The federal government says no more public funds will be spent on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, after the Crown corporation building the project announced Friday that the cost has ballooned to $21.4-billion and the expansion now won’t be complete until late 2023.
That’s close to a 70-per-cent jump over the initial $12.6-billion price tag, and almost a year later than the original December, 2022, start date targeted by Trans Mountain Corp.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland told media Friday that instead of public cash, Trans Mountain will secure the funding necessary to complete the project with third-party financing, either in public debt markets or from financial institutions.
Ms. Freeland said financial advice from BMO Capital Markets and TD Securities confirmed that “public financing for the project is a feasible option that can be implemented promptly.” And despite the increased cost estimate and longer completion timeline, she said the project remains commercially viable.
Trans Mountain referred questions about how it will secure financing to Ms. Freeland’s office. Her office provided no details on how confident the minister is that the project will be able to nail down funds, but said prospective purchasers still have a strong interest in operational infrastructure assets such as the pipeline expansion.
Financial institutions are growing increasingly wary of financing oil projects, as they face pressure to put more emphasis on environmental, social and governance (ESG) measures and make greener investment decisions.
Less than a year ago, Trans Mountain successfully lobbied the federal energy regulator to let it keep the name of its insurer secret, arguing that public pressure on insurance companies over environmental concerns in the oil sector has already made it harder and more expensive to insure the pipeline expansion.
The expansion’s financing costs alone have already increased by about $1.7-billion, Trans Mountain said Friday. The corporation attributed that to higher construction costs, the extended end date and interest payments.
Trans Mountain said another $2.3-billion of the cost jump comes from what it called “project enhancements,” such as more benefit agreements with Indigenous communities, the installation of advanced leak detection systems and new, unplanned route changes that avoid culturally and environmentally sensitive areas.
Wildfires, extreme heat, flooding and landslides that pummelled British Columbia in 2021 and COVID-19 measures added $1.7-billion to the price tag, while schedule pressures such as securing permits and the “significant construction challenges in both marine and difficult terrain” that have pushed the completion date into late 2023 account for another $2.6-billion.
The expansion project will nearly triple the capacity of the existing pipeline, which runs from Strathcona County, near Edmonton, to Burnaby, B.C. The vast majority of the project, which is about half complete, uses the existing pipeline route.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government bought the pipeline and expansion project from Kinder Morgan Inc. for $4.5-billion in 2018 amid legal hurdles and opposition from Indigenous communities, environmentalists and the B.C. government. The Federal Court of Appeal overturned the pipeline project’s approval, ruling Ottawa had failed to adequately consult First Nations. That led to a new round of consultations, and the federal cabinet approved the expansion for the second time in 2019.
However, the federal government has never intended to be the final owner-operator of the expanded pipeline, and Ms. Freeland reiterated that position Friday.
While buying the pipeline and the expansion was “a serious and necessary investment” to ensure Canada receives fair market value for its oil and gas, she said, Ottawa intends to launch a divestment process in the coming months.
“Our government has also been working with Indigenous communities on further economic participation in Trans Mountain for more than two years, and we will announce the next step towards that important objective later this year,” she said.
Eugene Kung of West Coast Environmental Law, an environmental law and public advocacy group, said in a statement Friday that the skyrocketing cost of the expansion and the delay demonstrate that Trans Mountain’s “already-collapsed business case is worse than ever, and the cost will probably increase further.”
“It is outrageous that [the Trans Mountain expansion’s] cost has nearly doubled in two years with very little oversight. Especially since the so-called economic benefits were used to justify the infringement of Indigenous rights, the significant climate impacts of building oil and gas expansion infrastructure, and the devastating effects on wildlife like salmons and orcas,” he said.
“It’s time to admit that [the project] is a bad idea and to cut our losses by cancelling this white elephant before it becomes a stranded asset.”
Oil companies, however, remain supportive of the pipeline expansion.
Cenovus Energy Inc. president and CEO Alex Pourbaix said he believes the business case for the project remains sound, and looks forward to it coming online.
“While no one wants to see cost increases, they are often a fact of life with projects of this size, and in this case were largely beyond Trans Mountain’s control,” he said in an e-mail.
