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Amazon to hire 3,500 workers in B.C. and Ontario, expand office footprint – CBC.ca

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Amazon.com Inc. will hire 3,500 Canadians to work in spaces it is opening and expanding in British Columbia and Ontario.

The e-commerce giant revealed Monday that 3,000 of the jobs will be in Vancouver, where it is growing its footprint, and another 500 will be in Toronto, home of a new Amazon workspace.

Jesse Dougherty, Amazon’s vice-president and Vancouver site lead, said the company wanted to offer the jobs in Canada because the country has an “enormous” amount of tech talent Amazon is eager to tap into and accommodate at home.

“I look at it through the lens of how can we grow so that people don’t have to leave Canada to learn and take on amazing global challenges that are of a scale that aren’t typically available here?” he said.

The new corporate and tech jobs will include software development engineers, user experience designers, speech scientists working to make Alexa smarter, cloud computing solutions architects, and sales and marketing executives.

The bulk of the jobs will be done out of the Post, a Vancouver building where Amazon will take over an extra 63,000 square metres of office space. By 2023 it will be operating across 18 floors it is leasing in the building’s north tower and 17 in its south tower.

Vancouver has long been seen as an attractive Canadian outpost for companies because of its proximity to the U.S. and major tech hubs including Silicon Valley and Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle.

The company will also welcome new workers in Toronto, where it will lease 12,000 square metres over five floors at an 18 York St. building that is not far from investors on Bay Street. It hopes workers will be in the building next summer.

Competition from Shopify

Amazon’s renewed interest in its corporate and tech workforce and footprint in the country comes after focusing the bulk of its efforts in the market on its network of 16 fulfilment centres — 13 already in operation and another three coming in the Ontario cities of Hamilton, Ajax and Ottawa.

Those centres have faced homegrown competition from Shopify Inc., an Ottawa-based e-commerce business that has shot up the Toronto Stock Exchange to hold the title of country’s most valuable company several times this year.

While it was long known for providing the back-end for companies to sell goods online, Shopify launched its own fulfilment network in 2019 and bulked up its presence in Vancouver with 1,000 hires and a new office earlier this year.

Dougherty doesn’t appear to be nervous about Shopify.

“Amazon works in lots and lots of different businesses and all of them are highly competitive and we welcome that because it inevitably creates better experiences,” he said.

“There are other benefits to having other tech companies raise the bar in markets we work in because it educates more talent, you can move around and it creates more economic activity.”

Workplace concerns

Amazon has invested more than $11 billion in Canada, including infrastructure and compensation, delivered $9 billion to the country’s economy and helped create at least 67,000 jobs, Dougherty said.

However, many have those jobs have been dogged with concerns.

The Warehouse Workers Centre, a Brampton, Ont.-based organization representing people in the warehouse and logistics sector, started a petition earlier this year that garnered hundreds of signatures claiming “Amazon is failing to protect our health.”

The petition alleged that Amazon, which employs tens of thousands of people in Canada and has fulfilment centres in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec, was refusing to give workers paid leave and not telling staff what their plans are if facilities are contaminated or suspected of being contaminated with COVID-19.

The petition claimed physical distancing at its facilities is “nearly impossible” and said some warehouse workers are now putting in 50 hours a week or more, which the petition called “unsustainable” and said needs to stop.

Amazon has spent more than $800 million on employee safety since the start of the year, Dougherty said.

The company has unveiled temperature checks, physical distancing measures and offered personal protective wear as part of that investment.

“The health of our employees is absolutely critical to us,” Doughtery said. “It is our top priority, so we are always paying attention to how those systems are working and ensuring they are the best they can be.”

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Injunction against First Nations land reclamation camp sparks skirmish with police – CBC.ca

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Blazing wooden pallets and tires blocked one side of a street leading into a southern Ontario community on Thursday, after a skirmish between police and members of a First Nation land reclamation camp. 

The confrontation in Caledonia, Ont., came hours after a judge granted a permanent injunction against the camp’s presence, which has stopped construction of a subdivision. 

A electrical power pole was also set on fire by members of the Six Nations of the Grand River.

People at the blockade said officers with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) used a Taser on one person and fired at least one rubber bullet.

The OPP said police cruisers parked on the street were “heavily damaged” by the protest and that officers responded with “appropriate non-lethal force.” There were no injuries and an investigation is underway, the force said on Twitter. Several cruisers had been used to create a buffer zone between the burning blockade and the public.

Camp spokesperson Skyler Williams said the police ignited the situation.

“It’s another example of the OPP coming in here with violent acts of aggression against people that are just occupying their traditional territory. I think all of us are quite sick of it,” he said.

WATCH | An initial confrontation at the scene:

This footage, provided by Six Nations community members, was recorded at the back entrance to the 1492 Land Back Lane reclamation camp, which was set up by members of Six Nations in July to stop a housing development in Caledonia, Ont. 0:47

Williams said the blockade would last until the people decide it should end. 

“As long as they want to keep pulling guns on our people, as long as the OPP wants to keep committing these acts of violence toward us,” he said. 

