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Suncor Energy to cut staff by up to 15% over next year and a half – CBC.ca

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Suncor Energy announced Friday it will be cutting staff by as much as 15 per cent over the next year and a half as the company deals with the impact of a slumping economy brought on by the global pandemic.

Staff learned of the cuts from the company’s CEO, Mark Little, via an internal webcast on Friday morning. The first tranche of layoffs, about five per cent of the workforce, will come in the next six months.

Spokesperson Sneh Seetal said the company was already undergoing a process to improve its cost structure that would have resulted in a smaller workforce over time, but current events have changed the timetable. 

“Unfortunately, the unprecedented drop in oil prices, the continued impact of the global pandemic, an economic slowdown as well as continued market volatility have accelerated those plans,” she said. 

“And as a result, over the next 12 to 18 months, we will reduce the size of our workforce by about 10 to 15 per cent.”

Seetal was unable to say how many people those cuts would affect, but noted that at the end of 2019, the Calgary-based company had 13,000 employees. Suncor employs people across the country, in the United States and internationally. Seetal said everything is under review.

“We are looking at all operations, all of our assets, all of our offices across our workforce, with the exception of not making any decisions that would potentially impact safe and reliable … running of our assets,” she said.

According to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), more than 28,000 direct and 107,000 indirect jobs have been lost in the sector in 2020.

Due to the industry’s wide supply chain, those job losses have impacted every region of the country, the association said.

“The reality of the current situation is grim and taking a toll on the industry and on Canadians,” CAPP’s chief executive, Tim McMillan, said in a statement.

Earlier this week, Royal Dutch Shell said it’s planning to cut between 7,000 and 9,000 jobs worldwide by the end of 2022. But the implications for Shell’s Canadian operations or its 3,500 employees isn’t yet known.

Suncor’s cuts appear to be part of the drive for efficiency that can be seen in the sector now, said Rory Johnston, managing director and market economist at Price Street in Toronto.

The reality of the current situation is grim and taking a toll on the industry and on Canadians.– Tim McMillan, CAPP chief executive

“The drive now is going to be to increase efficiency and increase the amount of value they can extract from each barrel of their core production base,” Johnston said.

You might get a little bit of production growth, but I think the days of heavy growth are mostly behind us.”

Unfortunately, he said, that also means fewer jobs. 

I truly hope not, but I would not be surprised if we see some of the other Canadian majors follow suit,” Johnston added.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney called news of Suncor’s layoff plans “very disturbing.”

“This announcement today by Suncor underscores that what’s happening in Alberta today is nothing less than an economic emergency,” Kenney said.

He said Alberta is facing the largest economic crisis since the Great Depression due to a global economic contraction that’s lead to the “largest decline in energy prices in history.”

On top of five tough years, it is hard to overstate the economic adversity that so many Albertans are going through,” said Kenney, who called on Ottawa to work with the province to get the industry “back on its feet.”

Kenney said the federal government should “hit the pause button” on the clean fuel standard, which he argues will make Canada’s energy sector uncompetitive globally.

“As today’s announcement underscores, this truly is a jobs crisis and an economic emergency, and it deserves to be responded to here in Alberta in the same way that it would be in Ontario or Quebec,” he said.

However, Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley took aim Friday at the Kenney government’s decision to cut corporate taxes for companies like Suncor, pointing a finger at the job losses that have since followed.

“Jason Kenney made a bad deal,” Notley said in a statement.

“Instead of shoveling money off the back of a truck to finance corporate layoffs, the premier and his UCP need to build a plan to guarantee job creation and job protection.” 

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Are nursing homes above the law? WestJet changes course on COVID-19 refunds: CBC's Marketplace Cheat Sheet – CBC.ca

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Miss something this week? Don’t panic. CBC’s Marketplace rounds up the consumer and health news you need.

Want this in your inbox? Get the Marketplace newsletter every Friday.

Ont. Nursing homes are breaking the law repeatedly, with few consequences

In our latest investigation, we uncover exclusive details on serious safety violations before the pandemic, including abuse, inadequate infection control, unsafe medication storage, inadequate hydration and poor skin and wound care. Our data analysis reveals 85 per cent of the province’s nursing homes are repeat offenders for some of the most serious violations with almost no consequences. Read more

This man installed a hidden camera in his mother’s room at a long-term care home in Scarborough, Ont. The videos showed different employees physically and verbally abusing the 82-year-old. She was “holding onto the bed rails for dear life,” her son said. 5:00

WestJet says it will now provide refunds for COVID-19 cancellations. Will other airlines follow? 

