Category "News"


Alberta ‘war room’ says Netflix kids movie ‘Bigfoot Family’ disparages oil industry

by BBG Hub

The Alberta government’s energy “war room” is going to battle with a Netflix children’s movie saying it inaccurately portrays the oil industry.

The Canadian Energy Centre says more than 1,000 people have sent an automated letter off its website to Netflix Canada to let it know the animated film sounds like propaganda.

Bigfoot Family is about the son of the mythical creature who fights an oil company, and made its debut on the streaming service earlier this year.

The family-friendly adventure film follows Adam and his dad as they take on an evil oil tycoon who wants to explode a fictional place named Rocky Valley for its oil.

The energy centre says in a statement that the movie villainizes energy workers and tells lies about the oil industry.

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The United Conservative government established the $30-million-a-year war room to promote the energy industry and to fire back against what the government deems to be misinformation.

Read more:
Alberta auditor flags $1.6B in government accounting blunders, oversight problems

The centre says a parent flagged the movie.

“The film claims an oil company intends to use a bomb to blow apart a mountain landscape within a wildlife preserve, then flood a pristine valley with oil,” the centre said in an emailed statement Friday.

“Pushing back against misinformation about the oil and gas industry is a major part of what the Canadian Energy Centre was set up to do.”

The centre has an automated system on its website, which allows supporters to fill out a form and send a letter to Netflix Canada’s head of communications encouraging the streaming service to “tell the truth.”

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Premier Jason Kenney defends war room while appearing on 630 CHED

Premier Jason Kenney defends war room while appearing on 630 CHED – Mar 4, 2020

Bigfoot Family wrongly portrays oil and gas extraction to an audience of young Canadians and ignores the industry’s commitment to environmental stewardship and responsible development,” the letter reads.

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“Responsibly produced Canadian energy is needed in the world more than ever as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. Children are the future, and they deserve the truth.”

The centre said more than half the people who have sent the letter through the website are from outside Alberta.

Read more:
An inside look at Alberta’s ‘war room’

Netflix Canada didn’t respond to a request for a comment.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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N.B. Coalition for Seniors rep has ‘mixed feelings’ about new nursing home announcement – New Brunswick

by BBG Hub

Following comments from the Auditor General on the crisis in the nursing home sector, New Brunswick has launched a request for proposals for a new nursing home to begin construction this year.

In a news release on Thursday, the province said its Social Development Department is calling for proposals for a 60-bed nursing home in the Acadian Peninsula, in northeast New Brunswick.

“This government is committed to providing the right kind of care at the right time,” said Social Development Minister Bruce Fitch in the release.

“The development of this project is a priority to address the need for nursing home beds in the area.”

Read more:
New Brunswick’s auditor general warns of crisis in nursing home sector

New Brunswick’s auditor general warned Wednesday of a crisis in the nursing home sector if the government doesn’t address the shortage of spaces.

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Kim Adair-MacPherson said the number of seniors in the province is expected to double by 2036 and there are currently almost 800 seniors waiting for a nursing home placement.

The AG report also found that millions of dollars are spent on additional costs related to New Brunswickers waiting for nursing home beds.

Click to play video 'Long-term care sector welcomes new legislation keeping couples together in homes'

Long-term care sector welcomes new legislation keeping couples together in homes

Long-term care sector welcomes new legislation keeping couples together in homes – Feb 5, 2021

Cecile Cassista, director of the New Brunswick Coalition for Seniors, says the AG report could have been a factor in rolling out Thursday’s announcement.

But Cassista isn’t confident that a new nursing home is the only necessary step towards a solution. She says she is concerned that the province is proposing a new nursing home without addressing staffing issues.

“We have staffing problems today, and we are asking the government to not have the staff currently working in these facilities working in multiple locations,” Cassista said.

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“Unless they put more resources in it, they’re going to continue to have a crisis.”

Global News has reached out to the Social Development Department but has not received a response by the time of publication.

Click to play video 'N.B. auditor general highlights lack of public accountability in new audit'

N.B. auditor general highlights lack of public accountability in new audit

N.B. auditor general highlights lack of public accountability in new audit

In Thursday’s release, Fitch said the new nursing home is a part of Phase 2 of the province’s five-year Nursing Home Plan that began in 2018.

The release said the plan “has the objective to address two primary issues: aging infrastructure and the need for additional beds.” The plan includes the implementation of 600 “Level 3” nursing homes around the province.

“The Nursing Home Plan was developed following an in-depth assessment of a demographic projection review, current nursing home facility condition assessments, and a review of design standards for new nursing homes,” said Fitch in the release.

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The province said there are currently 70 licensed nursing homes with a total of 4,925 beds.

