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Halted train travel along 2 of Via Rail's busiest routes 'a bit of a disaster' for disrupted passengers – CBC.ca

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With train travel along two of Via Rail’s busiest routes halted by protesters for a second straight day on Sunday, passengers say they have found themselves in a quandary as they try to leave Toronto to head back home for work and school.

Via Rail says 18 of its trains were cancelled Sunday, affecting service between Toronto and Montreal, as well as Toronto and Ottawa in both directions.

“It’s been a bit of a disaster,” would-be passenger Kyle Kirkup told CBC News.

“I’m in solidarity with the protests that are going on, but it’s obviously complicated to get home.”

Kirkup is headed to Ottawa in time for work Monday after a weekend in Toronto.

Kyle Kirkup, who lives in Ottawa, says he’s in solidarity with the protests that are going on but it’s been complicated to get home following a weekend in Toronto. (CBC)

 

He said the problems started on Thursday while he was travelling to Toronto.

“We got to Kingston on Thursday, we were then told by Via that there’s a blockade that was happening and that the train was going to go back, and if we wanted to get off in Kingston we could find our own way to Toronto,” he explained.

“We then got an email last night saying that our train back to Ottawa had also been cancelled and that no alternatives were going to be provided by Via Rail.

“It’s definitely been complicated, a bit stressful trying to do bookings on the fly, and I wish that there would have been perhaps a bit better communication from Via about alternative options that might have been available,” he added.

Via Rail denied CBC’s request for an interview but issued a statement saying while its trains are prepared to leave on schedule should it achieve line clearance, “until the issue is resolved, departures from Ottawa/Montreal to Toronto and Toronto to Ottawa/Montreal can’t operate due to these circumstances beyond our control.”

“Services continue to operate between Ottawa and Montreal, between Montreal and Quebec City, and west of Toronto in southwestern Ontario,” the statement reads.

Blockade in solidarity with demonstrators in northwest B.C.

Protesters have been demonstrating at Belleville, Ont., against the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline project in British Columbia.

Canadian National Railway traffic was also blocked along the corridor east of Toronto.

The blockade took over the tracks Thursday night in solidarity with demonstrators in northwest B.C. where Indigenous people and supporters are protesting the construction of a pipeline that crosses Wet’suwet’en territory.

RCMP officers in B.C. have been arresting people for breaching a court injunction that attempted to clear the way for construction of the 670-kilometre Coastal GasLink pipeline.

CN says it has been granted an injunction order to remove protesters from the site near Belleville, Ont.

Kirkup said while he has been inconvenienced by the demonstrations, he supports those staging them.

“I think it’s important to recognize why the protest is going on. I think it’s super important and even though I’ve experienced delays, I’m still happy to support the work that’s being done for a better nation-to-nation relationship in Canada,” he said.

Kirkup said it was quite the challenge trying to book a bus ticket back to Ottawa, but he was finally able to find a seat on the 2:30 p.m. Greyhound bus.

Kimia Fardfini missed her train from Ottawa to Toronto on Thursday and was also forced to make other arrangements to leave Sunday from Toronto to Ottawa. (CBC)

Another passenger, Kimia Fardfini, missed her train from Ottawa to Toronto on Thursday and was also forced to make other arrangements to leave Sunday from Toronto to Ottawa. 

Fardfini, who is originally from Toronto, goes to school in Ottawa. 

“I booked my Via Rail well in advance like I always do, and when I got to the train station in Ottawa it was delayed indefinitely and they cancelled it. So, I had to take the Greyhound and currently I’m in Toronto trying to figure out how to get back to do my school work tomorrow,” she told CBC News on Sunday.  

“Since yesterday, well since all weekend, I’ve been looking at the train status for my train tonight and I can’t find anything for my specific train. It says it’s tentatively scheduled, but I don’t know if I really trust Via right now. 

“The Greyhounds are booked already. So, it was either that or my family tried to take time off to drive me or rent a car, which is just as expensive as flying because I’m under 25 and that’s not really possible. So, I had to book on Porter last night and it was $422,” Fardfini added.

Plan ahead, Metrolinx spokesperson says

As people prepare for the start of the new work week, Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins is urging people to plan ahead, in the event any of its services are disrupted because of the ongoing protests. 

“We always suggest to our customers, before you leave the house, check the website for any service updates, check your phones, sign up for on-the-go alerts, that kind of thing,” Aikins told CBC News.

Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins says people to plan ahead, in the event any of its services are disrupted because of the ongoing protests. (Angelina King/CBC)

“Our customers come a long distance. It’s a little different than often with the TTC customers [who] just jump on the closest subway or streetcar. Our customers will sometimes travel an hour and a half, two hours away to get to their destinations, so, we always tell them to plan ahead.”

Metrolinx is a government transportation agency that manages and integrates road and public transport in Ontario, including GO Transit.

Aikins said while she does not expect a disruption at all seven corridors, she’s hoping for the best on Monday.

“We transport 200,000 people a day from all over the region, so if they can’t get to their jobs and their medical appointments it disrupts a lot of lives, potentially.”

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How one Canadian family of five is coping with the highest inflation in years – CTV News

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With inflation at a nearly 40-year high, Canadians are feeling the financial strain. In a six-part series this summer, The Canadian Press is speaking to people at different stages of life to see where they’re being hit the hardest. This story details the experiences of mid-career adults and their families.

———

Myron Genyk didn’t think much about the price of food a year ago.

But now the 43-year-old father of three is suffering from sticker shock as his family’s grocery bill balloons.

“No. 1 is the increase in food,” said Genyk, an entrepreneur from Mississauga, Ont. “My kids are growing, so they’re eating more, but food prices have also shot up.”

With inflation rising at its fastest pace in nearly 40 years, the cost of everything from food to gas has skyrocketed.

Canadians across the country are feeling squeezed, but big families with multiple children are at times shouldering much of the higher costs — and changing demographics and consumer patterns have left some of them more exposed to inflation than in previous generations.

Some face meteoric grocery bills to feed insatiable teens or are helping older kids pay for university or buy their first home.

Others face mounting costs related to helping aging parents.

Then there are those doing both — the so-called sandwich generation.

“Some still have kids at home and they’re also helping out with aging parents,” said Elena Jara, community engagement partner with insolvency firm Bromwich and Smith.

“Inflation only makes that harder.”

Middle-aged adults have traditionally had the benefit of entering their prime earning years, taking some of the sting out of inflation. But as milestones for many Canadians happen later in life, this pattern is changing.

First-time homebuyers are getting older, for example, with the average age now around 36.

That means mid-career Canadians are more likely to have a big mortgage, leaving them vulnerable to higher interest rates.

Canadians are also having children later in life. Over the past five decades, the average age of a first-time mother has been steadily rising, from 22.6 in 1969 to 29.4 in 2019.

Adult children are also living longer at home. New census data found almost half of young adults in Ontario cities like Toronto, Oshawa, Windsor and Hamilton were living in the same household as at least one parent.

That leaves parents in the roughly 40 to 60 age range potentially covering more day-to-day costs or unable to downsize.

“Having a larger household with many mouths to feed would definitely increase your spending on food and make you more sensitive to food inflation,” said Rebekah Young, vice-president, head of inclusion and resilience economics at Scotiabank.

Higher costs could also push Canadians in their prime earning years to curtail savings, potentially later delaying retirement to pay the bills, she said.

But inflation is even worse for low income Canadians as they spend more of their disposable income on essentials, Young said.

The situation has left Canadians feeling increasingly gloomy about their finances, according to a raft of recent surveys.

More than half of Canadians aged 55 and up said they’ve delayed retirement because of mounting inflation this year alone, based on respondents to a recent poll by Bromwich and Smith and Advisorsavvy.

Another survey by TransUnion Canada found 60 per cent of Canadians polled lack optimism about their household finances over the next 12 months, with almost a third concerned they won’t be able to pay their bills in full in the coming months.

For Genyk, who runs his own Bay Street asset management company, he’s hopeful high inflation will be a “temporary blip” on his financial path.

Still, he’s feeling squeezed by higher prices.

“I’m definitely spending more money this year than I was last year on basic goods,” said Genyk, CEO and co-founder of Evermore Capital Inc., a Canadian asset management company that focuses on accessible retirement investing.

“That is directly impacting how much I can save for retirement.”

Inflation is also shaping his consumption habits and even changing his vacation plans.

For example, the Genyk family is planning a trip to the Rockies with their three children, ages seven, 11 and 13.

A few years ago, the family flew into Calgary and rented a van for two weeks for $1,900.

This summer, the van rental quote was $8,000.

“We got creative and found if we flew to Edmonton, we could rent a five-seater SUV there for a much more reasonable price,” he said.

“Having a growing family, you also need more space. When you get a hotel room, the days of one room with a pop-up crib are done.

“All these things add up.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 10, 2022. 

