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US’ easing of travel and remittances to Cuba met with contention

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The country’s recent announcement of a series of steps to loosen some Trump-era restrictions on travelling to Cuba and the transfer of family remittances between the two countries has been met with some contention.

Yesterday the government said it will aim to issue 20 000 visas under a family reunification programme for Cubans to join their relatives in the US and will also permit more commercial flights to destinations beyond Havana for group educational trips and lift a US$1 000 limit on quarterly remittances.

However, Cuba’s Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodriguez, said the decision doesn’t change the embargoes which have been in place since 1962 nor most of Trump’s measures against the country.

“It’s a limited step in the right direction. To know the real scope of this announcement, we must wait for the publication of the regulation that will determine its application,” said Rodriguez.

At the same time, US Senator, Robert Menendez, chairperson of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a member of President Joe Biden‘s Democratic Party denounced the announcement.

“To be clear, those who still believe that increasing travel will breed democracy in Cuba are simply in a state of denial. Today’s announcement risks sending the wrong message to the wrong people at the wrong time and for all the wrong reasons. For decades, the world has been travelling to Cuba and nothing has changed,” said Menendez.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have hurt the Cuban economy, with fuel scarcity causing blackouts and limiting public transport.

According to statistics from the US Customs and Border Protection, the economic crisis has driven more Cubans to try to migrate to the US. Since October, almost 80 000 Cubans have crossed the US-Mexico border, more than double the number in 2021.

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Airline travel: Canada not alone as airport issues continue – CTV News

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As Canadian airports deal with their own set of problems amid the busy summer travel season, by no means are they alone.

Long lineups, cancelled flights, delays and lost luggage are issues infiltrating not just Canada’s major airports but those in other countries as well, one travel expert says.

“We’re seeing the exact same issues happening at all major airport hubs around the world,” Jennifer Weatherhead, founder of travelandstyle.ca, told CTV News Channel on Sunday.

“So Europe is facing a lot of these issues, the U.S. is definitely facing a lot of these issues, not just with flight delays but also with the cancellations, because they’re saying they don’t have enough pilots sometimes to fill up these flights and get people from place to place. So it’s a bit of an issue all around the world and I would keep that in mind.”

Weatherhead advises travellers to get to their departing airports as early as possible and check that their travel insurance covers trip cancellations, interruptions and lost or stolen baggage.

“Be prepared for delays at any point,” she said.

The aviation industry cut thousands of jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic as demand for travel plummeted. Now, with COVID-19 restrictions lifted in many jurisdictions, demand for travel has rebounded but staffing levels have not kept pace.

Travel in the U.S. has been particularly strained recently due to the Fourth of July holiday weekend, with airports seeing their largest crowds since the pandemic began more than two years ago.

The tracking site FlightAware reported more than 6,800 flight delays and another 587 cancellations at U.S. airports on Friday and more than 2,200 delays and 540 cancellations recorded as of late Saturday morning.

Airlines including Delta, Southwest and JetBlue have pared down their summer schedules to avoid further issues, something both Air Canada and WestJet have done, as well.

Outside North America, a technical breakdown on Saturday left at least 1,500 bags stuck at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, with 15 flights departing without luggage.

Airport workers are also on strike in France, demanding more hiring and pay to keep up with global inflation. Aviation authorities cancelled a number of flights as a result.

In Amsterdam, the city’s Schiphol Airport announced last month it would limit the number of travellers departing each day to prevent long queues and missed flights.

The airport also is advising travellers to arrive no more than four hours before their flight to ensure a “smooth flow” at check-in counters and security.

Richard Vanderlubbe, an Association of Canadian Travel Agencies director and president of tripcentral.ca, told CTV News Channel on Saturday that if a pilot or crew calls in sick, an airline has to scramble to find a qualified pilot for that particular aircraft.

Many people also left the airline and travel industry for other “safer havens,” he said.

“Of course, when we’re on restrictions and had all these restrictions for so long, expecting that things are going to come on like a light switch, its not very realistic,” he said.

Justus Smith told CTV News Channel on Sunday he booked a flight from Regina to Boston but had his connecting flight through Toronto cancelled on June 25.

He got a flight for the following morning and chose to spend the night at the airport.

Even though he was 13 hours early, Smith says he couldn’t get through customs more than four hours before his departure.

Smith says he eventually missed his flight after being delayed at customs and security.

