U.S. border reopening, Canadians unhappy with Facebook : In The News for Oct. 13

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Oct. 13 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

article continues below

Fully vaccinated Canadian vacationers and day-trippers will be allowed to drive into the United States beginning in early November, the Biden administration said Tuesday, the first glimmer of hope in nearly 20 months for the families and businesses that depend on two-way traffic across the Canada-U.S. border.

``At long last, there is action by the United States to open the doors and welcome back our Canadian neighbours,'' New York congressman Brian Higgins said in a statement.

``Border communities await further details from the administration with great expectation, and I will continue to advocate for a more fully and freely open border to both governments, sooner rather than later.''

Those details remained few and far between Tuesday, but the plan is designed to dovetail with the administration's existing plan to allow international travellers from further afield to resume travelling to the U.S. on the same timeline, provided they've been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Non-essential travel to the U.S. by unvaccinated foreign nationals will remain prohibited, officials said. As of early January, even essential travellers who are foreign nationals seeking to enter the U.S. will need to provide proof of vaccination.

Travellers will be considered to be fully vaccinated if they have received a full course of a COVID-19 vaccine approved by either the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization, which includes Oxford-AstraZeneca, a common vaccine in Canada that never received FDA approval.

The jury is still out on whether travellers who received mixed doses will be eligible, but experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are currently working on how to address that issue, the officials said.


Also this ...

A new poll suggests many Canadians have a sour view of Facebook, with half of respondents saying the social media giant should be regulated or broken up.

Forty per cent of respondents to the online survey by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies said they have a negative opinion of the company.

The vast majority agreed that Facebook amplifies hate speech, helps spread fake news and damages individuals' mental health.

However, more than three in four also believe the social network helps them stay connected to their loved ones, with another 51 per cent saying it is key to sharing information.

Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque says Canadians maintain a dependence on Facebook but not a strong affection for it, as the platform confronts an urgent corporate image problem.

Last week Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before a United States Senate committee that the company's products harm children and fuel polarization in the U.S., a claim supported by internal company research leaked to the Wall Street Journal.


And this ...

The puck will drop on a new NHL season tonight for most of Canada's teams — although fans may notice some differences from previous years.

The Toronto Maple Leafs host the Montreal Canadiens in the first game of the evening, a return to the tradition of having the two storied rivals open their seasons against each other.

It's the first of five games on the schedule, including the Winnipeg Jets travelling to Anaheim to take on the Ducks. The night will wrap in Edmonton as the Oilers welcome the Vancouver Canucks. Both Toronto and Montreal will be missing their biggest stars.

Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews will miss the game as he recovers from off-season wrist surgery and Habs goaltender Carey Price has voluntarily entered the league's player assistance program for unspecified mental health issues.

Canadiens captain Shea Weber is also out, as he's on the team's long-term injury reserve list and could be out for the entire season.

Fans attending the games in Toronto and Edmonton in person will also be subject to restrictions designed to slow the spread of COVID-19.

This campaign is also the end of the one-and-done North Division, which had all seven Canadian teams play each other — and no one else — last season. The North Division was necessary as the Canadian-American border was closed to non-essential travel because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that the border has reopened, Canada's NHL teams are returning to their usual divisions.


What we are watching in the U.S. ...

NEW YORK — Companies that typically hire thousands of seasonal workers are heading into the holidays during one of the tightest job markets in decades, making it unlikely they’ll find all the workers they need.

For shoppers, it might mean a less than jolly holiday shopping experience, with bare store shelves and online orders that take longer than usual to fill. Employers are so desperate to find holiday workers they’re raising pay above US$15 an hour, offering four-figure sign-on bonuses and promising to pay their schooling.

If they can’t find the workers they need, employers will likely rely on existing staff to work more overtime, which can become costly for businesses and lead to burnout for workers.

"I’ve never seen a market like this," said Matt Lavery, UPS’s global director of sourcing and recruiting, who has worked on the hiring side of the package delivery company for 24 years. "Normally when you’re talking about people coming off unemployment benefits, you see surges in candidates. We’re not seeing those."

Enhanced unemployment benefits, which included a $300-a-week federal supplement as well as programs that covered gig workers and people who were jobless for six months or more, ended in early September. That cut off aid to roughly seven million people. So far, though, the termination of those programs appears to have had little effect on the number of people looking for work.

