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Vancouver's long and winding road to ride-hailing –



It took less than 24 hours for ride-hailing apps Uber and Lyft to get up and running after B.C.’s Passenger Transportation Board approved their operation in the Lower Mainland and Whistler this week. 

But the nearly eight-year journey that preceded those first few rides in the city? Anything but swift. 

And even though Metro Vancouverites can hail a ride through the tap of an app, the rest of the province is still waiting for their opportunity. 

Here’s what it took for ride-hailing to arrive in the city:

Summer 2012: Uber soft launches — unofficially — in Vancouver

Uber operated unofficially in Vancouver in the summer of 2012. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

While Uber, a San-Francisco based ride-hailing company, launches in Toronto in March, it also has an unofficial soft-launch in Vancouver during the summer.

Nov. 28, 2012: Uber withdraws from Vancouver

After operating unofficially for six months, Uber withdraws from Vancouver after the Passenger Transportation Board imposes a minimum fare of $75 per trip.

September 2014: Social media abuzz with rumours of Uber’s return

Uber begins tweeting its intention to return to Vancouver and puts ads on Facebook to recruit drivers.

Nov. 3, 2014: Province announces undercover checks to combat Uber

B.C. Transportation Minister Todd Stone vows to run stings against Uber drivers should the alternate-taxi service try to set up shop in B.C. 2:17

Amid the rumours Uber is coming, Transportation Minister Todd Stone says plainclothes transit agents posing as potential customers will be deployed to ensure taxis and their drivers are operating by B.C.’s rules, which are enforced to ensure passenger safety.

Nov. 5, 2014Vancouver taxi companies sue Uber

Vancouver’s taxi industry fires a pre-emptive strike against Uber, alleging in a lawsuit that the U.S.-based company is preparing to launch with unlicensed drivers in an attempt to illegally undercut traditional cabs. Uber responds by calling the taxi industry a “cartel.” They drop the lawsuit in March 2015.

Oct. 30, 2015Vancouver council says no to new taxi licences, Uber

A woman approaches a taxi in Vancouver’s Gastown neighbourhood on Dec. 31, 2019. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Michael Van Hemmen, public policy manager for Uber Canada, makes an informal pitch for ride hailing to Vancouver city council. Even though they agree the city is short on cabs — especially during peak hours, council votes to not open the streets up to more competition.

Feb. 16, 2016: Uber CEO slams regulations at Vancouver TED talk

In 2016, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick takes on his familiar foe at TED: regulations, which he claims are standing in the way of cutting pollution and traffic woes. (Bret Hartman/TED)

“Old rules need to bend,” Uber CEO Travis Kalanick reportedly tells an audience, making the pitch that Uber could create jobs and help cut traffic and pollution.

April 25, 2016B.C. Green Party introduces ride-hailing legislation

The B.C. Green Party introduces legislation to “start a conversation” about bringing ride-hailing companies to British Columbia. The bill, introduced by Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, would require ride-hailing drivers to get a background check. This is the first of three attempts the Green Party makes to introduce ride-hailing legislation.

Oct. 19, 2016: Vancouver council bans Uber for another year

City council votes in favour of extending a moratorium on issuing new taxi licences for another year. This means there will be no new taxis on Vancouver streets until at least October 2017, and that Uber cabs will be unable to break into B.C.’s taxi market.

March 7, 2017: Liberals promise Uber if they win the election

Uber and other ride-hailing companies will be available by December, announces B.C. Transportation Minister Todd Stone, contingent on the B.C. Liberal party winning the 2017 provincial election. Taxi advocates plan to challenge the decision.

May 9, 2017: B.C. general election topples government

British Columbia NDP Leader John Horgan gives the thumbs up to the crowd at his election night speech during British Columbia’s provincial election in Vancouver on May 10, 2017. (Nick Didlick/Reuters)

No single party wins the majority of seats, but the Greens say they will provide confidence to an NDP minority government. NDP leader John Horgan becomes premier, succeeding B.C. Liberal leader Christy Clark. The future of ride-hailing is unclear.

