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The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Aug. 12

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Aug 12th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. on Aug. 12, 2020:

There are 120,421 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 60,718 confirmed (including 5,697 deaths, 53,135 resolved)

_ Ontario: 40,194 confirmed (including 2,786 deaths, 36,456 resolved)

_ Alberta: 11,772 confirmed (including 216 deaths, 10,552 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 4,111 confirmed (including 195 deaths, 3,444 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,479 confirmed (including 20 deaths, 1,294 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,071 confirmed (including 64 deaths, 1,007 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 547 confirmed (including 8 deaths, 360 resolved), 15 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 268 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 263 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 177 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 168 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 36 confirmed (including 36 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 120,421 (15 presumptive, 120,406 confirmed including 8,991 deaths, 106,746 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 12, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Travel do’s and don’ts during a pandemic

THE BIG STORY | posted Wednesday, Aug 12th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, should you drive, take the train or fly? Where should you stay when you arrive? Can you use public bathrooms — and how do you do it safely? Are airlines still enforcing social distancing inside planes? Do you need to wipe down your tray table? Can you ride in a car with another family if you all wear masks?

Travel is about getting outside of our comfort zone — which means something much different in 2020. But for those of us with loved ones in other cities, provinces and countries, it might be a necessity, either due to an emergency or just for our own mental health. So, how do you assess risk when you’re on the road? And if you are going to travel, how do you do it safely?

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle and Spotify.

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Andrew Scheer likely marking last day in House of Commons as Opposition leader

STEPHANIE LEVITZ, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Aug 12th, 2020

OTTAWA -— Conservative leader Andrew Scheer is expected to mark a political milestone today: his final time rising in the House of Commons as leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.

Today’s Commons sitting is one of two scheduled for August, but the second comes after party members will elect Scheer’s replacement, bringing an end to the long and sometimes painful process for Scheer that began just after last fall’s federal election.

That the House is sitting at all this month though is something Scheer himself took some credit for Tuesday as he briefly reflected on his achievements during a news conference.

He argued that Commons sittings, committee hearings and the chance to propose improvements to government programs all came from the Opposition’s push for more accountability from the Liberals as they rolled out their COVID-19 response.

While the Liberals haven’t taken the Tories up on all their ideas, they did agree to some, he said.

“We haven’t missed a beat, we’ve been right there,” he said.

It is perhaps fitting for Scheer that he counts among his legacies the fight to ensure Parliament’s work could continue during an unprecedented time.

In addition to being an MP from Regina since 2004, he also served as the Speaker of the House of Commons from 2011 to 2015.

It was after the Tories lost government in 2015, and the subsequent resignation of then-leader Stephen Harper, that Scheer decided to go for the leadership job.

He won in 2017, eking out a very narrow victory over fellow MP Maxime Bernier.

He spent the next two years trying to gain recognition across the country, while shoring up the party’s war chest and policy playbook in order to defeat the Liberal government in the Oct. 2019 election.

But despite the Liberals struggling with several scandals that reduced them to a minority, he failed to outright bring them down.

That failure was linked in part to Scheer’s personal inability to clearly articulate his position on social conservative issues. There were also factors that ate away at his credibility -— a claim to being an insurance salesman when he never completed the licensing requirements and not disclosing he was a dual American-Canadian citizen.

Some, including Scheer, argued that increasing the Conservatives’ seat count and besting the Liberals’ share of the popular vote was a success.

But the knives came out for Scheer almost immediately after election day.

Among the jabs: party insiders leaked an internal argument over Scheer using party funds to pay for his kids’ private religious schooling, a fact unknown to many of the party’s executives.

Giving grassroots members more oversight and control over how the party spends the money has been a talking point for leadership candidates during the ensuing campaign.

The vote is taking place by mail, and all ballots must be back by Aug. 21. A winner is expected to be announced within days, and very likely before the next sitting of the Commons on Aug. 26.

Candidates Erin O’Toole and Derek Sloan are both MPs, so could easily slide into the Opposition leader’s seat —- and the official residence of Stornoway -— if they win.

Neither of the other two candidates, Peter MacKay and Leslyn Lewis, currently holds a seat in the Commons. Should either of them win, they would likely appoint someone to lead the party in the Commons until they could win their own spot.

While a by-election is looming in the riding of York Centre, thanks to the resignation of the Liberal MP there, neither Lewis nor MacKay’s campaigns have committed to having their candidate run for that seat.

Whomever wins, Scheer has set them up for success, said Chris Warkentin, an Alberta MP who was one of Scheer’s earliest backers for leadership.

“Those of us who are close to Andrew know of his love and passion for his family, our country and our Conservative team,” Warkentin said.

“Our party is united, his family is intact and he will continue to fight to build a better country. That’s a legacy of leadership he can be proud of.”

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Aug. 11

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Aug 11th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. on Aug. 11, 2020:

There are 120,132 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 60,627 confirmed (including 5,696 deaths, 53,041 resolved)

_ Ontario: 40,161 confirmed (including 2,786 deaths, 36,381 resolved)

_ Alberta: 11,687 confirmed (including 213 deaths, 10,384 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 4,065 confirmed (including 195 deaths, 3,425 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,450 confirmed (including 20 deaths, 1,265 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,071 confirmed (including 64 deaths, 1,007 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 543 confirmed (including 8 deaths, 354 resolved), 15 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 268 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 263 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 176 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 168 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 36 confirmed (including 36 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 120,132 (15 presumptive, 120,117 confirmed including 8,987 deaths, 106,355 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 11, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Over half of Americans oppose Trump tariff on Canadian aluminum, survey suggests

JIM BRONSKILL , THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Aug 11th, 2020

OTTAWA — A new opinion survey suggests Donald Trump’s recent decision to slap a tariff on Canadian raw aluminum is garnering poor reviews on both sides of the border.

In a web survey conducted by polling firm Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies, 58 per cent of American respondents said they disagreed with the 10 per cent import tax.

In what comes as less of a surprise, 90 per cent of Canadians who took part in the survey objected to the White House’s tariff.

The survey was conducted Aug. 7 to 9 among 1,513 Canadians and 1,003 Americans, 18 or older, who were recruited from an online panel.

Since polls created from internet panels are not random samples, the survey cannot be assigned a margin of error.

The polling firm says that using data from the 2016 census, results were weighted according to age, gender, language spoken, region, level of education and presence of children in the household in order to ensure a representative sample of the population.

Trump announced last week he was reimposing a tax on Canadian raw aluminum because Canada had broken a promise not to flood the U.S. market with the product.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland vehemently denied the dumping claim and said Canada would soon retaliate with $3.6 billion in tariffs on American items that contain aluminum.

“In imposing these tariffs, the United States has taken the absurd decision to harm its own people at a time its economy is suffering the deepest crisis since the Great Depression,” she said.

“Any American who buys a can of beer or a soda or a car or a bike will suffer.”

The comments might help explain why 28 per cent of Americans surveyed said they somewhat disagreed with Trump’s move, while 30 per cent said they totally disagreed.

