Toys ‘R’ Us: Canadian stores to stay open as U.S., U.K locations close

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Toys “R” Us Canada maintains it’s still business as usual, even as its U.K. counterpart announced it would shutter all 75 locations in the country.

It’s the same message the company repeated last week when it was reported that Toys “R” Us would liquidate its U.S. operations after filing for bankruptcy.

Toys “R” Us Canada’s vice-president of marketing and store planning Clint Gaudry says its 82 Canadian stores will remain open for business and the company will continue to honour its existing customer policies and baby registry, gift card and loyalty point programs.

Canadian branch filed for protection last fall

The Canadian arm filed for creditor protection in September, a day after the U.S. division filed for bankruptcy.

In January, Toys “R” Us announced it would also close 180 stores in the U.S. in the coming months.

Toys “R” Us is the latest brick-and-mortar retailer to struggle amid growing competition from online merchants and changing consumer preferences, after Sears Canada filed for CCAA protection in June.

Article source: http://www.msn.com/en-ca/money/topstories/toys-r-us-says-canadian-stores-to-stay-open-as-us-uk-locations-close/ar-BBKe6l7?srcref=rss

Privacy commissioner investigating Loblaw

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada said Wednesday it has opened a full investigation into how Loblaw Companies Ltd. has required customers to produce personal identification to secure a $25 gift card related to the alleged bread price-fixing scandal.

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The investigation comes after a formal complaint to the office, as well as numerous inquiries to its information centre and through its Twitter feed, said spokeswoman Tobi Cohen.

“We have reached out to Lobaws following media reports about authentication practices related to the issuing of bread price-fixing gift cards,” she said by email.

The investigation comes as Loblaw Companies Ltd. provided some insight Wednesday into why select customers are required to produce a driver’s licence or utility bill to secure the card.

There are various triggers that might lead the company to ask for further confirmation, including large numbers of registrations from a single address, multiple requests under a single or similar name, or irregularities like an invalid address or email in a registration, said Kevin Groh, Loblaw vice-president of corporate affairs.

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“Our plan to distribute tens of millions of dollars is a natural target for fraudsters, and we want to make sure this money is actually landing in our customers’ hands.”

The vast majority of customers won’t be required to make the

Article source: http://www.msn.com/en-ca/money/topstories/privacy-commissioner-investigating-loblaw/ar-BBKd5mW?srcref=rss

Cannabis courses target new job market

For the first time since 1923, the Canadian cannabis industry is getting ready to move above ground. One of the upshots of the impending legalization of marijuana this summer is a burgeoning job market. From growing to software to sales, opportunities could abound for those with in-demand skill sets.

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Though cannabis-specific programs are still few and far between, there are a handful of academic institutions that have been quick to respond to the new job market with courses that help ready students for a new career.

Commercial Cannabis Production (CCP), Niagara College
Canada’s first-ever post-secondary credential program launches this fall at Niagara College. The year-long commercial cannabis production program will train students in the cultivation of cannabis, as well as provide them with in-depth knowledge of Health Canada’s regulatory framework that will govern the industry.

Interest from prospective students has been huge. As of press time, the school had received more than 300 applications for a mere 24 spots in the first cohort (the program has three intakes per year). Worth nothing is that these applicants aren’t merely enthusiasts of recreational marijuana; admission requirements include a degree or diploma in agricultural sciences, plant sciences, biology, horticulture, greenhouse technology, or a related discipline.

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“We’re seeing a high-quality applicant who I think understands, as we have, that the

Article source: http://www.msn.com/en-ca/money/topstories/cannabis-courses-target-new-job-market/ar-BBKePVx?srcref=rss

Household debt-to-income ratio edges lower

OTTAWA – The ratio of Canadian household debt relative to income edged down slightly in the fourth quarter of last year, raising speculation that the growth in debt may have turned a corner.

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Statistics Canada said Thursday household credit market debt as a proportion of household disposable income was 170.4 per cent in the fourth quarter.

In other words, there was $1.70 in credit market debt for every dollar of household disposable income.

