The General Motors assembly plant in Oshawa, Ont., shuttered this week, ending an era for the motor city. Experts say the closure of the plant, which led to layoffs affecting thousands of workers, signifies more than just that.
Craig Alexander, chief economist at Deloitte Canada, told Global News the Canadian labour market is “doing well,” but technical changes are affecting workers.
“A lot of workers are being affected by technical changes that are disrupting business models as a result.”
“We have a lot of workers that are ultimately going to need to be retrained, develop new skills, so that they can move into the industries that are experiencing the strongest job growth in the future,” he added.
GM announced in November last year that it would wind down production at the plant, which has been in operation since 1953, while the company first started producing vehicles in the city east of Toronto in 1918. The closure means about 2,600 unionized employees will lose their jobs, though about 300 are being saved through a $170-million investment by GM to turn part of the operation into a parts plant.
Alexander said having workers who are losing jobs and need to retrain can be “detrimental” to the Canadian economy.
“We’ve actually seen globally in things like Brexit and the rise of Trump … that when people get left behind, they become frustrated that the system, the establishment isn’t working for them, they want political change — and sometimes those changes are not healthy,” he said.
While technological changes in the economy have always been present, increasing global competition for business makes it more difficult for workers to keep up, the economist noted.
“I think what we’re seeing is fundamental change in the structure of the Canadian economy,” Alexander said. “When we look at industries driving growth, it isn’t the industries that drove growth in the past.”
GM prepares to shutter Oshawa plant after more than 100 years in the ‘Motor City’
Greig Mordue, an associate engineering professor at McMaster University, highlighted the change that’s occurred specifically with the Oshawa GM plant.
“At one point in time, Oshawa made a million cars a year. It was responsible for about a third of the automotive production at its peak year,” he said. “Oshawa has had a long, slow, difficult come-down from those peak years.”
Mordue noted Canada’s auto industry doesn’t necessarily have to get left behind.
“You can build electric vehicles, once you decide how you want to build them, in any location,” he said, noting the same is possible for autonomous vehicles.
However, Mordue acknowledged that laid-off workers will have difficulty adjusting to the change, retraining and finding jobs.
Roy Eagen is one of those parts workers. Walking out of the plant on Wednesday, his eyes welled with tears, both from the biting cold wind and the emotions of the day.
“It was rough, it was pretty depressing,” he said of watching the last truck frame go down the line.
GM has been working to help employees find other jobs, while about 1,200 of the employees qualify for full retirement packages.
GM Canada VP looks ahead to future of company in Oshawa
“The employee base that we’ve had over the years has accomplished so much, and we owe it to them to help them transition as best we can,” said David Paterson, vice-president of corporate affairs at GM Canada.
He said it was a sad day, but with Oshawa only operating at about a third of capacity and no vehicles ready to assign to it, the company felt it had to wind down production.
Along with the parts conversion, GM is also building a track at the Oshawa facility to test electric and autonomous vehicles as part of a major transition in the auto industry.
The auto giant said this month that several employers have identified about 2,000 jobs that will become open in Durham Region in 2019 and 2020 — many of them related to the refurbishment of the Darlington nuclear power plant southeast of Oshawa.
The company has also identified 300 openings for auto technicians at GM dealerships in Ontario and 100 jobs that will be open at other GM facilities in Ontario.
Paterson said the company would ensure its employees get retraining. Durham College is expected to establish a confidential internet portal in the new year to help auto workers identify job openings and begin plans to take retraining courses offered by a consortium of colleges.
GM employees reflect on the day the company announced the closure
Don Lovisa, the president of the college, explained that several companies have reached out saying they need employees.
“Companies approach us and say we need people, train these people, tell them about our jobs, we’ll hire them,” he told Global News.
He acknowledged, however, that it will be a challenge for older workers to retrain or in some cases return to school, and then settle in to new jobs.
— With files from Global News’ Jeff Semple and the Canadian Press
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Canada issues last-minute visas allowing pregnant mom to return home from Haiti with her children – CBC.ca
A Canadian woman who is entering the last month of her pregnancy was finally able to return home to Canada, after the federal government granted last-minute Temporary Resident Visas to her soon-to-be adopted Haitian children.
Sarah Wallace, her husband Jean Pierre Valteau, and their three children Jean Moise Kessa, Jean-Jacques Valteau and Eva-Maria Doris flew in to Vancouver Saturday afternoon.
