The federal government says it’s concerned that a controversial regulatory decision last year may undermine investments in Canada’s communications networks, particularly in rural and remote areas.
However, a statement issued Saturday morning by Navdeep Bains, on behalf of the federal cabinet, says it won’t intervene in the CRTC’s ongoing review of its own decision about wholesale internet rates.
“Our government is working hard to make sure that all Canadians have the access to high-speed Internet,” said Bains, who is minister for innovation, science and industry.
“We encourage all parties to cooperate in the CRTC’s ongoing review of the rates decision to support a timely conclusion that will provide more certainty for all involved parties.”
That CRTC decision, issued Aug. 15, 2019 but put on hold by an appeal court, has been praised by Canada’s independent internet service providers but denounced by the large phone and cable companies who say the rates would be far too low.
Both sides of the argument have spent the past year lobbying the government, as well as fighting each other at the Federal Court of Appeal and before the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.
The statement issued by Bains, who wasn’t available for comment Saturday, suggests but doesn’t say out-right that the arms-length regulatory body needs to re-think how it arrived at its conclusions after years of study and analysis.
“On the basis of its review, the (cabinet) considers that the rates do not, in all instances, appropriately balance the policy objectives of the wholesale services framework and is concerned that these rates may undermine investment in high-quality networks, particularly in rural and remote areas,” Bains said.
BCE’s Bell Canada, Rogers Communications Inc. and most of Canada’s other large phone and cable companies argue the CRTC overstepped its authority by cutting wholesale capacity rates by up to 43 per cent and chopping access rates up to 77 per cent.
But their wholesale customers — labelled “resellers” by their detractors and “independents” by their supporters — argue that the CRTC’s decision would end years of over charging by the big carriers and allow them to lower the retail rates that they charge.
Matt Stein, who is chief executive of one of the larger independents and spokesman for their association, said the government’s statement was bad news and will help the big carriers by causing more delays.
“It’s this kind of decision that causes internet rates to go up and, at the minimum, makes it impossible for them to go down for quite some time,” said Stein, as chairman of the Canadian Network Operators Association, which represents independent ISPs
He noted that the government took a full year to issue its decision and said it introduces new delays and new uncertainty.
“Unfortunately, that plays right into the hands of the big phone and the big cable companies. Delay and uncertainty are their tried and true weapons. So this is … a very bad day for Canadian consumers.”
Some of Canada’s larger carriers saw the cabinet’s decision as good news because it recognizes that the CRTC’s decision threatens to undermine their ability to make more investments in communications infrastructure.
“We trust the CRTC’s review will reflect the government’s objective to drive network investment, especially in rural and remote regions, with wholesale rates that are fair and reasonable. The original CRTC decision actually set wholesale rates below cost, which would certainly have impacted future investment by facilities-based carriers like Bell,” a Bell Canada statement said.
A statement from Rogers Communications said, in part, “the CRTC rates do not reflect the true cost of building and expanding Canada’s world-class broadband networks and will impact network investments, especially in rural and remote areas where costs are significantly higher.”
Because the commission is already doing a review of its own decision, Bains said it was unnecessary to refer the decision back to the CRTC for reconsideration “at this time,” but said that the government will continue to monitor the CRTC proceedings closely to ensure it establishes the “right incentives” for both investment and competitive choice.
“Our government recognizes that access to affordable, high-quality high-speed Internet is a necessity for all Canadians, no matter where they live,” Bains said.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has only reinforced the importance of connectivity. The investments our government is making in high-quality networks, particularly in rural and remote communities, are key to ensuring equitable digital access for all Canadians. Equitable access also means that it is available at fair prices that Canadians can afford.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 15 , 2020
Source: – CTV News
Canada adds 1,454 COVID-19 cases as diagnoses soar in Ontario, Quebec – Global News
Speed limits will once again be on Calgary city hall’s agenda on Wednesday when city administration presents a report on the topic to the Transportation and Transit Committee.
The report recommends that city council make changes to the speed limit bylaw by lowering the unposted speed limit from 50 km/h to 40 km/h within the city limits.
It also recommends that 50 km/h speed limit signs be posted on existing collector roadways if they aren’t already in place.
The final recommendation is for the city to work towards a long-term goal of lowering collector roads to 40km/h and residential roads to 30 km/h.
Calgary city council approves public engagement on speed limit reductions
The report says that these changes won’t happen quickly, and that buy-in from drivers will be necessary.
“In order to continue to make progress towards the desired long-term state, administration will work with industry partners to revise road standards to ensure that the construction of future roadways and retrofits of existing roadways result in environments where the recommended long-term speed limits would be credible to most drivers,” the report says.
Ward 6 Coun. Jeff Davison said that making Calgary streets safer should be a priority but that he doesn’t expect any citywide changes to be made quickly.
“There’s going to be a cost associated with this but there’s going to be long-term savings,” said Davison. “What I think is probably going to happen in committee is that we will accept the administration’s recommendations, but then forwarded to our budget talks in November.”