If you’re among the thousands of Canadians fighting for a refund on air travel cancelled because of the pandemic, you might be in luck. WestJet announced on Wednesday that it would begin offering refunds in the original form of payment, instead of credits. The company said it’s the first national airline in the country to proactively begin refunding customers during the pandemic — a comment that Air Canada has since contested. Read more

WestJet says it will soon offer refunds for flights cancelled due to the pandemic. The refunds also apply to flights booked on the company’s low-cost affiliate, Swoop Airlines. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Google is facing an antitrust lawsuit from the U.S. Justice Department. Here’s what it means

The United States Justice Department alleges Google abused its dominance in online search and advertising to stifle competition and harm consumers. It’s a serious charge and one that Google is expected to fiercely oppose. The company tweeted shortly after the announcement that the “lawsuit by the Department of Justice is deeply flawed. People use Google because they choose to — not because they’re forced to or because they can’t find alternatives.” Read more

Last week, Marketplace investigated fake appliance repair listings online and why you can’t always trust Google Maps

A Marketplace investigation has linked one company in the industry to a network of fake locations and names on Google Maps. 2:09

She wants to honour her husband’s dying wish. But Apple won’t let her access his account

It’s been four years since Carol Anne Noble’s husband died, but she’s still struggling to fulfil a promise she made before his death. Noble wants access to an Apple account she and her husband shared — but was under his name — so she can access and ultimately publish a journal he wrote documenting the progression of his illness. But instead of giving her the password she’s forgotten, the tech giant is demanding she jump through complicated legal hoops to satisfy what experts say is an outdated U.S. law. Go Public reports. Read more

Carol Anne Noble of Toronto wants access to an Apple account she and her late husband shared — but was under his name — so she can fulfil a promise she made to him before he died. 2:32

What else is going on?

Tim Hortons to stop using two cups for hot drinks, use sleeves instead 
It’s part of the coffee chain’s pledge to reduce paper waste.

Government calls on private sector to come up with compostable, recyclable pandemic gear
Initiative seeks to reduce waste from single-use PPE, such as masks, as consumption skyrockets.

Dollarama recalls bogus hand sanitizer
Daily Shield hand sanitizer contains methanol, which can be deadly to humans.

Air Transat lays off half of its remaining flight attendants, closes Vancouver base
128 attendants got layoff notices last week. 

Ontario restaurants near virus hot spots weigh safety-vs-profit with locals-only dining
Some restaurants are making the choice to bar out-of-town customers from indoor dining.

These SALT lounge chairs have been recalled due to a fall hazard
Owners are being urged to return the affected chairs to any Bed Bath & Beyond location for a full refund or credit.

These Cottonelle flushable wipes have been recalled due to possible contamination
Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled product and dispose of it.

This CB2 bookcase has been recalled 
The bottom of the bookcase can become weak or collapse, posing an injury hazard.

This week on Marketplace

David Common reveals exclusive details on the state of Ontario long-term care homes. 22:33

Imagine being a senior locked down in a long-term care home during COVID-19.

Most of your family can’t visit. Meals have been a solitary affair in your room. And, if there’s an outbreak, people are dying around you. It’s a haunting prospect — but hardly the first bad thing to happen inside a nursing home.

Marketplace has, for three years, had a specialized team investigating care homes, the companies that own and operate them, and the government system that supports them. 

In the stories we’ve done, we’ve always wondered: Do things get better?

And that’s what we’ve set out to answer in this week’s episode.

Our team has found that long-term care homes have violated legislation governing Ontario’s care homes 30,000 times over five years. And found that many of the problems identified by government inspectors — offences like abuse and neglect — actually repeat year after year.

It’s one thing to look at numbers, but our team has found the people impacted — and their stories are gripping (and, at times, horrifying). Many of them also have secret video that they’ve shared exclusively with us — and now, you. 

This story is years in the making, and a window inside a world many of us don’t see — but could well end up inside.

-David Common and the Marketplace team

Marketplace needs your help

Have you seen a product claiming to cure COVID-19 that seems too good to be true? Maybe a miracle cure that has you asking questions? We want to hear about it. Email us at marketplace@cbc.ca

CBC Marketplace is looking for people who have experienced racism in real estate. Have you received a low appraisal? Removed cultural objects to stage your home? Email us at marketplace@cbc.ca

Catch up on past episodes of Marketplace any time on CBC Gem.

