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Province told that rural N.S. has 'affordable housing crisis' –



Helen Lanthier’s message to provincial politicians Thursday about housing problems in rural Nova Scotia had a sharp focus.

“Rural Nova Scotia is really experiencing an affordable housing crisis,” she told members of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources and Economic Development.

Lanthier is a member of the South Shore Housing Action Coalition. The coalition includes representation from six municipal councils, as well as local women’s shelters and individuals interested in housing issues.

She said although “more than 65 per cent of Nova Scotians live in rural communities,” there is a growing concern that housing programs, projects and services aimed at those most at risk of becoming homeless are more centralized in Halifax.

Helen Lanthier is a member of the South Shore Housing Action Coalition. (Helen Lanthier)

Lanthier told the committee that rural homelessness is often not as visible as it is in the city, nor as well documented. 

“But because it is hidden and not easily measured doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist,” she said.

Martin Laycock, a senior official in the just renamed Department of Infrastructure and Housing, outlined what the province has pledged to do.

That includes “spending $7.5 million to support the creation of 156 new affordable housing units [and] an additional $2 million to help even more low-income Nova Scotians keep their home safe or make adaptation.”

Nova Scotia and Ottawa have pledged to do more, but Lanthier said it hasn’t been easy for rural-based groups to tap into the millions of dollars that have been promised, simply because of a lack of data to back up their requests.

She pointed to the Rapid Housing Initiative announced late last year by Ottawa for projects that had to be completed within a year of financing.

“There was no way that we were prepared to do that,” she said. “We didn’t have the data.

“We have all kinds of ideas. We are innovative in our thinking in small communities because we have to be and we were not able to access that funding at that time.”

‘Almost like it’s a two-tiered system’

She also pointed to public transportation as part of the criteria for accessing funds.

“So many communities in this province don’t have transportation for people who don’t have cars,” said Lanthier. “There are so many barriers that urban centres don’t have.

“It’s almost like it’s a two-tiered system.”

New Democrat MLA Claudia Chender asked Lanthier if short-term rentals have also created a problem.

Lathier said they have in communities such as Lunenburg, near her home.

“The number of short-term rental accommodations has skyrocketed, from our perception,” she said. “We don’t have data, and so we can’t we cannot actually prove that.

“But it is, it appears, to be a real issue in impacting the availability of affordable housing, affordable rental housing.”

Dalhousie University assistant professor Ren Thomas, co-chair of a new provincial affordable housing commission, told the committee Nova Scotia needed to look to other provinces for inspiration on how to tackle the problem.

“We need to share data and information, learn from each other and collaborate on projects more than we’re doing now,” she said. “We also need to protect the affordable units that we have already built.

“There is, as we know, a lot of good work being done across Canada that we can learn from.”


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Barrick Gold profit beats expectations as copper, gold prices surge



JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -Barrick Gold Corp reported a 78% jump in first-quarter profit on Wednesday, beating analyst expectations thanks to rising gold and copper prices, and said it was on track to meet annual forecasts.

Production in the second half is expected to be higher than the first, the gold miner said, thanks in part to the ramp-up of underground mining at the Bulyanhulu mine in Tanzania and higher expected grades at Lumwana in Zambia.

Barrick’s first-quarter gold production fell to 1.10 million from 1.25 million ounces due partly to lower grades at its Pueblo Viejo mine in Dominican Republic.

Adjusted profit surged 78% to $507 million in the quarter ended March 31, from $285 million a year earlier, and Barrick announced a 9 cent per share quarterly dividend.

Stronger prices helped boost Barrick’s revenue from its copper mines in Chile, Saudi Arabia and Zambia by 31% from the fourth quarter. Overall earnings per share were $0.29, ahead of analysts’ estimate of $0.27.

“We expect a positive stock reaction to the earnings beat and strong cash flow,” said Credit Suisse analysts.


Barrick CEO Mark Bristow, who has championed mergers across the gold industry, said he backed the idea of South Africa-listed miners Goldfields and AngloGold Ashanti combining.

