How much paid sick leave should be offered in B.C.? Residents can weigh in until Monday

Monday is British Columbians’ last chance to weigh in on proposals for a paid sick leave for workers in the province.

B.C. has passed legislation that will implement employer-paid sick leave starting Jan. 1, 2022 — but just how many days will be covered has yet to be determined.

The province is now seeking public feedback on whether the requirement should cover three, five or 10 days of leave.

Read more:
Poll suggests small businesses in B.C. can’t afford paid sick leave

With just a day left for people to comment, the BC Federation of Labour is strongly promoting the 10-day option, arguing that other OECD countries like Australia, New Zealand and Sweden meet that bar or greater.

President Laird Cronk said the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw multiple business closures related to employees heading to work sick in workplaces ranging from meat processing to manufacturing to restaurants, showed the need for robust coverage.

“What we know for sure is that people went to work sick in the pandemic … we’ve seen it in multiple locations, because they didn’t have the means to stay home, they were so worried about paying the bills, paying the rent, and they didn’t have paid sick leave, so they made the untenable decision to go to work,” he said.

“What we know is other folks got sick, other folks took that back to their families, their communities, and in the COVID era that can have tragic results.”

Read more:
COVID-19: B.C. introduces sick pay legislation to fill gaps in federal program

While the maximal proposal is attractive to labour, business groups have expressed concern about the affordability of such a program to employers.

A survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business found 64 per cent of members did not support the proposal, with more than eight in 10 citing costs.

It said nearly half of businesses have yet to return to pre-COVID revenues, but noted that more than six in 10 members backed the sick leave idea if it was fully funded by government.

“They have record numbers of debt, we’re talking of upward of $129,000, and recovery’s not quite there — there’s a lot of uncertainty,” said Seth Scott, CFIB senior policy analyst for B.C. and northern Canada.

“Businesses are very concerned about this. they can not afford another cost right now … clearly businesses are not feeling so great about the economic outlook in both the short and the long term.”

Read more:
Lack of staff sick pay, rapid testing contributed to COVID-19 deaths in B.C. long-term care: report

The CFIB argues that if the government intends to implement the sick day policy, it should also be responsible for funding it.

Cronk said he understood businesses’ concerns, but argued that offering workers paid sick leave would actually be of net economic benefit from an employer’s perspective.

“What we need to do is make sure workers don’t go to work sick,” he said.

“The cost to businesses of having workers come to work sick in the COVID era is really difficult, it can shut down your business for up to 10 days, that can be the end of your business.”

The province plans to formalize the new paid sick leave model by the end of November, and have it in place by the new year.

The public has until Monday to participate in a survey on the proposed options here.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

SaskEnergy reminds residents about carbon monoxide danger

As fall fades into winter, SaskEnergy is reminding people of the dangers of a potential silent killer in their homes.

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Spokesperson Alana Johnson said SaskEnergy wants to make sure people know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning and what they can do to keep themselves safe.

“This time of the year it gets cooler out there and people are going to be using their furnaces more,” Johnson said.

“Carbon monoxide is produced in the combustion process, or when anything is burned, so when you’re burning wood, when you’re burning charcoal, when you’re burning propane, or when you’re burning natural gas. Where it becomes problematic is when there’s lack of ventilation and carbon monoxide can accumulate in small spaces like your home,” Johnson explained.

Carbon monoxide is also produced when furnaces, stoves, water heaters and fireplaces malfunction.

Low-level exposure causes flu-like symptoms. Continued exposure can cause unconsciousness, loss of muscle control, brain damage and death.

There were 16 carbon monoxide deaths in Saskatchewan between 2015 and 2019.

Dangerous levels of carbon monoxide can build up when there is inadequate air supply or ventilation for appliances.

“When your furnace is running a lot and especially when maybe there’s the freeze-thaw cycle, you want to make sure there is no ice or snow covering the vents that would allow for your furnace and appliances to vent properly to the outside.”

Read more:
Smoke, carbon monoxide alarms mandatory in all Saskatchewan residential buildings

Johnson said the real challenge is that carbon monoxide is odourless, colourless and tasteless so it’s difficult to know if it’s in your home.

Safety measures to protect yourself from carbon monoxide include installing a CO detector and inspecting and maintaining all gas-powered appliances.

