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In The News for May 4 : Tentative deal reached between CRA, union, ending strike

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of May 4 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
PSAC workers walk the picket line out front of His Majestys Canadian Dockyard in Esquimalt, B.C., on Friday, April 28, 2023. The public-sector union representing Canada Revenue Agency employees has struck a tentative deal with the federal government, ending a strike of 35,000 workers just after the tax season wrapped up. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of May 4 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

The public-sector union representing Canada Revenue Agency employees has struck a tentative deal with the federal government, ending a strike of 35,000 workers just after the tax season wrapped up.

The announcement of a prospective agreement comes after the government and Public Service Alliance of Canada came to separate deals that ended a strike of more than 120,000 other public servants.

CRA employees represented by PSAC's Union of Taxation Employees were still on strike two days after the federal tax-filing deadline.

The union is telling members to return to work on May 4 by 11:30 a.m. ET at the latest.

In a statement, PSAC said the tentative deal includes wage increases totalling 12.6 per cent compounded over the life of the agreement from 2021-2024, as well as an additional fourth year in the agreement that protects workers from inflation. The tentative agreement also includes a pensionable $2,500 one-time lump sum payment that represents an additional 3.6 per cent of salary for the average member.

In its own release, the CRA said it and PSAC reached a tentative settlement on telework outside of the collective agreement. It said both agreed to undertake a review of the directive on virtual work arrangements, and to create a panel to advise the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner regarding employee concerns.

The union threatened earlier Wednesday that it would plan to send its members to disrupt a Liberal party convention in Ottawa on Thursday if the employer didn't table a "fair'' deal.

The separate agreements that PSAC negotiated with the government included a 11.5 per cent wage increase over four years.

Earlier in the negotiations, the tax employees' union had been pushing for a 20.5 per cent increase over a three-year period.


Also this ...

Colin Cutler has been going to coin shows since he was 14 but has never come across a coin as popular as the black-ringed toonie the Royal Canadian Mint released to memorialize the late Queen Elizabeth.

"I have never seen a coin with this kind of demand in the 52 years I've been doing this," said the Chatham, Ont. man, who runs Collectors Corner Coins.

"There's never been a coin that's had this kind of response."

The two-dollar coin with a black band of nickel-plated steel features the late monarch's effigy in the centre of one side and the usual polar bear on an ice floe on the other. It's marked 2022, the year of the queen's death.  

The mint produced about five million of the toonies, amounting to about one for every eight Canadians.

When the coin was due to be released in December, he contacted the mint and was told there were none left, so he scrambled to buy two boxes, or 1,000, of the toonies collectively worth $2,000 from a distributor.

Within a month and a half, 700 had sold for $8 apiece and his listing on Facebook Marketplace had racked up more than 10,000 views, far higher than the usual coins he sells which typically nab less than 100 views.

Spokesperson Deneen Perrin says the mint doesn't have data on the popularity of the toonie, but public feedback has been "overwhelmingly favourable." Coin exchanges the mint hosted for the toonie have been "extremely well attended," she added, noting about 4.4 million are in circulation so far.


And this too ...

Climate change is knocking some Pacific salmon out of alignment with the growth of the ocean plankton they eat to survive, new research says.

In the largest data set ever gathered on the timing of juvenile salmon migration, research found the changing climate is causing some salmon populations to migrate earlier out of step with plankton blooms that are also affected by changing weather patterns. 

Lead author Sam Wilson said that as climate change continues the two will match less and less, putting salmon survival at risk.

"The coastal ocean is changing in one way and Pacific salmon are changing in a myriad of other ways and those ways don't always align," said Wilson, a post-doctoral researcher in the salmon watersheds lab at Simon Fraser University. 

Numerous species of Pacific salmon are at risk or even endangered for several reasons, including overharvesting and lack of habitat protections. Wilson suggests the response by the young salmon may be a coping mechanism that helps them survive and reinforces the need to protect biodiversity. 

Wilson spent almost five years collecting data from research projects around North America on 66 wild Pacific salmon populations stretching from Oregon to British Columbia to Alaska and dating back at least 20 years.

She found that some salmon populations are migrating earlier, with pink and chum changing fastest at seven days earlier per decade, while other species saw no change on average.

On average, fish are still managing to find the plankton they need, Wilson said, but climate change means they'll be matching up with the blooms less and less. 

Major events such as the marine heat wave known as "The Blob," which persisted in the Pacific Ocean between 2013 and 2016, led to a "big mismatching event" and decreased young salmon survival, she said.

The research found that the changes in salmon migration were not predictable, with populations of the same species of salmon behaving differently.


What we are watching in the U.S. ...

MADISON, Wis. _ A Wisconsin judge was set to hear arguments Thursday in a lawsuit challenging the state's 174-year-old abortion ban, a statute held in abeyance for nearly five decades until the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade last year.

State Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat, filed the lawsuit in Dane County circuit court last June seeking to repeal the ban. Kaul argues that the 1849 law is so old it was essentially adopted without the people's consent; or alternately, that narrower restrictions on abortion enacted in Wisconsin in 1985 supersede the older statute. The 1985 legislation permits terminating pregnancies up until a fetus can survive outside the womb, while the older law outlawed abortion except to save the mother's life.

