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Telus Corp.’s president and chief executive says the company has managed to weather recent economic challenges and even report a profit increase in its most recent quarter because its mix of products spans the internet, data, agriculture and health industries.
“That level of diversification gives us a better backbone of resiliency, whether it’s inflation or supply chain pressures that we’re dealing up simultaneously,” Darren Entwistle said on a Friday call with analysts.
He said the company’s proactive response to challenges, and its investments in technology, have helped it navigate numerous external pressures in the past couple of decades.
“Whether it’s equity market meltdowns or credit crunches or regulatory decisions or inflationary periods, we seem to navigate that turbulence very well.”
Entwistle’s remarks came as public health measures are being lifted in Canada and abroad after more than two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the long-awaited reopening has coincided with a series of global pressures weighing on companies.
Among those pressures are rising interest rates, an inflation level not seen in many years, Russia waging war on Ukraine, supply chain difficulties and even labour shortages.
Telus has not been unscathed, though Entwistle said, to deal with the conditions, the company has a “pretty resilient strategy” focused on Telus International and bundling.
Telus International (TI) was created to operate call centres, but has since shifted to selling information technology and business services like content moderation and mobile app development.
“We have the benefit of being able to access labour arbitrage at TI, so yes, we’ve got pressure. They’ve got pressure,” Entwistle said. “But to the extent to which we can use the TI asset to support, buttress the economics of TELUS Corp., I think all the better.”
VICTORIA — B.C.’s health minister says the province has almost caught up with the backlog of surgeries from the pandemic and weather events while it sets new targets to whittle down the existing waiting lists.
Adrian Dix says 400 nurses and 100 technicians had received training under the surgical renewal program to bolster staffing.
He says the province is also working to hire specialty nurses, anesthesiologists, surgeons and other staff to sustain the health-care system and ease the workloads for current staff.
The province has completed 99.8% of surgeries that were postponed up to the fifth wave of COVID-19 and weather events such as the heat wave and floods last year.
Dix called the progress stunning, saying the whole system has performed exceptionally well, considering the circumstances of the pandemic and last year’s weather events.
More than 52,000 urgent scheduled surgeries were completed last year, while another 72,549 unscheduled procedures were performed because Dix says the government greatly increased operating room hours.
VANCOUVER — Canfor Corp. is reporting a 25% increase in net profits in its latest quarter on near record high North American lumber prices that also boosted revenues.
The Vancouver-based company said it earned $534 million of $4.29 per diluted share in the first quarter, up from $427.8 million, or $3.42 per share a year earlier.
Adjusted profits were $529 million, or $4.25 per share, compared with $434.2 million, or $3.42 per share in the first quarter of fiscal 2021.
Revenues for the three months ended March 31 were $2.2 billion, up 14% from $1.9 billion in the prior year quarter.
Canfor was expected to earn net income of $584.2 million on $2 billion of revenues, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.
The company says North American lumber market conditions remained very strong for much of the quarter led by continued strength in new home construction along with tight supply stemming from supply chain disruptions.
“We are very pleased to see the sustained strength in global lumber markets continuing into 2022, and while our pulp business continued to face challenges we also saw improved results (from the fourth quarter),” CEO Don Kayne said.
Canfor Pulp Products Inc. lost $19.9 million on $219.7 million in sales due to ongoing transportation challenges and pulp supply disruptions. That compared with a net loss of $101.1 million on $249.3 million of revenues in the fourth quarter and profit of $8.4 million on $262.4 million of revenues in the first quarter of fiscal 2021.
VANCOUVER — Demand for housing in B.C. still far outstrips supply, experts say, even as the latest census figures show growth in the number of homes was higher than the increase in population countrywide.
Statistics Canada reported Wednesday that growth in apartments in a building with five or more storeys has far outpaced other types of dwellings across the country, though single-family homes remain the dominant form, making up about half of all dwellings.
There are 866,340 single-detached homes in B.C., representing 42.4% of the housing distribution and an increase of 1.7% since the last census in 2016.
There are also 221,850 apartments in buildings with five or more storeys, which make up a total of 10.9% of all dwellings in the province. This grew from 177,830 such units in 2016, which then made up 9.4% of all B.C. housing.
Across Canada, there are nearly 1.6 million apartments in buildings with five or more storeys, or 10.7% of all homes, up from 9.9% in 2016.
Andy Yan, director of the City Program at Simon Fraser University, expected the rise of the condominium. He said he expected the trend of young people being unable to “climb the property ladder” to continue, largely due to land space and price.
