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N.L. wrong to 'double down' on fossil fuels with offshore subsidies, researcher says – CBC.ca

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Newfoundland and Labrador’s federally funded subsidies for offshore oil are a “misuse of funds” and another step in the wrong economic direction for the cash-strapped province, says a political scientist who has studied the province’s oil sector.

Angela Carter, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo, says it’s increasingly difficult to watch the government offer hundreds of millions of dollars in public money to oil companies while not taking effective steps toward building an economy that isn’t reliant on oil.

“What oil producers are trying to do is get whatever they can out of the remaining reserves,” Carter, author of the 2020 book Fossilized: Environmental Policy in Canada’s Petro-Provinces said in a recent interview.

“They’re leaning on governments like Newfoundland and Labrador that are in distress […] to be propped up or bailed out for those last few drops. And that’s being done not in the interest of governments, but for private interests.”

She worries the latest offer — $205 million in cash and a $300-million break in royalties for the owners of the Terra Nova oilfield — will encourage other oil companies to seek similar treatment.

The Newfoundland and Labrador government has offered oil companies more than $280 million since December 2020 to restart projects in peril or to keep them in play.

The money comes from a $320-million fund provided to the province by Ottawa, earmarked for safety improvements, maintenance and upgrades for facilities, research and development, and clean technology in the oil sector.

“This is about jobs in our province,” federal Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan told reporters last September when the funding was announced. “This is about the future of our sector.”

Royalty break sets precedent: consultant

Until a tentative deal was announced on June 16, the province had been bracing for the abandonment of the aging Terra Nova field.

With the breaks provided to its owners, the government will collect $35 million in royalties — about one-tenth of the full amount expected from the 80 million barrels left in the field.

Premier Andrew Furey and Energy Minister Andrew Parsons have justified the aid by saying if the project didn’t go ahead, there’d be no royalties at all. And with the money coming from Ottawa, the move hasn’t cost Newfoundland and Labrador a cent, nor could it have been spent elsewhere, they said.

“We’re going to get money back from the indirect jobs and the direct jobs that come from this,” Parsons told reporters in mid-June. “I think it’s a really good move for this province […] we’ve protected the future, we’ve saved jobs and we’re using the resource in the best interest of the province.”

The Terra Nova FPSO shown anchored in Conception Bay, N.L. last October. (Paul Daly/The Canadian Press)

Rob Strong is a St. John’s-based consultant with decades of experience in the industry. Like Carter, he believes government has set a precedent with the $300-million royalty break for Terra Nova.

“If I was an oil company, I’d be looking for the same sort of deal,” he said in an interview this week.

Strong said he worries Newfoundland and Labrador’s bargaining position is “not as great as we were led to believe.”

Other jurisdictions, such as Guyana, produce the same light sweet crude with similar emissions but for lower prices, he said.

Oil sector shedding jobs

Carter questions whether governments should be giving public money to oil companies at all, especially based on promises of stability and jobs.

“The sector is interested in profits from extraction, and yet we have been told […] this is about jobs,” she said. “This is a doubling down on the oil sector.”

She points to a January 2021 study from economist Jim Stanford at the Centre For Future Work showing the Canadian oil sector has been shedding jobs since 2014, even though production has gone up. The oil industry, the report said, is not a reliable source of future jobs.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, direct employment with offshore projects fell from nearly 13,750 jobs in 2014 to about 4,500 in 2019, according to benefits reports filed by operators. That drop is largely due to the end of construction on the Hebron project, which began pumping oil in 2017.

As of May 2021, production levels in the province are some of the highest they’ve been in decade, according to a report from the provincial offshore regulator.

“A lot of the (oil) jobs are construction jobs, and they’re temporary,” said Chris Severson-Baker, Alberta’s regional director at the Pembina Institute, a national energy think tank.

Once construction is finished, companies are increasingly turning to automation and artificial intelligence to shed staff, he said in an interview.

“Everywhere they can, they’re cutting costs,” he said. “And this is before any kind of real reduction in demand, globally. This is in response to the competitive price environment that oil and gas has been in for a while.”

Province says green transition underway

In Newfoundland and Labrador, those jobs are particularly precarious with no meaningful efforts from governments to build new industries for workers to turn to when fields run dry or — as was the case with Terra Nova — when progress halts because owners want to pull out, Carter said.

