As heat waves get hotter, experts warn against becoming 'air conditioned society'

WATCH ABOVE: Extreme heat sweeps parts of northern hemisphere

Hundreds of people who perished during the historic heat wave in British Columbia last summer died in homes ill-suited for temperatures that spiked into the high 30s and beyond for days, a report by B.C.’s coroners’ service found this month.

It was hot outside, but inside it was often much hotter, with tragic consequences.

Of 619 deaths linked to the heat, 98 per cent happened indoors, the review from the coroners’ service shows.

Just one per cent of victims had air conditioners that were on at the time.

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But one year on, experts caution that residents and policymakers need to think beyond air conditioning as the predominant solution to the risks as climate change fuels heat waves that scientists say are becoming hotter and more frequent.

“What I worry is that we’re talking about mechanical ventilation as this umbrella measure for all buildings, and that’s hugely problematic if that’s what we ultimately end up doing,” said Adam Rysanek, assistant professor of environmental systems in the University of British Columbia’s school of architecture.

“We’re going to get totally accustomed to this air-conditioned society,” with windows closed all year round, said Rysanek, director of the building decisions research group at the university.

Alternative answers can be found in how buildings and cities are designed, landscaped and even coloured, since lighter surfaces reflect more of the sun’s energy, he said.

Two thirds of those who died during the extreme heat last summer were 70 or older, more than half lived alone and many were living with chronic diseases.

Ryansek said it’s important to ensure such vulnerable people have access to air conditioning when temperatures become dangerously hot.

But many sources of overheating in buildings stem from design and performance, and focusing on air conditioning ignores proven solutions, he said.

City planners and the construction industry should adopt lighter coloured materials for buildings and even paved roadways, he said, in addition to adding shading to building exteriors.

“In the peak of the heat, a huge chunk of the cooling demand is coming from solar energy being received on the exterior of the building. Let’s reflect that away.”

Alex Boston, who served on the coroner’s review panel, said “underlying vulnerabilities” to dangerous heat are growing in B.C., and across the country, as a result of demographic change and how homes and communities have been built.

The numbers of people over 65 and people who live alone are on the rise, and both of those characteristics compound risk during extreme heat, said Boston, executive director of the renewable cities program at Simon Fraser University.

“On top of that, it’s solo seniors who have chronic illnesses, and then on top of that it’s seniors who have some form of material or social deprivation,” he said.

“That could be income, it could be the nature of their housing and the neighbourhood they live in that (could) have inadequate tree canopy. All of those factors come together and we have to work on many of them simultaneously.”

Failing to ensure that buildings are surrounded by trees to provide shade and evaporative cooling would be “shooting ourselves in the foot in terms of the energy load and the cooling demand of a building in the future,” said Ryansek, calling for “very robust” requirements for vegetation and landscaping to mitigate extreme heat.

Metro Vancouver is aiming to increase its urban tree canopy to 40 per cent by 2050, up from an average of 32 per cent across the region, although a 2019 report noted the existing canopy was declining due to urban development. The goal for the City of Vancouver, specifically, is to increase the canopy from 18 to 22 per cent.

Boston said there are significant co-benefits to many of the measures to improve heat resiliency, such as the restoration of urban tree canopies.

Trees and vegetation help reduce flood risk, he said, and neighbourhood parks serve as social hubs that can ease social isolation and foster a sense of community.

“We have complex problems, and if we only look at one isolated component, we don’t maximize benefit from solving these problems in an integrated manner,” Boston said.

For instance, Boston’s organization is working on a project on Vancouver’s north shore to consider how social service providers could help older single people manage secondary suites in their homes, an approach he said could ease housing unaffordability while mitigating risks stemming from living alone during extreme heat.

“We have to multi-solve,” Boston said.

Meanwhile, a 2020 survey and report from B.C.’s hydro and power authority found residential air-conditioning use had more than tripled since 2001.

Many residents were adding an average of $200 to their summer bill by using air conditioning units inefficiently, with nearly a third of survey respondents setting the temperature below 19 C. Popular portable units use 10 times more energy than a central air-conditioning system or heat pump, the report said.

Globally, the International Energy Agency projected in 2018 that energy demand from air conditioning would triple by 2050.

Continuing on that path would make it difficult for governments to achieve greenhouse gas reduction targets to mitigate climate change, Rysanek said.

“If we exacerbate this problem ? the building development costs are a drop in the bucket with regards to the climate impacts we’re going to be facing,” he said.

The B.C. government should incentivize non-mechanical cooling options to spur their adoption in homes and commercial buildings, he said, pointing to measures such as natural ventilation, ceiling fans and radiant cooling built into floors or ceilings, all of which would cool residents before turning on an air conditioner.

