Monthly Archives: September 2015

By Alistair MacDonald

Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney crossed the U.S. border Friday on a raiding mission: to steal foreign-born tech entrepreneurs from the U.S.

Mr. Kenney is slated to arrive in the San Francisco area to attend a trade fair at which he intends to personally pitch Canada to foreign-born entrepreneurs looking to start tech businesses. The idea is to steal them away from the U.S.

“Our message to them is if you want to do your start up in North America… you are more than welcome to come up here,” Mr. Kenney told Canada Real Time.

Last month Canada launched a “Startup Visa” that, Mr. Kenney says, is partly aimed at poaching foreign talent from the U.S. The visa makes it easier for foreign entrepreneurs to stay in Canada by, for instance, giving foreigner entrepreneurs automatic permanent residence status.

Some U.S. businesses and law makers have complained that Washington makes it too hard for foreign entrepreneurs to get visas that would allow them to stay and start businesses in the U.S.

Mr. Kenney aims to capitalize on that in his four-day trip, pitching tech experts in the Bay area, an “obvious market upon which to draw.”

“We are being shameless about this,” he said, adding that he should perhaps walk around this weekend’s TiCON trade show in Santa Clara with a Canadian flag. The two-day conference is run by a group of Silicon Valley-based executives and is aimed at tech start-ups among others. While in California, Mr. Kenney will also be meeting with executives from major tech companies and speaking to students from Stanford University.

Mr. Kenney said that Canadians are known for being modest and reserved, characteristics he intends to “throw to the wind” while in the U.S. The Canadian government has also erected a large billboard on a local highway making its pitch.

In recent months Canada has overhauled its immigration system as it looks to beat down huge backlog of applications and address an increasing pay gap between native born Canadians and new waves of immigrants.

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By Haydn Watters, CBC News

Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin a Republican contender for the president’s job, has been ridiculed online since raising the idea of building a mammoth security wall along the Canada-U.S. border.

Walker entertained the idea during an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, where he called the wall a “legitimate issue.”

It’s rare to see the Canadian border being discussed during a presidential campaign, as candidates more often talk about the southern border. Walker’s fellow presidential candidate, Donald Trump, has called for a “real wall” to be put up between the U.S. and Mexico. And he plans to get the Mexican government to pay for it.

The possibility of a Canadian wall, on the other hand, got a whole lot of laughs online.

 

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More heavy rain forecast Monday night after 500,000 customers lost power during weekend storm

By Mike Laanela, CBC News

About 30,000 customers are still without power following a massive weekend storm that hit Metro Vancouver and British Columbia’s South Coast, at one point leaving hundreds of thousands without electricity.

Power outages continue in Surrey, Burnaby and Vancouver, but BC Hydro says it expects to have all larger outages restored by the end of Monday.

According to BC Hydro, more than 320 power line technicians are out working to restore power. Repair crews from all across the province have been brought in to help with the work.

BC Hydro has also announced that many planned maintenance outages in the Lower Mainland and at Langford, near Victoria, will be postponed.

Earlier, crews were able to restore power to another 100,000 customers, including in downtown Vancouver, overnight Sunday.

Capilano University in North Vancouver will be closed for the day because its IT system is not working properly.

Power remains out at many intersections in Metro Vancouver and drivers are reminded to use the four-way stop procedure, which means treating all malfunctioning traffic lights as stop signs.

Environment Canada is warning more heavy rain is expected on Monday night as a cold front stalls over the region.

“The highest amounts will be over northern parts of Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley near the mountains with up to a total of 50 mm expected. Amounts for Howe Sound may reach 80 mm,” said the Environment Canada alert.

Worst outages ever seen

An estimated 500,000 customers lost electricity after high winds knocked trees and branches down onto power lines on Saturday.

Traffic lights were still not working on Monday morning at many Metro Vancouver intersections, following Saturday’s windstorm. (Farrah Merali/CBC)

“It was unlike anything we have seen before,” said BC Hydro spokeswoman Simi Heer.

Vancouver’s deputy city manager, Sadhu Johnston, said it could take weeks to fully clean up after Saturday’s vicious windstorm. Johnston said the region’s severe drought likely played a factor in the high number of trees that were blown down.

Arborists have also said many trees came down in the wind because they still had all their summer leaves.

The BC Hydro website was only partially functional as of 6 a.m. PT Monday, but customers can get updates on Twitter from @bchydro or by calling 1-888-POWER-ON.

A spokesperson said the website crashed because of the high volume of users on Saturday and the company has been working all weekend to restore the service.

911 jammed with unnecessary calls

After the BC Hydro website went down, many people called 911 looking for information, jamming the emergency service with unnecessary calls.

“911 can’t answer questions about outages. Pls call 1-888-POWERON; follow @bchydro Help keep lines free for emergencies,” said a tweet from @E-Comm911info.

Vancouver’s director of emergency operations Daniel Stevens said if an even bigger catastrophe hits, everything could go offline so individuals should make plans to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours.

“In a large event, the fire department and other first responders will be overwhelmed and will only be able to respond to priority calls, and all of the services that we get day to day from the less priority calls will be triaged. so it could be days until we get that kind of response,” said Stevens.

“So the message is take care of yourself, plan and have some supplies. Develop a plan at home, where are you going to meet your family and put some supplies together, make a grab and go kit.”

The city’s deputy manager said it will review how it handled the storm and update its emergency plans accordingly.