Immigration Canada issued the visas late Friday night as the family was en route to Seattle, and after spending the night in the U.S., they was able to rebook a connecting flight back to Canada, a spokesperson for the Rural Refugee Rights Network, which has been assisting the family, confirmed.
The family had booked the flight to Vancouver, through Seattle, without certainty that the visas would come through.
Wallace, a midwife originally from Devon, a town west of Edmonton in central Alberta, has lived in Haiti for the better part of 12 years.
She had hoped to return to Canada earlier in her pregnancy due to concerns that she might not be able to access emergency medical care.
But she had been told by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that her two Haitian children couldn’t return to Canada with her because their adoptions aren’t finalized.
While that normally wouldn’t prevent them from travelling to the country, under Canada’s COVID-19 travel restrictions, the children — four-year-old Jean Moise and two-year old Eva-Maria — don’t qualify as immediate family members. In pre-pandemic circumstances, Wallace would have been able to obtain travel visas for the children as their legal guardian.
The IRCC had told CBC News earlier in September that for international adoptions, the adoption must be completed in the child’s home country before the immigration process to Canada can proceed.
“In this case, the officer reviewing [the] request for exemption from the COVID-19 travel restrictions was not satisfied that the definition of a family member was met,” a spokesperson had said.
“My whole life is about trying to keep babies with their families, and yet here the Canadian government is forcing me to make an impossible choice between my own health and that of my soon-to-be born baby and that of my two dependent children,” Wallace had said earlier in the week, prior to her return flight to North America.
Wallace and her family will be self-isolating for 14 days in Edmonton.
While Wallace was able to obtain visas, at least one other Alberta family who travelled abroad to adopt is still waiting to come home.
Derek and Emilie Muth finalized their adoption of two-and-a-half-year-old Zoe in Nigeria last year. But despite her adoption being complete, her citizenship is not yet finalized. Canadian immigration staff have been repatriated from the only government office in West Africa that can finish processing their paperwork.
Zoe has sickle cell anemia, and doctors in both Nigeria and Canada have written letters advocating for the family’s return to Canada, where she’ll have more reliable access to the medication and care she needs.
The immigration minister’s office told the family that the IRCC is unable to provide a timeline for when they’ll be able to return.
Why the Queen herself has twice delivered Canada's speech from the throne – CBC.ca
Hello, royal watchers. This is your regular dose of royal news and analysis — curated this week by Eva Lam. Reading this online? Sign up here to get this delivered to your inbox.
Our CBC colleague and senior reporter Mark Gollom took a look this week at the two occasions in which Queen Elizabeth opened Parliament in Canada:
This week saw Gov. Gen. Julie Payette carry out one of her more significant parliamentary duties as the Queen’s representative — opening up the new session of Canada’s Parliament by delivering the speech from the throne.
It’s referred to as such because, quite simply, the speech to outline the federal government’s priorities for that session of Parliament is read from the throne, or seat, that is reserved in the Senate chamber for the Queen or her royal representative.
But there have been two occasions in which the Queen herself has sat in that seat and read the speech from the throne in Ottawa.
“Both of Queen Elizabeth II’s speeches marked key events in her reign,” said Toronto-based royal author and historian Carolyn Harris.
The first was on Oct. 14, 1957, and it marked the Queen’s first visit to Canada as a reigning monarch and the first time the monarch opened Parliament in Canada.
The visit lasted four days, limited to Ottawa, and occurred during John Diefenbaker’s first year in office as prime minister.
“Diefenbaker’s government had only been elected in June of that year, so the visit was evidently arranged at short notice and was a coup for the minority Conservative government,” said Michael Jackson, president of the Institute for the Study of the Crown in Canada.
Diefenbaker “held a deep respect for the monarchy,” and he took “special care to ensure that this event be shared across the country,” according to the Diefenbaker Canada Centre website.
“Television cameras appeared for the first time in the House of Commons and in the Senate as the CBC broadcast the speech nationwide,” the website said.
The Queen began the speech noting that this marked “the first time the representatives of the people of Canada and their sovereign are here assembled on the occasion of the opening of Parliament.”
“This is for all of us a moment to remember,” the Queen said.
Canadian journalist and author June Callwood, writing for Maclean’s about the royal visit to Canada, wrote that the Queen read the speech “in a bath of spotlights that brought the temperature of the room to [33 C].”
Indeed, the strong lights, needed for a National Film Board documentary of the visit, blew all the fuses in the House of Commons just five minutes before the Queen’s arrival, Callwood wrote.