“We should be encouraging our policymakers to realize there’s a big world out there of alternatives. We might not have the suppliers here yet in B.C., but it’s a great opportunity for business,” Rysanek said.

Companies all over the world have been deploying these cooling alternatives in Europe, in Asia and elsewhere, and “we should try to invite them here so that we learn about these things, as a public, as consumers,” he said.

The coroner’s report calls on B.C. to ensure the 2024 building code incorporates passive and active cooling requirements in new homes, along with cooling standards for renovating existing homes, and to make sure “climate change lenses” are adopted in regional growth strategies and official community plans.

It also recommends that the province consider how to issue cooling devices as medical equipment for those at greatest risk of dying during extreme heat.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth has said the government would consider the report and “take necessary steps to prevent heat-related deaths in the future.”

It’s difficult to predict how often B.C. might see a repeat of last summer’s highest temperatures, but climate change is undoubtedly causing heat extremes to increase in frequency and magnitude, said Rachel White, an assistant professor in the department of earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences at the University of B.C.

“When we have a normal heat wave in the future, it will be hotter than we’ve been used to,” she said.

A heat dome refers to a region of high pressure that settles in place as temperatures below get hotter, White explained.

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These regions sometimes become “quasi-stationary,” depending on factors such as the strength of winds circulating high in the atmosphere, she said.

As the heat dome blanketed B.C. last year, its effects were amplified by soil that was already stricken by drought, lacking moisture that would evaporate and help cool the land during the long summer days with clear skies, she said.

Earth’s “atmosphere is not in equilibrium,” White warned, “and the longer we continue to put out these greenhouse gases, the more and more warming we’re going to see.”

“We need to act now if we don’t want it to be dreadful in 40, 50 years’ time.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press

New federal task force to review Canada's immigration, passport delays

WATCH ABOVE: Conservatives hammer Liberals over ArriveCan app, delays at airports

The federal government has created a special task force to help tackle the major delays with immigration applications and passport processing that have left Canadians frustrated.

In a statement announcing the new task force, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government knows the delays are unacceptable, and will continue to do everything it can to improve the delivery of the services in an efficient and timely manner.

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Trudeau said the new task force will help guide the government to better meet the changing needs of Canadians, and continue to provide them with the high-quality services they need and deserve.

Ten cabinet members will spearhead the new committee, which will review how services are delivered, and identify gaps and areas for improvement.

The committee will be expected to make recommendations outlining short- and longer-term solutions that would reduce wait times, clear out backlogs, and improve the overall quality of services provided.

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In addition, the task force will monitor external issues, such as labour shortages around the world, which contribute to travel delays at home and abroad.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

The Ongoing History of New Music, encore presentation: The Strokes

When I was in London in the summer of 2001, I made my usual trip to the original Rough Trade Records store on Talbot Street, just off Portobello Road in Notting Hill. I was a little bummed out at the time, concerned that music had hit a dead end.

I desperately needed some comfort and inspiration. The mainstream was awash in pop music: Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys, ‘NSync, Britney Spears. Alt-rock had lost its way after grunge burned out. The big acts were searching for direction. There were far too many one-hit-wonders. And nu-metal, the biggest thing at the time, was very, very polarizing. It was not my thing.

On top of all that, a new genre dubbed “electronica” was siphoning off a lot of rock fans. Music made the old-school way with guitars, bass, drums, and vocals seemed out of date and played out.

But that couldn’t be true, could it? In the past, every time rock was declared dead, someone or something came along and breathed new life into everything.

This is the story I told to Nigel, the guy behind the counter in the small Rough Trade shop. “Give me something that is exciting, new, and fresh,” I said. “Give me hope!”

Nigel reached under the counter and pulled out a CD single. “Here, mate,” he said. “This should cure your ills.” It was a song not from some UK band but from a New York group called The Strokes.

Turns out he was right. The Strokes were one of the very, very first new bands behind what became the indie-rock revival that began at the tail end of the 90s and blew up over the next couple of years. Nice one, Nigel.

But why The Strokes? Where did they come from? And why was this guy in London telling me about a band from New York? This requires some explanation.

Songs heard on this show (all songs by The Strokes):

  • Bad Decisions
  • Last Nite (demo)
  • Hard to Explain
  • Someday
  • 12:51
  • Juicebox
  • Under Cover of Darkness
  • One Way Trigger
  • Drag Queen

We’re still looking for more affiliates in Calgary, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor,  Montreal, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s, and anywhere else with a transmitter. If you’re in any of those markets and you want the show, lemme know and I’ll see what I can do.

And here’s the usual playlist from Eric Wilhite. https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7qj6VjiJVTBIFbQiFSDqH9?si=XidFLHoHRWGYzmSsa45J6Q

The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:

We’re still looking for more affiliates in Calgary, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor,  Montreal, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s, and anywhere else with a transmitter. If you’re in any of those markets and you want the show, lemme know and I’ll see what I can do.

