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UPDATE: As the first week of the strike that has kept B.C. kids out of school wraps up, hundreds of teachers bussed in from all over the Lower Mainland and joined their supporters at Canada Place this afternoon to take part in a rally to try to pressure the government. This rally comes after another round of offers, counteroffers and political maneuvering from both sides.

The event is being supported by the BCGEU and Nurses’ Union as well as members of CUPE, the support staff that reached a settlement back in June. Some of those CUPE workers were in the schools today before attending the rally. They were preparing the classrooms with the hope that school will be back in session soon.

WATCH: Thousands of teachers rallied in downtown Vancouver, hoping the government will agree to the BCTF’s binding arbitration proposal. Jeremy Hunka reports.

As schools around the province remain closed with no formal talks between teachers and government scheduled for today, education support workers caught in the middle of the strike are feeling the pinch.

While teachers are behind the picket lines, thousands of education assistants, caretakers, bus drivers and other support staff  are effectively out of their jobs.

Andrew Mitchell is a caretaker at Summit Middle School in Coquitlam.

He has been in the business for 17 years. Mitchell has been behind picket lines before, but it is the first time in his experience when the beginning of the school year has been delayed over a labour dispute.

“They are a lot of people affected by this that are not teachers,” he says.

Mitchell says he’s been hit hard financially and has lost 2.5 pay cheques since the strike started in June.

He has had to pick up random jobs during the summer and is now looking for something that would pay him minimum wage.

READ MORE: School support workers reach deal with B.C. government

Brandi Frocklage works as a bus driver in Fort St. John.

She, too, can’t go back to work because of the picket lines in her school district.

“We can’t vote on anything. We just have to sit back and hope for the best,” she says.

Frocklage say she did not expect the labour dispute to be settled by September because of the minimal negotiations that took place over the summer.

“We kind of got our hopes up when [Vince] Ready got in there, but nobody was really holding their breath.”

Frocklage believes she is lucky to have a secondary job at a golf course, which is where some of the teachers are also picking up some hours to make ends meet, “and they are quite stressed out too,” she adds.

Carrie Dexter is a single mom and an education assistant in Prince George.

Despite having considerable experience in the industry, she is now looking for a waiting job.

Her son is four-years-old and is not eligible for the $40 daycare subsidy the government has promised to pay back to the parents when the strike ends.

Dexter says she does not receive child support, and lost $2000 in wages in June, when the strike started.

“I have been job hunting every day…. I do not want to have to go pump gas, because I have an education to work with children with autism.”

While Dexter is lending her support to the teachers, she feels caught up in the strike, with no say and no beneficial outcome for her.

Dexter says some teachers she has spoken with in her home town are now looking to move to Alberta before they lose their houses.

Others are looking for secondary jobs.

WATCH: Teachers struggling to make ends meet, look for second jobs

City of Regina submits pension proposal; employee groups not consulted – Regina

REGINA – The City of Regina says it has a proposal to help keep its deficit-plagued civic pension plan afloat.

But the plan being submitted today to the superintendent of pensions is not a joint submission with the employee groups.

City manager Glen Davies says they couldn’t find common ground on how to resolve the pension issue, but they’re confident the proposal covering seven-thousand workers is sustainable and affordable for all involved.

The Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority announced earlier this year that unless changes are made to the pension, it would be cancelled.

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Related

  • Regina still trying to fix city pension plan

  • In rare move, Regina’s civic pension plan could be cancelled

  • Regina city employees face $238 million pension shortfall

©2014The Canadian Press

B.C. premier wants BCTF to suspend strike and get back to bargaining table

WATCH: B.C. Premier Christy Clark is weighing in from the sidelines of social media on the government’s feud with striking teachers while classes in public schools are delayed for another day.

VANCOUVER – B.C. Premier Christy Clark is calling on the B.C. Teachers’ Federation to suspend or end the strike so students can get back into the classroom while negotiations between the two sides continue.

Clark spoke to the media on Wednesday afternoon, after weeks of silence on the current education dispute.