Sept. 27, 2017: New transportation minister mum on ride-hailing timeline

B.C.’s new transportation minister, Claire Trevena, says ride-hailing legislation won’t be coming from the government anytime soon in response to a question put to her during the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference.

“It’s too complicated. The previous government [wanted] it by the end of the year. I don’t want to do that,” Trevena says.

Aug. 25, 2017: Uber creates an accidental ice cream debacle

The online app promises to deliver free Earnest ice-cream and Uber promotional items to anybody in Vancouver who downloads the app and requests ice cream between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. PT Aug. 25. 

But instead of a sweet treat, many users are met with an “Ice Cream Unavailable” message. Social media users rage.

Nov. 13, 2017: Lyft arrives in Canada

An advertisement for ride sharing app Lyft is pictured in Vancouver on Jan. 23, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Uber’s biggest rival, San Francisco-based Lyft eyes the Toronto market, it’s first move outside of the U.S., where it operates in 300 cities. 

Nov. 23, 2017: Provincial committee created to investigate ride-hailing

Andrew Weaver, B.C. Green Party leader, has been a strong proponent of ride-hailing in the province. His party introduced legislation to support the practice three times. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, announces that a select standing committee made up of MLAs from all three parties will investigate ride-hailing for the province and produce a report by February 2018 that will inform future legislation allowing the service.

Feb. 7, 2018: B.C. organizations create ride-hailing lobby

Nine organizations in British Columbia join forces to advocate for ride-hailing services in the province as soon as possible. The group is called Ridesharing Now for B.C.

Feb. 15, 2018: Government committee report: ‘Yes!’ to ride-hailing

The all-party MLA committee completes its report, which supports a plan for ride-hailing services throughout the province.

June 22, 2018: ‘There really isn’t a delay’

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena says the introduction of ride-hailing is running on schedule, despite claims from critics to the contrary.

Nov. 19, 2018: Ride-hailing legislation (finally) passes

Legislation supporting ride-hailing in B.C. finally passed in 2018. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

The B.C. government introduces legislation to allow ride-hailing in the province by sometime in 2019. The proposed changes include amendments to eight provincial statutes. It passes.

July 8, 2019: Regulations for drivers, companies revealed

The province reveals regulations for ride-hailing, including Class 4 licences for drivers, and ride-hailing companies paying a $5,000 annual fee to operate.

Sept. 4, 2019: Vancouver taxis go back to court

The taxi industry has fought a long battle with ride-hailing apps. (Reuters)

A group of Vancouver-based taxi companies asks the Supreme Court of B.C. to quash rules recently introduced by the Passenger Transportation Board that would allow ride-hailing to begin legally operating in B.C.

Premier John Horgan dismisses their claims.

Jan. 23, 2020: Uber, Lyft approved for Lower Mainland, Whistler

Vancouver celebrity chef Vikram Vij takes the first Lyft ride in Vancouver on Friday, Jan. 24. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft are approved to operate in the Lower Mainland, including Metro Vancouver. Less than 24 hours later, drivers hit the streets.

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Saudis not bowing to Trump admin pressure to end oil price war –



Saudi Arabia said on Friday that it was not in talks with Russia to stablise crude prices despite overtures from Moscow and rising pressure from Washington to call a truce in an oil price war.

A three-year supply pact between the Saudi-led Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies led by Russia fell apart earlier this month after Moscow refused to support Riyadh’s plan for deeper production cuts to offset dwindling demand resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. 

Saudi Arabia responded to the breakdown in relations by lowering the prices it charges for crude and pledging to pump oil next month at record levels. 


The resulting supply boost has coincided with plummeting demand as governments around the world implement national lockdowns to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The twin-pronged assault on prices has sent Brent crude to a 17-year low below $25 a barrel and hammered the income of oil producers.

“There have been no contacts between Saudi Arabia and Russia energy ministers over any increase in the number of OPEC countries, nor any discussion of a joint agreement to balance oil markets,” an official from Saudi Arabia’s energy ministry said, referring to the wider grouping of oil producers.

