Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil has sided against a pulp mill’s plea for a lifeline in a move that has bitterly split his province, earning praise from environmental, fisheries and Indigenous groups, but angering many in the province’s forestry sector.
The Northern Pulp mill in Pictou had been asking for an extension on a provincially imposed deadline to stop dumping contaminated wastewater in Boat Harbour, next to the Pictou Landing First Nation, in what many have called one of the province’s worst examples of pollution linked to racism.
As a result, the mill – one of the largest operators in the province – is now set to close at the end of January. The company’s owners say that will mean the elimination of 300 jobs at the mill and an estimated 2,400 more in the forestry sector.
Mr. McNeill, who also pledged $50-million to help affected forestry workers make that transition to new jobs, said his hand was forced by a company that appeared to be unwilling to modernize the mill’s effluent-treatment facility. Concerns about the mill’s wastewater, contaminated with toxic heavy metals, were first raised in the 1960s.
The Premier told the company in 2015 that it had five years to fix the problem. The mill’s owners have showed that they did not take that deadline seriously, he said.
“The company has had five years and any number of opportunities to get out of Boat Harbour, and at this point, we’re nowhere close to that,” the Premier said Friday. “Northern Pulp has had a number of chances to get this right. And yet, here we are.”
The decision was applauded by the Pictou Landing First Nation, which for years has been calling for an end to the mill’s effluent dumping into Boat Harbour, a heavily polluted lagoon that is adjacent to the reserve. First Nation leaders say the pollution in Boat Harbour – historically used for fishing, clam digging and hunting – was causing chronic illness and compromised their access to traditional food sources.
“Premier Stephen McNeil had a very difficult decision to make today, a decision that will affect many people in our region, but I feel he made the correct decision,“ Pictou Landing Chief Andrea Paul said. “I am grateful that he has decided to put an end to the pollution and providing an opportunity for us to heal.”
“Cleaning up Boat Harbour is all my people have ever wanted and Premier Stephen McNeil kept his promise and, on behalf of my community, we are thankful.”
However, not everyone was celebrating the Premier’s announcement. Those in the province’s forestry sector said it was a dark day that would hurt family-run sawmills, kill thousands of jobs and scare off investment in Nova Scotia.
“We’re very disappointed,” said Jeff Bishop, executive director of Forest Nova Scotia, an industry association. “This is a decision that will be felt across the province, from one end to the other, but most predominantly in rural Nova Scotia, where people are already suffering. It’s yet another blow to one of the few remaining areas where people can work in rural communities.”
The $50-million for laid-off forestry workers pledged by the Premier is a “drop in the bucket” compared with the $20-billion in economic activity the sector brings to Nova Scotia, Mr. Bishop said. Northern Pulp bought woodchips from nearly every sawmill in the province, so there are few in the industry who will not be affected, he said.
Environmental groups, meanwhile, said Northern Pulp had multiple chances to deal with the effluent issue in a way that met government requirements.
“Premier McNeil made a courageous decision,” said James Gunvaldsen Klaassen of Ecojustice. “He did the right thing for Pictou Landing First Nation, for the vulnerable environment of the Northumberland Strait and those who make their living from it.”
Jill Graham-Scanlan, president of Friends of the Northumberland Strait, said the Premier was correcting an “injustice” that had dragged on against the people of Pictou Landing First Nation for five decades, and said the job losses lie at the feet of Northern Pulp’s owners.
“While we rejoice at this decision, our sympathy is with those who face job loss and unknown changes in their industry,” she said.
A spokesperson for the federal Employment Ministry said that the government has already reached out to the province to offer assistance to displaced workers.
”We know that today’s decision by the Government of Nova Scotia and the closure of this mill will have a very real impact on workers in Nova Scotia and the Atlantic region, especially during this holiday season – and we are thinking of them and their families at this difficult time,” Ashley Michnowski said.
Pakistan deeply appreciates US announcing it will send 3 million Moderna doses through COVAX: FO – Geo News
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Friday Jul 23, 2021
The government on Friday said it “deeply appreciates” the United States’ announcement that it is sending three million doses of the Moderna vaccine to Pakistan through the United Nations’ COVAX vaccine-sharing programme.
“The government and the people of Pakistan deeply appreciate the announcement by the White House to ship three million doses of Moderna vaccine to Pakistan through COVAX,” read a statement by the Foreign Office.
Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri, Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, added: “These vaccines will give a boost to the ongoing vaccination drive in Pakistan.”
“This considerate gesture is part of the continued assistance that the US has provided to Pakistan to support our COVID relief and prevention efforts,” he said.
