Sen. David Tkachuk tells a group of pro-pipeline protesters to "roll over every Liberal" before walking back his remark as a "figure of speech."
Sen. David Tkachuk tells a group of pro-pipeline protesters to "roll over every Liberal" before walking back his remark as a "figure of speech."
WASHINGTON — Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm won Senate confirmation Thursday to be energy secretary, joining President Joe Biden's Cabinet as a leader of Biden’s effort to build a green economy as the United States moves to slow climate change. The vote was 64-35, with all Democrats and 14 Republicans, including GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, voting yes. Granholm, 62, served two terms as governor in a state dominated by the auto industry and devastated by the 2008 recession. She has promoted emerging clean energy technologies, such as electric vehicles and battery manufacturing, as an answer for jobs that will be lost as the U.S. transitions away from oil, coal and other fossil fuels. Granholm, who was sworn in late Thursday, is just the second woman to serve as energy secretary. She tweeted her thanks to senators and said, "I’m obsessed with creating good-paying clean energy jobs in all corners of America in service of addressing our climate crisis. I’m impatient for results. Now let’s get to work!'' Sen. Joe Manchin, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Granholm has the leadership skills, vision and compassion needed at the Energy Department to “develop innovative solutions for the climate challenge'' while preserving jobs. Granholm is committed to working every day “to ensure that we don’t leave any workers behind as we move towards a cleaner energy future,'' said Manchin, D-W.Va. During her confirmation hearing last month, Granholm pushed her plans to embrace new wind and solar technologies. But her position caused tension with some Republicans who fear for the future of fossil fuels. “We can buy electric car batteries from Asia, or we can make them in America,” Granholm told senators. “We can install wind turbines from Denmark, or we can make them in America.'' Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate energy committee, said Biden “seems to want to pull the plug on American energy dominance. So I cannot in good conscience vote to approve his nominee for secretary of energy.'' Barrasso and other Republicans have complained that a freeze imposed by Biden on oil and gas leases on federal lands is taking a “sledgehammer” to Western states’ economies. The moratorium could cost tens of thousands of jobs unless rescinded, Barrasso said. He and other Republicans also bemoaned Biden’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, saying thousands of jobs will be lost and a friendly source of oil left idle. Granholm assured lawmakers that creating jobs was her top priority — and Biden's. “We cannot leave our people behind. In West Virginia, and in other fossil fuel states, there is an opportunity for us to specialize in the technologies that reduce carbon emissions, to make those technologies here, to put people to work here, and to look at other ways to diversify,'' she said at her Jan. 27 hearing. During her introduction as Biden's nominee, Granholm described arriving in the U.S. at age 4, brought from Canada by a family “seeking opportunity.” She said her father found work as a bank teller and retired as head of the bank. “It’s because of my family’s journey and my experience in fighting for hardworking Michigan families that I have become obsessed ... with gaining good-paying jobs in America in a global economy,” she said. In other action Thursday on Biden's Cabinet nominees: SURGEON GENERAL Surgeon general nominee Dr. Vivek Murthy said Americans must not lose track of opioid addiction and other health emergencies amid the intense national focus on overcoming the coronavirus pandemic. He told senators at a hearing that “we cannot neglect the other public health crises that have been exacerbated by this pandemic, particularly the opioid epidemic, mental illness and racial and geographic health inequities.” After dipping slightly, opioid deaths have risen again, the result of street formulations laced with the powerful painkiller fentanyl. Murthy told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that the overdose rescue drug naloxone should be even more widely available and that medication-assisted treatment must be expanded. Murthy, who was surgeon general in the Obama administration, has drawn opposition from gun rights groups because of his assessment that gun violence is a public health problem. But he tried to dispel notions that he would launch a crusade against guns. He told Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., that while he supports government studying the problem, “my focus is not on this issue, and if I’m confirmed it will be on COVID, on mental health and substance use disorder.” TRADE REPRESENTATIVE Biden’s pick for U.S. trade representative promised to work with America’s allies to combat China’s aggressive trade policies, indicating a break from the Trump administration’s go-it-alone approach. Katherine Tai told the Senate Finance Committee that rebuilding international alliances would be a priority, as well as "reengaging with international institutions? to present Beijing with “a united front of U.S. allies.? Tai did not address whether the Biden administration would drop former President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum or whether it would revive the Obama administration's Asia-Pacific trade deal, which Trump killed. BUDGET DIRECTOR Another key Republican lawmaker came out against Biden’s embattled pick to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, raising further questions about her viability. Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley told reporters he won't support her nomination. He and Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski were two Republicans seen as potentially gettable votes for the White House, as Grassley had previously said he’d had good conversations with Tanden. Murkowski has yet to say how she'd vote. With a handful of other key centrist Republicans coming out against her in recent days, Tanden’s path to confirmation hinges largely on Murkowski and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., neither of whom have made their positions known. The White House was forced to search for a Republican to support Tanden after West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin announced his opposition last week. Lawmakers have largely cited Tanden’s controversial and at times harshly critical tweets about members of both parties in explaining their opposition to her. ___ Associated Press writers Alexandra Jaffe, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Paul Wiseman contributed to this report. Matthew Daly, The Associated Press
