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Metro workers latest to strike as Canada sees a wave of job actions

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Thousands of unionized Metro grocery workers walked off the job Saturday in what is the latest in a series of strike actions taken across the country in the past year.

Some 3,700 members of Unifor Local 414 went on strike, described as the largest in the union’s history and affecting 27 Metro locations in the Greater Toronto Area.

It comes as unionized workers at British Columbia’s ports rejected a tentative agreement late Friday night and as Manitoba Liquor Mart employees stayed off the job Saturday in their continued strike action.

“Interest rates, inflation, CEO profits soaring, profits in terms of what corporations are making soaring, while our members are struggling to get by,” Unifor national president Lana Payne said Saturday as Metro workers held their strike.

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Although Unifor endorsed a deal with Metro, with Payne describing it as the “best agreement in decades,” the membership did not support it.

Payne added that it is not enough for the workers to live on or support their families, with 70 per cent of jobs part-time and average pay between $16 and $17 an hour.

She said that the workers, who put their lives on the line during the height of COVID-19 and later saw their pandemic pay cut, deserve a share of the money that they helped Metro earn.

Gord Currie, president of Unifor Local 414, added that some have resorted to food banks.

Canada’s Competition Bureau released a study in June that found the three largest grocery companies in the country — Loblaws, Sobeys and Metro — reported more than $100 billion in sales collectively and $3.6 billion in profits last year.

“Working people are fighting back everywhere, from the ports of Vancouver to grocery store workers here to Teamsters workers in the United States. This is not just happening here at Metro stores. It is the moment that we’re in and, you know, you can only push it so long where corporations are doing so well, the CEOs are doing so well and workers are getting crumbs. That is not going to work anymore,” Payne said.

A statement from Metro Ontario, a subsidiary of Metro, said it was “extremely disappointed” that a strike occurred despite the union endorsing the deal.

“The company has been negotiating with the union for the past few weeks and reached a fair and equitable agreement that meets the needs of our employees and our customers while ensuring that Metro remains competitive,” the statement said.

“The settlement provided significant increases for employees in all four years of the agreement, as well as pension and benefits improvements for all employees, including part-time employees.”

Larry Savage, a labour studies professor at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont., told CTV National News that workers have a heightened sense of their own worth coming out of the pandemic.

“I think there’s a lot of anger and resentment as a result of the pandemic and the high cost of living,” he said.

“Grocery store workers, for example, literally put their lives on the line for their employers and for society more generally during the pandemic and now lots of them can’t even afford to pay their rent or their utility bills. So I think there’s a sense out there that workers are fed up and they’re demanding more and they’re using the right to strike to do that.”

Last month, about 1,800 striking Halifax-area education support workers returned to work after ratifying their latest contract.

More than 155,000 unionized federal public servants went on strike earlier this year, including 35,000 Canada Revenue Agency employees.

Last year, thousands of education support workers in Ontario also went on strike.

“I think there will be lots of labour disruption in the future, lots of labour militancy going into the future, until we see some of these companies redistribute their profits back into their workforces,” Savage said.

With files from The Canadian Press

 

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India asks Canada to recall several dozen diplomats – Hindustan Times

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Canada secures second place in 2023 Best Country Rankings

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Achieving second place might sound like a disappointment. However, the second place means a lot in the global ranking of countries, and Canada has recently secured that spot.

The 2023 Best Countries rankings by US News & World Report placed Canada in second place. In the rankings, Switzerland won the first place and Sweden in third place.

By taking up the second place, Canada toppled Germany since the country earned the second place last year. Consequently, Australia and the US occupied the fourth and fifth place in the rankings.

The ranking system

US News’ Best Countries ranking system is a yearly ranking of the best countries to live in according to several metrics. The annual ranking originally started in 2015, in which the ranking attempts to “examine a country’s merit beyond hard metrics.”

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To determine the ranks, the news outlet consults several prominent institutions. They include the global advertising company WPP and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. US News & World Report uses the former’s BAV brand analytics tool and consults with the latter’s professor David Reibstein. Thus far, the news outlet relies on 73 attributes to describe a country and identify its recent successes.