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That compared with 170.5 per cent in the previous quarter, which was revised down from an earlier reading of 171.1 per cent.

“While it’s too early to tell, we just might have seen the peak in the debt ratio in Q3, as Q1 will no doubt see a sizable decline due to seasonality,” said Benjamin Reitzes, Canadian rates and macro strategist at the Bank of Montreal.

Household debt is often cited as a key risk to the Canadian economy by the Bank of Canada and others.

The central bank, which has raised its benchmark interest three times since last summer, has said it is carefully monitoring the economy’s sensitivity to higher interest rates.

Statistics Canada reported the key ratio crept lower as total household credit market debt, which includes consumer credit, mortgage and non-mortgage loans, increased 1.1 per cent in the fourth quarter

Article source: http://www.msn.com/en-ca/money/topstories/household-debt-to-income-ratio-edges-lower/ar-BBKfkC3?srcref=rss

United States imposes more anti-dumping duties on Canadian newsprint

a close up of a newspaper: The U.S. Department of Commerce says a preliminary investigation has found Canadian exporters underpriced newsprint paper by between 0 and 22.16 per cent.© CBC
The U.S. Department of Commerce says a preliminary investigation has found Canadian exporters underpriced newsprint paper by between 0 and 22.16 per cent.

The American government is imposing more anti-dumping duties on Canadian newsprint.

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The U.S. Department of Commerce says a preliminary investigation has found Canadian exporters underpriced uncoated groundwood paper by between 0 and 22.16 per cent.

Uncoated groundwood paper includes newsprint, as well as paper for book publishing, printing and writing.

The department says it calculated a dumping rate of 22.16 per cent for Catalyst Paper Corp. of British Columbia.

It says Resolute Forest Products and White Birch were both found to have dumping rates of 0 per cent.

The department says it’s instructing U.S. Customs and Border Protection to collect cash deposits from Canadian newsprint importers based on the findings.

The department’s investigation into the alleged dumping began in August 2017, and an International Trade Commission investigation began the following month.

The department says it will make its final determination in the investigation in August.

This is the second round of U.S. antidumping duties on Canadian newsprint this year. 

In January, the U.S. Department of Commerce slapped an overall tariff

Article source: http://www.msn.com/en-ca/money/topstories/united-states-imposes-more-anti-dumping-duties-on-canadian-newsprint/ar-BBKbvuI?srcref=rss

Esso deal shows why riding out Loblaw’s bumpy PC Optimum launch may be worth it

Loblaw’s amalgamation of PC Plus and Shoppers Optimum into the new PC Optimum rewards program has been far from flawless. Ever since the Feb. 1 merger, social media sites have been abuzz with customers lamenting lost or stolen points, purportedly personalized offers that no longer reflect their shopping history, and problems collecting points.

But Loblaw’s announcement on Tuesday that PC Optimum members will be able to redeem points at Esso gas stations starting this summer suggests good things are in store for those who endure the program’s bumpy rollout, experts told Global News.

READ MORE: Loblaw, Imperial Oil strike deal on PC Optimum points at Esso stations

“I think this is the first step in PC Optimum growing into something bigger than they’ve always been,” said Patrick Sojka, founder of RewardsCanada.ca. “I think we’re going to see more partners come on board very soon.”

The tie-up between PC Optimum and Esso represents Loblaw dipping its feet into what Sojka calls “coalition programs,” which offer members a variety of ways to earn points across multiple types of retailers.

That’s the model already employed by programs like Air Miles and Aeroplan, but Loblaw may have a significant advantage over them, according to Robert Levy, president of Toronto-based BrandSpark International.

“I think the link between PC Optimum and Esso could be a big game-changer, changing the dynamics of consumer loyalty in Canada since this would challenge loyalty programs like Air Miles and Aeroplan whose core business is the loyalty program and their source of revenue is only from selling their points,”

Article source: http://www.msn.com/en-ca/money/savingandinvesting/esso-deal-shows-why-riding-out-loblaw%E2%80%99s-bumpy-pc-optimum-launch-may-be-worth-it/ar-BBKaWvz?srcref=rss

Loblaw criticized for personal info requests in gift card roll out

Loblaw Companies Ltd. isn’t providing details as to why some Canadians have been singled out with requests to hand over additional personal information to secure their $25 gift card related to the alleged bread price-fixing scandal.

