Do you know where your food comes from?
The federal government is getting ready to roll out a five-year, multimillion-dollar ad campaign this summer in the hope that teaching the public how Canadian farms operate and what their standards are will get more people to “buy Canadian.”
According to a contract notice posted on Monday morning, Agriculture Canada is looking for a marketing firm to help it launch a “social marketing campaign to better connect Canadians with, and instil pride in, Canada’s food system and its agriculture, food and seafood products.”
The official name for that project is the “Buy Canadian Promotion Campaign,” and it comes amid a major shift in consumer eating habits towards plant-based proteins and questions about the environmental impacts of industrialized global farming.
Over the course of the campaign, the government plans to spend between $1.5 million and $4 million each year to do things like refresh the branding of Agriculture Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and find ways to put Product of Canada stickers on more Canadian food items.
It’ll also put the focus on creating campaigns that can tug at the heartstrings.
“The campaign should tell the story of Canada’s agri-food sector and reach audiences on an emotional level in order to instil pride and confidence in the country’s food systems,” the notice of the contract states under a section outlining the goals of the project.
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The campaign will specifically target women, seniors and Indigenous people, among other demographic groups, in a wide-ranging “digital-first” push that’ll include promoting Canadian farmers and farm practices on social media and through “activities with media outlets.”
The campaign comes after the Liberals promised last year to give Agriculture Canada roughly $25 million to come up with a national plan to “better connect Canadians with” their food and after consultations in which the agricultural industry apparently expressed concerns about a lack of awareness about how it operates.
“Research has found that Canadians are becoming increasingly disconnected from how food is produced,” the statement of work says.
“Canadians are faced with making increasingly complex decisions about their food purchases with social, health, environmental and/or economic influences and factors coupled with an increasing number of global offerings that have varying claims and attributes.
“Industry expressed concern regarding a disconnect with Canadians that often result in demands being placed on the sector to adapt practices in ways that do not optimally achieve desired results and that can actually have adverse impacts.”
It did not explain what those demands are from consumers or what the agricultural industry feels are the “adverse impacts” of those demands.
But a 2018 survey by researchers at Dalhousie University found more than half of Canadians want to eat less meat amid concerns about their health and the environmental impact of farming as well as concerns about animal welfare.
It’s not the first time efforts to “buy Canadian” have made headlines in recent years.
After U.S. President Donald Trump imposed steep tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminium in 2018, many Canadians took to social media to proclaim their pledge not to buy American products until the tariffs were removed.
That boycott led to how-to guides on stocking up on Canadian products at grocery stores and malls.
However, that also raised questions among trade experts about whether such campaigns could have unintended consequences, particularly when it comes to decisions about processed products rather than fresh produce, which can be more easily identifiable as a local product.
One of the examples cited as potentially complicated was ketchup: specifically, if a consumer boycotted Heinz and French’s (both American companies) in favour of President’s Choice, a Canadian company, but ignored the fact that French’s also has a plant in Ontario that employs Canadian workers.
Those tariffs were finally removed in May 2019.
But it remains to be seen how the upcoming campaign will address some of the challenges raised from the boycotts around industrialized food supply chains as well as the shifting eating habits of Canadian consumers.
Public opinion research will start this spring, with the campaign set to launch this summer.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Canadians in China frustrated with government's lack of communication – CTV News
Many Canadians in China are unhappy with the government’s lack of communication with its citizens as the coronavirus death toll rises to 132 and more than 6,000 others are infected in China and abroad.
In a WeChat group for Canadian expatriates, users expressed frustration on Wednesday at being unable to reach the embassy or consulate in recent days, particularly as other countries began evacuations of its citizens.
“I just feel that the government has left the Canadians that are not only in China but Hubei out to dry. No words from the consulates or the embassy,” Terry Collinge, a long time ESL teacher in Wuhan, told CTV News. He said because of the Lunar New Year holiday, there has been no response from consulates over the past several days.
Jan. 27 and 28 are listed as statutory holidays for the Canadian Embassy and consulates in China.
“I hear what the French, British, Americans and even the Japanese are doing for their citizens and still nothing from Canada,” Collinge added. “I just feel that our government is failing us in this matter.”
Canadians outside of Canada are not tracked by the government, and are asked to voluntarily make their location known through the Registration of Canadians Abroad service.
“I’ve registered 3 days ago. Still nothing,” Isabelle Mathieu told the by-invitation-only WeChat group. “That’s all I got,” she wrote, posting to the group a “thank you for registering” form letter she received.
Mathieu, who is from Saint-Georges de Beauce near Quebec City, has been in China since the end of November. She resides in Chongqing, a stand-alone municipality of more than 30 million people just west of Hubei province.
“Even if I wanted to leave I can’t. The visa centre (has) my passport for the residence permit application.”
One user shared an email she received on Jan. 25, which advised Canadians to avoid non-essential travel to the province of Hubei. “I haven’t heard from them ever since,” she said.