Revenue from its client solutions group, which includes desktop PCs, notebooks and tablets, was $13.8 billion, up 17% from a year earlier. A global shift to remote work and learning early last year had spiked demand for remote workstation products that benefited computer hardware makers and cloud service providers alike. Dell is in an advantaged position to capitalize on the projected mid-single digits growth in IT spending in 2021, Chief Operating Officer Jeff Clarke said.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Political divisions these days may be deep, but Ohioans never cease to agree on John Glenn. Both Republicans and Democrats on a state panel heaped praise on the late astronaut and U.S. senator on Thursday, as they voted unanimously to put a 7-foot (2-meter), 600-pound (272-kilogram) bronze statue of him on temporary display at the Ohio Statehouse for the next year. The period beginning next month will include Glenn's 100th birthday this July, as well as the 60th anniversary of his famous flight as the first American to orbit Earth next February. The vote was delayed about a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. “We really felt now is the time to seek any way to build unity that we can,” state Rep. Adam Holmes, a Zanesville Republican spearheading the project, said after the vote. “And this was one of them, someone we can all agree on. He was such a role model.” Holmes represents a rural Ohio district that includes the towns where Glenn, a Democrat, was born and grew up and said he tries to emulate him. “I tell people frequently that I would never assume to be like John Glenn,” he told members of the Capital Square Review and Advisory Board, “but I certainly understand where he came from. I certainly understand where his value system, his work ethic and his patriotism came from.” Rules governing permanent placement of a statue on Statehouse grounds say the person depicted must have been dead at least 25 years beforehand. Glenn died in 2016 at age 95. Holmes and Laura Battocletti, the oversight board's executive director, said the statue could be placed as soon as next week. The sculpture was crafted by Alan Cottrill, who was born and raised in Zanesville, a short drive from New Concord, where Glenn and his late wife, Annie, met and grew up. Annie Glenn died in June of COVID-19. She was 100. Even as unity around Glenn abounded, signs of the nation’s political tensions were peppered throughout the board’s meeting. The group discussed whether bulletproof glass should be installed on the Statehouse’s first floor to avoid the type of damage experienced during racial injustice protests this summer, budget increases for added security amid worries following the January insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, and new proposed rules for the removal of historical statues deemed racially or culturally offensive. State Rep. Erica Crawley, a Columbus Democrat who is Black, lauded Glenn and voted yes on placing his likeness, even as she strongly questioned and voted no on advancing the proposed statue removal rules, which include a minimum five-year waiting period. “This is the type of person, for his work, that we absolutely should be recognizing for his contributions to this great state, to our country, and, everyone knows, his contributions to space,” she said, proudly noting she and Glenn were both U.S. Navy veterans. Battocletti recommended tweaking Holmes’ proposal to place the Glenn statue outdoors, partly for fear it would be vandalized by demonstrators, who have arisen from both ends of the political spectrum over the past year to stage large Statehouse protests. “With the unpreditability of our social climate, I can't guarantee the safety of the statue, particularly from graffiti," she said. ”We've seen that for the last 10 months." Battocletti said placing the statue indoors, near an existing Great Ohioans exhibit, would also allow it to be used for educational purposes and keep from setting a new precedent for temporary placements, Glenn’s being the first. A resolution urging Congress to award the Glenns a joint Congressional Gold Medal was reintroduced in the Ohio Legislature last week, after lawmakers failed to act on it last session. Julie Carr Smyth, The Associated Press
Quebecers 85 years and older were able to register for COVID-19 vaccinations starting Thursday, while seniors in Ontario will have to wait weeks to book in that province. The Quebec appointments are to begin next week in the Montreal region. Ontario’s vaccine distribution committee, blaming a lack of supply for the delay, has said seniors won’t be able to book appointments until March 15. Provinces are moving forward with their vaccine distribution plans as federal officials assure the disruptions that have plagued supply lines have been rectified. The vaccine appointment launch in Alberta on Wednesday left many frustrated when the government's online portal crashed after more than 150,000 people tried to get access to it about the same time. Some 230,000 people born in 1946 or earlier are now eligible to be immunized in that province. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, military commander in charge of the federal vaccine distribution program, said he understands that provinces may not have a lot of confidence in dose deliveries after a disappointing performance in February. But supply is already ramping back up, he said. The largest number of doses yet was delivered this week — 643,000 across the country. "Provinces are now in a position to fully deploy their immunization plans," Fortin said. Even with setbacks in recent weeks, Canada's deputy chief public health officer, Dr. Howard Njoo, said more than 40 per cent of seniors over 80 have received one dose of the vaccine. About 5.5 per cent have received a second dose. Njoo cautioned it is not time for people to let their guard down. "For now, however, COVID-19 remains a serious threat” Concern over spread of the novel coronavirus in Quebec has prompted officials there to require primary school students in red pandemic-alert zones, including the greater Montreal area, to wear masks starting March 8. It won't apply to certain students with special needs or when children are playing outside. The more contagious B.1.1.7 variant — first detected in the United Kingdom — has become a significant concern in Montreal, where there is still widespread community transmission. The variant is making up eight to 10 per cent of new cases. Dr. Mylene Drouin, Montreal's public health director, said 40 per cent of cases linked to variants in the city involved children. Hospitalizations, however, are declining provincewide. Health authorities are reporting 858 new infections and 16 more deaths. Ontario was to release new COVID-19 projections later Thursday. The province has reported 1,138 new infections and 23 more deaths linked to the virus. There has been a total of 20,945 new cases across Canada over the past seven days. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
