In Brief: Loblaw scrapping single-use plastic bags

Plus: Scotiabank freezes its Hockey Canada sponsorship and the Rogers-Shaw merger hits another bump.

Lobaw to end use of single-use plastic bags

Loblaw Companies Limited will be pulling all single-use plastic bags from its grocery stores, pharmacies and PC Express service.

The move follows earlier initiatives by Loblaw to reduce plastic waste, including its adoption of the pay-for-bag program nearly 15 years ago, which has led to a 70% decline in the use of plastic bags in its stores. The grocer has set a deadline of the first quarter of 2023 for this initiative.

“As a purpose-led organization committed to helping Canadians live life well, we are proud to be taking a significant step on such an important environmental issue,” said Robert Sawyer, COO of Loblaw. “Since 2007, our efforts to reduce the number of single-use plastic shopping bags leaving our stores has led to 13.8 billion fewer bags potentially going into landfill.”

This announcement is part of the grocer’s larger ESG efforts. Specifically, it has been addressing climate change through a number of other commitments, including aiming for net zero greenhouse gas emissions, making all control brand and in-store packaging recyclable or reusable, and reducing the amount of food waste from its stores.

Scotiabank pauses its sponsorship of Hockey Canada

Scotiabank has temporarily pulled its support for Hockey Canada in the fallout of a sexual assault lawsuit that was settled by the organization.

In an open letter that was also published as a full-page ad in The Globe & Mail, Scotiabank president and CEO Brian Porter said he was “appalled” by details of the lawsuit, which are “contrary to the beliefs and values” of both hockey and Scotiabank. He said Scotia’s sponsorship of the organization would be on hold “until we are confident the right steps are being taken to improve the culture within the sport.”

Last month, details surfaced that the organization had settled a lawsuit brought against it by a woman who alleged she was sexually assaulted by eight then-CHL players following a Hockey Canada Foundation golf event in June 2018. The woman and the players, some of whom were also members of Canada’s World Junior team that year, have not been publicly named and the allegations were never brought before a court. The situation has raised question for the organization, namely whether or not any of its public funding was used in the settlement. The federal government also froze its funding of Hockey Canada last week until it agreed to come under the authority of the Office of the Sports Integrity Commissioner and disclose a report made by its law firm.

Scotiabank’s sponsorship of Hockey Canada, first signed in 2019, has been focused on growing the women’s game and making the sport more accessible at a grassroots level. That has also been the focus of its larger efforts within the sport, as well as its marketing efforts via the “Hockey For All” platform. Scotiabank says its money that would have gone to activities for this summer’s World Junior Tournament will instead be diverted to the Hockey Canada Assist Fund and the Women’s World Championship. Porter said he expects Hockey Canada to cooperate with a federal audit, as well as provide assurances that Scotiabank’s sponsorship money was used “as intended.”

Rogers, Shaw and Competition Bureau agree to mediation

Rogers and Shaw have agreed to begin mediation with the Competition Bureau over issues the regulatory body has with the planned $26 billion merger of the two telcos.

The companies had previously agreed to delay the deal to address the Bureau’s concerns and avoid having the matter go to Tribunal, but their proposal to sell Shaw’s wireless carrier Freedom Mobile to Quebecor last week was not enough to adequately address the Bureau’s concerns over competition and wireless pricing, according to filings with the Tribunal.

The first phase of mediation before the Tribunal will be held July 4 and 5. If the two parties don’t agree to the mediation’s proposed solutions, the matter could head to trial and push the closing date for the deal into the fall or end of the year. The deal was previously expected to close this summer.

Ontario builds upon its global reputation in AI

Artificial intelligence-oriented not-for-profit the Vector Institute has extended its partnership with its founding industry partners for another five years, through to 2027.

The arrangement reflects a “commitment to the growth of the AI ecosystem in Canada,” says Garth Gibson, president and CEO of the Vector Institute. “Over the past five years, we have had the opportunity to collaborate on multiple fronts, from advancing AI engineering capabilities to working with sponsors on supporting their talent attraction and retention goals. Their renewed commitment will help secure Canada’s leadership role in the field of AI.”

Established in 2017 with support from the Government of Canada, Government of Ontario and private industry and in partnership with the University of Toronto and over universities, Vector’s scientific network includes more than 600 active researchers and practitioners in the space from across the country. Among its sponsors are Accenture, Air Canada, all of the “big five” Canadian banks, Deloitte Canada, Google, KPMG Canada, Loblaw, Nvidia, Shopify and many others.

“AI will touch every sector of society, from health to transportation, and transform almost all industries, making them more competitive. Ontario is at the forefront of AI. We are recognized as a global leader in the field. Yet there is an economic race among countries in adopting AI in their businesses,” says Ed Clark, chair of the Vector Institute. “The continued commitment from industry in this space will help ensure Canada continues to lead the pack.”

With files from Josh Kolm