Connect with us

News

Some in P.E.I. and Nova Scotia won’t get electricity back until next week: utilities

Published

 on

HALIFAX — It will be Sunday or Monday before all communities in Prince Edward Island are reconnected to the electricity grid — more than a week after post-tropical storm Fiona yanked down power lines across Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec, officials said Thursday.

The wait could be even longer for hundreds of households and businesses because of damaged service masts or undetected problems at the neighbourhood level, Maritime Electric spokeswoman Kim Griffin told a news conference.

“I realize Islanders without power want to know a restoration time for their outage,” Griffin said. “At this time, we are not able to provide what we consider an accurate estimation when individual areas will be restored .… I don’t feel comfortable giving a blanket restoration time, days or weeks out.”

The storm roared into the region early Saturday and lingered over the Island, Cape Breton and southwestern Newfoundland, knocking out power to more than 500,000 homes and business in the four Atlantic provinces.

Genius Dog 336 x 280 - Animated

At the height of the storm, more than 90 per cent of Maritime Electric’s customers were in the dark, as were 80 per cent of Nova Scotia Power’s customers. By Thursday afternoon, those numbers had dropped to 44 per cent and 13 per cent, respectively.

Griffin said about 900 of Maritime Electric’s customers have reported damaged service masts — the covered pole or tube used to attach power lines to individual homes and businesses.

“I know this was a historic storm for us, unlike anything we have ever experienced,” she said. “I know you are rocked by what is happening in your life, work and family .… Fiona hit us harder than any other storm in our 100-year history.”

During the news conference, Premier Dennis King confirmed that his home was still without electricity, though he said his family has a generator.

“I can relate to those who are frustrated,” he said. “When I left this morning, we didn’t have power …. Look at my hair. I haven’t been able wash and shave to the extent that I would like to. But I’m doing fine. I’m more concerned about the rest of Prince Edward Island.”

In neighbouring Nova Scotia, a spokesman for Nova Scotia Power said the “majority” of the utility’s customers would have their power restored by Friday. However, Matt Drover said, “some pockets” of the province would have to wait until the weekend or “into next week.”

Earlier in the day, Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston said he had requested more help from the military. “I understand we have over 300 military personnel on the ground, and I’m thankful to the federal government for that, but we need so much more,” he told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

“In a province where we have something like 10,000 military personnel stationed here, it’s my personal belief that pretty much every single one of those people would drop everything to help their fellow Nova Scotians, should they be asked.”

On Wednesday, the premier criticized the telecommunications companies that serve Nova Scotia, saying they failed to adequately co-operate with the province’s emergency management team, an accusation denied by Bell Aliant, Telus, Eastlink and Rogers.

On Thursday, Houston said the companies should apologize.

“I would have at least liked to hear from the telecommunications companies that they can do better and they’re sorry,” he said. “But to hear them say that everything was just great, falls well short of my own personal experience and the experiences that Nova Scotians have relayed to me.”

In Charlottetown, King said he believes the telecommunications companies could have done a better job, but he did not elaborate.

“We’ve come to know that there are things we need to be better prepared for in the future,” the premier said. “I think the telcos have a role to play in that …. I’m not sure that as we try to get people back to some kind of normal life if now is the time to start throwing arrows and picking fights.”

In Ottawa, Defence Minister Anita Anand said there were 700 military members in Atlantic Canada helping to clear debris, reopen roads, check on residents and assess damage. Additional troops are on standby, along with some ships and aircraft, the minister added.

Federal Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray said 180 of the region’s 706 small-craft harbours were in the path of the storm, and she said the department knows of at least 99 harbours that are partially operational and five that are no longer functional. As well, Murray said work is underway in many harbours to remove dozens of sunken or grounded vessels.

“This is going to be a very costly venture,” Newfoundland MP Gudie Hutchings told a ministers briefing Thursday. “And we need to build back safer, stronger and better for our fishermen, for our farmers, for our communities and, most importantly, for our residents.”