© 2022 Corus Radio, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Canada in 'listening mode', will take small Commonwealth nations' concerns to G7: Joly

Speaking during a White House press briefing on Thursday, national security spokesperson John Kirby previewed U.S. President Joe Biden’s anticipated agenda for the upcoming G7 and NATO summits. Responding to a reporter’s question about the role of China, Kirby said that “it’s time for the alliance to step up” and revise its focus given the change in the global security landscape.

Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly says Canada will be bringing the concerns of smaller Commonwealth nations to the G7 leaders in Germany Sunday, particularly the growing threat of famine.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Joly arrived in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, on Wednesday for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, which has been dominated by the concerns of nations that are suffering from food scarcity.

She said Canada is in “listening mode” at the Commonwealth, where leaders of smaller nations are able to speak without the dominating presence of the United States, Russia and China.

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Canadian officials have been trying to reinforce that the cause of the shortage is Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.

“What is clear to us is that Russia is weaponizing food and putting a toll on many countries around the world, and putting 50 million lives at risk,” Joly told reporters Friday evening in Rwanda.

She said Russia has been targeting Ukrainian ports and grain silos and systematically preventing grain from reaching countries that need it.

Trudeau had attempted to meet with the chair of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, for several days during the Commonwealth summit but the sit-down was repeatedly postponed and eventually cancelled.

Shortly after Trudeau arrived in Rwanda the government announced Canada would dedicate a new ambassador to the African Union, which has suffered from the food shortages inflicted on the continent as a result of the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Both Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin have met with representatives of the African Union, with Russia blaming Russian sanctions for stopping up the flow of grain.

Trudeau travels to the Bavarian Alps in Germany for the G7 Summit Saturday night, where the conflict with Ukraine will be top of mind.

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Joly said she spoke to her G7 counterparts Friday, and expects famine and safe passage for Ukrainian refugees to be the top concern.

Some of the other voices the prime minister has promised to centre at his international meetings belong to youth leaders who spoke at a dialogue event Saturday, focused on issues facing young people around the world.

Some of the delegates spoke about the devastating effects of climate change, particularly around remote island nations where infrastructure cannot withstand natural disasters and rebuilding efforts take years. The onslaught takes a toll on education and health services, one delegate told the forum.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

Norway shooting: 2 dead, 10 wounded after suspected terror attack at Oslo nightclub

A gunman opened fire in Oslo’s night-life district early Saturday, killing two people and leaving 10 seriously wounded in what police are investigating as a possible terrorist attack during the Norwegian capital’s annual Pride festival.

Investigators said the suspect, identified as a 42-year-old Norwegian citizen originally from Iran, was arrested after opening fire at three locations in downtown Oslo.

While the motive was unclear, organizers of Oslo Pride canceled a parade that was set for Saturday as the highlight of a weeklong festival. One of the shootings happened outside the London Pub, a bar popular with the city’s LGBTQ community, just hours before the parade was set to begin.

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Police attorney Christian Hatlo said the suspect was being held on suspicion of murder, attempted murder and terrorism, based on the number of people targeted at multiple locations.

“Our overall assessment is that there are grounds to believe that he wanted to cause grave fear in the population,” Hatlo said.

Hatlo said the suspect’s mental health was also being investigated.

“We need to go through his medical history, if he has any. It’s not something that we’re aware of now,” he said.

The shootings happened around 1 a.m. local time, sending panicked revelers fleeing into the streets or trying to hide from the gunman.

Olav Roenneberg, a journalist from Norwegian public broadcaster NRK, said he witnessed the shooting.

“I saw a man arrive at the site with a bag. He picked up a weapon and started shooting,” Roenneberg told NRK. “First I thought it was an air gun. Then the glass of the bar next door was shattered and I understood I had to run for cover.”

Another witness, Marcus Nybakken, 46, said he was alerted to the incident by a commotion in the area.

“When I walked into Cesar’s bar there were a lot of people starting to run and there was a lot of screaming. I thought it was a fight out there, so I pulled out. But then I heard that it was a shooting and that there was someone shooting with a submachine gun,” Nybakken told Norwegian broadcaster TV2.

Police inspector Tore Soldal said two of the shooting victims died and 10 people were being treated for serious injuries, but none of them was believed to be life-threatening.

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said in a Facebook post that “the shooting outside London Pub in Oslo tonight was a cruel and deeply shocking attack on innocent people.”

He said that while the motive was unclear, the shooting had caused fear and grief in the LGBTQ community.

“We all stand by you,” Gahr Stoere wrote.