The comment came after a senior Russian official said on Friday that a larger number of oil producers could cooperate with OPEC and Russia, in an indirect reference to the United States, the world’s biggest producer, which has never cut production.

“Joint actions by countries are needed to restore the [global] economy … They [joint actions] are also possible in the OPEC deal’s framework,” said Kirill Dmitriev, the head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund.

Dmitriev and Energy Minister Alexander Novak were Russia’s top negotiators for the previous pact between OPEC and its allies – a grouping known as OPEC+.  That deal officially expires on March 31. Dmitriev declined to say which nations could be included in a new one. 

The alliance between OPEC and Russia broke down after Moscow declined to support bigger output curbs, arguing that it was too early to estimate the pandemic’s impact.

Officials and oil executives in Russia have been split on the need for cuts, with Dmitriev and Novak supporting cooperation while Igor Sechin, the head of Kremlin oil major Rosneft, has criticised supply cuts for providing a lifeline to the less competitive US shale industry.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said little since the OPEC deal collapsed.

‘Economic warfare’

The idea of Washington cooperating with OPEC has long been seen as impossible, not least because of US antitrust laws. US President Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed anger with the cartel because its actions lead to higher prices at the pump.

However, Saudi Arabia’s latest move has put Washington in a difficult position. Its battle for market share has led to very low prices, but also undermined the US shale industry, which has much higher costs than Saudi or Russian production.

The US administration is facing multiple calls to save the highly leveraged shale industry, which has borrowed trillions of dollars to allow the country to become a large oil and gas exporter despite often uncompetitive costs.

A group of six US senators wrote a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this week saying Saudi Arabia and Russia “have embarked upon economic warfare against the US” and were threatening US “energy dominance”.

They called on Saudi Arabia to quit OPEC, reverse its policy of high output, partner with the US in strategic energy projects or face consequences.

“From tariffs and other trade restrictions to investigations, safeguard actions, sanctions, and much else, the American people are not without recourse,” the senators, including John Hoeven of North Dakota and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, said in a letter.

Two other senators from oil-producing states introduced a bill on Friday that would remove US armed forces from the kingdom.

Trump last week said he would get involved in the oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia at the appropriate time.

US Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, meanwhile, told Bloomberg TV on Monday that forging a US-Saudi oil alliance was one of “many, many ideas” being floated by US policymakers.

The head of the International Energy Agency, an adviser to the US and other industrialised countries, on Thursday also called on Saudi Arabia to help stabilise the market.

Algeria, which holds the OPEC presidency at present, has called for a meeting of the group’s Economic Commission Board to be held no later than April 10 to discuss current oil market conditions.

Reuters news agency

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2 TSX Dividend Stocks Yielding More Than 8% – The Motley Fool Canada



After this week’s three-day rally, it appears that a lot of confidence has returned to the markets. Despite that major gains through the week, however, a lot of TSX dividend stocks still remain extremely attractive.

And because these companies are cheap, their dividends are yielding massive figures that will be extremely rewarding for long-term shareholders for years.

There is no telling what may happen in the short term, and these companies could very well be sold off again over the next few weeks, creating even higher dividends.

That shouldn’t matter however, because some of these stocks are so cheap, you should be buying them today.

Two of the top TSX dividend stocks that currently yield more than 8% are Pembina Pipeline Corp (TSX:PPL)(NYSE:PBA) and AltaGas Ltd (TSX:ALA).

Energy dividend stock

Pembina Pipeline is an energy infrastructure company that is one of the top TSX dividend stocks you can buy today.

The stock was sold off rapidly to start the month out of nothing but pure fear. Investors who acted quickly and were confident in the company they were buying have already been rewarded.

The stock gained back a lot of its losses during this past week’s rally. However as of midday Friday, the stock is down more than 10% again, trading a little over $25.

At these prices its stable and reliable dividend yields just under 10%. That dividend is expected to payout just 60% of its 2020 adjusted funds from operations (AFFO), so the dividend should remain safe.