Jean-Marc Leger, president of the survey firm, suggested the numbers reflect a lack of a clear rationale for the action by the mercurial U.S. president.

“Why the 10 per cent? Why at this moment?” he said. “It looks like another impulsive decision.”

Sixty-nine per cent of Canadians who participated in the survey said they completely disagreed with the tariff, with 21 per cent somewhat opposed.

Seventy per cent of Canadian respondents said Ottawa should fight back by imposing tariffs of its own on U.S. products.

The trade spat shattered the brief harmony between Ottawa and Washington that followed a successful renegotiation of the North American free trade agreement.

While nearly two-thirds of Americans told Leger that Canada and the U.S. benefit equally from their commercial exchanges, only 38 per cent of Canadians supported the notion.

Trump has also proposed banning popular video-sharing platform TikTok on national security grounds due to its corporate ties to China.

Forty-six per cent of American respondents supported the idea.

Fifty-four per cent of Canadians said they believed the Chinese government was using TikTok to spy on people. But only about one-third said Ottawa should outlaw the platform.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 11, 2020.

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

Air Canada to launch revamped Aeroplan program in November

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Aug 11th, 2020

Air Canada is revamping its Aeroplan loyalty program in an effort to make it easier to use.

The airline says it will be an simple transition for Aeroplan members who will maintain the same account number, but go from earning miles to earning points in the new plan starting Nov. 8.

All Aeroplan miles will automatically be honoured under the new program on a one-to-one basis.

Among the other changes, additional airline surcharges, including fuel surcharges, on all flight rewards with Air Canada will be eliminated.

The airline says plan members will also be able to combine Aeroplan points with others in their household, for free.

Air Canada spun off Aeroplan as part of a restructuring of the airline, but then reacquired the loyalty program in 2019.

Canada Post catching up on coronavirus delays as parcel volumes remain high

Kyle Mack | posted Monday, Aug 10th, 2020

A Canada Post employee climbs into a mail truck in Halifax on July 6, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

As brick and mortar stores were forced to close up shop during the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown, Canada Post was busier than ever as online shopping went into overdrive.

In April and May, even as the volume of mail dropped significantly due to a reduction in direct advertising mail, the agency reported “Christmas-level” volumes of parcels. The surge was a result of Canadians staying home during the pandemic and turning to online retailers for everyday essentials that would usually be picked up on a grocery run.

“We saw parcel levels that we would normally only see around Christmas — we would deliver up to two-million parcels in one day — that’s what we would see around Cyber Monday, Black Friday week sales,” says Jon Hamilton, spokesperson for Canada Post.

Hamilton says as the weeks in lockdown progressed, people began expanding their online shopping to other, more unusual items.

“Things like barbecues and patio sets. We even saw a pair of kayaks go through our facilities,” says Hamilton.

In addition to the surge in volume, new safety protocols like social distancing within postal processing facilities led to further delays and substantial backlogs, well beyond expectations.

“Nobody develops a processing facility to keep people six-feet apart,” says Hamilton. “We had to put those changes in place and make sure employees were sticking with it — and they have, they’ve done an incredible job.”

The Mississauga processing plant has become somewhat notorious for delays in recent months, with many sharing memes and complaints online about their parcels being stuck there indefinitely.

Hamilton says the reason that particular facility is jammed up is that most of the online shopping orders in Canada are fulfilled in the GTA.

“If you’re buying something in Canada, most of it is packaged and shipped out of Toronto – so the gateway up in Mississauga is a big facility [for that].”

Coupled with the increase in local packages, international parcels — especially those coming from China — were delayed due to flights being grounded. China Post sent their items by ship, which took considerably longer.

In order to keep up with the influx and changes due to COVID-19, the agency implemented many of the measures they usually use only during the December holiday season, but with added safety restrictions.

Temporary employees, who are usually hired when seasonal relief is needed, were brought in and trained in safety protocols to ensure round-the-clock processing stayed on track. Deliveries continue to be made on weekends as well.

In addition, Hamilton said the agency has been leveraging their entire network and capacity at different locations to move parcels through faster. So while a parcel from a particular retailer may usually take a specific route, for example through the Mississauga plant, during the pandemic it could have been routed through Montreal to get it to you sooner.

While delivery guarantees are still suspended, Hamilton says they have managed to catch up to some degree and parcel delays have now been significantly reduced to just a few days.

He says they’ve made a lot of progress over the last month as postal workers have become accustomed to the new COVID-safe workflow and have been processing and delivering at record levels.

The agency also worked with customers who use Canada Post for their businesses to better manage the sudden growth of parcels from them as well — to the tune of a 400 to 500 per cent increase from some.

The easing of restrictions and stores reopening has also seen many go back to shopping at retail stores, which has helped take some of the pressure off the postal service.

“We’re still at high numbers though,” says Hamilton. “In June we delivered 75 per cent more parcels than we would in a typical June.”

Hamilton says the ability to track parcels helps ease a lot of frustration for customers and says not to panic if you suddenly see no movement on the tracking page.

“When you’re backlogged at a facility … when [your parcel] is stuck in a truck and can’t get into the facility … it seems to go into a bit of a black hole. But it’s just waiting to go through the processing facility, which never stops — it’s just that there’s more in line in front of it,” he says.

Despite the backlog, Hamilton still encourages people to also continue supporting small businesses that may have just started selling online and rely on Canada Post to deliver their goods.

“Please continue to do that, we are going to get those items to you. It might take a little bit longer but the impact is huge for those small businesses,” he says.

Hamilton adds that customers have been largely understanding and have shown their support for postal workers with notes on their mailboxes and signs in their windows.

“There is a level of patience out there that is good to see,” he says.

For those running low on patience, Hamilton reiterates that they are doing their absolute best, but they need to put safety first and will follow public health guidelines even if it means delays have to continue.

“We’ll continue to look at our processes and how we can make this better, how can we learn for the future,” says Hamilton. “One thing is clear — Canadians are going to do more and more online shopping,” he says, adding that e-commerce has become vital to businesses of all sizes.

“We have to continue to improve because we carry the bulk of online shopping in Canada.”

Quebec education minister to unveil updated COVID-19 back-to-school plan

Kyle Mack | posted Monday, Aug 10th, 2020

Quebec Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, Tuesday, June 2, 2020 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

MONTREAL — The Quebec government is set to unveil its COVID-19 strategy for a return to class today as schools prepare to reopen in less than a month.

Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge has been under pressure to provide updated details, as other provinces have done in recent weeks.

Parents have raised several concerns including questions about remote learning, smaller class sizes and details of how another COVID-19 shutdown would be handled.

Under Quebec’s back-to-school strategy announced in June, the government said students across the province would return to class full time from pre-school to Grade 9, with in-class bubbles of six children and physical distancing.

Teachers would move between classrooms and maintain a two-metre distance from students.

For students in Grades 10 and 11, the current plan offers them the choice to go back full time or attend classes in person once every two days.

School boards are responsible for creating contingency measures should a COVID-19 outbreak occur.

