Ben Carr seeking Liberal nomination for late father's Winnipeg South Centre seat

A familiar name is seeking the Liberal nomination for the upcoming byelection in Winnipeg South Centre.

Ben Carr, son of the late Jim Carr, who held the seat from 2015 until his death last December, announced Thursday that he’s looking to take over his father’s role as MP.

“My dad instilled in us a firm belief in the good that can be accomplished through public service,” Carr said in a statement.

“He demonstrated that to us over a lifetime, and most recently, as he represented our community with all his heart — until the day he died. In speaking with so many people since his death, I have a deepened understanding of the responsibility of representing our community.”

Carr, who currently works as vice-president at Indigenous Strategy Alliance, is a lifelong resident of the riding.

“I love this community. It has been my home since I was born. I learned to skate on our local rinks, got my education in the classrooms of our riding’s schools, and returned to teach in them as I began my career as an educator,” he said.

Carr’s father Jim — who served as both federal minister of natural resources and minister of international trade diversification — was also a former provincial Liberal MLA.

The younger Carr isn’t the only high-profile candidate vying for the nomination in Winnipeg South Centre.

Winnipeg city councillor Sherri Rollins announced in January that she’s pursuing the Liberal nod for the federal seat, which encompasses her municipal ward.

 

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Dairy giant Saputo to permanently close 3 U.S. facilities, expand and build others

Dairy giant Saputo Inc. has announced sweeping changes to its U.S. operations, saying it will permanently close three facilities, build a new packaging facility and expand string cheese operations.

The Montreal-based company says the goal of the capital investments and consolidation is to streamline its manufacturing footprint in the United States.

Saputo says it’s spending $240 million on a new cut-and-wrap facility in Franklin, Wis., which is slated to be fully operational in late 2025 and create 600 jobs, while also investing $75 million to expand string cheese operations on the U.S. West Coast.

Once the new and expanded facilities are up and running, the company says it will permanently shutter facilities in Big Stone, S.D., Green Bay, Wis., and South Gate, Calif.

The company did not immediately respond to questions about how many jobs could be lost as a result of the closures.

Saputo CEO Lino Saputo says the changes will lay the groundwork for future growth in the United States while improving the company’s cost structure.

“Strategic investments, a streamlined footprint, and optimized facilities will set the stage for notable improvements in our operational performance as we consolidate activities into world-class facilities,” he said in a statement.

“Also designed to increase production capabilities in some of our higher-margin value-added product categories, these initiatives will fuel our aspirations to further enhance our value proposition as a high-quality, low-cost processor in the USA.”

 

© 2023 The Canadian Press

Canadian Armed Forces to train on highways in southern, central Ontario

The Canadian Armed Forces will be conducting driver and convoy operation training on a number of highways in southern and central Ontario this weekend.

The army says reserve personnel from 31 Service Battalion and 23 Support Company will conduct driving training between Hamilton, Ottawa and Petawawa from Feb. 3 to 5.

Activities will include convoy training on a planned, return highway route transiting Hamilton, Trenton, Kingston, Ottawa, Petawawa and Peterborough.

“This is regular, scheduled training that keeps our Combat Service Support personnel and units ready to respond to missions in Canada — like floods and wildfires — and in support of international stability operations,” stated Lt.(N) Andrew J. McLaughlin, public affairs officer with 31 Canadian Brigade Group.

“Participating personnel will remain within their vehicles as dismounted drills are not planned, except for maintenance purposes.”

Military vehicles will be on the following highways:

  • Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW)
  • Highway 407
  • Highway 401
  • Highway 7
  • Highway 417
  • Highway 28
  • Highway 115
  • Highway 17

McLaughlin says the training keeps Canadian Army Reserve members’ skills current on convoy drills, unit discipline and the safe and effective operation of specific vehicle platforms.

“All measures are being taken to ensure minimum inconvenience in these areas during the exercise dates,” he said. “Members of the public are asked to take extra caution when approaching military vehicles and are thanked in advance for their understanding and co-operation.”

