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Via trains at standstill as talks to end blockades get rolling – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Trains aren’t moving but rhetoric is being rolled out as the anti-pipeline protests that have derailed vital freight movement in eastern Ontario and passenger rail travel across Canada continue.

Meetings are scheduled between Indigenous leaders and federal ministers who are looking to negotiate an end to the rail blockades in Ontario, Quebec and B.C., while premiers and opposition leaders are calling for immediate action to end the disruptions, which have already seen dozens of arrests.

The protests began last week after the RCMP enforced a court injunction against Indigenous leaders and their supporters who had been halting construction of the 670-kilometre Coastal GasLink pipeline project, a major piece of a $40-billion LNG Canada liquefied natural gas export project on the B.C. coast, that crosses the traditional territories of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation.

Indigenous leaders in B.C.’s northwest have invited federal and B.C. politicians to meetings, while following through on a promise to ensure a blockade of CN Rail tracks near New Hazelton, B.C. would come down during talks.

The blockade had been in place since Saturday, preventing shipments to the Port of Prince Rupert. But Indigenous leaders have warned the blockade could go back up if the province doesn’t agree to cancel Coastal GasLink’s pipeline permit during the scheduled talks.

Demonstrators who are blocking tracks near Belleville, Ont., a critical corridor linking Montreal and Ottawa with Toronto, say they’re standing with those opposed to the pipeline.

A court injunction sought by Canadian National Railway has been granted in Ontario that gives the OPP authority to clear the protesters, but as yet no enforcement action has been taken.

CN said Thursday it was starting a progressive shutdown in its eastern freight network due to the blockade, while Via Rail cancelled all service on CN tracks in Canada.

Only two northern Via routes – Sudbury-White River and Churchill-The Pas – will remain open.

In addition to being a major inconvenience to passengers, the disruptions will cause a huge economic hit. The shutdown by CN is largely seen as a move to pressure Ottawa to take action.

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the rule of law must be followed and federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau says the blockades are “illegal,” the federal government has largely taken a hands-off approach, saying enforcing injunctions against protesters is a provincial responsibility.

But Trudeau is increasingly coming under fire to take action as trains sit idle.

In Munich to lobby for a seat on the UN Security Council Friday, the prime minister told reporters that his government is “fully seized” and taking a “whole of government approach” to this issue and is doing all it can to ensure the rule of law is upheld.

“Canadians are worried and we will stay engaged on this issue,” he said.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer came out swinging Friday morning, saying Trudeau must order the RCMP to enforce the rule of law where they have jurisdiction and clear the protesters he says are threatening thousands of jobs.

“These protesters, these activists, may have the luxury of spending days at a time at a blockade but they need to check their privilege. They need to check their privilege and let people whose jobs depend on the railway business, small businesses and farmers do their jobs.”

He accused Trudeau of refusing to call the protests illegal and allowing a small number of activists to hold the economy hostage while being overseas “on a vanity project” to win a UN vote.

If the rule of law is not enforced, said Scheer, the Liberals will be “setting a dangerous precedent that a small few can have a devastating impact on the lives of countless Canadians.”

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister is demanding that Ottawa provide clarity on future resource development applications, saying the rail blockades show there needs to be a better process.

Pallister made the remarks after an anti-pipeline blockade of a major rail line west of Winnipeg came down. Activists have promised that more protests are coming.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault has said it is up to Trudeau to solve the problem.

“One thing is clear: the path to resolution of this issue is through dialogue and seeking to build consensus,” said Garneau during a press conference in Toronto Friday morning.

Garneau says that approach has worked in New Hazelton and he’s optimistic it can lead to resolutions in Quebec and Ontario.

Garneau says the federal government has been in constant talks with rail operators, business leaders and Indigenous protesters and is “committed to working on these matters in a manner consistent with its broader commitments to reconciliation. We also are a country that is a proud democracy that believes in the rule of law.”

There are signs the protests are intensifying.

The B.C. Supreme Court granted an injunction Thursday that authorizes police to arrest and remove people participating in any further blockades at the legislature building in Victoria. Those protests have spread to other government buildings in the city.

Hundreds of people marched in an anti-pipeline protest late Thursday afternoon through downtown Saskatoon and as the New Hazelton blockade was coming down, another was going up near the Pitt River bridge in Coquitlam. As a result, B.C.’s TransLink announced Friday morning that the West Coast Express service will not run, and will be replaced by buses.

As the turmoil continues, TC Energy, which is building the $6.2-billion pipeline that will take liquefied natural gas from northeastern B.C. to an export terminal now under construction in Kitimat, is proceeding with work at more than 30 sites.

The economic impact of the rail disruption has yet to be fully felt.

CN says the halt may lead to temporary layoffs for eastern Canadian staff and the Teamsters Union, which represents 16,000 works in the rail industry, warns that 6,000 works could be affected.

