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Ottawa plans to ban single-use plastics: What does that mean for Alberta? – Global News

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The federal government took another step forward in reducing plastic pollution Wednesday, releasing its latest report on the issue.

READ MORE: Canada-wide ban on many single-use plastics on track for 2021, minister says

“The scientific assessment found that plastic is causing significant harm to wildlife, particularly marine life, who often ingest plastic or become entangled in it,” said Canada’s Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson.

“Plastic pollution threatens our natural environment. It fills our rivers, our lakes, and most particularly our oceans, choking out the wildlife that live there.”

Researchers found Canadians are throwing out three million tonnes of plastic every year — or 570 garbage bags full — each minute. As it stands, only nine per cent of that is being recycled, with the vast majority going to the landfills.

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The proposed ban would eliminate plastic checkout bags, straws, stir sticks, six pack rings, foodware and cutlery by the end of 2021.

“They are harmful in the environment, they are costly to recycle and there are readily available alternatives,” Wilkinson said.






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Canada banning single-use plastics by the end of 2021


Canada banning single-use plastics by the end of 2021

The ban is good news for business at Greenmunch, a sustainable e-commerce store in Sherwood Park that specializes in green takeout containers.

“The items they’re targeting first are items that have easy replacements — so either a plastic straw or no straw at all. That’s already in place in a lot of places, similar with stir sticks.”

Owner Phillip Jacobsen says many grocery stores have also phased out plastic bags, replacing them with canvas totes or paper bags.

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Read more:
Coronavirus: Soaring reliance on single-use plastics stalls B.C.’s zero-waste movement

He also notes there’s a plethora of plastic alternatives when it comes to straws, utensils and food containers: from paper or sugar cane pulp, to wood, or even compostable plastics.

Jacobsen launched Greenmunch nearly a decade ago and growth has been steady especially, he said, in the last three years.

Even during the pandemic he was fielding orders from new clients, many of whom told him they want to go green because it’s good for the environment, not because they’re being forced to.


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Alberta reacts to federal single-use plastics ban


Alberta reacts to federal single-use plastics ban

As sustainable alternatives become more mainstream, they’re also getting cheaper.

“The costs are definitely coming down on a lot of things,” he said.

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“Some items like a cup, maybe it’s only 10-15 per cent more.”

And in some cases, going green has resulted in financial savings.

“A couple years ago, what a lot of restaurants found was if you stop giving away a straw with every drink and you just give a paper straw when people ask, they’re actually saving money.”

READ MORE: Easy ways to cut your family’s plastic waste

Meanwhile, the provincial government said the federal ban would infringe on its own plans for plastics.

The province announced on Tuesday that it plans to become an epicentre for plastics diversion by 2030 as part of its natural gas strategy.

The provincial plan would see plastic products manufactured in Alberta using natural gas, with enhanced recycling techniques to use recycled plastic in the manufacturing of new products.


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Reality check: Alberta’s new natural gas strategy


Reality check: Alberta’s new natural gas strategy

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In a statement, press secretary to Premier Jason Kenney, Christine Myatt, wrote: “Alberta does not think it’s a realistic policy, and is a particularly questionable priority given everything else currently going on in our country.”

To that end, Wilkinson said: “Canadians expect their government to be capable of addressing the COVID issue and addressing other challenges at the same time.”

Watch:
UCP government releases natural gas strategy

The federal environment minister said Alberta’s strategy would only be supported by the federal ban.

According to Wilkinson, the ban is expected to spur investment in recycling products and infrastructure, while creating 42,000 jobs across the country.

When asked about the news from Ottawa, Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage said: “Stay in your own lane, stay within your own constitutional bounds.”

“Those plastics are going to be manufactured somewhere, and if it’s not here in Alberta, it’s going to increase manufacturing in other places.

“We need it in Alberta to diversify the economy and create jobs.”

Savage wants the federal government to support a stable regulatory climate for investment in plastics.

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“A recognition from the federal government that plastics are a part of everyday life in Alberta and around the world, I think that would be helpful — for them to ensure that message gets out as well.”


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Alberta reacts to federal single-use plastics ban


Alberta reacts to federal single-use plastics ban

According to the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada, the federal government is moving very quickly and arbitrarily with the ban on single-use plastics.

