Storefronts in Ottawa’s Glebe neighbourhood are reflected in a sign indicating the temporary closure of a business to prevent the spread of COVID-19, on March 24, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Ontario’s Finance Minister is urging insurers to stop discriminatory pricing in commercial business policies as almost half of Canadian small businesses report their insurance costs are creating financial pressures during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our government has been keeping a close watch during this pandemic to ensure insurance companies are meeting the needs of small businesses during this unprecedented time,” Finance Minister Rod Phillips told The Globe and Mail in an e-mail.

“My message to insurance companies has been clear: I expect you to treat your customers fairly.”

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Since the onset of COVID-19, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) – an association with 110,000 small-business members – has seen a growing number of small-business owners contacting the association’s hotline with concerns about the rising cost of insurance.

About 48 per cent of small-business owners say their insurance costs are creating financial pressures on their overall business, according to a recent CFIB survey.

Most businesses require commercial business policies, covering policyholders for fire, theft, liability and, in some cases, business interruption. Some Ontario bars and restaurants have seen premium increases of as much as 300 per cent this year when they went to renew policies, while others have been refused insurance entirely.

The hospitality sector is only one group that has experienced premium rate hikes among small businesses. CFIB chief executive officer Dan Kelly says manufacturers, professional services firms, and transportation companies – such as taxis and the trucking industry – have all reported insurance concerns when it comes to renewing existing policies.

“Some of this was happening prepandemic,” said Mr. Kelly in an interview. “We

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s government on Sunday urged businesses to prepare for the end of the Brexit transition period, saying that they need to take action whether or not a trade deal with the European Union is clinched.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said Britain won’t extend the transition period, which ends on Dec 31, and that progress must be made to bridge significant gaps between the two sides in the coming days if a deal is to be struck.

The business ministry argues that most of what businesses need to do is the same regardless of the outcome of the negotiations and has planned a series of sector specific webinars in October.

“With just 81 days until the end of the transition period, businesses must act now to ensure they are ready for the UK’s new start come January,” said business minister Alok Sharma, who will write to businesses regarding the changes.

“There will be no extension to the transition period, so there is no time to waste.”

Businesses needed to do things like ensure staff register for residency rights and prepare for customs procedures when trading with the EU, the government said.

The United Kingdom formally left the EU on Jan. 31, but more than four years since voting 52%-48% for Brexit in a 2016 referendum, the two sides are haggling over a trade deal to take effect when informal membership ends on Dec. 31.

The two chief negotiators, the EU’s Michel Barnier and Britain’s David Frost, say they are inching towards a deal ahead of an Oct. 15 deadline, but that important gaps remain on fishing, level playing field issues and governance. Both sides have planned for a no-deal scenario.

(Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Christina Fincher)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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(Bloomberg) — The U.K.’s two financial regulators urged the industry to finish final preparations for a potentially messy no-deal Brexit.



a train that is sitting in front of a large city: A London bus crosses Waterloo bridge against a backdrop of skyscrapers including 22 Bishopsgate office tower, the Leadenhall building, also known as the "Cheesegrater", The Scalpel, and 20 Fenchurch Street, also known as the "Walkie-Talkie" in the City of London, U.K., on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. The European Union will consider about 40 equivalence decisions this year, determining how much equity, fixed-income and other investment banking business can remain in London and still serve EU clients.


© Bloomberg
A London bus crosses Waterloo bridge against a backdrop of skyscrapers including 22 Bishopsgate office tower, the Leadenhall building, also known as the “Cheesegrater”, The Scalpel, and 20 Fenchurch Street, also known as the “Walkie-Talkie” in the City of London, U.K., on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. The European Union will consider about 40 equivalence decisions this year, determining how much equity, fixed-income and other investment banking business can remain in London and still serve EU clients.

With negotiations between the U.K. and European Union still facing roadblocks, the Bank of England and Financial Conduct Authority urged finance executives to take further steps to make sure U.K. firms can continue trading stocks and derivatives easily with EU clients.

“Market volatility and disruption to financial services, particularly to EU-based clients, could arise,” the authorities wrote.