According to the release, construction of the new nursing home in the Acadian Peninsula could begin this fall and open doors in 2023.

Read more:
New Brunswick long-term care homes short staffed during COVID-19

In terms of Thursday’s announcement, Cassista said 60 beds is big enough for a nursing home — “any bigger than that… the seniors are really disconnected.”

She said smaller homes are always preferable.

“We can’t be warehousing our seniors, and that’s what governments of today seem to do, and that’s really not acceptable.”

While the need for beds is a reality in New Brunswick, Cassista said she hopes to see the province invest more into letting seniors age in their own homes.

“I always get concerned when they start building nursing homes and they don’t address the home-care piece.”

Cassista said seniors want to stay at home, but more funding for home-care is needed.

While she said she has mixed feelings about the call for proposals for a new nursing home, she hopes more action is taken in a way that benefits seniors.

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“I’d really like to see the government deal with the issues of the auditor general’s recommendations. She’s concerned, and we’re concerned.”

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

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‘It’s a bit gut-wrenching:’ ER doctors frustrated at viral Vaughan HomeSense video – Toronto

by BBG Hub

Emergency room doctors are cautioning residents to not let their guard down after a video appearing to show a lack of social distancing by the checkout of a Winners/HomeSense in Vaughan went viral.

“Really choose wisely when you make the decision to leave your house,” said ER physician Dr. David Carr, warning that the current public health measures might not work against the new, highly transmissible variants of concern.

“The spread seems to be a lot more chaotic and unpredictable,” he explained. “So whereas six feet or two metres might have been safe before, it may not be safe now.”

Read more:
York Region no longer under stay-at-home order and joins red zone of pandemic response

The video, first obtained by Global News, created a stir on social media and caught the attention of numerous emergency room doctors.

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“It’s a bit gut-wrenching,” said Carr.

“It’s just ridiculous, but not surprising,” added Dr. Steve Flindall who works in York Region.

“People who are doing this clearly know what they’re supposed to do. If they’re not doing it, they’re simply choosing not to. I don’t think ignorance of what’s happening is any longer a viable excuse.”

The short video clip was recorded Monday, the first day York Region moved into the red zone of the provincial framework under which retail stores can open at fifty per cent capacity.

“The issue is — what are our priorities?” said Carr, who has patients in York Region.

“From the get-go, my priorities have always been hospital capacity, kids going back to school, then businesses re-opening,” he said suggesting better order and structure would help with a safer transition.

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Flindall agrees, advocating for a more coordinated effort between Toronto, Peel Region, and York Region.

They point to the current regional relaxing of restrictions as problematic. With Toronto and Peel still under a stay-at-home order, there are worries about people crossing over into zones where they don’t live.

Psychiatrist Dr. Ariel Dalfen talked about the psychology behind why the regional approach can be confusing to some.

“What can I do, what can I not do? If it’s okay just north of this main street, why is it not okay [where I am?],” she explained. “Sometimes those messages get lost and it leads to frustration and fatigue, and not following the rules.”

In the video, customers appear to be standing close together in line with some walking against the clearly printed arrows on the floor. There was also a long line-up outside the home décor store for most of Monday and Tuesday as customers waited two metres apart to get in.

Flindall and Carr warned that people should only go out for essential trips because the region can’t afford to add any more pressure the health-care system.

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Read more:
York Region moving to red control restrictions under Ontario’s coronavirus response framework

“Our intensive care units are still completely full in York Region,” said Flindall.

“To ask the health system to absorb more illness from completely avoidable methods of transmission… it’s completely selfish behaviour.”

For its part, TJX Canada – the parent company of Winners/HomeSense reacted to the video with a statement that reads in part: “In all of our stores in Canada, we ask our associates and customers to maintain social distance throughout our stores via signage, decals, and overhead public address announcements…

“These are in addition to our numerous other health protocols, which include occupancy limits, enhanced cleaning regimens, and protective shields at our cash registers.”

After Global News showed the video to York Region health officials on Monday, a public health inspector was sent to investigate Tuesday and “observed some lack of physical distancing by patrons in the checkout area, but this was quickly remedied during the inspection,” said Patrick Casey, director of corporate communications for York Region.

Click to play video 'Mounting pressure for more details about Ontario COVID-19 vaccine rollout'

Mounting pressure for more details about Ontario COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Mounting pressure for more details about Ontario COVID-19 vaccine rollout

“The store agreed to set and post their capacity limit to 150 patrons or 25 per cent below the provincial requirements under the red-control zone.”

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Meanwhile, the emergency room doctors expressing their frustration with the scene at HomeSense are pleading with people to only leave home for essential reasons.

