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Post-COVID anxiety, future of Ontario grocery jobs : In The News for May 26


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 26, 2021...

What we are watching in Canada ...

A new online survey shows more than half of Canadians report feeling anxious about returning to what life was like before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The poll by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies shows 52 per cent of people reported feeling some level of anxiety, with those aged 18 to 24 showing the highest levels of unease at 68 per cent.

"Maybe some of it is related to work, maybe some of it is related to, 'When we actually go back to normal, will it be safe? Will I feel comfortable around somebody not wearing a mask anymore?'" said Christian Bourque, executive vice-president of the polling and marketing research firm Leger.

For others, he said, it could come down to thinking like, "Oh God, I have to invite the in-laws again."

As for why young adults report feeling more anxious than other age groups about a return to normal, Bourque said it could be related to them being "the anxiety generation."

Close to half of younger Canadians generally feel they suffer from some form of anxiety, he said, and so have more awareness of it and a greater willingness to name it than older residents.

Plus, for some in their 20s, their social life could be what makes them anxious.

"Potentially for younger Canadians who maybe have felt some form of isolation during the pandemic are probably weary about how will it be, how do I go back to the way things were," said Bourque.


Also this ...

A sweeping new report on the state of Ontario's grocery industry finds more traditional supermarket jobs are being overtaken by the hiring of warehouse, logistics and order fulfilment workers or "personal shoppers."

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen retailers dive deeper into e-commerce, and accelerate the use of online grocery ordering and delivery.

The report released Wednesday by the Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, an independent economic policy institute based at Ryerson University, highlights changes in e-commerce and automation that are shaping the grocery industry across the country.

"COVID-19 restrictions and risks have dramatically accelerated Canadian demand for online grocery shopping," the report said, noting that e-commerce grocery sales have increased 700 per cent since the start of the pandemic.

Rather than a predicted decline in jobs, the 43-page report found that the rise of automation and online shopping is instead shifting the nature of grocery retail work.

Unlike traditional grocery jobs like cashiers, clerks and in-store shelf and produce stockers, which tend to focus on customer service, the report found new e-commerce jobs involve fulfilling online orders, packing groceries, preparing food and delivering orders.

While many of these positions remain in stores, they are also increasingly located at distribution centres and so-called dark stores, which operate exclusively to fulfil online orders.


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

WASHINGTON – The family of George Floyd met with U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House on Tuesday to commemorate their loss and continue to push for legislation.

"It was a remembrance of what happened to my brother," Philonise Floyd said of the meeting, calling the president ``a genuine guy.''

The first anniversary of Floyd's death was supposed to be a milestone moment in Washington, a time to mark the passage of a policing law to make criminal justice more just.

A sister, Bridgett Floyd, stayed away, aiming to come to Washington only when there is a bill to be signed into law.

"That's when I will make my way to D.C.," she said from Minnesota.

Biden told the family "he just wants the bill to be meaningful and that it holds George's legacy intact,'" said George Floyd's nephew Brandon Williams. Williams said Biden showed "genuine concern" for how the family is doing.

Speaking to reporters at the end of the day, Biden said he had spoken with congressional negotiators and "I'm hopeful that sometime after Memorial Day we'll have an agreement."

With the proposed George Floyd Justice in Policing Act still pending, his family began the day meeting with legislators and headed back to Capitol Hill later from the White House.

The Floyd family's meetings with some of Washington's most powerful officials produced plenty of comments about optimism and moving forward. Nonetheless, the lack of a final deal contrasted sharply with advocates' high hopes just last month, when former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's conviction for Floyd's killing and then Biden's nationally televised speech to Congress calling for action by May 25 gave supporters a sense of momentum.

Floyd died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes while arresting him.


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

BRUSSELS – Commercial jets avoided Belarus's airspace Tuesday and the European Union worked up new sanctions as officials expressed concern for the welfare of an opposition journalist who was arrested after being pulled off a plane that was diverted to Minsk.

The dramatic developments put a spotlight on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's iron-fisted rule and suppression of dissent — but it was not clear what effect more sanctions or other measures would have.

``Additional sanctions? Will this be sufficient? I absolutely can't say today,'' said French President Emmanuel Macron. But, he added: ''The unacceptable character of what happened justifies them.''

After his detention, opposition journalist Roman Protasevich was seen in a brief video clip on Belarusian state television late Monday, speaking rapidly to say that he was confessing to some of the charges authorities have levelled against him.

The spokesperson for the U.N.'s human rights office, Rupert Colville, said Protasevich's appearance likely was not voluntary.

In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the Belarusian government's seizure of Protasevich and said Canada is weighing measures beyond current sanctions against the country.

"The behaviour of the Belarus regime is outrageous, illegal, and completely unacceptable," Trudeau told a news conference Tuesday.

Separately, the Belarusian Embassy in Ottawa is shutting its doors, stating in a website post it will suspend activity as of Sept. 1.

The 26-year-old journalist and activist was arrested Sunday after Belarusian flight controllers ordered the Ryanair jetliner he was aboard to land, telling the crew that there was a bomb threat against the flight. A Belarusian fighter jet was scrambled to escort the plane to Minsk, just before it was to land in Vilnius, Lithuania, from Athens, Greece.


On this day in 1887 ...

The main line of the Canadian Pacific Railway was opened for public traffic -- 18 months after the last spike was driven at Craigellachie, B.C. Trains had been running from Montreal to Vancouver for a year, but passengers now could ride all the way on 4,700 kilometres of CPR track.


In entertainment ...

TORONTO – A coffee-table book celebrating the hit TV show "Schitt's Creek" is being released in October.

New York-based publisher Black Dog & Leventhal says it plans to release a "Schitt's Creek" keepsake book by series co-creators and stars Daniel Levy and Eugene Levy.

"Best Wishes, Warm Regards: The Story of Schitt’s Creek" will celebrate various facets of the CBC sitcom, which ended last year and follows the small-town adventures of the formerly wealthy Rose family.

Included are major moments from the show and profiles of characters played by the Levys and other cast members, including Catherine O'Hara and Annie Murphy.

There are also special features, including behind-the-scenes moments, a rundown of Alexis's adventures, and a look at the antiquated vocabulary of O'Hara's character, Moira.

Readers can also see illustrated catalogues of Moira's wigs and the knits worn by Daniel Levy's character, David.



EDMONTON – Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky is stepping down as vice-chairman of the Edmonton Oilers.

In a statement on Twitter, Gretzky said he is making the decision, "given the pandemic and other life changes."

The 60-year-old Gretzky says he will not be able to "dedicate the time nor effort needed to support this world-class organization."

The move on Tuesday comes one day after the Oilers were eliminated from the playoffs by the Winnipeg Jets.

"The Oilers, their fans and the city of Edmonton have meant the world to me for four decades — and that will never end," Gretzky said.

The NHL's all-time leading scorer and a four-time Stanley Cup winner as a player with Edmonton, Gretzky returned to a front-office role with the Oilers in 2016.

In his bio on the Oilers' website, the team says Gretzky's duties included working with the Oilers Entertainment Group team on the commercial side of the business, as well as supporting development initiatives in the district where the Rogers Place arena is located.

The team said Gretzky worked closely with owner Daryl Katz and Oilers chairman Bob Nicholson in all aspects of the organization.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 201

The Canadian Press

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