Hutchings represents the area that includes Port aux Basques, N.L., where Fiona destroyed more than 70 homes, some of which were dragged out to sea by a record-breaking storm surge on Saturday morning. The storm claimed the life of a 73-year-old woman, who was swept out to sea when a wave flooded her home and tore apart her basement.

In Charlottetown, some streets remained closed Thursday because of hazardous debris, fallen power lines and damaged trees. Island residents were again asked to limit travel to essential trips.

In New Brunswick, the provincial government confirmed Thursday it had received 164 damage reports, most of them from an area extending from the Nova Scotia boundary, along the Northumberland Strait to the Acadian Peninsula.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2022.

 

Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press

News

Afghan refugees: Government delays increasing financial pressure – CTV News

Published

 on


Refugee advocates are raising concerns that Afghan refugees granted asylum in Canada are being burdened by escalating costs stemming from the government’s delay in processing their claims.

Before they board their flight to Canada, all refugees are required to sign a loan agreement to pay back the cost of their transportation and pre-arrival expenses which can include hotel stays.

Some Afghans identified by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada as eligible for resettlement have been waiting months for exit permits while living in hotels arranged by the government. The hotel bills can add thousands of dollars to their debt.

Genius Dog 336 x 280 - Animated

The Canadian Council for Refugees says Afghans are being forced to pay for an inefficient bureaucracy.

“It seems like the Canadian government is taking advantage of the vulnerability of people,” says Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council of Refugees. Hotel bills can add thousands of dollars to their government debt.

Dench says refugees have no choice but to accept a “legally dubious” contract that doesn’t stipulate a precise loan amount.

“If they want a permanent home they have to sign on to whatever the terms of the agreement are. There’s no negotiation room, so people are forced into this situation.”

LONG WAITS AND BIG BILLS

Because Canada doesn’t recognize the Taliban government Afghans must get to a third country with consular support to complete their refugee applications. Many flee to neighboring Pakistan where Canada has a High Commission in the capital of Islamabad.

Nearly all Afghan refugees deemed eligible for resettlement are placed in the care of the International Organization for Migration while they are overseas.

The IOM organizes both charter and commercial flights to Canada and coordinates hotel stays for refugees as they wait for their exit permits. IOM doesn’t book flights until after IRCC has completed security and medical checks of its applicants. The organization bills the Canadian government approximately $150 per day to house and provide three meals a day for one family.

Of the 25,400 Afghans who have arrived in Canada since August 2021, IOM spokesperson Paul Dillon told CTV News in an emailed statement Friday the organizations has arranged travel for more than 22,000 of those refugees.

The claims of another 15,000 Afghans Canada committed to accepting after the Taliban took over the country have been delayed.

Irfanullah Noori, 28 and his family of five stepped off a plane at Pearson International Airport less than two months ago at the end of October. Before the Taliban took over his homeland in Noori worked as a logistics coordinator at the Kabul International Airport. He qualified for asylum because his brother served as an interpreter for Canadian soldiers.

Before being issued travel documents to Canada, Nouri, his wife and their three children, all under the age of five – stayed in an Islamabad hotel arranged by IOM for three months.

Irfanullah Noori poses with his youngest daughter on October 25, 2022 at the Pakistan International Airport before he boarded plane bound for Canada.

Before boarding his flight he signed a loan agreement. Nouri says IOM staff told him he would need to repay hotel expenses that added up to more than $13,000. That amount does not factor in the cost of flights for his family that he will also have to repay.

MISLEADING COSTS

IRCC says 96 per cent of refugees are able to pay back the loans. Monthly payments on the interest free loans are scheduled to begin one year after refugees arrive in Canada and costs can be spread out over nine years.

The federal government puts a cap of $15,000 on each loan per family, but the Canadian Council for Refugees says this is a misleading number.

