Providing free menstrual products, farmer climate support : In The News for July 28

·9 min read

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kick-start your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of July 28 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Canada's labour minister was told earlier this year that it would cost employers more than one million dollars annually to provide free tampons and pads in federally regulated workplaces.

The March briefing note to Filomena Tassi estimated the annual employer costs would likely be 1.17 million dollars to provide free menstrual products, but suggested it could be over 2.3 million dollars with a 100-per-cent take-up rate.

Officials noted the numbers may understate the need and demand because it only accounted for women and not all employees who menstruate.

The government first outlined the proposed change to the labour code two years ago in May 2019, but it wasn't until last October that labour officials decided to look at the issue anew.

Tassi says in a statement that officials spoke in early June with experts about outstanding questions and issues, and plan to speak with labour and employer groups over the summer and fall.

She says the government is "firmly committed" to moving forward on the issue after the coming consultations.

“Menstrual products are a basic need for many Canadians, however they are often not treated as such," Tassi said. "Simply put, menstruation is a fact of life, and part of supporting the health and safety of employees."

The government first outlined the proposed change to the labour code two years ago in May 2019, but it wasn't until last October that labour officials decided to look at the issue anew when the government was presented with a petition.

Officials wrote to Tassi they estimate about 40 per cent of the federal workforce uses menstrual products, "which highlights the far-reaching implications of this initiative."

Federal labour officials have heard repeated concerns from workers about the lack of menstrual products in workplaces, and worries it could lead to hygiene and health issues particularly if, as the briefing note says, workers turn to "unsuitable improvised solutions" or "extend the use of products beyond their recommended time frame."

Some workers may avoid coming to work completely because of the "shame and stigma that often surrounds menstruation," officials noted.

The note also said workers in federally regulated sectors like airports could also face higher costs if a period starts unexpectedly as convenience stores or airport pharmacies have "significant cost markups."

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Also this ...

A third-generation farmer who lost much of his cherry crop during British Columbia's record-setting heat wave says he wants to remain passionate about the family business while weighing the realities of climate change.

Pravin Dhaliwal says 40 per cent of the apples at the farm in the Okanagan community of Oliver were also sunburned in the scorching temperatures that recently hit 41.5 degrees Celsius.

"It's devastating," said Dhaliwal, 23, who decided to carry on with the 16-hectare family farm two years ago after finishing a business degree at the University of British Columbia.

He says insurance that's part of a joint provincial-federal program won't be enough to even cover expenses.

But he says the impact of the current weather conditions should qualify as a disaster so farmers in B-C and elsewhere get the government support they need.

British Columbia's Agriculture Ministry said growers can buy insurance to cover crop yield with a 20 per cent deductible as part of a joint program with the federal government for the loss of fruit and some plants damaged by weather.

Brent Preston, a founding member of Farmers for Climate Solutions, agrees that the future of farming will depend partly on some subsidies that allow farmers to implement practices that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

He adds the cost of not taking action will add up for governments and those frustrated in an increasingly challenging livelihood.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada says it's working with the provinces affected by extreme weather to respond to the evolving drought situation.

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

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is changing course on some masking guidelines.

The agency announced new recommendations Tuesday that even vaccinated people should return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the coronavirus is surging.

Scientists cited new information about the ability of the delta variant to spread among vaccinated people.

The CDC also recommended indoor masks for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.

The new guidance follows recent decisions in Los Angeles and St. Louis to revert to indoor mask mandates amid a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations that have been especially bad in the South.

Also on Tuesday, U.S. President Joe Biden said his administration was considering requiring all federal workers to get vaccinated. His comments came a day after the Department of Veterans Affairs became the first federal agency to require its health care workers receive the vaccine.

Biden dismissed concerns that the new masking guidance from the CDC could invite confusion, saying Americans who remain unvaccinated are the ones who are “sowing enormous confusion.”