King Harald V also offered condolences and said he and Norway’s royal family were “horrified by the night’s shooting tragedy.”

“We sympathize with all relatives and affected and send warm thoughts to all who are now scared, restless and in grief,” the Norwegian monarch said in a statement. “We must stand together to defend our values: freedom, diversity and respect for each other. We must continue to stand up for all people to feel safe.”

Christian Bredeli, who was at the bar, told Norwegian newspaper VG that he hid on the fourth floor with a group of about 10 people until he was told it was safe to come out.

“Many were fearing for their lives,” he said. “On our way out we saw several injured people, so we understood that something serious had happened.”

Norwegian broadcaster TV2 showed footage of people running down Oslo streets in panic as shots rang out in the background.

Investigators said the suspect was known to police, as well as to Norway’s security police, but not for any major violent crimes. His criminal record included a narcotics offense and a weapons offense for carrying a knife, Hatlo said.

Hatlo said police seized two weapons after the attack: a handgun and an automatic weapon, both of which he described as “not modern” without giving details.

He said the suspect had not made any statement to the police and was in contact with a defense lawyer.

Hatlo said it was too early to say whether the gunman specifically targeted members of the LGBTQ community.

“We have to look closer at that, we don’t know yet,” he said.

Still, police advised organizers of the Pride festival to cancel the parade Saturday.

“Oslo Pride therefore urges everyone who planned to participate or watch the parade to not show up. All events in connection with Oslo Prides are canceled,” organizers said on the official Facebook page of the event.

Inge Alexander Gjestvang, leader of FRI, the Norwegian organisation for sexual and gender diversity, said the shooting has shaken the Nordic country’s gay community.

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“It’s tough for the queer movement to experience this,” he was quoted by TV2 as saying. “We encourage everyone to stand together, take care of each other. We’ll be back later, proud, visible but right now it’s not the time for that.”

Norway has a relatively low crime rate but has experienced violent attacks by right-wing extremists, including one of the worst mass shootings in Europe in 2011, when a gunman killed 69 people on the island of Utoya after setting off a bomb in Oslo that left eight dead.

In 2019, another right-wing extremist killed his stepsister and then opened fire in a mosque but was overpowered before anyone there was injured.

— Karl Ritter in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, and Jari Tanner in Helsinki contributed to this report.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

Winnipeg outclasses Hamilton, Tiger-Cats fall to 0-3

For the first time since 2017, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats have lost their first three games of the season after falling 26-12 Friday night in Winnipeg.

Blue Bombers running back Brady Oliveira scored on a one-yard touchdown run with 18 seconds left in the first half and teammate Willie Jefferson returned an interception 30 yards for a TD midway through the fourth quarter as the two-time defending Grey Cup champions improved to 3-0 on the season.

The victory vaulted Winnipeg into first place overall in the Canadian Football League while the Ticats fell to dead last in the league.

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Hamilton QB Dane Evans completed 25 of his 42 pass attempts for 237 yards but he was also picked off twice, while Winnipeg’s Zach Collaros threw for 302 yards after completing 21 of his 32 attempts. Collaros was intercepted by Cats’ defensive back Richard Leonard.

The two teams traded field goals to begin the contest, the start of which was delayed by 30 minutes due to inclement weather at IG Field.

Winnipeg’s Marc Legghio booted two of his three field goals in the first quarter and also added three punt singles while Hamilton’s Michael Domagala converted four of his five field goal attempts to account for all of the Ticats’ points.

Two minutes after Domagala gave the Tiger-Cats their first and only lead of the game, Oliveira’s rushing TD put the Bombers back on top and gave them a 14-9 lead heading into halftime.

The victory was Winnipeg’s 11th straight at home, which is five shy of tying the franchise record that was set from 1993 to 1995.

The Tictats started the 2017 season with eight consecutive losses, including an epic 60-1 defeat against the Calgary Stampeders, which cost then head coach Kent Austin his job.

Hamilton will try to earn their first win of the season on Canada Day when they host the Edmonton Elks at Tim Hortons Field.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Arkells celebrate with Hamilton community at opening of new Woodlands Park basketball court

Arkells frontman Max Kerman hosted the opening of a new community pro basketball court at Hamilton's Woodlands Park on June 24, 2022. The multi-use court with pro backboards, bleachers and acrylic surface was an idea the band came up with while touring cities across North American that had similar fixtures in local neighbourhoods.

A brand new professional-grade basketball court has been officially unveiled in the lower city, thanks to the work of a beloved Hamilton band.

The Rally Court at Woodlands Park was made possible by Arkells, who began working with councillors Nrinder Nann and Jason Farr in January on a plan to refurbish a court in a part of the city that most needed it.

Arkells frontman Max Kerman said he always likes to play basketball at local courts when the band is on tour but realized Hamilton didn’t have any high-quality public courts and said they wanted to change that.