Lily is a long-term care worker. She is a qualified, skilled caregiver with over six years of work experience in Canada. She is also undocumented and was recently denied COVID-19 vaccinations because of her lack of status. Lily, who lives in Toronto, didn’t come to Canada illegally. She came to Canada on a work permit under the caregiver program in 2014, leaving her family for what she thought would be a much better future. She said she became undocumented in Jan 2020 as a result of a long and confusing immigration process. “This was to be a journey. So confusing and disappointing, I still cannot believe it happened. They tried to do the paperwork for me to get my work permit five times, waiting to hear from the Immigration Department as to what was going on,” said Lily, who is originally from the Caribbean, in an online news conference Wednesday to call for a safe, accessible vaccine strategy for migrant workers. The meeting was joined by leading doctors and health policy experts, along with advocacy groups. Hundreds of organizations have signed an open letter co-ordinated by the Migrant Rights Network which outlines the barriers migrants are facing, as well as specific solutions to ensure vaccines are accessible to all. Lily, the frontline worker, is one of many migrant workers in Canada who don't have a health card either because they are undocumented or have expiring permits due to government processing delays. One in 23 people in Canada doesn’t have permanent resident status. Many are in essential jobs including long-term health care, cleaning, construction, delivery, and agriculture. Registered nurse Pauline Worsfold, who chairs the Canadian Health Coalition and is secretary-treasurer of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, said at the conference that migrants should be included in the vaccine rollout, not as an afterthought, but as a “conscious decision.” “So my question is currently what is our goal. What is our goal, overall, for everybody in this country? It's to eliminate COVID so that we can have safe and healthy communities. It means the vaccine should be provided for me for whoever needs it.” said Worsfold. Currently, migrants who are from outside of Canada will only be eligible if they have a work permit that lasts longer than 12 months. Landing international students with a study permit will have to wait for a year before they become eligible. However, according to the Nova Scotia government's website, that eligibility for both groups is void if the person has left the province for over 31 consecutive days in the past year. The Department of Health and Wellness didn’t answer whether the province will be providing vaccines to workers without an MSI. “Those that reside in Nova Scotia permanently or temporarily will be eligible to be vaccinated when it is available for their age group. Details on that process are currently being worked out,” Marla MacInnis, media relations adviser for the Novia Scotia government, said in an email. The lack of “a stronger commitment” worries Halifax advocacy group No One is Illegal - Halifax/K’jipuktuk (NOII-Hfx), which also joined the announcement on Wednesday. The organization is urging provincial officials to ensure vaccines are available to everyone in Nova Scotia, regardless of immigration status. “We haven't heard the province really address people without migration status, people who are undocumented, or who don't have access to MSI, how are they going to get access to the vaccine. So that's something that's really concerning for us as well,” said NOII-Hfx's migrant justice organizer Stacey Gomez. Ontario and a few other provinces have temporarily expanded health insurance coverage to include all migrants in response to COVID-19. According to the government website, Ontario has waived the three-month waiting period for Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) coverage. Additionally, the province will cover the cost of COVID-19 services for uninsured people who do not meet the criteria for OHIP coverage. “Together, these measures will ensure that no one will be discouraged from seeking screening or treatment for COVID-19 for financial reasons,” reads the government website. Doctors and community leaders at the conference all emphasized a “private” and “confidential” process of the vaccination as they are worried undocumented people avoid receiving the vaccine in fear of deportation. “Many uninsured people with precarious status also worry of being reported to the Canadian Border Services Agency to face detention or deportation. Some, as a result, may avoid receiving the vaccine altogether,” said Dr. Danyaal Raza, board chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare, a national organization of doctors and health-care providers. Canada deported 12,122 people in 2020 – 875 more than the previous year and the highest number since at least 2015, according to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) data seen by Reuters. Lu Xu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle Herald
WASHINGTON — The Democratic-led House is poised to pass a bill that would enshrine LGBTQ protections in the nation's labour and civil rights laws, a top priority of President Joe Biden, though the legislation faces an uphill battle in the Senate. The Equality Act amends existing civil rights law to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identification as protected characteristics. The protections would extend to employment, housing, loan applications, education, public accommodations and other areas. Supporters say the law before the House on Thursday is long overdue and would ensure that every person is treated equally under the law. “In the absence of federal civil rights protection, there are members of the LGBTQ community who are fair game in the eyes of the law to be targeted, based on sexual orientation,” said House Democratic Conference Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y. “That is not America.” Republicans broadly oppose the legislation, echoing concerns from religious groups and social conservatives who worry the bill would force people to take actions that contradict their religious beliefs. They warn that faith-based adoption agencies seeking to place children with a married mother and father could be forced to close, or that private schools would have to hire staff whose conduct violates tenets of the school's faith. “The bill may have equality in the title, but it certainly does not serve all Americans," said Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C. “It is a vehicle for serious, harmful consequences." The House passed the Equality Act in the last Congress with unanimous Democratic support and the backing of eight Republicans, but Donald Trump's White House opposed the measure and it was not considered in the Senate, where 60 votes will be needed to overcome procedural hurdles. Democrats are trying to revive it now that they have control of Congress and the White House, but passage appears unlikely in the evenly divided Senate. The Supreme Court provided the LGBTQ community with a resounding victory last year in a 6-3 ruling that said the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applied to LGBTQ workers when it comes to barring discrimination on the basis of sex. Civil rights groups have encouraged Congress to follow up that decision and ensure that anti-bias protections addressing such areas as housing, public accommodations and public services are applied in all 50 states. Biden made clear his support for the Equality Act in the lead-up to last year's election, saying it would be one of his first