Johnson also recommends residents who have fireplaces ensure the chimney is free of debris.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Industrial explosion left fire crews battling blaze at crude oil tank farm northeast of Edmonton

It took a great deal of effort to control a fire at a crude oil tank farm northeast of Edmonton. Chris Chacon has more on the industrial explosion that rattled a rural area.

An industrial explosion at a crude oil tank farm took place Saturday afternoon at SECURE Energy’s Elk Point facility northeast of Edmonton.

“Talking to some of the local people, they heard the percussion. Some of them felt the percussion when it happened,” Two Hills County Reeve Don Gulayec said.

Gulayec said more than 35 firefighters from several departments along with RCMP and EMS initially responded.

Read more:
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The county also cut off the natural gas and electricity to the site.

“Basically, you’re dealing with a tank farm that holds hydrocarbon material, and they are all on fire. It’s huge. The thing is you don’t know what the potential for an explosion or things like that are,” Gulayec said.

Gulayec said experts in industrial explosions were brought in to suppress and control the fire. The Alberta Energy Regulator and an agency to monitor the air quality were also on site. As a precaution, people living nearby were evacuated from their homes.

“There were no fatalities. Some people were hurt from what I gather, but the extent of their injuries is unknown at this time,” Gulayec said.

In a statement to Global News, Secure Energy said: “At appropriately 2:35 p.m. MST on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, a fire started at SECURE Energy’s Elk Point facility. Our emergency response plan was immediately initiated, which included contacting local emergency authorities.”

“All employees are safe and accounted for. The fire is out, and we are working with all appropriate authorities to investigate the cause. The safety of our employees, the public and the environment remain our top priority.”

Gulayec said in the end, he is proud of the many men and women who volunteered to help battle this blaze.

“It was a big fire for our area,” Gulayec said.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Former PPC candidate Mark Friesen sent to Ont. hospital with COVID-19, supporters say

For the second straight election, Maxime Bernier's People's Party of Canada has been shut out and in the process, they've prompted complaints to Saskatoon police about public health orders.

Former Saskatoon PPC candidate and well-known critic of COVID-19 restrictions Mark Friesen is in a Toronto hospital with COVID-19, one of his supporters said in a video.

The video is titled “How Long Will Canada Remain Docile?” and was posted on the video platform Rumble. In it, supporter Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson shared details about Friesen’s condition.

Read more:
Saskatoon doctor expresses concern with police handling of PPC event

“Many of you are following what is happening with Mark Friesen. I love this man,” Tyler Thompson tells her viewers. “Many of you know, Mark got COVID, he is actually intubated at this time.”

It came to light earlier this week that Friesen had pneumonia and was transferred to Ontario, according to a different video posted by a supporter.

In that video posted Oct. 21, Tamara Lavoie says he has been in the hospital for three weeks. She adds that he was in ICU in Saskatoon and transferred to Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto on Oct. 20.

Lavoie nor her guest, former PPC candidate Jody Craven, mentioned COVID-19 in the video.

On Friday, Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency President Marlo Pritchard said the province’s current focus is moving COVID-19 patients to Ontario, rather than non-COVID-19 patients.

The provincial government covers the estimated $20,000 cost.

Featured in Tyler Thompson’s Oct. 23 video is an interview with Sean Taylor, a former federal candidate for PPC from B.C who says he is with Friesen at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Friesen has not spoken publicly and is not seen in any videos reviewed by Global News that have been posted to social media referencing his illness. His family members have also not been seen or heard from in the social media videos.

Taylor claims to be a former nurse who was fired but does not specify why he was fired.

In the video, Taylor is donned in PPE and mentioned he is not “double” vaccinated and was not allowed to stay in an unidentified hotel.

Global News reached out to Mount Sinai Hospital to ask what their visitor rules are for individuals not fully vaccinated, but a response was not provided before publishing.

Read more:
Saskatchewan planning to send 2 to 4 ICU patients daily to Ontario starting next week

Global News has reached out to several of Friesen’s family members for weeks for an update on his health but no one has responded.

“Well, he’s sick, right? He’s in a fight but I’m hopeful,” Taylor says about Friesen’s condition in the video.

Taylor also shared his views about Toronto, a city that has remained under stringent public health measures like gathering restrictions and mask mandates since the beginning of the pandemic.

“When I got off the plane yesterday and started travelling through Toronto, it’s a sci-fi horror movie out here,” Taylor said.