“Canada has to get with it. This is downright shameful,” another user posted.
A Canadian based in Sichuan province tried to connect with the Chongqing consulate during the chat Wednesday and gave up when he could not get through, he said. When he called again later, the number went directly to an “emergency helpline” where he was able to connect with someone. When he asked specifically about repatriation flights, he was told that “they are looking at all options” and that it would be “communicated in the next couple of days.”
Patterson Wu, who arrived in Wuhan on Jan. 13, told CTV News he called the embassy in Beijing on Jan. 27 to ask which hospital he should go to if he developed symptoms. He was transferred to the Shanghai consulate, which directed him to an online post in Chinese that listed contact information for hospitals in Wuhan. But Wu said hospitals typically require Chinese identification cards and the consulate could not tell him whether the hospitals would take patients without them. Hospitals require passports for those who do not have Chinese identity cards.
“Then I asked about (evacuation) and they said there were no plans. I also tried the 24/7 emergency line posted but they were not able to give any advice outside of following local authorities,” Wu said.
On Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne had confirmed that 126 Canadians were seeking the government’s help to leave the country – about half of the 250 Canadians in Hubei province who self-registered.
But on the ground in China, Canadians felt disconnected.
“I am just complaining about their unprofessional lack of communication with us. They have never even made an attempt to form a sense of community with us (unlike other embassies),” said the group’s admin, who did not wish to be named. Her passport is also at a visa centre.
The Costa Rican embassy stays connected to its citizens in China via a WeChat Group and the Colombian government created a support group for its citizens as well, she noted as an example.
“South Africa has contacted their citizens in Wuhan, according to my (South African) friend in Wuhan. Even Iraq has done something.” She said this was one of their biggest complaints and why they started their own Canadians in China WeChat groups. This group has more than 60 members.
“In short, I think we all want to feel like if sh*t hits the fan the Canadian government is on top of it for us,” said Samantha, a Canadian in Chongqing, who did not wish to use her last name. “Right now it seems they are dilly-dallying…on really addressing the issue for their citizens, especially those in Hubei.”
For some, however, the embassy’s response does not come as a surprise. Anna-Simone Sorial, who is currently in Hainan, China, was in Africa five years ago and tried to seek assistance from the Canadian embassy during an emergency, but was unable to get help. “It’s not the first time that the Canadian Embassy has failed its Canadians when they leave Canada,” she said.
Some users also noted the lack of updates, aside from the travel advisory warning, on the various government websites such as Global Affairsand Canada in China. The embassy website asks visitors to “connect with us on Twitter”, but Twitter is blocked in China and inaccessible without a VPN (Virtual Private Network) connection.
“It’d just be nice to have an official update online,” one Canadian wrote.
And many in the chat group are not necessarily looking to evacuate, but simply expect better communication between the government and its citizens.
“Personally I am planning on staying as long as I can. But would still like to hear from them,” said Collinge, who is originally from Sudbury.
Others, like Kai Wood, an international AP high school foreign language teacher and editor in Chongqing, have lived in China for years.
“It’s tough for me. My wife is Chinese from Chongqing, her whole family is here. She doesn’t want to go, so if I left I go alone. I would prefer to stay if I can, I’ve made my life here,” said Wood.
Air Canada, other airlines suspend flights to China over coronavirus fears – Global News
Air Canada and British Airways are among a slew of airlines suspending flights to China as fears spread about the outbreak of a new virus that has killed more than 130 people.
Several other airlines including Finnair, Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific and Singapore-based Jetstar Asia are reducing the number of flights to the country as demand for travel drops because of the outbreak.
British Airways said Wednesday it is immediately suspending all flights to and from mainland China after the U.K. government warned against unnecessary travel to the country amid a virus outbreak.
The airline operates daily flights from London’s Heathrow Airport to Shanghai and Beijing. It took the measure a day after Britain’s Foreign Office updated its travel advice on China, warning against “all but essential travel” to the mainland, not including Hong Kong and Macao.
Air Canada said it was cancelling select flights to China to “better match capacity with expected demand.” Currently, the carrier operates 33 flights a week to China.
“The resulting capacity reduction is relatively small,” a spokesperson told Global News. “Those customers who are affected will be notified and provided with alternate travel options. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and will adjust accordingly.”
Air Seoul, a budget airline, became the first South Korean airline to suspend its fights to mainland Chinese destinations that wasn’t Wuhan, stopping its flights to the cities of Zhangjiajie and Linyi.
Lion Air said it has cancelled more than 50 flights to China well into February. The flights are from five international airports in Denpasar, Manado, Surabaya, Jakarta and Batam to 15 airports in China.
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Lion Group spokesman Danang Mandala Prihantor said the suspension would be phased in gradually and would continue until further notice.
China has cut off access to Wuhan and 16 other cities to prevent people from leaving and spreading the virus further. The outbreak has infected more than 6,000 on the mainland and abroad.