When asked if she had been “in hiding”, Clark said “I’ve been here, I’ve been working with Peter [Fassbender] and working with our team, working with cabinet.”

But BCTF president Jim Iker said teachers have no intention of suspending the strike right now.

“We’re not suspending any strike right now and we’re also locked out. We’re locked out right now,” said Iker, following Clark’s press conference.

WATCH BELOW: Premier Christy Clark calls for B.C. teachers to suspend their strike.

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Clark said the real issue that needs to be discussed is class composition, but that cannot be accomplished until the issue of wages is solved.

She said the BCTF  needs to come in “at a reasonable level on wages.”

“They are still demanding twice as much as other public sector workers have received,” said Clark. “About 150,000 workers in the public sector, dedicated men and women who serve British Columbians every day, have settled for raises that were fair, fair to them and fair to taxpayers.”

“It’s just not right, I don’t think, to demand a $5,000 signing bonus that no one else in the public sector has received. As long as the TF refuses to get into the affordability zone, and by that I mean a zone that’s similar to the what the other 150,000 public servants who serve British Columbians everyday have settled for, we cannot put all of our attention on the one issue that is most vital to the future of education in British Columbia.”

“And that is addressing the issues with respect to class composition.”

Iker said the $5,000 signing bonus is negotiable. “That’s for us to talk about at the table,” he said. “But we need a government willing to talk about what’s there.”

He added that they also want to get back to the bargaining table and want mediator Vince Ready to join them.

READ MORE (From June 2014): A look at what’s on the table between the BCTF and the BCPSEA

Clark agreed all this can only be settled at the bargaining table by negotiators.

“Ultimately what we all want is to make sure our kids get back in the classroom and get the education their parents have paid for and that they’re going to need to compete in the world,” said Clark, adding that teachers do deserve a raise, no question.

“We need to make sure that, if we can, that we can, the teachers can end their strike, suspend their strike, while we can get kids back into the classroom,” said Clark.

But she reiterated that the teachers’ union needs to come to the table with a “proposal that’s realistic.”

“For heaven’s sakes,” she said. “150,000 other public sector employees, who work just as hard, have settled for far less. They didn’t get a $5,000 signing bonus, they didn’t get unlimited massage, they didn’t get an extra day off every year.”

“It needs to be realistic, it needs to be in line with what we’ve done with other public sector unions.”

Iker clarified what the teachers are asking for at his press conference. He said teachers are looking for a “modest improvement” in massage benefits, from $500 to $700. He said there was never a proposal for unlimited massage, but there was one for $3,000 in massages for members in chronic pain. That benefit is now off the table however.

He also said there was never any proposal to give secondary teachers an extra day off a year. There was a proposal to give teachers an extra two days of preparation time, but that proposal has also been taken off the table.

“Collective bargaining is about movement,” said Iker. “Unfortunately the B.C. government hasn’t moved in any meaningful way in months.”

“The government is trying to prolong the shutdown with their $40 a day payment scheme,” he added.

WATCH BELOW: BCTF President Jim Iker responds to Premier Christy Clark’s comments on teachers’ dispute

Iker said in the long term, the two sides are only one year apart and only one per cent apart in wages. “B.C. teachers haven’t had a salary increase since 2011.”

Clark did not answer the question of how long the government would allow the strike to continue, but said the teachers chose to go on strike and they are the only ones who can choose to end it.

Currently, there are no new talks scheduled between the two sides, but Iker said teachers want to get back to the bargaining table as well but it is about both sides giving and taking. He said they could have reached a deal this past weekend if the government was willing to move.

“If they can build a roof on BC Place for half a billion dollars, they can invest in our children,” he said.

WATCH: Global News’ Legislative Bureau Chief Keith Baldrey with his latest analysis on today’s events.

Quebec Liberals ask public-sector unions to be ‘creative’ – Montreal

QUEBEC CITY – The Quebec Liberal Party announced on Wednesday they will start negotiating a new collective agreement with public-sector workers on Oct. 2, 2014.

Maurice Charlebois has been appointed as chief negotiator.