“For four minutes and five seconds, there was total power failure. CBC technicians wept when power was restored, with 55 seconds to go,” she wrote.
The Queen’s second throne speech read in Canada came 20 years later, on Oct. 18, 1977, as part of her Silver Jubilee tour.
This was a five-day visit, again limited to Ottawa, but as Jackson notes, the government at the time may not have been as keen about the event as the Diefenbaker government.
It came during Pierre Trudeau’s time in office, and, as Jackson wrote in his 2013 book The Crown and Canadian Federalism, some members of the prime minister’s cabinet supported eliminating the monarchy.
The government “was reluctant” to celebrate the Queen’s jubilee and “grudgingly, it arranged a short visit to Ottawa,” Jackson wrote.
Still, in the opening passages of the throne speech, the Queen remarked how she had “greatly looked forward to being with you here in the Canadian Parliament in my Silver Jubilee year.”
“Whenever I am in this wonderful country of Canada, with her vast resources and unlimited challenges, I feel thankful that Canadians have been so successful in establishing a vigorous democracy well suited to a proud and free people.”
That was the last time the Queen has opened Parliament in the country, something that Robert Finch, dominion chairman of the Monarchist League of Canada, finds regrettable.
“I think we have missed a few good opportunities over the years by not having the Queen deliver the speech from the throne more often,” he said.
“The throne speech gives us one day where we are all reminded of the Crown’s role in Parliament. To have had the Queen do it herself more often would have really helped drive home the reality that Canada is a constitutional monarchy and that she is the Queen of Canada.”
Royal brothers don’t always get along
When word spread recently that a statue of Diana, Princess of Wales, will be unveiled next year in a garden at Kensington Palace, some observers wondered if its installation on July 1 — which would have been her 60th birthday — will encourage some sort of rapprochement between her sons.
Much speculation has swirled about the nature of the relationship between Prince William and Prince Harry, particularly as their lives have taken them in different directions: William on the path expected of someone who is a direct heir to the throne, and Harry, farther down the line, finding a new life in California.
Whatever the exact nature of their relationship — and whether there is froideur, if not friction — it would hardly be the first time distance had developed between royal siblings who once were very close.
“When we look at history, often it’s a challenge for royal siblings to all be in the same place … and as they grow older, often, the experience of heirs to the throne tends to diverge from that of younger royal children,” said Harris.
Take, for example, King Edward VIII, who ruled from January to December 1936. Edward’s younger brother Albert found himself unexpectedly on the throne as King George VI after his older brother abdicated in order to marry the American divorcée Wallis Simpson.
“His younger brothers looked up to him when they were young, but then the abdication crisis happens and that causes a lot of strain,” said Harris.
Edward “was continuing to insist on the details of his income and whether [his wife] the Duchess of Windsor would be addressed as her royal highness … so certainly there’s a great deal of strain between the two brothers,” said Harris.
Go back a few generations, and everything was not all sunshine and light among all nine of Queen Victoria’s children.
“The future Edward the Seventh and Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh, were associated with much more partying and society life whereas it was actually the younger sons … seen by Queen Victoria herself, as being more responsible,” said Harris.
Victoria leaned on her youngest son, Leopold, “as a kind of private secretary,” Harris said, noting he was a hemophiliac and couldn’t go into the military, a common occupation for royal men at the time.
“There’s some evidence of jealousy, that for the future Edward the Seventh, he was heir to the throne, he would have expected to be in that role of assisting his mother with her state duties.”
WATCH | Why biography of Harry and Meghan could add to deep royal wounds:
Harris sees some parallels among Victoria’s nine children and William and Harry in how the siblings were close when they were young, particularly because they were living in the shadow of parent’s death.
Victoria’s children “had lost their father, Prince Albert, and particularly the younger ones, growing up in this atmosphere of mourning brought them together.”
But there was a sense that over time, Queen Victoria didn’t treat them all equally.
“She had more confidence [in] some of her children’s advice or abilities than others, and so that created some strain within Queen Victoria’s extended family,” said Harris.
Kate documents Britons’ lives under lockdown
The final selections have been unveiled for Kate Middleton’s Hold Still photography project, which aims to capture life in the U.K. during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The project, which the Duchess of Cambridge launched in May in collaboration with London’s National Portrait Gallery, invited people of all ages to submit a photo focused on three core themes: Helpers and Heroes, Your New Normal and Acts of Kindness. From over 31,000 submissions, a panel of five judges, including Kate, selected 100 portraits to be featured in a digital exhibition.