Roberge, Health Minister Christian Dube and Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec’s director of public health, will take part in today’s news conference in Montreal.

On Friday, Arruda explained the general approach to the return to school.

“If our expectation is to have no cases in schools, that’s nearly impossible,” he said.

He added it is more important to make sure COVID-19 outbreaks are not widespread in schools when they do occur.

This story by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 10, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Elections Canada recalculates, says voter turnout last fall higher than 2015

Kyle Mack | posted Friday, Aug 7th, 2020

Elections Canada says voter turnout in last fall’s federal election was actually slightly higher than the 2015 election. A sample ballot box is seen ahead of the 2019 federal election at Elections Canada’s offices in Gatineau, Que., Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

OTTAWA — Elections Canada says voter turnout in last fall’s federal election was actually slightly higher than the 2015 election.

The independent agency initially reported a slight decline in turnout, to 67 per cent from 68.3 per cent in 2015.

But it now says that turnout was actually up by 0.9 per cent.

The new estimate comes from an Elections Canada study based on the number of eligible electors who cast ballots in the past two federal elections.

The agency says the study is more accurate than the way voter turnout has been calculated in the past, based on a sample survey of registered voters.

Because voter registration rates vary from election to election, the agency says it can be misleading to compare turnout from different elections based on registered voters.

The study does not change the estimate that 67 per cent of eligible Canadians voted last November.

But it does recalculate the 2015 result, estimating turnout in that election was 66.1 per cent — more than two points lower than initially reported.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 6, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Oilers increase capacity for online 50/50 raffle ahead of Game 4 against Blackhawks

Kyle Mack | posted Friday, Aug 7th, 2020

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford (50) stands prior to taking on the Edmonton Oilers in NHL Stanley Cup qualifying round action in Edmonton, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Codie McLachlan

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation says its server provider has increased capacity for its online 50/50 raffle for Friday’s hockey game.

On Wednesday, the draw “shattered an all-time record” and had to close early after it reached the server provider’s maximum allowable ticket sales.

The Oilers Entertainment Group says the final jackpot for Game 3 of the Oilers-Blackhawks series was more than $5.4 million, with one lucky winner taking home about $2.7 million.

No winner has yet been announced.

Janet Riopel, board chair for the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation, says the online raffles have exceeded her expectations.

She adds that the foundation’s server provider has been able to increase capacity by two-and-a-half times.

She says half the funds are used by the foundation to support organizations focused on vulnerable populations in downtown Edmonton and youth sports throughout northern Alberta.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 6, 2020

The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil: a fiscal hawk with a folksy demeanour

Kyle Mack | posted Friday, Aug 7th, 2020

HALIFAX — During more than six years as Nova Scotia premier, Stephen McNeil earned a reputation as an ardent fiscal conservative who wasn’t shy about taking on the province’s public sector unions.

Until the COVID-19 pandemic upended every province’s finances earlier this year, McNeil could boast about delivering five consecutive balanced budgets.

Last week, when the 55-year-old Liberal leader announced the province’s projected deficit had reached $853 million, he returned to a familiar theme by warning public sector employees it was time for them to dampen their wage expectations.

“We have to get back and focusing on those fundamentals, things that allowed us as a province to get into the good fiscal position we were in,” he said at the time. “All of us are going to play a role in this, and that means all of those in the public sector are going to have to play a role too.”

McNeil won back-to-back majority governments in 2013 and 2017, largely by promising and delivering on platforms that focused on keeping provincial spending in check. The platforms weren’t sexy, but they won votes.

The 12th of 17 children, McNeil said he learned about frugality and perseverance after his father died. McNeil was only eight years old at the time. His mother, Theresa, had to raise 17 children on her own.

“She had no driver’s licence and hadn’t worked outside the house,” McNeil said in 2013. “The next morning, she woke up and said, ‘We’re it.’ We were all looking at her.”

As the former owner of an appliance repair business, McNeil often talked about how his experience running a small business gave him a keen appreciation for the financial challenges that most Nova Scotians face.

“I didn’t train to be the premier,” he said before the 2013 election. “I was out working. I made my living carrying a tool box.”

Throughout his first term, the premier took aim at the public sector, repeatedly reminding Nova Scotians that public sector wages had increased 11.5 per cent over the previous seven years — well above the increases seen in the private sector.

In April 2014, his government forced 2,400 striking nurses back to work by introducing legislation that required all health-sector unions to draft essential services agreements before any job action could occur.

And in February 2017, he imposed a contract on 9,400 public school teachers, ending a two-month work-to-rule campaign.

Union leaders were enraged.

“Of course, we all remember the unions rallying around Province House,” McNeil told reporters Thursday after he stunned the province by announcing his sudden decision to leave public life.

“I think for the first five years, I don’t think I had a (legislative) session where there wasn’t some form of a protest — but that’s governing.”

The Liberals won a reduced majority in May 2017, but it was clear the premier’s get-tough approach with the public sector was not the main reason for the government’s loss of seven seats.

Instead, critics focused on the fact that McNeil had failed to deliver on a promise to make sure every Nova Scotian had access to a family physician. At the time, about 100,000 Nova Scotians were still looking for a doctor. By last month, that number had fallen to 45,000.

During his second term, McNeil made a point of investing in health care. The $2-billion redevelopment of the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax has been described as the largest health-care project in the province’s history.

A soft-spoken man with an imposing 6-foot-5 frame, McNeil could appear stern when fielding questions from the media. But that perceived lack of warmth never bothered the premier.

“Some might see me as a bit stiff and not as jovial as I really am,” he said in 2013.

McNeil won praise for his steady leadership during the past five months, but one moment of anger in April spoke volumes about the his otherwise low-key personality.

Struggling to find the words to persuade Nova Scotians they had to limit their travel to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, McNeil raised his voice during a news conference, saying: “Stay the blazes home!”

His folksy expression went viral. The phrase soon appeared on coffee cups, T-shirts and an endless loop of social media memes.

In the end, McNeil said Thursday it was time to move on after 17 years in provincial politics — and 13 years as Liberal leader.

After attending a cabinet meeting, he said he had planned to leave politics in the spring, but the pandemic prompted him to stay on the job.

Later in the day, McNeil issued a brief statement that showed his softer side.

“We have accomplished so much together,” he said. “I may not have always gotten it right. But here’s what I know for sure: we are better together and being kind matters.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 6, 2020.

Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Aug. 7

Kyle Mack | posted Friday, Aug 7th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Aug. 7, 2020:

There are 118,561 confirmed cases in Canada.