priorities. Democratic Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon said her home state of Pennsylvania was one of about 30 that doesn’t have legal protections for LGBTQ people. She said the Equality Act is needed to end “the patchwork of state laws” around gay rights and create “uniform nationwide protection.” “It's been personal since my baby sister came out to me almost 40 years ago," Scanlon said. “For many people all across this country and across this House, that is when the fight hits home." The debate among lawmakers on Capitol Hill has also become personal. Rep. Marie Newman, D-Ill., whose daughter is transgender, tweeted a video of herself placing a transgender flag outside her office. Her office is across the hall from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who was recently blocked from serving on two committees because of past comments and tweets. “Our neighbour, @RepMTG, tried to block the Equality Act because she believes prohibiting discrimination against trans Americans is “disgusting, immoral, and evil.” Thought we’d put up our Transgender flag so she can look at it every time she opens her door.," Newman tweeted. Greene responded with a video of her own in which she puts up a sign that reads: “There are Two genders: MALE and FEMALE. “Trust The Science!" “Our neighbour, @RepMarieNewman, wants to pass the so-called “Equality” Act to destroy women’s rights and religious freedoms. Thought we’d put up ours so she can look at it every time she opens her door," Greene tweeted. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., pointed to the exchange to advocate for the bill Thursday. “I wish it weren’t. It breaks my heart that it is necessary, but the fact is, and in fact we had a sad event here even this morning, demonstrating the need for us to have respect," Pelosi said, at one point pausing and taking a deep sigh. “Not even just respect, but take pride, take pride in our LGBT community." Leaders at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote lawmakers this week to say they had grave concerns about the bill. Among the concerns the five bishops raised is that the bill would expand the government's definition of public places, forcing church halls and equivalent facilities to host functions that violate their beliefs, which could lead to closing their doors to the broader community. Some of the nation's largest corporations are part of a coalition in support of the legislation, including Apple Inc., AT&T, Chevron and 3M Co., just to name a few of the hundreds of companies that have endorsed it. Kevin Freking, The Associated Press
Un sondage sur le service postal en Basse-Côte-Nord, conclue que c’est une moyenne de 76,9% de la population qui se dit insatisfaite des services de Postes Canada qui leurs sont offerts, particulièrement en ce qui a trait aux délais de réception. Un service désuet selon la députée Marilène Gill. Un ancien résident de Tête-à-la-Baleine lance à la blague que les services étaient davantage efficaces à l’époque où Jos-Hébert assurait lui-même la livraison des colis, alors qu’il se déplaçait d’un village à l’autre, en traîneau à chien, afin de livrer le courrier aux résidents. Joseph Hébert a livré, pendant près de 40 ans, le courrier aux habitants de Pointe-Aux-Esquimaux (Havre-Saint-Pierre) jusqu’à Blanc-Sablon, 2-3 fois par hiver, tout dépendant de la température. « Postes Canada doit arrêter de traiter les Bas-Nord-Côtiers comme des citoyens de seconde classe. Les chiffres ne mentent pas. À la lumière des données récoltées par mon bureau, nous constatons que des 497 citoyens ayant répondu au sondage, 76,9% d’entre eux se disent insatisfaits du service postal qu’ils reçoivent. », clame la députée de Manicouagan Marilène Gill. Le préfet de la MRC du Golfe-du-Saint-Laurent et maire de Gros-Mécatina, Randy Jones, ajoute : « Au fond, nous sommes captifs de Postes Canada. En plus, déjà que la Basse-Côte-Nord est isolée du Québec, c’est très important pour nous de pouvoir recevoir des colis. » Il est important de noter également les délais de livraison de certains médicaments, ainsi que de biens essentiels. « Nos gens craignent pour leur santé à cause des délais de livraison. On parle ici d’enfants et d’adolescents diabétiques en attente de lunettes depuis plus d’un mois, dont la vision se détériore à cause de l’absence de traitements. On parle d’adultes souffrant du cancer qui voient leur chimiothérapie retardée à cause des délais. Les conséquences sont très graves. », partage Wanda Beaudoin, mairesse de Blanc-Sablon. La grande majorité des répondants à ce sondage (79,5%) confirme que la poste arrive en retard, ou très en retard. Karine Lachance, Initiative de journalisme local, Ma Côte-Nord
(Steve Bruce/CBC - image credit) Enforcement is now involved with the two latest cases of COVID-19 on Prince Edward Island, a woman in her 20s and a woman in her 30s, says P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison. Wednesday, the province confirmed the new cases and said they were linked to travel in the Atlantic provinces. Officials would not say what province or provinces the women visited. There was also a public exposure at the Toys R Us store in Charlottetown Tues., Feb. 23, from 10 a.m. to noon, after one of the women shopped at the store upon returning to P.E.I. "Two women were travelling over the weekend and travelled for the weekend off Prince Edward Island and they were diagnosed on return to P.E.I.," Morrison said Thursday afternoon, while taping her regular weekly interview with CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin. "Both were subject to the self-isolation requirements. "The matter actually has been referred to enforcement for investigation." Morrison said she could not say more because the matter is under investigation. 6 staff in isolation Six staff members at Toys R Us are now in isolation for 14 days due to possible exposure, Morrison said. Toys R Us in Charlottetown is closed for deep cleaning until Friday, after being exposed to COVID-19 on Tuesday morning. Public health was also expecting some customers from the store to come for testing Thursday, but Morrison did not have numbers, and noted the number was likely low because the weather was poor. Public health said all customers in the store between 10 and noon on Tuesday should not just monitor for symptoms, but self-isolate until they get a negative test. "We have to treat each one of these cases as a potential variant case — that's because of what we're seeing elsewhere in the region and across the country," Morrison said. "We are concerned but I'm hopeful at the same time we are able to contain and limit any transmission." Toys R Us regional vice-president Barb Hall said in an email to CBC News that all staff who were scheduled to work will be paid for their scheduled hours. "We take this situation very seriously," Hall said. "The store was closed [Wednesday] afternoon for the day, and will remain closed for the remainder of [Thursday] to ensure a thorough cleaning takes place which has already started." The store will reopen Friday, she said. Watch Louise Martin's complete interview with Dr. Heather Morrison tonight at 6 p.m. on CBC News: Compass. More from CBC P.E.I.
