Monthly Archives: May 2019

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Alberta government unveils insurance policies aimed specifically at ride-sharing companies

Transportation Minister Brian Mason unveiled the Alberta government’s new insurance product for ride-sharing companies and drivers Tuesday.

READ MORE: Ontario insurance regulator approves coverage for Uber drivers in Canadian ‘first’

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  • Taxi to TappCar: how Calgary’s first legal rideshare company stacks up

  • ‘This man goes on a rant!’: Rideshare driver describes Calgary mayor’s camera slip

  • Uber supporters rally at Alberta Legislature days before insurance deadline

  • Uber pressures Alberta to act on insurance, licensing before March

    Alberta’s Superintendent of Insurance developed a new policy called the Alberta Standard Automobile Form – Transportation Network S.P.F. No. 9 (SPF9). The insurance product can be sold by licensed insurance companies as of July 1.

    Ridesharing giant Uber, which is currently not allowed to operate in Alberta because its insurance plan was not approved by the province, said every driver operating on the Uber platform in Alberta will automatically be covered under the new policy offered by Intact Insurance and purchased by Uber.

    READ MORE: Uber-less start for Edmonton’s legal ride-sharing era

    “This new ride-sharing insurance structure is a key step to bring Uber back to Edmonton and support our efforts to serve Albertans across the province,” Ian Black, general manager for Uber Canada, said. “We look forward to our ongoing work with regulators and partners to bring ridesharing to an always growing number of cities across the country.”

    Uber said, however, that it did not have any specific information on a possible relaunch of its services in Alberta cities.

    According to the province, the new policy will insure all Transportation Network Company (TNC) drivers starting from when they log into their TNC’s mobile app to provide rides for hire.

    The new insurance offering will cover statutory accident benefits for three defined “periods”:
    -Period 1 is defined as beginning when a driver activates their business’ app with no passengers and provides $1 million in contingent third-party liability with no collision or comprehensive coverage.
    -Periods 2 and 3 are when a fare is accepted and when the driver has picked up a passenger. During this time, the policy provides $2 million in third-party liability coverage with optional collision or comprehensive coverage.

    In addition to the primary new insurance product, ride-share drivers can buy additional insurance coverage beyond what companies can buy.

    Drivers who work less than 20 hours a week can get an endorsement form which allows for additional coverage while a different endorsement form allows drivers to buy additional coverage for when they’ve already logged into the app but not yet confirmed a fare.

    “This coverage structure also provides an opportunity for the insurance industry to develop personal lines coverage options for the period during which drivers are available to accept a ride but have yet to do so,” Karim Hirji, senior vice president with International & Ventures for Intact Financial Corporation, explained.

    The insurance development comes a little over a month after the NDP government passed the Transportation Safety Amendment Act, allowing the province to regulate TNCs and their drivers. Among the new rules declared May 16 were that all TNC drivers must have a Class 1, 2 or 4 driver’s licence, outlining minimum standards for an “acceptable police check,” and clearly defining what a TNC business or driver is.

    READ MORE:Alberta introduces new regulations for ride-sharing companies like Uber

    “Our primary goal is to ensure all of Alberta’s road users – drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists – are safe,” Mason said in a news release Tuesday.”This regulation provides clear rules and guidelines for Transportation Network Companies who want to operate in our province.”

    The province said its new rules will work side-by-side with bylaws developed by local municipalities and not in place of them.

    Currently, TappCar is the only commercial dispatcher in Edmonton with a licence and approved insurance. It began operating in March.

Group of feedlot operators suing Lethbridge County over animal tax

Rick Paskal and Cor Van Raay have been operating cattle businesses in the County of Lethbridge for 80 years, combined.

They are among a group of southern Alberta feedlot operators fed up with the county’s proposed animal tax.

READ MORE: Lethbridge County considers agriculture tax for infrastructure funds 

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    Lethbridge County considers agriculture tax for infrastructure funds

    “Collectively, in the County of Lethbridge, there is 500,000 head of cattle on feed here, so the implications of this tax are far reaching,” said Rick Paskal of Van raay Paskal farms.

    “We all understand that we have a responsibility to pay tax – we are not saying we don’t want to pay tax – what our issue is, as we examine the operations of the county, we felt that there is no reason why the county should charge more tax,” he added. “It’s just indicative of the way the county manages its affairs.”

    Paskal took Global News to a gravel road in the county. He feels the road is a perfect example of the county not spending money in the right places. The road was redone seven years ago and Paskal thought it was in great condition, but the county is currently redoing it again.

    “Why would you spend this money needlessly?”