“It’s so easy to undo months and months of hard effort in just a short amount of time,” said Flindall.

“Please just stay at home and listen to what public health officials are telling you,” he said, adding that a couple more weeks of dedication could result in a much better grasp on stopping the spread of COVID-19.

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

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Unanimous vote in support of reducing speed limit on Upper Gage where young boy was killed – Hamilton

by BBG Hub

New traffic safety measures will soon come into effect on the street where an 11-year-old Hamilton boy was struck and killed in December.

During Friday’s public works committee meeting, councillors voted unanimously in favour of a staff report that recommends lowering the speed limit on Upper Gage Avenue between Stone Church Road and Rymal Road East from 50 to 40 kilometres per hour.

That was where Jude Strickland was hit by a vehicle while walking home from school on Dec. 1, 2020.

The driver behind the wheel of the vehicle is alleged to have blown through a red light and ignored a crossing guard.

Read more:
Petition calls for lower speed limit following tragedy on Upper Gage Avenue

His death led to a petition calling for the city to lower the speed limit on that section of Upper Gage, which was presented to city councillors during the Feb. 1 public works meeting.

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Tom Jackson, Ward 6 councillor, said the community made their voices heard in the wake of the tragedy.

“Literally thousands of families … have just surrounded this family and embraced them with love, support and wanting to do whatever they could in their own small way, to ensure … the safety of the children for the future. And Jude’s tragic loss of life will never, ever be in vain, never forgotten.”

The staff report also recommends making that stretch of Upper Gage a community safety zone and lowering the speed limit on Royalvista Drive and Templemead Drive from 40 to 30 kilometres per hour, in alignment with the school zone.

The changes need to be ratified at city council before they take effect.

Read more:
Youngster’s tragic death in Hamilton prompts Upper Gage Avenue safety audit

Staff aren’t recommending red light cameras at the intersection of Upper Gage and Royalvista because the traffic safety audit determined it doesn’t meet the threshold for a red light camera to effectively reduce collisions.

Upper Gage won’t be added to the city’s automated speed enforcement (ASE) pilot program, but it could be considered as a location if the city decides to go forward with a permanent version of the program.

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“If we add more locations to that plan, we would have to reexamine that program and probably have to extend it beyond 12 months,” said Mike Field, the city’s manager of transportation operations.

“And then if we were to install or operate ASE on Upper Gage, it wouldn’t be there for very long as part of the pilot — maybe only for a two-week cycle.”

Read more:
Hamilton’s 2 photo radar cameras out of service due to vandalism, says city

There won’t be flashing ‘school zone’ lights added to Upper Gage either, as the road isn’t close enough to the school under the rules outlined in the Highway Traffic Act.

However, Field said there could be changes made to the physical roadway of Upper Gage, including removing the southbound curb lane at Stone Church, but he acknowledged that more analysis is needed before a significant change could be made.

Ward 8 Coun. John-Paul Danko said the conversation around traffic safety and Hamilton’s major arterial roadways shouldn’t be isolated to Upper Gage.

“I think it’s just important for this committee to recognize that just because it’s a commuter link, just because it’s a major arterial, it doesn’t mean that the people that live in those neighbourhoods don’t deserve safe access to school.”

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

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SpaceX to launch first all-civilian flight into orbit by end of 2021 – National

by BBG Hub

Elon Musk and SpaceX announced on Monday that they will send the first-ever fully commercial, non-government space flight into orbit by the end of the year, using the company’s four-seat Crew Dragon capsule for the journey.

Billionaire and jet pilot Jared Isaacman, 37, will finance and lead the all-civilian voyage, which he will use to raise funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. He plans to round out the fantastic foursome with a female health-care worker from St. Jude, an entrepreneur and the winner of a fundraising contest for the hospital.

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“St. Jude’s mission is not about rockets or space exploration, it’s about treating some of the most heart-wrenching conditions that any parent could imagine,” Isaacman said on Monday during a teleconference chat with Musk. “And if we’re going to continue making advances up there in space, then we have an obligation to do the same down here on Earth.”

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Musk says the journey is a “stepping stone” toward making space accessible to the general public, and that billionaire tourists are needed to help drive down costs for future voyages.

“Things necessarily start off real expensive, because it’s new technology at low volume, low production rates,” he said. “And so we actually need people who are willing and able to pay the high prices initially, in order to make it affordable, long term, for everyone.”

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The mission has been dubbed “Inspiration4,” and aspiring travellers have until March 1 to try to win a seat onboard. One person who donates to St. Jude will win a spot, and another “inspirational entrepreneur” will be selected through an independently judged competition. The entrepreneur must also use Isaacman’s credit card processing company, Shift4 Payments, to be eligible.

