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Alberta

Stankoven scores twice, Canada doubles up Swiss 6-3 at world juniors

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By Gemma Karstens-Smith in Edmonton

Canada’s Logan Stankoven is used to putting pucks in the back of the net, but scoring hasn’t come easily at the world junior hockey championship.

He buried a pair of chances on Wednesday, though, helping Canada to a 6-3 quarterfinals win over Switzerland.

“It’s harder than I thought, for sure,” said Stankoven, a Kamloops Blazers forward who was named the Canadian Hockey League’s player of the year in June.

“The goals haven’t come easy. I’ve had chances, but not as much as I’d like. Tonight I thought I was able to create a few more chances and the puck was going in the net. So it was a good feeling.”

Stankoven also notched an assist, while Tyson Foerster scored and contributed two helpers. Jack Thompson, Nathan Gaucher and Will Cuylle all added goals for Canada (5-0-0) and Ronan Seeley chipped in with a pair of assists.

Attilio Biasca scored twice for Switzerland (1-4-0) and captain Simon Knak also found the back of the net.

After exploding for four goals in the first period, the Canadians struggled at times Wednesday, giving up prime scoring opportunities on sloppy play.

“We definitely didn’t want to take these guys lightly but they played really strong and kind of caught us by surprise a little bit,” said goalie Dylan Garand, who made 23 saves. “I think we did a good job of sticking with it and finding a way. It wasn’t pretty but we’re moving on.”

The victory means Canada will face Czechia (2-2-1) — the country commonly known as the Czech Republic — in Friday’s semifinals.

The other semifinal will pit Sweden (4-1-0) against Finland (4-1-0).

The Czechs gritted out a massive 4-2 upset over the U.S. (4-1-0) in the final quarterfinal game on Wednesday, leaping out to a 3-1 lead midway through the second period and held on for the win.

Jiri Kulich helped out with two assists before scoring into the empty net to dash the hopes of the reigning champion Americans with less than two minutes on the clock.

Jan Mysak, Petr Hauser and Matyas Sapovaliv also had goals for the Czechs, who have not won a medal at the world juniors in 15 years.

Logan Cooley opened the scoring for the U.S. and Carter Mazur briefly brought his team to within one 11:31 into the second.

Czech goalie Tomas Suchanek stopped 19-of-20 shots and Kaidan Mbereko made 15 saves for the Americans.

Switzerland made a late push Wednesday, pulling goalie Kevin Pasche with 3:15 to go in favour of an extra attacker but couldn’t make up the two-goal deficit.

Instead, Stankoven scored into the empty net with 69 seconds left on the game clock.

“It’s the dreaded quarterfinal game where you’re playing a team that has absolutely nothing to lose,” Canadian coach Dave Cameron said of the pressure. “And give them credit — they came at us and they made it interesting. But we found a way.”

Some sloppy play created trouble for Canada midway through the second period.

Trying to clear the puck from behind the net, Garand sent the puck to Donovan Sebrango along the boards and the defenceman sent the puck up ice.

Biasca picked off the pass and snapped a shot past the Canadian goalie to make it 5-3 at the 7:51 mark.

“Things didn’t really go our way some of the game,” Seeley said. “We battled back and found a way to win. And that’s all that matters.”

A pass from Olen Zellweger to Cuylle down low set up Canada’s fifth goal. Cuylle sent a sharp-angle shot in off Pasche 4:30 into the second.

The Swiss cut their deficit to 4-2 with just 8.2 seconds left in the opening frame.

Joshua Fahrni sent Biasca the puck from below the goal line and the Halifax Mooseheads’ forward blasted a shot in over Garand’s shoulder.

Pasche took over the Swiss net late in the first period after starter Noah Patenaude allowed four goals on nine shots.

Patenaude denied Canada’s Elliot Desnoyers but the puck got caught under his pad and Gaucher poked it in for his first goal of the tournament 17:01 into the game.

Pasche made 30 saves in relief.