The collective agreement for the province’s 550,000 public-sector workers is set to expire on March 31, 2015 and negotiations with the unions is expected to be tense.

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The Liberals have already irked thousands of municipal workers and union leaders with Bill 3. City workers are scheduled to hold a demonstration on September 20 to protest the controversial plans to change pensions.

“We know what the financial situation is,” said President of the Treasury Board Martin Coiteux.

“We know that our room for manoeuvre, for increasing salaries and benefits is very limited at the present time, but if we work together, especially if we work on innovative ways of organizing work in the public sector, I think that we can have those margins that we don’t have today.”

Many are concerned that it may be a turbulent fall politically in the province.

Premier Philippe Couillard’s troops are headed into a pre-sessional caucus meeting in La Malbaie, where they are expected to talk strategy for the upcoming fall political season.

On the menu: the government’s difficulty in reaching an agreement with doctors.

Quebec physicians were granted a substantial pay hike, $540 million for this year alone. Now, the man who negotiated that increase for doctors is trying to convince them to spread it out over several years.

Health Minister Gaétan Barrette argued there is simply no money in the budget. Back in June, Barrette told reporters it was a matter of weeks before they reached a deal. It has now been three months.

Barrette said Wednesday that he is losing patience.

“I think there’s a lot at stake here in this negotiation and there has to be maximum patience in this process but it cannot be eternal patience,” he said.

“At this point, it’s up to them to make proposals that do take account of our financial situation in this province, which is not the case today.”

The Liberals will meet Thursday and Friday at Manoir Richelieu in La Malbaie.

Campaign seeks to emphasize Mental Health Matters for university students

HALIFAX – A campaign to improve mental health services for university students has launched in Nova Scotia, which is the first of its kind in the country.

The Canadian Federation of Students – Nova Scotia (CFSNS) launched Mental Health Matters this week, a campaign meant to raise awareness about student mental health on campus and pressure universities, colleges and the province to invest more in student mental health.

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“Student mental health has been a growing concern for years and years and years. Students have become very concerned with, often, the lack of services of campus,” said Anna Dubinski, the chairperson for CFSNS.

Dubinski said students, particularly first years, face a plethora of issues including moving away from home, student debt, part-time jobs, personal relationships and staying on top of their academic studies.

She adds the main stressor is the fact tuition rates are increasing.

“Increasing tuition fees and student mental health aren’t different issues. They’re actually one and the same issue,” she said.

“That adds to anxiety and taking on that much student debt can stay with you for most of your life and go far past your graduation date.”

CFSNS and the King’s Students’ Union set up a table at University of King’s College Wednesday to pass our fliers and buttons to students.

President Michaela Sam said students are having trouble accessing support.

“We know our students are able to get in in emergent situations but sometimes it’s difficult for our students to receive ongoing care and ongoing appointments, which is important in a place like a university when so many of our students face anxiety and depression,” she said.

“We’re seeing a lot of students drop out because they aren’t able to cope with whatever is going on in their lives and we want to be able to support that.”

Julia McCluskey, who is in her second year of the social work program at Dalhousie University, said she can feel the stress of being a university student.

“Dalhousie has high tuition. Rent is high in Halifax. We’re expected to juggle everything financially. It often seems impossible,” she said.

“You have to pay the bills. You have to pay the rent. You have to pay tuition. You have to pay for books.”

“Sometimes it just feels like it’s impossible to get everything done, to pull everything together,” she said.

Fellow students agree, saying university students are facing a lot of demands nowadays.

“The stress can get to you,” said Logan Crozir, a first-year student at Dalhousie University. “I’m going to have to be able to juggle a job as well as my workload so that’ll be a challenge.”

“We all get stressed out. Everybody has things to deal with,” said Nico Miraftab, 23, a graduate student at Dalhousie University.

Kids Help Phone said it saw a 58 per cent increase in school-related counseling sessions from August to September 2013, which is the most recent data available.

The organization said almost 40 per cent of all school-related counseling sessions in August 2013 were related to transitions, such as starting a new school.