He eventually got to Boston but says he didn’t receive his checked-in luggage.

Now a week later, Smith is still waiting to get his bags.

“I spent the week at a professional development course. I was the only one with shorts and a baseball cap because I didn’t have clothes,” he said.

Despite the situation, Smith did credit the airport staff for the work they’re doing under difficult circumstances.

“The individual airport workers, they’re amazing. Everyone’s doing the best they can,” he said.

“You see a lot of angry customers. It makes no sense to get angry. It’s frustrating, but you can’t take it out on the staff.”

With files from CTV News and The Associated Press

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Montrealers join international protests to sound alarm as India follows same path as 1930s Germany

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Montreal, July 3, 2022. Community members from the South Asian Diaspora held a protest in Montreal on June 30 to sound the alarm that the so-called largest democracy in the world is being dismantled. In this action, they were joining others in India and around the world.  Today, India is like Germany of the 1930s; state violence and fear are deployed against dissenting voices. In a classic tactic employed by authoritarian regimes, those working to uphold democracy and the rule of law are accused of terrorism, inciting inter-religious group violence and anti-national activities and imprisoned.The same day as the US Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, India’s Supreme Court also issued a most controversial judgment, giving an unprecedented greenlight for the arrest of two human rights defenders, who were picked up within 24 hours of that decision. Teesta Setalvad, renowned human rights activist and advocate for justice of minorities was arrested without a warrant. The Supreme Court verdict against Setalvad includes “audacity to question the integrity of every functionary involved,” and that “those seeking justice […] need to be in the dock”. The other person arrested was R.B. Sreekumar, former Director General of Police in Gujarat, because he had testified in proceedings related to the Gujarat genocide of 2002, against then Chief Minister of that state, Narendra Modi, who is now the Prime Minister of India, the most powerful position in the land.  Soon after, on June 27, journalist Mohammed Zubair, of AltNews, a fact-checking website, was arrested on charges of hurting religious sentiments, code in India for inciting violence between Hindus and Muslims. Meanwhile those who he was reporting on, who openly called for genocide of Muslims enjoy impunity.The world’s largest democracy has become the personal fiefdom of Hindu ethno nationalists. Majoritarian tyranny prevails. The state is going after those they see as standing in their way;  The judiciary follows the whims of the ruling far-right wing party, BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party).  “The state goes after those they see as standing in their way; those who take action or those who are simply trying to survive – old, young, Dalit, Muslim, poor, elite.  Arrest, lynching, house demolition, assassination, terror and intimidation are everyday occurrences, generating fear and misery.” proclaimed one of the participants.“We call on the Canadian government to hold the Modi government accountable”, said another participant.We denounce the Emergency-style arrests, widespread violence and indignity towards minorities, and call on the Canadian government to join other prominent voices across the globe in demanding the release of all political prisoners in India.We denounce the injustice, violence and discrimination against Muslims, Dalits and other minorities.
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Unemployment in Canada has dropped, yet some firms are struggling to hire. Here’s why – Global News

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The unemployment rate across Canada dropped to a new low of 5.1 per cent in May — the lowest since at least 1976 — yet some businesses are struggling to fill job vacancies. One of the main reasons for that, according to one expert, is that people are more “picky” when it comes to applying for jobs because of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the work environment.

“It’s very hard to make the argument that you need to physically come to work five days a week,” said Sarah McVanel, chief recognition officer and founder of Greatness Magnified, a company that helps organizations retain top talent and combat burnout.

McVanel says that COVID-19 presented Canadians with a different reality that changed the way people think about work.


Click to play video: 'Government spending isn’t sole cause of Canada’s inflation woes, new report suggests'



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Government spending isn’t sole cause of Canada’s inflation woes, new report suggests


Government spending isn’t sole cause of Canada’s inflation woes, new report suggests

READ MORE: Grocery store, alcohol sales down in April as prices rose: Statistics Canada

According to a report released by Statistics Canada on May 24, the number of job vacancies at the beginning of April hit just over one million, up more than 40 per cent compared to last year amid a tight labour market pushing up wages and fuelling inflation concerns.

The agency said on its website that employers in Canada were actively seeking to fill 1,001,100 vacant positions, up 23,300 from March of this year and a gain of 308,000 compared to April 2021.

Vacancies in the health care and social assistance sectors reached a record high of 136,800, up five per cent from the peak of three months earlier and up 90.9 per cent compared with the first quarter of 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic pummelled the economy, according to a report by Statistics Canada, which was released on May 21.