“Just the mind virus out here, like everyone’s masked and face shields and eye shields and it’s just, they’re pretty intense about the stuff out here,” Taylor added.

Tyler Thompson and Taylor also discuss how they claim Friesen was treated in hospital.

“We had some excellent care in Saskatoon, it wasn’t everyone, but the meanness with a lot of the staff and just the complete absence of empathy these days,” Taylor said.

Friesen has been a prominent critic of public health measures related to COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. He has appeared and spoken at rallies across the province and posts about his views on social media pages.

Read more:
Saskatchewan health officials consider next stage of COVID-19 triage

He attended a protest against proof-of-vaccination policies outside City Hospital in Saskatoon prior to the Sept. 20 federal election.

As of Sunday, a total of eight patients have been transferred to Ontario as Saskatchewan continues to battle the fourth wave of the pandemic.

The province currently has the second-highest rate of active COVID-19 cases across the country.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Quebec tables Bill 2, 'most regressive bill proposed on trans rights': advocates

Trans rights advocates are sounding the alarm over new legislation proposed by the provincial government that they say would set Quebec back on transgender issues.

Proposed Thursday by Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette, Bill 2 sets to amend the civil code and only allow trans people who undergo gender-affirming surgery to request an official sex change on their birth certificate.

“This would absolutely make Quebec the most regressive in Canada for trans rights,” said Florence Ashley Paré, a doctoral student at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law who is studying how science is used in legal cases involving trans youth.

READ MORE: Netflix employees stage walkout over anti-transgender comments in Dave Chappelle special

Paré said there is no other province or territory in the country that requires trans people to undergo surgery to access civil status change to their identity.

“This bill will set us back 15 years,” said Québec solidaire’s Manon Massé, who vowed her party would fight the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) bill at the National Assembly.

Paré, who is trans themselves, told Global News the legislation stands out as being the most regressive bill proposed on trans rights in the history of Canada. “All other bills were about progress. This is an exceptional case where we would go back on rights.”

READ MORE: ‘Deadly consequences’: Advocates warn trans people who are black face higher murder rates (2019)

The legislation, which contains 300 articles, will be the subject of public consultations and would essentially create separate sex and gender sections on birth certificates. Should a trans person not have undergone surgery, they would have to assign their sex at birth and would only be eligible to select their gender.

According to Paré and Massé, this would create a dangerous constant outing of trans people that would make them vulnerable to discrimination. “ situations where people might get surgery they otherwise didn’t want just to meet the prerequisite from the government.”

Massé said the bill goes backwards on trans, intersex and non-binary rights in Quebec.

According to data released by the Quebec government in 2017, over 40 per cent of the province’s population surveyed has witnessed an act of homophobic or transphobic discrimination.

A 2020 report from Trans PULSE Canada suggests that trans and non-binary Canadians face increased levels of harassment, physical violence and sexual assault.

–with files from the Canadian Press

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

WATCH: Global National - Oct. 24

Watch the full broadcast of Global National with Robin Gill for Sunday, October 24, 2021.

View more Global National videos here, or submit a photo for our Your Canada segment here.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Preparations for upcoming ski season in Alberta underway

WATCH ABOVE: With the thought of snow starting to creep into Albertans' minds comes the excitement of hitting the slopes. As Jessica Robb explains, preparations for this season are already starting.

Snow isn’t quite in the southern Alberta forecast yet but that hasn’t stopped ski shops, resorts and families from getting ready for the approaching season.

“As everyone’s seen in the previous year, things are really hard to get right now, so it’s really important to get on things early,” said Joe Molina, marketing and web operations manager at Alpenland in Lethbridge.

Last season saw an increase in people looking to try skiing, snowboarding and cross-country skiing as a way to get outside during the pandemic. This led to gear shortages across the country, something Alpenland is trying to avoid this year.

Molina said they started ordering winter gear and apparel at the start of summer or even earlier. They’ve already started reordering products as people are already starting to shop.

Read more:
Coronavirus pandemic fuels demand for recreational winter gear

“The industry is really starting to feel the shortages on product, and it was really vital for us to order early,” said Molina. “So even with the reorders, we’re hoping that we’re able to stock up enough for the coming season, but it’s going to be hard to get stuff even as we get closer to December.”

Like most industries, Molina said the ski industry isn’t safe from manufacturing shortages and sourcing material — specifically alloys, like aluminum used to make ski poles.