Dr. David Pilon, program leader for Specialty Mental Health Services at Capital Health, said 75 per cent of mental health illness start before the age of 25, meaning university students are particularly at risk.

“We know university students are under increasing stress, perhaps moving away from home for the first time, feeling the extra need to perform academically and given the significant costs of university education,” he said.

Pilon said he hears from his university colleagues that supply for mental health support cannot keep up with demand from students.

“They feel there’s a tremendous amount of students coming their way and they’re not always able to meet the needs that the students present with,” he said.

“I can’t help but think, given this is my life’s work, that if we had additional services to more quickly respond to all of those needs then that would be better for our community in general.”

Nicholas Hatt, the dean of students at the University of King’s College, said the school focuses on peer support, training faculty and staff and working with resident advisors to create healthy social environments in university residences.

But he acknowledges there is still much work his school and other universities have to do.

“Mental health is an ongoing concern. There is lots of work to do and it’s great to work with CFS and with the students on improving access to these services,” he said.

Dubinski also said CFSNS plans to start a postcard campaign in the fall to ask universities in the province to do a thorough review of student mental health services on campus.

“We need to know exactly what the situation is. We need to know exactly how much funding is being put into mental health services. We need to know if those services are effective,” she said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Wellness said there are no plans to increase mental health funding at this time.

Construction apprentices get tuition help from Merit Contractors – Saskatoon

PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. – Over 300 new construction apprentices in Saskatchewan are about to get some help with their tuition.

Merit Contractors announced Wednesday it will help with their education by providing up to $2,500 over four years in tuition reimbursement.

“Our Education Bursary Program is one more incentive for any young, hard-working man or woman to join one of our member companies,“ said Karen Low, executive director of Merit Saskatchewan.

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Low said tuition can cost upwards of $780 per year and stated an apprentice who completes a typical four-year apprenticeship will save over $2,500 through the bursary.

“In a time of acute skilled labour shortages, Merit Saskatchewan is serious about doing our part to attract new employees to the industry,” said Low.

In July, 58,000 people in Saskatchewan were working in construction, up 23,000 from 2007.

Low said demand continues to grow.

“The current and future demand for skilled trades in the Saskatchewan construction sector is enormous.”

Along with those demands come higher wages.

A survey last September by Merit found first-year apprentices were earning 21 per cent more than in 2010 with the average experienced journeyman making $33.19 an hour.

It also found 57 per cent of the 200 companies surveyed at the time expected the amount of work to increase over the next year.

Saskjobs桑拿按摩 had 4,581 jobs postings under “Trade, Transportation, Construction” on Wednesday.

Global warming, melting sea ice connected to ‘polar vortex’: study

WASHINGTON – A new study says that as the world gets warmer, parts of North America, Europe and Asia could see more frequent and stronger visits of cold air.

Researchers say that’s because of shrinking ice in the seas off Russia. Less ice would let more energy go from the ocean into the air, and that would weaken the atmospheric forces that usually keep cold air trapped in the Arctic.

READ MORE: Polar vortex lays waste to Ontario merlots, sauvignon blanc

But at times it escapes and wanders south, bringing with it a bit of Arctic super chill.

WATCH: What is a polar vortex? Global’s chief meteorologist Anthony Farnell explains

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    As strange as it seems, scientists say increase in Antarctic ice may be sign of climate change

That can happen for several reasons, and the new study suggests that one of them occurs when ice in northern seas shrinks, leaving more water uncovered.

Normally, sea ice keeps heat energy from escaping the ocean and entering the atmosphere. When there’s less ice, more energy gets into the atmosphere and weakens the jet stream, the high-altitude river of air that usually keeps Arctic air from wandering south, said study co-author Jin-Ho Yoon of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington. So the cold air escapes instead.

That happened relatively infrequently in the 1990s, but since 2000 it has happened nearly every year, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications. A team of scientists from South Korea and United States found that many such cold outbreaks happened a few months after unusually low sea ice levels in the Barents and Kara seas, off Russia.

