Business, not as usual. Employer support of reservists in time of pandemic.
Submitted by: Canadian Forces Liaison Council/Alberta Chapter
In this challenging time of pandemic, it’s probably safe to say that business will not carry on as usual. Employers have much to be concerned about – employees’ health and welfare, revenue, and simply put – survival.
In many cases employers have reservist-employees who balance double duty with both the Reserve Force and their workplace. Reservists are prepared willing and able to answer the call to support pandemic response or other emergencies, either nationally or locally.
Preparations for pandemic support across Canada are underway, and this includes many reservists, army, navy, air force alike, who have been asked to mobilize. It is with thanks to many employers who support their reservist-employee as they volunteer for Operation LASER 20-01 – the Canadian Armed Forces’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic within Canada.
The Government of Canada has authorized reservists, who volunteer, to be placed on full-time Class C service to support the Operation. The Canadian Armed Forces is currently mobilizing 24,000 service members, both regular and reserve, to support provincial and municipal governments and agencies in their efforts to suppress the disease, to support vulnerable populations, and to provide logistical and general support to communities. In Alberta, there will be hundreds of reservists who will choose to deploy and serve to support our communities.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Canadians has been unprecedented, as is the scale of the Canadian Armed Forces mobilization under the Operation LASER response. Reservists’ dedication to duty in volunteering for Operation LASER is essential to support both provincial and municipal authorities during this crisis. Canada cannot meet its defence needs at home and abroad without the dedicated, motivated and highly skilled people who work tirelessly to defend Canada and promote Canadian values and interests. Op LASER is the immediate need, but reservists have been and will continue to be needed to support other domestic crisis, such as floods and fires, which are occurring on a more frequent basis.
In Alberta, Employment Standards Code, outlines a reservist-employee who has completed at least 26 consecutive weeks of employment with an employer is entitled to reservist leave without pay to take part in deployment to a Canadian Forces operation inside Canada. It also outlines that all leave provided to Reservists is leave without pay – as the Canadian Armed Forces will provide the Reservist with income for the duration of their contract. It’s good business sense to keep good employees and the employment code notes that employers cannot terminate, or lay off, an employee who has started reservist leave. Although these are the legislated minimums, organizations are encouraged to develop and implement military leave policies that support a reservist-employee even further.
There is great pride for reservists as they deploy domestically and equally for the employers who support them. Undoubtedly, business will not be as usual and if you have a reservist-employee there is support available for your organization. Employer support during this time of crisis is greatly appreciated by the Canadian Armed Forces and the Government of Canada. Indeed, when you employ a reservist, you in turn, are serving your country.
How can I find out more information for my business?
• Federal Compensation for Employers of Reservists Program (CERP) – Employers can apply and eligible applicants will receive a lump sum payment, in the form of a grant, following the deployment period of the reservist employee.
- Military Leave Policy information – if your organization does not already have a formal military leave policy, this may be a good opportunity to implement one that provides additional detail beyond what is in the job protection legislation.
- Canadian Forces Liaison Council – Employers Supporting Reservists
Info for military leave policies and federal support (CERP): https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/services/benefits-military/supporting-reservists-employers.html
- With Glowing Hearts – Reservist Support Program – a turnkey employer support program for reservists. The program provides information and tools for employers of reservists and is an asset for a business to attract and retain experienced and valued reservist/employees.
Info and/or to Register: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WithGlowingHearts
originally published April 9, 2020.
Shell’s Quest carbon capture project hits milestone of five million tonnes
CALGARY — Shell Canada says the Quest carbon capture and storage project north of Edmonton has reached the milestone of five million tonnes of stored carbon dioxide, equivalent to the annual emissions of about 1.25 million cars.
It says the accomplishment was achieved ahead of schedule and has been attained at a lower cost than expected.
Quest opened in 2015 and cost about $1.35 billion, backed with $745 million from the Alberta government and $120 million from Ottawa.