CN moves more than $300 billion a year in goods, much of that to the U.S., says Garneau, making it a significant trade issue. It won’t take long for the shutdown to affect a variety of key products, he said, including propane, jet fuel and de-icing chemicals, chlorine for drinking water, agricultural exports, and aluminum and lumber needed in the construction industry.

As the turmoil continues, TC Energy, which is building the $6.2-billion pipeline that will take liquefied natural gas from northeastern B.C. to an export terminal now under construction in Kitimat, is proceeding with work at more than 30 sites.

The economic impact of the rail disruption has yet to be fully felt.

CN says the halt may lead to temporary layoffs for eastern Canadian staff and the Teamsters Union, which represents 16,000 works in the rail industry, warns that 6,000 works could be affected.

CN moves more than $300 billion a year in goods, much of that to the U.S., says Garneau, making it a significant trade issue. It won’t take long for the shutdown to affect a variety of key products, he said, including propane, jet fuel and de-icing chemicals, chlorine for drinking water, agricultural exports, and aluminum and lumber needed in the construction industry.

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These COVID-19 symptoms are more concerning for kids than the sniffles: B.C. doctor

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VANCOUVER —
When it comes to COVID-19 symptoms, there are some that parents of young kids should be more wary of, a B.C. doctor says.

Dr. Rhonda Low, a physician based in Vancouver, says sneezing and sore throats don’t necessarily mean parents need to sound the alarm or keep their kids at home. This comes more than a week after health officials suddenly changed screening requirements for students heading to class.

“Talk about making parents nuts because kids have runny noses and sore throats all year, as soon as school starts,” she said about the old requirements on CTV Morning Live Tuesday.

Low says according to current data, kids under the age of 10 aren’t likely to have COVID-19 if they just have a runny nose.

“The chance of them having COVID is only about seven per cent,” she said. “If a child has a sore throat, the chance of them having COVID is only about 13 per cent.”

The new checklist for schools says kids should stay home if they have fever, chills, a cough or shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting. But if they have a runny nose, a sore throat, headache, fatigue or body aches, they are no longer required to be absent.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, addressed the changes last week.

“There are so many things that cause children to have one symptom that has nothing to do with an infection,” she said.

“It’s a balancing act to make sure children are able to attend school as much as possible and minimizing the risk that they pose.”

Some of the symptoms that are still on the screening checklist are more concerning for young kids.

“The most important symptoms that seem to indicate that we should get your child tested for COVID are a fever and a cough,” Low said. “And those two are present in about two-thirds of cases.”

And Low says new research confirms what health experts have understood since earlier in the pandemic: kids under 10 are less likely to become infected, even with similar exposure to COVID-19 as adults.

“But the role of kids transmitting to others and adults is still not really clear,” Low said.

Source:- CTV News Vancouver

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Three Shoppers Drug Mart workers test positive for virus in Belleville stores – Belleville Intelligencer

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Medical officer of health Dr. Piotr Oglaza stands outside Hastings Prince Edward Public Health.
FILE


Luke Hendry / Luke Hendry

Three employees at a trio of Shoppers Drug Mart store locations in Belleville “have tested positive on a presumptive test for COVID-19”and are in isolation away from work, said parent firm Loblaw Companies Limited.

Word of the three cases follows public notification by Hastings-Prince Edward Public Health of two positive cases of COVID-19, one recorded Tuesday and another reported Thursday in the region.

The transmission origin of Tuesday’s case is listed as pending while Thursday’s case was attributed to close-contact transmission.

Loblaw Companies said on its website that given “the important role we play in our communities, we are prepared for all possible situations, including a positive test for COVID-19 in our stores.”

All public safety measures are taken by Shoppers Drug Mart to clean and sanitize stores following a positive test of an employee, the firm said.

“In these cases, we work closely with public health and follow their guidance to ensure proper notification of close contacts and required cleaning and sanitization in our stores.”

The company said for “transparency, we regularly update the sections … with all positive COVID-19 cases in our stores by province in the last 15 days. For privacy, we will not release any personal information about our colleagues and employees.”

One infected employee working at Shoppers’ 150 Sidney Street location worked their last day Sept. 23, said the company, while another infected employee at Shoppers’ 405 Dundas Street location worked their last day Sept. 20, the company confirmed.

The employee at Quinte Mall’s Shoppers Drug Mart location at the Quinte Mall’s 390 North Front Street location worked their last day at the store Sept. 22, said the firm.

Quinte Mall property management did not return a phone call by The Intelligencer placed Monday for comment on any possible actions, if any, were needed to protect mall visitors.

Dr. Piotr Oglaza, medical officer of health for Hastings-Prince Edward Public Health, declined comment Monday on the Shoppers’ employee testing positive on a presumptive test at Quinte Mall and whether there was a safety concern for a privately-owned mall that sees high footfall daily on its premises.