“Everything is expensive now,” Yan said. “(Millennials) may not be able to afford the cost of land, but want to purchase something, so it mostly comes in the form of a condo.”
Nathanael Lauster, associate professor of sociology at the UBC, said housing is a “major barrier to growth,” but also noted that the census does not measure demand or need.
“We’re just not building new, additional single-family houses anymore, so that’s going to become just an increasingly distinct and sort of luxury kind of market here,” Lauster said, referring to Metro Vancouver.
Leo Spalteholz, a housing analyst at Homes for Living, a group of community volunteers trying to make Greater Victoria more affordable for renters and owners, noted the influx of people moving to Canada’s coasts during the pandemic also boosted competition in the real estate market.
“It doesn’t take a lot of people arriving to overwhelm the housing. Even before the pandemic hit, inventories of properties for sale in Canada were actually quite low, and then suddenly we had these people moving.”
Statistics released by the B.C. Jobs Ministry earlier this month show more than 100,000 people moved to the province in 2021, the highest annual total since 1961.
Teck Resources Ltd. posted another record quarterly profit Wednesday, putting the company in strong financial position as it gears up for the completion of its massive new QB2 copper mine in Chile later this year.
The Vancouver-based mining company reported first quarter earnings of $1.57 billion, up from $305 million as demand for its copper, zinc and steelmaking coal surged. It also benefited from higher crude prices through its stake in the Fort Hills oilsands mine.
The company said its profit amounted to $2.87 per diluted share for the quarter ended March 31, up from 57 cents per diluted share a year earlier.
Revenue totalled $5.03 billion compared with nearly $2.55 billion in the first three months of 2021.
Teck’s copper revenue amounted to $930 million, up from $767 million a year earlier, as global copper prices reached an all-time quarterly average record. Zinc revenue was $920 million, up from $570 million, as zinc prices increased by 36% to an average of US$1.70 per pound.
Steelmaking coal revenue totalled nearly $2.77 billion, up from nearly $1.05 billion a year ago, and energy revenue grew to $416 million, up from $163 million.
In a conference call with analysts, chief executive Don Lindsay said the record-setting results kickstart what is expected to be a “transformational” year for Teck.
Construction on the company’s new flagship copper mine in Chile is now more than 80% complete, Lindsay said, despite the significant impact of COVID-19’s Omicron wave, which resulted in workforce absenteeism rates approaching more than 20% in the beginning of the quarter.
“We have to say we’re very proud of this achievement,” Lindsay said. “We expect first copper (production) from Line One in Q4 of this year, assuming no further Covid waves or other major disruptions.”
Teck’s QB2 mine project, located in what is one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper deposits, is expected to double Teck’s consolidated copper production by 2023, the company has said. Once up and running, the mine will produce 300,000 tonnes of copper equivalent per year for the first five years of its life.
VANCOUVER — Three Canadian companies with carbon capture technologies have won $1 million each from entrepreneur Elon Musk’s foundation.
The University of British Columbia says in a news release that its spinoff company, Carbin Minerals, has been awarded a so-called XPrize for technology that removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Carbin Minerals co-founder Bethany Ladd says they’ve developed research to speed up the regular process of rocks absorbing greenhouse gas from thousands of years to weeks or even days.
The university says another spinoff company called Takachar, which won the student version of the XPrize last year, will receive an additional $1 million this year for its plans to convert crop and forestry waste into fuel or fertilizer.
Planetary, a Dartmouth, N.S.-based firm, says it will use its prize money to scale up its technology for removing and storing carbon in the atmosphere, which also creates renewable fuel and restores some of the damage already caused in ocean ecosystems.
The XPrize was given to 15 companies in several countries on Earth Day in an annual competition to accelerate breakthroughs in removing carbon from the atmosphere.
VICTORIA — B.C. is helping to build four housing and infrastructure projects using mass timber, as the province announces an action plan to grow the sector.
Speaking at the University of Victoria on Thursday, Innovation Minister Ravi Kahlon says the institution has benefited from previous government funding of $128 million toward the construction a student housing facility and dining hall using mass timber.
The projects for the province’s new mass timber demonstration program range from multi-unit homes to mixed-use commercial and industrial buildings.
Kahlon says that large-diameter trees are not needed to make mass timber and instead can be built by fastening together smaller pieces of wood with glue, dowels or nails.
He says mass timber can match or exceed the strength of concrete and steel while reducing carbon emissions by up to 45%.
The minister says B.C. could have as many as 10 new mass timber manufacturers by 2035, which could fill an anticipated 4,400 jobs in manufacturing, construction and design.
