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'Seems like using the nuclear option': Canadians who don't want the jab decry COVID-19 vaccine mandates – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Canada’s largest banks are the latest industry to announce mandatory vaccine policies this week, following the government’s announcement that federally regulated industries will require staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Ottawa’s vaccine mandate has been met with mixed reviews by the public, with some feeling that workplace safety is better served if all employees are vaccinated and others decrying the perceived infringement on personal rights.

Others were concerned about accommodations provided for those who cannot get a COVID-19 vaccine due to medical reasons.

Vaccine mandates have also become a wedge issue in the federal election, with candidates taking pot shots at each other on the subject while on the campaign trail.

As of Friday morning, 73.5 per cent of Canada’s eligible population has been fully vaccinated, with more than 52 million doses administered across the country.

On Thursday, CTVNews.ca asked Canadians whether their workplace had mandated COVID-19 vaccinations and to reach out if they felt they were being forced to get the jab.

The responses were emailed to CTVNews.ca and not all have been independently verified, though some respondents were contacted for additional details.

The responses have been edited for length, clarity and brevity.

Tonya Hilts, who says she works for Canada Post in Ontario, told CTVNews.ca in an email that she does not want to take the vaccine but that she is fully prepared to “rapid test every day” and wear a mask.

“I have worked throughout this entire pandemic and through half of it I had no PPE, [with] society thanking us for our dedication and sacrifice while they got to stay at home still earning a living,” Hilts wrote. “Now I am being called selfish, ignorant, because I refuse [the vaccine]. I am not an anti-vaxxer I just do not trust it, I resent being told I have no rights to my own body.”

Andrew Bukta of Dorchester Ont., described a situation facing his mother, a critical care unit (CCU) nurse of 25 years working at the Victoria Hospital in London, Ont.

“Recent talks about mandating vaccines for federal employees has put the future of her job in question,” Bukta wrote. “She has witnessed unimaginable scenes not many people would be able to handle.”

Bukta said his mother had “chosen based on her judgment as a nurse” to opt out of taking the vaccine but said “that choice may cost her job,” saying it felt “as if we no longer have the ability to make choices for ourselves and our health.”

Bukta said his mother is pursuing a legal recourse.

Care aide Candace S., who works at a long-term care facility in Prince George B.C., said in an email to CTVNews.ca that she had been told that if she is not double-vaccinated by October 12, that she can no longer work at the facility.

“Of [sic] my own personal choices I do not wish to receive vaccination and will lose my job,” Lee wrote. “I have been in the healthcare industry for ten years… we have been told to wear our PPE during flu season and if there was an outbreak we are not allowed to work it [sic] I have always chosen that option and now wonder why it is no longer [available].”

Lee said she was “heartbroken” and scrambling to find help and another job outside of healthcare, an industry she “loved so much.”

Marcel, a public servant for 30 years from Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia, wrote in an email to CTVNews.ca that, while he is not “against vaccines in general,” he was shocked that the government would mandate vaccination.

“It seems like using the nuclear option to combat a few guys approaching in a truck,” Marcel wrote of the mandates.

“Unfortunately, I am not in a position where I can simply resign and take my pension.”

“The most troubling trend I am seeing lately is the villainization [sic] of unvaccinated individuals… this narrative is taking hold and I am very concerned by it,” he continued. “Most people in Nova Scotia have willingly followed all the public health guidelines and truly do care about their fellow citizens in the province.”

“This divisive talk is not helpful and is actually downright troubling,” Marcel said.

Vancouver-based flight attendant Melissa Senior told CTVNews.ca in an email that she was writing “on behalf of flight attendants who feel unsure, anxious and now violated of their rights” in light of Ottawa’s vaccine mandate request.

“We are now worried whether or not we will be able to feed our families and continue to enjoy a job we love,” Senior wrote. “We put our lives at risk every day to bring passengers home safely to their families…. We’ve also worked all throughout this pandemic to allow loved ones to see their family members who have fallen sick or have died because of this virus.”

