Health Canada is proposing to ban advertising of vaping products in spaces where young people can see them in a bid to rein in the rise of underage e-cigarette use.
Minister Patty Hajdu put forward new rules Thursday that would prohibit vaping promotion in specialty shops, businesses and online platforms frequented by youth.
Hajdu also announced requirements that vaping packages feature health warnings and be child-resistant, as well as plans to place limits on nicotine content in vaping liquids to reduce the risk of accidental child poisoning.
“The new measures announced today will help, but there is more to do,” Hajdu said in a statement. “We are working on further steps to protect youth and our message remains clear: vaping comes with serious risks.”
Ottawa has been holding consultations this year on measures to restrict advertising for e-cigarettes in the face of growing evidence that vaping has taken off among teens.
According to the 2018-2019 Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey, the number of high school students who reported vaping in the past month doubled to 20 per cent since 2016-2017.
A spokesperson for Juul Labs Canada said the e-cigarette maker is reviewing the proposed regulations.
Rob Cunningham, a senior policy analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society, praised the government’s plan as a strong start, but said “comprehensive action” is still needed, such as restricting flavours and implementing a tax.
“Right now, youth are being exposed to e-cigarette advertising in social media, on billboards, on television, and many other places, and that’s going to end with these regulations,” he said.
However, Cunningham urged federal lawmakers to also follow their provincial counterparts in clamping down on the availability of vaping products.
“We have made such progress to reduce youth smoking, but now we’re seeing a whole new generation of kids becoming addicted to nicotine through e-cigarettes. That simply shouldn’t be happening,” he said.
Earlier this month, Nova Scotia’s health minister announced the province will be the first to ban sales of flavoured e-cigarettes and juices, and Ontario is considering a similar move.
Prince Edward Island, British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador have also adopted new vaping restrictions in recent months.
The P.E.I. government passed legislation last month that raised the legal age to buy tobacco and e-cigarettes from 19 to 21, setting the highest age limit in the country.
In British Columbia, a 10-point plan is aimed at protecting youth from the health risks of vaping, including legislation that caps the nicotine concentration in e-liquids and hiking the provincial sales tax on such products from seven per cent to 20 per cent.
Cunningham said the issue has taken on new urgency due to mounting concern about the links between vaping and respiratory disease.
In the United States, 47 deaths have been attributed to vaping, and 2,000 cases of severe lung disease have been reported. Thirteen cases of vaping-associated lung illness had been reported in Canada as of Dec. 3. So far there have been no deaths.
Rogers, Shaw formalize planned Freedom sale to Quebecor – BNN Bloomberg
Rogers Communications Inc., Shaw Communications Inc. and Quebecor Inc. announced Friday they reached a definitive agreement for the previously-announced proposed sale of Shaw’s Freedom Mobile wireless business.
The three companies said that the terms of the definitive pact are “substantially consistent” with their original announcement on June 17, when they said Montreal-based Quebecor agreed to pay $2.85 billion to purchase Freedom. Originally, July 15 was the target to reach the definitive agreement.
“We are very pleased with this agreement, and we are determined to continue building on Freedom’s assets,” said Quebecor president and chief executive officer Pierre Karl Péladeau in a release Friday. “Quebecor has shown that it is the best player to create real competition and disrupt the market.”
The transaction is conditional on Rogers receiving final regulatory approvals for its planned $20-billion takeover of Shaw, which was announced in March 2021.
The road to regulatory approval has become more treacherous for Rogers after Competition Commissioner Matthew Boswell stated his objections to the plan, warning it would diminish competition in the telecom market, notwithstanding Rogers’ long-stated intent to divest Freedom Mobile.
Rogers’ legal counsel has argued vociferously against Boswell’s claims, saying in a June 3 filing with the Competition Tribunal that Boswell’s stance “is unreasonable, contrary to both the economic and fact evidence presented to the Bureau, and not supportable at law.”
The Competition Tribunal is currently scheduled to begin a hearing on the matter Nov. 7.
Rogers also has to clear another regulatory hurdle: its planned acquisition of Shaw requires approval from Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne, who has previously said he won’t allow the wholesale transfer of Shaw’s wireless assets to Rogers.