Hong Kong airlines are cutting the number of their flights to the mainland by about half through the end of March in response to government virus-control efforts.
Cathay Pacific Group said flights to 24 mainland destinations would be reduced to 240 weekly. The company owns Cathay Pacific Airways, Hong Kong Airlines, Cathay Dragon and Hong Kong Express.
Helsinki, Finland-based Finnair, which has actively promoted its position linking Asian and Western destinations, said it was cancelling three weekly flights to Beijing Daxing International Airport through late March, as well as its twice-weekly flights to Nanjing. It will continue operating flights to four other mainland Chinese destinations, including Beijing Capital Airport.
Jetstar Asia said it will temporarily suspend flights to the Chinese cities of Hefei, Guiyang and Xuzhou starting Thursday through the end of March due to a drop in demand.
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South Korea’s second-largest carrier, Asiana Airlines, said it will temporarily suspend flights to the Chinese cities of Guilin, Changsha and Haikou starting next month.
Korean Air, South Korea’s biggest airline, said it is also considering grounding some of its flights to mainland China as passenger demand drops. Korean Air had operated four flights a week to the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, before suspending them on Jan. 23.
Taiwan’s Eva Air announced a partial cancellation of flights to and from mainland China for two weeks starting Feb. 2. In addition, the airline also has stopped providing towels, magazines, table clothes, and is limiting blanket and pillow in flight.
— With files from Global News
© 2020 The Canadian Press
Canada cuts consular staff in China amid coronavirus outbreak – CBC.ca
Canada is reducing its consular staff in China due to the coronavirus outbreak, as some citizens stuck in the affected region say they are frustrated by the lack of help from the federal government.
Global Affairs Canada announced the reduced staffing at its diplomatic missions in China on Twitter and on the Beijing embassy’s social media pages in Chinese on Wednesday. Canadians who need emergency consular assistance are being told to contact the emergency watch and response centre in Ottawa.
There have now been more than 6,000 cases of the novel coronavirus reported globally — the vast majority of them in China — and 132 related deaths.
Some Canadians trapped in Wuhan, China, due to strict travel restrictions say they’re safe but feeling abandoned by their consular officials.
Consular offices were closed Saturday through Tuesday due to the Chinese New Year.
Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government is looking at ways to help Canadians stuck in China.
“We are working very closely with our consular officials in China. We’re listening and concerned about the Canadians who are right now in the affected zone,” he said.
“We will look at what we can do. There are many countries looking at different ways to help out. It is a complex situation, but we’re doing everything we can to support Canadians.”
All visa application centres in mainland China are temporarily closed, and consular office will be providing only basic services such as passport renewals and emergency services such as medical assistance, emergency benefits and missing persons.
As of January 29, 🇨🇦 diplomatic missions in 🇨🇳 are working with reduced staff due to the <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/coronavirus?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#coronavirus</a>. Canadians in need of emergency consular assistance should call the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613 996 8885 or email email@example.com. <a href=”https://t.co/RkPFbvZbNF”>pic.twitter.com/RkPFbvZbNF</a>
According to the embassy’s post, the immigration service will continue to provide services and prioritize the processing of travel documents for customers and permanent residents “who need to travel urgently to Canada for humanitarian and compassionate reasons.”
Global Affairs Canada’s emergency response centre can be reached by phone at 613-996-8885 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The government has launched a website dedicated to the coronavirus and set up an information hotline.
This afternoon, the House of Commons health committee will begin hearings on the government’s response to the outbreak. Scheduled to appear today are Stephen Lucas, the deputy health minister, Public Health Agency of Canada president Tina Namiesniowski and Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam.
Several countries have started repatriating their citizens from the affected region in China.
A Japanese flight carrying 206 evacuees home included four people with coughs and fevers. The three men and one woman were taken to a Tokyo hospital on separate ambulances for treatment and further medical checks.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu has stressed that the risk to Canadians remains low, but said any consular assistance to Canadians in China will be provided in a way that protects the health and safety of Canadians abroad and at home.
Today, she said she is working with Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne to develop a plan to assist Canadians.
“I’ve actually also had my counterparts work with the U.S. officials that are working on their repatriation, and we’ll have more to say about that this afternoon,” she said.
On Tuesday, Champagne said the government will provide consular services to all Canadians trapped in the coronavirus-affected region of China due to commercial travel restrictions.
He said the government would provide a “tailored response” based on the needs of the Canadians in the area — but did not say if an aircraft would be dispatched to repatriate people from the Wuhan area.
“We’re looking at all options to assist them,” he said.
Champagne said that 250 Canadians in the affected area have now registered with Global Affairs, and 126 have requested consular assistance to get home.
“We are in contact with them. We’re trying to contact everyone, assess their specific need for assisted repatriation,” he said.
“We’re at the same time consulting with our allies and looking at the different options that people are considering, also in contact with the Chinese authorities.”
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