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U.S. inflation shows signs of having peaked as rate eases to 8.5% in July – CBC News

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The torrid increase in the cost of living showed signs of finally easing last month, with the U.S. inflation rate cooling to 8.5 per cent.

The U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics reported Wednesday that the annual inflation rate eased from a 40-year high of 9.1 per cent in June to 8.5 in July. 

Economists had been expected the rate to ease off, but the 8.5 per cent figure was softer than the 8.7 per cent they were expecting.

“The July CPI report might be the first clear indication that consumers are pushing back against high inflation in response to tighter monetary policy,” Sal Guatieri, an economist with BMO Markets, wrote in a note to investors. “It’s a sign that inflation is close to peaking, though the climb down the mountain will be slow due to rising wages and rents.”

Gasoline prices have eased significantly, which was a major contributor to the slowdown.

Guatieri also pointed to price reductions in airfare, hotels and car rentals. 

“With many travellers now exhausting earlier pent-up demand, fewer people are willing to face hassles at the airport or pay the well-above pre-pandemic cost of flying, rooming at a hotel or renting a car.”

Food prices, meanwhile, continued to rise at a faster pace than the overall rate, with costs increasing by 10.9 per cent in the past year.

Statistics Canada is expected to report its inflation numbers on Aug. 16. 

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Commercial fishers and wild salmon advocates cheer large returns to B.C. waters

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VICTORIA — The summer of 2022 is shaping up to be a bumper season for both pink and sockeye salmon in British Columbia rivers, with one veteran Indigenous fisherman reporting the biggest catches of sockeye in decades.

Mitch Dudoward has worked in the salmon industry for more than 40 years, and says fishing on the Skeena River in northwest B.C. has never been better.

“This is the best season I can recall in my lifetime with the numbers we are catching,” said Dudoward, who recently completely a big sockeye haul aboard his gillnetter Irenda.

Bob Chamberlin, chairman of the Indigenous-led First Nations Wild Salmon Alliance, meanwhile said that thousands of pink salmon are in Central Coast rivers after years of minimal returns.

The strong run comes two years after the closure of two open-net Atlantic salmon farms in the area.

“We had targeted those farms,” said Chamberlin, whose group wants open-net farms removed from B.C.’s waters. “We got them removed and two years later we went from 200 fish in the river to where we have several thousand to date. In our mind and knowledge that is a really clear indicator.”

Fisheries and Oceans Canada spokeswoman Lara Sloan said departmental observations indicated big returns of sockeye to the Skeena River.

“Test fisheries currently indicate that Skeena sockeye returns are tracking at the upper end of the forecast, with an in-season estimate of approximately four million sockeye,” said Sloan in a statement. “Sockeye populations returning to a number of areas in British Columbia, Washington and Alaska are returning better than forecast in 2022.”

The five-year average return of sockeye to the Skeena is 1.4 million and the 10-year average is 1.7 million, Sloan said.

Dudoward said the Skeena sockeye season ended this week, but it could have gone on longer.

“We should be fishing until the end of August when the sockeye stop running,” he said. “There’s plenty of them to take.”

But Sloan said the Fisheries Department was being careful about salmon stocks.

“For 2022, the department is taking a more precautionary approach toward managing impacts of commercial fisheries on stocks of conservation concern including smaller wild sockeye populations, chum and steelhead returning to the Skeena River,” she said.

The Fisheries Department also expects a large sockeye run to the Fraser River this summer, but returns of chinook, coho and chum to northern and Central Coast rivers and streams are expected to be low.

“The forecast range for Fraser River sockeye in 2022 is 2.3 million to 41.7 million, with a median forecast of 9.7 million,” said Sloan. “The median forecast means there is a 50 per cent chance returns will come in below that level.”

That is well above the estimated 2.5 million sockeye returns in 2021, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada data.

The strong returns come amid debate over the future of open-net salmon farming in B.C. waters.

In 2018, the B.C. government, First Nations and the salmon farming industry reached an agreement to phase out 17 open-net farms in the Broughton Archipelago between 2019 and 2023.

The agreement was negotiated to establish a farm-free migration corridor to help reduce harm to wild salmon.

In June, federal Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray said the government will consult with First Nations communities and salmon farm operators in the Discovery Islands, near Campbell River on Vancouver Island, about the future of open-net farming in the area.

A final decision on the future of the farms is expected in January 2023, the minister said.

“That is such a key migratory route of all Fraser River salmon, in particular coho and chinook,” Chamberlin said. “If we are going to see Fraser runs return, we need to see removal of impediments.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 10, 2022.

 

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

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