Mexican man who died on U.S. border struggled to pay bills in Canada, family says
The Mexican man who died Feb. 19 shortly after crossing the border into the United States near Stanstead — in the Eastern Townships region of Quebec — had travelled from Toronto, where he and his family had been living for less than a year.
Jose Leos Cervantes, 45, had been struggling to make a living in the Ontario capital when he decided to try his luck in the U.S., his wife said in an interview with a Mexican radio station.
The family moved to Toronto in June, hoping to get better pay and better work conditions.
But she said Leos Cervantes lost his job two months ago and struggled to find another that could pay for their rent over the winter months. The couple have three children.
One of Leos Cervantes’s daughters, Yanahi Leos Reyes, posted on Facebook last week about her father’s death, asking for donations so the family could pay to have his body repatriated to their home city of Aguascalientes in central Mexico.
Another daughter wrote: “I’ll never forget you. You were always my role model. I love you so much, Dad.”
After struggling in Canada, many have tried their luck heading south. Others have come to Canada to avoid stricter policies at the U.S. southern border.
2nd border death this year
Since October, U.S. border agents have intercepted 1,513 people in the Swanton Sector, a stretch of the border from the New Hampshire-Maine state line to the western edge of St. Lawrence County in New York state.
That number is already 42 per cent higher than the year ending October 2022, during which agents stopped 1,065 people.
Leos Cervantes’s death occurred less than two months after that of Fritznel Richard, a 44-year-old Haitian man whose frozen body was found more than a week after he attempted to cross by foot into the United States on Dec. 23. Like Leos Cervantes, Richard had struggled to make ends meet in Canada.
U.S. border patrol agents for the Swanton Sector said recently the 115 people they apprehended over one week in February were from 12 different countries, mostly from Mexico.
“Unfortunately, perilous weather has done nothing to deter this traffic. Don’t risk it!” they said on Facebook.
Charlie Barnett of Brome, Que., says he’s lived near the U.S. border most of his life. The house he’s lived in for nearly 20 years sits about 500 metres from the borderline.
“In the past year, I’ve probably seen half a dozen people walking down the railroad tracks,” heading into the U.S., Barnett said.
Kate Paarlberg-Kvam, who runs a non-profit in southern Vermont called Community Asylum Seekers Project, said her group has been receiving calls from U.S. border agents asking if it could help asylum seekers who recently crossed into the U.S. from Quebec.
“I’m not surprised that it’s happening because the Biden administration has chosen to … deny people their legal rights. So, of course, they’re going to find another place to cross,” Paarlberg-Kvam said in a phone interview Thursday.
The U.S. government, under President Joe Biden, has prolonged pandemic-era restrictions on migrants crossing from Mexico. Earlier this year, it also announced a policy preventing migrants from countries including Venezuela and Haiti from claiming asylum in the U.S., instead opening avenues for them to apply for two-year visas.
But Paarlberg-Kvam says immigration processes in the U.S. are backlogged, too.
“It sounds like conditions for asylum seekers on both sides of the border are pretty crappy, so it is pushing people to try on the other side — with not necessarily wonderful things happening upon arrival in either direction,” they said.
Vermont police are investigating Leos Cervantes’s death. In a news release, U.S. Attorney’s Office said he had been clutching a tree and collapsed as border agents approached him, another man and a woman he was with in Derby, Vermont, just south of Stanstead.
Leos Reyes, his daughter, told the Journal de Montréal he had paid a smuggler more than $3,200 US to help get him across. She said her father suffered from asthma and had a sinus infection at the time.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said police arrested Maria Constante-Zamora, 31, an Ecuadorian woman living in Connecticut.
Constante-Zamora has been charged “with unlawfully attempting to transport three individuals within the United States while knowing or recklessly disregarding that the individuals had come to and entered the United States in violation of the law.”
Twenty-six organizations call for MSI for migrant workers in Nova Scotia
Halifax, NS (March 21, 2022) – Today, as the spring session of the Nova Scotia legislature opens, twenty-six organizations have published an open letter calling for healthcare access for Kerian Burnett and all migrant workers in Nova Scotia. Today is also the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
The signatories to the letter include the Antigonish Coalition to End Poverty, Central Kings Community Health Board, CUPE NS, King’s Students’ Union, National Farmers Union – Nova Scotia, No one is illegal – Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Health Coalition and Western Kings Community Health Board.
In some provinces, migrant workers have access to public healthcare on arrival. In Nova Scotia, migrant workers must have a one-year work permit to be eligible for public healthcare coverage (MSI). This means that Caribbean and Mexican workers who come to Nova Scotia under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) are not eligible, because their contracts are a maximum of 8 months of each calendar year.
“Nova Scotia’s MSI eligibility criteria shuts out this racialized workforce. This is a blatant example of systemic discrimination, which can and must be immediately redressed,” said Stacey Gomez, Manager of the Migrant Workers Program with No one is illegal – Nova Scotia.
Migrant workers in the SAWP only have access to private health insurance, which is tied to their employment.
“Private health insurance from employers and restrictions on eligibility for MSI prevents migrant workers from accessing the care they need leaving them vulnerable and falling through the cracks of our public healthcare system. The NSHC signs onto this letter and supports the call for all migrant workers, especially seasonal agricultural workers, to be eligible for MSI immediately upon arrival in Nova Scotia. Access to free, universal, public healthcare is the right of every human being, regardless of immigration status. We must do better,” said Alexandra Rose, Coordinator of the Nova Scotia Health Coalition.
Ms. Burnett, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer after arriving in Nova Scotia as a migrant worker, now has a Temporary Resident Permit until January 10, 2024. However, she still does not have medical coverage in Nova Scotia. She was advised by her doctor to remain in Canada to undergo life-saving treatments and for follow-up care. Ms. Burnett is currently hospitalized.