Senior said flight attendants are facing what she called a “violation of our rights and freedoms” and vowed to “fight” the mandate.

Dale Tomasiewicz, a public servant from Outlook, Sask., and his wife (who he did not name in his email) who works for the University of Saskatchewan, said they are both required to be vaccinated by September 7.

“We both learned, within a half hour of each other, that our employers were imposing broad vaccine mandates last Friday – this was a crushing Friday the 13th for us to say the least,” Tomasiewicz wrote. “We are both well-informed about COVID-19 and follow the data etc. I have had on-going communications with my federal and provincial representatives (and recently my union) regarding the COVID-19 management and response measures since about last May, urging them to do the right things based on all the actual scientific facts.”

Tomasiewicz said he was not an “anti-vaxxer” nor a “conspiracy theorist,” but said he chose to make his decision “based on facts” and was disappointed by the “vilification of all those choosing not to be vaccinated.”

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Taiwan blasts China for Pacific trade pact threats

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China is an “arch-criminal” intent on bullying Taiwan and has no right to oppose or comment on its bid to join a pan-Pacific trade pact, Taiwan’s government said in an escalating war of words over Taipei and Beijing’s decision to apply.

Chinese-claimed Taiwan said on Wednesday it had formally applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), less than a week after China submitted its application.

China’s Foreign Ministry said it opposed Taiwan “entering into any official treaty or organization”, and on Thursday Taiwan said China sent 24 military aircraft into the island’s air defence zone, part of what Taipei says is an almost daily pattern of harassment.

In a statement late on Thursday, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said China had “no right to speak” about Taiwan’s bid.

“The Chinese government only wants to bully Taiwan in the international community, and is the arch-criminal in increased hostility across the Taiwan Strait,” it said.

China is not a member of the CPTPP and its trade system has been widely questioned globally for not meeting the high standards of the bloc, the ministry added.

China sent its air force to menace Taiwan shortly after the application announcement, it said.

“This pattern of behaviour could only come from China,” it said.

In a statement also issued late Thursday, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said China’s entry into the CPTPP would benefit the post-pandemic global economic recovery.

China opposes Taiwan using trade to push its “international space” or engage in independent activities, it added.

“We hope relevant countries appropriately handle Taiwan-related matters and not give convenience or provide a platform for Taiwan independence activities,” it said.

The original 12-member agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), was seen as an important economic counterweight to China’s growing influence.

But the TPP was thrown into limbo in early 2017 when then-U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States.

The grouping, which was renamed the CPTPP, links Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

 

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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Canada's costly election: Could $600M have been spent elsewhere? – CTV News

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EDMONTON —
With an estimated record-setting price tag of $610 million, the 2021 election is the most expensive in Canadian history — at a cost of about $100 million more than the 2019 election.

After all of that spending resulted in little change politically, many are asking whether it was worth the money and where else those hundreds of millions of dollars could have been directed.

Indigenous organizations have criticized the election as being “unnecessary,” suggesting the money could have been better spent on clean drinking water initiatives, reconciliation projects, and mental health initiatives.

Child-care advocates have similarly suggested that the funds could have been used to propel the Liberals’ $10-a-day child-care promise. And many Canadians have spoken out, wishing the money had instead been spent on pandemic recovery.

Experts say that it’s not quite that clear-cut, as governments don’t have a set amount of money in their pot each year – and some say you can’t put a price on democracy, even in the midst of a global pandemic.

Ian Lee, associate professor at Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business, says it’s important to first understand that government budgets don’t operate like your run-of-the-mill household budget.

“Governments don’t have a ‘fixed, rigidly financed, precise’ amount of money in their pot each year. They roughly know revenues come in and expenditures go out. Sometimes they’re a little short and they just have a deficit, and then they print the money because that’s what governments do,” Lee told CTVNews.ca by phone Thursday.

“Budgeting, unlike for the average consumer, is not a zero-sum game – consumers, if they don’t have the money for something, you’re just out of luck. You don’t buy it. Governments don’t face that dilemma, especially the federal government.”