WHITEHORSE — Yukon is beginning to look toward revising its pandemic restrictions as the number of active cases of COVID-19 returns to zero. Speaking at the weekly COVID-19 update in Whitehorse, deputy premier Ranj Pillai says Yukon is "putting resources in place" to be prepared when the time to adjust restrictions arrives. In the meantime, Pillai says the government is extending and expanding assistance to hard-hit Yukon businesses. Supports include extensions to Sept. 30 for several programs, including a plan that helps businesses break even and another that supports employers who pay workers to stay home when they're sick. A new program also allows small and medium-sized businesses to seek up to $100,000 in deferred-interest loans, with no payments due until 2023 and forgiveness of 25 per cent of the amount if certain conditions are met. Pillai and chief medical officer of health Dr. Brendan Hanley both mentioned "hiccups" as the territory launched its online reservation site for immunization appointments, but Hanley says the problems have been resolved. The availability of vaccine marks an "exciting time" for Yukon residents, he told the news conference on Thursday. "We have seen an incredible uptake in appointments," Hanley says, confirming he has a booking next week for his first dose of the vaccine. "The turnout so far shows so much promise that we are well on our way to immunizing the majority of our population." Yukon has had 72 cases of COVID-19 and one death since the pandemic began. Its website shows 10,781 people have received their first vaccination and 3,585 have been given their second shot. The government has assured all Yukon residents who want the vaccine that they are guaranteed to receive both doses required for maximum immunity. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
Canada’s new border control measures for air travellers are turning into a nightmare for international students, said Languages Canada, a national non-profit representative for 203 accredited English and French language education programs. “The latest requirements imposed by government is taking away the ability to work for the 19,000 Canadians employed in our sector by unnecessarily choking the flow of international students,” said Gonzalo Peralta, Executive Director of Languages Canada. “The confusion, the lack of functionality, and the cost of new requirements associated with studying in Canada will result in [international] students postponing studies or choosing a competing destination,” he said. The new measures that went into effect this week, mandates that all non-essential air travellers take a COVID-19 test upon arrival and reserve a room at a hotel for three nights while awaiting their results. The measure would still be in effect regardless if the traveller’s mandated 72-hour pre-arrival test has turned out negative. The hotel stay will be at the expense of the traveller and expected to cost about $2,000. If the result turns out positive, the traveller would isolate at designated government facilities. Otherwise, they would complete the rest of their mandated two-week quarantine at home. Languages Canada said it has received a litany of complaints and questions from Canadian language education institutions and students. They include: Peralta said educational institutions have already spent millions of dollars to comply with COVID-19 readiness plan requirements as mandated by the government last fall. Strict policies have already been adopted for international students, including mandatory testing, tracking, and a 14-day quarantine. Systems costing millions of dollars have been set up to handle the logistics required to comply with these policies. “These systems have been working successfully from the beginning. In fact, Languages Canada’s Study Safe Corridor–Travel Safe program has not had a single COVID case among its students since it launched in October 2020, and it is designed to safely handle infections should any occur.” “It doesn’t have to be this complicated. We already have a proven, safe, cost-effective, and Canadian solution in place,” added Peralta. Canada’s language education sector is a vital segment of the nation’s $22 billion-a-year international education sector and attracts over 150,000 international students to learn English or French. Over one-third of language students go on to pursue post-secondary programs in Canada and many remain in the country as skilled immigrants. The University of BC said its working with Universities Canada and the Bureau for International Education to minimize the impact of travel restrictions on international students, according to the Ubyssey, the campus student paper. “Travel to Canada for UBC’s international students is considered essential. These are not tourists. Our hope in conversation with the government is to eliminate for students to be impacted by these changes,” said Michelle Suderman, director of international student development. Fabian Dawson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Canadian Media
OTTAWA — The federal government has been granted one more month to expand access to medical assistance in dying. Quebec Superior Court Justice Martin Sheehan has agreed to give the government a fourth extension — until March 26 — to bring the law into compliance with a 2019 court ruling. The decision comes just one day before the previous deadline was to expire. The 2019 ruling struck down a provision in the law that allows assisted dying only for those whose natural deaths are "reasonably foreseeable." The government has introduced Bill C-7 to expand assisted dying to intolerably suffering individuals who are not approaching the end of their lives. It is currently stalled in the House of Commons, where the Conservatives are refusing to facilitate debate on the government's response to amendments made by the Senate. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
Wheatland County voted not to support the draft of a regional planning document that, if adopted, could shape development across 10 municipalities in the Calgary region into the future. The Calgary Metropolitan Region Board (CMRB) was established by regulation passed by the NDP-led provincial government in 2017 to promote the long-term sustainability of the region around Calgary. It is composed of 10 member municipalities, including Strathmore and (a portion of) Wheatland County. A requirement of the CMRB is the creation of a regional planning document to establish overarching planning strategies for the region, relating to such things as land use, infrastructure investment and service delivery. This document, called the CMRB Growth and Servicing Plan, is due to be submitted to the province by March 1. While a draft growth and servicing plan has been developed by an external consultant, HDR Calthorpe, a planning consulting firm, it has not yet been finalized. As such, the CMRB is requesting an extension of this deadline to June 1, but it has not yet publicly received a response from the province. HDR Calthorpe has been presenting an overview of the draft CMRB Growth and Servicing Plan to member municipalities. This plan was presented to Strathmore town council during its Feb. 10 committee of the whole meeting and to Wheatland County council during its Feb. 16 regular meeting. Following the Feb. 16 presentation, Wheatland County Reeve Amber Link raised several questions about the impacts of the proposed CMRB Growth and Servicing Plan on Wheatland County. An aspect of the draft regional growth plan could affect Wheatland County as it prohibits employment areas from rural areas, outside of hamlets and “joint planning areas” (of which there are three: between Calgary and Chestermere, Calgary and Airdrie, and Okotoks and High River). The plan thus aspires to shut down rural growth and mandate that most of the growth in the Calgary metropolitan region be directed into urban municipalities, said Link. “This entire plan is built on a basic premise that specific types of development are only appropriate in certain municipalities, and that’s really being delineated by virtue of whether a municipality is considered urban or rural – and that doesn’t capture the