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Federal, Ontario governments invest $150M in Algoma Steel

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The federal and Ontario governments are putting $150 million into Algoma Steel, looking to gird the Sault Ste. Marie-based company against U.S. tariffs as it emerges from three years from bankruptcy protection. 

Navdeep Bains, the minister of innovation, science and economic development, was in the northern Ontario city on Thursday to announce Ottawa is investing $90 million in Algoma — one-third of which is a grant from the ministry’s Strategic Innovation Fund. The rest is a loan from FedDev Ontario, a federal agency that supports economic growth in the province.

“In these challenging times for Algoma and in the face of unfair and unjust tariffs, we are committed to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our hard-working steel and aluminum workers, their families and communities,” said Bains.

“Our investment will help Algoma innovate, strengthen the competitiveness of Sault Ste. Marie’s steel plant and support good, middle-class jobs for Canadians.”

Mayor Christian Provenzano said the investments were good news for Sault Ste. Marie and the Canadian steel industry. (Twitter)

Ontario is loaning $60 million to the company, which is the second largest steel producer in Canada. 

“The investment … secures thousands of jobs and pensions and signals northern Ontario is open for business,” said Greg Rickford, the province’s minister for energy and northern development, who was also at the announcement. 

Sault Ste. Marie Mayor Christian Provenzano said it’s a good day for the steel industry in Canada. 

“I think there’s a lot to celebrate,” Provenzano said.

“[It’s] good news not only for not only our city and our province. It’s good for the country because it’s important that we invest in and maintain the capacity to make steel in Canada.”

Provenzano says the two levels of government had earlier committed, but not announced, a total investment of $120 million. The remaining $30 million from the innovation fund was confirmed on Wednesday and will be used to modernize the facility, he said. 

Algoma Steel Inc. in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., is Canada’s second largest steel producer. It is emerging from three years of bankruptcy protection. (Tara Walton/Canadian Press)

“It’s helpful for the company to have access to capital to modernize its assets,” he said.

The company, formally known as Essar Steel Algoma, sought creditor protection in 2015 due to low steel prices. It was sold, with court approval, to a numbered company in B.C. in 2018 and was renamed upon emerging from creditor protection in November. 

Elsewhere in the industry, the federal government in October announced $49.9 million for ArcelorMittal Canada Inc., funding seven projects at facilities in Hamilton and Montreal to help them modernize through new equipment and training.

Mark Rowlinson, the assistant to the national director with United Steelworkers, says it’s good the government is helping the steel industry.

“The steel industry in Canada needs support of governments, particularly given the fact that we’re still in this troubling time with these steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by the United States,” he said.

“It’s good that the governments are stepping up to provide this level of support, but the best they could be doing is working as hard as they can do get rid of the tariffs.”

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Students call on University of Ottawa to implement pass/fail grading amid pandemic

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OTTAWA — The University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU) is calling on the university to introduce optional, one-course-only pass/fail grading for the Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 semesters amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The students’ union said nearly 5,000 uOttawa students have signed its petition supporting the grading system.

In a letter to the university, the UOSU said it is asking the school to make changes to the grading structure, including allowing one course per semester to be converted to the “pass” or “satisfactory” designation.

The UOSU also made recommendations regarding a reduction of workload and course delivery.

“The adaptation to online learning during the pandemic for students has created unique challenges and disruptions that could not have been anticipated,” wrote Tim Gulliver, the UOSU’s Advocacy Commissioner. 

“The use of flexible compassionate grading options has been introduced in other universities, such as Carleton University which includes a use of Pass/Fail which we feel could be implemented at the University of Ottawa.”

Carleton University approved the use of flexible and compassionate grading for the Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 terms in early November.

The UOSU also called for all grades that constitute a fail to appear as “Not Satisfactory” on their transcript, which would not be included in grade point average calculations. 

The union represents more than 38,000 undergraduate students at the University of Ottawa.

In a response to CTV News, the University of Ottawa said it is aware of the petition.

“Last spring a decision was made by the (University) Senate to allow the Satisfactory/Non Satisfactory mark to be used, given the unique circumstances of the pandemic, which hit us close to the end of the Winter 2020 semester. The University is aware of the petition and is looking into the matter.”

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OPP warn of phone scams in Ottawa Valley

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Upper Ottawa Valley OPP warn residents of a phone scam that’s been making its way through the region recently. 

Police say a scammer pretends to be from a local business and tells the person their credit card didn’t work on a recent purchase before asking the person on the phone to confirm their credit card number. 

The victim may not have even used the card at the store, but police said the scammer creates a sense of urgency. 

Police remind residents to verify the legitimacy of any caller before providing any personal information over the phone. 

Similar scams have been reported recently in the region, according to police, with scammers posing as police officers, Revenue Canada or other government agencies demanding payment for a variety of reasons. A Social Insurance Number scam has also been reported recently, where a victim is asked for their SIN number under threat of being arrested. 
 
If a scam artist contacts you or if you have been defrauded, you’re asked to contact police or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or visit their website at www.antifraudcentre.ca.

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The human history of Ottawa Valley is thousands of years old. Archeologists may have found a piece of it on Parliament Hill

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OTTAWA—Archeologists working on Parliament Hill have discovered a relic of Indigenous life that one Algonquin leader sees as a symbol of his people’s long history in what is now the heart of Canadian political power.

The jagged stone point was unearthed last year on the east side of Centre Block, but its discovery was not publicized as officials worked with Algonquin communities to authenticate the object, the Star has learned.

Stephen Jarrett, the lead archeologist for the ongoing renovation of Parliament’s Centre Block, said this week that while such an object is “not an uncommon find,” the stone point joins just a small handful of Indigenous artifacts ever discovered on Parliament Hill.

“It’s about the size of my palm, and it could be used as a knife or a projectile,” Jarrett said this week in response to inquiries from the Star.

He said the point is made of chert, a type of sedimentary stone most often used for implements of this type. And while the point was unearthed in what Jarrett calls “disturbed soil” — earth that has been dug up and moved, most likely during construction of Parliament — the soil it was in “is natural to the site.”

That means “it came from a source nearby, but finding exactly where it came from is impossible,” Jarrett said.

For Douglas Odjick, a band council member responsible for education and culture with the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, this artifact of “an original world” is a testament to the longevity of his Algonquin nation in an area they still claim as unceded and unsurrendered territory. Based on the assessment of Ian Badgley, the top archeologist with the National Capital Commission, Odjick said the stone point is likely 4,000 years old and dates to a time when the confluence of the Ottawa, Gatineau and Rideau Rivers — along with all their tributaries that stretch out into the surrounding area — served as a great hub of regional trade activity.

“It symbolizes who we are and how long we’ve been here,” Odjick said, comparing the area to an ancient version of a busy hub like New York’s busy Grand Central Station.

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