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In The News for Jan. 13 : What would increased immigration mean for Canada?

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 Jan. 13 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Sean Fraser rises during Question Period, in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

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 Jan. 13 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

As Canada plans to significantly ramp up its immigration levels in the coming years, some policy experts are worried about potential effects on health care, housing and the labour market. 

But Immigration Minister Sean Fraser insists that Canada needs more newcomers to address labour shortages and demographic changes that threaten the country's future.

"If we don't continue to increase our immigration ambition and bring more working-age population and young families into this country, our questions will not be about labour shortages, generations from now," Fraser said in an interview with The Canadian Press. 

In November, the federal Liberal government announced a new immigration plan that would see Canada welcome 500,000 immigrants per year by 2025.

A record-breaking 431,645 people became permanent residents in 2022.

The new immigration rates will be substantially higher than rates in similar countries, such as Australia, said University of New Brunswick political science professor Ted McDonald.

"I think the policy would make more sense if it's aligned with what are seen as underlying structural labour market shortages that are going to persist," McDonald said.

McDonald said concerns about a strain on health care and housing are legitimate and the government should consider them when making policy.


Also this ...

The head of emergency medicine for Halifax and the surrounding area says ERs are under the most extreme pressure that he’s seen in his 23-year career, and he says it’s taking a toll on patients and health-care workers.

Emergency medicine is in a state of “crisis” amid a shortage of nurses, physicians and hospital beds, and with a rise in patients with complex needs, Dr. Kirk Magee, chief of the central zone’s network of emergency departments, said in an interview Thursday.

“We all went into emergency medicine because we love to do it and we love a challenge — but we used to have the resources to meet that challenge,” he said. “Now (emergency department staff) are extremely worried they're going to be put in a position where they're not able to manage the expectations or even the needs of patients and their families.”

Magee, reached on the phone following an overnight shift at Halifax's QEII Health Sciences Centre emergency department, said that often he and his peers must tend to patients in hallways and closets. Wait times can be “extraordinarily” long, he said, adding that patient care is not as good as it could be.

He said the pressure ER staff are under has resulted in stress and long-term exhaustion that have driven many to reduce their working hours or leave the profession. “I've never seen the morale among physicians and nurses and other health-care professionals so low."

Magee said that in order to make meaningful change and improve the situation in ERs, the province must address a number of different problems. The government, he said, should increase access to primary and walk-in care; add more hospital beds; hire more nurses and physicians; and increase the availability of community-health and home-care resources.

“This is a complex problem and there’s no one thing that’s going to make this better,” he said.

Data released Wednesday shows that deaths in Nova Scotia emergency departments were up 10 per cent in 2022 from the previous year. The data, obtained by the Nova Scotia NDP through a freedom of information request, shows that 558 people died in emergency departments across the province in 2022, up from 505 in 2021.

The figures, which cover Nova Scotia’s four health zones between 2017 through 2022, show that last year’s death toll was the highest during the six years under study.


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

SELMA, Ala. _ A massive storm system whipping up severe winds and spawning tornadoes cut a path across the U.S. South, killing at least seven people in Georgia and Alabama, where a twister damaged buildings and tossed cars in the streets of historic downtown Selma.

Authorities said a clearer picture of the extent of the damage and a search for additional victims would come Friday, when conditions were expected to clear. After the storm began easing Thursday night, tens of thousands of customers were without power across the two states.

In Selma, a city etched in the history of the civil rights movement, the city council used lights from cellphones as they held a meeting on the sidewalk to declare a state of emergency.

Six of the deaths were recorded Autauga County, Alabama, 66 kilometres northeast of Selma, where an estimated 40 homes were damaged or destroyed by a tornado that cut a 32-kilometre path across two rural communities, said Ernie Baggett, the county's emergency management director.

At least 12 people were injured severely enough to be taken to hospitals by emergency responders. He said crews were focused Thursday night on cutting through downed trees to look for people who may need help.

"This is the worst that I've seen here in this county,'' Baggett said of the damage.

In Georgia, a passenger died when a tree fell on a vehicle in Jackson, Butts County Coroner Lacey Prue said. In the same county southeast of Atlanta, the storm appeared to have knocked a freight train off its tracks, officials said.

Officials in Griffin, south of Atlanta, told local news outlets that multiple people had been trapped inside an apartment complex after trees fell on it. A Hobby Lobby store in the city partially lost its roof, while elsewhere in town firefighters cut a man loose who had been pinned for hours under a tree that fell on his house. The city imposed a curfew from 10 p.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday.

Countrywide, there were 33 separate tornado reports from the National Weather Service on Thursday, and Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina and North Carolina all saw tornado warnings for a time. The tornado reports were not yet confirmed and some of them could later be classified as wind damage after assessments are done in coming days.


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

TOKYO _ Japanese prosecutors formally charged the suspect in the assassination of former prime minister Shinzo Abe with murder, Japanese media reported Friday.

Tetsuya Yamagami was arrested immediately after allegedly shooting Abe with a homemade gun as the former leader was making a campaign speech in July outside a train station in Nara in western Japan.

