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Canada Revenue Agency, union reach deal to end strike

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A second strike of federal public servants is over after a tentative deal was reached between the Canada Revenue Agency and more than 35,000 Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) members.

In separate Thursday morning news releases, the agency and PSAC’s Union of Taxation Employees (UTE) said the four-year deal sends workers back to their jobs by 11:30 a.m. ET Thursday.

UTE workers, like about 120,000 other PSAC workers across about 30 government departments and agencies, went on strike April 19. They had all been without a deal since 2021.

“Finally, we can say that we got a decent contract for our members, and they deserve it,” Marc Brière, national UTE president, told CBC News.

Like the tentative deal announced Monday for the larger group, the headlines of the CRA deal are a compounded wage increase of 12.6 per cent over four years, according to the union, and a one-time pensionable payment of $2,500.

UTE had been asking for a series of pay bumps worth more than 30 per cent of current wages, which it later changed to a 22.5 per cent raise over three years.

Similar remote work agreement

Both sides wrote Thursday that the tentative agreement addresses the union’s key priorities, listed by the union as remote work, contracted work, working hours and seniority.

The section about remote work in CRA’s news release Thursday is nearly identical to Monday’s, in which the two sides agreed to a joint review of the directive on telework and to create departmental panels to advise deputy heads about employee concerns.

One difference in the union’s Thursday announcement about the CRA deal is that remote work requests would be assessed individually and will be subject to grievances.

That language was not included in Monday’s announcement about its other deal, and Treasury Board president Mona Fortier told reporters later Monday that the letter of intent on telework does not give employees the right to grieve those decisions; instead, it gives employees and managers a space to discuss any issues.

Also, that workers should be able to start as early as 6 a.m. if it’s reasonable for their job, that workers move up to four weeks vacation after seven years of service instead of eight, and that Indigenous employees get paid leave for traditional practices.

The deal lasts until October 2025, PSAC said, and needs to be ratified.

A group of people on a sidewalk holding signs.
Canada Revenue Agency workers in Ottawa on a picket line at the Canada Post building on Heron Road early Monday morning. (Mateo Garcie-Tremblay/Radio-Canada)

Despite the strike, CRA said the tax filing deadline had not changed, meaning returns should have been filed and any balance owed should have been paid by May 1.

CBC asked CRA early Tuesday afternoon about any service backlog and how long it would take to climb out of it once the strike ends. The agency had not responded by late Wednesday afternoon.

The CRA said while announcing the tentative deal that it “has already taken measures to resume its normal operations and to fully restore services that were affected.”

 

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Fire numbers fall in B.C. but new risks emerge, as fire near Golden spurs evacuation

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The number of wildfires burning in British Columbia has dipped for the first time in weeks, as cooler weather helps halt a surge that saw numbers double in recent days.

But new risks continue to emerge, with the Town of Golden issuing an evacuation order for properties threatened by a 133-hectare blaze that the BC Wildfire Service says is a new wildfire of note.

The town’s website says this morning that authorities are focused on “saving as many structures as possible” from the Dogtooth Forest Service Road fire that has prompted orders to leave properties along the Columbia River as it runs beside Highway 95.

It says they can’t yet report on “the extent of damage” at specific locations.

The town says the Dogtooth blaze remains active, but the weather was working in favour of firefighters.

Highway 95 is closed between Golden and Radium Hot Springs to the south, but the town says it’s likely to reopen pending a re-evaluation of the area.

In central and northern B.C., the wildfire service says rain and a break from warmer-than-usual weather was providing a much-needed respite.

It says Thursday is set to bring the coolest temperatures in more than a month, providing crews an opportunity to make progress on about 425 active blazes.

That’s down slightly from 435 late Wednesday. There were fewer than 100 fires burning on July 8.

Five blazes are regarded as wildfires of note, meaning they pose a threat to people or property or are highly visible.

In the past week, the service says at least 238 fires have been extinguished, and at least 124 fires have been brought under control.

More than 230 fires are now burning out of control, with a cluster in southeastern B.C., a region that has seen thousands of lightning strikes.

Environment Canada is forecasting highs in the low or mid-20s in parts of the Interior, including Kamloops, Kelowna and Lytton, where temperatures breached 40 C just days ago.

Temperatures in the northern Interior, including Prince George and Williams Lake, are forecast to remain in the mid-teens.

B.C. firefighters had been battling a spike in wildfires since the weekend, when dry weather and a heat wave were followed by tens of thousands of lightning strikes.

Among the most severe wildfires in the province is the 225-square-kilometre Shetland Creek blaze near Spences Bridge, which has destroyed about 20 structures in the Venables Valley, including at least six homes.

Another fire of note is the four-square-kilometre Aylwin Creek blaze south of Silverton in the Central Kootenay region, which, has triggered an evacuation order for the entire village along with 17 nearby properties.

A few kilometres to the north, a further 16 properties have been ordered evacuated outside the community of New Denver due to the Wilson Creek wildfire.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay has also upgraded an evacuation alert to an order for the Argenta and Johnsons landing areas due to the Argenta Creek blaze. The order spans 191 properties on the northeast shore of Kootenay Lake.

On Vancouver Island, the Old Man Lake wildfire burns out of control about nine kilometres north of Sooke.

That fire, at just under one square kilometre in size, has seen some growth in unsuppressed areas, but the spread has been “away from any structures or critical infrastructure,” according to Julia Caranci with the Coastal Fire Centre.

“We have not recommended any evacuation alerts or orders associated with this incident currently,” Caranci says in an update posted on YouTube.

The Capital Regional District says the fire is burning a few kilometres south of the Sooke Lake Reservoir, which is part of the water supply area for about 350,000 people in Greater Victoria.

The district has enacted a number of recreational closures due to the fire, including closing Sooke Potholes Regional Park, the Spring Salmon Place Campground and the access to Kapoor Regional Park.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 25, 2024.



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S&P/TSX composite index moves lower Thursday morning, U.S. markets rise

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TORONTO – Losses in the mining sector led Canada’s main stock index lower in late-morning trading on Thursday, while U.S. stock markets rose.

The S&P/TSX composite index was down 35.90 points at 22,603.67.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 327.97 points at 40,181.84. The S&P 500 index was up 35.41 points at 5,462.54, while the Nasdaq composite was up 88.02 points at 17,430.44.

The Canadian dollar traded for 72.37 cents US compared with 72.50 cents US on Wednesday.

The September crude oil contract was down four cents at US$77.55 per barrel and the September natural gas contract was down six cents at US$2.10 per mmBTU.

The August gold contract was down US$49.70 at US$2,366.00an ounce and the September copper contract was up three cents at US$4.14 a pound.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 25, 2024.

Companies in this story: (TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD)

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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Tornado touches down on Montreal’s South Shore, uproots trees, overturns semi-trailer

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MONTREAL – Environment Canada says a tornado touched down on Montreal’s South Shore on Wednesday night.

The weather agency says the tornado hit Brossard, Que., just before 8:15 p.m. and uprooted trees, overturned a semi-trailer truck and damaged other infrastructure.

Mélanie Mercille, spokesperson for Longueuil, Que., police, says the driver of the semi-trailer suffered minor injuries, adding that there were no other reports of injuries.

More than 3,500 households lost power on the South Shore late Wednesday, but electricity was almost fully restored by the following morning.

Environment Canada says thunderstorms uprooted trees and caused damage in Portneuf, Que., located outside Quebec City, and in the Laurentians region.

Heavy rain on Wednesday fell on other regions of Quebec, including Montreal, Lanaudière and Montérégie.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 25, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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