Speculation has been swirling around the two companies and Sibanye-Stillwater, whose CEO Neal Froneman floated the idea of a three-way merger in March.

“I’m a South African, and this country has such a great mining history and it would be great to see a real gold business come out of the many failed discussions that we’ve seen,” said Bristow.

Goldfields declined to comment. In a statement, AngloGold Ashanti said it was focused on delivering on its growth plan to unlock value from its portfolio of gold assets.

Bristow also said he had met with the Democratic Republic of Congo’s new mines minister and other officials and was continuing to work on getting $900 million belonging to its Kibali mine joint venture out of the country.

“We have a solution, it just needs to be sanctioned by the appropriate authorities which haven’t been around for a while,” he said, referring to a recent government overhaul by President Felix Tshisekedi.

(Reporting by Helen Reid in Johannesburg and Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Bernadette Baum)

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Loblaw gets quarterly sales, profit boost from online demand surge



Retailer Loblaw Cos Ltd beat market estimates for quarterly revenue and profit on Wednesday, as its online sales more than doubled on soaring demand from homebound buyers for groceries and other essentials during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lockdowns and other virus-related restrictions in Canada, including reduced store capacity, during the first three months of the year pushed consumers to stockpile groceries and other essential items.

Loblaw, one of the biggest retailers in Canada, said that the momentum from the first quarter has continued into the current quarter, adding that it expects to exceed its own full-year profit expectations.

However, the company has warned that its food retail unit, which saw a surge last year at the peak of stockpiling, would not be as robust in the current quarter. In the first month of the ongoing quarter, food same-store sales have declined slightly, Loblaw said.

For the second quarter, the company expects to incur pandemic-related costs of about $65 million to $75 million, compared with $282 million a year earlier.

Net earnings available to its common shareholders rose to C$313 million, or 90 Canadian cents per share, in the quarter ended March 27 from C$240 million, or 66 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, the retailer earned C$1.13 per share, beating the average analysts’ estimate of 87 Canadian cents per share.

Its revenue rose to C$11.87 billion ($9.67 billion) in the first quarter from C$11.80 billion a year earlier, surpassing analysts’ estimate of C$11.72 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

($1 = 1.2277 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Mehr Bedi in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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Bombardier in talks to amend bondholders’ agreement after breach claim on asset sales



(Reuters) – Bombardier on Monday contested a bondholder’s claims that its recent sales of non-core assets breach the terms of certain notes, and said it would seek bondholders’ consent to amend terms on eight bond issues.

Bombardier has emerged as a pure play business jet maker after divesting assets including the sale of its transportation business to Alstom, which it completed in January, to pay down debt and boost earnings.

The company said it launched consent solicitations with respect to outstanding senior notes or debentures, following the claims by the unnamed bondholder that the asset sales constitute a breach of certain covenants under the indenture governing the 2034 notes.

Bombardier said in a statement these claims are without merit and it has not breached any covenant, adding that after evaluating various options it had determined requesting bondholders to amend the terms of the bonds was the most “expedient and efficient path” to maintain value and protect itself and its stakeholders.

If the amendments are approved, Bombardier will make a consent payment of $1.25 per $1,000 principal amount for applicable series of notes, and C$1.25 per C$1,000 principal of Canadian dollar-denominated 7.35% debentures due 2026, the statement said.

Bombardier also flagged early first-quarter revenue that would beat analysts’ estimates, as rising vaccinations encourage wealthy travelers to return to flying.

Bombardier reports earnings on Thursday.

The jet maker said it expects first-quarter adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) from continuing operations of $123 million, above analysts’ average estimate of $89 million, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The company expects business jet revenue to rise by 18% to $1.3 billion in the first quarter, from a year ago, beating Wall Street’s estimate of $1.18 billion.

Bombardier stock closed up 3.3%.

While deliveries are roughly the same, Bombardier’s product composition is shifting toward its flagship Global 7500 jets, a revenue driver.

Bombardier said it remains on track to deliver between 110-120 business aircraft in 2021. The company’s full-year deliveries fell 20% to 114 jets in 2020.


(Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru and Allison Lampert in Montreal; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Karishma Singh)

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