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OPG says alert about Pickering nuclear plant incident was sent in error

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TORONTO — An alert warning Ontario residents of an unspecified incident at Pickering Nuclear Generating Station early Sunday morning was sent in error, Ontario Power Generation said.

OPG sent out a tweet about 40 minutes after the emergency alert, which was pushed to cellphones at about 7:30 a.m., saying it was a mistake.

A follow-up alert was sent to cellphones nearly two hours after the original notification, and about an hour after the OPG tweet.

“There is NO active nuclear situation taking place at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station,” the alert said. “The previous alert was issued in error. There is no danger to the public or environment. No further action is required.”

Premier Doug Ford’s office said it was working to figure out what happened.

The original alert warned people within 10 kilometres of the facility east of Toronto of an unspecified incident. There was no abnormal release of radioactivity and people near the plant didn’t need to take protective actions, the alert said.

Pickering has been operating since 1971, and had been scheduled to be decommissioned this year, but the former Liberal government — and the current Progressive Conservative government — committed to keeping it open until 2024. Decommissioning is now set to start in 2028.

It operates six CANDU reactors, generates 14 per cent of Ontario’s electricity, and is responsible for 4,500 jobs across the region, according to OPG.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 12, 2020.

Allison Jones, The Canadian Press

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Three cases of coronavirus ruled out in Canada as precautions taken nationally

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Three possible cases of a new type of viral pneumonia have been investigated in Canada and ruled out as coronavirus, the country’s chief public health officer said Monday.

The World Health Organization, meanwhile, announced plans to hold an emergency meeting to decide whether the illness linked to three deaths in China is an international emergency.

Dr. Theresa Tam declined to say where in Canada the potential cases were located, but she said the individuals had travelled to Wuhan, the Chinese province where coronavirus is believed to have originated in a now-closed seafood market before being detected in Shenzhen and Beijing and beyond to Japan, Thailand and South Korea.

“What I can say is that I did immediately contact my counterparts, the chief medical officers of health, in the provinces and territories. They in turn have notified their front line in terms of their health system,” Tam said.

The novel coronavirus was thought to spread from animals but Chinese officials have said it’s now being transmitted from human to human and 217 cases had been confirmed as concerns mount the virus may be increasingly transmitted during the upcoming Chinese lunar new year holidays.

Canadians are at low risk of contracting the illness, Tam said, adding precautionary measures are being taken, including screenings at airports in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal of passengers who have flu-like symptoms after travelling from Wuhan in central China.

Messages in English, French and simplified Chinese will also appear on arrivals screens at the airports in the coming weeks, Tam said. The measures are similar to those at airports in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York as well as in some Asian countries.

An additional health screening question will be added to electronic kiosks on whether passengers have travelled to an affected area in the last 14 days, she said.

“It is important to take this seriously and be vigilant and be prepared but I don’t think there’s any reason to panic or be overly concerned,” Tam said, adding the novel virus has non-specific symptoms, such as fever, cough and difficulty breathing.

Coronaviruses, including severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, first infected people in southern China in late 2002 before spreading to more than two dozen countries and killing over 900 people globally, including 44 in Canada.

Two commissions of inquiry criticized the health system’s response to SARS, leading to changes including the creation of the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Tam said Canada is now better prepared to respond to similar situations.

“We have governance mechanisms with the provinces and territories,” she said, adding that a national laboratory to test for infectious diseases also owes its existence to the tragedy, which mostly involved people in the Toronto area in Canada.

She said the severity or the full spectrum of the current coronavirus is unknown.

The World Health Organization is expected to meet on Wednesday. Tam said if an international emergency is declared, the agency will make temporary recommendations that Canada would adopt.

Dr. Allison McGeer, who was head of infection control at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto during the SARS outbreak and is now a researcher in the field there, said trying to stop coronavirus at airports through current screening measures won’t help if an increasing number of people are exposed.

McGeer, who contracted SARS at a Toronto hospital while at the centre of the early response to the virus, noted the Spanish flu pandemic that swept the world between 1918 and 1920 killed an estimated 50 million people, decades before extensive air travel.

“Screening at airports is difficult to do well and very expensive, so what we want our government doing is thinking very carefully about what the right extent is and the timing of it and making decisions based on science and evidence, not based on what our gut feeling is because the gut feeling tends to be we can control this at our borders, we can stop it coming in. But microbes don’t recognize borders. It does not work,” she said.

McGeer said pandemic preparedness policies are much more applicable to slowing a virus’s transmission in populations.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2020

Camille Bains, The Canadian Press

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A brief look at carbon taxing by province

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OTTAWA — As of Jan. 1, every Canadian and all Canadian businesses are paying a price on carbon.

The federal Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act means provinces that do not have their own price on pollution that meets a federal standard get the federal carbon tax applied to them. That includes Manitoba, whose premier talked Monday about the prospect of replacing the federal charge with a home-grown version.

The federal tax is currently $20 a tonne and will rise $10 a year, on April 1 of each year until it hits $50 a tonne in 2022.

For individuals and businesses with relatively small emissions, that carbon levy is applied to liquid and gaseous fuels at the point of purchase. Households receive rebates on their income taxes to offset the cost of the carbon tax. The amount varies by province to account for different uses of fossil fuels.

There is a separate carbon pricing system for big industrial emitters. It charges the tax on a portion of their emissions, rather than on the fuels they purchase. This is known as the “output-based pricing system,” and the carbon price is charged on between five and 20 per cent of those emissions depending on the industry.

Some provinces have both federal systems in place, while others use one or the other. Here’s a quick glimpse at how the national price on pollution works in every province and territory.