“We look forward to our continued cooperation with the US in our fight against the pandemic,” the statement added.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki had announced last month that the Biden administration is donating 80 million surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to the world by the end of June.
“Thanks to the President’s commitment to playing a leading role in ending the pandemic everywhere, 2 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine will begin to ship to Peru from the United States, and 2.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine will ship to Pakistan,” Psaki said.
The shipment of 2.5 million doses landed in Pakistan on July 2, making it the first time the Moderna vaccine had arrived in the country.
Subsequently, the government had announced the availability of the Moderna vaccine at select vaccination centres across the country, starting July 5.
Criteria to qualify for the Moderna vaccine
The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has outlined the criteria that must be met by the recipient of the Moderna vaccine.
The vaccine will be administered to the following categories, provided they are 18 years of age or older and have NOT received any other currently available COVID-19 vaccines.
A. Those with comorbid conditions, e.g diabetes, hypertension, congestive cardiac failure, renal failure, chronic liver disease, malignancy, etc.
– Those who are chronically immunosuppressed
1. Post organ transplantation, the patient may receive the vaccine 3 months after
2. Post chemotherapy, the patient may receive the vaccine 28 days after chemotherapy.
B. Individuals with a mandatory requirement of vaccination for travel
– Overseas workers who have a mandatory need for travel for employment overseas with valid work visas/iqama in a country where Chinese vaccines are not accepted at present
– Those travelling for official or business purposes
Women who are pregnant and lactating, falling under the above-listed categories CAN receive the Moderna vaccine.
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Ontario reports slight increase in new COVID-19 cases, per cent positivity rate rises – CTV Toronto
Ontario is reporting a slight increase in new COVID-19 cases on Sunday as the province’s per cent positivity rate rises.
Officials are reporting 172 new cases of COVID-19 today with two additional deaths.
The province reported 170 new cases on Saturday and 192 on Friday.
The seven-day rolling average remains at 159, compared to 153 a week ago.
Provincial labs processed more than 13,902 test specimens, generating a positivity rate of at least 1.1 per cent, according to the Ministry of Health.
The province’s virus-related death toll stands at 9,313.
Another 144 people recovered from the disease yesterday, resulting in 1,450 active cases across the province.
Right now, there are 88 people in hospital current infected with COVID-19 and 127 patients being treated in intensive care, according to the Ministry of Health.
The hospitalization data presented by the province has been skewed over the past several weeks, which may be explained by a delay in patient reporting.
Where are the new cases?
Officials are reporting 48 new cases in Toronto, 23 in Peel Region, 11 in Durham Region and 11 in Hamilton.
Update on COVID-19 variants of concern
The Ministry of Health is reporting 131 new cases of the Alpha variant Sunday, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 145,386.
Officials reported 16 new cases of Delta variant, B.1.617.2, Sunday and the case total is now 3,913.
Three cases of the Beta variant, B.1.351, were also recorded. So far, there have been a total of 1,492 cases of the Beta variant reported in Ontario.
As for the Gamma variant, P.1, two new cases were recorded today. The total number of Gamma variants recorded in Ontario is now 5,142.
The province said it administered 103,812 doses of COVID-19 vaccines Saturday.
Throughout Ontario’s seven-month vaccination campaign, over 18.9 million needles have gone into arms.
As of Sunday, 8,569,752 people have received both doses and are considered to be fully vaccinated.
The numbers used in this story are found in the Ontario Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any city or region may differ slightly from what is reported by the province, because local units report figures at different times.
Rio Tinto smelter workers go on strike in Kitimat, B.C. – Business News – Castanet.net
Approximately 900 Rio Tinto workers at the company’s aluminum smelting facilities in Kitimat, B.C. have gone on strike.
The walkout began today at one minute after midnight. Unifor Local 2301, which represents the workers, had issued a 72-hour strike notice after nearly seven weeks of negotiations.
Jerry Dias, Unifor’s National President, says the strike comes down to what he calls “Rio Tinto’s greed and lack of respect” for the union members working at the Kitimat smelting facilities.
The union says it has proposed the first changes to workers’ retirement income and benefit levels in more than a decade, including moving younger workers to defined benefit from defined contribution pension plans.
It also says negotiations have focused on a backlog of more than 300 grievances resulting from the company’s use of contractors and its refusal to hire full-time workers.
Bargaining had continued up until the strike deadline, and the company had earlier said that it was “committed to working with the union to reach a mutually beneficial outcome.”
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