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Nearly 6 in 10 Canadians call lack of new pipeline capacity a ‘crisis,’ poll suggests

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A slight majority of Canadians are calling the lack of new oil pipeline capacity in the country a “crisis,” according to findings from a recent survey by the Angus Reid Institute.

The institute surveyed 4,024 Canadian adults between Dec. 21 and Jan. 3, and found that 58 per cent affirmed that the lack of new oil pipeline capacity constitutes a crisis, while 42 per cent said it does not. 

But responses varied widely though across the provinces, with a high of 87 per cent of Albertans polled calling it a crisis while, at the low end, only 40 per cent of Quebecers had a similar sentiment. 

Results from the rest of the country were more evenly divided, with 61 per cent calling the issue a crisis in Ontario, Manitoba and the Atlantic provinces, while Saskatchewan polled at 74 per cent, and B.C. was close to deadlocked with a slight edge toward “crisis” with 53 per cent.  

These results were further informed by a survey question asking participants to choose the top two or three economic industries they feel are most critical to Canada. 

Two-thirds said the oil and gas industry is most critical, while agriculture finished second with 52 per cent. (Bucking the trend among the provinces, 48 per cent of British Columbians selected forestry and mining as the second-most critical.) 

A majority of Canadians polled across the provinces say the lack of pipeline capacity in the country constitutes a crisis. (Angus Reid Institute)

Beyond Alberta, B.C.

The results suggest a marked departure from past national polls on oil pipelines, according to the institure, which says interest in pipeline capacity has moved beyond Alberta and B.C. to become an issue of national importance.  

“More Canadians certainly further away from the debate… such as in places like Atlantic Canada, in Ontario and Manitoba [are] suddenly more engaged and offering more decided views on the issue,” said executive director Shachi Kurl.

Its emergence as a national issue appears to be supported by another question, asking what kind of impact no new oil pipeline would have on Canada’s economy, the respondent’s own province and their individual household.

Most said it would have little effect on their household, with only 35 per cent viewing it as having a major impact. Meanwhile 58 per cent said it would have a major impact on their province, and 69 per cent said it would have a major impact on Canada’s economy.

“It’s a little bit harder for Canadians to wrap their heads around to what extent is this a bread and butter issue for me, to what extent is this an issue that will affect my standard of living, my own personal household, but there is no doubt they see it as an issue that has the potential to impact the Canadian economy overall,” said Kurl.

Respondents cited increasing oil pipeline capacity as having increasing impact on the broader economy. (Angus Reid Institute)

Low levels of respect

Looking at Canadians’ impressions of the Trans Mountain and Energy East pipelines, 53 per cent of respondents voiced support for both, while 19 per cent opposed both, 17 per cent couldn’t decide, six per cent supported just the former pipeline, and five per cent supported only the latter. 

In terms of the weight that should be allocated to local opposition of oil pipeline projects 63 per cent of Canadians were of the opinion that little to no weight should be given. 

The low levels of respect for local opposition was strongest in Alberta and Saskatchewan, while respondents from B.C. and Quebec would assign more weight to the voices of local opposition. 

Comparing age groups on pipeline issues, the survey found the majority of Canadians ages 18 to 34 were not supportive of pipelines, while little more than half of those ages 35 to 54 were supportive, and those over the age of 55 expressed the most support for pipelines and labelled the lack of pipeline capacity a crisis. 

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Federal Budget 2021: Ottawa adds $1B to broadband fund for rural, remote communities

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The federal government will add $1 billion to a fund for improving high-speed communications in rural and remote areas of Canada, bringing the total to $2.75 billion by 2026, the Liberals said Monday in their first full budget since the pandemic began last year.

The money is going to the Universal Broadband Fund, which is designed to support the installation of “backbone” infrastructure that connects underserved communities to high-speed internet.

It’s one of many government and private-sector initiatives that have gained urgency since the pandemic began, as Canadians became more dependent on internet service for applications ranging from e-learning to daily business operations.

Ottawa says the additional money will keep it on track to have high-speed broadband in 98 per cent of the country by 2026, and 100 per cent by 2030.

Money spent on high-speed communications will be good for a recovering economy, said Pedro Antunes, chief economist at the Conference Board of Canada, a non-partisan think-tank.

The latest data from Statistics Canada says there were about five million people working from home during the pandemic, up from about two million prior to that, Antunes said in an interview.

“That’s a quarter or so of the workforce,” he added. “And I think a fair number of those people are going to continue to work from home, at least in some part-time way.”

Improved connections to high-speed broadband and mobile communications will add to the productive capacity of the economy overall, especially as it reaches beyond Canada’s cities, Antunes said.

He said there’s been a “real issue” with economic growth outside major urban centres and the improved connectivity “is something that can help stimulate that.”

The Universal Broadband Fund was initially mentioned in the 2019 budget, though specifics were not available until last November’s fiscal update.

The $1-billion top-up to the broadband fund announced today is in addition to $1.75 billion promised to the fund by the federal government’s November fiscal update.

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COVID-19: What you need to know for April 19

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Provincewide

  • Per today’s government report, there are 4,447 new cases in Ontario, for a total of 421,442 since the pandemic began; 2,202 people are in hospital, 755 of them in intensive care, and 516 on ventilators. To date, 7,735 people have died.
  • According to data from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, there are 40 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 36 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 127 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 3,755 confirmed resident deaths and 11 confirmed staff deaths.
  • Per the government’s report on Ontario’s vaccination program, as of 7 p.m. yesterday, Ontario has administered 66,897 new doses of COVID-19 vaccines, for a total of 3,904,778 since December 2020. 3,212,768 people have received only one dose, and 346,005 people have received both doses.

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Federal budget 2021 highlights: Child care, recovery benefits, OAS increases – everything you need to know

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The federal government’s first budget in more than two years certainly looks the part: At 739 pages, it is a hefty document chock full of billions in new spending.

Those funds will be spread among a number of key groups – students, seniors, parents and small-business owners, to name a few – as Ottawa looks to bolster Canada’s recovery from COVID-19 but also plan for life beyond the pandemic.

To that end, the deficit is projected to hit $354.2-billion in the 2020-21 fiscal year, which just ended – better than expected about five months ago, given the economy’s resilience over the winter months. It is estimated to fall to $154.7-billion this fiscal year, before dropping further in the years to come as pandemic spending recedes from view.

Here are some of the highlights from Monday’s budget.

The budget outlines tens of billions of dollars in federal subsidies for a national child-care program, a promise the Liberal Party has made in some form since the early 1990s. Child-care supports became a point of national debate during pandemic lockdowns as parents with young children struggled to juggle work and family responsibilities.

In total, the government proposes spending as much as $30-billion over the next five years, and $8.3-billion each year after that, to bring child-care fees down to a $10-a-day average by 2026. The proposal, which requires negotiation with the provinces and territories, would split subsidies evenly with those governments and targets a 50-per-cent reduction in average child-care fees by the end of 2022.

The federal program is largely modelled on Quebec’s subsidized child-care system, implemented in the 1990s in an effort to increase women’s access to the labour market. Since then, labour participation rates for women aged 25 to 54 in the province have grown to exceed the national average by four percentage points.

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