“We just asked, what’s the neighbourhood that could use a little bit of love? What’s the park that could use a little love? And they said Woodlands is the spot.”

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The band fundraised about $80,000, thanks to big-name donors like Ron Foxcroft and the Foxcroft Family, Toronto Raptors’ head coach Nick Nurse, Raptors superfan Nav Bhatia and Basketball Canada.

Foxcroft presented Max Kerman and the rest of the Arkells with a Fox 40 gold basketball in honour of their fundraising efforts to make the court at Barton and Wentworth a reality.

It’s just a short walk away from Tim Horton’s Field, where Arkells will be playing the long-awaited “Rally” on Saturday, a follow-up to their successful show of the same name in 2018.

Nrinder Nann, Max Kerman, Nick Nurse, Nav Bhatia, Ron Foxcroft and others from the Hamilton community celebrate moments after cutting the ribbon on the new Rally Court at Woodlands Park.

Arkells are joined by Nrinder Nann, Nick Nurse, Nav Bhatia, Ron Foxcroft and youth from the Hamilton community, celebrating moments after cutting the ribbon on the new Rally Court at Woodlands Park.

Lisa Polewski / 900 CHML

A basketball court that has the words "THE RALLY COURT" in large block blue letters.

The Rally Court at Woodlands Park is now open.

Lisa Polewski / 900 CHML

Read more:

Arkells help raise $80,000 in funding to refurbish Hamilton basketball court

Jonas, Ron Foxcroft, and Max Kerman pose after Jonas' triumphant ceremonial dunk on the new Rally Court.

Max Kerman poses with Ron Foxcroft and Jonas after Jonas' triumphant ceremonial dunk celebrating the opening of The Rally Court.

Lisa Polewski / 900 CHML

Nrinder Nann poses with Nick Nurse.

Ward 3 Councillor Nrinder Nann poses with Raptors coach Nick Nurse.

Lisa Polewski / 900 CHML

Celebrities like Max Kerman join youth fromBernie Custis Secondary School and the Eva Rothwell Centre play the inaugural game of basketball on the new court.

Celebrities like Max Kerman join youth from Bernie Custis Secondary School and the Eva Rothwell Centre in a game of basketball on the Woodlands Park court.

Lisa Polewski / 900 CHML

Youth from Bernie Custis Secondary School and the Eva Rothwell Centre play the inaugural game of basketball on the new court.

Youth from Bernie Custis Secondary School and the Eva Rothwell Centre play the inaugural game of basketball on the new court.

Lisa Polewski / 900 CHML

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Canada faces struggles to become abortion safe haven after Roe v. Wade ruling: experts

WATCH: 'Angry but determined': Roe v. Wade abortion ruling raising concerns among Canadian advocates

Canada still faces its own disparities in abortion access and may struggle to act as a “safe haven” for Americans impacted by the overturning of Roe v. Wade, advocates north of the border say.

Although Canadian officials are promising to ensure abortion access and have committed some funding to that effort, experts say more needs to be done to reduce the stigma surrounding the procedure and incentivize provinces and territories to offer care.

“What happened in the U.S. is very scary, and it’s certainly something we have to be vigilant about,” said Insiya Mankani, public affairs officer for Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights.

“At the same time, we need to continue to make sure that there is better access to abortion across this country. And I think the federal government can certainly play a role in that.”

Read more:

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday promised to defend abortion rights in Canada and around the world after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that guaranteed the constitutional right to an abortion.

He called the court’s decision a “devastating setback” for American women, who will now face tremendous disparities in access depending on which state they live in. Several states moved immediately to ban abortions in the hours after the ruling.

“Quite frankly, it’s an attack on everyone’s freedoms and rights,” Trudeau said from the Commonwealth summit in Kigali, Rwanda.

“It shows how much standing up and fighting for rights matters every day, that we can’t take anything for granted.”

Abortion is decriminalized in Canada because of a 1988 Supreme Court decision, but no bill has ever been passed to enshrine access into law.

Yet access varies greatly across the country. Women in rural areas of some provinces — including Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba — are forced to travel to urban centres for surgical abortions.

Abortion pills can also be difficult to obtain, as they are not prescribed by family doctors or walk-in clinics.

Though the U.S. decision is sending “shock waves” everywhere, the legal ability to have an abortion in Canada is not under threat, said Joyce Arthur, executive director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada.

But her organization is concerned about Americans coming north for abortion care and is advocating for federal and provincial governments to help clinics with more funding because, as Arthur puts it, “even a small number of Americans can overwhelm our system.”

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Mankani could not say how many women advocates expect to cross the border for care.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said last month he would be speaking with the Canada Border Services Agency to make sure its staff know Americans seeking abortions can come to Canada.

