WestJet Airlines Ltd. says it has halted its push for a labour code exemption that would have facilitated mass layoffs.
WestJet aviation security manager Jared Mikoch-Gerke told the House of Commons health committee Monday the airline had revoked its request for exemption from Canada Labour Code provisions that require 16 weeks’ notice ahead of a mass layoff, which refers to 50 workers or more.
The executive said WestJet has laid off some 9,000 of its 14,000 employees since the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
The crisis has seen the Calgary-based company park two-thirds of its fleet after border shutdowns and tanking travel demand prompted it to suspend most routes — including all international trips — in late March, though it plans to resume several flights between Canada and the U.S. at the end of the month.
An Air Canada senior executive said Monday the carrier has not withdrawn its application to the federal labour minister for an exemption, but has received no response so far.
The Montreal-based airline, which has laid off more than 20,000 staff, has joined with other companies from across industries in asking the prime minister and premiers to ease restrictions on international and interprovincial travel.
North American markets mixed, Nasdaq on track for new record – BNN
4:15 p.m. ET: North American markets fall, close near session lows
North American equity markets closed lower in Tuesday’s trade, erasing much of the gains from Monday’s rally. The S&P/TSX Composite Index fell 0.47 per cent, the S&P 500 dropped 1.08 per cent, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 1.51 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite Index shed 0.86 per cent of its value.
The selloff accelerated into the closing hour of trading, after the major North American markets were largely mixed through midday. The declines marked the first negative showing for the S&P 500 in six trading sessions, with the broad-market benchmark snapping its longest winning streak of the year.
U.S. markets were led lower by stocks seen as sensitive to the prospects for a global economic reopening, with airlines, hotel operators and cruise line stocks posting losses. Boeing Co. on its own erased 62 points from the Dow with its 4.77 per cent drop.
In Toronto, nine of the 11 TSX subgroups finished in negative territory, with consumer discretionary, financials and health care posting the largest declines. Only materials and information technology closed the day higher.
160 of the composite’s 221 individual constituents closed out the session lower, with Enerplus Corp. and Seven Generations Energy Ltd. notching the largest percentage declines.
Oil prices retreated modestly, with U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate falling 0.74 per cent to US$40.33 per barrel and Alberta’s Western Canadian Select down 0.39 per cent to US$33.08 per barrel.
The Canadian dollar slipped against its American counterpart, falling four-tenths of a cent to 73.48 cents U.S.
12:00 p.m. ET: North American markets mixed, Nasdaq on track for new record
North American equity markets were mixed entering the Tuesday afternoon session, with the S&P/TSX Composite up about 0.2 per cent, the S&P 500 trading essentially flat, the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.7 per cent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index up half a per cent.
Gains made in technology stocks had the Nasdaq on track to post a new record closing high, as heavyweights including Apple Inc., Facebook Inc. and Microsoft Corp. pushed the index higher.
The underperformance of the Dow was in no small part due to a 3.6 per cent decline in shares of Boeing, which took 46 points off the average on its own. Shares in the U.S. planemaker fell amid broad-based weakness in airline and hotel stocks amid concerns the surging U.S. COVID-19 case count could lead to another clampdown on gradual economic reopenings.
In Toronto, six of the 11 TSX subgroups were in negative territory, led lower by financials, health care and consumer discretionary stocks. Information technology, materials and industrials were the top performers.
Just over half of the composite’s 221 individual constituents were lower, with Enerplus Corp and Air Canada posting the largest percentage declines.
Oil prices pushed modestly higher, with U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate rising half a per cent to US$40.83 per barrel. Alberta’s Western Canadian Select gained 0.63 per cent to US$33.42 per barrel.
The Canadian dollar continued to lose ground against its American counterpart, shedding a quarter of a cent to trade at 73.61 cents U.S.
9:40 a.m. ET: North American markets slip, give back some of Monday’s rally
North American equity markets slid in early trading Tuesday, paring some of the gains made in Monday’s rally.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index fell about half a per cent, the S&P 500 declined 0.6 per cent, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.75 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite Index slipped a modest 0.3 per cent.
The S&P 500 is on track to snap its five-day string of gains, the longest winning streak for the index since December as investors weigh the impact of global economic reopenings against a surge of new COVID-19 cases in the United States.
Traditional safe-haven assets rose following Monday’s declines, with a measure of the U.S. dollar and U.S. Treasuries both posting modest gains.
In Toronto, all eleven TSX subgroups opened the day in negative territory, led lower by energy, financials and healthcare stocks.
Crude oil gave up ground, with U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate down 0.7 per cent to US$40.36 per barrel. Alberta’s Western Canadian Select posted a similar decline, falling 0.66 per cent to US$32.99 per barrel.
The Canadian dollar fell two-tenths of a cent against its American counterpart to 73.64 cents U.S.
Canadian airlines accused of ignoring COVID-19 precautions, denying refunds – CTV News
When Bobbi Jo Green booked a flight back in May for her, her husband, and her children to see two ailing family members, she was counting on the airline’s physical distancing rules to still be in place.
But just three weeks before Green and her family were set to fly from Edmonton to Sydney, N.S., on July 17, WestJet announced it was ending its policy of leaving the middle seats on its flights empty.
“I was devastated,” Green said, noting her family spends every summer in Nova Scotia with her 93-year-old grandmother who is suffering from severe dementia and another family member with an incurable form of cancer.
“We all knew it could very well be the last summer we would spend with them.”
