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In The News for March 6 : Worker shortages plague vital airlines in the North

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 March 6 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
The control tower at Yellowknife Airport Tuesday Aug. 21, 2001. Airlines that operate in the North — where many residents rely on flights for transportation and goods — say disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic, a Canada-wide pilot shortage and new fatigue regulations are creating headwinds. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody

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 March 6 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Airlines that operate in the North — where many residents rely on flights for transportation and goods — say disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic, a Canada-wide pilot shortage and new fatigue regulations are creating headwinds. 

"With the COVID effect, that took a lot of people out of the marketplace," said Michael Rodyniuk, president and chief executive officer of Canadian North. "It's not as attractive as it used to be to become a pilot." 

Rodyniuk said new regulations that aim to reduce fatigue-related risks restrict the amount of time crew members can be on the job. He said that means airlines need more flight crews and it's taking longer for pilots to get the needed experience to fly to locations in the High Arctic.

Major airlines have reduced flights across Canada, including in the North, as they're unable to keep up with the resurgence in demand since the lifting of pandemic restrictions and facing staff shortages. 

Air Canada suspended flights connecting Yellowknife to Edmonton and Calgary last year, but said it intends to resume Edmonton flights in May. Canadian North started daily non-stop service between Yellowknife and Calgary on Feb. 14. 

A 2018 report by the Canadian Council for Aviation and Aerospace estimated the industry needed to hire 55,000 new workers by 2025 to keep up with projected growth and replace retirees. That included 7,300 new pilots and 5,300 new aircraft maintenance engineers. 

The report said the number of domestic graduates will only account for a quarter of those positions. It said the greatest current challenge is the high cost for new commercial pilots combined with historically low starting salaries and non-linear career paths. 

Data from Transport Canada indicates the number of commercial pilot licences issued in Canada has significantly declined in recent years An average of 1,116 licenses were issued annually between 2012 and 2019, but 474 licences were awarded in 2020, 293 in 2021 and 238 in 2022.


Also this ...

Mass immunization clinics in which vaccinators and volunteers move around a circular set-up of chairs - with clients staying seated - was by far the most efficient model in an Ontario government study comparing different sites.

The Ministry of Health study, obtained by The Canadian Press through a freedom-of-information request, looked at nine different mass vaccination clinics in the last six months of 2021 with an eye to supporting possible future large-scale vaccine campaigns.

The traditional, drive-through and "circular hockey hub" models all had different strengths and limitations, but the circular hockey hub clinic was able to vaccinate the highest number of people per staff member, and clients spent the shortest amount of time there, the study found.

The hockey hub model sees the client sit in one chair and have staff and volunteers come by to complete registration, medical screening, vaccination and observation time all in the same place.

One graphic in the study breaks down the maximum number of doses per vaccinator per hour. The circular hockey hub model saw 50 doses per hour, while the traditional models achieved 13 doses per hour, and the drive-through site saw seven doses per hour.

As well, clients at the circular hockey hub clinic spent a total of five minutes from entrance to getting vaccinated, where the process took 11.5 minutes at the traditional clinic and nearly 14 minutes at the drive-through sites.

Drawbacks of the circular hockey hub model laid out by the government study include limited ways to accommodate people with physical or developmental disabilities and a higher physical burden on staff.

The drive-through models were able to reach people with accessibility challenges and make use of outdoor spaces when risk of transmission is high or there are no indoor spaces available, the study found. However, they can also be hard on staff, who are on their feet most of the time and exposed to the elements, it said.

Traditional vaccine clinics lessen the burden on staff, who are mostly able to sit and can be used in small or irregularly shaped spaces, but require "significant" client movement and have higher exposure to viruses due to the longer time spent indoors, the study said. 


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

TOPEKA, Kan. _ Kansas legislators are considering a proposal that many disability rights advocates say would encourage employers to keep paying disabled workers less than the minimum wage, bucking a national trend.

A Kansas House bill would expand a state income tax credit for goods and services purchased from vendors employing disabled workers, doubling the total allowed to $10 million annually.

Vendors qualify now by paying all of their disabled workers at least the minimum wage, but the measure would allow vendors to pay some workers less if those workers aren't involved in purchases of goods and services to earn the tax credit. Supporters argue the bill would enable more vendors to participate, boosting job and vocational training opportunities for disabled people.

The Kansas debate comes as employers nationally have moved toward paying at least the federal hourly minimum wage of $7.25. About 122,000 disabled workers received less in 2019, compared to about 295,000 in 2010, according to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report to Congress in January.

Critics argue that below-minimum-wage jobs exploit workers But other advocates and operators of programs questioned about their wages said the severity of some physical, intellectual and mental disabilities mean such programs can't be eliminated without depriving people of valuable opportunities.

Thirteen states bar below-minimum-wage jobs for disabled workers, including California, Colorado and Tennessee, according to the Association of People Supporting Employment First, which promotes inclusive job policies. Virginia lawmakers sent a bill last month to Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, and there's a bipartisan proposal for a national ban in Congress.