The process became more complicated for Rogers after a national network outage knocked out service to its customers in early July.
Champagne subsequently said the outage would “certainly be in [his] mind” when weighing the merit of the Shaw sale.
For its part, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Communications announced its conditional approval of the transaction in March.
Shaw investors have consistently demonstrated skepticism that the deal will go ahead as planned, as evidenced by its shares never once attaining the $40.50-per-share takeover offer from Rogers since the takeover was announced last year.
Power has been restored after downtown Toronto outage, Hydro One says – The Globe and Mail
Hydro One said power has been restored in Toronto after an outage in the city’s downtown core on Thursday that lasted nearly eight hours and affected about 10,000 customers.
Toronto Hydro said the outage, which began at approximately 12:30 p.m., affected an area stretching from just south of Bloor Street to the edge of the waterfront, and as far west as University Avenue to the Don Valley Parkway in the east.
“Safety is always our top priority. We know this power outage has made today exceptionally difficult for many of you, and we appreciate your patience,” said David Lebeter, chief operating officer of Hydro One in a Thursday evening statement.
“We had all available resources helping to restore power as quickly and safely as possible. I want to thank all of those affected by this outage for their patience and Toronto Fire and Toronto Hydro for their collaboration.”
The cause of the outage was confirmed to be a barge carrying a crane that had struck a critical high-voltage power line in city’s Port Lands district, Hydro One confirmed in a statement Thursday evening.
Hydro One spokesperson Tiziana Baccega Rosa initially said the company was investigating a crane accident as a possible cause, after videos of the barge hitting the power lines was posted to social media.
Toronto Fire District Chief Stephan Powell also confirmed the incident and said that fire services were attending to the scene and had cordoned off a significant portion of the area, noting that the power lines fell into the water and the area remained dangerous.
No injuries have been reported, but Mr. Powell said that fire services responded to a high number of people trapped in elevators related to the power outage. Federal Minister of Immigration Sean Fraser tweeted a picture of himself trapped in an elevator with three others, calling it “terrible timing.”
Jennifer Stranges, spokesperson for Unity Health Toronto, said St. Michael’s Hospital is operating as normal but was affected by the outage and was relying on backup power systems to maintain patient care.
“Patients with scheduled appointments or who need to visit our emergency department should continue to come to the hospital for care. Our teams have worked quickly to respond to this issue and we thank them for their continued efforts,” Ms. Stranges said in an e-mail.
Gillian Howard, vice-president of communications for University Health Network, said the outage also affected Toronto General Hospital, which is on the corner of University Avenue and Elizabeth Street. Ms. Howard said the hospital was operating on normal power, but required emergency backup power for around a half hour. She also noted that none of UHN’s facilities on the west side of University Avenue were affected, such as Mount Sinai Hospital or the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.
The outage caused general frustration for residents around the downtown core as entire blocks remained without power, halting business and creating traffic jams as intersections became four-way stops. In a reminder of the nationwide Rogers outage in July, stores put up signs turning customers away due to a lack of functioning payment systems and an inability to use any appliances. Some people also complained of being unable to access high-speed cellular services like data and 5G networks.
The billboard-laden Yonge-Dundas Square and the Eaton Centre were also affected, the latter of which had its power restored and reopened to shoppers in the midafternoon. Other high-traffic locations, such as St. Lawrence Market, remained closed for the duration of the outage.
The city confirmed city hall and other government buildings in the affected area were also without power or operating on emergency systems.
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Telus asks CRTC permission to add 1.5% credit card surcharge to customer bills – CBC News
Canadians who pay their cellphone bill with a credit card could soon see an extra fee every month, if Canada’s telecom regulator approves a proposal currently before them.
Telecom company Telus is asking the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for permission to add a 1.5 per cent surcharge to the bills of customers who pay their bill using a credit card. If approved, it would be in place starting as soon as October.
For a theoretical customer in Alberta whose cellphone bill is $100, the charge would bring their bill to $106.66 — $100 for their basic bill, plus $5 for GST, a $1.58 surcharge for the new fee on top of that, plus another 8 cents in GST on the surcharge.