NASA captured the the effects of the polar vortex as it descended down over Canada and the U.S. Midwest in February.

NOAA/NASA GOES Project

The study observed historical data and then conducted computer simulations. Both approaches showed the same strong link between shrinking sea ice and cold outbreaks, according to lead author Baek-Min Kim, a research scientist at the Korea Polar Research Institute. A large portion of sea ice melting is driven by man-made climate change from the burning of fossil fuels, Kim wrote in an email.

Sea ice in the Arctic usually hits its low mark in September and that’s the crucial time point in terms of this study, said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado. Levels reached a record low in 2012 and are slightly up this year, but only temporarily, with minimum ice extent still about 40 per cent below 1970s levels, he said.

Yoon said that although his study focused on shrinking sea ice, something else was evidently responsible for last year’s chilly visit from the polar vortex.

The Polar Vortex is a large-scale upper atmospheric feature, which brought a dome of arctic air that usually sits over the North Pole down over central North America.

Peter Quinlan / Skytracker

In the past several years, many studies have looked at the accelerated warming in the Arctic and whether it is connected to extreme weather farther south, from heatwaves to Superstorm Sandy. This Arctic-extremes connection is “cutting edge” science that is hotly debated by mainstream climate scientists, Serreze said. Scientists are meeting this week in Seattle to look at the issue even more closely.

READ MORE: Polar vortex in summer? Not quite

Kevin Trenberth, climate analysis chief at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, is skeptical about such connections and said he doesn’t agree with Yoon’s study. His research points more to the Pacific than the Arctic for changes in the jet stream and polar vortex behaviour, and he said Yoon’s study puts too much stock in an unusual 2012.

But the study was praised by several other scientists who said it does more than show that sea ice melt affects worldwide weather, but demonstrates how it happens, with a specific mechanism.

Katharine Hayhoe, a Texas Tech climate scientist in Lubbock, said the study “provides important insight into the cascading nature of the effects human activities are having on the planet.”

©2014The Canadian Press

Canada’s no-fly list a secret due to terror risk: security officials – National

OTTAWA – Federal security officials are resisting pressure to reveal how many people are on Canada’s no-fly list, arguing the information could help terrorists plot a violent attack on an airliner.

In newly filed court documents, the government also contends that divulging the figure could damage relations with key allies, especially the United States.

READ MORE: Canada’s no-fly list? More of a maybe

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Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault is challenging the government’s refusal to disclose the data to a Montreal journalist who requested it under the Access to Information Act.

La Presse reporter Daphne Cameron filed two requests for figures from 2006 through 2010 – one for the total number of people on the list, the second for the number of Canadian citizens.

Legault’s office investigated Cameron’s complaint against Transport Canada and formally recommended last year that the agency release the figures.

Transport Canada refused to comply, prompting Legault to take the case to the Federal Court of Canada.

READ MORE: Why someone on Canada’s no-fly list can board a plane

©2014The Canadian Press

How does the Eskimos signature jersey stack up with the rest of the CFL? – Edmonton

EDMONTON – All nine CFL teams have now unveiled their signature jerseys.

On Tuesday, the Edmonton Eskimos became the last team to reveal their uniforms.

The Jersey pays tribute to the history of the team – from the old-style numbers to a line from the fight song stitched in the collar.

The Esks will wear their signature uniforms twice this season, debuting them against the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday.

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The Eskimos unveil their new signature helmets, Wednesday, September 3, 2014.

John Sexsmith, Global News

The Calgary Stampeders unveiled their brand new jerseys on Friday, August 29th, 2014.

Calgary Stampeders

Saskatchewan Roughriders wide receiver Rob Bagg celebrates with fans after scoring a touchdown against the Montreal Alouettes during the fourth quarter of CFL football action on Saturday, August 16, 2014 in Regina.

Liam Richards / The Canadian Press

Kory Sheets scores two touchdowns to lift Saskatchewan Roughriders over B.C. Lions.

Darrly Dyck / The Canadian Press

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers wore their new CFL Signature helmets during a practice on Monday.