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Customer outrage has fomented online as Canadians take to Twitter to express privacy concerns about the company’s decision to ask some to provide a scan of their driver’s licence or utility bill in order to receive the card. Some have also commented on the perceived irony of Loblaw’s apparent fraud prevention measure, given that the gift cards are a gesture of apology for deceiving the public.

“Wait. @LoblawsON wants me to send a scan of my driver’s licence to prove I am who I say I am to get that $25 gift card?? Wasn’t it you guys who committed the fraud,” tweeted a user with the handle Paul D’Hondt.

Such concerns are shared by privacy experts including Ann Cavoukian, expert-in-residence at Ryerson University’s Privacy by Design Centre of Excellence.

“I just think that is so outrageous. First of all, they’re at fault, they’re doing this to correct their misbehaviour,” she said.

She said a copy of a driver’s licence should not be requested for a gift card meant to appease customers for wrongdoing, given the card contains a licence number, photo, signature and other personal details.

“They’re asking you to give them a copy of your

Article source: http://www.msn.com/en-ca/money/topstories/loblaw-under-fire-for-gift-card-requests/ar-BBKaNO2?srcref=rss

Food-sharing apps a half-baked idea?

TORONTO – Apps that allow home chefs to sell dishes prepared in their personal kitchens have cropped up in Canada, but uncertainties about health regulations and the strength of consumer demand are raising questions about whether the business models are blue ribbon-worthy or half-baked fads.

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Food-sharing platform LaPiat, which plans to launch in April, provides a platform for entrepreneurial cooks in the Greater Toronto Area to make some extra cash from home. Users can take pictures of their dishes to advertise and sell them at any price they set, leaving pick up and delivery to the cook and diner to work out.

Creator Arber Puci said the app spawned from the idea that everyone has friends and family who are amazing cooks and can use that talent to make some extra money, while consumers will find it cheaper than restaurants, take-out joints or other food delivery services such as Uber Eats.

The app targets home cooks like parents who are making lunch for their kids and can easily put together a few more portions to “make some cash on the side,” said Puci, who will take a five per cent cut from chefs using the platform.

Predecessors Tffyn, Homefed and MealSurfers all launched in Toronto in the last few years, but appear to have since vanished, leaving behind rival app Kouzina, which hit the market in August.

Kouzina creator Nick Amaral said when

Article source: http://www.msn.com/en-ca/money/topstories/food-sharing-apps-a-half-baked-idea/ar-BBKbSZC?srcref=rss

Canada home prices dip in February, Toronto pulls back

Canadian home prices dipped in February after two consecutive months of gains, weighed by declines in Toronto and a number of other cities, data showed on Wednesday.

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The Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index, which measures changes for repeat sales of single-family homes, showed prices were down 0.1 percent last month compared to January.

Price growth also continued to decelerate on an annual basis. Home prices were up 7.5 percent compared to last year, the smallest annual increase since March 2016.

a close up of a sign: A real estate sign is seen hanging on a fence in front of a house for sale in Ottawa© REUTERS/Chris Wattie
A real estate sign is seen hanging on a fence in front of a house for sale in Ottawa

On a monthly basis, prices were down in seven out of the 11 cities surveyed, including a 0.1 percent decline in Toronto. Home sales in Canada’s largest city have been dampened by tighter mortgages rules and moves taken by the Ontario government last year to try to cool the market.

The retreat in Toronto prices, which had climbed in January, may have been due to buyers rushing into the market ahead of the new mortgage rules that came into effect at the start of the year, the report said.

In Vancouver, one of

Article source: http://www.msn.com/en-ca/money/topstories/canada-home-prices-dip-in-february-toronto-pulls-back/ar-BBKctb3?srcref=rss