– Quebec: 60,133 confirmed (including 5,687 deaths, 50,886 resolved)

– Ontario: 39,809 confirmed (including 2,783 deaths, 35,906 resolved)

– Alberta: 11,296 confirmed (including 205 deaths, 9,984 resolved)

– British Columbia: 3,881 confirmed (including 195 deaths, 3,315 resolved)

– Saskatchewan: 1,387 confirmed (including 19 deaths, 1,164 resolved)

– Nova Scotia: 1,071 confirmed (including 64 deaths, 1,005 resolved)

– Manitoba: 459 confirmed (including 8 deaths, 348 resolved), 15 presumptive

– Newfoundland and Labrador: 266 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 263 resolved)

– New Brunswick: 176 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 168 resolved)

– Prince Edward Island: 36 confirmed (including 36 resolved)

– Yukon: 14 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

– Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

– Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

– Nunavut: No confirmed cases

– Total: 118,561 (15 presumptive, 118,546 confirmed including 8,966 deaths, 103,104 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 7, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Canadian citizen sentenced to death in China on drug charge

Kyle Mack | posted Thursday, Aug 6th, 2020

BEIJING — China has sentenced a third Canadian citizen to death on drug charges amid a steep decline in relations between the two countries.

The Guangzhou Municipal Intermediate Court announced Xu Weihong’s penalty on Thursday and said an alleged accomplice, Wen Guanxiong, had been given a life sentence.

Death sentences are automatically referred to China’s highest court for review.

The brief court statement gave no details but local media in the southern Chinese city at the heart of the country’s manufacturing industry said Xu and Wen had gathered ingredients and tools and began making the drug ketamine in October 2016, then stored the final product in Xu’s home in Guangzhou’s Haizhu district.

Police later confiscated more than 120 kilograms (266 pounds) of the drug from Xu’s home and another address, the reports said. Ketamine is a powerful pain killer that has become popular among club goers in China and elsewhere.

Relations between China and Canada soured over the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, an executive and the daughter of the founder of Chinese tech giant Huawei, at Vancouver’s airport in late 2018. The U.S. wants her extradited to face fraud charges over the company’s dealings with Iran. Her arrest infuriated Beijing, which sees her case as a political move designed to prevent China’s rise as a global technology power.

In apparent retaliation, China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor, accusing them of vague national security crimes.

Soon after, China handed a death sentence to convicted Canadian drug smuggler Robert Schellenberg in a sudden retrial, and in April 2019, gave the death penalty to a Canadian citizen identified as Fan Wei in a multinational drug smuggling case.

China has also placed restrictions on various Canadian exports to China, including canola seed oil, in an apparent attempt to pressure Ottawa into releasing Meng.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said there was no connection between Xu’s sentencing and current China-Canada relations.

“I would like to stress that China’s judicial authorities handle the relevant case independently in strict accordance with Chinese law and legal procedures,” Wang said at a daily briefing Thursday. “This case should not inflict any impact on China-Canada relations.”

Like many Asian nations, China deals out stiff penalties for manufacturing and selling illegal drugs, including the death penalty. In December 2009, Pakistani-British businessman Akmal Shaikh was executed after being convicted of smuggling heroin, despite allegations he was mentally disturbed.

“Death sentences for drug-related crimes that are extremely dangerous will help deter and prevent such crimes,” Wang said. “China’s judicial authorities handle cases involving criminals of different nationalities in accordance with law.”

Canada to provide $5M in humanitarian aid to Lebanon

Kyle Mack | posted Thursday, Aug 6th, 2020

The Canadian government is providing $5 million in humanitarian assistance to help the citizens of Lebanon who are reeling from a devastating explosion Tuesday that killed hundreds and left thousands more injured.

Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Francois-Philippe Champagne says $1.5 million will go to the Lebanese Red Cross to provide food, shelter and emergency medical services.

“Canada stands with the people of Lebanon in this harrowing time,” tweeted Champagne.

“We will continue to monitor the situation on the ground closely. We stand ready to provide additional assistance, as appropriate.”

New Democrat international development critic Heather McPherson says the humanitarian aid is gravely needed and the Lebanese people will require significant international support.

McPherson says beyond assisting with immediate food, medical, and other needs, the federal government must take concrete action to assist the international community’s long-term humanitarian efforts.

As international aid flights began to arrive in Beirut, investigators probing the deadly blast focused Wednesday on possible negligence in the storage of tons of a highly explosive fertilizer in a waterfront warehouse.

The blast killed 135 people and injured about 5,000 others.

The investigation is focusing on how 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive chemical used in fertilizers, came to be stored at the facility for six years, and why nothing was done about it.

The Port of Beirut and customs office is notorious for being one of the most corrupt and lucrative institutions in Lebanon where various factions and politicians, including Hezbollah, hold sway.

Losses from the blast are estimated to be between $10 billion to $15 billion, Beirut Gov. Marwan Abboud told Saudi-owned TV station Al-Hadath, adding that nearly 300,000 people are homeless.

Hospitals were overwhelmed by the injured. One that was damaged in the blast had to evacuate all its patients to a nearby field for treatment.

It was the worst single explosion to strike Lebanon, a country whose history is filled with destruction _ from a 1975-1990 civil war, conflicts with Israel and periodic terrorist attacks.

Mystery seeds showing up in Canadian mailboxes highlight ‘brushing’ scams

Kyle Mack | posted Wednesday, Aug 5th, 2020

MONTREAL — The packages of mysterious seeds that have been making unsolicited appearances in mailboxes across North America are drawing attention to an online review scam that has recently appeared in Canada.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency warned gardeners last week not to plant any seeds they received in the mail without ordering, warning that they could be from invasive species or even carry pests.

While Canadian authorities have not provided an update, the United States Department of Agriculture has suggested the seeds may be part of a “brushing” scam, where sellers send unsolicited items to random customers and then post fake positive reviews online.

Jessie St-Cyr, a spokeswoman with the Better Business Bureau, says this type of scam has recently begun popping up in Canada.

She says sellers send light or inexpensive items to people so they appear to be verified customers when reviews are posted online in their names.

While customers usually aren’t charged for the items, she said recipients should change their passwords for online retail sites and verify bank statements to ensure fraudsters aren’t accessing sensitive information, such as credit card numbers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 5, 2020

The Canadian Press

Explosion rocks Beirut and Trudeau popularity drops: In The News for Aug. 5

Kyle Mack | posted Wednesday, Aug 5th, 2020

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 Aug. 5.

What we are watching in Canada …

Nearly half of Canadians would support an election being called if the federal watchdog finds Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to have violated the Conflict of Interest Act again over the WE charity affair, a new poll suggests.

The survey by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies also suggests the WE controversy has taken a bite out of Trudeau’s popularity, as well as that of the federal Liberal party, putting the Conservatives within striking distance of victory.

“To me these are numbers that will certainly worry or concern the Liberals at this moment because even though it’s in the summer, this is raising a lot of eyebrows,” said Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque.

The online poll of 1,531 adult Canadians took place July 31 to Aug. 2, in the days following Trudeau’s appearance before a parliamentary committee to answer questions about the deal with WE. It cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered truly random.

The survey results come as federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion is investigating both Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau over whether they broke conflict-of-interest rules in relation to the government’s decision to give the WE organization a sole-sourced contract to run a $912-million student-volunteer program.

Trudeau was previously found to have broken the Conflict of Interest Act for accepting two paid family vacations from the Aga Khan and for improperly pressuring Jody Wilson-Raybould, who was then attorney general, to halt the criminal prosecution of Montreal engineering giant SNC-Lavalin.