    He also said the group is worried narrower roads and wide farm equipment could be a deadly combination, making safety a major concern within the county.

    County Reeve Lorne Hickey said upgrading roads like this one to a “Haul Road Status” is what the county was told residents wanted during round table discussions held over the last several months, making it easier for producers to get their cattle to market.

    “It’s not necessarily putting a tax on them to do that, but the roads that we have are in poor conditions at times and they need to be upgraded so that they can be used at different times of the year,” Hickey said.

    He added the tax is needed to cover a $250-million infrastructure deficit.

    The group of business owners feels the tax could eventually force business right out of the area.

    “It won’t happen overnight, but eventually. Over a couple of years, it will totally drive our industry away,” Van Raay said.

    Paskal said the group has now taken its concerns to court.

    “We initiated that lawsuit, not because of the tax  – if we have to pay tax, we will pay the tax – but to make the county responsible for their spending.”

    Hickey says the county consulted with its legal team before bringing the tax forward, and is confident it will stand up in court.

Police confirm deadly W-18 discovered in Vancouver

Police are warning residents about W-18, a powerful opioid 100 times more powerful than fentanyl, discovered in Vancouver on April 8.

According to police, two men were arrested by police after a break-and-enter in the city’s West End and after searching the pair, one of them was found with drugs, including what was thought to be a counterfeit OxyContin pill.

The drugs were given to Health Canada for analysis and on June 24, police learned that one of the pills contained W-18.

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“We continue to see an alarming increase in overdose deaths throughout the province,” said Vancouver Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Randy Fincham in a statement.

“Many of those deaths have been the result of people knowingly, or unknowingly, taking synthetic painkillers such as fentanyl. With the recent appearance of W-18 in the Lower Mainland, the lives of more habitual or recreation drug users are at even greater risk.”

In March, police forces across B.C. were on alert after W-18 was found in Alberta. Calgary Police discovered it in three of 100 fentanyl pills they had seized.

More than 450 people died of drug overdoses in B.C. in 2015. Fentanyl was responsible for just under one-third of those deaths.

Where does W-18 come from?

The drug comes from a “W-series” of opioid compounds first discovered at the University of Alberta in 1982, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. There are 32 compounds, W-1 to W-32, with W-18 being the most toxic.

W-18 is not currently regulated under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act and can be manufactured and bought freely, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

~ with files from Amy Judd and Andrew Russell

FCC report projects farm equipment sales will grow

Farm Credit Canada’s (FCC) latest report shows optimism in the future of agriculture. The demand for new farm equipment in 2016 started off slow but promising income projections suggest the market will turn the corner and slowly improve over the next two years.

ChangSha Night Net

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    The agriculture economics report released Tuesday forecasts a seven per cent recovery in total equipment sales for 2017, buoyed by projections of stronger Canadian farm cash receipts in coming years.

    “The reason we are projecting a turn-around in new farm equipment sales is that cash receipts for various agriculture sectors are looking stronger,” said J.P. Gervais, FCC’s chief agricultural economist.

    “Nothing is written in stone, but the key indicators are looking pretty good.”

    READ MORE: 2016 Saskatchewan crop development well ahead of normal

    Gervais said equipment is among the most valuable assets for many farmers and is a great indicator for the state of the farm economy.

    “While producers, manufacturers and dealers must exercise caution, strong demand for agricultural commodities, low interest rates and a stable Canadian dollar are all factors that should trigger improvement in the new farm equipment market,” Gervais said.

    According to FCC, total equipment sales fell by 13.8 per cent in 2015 but they were in line with the 10-year average.

    “Tighter margins in recent years have led several farmers to choose leasing over buying their agricultural machinery,” Gervais said.

    “We’ve also seen new groups of producers in the market buying and sharing farm equipment.”

    Additionally, FCC’s report projects crop receipts to grow 5.8 per cent this year, with a further 3.8 per cent increase in 2017.

Trump takes aim at NAFTA as leaders gather in Canada

WASHINGTON – Donald Trump has delivered his most explicit threat to smash the North American Free Trade Agreement just as the continent’s three leaders gather to discuss building new ties.

If elected president, the presumptive Republican nominee said Tuesday he would inform Mexico and Canada of his desire to immediately renegotiate a better deal for the U.S.

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READ MORE: Ahead of 3 Amigos Summit, only 1 in 4 Canadians believe NAFTA is beneficial: poll

He said their refusal would prompt him to invoke the agreement’s Article 2205, which allows a party to withdraw on six months’ notice.

“They’re so used to having their own way,” Trump said of America’s neighbours.

