supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) meant for health-care workers and first responders.
The masks are single-use, Shandro said.
“They are not medical grade masks. We are not taking away any of the PPE from our front lines,” Shandro said.
In a media release from the province, all three restaurants expressed their pleasure to be part of the mask program.
“A&W is very pleased to support the government of Alberta with this great initiative. Our restaurants across the province have been quick to step up and help organize the distribution of masks, and are looking forward to welcoming Albertans at our drive-thrus,” A&W Canada president and CEO Susan Senecal said.
“McDonald’s Canada, together with our franchisees, have been committed to helping our communities throughout this pandemic. We welcome this opportunity to use our drive-thru operations to assist the Alberta government, and do the right thing for Albertans when they need us most,” said Jeff Kroll with McDonald’s Canada.
“Throughout the pandemic, the 1,500 Tim Hortons owners across Canada have been eagerly supporting their local communities and stepping up to answer calls for assistance. When we were asked by the Alberta government to help distribute masks through our drive-thrus we did not hesitate. We’re proud to have been asked to participate in this important program and do our part to help Alberta move forward on its relaunch strategy,” Tim Hortons COO Mike Hancock said.
Tanya Doucette, a Tim Hortons owner who runs eight locations across central Alberta, said the province has asked that they not hand out the mask bags inside the restaurant, just through the drive-thru.
“They want to ensure safe social distancing, and I think because they’re worried people might show up in large numbers and queues in person, that could create risk,” Doucette said.
“We have acrylic shields in our drive-thrus and our team members are wearing non-medical grade masks, so this is a safe distance option to hand out the masks.”
She said people must be in a vehicle, they cannot walk through the drive-thru.
“What you can do if you don’t have a vehicle or you don’t have access to a vehicle, you can ask a friend or family member to pick up your allotment of masks for you through a drive-thru location at Tim Hortons,” she said.
Representatives from McDonald’s and A&W also say that masks will only be handed out through the drive-thru, and people must be in a vehicle.
The masks have arrived and will be ready for distribution early next month. Further details of the rollout will be released in the coming days.
Shandro encouraged Albertans to source their own non-medical masks through local businesses or make their own at home.
“This is not meant to be able to provide Albertans with an unlimited supply.”
More information on how to safely put on and take off a non-medical face mask can be found on the government’s website.
Hinshaw clarifies that N95 masks are not required for ‘typical care to a patient’
Shandro said that on Friday morning, Alberta surpassed the 250,000 mark when it comes to how many COVID-19 tests have been performed in the province. He said about 220,000 unique Albertans have been tested, as some people have been tested twice.
On Thursday, Alberta Health reported 29 new cases of COVID-19 in Alberta and two additional deaths related to the disease.
There were 652 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta on Thursday afternoon.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Laurentian Bank slashes dividend by 40 per cent as profits tumble – The Globe and Mail
Laurentian Bank of Canada slashed its dividend by 40 per cent on Friday following a sharp drop in profit, becoming the first large Canadian bank to cut its dividend payout in nearly 30 years.
The Montreal-based bank reported a 79-per-cent drop in profit for the three months ended April 30, with net income falling to $8.9-million from $43.3-million in the same quarter last year. This was largely due to a spike in provisions for potential loan losses tied to weakening economic conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Laurentian responded by cutting its dividend to 40 cents a share, down from 67 cents. This is the first time a large Canadian bank has cut back dividend payouts since National Bank of Canada did so in 1992, according to data from Refinitiv.
“Although we believe that current earnings are not reflective of the future earnings power of the organization, we have reduced the dividend to $0.40 per share which improves operational flexibility until we reap the anticipated benefits of our strategic plan,” chief executive François Desjardins said in a press release.
Laurentian shares fell more than 9 per cent in trading Friday morning.
The bank’s earnings cap off a week of dismal results from Canadian banks, which saw profits eviscerated by a rise in loan loss provisions due to expectations of future defaults and weakening credit. Laurentian, a regional bank which focuses primarily on Quebec, managed to keep revenues flat on a year-over-year basis. But higher provisions slammed the bottom line.
Laurentian recorded $54.9-million in provisions for credit losses, compared to $9.2-million a year ago. Gross impaired loans, which are loans that the bank does not expect to be paid back in full, rose to $235-million, up 25.8 per cent year-over-year. The biggest increase in loan impairment came from the bank’s commercial loan book, where gross impaired loans rose 42 per cent year-over-year.
The results were worse than analysts had anticipated. The bank reported an adjusted earnings per share of $0.20, well below the $0.38 average that analysts had expected, according to Refinitiv data.
In a note to clients, National Bank analyst Gabriel Dechaine noted that the miss was driven by a combination of higher than expected provisions for credit losses and elevated expenses, which were partially offset by a lower-than-forecast tax rate.
“While necessary, a 40 per cent dividend cut may be viewed as insufficient, as pro forma payout ratios are still elevated,” Mr. Dechaine wrote.
The bank’s capital position deteriorated slightly in the quarter, with the closely watched common equity tier 1 ratio falling to 8.8 per cent from 9 per cent.
“This level of capital provides the Bank with the flexibility to pursue organic growth, as well as to continue to invest in the implementation of our core banking system,” the bank said in a news release.
However it added that it expects “regulatory capital ratios will remain below the level observed over the recent quarters.”
Alberta partners with fast-food chains to offer free masks at drive-thrus – CBC.ca
Albertans will be able to pick up free non-medical masks from the drive-thrus of A&W, McDonald’s and Tim Hortons starting in early June.
The Alberta government is distributing 20 million masks meant to help limit the spread of COVID-19, said Health Minister Tyler Shandro during a press conference Friday.
The masks are for situations where physical distancing is difficult to maintain, such as on public transit or while shopping, Shandro said.
“We recognize that as the province relaunches and we all adapt to our new normal, we all may sometimes find ourselves in a situation where physical distancing may not be possible.”
The province is distributing the masks through the three restaurant chains because they provide an ease of access, said the province’s health minister.
“We chose this method, quite honestly, because these partners have access through these 600 sites to about 95 per cent of our population,” Shandro said. “These three partners are doing it without expense to the Alberta taxpayer.”
Each Albertan is allowed one package of four masks, while supplies last. The masks also come with instructions on how to wear and dispose of them. No purchase is necessary.
“This is not meant to provide Albertans with an unlimited supply,” Shandro said. “We’re encouraging people to source their own masks on an ongoing basis.”
The province will also look at other ways to distribute the masks, like at high-risk transmission areas such as transit and places of worship, for people who can’t access one of the drive-thru locations.
A budget of $350,000 has been set aside to fill the gap in distribution, Shandro said.
The province is also working with municipalities, First Nations communities, Métis settlements and local agencies to distribute the non-medical masks to those who need them.
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