Dr. Martha Paynter, a registered nurse working in abortion care and a post-doctoral fellow with UBC’s contraception and abortion research team, told Global News clinics across the country may see an increased demand.

“And of course, we will care for them,” she said.

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But she warned Americans will face “significant costs” as a result.

“They do not have provincial health insurance and will have to pay for their care if they come to Canada to seek it,” Paynter said.

Not all parts of Canada are likely to see a surge from the United States.

Clickable image 1

Western states like Washington, Oregon and California are moving to protect abortion rights and promote themselves as safe havens, while abortion rights bills have been passed in states like New York and the surrounding northeast.

That means British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes are unlikely to see a “significant” spillover, Dr. Dustin Costescu, an associate professor at McMaster University as well as a family planning and sexual health specialist, previously told Global News.

Yet the Prairie provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba — which already struggle with access — could see Americans coming from states like Idaho, North Dakota and South Dakota, which have banned abortion through “trigger laws” that went into effect after the Supreme Court ruling.

Although the right to an abortion doesn’t exist in Canada in the same way it was once enshrined in Roe v. Wade, experts say a national law or similar legal precedent would likely backfire.

“It is not within the Criminal Code, and that is actually a good thing because it means subsequent governments cannot overturn any ruling, suddenly making it very restrictive,” Mankani said.

“It lives within the Canada Health Act as a piece of health care, because it is health care.”

Mankani says instead, the Liberal government should focus on fulfilling its election promise to create Canada Health Act regulations that would penalize provinces for failing to provide access to sexual and reproductive health services.

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Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos told reporters in May such mechanisms already exist, but his officials were looking at reinforcing them in the coming months.

Last year, the Liberal government confirmed it had withheld about $140,000 of New Brunswick’s share of the federal health transfer because it does not fund abortions provided at a clinic in Fredericton.

Another priority, Mankani says, should be the creation of a government-run web portal that can direct women seeking an abortion to proper information, their closest provider or how to access abortion pills.

While Action Canada and other advocates provide similar services, she said these groups survive through donations and are a “stopgap” for a more permanent solution.

“The lack of access to accurate information in Canada is a huge barrier for people seeking abortion care,” she said.

Ottawa has provided $3.5 million to Action Canada and the National Abortion Federation to improve their efforts to provide information and support to women seeking care.

Mankani says while the news out of the U.S. is “devastating,” she’s heartened that organizations and advocates are stepping up to ensure rights aren’t scaled back elsewhere.

“There is that devastation, but there is certainly that hope for change as well,” she said.

— with files from Global’s Amy Judd, Amanda Connolly and the Canadian Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Canada must up incentives, charging capacity to meet EV goals: industry groups

WATCH: Critics cast doubts on Ottawa's EV targets

Canadian governments must up incentives and increase the amount of charging infrastructure in the country to meet Ottawa’s electric vehicle (EV) goals, industry groups say.

The federal government has pledged to mandate at least 20 per cent of new passenger vehicles sold in Canada be zero-emission vehicles by 2026. That will increase to at least 60 per cent by 2030, and to 100 per cent by 2035.

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An analysis released Friday by the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association, the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association and Global Automakers of Canada shows Canada is not providing consumers with adequate purchase incentives to make the switch to EVs, and is nearly 1.7 million EV chargers short of what is required to power an increasingly electrified vehicle fleet.

“We’re fully committed to electrifying the fleet and … decarbonizing our industry.… This transition is happening, but it’s happening perhaps in some ways faster than the industry thought it was going to happen,” David Adams, president and CEO of the Global Automakers of Canada, said during a news conference on Friday.

“We want to work with the government and we want to work with other industry partners, but we need to make sure these targets are realistic and that ultimately we achieve the real goal, which is reducing carbon emissions from transportation.”

Canadian governments need to see eye to eye on incentives designed for new EV purchases in Canada, the groups say.

Currently, the federal government offers up to $5,000 towards the purchase of any new electric vehicle in the country. On top of that, provinces like British Columbia and Quebec offer up to $3,000 and $8,000, respectively, towards the purchase of a new EV. New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Yukon also offer similar incentives.

Ontario, which used to offer a rebate until Premier Doug Ford canned it in 2018, provides up to $1,000 incentive towards the purchase of a used EV and up to $1,000 for scrapping an old gas car.

Other jurisdictions in Canada don’t offer incentives for new EVs, which is a problem, said Brian Kingston, president and CEO of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association.

“Your maximum available amount … is $5,000, and that’s simply not going to cut it,” he said.

“Canadians are facing an affordability crisis (right now). We have to help them make that switch to electric and accept incentives of the most powerful tool available.”

