Five things you should know before you start your work day on Jan. 4
Good morning and Happy New Year! I hope 2018 is treating you well, so far. Editor Nicole MacAdam (@nicole_mac1) is here with your morning headlines, starting with BlackBerry’s latest push into the driverless car market.
BlackBerry, Baidu team up
BlackBerry and Chinese internet search firm Baidu on will work together to develop self-driving vehicle technology. BlackBerry, which has developed software QNX Hypervisor 2.0 to run complex computer systems in vehicles, said Baidu would use its software for its self-driving open platform, Apollo, reports Emily Jackson.
Bottom line: The automotive industry is one of the fastest-growing segments of the technology market, as auto makers race to add more features toward building self-driving cars.“The opportunity is global, it’s for a very large market and I think it’s a very solid win for BlackBerry,” CIBC Capital Markets analyst Todd Coupland said.
Carbon taxes: All pain, no gain
In a perverse kind of way, this week’s 50 per cent increase in Alberta’s unpopular carbon tax — to $30 per tonne of carbon dioxide emissions — could be a big gift from Rachel Notley’s NDP government to her opponent, United Conservative Party (UCP) opposition leader Jason Kenney. The increase means the province now ties British Columbia for having the highest carbon tax in the country. But Alberta uses more energy for heating and transportation. It’s no small change in a lousy provincial economy with high unemployment, writes columnist Claudia Cattaneo.
Global retailers set up shop
A record-breaking number of international retailers entered the country in 2017, reports Hollie Shaw. Roughly 50 international merchants set up shop for the first time in Canada last year by opening standalone boutiques or opening small “stores within a store” at larger retailers, according to data from Retail Insider, which has been tracking retail store openings for the past five years.
Bottom line: The new entrants arrived in a very strong year for Canadian retail. Year-to-date sales to the end of October were up 7 per cent year over year, according to Statistics Canada.
Higher wages, but fewer jobs
The Bank of Canada estimates there will be about 60,000 fewer jobs by 2019 due to the increases in minimum wages across the country, but that labour income will be higher due to the increases. The bank estimated that about eight per cent of all employees work at minimum wage, a proportion that increases to 11 per cent if a threshold of five per cent above minimum wage is used.
Bottom line: In examining the impact of the wage increases, the report estimated that the consumer price index could be boosted by about 0.1 percentage points on average and real gross domestic product could be cut by 0.1 per cent by early 2019.
Vancouver real estate falls back to Earth
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver says home sales in the city were more “historically normal” in 2017, although the number of transactions was still the third highest in the past decade.
Bottom line: Sales of residential properties reached 35,993 in 2017, off 9.9 per cent compared with 2016 and down 15 per cent from 2015’s sizzling pace. The benchmark price for all residential properties was $1,050,300, a 15.9 per cent jump compared with December 2016.