”Not with Trump. They won’t have their own way … NAFTA was the worst trade deal in the history — it’s, like, the history — of this country.”

The warning came in an anti-globalization speech that solidified Trump’s position as the most protectionist Republican presidential candidate in generations.

He listed a series of complaints about American trade policy as he read a pre-written address titled, “Declaring American Economic Independence.”

It occurred on the eve of Wednesday’s Three Amigos summit in Ottawa where the NAFTA leaders plan to announce closer co-operation in several areas, against the headwinds of economic nationalism now blowing on different continents.

For Trump, that growing resistance to global integration is cause to celebrate.

WATCH: PM Trudeau, Mexican president make agreements on beef, visas 

He saluted Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. He even used a turn of phrase similar to one from anti-EU leader Nigel Farage, who taunted European colleagues Tuesday for mocking his Brexit vision: “You’re not laughing now, are you?”

In a similar sneer at the forces of global integration, Trump said he’d spent years complaining about trade with China: “Nobody listened. But they’re listening now.”

Trump’s two main complaints were about events shaped by the presidency of Bill Clinton, the spouse of his likely general-election opponent: NAFTA in 1993, and the lengthy negotiations that led to China entering the World Trade Organization in 2001.

He proposed seven remedies.

One is to withdraw from the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership plan. Another is to label China a currency manipulator and impose punitive tariffs on its products.

READ MORE: Trump, Clinton’s tough talk on trade more bark than bite: report

Redoing or rescinding NAFTA is another.

In his speech, Trump never mentioned Canada specifically. Even after the speech, his campaign issued talking points complaining about the trade practices of Mexico — but not of Canada.

Yet one trade lawyer in Toronto said the policies he espouses have clear implications for the northern neighbour; three-quarters of Canadian exports go to the U.S.

”He is clearly the most protectionist presidential candidate, probably, since the 1920s,” Mark Warner said.

“Presidential powers are limited but a president with this kind of a trade agenda could easily make life difficult for trading partners by pushing presidential executive powers to the limit. The worst case for Canada is that he might push (Hillary) Clinton to be more protectionist in border states if the contest narrows.”

Nearly two dozen consecutive polls show him losing the popular vote to Clinton.

His comeback hopes appear to hinge on the anti-trade, anti-elite, anti-foreign sentiment of the likes that propelled Farage’s forces to a stunning win.

Trump has repeatedly stated his desire to redraw the electoral map.

As a case in point, he delivered his trade speech Tuesday in Pennsylvania — a state that hasn’t voted Republican in decades. He’d need that state and other northern, former industrial powerhouses like Michigan and Ohio, if he loses states with growing Latino populations like Florida, Virginia and Colorado.

Even if he’s elected, Warner said, a protectionist president would find himself in a complex fight.

He said Trump could seek to leave NAFTA, but would need Congress to snap tariffs back into place. Such a move would almost guarantee a lawsuit over the extent of presidential power, he said.

READ MORE: Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton: which president would be better for Canada’s economy?

Warner said presidents do have the power to implement emergency actions without Congress, and can get the Department of Commerce and International Trade to ramp up trade-remedy cases.

Trump’s domestic opponents were saying far worse things about his speech.

They called it economically illiterate and hypocritical.

After all, they pointed to reports of Trump-branded clothes being made in Mexico, ties made in China, shirts made in Bangladesh, furniture made in Turkey and Germany, picture frames from India, and bar products from Slovenia.

This self-styled defender of workers has also testified in a court case about using illegal labour in the project to build the skyscraper that now houses his campaign headquarters.

Polish workers who were to be paid a few dollars an hour for demolition work in the 1980s complained about their supervisors withholding payment on the Trump Tower project.

Now the Trump of 2016 is campaigning against the wealthy international trade-championing elite.

“Globalization has made the financial elite who donate to politicians very wealthy. But it has left millions of our workers with nothing but poverty and heartache,” he said.

“The era of economic surrender will finally be over … America will be independent once more.”

His opponents might not find themselves on the firmest ground if they question his consistency. When they first ran for president, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama endorsed a renegotiate-or-rescind approach to NAFTA.

On Tuesday, the White House was lauding the old agreement.

Obama spokesman Josh Earnest did so while warning against making simple comparisons between the situation in North America and Europe — given that continent’s far more elaborate integration featuring open borders, free movement of labour, and a multinational currency.

“Countries in North America have pursued a different strategy, and one that has worked well for us,” he said.

“It is a strategy that has enhanced the economies of all of our countries, it’s enhanced the national security of all of our countries and it certainly has made North America the most successful continent in the world.”