Kaul initially sued Republican legislators but later dropped them from the case and named three district attorneys as defendants, seeking to prohibit them from enforcing the ban. Thursday's hearing before Circuit Judge Diane Schlipper was expected to focus on a motion by one of the prosecutors named. Republican Joel Urmanski, Sheboygan County's district attorney who has vowed to prosecute anyone violating the abortion ban, has asked the court to dismiss the case.

Urmanski argues that Kaul lacks standing to sue because the abortion ban doesn't hurt him. Urmanski also rebuts Kaul's argument that the ban is unenforceable because it's so old. State laws don't lose their effect through disuse, Urmanski said.

The judge wasn't expected to immediately rule Thursday, but she could lay down a timeline for her decision.

The case carries so much weight that no matter what happens in Schlipper's courtroom or at the appellate level it will almost certainly end at the state Supreme Court. That plays to Kaul's advantage because liberal-leaning justices will hold a 4-3 majority on the court after Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Janet Protasiewicz is sworn in this August.

Protasiewicz signalled repeatedly during her campaign that she supports abortion rights, an unprecedented approach in a judicial race. Typically judicial candidates keep their issue-oriented views to themselves to avoid the appearance of bias.

Protasiewicz's win symbolizes a larger problem for local- and state-elected officials brought on by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision striking down Roe v. Wade: the ruling handed conservatives a victory they'd been working toward for decades, but it also galvanized Democrats and their voters to turn out in force at the polls.


What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

THE HAGUE, Netherlands _ Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was in the Netherlands on Thursday for a surprise visit to the city that is home to the International Criminal Court, which has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Zelenskyy's visit to The Hague, which calls itself the international city of peace and justice and hosts the ICC and the United Nations' top judicial organ, the International Court of Justice, came a day after he denied that Ukrainian forces were responsible for what the Kremlin called an attempt to assassinate Putin in a drone attack.

On a visit to Helsinki on Wednesday, Zelenskyy told reporters: "We didn't attack Putin. We leave it to (the) tribunal.''

The ICC said in a March 18 statement that Putin "is allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of (children) and that of unlawful transfer of (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.''

But the prospect of Putin being sent to The Hague is a remote one as the court does not have a police force to execute warrants and the Russian president is unlikely to travel to any of the ICC's 123 member states that are under an obligation to arrest him if they can.

Zelenskyy's visit to The Hague came as questions continued to swirl around Russia's claim that it foiled an attack by Ukrainian drones on the Kremlin early Wednesday. Moscow branded it an unsuccessful assassination attempt against Putin and promised retaliation for what it termed a "terrorist'' act.

Air raid sirens went off in Kyiv overnight, but there were no immediate reports of any airstrikes on the Ukrainian capital.

Putin wasn't in the Kremlin at the time and was at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russia's state news agency RIA Novosti.

There was no independent verification of the purported attack, which Russia authorities said occurred overnight but presented no evidence to support it. Questions also arose as to why it took the Kremlin hours to report the incident and why videos of it also surfaced later in the day.


On this day in 2012 ...

The Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg struck the final one-cent coin as it was being phased out after 154 years. The last penny went to Canada's currency museum in Ottawa.


In entertainment ...

TORONTO _ A public visitation for Gordon Lightfoot is scheduled for Sunday in the folk singer's Orillia, Ont., hometown.

The family of the late Canadian musician, who died Monday at 84, says people can pay their respects at St. Paul's United Church from 1 to 8 p.m.

A private funeral will be held at a later date in Orillia where Lightfoot will be buried.

The death notice provided by the family calls Lightfoot "one of the most celebrated singer-songwriters of his generation'' and a "national treasure.''

It describes Lightfoot's songs as having "`become part of the Canadian cultural fabric, earning him legions of fans at home and around the globe.''

Memorial donations can be made to the United Way at the Mundell Funeral Home in Orillia. Messages of condolence can be left at, where service details are posted.

After Lightfoot's death on Monday, Orillia residents began placing flowers at a bronze statue of the singer in a local city park. The city lowered its flags to half-mast and books of condolences were available at the Orillia Opera House and Orillia City Centre.

Lightfoot is survived by wife Kim Lightfoot; children Fred, Ingrid, Eric, Galen, Miles and Meredith; as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


Did you see this?

VANCOUVER _ A cat the British Columbia SPCA says was mysteriously found in a parcel from China is now in foster care recovering from its apparent ordeal.

The SPCA says in a statement it's unclear how long the cat spent in transit, however it appeared healthy but scared.

Binder Kooner, chief of operations for Canada Border Services Agency, says officers at the Vancouver International Mail Centre found the cat after noticing a sizable hole in the box and looking inside to see a pair of blinking eyes.

The society says the cat, which it named Precious Cargo, was brought directly to an emergency vet clinic and given a rabies shot.

It says the cat was kept at the clinic for a week to stabilize before going to foster care, and received medication to help stimulate its appetite.

The SPCA says the cat's new foster mom plans on officially adopting Precious once she has fully recovered.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 4, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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