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Canadian businesses left waiting after B.C. port strike



A day after the port strike ended in Vancouver, the docks were once again staffed on Friday.

The four-year tentative deal made on Thursday between the union and the employer has yet to be finalized, and details around it have not been released, but the nearly two-week shutdown has caused a severe backlog, and businesses are feeling the effects.

“(It’s cost me) maybe $15,000 worth of gross revenue,” said Pete Marshall, the owner of Sur Lie.

The boutique wine and spirits importer based in Vancouver has thousands of bottles of South African wine intended to arrive on B.C. shores this week, but with the number of other shipments running behind schedule due to the strike, he worries his investment could go down the drain.


“There’s a chance if it’s sitting out in the blazing sun for two weeks, the wine might spoil,” said Marshall.

According to the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, there are around 63,000 containers waiting to be unloaded at the Port of Vancouver, which could take weeks to get through.

Beverly Korodetz – the owner of Stone Age, a souvenir distributor based in Vaughan, Ont. – has been directly impacted by the disruption over 4,000 kilometres away.

“The timing is awful. This is the busiest time of the season,” said Korodetz.

“It involves 10 shipments and three that were sitting at the port just prior to the strike. Three en route to Vancouver and four in line in China sitting and waiting.”

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) recently conducted a survey that found 53 per cent of small businesses were affected by the port strike.

The results show manufacturers were the most affected, with 69 per cent of those surveyed saying they were. Wholesalers were second, at 68 per cent, and 66 per cent of retailers said they were affected..

Dan Kelly, CFIB’s CEO and president, says there needs to be a focus on clearing the backlog and getting the economy back on track, as it could take months before the supply chain is fully addressed.

“We’ve had supply chain issues for the better part of three years. We were just getting back to something closer to normal to have this happen. Even short-term strikes can have long-term impacts,” said Kelly.

The long-term impacts could stretch to international trade relations.

In Surrey, the board of trade is concerned that with the recent instability at the port and shipments being delayed, southern trade partners may think twice before doing business with Canadians.

“They see that a strike can happen and it can impact their business over 13 days, impacting their revenues, they will make decisions to go somewhere else,” said Jasroop Gosal, the policy and research manager for the Surrey Board of Trade.

Gosal is calling on the federal government to work with the business community to repair international relationships.

In the meantime, businesses are forced to wait patiently for their shipments as port workers chip away at the backlog.



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Canada's population added 1.15 million people since last year: StatsCan – CBC News



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Ottawa rolls out voluntary code of conduct for AI



The federal government is unfurling a voluntary code of conduct for generative AI as anxiety persists over its proliferation and pace of development.

Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne announced the code on Wednesday at the All In artificial intelligence conference in Montreal, where Canadian technology companies including OpenText and Cohere pledged to sign on.

The document lays out measures organizations can take when working in generative AI — the algorithmic engine behind chatbots such as ChatGPT, which can spit out anything from term papers to psychotherapy.

The government says the measures align with six key principles that include equity, transparency and human oversight.


Amid both excitement and angst over the seemingly boundless scale of AI advancement, the federal government in June tabled a bill outlining a general approach to AI guardrails and leaves details to a later date, saying it will come into force no sooner than 2025.

Artificial intelligence pioneer Yoshua Bengio, who has stated the legislation puts Canada on the right path even as progress remains too slow, says public fear still hangs over the sector and that more investment toward safety and standards is essential.

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‘We’re not there yet’: Metrolinx CEO won’t provide opening date for troubled Eglinton Crosstown LRT



Construction workers work on a construction site in a city. Cars and buses are seen in the background on the road.
The Eglinton LRT construction just west of Yonge Street on September 27, 2023. On Wednesday, Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster said he wouldn’t provide an updated opening date for the already-delayed project. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

Metrolinx is refusing to provide an update on an opening date for the long-delayed Eglinton Crosstown LRT line, citing technical issues in the testing and commissioning phase that are continuously pushing the finish date further down the road.