– 30 –
No one is illegal – Nova Scotia
Telephone: (902) 329-9595
Canada's inflation rate cools more than expected – Financial Post
OTTAWA — The annual pace of inflation cooled in February as it posted its largest deceleration since April 2020.
Statistics Canada said Tuesday its consumer price index in February was up 5.2 per cent compared with a year earlier.
Analysts polled by Reuters had expected the annual rate to fall to 5.4 per cent.
The reading compared with an annual inflation rate of 5.9 per cent in January and was the lowest annual inflation rate since January 2022 when it was 5.1 per cent.
Statistics Canada noted that the decline was due to a steep monthly increase in prices in February 2022 when the global economy was significantly affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Despite the overall cooling, grocery prices remained elevated and outpaced overall inflation.
Prices for food purchased from stores in February were up 10.6 per cent compared with a year ago, the seventh consecutive month of double-digit increases.
Which food items went up in price in Canada – CTV News
Inflation for goods in Canada is cooling but prices for food remain high, Statistics Canada’s latest report shows.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for February was at 5.2 per cent year-over-year, a decrease from January’s 5.9 per cent year-over-year increase.
“This was the largest deceleration in the headline CPI since April 2020,” the StatCan report reads.
Energy reflected the cooling as prices fell 0.6 per cent year-over-year. Gasoline prices are leading the drop, StatCan says, with a 4.7 per cent difference year-over-year — “the first yearly decline since January 2021.”
“Inflation is cooling more than what was typically expected,” David George-Cosh, BNN Bloomberg reporter, told CTV News Channel on Tuesday. “But when you drill down into some of the details, it’s unlikely to really convince Canadians that the worst is really behind us.”
Despite the overall signs inflation is decreasing, Canadians are not seeing this reflected at grocery stores, where food prices rose 10.6 per cent year-over-year in February. This is a slight decrease from January, which saw a 11.4 per cent year-over-year increase.
FOOD PRICES REMAIN HIGH
February marks the seventh consecutive month of double-digit food inflation, StatCan says.
This pressure is largely due to supply constraints from extreme weather in some regions and higher costs of animal feed, energy and packaging materials.
Pasta products continue to increase in price, with a 23.1 per cent year-over-year difference in February. This is an upward trend from January, which had a year-over-year increase of 21.1 per cent.
Fruit juice had the largest increase in price from January to February 2023, data from StatCan shows. In January, the product had a year-over-year difference of 5.2 per cent; this rose to 15.7 per cent year-over-year in February.
According to StatCan, the quick rise in the cost of fruit juice is led by the increased price of orange juice specifically.
“The supply of oranges has been impacted by citrus greening disease and climate-related events, such as Hurricane Ian,” the CPI report reads.
William Huggins, lecturer of corporate finance and business economics, explained supply chains are under pressure from many areas.
“We’ve had, for instance, problems with avian flu…There are problems with African swine fever in China, we’ve had trouble getting enough employees to come back post pandemic with their steel supply chains,” Huggins told CTV’s Your Morning on Wednesday. “We’ve seen this not just in Canada, but also in the United States as well. So rather than people thinking it’s very much a homegrown problem, it’s much more of a North American logistic problem.”
Oranges on their own have not increased quite as dramatically between January and February of this year. According to the data, in January oranges had a year-over-year increase of 14.1 per cent, which rose to 15.1 per cent year-over-year in February.
Similarly, apples rose in price year-over-year to 16.6 per cent in February, a 4.5 per cent increase from January.
Some areas did see prices slowing, StatCan said.
Meat products decreased to 6.2 per cent year-over-year, though this is a smaller decrease than in January.
But Canadians aren’t seeing decreases in all types of meat.
Fresh or frozen poultry remained high, as StatCan pegged the year-over-year increase at 10.7 per cent in February, a slight increase from January.
Fish, seafood and other marine products increased by 1 per cent from January’s year-over-year marker to 7.4 per cent year-over-year in February.
Fresh or frozen beef saw a reduction in February, with a year-over-year increase of 2.4 per cent compared to January’s 3.7 per cent difference.
Buyers of some types of produce are seeing a cooling effect as well, including the costs of lettuce and tomatoes.
Lettuce in January rose to 32.8 per cent year-over-year, but dropped the next month to 20.2 per cent compared to February 2022.
Tomatoes in January had a 21.9 per cent year-over-year increase, which dropped to 7.1 per cent year-over-year in February.
STUDY SHOWS MISTAKES ON RECEIPTS
Many Canadians are now acutely aware of how much food items cost, so they can ensure they are not paying more, but a new study shows two-thirds (67 per cent) of people have seen a mistake on their grocery receipts in the last year.
Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab polled 5,525 respondents.
According to the survey, 78.5 per cent of those who noted a mistake reported the most common error was that the price at the cash register was not the same price displayed on the shelf. About one-third of respondents said the daily discount was not applied and a total of 31.4 per cent claimed the cashier scanned an item too many times.
A majority of people said they check receipts for mistakes as they exit the store, before getting home. However, the survey notes not all Canadians have the habit of checking for mistakes; only half said they always check, while 3.3 per cent never do.
“As for frequency of mistakes, 79.2 per cent of respondents claim that they find at least no mistakes on their receipts, at least 10 per cent of the time,” the press release reads. “A total of 15.2 per cent will find at least one mistake on their receipt, 25 per cent of the time.”
Food inflation tracker
Note: data for some specific grocery items are available only nationally, and are not available by province. Can’t see the interactive above? Click here.
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