Click to play video 'SpaceX Dragon cargo craft launches to International Space Station'

SpaceX Dragon cargo craft launches to International Space Station

SpaceX Dragon cargo craft launches to International Space Station – Dec 6, 2020

The health-care worker, the donor and the entrepreneur are meant to represent hope, generosity and prosperity, according to the Inspiration4 site. Isaacman will represent “leadership,” the site says.

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Only legal U.S. residents will be considered for the journey — sorry, aspiring Canadian space travellers — and everyone must be medically fit for space flight.

“If you can go on a roller-coaster ride, like an intense roller-coaster ride, you should be fine for flying on a Dragon,” Musk said.

The four-person crew will ride inside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, and they’ll be carried into space by a Falcon 9 rocket. The mission is expected to take off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in the fourth quarter of 2021, though no exact date has been set.

A full-size model of the Crew-1 spacecraft module sits near the launch pad as a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is seen at launch complex 39A in the distance at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Nov. 15, 2020.

GREGG NEWTON/AFP via Getty Images

The mission will last two to four days, and the capsule will whip around the Earth once every 90 minutes, Musk says. The capsule will then come back down to Earth for a soft water landing off the coast of Florida.

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Isaacman hopes to raise more than US$200 million for the hospital, and he’s kick-starting that effort by donating the first $100 million out of his own pocket.

“I truly want us to live in a world 50 or 100 years from now where people are jumping in their rockets like the Jetsons and there are families bouncing around on the moon with their kid in a spacesuit,” he told The Associated Press.

“I also think if we are going to live in that world, we better conquer childhood cancer along the way.”

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Isaacman has already paid for a Super Bowl ad to tout the mission later this month.

The journey is one of several tourism ventures that Musk has on the go at SpaceX. Three businessmen will pay $55 million each to visit the International Space Station (ISS) via a Dragon capsule next January, and Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa is scheduled to fly to the moon on board SpaceX’s BFR rocket in 2023.

Click to play video 'SpaceX Starship prototype explodes during landing following high-altitude test'

SpaceX Starship prototype explodes during landing following high-altitude test

SpaceX Starship prototype explodes during landing following high-altitude test – Dec 9, 2020

Isaacman did not disclose the cost of the flight, but he did say that the expected donation to St. Jude “vastly exceeds the cost of the mission.”

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Maezawa and Isaacman each have a net worth of more than $2 billion, according to Forbes.

Isaacman says he will take his crew on a mountain expedition sometime this year as a team-building exercise before the flight.

“We’re all going to get to know each other … really well before launch,” he told the AP.

The Dragon capsule is fully automated, so Isaacman and his crew should be able to sit back and enjoy the flight; the crew can take control in the case of an emergency, and Isaacman does have some piloting experience to draw upon.

Click to play video 'Queen’s University astrophysicist sheds some light on the historic Spacex launch'

Queen’s University astrophysicist sheds some light on the historic Spacex launch

Queen’s University astrophysicist sheds some light on the historic Spacex launch – Jun 4, 2020

The Pennsylvania native grew up a “space geek” and founded Shift4 Payments in his parents’ basement after dropping out of school at 16 and getting a GED certificate on his own.

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Isaacman later scratched his itch for adventure by learning to fly jets. He set a speed record for flying around the world in 2009, in a stunt that raised money for the Make-A-Wish program. He later set up Draken International, the world’s largest private fleet of fighter jets.

The billionaire says he’s well-aware of the pressure that comes with being the first all-civilian team.

“If something does go wrong, it will set back every other person’s ambition to go and become a commercial astronaut,” he said.

SpaceX has recorded two successful Crew Dragon missions to date. The first mission sent two astronauts to the ISS aboard the Crew Dragon capsule in May, then brought them home safely in August. A second journey ferried a full crew of four astronauts up to the ISS last November.

The company has also sent its unmanned Dragon capsule up to the ISS on several occasions.

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Musk says he’s excited to start sending tourists into space in 2021.

“Let’s have fun and, like, inspire the public and get people fired up about the future,” he said.

With files from The Associated Press

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

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The 5-minute shopping spree. How robots are turbo-charging your online orders – National

by BBG Hub

Click to play video 'Is Canada keeping up with automation?'

Is Canada keeping up with automation?

Is Canada keeping up with automation?

Grocery giant Sobeys has bet on big tech with a massive new warehouse in Vaughan, Ont.

Its robotic, automated warehouse is the only one of its kind in Canada, and it’s the launching pad for automated online grocery home delivery across the greater Toronto area.