“We ramped up quite quickly. We had the emergency operations centre fired up within minutes of the extreme wind coming in,” said Johnston.

BC- A snapshot of facts about the British Columbia’s education system, shows that BC  has 1,581 public schools and 350 independent schools and there will be estimated 521,038 full-time public school students this September.  Following are the facts as to how the funding, enrollment, achievements, capital, healthy schools and  what the class sizes are in the current school systems.

Funding

  • This coming fiscal year (2015-16), total funding to school districts will reach $5.06 billion – up 31% since 2001.
  • The average per-pupil funding is now an estimated $8,902, an increase of 42% since 2000-01.
  • Last school year, total funding for all students (public and independent) with special needs was approximately $920 million.
  • This year, school districts will receive $51.7 million through CommunityLINK, which help them fund programs to support vulnerable children and youth. Districts use this funding to fund breakfast and lunch programs, inner-city and community school programs, school-based support workers and counselling.
  • Government has increased the Learning Improvement Fund (LIF) allocation to school districts by more than 66% since 2013-14 – to $100 million in 2015-16. The LIF was established to address complex classroom needs and ensure learning conditions are appropriate for all students.
  • Under the new agreement with teachers, LIF will be maintained at $100 million in each of the next three years, and will rise to more than $106 million in 2018-19.
  • This past school year (2014-15), districts told the Ministry they intended to use the LIF to:
    • Hire 1,100 new teachers;
    • Hire 352 new support staff; and
    • Increase the hours of nearly 2,600 support staff and teachers from part-time to full-time.

Enrolment

  • Estimated 521,038 full-time public school students this September.
  • Since 2000-01, there has been a decrease of nearly 77,000 students.
  • Estimated 58,513 English Language Learning (ELL) students – 640 fewer than last year.
  • Estimated 55,414 Aboriginal students – 252 fewer than last year.
  • Estimated 25,337 students with special needs (eligible for supplemental funding) – 277 fewer than in last year.
  • Estimated 3,415 non-graduated adult students – 103 more than last year.
  • Nearly 78,500 students took at least one online (distributed learning) course in 2014-15. That compares to approximately 33,000 students in 2006-07.

Achievement

  • The provincial six-year completion rate has increased by more than 10% since 2001 and was at 84.2% in 2013-14 (public and independent schools). Over that same period:
  • The six-year completion rate for Aboriginal students has increased by 45.6% and now is at 61.6%;
  • The six-year completion rate for ELL students has increased by 12.5% and now is at 86.6%;
  • The six-year completion rate for students with special needs has increased by 86.2%and now is at 62.2%.

Capital

  • Budget 2015 provides $1.4 billion over three years to replace aging facilities, build more student spaces in growing communities and improve school seismic safety where needed.
  • Since 2001, government has committed more than $4.2 billion in new and improved schools, including $2.2 billion in seismic upgrades.
  • To date, government funding has built 42 new schools, replaced 70 aging schools, added space through 186 schools additions and seismically upgraded 146 schools.
  • New schools that have recently opened include the:
    • $7.4-million NorKam Trades and Technology Centre in Kamloops;
    • $23.8-million École Qayqayt Elementary in New Westminster;
    • $26-million Yorkson Creek Middle school in Langley;
    • $51.6-million Oak Bay High in Victoria;
    • $56-million Chilliwack Secondary.

Healthy Schools

  • The BC School Fruit and Vegetable Nutritional program provides snacks of fruits and vegetables right in the classroom to children, allowing them to sample B.C. produce such as plums, blueberries, apples, tomatoes and carrots. The Ministry of Health and the Provincial Health Services Authority have provided combined funding of $21.5 million to the BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation since 2010-11 to support the program.
  • In May 2015, government announced $3.5 million in new funding for the program to ensure it continues to bring fruits, vegetables and milk to more than 489,000 children in 1,463 public and First Nations schools.
  • The Guidelines for Food and Beverage Sales in BC Schools are to be used in every school district to maximize students’ access to healthier options and fully eliminate the sale of unhealthy foods and beverages in B.C. schools.
  • Through the Daily Physical Activity requirements, students in all school districts are required to achieve daily activity targets:
    • Students in kindergarten to Grade 7 will engage in 30 minutes of daily physical activity at school;
    • Students in Grades 8 and 9 will engage in 30 minutes of daily physical activity or 150 minutes of physical activity per week;
    • Students in Grades 10 to 12 will engage in 150 minutes of physical activity per week as part of their Graduation Transition program.

Class Size

  • Class sizes in B.C. remain low and stable. The average number of students per class was near historical lows last school year (2014-15) and well below the maximum size allowed in provincial legislation.
  • Of the 66,596 K-12 classes in B.C. public schools last year:
    • 41% had fewer than 24 students;
    • 57% have between 24 and 30 students;
    • Only 1.6% of classes had more than 30 students and the majority of these are classes such as band, drama and gym where it is appropriate and beneficial to have a larger number of students.
  • Average class sizes:
    • 19.5 students for Kindergarten;
    • 21.5 students for grades 1-3;
    • 25.6 students for grades 4-7;
    • 23.2 students for grades 8-12.
  • There were nearly 9,400 full-time educational assistants working in schools in 2014-15, an increase of 42% compared to 2000-01. Approximately one-in-three classes in B.C. have an assigned educational assistant.

Independent schools

  • Independent schools enrol nearly 81,000 students, which is approximately 13% of B.C.’s K-12 population.