Also this …

A Canadian company is telling the government today that its trials of a potential COVID-19 vaccine on animals completely blocked the virus, but it must conduct human trials to know whether it has found a possible cure for the pandemic.

And a leading health-care expert says the findings are promising even though they haven’t been peer-reviewed.

Providence Therapeutics says it needs federal funding to move forward, but it has not heard back from the Trudeau government since May, the month after submitting a $35-million proposal to conduct first-stage human trials.

Providence has told the government it could deliver five million doses of its new vaccine by mid-2021 for use in Canada if it were able to successfully complete human testing, but it has heard nothing.

Eric Marcusson, the San Francisco-based co-founder of Providence and its chief science officer, says the company has concluded testing on mice that showed its vaccine was able to block the entry of the novel coronavirus into their cells.

Successful tests in animals can provide proof of the concept behind a potential new medicine or vaccine before trials in ever-larger groups of human subjects determine how well the drug works in the body and whether it has harmful side-effects.

Trials in humans are expensive and usually time-consuming.

ICYMI (in case you missed it) …

The deep valleys scarred into the surface of Mars under thick sheets of ice show that the planet once mirrored the Canadian High Arctic, says a new study.

Published Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience, the study says many of the valley networks carved into the surface of Mars were formed by water melting beneath glacial ice. It means there were fewer free-flowing rivers than previously thought.

Study author Anna Grau Galofre, a former University of British Columbia PhD student in the department of Earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences, said about 3.5 billion years ago the Martian surface looked like the surface of Canada 20,000 years ago.

“We’re talking about a planet that’s painted like a brother of Earth,” she said.

Grau Galofre and her team compared surface data of Mars with that of Devon Island in the Canadian Arctic.

The study describes Devon Island as a cold, dry, polar desert, where the glaciers and their retreat imitate what took place on Mars billions of years ago.

“Imagine ice sheets that are kilometres thick, really, really thick,” she said.

“If you were to just lift the ice sheet and see below, you would see a landscape. And this landscape is constituted of several different channels, expanded pathways like the plumbing of the ice.”

What we are watching in the U.S. …

At least five people were killed as Tropical Storm Isaias spawned tornadoes and dumped rain Tuesday along the U.S. East Coast after making landfall as a hurricane in North Carolina, where it caused floods and fires that displaced dozens of people.

Two people died when Isaias spun off a tornado that struck a North Carolina mobile home park. Another person died in Pennsylvania when their vehicle was overtaken by water and swept downstream. Two others were killed by falling trees toppled by the storm in Maryland and New York City, authorities said.

Isaias sustained top winds of up to 65 mph (105 kph) more than 18 hours after coming ashore, but it was down to 50 mph max winds as of 8 p.m. EDT Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm’s centre was passing through the middle of Vermont, moving north-northeast at about 40 mph (65 kph).

As Isaias sped northward, flooding threats followed. The Schuylkill River in Philadelphia was projected to crest early Wednesday at 15.4 feet (4.7 metres), its highest level in more than 150 years. By Tuesday night, the river had already topped its banks in low-lying Manayunk, turning bar-lined Main Street into a coffee-colored canal.

Aerial video by WRAL-TV showed fields of debris where rescue workers in brightly colored shirts picked through splintered boards and other wreckage of the Windsor, North Carolina, mobile home park where two people were killed. Emergency responders searching the area Tuesday afternoon found no other casualties, and several people initially feared missing had all been accounted for, said Ron Wesson, chairman of the Bertie County Board of Commissioners. He said about 12 people were hospitalized.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

A massive explosion rocked Beirut on Tuesday, flattening much of the city’s port, damaging buildings across the capital and sending a giant mushroom cloud into the sky. More than 70 people were killed and 3,000 injured, with bodies buried in the rubble, officials said.

It was not clear what caused the blast, which struck with the force of a 3.5 magnitude earthquake, according to Germany’s geosciences centre GFZ, and was heard and felt as far away as Cyprus more than 200 kilometres (180 miles) across the Mediterranean. Lebanon’s interior minister said it appeared that a large cache of ammonium nitrate in the port had detonated.

The sudden devastation overwhelmed a country already struggling with both the coronavirus pandemic and a severe economic and financial crisis.

For hours after the explosion, the most destructive in all of Lebanon’s troubled history, ambulances rushed in from around the country to carry away the wounded. Hospitals quickly filled beyond capacity, pleading for blood supplies, and generators to keep their lights on.

For blocks around the port, bloodied residents staggered through streets lined with overturned cars and littered with rubble from shattered buildings. Windows and doors were blown out kilometres (miles) away, including at the city’s only international airport. Army helicopters helped battle fires raging at the port.

Interior Minister Mohammed Fahmi told a local TV station that it appeared the blast was caused by the detonation of more than 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate that had been stored in a warehouse at the dock ever since it was confiscated from a cargo ship in 2014. Witnesses reported seeing an orange cloud like that which appears when toxic nitrogen dioxide gas is released after an explosion involving nitrates.

Videos showed what appeared to be a fire erupting nearby just before, and local TV stations reported that a fireworks warehouse was involved. The fire appeared to spread to a nearby building, triggering the more massive explosion, sending up a mushroom cloud and generating a shock wave.

Also this…

Philippe Tawileh was with his wife and children watching television after dinner when they heard a blast and felt the house shake.

The family of five who live in Byblos (Jbeil), about 40 kilometres north of Beirut in Lebanon, rushed to look out the window but couldn’t see anything, Tawileh said in a WhatsApp interview Tuesday night.

“We felt like an earthquake and we heard the blast. It was very loud, big, huge.”

That’s when he turned on the news while simultaneously scrolling through his social media to find out what was happening.

Tawileh’s 22-month-old son, Alexandre, was born in Montreal and is a Canadian citizen. His two other children are nine-year-old Andrew and eight-year-old Adriana.

His wife, Rawane Dagher, who is a pediatrician, recently accepted a job at a hospital in Montreal. They are waiting for their documents to immigrate, which have been delayed by the pandemic, he said. His parents and brother live in Quebec.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 5, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Canadian company urges human trials after COVID-19 vaccine results in mice

Kyle Mack | posted Wednesday, Aug 5th, 2020

OTTAWA — A Canadian company is telling the government today that its trials of a potential COVID-19 vaccine on animals completely blocked the virus, but it must conduct human trials to know whether it has found a possible cure for the pandemic.

And a leading health-care expert says the findings are promising even though they haven’t been peer-reviewed.

Providence Therapeutics says it needs federal funding to move forward, but it has not heard back from the Trudeau government since May, the month after submitting a $35-million proposal to conduct first-stage human trials.

Providence has told the government it could deliver five million doses of its new vaccine by mid-2021 for use in Canada if it were able to successfully complete human testing, but it has heard nothing.

Eric Marcusson, the San Francisco-based co-founder of Providence and its chief science officer, says the company has concluded testing on mice that showed its vaccine was able to block the entry of the novel coronavirus into their cells.