She said the government’s choice to hand the federal money to oil companies rather than support laid-off workers directly through retraining or retirement packages is a “misuse of funds.”

“Furey has got to create a [team], and get the people in the room to figure out what the next thing is,” she said. “We gave a lot of public support and research dollars … to figure out a way to join this oil boom. So, same thing now, we need to do that again.”

Meghan McCabe, a spokesperson for Furey, said work is underway on a green transition.

“We are developing a renewable energy plan with a clear and sustainable long-term vision for our province,” she said in a statement Tuesday.

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Accounting firm EY to pay $100M US fine after auditors caught cheating on ethics exams – CBC News

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Accounting firm Ernst & Young will pay $100 million US to settle U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charges that its auditors cheated on certified public accounting (CPA) exams and that it misled the agency’s investigators.

The London-based auditor admitted to the charges and agreed to pay what the SEC said is its largest fine against an auditor.

“EY acknowledges the findings determined by the SEC,” said Brendan Mullin, EY media relations director, adding that the firm’s response has been “thorough, extensive and effective.”

“At EY, nothing is more important than our integrity and our ethics.”

The CPA is the key qualification for accountants in the United States.

EY has also agreed to “undertake extensive remedial measures to fix the firm’s ethical issues,” the SEC said.

49 people got test answers ahead of time

The Wall Street watchdog found that 49 EY professionals “obtained or circulated” answer keys to CPA licence exams, while hundreds of others cheated to complete the continuing professional education components relating to CPA ethics.

“This action involves breaches of trust by gatekeepers … entrusted to audit many of our nation’s public companies. It’s simply outrageous that the very professionals responsible for catching cheating by clients cheated on ethics exams,” said Gurbir Grewal, the SEC’s enforcement director, in a statement.

“And it’s equally shocking that Ernst & Young hindered our investigation of this misconduct,” added Grewal.

EY submitted to the SEC that it did not have issues with cheating when, in fact, the firm had been informed of potential cheating on a CPA ethics exam by a member of staff, the SEC said.

It added that EY admitted it did not correct its submission even after an internal EY investigation confirmed there had been cheating, and even after its senior lawyers discussed the matter with the firm’s senior management.

The SEC’s order also finds that EY violated a Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) rule requiring the firm to maintain integrity in the performance of a professional service.

The SEC has ordered EY to retain two independent consultants to help remediate its deficiencies. One will review the firm’s policies and procedures relating to ethics and integrity. The other will review EY’s conduct regarding its disclosure failures, including whether any EY employees contributed to the firm’s failure to correct its misleading submission, the SEC said.

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Canada's transport minister speaks out about 'unacceptable issues' at airports following reports of luggage chaos at Pearson – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Canada’s transport minister is speaking out about the “unacceptable issues” that continue to result in significant delays at Canadian airports after images surfaced on social media showing hundreds of pieces of luggage piled up at Pearson International Airport.

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority, which operates Pearson, told CP24 on Tuesday that a number of issues over the past several days have led to “challenges with baggage,” including “flight delays and cancellations, staff shortages and temporary mechanical disruptions with the baggage system.”

So far dozens of people have spoken out about losing their luggage at Pearson, including one woman who told CP24 that her bag was lost once on the way to Phoenix and then again on the way back to Toronto, resulting in a frustrating “suitcase scavenger hunt” that ultimately proved fruitless.

There have also been numerous images shared on social media showing huge piles of luggage in the baggage claim area at Pearson, which travellers have had to search through in the hopes of finding their missing bags.

“What we are seeing today is that while many of those Canadian Air Transport Security Authority and Canadian Border Security Agency issues have significantly improved we continue to see delays, cancellations and luggage issues,” Transport Minister Omar Alghabra told reporters at an unrelated announcement in the GTA on Wednesday. “I have had conversations with the four largest airports and the two largest airlines just on Thursday and I will be having follow up conversations with them soon. They know that they need to add more resources and they are working on that and we are offering our support to address these issues. But these are unacceptable issues.”

Pearson has been plagued by delays for months now amid increased demand and some staffing shortages.

Alghabra said that at this point the federal government has done everything in its control to address the issues at airports, including increasing staffing at customs and at security checkpoints.

He said that his government is also looking at “possibly extending the suspension” of random COVID-19 testing, which was supposed to be lifted on July 1.

That, he said, is because it is taking longer than expected to address the logistics of moving the testing off-site.