Later that month, Yamagami was sent to an Osaka detention centre for a nearly six-month mental evaluation, which ended Tuesday. Yamagami is back in police custody in Nara.

Prosecutors said results of his mental evaluation showed he is fit to stand trial. Yamagami was also charged with violating a gun control law.

Police have said Yamagami told them that he killed Abe, one of Japan's most influential and divisive politicians, because of Abe's apparent links to a religious group that he hated. In his statements and in social media postings attributed to him, Yamagami said he developed a grudge because his mother had made massive donations to the Unification Church that bankrupted his family and ruined his life.

Some Japanese have expressed sympathy for Yamagami, especially those who also suffered as children of followers of the South Korea-based Unification Church, which is known for pressuring adherents into making big donations and is considered a cult in Japan.

Thousands of people have signed a petition requesting leniency for Yamagami, and others have sent care packages to his relatives or the detention centre.

The investigation into the case has led to revelations of years of cosy ties between Abe's governing Liberal Democratic Party and the church since Abe's grandfather, former prime minister Nobusuke Kishi, helped the church take root in Japan in the 1960s over shared interests in conservative and anti-Communist causes.


On this day in 2012 ...

Cruise ship Costa Concordia slammed into a reef off the coast of the tiny Italian island of Giglio after Capt. Francesco Schettino made an unauthorized diversion. More than 4,000 people were forced to evacuate and 32 were killed as the vessel listed and ended up half-submerged. Schettino was convicted and sentenced to 16 years in prison for manslaughter, causing the shipwreck and abandoning ship while many of the passengers and crew were still aboard.


In entertainment ...

A documentary on cyber violence opening Friday in Toronto follows four women who recount their stories of being attacked, denigrated and threatened because they choose to speak their minds.

“Backlash: Misogyny in the Digital Age” explores the online violence and hatred faced by women and girls across the world. The French-language version of the film, directed by Léa Clermont-Dion and Guylaine Maroist, premièred in the fall in Quebec to critical acclaim and broke box office records in the province for a documentary film.

Maroist says the goal of the documentary, produced by La Ruelle Films, is to bring awareness to online misogyny and provide a voice for victims, who she says have few recourses to turn to. She says the idea for the film came after Clermont-Dion experienced online threats in 2015.

“I think in the past seven years, we have witnessed the growth of this phenomenon," Maroist said in a recent interview. "In 2015, we weren’t talking about cyber violence. But now, unfortunately, it has become a very important issue in our society."

“We want to raise awareness on this issue. We wanted to show that these different women coming from different places in society and different ages were experiencing the same thing,” Maroist said.

Maroist said online misogyny is preventing women from entering public-facing careers.

“This impacts our democracy because now young women are avoiding going into politics because they don’t want to deal with online harassment," she said. "I taught last year at UQAM (Université du Québec à Montréal), and a young woman told me that she wanted to go into politics but decided to go into communications instead because she didn’t want to expose herself to that violence."

In December, Maroist and Clermont-Dion presented an online petition with about 30,000 signatures to the Quebec legislature, asking the government to take specific actions to address cyber violence, including to require that police officers follow a mandatory online-harassment training program.

They also want the Quebec government to pressure Ottawa to adopt a law forcing social media companies to crack down on hate speech on their platforms or risk steep financial penalties.

The film will be screened at the Hot Docs Cinema in Toronto, with screenings in other cities to follow.


Did you see this?

VANCOUVER _ A tribunal has ordered a British Columbia accountant to pay her former employer more than $2,600 after tracking software showed she engaged in ``time theft'' while working from home.

The decision released this week by the Civil Resolution Tribunal shows the woman made a claim of $5,000 to cover unpaid wages and severance pay, arguing she had been fired without cause last March.

But the employer, Reach CPA Inc., submitted a counterclaim with evidence showing a 50-hour discrepancy between her timesheets and activity recorded by the tracking software on her work computer.

The decision shows the woman started working remotely in October 2021 and Reach installed the software, called TimeCamp, on her laptop four months later, shortly after she and her manager met to discuss her performance.

The tribunal says Reach compared the woman's timesheets with the software's data over a month between late February and March and found she claimed 50 hours during which it appeared she wasn't working.

The ruling orders her to pay Reach $2,603 plus interest in debt and damages for time theft and an outstanding portion of an advance the company had given her for home office equipment and educational fees, along with a $125 fee to the tribunal.

The woman told the tribunal she couldn't explain the 50 hours that were not accounted for since she did not fully understand how to use the software, it says.

But tribunal member Megan Stewart found that didn't matter given the program automatically tracked the difference between her work and personal activities.

"Time theft in the employment context is viewed as a very serious form of misconduct,'' says the decision released Wednesday.

The woman also told the tribunal she spent time working with hard copies that TimeCamp would not have captured, the decision notes, but Reach submitted data showing with the time she spent printing, she could not have printed the large volume of documents she would have needed.

Even if she had been working with hard copies, Stewart found no evidence that the woman uploaded her work into the company's electronic system or otherwise demonstrated that she spent any significant amount of time performing work-related tasks in connection with the 50 hours that were unaccounted for.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 13, 2023

The Canadian Press

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