The federal law allowing an exemption from paying the minimum wage dates to the 1930s. It is based on the premise that a lower wage offsets an assumed lower productivity among disabled workers and exempted employers must regularly study how quickly employees do their work. The January report to Congress said 51 per cent of exempted employers' disabled workers make less than $3.50 per hour and close to two per cent earn less than 25 cents hourly.


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

SEOUL, South Korea _ South Korea took a step toward improving ties with historical rival Japan by announcing a plan Monday to raise local civilian funds to compensate Koreans who won damages against Japanese companies that enslaved them during Tokyo's 35-year colonial rule.

The plan reflects conservative President Yoon Suk Yeol's determination to mend frayed ties with Japan and solidify security co-operation among Seoul, Tokyo and Washington to better cope with North Korea's nuclear threats.

The plan however drew immediate backlash from former forced labourers and their supporters. They demand direct compensation from the Japanese companies and a fresh apology from the Japanese government.

South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin told a televised news conference the victims would be compensated through a local foundation that would be funded by civilian donations. He said South Korea and Japan were at a "new window of opportunity'' to overcome their conflicts and build future-oriented relations.

"If we compare it to a glass of water, I think that the glass is more than half full with water. We expect that the glass will be further filled moving forward based on Japan's sincere response,'' Park said.

Park didn't elaborate on how the foundation would be financed. But in January, Shim Kyu-sun, chairperson of the Foundation for Victims of Forced Mobilization by Imperial Japan, which would be handling the reparations, said the funds would come from South Korean companies that benefited from a 1965 Seoul-Tokyo treaty that normalized their relations.

The 1965 accord was accompanied by hundreds of millions of dollars in economic aid and loans from Tokyo to Seoul that were used in development projects carried out by major South Korean companies, including POSCO, now a global steel giant.

Ties between Seoul and Tokyo have long been complicated by grievances related to Japan's brutal rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945, when hundreds of thousands of Koreans were mobilized as forced labourers for Japanese companies, or sex slaves at Tokyo's military-run brothels during the Second World War.


On this day in 1912 ...

Oreo sandwich cookies were first introduced by the National Biscuit Co.


In entertainment ...

TOKYO _ Hit Japanese manga "One Piece'' is coming to Netflix as a live-action series _ a development that's both exciting and worrisome for fans who have seen mixed success in a growing list of Hollywood adaptations.

Chronicling the coming-of-age adventures of Monkey D. Luffy, a young pirate with a heart of gold, the world's bestselling manga series has already been adapted into an anime TV series with over 900 episodes. There are also 13 animated movies, "One Piece'' video games and merchandise galore.

Ready to give her verdict is Nina Oiki, a gender and politics researcher at Tokyo's Waseda University who has been a "One Piece'' fan since she was in elementary school. She read the manga created by Eiichiro Oda when it first came out in Shonen Jump magazine in 1997, and watched the animated show that followed shortly after.

"I know some people are worried about what might happen with the Hollywood remake,'' she said, noting how past American attempts at depicting Japanese comics and animated works have at times proved disappointing.

The 2017 Netflix movie adaptation of "Death Note,'' a manga and anime about a book that can kill people, was widely critiqued as a flop. In December 2021, Netflix cancelled "Cowboy Bebop,'' its live-action adaptation of the space Western manga and anime of the same name, after just one season.

The cross-pollination of Hollywood and Japan goes back for decades. References to Japan, such as the image of a geisha on a screen, are plentiful in the 1982 sci-fi movie ``Blade Runner,'' directed by Ridley Scott.

The film, in turn, influenced anime, including the "Blade Runner: Black Lotus'' anime that first aired in 2021.

Live-action "One Piece,'' expected later this year, comes on the heels of the global success of "Demon Slayer,'' another manga that got its start in Shonen Jump and was adapted into a movie and an anime series that was picked up by Netflix.

Live-action "One Piece'' will star Mexican actor Inaki Godoy ("The Imperfects'') as Luffy _ whose nationality is canonically a mystery _ alongside American actor Emily Rudd ("The Romanoffs'') as Nami and Japanese-American actor Mackenyu ("Fullmetal Alchemist: Revenge of Scar,'' "Fullmetal Alchemist: Final Transmutation'') as Roronoa Zoro.


Did you see this?

VANCOUVER _ A Canadian man is being detained in Mexico for the suspected homicide of a 23-year-old woman at a resort south of Cancun.

The woman has been identified by family members as Kiara Agnew from Dawson Creek, B.C.

Her family says on a GoFundMe page that Agnew went on what was supposed to be a "dream birthday vacation'' to Mexico with her boyfriend, but that "turned into a nightmare'' when relatives were notified of her death on Friday.

Agnew's mother, Michele Levesque, later posted to Facebook that her daughter's body will be returned to Dawson Creek.

SSP Solidaridad said in a statement in Spanish that police from the Secretariat of Public Security took a man into custody after "a lifeless woman was found with possible marks of violence in a hotel located in the Xcalacoco neighbourhood.''

Mexican prosecutors have confirmed the woman was found dead Friday, adding a suspect is in custody and possible charges are being considered.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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