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

No EI benefits for man fired over COVID-19 vaccine, test refusal: Federal Court

WATCH: Employees who are fired for refusing COVID-19 vaccinations might not get EI

If you were fired from your job for refusing to get a COVID-19 vaccine and test, there is a good chance you won’t be eligible for any unemployment benefits in Canada, legal experts say.

A federal court decision last week stated that a man in Ontario was not entitled to receive Employment Insurance (EI) benefits after he was terminated from his health-care job because he failed to comply with the employer’s policy regarding COVID-19 vaccination and testing.

Anthony Cecchetto, a former employee at Lakeridge Health in the Greater Toronto Area, was put on unpaid leave in September 2021 and then dismissed a month later, according to the ruling.

His EI application was denied in October 2021 because he had lost his job due to “misconduct” and was seeking a judicial review of an earlier decision by the Social Security Tribunal, which had ruled he was not eligible for EI.

Federal Court Justice William Pentney said in his ruling dated Jan. 23, 2023, that Cecchetto “has not put forward any legal or factual argument that persuades me that the Appeal Division’s decision is unreasonable.”

COVID-19 vaccine mandates across Canada led to thousands of workers in different sectors and provinces losing their jobs or being put on unpaid leave.

Employment and Social Development Canada had warned in October 2021 that workers who lose their job over a refusal to vaccinate against COVID-19 may not be eligible for EI benefits.

Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough at the time told Global News that disobeying clear vaccine policies was seen as non-compliance in EI claims.

“A fundamental principle of the EI program is that claimants have to lose their employment for no fault of their own — and this would be seen typically as a choice,” she said on Global’s The West Block.

Many Canadians have challenged their dismissals and the subsequent EI disqualifications in court, but with little success.

Jon Pinkus, an employment lawyer in the GTA with Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, said this latest decision comes as no surprise and has some precedent with respect to similar cases where an employee has refused both COVID-19 testing and vaccination.

“Employment insurance is a federal scheme, so this applies across the country in that sense,” he said.

However, he noted that the law will consider both vaccination and testing differently.

“There was also a decision where an employee who had not been given the alternative of testing to vaccination was deemed to be entitled to employment insurance, and that was deemed not misconduct,” Pinkus said.

Michael Stitz, another employment lawyer in Toronto, said there is a trend in favour of protecting employers and governments when safety-sensitive environments and COVID-19 mandates are the topics of discussion.

“The reality is this sends a clear message that the courts are not going to bend over backwards with respect to those who may have suffered economic loss due to an unwillingness to both get vaccinated and/or test,” he told Global News.

From a legal standpoint, those employees who have been let go without a government mandate in place should be entitled to compensation, lawyers say.

COVID-19 vaccine mandates have become a thorny issue, polarizing Canadians across the country.

The federal government enforced a mandatory COVID-19 policy for all federal workers back in October 2021.

That mandate was lifted in June 2022.

Despite the mandates imposed, Stitz said the government never expressly permitted the termination of employment with no severance – and that could create a situation where the most vulnerable people are adversely affected, he said.

“Employment Insurance is really not a one-size-fits-all scenario.”

“In scenarios where employees have legitimate health reasons and their employment was terminated, for example, it could certainly result in unfairness.”

As for wrongful dismissals and denying severance, the jury is still out on whether an employer can terminate for cause on the basis of an employee not getting a COVID-19 vaccination, said Pinkus.

“There is no precedent of an employer asserting that an employee has been guilty of gross misconduct as a result of essentially declining a form of medication.”

In September 2022, the federal government ended temporary changes to the EI program that were made during the pandemic, reverting back to the original framework.

Under the temporary measures, workers qualified for EI based on a national requirement of having 420 insurable employment hours. Additionally, monies paid on separation from a job, such as severance, were not deducted from benefits. Those measures have now been scrapped.

— with files from The Canadian Press 

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Parents abandon their ticketless baby at Israeli airport check-in

A baby was abandoned at an airport check-in desk in Tel Aviv, Israel after his parents learned they had not purchased a plane ticket for the infant.

