Weekly "Layalpur Post

Ontario Continues to Crack Down on Foreign Real-Estate Speculation

Government increasing Non-Resident Speculation Tax rate to 25 per cent, the highest in Canada

October 24, 2022
Ministry of Finance

TORONTO: As part of its plan to tackle Ontario’s housing crisis, the government is prioritizing Ontario families and homebuyers by increasing the Non-Resident Speculation Tax rate from 20 per cent to 25 per cent, effective October 25, 2022.

This increase will strengthen efforts to deter non-resident investors from speculating on the province’s housing market and help make home ownership more attainable for Ontario residents. For many years, there have been concerns that foreign real-estate speculation is an important factor driving up the cost of housing in Ontario.

“Young families, newcomers and those all over the province dream of having their own home, a dream which continues to be out of reach for too many,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance. “To help Ontario homebuyers, our government is increasing the Non-Resident Speculation Tax rate by another five percentage points to 25 per cent, making it the highest in Canada, to further discourage foreign speculation in Ontario’s housing market.”

This increase builds on the government’s previous actions taken in March 2022 to make Ontario’s Non-Resident Speculation Tax the most comprehensive in Canada, including:

  • Increasing the rate to 20 per cent, from 15 per cent;
  • Expanding the tax to apply provincewide, as it previously only applied to homes purchased in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Region; and,
  • Eliminating loopholes by focusing relief eligibility to only newcomers who commit to laying down roots in the province long-term.

This increase to the Non-Resident Speculation Tax rate is part of a suite of concrete actions the Province is taking to address Ontario’s housing crisis. Last week, the government announced that Ontario is also cracking down on bad actors by doubling the fines for unethical and illegal new home cancellations. These steps, built on recommendations from the Housing Affordability Task Force and the first-ever Provincial-Municipal Housing Summit, will deliver both near-term solutions and long-term commitments to provide more attainable housing options for Ontario families.

“Today’s announcement is another step in our government’s plan to make housing more attainable for all Ontarians,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “We are working to end Ontario’s housing supply crisis – both by building 1.5 million new homes over the next 10 years, and by ensuring Ontarians are able to access our existing housing supply. These measures are a clear indication of our commitment to do precisely that.”

A new United Conservative Party leader and Alberta's next premier to be announced tonight

Ontario Commemorates National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day

TORONTO, October 2, 2022 (LPC): Premier Doug Ford and Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs, released the following statement in recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day:

“Ontario is observing the second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Today, we will take the time to learn and reflect on the dark legacy of the Indian Residential School system and its impacts on Indigenous communities. We honour the survivors of Indian Residential Schools, as well as those who did not make it home, and acknowledge the ongoing trauma experienced by survivors, families, and communities.

September 30th also marks Orange Shirt Day thanks to the courage of Phyllis Jack Webstad, a survivor from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation who attended St. Joseph Mission Residential School in British Columbia. On her first day of school, Phyllis proudly wore an orange shirt given to her by her grandmother. When she arrived, the shirt was immediately taken away from her by school staff, marking the beginning of Phyllis’s long and traumatic separation from her family and community, and from her culture and language.

People in Ontario and across Canada wear orange shirts to remember and honour Indigenous children who were taken from their communities and families and forced to attend Residential Schools.

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day are an important part of Ontario’s journey of healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. The province will be lighting several government buildings orange to honour survivors, their families and the children who did not return home.

Ontarians are encouraged to learn about and reflect on the intergenerational harm that Indian Residential Schools have caused Indigenous families and communities, and to honour and commemorate those who have been affected. There are many learning sources available to deepen the understanding of the legacy of the Indian Residential School system and the impacts it continues to have today. The government has highlighted some of these resources at Ontario.ca/LearnTheLegacy.

Today, we listen to Indigenous voices and ensure they are heard loudly and clearly. We know there is a long road ahead, but it is a road we will walk together in the spirit of truth and reconciliation.”

Statement by the Prime Minister on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Ottawa, Ontario, December 3, 2022: The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities:

“Today, on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we recommit to building a future free of barriers, where persons with disabilities have every opportunity to thrive. We also celebrate the contributions of persons with disabilities, here in Canada and around the world.

“More than 6.2 million Canadians have a disability – and many have disabilities that are not visible. Persons with disabilities face discrimination, incur many additional expenses, and often encounter barriers to finding meaningful and well-paid work. We recognize that disabilities are diverse in nature – whether physical, sensory, cognitive, or mental health-related – and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. But whatever a person’s needs may be, the Government of Canada is committed to making our country more accessible and more inclusive for everyone.

“Earlier this fall, we launched Canada’s first-ever Disability Inclusion Action Plan, which features concrete programs, policies, and critical investments that aim to improve the lives of persons with disabilities – from achieving financial security, to finding and keeping a good job, to being able to fully participate in their communities. The Action Plan was developed in partnership with the disability community and tackles their key priorities. The government has also followed through on ground-breaking legislation.

The Canada Disability Benefit Act, Bill C-22, was tabled in Parliament this summer, and recently passed second reading in the House of Commons with unanimous consent. The goal of the proposed Canada Disability Benefit is to reduce poverty and increase the financial security of working-age persons with disabilities in our country.

By the end of the year, we will reach a major milestone toward making Canada’s public service the most accessible and inclusive in the world with the publication of accessibility plans across the federal public service. These plans will help shape the future of Canada’s largest employer and service provider, so that we can build a federal public service that truly reflects the population it serves.

“Around the world, Canada continues to protect and promote the rights of people with disabilities, including through international forums such as the United Nations (UN), the World Health Organization, and the Global Action on Disability Network. Earlier this year, Canada supported the successful election of Dr. Laverne Jacobs to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – the first ever Canadian to serve as a member.

“When everyone can fully contribute to our communities, we all benefit. When persons with disabilities have equal opportunities to work, have the same quality of service from their government, can access the supports and programs they need to enjoy the same quality of life as everyone else, we build stronger communities, a stronger economy, and a stronger country. Today, and every day, I encourage all Canadians to work together to help make our country a more inclusive, equitable, and accessible place to call home.”

Delivering dental care for children now

London, Ontario, December 1, 2022: Nobody should have to choose between taking care of their kids’ teeth and putting food on the table. Amid economic uncertainty around the world, Canadians are feeling the rising cost of living. To help families pay the bills, the Government of Canada is putting more money back in the pockets of people who need it most, when they need it most.

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today launched applications for the interim Canada Dental Benefit for children under 12 who do not have access to private dental insurance. Eligible families can apply starting today.

The Canada Dental Benefit will provide eligible parents and guardians with direct, tax-free payments of up to $650 per child, per year – to a maximum of $1,300 per child over the next two years – to help cover out-of-pocket dental care expenses for their children under 12. The Benefit is available to parents and guardians with an annual adjusted family net income under $90,000 who do not have access to private dental insurance. This Benefit is expected to help up to 500,000 Canadian children get the dental care they need and is the first step toward providing dental coverage for Canadian families who need it most.

Delivering dental care for children under 12 is a key part of the government’s plan to continue making life more affordable this year and building an economy that works for all Canadians. We also doubled the Goods and Services Tax Credit for six months, putting up to an additional $467 in the pockets of couples with two children for example, and we are delivering a top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit – a $500 tax-free payment – to an estimated 1.8 million Canadian renters who are struggling with the cost of housing.

We will continue to be there for people, make life more affordable, and deliver results for the middle class and people working hard to join it.

Province Recognizing Outstanding Contributions from Ontario Colleges

Awards honour college leaders and graduates who help strengthen the economy and improve lives

TORONTO, Ministry of Colleges and UniversitiesNovember 29, 2022: Yesterday, the Ontario government announced the winners of the annual Minister’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the Premier’s Awards for college graduates, which honour college leaders and graduates who have made enduring contributions to Ontario’s post-secondary system and helped build a stronger Ontario. The awards were presented at the Colleges Ontario Higher Education Summit in Toronto.

Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities, presented the Minister’s Lifetime Achievement Award to two outstanding leaders who made a lasting difference to Ontario’s public colleges. The 2022 recipients are:

  • Anne Sado, former president of George Brown College
  • MaryLynn West-Moynes, former president and CEO of Georgian College

“I would like to congratulate these two exceptional women for their hard work, dedication and contributions on advancing Ontario’s colleges,” said Minister Dunlop. “By acting as ambassadors of the college system, they have made a lasting mark on postsecondary education in our province. It is an honour to present them with lifetime achievement awards.”

The Premier’s Awards for college graduates recognizes recent and past graduates from seven categories who have made outstanding social and economic contributions to society. The 2022 recipients are:

  • Shereen Ashman from Centennial College for Community Services
  • Murray Brewster from Niagara College for Creative Arts and Design
  • Mark Cameron from Humber College for Health Sciences
  • Steve DeRoy from Fleming College for Technology
  • Jennifer Green from Conestoga College for Apprenticeship
  • Jason Rasevych from Confederation College for Business
  • Erica Williams from Niagara College for Recent Graduate

"Ontario colleges are critical in providing students with the career-focused education they need and in addressing the labour requirements of key sectors driving the province’s economy,” said Premier Doug Ford. “The winners of the Premier’s Awards are perfect examples of the potential our college students hold and why I have such confidence in our future. They are making a lasting impact and we are so proud of what these incredible Ontarians are accomplishing.”

“The extraordinary success of these graduates shows how our colleges are preparing students with the skills, knowledge and experience they need to have rewarding careers, supporting the workforce of today and tomorrow,” said Minister Dunlop. “Their incredible achievements – from developing career training programs for young Black professionals, to adding Canada’s Indigenous communities to Google Maps and Google Earth – are helping to strengthen our economy and make very real and tangible differences in the lives of Ontarians.”

“These awards are a great tribute to our college graduates’ phenomenal success in Ontario and throughout the world. We’re very proud of all of our nominees and recipients and congratulate them on everything they have achieved in their chosen fields,” said Linda Franklin, President and CEO, Colleges Ontario.

For a full list of the 2022 Minister’s Lifetime Achievement Awards and Premier’s Awards recipients, see Backgrounder.

Prime Minister announces appointment of new Chief Justice of Alberta

Ottawa, Ontario, November 29, 2022: The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced the appointment of the Honourable Ritu Khullar, a judge of the Court of Appeal of Alberta, as the new Chief Justice of Alberta, Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal for the Northwest Territories, and Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal of Nunavut.

Chief Justice Khullar replaces the Honourable Catherine A. Fraser, the first woman appointed Chief Justice of a province in Canada, who retired earlier this year.

Governor General to invest 46 appointees into the Order of Canada

Ottawa, Ontario, November 29, 2022: Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada, will invest 12 Officers (O.C.) and 34 Members (C.M.) into the Order of Canada during a ceremony at Rideau Hall.

The Order of Canada is one of our country’s highest honours. Appointments are made for sustained achievement at three levels: Companion, Officer and Member. Officers and Members may be elevated within the Order in recognition of further achievements, based on continued exceptional or extraordinary service to Canada.

List of appointees attending the ceremony

Date: Thursday, December 1, 2022
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Location: Rideau Hall Ballroom

Notes to media:

  • To guarantee your access to the ceremony, we ask that you please confirm your attendance with the Rideau Hall Press Office at media@gg.ca.
  • Media are asked to arrive at the Princess Anne Entrance no later than 10:30 a.m. on the day of the ceremony.
  • Please note that masks are mandatory.
  • Official photos of the ceremony will be made available upon request.
  • The Rideau Hall Press Office will gladly coordinate interviews with those invested into the Order of Canada where possible.

Ontario Investing in Critical Infrastructure to Support Regional Population Growth and Housing

New legislation would further enhance wastewater treatment to support residential growth while maintaining world-class environmental protections

October 25, 2022
Ministry of the Environment Conservation and Parks

PICKERING – Based on expert advice, Ontario is proposing new legislation that, if passed, would support the continued delivery of world-class wastewater treatment services for the Region of York. Through the proposed Supporting Growth and Housing in York and Durham Act, 2022, Ontario would facilitate expedited improvements to the existing York-Durham Sewage System network connected to the Duffin Creek treatment facility that is co-owned and operated by York and Durham Regions.

Following recommendations of the York Region Wastewater Advisory Panel, the proposed legislation accommodates regional growth by leveraging an existing wastewater infrastructure service agreement between York and Durham Regions that delivers high-quality, treated water safely and responsibly into Lake Ontario. The expansion of this infrastructure is the most effective option available, leveraging existing wastewater treatment services under the Co-Ownership Agreement between Durham and York Regions who share treatment facility assets to support their collective population growth.

“Expansion of this shared critical wastewater infrastructure for York and Durham Regions is needed to support their significant population housing, and economic growth. Our government is proposing a solution that ensures the most robust wastewater treatment as these communities continue to grow,” said David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “The Duffin Creek treatment facility is one of the best performing wastewater facilities in the province that ensures the protection, enjoyment and welfare of Lake Ontario, shoreline communities and nearshore areas.”

The Duffin Creek treatment facility is one of the top performing wastewater treatment plants in Ontario, achieving world-class standards for high quality treatment, phosphorus control and protective measures for the surrounding environment and watershed, with a capacity to process 630 million litres per day. Today, this facility operates at approximately 50 per cent capacity and the proposal would add an additional 12 per cent to the current flow levels, meaning it has the capacity to ensure every litre of water the plant receives gets high quality treatment. Over the past 25 years, governments at all levels have invested more than $850 million in the plant, making it one of the best performing treatment facilities on the Lake Ontario shoreline. Phosphorous limits at the plant are significantly lower than those at other wastewater facilities in Ontario and will continue to be reduced as the facility implements additional upgrades between now and 2030.

In parallel with this initiative, Ontario continues to make multi-million-dollar improvements to wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, investing in the latest technology for real-time wastewater monitoring. In January 2022, Ontario invested $15 million to build, upgrade and rehabilitate storm and wastewater infrastructure in the Lake Ontario basin. This includes optimizing plants, improving local sewer systems and investing in green infrastructure. The Regional Municipality of Durham is receiving $836,590 through this program which will help improve water quality in Lake Ontario.

Further, Ontario invested $6.3 million in 51 projects to protect and improve Lake Ontario. This includes projects under the Canada-Ontario Agreement (COA) Nutrients Annex commitments focused on the Lake Ontario basin and science/monitoring projects. In Durham, this includes monitoring exit loads of phosphorus to Lake Ontario from tributaries, monitoring nutrient and weather event discharges from tributaries, quantifying nutrient loadings and determining internal phosphorus loading in western Lake Ontario coastal wetlands.