However, Bob Masterson, president and CEO of the CIAC said that plastics manufacturing is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, and Alberta, with its vast array of resources, is poised to take advantage.

READ MORE: Plastics in our oceans – How one Canadian is trying to clean up

The concern, Masterson said, is the ban may be sending a signal that could scare away potential investors.

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“The impact in Alberta is how is this message received by global investors that might be thinking of putting the next $15 billion into Alberta,” Masterson said.

Meanwhile, the proposed ban is being celebrated by advocacy groups like Plastic Free YYC.

The volunteer group aims to educate the public on the harm of plastic products.

Neha Virk, a volunteer with the group, said she is happy to see the federal government prioritize the decision, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The key to success, Virk said, is providing the public with the education and alternatives to single-use plastics.

“As long as we offer alternatives, I think it’ll be an easy transition,” Virk said.

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Toronto and Peel Region enter lockdown for at least 28 days – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Premier Doug Ford is standing behind his government’s decision to suspend in-person shopping at all non-essential retailers in Toronto and Peel amid criticism from small business owners who say they are being unfairly singled out.

Toronto and Peel officially entered the lockdown stage of Ontario’s framework for COVID-19 restrictions at 12:01 a.m., on Monday. As a result personal care services, like barbers and salons, have been forced to close and restaurants can only do takeout and delivery.

Retail stores are also limited to curbside pickup only with some exceptions for grocers, hardware stores, corner stores and discount and big box retailers selling groceries.

Speaking with reporters during his regular briefing on Monday, Ford said that he knows it is “not fair” that some big box retailers like Walmart can continue to operate while smaller businesses have to shut down but he said it would have been a “logistical nightmare” to require large retailers to cordon off non-essential goods, as is the case under a similar order in Manitoba.

“I know this is not fair and that’s why we put the additional $300 million into supporting small businesses and took care of their property taxes, their energy costs,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can as a province but the quicker we can get through this, the quicker we can get this vaccine out there, then we can get people back and open up,

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is calling on the Progressive Conservative government to allow three customers at a time into small retail stores.

Ford, however, told reporters that he is not considering any changes to the lockdown rules at this point, much to the dismay of some retailers.

“How does it make sense to shut down the small flower store but allow people to line up at Walmart to buy a bouquet of flowers? To shut down the small independent bookseller but allow them to go to Costco, line up and buy books there? How does that help prevent COVID? Never mind how fair it is,” Dan Kelly, who is the president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, told CP24 earlier on Monday. “These rules make no sense at all.”

Kelly said that the CFIB had already forecast that 160,000 small business in Canada would close following the first wave of the pandemic and that the situation has gotten even more critical since then.

He said that something needs to be done to help shuttered retailers in Toronto and Peel and soon or more will be “toast.”

“We think we have seen a hollowing out of the retail sector but we have seen nothing compared to what will happen if they miss out on Christmas,” he warned.

Tory urges people to stay home

The province announced the added restrictions for Toronto and Peel on Friday as new cases of COVID-19 continued to surge in both jurisdictions.

In anticipation of the rules going into effect, several malls extended their hours over the weekend and there were reports of long lineups at stores.

Speaking with CP24, on Monday morning Toronto Mayor John Tory said that the strict new rules are an important, even if there is not a lot of data pointing to widespread transmission in settings like retail stores, for example.

“We don’t really know in every single case exactly where people picked up this virus, we just know it is spreading and was spreading in a fashion last week and the week before and the week before that that was clearly unacceptable in terms of the trend line we were on,” he said. “Look it is a sad day today just to see this kind of thing having to happen but again the choice was to not do these kind of things and have a much longer, much broader, much worse kind of lockdown happen latter when we had completely lost control of this thing as you have seen elsewhere in the world.”

While the lockdown will shutter a number of businesses across Toronto and Peel, schools and childcare centres will remain open as will services deemed essential like dentist offices and physiotherapists.

Several industries that were mostly brought to a halt in the spring, like film and television production and construction, are also exempt.

