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November 2, 2021

Your CFA Update on COVID-19

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Ontario minimum wage increasing to $15 starting January 1

Today, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that the Ontario government will introduce legislation that would raise the general minimum wage from $14.35 to $15.00 per hour effective January 1, 2022.

Under the proposed changes, the special minimum wage rate for liquor servers would be eliminated and they would be entitled to the general minimum wage. Students under 18, homeworkers and hunting, fishing and wilderness guides would also see an increase in their special minimum wage rates.

The Ford government will release its 2021 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review on November 4.

Most business groups have come out against the change as something that is coming to fast for businesses to be able to adapt. Effectively, bars and restaurants could see a 20% increase in staffing costs since September 2021.

Click here for more details on today’s announcement.

Heather Stefanson sworn in as Manitoba's 1st female premier

Heather Stefanson addressed the public for the first time after being sworn in as Manitoba's 24th premier — making her the first female premier in the province's history. The premier said she'll devote her energy to reducing the surgery and diagnostic backlog in Manitoba health-care facilities and work toward rebuilding the economy, which has been hurt by the pandemic. She said she will also work to increase the number of intensive care beds and actively work to recruit health-care staff to Manitoba.

Stefanson — the favourite of the governing party's establishment — was named the party's next leader on Saturday, but by a slim margin. She won by 363 votes over Glover, with 8,405 votes of the votes cast — 51 per cent — to Glover's 8,042 votes.

Controversy with Shelley Glover claiming she is the Premier

Shelly Glover, filed a challenge at the Court of Queen's Bench, seeking to have the results of the election declared invalid and to have a new election ordered.

There is still controversy around allegations of missing ballots. At least 1,200 people had not received their mail-in ballots days before the votes were counted, but the party said those concerns had been addressed by election day.

George Orle, chair of the PC leadership election committee, told attendees at Saturday's leadership announcement the party had issued replacement ballots for every member who said they did not receive one.

Canada will put a cap on oil and gas sector emissions, Trudeau tells COP26 summit

Canada will impose a hard cap on emissions from the oil and gas sector, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday at the COP26 summit in Glasgow.

Calling the promise "a major commitment" that should inspire other resource-rich countries to dramatically curb their own emissions, Trudeau said Canada is prepared to limit the growth of one of the country's largest industries to help the world hold the global average temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

"We'll cap oil and gas sector emissions today and ensure they decrease tomorrow at a pace and scale needed to reach net-zero by 2050," Trudeau said during his two-minute speech in front of other world leaders gathered in Scotland.

In 2019, Canada's oil and gas sector accounted for 191 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions — 26 per cent of the country's total emissions. The country's second largest source of emissions is the transport sector, which emitted 186 megatonnes.

Since 1990, emissions from the oil and gas sector have nearly doubled — an increase largely attributed to a dramatic expansion of the oilsands industry.

U.S. will allow land entry again as soon as border crossings open on Nov. 8

The United States will reopen its land border to fully vaccinated travellers as soon as ports of entry open on Nov. 8, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced at a press briefing on Tuesday.

That means ports of entry open 24 hours will accept vaccinated travellers when the clock strikes midnight, while the others will accept travellers as soon as they open that day. 

The U.S. has kept its shared land border with Canada closed to non-essential travel since the start of the pandemic in March, 2020. But on Nov. 8, for the first time in 19 months, the U.S. is set to welcome back travellers by land and passenger ferry — as long as they're fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

CBP confirmed travellers entering by land will not have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test, but said they should be prepared to verbally attest to their vaccination status, and present their vaccination documentation upon request.

Mixed Doses Allowed

To be considered fully vaccinated, travellers must have all recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by U.S. regulators or the World Health Organization. WHO-approved vaccines include Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca and its Indian-made counterpart, Covishield. The U.S. will also accept any combination of these vaccines, such as a mix of AstraZeneca and Moderna. 

Children under 18 years of age will be exempt from the vaccination requirement.

Montreal getting a new 263 area code

On Monday, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced that the new area code will be rolled out during the fall of next year.

According to the Canadian Numbering Administrator (CNA), the Montreal region is expected to run out of 514 and 438 combinations in February of 2024.

According to Monday's release from the CRTC, here are a few reasons why it says a new area code is the simplest solution to this dilemma:

  • Introducing a new area code is better than changing existing numbers.
  • 10-digit local dialling is already in place in the Montreal region, since you need to dial 514 or 438 to make sure you reach the right number, so adding a new area code isn't a big deal
  • It also creates fewer separate areas where telephone number "relief planning" may be needed in the future.

The 263 will start being rolled out in and around Montreal as of Oct. 22, 2022.

Quebec loosening of COVID-19 restrictions

Dancing and singing will be allowed again in Quebec bars and restaurants as of Nov. 15, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé announced in a COVID-19 update Tuesday. 

Face coverings, including for those singing karaoke, will still be required, unless the singer is two metres away from other people.

Quebec is loosening a number of other wide-ranging COVID-19 health restrictions as of that date, because the "epidemiological situation is relatively under control," Dubé said. 

Workplaces will no longer have to prioritize working from home, though they should still allow it, he said. Gyms will also no longer have to require distancing and face masks during high-intensity workouts. 

High school students will only need to wear masks while moving around on school grounds.

For students in the Greater Montreal area, Quebec City and Chaudière-Appalaches regions, this change will mark the first time in more than a year they've been allowed to sit in class without a mask.

The new rule will also apply to the following regions where high school students have been required to wear masks inside classrooms: the Eastern Townships, Lanaudière, the Laurentians, Outaouais, Mauricie and Centre-du-Québec.

The same goes for municipal regional counties (MRCs) in Chaudière-Appalaches —  Beauce-Sartigan, Appalaches, Etchemins, Bellechasse, Nouvelle-Beauce and Robert-Cliche — as well as the Matapedia MRC in the Lower-Saint-Lawrence.

In all of these regions and specific MRCs, elementary students will still need to wear masks at all times, including while seated.

Eight more airports accepting international flights starting November 30

Transport Canada says it is further easing travel restrictions in the country and will allow more airports to accept international passenger flights at the end of the month.

In a press release issued Tuesday, Transport Canada said the government's "strict vaccine travel requirements" that will be fully phased in by Nov. 30, and the issuing of a pan-Canadian proof of vaccination passport, have created "opportunities for safe travel for vaccinated Canadians."

The department noted that the next step in easing travel restrictions is to expand the number of Canadian airports that can accept international passengers.

As of Nov. 30, international flights carrying passengers will be allowed to land at these Canadian airports:

  • John’s International
  • John C. Munro Hamilton International
  • Region of Waterloo International
  • Regina International
  • Saskatoon John G. Diefenbaker International
  • Kelowna International
  • Abbotsford International
  • Victoria International

These airports are in addition to the 10 Canadian airports currently accepting international flights in Halifax, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.

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