The government will also be boosting science and monitoring capacity of Lake Ontario by making investments focused on monitoring and research with external partners to track, predict and better understand conditions in Lake Ontario. This work will ensure we continue to support and maintain the highest quality of water for Lake Ontario.

Premier Doug Ford issues greetings for Diwali and Bandi Chhor Divas

October 24, 2022
Premier's Office

Today, Premier Doug Ford issued the following statement to mark the Diwali and Bandi Chhor Divas holidays:

“Today across Ontario and all around the globe, those of the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Jain faiths are beginning their celebrations of Diwali. Also called the Festival of Lights, Diwali is one of the world’s largest celebrations: commemorating the spiritual victory of light over darkness.

Those observing the five-day Diwali festival will decorate their homes, share gifts, meals and sweets with family and friends, spend time in prayer and celebrate with diya lamp lightings and fireworks displays. The Sikh community is also preparing to mark the Bandi Chhor Divas holiday, which falls on the same date as Diwali.

Also known as Prisoner Liberation Day, Bandi Chhor Divas dates back to 1619 and honours the occasion on which Guru Hargobind gained his freedom from unjust imprisonment, freeing 52 fellow innocents at the same time. In commemoration of the Guru’s journey to freedom, Sikhs light candles and fireworks, sing sacred songs, and prepare a festive langar feast.

These two holidays are a wonderful chance to gather together as a community, and to reflect on the days behind us while trusting the light of knowledge to guide us forward in the days ahead. On behalf of the government of Ontario, I wish a happy Diwali and Bandi Chhor Divas to all those celebrating.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok

Ottawa, Ontario, October 25, 2022 (LPP, LPC):Yesterday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok to discuss shared priorities. The two leaders were joined by Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI) President, Aluki Kotierk, and NTI Vice-President, James Eetoolook.

The Prime Minister congratulated the Premier on the launch of Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Housing Corporation’s new Nunavut 3000 strategy, Igluliuqatigiingniq, which means building houses together in Inuktitut. The Prime Minister also acknowledged the extensive collaboration among the government and Inuit partners in Nunavut in the strategy’s development as a positive step in advancing progress on housing issues in the territory.

The leaders discussed addressing housing needs in Nunavut as a key priority with important considerations for the health, well-being, and prosperity of Nunavummiut and their communities, particularly in terms of supporting job opportunities in the territory. The leaders agreed on the need for close cooperation across governments and with Inuit and other key partners to close the housing gap in Nunavut.

The Prime Minister and Premier Akeeagok also discussed the collective work that the governments of Canada and Nunavut as well as NTI have undertaken toward a Nunavut Devolution Final Agreement. The leaders agreed that all involved must continue to collaborate to achieve a final agreement so that Nunavummiut will finally have full decision-making power over their lands and resources.

The Prime Minister and Premier looked forward to continued collaboration in support of these and other priorities of importance to Nunavummiut.

Wood from B.C. forests is being burned for electricity billed as green but critics say that's deceptive

Pellets from virgin forests fuel the U.K.'s Drax Power Station, backed by politicians and subsidies

VANCOUR, Canada, October 9, 2022:From the highway just south of Prince George, B.C., you can see the logs, thousands of them, piled neatly in rows. They were cut from trees in old growth and primary forests in the province's Interior. This timber won't be used to build homes or furniture, or even to make paper. These logs will be ground and compressed into tiny pellets, shipped to Europe and Asia and burned to produce fuel for electricity. Britain's largest power plant, Drax Power Station, controls most of B.C.'s pellet production and has ambitious plans to expand operations in Canada.

The industry and the B.C. government pitch wood pellets as a renewable source of energy that will help countries meet their climate targets, and as a way to create jobs in the forestry sector. An investigation by CBC's The Fifth Estate has found that Drax catapulted a small industry it says is green into an investor-driven, international operation dependent on logging in areas that include B.C.'s old growth and primary forests. 

Activists, scientists and environmentalists argue that far from being green, wood pellet production generates few jobs and actually makes the climate crisis worse. And they say it's all happening with the support of B.C. Premier John Horgan's NDP government, long criticized for being too close to the forestry industry.

"The greenwashing of the pellet industry needs to stop," Bob Simpson, the mayor of Quesnel, a town in B.C.'s Interior whose fortunes rise and fall with the forestry sector, told The Fifth Estate. The industry says it is renewable because trees grow back while fossil fuels do not. Scientists say that forests take decades, even centuries, to regenerate, and that burning wood produces more emissions than coal.

"We need to see it for what it is: It is a money-making machine for a few people based on subsidies in the U.K. at the expense of British Columbia," said Simpson. Bob Simpson, the mayor of Quesnel, B.C., says the wood pellet industry needs to be seen for what it is. 'It is a money-making machine for a few people based on subsidies in the U.K. at the expense of British Columbia.' (CBC)

The wood pellet industry has been endorsed by Horgan, who calls it a "win-win" for the economy and the environment. B.C. Forests Minister Katrine Conroy has promoted the expansion of the sector into Asia. Concerns about the industry and its relationship with those who oversee it were exacerbated earlier this year, when the province's longtime chief forester, Diane Nicholls, was hired by Drax as a vice-president.

"Whenever a bureaucrat jumps ship lockstep to an industry that that bureaucrat has made decisions about supporting, I think a polite term is messy," said Simpson. "I think it begs an investigation." Horgan declined an interview with The Fifth Estate. In a statement, Conroy said Nichols was "instrumental in ushering in a new era of forest management planning" and the wood pellet industry helps reduce waste in the forest.

The wood pellet industry says it uses sawmill residue and what it calls "harvest residuals," the tops of trees and branches left in the forest after logging. The province exported $174 million worth of wood pellets in 2012, according to Statistics Canada data, mostly to Britain. That figure more than doubled to $378 million last year, or 2.4 million tonnes, with Japan now closing in on the U.K. as a recipient.

Drax gets its pellets from forests around the world, including the United States, Europe and South America. The company has plans to almost double pellet production by 2030, from five million tonnes globally to eight million tonnes. Drax's plans to expand have many observers in B.C. wondering where that increased supply will come from, and what it will mean for the province's forests. 

Drax operates in areas that include 'old growth forests'

The wood pellet industry has already been facing a barrage of criticism on both sides of the Atlantic over its green promises, both for what is happening in the forest and for the carbon emissions produced by burning the pellets. Michelle Connolly, a director with the Prince George, B.C.-based group Conservation North, has uncovered data showing that pellet companies not only depend on the logging of forests, but they are also getting licences to log themselves. 

"The wood pellet industry in B.C. is set to expand in a big way," said Connolly. "And the only way they can do it is if the B.C. government continues to allow the logging of primary forests for this purpose. And this has to stop." Michelle Connolly, a director with the Prince George-based group Conservation North, has uncovered data showing pellet companies not only depend on the logging of forests, but they are also getting licences to log themselves. (CBC)

Conservation North teamed up with Ben Parfitt, a Victoria-based policy analyst for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). He scoured the Harvest Billing System, a publicly available provincial database, and discovered Pinnacle Resources, which was purchased by Drax in 2021, obtained numerous logging licences. "Drax and the government are consistently telling a story that says this industry is fuelled on waste," said Parfitt. "I think it is extremely deceptive … We never hear them talking about the fact that hundreds of thousands of whole logs are ending up in pellet facilities every year."

In the fine print of their March 2022 annual report, Drax acknowledges it is now "operating in regions that include old growth forests" in B.C. The report states that Drax was complying with "interim" restrictions the provincial government had placed on some of those old growth forests, pending a review.

Drax defends burning B.C. wood in England

Joe Aquino, Drax's director of sustainability, told The Fifth Estate's Lyndsay Duncombe that the company only uses lower quality trees from logging operations that otherwise "would have no other purpose." Higher quality logs are used by sawmills or other manufacturers, according to Drax. 

During a tour of the company's Meadowbank facility south of Prince George, Aquino said 80 per cent of the plant's pellets come from sawmill waste. The other 20 per cent comes from forest materials, including "roundwood" or what he called "biologs." 

Central to Drax's green argument is that it uses sawmill residue and also what it calls "waste" left behind in the clearcut forest — including tops of trees and branches — known as slash piles. Common logging practice is to burn those slash piles, partly to prevent wildfires from spreading in the dead debris. "We're using material that would get burnt anyways," Aquino told The Fifth Estate.

In B.C., the practice of burning slash piles has itself been widely criticized as a significant source of the province's carbon emissions. The Horgan government once promised to tax logging companies that created and burned slash piles. Now, it is a booster of the industry that promises to burn that wood overseas, far from British Columbia.

A protester demonstrates against Drax, the U.K.'s biggest power plant, which burns wood pellets from Canada and the U.S. for fuel. The protest took place outside the London offices of the British government's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in April. (Axe Drax/Facebook)

Drax emitting carbon in U.K.

In England, the carbon coming out of the Drax smokestack is making headlines and fuelling anger. "It's increasing carbon emissions in the atmosphere in the short and medium term and it's being subsidized to do so," said Duncan Brack, a policy adviser with the London think-tank Chatham House. He advised the U.K. government on renewable energy between 2010 and 2012.

Drax is 'increasing carbon emissions in the atmosphere in the short and medium term and it's being subsidized to do so,' says Duncan Brack, policy analyst at the London think-thank Chatham House. (CBC)

More than 50 members of Parliament signed a letter in December 2021 demanding an end to wood pellet subsidies, calling the burning of trees for energy a "scandal." In 2021, Drax received two million pounds a day in subsidies from the U.K. government — more than five billion pounds to date, or $7 billion Cdn. 

More than 500 scientists and economists also wrote a letter demanding an end to those subsidies, calling burning wood a "false solution" to the climate crisis, and saying "trees are more valuable alive than dead, both for climate and for biodiversity." Drax was recently dropped from the S&P's green energy index. 

The European Union has debated the wood pellet industry's green classification for months. A compromise decision was reached last month to leave the industry's renewable status largely intact. British Labour MP Barry Gardiner described the decision to subsidize Drax as a mistake. 

"Now that we understand so much more, we can't any longer think 'Oh well, that means [burning wood pellets is] better than coal … better than gas.' The reality is that we know it's not," he said. "We've just got to say, 'We got it wrong.' " British Labour MP Barry Gardiner describes the decision to subsidize Drax as a mistake. 'We've just got to say, 'We got it wrong,' ' he said. (CBC)

More emissions than coal

Brack said scientific studies show that burning wood produces more carbon emissions than coal. "If you burn wood in the presence of oxygen, it generates more carbon dioxide per unit of energy generated than if you burn almost all types of coal."

Drax is noticing the opposition. In a report to shareholders in 2021, the company warned of a "risk" that "detractors" might "influence" politicians, leading to "reduced support" for the industry. And in a separate report, it outlines a strategy to counter that by "maintaining strong relationships" with government officials, including in Canada.

Adam Olsen, a Green Party member of the B.C. legislature and his party's forestry critic, said the Horgan government's support of the wood pellet sector is part of a larger crisis within the province's forest management. "This government, this institution in British Columbia, is entirely captured by industry." 

Olsen points to the recent departure of Nicholls, the province's top forestry official whose forest management strategy had included efforts to expand the pellet industry. Two years ago, she took part in a promotional video for the Wood Pellet Association, and in 2019 she was part of a trade mission to Japan.

This past spring, Nicholls left her post to join Drax as its vice-president of sustainability for North America. The company did not make Nicholls available for an interview. [The pellet industry] could be a vacuum for all our remaining primary forests. And that's what became our biggest fear. While the logging industry overall has declined in B.C. in the last two decades, losing half of what was once almost 100,000 jobs, wood pellet production has ramped up.

Thirteen pellet mills now operate across the province. Drax has ownership stakes in eight of them. Detractors say it's low-value production that doesn't put the wood to its best possible use and provides little economic stimulus. Using data from two labour unions, the CCPA's Parfitt estimated that the pellet mills directly employed about 300 people in 2020.

On the other hand, once those mills are built and operating, Parfitt said it's not easy for the government to ask them to shut down. "Once you create a beast that requires a massive amount of wood to feed it, they're going to get that wood, and they're going to get it in the cheapest way possible," Parfitt told The Fifth Estate. "And if that means whole logs for Drax, then that is exactly what Drax is going to use." 

Connolly, the forest ecologist and conservation campaigner, says the pellet industry "could be a vacuum for all our remaining primary forests." "And that's what became our biggest fear," she said. "The claims that these companies are making that they're green and sustainable, this really turns that into a massive lie." 

In the heart of one of B.C.'s most forest-dependent regions, Simpson said he understands the allure of potential pellet industry investment for hard-hit logging towns. But he said there's better uses for the province's timber, whether it's bioplastics or engineered wood products like fibreboard, and it just takes creative thinking and government leadership. 

"You can take wood waste in the bush and wood waste in the mills and you can turn them into really high-value products that still store the carbon in them," Simpson said. "Pull the subsidies, stop the silly math of disappearing the greenhouse-gas emissions today from this. It becomes self-evident that it's not an industry that we should be supporting."

Canada to implement new measures against the Iranian regime

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced that Canada will take significant, further action against the Iranian regime. We intend to:

  • List the Iranian regime, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its top leaders – more than 10,000 officers and senior members – as inadmissible to Canada for their engagement in terrorism and systemic and gross human rights violations, by pursuing a designation under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. This will deny them access to Canadian territory.
  • Significantly expand sanctions against those responsible for the Iranian regime’s egregious human rights abuses by building on our existing sanctions, including those announced this week, to implement the most robust and comprehensive set of sanctions in the world against the IRGC. We will also introduce a new tailored regulation to ensure no sanctioned individual connected to the IRGC can enter Canada, pending the passage of Bill S-8.
  • Invest $76 million to strengthen Canada’s capacity to implement sanctions and ensure we can move more quickly to freeze and seize sanctioned individuals’ assets, including through a dedicated bureau at Global Affairs Canada and additional support to the RCMP to investigate and identify assets and gather evidence. This builds on new authorities introduced in Budget 2022.
  • Pursue all the tools at our disposal, including the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law), which enables restrictive financial and property measures for foreign nationals responsible for gross violations of human rights.

