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In the news today: Property controls a barrier for domestic grocers

A customer browses an aisle at a Metro grocery store In Toronto on Friday, Feb. 2, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Here is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to bring you up to speed on what you need to know today...

Property controls a major barrier for grocery competition in Canada: experts

Experts say limiting real estate restrictions in grocery leases could open the door to stronger competition in the sector, giving consumers more choices and potentially even lowering prices. Canada's competition watchdog has turned its sight on grocery sector rental terms that include restrictions on other tenants and their activities. Peter Chapman, founder of consulting firm SKUFood and a former Loblaw executive, says independent grocers, smaller chains, or even companies like Dollarama and Giant Tiger would benefit from limiting the practice. The Competition Bureau has launched an investigation into the parent companies of grocery chains Loblaws and Sobeys over the use of these covenants.

Medications urged in ER for alcohol dependence

A group of Canadian and American emergency doctors and addiction specialists is urging ER physicians to prescribe specific medications to help curb cravings and alleviate withdrawal from heavy use of alcohol. Guidelines on prescribing by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine include input from patients harmed by alcohol dependence. Lead author and doctor Bjug Borgundvaag says people who suddenly stop drinking after consuming large amounts of booze can end up with severe withdrawal symptoms including seizures. The experts recommend that ER doctors prescribe phenobarbital to reduce admissions to intensive care units and gabapentin -- rather than no prescription -- for patients with ongoing sleep disturbances and anxiety related to alcohol withdrawal.

Human smugglers used B.C. freight trains to move people across the border, U.S. says

The U.S. Department of Justice says two men have been arrested on human smuggling charges in Seattle, related to a dangerous scheme to transport people out of British Columbia and across the border on freight trains. U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, Tessa Gorman, says the men were arrested last week, along with three non-citizens who were allegedly smuggled out of Canada. Court documents outlining the charges say the men came to the attention of investigators last July. Border Patrol agents identified a phone number associated with “numerous human smuggling events” through Blaine, Washington, dating back to September 2022.

Fergus survives latest resignation vote

House of Commons Speaker Greg Fergus has survived a vote put forward by the Conservatives to remove him from his position. The effort to oust Fergus failed by a vote of 142-168 after the NDP sided with the Liberals, with both accusing the Conservatives of undermining democracy and its independent institutions. This is the third time in less than 8 months that the Conservatives have called on him to step down. They insist Fergus is too partisan after several incidents including his decision last month to expel their leader, Pierre Poilievre, from the House after he called the prime minister a "wacko."

Black-owned business program launched in B.C.

A new program that certifies Black-owned businesses to help them get government and corporate procurement contracts is set to qualify its first batch of participants. Jackee Kasandy, who heads the Black Entrepreneurs and Businesses of Canada Society, says the British Columbia-based non-profit started the Black Business Certification Program because few companies owned by Black people are awarded contracts under government procurement systems. The program is the first of its kind in Canada and is being run in partnership with Public Services and Procurement Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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