MONTREAL — Quebecor Inc. had $62.5 million of net income in the fourth quarter, up from $6.2 million a year earlier, as the company refocused its news media operations and signed several deals to set it up for future growth, including the acquisition of the French-language broadcast rights for NHL games in Canada.Net income attributable to shareholders was $43.4 million, or 35 cents per basic share, for the three months ended Dec. 31, versus $7.1 million or six cents year over year.Adjusted earnings from continuing operations came in at $68 million, or 55 cents per basic share, for the fourth quarter, compared with $52.3 million, or 42 cents per basic share, in the same period of 2012. Revenues for the quarter remained relatively flat, up 0.5 per cent to $1.12 billion.Canadian Press Quebecor owns the province’s most-read tabloid newspaper and its most-watched TV network. It also operates a 24-hour news TV channel and Videotron, Canada’s third-largest cable services provider.Analysts’ estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters had called for 53 cents of adjusted earnings on $1.15 billion in revenues.The Montreal-based telecom and media company said that its fourth quarter benefited from a $66.5 million favourable variance in losses and gains on valuations and translations of financial instruments. It also saw an $8 million drop in financial expenses and a $8.7 million favourable variance in losses on debt refinancing.It said the gains were partially offset by a $15.3 million unfavourable variance charge for restructuring its operations, impairment of assets and other special items; and a $3.2 million increase in amortization charges.Quebecor said along with the NHL deal, it anticipates “immense opportunities for future development and growth” through its acquisition of seven 700 MHz spectrum licences across Canada and a 20-year agreement with Rogers to build and operate a shared LTE wireless network.The company said savings from a series of restructuring changes with Sun Media Corporation will be realized in 2014, and will use to finance an expansion of its content offerings in print and digital platforms.Earlier this week, Quebecor’s former CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau announced that he was running for the Parti Quebecois in the next election on April 7, bringing his credentials as a good economic manager and his celebrity-like status to the pro-independence party.Peladeau had stepped down from the company a year ago, saying he would provide advice on strategic projects that were “vital” to the media and telecom company, but also cited family and philanthropy as reasons for leaving.But just days ago, the multi-millionaire owner of Quebecor said he was getting into politics because he wants to see Quebec become a country. Longer term, Peladeau could eventually emerge as a leader of Quebec’s sovereignty movement.It’s expected that he will be required by the province’s ethics commissioner to put his shares in Quebecor in a blind trust if elected.Peladeau, 52, comes from a prominent family and has become even more of a household name through his long relationship with Quebec TV star and producer Julie Snyder, a union that recently ended.Peladeau has also long pushed to bring the NHL back to Quebec City.His four-year tenure as head of one of Canada’s largest media and telecom companies wasn’t without incident and controversy.Peladeau sued a Radio-Canada vice-president for alleged defamatory remarks in a case that was eventually settled out of court. He also threatened legal action against the Crown broadcaster because it didn’t advertise in Quebecor’s French-language newspapers.There were years-long lockouts at major newspapers, Le Journal de Montreal and Le Journal de Quebec, while the company’s Quebecor World printing division ended up in bankruptcy and was sold.Quebecor’s Sun Media group bills itself as Canada’s largest newspaper publisher with tabloids in Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Calgary, the broadsheet London Free Press, along with smaller Ontario dailies in cities like Brantford, Sault Ste. Marie and Kingston.It has weeklies it picked up in the 2007 acquisition of Osprey Media’s 20 daily and 34 weekly newspapers. It also publishes the free 24 Hours transit publications. In December 2013, it sold 74 community weeklies in Quebec to Transcontinental Interactive.Its Sun News television network offers right-of-centre news and opinion coverage.
The Haldimand-Norfolk Board of Health is pleased the province has found a way to deliver free dental care to low-income seniors.It just doesn’t like the one-size-fits-all approach the Ministry of Health has adopted.The board of health will send a letter to this effect to the ministry. The board doesn’t understand why thinly-populated rural areas such as Haldimand and Norfolk can’t contract with local dentists and hygienists to deliver this program.Instead, the Ministry of Health expects the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit to hire a dentist (half-time), a full-time hygienist, a full-time dental assistant and a program assistant (half-time) and deliver dental services under its auspices.“This is a really good program for a large urban area,” Windham Coun. Chris Van Paassen told the board Tuesday. “But it would be a more efficient use of dollars to cut a deal with a local dental office.“I think the province will recognize the rural areas of Ontario and the different way we have of doing things.”Health units are expected to deliver free dental services to qualifying seniors 65 years of age and older before the end of summer. A report to the board says a single senior with an income of $19,300 a year or less or a senior couple with combined income of $32,300 or less qualify for free dentistry.Participating dentists and hygienists will perform preventive and restorative procedures as well as deliver diagnostic services.“This program aims to prevent chronic disease, reduce infections and improve quality of life while reducing (the) burden on the health-care system,” health minister Christine Elliott said in a letter to Mayor Kristal Chopp, chair of the Haldimand-Norfolk Board of Health.“A dental program for low-income seniors is a key example of the public health sector’s important role in supporting and addressing the needs of vulnerable populations to help prevent disease, complications and hospitalizations.”At Tuesday’s meeting, the board asked Chopp to write a letter to the ministry asking it to consider alternative delivery models for rural areas such as Haldimand and Norfolk.Chopp was also asked to circulate her request to other rural health units. Delhi Coun. Mike Columbus said such a request would gain “good traction” with municipalities facing the same challenges as Haldimand and Norfolk.Board members see a number of problems with the program as currently structured. Chopp likened the provincial model to a controversy last year where the operator of a local yoga studio complained that Norfolk was offering programming in direct competition to her business.Chopp says it doesn’t make sense to use an in-house delivery model when there are numerous private clinics that can provide the same or better service.Marlene Miranda, Haldimand and Norfolk’s general manager of health and social services, shares many of Chopp’s concerns and has already expressed them to the ministry.As it stands, Miranda said the ministry is holding firm to its service-delivery model and that Haldimand and Norfolk’s share of funding for 2019-2020 — $537,900 — cannot be spent outside of it.These concerns are also shared by Dr. Shankar Nesathurai, Haldimand and Norfolk’s medical officer of health.“From my vantage point, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution,” he said.Simcoe Coun. Ryan Taylor worries the program is going to send demand for dental services locally and elsewhere through the roof. He wonders if there are enough dentists in Haldimand and Norfolk to handle the surge and what effect this might have on the delivery of local dental services in general.Because Norfolk’s population is significantly larger than Haldimand’s, Norfolk council serves as the board of health for both counties.MSonnenberg@postmedia.com