Majority ownership of the project was sold to Calgary-based Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. in 2017, along with most of Shell’s Alberta oilsands assets, but Shell retained a 10 per cent interest and is still the operator.
It says the cost to operate Quest is about 35 per cent lower than what was forecast in 2015 and, if Quest were to be built today, it would cost about 30 per cent less.
Quest captures about one third of the CO2 emissions from the Shell-operated Scotford oilsands upgrader and transports it via a 65-kilometre pipeline to be stored more than two kilometres underground in a sandstone rock reservoir.
“Widespread adoption of carbon capture and storage is one of the key solutions the world needs right now to help solve the climate challenge,” said Shell Canada president Michael Crothers.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2020.
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The Canadian Press
‘Stunning:’ Scientists surprised at Fort McMurray fire’s long impact on rivers
EDMONTON — Four years after its flames guttered out, the record-breaking Fort McMurray wildfire continues to astound — this time with its lasting impact on an extensive river system.
“It’s actually stunning that we were able to observe an effect at that large scale,” said Uldis Silins, a University of Alberta professor and co-author of a recently published study on how the 2016 blaze affected the Athabasca River.
In May 2016, the fire swept through nearly 6,000 square kilometres of boreal forest in northern Alberta. Fort McMurray lost 2,400 buildings, and 88,000 people were forced from their homes.
With damage estimates of $10 billion, it was the most expensive natural disaster in Canadian history.
Almost immediately after the city was safely cleared, Silins and his colleagues were flown in as part of an emergency reaction team to assess the threat to Fort McMurray’s water supply.
Previous research has looked at how wildfires affect headwater streams in the mountains. But nobody had looked at their impacts on a large, slow, boreal river winding through wetlands.
“The extent to which the fire would impact water was highly uncertain,” said Silins.
For seven months, the team sampled and tested the Athabasca and several tributaries upstream of Fort McMurray.
The Athabasca is huge — nearly a kilometre across in many places — and it drains nearly one-quarter of Alberta. It’s tea-coloured and turbid, full of organic material.
The scientists were amazed when, every time it rained, they were able to detect significant increases in ash, potassium, nitrogen, calcium and heavy metals such as lead even within the river’s normal load.
“It’s a very, very large watershed,” Silins said. “We really were not expecting to see any impact at that scale.”
Those impacts are magnified because tributary water doesn’t mix evenly with the Athabasca’s main flow.
“You’ve got a river the colour of chocolate milk and these small tributaries during certain events — a good rain, for example — look like hot fudge,” said co-author Monica Emelko of the University of Waterloo.
“That hot-fudge sauce doesn’t necessarily mix in. That plume that extended for a very long distance, hugging the riverbank, is likely what was making its way into the water treatment plant in Fort McMurray.”
The fire residue also makes it harder to manage bacteria in the city’s reservoir.
Emelko said the city’s water has remained safe — it’s just harder and more expensive to make it so. City officials have said treatment costs increased 50 per cent after the fire.
“There is a very clear signature of the wildfire on drinking water supply and treatment in Fort McMurray,” Emelko said. “The community is paying a continued cost because of the fire.”
In most places, fire impacts on watersheds quickly dissipate. Studies on several Alberta fires in the foothills and the Rocky Mountains, however, show that hasn’t been the case.
Scientists believe the lingering presence of fire-related material could be related to the province’s geology being rich in fine-grained sediments.
“There, we have certainly seen a long persistence of those fire effects — far longer than has been reported in most other regions worldwide,” Silins said.
Climate and forest scientists have long suggested that huge fires such as the one dubbed “the Beast” in Fort McMurray are going to become more common as warmer temperatures dry forests out and extend the burning season.
“As climates have shifted, and we’re very clearly seeing a shift in wildfire behaviour, we’re going to see these kinds of impacts on water more and more often,” said Silins.
“Fires are impacting a far broader range of ecosystem values and human values than we thought. This is something we’re going to have deal with on a far more regular basis.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2020
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Bob Weber, The Canadian Press
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