Five things you should know before you start your work day on April 21


Good morning. Editor Nicole MacAdam (@nicole_mac1) here. BP is reported to be considering the sale of its oilsands assets, Ontario pulls the trigger on a foreign buyers’ tax and rent control and WestJet has plans to make flying even cheaper with an ultra low-cost airline. Have a fantastic Friday!

BP is the latest major said to be mulling an oilsands exit

BP is considering the sale of its stakes in three Canadian oil sands projects as part of the British oil company’s strategy of retreating from noncore businesses, Reuters is reporting. BP’s 50 per cent stake in the Sunrise project near Fort McMurray, where Husky Energy owns the rest and is the operator, is the most valuable of the three assets. BP’S Sunrise stake is valued at about $810 million, based on recent transactions in the sector. It also owns a 50 percent stake in Pike, operated by Devon Energy Corp, which is still awaiting a final investment decision, and is majority-owner of the Terre de Grace oil sands pilot project. A BP spokesman declined to comment. Sources declined to be named as the information is confidential.

Rent control, foreign buyers’ tax announced in Ontario

The Ontario government moved forward with initiatives to rein in the housing market, reports Garry Marr, with 16 new measures to control real estate, including a 15 per cent tax on foreign buyers and expanded rent control rules. The foreign buyer tax will have exemptions for skilled workers, refugees, those in the process of obtaining permanent residency and students. The plan will also expand rent control, and regulate that increases be tied to inflation, to include all Ontario buildings constructed after 1991. Called Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan, Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne said the plan has been in the works for weeks after months of consultation. “When young people can’t afford their own apartment or can’t even imagine owning their own home, we know we have a problem,” Wynne said.

WestJet plans a new ultra low-cost airline

WestJet will introduce a new ultra low-cost airline this year, Olivia Carey writes. While details about product offerings and fare levels would be released at a later date, the company said it will keep flights within Canada, the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean. While Canada has had its share of low-cost airlines — WestJet itself began as a discount airline and Air Canada has seen success with its Rouge brand — ultra low-cost carriers (ULCCs), which offer extremely low fares but no frills, have struggled to get off the ground. Bob Cummings, WestJet’s commercial executive vice-president, said WestJet has studied how successful ULCCs around the world have designed their businesses. “The density or the number of seats” along with the suite of potential a la carte services were among the factors Cummings said the company zeroed in on.

Carbon reduction is a $120 billion opportunity: Report

As Ottawa moves forward with a plan to tax carbon, writes Geoffrey Morgan, a $120-billion opportunity exists for companies that can help reduce emissions in Canada, according to a new report. Boston-based Lux Research estimates Canada’s carbon tax plans could generate $120 billion in tax revenues by 2030 and that money “can be funnelled toward domestic technology innovators. … While it remains to be seen how Canada’s provinces will spend the billions in tax revenues, proper allocation of funding can eventually position Canada as a global hotspot for innovations,” Lux Research senior analyst Yuan-Sheng Yu said. Yu’s report predicts that Canada would become “a destination for global technology developers” and that clean-tech providers targeting the transportation and waste-management sectors are the best positioned to profit from the transition.

CRTC kills unlimited mobile music plans with new pricing rules

The CRTC effectively killed Videotron’s unlimited music mobile plans, reports Emily Jackson, unveiling new rules that prevent mobile and fixed Internet providers from exempting certain content from data caps. The regulator’s decision on differential pricing, which allows customers to access certain content without counting against their data caps, created a framework that requires providers to treat all data equally. It did not, however, ban data caps — an issue that dominated public hearings on the matter. “A free and open Internet gives everyone a fair chance to innovate and for a vast array of content to be discovered by consumers,” CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais said. “Rather than offering its subscribers selected content at different data usage prices, Internet service providers should be offering more data at lower prices. That way, subscribers can choose for themselves what content they want to consume.”


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