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Cenovus snares Li Ka-shing’s Husky Energy in $7.8bn deal – Financial Times

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Cenovus Energy is to buy rival Canadian oil producer Husky Energy, controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, in a C$10.2bn ($7.8bn) deal as the wave of consolidation sweeping North America’s battered oil and gas sector gathers speed.

The new company will be worth C$23.6bn, Cenovus said, making it Canada’s third-largest oil and gas producer with an output of 750,000 barrels a day concentrated in the bitumen-rich oil sands of northern Alberta, the biggest single source of US crude imports.

The transaction is the latest in a string of North American oil mergers as operators seek to consolidate and cut costs. The largest came last week when ConocoPhillips agreed to buy Concho Resources in a deal worth $9.7bn, marking another big bet on the future of US shale.

Other recent deals include the $7.6bn takeover of US shale group Parsley Energy by Pioneer Natural Resources, Chevron’s $13bn plan to buy Noble Energy and Devon Energy’s $12bn deal to combine with rival WPX Energy.

The plummeting oil price had caused shares in Cenovus to fall by more than 60 per cent since the start of January, and Husky’s by almost 70 per cent.

The deal was conceived as a nil-premium merger, but due to the divergence in share prices, Cenovus has agreed to pay a 21 per cent premium, or 23 per cent including warrants, to Husky shareholders. The transaction values Husky’s shares at about $3.8bn, or $10.2bn including debt.

“We will be a leaner, stronger and more integrated company, exceptionally well-suited to weather the current environment and be a strong Canadian energy leader in the years ahead,” said Alex Pourbaix, Cenovus’s chief executive.

The new company will be 61 per cent owned by Cenovus shareholders, with the reminder held by Husky’s investors. Two entities controlled by Mr Li, which own about 70 per cent of Husky at present, will emerge with more than 27 per cent of the new company’s common stock.

Mark Oberstoetter, head of North America upstream research at Wood Mackenzie, said the takeover meant Cenovus would now have enough refining capacity to handle the bulk of its own production, which could add some “natural hedging back into the portfolio”.

After the withdrawal of several international oil companies from the Alberta oil sands — where the high cost of producing bitumen, constant environmental opposition, and slow progress in building new pipeline infrastructure have deterred investors — the Cenovus deal points to the sector’s further consolidation in the hands of local companies.

Future dealmaking could see remaining oil sands interests held by Total, Shell, BP, and Chevron — which no longer consider the region strategic — targeted for acquisition by Canadian operators, Mr Oberstoetter added. “Calgary used to be an international hub, but we’ve lost that,” he said.

Both Cenovus and Husky were among oil-sands operators forced to shut some production this year as prices fell. The Alberta government, which offered to collaborate with the Opec cartel in its supply cuts earlier this year, has used a programme of so-called curtailments to restrict supply from operators, including Cenovus and Husky, to prevent production overwhelming local infrastructure.

Canada’s production of bitumen — ultra heavy oil that must be upgraded before refining into fuels — has attracted environmental opposition because of its carbon intensity and its vast ecological footprint in northern Alberta.

Insufficient pipeline capacity to ship growing volumes of oil-sands production to markets beyond North America has periodically forced deep discounts on Canadian exports. The low quality of Alberta’s oil also makes it cheaper. While US oil has traded at about $40 a barrel in recent weeks, the benchmark for Canadian oil has been priced at about $30 a barrel.

The companies said annual synergies created by the deal would amount to $1.2bn, largely achieved within the first year. Free cash flow would be achieved at a price of $36 for a barrel of West Texas Intermediate in 2021.

A new 12-person board will comprise eight directors from Cenovus and the remainder from Husky.