The parents, who have not been publicly identified, were travelling on a Ryanair flight from Ben Gurion International Airport to Brussels, Belgium on Tuesday. The local news outlet Channel 12 reported that both parents have Belgian passports.

The family arrived late to the check-in counter, which had already closed. Either unwilling or unable to buy a ticket for the infant, the unnamed parents left the baby in its carrier and hurriedly attempted to board the plane.

Shocked airport employees reported the incident to security. In grainy cellphone footage recorded from the check-in desk, and obtained by Channel 12, one clerk is seen investigating the baby carrier.

“She left him here, I swear!” the check-in clerk said in Hebrew.

Ryanair provided a statement to CNN confirming that the parents “presented at check-in without a booking for their infant.”

“They then proceeded to security leaving the infant behind at check-in,” the statement continues.

Officials retrieved the parents and turned the matter over to police.

The Israeli police also confirmed the incident to CNN and said the matter was resolved by the time authorities arrived at the check-in desk. “The baby was with the parents and there’s no further investigation.”

It is unclear if the family was able to board the flight.

According to the Ryanair website, infants can travel with parents if they sit on an adult’s lap during the flight. The airline has a €25 (about $36) charge for travelling with a baby. Alternatively, a seat can be provided for an infant in a baby carrier or car seat, but it must be paid for.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Looking for love? 44% U.S. adults use dating apps to find long-term partners: study

WATCH ABOVE: Do your research to avoid potential bad dates on Valentine’s Day, cops say.

Whether looking for love or a casual encounter, 3 in 10 U.S. adults say they have used a dating site or app _ with mixed experiences, according to a Pew Research Center study out Thursday. For the under-35 set, more than half have tried it.

The overall number, which amounts to 30%, is unchanged since 2019, the last time the center took a broad look at online dating. In 2015, 15% of U.S. adults said they had used a dating site or app, said lead researcher Colleen McClain.

“When we talk to users who have been on the sites more recently, we see that there is really a mix of emotions,” she said. “Everything from burnout to elation.”

Among the study’s key takeaways for McClain: 1 in 10 adults who have a partner said they met their current significant other on a dating site or app. The number rises to 1 in 5 for those under 30.

Asked about their reasons for using the platforms, 44% of current or recent users had finding a long-term partner top of mind, with 40% responding that they wanted to date casually. Twenty-four percent were in search of casual sex and 22% were hunting for new friends.

Using dating sites and apps is most popular among adults under 30, Pew reported, with 53% saying they have done it. That compares with 37% of those ages 30 to 49; 20% of those 50 to 64; and 13% of those 65 and older.

Atlanta firefighter Andy Giron, 33, is among the pleasantly surprised. He said he had always considered digital dating “a little weird” until recently.

Giron had just gotten out of a long-term relationship in 2019 when he decided to give Tinder a try for some casual dating. That didn’t work out after a couple of times but he hit gold on Hinge a short time later.

“My wife was my first date on Hinge,” he said. “She was so easy to talk to and we had a lot in common. There was an immediate connection when we first met in person.”

The two married six months later, soon after the COVID-19 pandemic hit. They now have a year-old daughter. Giron was inspired to turn to online dating by his sister, who found her spouse the same way.

“I always thought you should meet someone the regular way, in person, but this is the way the world is now,” Giron said.

Across age groups, 51% of lesbian, gay and bisexual adults have used a dating site or app.

Men are more likely than women to report positive experiences in digital dating, 57% vs. 48%, and LGB users are more likely than straight users to say the same, 61% vs. 53%. White or Black adults who have used one of the platforms are more likely than Hispanic users to say their experiences have been negative.

The number of men who have used dating sites or apps in the past year and said having casual sex was a major reason was 18 percentage points greater than female users who said the same.

The Pew research is based on a survey of about 6,000 U.S. adults taken from July 5-17 last year.

Online daters’ experiences were mixed, with 53% saying they have been at least somewhat positive. Fourteen percent said they have been very positive, and 48% said their experiences have included at least one of four unwanted behaviors explored in the study.

