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Canada: News sanctions on Belarus

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OTTAWA –

Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly is announcing new sanctions on Belarus today in response to its support for Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Joly says in a statement that Belarusian leadership is enabling human-rights violations and allowing the country to serve as a launching pad for Russia’s attacks.

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Canada is adding 22 Belarusian officials to the sanctions list, including people who are involved in the stationing and transport of Russian military personnel and equipment.

The sanctions also affect 16 Belarusian companies across the military manufacturing, tech, engineering, banking and rail sectors.

The announcement comes as the country’s exiled opposition leader, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, visits Ottawa for meetings with Joly, members of Parliament and senators.

Joly says the two intend to discuss the complicity of President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime in the war and the importance of upholding democracy in Belarus.

Lukashenko came to power in 2020 elections widely considered to be fraudulent.

Tsikhanouskaya, the main opposition challenger, fled to Lithuania after the vote under official pressure, and the government unleashed a sweeping crackdown on protests, arresting more than 35,000 people.

“President Lukashenko’s complete disregard for human rights, both domestically and abroad, is unjustifiable,” Joly’s statement says.

“These measures will exert further pressure on the Belarusian leadership. President Lukashenko must cease being an instrument of the Russian regime.”

 

With files from The Associated Press

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Military was told to prepare to intervene in ‘Freedom Convoy’ protests: official

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The Defence Department‘s top official says he told the military to prepare to intervene as “Freedom Convoy” protests gridlocked downtown Ottawa and several border crossings with the U.S. earlier this year.

But Deputy Minister Bill Matthews says the plans were never seriously considered or presented to Defence Minister Anita Anand.

Matthews instead says the Liberal government was adamant the Armed Forces should be used only as a last resort, particularly as the shadow of the Oka Crisis in 1990 continued to loom large.

Matthews’s comments are contained in a summary of an interview conducted in August with lawyers for the public inquiry looking into the Liberal government’s decision to use the Emergencies Act to end the protests in February.

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The summary is among thousands of documents released by the Public Order Emergency Commission.

Matthews also says the military was prepared to fly police officers to different parts of the country, but that its tow trucks were too big ⁠— and too old ⁠— to be of any use in clearing vehicles from the protests.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2022.

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Nunavut reaches $10-a-day average for child care, years ahead of Canada-wide goal

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Families across Nunavut are now paying an average of $10 a day for child care under a Canada-wide plan, 15 months earlier than initially expected and three years ahead of the national goal.

The federal government has signed child-care agreements with every province and territory. It aims to increase the number of regulated child-care spaces across Canada and reduce fees by an average of 50 per cent by the end of 2022 and $10 a day by 2026.

In signing a $66-million agreement in January, Nunavut planned to reach the $10-a-day mark for licensed child care facilities by March 2024 and create 238 new spaces by the end of March 2026.

The territory has said the fee reduction would see families save up to $55 per day per child beginning Thursday. It added that 30 new spaces have been established so far and employees at licensed centres received retention bonuses this year.

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“Bringing fees for licensed child care down to $10 a day will create opportunities for families to improve their well-being and contribute to Nunavut’s economy,” Pamela Gross, Nunavut’s minister of education, said in a statement earlier this month.

Costs of living are high across Canada’s North, from housing and groceries to child care.

“I know child care is expensive in a lot of places. It just seems like it’s really insane up here,” said Madison Stride, who lives in Yellowknife, is mother to a toddler and is expecting her second child early next year.

The N.W.T. signed a $51-million agreement in December 2021 with plans to create 300 new child-care spaces and reach $10 a day by March 2026. The territory said fees have already decreased by an average of 50 per cent with families saving up to $530 a month per child.

“It’s definitely been great saving money,” Stride said. “I really am hoping they take it further.”

Stride said reducing fees to $10 a day would mean families could save for things such as emergencies, health costs that aren’t covered by benefits and post-secondary education.

“It’s one less thing to think about, to worry about,” she said.

But Stride, who is also on the board for Little Spruce Daycare Association, a non-profit working to develop a new daycares in the city, said the current drop in fees has also made finding child care more competitive.

“It was hard to find a licensed child-care spot before and now it’s darn-right impossible.”

Early-learning and child-care providers in the N.W.T. criticized the initial rollout of funding, saying it failed to prioritize staff shortages and the lack of spaces.