British Columbia

Charges a provincewide carbon tax of $40 per tonne on fossil fuels including gasoline, natural gas and diesel. The B.C. government intends to raise the tax to $45 on April 1, and to $50 on April 1, 2021.

B.C. uses revenues to invest in clean technology and environment policies, as well as provide direct rebates to individual households with an income-based tax credit. The credit is worth up to $154.50 per adult (or for the first child in a single-parent home) and $45.50 per child. The credit is phased out as income rises, and eliminated completely for any family with a net income over $62,964.

Alberta

Albertans began paying the federal carbon levy Jan. 1. Alberta is challenging Ottawa’s authority to impose the tax in court.

The carbon rebate in Alberta will amount to $888 for a family of four in 2020. The amount represents a rebate for carbon tax paid over 15 months, from January 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021, because Albertans were not included in the rebate program last year.

Ottawa recently approved the Alberta system for big emitters, which charges $30 a tonne on emissions from facilities that emit more than 100,000 tonnes a year. Those facilities are each asked to reduce emissions by 10 per cent in the first year, and one per cent per year after that. If they don’t hit those reductions, they pay the carbon tax on whatever they emit over their cap, or buy credits from firms that exceed their targeted reductions.

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan families and small businesses pay the federal carbon levy. A Saskatchewan family of four received $609 in the climate rebate in 2019, and it will be $809 in 2020.

Saskatchewan has a large industrial carbon price that partially meets Ottawa’s requirements, so Ottawa is charging its output-based carbon price on electricity generators and pipelines that are not subject to the provincial system.

Manitoba

Manitoba families and small businesses pay the federal carbon levy. A Manitoba family of four received $339 from the Climate Action Incentive in 2019 and will receive $486 in 2020.

The province is also subject to the output-based system on any facility emitting more than 50,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas each year.

On Jan. 20, Premier Brian Pallister raised the possibility of replacing the federal levy with a provincial one, which he said should be “flat and low like the prairie horizon.”

Ontario

Ontario families and small businesses pay the federal carbon levy.  Ontario challenged Ottawa’s authority to impose the carbon levy in court and lost and is now appealing to the Supreme Court of Canada.

An Ontario family of four received $307 in 2019 from the climate rebate and will receive $448 in 2020.

The province is also subject to the output-based system on any facility emitting more than 50,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas each year.

Quebec

Quebec has had a cap-and-trade system since 2013. The system sets caps on emissions by industry, and companies that cannot reduce their emissions below that cap must buy credits from a carbon market shared with California. Each jurisdiction sets a minimum price per tonne for credits, which in Quebec last year was the equivalent of $20.82 per tonne of emissions.

Individuals pay the carbon cost embedded in the price of goods.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick is subject to the federal carbon levy of $20 a tonne but on April 1, it will switch to a provincial system. The details of that system are still to come but will involve introducing a price per tonne on carbon and then reducing the province’s gas tax by a similar amount to make the cost to individuals mostly neutral.

New Brunswick industry is also subject to the federal output based system at the moment but has proposed its own version that requires big emitters to cut pollution by 10 per cent over the next decade.

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia introduced a cap-and-trade system in January 2019 that meets the federal standards. It sets limits on emissions in specific industries and companies that emit more than their limits must buy credits from companies that emit less than their limits.

Prince Edward Island

P.E.I. has a provincial carbon levy of $20 a tonne on most liquid and gaseous fuels with the exception of furnace oil and propane.

P.E.I. opted to use Ottawa’s output-based system for big emitters.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador introduced a carbon price of $20 per tonne on Jan. 1, 2019. At the same time it reduced its provincial gas tax by about the same amount.

The province has an output-based system for big industry that sets targets for cutting emissions.

Yukon

Opted to use the federal carbon levy but was allowed to collect the revenues itself. It is providing rebates of about $172 per family of four in 2019 and 2020.

Yukon is paying $20 per tonne on fuels. The territory is exempt from paying the tax on aviation gasoline and aviation turbo fuel.

The territory is also using the federal output-based system for big emitters.

Northwest Territories

Implemented a territorial carbon tax of $20 per tonne last fall, with various rebates and offsets to aid residents, including a 100 per-cent point-of-purchase rebate on the carbon tax on home heating fuel, and a cost-of-living benefit of $260 per adult and $300 per child.

Nunavut

Opted to use the federal carbon levy. Nunavut is reducing the cost to individuals by covering half the levy, meaning instead of the cost of five gallons of gasoline going up 90 cents, it will go up 45 cents, with the territory paying the other 45 cents. The levy applies to all fuels except aviation gasoline and aviation turbo fuel.

Nunavut is also using the federal output-based system for industrial emitters.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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january, 2020

mon06jan(jan 6)8:00 amfri31(jan 31)12:00 amJanuary is Alzheimer's Awareness Month8:00 am - 12:00 am (31) Event Organized By: K. Jobs

sun12jan(jan 12)2:00 pmsun22mar(mar 22)5:00 pmAnne Frank: A History for Today opening at Red Deer MAG2:00 pm - (march 22) 5:00 pm mst Red Deer Museum & Art Gallery Address: 4525 - 47A Avenue, Red Deer

thu23jan(jan 23)6:00 pmsat25(jan 25)11:00 pmRed Deer Justice Film Festival6:00 pm - 11:00 pm (25) welikoklad event centre, 4922 49 St, Red Deer, AB T4N 1V3

fri24jan1:30 pm3:00 pmMonthly Mindfulness Drop-InMonthly Mindfulness Drop-In1:30 pm - 3:00 pm

mon27jan11:15 am1:15 pmLuncheon With Arlene Dickinson11:15 am - 1:15 pm Cambridge Hotel and Conference Centre, 3310 50 Avenue

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