Taken together, this new suite of measures will help hold the Iranian regime to account for its egregious actions. These new measures build on our previous actions, which were already some of the strongest in the world against the Iranian regime, including designating the state of Iran as a state supporter of terrorism. Earlier this week, Canada also announced additional sanctions against senior Iranian officials and prominent entities that directly implement repressive measures, violate human rights, and spread the Iranian regime’s propaganda. These sanctions effectively froze any assets these individuals may hold in Canada. We will continue to use every tool at our disposal to implement the most robust sanctions against the Iranian regime in the world.

Canada will continue to work with our international partners to ensure the Iranian regime is held accountable for its heinous conduct, including for the downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, which killed 138 people en route to Canada, including 55 Canadians and 30 permanent residents.

Quotes

“ The Iranian regime continues to demonstrate its blatant disregard for human rights and human life. Canada unequivocally stands in solidarity with people marching in the streets of Iran, and the streets of cities around the world, in the name of freedom and justice. To the strong, resilient, and proud Iranian Canadian community:

We hear your voices, we hear your calls for action. That is why today, we’re using the most powerful tools we have to crack down on this brutal regime and the individuals responsible for its heinous behaviour. Our government will continue to use every single tool at our disposal, including the Magnitsky sanctions.” The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada “The IRGC leadership are terrorists.

The IRGC is a terrorist organization. Today, Canada is formally recognizing that – and acting accordingly. The actions we are taking today to hold senior members of the IRGC to account will ensure that Canada will never be a haven for its money, for its leaders, or for their henchmen. Canada is proud to stand with the brave people of Iran.” The Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Quick Facts

  • These new measures, combined with previous actions against the Iranian regime, are in line with our allies who are strongest on Iran, like the United States.
  • Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman, died last month while in custody of Iran’s so-called ‘morality police.’ Ms. Amini’s death was a direct result of the systemic harassment and repression that women face in Iran.
  • Nine other regimes have previously been designated inadmissible to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, paragraph 35(1)(b) for terrorism, systemic or gross human rights violations, genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity. Iran could be the first regime to be designated since 2003. The designation of a regime is a permanent decision.
  • On October 3, 2022, Canada imposed new sanctions on Iran under the Special Economic Measures Act, in response to gross human rights violations that have been committed in Iran, including its systematic persecution of women and in particular, the egregious actions committed by Iran’s so-called ‘morality police’ and its leadership.
  • In 2017, Canada expanded the scope of the Special Economic Measures Act to allow the government to impose sanctions in response to gross and systemic human rights violations.
  • On October 4, 2022, Canada marked the 1,000th day since Iran’s egregious downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, killing 176 innocent people on board – including 55 Canadians, 30 permanent residents, and a total of 138 people en route to Canada. Canada is working with our international partners to hold Iran accountable in accordance with international law.

Ontario Promo Econo Opportunities Across Key Sectors Globally

Province named the most competitive place to invest in Canada

TORONTO, October 8, 2022 (LPC): Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, issued this statement following today’s monthly employment release by Statistics Canada that showed employment in Ontario decreased in September.

“Our government continues to promote Ontario internationally as the innovation and investment hub of North America. We’re working around the clock to attract transformational investments that will bring good-paying jobs back to Ontario, while creating new jobs for generations to come.

As part of our plan to build the province, we’re doing everything to ensure that Ontario continues to be the best place for people to live and businesses to invest and grow. There are economic opportunities in a wide range of key sectors, including automotive and electric vehicles.

Recently, Ontario was named the most competitive location to do business in Canada by Site Selection Magazine. Companies around the globe are looking to Ontario for their future, a strong vote of confidence in the province’s economy.

Over the past two years, we have attracted $16 billion in investments by global automakers and EV battery manufacturers. With a talented workforce, state-of-the-art research and development facilities, award-winning manufacturing and access to an abundance of critical materials, Ontario is well-positioned to build the cars of the future, and that’s just the beginning.

Our recent trade mission to South Korea and Japan created a vital opportunity to meet with large multinationals to promote Ontario’s strengths in the automotive, aerospace and other key emerging sectors. We will continue to promote Ontario internationally as part of our plan to build Ontario, as we head into our upcoming trade mission to Germany and Austria.”

Canada and Ontario Increasing Access to Broadband Service in Essex County

ESSEX COUNTY, Canada, October 8, 2022: The governments of Canada and Ontario are each investing more than $392,000 to increase access to fast, reliable high-speed internet to more than 480 homes, farms, and businesses in Essex County.

In partnership with Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) Inc., the completion of this broadband project in December 2022, will help connect the community of Marentette Beach, in the municipality of Leamington, to the high-speed internet service it needs and deserves.

“Reliable broadband infrastructure is a necessity for Canadian families and businesses in this increasingly connected world,” said Irek Kusmierczyk, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion and Member of Parliament for Windsor—Tecumseh, on behalf of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities. “The start of construction of new fibre technology and additional network infrastructure in Essex County gets us one step closer to connecting all Canadians to high-speed internet by 2030.”

As part of the Ontario government’s plan to bring access to high-speed internet service to every community by 2025, these new connections will help farms and businesses attract new customers, grow their operations, and create new jobs, while also enabling people to connect online to work, learn and access vital services.

“If rural Ontario is going to flourish, access to high-speed internet access will be a part of that gateway to growth," said Trevor Jones, Member of Provincial Parliament for Chatham - Kent - Leamington and the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Lisa Thompson. "This recent broadband expansion into the municipality of Leamington will give more households and businesses the ability to connect that they didn’t have before. This announcement will be key to the future success of our riding and for all of rural Ontario.”

The contract to expand broadband services in Essex County was awarded by Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) Inc, a not-for-profit corporation initiated by local municipalities to address connectivity in Southwestern Ontario.

More than $255 million has been invested by the Governments of Canada and Ontario and the private sector to bring high-speed internet to more than 63,000 households and businesses in Southwestern Ontario through SWIFT by the end of 2025.

“SWIFT, in partnership with the federal and provincial governments, is committed to bringing greater access to high-speed internet connectivity across Southwestern Ontario to support small and rural underserved communities,” said Gary McNamara, SWIFT Board Chair. “Today we are pleased to mark the start of construction on a fibre-to-the-home network in Essex County that will soon provide more than 480 homes and businesses in the community of Marentette Beach with high-speed broadband service.”

 Quick Facts

  • The governments of Canada and Ontario are each contributing more than $63 million to SWIFT through the New Building Canada Fund’s Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component – Small Communities Fund.
  • In July 2021, the governments of Canada and Ontario announced an historic agreement that will deliver high-speed Internet to nearly 280,000 rural Ontario households in hundreds of communities across the province, through an equal federal-provincial investment totalling more than $1.2 billion.
  • The Ontario government has committed nearly $4 billion to bring high-speed internet access to every corner of the province by the end of 2025. This proactive approach is the largest single investment in high-speed internet, in any province, by any government in Canadian history.
  • In 2021, Ontario passed the Supporting Broadband and Infrastructure Expansion Act, 2021 to help speed up construction of broadband projects. Ontario is also helping to remove barriers, duplication and delays, making it easier and faster to build high-speed internet infrastructure through the Getting Ontario Connected Act, 2022, which was passed unanimously by the Legislature on April 11, 2022. This legislation helps ensure underserved and unserved communities across the province have access to reliable high-speed internet sooner and will help the government achieve its commitment to connect every region with access to high-speed internet by the end of 2025.

Ford tells education workers who voted in favour of strike 'don't force my hand'

CUPE announced earlier this week that its members voted 96.5% in favour of a strike

Ontario Premier Doug Ford sent a message Thursday to education workers who voted in favour of a strike: "Don't force my hand." The Canadian Union of Public Employees announced earlier this week that its members, such as early childhood educators, custodians and administration staff, voted 96.5 per cent in favour of a strike.

Ford was asked at a news conference Thursday if he would legislate them back to work in the event of a stoppage. He said he won't "budge" on wanting to keep classrooms free of disruptions. "To the unions, the teachers unions: please don't go on strike. Don't force my hand," Ford said. "I'm a strong believer in negotiating, but do not, do not go on strike."

CUPE represents education workers and school support staff, not teachers. They include education assistants, early childhood educators, library workers, custodians, social workers and administrative assistants among many other roles. Province's offer to CUPE is 'reasonable' and 'responsible,' says Ontario's education minister. Why these Ontario Educational Assistants believe they deserve a raise and will strike if they don't get it

CUPE's 55,000 education workers have never all been on strike over the central collective agreement, the union said, although some local chapters have walked off the job in the past. It's unclear exactly what strike action would look like, if it takes place. Previous job action in the education sector has taken the form of work-to-rule, rolling and intermittent strikes, and a full withdrawal of services.

Ford said his words were not a threat to education workers. "What I said was, 'Please, and I'm begging you, don't go on strike,'" he said. He said parents and children have been through a lot  over the past two years when the province closed physical schools for weeks and months at a time due to the pandemic.

"What we're focusing on is making sure that the students are in the classrooms," he said. CUPE was set to bargain Thursday and Friday with the government and the union has said the two days of talks would be key in determining next steps.

Union's proposals are reasonable, president says

Laura Walton, president of CUPE's Ontario School Boards Council of Unions said in a statement Thursday that the union's proposals are reasonable, necessary and affordable, and Ford has the power to accept them today. "If he does that, the lowest paid education workers who are paid on average only $39,000 a year won't have to strike to make ends meet and to defend services for students from Ford's cuts," she wrote.

The government has offered raises of two per cent a year for workers making less than $40,000 and 1.25 per cent for all other workers, while CUPE is looking for annual increases of 11.7 per cent. CUPE has said the government's offer amounts to an extra $800 a year for the average worker.Ontario proposes 2% raise for lower-paid education workers in 4-year deal

The government has said CUPE also wants five additional paid days before the start of the school year, an increase to overtime pay from a multiplier of 1.5 to 2 and 30 minutes of paid preparation time each day. The four major teachers' unions are also at various stages of bargaining after contracts expired Aug. 31, but none has taken a strike vote.

Man dead following shooting near Jane and Finch

Firgrove Public School was placed under hold and secure, police say

Just before 1:45 p.m. officers responded to reports of shots fired in the area of Firgrove Crescent and Jane Street. Police say a man was found with gunshot wounds and officers performed first aid at the scene, but the victim died. The homicide squad has taken over the investigation, police say.

Police say Firgrove Public School was placed under hold and secure but parents can pick up their children starting at 3:10 p.m.  Parents are advised there will be no access to the school from Jane Street.

Sask. former leader of Canadian Nationalist Party found guilty of hate speech against Jewish people

Travis Patron is due back in court for sentencing Oct. 20, 2022

REGINA, October 6, 2022: A jury has found Travis Patron, the former Redvers, Sask., leader of the now-defunct Canadian Nationalist Party, guilty of hate speech against Jewish people in connection to a video posted online in 2019. (Nationalist.ca). It took a jury in southeast Saskatchewan about an hour on Wednesday to decide the former leader of the now-defunct Canadian Nationalist Party was guilty of hate speech against Jewish people.

The charge and subsequent jury trial at Court of King's Bench in Estevan, Saskatchewan roughly 200 kilometres southeast of Regina, came after RCMP investigated an online video featuring Travis Patron in 2019. Patron was later charged with wilfully promoting hatred to an identifiable group in February 2021. 

The video shows Patron, who is from Redvers, Sask., denouncing what he described as "the parasitic tribe" or "black sheep," who he claimed control the media and Canada's central bank. "What we need to do, perhaps more than anything, is remove these people once and for all from our country," Patron said, speaking directly to the camera.

Crown prosecutor Ryan Snyder said the video evidence spoke for itself in this trial. He said having a Jewish woman from Ontario who was among the first people to alert police to the video, testify also likely made a difference. "You start out with what looks like a victimless crime. It's hate speech on the internet where's the victim? And yet we heard from a complainant during the course of this trial who really brought home the fact that words do matter," Snyder told CBC News after court adjourned on Wednesday.

"Her visceral reaction to the wild words that Mr. Patron put on the internet — that was a good reminder to me that hate speech has a victim and that it has a real impact on people." The trial began last Monday. Snyder said court also heard from three other Crown witnesses: an RCMP criminal analyst who gathered the video evidence, a Mountie from Carlyle, Sask., who helped identify Patron in the video, and a Jewish history professor from Harvard University who broke down the meaning behind what was said in it.

Bernie Farber, chair of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, explains why he thinks the leader of the Canadian Nationalist Party should be charged for hate propaganda. Patron, who acted as his own defence counsel, remains in custody until he's due back at Estevan's Court of King's Bench for sentencing on Oct. 20. The Crown is seeking a one-year jail sentence roughly half of which he's already served in remand.

Earlier this year, another jury found Patron guilty of assaulting two women in Regina in November 2019. In August, he was sentenced to 18 months in jail. However, because he received 1.5 days of time served credit for each of the 390 days he spent in custody, the sentence was considered served. The Canadian Nationalist Party, which Patron founded and led into the 2019 federal election, folded at the end of March 2022.

Retailers, other businesses will be allowed to pass on fees of up to 2.4% to consumers

Retailers, other businesses will be allowed to pass on fees of up to 2.4% to consumers

TORONTO, October 6, 2022: Following a class-action lawsuit settlement earlier this year, merchants and other businesses in Canada are now allowed to levy a surcharge on customers who make purchases with a credit card. Merchants had been forbidden from passing on the cost of doing business with card providers. (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)

With record-high inflation, Canadian shoppers are well aware that the cost of just about everything is going up. But they can soon expect to see a new demand for their dollars when they shop, because starting Thursday, retailers and other businesses will be allowed to charge them a fee every time they swipe their credit card once notice is provided to card companies.

  • How will this affect the way you use your credit card? Tell us in an email to ask@cbc.ca or join us live in the comments now.

While consumers love the convenience and rewards of paying with credit cards, they have raised the ire of retailers for years because as part of the original card agreements, stores had to give a percentage of every sale to the card providers for making the transaction happen. The fee can range from fractions of a per cent to more than two per cent for some premium cards.

As part of their card agreement, merchants were forbidden from passing on that cost to consumers. But that all changed earlier this year, when Visa, MasterCard and other card providers settled a long-running lawsuit on the issue in Canada — agreeing to rebate merchants $188 million for what are known as interchange fees that merchants were charged in the past decade.

"Credit cards are one of the most expensive means of payment for merchants," said Luciana Brasil, a partner at Vancouver-based law firm Branch MacMaster LLP, which worked on the class-action lawsuit that led to the settlement.

