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‘Paying it furloughed’: Free beer sent to U.S. workers hit by shutdown

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As the U.S. government shutdown enters its fourth week, a new website is inviting strangers to pay for beer for struggling federal employees not receiving their paychecks.

The campaign, cheekily titled “Pay it Furloughed,” allows people to pay for drinks at participating breweries for the 800,000 affected federal government workers.

One of the site’s founders said the inspiration came after hearing people speak about the shutdown’s “negative impact.”

“They wanted to do something to help. Maybe they can’t pay a car payment or make a mortgage payment but maybe, [they can help with] something small,” site co-founder Nevin Martell told CTV News Channel.

Martell’s friend Al Goldberg, who owns a culinary incubator in Washington, D.C., told him that craft breweries have been suffering since the shutdown.

“So we decided to marry those two ideas … and we stayed up three days straight drinking Red Bull and built a website,” he said.

“People can go online and fund a beer and then federal employees can go into a local participating brewery and just redeem as many beers as they’d like,” Martell said. “As much as they need to get through the day.”

The site, which launched Sunday, suggests that “beer makes everything better.”

As of Thursday night, approximately 2,800 beers had been donated with just over 500 beers being redeemed so far.

“It’s been really heartening to see people take advantage of it and walk out with a smile on their face,” he said. “We really feel like ‘mission accomplished’ on that point.”

But while Martell said it’s been “really nice” to have met affected workers in tasting rooms at some of these breweries, he’s also heard painful stories.

“They’re telling you just awful stories,” he said. “This is not a great time for them but they’re able to go out and have a few beers and maybe hang out with somebody in the same situation as they are.”

“Maybe they can commiserate or talk about something different,” Martell said, adding he noticed employees seemed depressed.

“People are just afraid of the uncertainty of it all. They don’t know when it’s going to end [or how],” he said. “And when they do go back to work, there’s going to be a mountain of catch-up for them.”

“This is not the way they many of them had hoped to wanted to spend their January, and part of December and God knows how much longer,” he said. “Free beer may take the edge off for a bit but at the end of the day everybody just wants to go back to normal.”

The government shutdown – now the longest in American history — was prompted by U.S. President Donald Trump failing to sign a resolution unless it contained $5.7 billion in funding for his proposed southern border wall.

Since the shutdown began 27 days ago, garbage pickup in national parks has ceased and travellers have experienced longer lines at the airport.

Some estimates suggest that the U.S. economy loses $1.2 billion each week the shutdown continues. White House economic advisor Kevin Hassett admitted the administration underestimated the fallout.

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LIFESTYLES

Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling

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So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

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Top environment official urges Canadians to back Ottawa’s ambitious plans to tackle plastic trash

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The second in command at the federal Environment Ministry challenged Canadians to continue to speak up about the problem of plastic pollution and push elected officials, scientists and businesses to do more.

Quebec MP Peter Schiefke, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, made the comments online at Vancouver’s annual zero waste conference on Friday.

He said most Canadians want solutions to curb the tens of thousands of tonnes of plastic garbage that ends up as litter each year on the country’s beaches, parks, lakes and in the stomachs of animals. 

“Making sure that message is heard with industry stakeholders, elected officials and make sure that they are constantly putting pressure on it … so we notice that this is something that Canadians want, the backing of Canadians to go and undertake these huge challenges,” he said.

Schiefke filled in for  Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson at the last minute after Wilkinson was called away to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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OC Transpo’s monthly bus pass one of the most expensive fares in Canada

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OTTAWA — OC Transpo’s monthly bus pass is one of the most expensive passes in Canada, and transit riders are facing another 2.5 per cent hike in transit fares on New Year’s Day.

Ahead of Wednesday’s Transit Commission meeting on the 2021 budget, CTV News Ottawa looked at the cost of a monthly adult bus pass at transit services across Canada. Ottawa ranks behind the TTC in Toronto, Mississauga’s “MiWay”, Brampton Transit and Vancouver “TransLink” Zone 2 access to the suburbs for most expensive transit fares in Canada.

The cost of an OC Transpo adult monthly bus pass is currently $119.50 a month.

The 2021 City of Ottawa budget includes a proposed 2.5 per cent hike in transit fares. If approved, an adult monthly transit pass will increase $3 to $122.50, while a youth pass will increase $2.25 to $94.50 a month.  The cost of an adult single-ride cash fare would rise a nickel to $3.65.

The TTC is the most expensive transit service in Canada, charging $156 a month for an adult fare. MiWay charges $135 a month, and the cost of an adult monthly pass with Brampton Transit is $128.

Metro Vancouver’s transportation network “TransLink” has three fare zones. The monthly bus pass cost for “Zone 1”, which covers Vancouver, is $97 for adults. The “Zone 2” fare, which covers Vancouver and the suburbs of Richmond and Burnaby, is $131 a month.

Edmonton Transit Service, which includes a Light Rail System with 18 stations on two different lines, charges $97 a month for an adult monthly bus pass.

An adult monthly bus pass in Calgary costs $109 a month.

The survey by CTV News Ottawa of transit fares across Canada shows Gatineau has higher transit fares than Montreal and Quebec City. The STO charges $99 a month.

A monthly adult bus pass costs $88.50 in Montreal and $89.50 in Quebec City.

The cheapest adult monthly bus fare is in Charlottetown, at $58.50 a month. A monthly bus pass in Whitehorse costs $62 a month.

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