Canada column for Sunday, June 20/21
THE CANADIAN REPORT
By Jim Fox
On the day when Canada received another one-million doses of Moderna vaccine from the United States, calls are growing to reopen the land border.
Despite that, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he is taking a cautious approach for when more Canadians are fully vaccinated, now at 20 percent, and is keeping the border closed at least until July 21.
Canada’s government Procurement Minister Anita Anand thanked the Biden administration and Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. Kirsten Hillman for the shipment.
At the same time as the shipment arrived, politicians and tourism groups from the U.S. and Canada took part in a panel discussion saying it’s time to reopen the border.
The restrictions due to the pandemic prohibit non-essential travel and have been in place since March 2020.
New York Congressman Chris Jacobs said a reopening would require approval by both countries and a plan.
He said he was “heartened” to hear of the shipment of vaccines being sent to Canada and hoped it may help accelerate progress at the border.
Air Canada is recalling 2,600 laid-off workers as travel demand increases and those whose flights were canceled are getting refunds.
Canada’s largest airline said workers, including flight attendants, will return in stages this month and next.
The recall is due to expected demand growing as vaccinations increase and virus cases drop while the government eases travel restrictions, said spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick.
As part of a $5.9-billion aid package from the Canadian government, the airline was to refund flights and vacation packages that were canceled. The deadline for refund applications is July 12.
News in brief:
- A massive construction project to revitalize the Center Block of Canada’s Parliament buildings is expected to take until 2030 and cost up to $5 billion. Work on the complex is well underway and while it “remained beautiful to look at its facilities were critically outdated and systems were failing,” said Rob Wright, Assistant Deputy Minister. The buildings contain 20,000 heritage assets, including 400 historic windows, 250 stained glass windows and85 paintings, frescoes, and murals.
- Canada’s largest lottery jackpot has reached its cap of $70 million along with 70 individual prizes of $1 million. A bonus with the Canada lotteries is that the winnings are paid in full and not subject to taxes. The Lotto Max is a record $140 million and has two draws a week with tickets costing $5 for three lines of seven numbers.
Facts and figures:
Canada’s dollar is lower at 81 cents U.S. and a U.S. dollar returns $1.23 in Canadian funds before exchange fees.
The Bank of Canada key interest rate is steady at 0.25 percent while the prime lending rate is 2.45 percent.
Canadian stock markets are mixed, with the Toronto index higher at 20,141 points and the TSX Venture index down to 948 points.
The average price for gas in Canada is higher at $1.32 a liter (Canadian) or $5.01 for a U.S. gallon.
Lotto Max: (June 15) 2, 8, 12, 13, 14, 36 and 43; bonus 29. (June 11) 20, 21, 25, 33, 38, 44 and 45; bonus 22.
Lotto 6/49: (June 16) 16, 23, 32, 33, 37 and 45; bonus 3. (June 12) 11, 20, 22, 33, 41 and 49; bonus 34.
- A wealthy Vancouver couple was fined $1,150 each after spending $10,000 to fly to a remote Yukon community to jump the line for an early COVID vaccine. Rodney and Ekaterina Baker were fined for failing to self-isolate for 14 days and giving misleading statements to authorities. Chief Judge Michael Cozens said their actions in January were “cavalier” and “thoughtless,” violating the territory’s Civil Emergency Measures Act. The couple has since each donated $5,000 to the global vaccine sharing effort known as COVAX.
- Cecile Klein is Canada’s oldest person, celebrating her 114th birthday in Montreal, her hometown. She has lived through two pandemics in her lifetime and is among the top 20 oldest people in the world. The five generations of her family celebrated at an outdoor garden party and via Zoom videoconferencing. “Don’t sweat the small things” is her secret to long life.
Jim Fox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org