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EXCLUSIVE: Teamsters union could block emergency propane shipment to Quebec

The response by CN Rail to get propane to areas of the country facing shortages may yet be frustrated by striking union.

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CN Rail has responded to a critical shortage of propane in Quebec and Ontario by committing a special 124 car train to ship the needed fuel from Alberta to distribution hubs across Eastern Canada, the Western Standard has learned from a CN source that spoke on conditions of anonymity.

Propane shipments from Alberta to the rest of Canada have been halted due to strike action by the Teamsters Union that commenced Tuesday. The strike by rail workers has caused provincial governments across Canada – including Quebec and Alberta – to call on the federal government to introduce “back to work” legislation, outlawing the strike as a threat to the national economy.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney spoke on the issue to Quebec Premier François Legault, “We have technology that could guarantee you constant, stable access to propane and other fuels – they are called pipelines.”

Until 2014, the Cochin pipeline did, in fact, ship propane directly from Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta to Windsor, Ontario.

The response by CN Rail to get propane to areas of the country facing shortages, however, may yet be frustrated by the Teamsters.

The Western Standard’s source at CN said, “The folks who are on strike (conductors) are the ones who would be physically coupling and uncoupling the cars, lining switches, and setting hand brakes. The engineers who actually operate the locomotive are in a different union and not on strike.”

This means that while propane may likely be heading east from Alberta to Quebec, rail cars may remain stranded off CN Rail’s main line at switching yards, unable to move over feeder rail lines to customer facilities for distribution.

The Western Standard will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.

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Government warned quarantining passengers on Chinese flights would be ‘unsustainable’

“If this approach were to be extended to China, it would be unsustainable given the volume of travellers,” the memo said.

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The Canadian government agreed not to test or quarantine tens of thousands of people flying into the country from China in February to not overwhelm the health system, a government memo shows.

The memo addressed to Health Minister Patty Hajdu was sent by federal and provincial health chiefs in February.

The memo is included in roughly 1,000 pages of documents shared by public health officials with the federal health committee last month, reports Global News.

The memo said 20,000 passengers were coming into Canada from China every week and attempting to enforce or track a mandatory quarantine on them would be unrealistic, the memo states.

“If this approach were to be extended to China, it would be unsustainable given the volume of travellers,” the memo said.

“A voluntary self-isolation places less pressure on public health resources.”

Global said the memo sent to Hajdu was prepared following a briefing delivered by the country’s top public health officials to their managers in health departments across Canada about how to address the growing crisis.

The memo said that enforcing the Quarantine Act would require more resources for local public health units so they could “undertake active monitoring of each individual,” as well as an emergency order.

It wasn’t until a month later, on March 25, the federal government ordered under the Quarantine Act that required any traveller entering Canada by air, sea or land to quarantine for 14 days, whether they were experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or not.

Asked about the delay on Chinese arrivals in his daily press conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau replied: “We recognized early on that this was a challenge and we did take many measures to try and control or prevent or ensure that Canada was less vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19 that we were seeing elsewhere in the world.

“With hindsight, I’m sure there are lots of things that we could have done differently … but I can tell you that every step of the way, we took the advice of our medical professionals and our public health experts seriously and did as best we could.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Milk being thrown down the drain across the country, despite shortages

“In its 55-year history, Dairy Farmers of Ontario has only once before had to ask producers to dispose of raw milk,” said Cheryl Smith.

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It’s a sad scene – being repeated on dairy farms daily across Canada – perfectly good milk being thrown out.

It a damning condemnation of Canada’s milk supply management system which favours dairy producers in Quebec over those in the rest of the country. Also hurting the industry is the demand falling off from restaurants and coffee shops which are closed because of the coronavirus crisis.

“With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, we had to dispose of 12,000 litres of milk in the last few days…and I can just let you know it was really hard, really heartbreaking for me,” Michael Haak, whose Enderby farm has been in his family for four generations, told CTV.

Roughly 60,000 litres of milk is being dumped in B.C. daily.

The dairy association has donated about 40,000 litres of milk to food banks .

The BC Dairy Association’s Jeremy Dunn said there are huge challenges for the dairy supply chain right across Canada.

“Retail business in this COVID (pandemic) early on was very high. It quickly fell off. Food service business has gone to almost zero,” Dunn told CTV.

“It’s not a good feeling. [This is] something that I’ve worked hard for — and all my hard work is going down the drain,” Remko Steen, a dairy farmer from Tillsonburg, Ont., told CBC.

Last week, Steen said he was forced to dump about 12,000 litres of perfectly good milk down the drain.

“In its 55-year history, Dairy Farmers of Ontario has only once before had to ask producers to dispose of raw milk,” Cheryl Smith, the association’s CEO, told BBC.

Dairy Farmers of Newfoundland and Labrador, another provincial dairy association, asked farmers to dump 170,000 litres last week. The province produces about 50 million litres a year.

“A cow produces a certain amount of milk per day and farmers must continue to milk them to keep them comfortable and well,” said the DFC website.

The website said the dairy industry employees over 23,000 Canadians and contributes $17.3 billion to the economy.

Dairy production in the country is controlled under a system known as supply management.

It has been a controversial system for years, and in the Canada-U.S.-Mexico free trade talks, U.S. President Donald Trump called on Canada to end the practice for dairy.

Canada adopted this model in the early 1970s to overcome production surpluses, according to the Dairy Farmers of Canada website. Egg and poultry farmers started to operate under the system in later years.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter: Nobby7694

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Kenney says up to 3,100 Albertans could to die from coronavirus

But Kenney said those same projections show that 1.6 million Albertans would get sick and 32,000 would die without social distancing measure.

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Premier Jason Kenney said Tuesday night that probable scenarios show 800,000 Albertans will get coronavirus and deaths could hit 3,100 by the end of May.

But Kenney said those same projections show that 1.6 million Albertans would get sick and 32,000 would die without social distancing measures.

If all measures on self-distancing and isolation continue and are respected, Kenney said Alberta death figures could be between 400 and 3,100.

Kenney said those social distancing and isolation rules will last at least unto the end of May which is when he said the virus would peak.

He said he was giving Albertans the figures with “complete candor” and he “wasn’t going to sugar-coat it.

“For now, let me say we are confident that our health system will be able to cope, and that we have the supplies on hand,” he said.

He said as part of the government strategy to get the economy going, the provice was aiming at doing 20,000 coronavirus tests a day to get the people who are negative back to work.

And he said Alberta would do much more than Ottawa was in testing and, if needed, quarantining travellers arriving in the province.

He said cellphone apps could be used to help track people in quarantine.

On Tuesday, Alberta reported 25 new cases of the virus bring the provincial total to 1,373

“Our per capita number of recorded infections is the second-highest in Canada, after Quebec, but that is in part because our brilliant scientists and lab technicians are conducting one of the highest levels of COVID-19 testing in the world,” Kenney said.

Kenney said Alberta’s curve is similar to countries that have successfully slowed down the spread of the virus like South Korea.

“This is the greatest challenge of our time,” Kenney said.

There have been 26 deaths across the province, including 12 in the McKenzie Town long term care home.

Earlier Tuesday, Kenny said unemployment in Alberta could hit 25 per cent, a mark not seen since the Dirty 30s.

He added the provincial deficit could triple from $7 billion to $20 billion this year.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter: twitter/Nobby7694

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