Jukasa News Update – Friday, May 8, 2020
First Nations say they’re surprised and disappointed by the Alberta Energy Regulator’s decision to suspend a wide array of environmental reporting requirements for oilsands companies.
The regulator says the move was made to protect energy workers from COVID-19.
Mel Grandjamb of the Fort McKay First Nation, which is surrounded by oilsands operations, says he had no idea the suspensions were coming.
He says his people live close to industry, and the health and safety stakes for them are high.
Ontario is planning to resume thousands of surgeries that have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though those operations are likely still weeks away and the backlog will take months to clear.
Health Minister Christine Elliott has spoken of wanting to resume cancer and cardiac surgeries first, but a framework released Thursday lays out various criteria and leaves those decisions up to hospitals themselves and regional committees.
There’s no timeline for when procedures will be allowed to resume, but Elliott said it is “several weeks” away.
Scheduled procedures were put on hold on March 15 in a directive that remains in place nearly two months later. Officials say it could take months to clear the backlog.
Advocates for temporary foreign workers in Ontario’s agriculture sector say the provincial government should do more to protect them during the pandemic, which has seen COVID-19 outbreaks at several farms.
Chris Ramsaroop with the advocacy group Justice for Migrant Workers wrote Premier Doug Ford and the province’s pandemic command table asking them to increase farm inspections, including of migrant workers’ cramped living quarters, and bolster cleaning practices.
He said the recent outbreaks highlight how vulnerable migrant workers, many of whom come from Mexico, the Caribbean and Guatemala, are during the pandemic.
Approximately 20,000 migrant workers come to the Ontario each year to work on farms and in greenhouses.
Premier Doug Ford’s message to cottagers in advance of the May long weekend is that “there will be plenty of long weekends to come.”
Ford had a call Wednesday afternoon with cottage country mayors and says they are asking people to hold off on travelling to their regions.
A statement from Ford today doesn’t explicitly advise cottagers not to visit their seasonal properties, but says there will be many other opportunities to do so, and right now health and safety is the province’s focus.
However, he also says those who do travel to their cottages should continue public health measures such as not holding public gatherings, practising physical distancing and avoiding non-essential travel.