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Telus slapped by advertising watchdog for claim high Canadian wireless prices are a 'myth' – CBC.ca

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Canada’s advertising watchdog says Telus misled consumers with an advertisement that claimed “it’s a myth that Canadians pay some of the highest wireless prices in the world.”

In a recent decision from Ad Standards Canada, the industry regulator found that a full-page Telus newspaper campaign in Quebec mixed up issues of affordability and price to give the impression wireless prices were lower in Canada than other countries.

The claim was based on a 2019 PricewaterhouseCoopers study on wireless affordability in Canada. 

But members of the self-regulating advertising industry council said in a unanimous decision that the study didn’t back up the claim.

“There was no support in the cited study for the claim that it is a myth Canadians pay some of the highest prices in the world for wireless,” the council said in a decision posted on its website.

“The study discussed affordability, rather than price, and it only addressed four countries in total, rather than most, or all, countries in the world.”

According to the decision, Telus did not provide a response to the complaint, which came from a member of the public.

Telus told the CBC it would provide a response to an inquiry about the case at a later point.

Claim still part of public campaign

The “myth” claim is still prominent on a Telus website critical of government policies and regulations around the telecommunications industry.

The Vancouver-based firm also argues the same point in a form letter available on the website. Telus urges Canadians to send their politicians the letter to express “concern regarding the erroneous depiction of the telecommunications industry in Canada” as part of a political campaign.

The same claim that was found to be misleading by Ad Standards Canada is still part of an online campaign by Telus to fight government policies and regulation in the telecommunications industry. (connectingcanadaforgood.com)

“When it comes to wireless affordability, third-party studies have confirmed that Canada offers some of the most affordable wireless prices in the world,” the letter says.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers study compared wireless expenditures in 2016 in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. 

Average household expenditures on wireless and devices for that year totalled $977 in Canada, $1,124 in the U.S., $808 in Australia and $612 in the U.K..

The study then compared the affordability of wireless in all countries except for the U.S. based on five different levels of income and found wireless more affordable in the U.K. across the board.

Canada beat Australia for affordability for all but the lowest category of wage earners.

Leap in logic

The Ad Standards council said Telus could legitimately cite the PricewaterhouseCoopers study to say Canadians spend less on wireless than Americans.

But the council said the “myth” claim about pricing was a leap in logic.

“Council determined that if Canadians are spending a smaller percentage of disposable income on wireless than Americans, it does not necessarily follow that the prices for wireless are lower in Canada than they are in the U.S.,” the regulator said.

“In council’s view, the advertisement incorrectly conflated affordability and pricing, and in assessing the truthfulness and accuracy of the advertisement, this claim strongly impacted the general impression conveyed.”

The Ad Standards council does not discuss details of its deliberations, which happen before panels which are generally made up of seven people — four from the industry and three from the general public.

In an email, the council said that if an ad is found to contravene the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards, the advertiser is asked ot amend or permanently withdraw the ad. The council doesn’t have the ability to levy fines, but they can report violations to the Competition Bureau.

Earlier this year, the Liberal government gave Canada’s biggest three wireless providers two years to cut basic prices for cell phone service by 25 per cent.

A 2019 price comparison study released in conjunction with that announcement found that Canadians have been paying more overall for wireless than people in other G7 countries and Australia. 

The government told Bell, Telus and Rogers to reduce the cost of their two to six gigabyte data plans by 25 per cent within the next two years. That would mean offering a talk, text and data plan costing less than $40 monthly.

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GTA casinos opening Monday while COVID-19 case numbers rise – 680 News

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With new COVID-19 cases still soaring across the province and beyond, some gamblers are getting set to hit the casino floor Monday for the first time in six months.

As of 10 o’clock, most major GTA casinos will be open again, including Casino Woodbine, Great Blue Heron, and Casino Ajax.

There will be screening at the door, sanitizer stations throughout, and just 50 players allowed in at a time.

You also have to book online in advance, and spots are filling up fast.

All possible time slots are full for the next four days at Casino Woodbine.

Table games will be off limits, and play sessions will be capped at two hours.

Ontario reported 491 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday up against more than 42,000 tests.

That is the highest daily increase reported since early May.

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Chinese stocks underpin Asia; markets wary of virus spike, U.S. presidential debate – Reuters

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Chinese stocks drove Asian markets higher on Monday, though sentiment was still cautious ahead of a U.S. Presidential debate and as a spike in new coronavirus cases undermined global economic recovery hopes.

FILE PHOTO: People wearing protective masks, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, are reflected on a screen showing stock prices outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan August 31, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File photo

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan advanced 0.5% to 550.47, but still within striking distance of a two-month low of 543.66 hit last week.

The index is set to end the month deep in the red after three straight monthly gains as the pandemic continues to wreak economic havoc around the world and raises investor anxiety about sky-high valuations.

Chinese shares opened higher and helped to underpin Asian markets after a tentative start, with the blue-chip CSI 300 index up 0.85%. Shanghai’s SSE climbed 0.5%.

Encouragingly, data over the weekend showed profits at China’s industrial firms grew for the fourth straight month in August buoyed in part by a rebound in commodities prices and equipment manufacturing.

Elsewhere, Japan’s Nikkei was 0.75% higher, partly on a lower yen, while South Korea’s KOSPI index gained 1.1%.

Australia’s main share index reversed early losses to edge up, led by positive news on the coronavirus front with new infections in the country’s second-most populous state of Victoria down sharply and allowing authorities to ease some of the mobility restrictions.