Stankoven gave Canada a 3-1 cushion with a breakaway 14:32 into the first.

The Dallas Stars’ prospect picked off a pass at the Swiss bench and sprinted into the offensive zone alone. His initial shot ricocheted off the crossbar, so Stankoven collected the rebound and backhanded it into the open net for good measure.

Seeley’s sneaky pass across the slot helped Canada re-take the lead 12:31 into the first. Thompson collected the puck and fired a quick shot pass Patenaude to make it 2-1.

Switzerland’s first goal of the night came 2:21 into the game when Brian Zanetti uncorked a rocket from inside the blue line and Knak tipped it in for the equalizer.

Canada opened scoring just 74 seconds earlier when Stankoven sent a crisp pass to Foerster in the faceoff circle and he blasted it in for his third goal of the tournament.

Earlier Wednesday, Emil Andrae scored the game winner as Sweden took a 2-1 victory over Latvia.

Isak Rosen got Sweden on the board 16:44 into the first period and Gustavs Ozolins buried the equalizer for Latvia at the end of the second.

Latvia’s Martins Lavins was tossed from the game 89 seconds into the third for a check to the head, but his teammates killed a five-minute major penalty to keep the score at 1-1.

Andrae broke the deadlock 9:49 into the third with a long shot through traffic.

Jesper Wallstedt stopped 12 shots for Sweden (4-1-0) and Bruno Bruveris made 25 saves for Latvia (1-3-1).

Four points from Roby Jarventie led Finland to a 5-2 victory over Germany in another quarterfinal Wednesday.

Jarventie’s first goal at 14:48 of the first period gave Finland a 3-1 lead and ended up as the game winner.

After Germany’s Bennet Rossmy scored his second goal of the game in the second period to make it 3-2, Jarventie restored Finland’s lead 6:22 into the third with Yannick Proske off for hooking.

Roni Hirvonen and Joel Maatta also scored power-play goals as Finland went 4-for-6 with the man advantage. Finland’s power-play unit has been lethal throughout the tournament, firing at a 59 per cent clip (13-for-22).

Kasper Simontaival opened scoring for Finland with an even-strength goal 3:37 into the contest.

Leevi Merilainen made 19 saves for Finland (4-1-0) while Florian Bugl stopped 17 shots for Germany (2-3-0).

Canada took silver in the 2021 tournament, which was held at Edmonton’s Rogers Place without fans due to COVID-19 restrictions.

POKE CHECKS: Both Canada and Switzerland went 0-for-1 on the power play. … Canadian forward Ridly Greig headed to the locker room midway through the first period with an apparent shoulder injury and did not return. … The groups for the 2023 world juniors have been announced. Canada is in Group A with Sweden, Czechia, Germany and Austria, and will play its preliminary round games in Halifax. The U.S., Finland, Switzerland, Slovakia and Latvia are in Group B and will open the tournament in Moncton.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 17, 2022.

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Alberta

‘Made-in-Canada system’ keeps egg supply stable. But is it also keeping prices high?

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Canada’s egg industry appears to be quietly sidestepping widespread shortages and wildly spiking prices affecting other countries, and some say supply management is to thank. 

The system, which controls the supply, import and farm price of eggs, poultry and dairy, is often criticized as benefitting Canadian farmers at the expense of consumers. Critics blame supply management whenever prices of eggs and milk in Canada surpass those south of the border.

But as disease, climate change and geopolitical unrest threaten global food supplies, supporters say the upside of supply management is increasingly apparent. 

“We have a made-in-Canada system that has never been more critical to food security in Canada,” said University of Waterloo history professor Bruce Muirhead, a former research chair for Egg Farmers of Canada. 

“It’s keeping family farms alive and eggs on store shelves at a time when we’re seeing shortages around the world.”

Canada isn’t immune to the conditions affecting egg prices and supply in other countries. 

Avian influenza, or bird flu, labour shortages, supply chain issues and soaring feed, fuel and packaging costs have all affected egg production and processing costs in Canada over the past year. 

