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Mexico, Jamaica, Peru on Canada travel alert list

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Unrest, high levels of violence and volatile political atmosphere can make travelling to certain places dangerous. Recently, some Canadian tourists in Mexico‘s Sinaloa state were barricaded in their hotels for several days after the arrest of a major alleged drug cartel leader led to violence in the region.

To avoid such situations, the Canadian government has released a list of travel advisories for countries like Mexico, Jamaica and Peru to help travellers make informed decisions even if they find themselves stuck in similar positions.

“The safety of Canadians abroad is a top priority for the Government of Canada,” Marilyne Guèvremont, spokesperson at Global Affairs Canada (GAC), told Global News.

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Last week, Canadians in Mexico were told to limit their movements and shelter in place after violence broke out in the country’s northwest.

The government advised Canadians to “exercise a high degree of caution” due to added levels of criminal activity and kidnapping in the region.

Widespread violence and security operations have been taking place in Sinaloa State, particularly in Culiacán, Mazatlan, Los Mochis and Guasave since Ovidio Guzman, a son of jailed Cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, was arrested in a pre-dawn raid on Jan. 5. The Canadian government has cautioned against burning cars, exchanges of fire and threats to essential infrastructure, including airports, in its advisory.

On Jan. 6, two airports in Sinaloa state that were closed after flights were grounded and tourists stranded, restarted operations, but Canadians have still been advised to avoid travel to the region if possible.

Transport Canada has cautioned that “several flights” from Sunwing, Swoop and WestJet may still be affected by the unrest.

Guèvremont said Global Affairs “is aware of Canadians affected by these events and is providing consular services.”

The local government in Sinaloa has urged people to stay indoors and said schools and administrative offices would remain closed due to the violence. Americans have also been advised not to travel to the region by the U.S. State Department.

Some of the regions in Mexico that Canadians have been advised to avoid non-essential visit to, include:

  • Chihuahua
  • Colima, except for the city of Manzanillo
  • Coahuila, except the southern part of the state at and below the Saltillo-Torreón highway corridor
  • Durango, except Durango City
  • Guerrero, except the cities of Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo and Taxco
  • Michoacán, except the city of Morelia
  • Zacatecas

The full list of regions can be found on the government’s website.

Canada has also advised Canadians travelling to Jamaica to exercise a high degree of caution due to increased levels of violent crime.

The Jamaican government reinstated a state of emergency in certain parishes of the country on Dec. 28, 2022, due to violence and gang-related crime. The parishes include:

  • Clarendon
  • Hanover
  • Kingston
  • St Andrew
  • St Ann
  • St Catherine
  • St James
  • Westmoreland

The state of emergency will be in effect until Jan. 11. The measure was first declared in early December by Jamaica’s prime minister to fight a surge in gang violence on an island with one of the highest murder rates in the country.

The state of emergency is meant to allow authorities to arrest people and search buildings without a warrant. This has drawn heavy criticism from political opponents and activists who have warned against a repeat of police abuse and mass detentions that happened under previous states of emergency in Jamaica.

Canadians travelling to affected areas may be subject to searches by security forces, according to Canada’s travel advisory, so the recommendation from the government is to always cooperate, carry valid IDs and follow instructions of local authorities.

Due to likely social conflicts and strikes across the country, “a high degree of caution” must also be exercised when travelling to Peru, the Canadian government says.

Peru has been under a national crisis marked by deadly unrest after lawmakers ousted President Pedro Castillo. Dina Boluarte took over from the ousted leader to become Peru’s first female president.

The death toll from the unrest rose to 26 by the end of December after security forces fired tear gas and dispersed thousands of wildcat miners who cut off the Pan-American Highway at two vital chokepoints for more than a week. As a result, truckers were forced to dump spoiled food and fish bound for market. Hundreds have been injured.

Protesters blocked streets in Peru’s capital and many rural communities, demanding Castillo’s freedom, Boluarte’s resignation and the immediate scheduling of general elections to pick a new president and replace all members of Congress.

A 30-day nationwide state of emergency is in place in Peru until Jan. 13.

Given the current political situation, Canadians are being advised to avoid all non-essential travel to regions including:

  • Arequipa
  • Cuzco, including the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu
  • Puno
  • Ica

Some other regions have also been cautioned against due to instances of domestic terrorism and criminal activity, including:

  • Huallaga and Tocache provinces in the department of San Martín
  • The Upper Huallaga and Ene river valleys in the departments of Huánuco and San Martín
  • Padre Abad province in the department of Ucayali
  • Huacaybamba, Humalíes, Leoncio Prado and Marañón provinces in the department of Huánuco

The full list can be found here.

Travellers are being urged to avoid any non-essential travel to areas within 20 kilometres of the border with Colombia due to drug trafficking and occasional incursions by armed guerrilla forces from Columbia into Peru.

Additionally, avoiding non-essential travel to areas within 20 kilometres of the border with Ecuador, especially in the Cordillera de Cóndor region, has been advised due to the safety threats posed by landmines.

 

Stuck in Mexico, Jamaica or Peru?

Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place and do not attempt to cross road blockades, even if they appear unattended, says Global Affairs Canada.

Canadians should also allow extra time to reach destinations and expect an increased presence of security forces in affected regions, according to Guèvremont.

Monitoring local media and following the instructions of local authorities is also advised to help navigate through the situation.

So far, CCA South Central Ontario (SCO) “has been reaching out to members who are currently in (Mexico) to offer help if needed,” Susan Postma, regional VP and travel spokesperson for the agency told Global News in an email.

