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Ontario reports 2,100+ coronavirus cases on both Dec. 25 and 26; ICU occupancy surpases 300 – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Ontario reported more than 2,100 COVID-19 cases on both Friday and Saturday, with 81 new deaths over that 48-hour period, as the number of patients in intensive care surpassed 300 for the first time.

The province detected 2,159 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and 2,142 new cases on Saturday.

“Today, there are 541 new cases in Toronto, 344 in Peel, 262 in York Region, 136 in Hamilton and 131 in Windsor-Essex,” Health Minister Christine Elliott wrote on Twitter.

Officials said 43 people died of infection on Friday and 38 died on Saturday, bringing the total number of deaths reported since the pandemic began to 4,359.

Ontario reported a record 2,447 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, along with 2,408 on Wednesday.

Testing data, usually provided by Ontario Health, was unavailable for Friday and Saturday.

There are now nearly 20,000 active cases of novel coronavirus infection across the province, the highest that number has ever been, up from 18,200 one week ago.

Thirty-nine of the eighty-one deaths reported in the past 48 hours were among residents of long-term care homes.

The latest report from Critical Care Services Ontario obtained by CP24 showed 304 adults in intensive care across the province due to COVID-19 on Saturday, as well as one newborn baby.

Twenty-nine more people entered intensive care due to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, the report said.

Modelling released earlier in December said the province would hit 300 ICU beds filled sometime before the end of the month.

A new enhanced lockdown effort took effect across the province on Saturday morning, with southern Ontario seeing new restrictions on retailers, school and university operations, along with bans on ski hill operation, indoor dining, cinema and fitness facility activities for 28 days.

Elsewhere in the GTA, Durham Region reported 93 cases on Friday and 67 new cases on Saturday, while Halton Region reported 96 new cases on Friday and 93 new cases on Saturday.

Michael Garron Hospital intensivist Dr. Michael Warner says what happens in the next few weeks will determine if Ontario’s hospital system will make it through January without collapsing.

“What happens in the next two or three weeks really depends on how much spread of COVID-19 there has been in the community,” he told CP24. “We could reach 400 or 500 (occupied ICU beds) by mid Jan. or in the worst case scenario up to 1,500 (beds occupied) by Jan. 22, but I don’t think that will happen because if it does we will have to impose a much more severe lockdown in order for the health system to survive.”

He said there needs to be continued surveillance testing among-school age children, and a proven comprehensive way to isolate and support workers in large indoor workplaces if Ontario is to get its rate of infection under control.

“Just cruising along at 2,200 cases per day until a vaccine has been received by enough people to make a difference isn’t going to work,” he said.

“We have to go after the root causes, prove that school is safe before kids return to school so that doesn’t become a tinder box for COVID. And we have to make sure that people who work in factories, especially in Peel, are protected.”

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TD Bank CFO Ahmed to head securities unit, move seen as CEO succession play

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TD Bank Group on Thursday named Chief Financial Officer Riaz Ahmed chief executive of its securities unit and head of wholesale banking, a move some investors interpreted as a sign he will succeed CEO Bharat Masrani.

For Ahmed, 58, the change marks a return to his TD roots. He began his career at the bank in 1996 as an investment banker in the securities division, following which he served as its CFO and chief administrative officer. He has been part of TD Bank‘s executive team for nine years, and CFO for over five.

“Cross-training in the capital markets role … increases the likelihood of (Ahmed) succeeding Masrani when he retires, but I doubt it would be soon, as that would create unnecessary turnover atop TD Securities,” said Brian Madden, portfolio manager at Goodreid Investment Counsel.

“Maybe Masrani announces his retirement next year (or the following) and leaves early in 2023” or 2024.

Masrani’s compensation arrangements anticipated his retirement in 2020, TD said in its 2019 shareholders meeting proxy circular. But he was granted stock options worth C$1.9 million ($1.5 million), vesting in five years, on the condition that he remain available to serve as CEO throughout that period.

Ahmed replaces Bob Dorrance, who will retire on Sept. 1 after about 16 years at the bank, Canada’s second-biggest lender by market value said in a statement.

When asked about TD’s succession plans, a spokesperson said: “Today we are celebrating Bob Dorrance’s incredible career and accomplishments, and the appointment of top executives to critical, leadership roles.”

At a time when diversity, particularly in executive and board ranks, has come under increased scrutiny, Ahmed’s appointment as CEO would mean TD, the only one of Canada’s six biggest lenders to have a non-Caucasian at its helm, would retain that aspect.

Ahmed’s appointment comes after TD’s wholesale banking unit recorded an 8% revenue decline in the second quarter from a year ago, contributing to the bank’s overall underperformance versus some rivals.