Customers love paying with cards because "they get their points, their rebates, their benefits," she said, "but they rarely ask themselves who's paying for that. "In reality, the more benefits those credit cards give the consumer, the more expensive they are for the merchant to accept them."

Many parts of the world, including the European Union, the United Kingdom, Israel, Australia, China and Malaysia, have capped the fees, known as interchange fees, at well under one per cent. Visa says the average interchange fee for its cards in Canada is 1.4 per cent. Part of the deal Brasil ironed out with credit card companies allows merchants to pass on that cost to consumers directly in the form of a surcharge — which means consumers should get used to seeing it soon.

The new rules won't be a free-for-all, as starting Thursday, merchants must give card providers 30 days' notice of their intent to start charging a fee. They must also make it clear to customers at the time of payment that there's a surcharge, and it can't be more than they pay themselves. Finally, the surcharge will be capped at 2.4 per cent. But the rules won't be in force in Quebec, because that type of fee is forbidden under the province's Consumer Protection Act.

Telecom provider Telus has already warned its customers that they'll have to pay a surcharge of about $2 per customer on average starting this month, if they pay their bill with a credit card. And more and more businesses are likely to do the same soon. Telus is facing pushback over a proposal to add a 1.5 per cent surcharge for customers who pay their bills with a credit card. If approved by Canada’s telecom regulator, the new fee would take effect in October.

In a poll of nearly 4,000 members of  the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) conducted in early September, the group found that about one in five small businesses plan to levy the fee, and more than a quarter say they will if their competitors do.

More than one-third say they plan to use other means to try to convince customers to pay using another method, and more than a quarter say they plan to simply increase their prices to cover the cost of credit card payments. Most small businesses say they don't want to charge the fee, but with a card provider taking $2 of a $100 sale, they have little option but to levy the surcharge, even if it costs them customers.

"Most smaller merchants are still on the fence or don't plan to surcharge as they don't want to risk losing customers," Corinne Pohlmann, CFIB's senior vice-president of national affairs and partnerships, said. "But surcharging gives them the ability to offset some of their costs and be transparent with their customers about the fees they pay." Entrepreneurs Chris and Nunu Rampen are among those who plan on charging customers a fee for using a credit card, albeit begrudgingly.

Chris and Nunu Rampen run a coffee shop and restaurant in downtown Toronto. They say they soon plan to start charging customers a fee for paying with a credit card. (Keith Whelan/CBC)

"I look favourably on this change because I think it will probably change consumer behaviour," said Chris, who owns Buna, a downtown Toronto coffee shop, and Nunu, a restaurant, with his wife. "They will think of cheaper methods like either cash a lot of restaurants just accept cash — or debit, which is much, much cheaper."

He said interchange fees have long been a thorn in his side, but with the restaurant industry coming out of financial losses sustained during the COVID-19 pandemic, his business is less able than ever to withstand them. "We're really in a point of razor-thin margins, and two per cent could matter," he said. "I don't see another solution, frankly."

Consumers are likely to bristle at the fee, but based on what some of them told CBC News this week, it seems that Rampen's hope of getting them to choose different payment options is likely to work. Calgarian Irene Kreitz said a two per cent surcharge is likely enough to get her to take a different card out of her wallet.

"For an additional two per cent ... no, I wouldn't use my credit card, I would use my debit," she said.Why small businesses say they need Ottawa's help to get some relief on credit card fees. Samantha Cook, also of Calgary, is of a similar mindset. "The cost of living is already fairly high ... so with that extra two per cent, I'm more inclined to use my debit card," she said.

Canadians who prefer to pay with Visa and MasterCard could get hit with extra fees starting Thursday. After a long legal battle over who pays certain credit card processing fees, businesses can now pass those charges — as much as two per cent per transaction — along to customers.

For others, the lure of reward points will likely be enough to keep them using their cards even if a fee is attached. A Bank of Canada report last year found that Canadians racked up $3.4 billion worth of rewards from their credit cards in 2018, with higher-income earners benefiting the most because they are far more likely to use credit cards as payment.

Those rewards come at a steep cost for merchants — more than $11 billion in 2018, the central bank found — but many consumers will be unlikely to give up those perks.

"I rarely pay for travel because of the points," Calgary resident Lyndsay Powell said. "Every single thing I buy, I don't even have a debit card that I carry with me [because] I would take ... travel points for everything."

For Chris Rampen, it's unreasonable for shoppers to get a free ride at the expense of hard-hit small business owners. "What's unreasonable is that I'm paying the fees," he said. "So yeah, I'm very happy that it would be transferred to the people actually making the choice — and they do have a choice."

As sponsors pull their support, politicians turn up the heat on Hockey Canada

Canadian Tire, Telus, Tim Hortons pull sponsorship from national organization

TORONTO, October 6, 2022: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it's time to think about starting a new organization to replace Hockey Canada — which is still playing defence after paying out nearly $9 million to 21 sexual misconduct complainants since 1989, and after major sponsors pulled their support for the embattled organization.

"It is inconceivable that folks at Hockey Canada continue to dig in. It's not like there's something extraordinarily special about the people at Hockey Canada that means they are the only people in the country that can run an organization like this," he said Thursday before heading into a cabinet meeting on Parliament Hill.

"They need to realize that if we have to create an organization, get rid of Hockey Canada and create an organization called 'Canada Hockey' instead, people will look at doing that." Trudeau said that while the federal government "isn't in the business" of starting new hockey organizations, he is sure "there will be a vacuum filled up."

"The fact is, Hockey Canada has completely lost the confidence of Canadians. And the longer it takes to realize that, the more difficult it's going to be not just for them, which is fine, but for kids in hockey, for juniors, for people who rely on that organization to play the sport they love and to have winter activities ..."

The prime minister's comments are just the latest salvo aimed at the national ice hockey body over its handling of sexual assault allegations and its executives' adamant defence of the organization. Canadian Tire announced Thursday that it is permanently ending its partnership with Hockey Canada.

"In our view, Hockey Canada continues to resist meaningful change and we can no longer confidently move forward together," said Jessica Sims, a spokesperson for the Canadian Tire Corporation. "CTC is proud of our commitment to sport and will continue to invest in our beloved national game by redirecting support to hockey-related organizations that better align with our values."

Other Canadian companies are pulling their support as well. Telus announced Thursday morning it no longer will be funding Hockey Canada's men's program for the upcoming season. "We are deeply disheartened by the lack of action and commitment from Hockey Canada to drive necessary cultural change," the telecommunications company said in a statement.

Telus is considered a "premier" sponsor. The company has sponsored Hockey Canada since 2004 and in 2017 renewed that partnership until 2022. On Wednesday, Tim Hortons announced it would be pulling its sponsorship from all Hockey Canada men's hockey programming for the 2022-23 season, including the men's world junior championships.

Major sponsors paused funding ahead of the August 2022 world junior championships in Edmonton after TSN reported in May that Hockey Canada had paid an undisclosed settlement to a woman who alleges she was sexually assaulted by eight players, including members of Canada's 2018 world junior team.

Hockey Canada has since confirmed it has paid out $8.9 million in settlements to 21 complainants with sexual misconduct claims against its players since 1989. The organization also has admitted it drew on minor hockey membership fees to pay for uninsured liabilities, including sexual abuse claims.

The CBC's The Fifth Estate identified at least 15 cases of alleged group sexual assault involving junior hockey players that have been investigated by police since 1989 — half of which surfaced in the past decade — through a review of public records.

Hockey Canada says no to management changes

The companies' decisions add corporate pressure to mounting calls for ice hockey's national governing body to undergo a change in its leadership after a widely panned appearance by one of its executives in front of a parliamentary committee this week.

On Tuesday, interim board chair Andrea Skinner defended Hockey Canada, saying it has an "excellent reputation" and suggesting its critics are scapegoating "hockey as a centrepiece for toxic culture."

Andrea Skinner, interim chair of the board of directors at Hockey Canada, appears virtually as a witness at a House of Commons committee on Canadian heritage, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Oct. 4. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Skinner has insisted that Hockey Canada won't be making any changes to its management despite a direct request from federal Sport Minister Pascale St-Onge, who has said she believes mass resignations at the governing body are necessary to restore public trust.

At one point, Skinner was asked to grade the performance of Hockey Canada's CEO Scott Smith, who has been widely condemned for his management of the organization.

"I'm a hard marker, and I think that the circumstances in which Mr. Smith has been working have been really extraordinary and difficult. I would say that he's conducting himself as an 'A' in the circumstances," she responded.

Skinner's comments led to something rare in Ottawa: united criticism from the main political parties.

Conservative MP Kevin Waugh, a former television sports journalist, called Hockey Canada's response to calls for a change in management "arrogant."

"They've doubled down and it's disgusting, really," he said Wednesday.

During Tuesday's committee meeting, Bloc Québécois MP Sébastien Lemire said Hockey Canada is "living in a bubble" and is "disconnected" from public opinion.

Those comments were echoed by NDP MP Peter Julian, who called Hockey Canada's refusal to disclose some information "disturbing."

    Imperial Oil hasn't made a decision yet

    In a statement Thursday morning, Chevrolet Canada reiterated its position from June, saying it has stepped back from its sponsorship activities with Hockey Canada "as we seek more clarity on what specific steps the organization has and will take following the alleged incidents of abuse."

    "We at GM have no tolerance for abuse of any kind and wish to see Hockey Canada return to setting a positive example for all Canadians in all it does," spokesperson Jennifer Wright said in a statement.

    Pascale St-Onge says she's saddened Andrea Skinner, interim chair of Hockey Canada's board of directors, is the face of its 'boys' club problem.'

    Scotiabank has said its June decision to pause its sponsorship remains in effect.

    "In our open letter in June, we publicly called on Hockey Canada to hold the game to a higher standard and we are disappointed with the lack of progress to date," the bank said in a statement.

    In a media statement, Imperial Oil, another major sponsor, said it hasn't made a decision yet on supporting the 2023 men's world junior championship through its Esso brand.

    "As previously mentioned, we continue to find this matter deeply concerning and have regularly communicated our expectations to Hockey Canada that concrete steps must be taken to address safety issues and ensure swift culture change," said spokesperson Keri Scobie on Thursday.

    "Imperial remains committed to ongoing support to Canada's hockey community and grassroots youth and women's programs across the country, as we have done for more than 40 years."

    The federal government also has announced it will stop all funding for Hockey Canada until it shows signs of positive change. 

    Two provincial hockey organizations also have made moves against the national body.

    Earlier this week, Hockey Quebec said it has lost confidence in Hockey Canada and will not transfer funds to the national organization.

    The Ontario Hockey Federation, the largest of Canada's 13 provincial and territorial hockey associations, said it has asked Hockey Canada again to not collect the $3 participant assessment fee from its members for the 2022-23 season.

    The executive director of the Ontario group said the organization is monitoring the situation.

    Ontario Strengthening Manufacturing Sector in Thunder Bay

    More than $2 million investment in northern economic development

    THUNDER BAY, October 06, 2022 (LPP, LPC): The Ontario government is providing $2,135,745 through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) to support the manufacturing sector in Northwestern Ontario. This investment will help build a stronger Ontario by creating jobs, expanding business operations, supporting critical infrastructure and improving quality of life in the North.

    “Supporting the manufacturing industry in the Thunder Bay area not only helps create good-paying jobs, but also helps keep the North competitive,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development. “These businesses play a critical role in the northern economy, supporting the community and contributing to the province’s prosperity as a whole.”

    The following projects are receiving NOHFC funding:

    • $970,000 to Itec 2000 Equipment Inc. for a new hydraulic shop
    • $267,374 to Canada Concrete Corporation to expand its concrete manufacturing operation
    • $217,920 to Thunder Bay Hydraulics to commercialize a car lift
    • $195,000 to EcoCarbon Foam to create an extruded polystyrene (XPS) manufacturing plant start-up
    • $132,814 to Lakehead Ironworks Inc. for three projects:
      • $79,040 for a new cold storage building
      • $25,374 to make building improvements, purchase an align boring machine and install air quality equipment
      • $28,400 to purchase a 300-tonne hydraulic press brake
    • $111,071 to A.M. Ludwig Saw Shop to purchase and install equipment
    • $99,300 to Peterson Machine and Supply Inc. to purchase a large boring mill
    • $90,210 to KMH Industries for a pilot demonstration and commercialization of a roller ski treadmill
    • $44,089 to Countermeasures Security Solutions Inc. (now known as Secure Orbit Inc) to purchase equipment and upgrade its facility
    • $7,967 for North West Industries Inc. to upgrade and purchase new equipment

    “The manufacturing sector has a long history in the Thunder Bay area,” said Kevin Holland, MPP for Thunder Bay—Atikokan. “Investments like these help the sector grow and thrive, but also provide a source of income for families throughout the area.”

    The NOHFC promotes economic prosperity across Northern Ontario by providing financial assistance to projects—big and small, rural and urban—that stimulate growth, job creation and skills development. Since June 2018, the NOHFC has invested more than $559 million in 4,748 projects in Northern Ontario, leveraging more than $1.82 billion in investment and creating or sustaining over 7,500 jobs.

     Quick Facts

    • In 2021, the Ontario government launched new and improved NOHFC programs that support more projects in rural northern communities and make it easier for more people and businesses to apply. The programs target existing and emerging markets, provide more work opportunities for Indigenous people and address the skilled labour shortage in the North.

    Ontario Expanding Energy Efficiency to Help Families and Businesses Keep Costs Down:Todd Smith, Minister of Energy

    New and expanded energy-efficiency programs will also help the province meet growing electricity demand

    BRAMPTON - The Ontario government is increasing funding for the province’s energy-efficiency programs by $342 million, bringing the total investment to more than $1 billion over the current four-year electricity conservation framework. This funding will support new and expanded programs that will help families and businesses reduce their electricity use so they can save money on their energy bills, while helping to meet the province’s emerging electricity system needs.

    “Our government’s success in driving electrification of industry and transportation and strong economic growth is increasing electricity demand, and our government is looking at every option to meet these upcoming needs,” said Todd Smith, Minister of Energy. “By 2025, this expansion of energy-efficiency programs will help deliver enough annual electricity savings to power approximately 130,000 homes every year and reduce costs for consumers by over $650 million.”

    This funding will support a new voluntary Residential Demand Response Program with an incentive for homes with an existing central air conditioning or heat pump unit and smart thermostat to help lower energy use at peak times and lower bills. It will also provide targeted support for greenhouse growers in Southwest Ontario, in addition to enhancements to existing programs that provide support for businesses, municipalities, hospitals and other institutions to reduce their energy use and their energy bill.