“We’ve doubled down on them to make sure we have enough equipment that we can sell.”

As soon as Alpenland opened on Saturday morning, families were inside getting ski boots fit.

Brayden and Thomas Baird are young brothers who say they’ve been skiing since they could walk.

They like being daredevils, the thrill and the adrenaline that comes with hitting the slopes.

Last year, both noticed more people on the hill. They were happy to see people out trying the sport they love but it did come with a downside.

“It was nice, but at the same time, the lift lines were a lot longer,” said Brayden.

Read more:
Strength in season-pass sales a rare silver lining for B.C. ski resorts post-pandemic

Long lines are to be expected with record turnout, something Castle Mountain Resort saw.

“Last year was exceptionally busy,” said sales and marketing manager Cole Fawcett. “It actually ended up being the busiest season in Castle Mountain Resorts history.”

The resort took on a number of capital projects over the summer, spending almost $1.5 million.

Most was spent on snow-making improvements and adding 1.1 kilometres of snow-making infrastructure to the mountain.

Fawcett said this will help them have more predictable conditions, stay open longer and hopefully, open earlier than their tentative date of Dec. 3.

“Things look like they’re going to be busy, but our expectations are in check.”

If you plan on visiting Castle Mountain Resort, some things will look similar to last year. There will again be a limited number of day passes available to limit capacity.

“That was new for us last year, and it really worked well and kind of kept things to a dull roar on any given day,” said Fawcett. “I think that’s important, pandemic or not, for the guest experience.”

Still, it’s a move Fawcett never saw coming.

Read more:
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“Three years ago in the industry had you said, ‘Hey, a couple years from now, you’re going to be limiting the number of season passes you sell,’ most of us would have told you to go fly a kite. That just wasn’t something that we would have foreseen as an issue.”

Castle Mountain Resort will be taking part in Alberta’s Restriction Exemption Program. To use the indoor dining spaces, customers must provide proof of full vaccination, a negative COVID-19 rapid antigen, rapid PCR or lab-based PCR test or proof of medical exemption. Masks will also be required indoors when not eating or drinking.

“We’re shifting in the lineups and the base area away from a mask mandate to a mask recommendation,” said Fawcett.

So if you’re looking to get out and hit the slopes this season, those in the industry say there’s no time like the present to start getting ready.

“Despite the warm weather, it’s good to get on this stuff early with the best selection that we have for the season,” said Molina.

“It sucks to come in and get disappointed when you’re halfway through the season and you find out there are no cross-country skis again. That’s a bummer.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Kelowna, Penticton Rotary clubs work to eradicate polio

The Penticton and Kelowna Rotary clubs are working to raise funds to help eradicate polio worldwide.

Oct. 24 is World Polio Day.

“Polio has been with us for a long time,” Sandra Henderson, a spokesperson for the Penticton Sunrise Rotary Club, said in a news release.

“Those old enough will recall getting vaccinations on a sugar cube and other methods at school in the 1950s and 1960s. You will also remember the ‘iron lung’ machine used to support patients unfortunate enough to contract polio.”

Read more:
‘These diseases are now vaccine preventable’: the parallels between polio and COVID-19

Henderson said the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has matched Rotary International’s financial support for its polio program since the early 1980s.

“Vaccinations with the monetary support have resulted in a decline in polio plus program to only two reported cases in 2021,” Henderson said.

“All current cases are in the Afghanistan/Pakistan regions. Africa, for example, has been polio-free for a few years now.”

According to Rotary International, the Canadian federal government has invested nearly $1 billion to eradicate the disease.

Read more:
A polio disaster helped shape vaccine safety. Here’s why that matters for the coronavirus

“Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the polio infrastructure Canada helped build has been used to respond to COVID-19,” Rotary International said on its website.

“Polio eradication assets including disease surveillance, data management, risk communication, community mobilization, and coordination structures have been utilized in at least 55 countries.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Manitoba Métis Federation opens newest childcare centre in Dauphin

The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) is celebrating the opening of its newest childcare centre in Dauphin.

The MMF officially unveiled Michif Children’s Place at a ribbon-cutting ceremony earlier this week.

“Really I think people feel a sense of relief. There’s a place, we got an opportunity, we can look now at coming out post-COVID,” said MMF President David Chartrand.