Subsequently, the news outlet distributed the survey from March 17 to June 12 to 17,000 respondents around the world. The survey includes 87 nations, and the respondents will assess the countries’ merits based on their perceptions.

Other than Canada, the top 10 countries in the ranking come from highly developed countries around the world such as Switzerland, Sweden, the United States, Australia, Japan, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. 

Canada exceeded the score of 90 in agility (94.1), quality of life (92.7), and social purpose (93.4). The following scores are entrepreneurship (84.2), open for business (80.1), cultural influence (55.0), adventure (54.5), power (41.9), and heritage (41.6). 

Canada concluded its ranking by obtaining a score of 17.8 for the Movers metric with attributes such as differentness, distinctiveness, dynamicity, and uniqueness. Of the four, dynamicity occupies the top ranking with a score of 36.8. Distinctiveness takes second place in 26.3, followed by the measly scores of differentness and uniqueness of 5.0 and 9.3, respectively.

Another thing to consider in the Movers category is the recent issues of surging living costs and housing. As Canada’s housing crunch continues, this might have affected people’s perception of the reality of living in the country.

Canada’s strong scores

There are several reasons why Canada managed to snatch the runner-up position in the 2023 Best Countries rankings. Its global connectivity and decent job market, for instance, almost reached a perfect score with 95.5 and 98.4, respectively, thanks to Canada’s reputation as a highly interconnected country with good job prospects. 

According to US News, Canada is a high-tech industrial society with high living standards. After the trade agreements with the US in the 1980s and 1990s, both countries have become each other’s largest trading partners.

In addition, US News also said that Canada owes its economic success to the service sector and export of energy, food, and minerals. With the availability of proven oil reserves, Canada has emerged as the world’s fourth-largest oil producer.

Canada also won the perfect score in the racial equality and religious freedom categories. Thanks to the myriad of ethnic and religious groups in the country, Canada has attained the status of a multicultural society. Despite the post-Christian and secular state of modern Canada, Canada’s multiculturalism allows many religions and beliefs to flourish in the country.

Another reason behind Canada’s high rank in the Best Countries rankings is the near-perfect score of economic stability and hospitality to families. Owing to Canada’s famed reputation as a comfortable country to live in, many people think it’s best to raise families there.

The tourism industry in Canada is also something to behold. Canadian urban and natural tourist spots from British Columbia to Nunavut spoil domestic and foreign tourists with abundant options. Tourists can experience anything from Canada’s natural majesty to urban excellence in any of Canada’s provinces and territories.

The availability of SIM providers such as eSIM United States tourists adds to the convenience of tourists from the US and anywhere else. Various kinds of data plans are also available in Canada, which makes the country a desirable destination for travel aficionados who love to share their journeys online. With these plans, tourists don’t have to worry about internet coverage anymore when they explore Canada.

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India tells Canada to withdraw dozens of diplomatic staff: Report

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India has told Canada to withdraw dozens of diplomatic staff amid heightened tensions between the two nations over the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, according to a report published by Financial Times.

People familiar with the matter informed FT that Ottawa has been told by New Delhi that it must repatriate around 40 diplomats by October 10.

Ties between India and Canada have become seriously strained over Canadian suspicion that Indian government agents had a role in the June murder in Canada of a Sikh separatist leader and Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who India had labeled a “terrorist”. India has dismissed the allegation as absurd.

Canada has 62 diplomats in India and India had said that the total should be reduced by 41, the newspaper said.

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Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said earlier there was a “climate of violence” and an “atmosphere of intimidation” against Indian diplomats in Canada, where the presence of Sikh separatist groups has frustrated New Delhi.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration urged the Indian government to cooperate with Canada in its investigations into the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

State Department spokesperson Mathew Miller said, “As he made clear then, I’ll reiterate now, we remain in close coordination with our Canadian colleagues on this question.”

“We have engaged with the Indian government on a number of occasions to urge them to cooperate with Canada’s investigation. The secretary had an opportunity to do that in his meeting with the foreign minister on Friday,” he said.

Currently, the United States is in close coordination with Canada on allegations regarding the Indian government’s involvement in the Nijjar killing row.

India has suspended its visa services in Canada, following Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau’s allegations of Indian involvement in the killing.

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