While many large clients have done the necessary work to shift derivatives contracts to banks’ EU divisions, there is still work left to do, according to the letter to executives. A last-minute move could create operational risks and “could also amplify any existing market volatility.”



a train that is sitting in front of a large city: A London bus crosses Waterloo bridge against a backdrop of skyscrapers including 22 Bishopsgate office tower, the Leadenhall building, also known as the "Cheesegrater", The Scalpel, and 20 Fenchurch Street, also known as the "Walkie-Talkie" in the City of London, U.K., on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. The European Union will consider about 40 equivalence decisions this year, determining how much equity, fixed-income and other investment banking business can remain in London and still serve EU clients.


© Bloomberg
A London bus crosses Waterloo bridge against a backdrop of skyscrapers including 22 Bishopsgate office tower, the Leadenhall building, also known as the “Cheesegrater”, The Scalpel, and 20 Fenchurch Street, also known as the “Walkie-Talkie” in the City of London, U.K., on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. The European Union will consider about 40 equivalence decisions this year, determining how much equity, fixed-income and other investment banking business can remain in London and still serve EU clients.

The regulators also want firms to give customers ample notice if their service might be cut off or reduced once the Brexit

Gallery: Which government’s COVID support has been most generous? (Lovemoney)

Caps on excessive salaries should be introduced to save whole industries and redistribute wealth as coronavirus restrictions and changing habits cause large swathes of the economy to shut down, a progressive thinktank has urged.



a group of people standing in front of a sign: Photograph: Amer Ghazzal/REX/Shutterstock


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Amer Ghazzal/REX/Shutterstock

In a landmark report, Autonomy highlighted the fact that incomes in the UK are the ninth most unequal of the 40 most developed countries, and called for the government to ensure existing resources were better managed to create a fairer economy amid growing poverty. The Bank of England predicts that unemployment will double to 2.5 million people by the end of this year.



a man holding a sign: Protesters supported by the PCS union demonstrate outside the Southbank Centre against job losses due to Covid-19.


© Photograph: Amer Ghazzal/REX/Shutterstock
Protesters supported by the PCS union demonstrate outside the Southbank Centre against job losses due to Covid-19.

A majority of the public – 54% – would support plans for a government-mandated maximum wage, a poll of more than 1,000 people by Survation suggested. Nearly 70% would support wage cap limits at either £100,000, £200,000 or £300,000.

Companies could afford to raise the incomes of 9 million low- and middle-waged workers if wages were capped for the top 1% of earners, who take home more than £160,000 a year, the report says.

Related: FTSE 100 firms using furlough scheme pay CEOs average of £3.6m

A minimum wage of £10.50 an hour could be implemented if a salary cap of £187,000 was introduced, it calculated. The “national living wage” – the UK’s minimum wage – is £8.72 an hour for those aged 25 and over.

In the arts, entertainment and recreation industries, hard-hit by Covid measures, the top percentiles earn vastly more than the bottom 95%. To provide every worker with a wage of £11 an hour, only 0.64% of earners – 2,000

Activist investor Dan Loeb is urging The Walt Disney Company’s CEO Bob Chapek to halt its $3 billion annual dividend payment and redirect the funds towards content production and acquisition for its streaming service, Disney+, according to a letter Wednesday obtained by FOX Business.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
DIS WALT DISNEY COMPANY 122.89 +2.04 +1.69%

“By reallocating a dividend of a few dollars per share, Disney could more than double its Disney+ original content budget,” Loeb wrote. “These incremental dollars would, based on our analysis, generate returns that are multiples of the stock’s current dividend yield by driving high life-time-value  subscribers to your [direct-to-consumer] platform.”

Besides bringing in additional subscribers, Loeb said “increased velocity of dedicated content production will deliver several knock-on benefits spread across your existing base including elevated engagement, lower churn, and increased pricing power.”

Loeb, who doubles as CEO and chief investment officer of hedge fund, Third Point LLC wrote that driving more subscriber growth, while reducing “churn” and increasing pricing will “present the opportunity to create tens of billions of dollars in incremental value for Disney shareholders in short order, and hundreds of billions once the platform reaches a larger scale.”

Churn is the rate at which customers stop subscribing to video services.

Disney announced in its third quarter earnings report in August that the streaming service had surpassed 60 million subscribers. Meanwhile, Disney-owned Hulu has surpassed 35.5 million subscribers and ESPN+ has surpassed 8.5 million subscribers.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
AMC AMC ENTERTAINMENT HOLDINGS INC 4.04 -0.02 -0.49%

The letter comes as the coronavirus has prompted the acceleration of cord-cutting from traditional cable and has forced media companies to adapt to a new release model while the pandemic continues