“Getting this pipeline built will provide a significant boost to the Canadian economy while helping to solidify investor confidence in our oil and gas industry.”
Suncor Energy Inc. president and CEO Mark Little said in an e-mail that while he was disappointed with Friday’s news, the pipeline remains “vital to Canada’s long-term economic success and energy security.”
Trans Mountain president and CEO Ian Anderson will retire April 1. On Friday, he said progress on the pipeline expansion over the past two years has been “remarkable when you consider the unforeseen challenges we have faced including the global pandemic, wildfires and flooding.”
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Calling the passionate, the curious, and the creative: Staples Canada launches National Hiring Campaign
More than 1,000 associates to be hired across Canada in seasonal, part-time and full-time positions to help make Back to School simply amazing
Richmond Hill, ON, May 17, 2022 – Staples Canada, The Working and Learning Company, has launched a national hiring campaign to fill more than 1,000 positions in stores, supply chain, contact centres, sales teams, print and tech hubs, as well as corporate roles. All open roles are posted at careers.staples.ca with in-person and virtual interviews available at the different locations.
“The back to school season is the most exciting time of year for Staples associates – it’s a time where we get to connect with our customers to enable their success, and inspire them for months to come,” said Wanda Walkden, Chief Human Resources and Communications Officer, Staples Canada. “We’re invested in bringing in the best and brightest talent to inspire our customers and our communities, while also helping our associates further their own development and growth.”
Staples currently employs more than 11,000 associates across Canada within a variety of roles and locations. The company has presence in every province and the Northwest and Yukon territories. All locations are looking to fill a variety of roles.
Joining Staples comes with a number of benefits, which include:
· Associate support: Staples offers extensive wellness benefits that are designed to support the physical, mental and financial well-being of associates. These include an employee and family assistance program, retirement savings plans with an employer match, performance bonuses, associate discounts, and more.
· Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Staples is committed to creating an inclusive and diverse work environment where each associate can bring their whole authentic self to work. Staples associates can join Business Resources Groups; groups that are by associates for associates and focus on various DE&I initiatives through partnerships, awareness and education.
· Learning and development opportunities: At Staples, learning and development is a priority for all associates, with many opportunities for cross-department training, and leadership development programs in place to aid professional growth.
- Educational support: Each year, scholarships are awarded through the Staples Canada Annual Academic Scholarship Program to associates or children of associates attending post-secondary education. The company also offers tuition reimbursement for full-time associates to further their education.
- Ability to make an impact: Each year, Staples associates partner with organizations like MAP, and take on local charitable giving initiatives including the School Supply Drive during back to school, as a continued commitment to communities across Canada.
All 300+ stores and Supply Chain, Contact Centres, Sales Teams, Print and Tech Hubs and, Corporate locations across Canada are participating in the national hiring campaign; visit careers.staples.ca to learn more and find the perfect job near you.
Staples Canada is The Working and Learning Company. With a focus on community, inspiration and services, the privately-owned company is committed to being a dynamic, inspiring partner to customers who visit its 300+ locations and staples.ca. The company has two brands that support business customers, Staples Preferred for small businesses and Staples Professional for medium to large-sized enterprises, as well as six co-working facilities in Toronto, Kelowna, Oakville and Ottawa under the banner Staples Studio. Staples Canada is a proud partner of MAP through its Even the Odds campaign, which aims to tackle inequities in communities across Canada and helps make a future that’s fair for everyone. Visit staples.ca for more information or get social with @StaplesCanada on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
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Kathleen Stelmach, Staples Canada, 905-737-1147 Ext. 578, firstname.lastname@example.org
Noah Gomberg, Golin, 647-475-4721, NGomberg@golin.com
Gas prices set to drop in the GTA – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
Drivers are set to get some relief at the pumps as gas prices are set to drop 13 cents per litre by Friday.
Average gas prices hit $209.9 per litre on Wednesday in southern Ontario, marking a new record high and a whopping 12-cent rise since last Friday.