The broad gains in Asia follow a Wall Street rally on Friday though analysts expect the gains to be short-lived as expectations for economic growth start to falter.

Particularly worrying is a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Europe, dousing earlier hopes that authorities might have started to exert some control on the outbreak and raising further strains on businesses already grappling with losses.

“Clouds have started to gather over the developed world as political uncertainty increases in the U.S. and Europe grapples with a resurgence in COVID-19 cases,” Kerry Craig, Global Market Strategist, J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

COVID-19 cases are edging closer to 33 million around the globe with 992,470 reportedly dead with Europe seeing a surge in new infections.

“While governments are loathe to re-introduce nationwide lockdowns, localised and sector based restrictions may last for some time, restraining economic activity,” Craig added.

Investor focus will next be on the first debate between U.S. President Donald Trump and rival Joe Biden on Tuesday ahead of the November election.

A strong performance in Tuesday’s debate by Biden, who currently has a modest lead in betting odds and polls, might boost stocks related to global trade and renewable energy, while a perceived victory by Trump could benefit fossil fuel and defense companies.

Market focus will also be on progress on a new fiscal support package in the United States while investors will be closely watching UK-Europe post-Brexit trade talks as they continue this week.

In currencies, the dollar eased from a near a two-week high against the Japanese yen to 105.44.

The euro was last at $1.1628, not far from a two-month trough of $.1611 touched on Friday.

The British pound rose 0.1% to $1.2760.

The risk sensitive Australian dollar was slightly firmer at $0.7052 after falling for six consecutive sessions as odds narrowed over the prospect of further monetary policy easing in the country.

In commodities, oil prices came under pressure as renewed mobility curbs in various countries to contain a resurgence of coronavirus cases cloud the outlook on fuel demand recovery.

U.S. Brent crude slipped 18 cents to $41.74 a barrel while U.S. light crude was down 19 cents at $40.06.

Gold was a shade higher at $1,861.8, still some way off an all-time peak of above $2,000 an ounce touched in August.

Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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Amazon to hire 3500 workers in B.C. and Ont., expand their office footprint – CTV News

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Amazon.com Inc. will hire 3,500 Canadians to work in spaces it is opening and expanding in British Columbia and Ontario.

The e-commerce giant revealed Monday that 3,000 of the jobs will be in Vancouver, where it is growing its footprint, and another 500 will be in Toronto, home of a new Amazon workspace.

Jesse Dougherty, Amazon’s vice-president and Vancouver site lead, said the company wanted to offer the jobs in Canada because the country has an “enormous” amount of tech talent Amazon is eager to tap into and accommodate at home.

“I look at it through the lens of how can we grow so that people don’t have to leave Canada to learn and take on amazing global challenges that are of a scale that aren’t typically available here?” he said.

The new corporate and tech jobs will include software development engineers, user experience designers, speech scientists working to make Alexa smarter, cloud computing solutions architects, and sales and marketing executives.

The bulk of the jobs will be done out of the Post, a Vancouver building where Amazon will take over an extra 63,000 square metres of office space. By 2023 it will be operating across 18 floors it is leasing in the building’s north tower and 17 in its south tower.

Vancouver has long been seen as an attractive Canadian outpost for companies because of its proximity to the U.S. and major tech hubs including Silicon Valley and Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle.

The company will also welcome new workers in Toronto, where it will lease 12,000 square metres over five floors at an 18 York St. building that is not far from investors on Bay Street. It hopes workers will be in the building next summer.

Amazon’s renewed interest in its corporate and tech workforce and footprint in the country comes after focusing the bulk of its efforts in the market on its network of 16 fulfilment centres — 13 already in operation and another three coming in Hamilton, Ajax and Ottawa, Ont.

Those centres have faced homegrown competition from Shopify Inc., an Ottawa-based e-commerce business that has shot up the Toronto Stock Exchange to hold the title of country’s most valuable company several times this year.

While it was long known for providing the back-end for companies to sell goods online, Shopify launched its own fulfilment network in 2019 and bulked up its presence in Vancouver with 1,000 hires and a new office earlier this year.

Dougherty doesn’t appear to be nervous about Shopify.

“Amazon works in lots and lots of different businesses and all of them are highly competitive and we welcome that because it inevitably creates better experiences,” he said.

“There are other benefits to having other tech companies raise the bar in markets we work in because it educates more talent, you can move around and it creates more economic activity.”

Amazon has invested more than $11 billion in Canada, including infrastructure and compensation, delivered $9 billion to the country’s economy and helped create at least 67,000 jobs, he said.

However, many have those jobs have been dogged with concerns.

The Warehouse Workers Centre, a Brampton, Ont.-based organization representing people in the warehouse and logistics sector, started a petition earlier this year that garnered hundreds of signatures claiming “Amazon is failing to protect our health.”

The petition alleged that Amazon, which employs tens of thousands of people in Canada and has fulfilment centres in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec, was refusing to give workers paid leave and not telling staff what their plans are if facilities are contaminated or suspected of being contaminated with COVID-19.

The petition claimed physical distancing at its facilities is “nearly impossible” and said some warehouse workers are now putting in 50 hours a week or more, which the petition called “unsustainable” and said needs to stop.

Amazon has spent more than $800 million on employee safety since the start of the year, Dougherty said.

The company has unveiled temperature checks, physical distancing measures and offered personal protective wear as part of that investment.

“The health of our employees is absolutely critical to us,” Doughtery said. It is our top priority, so we are always paying attention to how those systems are working and ensuring they are the best they can be.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2020

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