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Public Health Agency of Canada involved in 'error' on trucker vaccine rules: sources – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News



Marie Woolf, The Canadian Press

Published Friday, January 21, 2022 5:20AM EST

Last Updated Friday, January 21, 2022 5:20AM EST

OTTAWA — Turmoil and confusion over whether truckers would remain exempt from the vaccine mandate last week stemmed from bureaucrats misinterpreting policy in more than one federal agency — including the one that co-ordinates Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The trucking industry was caught by surprise Jan. 12 when the Canada Border Services Agency sent a statement to media saying that unvaccinated and partially vaccinated truck drivers crossing into Canada from the United States would remain exempt from the vaccine mandate that had long been expected to come into force last weekend.

The federal government reversed itself again the next afternoon with a statement that said the information shared the day before had been sent “in error.” The exemption would still end Jan. 15, meaning truck drivers would need to be fully vaccinated if they wanted to avoid a two-week quarantine and pre-arrival molecular test for COVID-19 before crossing into Canada.

The government provided no more explanation for the botched messaging, which one trucking industry association said had prompted some unvaccinated big-riggers to be dispatched across the border during the period of time when everyone thought Ottawa had backed down.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government had been consistent that the exemption would end this month.

“There was a miscommunication from an official last week that contradicted that, that was quickly corrected,” he said.

The Canadian Press has learned the miscommunication went beyond one official and even beyond one department, stemming from confusion among officials over whether a key government order-in-council on COVID-19 mandates covered truckers or not. An order-in-council lays out decisions made by cabinet, such as regulations or appointments.

Four federal government sources with direct knowledge of what happened behind the scenes shared the details on the condition they not be named, as they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The confusion spilled into the public realm after a spokeswoman for the Canada Border Services Agency, issued a statement on the evening of Jan. 12.

“I am reaching out to you today to provide an update on our previous response,” she wrote, adding that she could now say unvaccinated truckers crossing into Canada from the U.S. would remain exempt from testing and quarantine requirements. That spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment about the statement.

One of the sources said the border agency only issued that statement after it consulted with the Public Health Agency of Canada, which told them that day that truckers would retain their exemption from the vaccine mandate beyond Jan. 15.

In fact, the Public Health Agency of Canada had drafted a similar statement to be issued on Jan. 12. That statement, which has been viewed and verified by The Canadian Press, said: “Unvaccinated, or partially vaccinated, Canadian truck drivers arriving at the border (would) remain exempt from pre-arrival, on arrival and post-arrival testing and quarantine requirements … as crew members.”

It also mentioned the United States would require Canadian truckers to provide proof of vaccination to enter that country beginning Jan. 22.

Attached to the statement were multiple sources, including orders-in-council for COVID-19.

Another source said the border agency had started hearing from the public health agency that day that truckers were not going to be included in the vaccine mandate after all. When the public health agency sent its memo, the border agency moved quickly to share the policy shift publicly. Officials were under the impression they were correcting information they had been providing for days that truckers would be part of the change.

The mistake, the source said, stemmed from an order-in-council issued by cabinet that was interpreted within the public health agency as a sign the policy on truckers had changed. That interpretation was wrong, however, as the government intended the exemption to end.

The Liberal government had announced last November the exemption for truck drivers would end mid-January, which sparked an outcry among truckers.

Trade associations on both sides of the border had been pushing for a delay to the restriction on unvaccinated truckers, which they said could put added strain on supply chains amid the latest COVID-19 surge and cause severe worker shortages. The first source said the supply-chain problems had also caused misgivings within the government.

The Canadian Press reached out to both the federal public health and border agencies for comment about the behind-the-scenes communications mistake.

Neither commented on what had gone wrong when asked for comment Thursday but reiterated that the exemption for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated truck drivers had ended Jan. 15.

Eric Morrissette, a spokesman for the Public Health Agency of Canada, said the measures were announced in November and restated Jan. 13 (the day the government corrected its mistake).

“The measures have been the subject of several engagements with industry stakeholders in advance of the Jan. 15 coming into force date. In the case of truck drivers, this included meetings with industry and labour associations,” he said in the written statement.

The Canada Border Services Agency also noted in its statement Thursday that unvaccinated or partially vaccinated foreign national truck drivers who do not have a right to re-enter will be turned away at the border and directed back to the United States.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance and the American Trucking Associations say up to 26,000 of the 160,000 drivers who make regular trips across the Canada-U.S. border will likely be sidelined as a result of the vaccine mandate for truckers in both countries.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021.

— with files from Christopher Reynolds in Montreal and Mia Rabson in Ottawa.