reality of Alberta,” said Link. “Our rural neighbours in the CMRB have demonstrated that effective, sustainable and efficient servicing can happen for industrial or commercial developments outside of urban centres.” With challenges in the oil and gas sector, Wheatland County has seen significant reductions to its linear tax assessment revenue. In response, its council has been looking to attract investment, diversify and maintain the sustainability of the municipality, said Link. But this new restriction could hinder long-term investment attraction. “This growth plan certainly constrains, if not completely sterilizes, our ability to (attract investment).” The CMRB draft growth and servicing plan honours existing area structure plans (ASP), planning documents for major developments (e.g. residential communities, industrial parks), passed by member municipalities. But if significant amendments to an ASP are required, approval from the CMRB will be required. Under the CMRB regulation, if a decision is to be made by a vote, it must be supported by at least two thirds of the representatives from member municipalities with at least two thirds of the population in the Calgary metropolitan region. As Calgary accounts for about 90 per cent of the Calgary metropolitan region’s total population, this essentially gives the City of Calgary veto power. This voting structure of the CMRB, together with the growth plan, will move decisions away from local democratic governments to a model where one municipality exercises authority over all others, said Link. “That voting structure is essentially based on the notion that authority is given due to the population of that certain municipality, and ignores the responsibility we as rural municipalities have for stewarding large masses of land and our local communities.” This dynamic could affect Wheatland County directly, which has an approved ASP for its West Highway 1 industrial park which currently requires developers to provide self-servicing for wastewater and stormwater. But as the county is considering providing servicing to the area, this would likely constitute a significant change, requiring CMRB approval, and may not be seen as aligned with the new plan. “I don’t think anybody could have anticipated that our local autonomy would be stripped, and another municipality would be making the decisions on those amendments,” said Link. Link also questioned whether public engagement for the growth and servicing plan was sufficient. “The public was only asked to comment on high-level concepts,” she said. “They were never given the opportunity to comment on policy that would give them an understanding of how the plan would impact them.” There was little to no participation by Wheatland County residents, she added. Later in the meeting, Wheatland County council passed unanimously a multi-part motion to not support the draft regional growth plan, stating it is concerned significant portions of the growth plan have not been submitted as required. “We just don’t feel that we can in good conscience support the growth plan as it stands with the impacts of the policy that it contains,” said Link. “It is potentially extremely detrimental to economic growth in Alberta.” The contract between CMRB and HDR Calthorpe stipulates the submission of the regional growth plan, as well as a regional servicing plan and a regional evaluation framework, the motion states. But Wheatland County is “greatly concerned” none of this work has been “satisfactorily completed,” despite the county contributing over $165,000 worth of staff and elected officials’ time over the past 13 months towards the project, it reads. As a result, county council is requesting an analysis of the time and money spent by all member municipalities as contributions toward the work of the consultant for review and discussion at the next CMRB board meeting. An accounting of all project costs to date and project work submitted should also be provided, according to the motion. The final part of the motion states the CMRB board should review the draft submissions while considering the provincial mandate of red tape reduction and other provincial economic strategies. An updated growth and servicing plan will be presented to the CMRB during its next meeting, on Feb. 26. Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
Advocates behind a campaign for province-wide public transit say it would increase safety and access in underserved rural communities, while others recommend improving competitiveness so the private sector steps up. “There have to be substantive investments made by government all across the province,” said Interim BC Liberal Leader Shirley Bond. “But there also needs to be a climate in British Columbia where we have the private sector looking at filling some of those gaps, as well.” In 2018, Greyhound cancelled bus routes across the province citing low ridership and reduced profitability, the provincial government opened the routes up for bids, and all but two are now covered by private operators, according to a Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure spokesperson. One remaining gap is the former Greyhound route from Kamloops, through Valemount and Jasper, and into Edmonton. “If it's not a medical issue, you can't go to Kamloops or Vancouver or anywhere points south for any sort of pleasure or business, unless you drive,” said Barb Shepherd, a winter bus rider and advocate for increased bus service through Valemount. “Even twice a week like the one going to Prince George would be fine.” When Greyhound cancelled its B.C. routes, the provincial government formed BC Bus North to connect regional centres, including Valemount, Prince George, Smithers, Prince Rupert, Mackenzie, Dawson Creek, Fort St. John and Fort Nelson. “A lot of the rest of the province was left with a kind of a piecemeal bunch of routes that don't necessarily work together and don't run very often,” said Maryann Abbs, one of the volunteers behind the Let’s Ride! campaign to make public transit B.C.-wide. “Why don't we treat the rest of the province like it needs transit, and have it as a public service?” said Abbs. “We think it's a win-win for the government to put some money into providing decent transit service for the rest of the province outside the Lower Mainland.” Transportation dollars tend to focus on massive infrastructure projects and regions of congested traffic, said Bond, a former transportation minister under the Liberal government and current MLA for the rural-urban riding of Prince George-Valemount. “I'm certainly a supporter of those kinds of (urban) investments, (but) transportation issues exist across the entire province.” In fact, nearly 20 per cent of most people’s expenses in B.C. are for transportation costs, according to BC Transit’s 2020 Strategic Plan. “It is far and away the number one thing we're trying to improve on in the province,” said Ed Staples, president of the B.C. Rural Health Network, a collective of communities advocating for improved rural health care delivery. In a survey of British Columbians last year by UBC’s Centre for Rural Health Research, rural residents spent an average of $777 in transportation costs to access healthcare services outside their home communities for their most recent health issue. “For people living rural, to be able to access the care that they need, many have to rely on transportation that they can't provide for themselves,” said Staples. “Even if they can provide transportation, sometimes it's a huge inconvenience.” The province has a mix of public city transit and private-public intercity services. Communities over 10,000 population, and most over 5,000, usually have transit run by local government in partnership with BC Transit. In smaller communities, residents can book custom transit, via Handy Dart or the health authorities, to reach medical appointments as far away as Vancouver. Still, non-medical transport between many rural communities remains a challenge. “Many areas of the province are without any regional transit system, and rely heavily on private transportation services such as taxis and private charters,” said representatives