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CN Rail temporarily laying off around 450 employees due to pipeline protests

NEWS STAFF AND THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Feb 19th, 2020

Canadian National Railway is temporarily laying off around 450 of its employees in response to nationwide blockades erected in opposition to a British Columbia pipeline project.

The affected staff work in the company’s eastern Canada operations department.

“With over 400 trains cancelled during the last week and new protests that emerged at strategic locations on our mainline, we have decided that a progressive shutdown of our Eastern Canadian operations is the responsible approach to take for the safety of our employees and the protestors,” CN Rail said in a statement.

“Unfortunately … we had to send notices of temporary layoffs (approx. 450) to some of our Eastern Canadian operational staff, including employees working at Autoport in Eastern Passage, Moncton, Charny and Montreal.”

“This situation is regrettable for its impact on the economy and on our railroaders as these protests are unrelated to CN’s activities, and beyond our control.”

Hereditary chiefs in the Wet’suwet’en First Nation oppose the natural-gas pipeline through their traditional territory, though it’s received approval from elected band councils.

Since the RCMP moved in to enforce an injunction and keep the hereditary chiefs and their supporters away from the pipeline worksites, protests by Indigenous people and supporters have shut down the CN rail network in eastern Canada, suspended most Via Rail passenger service, and temporarily blocked traffic on streets and bridges and at ports in multiple cities.

On Tuesday night, VIA Rail announced that service in southwestern Ontario would resume on Thursday morning.

“Beginning Thursday morning, February 20, all trains running between Toronto-London-Windsor, Toronto-Sarnia and Toronto-Niagara will resume service,” VIA said in a release. “For operational and safety reasons, please note that trains may encounter certain delays.

“Since all other VIA Rail services are not operating until further notice, with the exception of Sudbury-White River (CP Rail) and Churchill-The Pas (Hudson Bay Railway), VIA Rail has cancelled all affected departures until the end of the day on Thursday, February 20, and all customers will be receiving a cancellation notice.”

VIA Rail says as of today, 532 trains have been cancelled because of the blockades, affecting more than 103,000 passengers.

With files from The Canadian Press

79 more virus cases confirmed on cruise ship after 2-week quarantine ends

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS AND THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Feb 19th, 2020

Japan says 79 more virus cases confirmed on cruise ship after its two-week quarantine ends, bringing total to 621.

Hundreds of passengers began leaving the Diamond Princess cruise ship Wednesday after the end of a much-criticized, two-week quarantine that failed to stop the spread of a new virus among passengers and crew.

Results were still pending for some passengers who’ve been tested for the coronavirus that has infected tens of thousands of people in China and hundreds on the ship.

The Japanese government has been questioned over its decision to keep people aboard the ship, which some experts have called a perfect virus incubator. The Diamond Princess is the site of the most infections outside of China, where the illness named COVID-19 emerged late last year.

Many foreign governments say they won’t let in passengers from the ship until they have another quarantine period, so it was striking to see passengers disembark, get into taxis and disappear into Yokohama.

Meanwhile, Canadians who were stuck in quarantine aboard the cruise ship could be flying home ahead of the weekend. Ottawa is sending a plane to evacuate healthy Canadians, which should be arriving in Tokyo on Thursday.

As many as 43 Canadians are listed among the 600-plus people from the Diamond Princess had tested positive for the virus known as COVID-19.

Man shot multiple times near Eglinton and Martin Grove

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Feb 19th, 2020

A man is in hospital with serious to life-threatening injuries after a shooting Tuesday night near Eglinton Avenue and Martin Grove Road.

Emergency crews were called to the scene at Willowridge Road and Richgrove Drive just after 11 p.m. after reports of multiple shots fired in the area.

Officers found multiple shell casings in the parking lot of a highrise apartment building, but no victim.

Police heard reports the victim was loaded into a vehicle after the shooting and then dropped off at a local hospital.

He was then rushed to a trauma centre with wounds reportedly to his chest and head.

Despite the serious nature of his injuries, police say his condition is now stable.

There has been no word on suspects at this time.

Flight to evacuate Canadians from cruise ship ‘expected’ to depart Japan on Thursday

HINA ALAM AND THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Feb 18th, 2020

Canadians stranded on a quarantined cruise ship were told that a flight set to bring them home is “expected” to depart Tokyo Haneda Airport on Thursday amid an outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

Passengers will be informed of the “exact departure time approximately 24 hours before the flight,” reads an email received by passengers aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked at a port near Tokyo.

“It is important that you remain on the ship until you are instructed to board the assisted Canadian flight, even if you are cleared to leave because you have completed the ship quarantine,” says the email received Tuesday evening local time from Global Affairs.

