A new wave of cold water is about to hit Canada’s much-buffeted oilsands industry but whether it will be a perfect storm or a tempest in a teapot is yet to be seen.
Tighter pollution rules by the International Maritime Organization are set to take effect Jan. 1. The new guidelines, dubbed IMO 2020, will limit the sulphur content of “bunker” fuel on ships to just 0.5 per cent, down from the current 3.5 per cent.
The deadline has been in place for years, but the change is still expected to wallop prices for heavy oil containing high levels of sulphur, such as raw bitumen from the Alberta oilsands. Bitumen makes up about half of Canada’s 4.6 million barrels per day of crude oil production.
The discount on Western Canadian Select bitumen blend crude prices versus North American benchmark West Texas Intermediate could almost double in January, said Alan Gelder, vice-president, refining, for consultancy Wood Mackenzie.
“In October, we’ve got the WTI-WCS differential at about US$16 per barrel. And we’ve got that widening out to the high-$20s in January,” he said in a recent interview from London.
He added the differential should moderate to about US$23 or $24 by the middle of 2020.
The price difference between WTI and WCS is a closely watched figure because it dictates oilsands profitability and royalties paid to the provincial government.
When the differential widened to as much as US$52 a barrel at the end of 2018, a development blamed on pipeline capacity failing to keep up with oilsands growth, the Alberta government introduced production curtailments in a successful bid to narrow the spread. The production limits have since been reduced but not cancelled.
Analyst Phil Skolnick of Eight Capital says there was little evidence of a major jump in WCS differentials pricing for January crude oil trades that started in early December.
The impact of the new pollution rules is being softened by disruptions in the flow of competing heavy oil from Venezuela and Mexico into the U.S., as well as new petrochemical projects in Asia that need heavy oil as feedstock, he said.
“Canada is benefiting because of Venezuela, Mexico. With that, combined with the pull from these new petrochemical plants that are consuming medium and heavy oil, it’s helping to offset the risks of IMO 2020,” said Skolnick.
Companies that own refineries or oilsands upgraders are expected to benefit as the new standards will increase demand for refined low-sulphur fuels.
At its recent investor day, chief financial officer Dan Lyons of Calgary-based Imperial Oil Ltd. said it will offer four options for marine fuel customers at its Vancouver terminal — 3.5 per cent sulphur, 0.5 per cent, 0.1 per cent and blends made to order.
An expansion at its Lloydminster Upgrader on the Alberta-Saskatchewan border will help Calgary-based Husky Energy Inc. benefit from IMO 2020 as its diesel output will jump to 10,000 bpd from 6,000 bpd, said spokeswoman Kim Guttormson.
The company also produces diesel at its Lima Refinery in Ohio, which has been reconfigured to use more heavy oil.
Saint John-based Irving Oil Ltd. produces VLSFO (very low sulphur fuel oil) and marine gas oil at its Whitegate refinery in Ireland and is offering IMO-compliant fuels in New Brunswick through its expanded bunker operations, said spokeswoman Candice MacLean in an email. It also offers marine fuel oil in St. John’s, N.L., and Halifax, she added.
Most of the five million barrels per day of bunker fuel currently burned on ships is derived from the crude residue that remains after more valuable fuels such as gasoline and diesel have been removed in a refinery.
Following combustion, the sulphur in the fuel becomes sulphur oxide, a pollutant that causes respiratory problems and lung disease as well as acid rain. IMO 2020 is expected to prevent 8.5 million tonnes per year of sulphur oxide from entering the atmosphere.
The IMO first began restricting emissions in 2005 and its limits on sulphur in bunker fuel have been progressively tightened. Four “emission control areas” in Europe and North America already have a 0.1 per cent limit.
About 3.5 million bpd of bunker fuels consumed in 2019 are considered high-sulphur fuel oil. That is expected to fall to about 1.3 million bpd in January, according to Wood Mackenzie, as most ships will switch to alternatives including VLSFO and marine gas oil.
About 15 per cent of ships will have added “scrubbers” by then to capture sulphur from their smokestacks and allow them to continue to burn high-sulphur crude.