    The government accepted the Independent Electricity System Operator’s (IESO) recommendation to roll out these new and expanded energy-efficiency programs, which are among the fastest and most cost-effective ways of meeting system needs, with the intention that they will be available to eligible electricity customers beginning in Spring 2023.

    “Energy conservation is an important part of Ontario’s plan to build a cleaner, greener Ontario,” said David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “Using less energy is better for people and our planet. It’s also one of the fastest and most effective ways to save money, address climate change and help ensure we can continue to generate the clean, renewable and affordable electricity needed to meet the province’s long-term needs.”

    These enhancements are expected to have a particular impact in Southwest Ontario, with regional peak demand savings of 225 megawatts (MW). This will help to alleviate electricity system constraints in the region and foster economic development.

    The overall savings from this energy efficiency programming will result in an estimated three million tonnes of greenhouse gas emission reductions over its lifetime - the equivalent to taking approximately 600,000 vehicles off the road for one year.

    “With strong economic growth and electrification increasing system demands, the IESO is committed to meet growing system needs and ensuring grid reliability by enhancing energy efficiency programming,” said Lesley Gallinger, President and CEO, the IESO. “Energy efficiency is one of the most reliable and cost-effective a

    we recognize & honour the crucial role of teachers and educators play in building better communities: Justin Trudeau

    OTTAWA, October 5, 2022 (LLP, LLC): “Today, on World Teachers’ Day, we recognize and honour the crucial role teachers and educators play in building better communities.

    “During my time as a teacher, I saw firsthand the important work Canadian teachers do, often under challenging conditions. Today, I am launching the nomination period for the 2023 Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence and Teaching Excellence in STEM and Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Education.

    These awards are given to exceptional elementary and secondary school teachers and early childhood educators. I encourage Canadians to recognize an outstanding teacher or educator who has made a real difference in their community by nominating them for these awards.

    “This year’s theme – The transformation of education begins with teachers – reminds us that teachers and educators deserve to work in a supportive environment, have access to professional development, and be empowered to be innovative and creative to ensure their students can succeed.

    “From critical thinking to coding and literacy, educators are helping the next generation develop the skills they need to adapt to our rapidly changing world, succeed in tomorrow’s economy, and find solutions to future challenges. Teachers go above and beyond their basic job descriptions. On any given day, they serve as mentors, advocates, and counsellors to their pupils. Educators act as guides who inspire students of all ages to give the best of themselves while learning and growing as individuals.

    “The Government of Canada continues to take meaningful action to ensure teachers and educators across the country have the tools they need and are able to work in a safe environment. We transferred an additional $100 million to provinces and territories in July as part of the Safe Return to Class Fund, building on our previous investment of $2 billion. Together, this funding is helping improve learning spaces, including air ventilation upgrades, and allowing for the purchase of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies.

    “Beyond our borders, the Government of Canada works with global partners and ministries of education around the world to ensure every classroom has a qualified, motivated, and well-supported teacher who can unleash children’s learning potential, including in crisis contexts.

    “On behalf of the Government of Canada, I thank all teachers and educators for the incredible work they do and their adaptability every day on the job. Thanks to your dedication and commitment, you continue to change lives and communities for the better.”

    Canada and its Coordination Group partners are committed to holding Iran accountable

    OTTAWA, October 4, 2022: “One thousand days ago today, the Iranian regime unlawfully and horrifically shot down passenger Flight PS752, cutting short the lives of the 176 innocent people on board – including 55 Canadians, 30 permanent residents, and a total of 138 people en route to Canada. They were mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, educators, and students – and most of all, they were loved.

    “In the 1,000 days since, people across Canada have mourned their loved ones. As Canadians, we mourn with them. Yesterday, I met with the families of the victims of PS752 to express my deepest condolences. In the wake of this crime, Canada has, and will continue to, support them. We opened new pathways to permanent residency for families of survivors, provided mental health supports, and continue to reaffirm Canada’s steadfast commitment to holding the Iranian regime responsible for its horrific actions.

    “Canada and its Coordination Group partners are committed to holding Iran accountable, in accordance with international law. At the International Civil Aviation Organization, Canada continues to advance the Safer Skies Initiative and to address gaps in the accident investigation process to make sure this never happens again. We remain relentless in our pursuit of justice for the families of these victims, and we will stop at nothing to ensure the regime is held accountable.

    “Today, the regime continues to crack down on courageous Iranian women protesting the tragic killing of Mahsa Amini at the hands of Iran’s so-called ‘morality police.’ Dozens of protesters have been killed. Once again, the Iranian regime is demonstrating its blatant disregard for human rights and human life. Canada unequivocally stands with the brave women who are marching in the streets of Iran and in the streets of cities right around the world in solidarity.

    “This unacceptable pattern of gross and systematic human rights violations and brutal murders must end. That’s why yesterday, we imposed new sanctions against Iran by targeting 34 individuals and entities. This includes the Iranian regime’s ‘morality police’ and senior members of the regime, including in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. These sanctions build on our existing sanctions and measures – some of the toughest any country has taken against Iran. They also complement the fact that Canada recognizes Iran as a State supporter of terrorism.

    “Today, we remember the innocent victims of PS752, and we stand with all those defending human rights here at home and around the world. The Iranian regime will be held accountable for its horrific actions.”

    New immigrants to Canada are building bridges with Indigenous Peoples. Here’s why that matters

    VANCOUVER, October 3, 2022: At the South Vancouver Neighbourhood House, Indigenous Elders Al Houston and Travis Angus are taking centre stage. The pair walk into the full meeting room and smudge it, with the ritual burning of sacred plants.

    “If we’re going to listen to one another, we’re going to be able to keep going forward,” Houston, president of the Greater Vancouver Native Cultural Society, tells those in attendance. “Your perfect example is right here in front of you. You’re asking questions and we are responding.”

    Their audience at the community hub is a couple of dozen eager newcomers from Afghanistan, Egypt, Hong Kong, Nepal and the Philippines, who sit in a circle. For the new immigrants, this “info and orientation circle” is their first look at the Indigenous past of the land where they have just settled. For Houston, an Ojibwe Cree, and Angus of the Nisga’a Nation, this community program, The First Nations of Canada, is part of the mending of a broken relationship.

    It is an example of reconciliation at its most essential, person-to-person level. For both communities, Indigenous Peoples and newcomers, it is uncharted territory. Generations of immigrants settling in Canada have been kept away from the country’s horrific Indigenous history. For generations, Indigenous communities have been blamed by those unfamiliar with the history of this land for their social ills, whether it’s their poverty, substance abuse, health or relationship issues.

    That distrust is often mutual. Some in the Indigenous communities view immigrants as continuing the relentless colonization of their ancestral lands. But recent years, in the wake of the racial reckoning that made headlines in 2020 and the shock over the discovery of probable unmarked graves near residential school sites, have spurred the interest in relationship building with Indigenous people among new immigrants, the latest wave of settlers if not colonists.

    “It’s kind of a watershed moment,” said Antje Ellermann, founding director of the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Migration Studies. “A lot of things are coming together. I’m hoping that and I do think that there will be a real generational difference. “There is a lot of positive energy coming from newcomers, and openness and less defensiveness, because they don’t have family going back generations with that kind of pioneer spirit.”

    And Vancouver the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish or Tsleil-Waututh peoples seems to be leading the way. Elders Houston and Angus both sit on the Indigenous Advisory Council at the South Vancouver Neighbourhood House and facilitate the orientation circle with newcomers, where they go over cultural practices and the travesties, such as residential schools, faced by Indigenous people in Canada.

    “Let’s talk protocol,” Houston said. “In our culture, we can appreciate the applause, but technically in our culture we don’t like to clap because the spirits are awakened.” In the evening, whistling is also avoided, for the same reason. Much of these teachings, he said, are passed down from Elders, but much of this culture was lost, due to the residential school system. He tells bits of his own personal history, starting with his mother’s stay in a residential school and his own situation of being taken from his mother during the Sixties Scoop.

    It was supposed to be for a short period while she dealt with her own challenges from her time in residential school, but Houston said the ordeal lasted years. Authorities told both the children and the mother they each did not want to be reunited. He did not see his mother again until she showed up at his hospital bed after he’d been hit by a car. The accident made the newspaper and was the only reason his mother knew where to find him.

    Silence settles down over the circle of chairs in the room. “I looked at her and said, ‘I’ve waited all my life for this day to happen,’ ” said Houston. “That was the relationship rekindled right there because of the hope we never let go of.” It used to make the 44-year-old man angry when he saw other Canadians taking more interest in newcomers and their culture than the issues faced by the first people on this land.

    “We’ve become a minority in our own country. There’s still that stigma of First Nations that we’ve lived through,” noted Houston, who has become a regular guest in community events to talk about residential schools, history and cultures. “People now are seeking us out. It never used to be like that. It’s a great feeling. Now we are getting a lot of compassion. People are wanting to understand and ask, ‘How can we help?’ ”

    Toronto Metropolitan University geography professor Harald Bauder, himself an immigrant from Germany, has published numerous papers about immigration, settlement, colonialism and indigeneity. He said he’s surprised immigration policy has garnered little attention within the Indigenous communities.

    Among the 94 recommendations by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the last two address “newcomers to Canada” revising the citizenship study guide and test to include more Indigenous content, and updating the oath of citizenship to observe treaties with Indigenous Peoples and none deals with immigration policy.

    “To me, as an immigration researcher, this is a core issue because immigration policy and selection is what has led to the conflict that we’re dealing with in settlement and colonialism to begin with,” he said. “Without immigration, you wouldn’t have settler colonialism. So why is the underlying force always just an afterthought?”

    Bauder said immigrants and Indigenous people can forge great alliances with their respective experiences of colonization. While not every newcomer is a colonist, he adds, many themselves have lived the colonial legacies or have been displaced and oppressed due to their race and ethnicity. “There’s a great deal of potential to forge alliances and I think there are some alliances being forged already in some cases.”

    Born and raised in East Vancouver, Norm Leech has ancestry in the T’it’q’et community of the St’at’imc Nation and has been a frequent speaker on the Indigenous experience with colonization. He likes to start his talk with the land acknowledgement because the land is a “relative” and “ancestor” that came before all humans and has provided people with everything. In his presentation, he always stresses the need to care for the land just like their kin.

    He explains how that relationship with the land has been disrupted by colonization and replaced by systems that reduced it to property to be owned and abused. “Colonization teaches us that we only have five senses,” said Leech. “We know we have a sense of connection to our land. We have a sense of connection to our ancestors. We have a sense of connection to our family. We know we are connected to everything, everywhere, all the time.

    “We are absolutely part of this planet and everything on it. We are not separate at all. To be separate is essentially the roots of western philosophy … We’re in this colonized system that separates us and divides us and isolates us and tells us you’re alone.” Leech said many immigrants come from places with a much longer history of colonization than Canada, suffering different forms of “intergenerational trauma,” and his workshop attempts to help participants re-imagine their relationship with the land and relating to one another before colonists came.

    “The more we can have the conversation, extend and magnify the conversation, the better. Immigrants are going to be our greatest pool of allies once we make them understand we’re not their enemies.” Binish Ahmed was 11 when she and her family fled to Canada in the 1990s from Kashmir, a disputed region under the control of India, Pakistan and China ever since the partition of India in 1947, when British colonial rule ended.

    An Indigenous Kashmiri, the Toronto Metropolitan University doctoral student says foreign powers seized the land of her people and still oppress them under their rules, much like what happened to the Indigenous people in North America and around the world. “I did not voluntarily want to come here as a kid,” said Ahmed, who lives in Toronto. “I wanted to stay with my relatives, with my cousins, with my friends on my land. My land is very sacred to me. I love the smell of my land, I love the birds, the bees, the flowers, the lakes, the mountains.

    “We consider ourselves gardeners. In our language, the land is called ‘mouj Kasheer,’ which means ‘mother Kashmir.’ We feel pride and a sense of fulfilment in caring for Mother Earth.” It was around 2010 when Ahmed, then a university student, saw smudging performed at an equity conference in Toronto. It reminded her of “isband,” a similar ceremony in her own culture.

    Ahmed began reading about Indigenous history, culture and traditions, and contacting Indigenous leaders and activists. That inspired her to pursue a doctoral degree in Indigenous governance and policy, immigration and migration, anti-racism and anti-colonial practice. In her activism, she and friends always take a stand for their Indigenous kins in Canada.

    There’s a lot of self-education required of new immigrants, said Ahmed, especially those who come from a privileged background, who can’t expect the Indigenous community to teach them. “My responsibility here is to be in good relations with people whose land I’m on. What immigrants and newcomers should do is learn about the campaigns that are led by Indigenous Peoples themselves and lend your support,” she said. “We don’t have to come up with something new.”

    The Punjabi word for Indigenous people “tiake,” which means a relation of my father’s older brother was originally coined in small towns in B.C., where a lot of Indigenous people and Punjabi migrants worked in lumber mills. To Vancouver-based activist Harsha Walia, the hundred-year-old word that is now in the Punjabi language expresses the relationship with Indigenous Peoples.

    “Those are the kinds of historic alliances and solidarities and relationships and kinship that I think we have to actively work to unearth because they’ve been buried,” said Walia, who came to Canada in the 1990s as an international student. Born in Bahrain to Punjabi parents, Walia has been involved in grassroots immigrant rights, migrant justice and social movements, but soon decided it’s not enough just to fight for citizenship rights for immigrants and refugees.

    “That anti-racist fight cannot erase settler colonialism,” Walia explained. “It cannot erase the realities of genocide against Indigenous Peoples. The home that I am building is built on top of the home of other peoples. It is built on the dispossession of other peoples. The safety and the life that I am seeking for myself and for my family cannot be built on the ruins of other people.

    “That is part of the ethical orientation that compels me to be in relationship to Indigenous Peoples fighting for their homes, fighting for their homelands, fighting for clean water and the right not to be dispossessed.” But there is so much learning to do in the process. Walia remembers joining others in an Indigenous land blockade in Ontario and offering her service along with other non-Indigenous supporters. They showed up in the community kitchen and worked there but soon sensed that it wasn’t received well.