Furthermore, less than a fifth of Pembina’s business is exposed to commodity prices, so the company should easily be able to weather this storm.

The stock currently trades at just 11 times its trailing earnings, which is extremely cheap for such a high-quality company like Pembina.

Analysts tend to agree. Looking only at those who have reiterated their target prices in the last two weeks, Pembina still has an average target price of $41.

The combination of capital gains potential and a massive dividend yield combine to make Pembina one of the most attractive dividend stocks on the TSX today.

Utility dividend stock

AltaGas is another top TSX dividend stock that’s still offering an attractive yield. The stock is down nearly 50% from its highs, offering investors a major opportunity to capitalize on this value.

The business has likely been sold off as investors worry about AltaGas’ commodity exposure and its sizeable debt load.

Debt was an issue only a few years ago for AltaGas, although management handled that issue relatively well. The company sold off a number of non-core assets to pay down debt and also improved the profitability of its core assets. This improved its debt-to-income ratios considerably.

In addition, the worry surrounding AltaGas’ commodity exposure is understandable but a little overblown. Similar to Pembina, less than a fifth of its business is exposed to commodity prices. Furthermore, more than half of its revenue comes from regulated natural gas distribution.

As of midday Friday, the stock was trading around $12 a share. At that price, its dividend yields a whopping 8%. And the most attractive part, that dividend has an expected 2020 payout ratio of just 80%. In terms of AFFO, that payout ratio is just 32%, so it’s highly stable.

At just $12 a share and an 8% dividend, AltaGas is one of the top dividend stocks on the TSX and is trading at unbelievably cheap levels.

Bottom line

For investors who are still looking, there are still plenty of high-quality TSX dividend stocks out there trading undervalue.

Not only will a lot of these stocks offer an attractive yield, but they will also offer considerable capital gains potential. In addition, if the businesses are high-quality, the growth they provide for years could make them one of the best investments you ever make.

Special ‘Tax Credit’ Stocks Revealed in FREE New Report

There’s nothing better to an income investor than the sight of dividends rolling into your account. But the old saying goes there are two things certain in life – death and taxes… and the latter can result in some of those precious dividends slipping through your fingers and into the taxman’s pocket!

But did you know that dividends from Canadian-based companies are eligible for special tax credits? For further details on this – and to find out the name of the single most tax-efficient account to hold your US stocks in! – simply click the link below to grab your free copy of our new report…

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Fool contributor Daniel Da Costa has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends ALTAGAS LTD. and PEMBINA PIPELINE CORPORATION.

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Coronavirus: Trump orders General Motors to produce ventilators as U.S. cases climb – Global News



President Donald Trump issued an order Friday that seeks to force General Motors to produce ventilators for coronavirus patients under the Defense Production Act.

Trump said negotiations with General Motors had been productive, “but our fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course.”

Trump signs historic $2.2-trillion coronavirus rescue package

Trump said “GM was wasting time” and that his actions will help ensure the quick production of ventilators that will save American lives.

Previously Trump has been reluctant to use the act to force businesses to contribute to the coronavirus fight, and wasn’t clear what triggered his order against GM.

Coronavirus outbreak: Trump signs US$2.2 trillion coronavirus aid bill into law

Coronavirus outbreak: Trump signs US$2.2 trillion coronavirus aid bill into law

The Detroit automaker is among the farthest along among U.S. companies trying to repurpose factories to build ventilators. It’s working with Ventec Life Systems, a small Seattle-area ventilator maker to increase the company’s production and will use a GM auto electronics plant in Kokomo, Indiana, to make the machines.

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The company said Friday it could build 10,000 ventilators per month starting in April with potential to make even more.

Trump said the United States would produce 100,000 ventilators in 100 days and said he had named White House aide Peter Navarro as the coordinator of the Defense Production Act.

Coronavirus outbreak: Trump suggests large number of U.S. cases is ‘tribute’ to testing

Coronavirus outbreak: Trump suggests large number of U.S. cases is ‘tribute’ to testing

“We’re going to make a lot of ventilators,” Trump said, pledging to take care of U.S. needs while also helping other countries.