“The images present a unique record of our shared and individual experiences during this extraordinary period of history, conveying humour and grief, creativity and kindness, tragedy and hope,” read a message on the Kensington Royal Instagram account announcing the final 100 portraits on Sept. 14.
In the weeks after the project launched, Kate was spotted leaving encouraging messages underneath Instagram posts of people who submitted photos using the hashtags #HoldStill and #HoldStill2020, per Cosmopolitan.
On an image of a health-care worker in full uniform, Kate commented, “Thank you so much for sharing your story and for all the amazing work you continue to do at this difficult time,” signing off with a “C,” for Catherine. On another image of a young child blowing on a dandelion, Kate wrote, “A perfect example of Hold Still … the chance to re-engage and value the simple things around us.”
The final selections for the project reveal the breadth of Britons’ experiences during the pandemic. One shows a five-year-old boy with leukemia receiving chemotherapy at home during lockdown. Another shows a woman at a Black Lives Matter protest at the U.S. Embassy in London holding a sign reading, “Be on the right side of history.”
Others show physically distanced kisses and exhausted health-care workers. Each image comes with text from the entrants themselves revealing the story behind the picture.
The Queen, with whom Kate shared a number of the portraits ahead of the exhibition’s debut, has also released a congratulatory statement on the project, saying, “The Duchess of Cambridge and I were inspired to see how the photographs have captured the resilience of the British people at such a challenging time.”
Royals in Canada
Queen Elizabeth is scrupulous about staying out of the politics of the day, and one visit to Canada made that abundantly clear. Her 1984 trip to mark the bicentennials of Ontario and New Brunswick, along with the sesquicentennial of Toronto, was delayed by two months to avoid a federal election.
When she and Prince Philip arrived in Moncton on Sept. 24, they were greeted by a prime minister only just settling into his new job. Brian Mulroney, fresh off the Progressive Conservatives’ landslide victory, welcomed the royal couple and was with them at several points during the visit.
Often asked to oversee official openings, the Queen had the chance to do that at two high-profile places: the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and Science North in Sudbury.
The 13-day visit also came shortly after the birth of her third grandson, Prince Harry. His arrival, The Canadian Press reported at the time, was recognized by the Province of Ontario with the gift of a natural willow bassinet that was presented to Buckingham Palace officials.
“The borderless climate, biodiversity and health crises are all symptoms of a planet that has been pushed beyond its planetary boundaries. Without swift and immediate action at an unprecedented pace and scale, we will miss the window of opportunity to reset for a green-blue recovery and a more sustainable and inclusive future. In other words, the global pandemic is a wake-up call we simply cannot ignore.”
Prince Charles, in a virtual keynote speech to launch Climate Week NYC 2020 this week. A longtime advocate for the environment, the prince called for a military-style response akin to the U.S. Marshall Plan to rebuild post-war Europe.
With Barbados declaring its intention to remove the Queen as head of state, some residents of the English Berkshire town of Reading — home to one of the largest Barbadian diasporas outside of Barbados — explain why they believe “the time is right.” [The Guardian]
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle celebrated Harry’s 36th birthday on Sept. 15 by donating $130,000 to CAMFED, a charity that supports girls’ education in Africa. [Vanity Fair]
Activist Gloria Steinem revealed in an Access Hollywood interview that she and Meghan Markle cold-called U.S. voters to encourage them to vote in November’s presidential election. [Harper’s Bazaar]
Sophie, Countess of Wessex, had her likeness captured in a clay bust during a live-streamed sculpture session. She was promoting the U.K.’s Vision Foundation and their work for blind and partially sighted people, a cause with which she has a personal connection. [Vanity Fair]
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Canada reports more than 1,200 new coronavirus cases, 7 deaths – Global News
Winnipeg police say a woman has died and several other people have been injured in a collision involving a vehicle that was fleeing police.
The crash happened at about 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the area of Salter Street and Boyd Avenue, police said in a statement.
According to police, officers tried to pull over a vehicle for a traffic stop but the driver “took off at a high rate of speed.”
Seconds later, the vehicle hit another car in the nearby intersection of Andrews Street and Boyd Avenue.
Four people in the vehicle that was struck — including an infant and a child — were sent to hospital. A woman who was in that vehicle has died from her injuries, police said.
Two people from the vehicle that had fled police were also transported to hospital.
Police said most of the victims are in critical or serious condition.
The Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba, which investigates serious incidents involving police, has been called to investigate.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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