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When conducting the analysis, the group compared Canada’s federal and provincial programs with the United States’ federal new EV incentive and California’s initiative. Those programs combined offer up $12,200 in incentives towards the purchase of a new EV, the groups said.

Kingston suggests provinces put in place their own rebate programs, or if they’re opposed to that, offer a tax credit like the U.S. does with its federal tax credit of up to $7,500.

“The industry is not asking for incentives forever,” Adams said.

“At some point there will be a price parity; given the current environment, that price parity point has been kicked down the road a little bit further just because of the inflationary impact on vehicle prices right now.”

EV charging stations are becoming more commonplace in Canadian public spaces, but there’s still much work to do, said Kingston.

Right now, the groups calculated that Canada has 16,242 public EV charging stations. If 50 per cent of the cars in Canada were fully electric, the country would need 1,676,580 chargers to support them.

“You can double those numbers to get a sense of what we’re going to need over the next decade if we want to be able to power a fully electrified vehicle fleet,” Kingston said.

“That’s putting aside the whole discussion around multi-unit residential buildings and (parking) garages. We’re going to have to help those Canadians as well with the ability to charge at home.”

On Thursday, the federal government announced $4 million in funding to help with the installation of 680 EV charging stations in Quebec by March 31, 2024. They will be placed in public places, in multi-unit residential buildings, on streets, at workplaces or at facilities for servicing light-duty vehicle fleets.

Since 2015, Canada has invested $1 billion to make EVs more affordable and chargers more accessible. So far, its investments will result in more than 25,000 new charging stations across the country, it said in the June 23 news release. Ottawa’s goal is to help finance 50,000 new charging stations in Canada by 2026.

Ottawa’s 2022 budget proposes to invest an additional $400 million for EV infrastructure through March 2027, and close to $1.7 billion to prolong and expand its incentive program through March 2025. The Infrastructure Bank will also chip in $500 million for large-scale EV charging and refuelling infrastructure.

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Ontario announced earlier this year that it’s putting $91 million toward installing electric vehicle chargers at highway rest stops, carpool parking lots, parks and hockey arenas, a first for the provincial Progressive Conservative government.

Canada’s EV plan is “enormously ambitious,” Federal Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson told The Canadian Press last month.

“If we need to do more, of course we’re going to do more,” he said, but added Ottawa doesn’t intend to be in the charging station business long-term.

“At the end of the day, the plan is to build it out such that we are getting to the point where it is a business, where you can make money at it.”

Canada’s economy is grappling with high inflation, with the consumer price index reaching 7.7 per cent in May fuelled by soaring gas prices.

That’s the highest it’s been in nearly 40 years, but a survey released this week showed despite increasing costs, interest for EVs in Canada is at its highest level yet.

Forty-six per cent of respondents to Ernst and Young’s Mobility Consumer Index plan to buy an EV, up from 11 per cent in 2021. Eighty per cent of respondents said they would pay a premium for those vehicles, and two-thirds of consumers would be willing to pay up to 20 per cent more than they would for a regular car.

Battery electric vehicles have been on the rise in Canada for years, with 58,726 new vehicles registered last year, up from 39,036 in 2020, Statistics Canada data shows. In 2017, only 9,079 new battery electric vehicles were registered in Canada. Hybrid electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles have also been increasing in popularity as well, the data shows.

Despite high inflation and supply-chain issues, it’s not surprising EV interest is high in Canada, especially given that fuel prices are at record levels, said Dimitry Anastakis, a history professor at the Rotman School of Management.

“In the next 10 years, pretty much anybody who’s going to be buying a vehicle is going to face this fundamental question: Do I get an internal combustion engine based on gasoline, or do I get an EV?” he told Global News.

“The future is here when it comes to EVs. You can see it on the road, and it’s really something that is kind of a revolution we’re in the midst of.”

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Canada’s EV network will take time to really take shape, he added. So far, Canadians have become familiar with news stories on the industry, including investments in the country’s manufacturing network to build up an EV marketplace.

For example, last month Ottawa and Ontario announced a combined $1-billion investment to help automaker Stellantis re-tool and modernize its Brampton and Windsor plants for EV production.

In March, Honda said it plans to pivot production in its Alliston, Ont., plant to help make hybrid-electric cars.

There are still a lot of questions to be answered around EVs, like how long a life cycle will they have and how the electrical grid will adapt, Anastakis said.

But right now, “so far so good.”

“There’s going to be a lot of bumps in the road, but it’ll be amazing when you look back on it because for most of the 20th century and a big chunk of the 21st, nobody thought that this could really happen in the way that it is happening,” he said.

“And it is happening.”