Successful tests in animals can provide proof of the concept behind a potential new medicine or vaccine before trials in ever-larger groups of human subjects determine how well the drug works in the body and whether it has harmful side-effects.

Trials in humans are expensive and usually time-consuming.

Mario Ostrowski, the University of Toronto professor of medicine and immunology whose laboratory performed the animal trials, said he supports the results and says they are on par with tests of vaccine candidates from the American pharmaceutical firm Moderna and Germany’s BioNTech.

All three companies use the same new mRNA vaccine technology and last week, Moderna began a 30,000-person human trial after receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from the U.S. government.

The U.S. has also committed to pay Germany’s BioNTech and its American partner Pfizer $1.95 billion to produce 100 million doses if their vaccine candidate proves safe and effective in humans.

The mRNA vaccine technology involves using a key fragment of genetic material instead of working with an inactive sample of live virus.

“We have been testing the prototype vaccine in animal studies,” Ostrowski told The Canadian Press. “When we give the vaccine to mice, it is safe and makes a very strong immune response and very potent antibodies.”

Ostrowski said that the strength of the antibodies found in the mice appeared to neutralize the virus better than other similar vaccine candidates have at the same testing stage.

“Another point is that the Providence vaccine is very similar to the Moderna vaccine in the U.S. and the German (BioNTech) vaccines, both showing excellent results,” added Ostrowski, who practices at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

Brad Wouters, the executive vice-president of the Toronto-based University Health Network, said he has seen the new Providence data and it looks promising, but it needs to be peer-reviewed.

“The fact that the vaccine has created neutralizing antibodies means that the mouse immune system is reacting to the vaccine and producing antibodies that block the ability of the virus to infect cells,” Wouters said in an emailed response to questions.

“This suggests the results are better than even they were expecting.”

But Wouters added that the Providence data needs a full peer review, and that under normal circumstances he wouldn’t even be commenting publicly on research at this stage unless it were accompanied by a published peer review.

“This is the normal and correct way for this to happen. But as you have seen, COVID-19 is breaking traditions and they (Providence) are certainly not the first to release information from experimental research in advance of publication,” said Wouters, who is also the senior scientist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

Alberta Sen. Doug Black has urged Ottawa to fund Providence so it can develop a domestic COVID-19 vaccine to lessen the risk Canadians will have wait in line for a foreign-made pandemic cure.

Several health-care professionals have also written to Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains to urge him to make up his mind on the Providence proposal.

The company plans to release the results publicly on Wednesday at the same time it delivers them to several relevant government departments.

“We’re still blocking the virus 100 per cent. Nothing gets in,” Marcusson said in a telephone interview from San Francisco, where he has been living in lockdown since March as the pandemic exploded in California.

“There’s no doubt this vaccine needs to be tested in humans because the results in mice are really that exceptional. This has the chance to be an extremely effective vaccine, but we won’t know for sure until we get into humans,” he said.

Marcusson is a 20-year veteran of the American biotechnology sector and had founded his own consultant business before meeting Providence chief executive Brad Sorenson in 2014. The two founded Providence in 2015 to develop cancer vaccines but it has pivoted to COVID-19. Marcusson said 20 per cent of his work remains outside the company as a consultant.

Black and several health experts say the government must move forward with a made-in-Canada vaccine because there have been troubling signs that a vaccine produced abroad likely wouldn’t be available to Canadians until much later.

Canada has already funded a the partnership between China’s CanSino Biologics and Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia but China has held up shipments of the vaccine that it was supposed to send to Dalhousie researchers by the end of May to start human trials.

“They’ve already been burned a couple of times with masks not getting across the border from the U.S. and a vaccine that they helped fund not getting into the country because it was held up at customs in China,” said Marcusson.

“So, this is a vaccine that can be made in Canada for Canadians,” he added. “It would be nice if that wasn’t important, but it is important, and they need to realize this and fund a Canadian solution to this problem.”

First cancer diagnosed in dinosaur fossil hints at communal life

BOB WEBER, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Aug 4th, 2020

EDMONTON — It’s a diagnosis that took 75 million years.

Canadian researchers who included specialists from surgeons to paleontologists have identified what they say is the first known cancer in a dinosaur. The conclusion not only sheds light on the history of what is still one of humanity’s most feared diseases, but also hints at how the ancient lizards may have lived with — and protected — each other.

“Dinosaurs might seem like these mythical creatures, larger than life and powerful,” said the Royal Ontario Museum’s David Evans, one of the co-authors of a paper on the finding published in The Lancet.

“But they were living, breathing animals that were afflicted with some of the same injuries and diseases that we see in animals and humans today.”

The Centrosaur fossil was originally collected in the 1970s from a bone bed in Alberta’s badlands. The area has provided hundreds of samples of the horned dinosaur.

Paleontologists originally assumed a growth on a leg bone was evidence of a break. That’s where it stayed until a chance conversation between Evans and Mark Crowther, chairman of McMaster University’s medical faculty and a dinosaur enthusiast.

The two got talking about evidence of dino diseases. That led to an expedition to Alberta’s Royal Tyrrell Museum, which has hundreds of fossils that show signs of injury.

The team eventually focused its attention on one fossilized leg bone.

It was examined by cancer specialists, subjected to microscopic analysis and a high-resolution CT X-ray scan.

“This is a bone-forming lesion — it’s laying down bone,” said co-author Seper Ekhiari, an orthopedic surgery resident at McMaster.

“(That) eliminated infection right away because infection doesn’t form new bone.”

It wasn’t a repaired break either. New bone around fractures forms in predictable layers.

“The bone is very disorganized and doesn’t have any clear pattern,” Ekhiari said.

The growth extended all the way down the bone, which a fracture scar wouldn’t do. Holes in the fossil suggested large, disorderly blood vessels, which cancerous tissues are known to develop.

Finally, the fossil was compared to a human leg bone with bone cancer.

“It’s striking how similar the microscope slides are,” said Ekhiari.

The conclusion? Osteosarcoma, a cancer that still afflicts more than three out of every million humans today.

Ekhiari said the dinosaur was very sick.

“A tumour that had extended this far in a human would almost certainly have metastasized elsewhere. It’s very likely the individual would have been in pain.”

Ekhiari found himself feeling for his ancient patient.

“We all share a similar body plan and we all share a common ancestor. This would have been a gentle herbivorous animal trying to keep up with the herd.”

And yet, cancer didn’t kill it. Nor did a hungry meat-eating dinosaur preying on the slow and the weak.

Because the fossil was found with so many others, Evans is confident the sick dino died with large numbers of its fellows in a natural event such as a flood, which raises an intriguing possibility.

“We know these dinosaurs were highly social,” he said. “Many horned dinosaurs lived in big herds. They were often living with members of their extended family.

“There’s a benefit to living with those groups. It wouldn’t be surprising to me that the herd would have protected these sick and weak and lame individuals.

