Canada in Brief, Jan. 28-Feb. 3

February 3, 2016 Updated: February 3, 2016

Trudeau commits to fast-tracking $700M to struggling Alberta

EDMONTON—Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau emerged from a meeting Feb. 3 with a formal commitment to fast-track $700 million in previously committed federal infrastructure money to the struggling province.

There were no specifics on what projects the money might go toward, but Notley says she expects to see it start flowing in a matter of weeks.

Notley says she also pushed Trudeau to make changes to Employment Insurance that will broaden access for laid-off energy workers. Trudeau didn’t make any commitments around EI, but noted that his party campaigned on easing access to the program in times of need.

Low-income Canadians skimping on food, other costs to pay for Internet

TORONTO—Advocacy group ACORN Canada says some low-income Canadians are having to take money from their rent and food budgets to pay for the Internet.

The group, which represents low- and moderate-income families, surveyed nearly 400 of its members and found more than 80 percent of them consider home Internet prices to be “extremely high.”

More than half said they took money from other budget items, like food, rent, or recreation—but food in most cases—to pay for Internet access because they consider it an essential service.

Beavers move in to city marshland, colonize urban areas in Vancouver

VANCOUVER—Humans aren’t the only ones hankering to sink their teeth into Vancouver’s red-hot real-estate market. A pair of iconic Canadian mascots has bid adieu to the marshes of the country and taken up residence in the heart of the city’s bustling downtown.

A beaver couple has built a home in a restored marshland abutting the city’s Olympic Village, along the picturesque False Creek.

City biologist Nick Page says there are currently a couple dozen beavers living in Vancouver, many of them in Stanley Park. Elsewhere in Canada’s big cities, municipal officials estimate there are about 200 beavers in Calgary and 100 in Winnipeg.

Lowe’s to buy Rona in friendly deal, become Canadian leader

MONTREAL—The Lowe’s home improvement chain is buying Quebec-based Rona Inc. in a deal valued at $3.2 billion.

The companies say the combination will make Lowe’s the Canadian leader among home improvement retailers. The transaction is supported by management of both companies, although it would require various approvals.

Lowe’s approached Rona several years ago but that takeover attempt failed after opposition by the Quebec government of the day and a large number of Rona’s independent dealers.

Rona’s chairman said in a Jan. 3 statement that the timing is better now and Lowe’s has made commitments to the Canadian company’s employees, suppliers, and independent dealers.

Robert Redford calls Newfoundland ‘a special place’ in clothing catalogue

HALIFAX—Actor Robert Redford has written an ode to Newfoundland in a message contained in the Sundance Catalog, which sells clothes and other items in association with his Sundance film festival in Utah.

His message praises Newfoundland’s “abundant” green roofs and “roads less travelled,” calling it “a special place, with a feeling of new discovery.”

Calvin Reeder, vice-president of retail for Sundance Holdings, said the catalogue did a photo shoot in the province to show off its “Newfoundland sweater coat.”

While Redford would not have attended the shoot, Reeder said he’s certain the 79-year-old Academy Award winner has been there.

Three Canadians rescue boy and father from drowning in Mexico

CARROT RIVER, Sask.—A family from Carrot River, Sask., and an Edmonton firefighter are being called heroes after saving a father and son from drowning in Mexico.

Liz Haley-Armstrong, her son Bob Haley, and firefighter Drew Pearson were relaxing on a beach in Puerto Vallarta when they noticed a young boy struggling in a rip tide just off the beach.

Despite having only met each other 10 minutes before, the trio leaped into action and succeeded in rescuing the father and son.

“It’s kind of a testament to Canadians and how quickly we can work together no matter what the circumstance,” Pearson said.

With files from The Canadian Press