News Briefs


Canadian electric vehicle registrations inching closer to Liberal government's target

Electric car battery charging at charge station in the nature

OTTAWA Canada is inching closer to reaching a milestone where one in every 10 passenger vehicles sold is powered by electricity.

But the federal government wants the share of electric vehicles to be twice that in just two years, and the pace of EV sales has to jump significantly for that to happen.

Statistics Canada data published this week show more than 30,000 new electric vehicles were registered in January, February and March, making up 8.6% of the total passenger vehicles added to Canadian roads.

Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association president Brian Kingston says he is concerned because that's down from the last three months of 2022, when the share of EVs among new registrations was 9.6%.

Kingston says the added cost of buying an EV and the limited availability of chargers remain barriers for many Canadians in making the switch.

But Clean Energy Canada spokesman Trevor Melanson says he thinks EV sales will show significant growth in the second quarter, noting the number of federal rebates issued for electric vehicles in April, May and June was nearly twice what it was over the winter.


MTY Food Group reports Q1 profit up, acquisitions help revenue more than double


MONTREAL - MTY Food Group Inc. reported a first-quarter profit of $18.4 million, up from $16.6 million a year earlier, as acquisitions helped its revenue more than double.

The restaurant franchisor said Wednesday its profit amounted to 75 cents per diluted share for the quarter ended Feb. 28, up from 68 cents per diluted share a year earlier.

Revenue at MTY totalled $286.0 million for the quarter, up from $140.5 million in the same quarter last year, while system sales totalled a record $1.36 billion, up from $885.7 million.

MTY said the increase in revenue was mainly due to recent acquisitions in the United States.

"Our acquisitions of Wetzel's Pretzels and Sauce Pizza and Wine during the quarter, along with the earlier BBQ Holdings transaction, largely contributed to 69% year-over-year growth in system sales in the U.S. market,'' MTY CEO Eric Lefebvre said in a statement.

"On the Canadian side, we delivered 32% system sales growth as the business rebounded from pandemic-related restrictions in the first quarter last year.''

During a call with analysts, Lefebvre said the company is expecting continued growth this spring.

"We need patio season to start for sales to go up in some of our concepts,'' he said. "It's a slow start to spring so far.''

The recent power outage in Quebec affected several of the company's restaurants, Lefebvre said.

While some restaurants lost power and were closed for several days, others with power "crushed it during the weekend and ran out of food,'' he said.

"As far as the power outage in Quebec is concerned, a lot of our restaurants were affected, some very positively and some very negatively,'' Lefebvre added.

MTY franchises and operates restaurants under more than 85 different banners in Canada, the United States and internationally. On the convenience side, MTY operates Country Style and Mr. Sub

At the end of its first quarter, MTY's network had 7,128 locations in operation, including 6,895 that were franchised or under operator agreements and 233 corporate locations.

-The Canadian Press


Lassonde reports $123.6M in profit for fourth quarter of 2022

Sign in front of Lassonde's Brampton Ontario offices

Quebec-headquartered Lassonde Industries Inc. reported $123.6 million in profit for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022, down $10.5 million from the previous year.

The agri-food company attributed the loss to a number of factors, noting it took a $5.2 million hit in 2022 following a production interruption of the cranberry sauce line at its New Jersey plant. 

Higher input costs also played a role, particularly for apple and orange concentrates and PET resin, including an increase in the cost of transporting the produce to Lassonde’s plants, the company said.  

Sales were up 9.5% to $556 million for the quarter.

Gross profit for the full year reached $523.3 million, up $1.4 million from 2021. Sales totalled $2.15 billion, up 11.3% from the previous year.

"Despite a challenging year impacting our financials, we achieved an important milestone in 2022 with sales exceeding the $2 billion mark for the first time in our history, representing almost 14% growth year-over-year. This achievement reflects the important efforts of our employees in the context of severe macro-economic headwinds and industry-wide challenges. During the past year, our team worked diligently to strengthen our leadership position in the North American food and beverage sector, with a particular focus on improving U.S. operations. We anticipate that tangible results from our operational excellence efforts will gradually become apparent in 2023 and 2024, establishing a clear path towards long-term profitable growth," said Nathalie Lassonde, CEO and vice chair of the board of directors of Lassonde Industries Inc., in a statement.