Thirty-eight percent of those reporting negative experiences said they received unsolicited sexual messages or images, and 30% cited unwanted continued contact. Twenty-four percent said they were called an offensive name, and 6% said they were physically threatened.

Female users were more likely to report such experiences, especially those under 50.

Like Giron, 22-year-old Liv Loughlin, a tech company marketing associate in San Jose, California, had just ended a long-term relationship when she first tried digital dating last September.

“I wanted to jump into it, especially to meet people because I was new to the area,” she said. “My first date on a dating app was on Hinge and it was crazy. He was immediately very, very touchy and there were all these sexual overtones to everything he said. … I ended up bailing.”

But Loughlin didn’t give up. She turned to Bumble and is now happily in a relationship with a man she met there.

“I figured I had hit rock bottom and it couldn’t go anywhere but up,” she said.

Safety is a large concern for some digital daters. There have been demands over the years for more protections, such as required background checks, in light of reported stalking, and sexual assaults and other violence. Few sites require such checks of every user.

“We see that Americans are divided on this,” McClain said. “Forty-eight percent say that dating sites are a safe way to meet people. A very similar share, 49%, say that they’re not safe.”

A majority overall said dating sites and apps should require people to undergo background checks.

Stacy Overcamp, 58, an unemployed marketing specialist, knows the dangers firsthand. She’s been dating online since about 1998, with several contacts leading to relationships over the years.

“I’ve never had a problem meeting men online. I’ve had a problem meeting quality men online,” said Overcamp, in suburban San Francisco. One long-term relationship ended in stalking, harassment and a restraining order, she said. Other men she dated turned out to be broke, drug users or liars. But she remains active as her priorities have shifted to marriage.

Overcamp estimates 30 or 40 contacts a month.

“It would take me five years to talk with and connect with that many men if I weren’t online,” she said.

Pew studied eight sites and apps. Tinder was the most commonly used, with 46% of digital dating users saying they had tried it. That amounts to 14% of all U.S. adults. About 10% of U.S. adults said they had used Match or Bumble. Six percent said they had tried OkCupid, eharmony and Hinge.

Grindr and HER were far more popular among lesbian, gay or bisexual online dating users than straight users. Some 34% of LGB users said they had tried Grindr and 10% said they had tried HER.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

Alberta announces $15M investment in low-income transit programs across province

The Alberta government will invest $15 million in low-income transit programs across the province, including those in Calgary and Edmonton.

Community and Social Services Minister Jeremy Nixon told reporters Thursday that Calgary and Edmonton each received $4.5 million to provide low-income transit pass programs in their communities.

Another $6 million will be allocated to 10 municipalities that already offer transit programs for low-income households. The money will help pay for some operating costs and help expand these much-needed programs to more communities like Airdrie, Banff, Canmore, Cochrane, Cold Lake, Fort Saskatchewan, Grande Prairie, Medicine Hat, St. Albert and Strathcona County.

Nixon said each community will receive a different funding amount based on actual operating costs.

“We know that this (affordability) crisis is creating undue pain and worry for many of us,” Nixon said at a news conference on Thursday.

“(The government) will continue to work with our community partners to identify other ways to support affordable and accessible transit.

“We will be exploring options to further expand these programs to all municipalities that are in the process of establishing low-income transit systems.”

Affordability Minister Matt Jones said low-income transit programs help families focus on improving their quality of life, such as putting food on the table.

Low-income transit passes can reduce the cost of adult monthly passes to as low as $5.60 depending on income, he said.

“These are real savings that can have a big impact on the lives of Albertans with limited financial means,” Jones told reporters.

“It means that everyone can better access and participate in their communities, and it means significant long-term benefits for the broader community and our province.”

But Jones and Nixon did not provide details on how the program will benefit Banff and Canmore, where public transportation is already free for residents.

Banff Mayor Corrie DiManno said the funding will help enhance connectivity between Bow Valley communities through Roam Transit, which runs through Banff, Canmore and Lake Louise.