“It would be completely speculative,” Evans said. “But it wouldn’t be impossible.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 3, 2020

— Follow @row1960 on Twitter

 

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Aug. 4

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Aug 4th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. on August 4, 2020:

There are 117,031 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 59,722 confirmed (including 5,683 deaths, 50,886 resolved)

_ Ontario: 39,449 confirmed (including 2,778 deaths, 35,539 resolved)

_ Alberta: 10,843 confirmed (including 196 deaths, 9,261 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 3,641 confirmed (including 195 deaths, 3,168 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,359 confirmed (including 18 deaths, 1,089 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,071 confirmed (including 64 deaths, 1,005 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 428 confirmed (including 8 deaths, 337 resolved), 14 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 266 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 259 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 170 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 166 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 36 confirmed (including 36 resolved)

_ Yukon: 14 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 117,031 (14 presumptive, 117,017 confirmed including 8,947 deaths, 101,775 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published August 4, 2020.

The Canadian Press

More corporate meetings to go virtual after success during pandemic

DAN HEALING THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Aug 4th, 2020

Any shareholder who’s ever endured hours of travel to attend a company’s annual meeting is in for good news in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Experts say the success of AGMs taken virtual this year will likely translate into more options for online and teleconference participation at future events — provided that some technical bugs can be ironed out and with the caveat that full shareholder participation is necessary.

Most corporations are required to meet once a year with their shareholders to deal with routine matters such as electing the board of directors, choosing an auditor and approving the minutes of the last meeting. There is typically a presentation on company accomplishments from the CEO, and shareholders usually have an opportunity to ask questions.

The pandemic’s eruption at the start of AGM season this year forced many companies to cancel their in-person events and figure out how to use technology for a virus-free meeting. The online migration was a scramble for most, as Canadian organizations have been much slower to adopt virtual meetings than their counterparts in the United States. Before this year, only a handful of Canadian companies had done so.

Nonetheless, most of the response to the virtual meetings has been positive, in part because shareholders recognize the unusual circumstances, said Kevin Thomas, CEO of the Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE), a Canadian not-for-profit advisory firm that often helps sponsor minority shareholder proposals to be voted on at AGMs.

“The challenge is that participation at some of these (virtual) meetings has been limited — the ability to ask questions has been limited by the company to either written questions in advance or sometimes no questions,” he said. “In some cases, the ability to log in has been quite complicated.”

He added the virtual events lack some intangible benefits to attending a meeting in person, such as being able to have informal chats with directors, company executives and fellow shareholders.

“I think there are some bugs to work out. But the potential for online meetings, if they allow for full shareholder participation, is actually probably positive.”

As of July 28, 583 AGMs had been held by companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, according to figures compiled by Hansell LLP of Toronto, a corporate advisory law firm. That’s down almost 22 per cent from the same time last year, as some companies took advantage of pandemic-related deadline extensions offered by regulators.

Hansell partner Susan Kushneryk said she expects more virtual AGMs will take place in the future for two reasons _ people may be hesitant to attend crowded events even if the pandemic is under control and the convenience of being able to dial in or catch a meeting online has now been well demonstrated.

“If you’re invested in a company based in Calgary and you live in Kelowna (B.C.), now, if that company is having a virtual AGM, it may be you’re able to attend for the first time since you’ve held those shares,” she said.

“So there’s a real benefit there.”

Virtual AGMs in Canada and the U.S. were generally well operated and well-received by shareholders but there were also a few instances where technology failed or meeting organizers “turned off the mic” to stymie troublesome input, said Peter Kimball, head of North American advisory services for Maryland-based ISS Corporate Solutions.

“There are some high-profile examples of big companies’ (AGMs) that either shareholders had difficulty getting in or they had difficulty finishing what they wanted to say,” he said, adding investors remain “wary” of the use of the technology in future meetings.

In Canada, Hansell found 54 per cent of the meetings were virtual only, which means that shareholders could attend remotely by phone or computer but couldn’t vote or ask questions in real time. Votes were collected ahead of the meeting.

About a quarter — 26 per cent — were traditional physical AGMs, where shareholders could vote ahead of time or attend in person to vote or ask a question.

Thirteen per cent of the meetings were what it called “limited hybrid,” where participants could remotely ask questions but couldn’t vote. Just two per cent were the “full hybrid” model, where participants could vote and ask questions at the meeting, whether in person or remotely.

Technology itself was a barrier at times, Kimball said.

Some meetings had to be rescheduled because of “plumbing issues,” he said _ the company providing the service didn’t have enough bandwidth to actually do the job, though that shortcoming likely could be addressed in future.

He added that activist shareholders who sponsor proposals on topics such as executive compensation or setting environmental targets are as split on the subject of remote meetings as the rest of the shareholders _ some love them and some hate them.

Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corp. has allowed investors to participate in person and remotely in its annual general meetings since 2018 but its AGM in early May had to be made virtual format only because of restrictions on large public gatherings.

It has vowed to return to its full hybrid meeting format next year.

“Our total meeting attendance actually went up in 2020 compared to our hybrid (physical and in-person) meeting in 2019,” said spokeswoman Kathy du Plessis in an email, adding the feedback from shareholders has been positive.

“Excluding Barrick personnel, this year we had 152 attendees on the online portal compared to 100 in total in 2019, 42 people at the physical meeting and 58 people online.”

Winnipeg woman recovering after being attacked by a Muskie in an Ontario lake

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jul 31st, 2020

WINNIPEG — A Winnipeg woman is recovering after being attacked by a Muskie while swimming with her family at a fishing resort.

The attack happened on July 25 at the North Star Village, in Minaki, Ont., north of Kenora.

Kim and Terry Driver, seasonal regulars and experienced anglers, went for a swim to cool off.

Kim Driver says she was standing in water up to her chest when she felt a sharp pain in her leg, and when she looked down she saw what looked like an alligator head.

A muskellunge, or Muskie, more than one metre long, had grabbed hold of her calf.

She says when she was hauled out of the water, blood was pouring out the back of her leg.

“Once it bit me it started flailing me through the water and then took me under,” she said.

“I started kicking, and I guess obviously punching it, because I have cuts on my hands, and then it let go and I came back up screaming that I needed help – something had bit me.”

Terry Driver said rescuers threw a towel over her head so she wouldn’t see the extent of the wound.

“It looks just like an alligator attack,” Terry Driver said, adding the gash was nearly 18 centimetres wide.

Kim Driver said she now requires plastic surgery to repair her calf – a process that will take more than six weeks.

But the attack has left more than just physical scars on her leg. Kim said she is emotionally scarred from the attack.

“I can’t sleep at night,” she said. “I have horrible nightmares and I wake up in a sweat and screaming – it was scary.”

According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, the muskellunge is the largest member of the pike family and is one of the most prized fishes by anglers.

It says although some fish exceeding 1.8 metres and 45 kilograms were once known, most modern specimens are much smaller. (CTV Winnipeg, The Canadian Press)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 30, 2020.

