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    Did you know Btchcoin News is partnered with Wealthsimple?

    If you sign up using this link, Wealthsimple will give you a $25 cash bonus and commission-free trades. In turn, we get $25 to run Btchcoin.

    That’s what we call #makingmoneymove.

     


    Trudeau still won’t say whether Canada will support lifting vaccine patents…

    Here’s why that matters.

    Claire Porter Robbins

    While young Canadians *finally* started getting the jab en masse this week, countries around the world are still waiting to receive shipments of their vaccines — even as more contagious, life-threatening variants wreak havoc in countries like India and Brazil.

    As we shared last week, a recent study by Duke University found that the 92 poorest countries in the world will likely be unable to vaccinate 60 percent of their populations until 2023 or later.

    That’s a serious problem — and the glaring disparity in vaccine access has led to a debate around whether vaccine patents should be lifted given the urgent humanitarian imperative.

    How can that happen?

    Essentially, COVID-19 vaccines, just like other medicines, are covered by a patent. The patent ensures that the recipe for the vaccine is protected, and if a manufacturer wants access to that recipe, they’ll have to pay the patent creator.

    This fall, a group of 100 lower income countries including South Africa and India proposed to the World Trade Organization (WTO) that vaccine patents be waived. If the patents are waived, they say, it will be much easier and affordable to mass produce vaccines for their populations.

    Sounds straightforward… right?

    Another issue in vaccine equity? Over-ordering. Canada, wtf.

    Shockingly, pharmaceutical companies aren’t so excited about the idea (plz note sarcasm) — COVID-19 vaccines have been a profitable line of business, to say the least.

    While Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca have been selling vaccines

    on a not-for-profit basis, Pfizer’s quarterly earnings this week boasted $3.5 billion in revenue from the vaccine alone.

    Many western nations like the EU, US, and UK (where many pharmaceutical companies are headquartered) have opposed the idea at the WTO.

    However, the Biden administration reversed course this month, saying they now support lifting the patents. Regarding Canada’s position, Prime Minister Trudeau has been notably vague, even as MPs from across party lines, and Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole have called for a temporary suspension of the patents.

    Now what?

    Discussions will continue at the WTO next week, but without consensus, no decision can be made.


    Canadian Fintech is Making Moves…

    Robyn Fiell

    Last week, the Bank of Canada announced a new bill titled the “Retail Payments Activities Act (RPAA) aimed to regulate tech companies operating in the financial services industry (aka  fintech) and make digital payments more secure and reliable.

    The new policy will require payment providers to register with the Bank of Canada, who will maintain a public registry of payments service providers), which will be required to submit annual reports and follow more stringent rules.

    Why now?

    Well, a bill of this sort was actually first announced back in 2017, but as more and more consumers have branched away from strictly using traditional, highly regulated payment methods (I still buy chips with my debit card sometimes…), let’s just say it was about time.

    What’s the industry saying?

    The bill *should* spark innovation by paving a way for more fintech companies to enter Canada’s banking ecosystem. Alex Vronces, executive director of Paytechs of Canada, expressed “Canada’s current payments environment has high barriers to entry that prohibit fintech startups from accessing key payments infrastructure independently”.

    But not everyone’s that happy. One thing was apparently left out of the policy: a framework that addresses the open banking system. Open banking allows third-party financial service providers “open access” to consumer financial data from any financial institution. Industry executives are frustrated and disappointed by the lack of framework around open banking in the recent bill.

    Formal regulations of this nature have progressed at snail speed and would substantially drive innovation and competition, according to industry experts.

    That said, we’re already seeing promise in Canada’s fintech space.

    You might have heard that Wealthsimple, a zero-fee investing app, just announced it raised $750 million (the largest amount ever raised by a Canadian tech company) from investors like Drake, and is now valued at $5 billion. A Calgary-based firm Symned, which provides accessible, digital financial services for at-risk customers, also recently announced a $73 million Series B round of funding.


    Loblaw’s churns out massive earnings…

    …and worker’s aren’t pleased

    Erin Fiell

    It’s no secret that many businesses across the country have been hit hard by the pandemic, and many workers have lost jobs or face serious reductions in working hours and/or pay.

    Well, nearly all businesses excluding Loblaws, that is.

    Last week, Loblaw Cos Ltd. delivered ridiculously strong financial results in 2020. Like, $392 mill net adjusted earnings strong. Obviously, the company is celebrating this as a huge win, with Executive Chairman Galen G. Weston saying “A year into the pandemic, our stores, supply chain and digital assets have demonstrated resilience and innovation, and are better prepared than ever to serve the needs of Canadians.”

    The cherry on top? Loblaw execs are receiving huge bonus packages. Weston himself will be receiving a figure to the tune of $3.55 million.

    As one might expect at a time where so many are struggling, there has been major outcry from employees and unions directed at Loblaws.

    Some context: at this time last year, Loblaw got rid of their $2-per-hour bonus for employees working on the front line at the height of the first wave. Employees wanted to know if this would be coming back. Essentially, Loblaws said no, instead offering one-time bonuses and employee ‘discount events.’

    Safe to say, this really hasn’t gone over well.

    Jerry Dias, the National President of Unifor (Canada’s largest private sector union which represents more than 5,000 Loblaw employees) says that the retail giant is failing to “fairly compensate frontline workers,”and many staff have spoken out too.

    While we love to see Canadian businesses thrive as we recover from the pandemic, what we love to see even more are Canadian employees being paid what they deserve for their hard work.


    Things we read and liked: 

    From last week: Have you read about what’s going on in India? If you are able to support, here’s a network providing oxygen to in-need hospitals.

    Is it ‘cheugy‘ or is it internalized misogyny?

    Canadian journalist Connie Walker dives into the topic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women by investigating the case of Jermain Charlo in this Spotify podcast series.

    This take on the end of Kimye.

    We got acquired! More deets to come, but to learn more about who bought us, check out this Guardian article.


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    Consider supporting Btchcoin by buying us a coffee, or contributing on a monthly basis.

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