Canada in Brief, March 29 – April 4

March 28, 2018 Updated: January 3, 2019

Ongoing grain rail backlogs unfortunate: Agriculture minister

Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay says the problems moving Canadian grain this year are ongoing and unfortunate.

At an event in Calgary March 27, MacAulay said he understands the need to address the rail backlogs that have delayed grain shipments.

He says he has been in constant contact with the railways but legislation that would impose financial penalties on rail companies that fail to deliver cars on time is stalled in the Senate.

MacAulay didn’t answer when asked why the government has not imposed an order in council as a stopgap measure until the legislation passes.

Spat erupts over $700M plan to reno most Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons plans to renovate most of its Canadian restaurants over the next several years in what some franchisees say is another “ill-conceived” move that will cost individual restaurant owners about $450,000.

The Restaurant Brands International-owned chain says it and its restaurant owners will invest $700 million to gussy up almost all its Canadian locations over the next four years.

The decision has generated more animosity between the chain and an unsanctioned franchisee group, the Great White North Franchisee Association, formed to give a voice to frustrated restaurant owners and fight against what they say is mismanagement of the chain by its corporate parent, RBI.

Dionne Quintuplets birth designated as nationally historical event

The federal government has deemed the birth of the Dionne Quintuplets as an event of national historical significance. The story of the northern Ontario sisters is among 12 events, people or places given the designation March 27.

The government says the birth and survival of “five identical, premature, and undersized” babies was an unprecedented event that drew international attention.

The quintuplets remain a source of fascination in some quarters, with one grass-roots group mounting a year-long campaign to preserve the sisters’ childhood home in North Bay, Ont., and turn it into a museum.

The campaign succeeded, and the log cabin was successfully relocated to a new site in North Bay in November of last year.

Coast Guard can now call on industry for icebreaking help

The Canadian Coast Guard has been given new powers to call on industry for short-term help in clearing ice-choked seaways—even as plans for replacing the agency’s aging icebreaker fleet over the long term remain in flux.

The new powers were outlined March 27 as officials marked the start of the spring icebreaking season in the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes, through which much of Canada’s foreign trade flows.

The measure is intended as a last resort when the coast guard doesn’t have enough icebreakers to respond, such as when one of its vessels has a mechanical breakdown.

Health Canada recalls 1.5 million USB chargers

Health Canada is warning it has discovered numerous unsafe USB chargers during a national assessment of products on the market and a recall has been issued affecting more than 1.5 million units.

The federal agency has released a list of more than two dozen chargers that “pose an unacceptable risk of electric shock and fire.”

Consumers are advised to stop using the products immediately and either return them or throw them away.

Health Canada recommends consumers check that electrical products have a recognized certification symbol before making a purchase. The symbol should be on the product itself and not just on the packaging.

With files from The Canadian Press