In October, the federal and territorial governments announced $4.6 million between 2022 and 2024 to enhance wages for the sector. It said about 300 educators would benefit with licensed programs receiving more than $12,700 per full-time equivalent position in the first year and $16,250 in the second.

The N.W.T. said it created 67 new child-care spaces during the last fiscal year.

Yukon’s early learning and child-care system has been recognized as a national leader. It began its own universal child-care program and lowered fees to an average of less than $10 a day before signing a more than $41-million agreement with the federal government in July 2021.

The territory said since its program began in April 2021, it has created 236 new child-care spaces. It also has one of the highest minimum wages for fully qualified early childhood educators in Canada at approximately $30 an hour.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2022.

— By Emily Blake in Yellowknife

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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A look at how $10-a-day child-care plans have been rolling out across Canada

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Families in Nunavut are now paying an average of $10 a day for child care, the first jurisdiction to achieve the goal under a Canada-wide plan.

The federal government has signed agreements with every province and territory, aiming to reduce child-care fees by an average of 50 per cent by the end of 2022 and to $10 a day by 2026.

Here is how the program is rolling out across the country.

Nunavut signed a $66-million agreement in January with plans to reach $10 a day by March 2024 and create 238 new spaces by the end of March 2026.

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But the territory is ahead of schedule, implementing $10-a-day as of Thursday. It has also created 30 new spaces.

Northwest Territories signed a $51-million agreement in December 2021 with plans to create 300 new child-care spaces and reach $10 a day by March 2026. The territory said fees have already decreased by an average of 50 per cent with families saving up to $530 a month per child.

It has also created 67 new spaces during the last fiscal year.

Yukon started its own universal child care program in April 2021 and reached the $10-a-day average before signing a nearly $42-million agreement in July 2021.

The territory aimed to create 110 new spaces within five years and said it has created 236 spaces since April 2021.

British Columbia was the first to sign on, inking a $3.2-billion deal in July 2021 with plans to create 30,000 new child-care spaces within five years and 40,000 within seven years.

B.C. started a $10-a-day program at select facilities in 2018 and plans to double those spaces to 12,500 this month. As of Nov. 1, there were more than 8,200.

The province said starting that Thursday, child-care fees will be 50 per cent less on average compared to 2019 at participating facilities due to expansion of the $10-a-day program and a fee-reduction initiative.

Alberta signed a nearly $3.8-billion deal in November 2021 with plans to create 42,500 spaces.

The province said as of September, it has created 9,500 spaces and, since January, child-care fees have dropped an average of 50 per cent.

Saskatchewan signed a nearly $1.1-billion deal with plans to create 28,000 new spaces.

As of Sept. 1, fees have been reduced an average of 70 per cent compared to March 2021 levels.

The province has created 3,402 new spaces, plus 1,166 child-care spaces in family and group family homes.

Manitoba signed a more than $1.2-billion deal in August 2021 with plans to create 23,000 new spaces by 2026 and 1,700 extended-hour spaces for evenings and weekends.

It aims to reach $10 a day by 2023.

Ontario was the last to sign on in March. It is to receive $10.2 billion over five years, plus $2.9 billion in 2026-27 with plans to create 86,000 new spaces.

The province said 33,000 new spaces have been created so far.

Quebec signed an agreement in August 2021 with the federal government committing to transfer nearly $6 billion over five years.

In 2021, parents with a subsidized, reduced contribution space paid $8.50 a day for childcare.

New Brunswick signed a $491-million deal in December 2021 to create 3,400 new spaces by the end of March 2026, including 500 by March 2023.

The province says fees were reduced by 50 per cent in June, and 401 spaces have been created since April 1.

Nova Scotia signed a $605-million agreement with plans to create 4,000 new spaces within two years and 9,500 by 2026.

By the end of this month, it said fees will be 50 per cent lower on average compared to 2019.

Prince Edward Island signed a $121.3-million deal with plans to create 452 spaces within two years and reach $10 a day by 2024. In January 2022, fees were reduced from $27 to $34 per day to an average of $25, then further dropped to $20 a day in October.

Newfoundland and Labrador signed a $347-million agreement to reduce fees from $25 a day in January 2021, to $15 a day in 2022, then $10 a day in 2023. It aims to create 5,895 spaces within five years.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2022.

— By Emily Blake in Yellowknife

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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