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Canada donates $1 million to probe sexual violence by Russian troops in Ukraine



OTTAWA — Canada is committing an extra $1 million to help the international community investigate sex crimes by Russian troops in Ukraine.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said Canada would give the extra funds to the International Criminal Court to help it investigate sexual violence toward women, and also crimes against children.

Ten RCMP officers, and Canadian civilian law enforcement experts, are helping to investigate war crimes in Ukraine, including sexual violence by Russian troops.

Global Affairs Canada said the extra money could be used to help fund specialist sexual violence investigations and to protect victims who may be witnesses in war-crimes cases.

The funds may also be used to provide psychological support for victims.

Joly said it was important that Russian troops who have used sexual violence against Ukrainians be brought to justice.

“Canada condemns in the strongest terms the use of conflict-related sexual violence and we will continue to work with partners such as the ICC to end impunity for these heinous crimes,” she said in a statement.

“Those who commit sexual violence in conflict situations must be held to account.”

At a meeting in Ottawa earlier this month with Ann Linde, Sweden’s foreign minister, Joly discussed the need to treat Russian troops using sexual violence as a weapon as war criminals.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Joly said 10 RCMP officers would help gather evidence of rape and sexual violence by the Russian military.

Linde said Sweden has also sent “experts on investigating sexual and gender-based crime” to help the ICC with its war crimes investigation. They are interviewing refugees — “mainly women and girls and children,” she said — as witnesses.

Ukraine’s ambassador designate to Canada told members of Parliament earlier this month that Russia is using sexual violence against women and children as a weapon of war.

Yulia Kovaliv told the House of Commons foreign affairs committee on May 2 that Ukraine is compiling “horrific documented evidence” of war crimes.

“The horror is that children are victims of these sexual crimes, which are done (before) the eyes of their parents,” Kovaliv said. “Sexual crimes is part of the Russian weapon (against) Ukraine.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published 26, May, 2022.


Marie Woolf, The Canadian Press

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Feeling poorer? Inverse wealth effect may add to Canadians' spending gloom – CBC News



It is inevitable that if incomes fail to keep pace with a 6.8 per cent inflation rate, more Canadian wage earners will be forced to scrimp. 

But economists who study financial behaviour have found that even those who can afford to keep spending are also looking for ways to cut back.

Anyone who got a pay hike of less than 1.8 per cent this year actually took a more than five per cent cut in their “real” or after-inflation income. It means that those without savings, who spend what they earn, have no choice but to buy less — or go into debt.

And retailers have begun to notice. Earlier this month, shares in U.S. chains Target and Walmart, and Canadian Tire in Canada, declined sharply as falling sales showed up in the bottom line, leading markets lower.

Urge to economize

But there are increasing signs it is not just those without savings who are looking for ways to spend less. Research on something called “the wealth effect” has shown that the many Canadians who have savings invested in real estate, stocks or cryptocurrency are not exempt from the urge to economize.

“What we expect is that as wealth goes up, consumption would increase and as wealth declines, we would expect a decrease,” said Mark Kamstra, an economist who studies behavioural finance at York University’s Schulich School of Business in Toronto.

  • Have a question or something to say? CBC News is live in the comments now.

Though originally based on economic ideas of how people should behave, the wealth effect actually happens in the real world, repeated studies have found.

While at first some economists insisted the effect only applied to liquid investments, like stocks or bonds where returns could be extracted and spent, there is a growing body of research showing the notional value of your home — even if you have no plans to sell it and extract the value — can change your willingness to spend.

When house prices are soaring at 20% a year, it’s hard for homeowners not to feel rich even if they have no plans to sell. (David Donnelly/CBC)

Those who have studied the wealth effect, including Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem in 1994 when he was but a humble researcher for the central bank, have concluded the phenomenon is real. Nonetheless, there is still debate, and even contradictory studies, over exactly how it works. As Kamstra explained, while theory proposes a simple model with a few variables, the real world is inevitably complicated and messy. 

“There are well-known reasons to fear that constant or declining share prices may exacerbate a slowdown in the economy by depressing the consumption spending of households,” said the report for the U.S. National Bureau of Economic research.

House rich

The report’s conclusions, however, were that “the housing market appears to be more important than the stock market in influencing consumption in developed countries.”

Macklem, who was studying overall national wealth rather than looking at individuals, suggested the reason why things like stocks and bonds had a lesser effect was that a smaller proportion of people owned them. By comparison home ownership in Canada runs at about 70 per cent.

Certainly the classic anecdotal example for the wealth effect is housing and car sales, where, as the price of relatively modest houses begins to rise in a neighbourhood, new and sometimes expensive cars begin to appear in driveways.

