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Amazon delivers hundreds of jobs to Calgary region

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October 26, 2017 Media inquiries

The Alberta government is supporting 750 new full-time, permanent jobs in the province as Amazon opens a new fulfilment centre near Calgary.

Premier Rachel Notley unveils future Amazon Fulfilment Centre site.

Amazon fulfilment centres are the hubs where online orders are picked, packed and shipped to individual postal addresses. The 600,000-square-foot centre will be built in Balzac.

The new facility is one of several important expansions international businesses have made in Alberta this year, including RocketSpace and Swoop in Calgary, Champion Petfoods and Pinnacle in Parkland County, Google in Edmonton and Cavendish Farms in Lethbridge.

“Amazon’s expansion is more proof that Alberta is the best place in Canada to invest and do business. We pay billions less tax than any province, and have no payroll tax, health-care premiums or sales tax. Creating hundreds of good-paying, stable and long-term jobs is making life better for Alberta families.” 

Rachel Notley, Premier 

Amazon selected Alberta for its new customer fulfilment centre following trade missions from Economic Development and Trade (EDT) Minister Deron Bilous and Calgary Economic Development, most recently to Seattle. The company was also assisted on the ground by Invest Alberta, an investment attraction service run by EDT.

“The Calgary Region is the major transportation and logistics hub and the leading inland port in Western Canada so it is a natural fit for Amazon to locate one of its fulfilment centres here. The ability for companies to efficiently connect regional and global customers is increasingly important to business and the Calgary Region provides significant advantages, from geographic location to top-quality human resources.”

Mary Moran, president & Chief Executive Officer for Calgary Economic Development

The new facility will join Amazon’s network of current fulfilment centres in Brampton, Mississauga and Milton, in Ontario, and Delta and New Westminster in B.C.

“We are excited to continue our growth in Canada and especially in the greater Calgary community where we’ve already received great community support. Our ability to create more than 750 good-paying jobs with great benefits is the result of our dedicated workforce across the country who continue to raise the bar on operational excellence and customer obsession. Customers have seen the great work they do and we couldn’t be prouder of our ability to grow in Canada.”     

Glenn Sommerville, Director of Amazon Operations in Canada                  

“When our government commits to job creation for the middle class, this is what it looks like! We know that global companies see Canada as a strong place to invest because of our talented and skilled workforce. We’re working with businesses to leverage strong investments and create well-paying, middle-class jobs. Congratulations to Amazon on this exciting new expansion and the creation of 750 jobs in Calgary.”

Navdeep Bains, federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development   

Quick facts

  • Amazon is partnering with QuadReal Property Group on the development and management of the fulfilment centre. For more information about QuadReal, visit quadreal.com.
  • Amazon currently has 2,000-plus full-time fulfilment employees across the country.
  • In total, Amazon employs more than 4,400 employees throughout Canada working at corporate offices, development centers and other facilities.

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President Todayville Inc., Honorary Colonel 41 Signal Regiment, Board Member Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Award Foundation, Director Canadian Forces Liaison Council (Alberta) musician, photographer, former VP/GM CTV Edmonton.

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Air Canada denying passenger compensation claims for staff shortages, citing safety

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MONTREAL — Less than four hours before departure, Ryan Farrell was surprised to learn his flight from Yellowknife to Calgary had been cancelled.

Air Canada cited “crew constraints” and rebooked him on a plane leaving 48 hours after the June 17 flight’s original takeoff time.

Farrell was even more surprised six weeks later, when he learned his request for compensation had been denied on the basis of the staff shortage.

“Since your Air Canada flight was delayed/cancelled due to crew constraints resulting from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our operations, the compensation you are requesting does not apply because the delay/cancellation was caused by a safety-related issue,” reads the email from customer relations dated July 29.

The rejection “feels like a slap in the face,” Farrell said.

“If they don’t have replacement crew to substitute in, then the flight (was) cancelled because they failed to assemble a crew, not because any other factor would have made it inherently unsafe to run the flight,” he said in an email.

“I think the airlines are trying to exploit a general emotional connection that people make between ‘COVID-19’ and ‘safety,’ when in reality if you put their logic to the test it doesn’t stand up.”

Air Canada’s response to Farrell’s complaint was no outlier. In a Dec. 29 memo, the company instructed employees to classify flight cancellations caused by staff shortages as a “safety” problem, which would exclude travellers from compensation under federal regulations. That policy remains in place.

