News Briefs (May/June 2023)

Last Orca at Marineland Passes Away

Kiska, who was captured in 1979, spent the last decade not performing and living in a solo pool at Marineland, in the city of Niagara Falls. She died in March. The owners of Marineland are looking to sell the facility or possibly shut down.

Federal service workers go on strike

The Canadian government offered 155,000 federal workers lower than inflation raises (in effect wage cuts), and after negotiations broke down, the workers, who are unionized with the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), started a legal strike on April 19th. Those on strike include Canada Revenue Agency employees, federal program administrators, communications workers, firefighters, tradespeople, and education and library science workers. PSAC says most of these workers make between $40,000 to $65,000 per year.

Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board Favours Landlords

A number of recent articles have described troubling trends at Ontario’s Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB), the official venue for resolving disputes between tenants and landlords in the province.

A Briarpatch investigation describers how the hearings, which used to be in-person before the pandemic, are now online-only, with no plans to go back to in-person. This is especially difficult for tenants less familiar with digital tools like Zoom, and whose first language is not English. The in-person hearings had a had a number of supports available to tenants, who now find themselves more isolated and at a greater disadvantage compared to highly-resourced landlords.

Meanwhile, The Local found that tenants have to wait twice as long as landlords at the LTB to have their cases heard. For example, a tenant may bring forward a complaint that the landlord violated their rights. LTB data accessed by The Local found those cases took on average 344 days to be heard, as of the end of 2021. When landlords brought forward complaints wanting to evict tenants for alleged non-payment of rent, those cases were heard in 113 days, on average.

Regularization for migrants when?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has gestured towards putting forward a policy that would regularize undocumented migrants in Canada, granting rights to those who already live here. Approximately 500,000 people live in Canada undocumented, doing essential jobs that few others are willing to take, including in health care, food service, and many others. But they don’t have legal rights, such as the ability to access health care and many social services. Despite their promises, the Trudeau Liberals have not introduced regularization legislation, which would be life-changing to so many people here. With the House of Commons breaking for the summer in June, and a minority government in power, migrant rights advocates are keeping the pressure on for regularization.

Indigenous Alliance Opposes Ring of Fire Mining Plans

“No consent, no Ring of Fire,” Chief-elect of Neskantaga First Nation Chris Moonias yelled at the Ontario legislature from the gallery, on March 29th. Neskantaga First Nations is part of the new First Nations Land Defence Alliance, which opposes mining projects on their land in Northern Ontario if it does not have their free, prior and informed consent. The members include Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation, Wapekeka First Nation, Neskantaga First Nation, Grassy Narrows First Nation and Muskrat Dam First Nation. During premier Doug Ford’s 2018 election campaign, he said, “If I have to hop on a bulldozer myself, we're going to start building roads to the Ring of Fire.” His Minister of Indigenous Affairs Greg Rickford said in March that the government is focused on consent, a claim Moonias rejected.

These articles appeared in the May/June 2023 Issue.