After Trump invoked the act, GM said in a statement that it has been working around the clock for more than a week with Ventec and parts suppliers to build more ventilators. The company said its commitment to build Ventec’s ventilators “has never wavered.”

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Trump said from the Oval Office that the government thought it had a deal for 40,000 ventilators but GM cut the number to 6,000 and talked about a higher price than previously discussed.

At least 1 N.Y. hospital has 2 patients on single ventilator as coronavirus cases rise

“I didn’t like it,” he said. “So we did activate it with respect to General Motors. And hopefully, maybe we won’t even need the full activation. We’ll find out, but we need the ventilators.”

GM said it is offering resources to Ventec “at cost.” And Ventec, not GM, is talking with the government. The only changes Ventec has made have been at the government’s request, said Chris Brooks, the company’s chief strategy officer. GM would merely be a contract manufacturer for Ventec, he said.

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Ventec ventilators, which are portable and can handle intensive care patients, cost about $18,000 each, Brooks said. That’s much cheaper than the more sophisticated ventilators used by hospitals that can cost up to $50,000, he said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has made multiple requests since Sunday for estimates of how many ventilators it can build at what price, and has not settled on any numbers, according to Brooks. That could slow Ventec’s efforts to ramp up production because it doesn’t know how many breathing machines it must build, he said.

Coronavirus outbreak: NY governor says the greatest challenge is to provide ventilators for COVID-19 patients

Coronavirus outbreak: NY governor says the greatest challenge is to provide ventilators for COVID-19 patients

Trump’s action came just after a series of tweets attacking GM and CEO Mary Barra. The president also cajoled Ford to build ventilators fast. Ford responded that it’s “pulling out all the stops.”

It was a dramatic shift in tone from the night before, when the president told Fox News that pleas by hospitals for more ventilators are exaggerated.

Trump questioned whether the number of ventilators requested by hospitals was exaggerated: “I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they’re going to be,” he said.

“I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators,” he continued. “You know, you’re going to major hospitals sometimes, they’ll have two ventilators. And now, all of a sudden, they’re saying, ‘can we order 30,000 ventilators?’”

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‘We’ve ventured into a battle’: Inside New York’s ERs as they fight COVID-19

Experts say that no matter how many ventilators that companies can crank out, it may not be enough to cover the entire need, and it may not come in time to help areas now being hit hard with critical virus cases.

At present, U.S. hospitals have roughly 65,000 ventilators that are fully capable of treating severe coronavirus patients. They could cobble together about 170,000, including some simpler versions that won’t work in all cases, said Dr. Lewis Rubinson, chief medical officer at Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey and lead author of a 2010 medical journal article on the matter.

In February, Dr. James Lawler, an associate professor and infectious disease specialist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, estimated that 960,000 people in the U.S. will need to be on ventilators.

Coronavirus outbreak: NYC mayor welcomes ‘life-saving’ arrival of 400 ventilators to city

Coronavirus outbreak: NYC mayor welcomes ‘life-saving’ arrival of 400 ventilators to city

Rubinson said it’s unlikely the U.S. would need that many ventilators at the same time, estimating it will need more like 300,000 fairly quickly. If social distancing works, people will get sick at different times, allowing hospitals to use ventilators on multiple patients.

In the most severe cases, the coronavirus damages healthy tissue in the lungs, making it hard for them to deliver oxygen to the blood. Pneumonia can develop, along with a more severe and potentially deadly condition called acute respiratory distress syndrome, which can damage other organs.

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been pleading for 30,000 more ventilators to handle an expected surge in critical virus patients during the next three weeks.

U.S. now has more coronavirus cases than any other country

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, said her state is facing a critical need for ventilators. Michigan has gone from three coronavirus deaths a week ago to a total of 92 on Friday.

“I think we need to let the scientists and the doctors tell us what we need and not people without medical degrees or the background,” she said.

Kevin Freking in Washington and David Koenig in Dallas contributed to this story.

With files from Reuters

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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