Rudi Pawlychyn / Global News

The CFL has partnered with Reebok to design new alternate uniforms for the entire league.

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From iPhone 6 to the iWatch: What to expect from Apple’s Sept. 9 event – National

ABOVE: Apple fans in Hong Kong, Mississippi, and New York City camped out a few days in advance to get the new iPhone 6

TORONTO – After months of speculation, Apple fans will finally get a glimpse of the tech giant’s next generation of products.

Apple’s elusive Sept. 9 event is shaping up to be a big one.

But the notoriously tight-lipped company has been more secretive than ever about the event. The stark white invitation sent to reporters and industry personnel doesn’t give any hints about what may be revealed.

“Wish we could say more,” reads the invitation.

The event will take place at the same Cupertino, Calif. venue where Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs unveiled the original Mac computer 30 years ago. So if the venue is any indication, Apple may be gearing up to unveil some big products.

What we do know is these fall events are usually used to announce the new version of Apple’s flagship iPhone – but according to industry experts, the iPhone could be overshadowed this time around by the company’s first foray into wearable tech.

Here’s what to expect from Apple’s Sept. 9 event:

iPhone 6

Brace yourselves: The iPhone may be getting a sizable upgrade. Apple is widely expected to announce not one but two new versions of its flagship product – one with a 4.7-inch screen and another with a 5.5-inch screen.

The iPhone 5S, released last September, has a screen size of 4 inches. If Apple does unveil a 5.5-inch version of the iPhone 6, it would be a direct competitor of other “phablets” on the market such as Samsung’s Galaxy Note smartphone line which boasts a 5.5-inch and 5.7-inch version.

READ MORE: Apple shares fall after Samsung unveils new phones

And bigger screens could mean bigger sales for the tech giant – some analysts think Apple could sell at least 70 million units of the iPhone 6 within the first few months after the device hits the market.

Both phones are rumoured to be thinner and feature a “sapphire crystal display” – a highly scratch-resistant glass. Of course, it’s likely both models will have an improved processor and camera.

The iPhone 6 models will likely ship within two weeks of the announcement for Canadian consumers; but recent reports suggest one of the devices could be released at a later date.

iWatch

Wearable tech fans may finally be able to feast their eyes on perhaps the longest-rumoured Apple product ever – the iWatch.

That said, little is known about the mysterious smartwatch. Speculation about the device’s design has ranged from a snap bracelet with a curved display to a more traditional-looking smartwatch resembling the company’s square iPod Nano.

Either way, Apple’s smartwatch will likely include a bevy of sensors and health monitoring features to work with the recently announced HealthKit, which will allow users to keep track of their health data including their blood pressure, steps taken, blood-sugar levels, nutrition levels and more. Apple has also teamed up with Nike and the Mayo clinic to develop mobile health apps.

Many reports suggest that even if the iWatch is announced Sept. 9, it won’t ship until early 2015.

iOS 8

Where there’s a new iPhone; there’s a new operating system. Apple users already got a sneak peak at the latest mobile operating system, iOS 8, at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

READ MORE: Apple unveils iOS 8, OS X Yosemite at WWDC

The new software will sport interactive notifications, so you can respond to a message without having to leave another app. It will have new gestures, such as double tapping to see a list of frequent contacts, and the ability to record voice and video clips through iMessage.

Mobile payments

The most recent rumors surrounding Apple’s latest business venture center around mobile payments. According to a report from Bloomberg, the tech giant has partnered with Visa, MasterCard and American Express for a mobile wallet for iPhone users.

The report, which cited a source familiar with the matter, said Apple would also partner with banks and retailers.

This comes after many reports suggested the iPhone 6 would include near-field communication technology (NFC) in the form of a chip allowing for “tap-and-go” payments similar to some credit cards. The technology is cutting-edge: Android devices have used NFC technology for more than three years; Google also uses the technology for its mobile wallet.

But an interesting twist to an iPhone wallet would turn Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint scanner into a pin for the user’s bank accounts and credit cards.

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