CAA is Canada’s largest not-for-profit automobile association with more than two million members in South Central Ontario and 200,000 members in Manitoba. They offer different insurance services including travel.

“The decision to travel is a personal choice, and travellers should always refer to the latest information and guidance from Global Affairs Canada when deciding to travel,” Postma said.

CAA spokesperson, Elisha Dacey, says their company always recommends travel insurance, especially when heading to international destinations.

“Travel insurance can cover things like cancelled flights, lost baggage, medical expenses and more. However, not all travel insurance is created equal, so we encourage our members to ask questions to make sure they are fully covered for all emergencies,” Dacey said.

Meanwhile, GAC said Canadians who need emergency consular assistance should “contact Global Affairs Canada’s Emergency Watch and Response Centre by calling 001-800-514-0129 (toll-free from Mexico only), +1 613 996 8885, by text message at +1 613-686-3658, via WhatsApp at +1 613-909-8881, via Telegram at Canada Emergency Abroad or by e-mail at sos@international.gc.ca.”

— With files from Global News’ Sean Boynton & The Associated Press

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It's not delivery, it's discontinued: Nestlé to stop selling Delissio pizza in Canada – CBC News

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It’s not delivery, it’s discontinued: Nestlé to stop selling Delissio pizza in Canada  CBC News

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Will winter end soon? Canadian groundhogs split on spring calls

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Groundhog Day didn’t go to script in Canada this year: one died before making a prediction, while others were divided over whether spring will come early this year.

Quebec’s Fred la Marmotte died before he was able to reveal his prediction Thursday, with volunteer children stepping in to take its place.

The organizer of the event, Roberto Blondin, said the famed groundhog had no vital signs when he went to wake it Wednesday night. Fred la Marmotte likely died during hibernation, Blondin said. Fred was honoured with a plush animal toy by organizers.

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The group of children predicted six more weeks of winter, joining the calls from other groundhogs across Canada – except for three.

Folklore states that if a groundhog sees its shadow on Groundhog Day, winter will drag on. If it doesn’t spot its shadow, spring-like weather arrive soon.

Ontario’s Wiarton Willie called for an early spring Thursday morning, as did Alberta’s Blazac Billy. Organizers chanted “Billy, Billy, Billy” to get Billy – a mascot – out of his burrow. In British Columbia, stuffed groundhog Okanagan Okie also called for an early spring.

Their furry counterpart in Nova Scotia, Shubenacadie Sam, saw her shadow as she emerged from a snow-covered enclosure at a wildlife park north of Halifax. In Manitoba, the stuffed groundhog Merv saw his shadow, as did Punxsutawney Phil in the United States.

 

Groundhog Day isn’t just for groundhogs

In Nova Scotia, Lucy the Lobster crawled out of the ocean at Cape Sable Island Causeway at 8 a.m. local time, and saw her shadow, organizers said.

In a playful, peer-reviewed study published by the American Meteorological Society, researchers at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont., found groundhogs are “beyond a shadow of a doubt” no better at predicting spring’s arrival than flipping a coin.

— with files from Global News’ Alex Cooke, Brayden Jagger Haines and The Canadian Press

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Migrant worker secret menus in Canada expose exploitation

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Hundreds of customers who scan QR codes for restaurant menus across Canada are being surprised by secret menus instead, revealing the hidden costs behind the food they eat.

These secret menus were designed and distributed by Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, a national organization headquartered in Toronto, aiming to expose exploitative working conditions: low wages, unsafe labour, poor housing, family separation, and long days of backbreaking labour.

The organization plastered these QR codes in place of menus in hundreds of restaurants across the country to communicate a single plea – migrant workers need permanent resident status.

“Because the current laws don’t protect our health, safety, and working status, those of us who speak up are ignored and many others decide to stay silent in fear of deportation and losing their livelihood,” Robert, a Jamaican migrant greenhouse worker, said.

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Each menu item reveals a story about exploitation. The “To-Die-For Sweet Potato Fries” tells the tale of a potato harvester from Jamaica named Garvin Yapp who was killed in a farming accident in Norfolk County, Ont. last summer. Another, the “Bitter Strawberry Tart,” aims to spotlight the 18-hour days some migrant workers spend on their hands and knees harvesting strawberries.

Every year, more than 60,000 seasonal agricultural workers come to Canada from places such as Mexico, Jamaica, and other Caribbean countries. Between January 2020 and 2021, nine migrant agricultural workers died in Ontario.

“We are inviting [the public] to be a part of the struggle,” Syed Hussan, executive director of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, told CTV News Toronto.

Migrant workers are purposely featuring their stories as food costs rise across the country alongside the profits of big box grocery store owners. Hussan says these profits are made on the backs of migrant workers.

“It’s important to know migrant farm workers are literally tied to their employers,” he added, noting that migrants can’t protect themselves because they don’t have permanent resident status. “What that means is if a worker speaks out about abuse, they become homeless.”

Migrant workers’ stories are featured on secret menus (Migrant Workers Alliance for Change).When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau outlined Canada’s immigration policy priorities in Dec. 2021, he said his government would expand pathways to permanent resident status for temporary foreign workers.

“Thirteen months later, no action has happened. With parliament returning, now is the time,” Hussan said.

At the bottom of the secret menu, migrant workers are asking restaurant patrons to sign a petition, pleading, “Tell PM Trudeau your food should come with fair working conditions.”

“It’s crucial to understand that if you eat in this country … you are implicated in this food chain,” Hussan said. “Each and every one of us is implicated.”

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