To snap up available workers as fast as it can, UPS is trying a new tactic: Hire in 30 minutes or less. Taking too long to hire can mean an applicant may go elsewhere. So the company has nearly done away with interviews, and does the whole hiring process online.

Some wonder whether employers that need holiday help will be able to find workers in time.

"It doesn’t look good," said Andrew Challenger, senior vice president at hiring firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which predicts retailers will add 700,000 workers during the holidays this year, 36,000 fewer than last year.


What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

LONDON — A government agency says England will be hit hard by floods like those that devastated Germany this summer if the country does not improve its defenses against more extreme weather brought by climate change.

In a report Wednesday, the Environment Agency warns of hotter, drier summers, more and worse flooding, rising sea levels and greater demand on water supplies due to global warming.

It predicts that with a rise of two degrees Celsius in global average temperature, England’s winter rainfall will increase six per cent, while summer rainfall will be down 15 per cent by the 2050s.

Emma Howard Boyd, the agency’s chair, said that "significant climate impacts are inevitable" and it is a case of "adapt or die."

"We can successfully tackle the climate emergency if we do the right things, but we are running out of time to implement effective adaptation measures," she said.

"Adaptation action needs to be integral to government, businesses and communities too and people will soon question why it isn’t — especially when it is much cheaper to invest early in climate resilience than to live with the costs of inaction."

The U.K. is hosting the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow next month, and officials are set to highlight the importance of helping communities adapt to climate change. But Howard Boyd said the issue is still in danger of being neglected.


On this day in 1992 ...

Toronto author Michael Ondaatje became the first Canadian to win the Booker Prize for Commonwealth Literature, sharing the prize with British author Barry Unsworth. Ondaatje was honoured for his novel "The English Patient."


In entertainment ...

Gordon Lightfoot is postponing a number of tour dates that were scheduled across Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia next month because of COVID-19 infection rates.

Six shows have been moved to October 2022, but a stop in Red Deer, Alta., has been cancelled.

Management for the 82-year-old singer-songwriter says tickets for the postponed concerts will be valid for the new dates, and that refunds are available.

The new dates for 2022 are in Nanaimo, B.C. on Oct. 23, Victoria on Oct. 24, Calgary on Oct. 26, Edmonton on Oct. 27, Regina on Oct. 29 and Winnipeg on Oct. 30.

Lightfoot, who postponed a number of shows over the summer to recuperate from a fall, is set to return to the stage Nov. 25 in Toronto for a three-night run to reopen a newly renovated Massey Hall.

"We all need to prevent the spread of COVID-19 variants at all concerts and events with crowds," his management added in the announcement Tuesday.



OTTAWA — Almost three years after Canada banned asbestos, public health advocates and environmental groups say Ottawa needs to close a loophole that allows the sale of second-hand products containing the cancer-causing mineral.

In a July letter to Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, Friends of the Earth Canada and several others say they're still finding lots of products that contain asbestos for sale online.

"We are disturbed by the fact that asbestos-containing products and asbestos samples continue to be sold in Canada," wrote Kathleen Ruff, director of RightonCanada.ca.

The World Health Organization designated asbestos as a carcinogen more than 30 years ago. Mined widely in Quebec for decades, asbestos was once a popular product to make everything from construction materials to textiles and auto parts more durable and fire retardant.

When inhaled the tiny fibres of asbestos lead to numerous health problems including lung disease known as asbestosis and a rare form of lung cancer known as mesothelioma.

The 2018 ban applies to the use, sale and importation of the mineral itself, and also to the importation, manufacture, sale and use of products that contain asbestos. There are exceptions for products already integrated into buildings and vehicles.

Ruff said a search online recently uncovered numerous asbestos-laden products such as ironing board covers, gloves and car parts, but when that was pointed out to Environment and Climate Change Canada, it didn't see a problem.

A spokeswoman for Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said asbestos is harmful to human health, which is why it was banned in the first place. In a written statement Joanna Sivasankaran said it's up to the enforcement branch at Environment and Climate Change Canada to uphold the law.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 13, 2021

Read Related Topics

© Copyright Times Colonist

Most Popular