— with files from The Canadian Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Inflation keeps rising, will recession follow? Experts say 'batten down the hatches'

The U.S. Central Bank is attacking soaring inflation with its biggest rate hike since 1994, bringing its range to between one-and-a-half and one-and-three-quarters of a per cent. Canada's own central bank is signalling it will also do a lot more soon to tackle inflation. Anne Gaviola has more on why this may increase the risk of a recession in North America.

The Bank of Canada’s efforts to tamp down on persistent inflation are increasing the odds of pushing the economy into a recession in the next year, according to some economists.

Consumers should start preparing for a contraction now, experts say, as the threat of layoffs and leaner days looms on the horizon.

Armine Yalnizyan, economist and fellow with the Atkinson Institute, tells Global News that the odds of a recession “are nearing more than 50 per cent in the next six to 12 months.”

Canadian economic output has mostly shown signs of growth so far this year. But Yalnizyan points to the United States’ shrinking economy in the first quarter of 2022 and an increase in applications for jobless benefits south of the border as signs the economic cooling could come north sooner than later.

“I think it’s very difficult for Canada to duck a recession when the United States has one quarter of contraction,” she says.

James Orlando, a senior economist with TD Bank, agrees with Yalnizyan that there’s “an incredible level of synchronization” between the North American neighbours.

He, like many big bank economists, believes the Bank of Canada will follow the U.S. Federal Reserve’s lead in hiking interest rates 75 basis points in its next announcement July 13.

With Statistics Canada reporting that the annual rate of inflation soared to 7.7 per cent in May, the central bank will be pressured to act swiftly and show Canadians that it will take the necessary steps needed to stifle inflation, Orlando says.

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TD Bank’s economic forecasts released this past week show a significant slowdown in consumer spending by late 2022 and into early next year.

TD believes the slowdown will narrowly skirt negative growth, but Orlando points out that the Bank of Canada will have a “very thin margin of error” as it drives up interest rates to avoid a recession — the sweet spot economists call a “soft landing.”

“It is effectively reducing demand to such an extreme, such a level that it is hoping inflation will turn around and come back to target. It needs to make sure it doesn’t crush the economy as it goes through that process,” he says.

Orlando notes, however, that recessions do typically follow rate hiking cycles.

“They’re engineered to slow demand,” he says.

The start of a recession is typically marked by two consecutive quarters of negative growth in a country’s gross domestic product.

The housing sector, which has already showed signs of a slowdown and price drop in some markets, is especially vulnerable to rising interest rates used to tamp down on inflation.

“Overall, this (soaring inflation) puts the chance of a recession higher, when you raise interest rates to the point where housing’s affected, where growth in general is affected,” Allan Small, senior investment adviser at IA Private Wealth, said earlier this week in an interview with The Canadian Press.

Observers say fears of a recession are already having an impact on markets, with energy stocks on the TSX taking a hit this past week.

While Canadian oil and gas stocks have performed exceptionally well for much of 2022 due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting disruption of global energy supply, Small said this week that some investors are beginning to worry that a broad-based recession — if it happens — will take a bite out of surging demand.

“When you have a recession or a fear of recession, that basically slows down everything. So the demand side of the equation starts to wane,” he said. “You don’t have as much of an imbalance, you’re more balanced, if people aren’t going to travel as much and aren’t going to move around as much.”

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In addition to hurting consumer demand, the higher interest rates go, the more businesses will be squeezed. That could lead to layoffs, Yalnizyan says.

“The bigger issue about central banks raising rates is if they make it more costly for businesses that are highly leveraged to borrow. That will cool the rate at which they’re hiring, and some firms that were over-leveraged may start laying people off. And that’s the part we are worried about,” she says.

“Whether that happens in sufficient numbers to be problematic is the chapter that is yet unwritten … but it’s not a direction that you want to be moving towards at all because your best hedge against inflation, as a household, is a good job.”

If Canada is indeed heading for a recession, Orlando says the positive news is that the past few years have been good to the average consumer.

Job growth has been plentiful, the average household has been able to save a fair bit during the pandemic and those lucky enough to break into the housing market have seen their equity grow rapidly.

Those factors could help insulate Canadians against rising interest rates and high inflation, Orlando points out.

“There is a buffer, which is the stockpile of Canadian savings that will hopefully be able to withstand some of these headwinds that are facing pretty much everyone,” he says.

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But Sprott School of Business professor Ian Lee told Global News recently that recession or no, now is the time to “batten down the hatches” as the Canadian economy enters a period of “great uncertainty.”

Bills like mortgage payments and hydro bills will need to be prioritized in the months ahead, as will groceries. Everything else should be up for discussion for reducing or eliminating entirely, he says.

“That means cutting out unnecessary spending, frivolous spending,” he says.

“Save that money for the rainy day and the thunderstorm that we think is coming.”

— with files from Global News’ Anne Gaviola and The Canadian Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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