When Green called WestJet to see if any accommodations could be made, she told the company she has a heart condition that puts her in the high-risk category for COVID-19.
Despite her pleas, Green said the airline told her it was unable to make any special accommodations, nor would it allow her to change the date of the flight to before July 1, when the rules were relaxed, without paying a fee.
And Green’s not alone: as provinces begin to relax domestic travel restrictions, the cessation of physical distancing rules by two of Canada’s biggest airlines — WestJet and Air Canada — is causing frustration and grief among some passengers.
Gabor Lukacs, head of the advocacy group Air Passenger Rights Canada, said he has fielded countless complaints from passengers during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of which are related to the same issues: airlines refusing to offer refunds or accommodations amid the abolition of physical distancing rules.
While he acknowledges the effort to fill seats is due to airlines attempting to recoup billions in lost revenue, Lukacs argues the companies risk deterring customers from flying at all.
“The question is: do we allow economic considerations to override public health? We don’t allow supermarkets to sell spoiled meat because it’s cheaper. Are we going to allow doctors to skip disinfecting their tools to save the cost?”
There’s some evidence he’s right: a new poll conducted by Leger and the Association of Canadian Studies found 72 per cent of respondents say they are not comfortable flying now that Air Canada and WestJet have culled their seat distancing policies.
Only 22 per cent said they would be OK with flying under the newly relaxed rules.
In response to criticisms, WestJet forwarded The Canadian Press a statement from a July 3 blog post regarding changes to its seat distancing policy.
“The blocked middle seat was introduced at the beginning of the pandemic before the myriad of safety measures were put in place and mandated on board,” the statement reads.
“Seat distancing was never intended to be in place permanently or throughout the pandemic.”
The post notes a number of measures WestJet has taken to help stop the spread of COVID-19 on its flights, including mandatory masking, pre-boarding questionnaires for all passengers, temperature screening, thorough cleaning of aircraft between flights, and the restriction of in-flight dining services.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Air Canada did not respond to a request for comment.
However, the company has also denied it’s putting passengers and staff at risk by filling flights up, pointing to other safety measures as mitigating the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Yet some passengers report first-hand experiences in which masking protocols were not followed.
Maureen Isabel Green, 31, flew from Vancouver to Fredericton three weeks ago with Air Canada to visit her family, and said she was shocked by the lax use of masks by both airport employees and the passengers on her two connecting flights.
“I just think of all the people who are getting on a flight and risking their life, or risking the life of the people they’re going to visit, because some people don’t want to wear a mask for a few hours,” she said.
Green, who is a health-care worker, said there were numerous instances on her flight from Vancouver to Montreal where a group of young, male passengers took off their masks when flight attendants were not present.
While at the Montreal airport, Green said a man was able to board a flight without wearing a mask, simply by telling attendants he had a medical condition that prevented him from doing so.
Air travel has been at the centre of several headline-grabbing incidents throughout the pandemic — particularly since travel restrictions have been eased in some regions.
On July 2, health authorities in B.C. warned the passengers of four separate flights that they may have been exposed to COVID-19.
Just a day before — on the exact day the airlines ended their social distancing policies — the Nova Scotia Health Authority warned passengers of a Toronto-to-Halifax WestJet flight from the previous week that they may have been exposed to COVID-19.
And on Sunday, a Halifax man reportedly walked off of a St. John’s-bound flight after learning he was the only passenger travelling within the so-called “Atlantic bubble,” sparking discussion about the effectiveness of airlines’ COVID-prevention policies.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 7, 2020.
Deutsche Bank fined $150M US for failing to monitor Jeffrey Epstein transactions – CBC.ca
Deutsche Bank AG has agreed to pay $150 million US in penalties to settle charges by a New York state regulator that the bank had “significant” compliance failures in its relationships with the late financier Jeffrey Epstein, Danske Bank Estonia and FBME Bank.
The New York State Department of Financial Services said on Tuesday that the agreement marks the first regulatory enforcement action against a financial institution for dealings with Epstein, the registered sex offender who died by suicide in August 2019.
“For years, Mr. Epstein’s criminal, abusive behaviour was widely known, yet big institutions continued to excuse that history and lend their credibility or services for financial gain,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.
New York said Deutsche Bank failed to properly monitor Epstein’s transactions despite “ample” publicly available information about his sexual misconduct.
It said this led to the bank processing hundreds of transactions for Epstein that should have prompted more scrutiny, including payments to victims, alleged accomplices and law firms representing Epstein and the accomplices.
Penalties related to Danske Bank scandal
In the cases of Danske Estonia, which is embroiled in a money laundering scandal, and FBME, New York said Deutsche Bank failed to properly monitor their correspondent and dollar-clearing businesses.
Deutsche Bank Chief Executive Christian Sewing told staff in an internal memo on Tuesday that it was a “critical mistake” to take Epstein on as a client in 2013, just a few years after he had served a sentence in Florida as part of a controversial plea deal.
The bank also acknowledged deficiencies in its monitoring of Danske Estonia and FBME.
“We all have to help ensure that this kind of thing does not happen again,” Sewing said.
WATCH l Ghislaine Maxwell arrest ‘long overdue for victims’ says rights lawyer Gloria Allred:
Epstein was awaiting trial last year on new federal charges of trafficking minors between 2002 and 2005 when he was found dead in a federal jail in New York City.
Ghislaine Maxwell, the socialite accused of luring underage girls so Epstein could sexually abuse them, was arrested last week in New Hampshire.
She is expected to appear by video from the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn on Friday for a court hearing.
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