Statistics Canada said egg prices climbed 16.5 per cent year over year in December, making a dozen eggs that cost about $3.25 last year now $3.75.

While it’s a significant increase, it’s a fraction of the spiralling costs recorded in other countries. 

In the United States, for example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said egg prices were up 59.9 per cent in December compared with a year earlier. 

In states like Arizona, California, Nevada and Florida, the cost of a carton of eggs exceeded US$6 a dozen or about $8 Canadian in recent weeks. Stores in some regions have even rationed eggs to avoid empty shelves amid supply chain issues and possible shortages. 

The situation in the U.S. has prompted accusations of alleged price collusion among the nation’s top egg producers, while some news reports have suggested shoppers are travelling to border towns in Mexico or Canada to buy more affordable eggs.

In the United Kingdom, major supermarkets Tesco, Asda and Lidl have also set limits on how many eggs customers can buy, while some egg farmers say they can no longer break even. Egg prices in December were up 28.9 per cent year over year, the U.K.’s Office for National Statistics reported.  

New Zealand is also experiencing a nationwide egg shortage, leaving some store shelves bare and even prompting some consumers to rush out to buy their own backyard chickens. Statistics New Zealand said in an email the country’s egg prices increased 28.8 per cent in December 2022 compared with December 2021.

But critics say prices in Canada haven’t soared as drastically as in other countries for the simple reason that prices were already high to begin with. 

“When prices are already among the highest in the world, it’s no surprise that our prices didn’t spike quite as much,” said Krystle Wittevrongel, a senior policy analyst with the Montreal Economic Institute. 

“It’s easy to maintain more price stability when we have huge, excessively high prices to begin with.” 

Provincial egg marketing boards have indicated that prices in Canada are starting to come down. 

Egg Farmers of Ontario, for example, dropped the price farmers receive for a dozen eggs by 14 cents as of Jan. 29. It’s unclear whether processors and retailers will pass along those savings to consumers, though egg prices in some stores appear to have lowered by a few cents in recent days. 

While egg marketing boards set farm prices, processors set the wholesale price of eggs and grocers set the retail price consumers pay.

“We don’t set the retail price at all,” Egg Farmers of Canada CEO Tim Lambert said. “We get paid based on our costs of production. We’re seeing grain prices ease up right now, and so our barn gate price is decreasing.”

Meanwhile, egg supply in Canada has remained steady even as shortages continue to plague other countries. 

“We have definitely faced challenges,” Lambert said. “But our system has been really robust at keeping eggs on the shelves. If there are shortages, they’re local and temporary.”

One of the strengths of Canada’s egg industry is the greater number of smaller farms across the country, he said. 

The average egg farm in Canada has about 25,000 laying hens. In contrast, the average farm in the U.S. has about two million birds, Lambert said. 

“It’s a highly concentrated big business in the U.S.,” Lambert said. 

Cal-Maine Foods, the largest producer and distributor of shell eggs in the U.S., is traded on the Nasdaq with a total flock of about 42 million layers. Its share price has soared 45 per cent over the past year. 

Experts say the challenge with a highly consolidated industry is that disease outbreak can have a larger effect on supply. For example, if the country’s laying hens are concentrated into a handful of larger barns — rather than a larger number of smaller barns — the impact of having to euthanize a flock during a bird flu outbreak is also bigger. 

“In Canada, production is pretty well distributed across the across the country,” said Université Laval professor Maurice Doyon, an Egg Industry Economic Research Chair. “Just mathematically the risk is lower, because we don’t have that huge concentration.”

In the United States, about 44.5 million laying hens were affected by avian influenza, representing about 14 per cent of production, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada spokesperson Samantha Seary said. 

In Canada, about 1.6 million laying hens were affected by bird flu, or about six per cent of Canadian production, she said. 

Canada’s egg industry is also better positioned to withstand other issues from supply chain problems to climate change, Doyon said. 

“Supply management ensures a healthy enough margin that farmers in Canada can take care of the health of the hens and the environment because they have the means to do it,” he said. 