Kelvin Tran, currently executive vice president for enterprise finance, will replace Ahmed as finance chief.

Dorrance, who has headed TD Securities since 2005, will stay on as chairman of TD Securities and serve as special adviser to Masrani.

TD shares were flat at C$87.12 on Thursday afternoon, compared with a 0.2% gain in the Toronto stock index. The shares are up 21% this year, versus a 15% gain in the benchmark.

($1 = 1.2303 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Nichola Saminather in Toronto; Additional reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in BengaluruEditing by Nick Zieminski and Matthew Lewis)

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AIB agrees to life and pensions joint-venture with Canada Life

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Allied Irish Banks on Wednesday said it would form a joint venture with Canada life as it seeks to plug gaps in its life, savings and wealth products.

The joint venture will be equally owned by Canada Life, a subsidiary of Great-West Lifeco Inc.

“The move to create this joint venture is aligned with AIB’s stated ambition to complete its customerproduct suite and diversify income,” AIB said in a statement.

“Through this strategic initiative AIB intends to offer customers a range of life protection, pensions, savings and investment options enhanced by integrated digital solutions withcontinued access to our qualified financial advisors.”

The Irish lender highlighted Canada Life’s “deep experience” of the Irish bancassurance market through Irish Life Assurance, which is also a subsidiary of Great-West Lifeco.

AIB currently operates under a tied agency distribution agreement with Irish Life, and will enter into a new distribution agreement with the new joint venture company.

Chief Executive Colin Hunt highlighted the need to plug gaps in AIB’s life, savings and wealth products when he set out the bank’s medium-term targets last December.

AIB expects its equity investment in the joint venture will be around 90 million euros ($107.51 million), equating to around 10bps of CET1.($1 = 0.8372 euros)

(Reporting by Graham Fahy;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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Interac: Canada’s Latest Payment Solution Phenomenon

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Few can argue that digital payment methods aren’t central to modern-day society. In recent times, increasing numbers of payment solutions have come to the forefront, offering consumers more choice regarding their transaction preferences. Canada, in particular, has embraced a wide-ranging selection of secure, forward-thinking options. Of those available throughout the country, Interac has piqued the interests of local consumers the most. So, let’s look at why this payment solution is an especially popular option throughout Canada. 

Usable Across Various Markets 

It speaks volumes about Interac’s versatility in that it’s usable across a variety of different industries. Since being founded in 1984, the Canadian interbank network has become integral to numerous markets, including local air travel. Air Canada, which has been operating since 1937, has expanded their accepted payment methods, and now passengers can pay for their flights using Interac. According to the airline’s official website, the Interac Online service lets consumers pay for their tickets via the internet directly from their bank account. 

Not only that, but Interac is also available at Walmart. In November 2020, the two organizations partnered together to expand in-store and online payment options. Walmart has adapted well to the digital trend, with American Banker reporting that they’ve opened Interac Flash sale points throughout their stores. 


Source: Unsplash

Aside from the above, Interac has also taken the digital world by storm. Following its rapid rise to prominence, the solution has also altered the online casino industry, with platforms like Genesis Casino now accepting the transaction type. The provider, which features Interac Canadian casino options, uses the popular payment method to enhance transaction speeds of deposits and withdrawals, as well as security. Players can use Interac Online and Interac e-Transfer to make deposits or withdrawals from their desktops or mobiles as the platform is fully optimized. 

A Reflection of Modern-Day Society 

In recent times, Interac recorded a 55 percent increase in transactions between April and August 2020 compared to the same period the previous year, as per BNN Bloomberg. These figures somewhat reflect the current state of e-Commerce and modern consumerism. Following the rise of Interac and other payment methods, it’s now less troublesome for consumers to complete in-store and online purchases. 


Source: PxHere

There’s an ever-growing perception that land-based businesses need to adapt within the digital era and accept forward-thinking payment methods. According to Cision, Interac is of utmost importance to the Canadian economy, and a year-on-year increase in Interac Debit payments of 333 percent reflects that. Not only that, but Interac e-Transfer payments are growing at 52 percent each year. This Interac-oriented trend appears unlikely to fade over the coming years, with the network being selected as the country’s provider for a new real-time payment system, as per Lexology. 

Consumer Habits are Changing 

There can be no doubt that consumerism has changed drastically over the past decade. The popularity of Interac suggests that a cashless future may be on the horizon, with increasing numbers of shoppers enjoying the security of online payment methods. While it’s currently unclear if that will happen, Interac appears to be prevalent for the long run.

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