Full compliance is not expected on Jan. 1. Some ships will be allowed to continue to burn high-sulphur fuel by citing safety concerns about switching to new fuel blends or because their scrubbers haven’t arrived yet.
Refiners are expected to be able to deliver about 1.4 million bpd of VLSFO in 2020, while demand for marine gas oil, a refined product similar to diesel, is expected to jump to about one million bpd in 2020 and gradually grow to about 2.4 million bpd.
The new fuel standard could eventually boost demand for liquefied natural gas, with Wood Mackenzie forecasting 22 million tonnes per year of LNG demand from shipping by 2030.
The high cost of switching to LNG means it will likely only be installed on new ships, said Gelder.
Not everyone is satisfied with the higher standards under IMO 2020.
Environmental groups including Stand.earth have called on the cruise and shipping industries to ban the use of scrubbers as they allow the continued burning of high-sulphur fuels.
They also call LNG a “false solution” that won’t help the industry reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
Kamloops ranch that refused vaccinated guest but kept their deposit now says they'll issue $3.2K refund – CBC.ca
A ranch owner in Kamloops, B.C., has been criticized by the province’s solicitor general for refusing to accept a vaccinated international traveller.
The Equinisity Ranch in Kamloops, in the province’s central Interior, is run by owner Liz Mitten Ryan. She told CBC News she catered almost exclusively to international travellers, including from England, Switzerland and Australia.
In a report in The Guardian, published Thursday, a prospective traveller called J.W. York said they had booked a $3,200 retreat (£2,000) with Ryan in May 2020, but the trip was put off due to lockdowns and other pandemic restrictions.
According to York, they were told recently they were not welcome at Equinisity anymore because they were fully vaccinated against COVID — and they would not be receiving a refund due to ranch policy.
Ryan confirmed that the ranch had a “no vax” policy for patrons, even though international travellers have to be fully vaccinated to enter Canada. The Guardian article quoted her as saying that vaccines were a “bioweapon depopulation tool” that could transfer to animals.
The entire episode was called “outrageous” by B.C. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.
“I have asked my ministry, the consumer protection branch, to look into this,” he told CBC News.
“This is just wrong. Like, you want to subscribe to a wack job conspiracy theory. That’s your business. But you don’t rip people off like this. It’s unethical.”
Refunds will happen, says owner’s husband
In a statement, Kevin Ryan — Liz Ryan’s husband — said the ranch would eventually send refunds to customers.
“For personal reasons for this summer, [Liz] has implemented a policy of non-vaccinated guests only,” the statement read. “Not, I stress, realizing any regulations were being broken.
“Due to the current public interest in this situation, and the subsequent informed discussions, she now realizes that it is appropriate the deposit, in this case, needs to be returned to comply with said regulation.”
Ryan told CBC News all deposits “of a similar status” would be returned by the end of the month.
On its website, Equinisity says it provides “a unique journey” for patrons to find “true healing” through meditation, horse riding and other activities. Ryan says his wife had been running the establishment for over 15 years.
Their pricing guide shows that individual patrons can expect to pay $2,800 for an eight-day retreat, while couples can expect to pay $2,400 each.
Before her husband’s statement about refunds, Liz Ryan had suggested that any vaccinated traveller sell their booking. She also said her ranch had been shut down for two years, the longest such span of her career, due to border restrictions.
Farnworth told CBC News that Equinisity’s stance against vaccinated travellers would give international travellers a bad impression of the province.
“It sends a terrible message in terms of tourism here in British Columbia and Canada,” he said. “Because, let’s face it, this person that took this trip is now going to tell their friend … ‘Why would you want to come here?'”
Farnworth said his staff would be investigating if the ranch had received any COVID relief funding, and that the ranch would not be eligible in any case, given the requirements placed on vaccinated travellers.
“I don’t think it’s particularly good business practice,” he said.
How Canada’s new NOC will affect Express Entry eligibility – Canada Immigration News
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) currently uses NOC 2016 to determine the eligibility of occupations under its temporary and permanent residency programs. However, IRCC must switch to NOC 2021 starting in November as per Canadian law.
The NOC is managed by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and Statistics Canada, which revise the system every 10 years. NOC 2021 will introduce new terminology and a revised classification structure that will affect IRCC programs.
