Business Update – 8 November 2023

Business Update – 8 November 2023

Welcome to our Weekly Digest – stay in the know with some recent news updates relevant to business and the economy.

Food prices to stay higher than before pandemic: RBC

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruptions in the global food supply chain, leading to an increase in food prices in many countries. However, as the world gradually recovers from the pandemic, there are indications that food prices will start to slow down.

According to RBC economist Claire Fan, there are several factors contributing to the current slowdown in food prices. One of the main reasons is the easing of supply chain bottlenecks that were caused by the pandemic. As vaccination rates increase and restrictions on global trade are lifted, there is more movement of goods across borders, which helps to stabilize prices.

Another factor is the seasonal nature of food production. As the summer season approaches in the Northern Hemisphere, there is expected to be a surge in agricultural output, which will increase the availability of food and help to bring prices down.

However, while food prices are expected to slow down, they are not likely to return to pre-pandemic levels anytime soon. This is due to a combination of factors, including the ongoing effects of climate change on food production and distribution, as well as increased demand for certain types of food as people shift towards healthier diets.

In addition, the pandemic has highlighted the vulnerabilities of the global food system, and many countries are now taking steps to increase food security by investing in local agriculture and reducing reliance on imports. These efforts may lead to higher prices for some types of food in the short term but are expected to have long-term benefits for both consumers and producers.

Shopify vows to fight CRA request to hand over records from more than 121,000 Canadian businesses

Shopify CEO Tobias Lutke has come out strongly against what he views as an “overreach” by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The Ottawa-based e-commerce company has been asked to hand over tax records of over 121,000 Canadian stores from the last six years, which Lutke views as excessive and unnecessary. He is now preparing to fight against the CRA’s request and protect the privacy of Shopify’s customers.

The requested tax records are said to include information on sales, refunds, and chargebacks for all Canadian stores that have used Shopify’s platform since 2015. Lutke has described the request as a “massive fishing expedition” that goes far beyond what is reasonable or necessary for tax purposes.

The CEO has also expressed concerns about the potential impact of the CRA’s request on small businesses and entrepreneurs, who make up a significant portion of Shopify’s customer base. He believes that the request could discourage these individuals from starting or growing their businesses, as they may fear being subject to similar intrusive requests from the government in the future.

Despite these concerns, Lutke remains committed to fighting against the CRA’s request and protecting the privacy of Shopify’s customers. He has vowed to take whatever legal action is necessary to ensure that the company is not forced to hand over excessive amounts of information to the government.

TELUS and JOLT partner to install charging stations across Canada

TELUS, one of Canada’s leading telecommunications providers, has recently revealed its plans to collaborate with JOLT, an Australian electric vehicle (EV) charging company, in a strategic partnership aimed at the installation of up to 5,000 public DC fast chargers across Canada. With the country’s rapidly growing EV market, this initiative is expected to facilitate the adoption of electric cars by providing a reliable and convenient charging infrastructure to EV owners.

Under this partnership, TELUS will leverage its expertise in network infrastructure and digital solutions to support the deployment of JOLT’s fast charging technology. The chargers will be located in high-traffic areas such as retail centers, hotels, and public parking lots to ensure maximum accessibility to EV drivers. With a charging capacity of up to 350kW, the DC fast chargers will enable EV owners to charge their vehicles in a matter of minutes, significantly reducing charging time and enhancing the overall driving experience.

Moreover, the partnership between TELUS and JOLT aligns with the Canadian government’s commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. By promoting the use of electric vehicles and reducing the reliance on fossil fuels, this initiative will contribute to Canada’s efforts to combat climate change and promote sustainable transportation.

With the installation of up to 5,000 DC fast chargers, TELUS and JOLT aim to create a robust charging network that spans across Canada, providing EV drivers with a seamless and hassle-free charging experience. As the demand for electric cars continues to grow, this partnership is expected to play a crucial role in accelerating the transition to sustainable mobility in Canada.