    “We just thought to ask, ‘Should we be somewhere else?’ In that instance, we got the feedback that us being there was displacing some Indigenous people who took their role in their kitchen and in serving food and providing for the front line seriously,” she recalled. “And that was really eye-opening. We thought ‘we’re going with good intentions,’ ” she said, adding that solidarity is “going to look different in each context. Always being humble, never assuming.”

    Elder Angus, whose traditional name is Niis Miou, says neighbours in the Little India area of Vancouver were not friendly to him and his family when they first moved into the neighbourhood, possibly because he’s an Indigenous, two-spirit single parent of three. But he insisted on getting involved in the community and making it clear he wasn’t going to leave, till one day when neighbours asked him why he was there.

    “I’d ask them the same thing, ‘Why are you here?’ It’s just being who you are as an individual, no matter where you live, and really recognizing that strength and that power that you have to stand up … to carry on with the community and to be able to help,” said Angus. At the onset of the pandemic, Angus became aware of the food-security needs among his neighbours and started providing others with non-perishables from his own pantry and fresh vegetables from his garden. Soon, South Vancouver Neighbourhood House approached him and offered its support, which started a trusting partnership.

    Angus was then invited to speak and perform traditional ceremonies. That intent to initiate and build a relationship has to be genuine and authentic, he said. He gave the example of land acknowledgements that have slowly become a feature at the beginning of hockey games, community events and parliamentary meetings. While it’s great to see the recognition, he said what’s more important goes beyond the manifestations of those practices but the meanings behind them.

    “By explaining it to the newcomers, it gives them more of an understanding in that perspective of Indigenous people.” It’s a steep learning curve but being consistent in offering the support to the community is key to sustaining the fledgling relationship, said Angus. “Don’t do it just because it’s filling up a week in our calendar.”

    When reports from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls emerged, community members and staff at the neighbourhood houses in B.C. — which provide local social, educational and recreational activities were shocked and asked how they should respond.

    As the Association of Neighbourhood Houses of B.C. was developing a new strategic plan, it seized on the opportunity to achieve the transformation that they had already been pushing toward. “We’re being really intentional about evolving as an anti-racist organization and actively learning what decolonizing our work needs to look like. And so that has accelerated,” said its CEO, Liz Lougheed Green. “Another big accelerant was the discovery of mass graves. There’s no way that you can come away from that and not be completely moved to action.”

    The strategic plan focuses on creating “brave spaces” to talk about racism, recognizing the harm of colonization and taking a stand against injustice. Despite the commitment, Green said it’s a long journey and no one knows it is going to take the community. “I’d love to be able to say we’re going to be done in two months but what we’re learning is it takes what it takes because everybody is at a different place.” It also took a different mindset from the traditional management approach of pinning down the budget, steps, timeline and outcomes.

    “What I’m learning more than anything is that there is an incredible importance to dialogue, to getting in and tucking into all these pieces deeply and trying to understand with each other … It’s going to be the journey and that’s where it’s going to take time.” Last year, the Surrey First Peoples Guide for Newcomers was launched as a resource about First Peoples in Canada created from an Indigenous perspective on protocols, histories and government policies toward the community.

    “This type of curriculum that is developed by Indigenous communities to welcome those that are the newest citizens of our land is such a strong, powerful bridge,” says Sahota of the 32-page guide that’s been translated into Chinese, Punjabi and Tagalog. “We hope future generations are going to have less unlearning to do.”

    Ceremony, Spirit Walk to mark National Day of Truth and Reconciliation in Ottawa.

    Ceremony, Spirit Walk to mark National Day of Truth and Reconciliation in Ottawa. Thanks to Reuters / Blair Gable

    Ottawa, September 30, 2022 (CBC): On the second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Canadians are being challenged to commit to reconciliation year-round.

    Murray Sinclair, the former chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said the day was initially envisioned to be a day for Canadians to reflect on the country's history and treatment of Indigenous people and commit to do better for the rest of the year.

    This important work of reconciliation is not a one-day affair. As we say, it will take us several generations, he said at a national ceremony held in Ottawa on Friday afternoon.

    Saskatchewan Province to Add More Seats for Veterinary Students

    Regina, September 29, 2022 (LPC): The Government of Saskatchewan is taking decisive action to help address the growing need for veterinarians across the province, particularly for large animal and mixed animal veterinarians in rural Saskatchewan. In 2023-24, the province will increase the number of subsidized student seats from 20 to 25 at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM).

    "This investment will see more Saskatchewan students receive a high-quality education in veterinary medicine, right here in Saskatchewan," Advanced Education Minister Gordon Wyant said. "We're grateful to have the WCVM right in our backyard to educate more students who will provide much needed veterinary services across the province."

    In 2022-23, the Government of Saskatchewan will provide $11.9 million to the WCVM.  The new commitment to add seats will mean an investment of $539,000 in 2023-24, increasing annually to $2.2 million by 2026-27 when fully implemented over the four-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program.

    "Today's investment in additional student seats demonstrates our government's commitment to addressing the shortage of veterinarians across the province," Agriculture Minister David Marit said. "This initiative along with the expansion of the Saskatchewan Loan Forgiveness for Veterinarians and Veterinary Technologists, will ensure that ranchers have access to the veterinary experts they need to provide the highest level of care for their animals."

    The WCVM is an internationally-recognized centre for veterinary education, research and clinical expertise that's located on the University of Saskatchewan (USask) campus.

    "I'm really excited for the future of veterinary medicine in Saskatchewan. I think this is a great opportunity for our province, especially with the shortage of veterinarians," said Jackson Goudy, second-year WCVM veterinary student from Stoughton, Saskatchewan, and president-elect of the Western Canadian Veterinary Students' Association. "This is a great way to increase the number of vets delivering animal health care in Saskatchewan."

    "We welcome this commitment from our provincial partners that will help to address Western Canada's urgent need for more veterinarians in both rural and urban communities," WCVM Dean Dr. Gillian Muir said. "The province's support allows more students from Saskatchewan to achieve their dreams of a career in veterinary medicine. It's also a sound investment in protecting the health and wellness of all animals - from companion animals and wildlife to livestock that play a critical role in Canada's agriculture industry and the country's economy."

    "Further expanding USask's capacity to train veterinarians will contribute to the sustainability of the profession and allow us to further enhance our leadership role in the veterinary sciences and in One Health," USask Provost and Vice-President Academic Dr. Airini said. "The increase in provincial funding is so appreciated, and will allow us to deliver essential veterinary medical education, advance interdisciplinary collaboration and research, and amplify our contributions to the health and wellness of western Canadian communities."

    For more information about the Saskatchewan Loan Forgiveness for Veterinarians and Veterinary Technologists program, visit https://www.saskatchewan.ca/residents/education-and-learning/student-loans/loan-forgiveness-for-veterinarians-and-veterinary-technologists.

    For more information about the WCVM, visit https://wcvm.usask.ca.

    COVID Alert Available for Download Beginning Today (July 31, 2020 1:00 P.M.)

    TORONTO, (LPC): As Ontarians continue to do their part to help stop the spread of COVID-19, the Ontario government is encouraging everyone to download the new COVID Alert app on their smart phone from the Apple and Google Play app stores. This app, which is available beginning today, lets users know if they may have been exposed to the virus. It is free, easy and safe to use. The more people who download the app, the more effective it will be in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

    Work on COVID Alert was initiated in Ontario by the Ontario Digital Service and volunteers at Shopify, and was the foundation of the work by the Government of Canada. The app was developed in consultation with the Privacy Commissioners of Canada and Ontario to ensure the highest level of privacy for everyone using it.

    "This important, made-in-Ontario COVID Alert app will be a critical part of our case and contact management strategy as more regions in Ontario enter Stage 3 today," said Premier Doug Ford. "This innovative tool was developed by some of the best and brightest minds in our province, working in partnership with Ottawa. As businesses open their doors and schools prepare for September, we need to help stop the spread and keep others safe by downloading this COVID Alert app."

    The COVID Alert app uses Bluetooth technology to detect when users are near each other. If a user tests positive for COVID-19, they can choose to let other users know without sharing any personal information. Ontarians who receive an exposure alert can then get tested and take action to help keep themselves, their families, and their friends from spreading COVID-19 throughout the community. The app does not collect personal information or health data, and does not know or track the location, name, address, or contacts of any user.

    "Built with a privacy-first approach, COVID Alert is a safe and easy-to-use tool that Ontarians can download to protect themselves, their loved ones and their community from COVID-19," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "This Ontario-made app keeps people informed about being potentially exposed to the virus and allows them to act quickly to stop the spread of the virus. It is a key tool in our case and contact management strategy. I encourage all Ontarians to download the app, as early detection of cases will be important as we continue to carefully reopen more of the province."

    COVID Alert is a key tool to strengthen Ontario's comprehensive case and contact management strategy, Protecting Ontarians through Enhanced Case and Contact Management. The app supports the efforts of public health units, allowing the province to quickly test, trace and isolate cases of COVID-19 to stop the spread of the virus and prepare for any potential outbreaks ― without sharing any personal information.

    "As Ontario safely and gradually re-opens, we continue to take a digital-first approach to delivering simpler, faster, better services to support Ontarians, including the COVID Alert app, which will leverage technology to protect the health and safety of the people of Ontario," said Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board. "By making it easier for Ontarians to protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities, we continue to deliver on our commitment to build a smarter government that works for you."

    If an app user receives a message from COVID Alert that they may have been exposed to the virus, they should follow the public health advice given on the app and get tested. To notify other people if an app user has tested positive for COVID-19, they can enter their one-time key from Ontario's test results website (Ontario.ca/covidresults) into the app. A message will then be sent to other app users who have been within two metres of them for at least 15 minutes within the past 14 days, without sending any information that identifies the user, or the time and place of exposure.

    To stay safe as more of the province reopens, Ontarians should continue to follow public health guidelines including physical distancing with people not in their social circle, wearing a face covering if physical distancing is a challenge, washing hands thoroughly and frequently, and if anyone thinks they have COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, get tested.

    Ontario Releases Plan for Safe Reopening of Schools in September                           (July 31, 2020 1:00 P.M.)

    TORONTO: The Ontario government is announcing the safe reopening of schools for in-class instruction beginning this September. The government has unveiled a plan that prioritizes the health and safety of students and staff, and provides school boards with unprecedented resources and flexibility, while accommodating regional differences in trends of key public health indicators. This plan was developed in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the COVID-19 Command Table and paediatric experts.

    Details on the safe restart of the 2020-2021 school year were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, and Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health.

    Elementary schools (Kindergarten to Grade 8) will reopen provincewide, with in-class instruction five days a week. Secondary schools with lower risk will reopen with a normal daily schedule, five days a week, while most secondary schools will start the school year in an adapted model of part-time attendance with class cohorts of up to 15 students alternating between attending in-person and online. Students from Grade 4-12 and school staff will be required to wear masks.

    "It's been hard on families to balance work and child care, while kids have been separated from friends and other kids their own age. We want to get our kids back to school, but it has to be done safely," said Premier Ford. "That's why we've worked with our public health experts, Ontario Health and the medical experts at SickKids to develop a plan that ensures students can return to the classroom five days a week in a way that protects the health and safety of our children, teachers, and school staff."

    Parents will continue to have the option to enroll their children in remote delivery, which respects their fundamental role in making the final determination of whether they feel safe with their children returning to school.

    Ontario Moving Toronto and Peel Region into Stage 3 (July 30, 2020 8:30 A.M.)


    TORONTO — Additional businesses and public spaces will be reopening as the Ontario government allows the City of Toronto and Peel Region to move into Stage 3 of reopening the province on Friday, July 31 at 12:01 a.m. This decision was made in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and local medical officers of health. It is based on positive local trends of key public health indicators, including lower transmission of COVID-19, ongoing hospital capacity, public health capacity to conduct rapid case and contact management, and a significant increase in testing.

    Toronto Public Health and Peel Public Health regions will join the 31 public health regions that entered into Stage 3 on July 17 and 24, 2020. "While more restaurants, theatres and businesses can hang up their Open for Business sign, we're asking everyone to follow public health advice and act responsibly," said Premier Doug Ford. "We have made tremendous progress that allows us to return to something a little closer to our normal lives this summer, but we are not out of the woods yet. This virus is still among us and we have to be extra cautious to avoid sparking a surge or an outbreak. I strongly urge everyone to continue following public health protocols."

    Windsor-Essex County Health Unit region will remain in Stage 2. Ontario will continue to monitor local trends of key public health indicators in the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit region and move it into Stage 3 when it is safe to do so. In the interim, the government continues to address the needs of the region, in partnership with other levels of government, through measures such as on-farm testing, the deployment of mobile testing units and the adoption of new public health guidance for positive asymptomatic workers for all workplaces.

    "More businesses and services are able to reopen thanks to the collective efforts of all Ontarians to limit the spread of the virus," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "While public health trends across the province are positive, we continue to closely monitor Windsor-Essex so that we can move the community into Stage 3 when the time is right. No matter which stage a region is in, everyone needs to continue to follow public health advice to protect themselves, their families and community."

    Ontario is also supportive of proposals made by the City of Toronto and Toronto Public Health relating to restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments that are permitted to be open. For more information on the restrictions that will remain in place during Stage 3, as well as the public health and workplace safety restrictions necessary to keep people safe, visit Ontario.ca/reopen.

    Businesses that are unable to open or resume full activities due to Stage 3 restrictions, or businesses that have ideas to safely amend Stage 3 restrictions or requirements, can visit Ontario.ca/reopen to submit a reopening proposal for consideration. Government and public health officials will review proposals and contact businesses for feedback or clarification and provide an initial response within 10 days. The Chief Medical Officer of Health and public health experts also continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when public health restrictions can be further loosened or if they need to be tightened.

    It remains critically important for everyone to continue following public health advice as more businesses and services reopen in Stage 3. This includes practising physical distancing with those outside your household or social circle, wearing a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so, staying home when ill, and washing your hands frequently and thoroughly.

    British Columbia Province Bolsters COVID-19 Support for Local Governments, Transit: Carole James (July 29, 2020)

    VANCOUVER: The British Columbia Province is earmarking up to $1 billion of additional spending targeted to address COVID-19 impacts and restart plans of local governments and public transit services, conditional on matching federal contributions under a 50/50 cost-sharing criteria.

    “British Columbians are depending on government to provide help during the pandemic and build a resilient, secure future for our province,” said Premier John Horgan. “That’s why I’m pleased this new funding will secure B.C.’s share of the federal government’s $19-billion Safe Restart program and ensure people have access to the critical services they need in their communities.” Transit services are critical for a successful restart of the B.C. economy. This funding will help address some of the revenue shortfalls created by COVID-19 and help ensure that important local government and transit services remain available throughout BC’s Restart Plan.