“Now we have barricades up and people across the country talking about coming here to support what’s going on. I lay this at the feet of the OPP for continuing these violent tactics of peaceful occupiers of their own territory.” 

Behind the buffer zone created by OPP cruisers, a group of local residents gathered, watching the smoke billow into the air as evening fell. 

Lewis Walker, from Caledonia, said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs to step in and deal with this long-running conflict. 

Ontario Provincial Police cruisers create a buffer zone between a blockade of burning tires and the public on Thursday in Caledonia. (CBC News)

“Why is the conflict is still going on?” said Walker.

“Deep down inside, this is a federal issue, and we’re tired of it … bring that guy down here.”

Earlier, Ontario Superior Court Justice R.J. Harper granted the injunction sought by Foxgate Development and Haldimand County, the municipality that oversees Caledonia, after removing Williams from the proceedings.

Harper, who insisted that Williams was the leader of the effort, said he showed “contempt” for the court by refusing to obey the previous, temporary injunctions, and by insisting the Cayuga, Ont., courtroom was part of the “colonial” court system.

Harper said the court must acknowledge the “abuses that have been put upon the Aboriginal community.”

However, he added, “claims and grievances in our society … must be done respectfully, must be done in compliance with the orders.”

Skyler Williams, spokesperson for 1492 Land Back Lane, speaks to reporters on the reclamation site following the court ruling. (CBC News)

Members from Six Nations of the Grand River, which sits next to Caledonia about 22 kilometres south of Hamilton, set up the camp in July to stop the construction of the McKenzie Meadows development.

The camp, dubbed 1492 Land Back Lane, was raided by the OPP on Aug. 5, triggering a day of road and railway blockades. Demonstrators set tires ablaze and threw rocks and police fired rubber bullets. 

A senior OPP officer said, in an affidavit filed as part of the injunction, that a second enforcement operation could trigger a stronger reaction that could see railways, bridges and power stations “attacked and damaged in retaliation.” The affidavit also said infrastructure could be targeted in other parts of the country. 

Call for chief to step in

Six Nations member Gowenetoh said she wants to see elected council Chief Mark Hill take a stronger role in the evolving situation and approach the traditional government, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council, to find a solution.

“He hears our cries,” she said. “He could rectify this. All he needs to do is go knock on the Confederacy door and say, ‘I’m willing to help us get our lands back.'”

The Six Nations members of the reclamation camp have historical records they say show that the land the development sits on was sold by a squatter to a settler who then received a land patent from the colonial authorities in 1853.

Six Nations member Gowenetoh said she wants to see Six Nations elected council Chief Mark Hill take a stronger role. (CBC News)

The property is part of the Haldimand Tract granted to Six Nations of the Grand River in 1784 for allying with the British during the American Revolution. The granted land encompassed 10 kilometres on both sides of the 280-kilometre Grand River which runs through southern Ontario and into Lake Erie. Six Nations now has less than five per cent of its original lands.

The Six Nations elected council has stated that, according to Ontario court decisions, there was no requirement for a private entity like a developer to accommodate Six Nations for developing lands that were taken illegally in the 1800s. Yet, the council said, Foxgate had transferred 17 hectares of land and $352,000 to Six Nations for accommodation.

Foxgate never consulted with the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council, the traditional Six Nations government, before commencing its project. The Confederacy Chiefs Council has supported 1492 Land Back Lane and deems the property to be in a red zone of land over which it contests title.

The Six Nations elected council has an ongoing court case, filed in 1995, against Ottawa and Ontario over lost lands. It is scheduled to go to trial in 2022.

The Six Nations elected council did not respond to a request for comment.

The Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council could not be reached for comment.

Haldimand County Mayor Ken Hewitt said the blame fell on the federal government for allowing the situation to fester for decades. 

“The federal government has a huge role to play,” he said.

“It has abdicated its duties over the years in giving the people of Six Nations a platform for them to voice their concerns and push those concerns through a process. That is why we are here today.” 

Hewitt said if Ottawa stepped in to negotiate, it may create a path away from what the OPP says will lead to conflict. 

“I would hope there is enough respect between the two communities and ties between the two communities that we can find a better way to bring this to the front of the federal government,” he said. 

Demonstrators from nearby Six Nations have occupied 1535 McKenzie Road in Caledonia since July. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

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Study shows many hospital-owned restaurants, including those in Alberta, operate at a loss – CTV Toronto

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CALGARY —
While Alberta Health Services (AHS) is looking for a company to take over the rest of its laundry services, new data shows many restaurants and cafeterias in Alberta hospitals have been operating millions in the red for years.

AHS announced a request for proposal (RFP) from third-party providers to take over the process of cleaning the massive quantity of linens, towels and other products Alberta’s hospitals use each day.

The province announced it was taking the step toward privatizing many of the services currently offered at Alberta hospitals earlier this month.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro says the RFP will allow the health-care system to discover savings to benefit Albertans.

“By reinvesting savings from initiatives such as contracting out laundry services into the health system, we can improve patient care and ensure Albertans are provided with the best possible health care,” he said in a release Friday.