of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (IBCIC) in a letter to Premier John Horgan last November. “We need a unified, provincially-owned and operated public transportation system across BC, bridging communities and making transportation accessible for all.” People need better access to get to work, daycare and medical appointments, said UBCIC secretary-treasurer and Neskonlith Indian Band Chief Judy Wilson. “It should be provided without hardship to families that live below the poverty line.” Some people resort to hitchhiking or finding rides through social media, said Wilson. “(The Province) did a lot of investments in Vancouver, but they need to also invest in the rural and remote areas,” she said. Recently announced Safe Restart funding, provided jointly by the federal and provincial governments, will limit fare increases and provide $86 million, mainly to BC Transit municipal partnerships, according to the ministry. The provincial government also funded 12 mostly Indigenous communities in the north to purchase vehicles and operate their own transportation services. “People question the viability of Greyhound routes, but it depends on how convenient they are; it depends on the frequency of when they come through communities,” Bond said. “How do we make it competitive enough and how do we make it convenient enough that there's room for private sector companies to survive?” According to a ministry source, the application process was simplified to encourage private sector intercity bus operators to serve abandoned Greyhound routes. Thompson Valley Charters, a Kamloops owned and operated transportation company, recently applied to run a twice-a-week bus service from Kamloops to Edmonton. “Public transportation to urban centres is a need for Valemount, particularly in the winter,” said village mayor, Owen Torgerson. “The offer from Thompson Valley Ltd. will provide a partial solution and hopefully will show others in the private sector that rural public transport is a sound business model.” The solutions are up for discussion, but ideally, people would have a public transportation system that runs on a regular basis, that they can count on to get them where they need to go, said Staples. “And that's not what we have right now,” he said. Fran@thegoatnews.ca / @FranYanor Fran Yanor, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Rocky Mountain Goat
U.S. property data and analytics company CoreLogic Inc has asked peer CoStar Group Inc for more assurances that it can complete their combination should it attract antitrust scrutiny, people familiar with the matter said. CoStar unveiled a $6.9 billion all-stock bid for CoreLogic earlier this month, after the latter agreed to sell itself to a private equity consortium of Stone Point Capital and Insight Partners for about $6 billion. CoreLogic has informed CoStar it would be willing to declare its bid superior and abandon its deal with the private equity firms if CoStar provides more certainty that the transaction will be completed expeditiously, the sources said.
Canada's Auditor General Karen Hogan on Thursday delivered her 2021 report, including five performance audit reports to the House of Commons. Hogan's report found that Canada's ship building strategy was slow to deliver combat and non-combat ships.
OTTAWA — The Public Health Agency of Canada is launching an investigation and reviewing its practices after two returning travellers were allegedly sexually assaulted during their mandatory quarantine periods. A spokesperson for Health Minister Patty Hajdu said allegations of assaults reported in the media this week are "really concerning." Cole Davidson said the public health agency would review its own procedures as well as those of its service providers to ensure the safety of travellers returning to the country. The response follows reports that a quarantine screening officer as well as a returning traveller have been charged in separate sexual assault cases that allegedly occurred last week. The Opposition Conservatives immediately demanded a suspension of the obligation for travellers to quarantine in hotels until better safety measures are in place, as well as an end to the use of security guards, who they say haven't been properly evaluated, to check on people quarantining at home. Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet says he doesn't necessarily believe the quarantine measures need to be suspended, but he wants to see improvements to ensure the safety of travellers under quarantine. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021 The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Manitoba New Democrats will meet this weekend and may debate everything from hiking the minimum wage to stopping pipelines to running nicer election ads. The official Opposition party is to hear from delegates online at a policy convention Saturday. Among the resolutions being put forward by local constituency groups is one that calls for increasing the minimum wage to a level that could exceed $15 an hour. Another resolution calls on the party to push the federal and provincial governments to oppose any new pipelines, fracking or extraction projects. And another calls on the party to avoid negative personal attacks in election campaigns. In the 2019 election, the NDP ran ads with actors who appeared to call Progressive Conservative Premier Brian Pallister an "ass," although the ending of the word was drowned out by traffic noise. "The Manitoba NDP will not engage in personally denigrating messaging during election campaigns," reads the resolution from the party's Interlake-Gimli constituency association. It says negative messaging must be avoided because it hurts the party's integrity, detracts from the party's platform and "because NDP election campaigns should not have to feel shame for the party's messaging." It's not clear how many resolutions will be debated this weekend. Because of time limits at each convention, only a small amount of the dozens of resolutions get discussed before time runs out. Even resolutions that get approved are not guaranteed to be adopted by the party if it forms government. Former NDP Premier Gary Doer never enacted convention resolutions that called for a ban on replacement workers during labour disputes, for example. On the minimum wage, a resolution put forward this year on behalf of some two-dozen constituency associations calls for a living wage that "may exceed $15 an hour when the NDP forms government." On energy projects, a resolution calls for an end to new pipelines, fracking and extraction projects in order to respect Indigenous land and to move Canada away from fossil fuels. Some resolutions call for aid during the COVID-19 pandemic — more health-care staff, more supports for small businesses and a ban on tenant evictions. Others call for expanded social programs — a cap on post-secondary tuition tied to inflation, no-fare transit in Winnipeg and wider medicare coverage for things like dental work and eye care. The weekend meeting is the second part of a NDP convention that started last month, when delegates gave Wab Kinew 93 per cent support in a leadership review. Recent opinion polls have suggested the party has grown in popularity. One survey in December from Probe Research Inc. suggested NDP support had surpassed that of the governing Tories for the first time in more than four years. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb 25, 2021. Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
Boeing Co will pay $6.6 million to U.S. regulators as part of a settlement over quality and safety-oversight lapses going back years, a setback that comes as Boeing wrestles with repairs to flawed 787 Dreamliner jets that could dwarf the cost of the federal penalty. Boeing is beginning painstaking repairs and forensic inspections to fix structural integrity flaws embedded deep inside at least 88 parked 787s built over the last year or so, a third industry source said. The inspections and retrofits could take up to a month per plane and are likely to cost hundreds of millions - if not billions - of dollars, though it depends on the number of planes and defects involved, the person said.