“What we are seeing is the surge of demand for air travel beyond what anybody expected and that is honestly good news. But the surge in demand is outpacing the ability for airlines and airports to enhance the resources that they need to accommodate that surge,” he said. “So we are working with airlines and airports to ensure that the resources needed, that the scheduling adjustments that are needed are addressed. Because we are also seeing extreme peaks at certain hours of the day.”

Tory says he will speak with Air Canada about issues

Many of the luggage issues at Pearson have reportedly involved Air Canada flights.

In a statement provided to CP24 on Tuesday, Air Canada said “that avoiding baggage delays is a top priority” as they are “disruptive and inconvenient” for customers and lead to added costs that the airline ultimately has to bear.

But they said that with the “well-documented issues” plaguing airports and resulting in last-minute flight cancellations there are simply more instances of delayed bags.

“I think the overall record is better today at the airport than it was a few weeks ago and I think there is every reason to believe that progress will continue,” Toronto Mayor John Tory told reporters at a news conference on Wednesday when asked about the issues at Pearson. “I am not personally familiar with the precise way baggage is handled but certainly from my limited knowledge it occurs to me that most of the responsibility rests with the airlines, so I will, undertake in light of what has happened to be in touch with Air Canada and find out from their perspective what the problem is, what they are doing to solve their part of it and if they believe that governments in the broadest sense can be helpful in making things work better so those baggage issues don’t arise.”

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Canadian Businesses Need Integrated Facility Services

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Many Canadian businesses require professional facility management to streamline their operations for the smooth functioning of buildings and facilities. Hiring separate contractors for different facility responsibilities, however, can become more time consuming and convoluted. An integrated facilities management company can act as an end-to-end solution for all your facility management needs and take care of all responsibilities.

Hiring a qualified integrated facility services team allows businesses to consolidate facility management under a single discipline, which includes integrating tasks, employees, technology, and safety. This simplifies facility management by bringing together different services under a single contract.

Consider how your business operations and management can benefit from integrated facility services

Time to Focus on Core Business Tasks

An integrated facility services team will take care of all facility-related services, allowing you to better allocate your time and resources to core business tasks. When you remove the burden of facility management off your shoulders, you can focus more on other aspects of your business, such as designing or building products, communicating with clients, and marketing.

A professional facility service provider will develop a tailored solution to meet a facility’s specific requirements. An experienced team can follow regulatory standards, improve communication between employees, and create a better workplace environment.

Lower Operational Costs

According to research and analysis, 90,600 businesses disappeared between 2013 and 2017 – and this was before the impacts of the global pandemic. The costs associated with running a business continue to increase, impacting the life-expectancy of businesses across various industries.

Switching your facility management to consolidated integrated services led by a professional will reduce operational costs by allowing you to invest in one provider, rather than a handful. Having only one point of contact will also reduce the time and labor required needed to coordinate with the provider. You can leverage economies of scale by streamlining facility operations, making the process more cost-effective.

A knowledgeable integrated facility service team can audit your workplace and identify cost-saving opportunities. They can guide strategic sourcing and allow you to bundle vendor services and contracts to save you money. You may also get discounts or benefits from pre-negotiated rates when a single company handles your facility management services.

Better Response Time

Facility management includes a wide range of services that require attention for smooth business operations. If management is inefficient, you may notice delays in the work process, leading to revenue losses.

When integration is done correctly, you’ll notice that response times will improve. Most efficient integrated facility service teams use modern technology to manage multiple sites and business operations. This allows better collaboration among team members despite their location and improves response time.

Streamlined Operations

Compiling all your facility management activities with a single company can be faster, more cost-effective, and more efficient. When business operations are streamlined, your team will notice more flexibility, improving employee engagement and better relationships with stakeholders.

An integrated solution is a more comprehensive approach because it is simpler to manage a singular point of contact. This will streamline the decision-making process, improve quality, and enforce accountability.

Embracing Integrated Facility Services

The Canadian Facility Management Market stood at USD 32.17 billion in 2020 and is forecasted to grow until 2026. A singular point of contact will make business operations less overwhelming, allowing you to divert your attention to other aspects of your business.

The key to successful integration is hiring a professional company with extensive experience managing facilities. When you find the right provider, a weight will be lifted off your shoulders, allowing you to relax knowing that your management is in good hands.

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