Read more:

Canada’s job vacancies reach record high in Q1, health sector dominates demand

The report went on to state that nurse aide positions, in addition to registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, accounted for 67.7 per cent of the overall vacancies in the health sector compared to the first quarter of 2020.

Employers in the construction industry also found it challenging to fill jobs in the first quarter, as 81,500 positions were vacant, up 7.1 per cent compared to the fourth quarter of 2021, and more than double the number observed in the first quarter of 2020.

Helper and labourer job vacancies soared 97 per cent and vacant carpenter positions were up 149.1 per cent compared to the first quarter of 2020.

Job vacancies continued to reach record highs in the manufacturing and retail trade sectors as well, up 5.3 per cent and 12.8 per cent, respectively, compared with the fourth quarter of 2021.


Employment in goods-producing sector falls in May, employment change (%) compared with May 2021 (StatCan).


Global News

McVanel said people are making huge career choices right now. Many are switching industries, not just employers.

“As people are looking out there in other industries, they’re seeing how there is an ability to have a different lifestyle, so they find that they can make the same amount of money, perhaps without needing to work in an environment that’s physically uncomfortable,” she said.

According to McVanel, statistical data does not always shed light light on the real problem.

“Some businesses are struggling to keep (up), let alone attract people because of their policies, because of their work culture,” McVanel said.

“People can read on Glassdoor (about companies). That means that people don’t even apply. So this well is drying up.”


Upward trend in employment continues in May (StatCan).

Read more:

Canadian employers willing to hire staff without job-related skills: survey

She says good qualitative data is needed to assess workplaces based on the amount of respect and recognition they have for their employees.

“If you’re not treating employees like human beings, not just as a number, and investing in their careers, then you are more than likely — no matter what sector you are in — you are less likely to be able to fill your position and attract people,” McVanel said.

An economics professor at the University of Ottawa, David Gray, says there are several obstacles coming between Canadians searching for jobs and employers looking to fill vacancies at the moment and the unwillingness to provide proper training to employees is one such.

“There are a lot of jobs begging…but there are frictions or obstacles when it comes to hiring and training employees,” said Gray.

Gray says there are jobs that “typically want their workers to be fully trained and ready to go.” But, are “often reluctant to invest in their training for fear of having their employees poached by some competing firm.”


Click to play video: 'Three-quarters of Canadians have returned to their pre-COVID work setting: Ipsos poll'



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Three-quarters of Canadians have returned to their pre-COVID work setting: Ipsos poll


Three-quarters of Canadians have returned to their pre-COVID work setting: Ipsos poll

Gray explains that there are some jobs, which require seven years or more experience, but not all companies offer the necessary training for that and are often looking for workers who already have it.

“There are jobs that you can do practically right away, but most jobs require at least some training,” he said. “You have to invest (in employees) to reduce the turnover of workers.”

The issue of filling roles “can also be alleviated by offering higher wages,” said Gray.

Another obstacle that Gray points out is commuting.

READ MORE: Pricey cottage rentals stretching vacation budget for some Canadians

“The jobs that are available, they aren’t necessarily geographically close to the location of the job searchers among the unemployed workers,” he said.

For some businesses, hiring is also an obstacle due to a shortage of affordable places for workers to rent. One such business that’s struggling is Fish & Sips in Collingwood, Ontario.

The owner Paul Heather said in an interview with The Canadian Press on Saturday that “it’s the affordability, but also the availability” that’s causing the issue.

Read more:

Why affordable worker housing is the latest hurdle for Canada’s tourist town hotspots

“There isn’t enough rental stock for people to choose from,” said Heather.

He also said that his latest kitchen hire couldn’t find a place in town and commutes by car — another hurdle when gas prices are soaring and regional public transit lags.

Rentals.ca, a Canadian website for apartment rental searches, said the average rent for all Canadian properties listed on its site rose 10.5 per cent year over year to $1,888 per month in May. The average national home price topped $700,000 last month, up 41 per cent from two years earlier as mortgages ballooned from Vancouver Island to Atlantic Canada, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.


Click to play video: 'Nearly half of Canadian women would rather quit than return to office: poll'



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Nearly half of Canadian women would rather quit than return to office: poll


Nearly half of Canadian women would rather quit than return to office: poll – Jun 17, 2022

— With files from The Canadian Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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