    “To make sure people in B.C. get the maximum support from the national Safe Restart funding package, we are committing additional funds to support local governments and public transit, both of which are critical to restarting our economy,” said Carole James, Minister of Finance. “We have a shared commitment to come together to build back our economy and keep people healthy and safe. Subsequently, the federal Safe Restart program includes additional funding to support the Province’s efforts in health care, child care and support for vulnerable populations, as well as the pan-Canadian sick leave program.”

    The latest commitment by the federal government will help support B.C.’s ongoing efforts to restart the provincial economy and make it more resilient to possible future waves of the virus. James introduced supplementary estimates in the legislature for up to $1 billion to fund the Province’s portion of municipal and transit services assistance, depending on the outcome of further federal cost-sharing discussions in this priority area. The federal government has been a reliable partner as the B.C. government has addressed the impacts of the virus. B.C. will continue to work closely with the federal government to address the needs of British Columbians.

    Ontario Launches Independent Long-Term Care Covid-19 Commission: Doug Ford              (July 29, 2020 1:00 P.M.)

     

    TORONTO — The Ontario government launched an independent commission into COVID-19 and long-term care. Three commissioners will investigate how COVID-19 spread within long-term care homes, how residents, staff, and families were impacted, and the adequacy of measures taken by the province and other parties to prevent, isolate and contain the virus. The commission will also provide the government with guidance on how to better protect long-term care home residents and staff from any future outbreaks.

    Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford and Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care.

    "As Premier, I made a commitment to our long-term care residents and their families that there would be accountability and justice in the broken system we inherited," said Premier Ford. "Today, we are delivering on that promise by moving forward with a transparent, independent review of our long-term care system. We will do whatever it takes to ensure every senior in the province has a safe and comfortable place to call home."

    Three commissioners have been appointed for the expertise and experience they bring to addressing the commission's mandate:

    • Associate Chief Justice Frank N. Marrocco (Chair) ― appointed to the Superior Court of Justice in 2005 and holds a distinguished career practising criminal law and civil litigation law spanning 33 years.
    • Angela Coke ― served as a former senior executive of the Ontario Public Service where she spent more than 27 years committed to the transformation of government operations, consumer protection reform, and the development of a strong professional public service.
    • Dr. Jack Kitts ― served as President and CEO of The Ottawa Hospital from February 2002 until his retirement in June 2020. He is known nationally for his focus and expertise in patient experience, performance measurement and physician engagement.

    This independent commission has the power to conduct an investigation, including compelling persons to give or produce evidence, issuing summons, and holding public meetings. The commission's findings are delivered within the timeframes set out by the Minister of Long-Term Care in the Terms of Reference, allowing investigations to be completed in months, rather than years. The commissioners are expected to deliver their final report by April 2021.

    "The people of Ontario deserve a timely, transparent and non-partisan investigation," said Minister Fullerton. "That is why our government is launching this independent commission to help us identify ways to prevent the future spread of disease in Ontario's long-term care homes. I look forward to receiving their report and recommendations to make Ontario's long-term care homes a better place for our most vulnerable seniors to live and receive the care they deserve."

    Ontario Moving Toronto and Peel Region into Stage 3: Dough Ford     (July 29, 2020 8:30 A.M.)

    TORONTO — Additional businesses and public spaces will be reopening as the Ontario government allows the City of Toronto and Peel Region to move into Stage 3 of reopening the province on Friday, July 31 at 12:01 a.m. This decision was made in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and local medical officers of health. It is based on positive local trends of key public health indicators, including lower transmission of COVID-19, ongoing hospital capacity, public health capacity to conduct rapid case and contact management, and a significant increase in testing.

    Toronto Public Health and Peel Public Health regions will join the 31 public health regions that entered into Stage 3 on July 17 and 24, 2020. "While more restaurants, theatres and businesses can hang up their Open for Business sign, we're asking everyone to follow public health advice and act responsibly," said Premier Doug Ford. "We have made tremendous progress that allows us to return to something a little closer to our normal lives this summer, but we are not out of the woods yet. This virus is still among us and we have to be extra cautious to avoid sparking a surge or an outbreak. I strongly urge everyone to continue following public health protocols."

    Windsor-Essex County Health Unit region will remain in Stage 2. Ontario will continue to monitor local trends of key public health indicators in the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit region and move it into Stage 3 when it is safe to do so. In the interim, the government continues to address the needs of the region, in partnership with other levels of government, through measures such as on-farm testing, the deployment of mobile testing units and the adoption of new public health guidance for positive asymptomatic workers for all workplaces.

    "More businesses and services are able to reopen thanks to the collective efforts of all Ontarians to limit the spread of the virus," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "While public health trends across the province are positive, we continue to closely monitor Windsor-Essex so that we can move the community into Stage 3 when the time is right. No matter which stage a region is in, everyone needs to continue to follow public health advice to protect themselves, their families and community."

    Ontario is also supportive of proposals made by the City of Toronto and Toronto Public Health relating to restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments that are permitted to be open. For more information on the restrictions that will remain in place during Stage 3, as well as the public health and workplace safety restrictions necessary to keep people safe, visit Ontario.ca/reopen.

    Businesses that are unable to open or resume full activities due to Stage 3 restrictions, or businesses that have ideas to safely amend Stage 3 restrictions or requirements, can visit Ontario.ca/reopen to submit a reopening proposal for consideration. Government and public health officials will review proposals and contact businesses for feedback or clarification and provide an initial response within 10 days. The Chief Medical Officer of Health and public health experts also continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when public health restrictions can be further loosened or if they need to be tightened.

    It remains critically important for everyone to continue following public health advice as more businesses and services reopen in Stage 3. This includes practising physical distancing with those outside your household or social circle, wearing a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so, staying home when ill, and washing your hands frequently and thoroughly.

    The Border Would Remain Closed for Non-Essential Travel Until At Least August 21, 2020: Justin Trudeau    (July 29, 2020)

    OTTAWA: Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland held their sixteenth call with Canada’s provincial and territorial premiers to discuss their shared response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    First Ministers discussed the implementation of the Safe Restart Agreement, for which the Government of Canada is contributing more than $19 billion. With the investments from provinces and territories, the total value of the agreement will be over $23 billion, which will be used to support testing and contact tracing, provide paid sick leave to workers, and secure a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment. This funding will also help ensure health care systems have the capacity to manage future outbreaks, help meet the needs of vulnerable populations, protect child care centres, and support essential municipal services. First Ministers reaffirmed the need to collectively ensure a safe and secure restart of the economy, and to minimize future waves of COVID-19.

    The leaders talked about coordinated actions being taken by federal, provincial, and territorial governments to support Canadian workers and businesses as economies continue to open up across the country. They acknowledged that while there has been success in efforts to flatten the curve, the recent increase in cases is very troubling and demonstrates that we have not overcome this pandemic. First Ministers agreed that to avoid undermining our collective progress, we need to continue to follow public health advice and remain vigilant.

    First Ministers also discussed the measures at the Canada-U.S. border and Canada-U.S. trade issues, including their shared commitment to defend Canadian aluminum workers and the Canadian aluminum sector. The Prime Minister confirmed that the border would remain closed for non-essential travel until at least August 21, 2020. First Ministers also agreed to collaborate in the interests of Canadian workers and industry.

    All First Ministers reiterated their support for the Team Canada approach to fighting COVID-19, and the need to closely coordinate their efforts moving forward.

    We Honour More Than 26,000 Brave Canadians Who Answered the Call to Defend the Principles of Peace and Freedom: Justin Trudeau                 (July 27, 2020)

    OTTAWA: The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today stated that “Seven decades ago, North Korean forces crossed the 38th parallel into South Korea, marking the first open act of aggression since the establishment of the United Nations (UN). In response, Canada joined forces with other UN Member States to protect the sovereignty of South Korea.

    “On Korean War Veterans Day, we honour the more than 26,000 brave Canadians who answered the call to defend the principles of peace and freedom in the ‘Land of the Morning Calm’.

    “This year marks the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War. It remains the third deadliest overseas conflict in Canada’s history, surpassed only by the First and Second World Wars. Canadians who served in the air, on land, and at sea faced heavy attacks and gruelling conditions. As the seasons changed, they fought against more than just enemy forces, taking on both bitter cold temperatures and torrential monsoon rains. Over 500 Canadians, whose names are inscribed in the Korean War Book of Remembrance, lost their lives in the conflict.

    “The war was devastating for Koreans, as people struggled to find safety, and saw their homes, schools, and memories shattered. Families were separated, and many lost loved ones. By the time the armistice was signed in Panmunjom on July 27, 1953, the war had claimed the lives of millions of people, many of whom were civilians.  

    “Canada’s work to preserve peace and security on the Korean Peninsula did not end with the armistice. Canadians served in the UN Command in the years that followed the ceasefire, and continue to do so today. Our contribution in Korea helped bring in a new era of international engagement for Canada, which saw our troops deployed around the world in support of international peace and security efforts. It also built an everlasting bond and friendship between Canada and South Korea that continues today.

    “We must never forget those who fought and sacrificed in defence of peace and freedom. On behalf of the Government of Canada, I invite all Canadians to join me in recognition of our Korean War veterans and their lasting contribution to protecting the values we hold dear.”

    Canada and Ontario Invest in Roads and Bridges, Connecting Rural Communities in Southwestern Ontario

    BLUEWATER:The governments of Canada and Ontario recognize the different ways that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted smaller and rural communities across the province. Both governments are making strategic investments in infrastructure to meet the specific needs of rural Ontario municipalities and First Nation communities to help them strengthen their local economies

    Today, Kate Young, Member of Parliament for London West and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, announced funding for seven road and bridge projects across Southwestern Ontario. (July 26, 2020)

    General Vance is one of the longest serving military commanders in Canadian history. As Canada’s longest serving Chief of the Defence Staff, he has led the Canadian Armed Forces as they defended our country against military threats, and deployed overseas to confront adversaries and support our allies. (July 26, 2020)

    Wonder building of Toronto, Canada

    OTTAWA: Canada joined with its major allies Thursday in condemning China for imposing a new national security law on Hong Kong, one day after a contentious B.C. court ruling in the Meng Wenzhou affair. 

    The statement of "deep concern" with the United States, Australia and Britain comes as experts warn that two Canadians imprisoned in China could face retaliation because Wednesday's court ruling in the Meng case didn't go the way the People's Republic would have liked. 

    The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa angrily denounced the decision by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Heather Holmes in the extradition case of the Huawei executive, who is wanted on fraud charges in the U.S., as it once more called for her immediate release. 

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday, to reporters after an online UN conference, that Canada's independent judicial system "rendered a judgment without any political interference." He noted Meng would "undoubtedly avail herself of" further legal moves to fight the extradition request. 

    The Meng dispute, which has plunged Sion-Canadian relations to an all-time low, did not dissuade Canada from signing on to the statement that criticizes China for imposing a national-security law on Hong Kong.

    MONTREAL: Canada's government has the authority to halt the extradition of a Huawei executive and should do so as part of efforts to secure the release of two Canadian citizens detained in China, a former Supreme Court Justice has said.

    Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were detained by Beijing in December 2018, days after Canada's arrest of Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on a US warrant alleging use of a covert subsidiary to sell to Iran in breach of US sanctions.

    Her arrest sent China-Canada ties to rock bottom, and Beijing has since blocked billions of dollars worth of Canadian agricultural exports. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has rejected proposals from former senior officials to intervene and release Meng in exchange for the repatriation of the two Canadians, citing the independence of the judiciary.

    But former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour told Radio Canada on Tuesday that it was "high time for the [justice] minister to exercise his authority, his responsibility under the law and put an end to this process."

    "From the beginning it was not in Canada's interest to go ahead with this extradition request from the United States," added Arbour, also a former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. She added Meng is accused by Washington of violating "unilateral American sanctions against Iran" that Ottawa has never applied.

    On Wednesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a regular press briefing that "Canada's justice minister has the power to end Meng Wanzhou's extradition process at any time." "This shows that Canada's government can enforce the law impartially in accordance with its own laws," he said.

    Zhao reiterated China's position that Meng's case is a "serious political incident" and called for her to be released. Meng, the eldest daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, has been out on bail and living in a mansion in Vancouver, while the two Canadians remain in China's opaque penal system.

    On Friday China's Supreme People's Procuratorate said it had begun the prosecution of Kovrig and Spavor, who were "suspected of foreign espionage" and "providing state secrets." US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Monday demanded that China free the two Canadians, and said in a statement that his country "rejects the use of these unjustified detentions to coerce Canada."

    Australia, Britain, France, Germany, the EU and others have also pressed China over the detention of the Canadians.

    LAHORE (Layalpur Post): Pakistan Muslim League (N) President Quaid Shahbaz Sharif congratulates the nation on Eidalfitr. Eid al-Fitr is the holy month of Ramadan by Allah.

    This is a day of special mercy and forgiveness from Allah. I congratulate all Muslim brothers and sisters in Islam, Pakistan, Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

    The holy month of Ramadan is a great thank you. Unfortunately, this year we are seeing halal Eid in a miserable environment.

    On one hand, the stories of Pakistani brothers, sisters and innocent children who were killed in the plane crash are precious lives that are being sacrificed by the COVID-19 virus. Millions of people are in trouble because of this crisis.

    The plane crash and the deaths from COVID-19 have made Eidalfitr a tragedy, we share the grief of the affected families.

    In solidarity with the people of occupied areas, Kashmir and Palestine, Allah will soon bless our brothers and sisters with the blessing of freedom.

    In occupied Jammu and Kashmir, millions of our brothers and sisters are celebrating Eid in a double lock-down environment.

    May Allah make their difficulties easier. May Allah bless this Eid for Pakistan and all the worlds of Islam and protect all the Islam and Pakistanis. Ameen.

    I offer my sincere greetings to you and your family with prayer. Do not let the preventive medical practice of celebrating Eid. Allah is your supporter and protector. Ameen

    MONTREAL: François Legault, the Premier of Quebec announced that in the coming weeks, activities will gradually resume in Québec, with the consent and collaboration of public health authorities. The reopening will occur in phases, depending on the type of activities and the geographic zone.