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This IPO is a measure of China's growing strength – CNN

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A version of this story first appeared in CNN Business’ Before the Bell newsletter. Not a subscriber? You can sign up right here.
What’s happening: In finance and tech, China’s clout is growing just as its economy recovers from the pandemic in better shape than other big players.
Ant is the crown jewel of Jack Ma’s tech empire, best known for its Alipay app that has more than 730 million monthly active users. On Tuesday, it’s expected to announce that it will surpass the $29.4 billion Saudi Aramco’s float raised last December by selling shares both in Hong Kong and on Shanghai’s Star Market, China’s answer to the Nasdaq.
For Beijing, which wants to encourage more seasoned investors to park their money in Chinese stocks and more Chinese tech companies to list their shares at home, it’s poised to be a huge win.
“The Chinese government is more than happy to host a national champion on one of its major capital markets domestically at a time when many Chinese companies are facing greater political headwinds overseas,” Xiaomeng Lu, senior geotechnology analyst at Eurasia Group, told me.
Lu said Beijing has been trying to send a message to China’s top tech companies: “This is a difficult time, and we have your back.”
A growing number of firms are listening as US-China tensions ramp up. There’s little clarity on whether the presidential election in November will reset the relationship.
US threats and restrictions against Chinese tech companies like TikTok and WeChat send a warning. On Wall Street, Chinese firms also face additional scrutiny. Luckin Coffee was kicked off the Nasdaq following the disclosure of major accounting irregularities. US lawmakers, government agencies and stock exchanges have since taken steps aimed at limiting Beijing’s access to America’s vast capital markets.
“Chinese companies consider repatriation both to please [Beijing] and to insulate themselves from potential US action,” Brock Silvers, chief investment officer at Kaiyuan Capital and former chief investment officer at Adamas Asset Management, told me.
In such an environment, a company like Ant has good reason to pursue a listing at home. Over the long term, that should be to China’s benefit.
Ant’s decision to opt for the Star Market, a pet project of Chinese President Xi Jinping, will give it a huge boost in legitimacy and value, Lu said, noting that the massive IPO will push the market capitalization of the Shanghai Stock Exchange, which includes the Star board, close to that of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Silvers points out that the listing also gives China “greater control over an important company in a cutting edge sector.”
Watch this space: China’s markets are still “fairly immature” and “highly volatile,” per Lu. But a listing like Ant’s will certainly help raise their profile.

Can Big Tech keep up its winning streak?

Apple (AAPL), Facebook (FB), Microsoft (MSFT), Amazon (AMZN) and Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL) now account for 23% of the market value of the S&P 500 — so you can bet that when all five companies report earnings this week, investors will be paying close attention.
In the second quarter, Big Tech served up a solid rebuttal to those who fear shares in these firms are overvalued.
See here: Amazon, which has benefited from surging demand for deliveries, posted quarterly revenue of $88.9 billion, a 40% increase from the prior year and a staggering $8 billion more than Wall Street expected.
Companies like Amazon and Microsoft likely maintained their momentum between July and September as work from home boosted demand for products like cloud services. The consensus on the Street is that Amazon’s revenue will rise 32% compared to the same period in 2019.
But as pressure to regulate tech companies grows in Washington, strong results cut both ways.
Last week, the Trump administration sued Google in the largest antitrust case against a tech company in more than two decades. The Justice Department made sweeping allegations that Google has stifled competition to maintain its powerful position in the marketplace for online search and advertising.
For now, Wall Street views the risk that Washington could break up Big Tech companies as fairly limited. Growing financial clout, however, could put a larger target on these companies’ backs.
Monday: New US home sales; Germany business climate; Hasbro earnings
Tuesday: Ant Group prices IPO; US consumer confidence; Microsoft, 3M (MMM), BP (BP), Caterpillar (CAT), Eli Lilly (LLY), Merck (MKGAF), Pfizer (PFE) and Xerox (XRX) earnings
Wednesday: Bank of Canada meeting; Boeing (BA), Dine Brands (DIN), GE (GE), Mastercard (MA), UPS (UPS), Beyond Meat (BYND), Etsy (ETSY), Ford (F), Gilead Sciences (GILD), Pinterest (PINS) and Visa (V) earnings
Thursday: US third quarter GDP; Japan consumer confidence; Initial US jobless claims; European Central Bank meeting; Alibaba (BABA), Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD), Comcast (CCZ), Dunkin (DNKN), Kellogg (K), Kraft Heinz (KHC), Moderna (MRNA), Molson Coors (TAP), Spotify (SPOT), Yum! Brands (YUM), Activision Blizzard (ATVI), Starbucks (SBUX) and Twitter (TWTR) earnings
Friday: European Union third quarter GDP; US personal income and spending; Chevron (CVX), ExxonMobil (XOM) and Honeywell (HON) earnings

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