Looking ahead, Lassonde expects the financial health of consumers, inflation and supply chain disruptions to have the biggest impact on its performance in fiscal 2023.

The company said it expects the effects of cost increases on its branded and private label product offerings to continue to be felt in early 2023. It also expects further “pricing action” to be implemented as inflation persists.

-Canadian Grocer


Saputo signs deal to sell two milk processing plants in Australia to Coles Group

Close up of Saputo sign at their headquarters in Montreal, QC, Canada. Saputo is a Canadian dairy company.

MONTREAL - Saputo Inc. has signed a deal to sell two milk processing plants in Australia to supermarket giant Coles Group Ltd. for about $95 million.

The Canadian diary giant says the fresh milk processing facilities are in the Australian states of Victoria and New South Wales.

Saputo says the deal is expected to close in the second half of the year and is subject to customary conditions, including clearance from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Coles Group includes grocery stores, liquor stores, fuel and convenience retailers, a loyalty program and financial services.

Saputo says the sale will help streamline its operations and allow it to reinvest in other areas of its business.

CEO Lino Saputo says the company is continually working to ensure it has the right manufacturing footprint and product offering to enhance its position as a high-quality, low-cost processor.

``This marks an important step in executing our long-term vision for success in Australia as we maintain a sharp focus on efficiency to ensure we maximize the return on every litre of milk,'' he said in a statement.

Australia deregulated its dairy market and eliminated support prices and quotas in 2000.

According to Saputo's website, the company first entered Australia in 2014, acquiring a majority interest in the Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Co. Holdings Ltd.


Federal minimum wage rising to $16.65 per hour on April 1

Minimum Wage Sign

OTTAWA - The federal minimum wage is rising to $16.65 per hour on April 1, up from $15.55.

The government says the increase is based on the consumer price index, which rose 6.8% in 2022.

The federal minimum wage applies to the federally regulated private sectors, including banks, postal and courier services, and interprovincial air, rail, road, and marine transportation.

Ottawa set a federal minimum wage of $15 per hour in 2021 and increases it each year based on inflation.

The changes are made every year on April 1.

Where the provincial or territorial minimum wage rate is higher than the federal rate, employers must apply the higher amount.

Manitoba announced its minimum wage is to rise to $15.30 an hour on Oct. 1 to help low-income earners deal with the rising cost of living.

The wage, normally adjusted every fall in line with inflation, is currently $13.50 an hour. It's already set to rise to $14.15 on April 1 as part of an inflation-fighting measure the government announced last fall.

On April 1, 2023, Yukon’s minimum wage will rise from $15.70 to $16.77 per hour, the territorial government confirmed on February 23, 2023. 

As well, Quebec’s minimum wage will increase by one dollar from $14.25 an hour to $15.25 an hour on May 1, 2023, 


Manufacturing, importing straws and other single use plastics now banned

lots of single use plastic garbage

OTTAWA - Canada's ban on the manufacture and import for sale of some plastic items, including grocery bags and straws, has taken effect.

As of today, companies can no longer produce or bring into Canada plastic checkout bags, cutlery, stir sticks, straws and takeout containers - and in a year, it will also be illegal to sell them.

The manufacturing and import ban will extend to the plastic rings used to package six-packs of canned drinks next June and their sale will be prohibited a year after that.

The federal government estimates that getting rid of the single-use plastics will eliminate 1.3 million tonnes of difficult-to-recycle plastic waste and a million garbage bags' worth of pollution.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised in 2019 that a ban would take effect by 2021, but it took the government a year longer to figure out a regulatory framework to make it happen.

Statistics published last month suggested that Canadians were already cutting back on using items such as straws and plastic bags ahead of the national ban.

READ: Planning for the plastics ban