La campagne de sociofinancement pour les rénovations du Bar à Pitons bat son plein. En moins d’un mois, plus de 8000 $ ont été amassés, sur un objectif de 30 000 $, afin de permettre l’agrandissement de ce lieu culturel et d’ainsi assurer sa survie. Avec ces rénovations, l’établissement pourra revoir sa capacité d’accueil à la hausse et bonifier son offre d’activités. C’est la Coopérative de Solidarité V.E.R.T.E qui est responsable du bar et qui a mis en place la campagne de sociofinancement appelée Pour l’amour du Bar à Pitons. Selon Christine Rivest-Hénault, coordonnatrice générale de la coopérative, le Bar à Pitons est devenu, au fil des années, un endroit unique pour la scène émergente artistique du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean. « La signature du Bar à Pitons, c’est que tout le monde peut être une vedette. Ils peuvent tous venir chanter ou lire leurs textes. On accueille aussi beaucoup de groupes émergents. On a une offre qui, je pense, est importante pour la région culturellement », explique-t-elle, lors d’un entretien téléphonique avec Le Quotidien. Alors que les gestionnaires avaient pris la décision, en février 2020, de concentrer leurs activités sur le Bar à Pitons et de fermer l’auberge, ils ont été frappés de plein fouet par la pandémie. Le bar a dû fermer ses portes tout l’hiver, avant de rouvrir quelques mois à l’été. La terrasse extérieure a permis la tenue de certaines activités. Cet automne, la coopérative a dû faire face à la réalité. Les normes sanitaires ne permettent pas au bar d’ouvrir ses portes à l’hiver. Les gestionnaires devaient donc décider de le laisser fermé tout l’hiver ou d’amorcer des rénovations qui permettraient au lieu d’être adapté aux règles sanitaires. « Ça faisait déjà deux ans que nous pensions à ces rénovations et, comme tout le monde, nous ne savons pas combien de temps nous serons dans cette pandémie. Nous nous sommes donc lancés. Nous savons qu’il y a plein de gens qui nous aiment, qui tiennent au Bar à Pitons. Nous avons décidé de prendre le pari que tous ces gens-là, qui voient que notre mission est importante, allaient nous aider », se réjouit-elle. Déjà, les rénovations sont amorcées. La coordonnatrice est fière du montant amassé jusqu’à maintenant et reconnaît que son objectif est ambitieux. L’important pour elle est d’amasser le plus de sous possible, pour que la relance de l’établissement soit le plus facile possible, à la réouverture. Jadis un lieu touristique Le Bar à Pitons a bien changé avec les années. Lorsque la coopérative a acheté la Maison Price, où se trouve le Bar à Pitons, le but était de transformer cette maison en auberge. Au sous-sol, une salle de réunion avait été aménagée, surtout pour les visiteurs. « C’est comme ça qu’est né le Bar à Pitons, une toute petite salle principalement pour les utilisateurs de l’auberge. Rapidement, les gens qui habitent autour se sont approprié le lieu », souligne la coordonnatrice générale. C’est cet engouement qui a motivé les gestionnaires à faire des rénovations en 2015 et à mettre sur pied le Bar à Pitons. Le bar a eu le droit à un léger agrandissement, mais plusieurs espaces étaient toujours réservés à l’auberge. En 2018, l’auberge a commencé à perdre de la clientèle, tandis que le Bar à Pitons lui, en gagnait. C’est ce qui a amené les gestionnaires à fermer l’auberge, en février 2020, pour de bon et se concentrer sur le lieu culturel. « C’était rendu le Bar à Pitons qui faisait vivre l’entreprise. Notre programmation culturelle était de plus en plus riche, aimée et fréquentée, donc nous avons concentré nos activités là-dessus puisque c’est ce qui fonctionne et ce qui attire les gens », continue Mme Rivest-Hénault. La mission de l’établissement alors touristique a officiellement changé pour devenir plus culturelle. Tous les intéressés à participer à la campagne peuvent se rendre sur le site de la coopérative pour faire un don. Myriam Arsenault, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
MONTREAL — The Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec posted a return of 7.7 per cent in 2020, below its benchmark index of 9.2 per cent as the investment fund plans changes to its portfolio in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The investment fund's performance was dragged down by real estate investments, which suffered during the pandemic. The Caisse's real estate portfolio, which includes shopping centers and office buildings, declined 15.6 per cent in 2020, the Caisse said. "In an unprecedented environment characterized by sharp contrasts between the various asset classes, CDPQ delivered returns that, overall, meet the needs of its depositors,” Caisse president and chief executive officer Charles Emond said in a statement Thursday. The returns come after a turbulent year in financial markets, which saw stocks plunge at the start of the pandemic only to recover ground throughout the rest of the year as governments around the world mobilized to help the economy. The Caisse's depositors require a 6 per cent average return over the long term, the Caisse said. The investment fund's annualized return over five and 10 years was 7.8 per cent and 8.6 per cent, respectively, the Caisse said. Still, the Caisse plans to alter its portfolio in response to the pandemic, particularly in real estate. The pandemic and associated government measures have taken a heavy toll on investments like commercial real estate as more people work remotely or order goods directly to their homes. "In real estate, certain sectors continue to struggle with significant challenges that the pandemic has only intensified," Emond said. "During the year, we continued to transition this portfolio, including through various acquisitions in promising sectors." As of Dec. 31, the Caisse's net assets stood at $365 billion, it said, up from $248 billion in 2015. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. Jon Victor, The Canadian Press