In the report, administration laid out the costs and benefits of several scenarios, balancing the cost of signage and traffic calming measures with the reduction in serious collisions.
The city estimates that changing the signage on residential roads would result in a one-time cost of $2.3 million. It estimates with that change, 90 to 450 crashes could be avoided every year, which includes six to 29 serious or fatal crashes.
It also adds that the reduction in crashes and injuries would save the city $8.1 million a year in “societal” savings.
Calgary city council looking for public opinion on residential speed limits
Pricier options such as putting permanent traffic calming measures in place across the city drive the cost up to $477 million, but as many as 900 crashes could be avoided.
Ward 11 Coun. Jeromy Farkas said none of the options make financial sense for the city right now.
“Even by city hall standards, making the entire city a playground zone has to be the silliest idea I’ve ever heard,” said Farkas. “Not to mention that implementing this would cost millions of dollars. We just don’t have the money or the time for this right now.”
The recommendations will be presented to the Transportation and Traffic Committee on Wednesday.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Ontario and Quebec – CBC.ca
The Canada emergency response benefit (CERB) expires on Sunday, ending the income support program the federal government rolled out during the COVID-19 pandemic to help people with payouts of up to $2,000 a month.
The government says about 8.8 million Canadians have received the benefit since April. Roughly half of the four million Canadians still getting the payments through Service Canada and who are eligible for employment insurance are expected to be transitioned to a modified EI program.
The changes will be in place for one year, with three additional programs proposed for those who do not qualify for EI.
On Monday, Parliament is set to debate a bill to implement those new recovery benefits.
The New Democrats and the governing Liberals reached a deal on Saturday that delivers two weeks of paid sick leave for people affected by the pandemic under the Canada recovery sickness benefit.
In return, the NDP is promising to vote in favour of the throne speech, giving the Liberals the backing they need to survive a confidence vote and avoid an election.
What’s happening in the rest of Canada
As of 2:45 p.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had 153,110 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 131,066 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,307.
WATCH | Trudeau says Canada at ‘crossroads’ as COVID-19 cases surge:
Quebec reported 896 new cases on Sunday — up from 698 the previous day — and its highest jump in intensive care-unit patients since late April with an increase of 12 patients. A total of 18 new hospitalizations were reported Saturday.
In Dorval, in Montreal’s West Island, a long-term care home that was hit hard by the first wave of the pandemic, with 38 dead in less than a month, has put residents in isolation after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.
The regional health authority said staff at CHSLD Herron learned of the positive case Saturday morning and quickly isolated and tested all patients and employees who had been in contact with them.
Ontario added 491 more cases on Sunday, up from 435 on Saturday. The Ontario Health Ministry also reported that a total of 112 people are hospitalized, a number that is on the rise. On Saturday, the province reported that there were 100 people in hospital.
The majority of newly confirmed infections of the novel coronavirus are concentrated in three public health units: Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa.
In Wasaga Beach, Ontario Provincial Police say enforcing physical distancing at a large car meet on Saturday was an impossible task after more than 1,000 car enthusiasts flocked to the beach town for an evening of street racing and stunts. Social media posts from the scene captured footage of the gathering:
Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case on Sunday, the first in the province since Sept. 18. The province says the case is travel-related, as the man had returned home to the province from Manitoba, and he has been self-isolating since his arrival and following public health guidelines.
Manitoba reported 51 new cases on Sunday, including 36 in the Winnipeg health region. Starting Monday, people in Winnipeg and 17 surrounding communities will have to wear masks in all public indoor spaces and cap gatherings at 10 as the region moves to the orange — or “restricted” — level under the province’s pandemic response system.
What’s happening around the world
According to Johns Hopkins University, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at more than 32.9 million. More than 995,000 people have died, while over 22.7 million have recovered.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, has further eased lockdown restrictions imposed after a surge in coronavirus cases, allowing most children to return to school from next month and sending more than 125,000 people back to work. A further easing could take place on Oct. 19 if the average falls below five new cases per day. Masks remain mandatory.
India has registered 88,600 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours in a declining trend, with recoveries exceeding daily infections. Sunday’s surge has raised the country’s virus tally to over 5.9 million.
In Europe, hospitals in the Paris and Marseille regions are delaying some scheduled operations to free up space for COVID-19 patients as the French government tries to stem a rising tide of infections.
Italy reported another 1,766 coronavirus cases on Sunday, in line with its recent daily increases. Another 17 people died, bringing Italy’s official death toll to 35,835, the highest in Europe after Britain.
In the Americas, coronavirus cases in Colombia, which is nearly a month into a national reopening after a long quarantine, surpassed 800,000 on Saturday, a day after deaths from COVID-19 climbed above 25,000.
The U.S. state of Florida now has more than 700,000 confirmed infections of the novel coronavirus, according to statistics released by the state Department of Health on Sunday.
Africa has more than 1.4 million confirmed cases across the continent, a majority of them — more than 668,000 — in South Africa.
Health experts point to Africa’s youthful population as a factor in why COVID-19 has not taken a larger toll, along with swift lockdowns and the later arrival of the virus.
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.
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