Three more Oscar trophies will soon be decorating homes in Vancouver after the visual effects team behind sci-fi blockbuster Dune won the industry’s top prize Sunday night.
Double Negative Ltd. (DNEG) VFX supervisors Tristan Myles and Brian Connor, along with fellow Vancouverite and former DNEG VFX supervisor Paul Lambert, took to the stage in Hollywood to celebrate the win in the Best Visual Effects category.
“Oh my goodness. Thank you to the members of the Academy for this amazing award,” Lambert said in front of the star-filled audience.
“The effects is a team effort of hundreds of people around the world. So huge congratulations to all the artists and production from DNEG, Wylie Co. and Rodeo FX.”
Myles went on to thank his family and “… of course, the outstanding work from all the artists at DNEG.”
The VFX wizards brought photorealistic creations of ancient desert palaces, giant sandworms and dragonfly-like fighter planes to the silver screen last October as COVID-19 concerns were keeping many from visiting cinemas.
The film, directed by Canadian Denis Villeneuve, went on to gross more than US$400 million at the box office globally and now has a sequel in the works.
Germany’s Gerd Nefzer, Dune’s special effects supervisor, also took to the stage with the Vancouver-based trio to accept an Oscar for his own work on the film.
He was briefly cut off by the orchestra before being allowed to exclaim, “Danke schoen!”
Visual effects created at DNEG’s Vancouver studios in Mount Pleasant previously landed Academy Awards for Lambert and Myles in 2019 for the Neil Armstrong biopic First Man, starring Canadian Ryan Gosling.
The Vancouver team also worked on Blade Runner 2049, which Lambert and Nefzer won Oscars for in 2018. Villeneuve directed that sci-fi sequel, too, which Gosling also headlined.
DNEG’s Montreal team contributed to some of the work on Dune. However, none of the VFX talent from Villeneuve’s home province received Oscar nominations.
Dune had been racking up award after award for visual effects in the lead-up to the Oscars, including four from the Visual Effects Society and one from the prestigious EE British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA).
U.K.-headquartered DNEG has about 570 workers based in B.C. as of 2021. It revealed plans back in August to hire workers for a new feature animation studio in the city amid efforts to expand significantly across Canada. This came as DNEG’s parent company, Prime Focus Ltd., secured a US$250 million equity investment from Novator Capital Advisers earlier that summer.
With the new capital in hand, the VFX company also embarked on launching a new studio in Toronto as well as expanding its Montreal office.
The Toronto studio will employ up to 200 workers, while up to 300 additional workers are set to be split between Vancouver and Montreal. The exact split between those latter two offices has not been set in stone.
The B.C. hiring plans encompass both the new animation studio, where as many as 100 animators are to be based, as well as at the existing VFX studio.
VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority says cargo volumes increased 1% to 146 million tonnes last year despite the pandemic, global supply chain challenges and extreme weather in B.C. at the end of the year.
The country’s largest port says record container and foreign bulk volumes helped maintain cargo volumes despite trade challenges in a year in which the cruise season was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Grain volumes declined 13% after eight straight record years due to drought in Western Canada in the second half of the year.
The number of shipping containers passing through the port increased 6% to 3.7 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) in 2021, a record for the fifth year in a row.
Amid the increase in container trade were an elevated number of empty containers, putting pressure on Canadian exporters as containers were rushed back to Asia to accommodate strong consumer demand in North America.
The port is warning that serious supply-chain problems will occur in a few years because west coast container terminals are expected to run out of capacity by the end of the decade.
“Vancouver’s port community met challenge after challenge in 2021—sometimes working around the clock—to keep the port connected to national supply chains and goods flowing for Canadians,” stated Robin Silvester, president and CEO of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, the federal agency in charge of the Port of Vancouver.
WHISTLER — Talks have collapsed between striking transit workers and their employer in the Sea-to-Sky region of B.C., with the two sides unable to agree on eventual wage parity.
Unifor western regional director Gavin McGarrigle says in a statement that progress was being made during two days of negotiations before they ended late Thursday.
McGarrigle says talks broke off when the two private contractors bargaining on behalf of BC Transit rejected eventual wage parity with Metro Vancouver transit operators who make an average of $3 more per hour.
The Unifor statement says no future negotiating dates are scheduled.
More than 80 members of Unifor Local 114 went on strike Jan. 29, suspending BC Transit services in Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton.
The union says two years of bargaining leading up to the strike failed to make headway on demands including job security, benefits or the wage parity issue.