However, President of Canadians for Affordable Energy Dan McTeague says prices are set to drop three cents to 206.9 per litre as of midnight and then 10 another 10 cents to 196.9 per litre by Friday.
McTeague said that the drop in prices is being driven by the unease of global markets over a potential recession.
Prices at the pumps have been elevated since late February due to fuel supply shortages amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the international sanctions that have been imposed as a result of the war.
Natural Resources Canada said the average price for regular gasoline in Canada hit $2.06 per litre on Monday, with the most expensive price in Vancouver at $2.34 a litre.
On Wednesday, Statistics Canada reported that the annual inflation rate rose 6.8 per cent year-over year in April. The national agency added that Canadian drivers paid 36.3 per cent more for gas in April compared to a year ago.
-With files from The Canadian Press
Stock markets sell off as inflation fears settle in – CBC News
Stock markets were a sea of red on Wednesday as financial results from major retailers suggested they’re having a hard time dealing with stubbornly high inflation.
The S&P 500 was down by more than four per cent, its worst one-day showing since June 2020 as investors reacted to troubling signs that consumers are slowing their spending in the face of high prices.
Shares in Target shed more than 25 per cent of their value after the retailer said its profit was cut in half because of higher costs and supply chain problems. It was the worst day for Target’s shares since Black Monday in 1987, and it came a day after rival Walmart painted a similar picture the day before.
Walmart’s shares fell by more than 11 per cent on Tuesday and another seven per cent on Wednesday, after the retailer warned of lower profits to come due to higher costs for transportation and wages, as well as supply chain issues. Tuesday’s sell-off was also the biggest one-day plunge in Walmart shares since 1987.
That gloom coming from two cost-conscious retailers sparked investor fears that if they are having problems navigating high inflation, many others must be, too.
“The strength of the consumer will be tested as both Walmart and Target signal rising pricing pressures are not easing,” analyst Edward Moya with foreign exchange firm Oanda said.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed almost 1,200 points or more than three per cent and the technology focused Nasdaq lost more than 500 points or more than four per cent.
Since the start of the year, the Dow is down by 14 per cent, the S&P by 18 per cent and the Nasdaq by 28 per cent, data from Bloomberg shows.
“Stocks are crumbling after Wall Street worries about economic growth after hearing a chorus of concerns of higher prices that won’t be easing anytime soon,” Moya said.
Statistics Canada reported on Wednesday that the country’s inflation rate ticked upwards again last month, to a new 31-year high of 6.8 per cent.
While the Toronto Stock Exchange fared better than its U.S. counterparts, it wasn’t immune to the sell-off, losing 389 points, or about two per cent, to close as just over 20,100 points late in the trading day. The benchmark Canadian index has lost about seven per cent of its value since the start of the year, and has been mostly lower of late since topping out at over 22,000 points in April.
“It’s a really rough day out there for stock markets,” Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at SIA Wealth Management, said in an interview with CBC News.
“The retailers in particular are starting to get squeezed between rising costs and softening demand,” he said. “We’ve just been seeing a stampede for the exits across stock markets today.”
Tech shares hit hard
Technology shares, which soared earlier in the pandemic as the world went increasingly digital and online due to COVID-19 lockdowns, continue to get hammered.
Apple shares lost six per cent to trade at their lowest level since October. Amazon shares lost seven per cent and the shares are now trading where they were in April 2020. Netflix lost another seven per cent and now trade at their lowest level since 2018.
Canadian tech companies also sold off, with shares in e-commerce firm Shopify, payment processing company Lightspeed and BlackBerry all off by about three per cent.
Cieszynski said the sell-off in technology shares makes sense, because the sector “tends to benefit … when investors are feeling confident and when investors are willing to take on risk.”
“At a time when investors are are retrenching, turning away from risk and going more defensive, [technology] tends to underperform,” he said.
Bitcoin dips below $30,000
Bitcoin was no exception as the world’s largest cryptocurrency continued its plunge, losing another five per cent to trade below $30,000 US for the first time since 2021.
“The speculative cryptocurrency excesses of 2021 may mark a similar fate for risk assets, as when the internet bubble burst in 2000,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Mike McGlone said.
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