    To limit risks linked with the virus’ spread, it is essential to continue to follow health recommendations:

    1. wash your hands;                                  2. cough and sneeze into your elbow;       3. always stay at least 2 meters away from other people.

    When it is impossible to maintain a distance of 2 meters between people, the use of a face cover is strongly recommended.

    Businesses that can maintain teleworking among their employees are urged to do so.

    ManitobaPremier Brian Pallister Delivers Inaugural State of the Province Address

    OTTAWA: Canada is not yet prepared to confront the challenges inherent in reopening the shared border with the United States, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday, stopping short of confirming that a ban on non-essential travel will be extended to June 21.

    The federal government has asked to extend the current ban, which is currently set to expire May 21, and a favourable response is expected from Washington but likely won't come for a few more days, a source familiar with the ongoing discussions, but not authorized to talk about them publicly, told The Canadian Press. News of the request was first reported by the Globe and Mail.

    "Right now, we're making decisions for right now," Trudeau said when asked about the possibility of keeping the border closed even after June 21, regardless of the wishes of the U.S., which is dealing with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the world.

    "Obviously, there are reflections on what next steps could be and might be in different situations and different progressions of COVID-19, but every step of the way in this unprecedented situation, we're reacting to and responding to the realities we see now, and that's where we will stay focused."

    One of those realities is also the starkest: more than a million active cases in the U.S. 42 per cent of the world's active caseload and a death toll that was closing in Wednesday on 83,000 people, growing at a rate of more than 1,000 fatalities a day.

    ALBERTA: Temperatures in the Prairie provinces are expected to be colder than average this spring. “There’s no indication that temperatures will be above normal,” said Bruce Burnett, director of markets and weather for  Winnipeg.

    Low temperatures will likely cause issues for seeding in areas of the Prairies that have received late spring snowstorms.

    “That will cause problems with things drying up; it’ll really slow that down,” he said, mentioning there are still five million tonnes of last year’s canola to be harvested this spring.

    Ideally, he said, we would have liked to see some warmer, drier conditions this spring, particularly in the northern and eastern regions of the Prairies.

    “But we’re in a pattern where we’re getting snow, and it’s not warming up quickly, so that’s going to delay things.”

    A newsletter from Weatherlogics also predicted eastern regions of the Prairies to remain snowy and cold, with western regions tending to be drier.

    TORONTO: The Ontario government is opening provincial parks and conservation reserves for limited day-use access. The first areas will open on Monday May 11, 2020, with the remaining areas opening on Friday May 15, 2020. At this time, recreational activities will be limited to walking, hiking, biking and birdwatching. Day visitors will also be able to access all parks and conservation reserves for free until the end of the month.  

    The announcement was made today by Premier Doug Ford, Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

    "As we continue to make progress in our fight to stop the spread of COVID-19, we are carefully and cautiously reopening the province, starting with certain businesses and retailers, and now our provincial parks and conservation reserves," said Premier Ford. "I encourage people to get out and enjoy the outdoors, but please do so in a responsible way. Practise physical distancing and follow the rules set out by health care officials to stop the spread of this virus."

    On Monday, 520 provincial parks and conservation reserves across the province will open, and the remaining 115 will open on the following Friday for limited day-use activities. At this time, camping and other activities are not permitted at any provincial park or conservation reserve. All buildings and facilities including washrooms, water taps, campgrounds, backcountry campsites, roofed accommodations, playgrounds, and beaches continue to be closed.

    "People are eager to enjoy the warmer weather, stretch their legs and reconnect with nature," said Minister Yurek. "In consultation with our health experts, we're working to slowly phase-in the opening of Ontario Parks in a measured way to ensure the health and safety of visitors and staff. People should take note that not all amenities will be open and plan accordingly."

    Over the next several weeks, Ontario Parks' staff will be conducting critical maintenance and other parks start-up procedures, so that more recreational activities and facilities will be available when it is safe to do so.

    BRITISH COLUMBIA: Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs & representatives of the federal and provincial governments are expected to sign an agreement today that politicians say will rebuild relationships after anti-pipeline protests and blockades earlier this year.

    But the deal has also fractured an Indigenous community in B.C.’s Interior. The memorandum of understanding was signed in March, ending protests and blockades by First Nations across the country that damaged Canada’s economy.

    The hereditary chiefs oppose the construction of a Coastal GasLink pipeline through their territory and while this agreement recognizes their rights and title, the chiefs say it has no impact on the pipeline.

    Elected chiefs of the First Nation say they should have been involved in the negotiations and are urging rejection of the agreement.

    Premier John Horgan says the Wet’suwet’en have to figure out how to govern themselves and the agreement provides a framework allowing that.

    Indigenous law expert Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond agrees with the elected chiefs, saying the signing should be postponed to allow for the governance issues to be worked out.

    She says self-determination for the First Nation means they can pick their own government and how it functions but this agreement could saddle them with more conflict.

    The University of Saskatchewan announced Wednesday it has named soil science professor Angela Bedard-Haughn as the Dean for its College of Agriculture and Bioresources for a five-year term starting Aug. 15.

    Raised on a family farm in northeastern Saskatchewan, Bedard-Haughn studied at the University of Saskatchewan and University of California-Davis. As Dean, she replaces animal sciences professor Mary Buhr, who has held the post since mid-2009.

    Currently the college’s associate Dean of research and graduate studies, and formerly department head and graduate chair in soil science, Bedard-Haughn is known for research work in wetland soils and in predictive soil mapping and has taught field courses on soil and landscape classification at both the undergrad and graduate levels.

    “We are lucky to have such an enthusiastic and engaged group of students, faculty, staff and stakeholders,” she said in Wednesday’s release. “I hope to ensure that we are providing the training and research that the community needs, both here at home and around the world.”

    Her appointment follows the university’s announcement Tuesday that it will continue “primarily remote online learning” for its fall term starting in September, combined with “limited classroom, laboratory, clinical and physical instruction only where warranted and where circumstances permit.”

    The university said it plans to post more information about its COVID-19 pandemic response and decision-making processes as related to academic programs and research activity “in the coming weeks.”

    BRITISH COLUMBIA: A senior police officer from the United Kingdom who specializes in money laundering says he believes Canada is no more vulnerable to the crime than other Western jurisdictions.

    Simon Lord of the National Crime Agency, who is also part of a Five Eyes group dedicated to international money laundering controls, began his testimony before a public inquiry into money laundering in British Columbia on Thursday.

    Inquiry commissioner Austin Cullen heard in February from a coalition of tax fairness groups that hiding ill-gotten cash behind shell companies is so widespread in Canada that it’s known globally as “snow washing.”

    However, Lord says that the money laundering situation in Canada looks similar to that of the United Kingdom, the United States and other countries with similar legal and economic frameworks.

    OTTAWA:The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, issued the following statement today on the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day:

    “Today, on the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, we pause to reflect and honour all those who fought, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend freedom and democracy.

    “On this day in 1945, Canadians joined the chorus of millions around the world to celebrate the end of the Second World War in Europe. With the unconditional surrender of the Nazi regime, the devastation, fear, and misery caused by more than five-and-a-half years of fighting gave way to feelings of relief, hope, and optimism. Although the war in Asia and the Pacific continued, parades were held and people sang in the streets as Canada and its Allies celebrated the end of a struggle that had tested our resilience and humanity.

    “While this year’s commemorative ceremonies will move online due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, I invite all Canadians to pay tribute to the courage and sacrifice of those who fought in Europe, and supported the war effort at home, during the Second World War. We remain forever in the debt of all those who answered the call to serve, and for the people in uniform who gave everything so that their children and grandchildren could live in freedom and peace.

    “Lest we forget.”

    OTTAWA:Happy Saturday everyone. These days, a number of Canadians are going through hard times because of COVID-19. The pandemic is an unprecedented challenge for our country, and Canadians are suffering the consequences. However, some people and sectors are more deeply affected than others. Therefore, this week, we announced other measures to help those that need them the most.

    First, we are working on concluding an agreement with all of the provinces and territories to increase the salaries of essential workers. These people have been on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 since the start of the crisis. They are doing incredible work. The best way to thank them is to ensure that they are well paid and protected.

    And this week, thanks to this agreement, we are in the process of taking an important step towards putting more money in their pockets. We also announced more support to help the food sector get through this crisis. We are giving food processors more money to ensure the security of their workers. We are planning on specific measures to help cattle and pork farmers, and dairy producers, adapt to market changes.

    We are implementing a program that will help the government purchase products that are likely to be wasted, to redistribute them to charity organizations. All in all, our government has proposed an additional $5 billion in lending capacity and a total investment of $510 million to support food security since the beginning of the crisis. And as I said earlier this week, if we have to do more, we will do more.

    For the past few weeks, our government has been focused on getting people the help they need as quickly as possible. But to come out of this stronger than ever, we also have to think long-term. We need to lay the groundwork now, so our economy can come roaring back. And that’s what we’re doing with measures like the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. So far, more than half a million small businesses have received a loan through the CEBA.

    And less than two weeks since launching the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, employers have applied for subsidies for almost two million workers. Our government is giving employers more resources, so they can stay in business and keep people on the payroll during this crisis. Maintaining the connection between employer and employee will be key not just to help people get back on their feet, but also to our economy.

    In that vein, we announced yesterday that we would be extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy beyond June. At the same time, we’re working with our partners from around the world to beat COVID-19 for good. This pandemic is a global issue. Keeping Canadians safe and restarting our economy means defeating the virus not just at home, but wherever it is found.

    So earlier this week, we announced new investments to accelerate the global development of COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, testing, and research, including research being done here in Canada. Over the past few weeks, we established new assistance programs for workers and businesses, but we know that the work is far from complete. As the situation evolves, needs and challenges also evolve and we adapt our response accordingly.

    We are still listening to Canadians and still looking for ways to support them. I want to close by asking all the moms to step out of the room for a minute so I can talk to your kids. Okay, tomorrow is Mother’s Day, kids. It’s a special day for all the people who are mothers to us – our moms, stepmoms, grandmothers, aunts, and older sisters. So, let’s show them how much we love and care about them. You might want to get up early to make her breakfast or ask dad to help you get her some flowers.

    Or if you’re not together this year because of the virus or other reasons, you can draw her a card or set up a video call. Whatever you do, I’m sure what you’ll choose to do will make her day and express how much you love her, how much you need her, and how much she has your full support and full love during this difficult time, but all the time as well. Take advantage of this time and have fun. We will get through this together.

    British Columbians will move forward with safely restarting their province beginning in mid-May, according to a plan announced by Premier John Horgan.

    Under B.C.’s Restart Plan, government will work closely with public health officials, businesses and labour organizations to lift restrictions in phases, gradually allowing for more social and economic activity, while closely monitoring health information to minimize the risk to the public.

    “Our plan puts safety first. British Columbians have made enormous sacrifices so far, and it’s thanks to them that we’re able to begin to lift some restrictions,” Horgan said. “We’ll allow activities to resume as the evidence and experts tell us it is appropriate to do so. By moving carefully and deliberately, we will help British Columbians get to a ‘new normal,’ where more of our social and economic life can resume.”

    Restarting economic activity will look different in B.C. than in other jurisdictions, because only a small number of sectors in the province were closed by public health order. Many other provinces are just now reaching the level of safe operations B.C. has been able to maintain throughout the pandemic.

    B.C. is currently in Phase 1 of the restart plan. Phase 2, which will begin in mid-May, includes:

    • small social gatherings;
    • a resumption of elective surgeries and regulated health services like physiotherapy, dentistry, chiropractors and in-person counselling;
    • provincial parks open for day use;
    • opening more non-essential businesses in keeping with safe operations plans;
    • recalling the provincial legislature for regular sittings.

    Essential businesses that have remained open during the pandemic, so far, have done so safely with the support of WorkSafeBC. Government will build on this successful experience by supporting all businesses as they take steps toward a successful reopening. Sectors that were ordered closed will be asked to work with WorkSafeBC to develop plans to reopen safely. WorkSafeBC is developing industry-specific guidance to help employers bring workers and customers back safely. Any business restarting operations must ensure it is in compliance with the provincial health officer’s orders and in accordance with occupational health and safety guidance provided by WorkSafeBC.

    The target date for the start of Phase 3, which will include opening up of additional businesses and services, is between June and September 2020, if transmission rates remain low or in decline. Phase 4 will only be achieved when the threat of COVID-19 has been significantly diminished through widespread vaccination, broad successful treatments, evidence of community immunity, or the equivalent.

    Most provincial parks will reopen, starting May 14, for day-use only. On June 1, many remaining facilities, including campgrounds, will reopen. A small number of parks that attract large crowds, or where reopening would pose a health risk to nearby communities, will remain closed. A strong emphasis on personal hygiene for all British Columbians, including hand washing, physical distancing and staying at home if you are sick, will be crucial for the success of every phase of the plan.

    While B.C. already has sufficient testing and tracking capacity, by continuing to increase these, government will be able to identify any flare ups in COVID-19 case numbers and address them. This approach will support public safety and confidence.

    “Today, we’ve unveiled our plan for a slow and safe restart. We need to be vigilant, to make sure we keep flattening the curve of transmission,” Premier Horgan said. “There is much more to do. But we will get through this pandemic to better days by working together and keeping each other safe.”

    TORONTO: The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) announced a new program today called Encore!, which aims to pay musicians for live online concerts on Facebook and Instagram. 

    As COVID-19 has forced musicians off the road, stripping many of their main source of income, numerous artists have taken to social platforms like Facebook and Instagram to perform for fans. But even though Facebook and a few other services (such as Twitch, YouNow and Periscope) offer an in-app donate or tipping buttons, the majority of these live streams don't make any money.  

    A total of $200,000 will be available each quarter for this program for the duration of Canada's COVID-19 lockdown. In order to qualify for a payment, there are four key requirements artists must meet, according to SOCAN:

    1. "At least 10 songs/compositions must be performed live, or a live performance of at least 30 minutes must take place, on Facebook or Instagram, from March 15, 2020, to March 7, 2021 (inclusive)."

    2. "At least 100 people must have accessed the online event."

    3. "A set list of all music performed has to be sent via SOCAN's Notification of Live Music Performance (NLMP) form at socan.com, with the 'venue' identified as Facebook or Instagram."

    4. Claims must be made within 90 days of the Facebook/Instagram concert occurring." 

    Each concert will be eligible for a $150 payment, with shares of royalties going to all rights holders of the music performed. Musicians are allowed to apply more than once pending each live event they host meets all the requirements above.