The robots manoeuvre their way around a giant warehouse, called “the hive,” moving at an astonishing speed of four metres per second.

“By centrally controlling everything in this automated warehouse, we have better control over the freshness and the quality. We know everything coming in and we know everything going out,” said Sarah Joyce, senior vice president of e-commerce at Sobeys.

“It takes two years to build a facility like the one I’m sitting in. It’s a $100-million investment.”

From an outside perspective, it’s easy to say Sobeys lucked out in its timing. After all, the pandemic forced millions of Canadians to stay home and work remotely.

Pre-COVID-19, shopping online for groceries represented just one per cent of all Canadian grocery sales. It just wasn’t something Canadians were used to doing. Sobeys is aiming to push that number up to five per cent, and eventually 10 per cent.

The company faced a choice two years ago. To distinguish itself from its competitors, it needed something big. So it invested $100 million in new technology and a platform created by Ocado, a British company known for automated warehouses and online grocery delivery.

“With the robots, they can pick a 50-item grocery order in five minutes. That compares to about 50 minutes that it would take someone walking around a store to pick an equivalent order,” Joyce told Global News.

Sobeys’ warehouse opened in the middle of the pandemic in June, just as e-commerce sales were soaring. Those sales grew 241 per cent in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the same period the year before.

Sarah Joyce, senior vice president of e-commerce at the Voilà by Sobeys Customer Fulfilment Centre in Vaughan, ON.


The company is planning to open three new fulfilment centres — a second one in Montreal, and two others in Western Canada.

The automated warehouse uses aspects of artificial intelligence, robotics and big data in everything from the website and mobile app to the facility’s robots and finally the routing and logistics to get orders where they’re supposed to go.

Humans do the grocery packing, while the robots sort and restock.

The process is a prime example of the possibilities offered by automation and innovation. Sobeys’ automated warehouse is the “fourth” industrial revolution in action. Industry 4.0, as it’s known, is all about automation, machine learning, robotics and artificial intelligence.

Is Canada ready? 

Canadian industry is lagging behind global leaders when it comes to automation, according to warehouse automation consultant Ben Angel.

Angel says companies, notably Amazon, along with other commercial and industrial players in the United States, Europe, China and Japan, are automating so fast that they risk leaving their Canadian competitors in the dust.

“Canadians are slow to innovate,” and in part, he says, that’s because of the luxury of being next to the world’s biggest economy.

“We typically have a ready-made market, the U.S., where we’re still going to be profitable, but we don’t necessarily have to spend money at the warehouse level (to automate).”

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Researchers aim to use artificial intelligence to save endangered B.C. killer whales

He says that, 20 years ago, the majority of robots in the country could be found in the auto sector. But even as Canadian industry modernized, its warehouses in large part have not kept up.

It takes a tremendous amount of technology and investment to transform a supply chain so that a product ordered online can get delivered to a customer’s house in one to two days, or in some cases, less than one day, compared to three or four days.

And yet, Angel says, “you go into most warehouses, it’s full of forklifts.” Replacing those forklifts with robots that can do the work more quickly and efficiently creates cost savings. That allows companies, like Sobeys, to scale their e-commerce in ways that would have been far more expensive otherwise.

The power of education

One area where Canada is innovating and keeping pace is education. Canadian colleges and universities produce some of the best students in the fields of artificial intelligence, robotics and engineering, attracting talent from around the world.

That emerging talent pool, says Shaun Ghafari, the associate dean of the faculty of applied sciences and technology at Humber College in Toronto, is needed to address the huge demand for highly skilled workers.

“The stakes are very, very high here because we’re talking about global competition, and a lot of companies, countries in the world, are ahead of us,” Ghafari says.

One of Ghafari’s recent graduates, Mauricio Toigo, came to Toronto from Brazil because of the opportunities he saw to work in the field of automation in Canada.

“I love the idea of thinking about or designing a machine, thinking about a concept and developing it,” Toigo told Global News’ The New Reality.

Now a lab technologist at Humber, Toigo points out that automation will eventually be in “every single process that we do.” He points out that if customers want one-day delivery on their online shopping products, “the only way to do that, really, is with automation.”

Balancing act

This shift to robotics and artificial intelligence has led to concerns about job losses. These concerns are hardly new, and date all the way back to the Industrial Revolution in England, when textile workers destroyed machines they feared would eliminate their jobs.

“The first Industrial Revolution could have happened a lot earlier if it wasn’t for the resistance to mechanization by craft guilds,” author and economic historian Carl Frey told Global News’ The New Reality.

There is little disagreement among experts that automation will transform labour — especially routine labour that can be easily replaced by machines. This includes both routine manual labour and, increasingly, routine labour of a “cognitive” nature, including many administrative jobs.