As a result of these changes, the following 16 occupations will become eligible under Express Entry:
- Payroll administrators;
- Dental assistants and dental laboratory assistants;
- Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates;
- Pharmacy technical assistants and pharmacy assistants;
- Elementary and secondary school teacher assistants;
- Sheriffs and bailiffs;
- Correctional service officers;
- By-law enforcement and other regulatory officers;
- Estheticians, electrologists and related occupations;
- Residential and commercial installers and servicers;
- Pest controllers and fumigators;
- Other repairers and servicers;
- Transport truck drivers;
- Bus drivers, subway operators and other transit operators;
- Heavy equipment operators; and
- Aircraft assemblers and aircraft assembly inspectors.
There will also be three occupations that will become ineligible, including:
- other performers;
- program leaders and instructors in recreation, sport and fitness; and
- tailors, dressmakers, furriers and milliners.
These three occupations will remain eligible for programs with broader occupational eligibility criteria, such as some streams of the Provincial Nominee Program.
The major change to NOC 2021 is the current four-category “skill level” structure has been overhauled and replaced by a new six-category system. The new system outlines the level of Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities (TEER) required to enter each occupation.
The previous NOC had four skill levels. NOC A represented jobs that tend to require university degrees, NOC B included jobs in the skilled trades or that require a college diploma, NOC C covered jobs that require intermediate skills or job-specific training, and NOC D was for labour jobs that require on-the-job training.
In September 2020, IRCC’s Executive Committee decided that the new TEER structure will be adopted as follows:
|NOC 2016||NOC 2021|
|Skill Type 0||TEER 0|
|Skill Level A||TEER 1|
|Skill Level B||TEER 2|
|Skill Level B||TEER 3|
|Skill Level C||TEER 4|
|Skill Level D||TEER 5|
NOC 2021 will use a five-tier hierarchical system to classify occupations. Also, occupations will now have a five-digit codification system instead of the current four-digit system. The TEER system has six categories, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.
Statistics Canada explains there are two main reasons why the skill type model is being replaced by the TEER system. First, the TEER system aims to provide more clarity on the level of education and work experience required to work in an occupation. Second, the skill type model creates artificial categorizations between low- and high-skilled jobs. Implementing TEER is intended to give stakeholders a better sense of the skills required for each occupation.
This Statistics Canada tool allows you to see how your current NOC corresponds with NOC 2021.
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More Canadians could face late-stage cancer tied to diagnosis delays during COVID pandemic – CBC News
It all started with a stomach bug.
That’s what Cheryl-Anne Labrador-Summers thought, anyway. It was October 2020, not long after she’d moved to the tranquil lakeside Ontario community of Georgina, and instead of relaxing with her family like she’d planned, the mother of three was struggling to figure out why she kept experiencing strange, unexplained stomach cramps.
Labrador-Summers tried to visit her family physician, but the office was shuttered because of the COVID-19 pandemic. So she searched for another clinic — only to be offered a phone appointment rather than an in-person assessment. She wound up being told that her grumbling digestive system was likely caused by a mild gastrointestinal illness.
By January, the 58-year-old had a distended stomach, looking — in her own words — “about nine months pregnant.” Again, she reached out to a physician, went for some tests, then headed to the nearest emergency department.
After finally seeing a doctor face to face for the first time in months, she learned the real cause of her discomfort: an intestinal blockage caused by cancer.
“It ended up being a nine-centimetre tumour, and it had completely blocked off my lower bowel,” she said.
An emergency surgery left Labrador-Summers with 55 staples along her torso and a months-long recovery before she could begin oral chemotherapy. Her question now is unanswerable but painful to consider: Could that ordeal have been prevented, or at least minimized, by an earlier diagnosis?
“Had I maybe been able to see the doctors earlier, I would not be in Stage 3,” she said. “I might have been a Stage 2.”
951,000 fewer cancer screenings in Ontario
More Canadians could experience late-stage cancer diagnoses in the years ahead, medical experts warn, forecasting a looming crisis tied to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We expect to see more advanced stages of presentation over the next couple of years, as well as impacts on cancer treatments,” said oncologist Dr. Timothy Hanna, a clinician scientist at the Cancer Research Institute at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.