In other words, just because a certain amount of money million was spent on the election, that doesn’t mean there is the same amount less to spend on something else.

But as for the principle of calling a pricey election during the fourth wave of a pandemic, experts are split.

“For me – it is true that anytime the government spends money it could be spent elsewhere and the point of elections is to judge the government on how they spent money and the decisions they made,” Michael Johns, visiting professor in the Department of Politics at York University, told CTVNews.ca by email Thursday.

“There are far too many examples of things that could be funded and are not and other things that are spent that are problems.”

But Johns says he is uncomfortable with the idea that spending money on an election should be considered an issue, suggesting that those upset with the timing of the election should have reflected such in their ballot.

“There would have been an election a year ago if the opposition had been successful in voting out the government on a matter of confidence; there would have been one in probably a year if it had not been triggered now due to the nature of minority governments,” he explained

“Either way the act of voting and having our preferences registered matters and costs money. People could judge the government on its timing and vote accordingly but we should be very careful when we start making decisions about holding elections based on their cost.”

Duff Conacher, co-founder of Democracy Watch, a non-profit citizen group advocating democratic reform, has a different view, saying the money spent on the election could have been spent on “anything else.”

“The prime minister decided to hold an election even though 327 MPs voted against holding the election at the end of May,” Conacher told CTVNews.ca by phone Thursday.

“And he knew in calling an election that Elections Canada would have a right to spend any money it needed to run it, which ended up being more than usual because of the costs of, for example, buying one pencil for everybody.”

As for what that money could have been spent on instead, Conacher says the government should make those decisions based on what the large majority of the country needs – like health-care solutions during a pandemic.

“In terms of where the $600 million could be spent, there’s many areas where the health of Canadians is at risk or where Canadians want money spent – pharmacare, child care – the polls show the large majority want those in place,” he said.

Lee disagrees that it has to be one or the other, saying that “you cannot make the argument that because they spend $600 million on the election, that therefore some other spending item will be cut by $600 million.”

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Billionaire countries: Canada jumps up the list – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Canada added seven billionaires in 2020, increasing its total to 53, tied for 12th-most in the world, up from 14th the previous year, according to a new global report.

The combined wealth of Canadian billionaires also tops US$100 billion, an increase of 4.5 per cent from last year.

In its latest billionaire census, Wealth-X, an ultra-high net worth (UHNW) data company, stated the number of billionaires in the world surpassed 3,000 (up to 3,204) for the first time in 2020, after an additional 670 individuals entered the billionaire class. The combined wealth of this group is now approximately US$10 trillion.

The share of wealth held by billionaires among the UHNW class, which is defined as those with a net worth of US$30 million or more, has also increased to 28 per cent, despite billionaires making up just one per cent of the UHNW population.

Seven of the top 15 billionaires in the world made their fortunes in the technology sector.

These are the top five billionaires by net worth as listed by Wealth-X:

  1. Jeff Bezos, Amazon, US$201.2 billion
  2. Elon Musk, Tesla, US$181.1 billion
  3. Bernard Arnault, Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, US$154.4 billion
  4. Bill Gates, Bill and Melina Gates Foundation, US$142.4 billion
  5. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, US$137.4 billion, Facebook

Here’s a breakdown of the top 15 countries ranked by billionaire population and their combined wealth.

  1. U.S., 927, US$3.709 trillion
  2. China, 410, US$1.303 trillion
  3. Germany, 174, US$515 billion
  4. Russia, 120, US$397 billion
  5. U.K., 119, US$225 billion
  6. Hong Kong, 111, US$282 billion
  7. Switzerland, 107, US$318 billion
  8. India, 104, US$316 billion
  9. Saudia Arabia, 64, US$144 billion
  10.  France, 64, US$238 billion
  11.  Italy, 60, US$169 billion
  12.  Brazil, 53, US$151 billion
  13.  Canada 53, US$100 billion
  14.  United Arab Emirates, 50, US$151 billion
  15.  Singapore, 50, US$86 billion 

Wealth-X lists Hong Kong as a semi-autonomous, special administrative region of China.

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