“Any prediction of an opening date at this stage of the project will just be an estimate, and I’m not comfortable giving that,” said Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster.

“When I give you a date it must be something I believe in and we’re not there yet.”

Phil Taberner, the project’s vice president, says construction is “pretty much” complete except for a small section near Eglinton-Yonge.


He said testing and commissioning is considered a “high-risk” part of the project, and that they’re anticipating “faults and issues” that will take an “unpredictable” amount of time to rectify.

“We want the tests to be rigorous, and we want to identify these issues,” he said. “This then gives us the assurance that we’ve got a robust, safe and reliable railway.”

Metrolinx CEO ‘not comfortable’ providing new opening date for Eglinton Crosstown

“When I give you a date it must be something I believe in and we’re not there yet,” said Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster.

Verster says Metrolinx has a “really good idea” of the approximate opening date, even though he chose not to divulge it. The transit agency intends to give an update every two months, with the next one slated for November.

“Given the facts of what has caused the different delays. I am very excited about the Eglinton Crosstown. We are not that far away,” said Verster.

History of delays, legal disputes

The 25-stop, 19-kilometre line was last slated to be up and running in the fall of 2022, but construction has stretched on long past that.

The regional transit agency attributes some of the challenges behind the delay to the COVID-19 pandemic, repairs to the existing Yonge-Eglinton subway station, and the consortium of four companies, Crosslinx Transit Solutions (CTS), contracted by Ontario’s previous Liberal government to design and build the Crosstown.

A man speaks in the front of a room full of people. A presentation is loaded onto a screen behind him.
Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster gives an update on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT’s completion to a room full of reporters on September 27, 2023. (Robert Krbavac/CBC)

Work began on the Crosstown in 2011 and Metrolinx previously announced completion dates of 2020 and 2021.

The repeatedly delayed and over-budget project has been stymied amid reports of some 260 quality control issues, which Verster said is now down to 225.

It’s also faced legal threats from CST. In May, the consortium alleged that Metrolinx failed to retain an operator for the unfinished transit line. Verster confirmed Wednesday that the courts sided with Metrolinx and CTS has to follow the agreed path of arbitration.

The transit line, also known as Line 5, is expected to run along Eglinton Avenue from Mount Dennis in the west to Kennedy in the east.

Internal Metrolinx documents obtained by CBC Toronto last year show that the budget for the project has ballooned to nearly $13 billion, a figure that includes 30-year maintenance costs. That’s more than double the initial estimates.

Fire Metrolinx CEO, NDP says

Toronto-St. Paul’s Coun. Josh Matlow, who’s been critical of the project’s delays, is renewing his call for a public inquiry into Metrolinx’s handling of the project since it’s been more than a decade since work started.

“If Phil Verster is going to do a press conference, actually provide some information,” said Matlow.

“You have a duty and a responsibility to tell the public the truth and be accountable for the hundreds of millions of dollars in cost overruns, tax dollars and the years of delays that have hurt communities and devastated businesses.”

Susan Bazarte owns one such business. She’s been running Eglinton Fast Food Inc. for 14 years and has been operating for the entire duration of construction.

“I’ve been waiting for a long time,” said Bazarte. “I almost want to close.”

An Eglinton Crosstown test vehicle is loaded onto the tracks on Eglinton Avenue.
An Eglinton Crosstown test vehicle is loaded onto the tracks. (Christopher Mulligan/CBC)

Verster says he’s accountable for delays and is “doing everything possible” to get the project over the line.

On Wednesday, the Ontario NDP demanded action over to the LRT’s continued delay. Ottawa Centre MPP Joel Harden called for the newly appointed Transportation Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria to fire Verster.

Verster makes nearly $900,000 and is the fifth-highest paid public servant in the province, the party pointed out.

“Consumed by scandal, Ford’s Conservatives have lost control of the province’s transit agency and the vital Eglinton Crosstown,” he said. “It’s clear they can’t build transit projects in this province, and people are left waiting for transit that feels like it will never arrive.”


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