Still, while supply management may create a sustainable egg industry, critics say it comes at too high a cost.

They say the advantages don’t outweigh the downsides of higher prices for consumers over the long run. 

“Canada’s stuck on this protectionist, archaic system that benefits a small group of entrenched interests,” Wittevrongel said. “It seems like we’re in a better position now when in reality our prices are so much higher at any other time of year.”

But lots of items are more expensive in Canada than in the United States — and the overwhelming majority are not supply managed, Doyon said.

“Let’s look at bread or a can of soup or even a new car. These are more expensive in Canada than in the United States, but they’re not under supply management,” he said. 

Even among supply managed goods within Canada, items like eggs, milk and butter are generally much cheaper in bigger cities like Toronto than in other regions such as the Maritimes, Doyon said. 

For example, a dozen Sobeys Compliments white large eggs cost $3.75 in Toronto, according to the chain’s Voilà online grocery website. The exact same container of eggs in Halifax costs $4.85.

The price difference between Toronto and Halifax underscores the regional differences that exist even within the same country under the same system. 

“I’m not saying that supply management has no impact. But you just cannot attribute the entire difference in price between say Canada and the United States to supply management.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 3, 2023.

Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

‘Risky gamble:’ NDP urges Alberta government to end fixation with pulling out of CPP

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By Dean Bennett in Edmonton

Alberta’s Opposition leader says Premier Danielle Smith’s government needs to end its fixation with pulling the province out of the Canada Pension Plan.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley says her party would not pursue an Alberta Pension Plan, which the United Conservative government has been studying for almost three years without resolution.

Notley says the idea does not make economic sense and is opposed by a majority of Albertans, adding the government needs to release its long-promised report into the pros and cons of Alberta going it alone on pensions.

“We are very concerned that this UCP government is sitting on a self-interested report that they are hiding from Albertans because they don’t want this to be an election issue, but they still plan to go ahead with it should they get elected,” Notley told reporters Thursday.

“If this UCP government is continuing to toy with this risky gamble to undermine the security of Albertans’ pensions, then they have an obligation to come clean on that.”

Alberta voters head to the polls May 29.

Smith’s office said work continues on a third-party analysis of an Alberta pension plan.

“While the initial analysis looks favourable, the Office of the Chief Actuary of Canada recently tabled updated asset figures for the CPP, and the third-party expert authoring the report requires additional time to update its findings,” spokeswoman Becca Polak said in a statement.

“When the expert informs us the final report is ready, it will be released publicly thereafter.”

Polak stressed the report would only be the first step and Albertans would have the final say.

“The government of Alberta will not replace the CPP with an Alberta Pension Plan unless Albertans first vote to do so in a provincewide referendum,” she said. “It’s Albertans’ pension — it must be Albertans’ choice.”

The report stems from a May 2020 Fair Deal panel report urging Alberta explore the idea as a way to help assert itself more within Confederation.

The panel reported that given Alberta’s young population, a separate pension plan could be a multibillion-dollar net benefit. The panel recommended the idea be explored even though 42 per cent of the respondents in its survey thought it was a good idea.

In response, then-premier Jason Kenney ordered a review into the feasibility of such a plan. In March 2021, Kenney said work on the report was almost done and his government was just weeks away from announcing next steps.

Smith, taking over from Kenney in October, asked Toews to continue with the pension report. In December she said she hoped a referendum might be possible with the May election, but has since said that likely won’t happen.

She has said Albertans are over-contributers to CPP and need to explore an alternative that could leave more money in the hands of Alberta seniors.

The Alberta pension plan is among a suite of measures being explored by Smith’s government as a way to carve out more independence for Alberta within Confederation.

The province is also researching its own provincial police force to replace the RCMP and tax revenue collecting agency.

In December, the Alberta Chambers of Commerce conducted a survey that suggested a majority of business owners believe leaving CPP for an Alberta plan would disadvantage them over the next three to five years.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 2, 2023

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