According to DiManno, Roam Transit saw record ridership last year with 1.65 million riders, an 8.5 per cent increase over the previous record set in 2019.

“On behalf of the community, thank you for helping us to achieve our goals of making Banff a more affordable place to live and developing a robust sustainable transportation network for everyone,” she said.

Canmore Mayor Sean Krausert said the money would also help with improving service and reducing operating costs in Banff.

“It will help us to provide the services that we provide for free (for residents) as well as provide low-income transit passes for locals. It helps the whole system,” Krausert told reporters.

“It reinforces our transit system so that they can do better and allow other dollars to help bolster the system… It gives us the foundation to provide those services.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

U.S. job losses surged in January as tech layoffs deepened, report suggests

Tech layoffs: Seek legal advice, negotiate terms if you've lost your job, experts say

Layoffs in the United States hit a more than two-year high in January as technology firms cut jobs at the second-highest pace on record to brace for a possible recession, a report showed on Thursday.

The layoffs impacted 102,943 workers, a more than two-fold jump from December and an over five-times surge from a year earlier, according to the report from employment firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

Companies from Microsoft Corp. to Amazon.com Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. cut thousands of jobs last month in a bid to ride out a demand downturn as consumer and corporate spending shrinks due to high inflation and rising interest rates.

“We’re now on the other side of the hiring frenzy of the pandemic years,” said Andrew Challenger, labor expert and Senior Vice President of the employment firm. “Companies are preparing for an economic slowdown, cutting workforce and slowing hiring.”

The push to correct pandemic excesses has been most evident in the tech sector, which slashed 41,829 jobs last month, the highest across industries.

Retailers, second after tech, cut 13,000 positions in January, compared with virtually no layoffs a year earlier. Financial firms, meanwhile, shed 10,603 jobs last month, up from 696 roles a year earlier.

With the Federal Reserve expected to continue on its rate-hiking path to stamp down inflation that is still on the higher side after several rounds of rate increases, analysts said more layoffs could be in store for U.S. companies.

“For companies that ramped up headcount over the past few years, they will likely shrink their workforce as the economy is headed towards a rough patch,” OANDA analyst Edward Moya said.

© 2023 Reuters

Rogers 'confident' it can compete with bigger Videotron if Shaw merger goes forward

Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne says delivering lower wireless prices for Canadians is his priority in weighing final approvals for the proposed merger between Rogers Communications Inc. and Shaw Communications Inc.

The head of Rogers Communications Inc. says the telecom company is ready to face the threat of increased competition born out of its proposed merger with Shaw Communications.

CEO Tony Staffieri made the comments during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call Thursday morning.

He said the company is ready to compete with Quebecor’s Videotron in the national wireless market as the company grows with the pending acquisition of Shaw’s Freedom Mobile — the divestiture of which is now a key aspect of the deal between Rogers and Shaw clearing antitrust concerns.

But an analyst on the call asked Staffieri why shareholders should be excited about the deal, given that it would also end up benefiting a competitor.

Staffieri conceded that selling off Freedom to Videotron, which would give the Quebec-based brand reach into the Western Canadian market, would “enhance their competitive ability.”

But he added that there would be “a number of dynamics” in the telecom sector with a fourth player at the table and said any gains by Videotron in the wireless market do not necessarily mean losses for Rogers in the space.

“We have thrived in a competitive landscape in the past,” he said.

“We’re confident we have what we need to be able to compete in a four-player market.”

A more competitive telecom landscape with better prices for consumers is a key condition of the proposed $26-billion merger going forward, according to Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, who holds final approvals on the deal.

Earlier this week, the companies collectively agreed to extend the deal’s closing date to Feb. 17, past the Jan. 31 deadline that was previously set.

Champagne has said he will make the decision “in due course” after reviewing a decision at the Federal Court of Appeal last week, which upheld the Competition Tribunal sign-off on the merger granted late last year.

Staffieri said Thursday that he wouldn’t comment on the deal while it’s under government review.