“The company plans to provide advance notices of the fee to its existing customers starting in mid-August,” Telus said in its letter to the regulator.
Fee could be in place by October
The company is asking the regulator to decide on the proposal by Sept. 7 and would like to start levying the new charge as of Oct. 17, and while the CRTC must rule on the matter, in a statement to CBC News the telecom company made the plan sound like a done deal.
“Starting in October, Telus mobility and home services customers choosing to make a bill payment with a credit card will be charged a 1.5 per cent credit card processing fee,” Telus told CBC News in a statement.
“This fee helps us recover a portion of the processing costs we incur to accept credit card payments, and the average cost will be around $2 for most customers,” the company said, adding that it can easily be avoided by paying through a bank, via a debit transaction, or other means.
WATCH | Why Canadians pay more for telecom services than many other countries do:
Telus’ rationale for the move stems from a development this summer, when credit card firms including Visa and MasterCard agreed to a settlement that will see them refund millions of dollars worth of credit card processing fees that merchants have paid them over the years. Crucially, that settlement also gives businesses permission to start charging customers those fees directly starting in October, which is what Telus is trying to do.
Previously, many merchants weren’t allowed to charge customers directly for the fees that credit companies charge them for processing sales. Such fees can range from less than one per cent of the sale, to more than three per cent for some premium cards.
Because just about every part of its business is regulated by the CRTC, Telus needs the regulator to start charging fees that consumers can expect to start seeing from a variety of merchants soon.
CBC News reached out to Rogers and Bell to see if they have any similar plans in the works, but representatives of both companies did not reply to that request within one business day.
Some customers aren’t happy
Some wireless customers aren’t enthused by the idea. Kenneth Hart of Windsor, Ont., a Telus customer for 15 years, calls the plan “a money grab.”
“It’s a bad business move,” he told CBC News in an interview. “They have some accountants telling them this is good. But then you talk about the PR costs, the reputational cost, and it could create … dissatisfaction for those customers who are already … not satisfied.”
“This could be the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Telus only filed the application on Monday, and the CRTC has already heard from more than 200 Canadians via its website, many of which are opposed to the plan.
Steve Struthers is one of them. The resident of London, Ont., is not a Telus customer but he took the time to give his two cents to the regulator because of how opposed he is to the plan.
“Consumers are already extremely stressed with unaffordable housing, increased food prices, expensive gasoline prices and wages that are not keeping up with any of this,” he told CBC News in an interview.
“I’m quite certain they could afford to absorb a 1.5 per cent credit card fee … It bothers me knowing the cellphone companies aren’t happy with the money they’re making and they still want more in an environment where people are reaching their limit as to what they can pay.”
‘The last thing anyone needs is an additional fee’
Rosa Addario, a spokesperson for telecom watchdog OpenMedia, says the plan is just the latest way for the industry to extract more revenue from cash-strapped Canadian consumers.
“All three of our telecom providers … have reported increased profits, increased revenue and increased customers for 2021,” she told CBC News in an interview. “They are doing better than ever. This is just another way to raise our bills through shady practices and extra fees and adding things on top so that we are paying even more than we already are.”
Suze Morrison, a former Ontario MPP, is urging the CRTC to reject the proposal, noting that it will disproportionately impact people who are already financially vulnerable.
“Working class people, low income people are really struggling to make ends meet right now,” she told CBC News in an interview. “The last thing anyone needs is an additional fee just because of how they pay their telephone bill to keep their phone lines connected.”
WATCH | Canada has 3 major telecom providers. Could that change?
While credit card surcharges are creeping into many businesses, she says it’s different for a telecom utility to charge them because it is a necessity. “A consumer has a choice to go to a mom and pop restaurant or to cook dinner at home or to go to a restaurant that’s not charging fees for credit card swipes,” she said.
“But we’ve allowed so much consolidation in our telecom industry and there’s such a monopoly in the sector that it’s not like folks can say, ‘OK, well, if you’re going to charge a fee, I’m going to take my business somewhere else.’ I have nowhere else to go.”
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