$71 million investment in internet for rural Eastern Ontario

The funding will be used to improve broadband infrastructure in rural areas of eastern Ontario, providing high-speed internet to more than 22,000 homes in 74 communities. This initiative is part of the larger federal and provincial efforts to close the digital divide and ensure that all Canadians have access to reliable, high-speed internet. The investment will help to connect rural communities to the rest of the province and country, enabling them to access essential services, education, and business opportunities. The project will also create jobs and stimulate economic growth in these communities, as businesses are more likely to invest in areas with reliable internet access. The funding will be distributed through a partnership between the federal and provincial governments, and will be awarded to internet service providers who demonstrate their ability to deliver high-quality broadband services to rural communities.

This announcement is a significant step forward in the effort to improve digital infrastructure across Canada, and will help to ensure that rural communities are not left behind in the digital age.

Five things to know about Canada’s new wage-fixing and no-poaching prohibitions

Starting Friday, new rules will be implemented to prevent companies from engaging in wage-fixing and no-poaching agreements. These agreements are often made between companies in similar industries to suppress competition and keep employee wages artificially low. Such practices are now being prohibited by law, in an effort to protect employees from being exploited by their employers.

Wage-fixing is the practice of companies agreeing to set a certain wage for their employees, rather than allowing competition to determine the market rate. No-poaching agreements, on the other hand, are agreements between companies not to hire each other’s employees, which can limit job opportunities for workers and suppress their wages.
Under the new rules, employers will be prohibited from entering into such agreements with other companies, either directly or through third-party intermediaries. Employers who violate these rules could face significant penalties and fines.

Employees, meanwhile, should be aware of their rights under the new rules. They have the right to pursue legal action against employers who engage in wage-fixing or no-poaching agreements, and can seek damages for any harm suffered as a result of such practices. They should also be aware that they have the right to seek better job opportunities with other employers, and that companies cannot collude to limit their options.

 

Overall, the new rules are a positive step towards protecting workers’ rights and promoting fair competition in the labor market. Employers and employees alike should be aware of their obligations and rights under these new regulations, in order to ensure that they are not engaging in or suffering from anti-competitive practices.

Are starter homes still affordable?

The Ipsos polling revealed that the Canadian housing market has experienced a slight decline in prices in the past year, but this has not translated into increased confidence or optimism among non-homeowners. In fact, six in 10 Canadians who do not own a home have completely lost hope of ever being able to purchase one. This disenchantment with the housing market can be attributed to a number of factors, including the high cost of living, stagnant wages, and the increasing difficulty of securing a mortgage.

Furthermore, the Ipsos polling indicates that the majority of non-homeowners now believe that owning a home is a luxury reserved only for the wealthy. Seven in 10 Canadians who do not own a home hold this belief, which suggests that the dream of homeownership has become unattainable for many Canadians. This perception is reinforced by the reality of the current housing market, in which home prices are skyrocketing in many urban centers, making it increasingly challenging for first-time buyers to enter the market.

More vulnerabilities in MOVEit Transfer identified

Progress Software, a renowned developer of software solutions, has faced a major setback after its MOVEit file transfer tool has been compromised. As a result, the company is urging IT managers worldwide to take immediate action and temporarily disable direct internet access to the application. This comes after a new vulnerability was discovered, and there have been reports of more organizations being hacked using the tool.

The MOVEit file transfer tool is a popular solution utilized by businesses to securely transfer files between users and servers. However, with the recent cyber-attack, the tool has become a liability, putting companies at risk of data breaches, loss of sensitive information, and reputational damage. To prevent further damage, Progress Software is urging IT managers to disable direct internet access to the application until a fix is released.

 

The vulnerability in the MOVEit file transfer tool is a significant concern, particularly as more businesses continue to rely on technology for their operations. A data breach can have far-reaching consequences, not just for the organization but also for its clients and partners. It is, therefore, crucial to take proactive measures to secure data and prevent any unauthorized access.

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