“We know that time is of the essence for people with cancer. And when people are waiting for a diagnosis or for treatment, this has been associated with increased risks of advanced stage and worse survival.”
One review of Ontario’s breast, lung, colon, and cervical cancer screening programs showed that in 2020 there were 41 per cent — or more than 951,000 — fewer screening tests conducted compared with the year before.
Screening volumes rebounded after May 2020, but were still 20 per cent lower compared to pre-pandemic levels.
WATCH | Late-stage cancer being diagnosed in Canadian ERs:
That drop in screenings translates into fewer invasive cancer diagnoses, including roughly 1,400 to 1,500 fewer breast cancers, wrote Dr. Anna N. Wilkinson, an assistant professor in the department of family medicine at the University of Ottawa, in a May commentary piece for the journal Canadian Family Physician.
“The impact of COVID-19 on cancer is far-reaching: screening backlogs, delayed workup of symptomatic patients and abnormal screening results, and delays in cancer treatment and research, all exacerbated by patient apprehension to be seen in person,” she wrote.
“It is clear that there is not only a lost cohort of screened patients but also a subset of missed cancer diagnoses due to delays in patient presentation and assessment,” leading to those cancers being diagnosed at a more advanced stage.
Tough accessing care in a ‘timely way’
The slowdown in colonoscopies may already be leading to more serious cases of colorectal cancer in Ontario, for instance, suggests a paper published in the Journal of the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology.
“Patients who were treated after the COVID-19 pandemic began were significantly more likely to present emergently to hospital. This means that they were more likely to present with bowel perforation, or severe bowel obstruction, requiring immediate life-saving surgery,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Catherine Forse, in a call with CBC News.
“In addition, we found that patients were more likely to have large tumours.”
In some cases — like Labrador-Summers’s situation — Canadians learned alarming news about their health in hospital emergency departments after struggling to receive in-patient care through other avenues.
Shuttered family physician offices, a shift to telemedicine, and some patients’ fears surrounding COVID-19 may all have played a role.
“It became harder for patients to access care and to access it in a timely way,” Hanna said.
“At the same time, there were real risks — and there are real risks for leaving home to go anywhere, particularly to go to an outpatient clinic or a hospital in order to get checked out.”
Dr. Lisa Salamon, an emergency physician with the Scarborough Health Network in Toronto, said she’s now diagnosing more patients with serious cancers, including several just in the last few months.
“So previously, it may have been localized or something small, but now we’re actually seeing metastatic cancer that we’re diagnosing,” she explained.
Lessons for future pandemics
Health policy expert Laura Greer is dealing with Stage four, metastatic breast cancer herself after waiting more than five months for a routine mammogram she was initially due for in the spring of 2021 — a precautionary measure given that her mother had breast cancer as well.
Unlike an early-stage diagnosis, Greer’s cancer is only treatable, not curable.
“It was an example of what happens when you don’t have the regular screening, or those wellness visits,” said the Toronto resident and mother of two.
“I most likely would have had earlier-stage cancer if it had been sooner.”
Pausing access to care and screenings for other health conditions can have dire impacts on patients, according to Greer, offering lessons for how policy-makers tackle future pandemics.
“We need to make sure that we’ve got enough capacity in our health system to be able to flex, and that’s what we really didn’t have going into this,” she said.
For Labrador-Summers, it’s hard to forget the moment her life changed while she was alone in an emergency department, learning a terrifying diagnosis from a physician she’d just met. Her mind raced with questions about the future and concerns for her family.
“My older son had just told us they were expecting a child, and I just wanted to be there for them. And I didn’t know what next steps were. And we had lost my mom to cancer a few years back — to us, cancer was always terminal,” she recalled.
“So again, I’m alone, trying to process all of this.”
A screening following Labrador-Summers’ surgery and chemotherapy treatment wound up finding more cancer.
“It’s now life-threatening,” she said.
Kamloops ranch that refused vaccinated guest but kept their deposit now says they'll issue $3.2K refund – CBC.ca
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