The federal government has pledged $320 million to support offshore oil jobs in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan was in St. John’s on Friday to announce the new measures, after six months of lobbying from oil industry groups and workers demanding assistance.
O’Regan said the money will “support jobs and ensure the sustainable, long-term, lower-emitting future for our offshore.”
He said it will be spent on safety improvements, maintenance and upgrades of existing offshore infrastructure, environmental services and clean technology.
O’Regan said the money will be handed over to the province with no strings attached and will come from Ottawa’s portion of royalties from the province’s Hibernia oil field.
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey announced a new task force will decide how the money is spent.
While many details remain unclear, what is known is that the aid does not come in the form that major industry players were rooting for. Husky was asking the federal government to invest in equity stakes in its major projects in the province while offshore advocacy groups like the Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industry Assocation — Noia — and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers were rooting for tax credits and investment incentives.
In a press release sent after the announcement, CAPP said it needed to see more details but hoped it would lead to immediate help for workers. The group said it will continue pushing for tax reforms and other measures to help stalled projects off the coast of Newfoundland.
Hard times for province’s industry
The announcement comes after six months of crushing losses for the province’s offshore oil industry. Workers took to the steps of Confederation Building last week to speak about the anxiety they feel amid layoffs and cutbacks.
The biggest blow to the province could be still to come. Husky Energy has announced it’s reviewing the West White Rose extension — a $2.1-billion project in Placentia that employs more than 600 people on a daily basis — with the possibility of canning the entire job.
O’Regan said he spoke with Husky on Friday morning, and said the federal government is still at the table over a possible solution for the West White Rose extension.
Problems started in March with the onset of the pandemic in North America coupled with a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, which sent oil and gas prices into a nosedive.
Since then, Suncor has anchored its idled Terra Nova FPSO in Conception Bay, the long-standing Hibernia platform has suspended drilling, and future ventures that once sounded lucrative and promising have been shelved.
The result, according to Noia CEO Charlene Johnson, has been thousands of job losses and local companies closing up shop.
O’Regan acknowledged on Friday that the industry is “suffering from a double-whammy.”
He said the new measures are a practical program, “because we believe in our workers. We believe in this industry. And we believe in its future.”
O’Regan also said the federal government is trying to strike deals with the owners of the West Aquarius and Transocean Barents exploratory rigs to support future development in the offshore industry.
The province announced a new incentive for offshore exploration on Thursday. That new measure gives oil companies a chance at a rebate for exploration by taking down payments that would typically go into provincial coffers and offering them back to companies.
Task force details
Furey said the task force will work on an “emergent” basis to get the money out as quickly as possible.
The task force will be chaired by Karen Winsor and Bill Fanning, two former oil executives who are members of the province’s Oil and Gas Industry Development Council — the group to which the task force is reporting.
“The remaining members, to be selected by the council, will bring a diverse mix of skills and experience so that they can contribute to driving the recovery of the Newfoundland and Labrador oil and gas industry,” reads a news release sent to media during Friday’s announcement.
O’Regan said he is OK with putting the province in charge of dishing out the money, since he believes the province should have control of its offshore industry under the Atlantic Accord agreement.
Toronto and Peel Region enter lockdown for at least 28 days – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
Premier Doug Ford is standing behind his government’s decision to suspend in-person shopping at all non-essential retailers in Toronto and Peel amid criticism from small business owners who say they are being unfairly singled out.
Toronto and Peel officially entered the lockdown stage of Ontario’s framework for COVID-19 restrictions at 12:01 a.m., on Monday. As a result personal care services, like barbers and salons, have been forced to close and restaurants can only do takeout and delivery.
Retail stores are also limited to curbside pickup only with some exceptions for grocers, hardware stores, corner stores and discount and big box retailers selling groceries.
Speaking with reporters during his regular briefing on Monday, Ford said that he knows it is “not fair” that some big box retailers like Walmart can continue to operate while smaller businesses have to shut down but he said it would have been a “logistical nightmare” to require large retailers to cordon off non-essential goods, as is the case under a similar order in Manitoba.
“I know this is not fair and that’s why we put the additional $300 million into supporting small businesses and took care of their property taxes, their energy costs,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can as a province but the quicker we can get through this, the quicker we can get this vaccine out there, then we can get people back and open up,
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is calling on the Progressive Conservative government to allow three customers at a time into small retail stores.
Ford, however, told reporters that he is not considering any changes to the lockdown rules at this point, much to the dismay of some retailers.
“How does it make sense to shut down the small flower store but allow people to line up at Walmart to buy a bouquet of flowers? To shut down the small independent bookseller but allow them to go to Costco, line up and buy books there? How does that help prevent COVID? Never mind how fair it is,” Dan Kelly, who is the president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, told CP24 earlier on Monday. “These rules make no sense at all.”
Kelly said that the CFIB had already forecast that 160,000 small business in Canada would close following the first wave of the pandemic and that the situation has gotten even more critical since then.
He said that something needs to be done to help shuttered retailers in Toronto and Peel and soon or more will be “toast.”