Canada’s passenger rights charter, the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR), mandates airlines to pay up to $1,000 in compensation for cancellations or significant delays that stem from reasons within the carrier’s control when the notification comes 14 days or less before departure. However, airlines do not have to pay if the change was required for safety purposes.

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA), a quasi-judicial federal body, says treating staff shortages as a safety matter violates federal rules.

“If a crew shortage is due to the actions or inactions of the carrier, the disruption will be considered within the carrier’s control for the purposes of the APPR. Therefore, a disruption caused by a crew shortage should not be considered ‘required for safety purposes’ when it is the carrier who caused the safety issue as a result of its own actions,” the agency said in an email.

That stance reinforces a decision made July 8 — three weeks before Farrell learned he’d been denied compensation — when the CTA used nearly identical language in a dispute over a flight at a different air carrier. The regulatory panel’s ruling in that case emphasized airlines’ obligations around advance planning “to ensure that the carrier has enough staff available to operate the services it offers for sale.”

In the December memo, which was issued at the height of the Omicron wave of COVID-19, Air Canada said: “Effective immediately, flight cancellations due to crew are considered as Within Carrier Control — For Safety.”

“Customers impacted by these flight cancellations will still be eligible for the standard of treatments such as hotel accommodations, meals etc. but will no longer be eligible for APPR claims/monetary compensation.”

The staff directive said the stance would be “temporary.” But Air Canada acknowledged in an email on July 25 that the policy “remains in place given the continued exceptional circumstances brought on by COVID variants.”

Gabor Lukacs, president of the Air Passenger Rights advocacy group, said Air Canada is exploiting a loophole in the passenger rights charter to avoid paying compensation, and called on the transport regulator for stronger enforcement.

“They are misclassifying things that are clearly not a safety issue,” he said of Canada’s largest airline, calling the policy “egregious.”

Consumers can dispute an airline’s denial of a claim via a compliant to the CTA. However, the agency’s backlog topped 15,300 air travel complaints as of May.

Lukacs also noted that European Union regulations do not exclude safety reasons from situations requiring compensation in the event of cancellations or delays. Payouts are precluded only as a result of “extraordinary circumstances,” such as weather or political instability.

“This document, along with the previous declarations and behaviour since the beginning of the pandemic, shows that Air Canada’s priority is clearly to try to limit the costs of the flight cancellations instead of providing good service to its clients,” Sylvie De Bellefeuille, a lawyer with Quebec-based advocacy group Option consommateurs, said after reviewing a copy of the directive.

She said Air Canada aims to deter passengers from requesting compensation in the first place. “This tactic does not, in our opinion, demonstrate that the company cares about its customers.”

Air Canada disagrees with that characterization.

“Air Canada had and continues to have more employees proportionate to its flying schedule when compared prior to the pandemic,” the company said in an emailed statement, indicating it had done everything it could to prepare for operational hiccups.

“Air Canada follows all public health directives as part of its safety culture, and during the Omicron wave last winter that affected some crew availability, we revised our policy to better assist customers in their travels with enhanced levels of customer care for flight cancellations related to crew contending with COVID.”

John Gradek, head of McGill University’s aviation management program, said the transportation agency is partly responsible for the “debacle” because it established looser rules than those in Europe and the United States.

“Carriers have been making strong efforts to point fingers and claim delays are outside of their control to reduce liability,” he said in an email.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 7, 2022.

Companies in this story: (TSX:AC)

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Power utility TransAlta reports $80 million loss in second quarter

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CALGARY — TransAlta Corp. reported a loss of $80 million in its latest quarter compared with a loss of $12 million in the same quarter last year.

The Calgary-based power utility says the net loss attributable to common shareholders amounted to 30 cents per diluted share for the second quarter.

That compares with a loss of four cents per share for the same period in 2021.

Revenue in the company’s quarter ended June 30 totalled $458 million, down from $619 million a year ago.

TransAlta says its adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for the quarter was $279 million, down 13 per cent from $319 million in the same quarter a year earlier.

Funds from operations totalled $220 million, down from $267 million in the same quarter last year.

TransAlta’s free cash flow was $145 million for the quarter compared with $155 million in 2021’s second quarter.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 5, 2022.

Companies in this story: (TSX:TA)

The Canadian Press

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