WATCH | Home sales are slowing, as are prices:

Canada’s housing market sees signs of cooling as interest rates rise

1 month ago

Duration 2:03

Experts say higher interest rates are causing a slowdown in Canada’s hot housing market, leading to fewer sales and a slight drop in the average selling price in March.

The anecdote has research to back it up from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), the Down Under equivalent of the Bank of Canada.

In 2015, when Aussie house prices were rising at about 10 per cent a year, the RBA study showed that, “there is a robust cross-sectional relationship between changes in housing wealth and new vehicle registrations.”

Not only that, but the authors put a number on it, showing that every one per cent jump in housing wealth led to a half per cent rise in new car purchases.

Psychology of wealth

The reason why the housing example is especially interesting is because for the most part, those homeowners who bought the cars were not planning to sell their houses to realize the increase in value. That indicates a psychological effect.

“I mean, really, are you wealthier if you are a 50-year-old and your house has doubled in value?” Kamstra asked rhetorically. “What are you going to do? You still have kids in high school. You’re not going to move from the neighbourhood. You can’t downsize. How is that wealth in any sense?”

He points to another study from Britain, that, quite reasonably, shows the strength of the wealth effect depends on individual circumstances. For example, older homeowners who are considering downsizing respond more to the notional value of their homes when making spending choices.

Do you feel rich enough to buy a Lamborghini? It’s not a myth, an Australian central bank study showed people whose house prices rose bought more new cars. (CBC)

Similarly, those who own securities such as stocks, or have taken a cryptocurrency stake, are the ones who most feel the effects as those investments rise and fall. A 2018 study from the University of Ottawa has shown that “both financial and housing wealth have significant effects on Canadian consumption,” and that homeowners only tend to use their house as the proverbial piggy bank when house prices are rising and interest rates are low. 

That window may be closing.

As many commentators on home equity lines of credit, or HELOCS, have observed, Canadians may have gone overboard in borrowing up to 65 per cent of their homes’ value to spend on things like renovations. As interest rates rise and home prices fall, that kind of borrowing and spending is likely to decline.

Buying frenzy

And while people with blue chip portfolios may be willing to sit out a market downturn, the Investment Funds Institute of Canada reports that mutual fund holders sold off billions of dollars worth of their investments in March, a trend that may expand if stocks fall further, locking in declines. New market traders who got in during the GameStop frenzy and the cryptocurrency boom likely felt rich when prices were rising, but are also likely feeling poorer now, said Kamstra.

As the conflicting studies have shown, even with access to historic data, teasing out the impact of the inverse wealth effect is not easy. Measuring it in real time is even harder, but according to pollster Nik Nanos there are signs we may already be seeing its effect. 

“Canadian consumer confidence continues to decline with negative pressure on all dimensions tracked, including job security, real estate values, personal finances and forward-look on the economy,” said Nanos in a release of confidence data this week.

And whether you spend less because you actually are poorer or just feel that way, pinching pennies when your future wealth seems uncertain may be a natural impulse that’s hard to resist.

Follow Don on Twitter @don_pittis

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UK’s Kendal Nutricare to deliver 2 million cans of baby formula to the US by June



London, United Kingdom (UK)- Will McMahon, the commercial director of Kendal Nutricare, has said the company will deliver 2 million cans of baby formula to the United States (US) by June this year.

Baby formula shortages began to take hold in the US last year amid supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the situation deteriorated in February when Abbott Laboratories, one of the country’s main manufacturers, with a 40 percent market share, recalled some of its products and shut down a manufacturing plant after four babies who had been fed formula made at the facility contracted a rare bacterial infection (Cronobacter sakazakii) with two of them later dying.

“The bigger opportunity here is as a company we have been in touch with the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and working with them for over five years with the aim of bringing a product into the US. There is enormous curiosity and demand for Kendamil in the States, so we are hopeful that we will have everything in place with the FDA to be able to continue to supply legitimately well beyond November,” said McMahon.

More so, the US normally produces 98 percent of the infant formula it consumes, with imports mainly coming from Mexico, Ireland and the Netherlands but last week, the White House eased import requirements and announced an effort to transport baby formula from abroad dubbed Operation Fly Formula.

Nevertheless, the FDA said it is doing everything in its power to make sure there is enough baby formula for parents and caregivers who need it adding that it is in discussions with other manufacturers and suppliers about bringing other baby formulas to the US.

“Our recent steps will help further bolster the supply of infant formula, including through the import of safe and nutritious products from overseas based on our increased flexibilities announced last week.

Importantly, we anticipate additional infant formula products may be safely and quickly imported into the US in the near-term based on ongoing discussions with manufacturers and suppliers worldwide,” said FDA Commissioner, Dr. Robert Califf.

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