A Statistics Canada report published last year predicted that 35 per cent of back-office workers are susceptible to losing their jobs to automation. A fifth of specialized service sector jobs — bakers, butchers and cooks, for example — and jobs in the industrial, electrical and construction trades were also at high risk of automation-related transformation.

Frey says that the Industrial Revolution similarly resulted in the widespread elimination of middle-income jobs. “Even as the British economy took off, many people didn’t see the gains from growth trickle down for seven decades,” he says.

That “hollowing out” is, once again, repeating itself.

“If you look at routine jobs, there’s been a massive decrease over the last 30, 40 years, but it has come in spurts,” says Joel Blit, an associate professor of economics at the University of Waterloo.

But focusing just on potential job losses doesn’t paint the full picture of the impacts of automation, Blit says. Many non-routine jobs still can’t be replaced by machines, and have in fact been growing.

“The thing I’m most worried about,” he says, “is potentially increasing inequality, because even after the market settles down and people find new jobs, it’s not the case that their jobs are going to be as good as their old jobs.”

Robots don’t get sick. Will COVID-19 speed up workplace automation?

The need for speed

But none of this is an excuse not to push forward with automation — and fast.

All the experts whom Global News spoke with agreed that automation will make Canada better off, and that Canadian companies and governments have to pick up the pace to stay competitive with the rest of the world.

Sobeys says that far from resulting in a net loss of jobs, automation is creating new jobs to do tasks around the machines that have not been automated, including servicing them. “We hired over 450 people to complement the automation,” says Sarah Joyce at Sobeys.

It’s clear that automation is replacing many tasks. But many others are also being created for human workers. The unanswered question, therefore, isn’t simply whether jobs are lost. Instead, it’s whether there are good, stable, high-paying jobs being created around the robots, or simply a lot more low-skilled, low-paid, precarious employment?

“The end result is still not so clear,” says Joel Blit, the University of Waterloo economics professor.

The big challenge with automation is figuring out how to make sure wealth gets evenly distributed throughout the economy, and not just to the highly skilled, well-paid workers at the top.

One way to ensure fairness is to have a strong social safety system, so that people have access to things like health care, or a basic income, to support them if they face economic uncertainty.

“Change is going to happen,” Blit says.

“But we also have to make sure that we have the right policies and supports in place so that all Canadians benefit and not just some.”

See this and other original stories about our world on The New Reality airing Saturday nights on Global TV, and online.

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Woman tied up, man’s wrist broken in Abbotsford home invasion: police – BC

by BBG Hub

Abbotsford police are looking for witnesses to a home invasion on Tuesday afternoon.

Police say a woman flagged patrol officers down to report multiple masked men had broken into her home in the 2600 block of Adelaide Street.

According to police the assailants had gained access to the home’s basement suite and tied up one woman. The suspects then proceeded upstairs, bear sprayed three other people and demanded money.

Click to play video 'Elderly Nanaimo couple shares story of violent home invasion'

Elderly Nanaimo couple shares story of violent home invasion

Elderly Nanaimo couple shares story of violent home invasion – Nov 28, 2018

One of the occupants got into a physical altercation with one of the suspects, and needed treatment for injuries including a broken wrist, police said.

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Police described the incident as targeted, and said the suspects didn’t appear to actually steal anything.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Abbotsford police.

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

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Snowpack levels above average for most of province: B.C. River Forecast Centre

by BBG Hub

Snowpack levels across British Columbia are nearly all above average, according to the latest provincial data.

In its snow and water supply bulletin, the B.C. River Forecast Centre says snow accumulation began early this year, and that there’s a 95 per cent chance that La Nina conditions will persist through the rest of winter and into spring.

The bulletin says the provincial average for all automated snow weather stations is currently 122 per cent, up from 115 per cent on Jan. 1.

Read more:
Weather alert for B.C.’s South Coast upgraded to snowfall warning

“Accumulation in December was steady as the province experienced several storm cycles throughout the month,” reads a snow conditions commentary from Jan. 18.

“The first half of January was very stormy with several frontal systems affecting the province, particularly the South Coast, Vancouver Island and the Southern Interior and resulted in rapid mountain snowpack development.”

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To view the Jan. 1 snow survey and water supply bulletin, click here.

Regarding La Nina, the province says the weather pattern typically results in cooler and wetter weather conditions for B.C.

“The overall impact of La Nina on snow can be variable,” said the snow conditions commentary for Jan. 18, “but on average, areas in the southern portion of the province tend to have higher than normal April 1st snow basin indices.”