“I am a little bit concerned that this shutdown doesn’t focus on the largest area of spread. In Brampton our largest source of transmission is industrial settings. Our largest two sectors are transportation logistics and food processing and neither of those sectors are shut down because they are considered essential,” Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown told CP24 on Monday. “So this isn’t truly a lockdown for Brampton. Small businesses have been shut down but with the largest portion of our workforce being essential workers nothing has really changed.”

In addition to the new rules in Toronto and Peel, Durham Region and Waterloo have also been moved into the red category alongside York Region as of today. The rules for that category limit restaurants, gyms and food courts to 10 indoor patrons at a time.

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Atlantic bubble bursts as P.E.I., N.L. exit coronavirus pact – Global News

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The provincial governments of Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador announced Monday morning that they are taking a break from the Atlantic bubble as COVID-19 cases rise in the region.

The two regions backed out after Nova Scotia and New Brunswick saw an increase in cases, reporting 44 and 77 active COVID-19 cases, respectively, as of Sunday.

Read more:
N.B. asks travellers from Halifax to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms

N.L. Premier Andrew Furey said the Atlantic bubble has been a source of pride for the region, but the situation has changed.

“I have made the tough decision to implement a circuit break,” Furey said.

“As your premier, as a physician and as a concerned father and citizen, I must do what I promised: protect the best interest of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.”

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As of Wednesday, all travellers from the Atlantic bubble to N.L. will have to self-isolate for 14 days. Non-essential travel will not be permitted.


Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Newfoundland and Labrador implements ‘circuit break’ from Atlantic bubble, suspends all non-essential travel'



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Coronavirus: Newfoundland and Labrador implements ‘circuit break’ from Atlantic bubble, suspends all non-essential travel


Coronavirus: Newfoundland and Labrador implements ‘circuit break’ from Atlantic bubble, suspends all non-essential travel

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King announced the province has made the same decision after talking to other Atlantic premiers over the weekend.

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As of Monday, the province is temporarily suspending all non-essential travel to and from P.E.I. for at least two weeks, King said.

King said he doesn’t think this is a step backward.

“I feel it is a proactive measure, a preventative step,” he said.

He said the decision is in the best interest of those in P.E.I., Canada’s smallest province.

“We have a health system that is strong, that is ready,” but King said the system has limitations. A COVID-19 outbreak may put pressure on the system, which could easily become overwhelmed.

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Read more:
8 new coronavirus cases reported in N.S., largest single-day increase since May

For the next two weeks, King said he will be monitoring the situation and then decide if this break needs to be extended.

In a Monday morning statement, the Nova Scotia government said the Atlantic premiers have discussed “the need for extra caution on non-essential travel in the region.”

“Some provinces may take additional measures,” the statement read.

The Atlantic bubble began in July, and this is the first time that a member has backed out.

More to come.


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Coronavirus: New Brunswick breaks record for new COVID-19 case numbers


Coronavirus: New Brunswick breaks record for new COVID-19 case numbers

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Windsor's Frank W. Begley Public School reporting 37 confirmed COVID-19 cases – CTV News Windsor

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WINDSOR, ONT. —
A Windsor school has seen a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported on Monday there are 37 confirmed cases and two probable cases at Frank W. Begley Elementary School.

According to the province’s website, it is the largest outbreak in an Ontario school.

WECHU says 29 students and eight staff members have tested positive.The presumed index case is believed to be a staff member.

“They could be the one who spread it to the rest of the school,” says Ahmed. “It’s not to blame that index case, that this happened because they didn’t follow anything, but I think it’s just how we are trying to work through an outbreak investigation.”

Ahmed says they can’t pinpoint where the presumed index case acquired the virus. The earliest case was reported on Nov. 8.

The health unit declared an outbreak at the school on Tuesday and students and staff members were dismissed.

“Dismissing the entire school really helped us from a control perspective, so there was no ongoing spread,” says Ahmed.

He adds they are still trying to paint a picture of how the cases spread between cohorts.

Windsor Regional Hospital set up dedicated clinics for the school community to get tested.There are about 430 students and staff members at the school. The health unit says 283 students, 47 staff and 141 family members have been tested as a result of this initiative.

There is also an outbreak at W. J. Langlois Catholic Elementary School, where two students and two staff members have tested positive for the virus. The school is also closed.

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