Oglaza told The Intelligencer in an interview the health unit is bound by provincial health privacy provisions not to release information that could lead to the identification of an individual.

However, speaking in general terms, Oglaza said identifying an individual case and issuing a public COVID-19 advisory can be warranted if the health unit deems a public health safety risk to the public when proper contract tracing cannot locate all people who have been exposed to an infected person.

In the case of a COVID-19 outbreak earlier this year at a Kingston beauty services salon, for example, health unit officials there made the name of the spa public to trace all customers who may have visited the spa in order to conduct further contact tracing to find, isolate and stem any further spread of the virus.

Oglaza said contact tracing in all 54 local cases so far listed by HPE Public Health up until Tuesday’s latest additional case confirmation has been successful to the point that there has been no need to make any public appeals in the health unit’s catchment area.

Contact tracing is key to countering more anticipated cases in a second wave, Oglaza said, because health officials can rapidly identify, trace and isolate new infections to avoid community spread throughout Hastings and Prince Edward catchment area.

“There is a role, time and place for public announcements. That’s when we are unable to trace contact if the nature of the setting is challenging, impossible, and if there is a risk if we don’t get to the public,” Oglaza said.

“In cases of COVID-19, our work is really focusing on as quickly as possible connecting with the person who has been confirmed and getting from them a detailed history of who they’ve been in contact with over a certain amount of time we deemed they were infectious and then getting that list of individuals and connecting with them directly.”

“In that situation, once these contacts are basically identified,” Oglaza said, “connected with all the measures that are in place, there really is no need for anything more for the public to know other than there is a case and it’s being handled by us because any more information provided by a case could potentially lead to identify who that individual is and we’re not a position to do that.”

“This is personal health information,” Oglaza said.

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Disney to lay off 28000 at its parks in California, Florida – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Mike Schneider, The Associated Press


Published Tuesday, September 29, 2020 5:06PM EDT


Last Updated Tuesday, September 29, 2020 8:39PM EDT

ORLANDO, Fla. – Squeezed by limits on attendance at its theme parks and other restrictions due to the pandemic, The Walt Disney Co. said Tuesday it planned to lay off 28,000 workers in its parks division in California and Florida.

Two-thirds of the planned layoffs involve part-time workers but they ranged from salaried employees to hourly workers, Disney officials said.

Disney’s parks closed last spring as the pandemic started spreading in the U.S. The Florida parks reopened this summer, but the California parks have yet to reopen as the company awaits guidance from the state of California.

In a letter to employees, Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experience and Product, said California’s “unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen” exacerbated the situation for the company.

D’Amaro said his management team had worked hard to try to avoid layoffs. They had cut expenses, suspended projects and modified operations but it wasn’t enough given limits on the number of people allowed into the park because of social distancing restrictions and other pandemic-related measures, he said.

“As heartbreaking as it is to take this action, this is the only feasible option we have in light of the prolonged impact of COVID-19 on our business, including limited capacity due to physical distancing requirements and the continued uncertainty regarding the duration of the pandemic,” he said.

California’s health secretary on Tuesday said the state was close to working out a way to have the theme parks reopen in a responsible way.

“We know that a number of Californians are eager and wondering when that is coming, and we’re working with those industries to put out something that’s thoughtful, allows us to maintain the rest of our framework in a strong way, and really following those principles of slow and stringent to ensure those large activities are done responsibly,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of California Health and Human Services.

Disney officials said the company would provide severance packages for the employees, where appropriate, and also offer other services to help workers with job placement.

Officials with the union that represents the actors who play Disney characters at the theme parks said they were having conversations with Disney officials about how they would be impacted, according to Actors’ Equity Association.

Officials with the Service Trades Council Union, which represents 43,000 workers at Disney World in Florida, said they were having similar conversations.

“We were disappointed to learn that the Covid-19 crisis has led Disney to make the decision to layoff Cast Members,” the coalition of six unions said in a statement.

About 950 workers from Unite Here Local 11 in California will be laid off starting Nov. 1, union leaders said.

Disney officials didn’t offer a breakdown of the layoffs between the Florida and California operations. Walt Disney World in Florida has around 77,000 employees, while the Disneyland Resort in California has more than 30,000 workers.

With its parks closed due to the pandemic in April, Disney furloughed up to 43,000 workers while still paying for their health insurance at its Florida resort. It brought many of them back after it reopened in July. Furloughed workers in California also received health benefits.

In a statement, U.S. Rep. Val Demings, a Democrat from Orlando, said the layoffs showed the need for more coronavirus-related relief from Congress.

“These layoffs show yet again how desperately that assistance is needed by American households and businesses,” Demings said.

Associated Press writers Adam Beam in Sacramento, California, and Amy Taxin in Orange County, California, contributed to this report.

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