Click to play video 'B.C. evening weather forecast: Jan. 21'

B.C. evening weather forecast: Jan. 21

B.C. evening weather forecast: Jan. 21 – Jan 21, 2021

The River Forecast Centre receives its data from automated snow weather stations across the province. Those stations transmit hourly data, though the province also performs manual snow surveys up to eight times a year.

Below is a list of B.C.’s automated snow weather stations. The data is listed as a regional average, as of Jan. 22:

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  • Upper Fraser East: 125 per cent
  • Upper Fraser West: 133 per cent
  • Nechako: 123 per cent
  • Middle Fraser: 110 per cent
  • Lower Fraser: 121 per cent
  • North Thompson: 115 per cent
  • South Thompson: 108 per cent
  • Upper Columbia: 122 per cent
  • West Kootenay: 114 per cent
  • East Kootenay: 93 per cent
  • Okanagan: 118 per cent
  • Boundary: 107 per cent
  • Similkameen: 113 per cent
  • South Coast: 115 per cent
  • Central Coat: 132 per cent
  • Peace: 107 per cent
  • Skeena-Nass: 116 per cent
  • Liard: 101 per cent
  • Stikine: 138 per cent

Click to play video 'Kelowna Weather Forecast: January 22'

Kelowna Weather Forecast: January 22

Kelowna Weather Forecast: January 22 – Jan 22, 2021

Last year, snowpack levels varied greatly at this time – some basins were above normal while others were well below average.

For example, the Boundary basin was at 121 per cent of normal at Jan. 1, with the South Thompson listed at 117 per cent.

But of the 23 listed basins, just eight were at 100 per cent or above with 14 below 100, including Upper Fraser West at 37 per cent and Lower Fraser at 51 per cent.

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Combined, the provincial snowpack average for Jan. 1, 2020, was 84 per cent.

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Avalanche Canada releases technology to promote safe adventures

Avalanche Canada releases technology to promote safe adventures – Dec 28, 2020

To view the snow basin report from Jan. 1, 2020, click here.

To view the automated snow weather stations for 2021, click here.

To view a map of B.C.’s snow basin indices, click here.

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

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Canada’s top jobs with the fastest-growing demand in 2021: Randstad – National

by BBG Hub

After months of gradual gains, Canada’s labour market is in a funk again.

Statistics show the economy shed 63,000 positions in December, and many analysts expect the trend to continue as governments tighten COVID-19 restrictions amid rising case counts.

But while the new round of lockdowns is once again disproportionately hitting the same service-sector industries that saw the steepest job losses in March and April, a new report by Randstad, one of the world’s largest HR firms, shows the pandemic is also creating new roles in other corners of the economy.

Read more:
Canada sheds 63K jobs in December, first decline since April

The positions that are seeing the fastest-growing demand from employers reflect how companies are adapting to the new reality, says Carolyn Levy of Randstad Canada. And many of those trends are likely to survive the pandemic, she adds.

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Job interview Do’s and Don’ts

Job interview Do’s and Don’ts – Dec 13, 2020

Here are the big shifts afoot in the Canadian labour market and the top jobs associated with them, according to Randstad’s 2021 jobs forecast:

Shift to online sales — customer service representatives, delivery drivers, IT and support desk specialists, procurement and supply chain specialists, warehouse workers

With companies now forced to attend to customers and clients remotely, many are finding they need to hire more customer service representatives, Levy says. Seniors, in particular, have been more likely to struggle with the shift to online purchases, highlighting the need for support from customer service pros, she adds.

Delivery drivers, unsurprisingly, also feature prominently in Randstad’s list. But while delivery jobs have been in high demand for the past few years in Canada, it’s the need for short-distance deliveries within cities that has driven growth in the pandemic, Levy says.

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IT workers have been helping companies create or upgrade their online store, while supply chain specialists have been helping them rejig for an online-only business model, according to Levy. And with more goods now shipped directly from warehouses to customers’ homes, the need for warehouse workers has also increased.

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Many women not seeking to re-enter the workforce, expert says

Many women not seeking to re-enter the workforce, expert says – Dec 30, 2020

Shift to work-from-home — administrative assistants, IT specialists, security analysts and architects

Many businesses were moving away from traditional administrative assistant roles before the pandemic, Levy says. Companies figured they could do without receptionists, for example, and automating processes like checking in customers.

But with the shift to remote work, many firms are finding they need someone in charge of managing logistics, keeping track of schedules, and, say, corralling large numbers of people into a Zoom meeting, Levy says.

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No job during the COVID-19 pandemic? Here’s what you can do in 2021

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The work-from-home revolution has also put a strain on companies’ IT departments, prompting many to hire some extra help, according to Levy.