“We think we have seen a hollowing out of the retail sector but we have seen nothing compared to what will happen if they miss out on Christmas,” he warned.
Tory urges people to stay home
The province announced the added restrictions for Toronto and Peel on Friday as new cases of COVID-19 continued to surge in both jurisdictions.
In anticipation of the rules going into effect, several malls extended their hours over the weekend and there were reports of long lineups at stores.
Speaking with CP24, on Monday morning Toronto Mayor John Tory said that the strict new rules are an important, even if there is not a lot of data pointing to widespread transmission in settings like retail stores, for example.
“We don’t really know in every single case exactly where people picked up this virus, we just know it is spreading and was spreading in a fashion last week and the week before and the week before that that was clearly unacceptable in terms of the trend line we were on,” he said. “Look it is a sad day today just to see this kind of thing having to happen but again the choice was to not do these kind of things and have a much longer, much broader, much worse kind of lockdown happen latter when we had completely lost control of this thing as you have seen elsewhere in the world.”
While the lockdown will shutter a number of businesses across Toronto and Peel, schools and childcare centres will remain open as will services deemed essential like dentist offices and physiotherapists.
Several industries that were mostly brought to a halt in the spring, like film and television production and construction, are also exempt.
“I am a little bit concerned that this shutdown doesn’t focus on the largest area of spread. In Brampton our largest source of transmission is industrial settings. Our largest two sectors are transportation logistics and food processing and neither of those sectors are shut down because they are considered essential,” Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown told CP24 on Monday. “So this isn’t truly a lockdown for Brampton. Small businesses have been shut down but with the largest portion of our workforce being essential workers nothing has really changed.”
In addition to the new rules in Toronto and Peel, Durham Region and Waterloo have also been moved into the red category alongside York Region as of today. The rules for that category limit restaurants, gyms and food courts to 10 indoor patrons at a time.
Atlantic bubble bursts as P.E.I., N.L. exit coronavirus pact – Global News
The provincial governments of Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador announced Monday morning that they are taking a break from the Atlantic bubble as COVID-19 cases rise in the region.
The two regions backed out after Nova Scotia and New Brunswick saw an increase in cases, reporting 44 and 77 active COVID-19 cases, respectively, as of Sunday.
N.L. Premier Andrew Furey said the Atlantic bubble has been a source of pride for the region, but the situation has changed.
“I have made the tough decision to implement a circuit break,” Furey said.
“As your premier, as a physician and as a concerned father and citizen, I must do what I promised: protect the best interest of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.”
As of Wednesday, all travellers from the Atlantic bubble to N.L. will have to self-isolate for 14 days. Non-essential travel will not be permitted.
Coronavirus: Newfoundland and Labrador implements ‘circuit break’ from Atlantic bubble, suspends all non-essential travel
P.E.I. Premier Dennis King announced the province has made the same decision after talking to other Atlantic premiers over the weekend.
As of Monday, the province is temporarily suspending all non-essential travel to and from P.E.I. for at least two weeks, King said.
King said he doesn’t think this is a step backward.
“I feel it is a proactive measure, a preventative step,” he said.
He said the decision is in the best interest of those in P.E.I., Canada’s smallest province.
“We have a health system that is strong, that is ready,” but King said the system has limitations. A COVID-19 outbreak may put pressure on the system, which could easily become overwhelmed.
For the next two weeks, King said he will be monitoring the situation and then decide if this break needs to be extended.
In a Monday morning statement, the Nova Scotia government said the Atlantic premiers have discussed “the need for extra caution on non-essential travel in the region.”
“Some provinces may take additional measures,” the statement read.
The Atlantic bubble began in July, and this is the first time that a member has backed out.
More to come.
Coronavirus: New Brunswick breaks record for new COVID-19 case numbers
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Windsor's Frank W. Begley Public School reporting 37 confirmed COVID-19 cases – CTV News Windsor
WINDSOR, ONT. —
A Windsor school has seen a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases.
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported on Monday there are 37 confirmed cases and two probable cases at Frank W. Begley Elementary School.
According to the province’s website, it is the largest outbreak in an Ontario school.
WECHU says 29 students and eight staff members have tested positive.The presumed index case is believed to be a staff member.
“They could be the one who spread it to the rest of the school,” says Ahmed. “It’s not to blame that index case, that this happened because they didn’t follow anything, but I think it’s just how we are trying to work through an outbreak investigation.”
Ahmed says they can’t pinpoint where the presumed index case acquired the virus. The earliest case was reported on Nov. 8.
The health unit declared an outbreak at the school on Tuesday and students and staff members were dismissed.
“Dismissing the entire school really helped us from a control perspective, so there was no ongoing spread,” says Ahmed.
He adds they are still trying to paint a picture of how the cases spread between cohorts.
Windsor Regional Hospital set up dedicated clinics for the school community to get tested.There are about 430 students and staff members at the school. The health unit says 283 students, 47 staff and 141 family members have been tested as a result of this initiative.
There is also an outbreak at W. J. Langlois Catholic Elementary School, where two students and two staff members have tested positive for the virus. The school is also closed.
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