Refugee families who have older dependents may have to pay back more than the cap. That’s because dependents over the age of 22 years old, can be considered a separate family unit and required to take on a new loan. Dench says this policy puts refugees in a precarious economic position. She’s seen families fight over finances and hopes and dreams put on hold.

“You have young people who should normally be going to university and pursuing their education but they feel that they’re morally obliged to get down to work, even at a minimum wage job in order to pay off the family debt,” said Dench. She argues the Canadian government should stop requiring refugees to repay the costs of getting them to safety, no matter where they come from.

SIMILAR CLAIMS, DIFFERENT TIME FRAMES

Since the fall of Kabul in August 2021, the Veterans Transition Network has helped raise funds to get interpreters and others out of Afghanistan. Oliver Thorne, VTN’s executive director says he’s frustrated that there are huge variations how long it takes for claims to be approved between applicants with similar profiles

“Some migrants are left in the dark. They don’t know why it’s taking them an additional two, four or six months compared to another interpreter who worked with the Canadian armed forces.” Thorne says IRCC needs to hire and train more staff to speed up the processing of claims.

He’s also calling for the removal of loan requirements, especially for Afghans who assisted the Canadian armed forces.

“They protected our men and women in uniform at great risk to themselves and their families. And secondly, these are going to be Canadians. They’re going to live here in our society down the street from us, and we have nothing to gain by making their transition more difficult,” Thorne said in an interview from Vancouver.

NO DEBT RELIEF

CTV News asked the Immigration Minister if it was fair that the Canadian government was burdening Afghans with additional costs due to the government backlog.

On Friday, Sean Fraser blamed a complicated process, but acknowledged that some refugees had been stuck “for a significant period of time.’ But the minister offered few solutions other than a vague reassurance that his department was “working with Pakistani officials to make sure we’re facilitating the smooth transportation of people to Canada.”

Meanwhile Noori is struggling to make ends meet in his new Ontario home, despite finding a job a few weeks ago at the General Motors plant in Oshawa.

Hired as a data-entry clerk, Noori earns $19/hour and is trying to pick up extra shifts on the weekend so he can make his $2,000 monthly rent on a one bedroom apartment.

Even though he won’t have to start paying back his refugee loan until next year, he’s daunted by the impending bill.

“It’s expensive (here.) I work 8 hours a day and six days a week. It will be very hard for me to pay back.”

After surviving the Taliban, Noori now faces subsistence in Canada.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Health

Children’s hospital in Newfoundland and Labrador is cancelling some surgeries

Published

 on

A children’s hospital in the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador is cancelling some surgeries and appointments starting Monday.

Health officials say it’s due to a high level of respiratory illness.

It is unclear how many surgeries and appointments at Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre in St. John‘s will be affected.

Residents who are not experiencing a medical emergency are being asked to avoid visiting an emergency department.

Genius Dog 336 x 280 - Animated
Continue Reading

News

Slain RCMP Const. Yang cleared of wrongdoing in shooting: B.C. police watchdog

Published

 on

Slain RCMP Const. Yang cleared of wrongdoing in shooting: B.C. police watchdog

British Columbia‘s police watchdog has cleared a slain Burnaby RCMP constable of wrongdoing after she shot a man in the altercation that led to her death.

The Independent Investigations Office says after a review of all available evidence its chief civilian director determined that there are no reasonable grounds to believe Const. Shaelyn Yang committed an offence.

It says the matter will not be referred to the Crown for consideration of charges.

Yang, a 31-year-old mental health and homeless outreach officer, was stabbed to death on Oct. 18 while she and a City of Burnaby employee attempted to issue an eviction notice to a man who had been living in a tent at a local park.

Genius Dog 336 x 280 - Animated

Yang shot the suspect before she died, and the IIO later said Jongwon Ham underwent surgery for his injuries.

Ham has since been charged with first-degree murder in Yang’s death.

“Due to concurrent court proceedings related to the incident, the IIO’s public report will not be released on the IIO website until that process has concluded,” the IIO said in a news release.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2022.

Continue Reading

Trending