“Everybody (is) moving to the cloud … so you’re able to access your data from anywhere,” she says.

But as more sensitive company data migrates online, employers are also beefing up the ranks of cybersecurity specialists that can ensure the information is protected from hackers and other digital threats, Levy says.

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Advocates, workers call for better paid sick leave benefits

Advocates, workers call for better paid sick leave benefits

Extraordinary demand on essential retail services — essential retail workers, procurement and supply chain specialists, cleaners and maintenance workers, warehouse workers

For grocery stores and other essential retailers, the challenge has been to keep the shelves stocked in the face of unprecedented demand and unusual shopping patterns, like the toilet paper shortage and baking mania of the first months of the pandemic.

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And the need for essential retail workers and supply chain specialists persists in the second wave, Levy says.

Essential businesses are also having to hire extra cleaning staff to make sure they abide by health care directives and warehouse staff to keep goods moving.

Read more:
Air Canada to cut approximately 1,700 jobs

Extraordinary demand on the healthcare system — registered nurses

The demand for registered nurses comes from across the health care sector, whether it’s hospitals, long-term care homes or vaccine clinics, Levy says.

Across the whole system demand is “through the roof,” she says.

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‘Tired and broken’: ICU nurse reflects on pandemic toll

‘Tired and broken’: ICU nurse reflects on pandemic toll

Job seekers may find opportunity in unexpected places

A silver lining of the pandemic economy is that many of the workers displaced by the COVID-19 restrictions may well qualify for the jobs the health crisis is creating, Levy says.

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For example, travel booking agents, flight attendants and hotel workers likely have the right skills for customer representative or essential retail jobs, she says.

Job seekers should keep an open mind and look for opportunities that aren’t necessarily in their industry, she says.

“Don’t wait for things to return back to normal,” she says. “We’re going to have a new normal.”

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

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Victoria project looks to turn shipping containers into tiny homes for the homeless

by BBG Hub

The City of Victoria could soon be home to an innovative new tiny home village, meant to address the region’s homelessness crisis.

The pilot project, dubbed “Hey Neighbour,” is working to repurpose 30 shipping containers into tiny homes for people as they await more stable, permanent housing.

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Each 160-square-foot unit would come equipped with a bed, a desk, a hot plate and a mini fridge.

Showers and bathrooms would be in a separate, common area.

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Victoria homeless count and new city motion

Victoria homeless count and new city motion – Aug 10, 2020

Victoria’s last homeless count in March, 2020 found 1,523 homeless people living in the city.

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Luke Mari, principal with Aryze Developments, said the idea was to fill the gap in transitional housing currently available.

“We just looked at the state of the housing need in Victoria, and just found that the discourse was either tents in parks or full modular housing,” he said.

“We thought there’s got to be something that’s quick, in-between, that gives people access to safe weather protected housing.”

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The initiative has won the support of Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.

It’s also proven popular with residents, with a crowd-funding campaign nearly halfway to the $500,000 goal to build the project.

“What this says is that community really cares,” Kelly Roth, executive director of Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, said.

“We often hear the bad news stories and the negative things, and that seems to make bigger news, however, we have had an unbelievable outpouring of not just financial support but the volunteerism.”

Roth said COVID-19 had exacerbated an already challenging homelessness situation in the city.

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Campers allowed back to Victoria’s Centennial Square after clearout

Campers allowed back to Victoria’s Centennial Square after clearout – Sep 4, 2020

While the region’s homeless have been “fairly stabilized” in the city’s parks, the situation remained far from ideal, she said.

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“If you think about waking up in the morning or the middle of the night with snow in your tent or rain pouring into it and being cold, and being scared, and not wanting to be there … it’s a game changer for people to be able to be inside a space with a locked door they can call their own.”

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Sarah Murray, executive director of the North Park Neighbourhood Association, was also supportive.

Murray said that there had always been homeless campers in Victoria’s parks, but that since COVID-19 the encampments have become semi-permanent.

The association has been advocating to the city for better coordination of the sheltering that’s going on in Victoria’s parks.

“Shipping containers are more secure, they give people more privacy, they’re insulated, they’re fire proof, they’re just all around a better solution than people living in tents,” she said.

Click to play video 'City of Victoria wrestles with homelessness dilemma'

City of Victoria wrestles with homelessness dilemma

City of Victoria wrestles with homelessness dilemma – Jun 4, 2020

“Acknowledging that shipping containers are still not a home, this is an intermediate step that will hopefully keep people more comfortable while they’re awaiting long-term stable housing.”

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Advocates expect to be able to build the first 15 units in the project with the funding that’s already come in, but are still hoping to fill the gap.

The City of Victoria will also need to approve a location for the project.

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

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