AHS says more than two-thirds of its laundry services are already provided through a third party, including all the laundry services in the city of Calgary and Edmonton.

It says the transition will save more than $38 million that could be used in other areas to support patient care.

An estimated 428 full-time, part-time and casual employees will be impacted by the change.

“AHS is committed to working with them and their unions throughout this process. AHS anticipates there will be some opportunities for employment with the new vendor(s),” officials say.

HOSPITAL-RUN RESTAURANTS LOST MILLIONS

One of the other areas identified by the health minister’s office as a potential for cost savings was the hospital-run cafeteria services and restaurants.

Data, released earlier this week by SecondStreet.org, shows that many of Alberta’s commercial food locations that operate inside of hospitals posted losses.

The highest losses in 2017/18 and 2018/19, the two years that the organization looked at for its study, were both at the University of Alberta’s main hospital cafeteria.

The main findings of SecondStreet’s study indicate that if hospitals can’t break-even on cafeterias and food kiosks, private companies should take them over.

calgary, alberta health services, restaurants, lau

(Source: SecondStreet.org)

“Several hospitals in Canada have done just that and they’ve been able to turn losses into gains and focus more on helping patients,” said SecondStreet.org president Colin Craig. “Cooks don’t do surgery, and health care administrators aren’t restaurant managers – and it shows.”

‘FINDINGS FIT WITH THE EVIDENCE’

The province says the data compiled by SecondStreet.org fall in line with what it found during its own research, including the MacKinnon report and the recent AHS review.

“The SecondStreet.org findings fit with the evidence,” said Steve Buick, press secretary for Health Minister Tyler Shandro. “We need to find efficiencies in the health system to pay for more services for patients, while ensuring Albertans are protected from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“AHS will contract non-frontline services to independent contractors that can operate more effectively than government. That includes laundry, lab tests, housekeeping, and food services. Contracting of food services will move forward in 2021.”

Buick adds some services at Alberta hospitals are already successfully contracted out to third party companies.

“Nearly 70 per cent of laundry services province-wide, and 73 per cent of community lab tests in Edmonton and northern Alberta.”

He also emphasized that the province’s plans will not necessarily mean any net loss of employment.

“In fact, many staff will simply do the same job for a different employer. Any reductions will be managed through attrition as much as possible.”

calgary, alberta health services, restaurants, lau

AHS says the RFP process for a potential vendor for laundry services could take approximately four months. Implementation would depend on the company chosen to take over the services.

CTV News has reached out for any details on RFPs for restaurants, housekeeping and lab services, the other areas identified for reorganization by Minister Shandro’s office.

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AHS to lay off 428 laundry workers as it looks to outsource service – CBC.ca

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Alberta Health Services is looking for contractors to take over its laundry services as the government embarks on a plan to outsource thousands of healthcare-sector jobs to private companies.

AHS issued a request for proposal on Friday seeking a contractor to assume responsibility for its remaining in-house laundry services. The move is expected to result in the layoffs of 428 full-time, part-time and casual workers. AHS and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees both cited the figure.

The proposal comes after Health Minister Tyler Shandro detailed a plan last week by AHS to lay off up to 11,000 employees — mostly in laboratory, cleaning and food services. Those jobs will be outsourced to private companies, a recommendation contained in the Ernst & Young cost-cutting review released in February. 

In a news release, AHS said the laundry transition will save money and avoid the cost of replacing its aging infrastructure. 

“By reinvesting savings from initiatives such as contracting out laundry services into the health system, we can improve patient care and ensure Albertans are provided with the best possible health care,” Shandro said in a statement Friday. 

About two-thirds of laundry services are currently provided by a third party, including in Calgary and Edmonton. AHS said the move will eliminate the need to spend $38 million on upgrades to its laundry infrastructure that would otherwise be immediately necessary.

AHS said it “anticipates there will be some opportunities” for employees to work with a new contractor. 

The AUPE, which represents the laundry workers, said the move will upend the lives of its members based at 54 sites across the province.

“Jason Kenney wants to corrode their working conditions, pay, benefits, hours and more,” AUPE vice-president Kevin Barry said. “Privatizing laundry also results in lower quality and sometimes unsafe services as staff are forced to cut corners to create profit for the private owners.”

The deadline for proposals is Dec. 1 and AHS is expected to pick a contractor by mid-March. 

Laundry service accounts for $60 million of the health authority’s $15.4-billion budget, according to the Ernst & Young review.

The report said there had been frequent staff safety “near misses and injuries” due to workarounds from equipment breakdowns. Laundry workers’ disabling injury rates are about 60 per cent higher than other AHS staff, according to the review. It estimated AHS would have to spend about $200 million on equipment and infrastructure to maintain operations. 

The request for proposal says the laundry contractors will be responsible for onsite pick-up and delivery, processing, replacement, quality control and inventory management.

“A contracted model will enable a sustainable service, while eliminating risk that our outdated laundry infrastructure poses,” said AHS president Dr. Verna Yiu.

In 2015, Sarah Hoffman, health minister in the NDP government, halted an AHS-proposed plan to privatize laundry services outside of Edmonton and Calgary.

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