Shaw Communications and Corus Entertainment, the parent company of Global News, are owned by the Shaw family based in Calgary.

Rogers chief financial officer Glenn Brandt said the company has all the funding needed in place to close the deal, and that they have extended the $13-billion funding from issued bonds to the end of the year.

“We have plenty of runway there,” he said. “We are ready for when we receive the final regulatory approval.”

Acquisition aside, the company expects to continue its financial momentum in the year ahead.

Rogers said Thursday that its fourth-quarter earnings got a boost from higher roaming revenue as travel bounced back and from improved returns from sports advertising and its Toronto Blue Jays franchise as activity normalized.

The telecom giant reported a fourth-quarter profit of $508 million, up from $405 million in the same quarter a year earlier as its revenue rose six per cent.

Rogers expects to see revenue increase between four and seven per cent and adjusted earnings growth before deductions of between five and eight per cent, while capital spending is expected to be between $3.1 billion and $3.3 billion, compared with $3.03 billion last year.

Capital spending last year was focused on investing in their networks, as they look to invest in expanding 5G network access as well as improve reliability, which became all the more important after a high-profile outage last summer.

Staffieri said the company is focused on dependability as critical to holding on to customers.

“Price is always important. The more important factor is the internet reliability, and that’s because even in the consumer space, with a lot of work from home, it’s become so critical.”

Turnover on wireless customers — a key metric in the telecom sector — was up in the last quarter compared with a year earlier but a higher overall number of customers, along with a 140 per cent jump in roaming revenue, helped boost service revenue by seven per cent in the quarter, while media revenue increased 17 per cent, largely from sports-related boost.

Overall revenue totalled $4.17 billion for the fourth quarter, up from $3.92 billion a year earlier. Profit amounted to $1 per diluted share for the three months ending Dec. 31, up from 80 cents per diluted share in the fourth quarter of 2021.

On an adjusted basis, Rogers says it earned $1.09 per diluted share in its latest quarter, up from an adjusted profit of 96 cents per diluted share in the last three months of 2021.

— with files from The Canadian Press

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Ava's Radiothon Story

Ava suffered a stroke while in utero, which significantly impacted her left side and led to her being diagnosed with Cerebral palsy (CP) as a baby. A strong-willed and determined child, Ava was resistant to treatment and things meant to help her mobility development. Despite the support of her neurology and orthopedics team at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, Ava did not want to acknowledge that she had a disability – she just wanted to live her life like a “normal” kid.

Last summer, Ava took part in a camp called Stimulation for Perinatal Stroke Optimizing Recovery Trajectory (SPORT) at the Alberta Children’s Hospital – a two-week day camp (which is also a research study!) where kids have their strong arm casted for the first week, forcing them to use their affected arm. In the second week, they use both arms together. Ava was strongly opposed to going, says Sheila “because she would finally have to face her disability.” The first few days were really hard and she wanted to quit, but eventually, Sheila started to see a difference. For once, Ava didn’t feel different from the kids around her and even formed a strong bond with one of the other campers.

At the start of camp, kids are asked to set goals they could hopefully meet by the end of the two weeks. Ava wanted to do three things requiring two hands and that she’d never been able to on her own: Tie her shoes, cut meat on her dinner plate, and use a manual can opener. These are things that people with full mobility might take for granted, but for Ava, they were huge. Over the two weeks, through various activities and exercises to help develop fine motor skills, Ava worked hard to meet those goals and, by the end of camp, she could do all three things!

The camp was transformational both mentally and physically, says Sheila. For the first time ever, Ava was open to talking to her class at school about CP and began working with her teacher on a presentation about it. She was also empowered to use her affected hand for tasks at home. Prior to camp, this arm was a “dead limb” and she relied exclusively on her good hand, says Sheila.

“This was absolutely life-changing for Ava, and for me, too,” says Sheila. “Since the camp, she has come to terms with the fact she has CP and she is like a whole different person than she was a couple years ago. She ended up being really happy she did it. The people who run this program are incredible; they’re miracle workers. I can’t thank them enough.”

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© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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