“People are going to be looking at, ‘I got to get back to work, I need to get there, I need to have a place to put my child.'”

The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) is celebrating the opening of its newest childcare centre, Michif Children's Place, in Dauphin.

The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) is celebrating the opening of its newest childcare centre, Michif Children's Place, in Dauphin.

Submitted / Manitoba Métis Federation

The facility has 65 spaces accommodating up to eight infants, 42 toddlers and 15 preschoolers, and will employ about 25 people full-time.

Chartrand says it will also offer both parenting and cultural programs.

“Language is going to be taught, Indigenous languages. Super Dad, Super Kids, they call them, programs are going to be put in place,” Chartrand said.

“Land-based knowledge is going to be attached to it where we’re using our elders to take them on trips to understand the environment … so we’re going to start teaching them at a young age about the importance of the land, the basic importance of the environment, (and) water.”

Read more:
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Michif Children’s Place is just the latest in the MMF’s plans to build about 15 childcare centres across the province, including in Brandon, Thompson, The Pas and Winnipeg.

The first already opened in Duck Bay and another ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held in November for the next one in Saint Eustache.

Chartrand says the MMF is working to provide child care training for between 250 and 300 people over the next several years to help staff the facilities.

Manitoba Métis Federation president David Chartrand (left) during the official ribbon cutting for Michif Children's Place in Dauphin.

Manitoba Métis Federation president David Chartrand (left) during the official ribbon cutting for Michif Children's Place in Dauphin.

Submitted / Manitoba Métis Federation

“If small communities don’t have the population base for daycare centres, what we’re doing that’s different and unique also is we’re privatizing homes. We’re actually training families at their houses to become daycare centres in small villages,” Chartrand said.

“We’re really spreading our services in the context of trying to meet all the needs of our citizens.”

The childcare centres are crucial, Chartrand says, in helping to lift people out of poverty.

Read more:
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“My mom never went one day of her life into a school classroom … but she knew education was important,” Chartrand said.

“She made sure we never missed school. Because I think even though she never had an education she knew education was a way out of poverty. We started at a young age as we are with childcare programs like this. We’re giving kids a hell of a head start that we never had.

“At the end of the day, once you have an education, no one can ever take it away from you.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Ferry sailings cancelled, wind warning expanded as 'bomb cyclone' hits B.C.'s South Coast

WATCH: Weather experts say a 'bomb cyclone' is coming in too fast and too furious, setting up a weather whiplash for parts of North America's West Coast. In the United States, the storm is set to drop 300 millimetres on California, which has been suffering through severe drought and relentless wildfires.

BC Ferries has cancelled multiple sailings on major routes for Monday, as a second powerful “bomb cyclone” weather system approaches the south coast.

Environment Canada expanded a wind warning already in place for parts of Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast to include Metro Vancouver on Sunday afternoon.

Read more:
Wind warnings issued as second ‘bomb cyclone’ approaches B.C. coast

Residents of the city’s southwestern areas, including Richmond and Delta, were warned of southeasterly winds of 70 km/h, gusting up to 90 km/h near the water, forecasted to arrive late overnight and through Monday.

Vancouver Island’s west coast is expected to face the worst of the storm, with winds of 80 km/h, gusting up to 100 km/h.

With the strongest winds forecast to hit the inner coast on Monday, BC Ferries said it was cancelling at least 20 morning and early afternoon sailings on the following routes:

  • Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay (Victoria)
  • Tsawwassen-Duke Point (Nanaimo)
  • Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay (Nanaimo)
  • Little River (Comox)-Westview (Powell River)

Travellers should check the BC Ferries service notice website for up to date information.

Read more:
‘Bomb cyclone’: Concerns grow over potentially stronger 2nd storm headed for B.C. coast

By 3:30 p.m. Sunday, BC Hydro was reporting close to 20,000 customers without power on the south coast.

The lions share of the early outages were on the Sunshine Coast, with several thousand customers also affected on Vancouver Island, including in Port Renfrew, Port Alberni and Lake Cowichan.

The power company is warning people to keep away from downed lines if they see them but to call 911.

A “bomb cyclone” is a weather phenomenon involving a low-pressure system that intensifies by rapidly dropping more than 24 millibars in pressure in under 24 hours, according to Global BC meteorologist Kristi Gordon.

A similar system formed off B.C.’s coast on Thursday, though remained off-shore for the most part.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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