“Please note that if you leave the ship before you are instructed to do so, it will not be possible to board the assisted Canadian flight.”

Should passengers choose not to return on the charter flight, they will need to complete the current quarantine being administered by Japan and follow the instructions of local authorities, it says.

Canadians seeking to return to home by commercial means will be subject to the Quarantine Act, in line with a determination to be made by the Public Health Agency of Canada, it says.

This could include a further quarantine of 14 days, it reads.

An email sent Monday evening said it took the government time to organize this evacuation because the flight departure from Lisbon was delayed by “several hours due to overflight clearance challenges.”

As many as 255 Canadians are on the Diamond Princess, where some 3,500 passengers have been stuck for at least 10 days. So far, 355 people have been infected, including 15 from Canada.

The largest number of cases outside China is among passengers and crew of the Diamond Princess cruise ship. The Japanese Health Ministry has tested 1,723 people among the 3,700 initially on board, and 454 have tested positive.

The U.S. evacuated 338 American passengers early Monday, with most of them placed in a 14-day quarantine at military bases in California and Texas.

Global Affairs Canada said on Saturday that the aircraft will bring passengers from Japan to Canadian Forces Base Trenton in southern Ontario.

There they will be assessed and transported to the NAV Canada Training Institute in Cornwall, Ont., to undergo a further 14-day period of quarantine.

Before boarding in Japan, passengers will be screened for symptoms, it said adding those who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 will not be permitted to board and will instead be transferred to the Japanese health system to receive appropriate care.

Experts have questioned if the close quarters have contributed to the virus’ spread.

Lolita and Hans Wisener of Red Deer, Alta., who have so far not shown symptoms of the virus say they are looking forward to being on the plane.

“I feel better having gotten some news because it feels like we’ve just been sitting and waiting for two days,” Lolita Wisener said.

“Things are moving even if it’s slow but knowing helps. It looks like it’s going to be another two days.”

Another passenger, Trudy Clement, said she’s a bit worried although neither she nor her husband have shown symptoms.

“It’s the stress,” she said.

“It’s bad enough just waiting for this day to finally come but waiting for that knock on the door to finally say you’re not going because you tested positive is horrible. It’s a horrible, horrible feeling.”

Her husband will be spending his birthday in quarantine on March 1, in Ontario.

“We’ll order a cake, I don’t know, Clement said.

“As long as we get out of here, it’s fine. Home is always home.”

With files from The Associated Press

Boy, 14, in critical condition after hit-and-run in Oshawa

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Feb 18th, 2020

A teenage boy is in critical condition after a hit-and-run in Oshawa Sunday night.

Police said the 14-year-old boy was sitting on an e-bike on Stephenson Road North, near Taunton Road East, around 7 p.m. when the crash happened.

It’s believed the boy was trying to get the bike started when a car heading southbound hit the boy at full speed and then fled the area.

The boy was airlifted to SickKids hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Police said the driver would definitely have known they hit someone.

The vehicle is believed to be a white, four-door car that will have extensive damage to the front end and a missing side mirror.

Anyone with information on the crash is being asked to contact Durham police.

Ontario legislature returns from break amid escalating tensions with teachers

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Feb 18th, 2020

The Ontario legislature returns Tuesday after a break that’s been dominated by increasing tensions with the province’s public school teachers and the unions that represent them.

Contract talks between the Progressive Conservative government and the four major teachers’ unions have largely stalled.

Meanwhile, a co-ordinated provincewide strike set for Friday will see about two million students out of class.

In addition to the teachers’ issue, the Tories are preparing their second spring budget.

Controversy plagued the rollout of their first spending package last year, which included deep spending cuts, including some that are now at the centre of the teachers’ dispute.

The government is also likely to face questions about its controversial move during the winter break to cancel Hamilton’s light-rail line.

Snow hits the GTA, freezing rain and rain expected later

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Feb 18th, 2020

The first trip to work and school after the Family Day long weekend is a messy one, as drivers are dealing with snow on the roads with rain set to move in later Tuesday morning.

A winter weather travel advisory, which was issued by Environment Canada, is in effect for the GTA.

The national weather agency said the snow could briefly mix with light freezing rain as the system moves across southern Ontario.

“Snowfall amounts in the four to eight centimetre range are expected by the time the snow tapers to rain or drizzle this morning,” the advisory states.

680 NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor said in the GTA snow is expected to change over to rain around 7 a.m. The rain will then end by 11 a.m.

However, as the wet weather moves out, the wind with pick up this afternoon with gusts of 50 km/h.

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