“The more we learn about this virus and the delta variation, the more we have to be worried and concerned. And there’s only one thing we know for sure — if those other 100 million people got vaccinated, we’d be in a very different world,” he said.

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

TOKYO —The Tokyo Games are shaping up as a watershed for LGBTQ Olympians.

A wave of rainbow-coloured pride, openness and acceptance is sweeping through Olympic pools, skateparks, halls and fields.

The website Outsports.com has been tallying the number of publicly out gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and non-binary Olympians in Tokyo. The list is now up to 168. That's three times more than at the last Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

When Olympic diver Tom Daley announced in 2013 that he was dating a man and “couldn't be happier,” his coming out was an act of courage that, with its rarity, also exposed how the top echelons of sport weren't seen as a safe space by the vast majority of LGBTQ athletes.

Back then, the number of gay Olympians who felt able and willing to speak openly about their private lives could be counted on a few hands. There'd been just two dozen openly gay Olympians among the more than 10,000 who competed at the 2012 London Games, a reflection of how unrepresentative and anachronistic top-tier sports were just a decade ago and, to a large extent, still are.

Whereas LGBTQ invisibility used to make Olympic sports seem out of step with the times, the Games in Tokyo are starting to better reflect human diversity.

“It's about time that everyone was able to be who they are and celebrated for it,” said U.S. skateboarder Alexis Sablone, one of at least five openly LGBTQ athletes in that sport making its Olympic debut in Tokyo.

“It's really cool,” Sablone said. “What I hope that means is that even outside of sports, kids are raised not just under the assumption that they are heterosexual."

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On this day in 1755 ...

The Council of Nova Scotia made a decision to deport Acadians on the pretext that they had refused the oath of allegiance to Britain. Over the next few years, most of the Acadians, who were the descendants of French settlers, were rounded up and deported, many going to Louisiana. Others managed to flee to Quebec or hide. It is estimated about one half of them died during the expulsion.

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In entertainment ...

LONDON — Two Canadians are among the 13 authors in the running for the prestigious Booker Prize for fiction.

Canadians Mary Lawson and Rachel Cusk were named on the long list Tuesday for the 50,000-pound (C$87,000) prize.

Lawson, who grew up in an Ontario farming community, earned her second Booker nod for her tale of life in a northern town, "A Town Called Solace." She last made the long list for 2006's "The Other Side of the Bridge."

Cusk, who was born in Saskatoon but is based in London, is a contender for her cottage-set psychodrama, "A Second Place."

Founded in 1969, the Booker Prize has a reputation for transforming writers’ careers, and was originally open to British, Irish and Commonwealth writers. Eligibility was expanded in 2014 to all novels in English published in the United Kingdom.

A six-book shortlist will be announced Sept. 14, and the winner will be named Nov. 3 during a ceremony in London.

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ICYMI ...

BRAINTREE, Mass. — A former flight attendant who lost several colleagues when United Flight 175 was flown into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, is honouring his friends on the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks by pushing an airline beverage cart from Boston to Ground Zero in New York.

Paul Veneto, 62, spent 30 years as a flight attendant for multiple airlines and Flight 175 was his regularly scheduled flight. But Sept. 11 was his day off.

He says he's making the 350-kilometre trek to pay tribute to the flight crew on all 9/11 flights, who he calls heroes. The journey that starts Aug. 21 will also raise money for charity.

He was helping a friend build a concrete wall at the time of the attacks, and didn't even know at first the second plane to hit the towers was his regular flight.

When he found out, “I was in shock," he said. “I wanted revenge. I was angry and I knew there was nothing I could do.”

The purpose of his journey, called Paulie’s Push, is to recognize the crews on all four 9/11 flights. "They were the first first responders. They were heroes. They were absolute heroes," he said.

The trek will benefit the 9/11 crew members' families' registered non-profit organizations and Power Forward 25, a non-profit that assists people dealing with addiction.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 28, 2021

The Canadian Press

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