 

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for July 31

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jul 31st, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. on July 31, 2020:

There are 115,799 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 59,131 confirmed (including 5,673 deaths, 50,886 resolved)

_ Ontario: 39,075 confirmed (including 2,772 deaths, 34,906 resolved)

_ Alberta: 10,716 confirmed (including 195 deaths, 9,113 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 3,591 confirmed (including 194 deaths, 3,155 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,306 confirmed (including 18 deaths, 948 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,067 confirmed (including 64 deaths, 1,003 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 395 confirmed (including 8 deaths, 325 resolved), 14 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 266 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 259 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 170 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 165 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 36 confirmed (including 36 resolved)

_ Yukon: 14 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 115,799 (14 presumptive, 115,785 confirmed including 8,929 deaths, 100,825 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 31, 2020.

The Canadian Press

WE fallout expected to continue as MPs seek more info, witnesses

TERESA WRIGHT THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jul 31st, 2020

OTTAWA — The WE controversy that has been dogging the Liberals is expected to continue to follow Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government after Trudeau’s appearance before a House of Commons committee Thursday.

Opposition MPs on the Commons finance committee are now pushing to hear from more junior staffers in the prime minister’s office, and demanding access to cabinet documents.

They want more detailed answers about why WE Charity began working on and incurring expenses for the now-abandoned student-volunteering program on May 5, when it had not yet been approved by cabinet.

Trudeau’s chief of staff Katie Telford told the committee that another Trudeau aide talked to WE that same day, though she said he referred WE to the public service to talk about anything substantial.

WE’s Craig and Marc Kielburger have said those permanent officials told WE it could incur expenses before being awarded the agreement.

They said they wanted to get the program going quickly, and started work knowing they could lose money if cabinet said no.

In the rare appearance by the prime minister at the committee Thursday, Trudeau said he had initially pushed back when he learned the public service had chosen WE Charity to run the Canada Student Service Grant in early May.

He said he knew his own and his family’s long-standing ties to the WE organization would lead to significant scrutiny and wanted to ensure all due diligence was done.

The prime minister testified that he didn’t learn WE had been chosen by the public service to run the program until May 8, which was just hours before the arrangement was to be taken to cabinet for approval.

That’s when, Trudeau said, he put the brakes on the deal.

“WE knew that the selection of WE Charity would be closely scrutinized. We wanted to make sure that the process and decision were the best possible in the circumstances, so I decided to pull the CSSG proposal from the cabinet agenda for May 8 so that further work could be done,” Trudeau told the committee.

“We pulled the item from the agenda so that we could be doing the right thing, the way.”

The public service later came back on May 21 to reaffirm its recommendation that WE was the only organization that could run the student-volunteer program, Trudeau said.

Telford testified that the civil servants presented it as a “binary choice” — either they moved ahead with WE Charity to deliver the program or they wouldn’t go ahead with it at all.

Trudeau acknowledged his family’s involvement with WE: his mother, brother and wife have participated in and spoken at WE events, and have been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees and expenses, although he testified the amounts were not previously known to him.

He stressed that he did not have any conversations with the Kielburger brothers during this time and that WE Charity did not receive any preferential treatment by him or anyone else in the government.

He also says he didn’t talk to his staff about WE Charity or its proposed involvement in the volunteering program until May 8, although he has since learned policy staff in his office had been working with the Privy Council Office and other departments, and they knew that WE Charity was under consideration to run the effort.

The prime minister and Telford also both noted that Sophie Gregoire Trudeau’s work with WE, including a podcast on mental wellness, has been unpaid except for expenses covered by the organization, all of which had been cleared by the ethics commissioner.

The Conservatives and NDP have called on federal ethics watchdog Mario Dion to widen his probe of Trudeau to include these expenses.

Dion is already investigating Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau for possible violations of the Conflict of Interest Act for not recusing themselves during cabinet discussions about the WE deal.

Meanwhile, the Canada Student Service Grant is now unlikely to be part of the $9-billion student aid program Ottawa is rolling out this summer, Trudeau said, adding that he regrets how the whole affair has unfolded.

Yukon moving to next pandemic phase, allows people to expand household bubbles

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Jul 30th, 2020

WHITEHORSE — Yukon is set to move into its next phase of managing the COVID-19 pandemic, easing restrictions on so-called family bubbles, social gatherings and sports.

The government announced Wednesday that starting Aug. 1, Yukon residents can increase their household bubbles from one additional family to another 15 people in three to five families.

Indoor social gatherings remained limited at 10 with physical distancing required, although events in rented spaces with a maximum of 50 people will be allowed as long as the rules are followed.

Seated outdoor events with 100 people, such as weddings, will also be allowed.

Athletes will be able to return to play and the territory says public health officials will meet with sports organizations to plan a safe return to activities this fall.

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver says his government will continue to take a measured approach to lifting restrictions based on the advice of the chief medical officer of health.

The territory says this will be the longest of the reopening stages, lasting until a vaccine is developed to prevent the novel coronavirus.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 29, 2020.

 

 

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for July 30

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jul 30th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. on July 30, 2020:

There are 115,470 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 59,073 confirmed (including 5,670 deaths, 50,886 resolved)

_ Ontario: 38,986 confirmed (including 2,769 deaths, 34,741 resolved)

_ Alberta: 10,603 confirmed (including 190 deaths, 8,983 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 3,562 confirmed (including 194 deaths, 3,109 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,268 confirmed (including 17 deaths, 929 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,067 confirmed (including 64 deaths, 1,003 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 393 confirmed (including 8 deaths, 325 resolved), 14 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 266 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 259 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 170 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 165 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 36 confirmed (including 36 resolved)

_ Yukon: 14 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 115,470 (14 presumptive, 115,456 confirmed including 8,917 deaths, 100,465 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 30, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Is this the end of the Safe Third Country Agreement?

THE BIG STORY | posted Thursday, Jul 30th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, a landmark ruling last week found that sending refugee claimants back to the United States under the Safe Third Country Agreement violates their human rights—and a federal judge has given the government six months to fix or terminate the policy. What does this mean for the US-Canada border? For the thousands of refugees every year that arrive in the United States then try to make it to Canada?

To understand this agreement you have to go back to the months after 9/11, when immigration and border security were undergoing massive changes. And to understand why the agreement has been invalidated in court, you need to look at what’s changed at the border in the years since then.

GUEST: Sharry Aiken, Professor of Immigration Law, Queen’s University

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for July 29

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jul 29th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. on July 29, 2020:

There are 114,994 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 58,897 confirmed (including 5,670 deaths, 50,886 resolved)

_ Ontario: 38,910 confirmed (including 2,768 deaths, 34,567 resolved)

_ Alberta: 10,470 confirmed (including 187 deaths, 8,886 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 3,523 confirmed (including 194 deaths, 3,076 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,218 confirmed (including 17 deaths, 907 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,067 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 1,004 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 391 confirmed (including 8 deaths, 319 resolved), 14 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 266 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 259 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 170 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 165 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 36 confirmed (including 36 resolved)

_ Yukon: 14 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 114,994 (14 presumptive, 114,980 confirmed including 8,912 deaths, 100,134 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 29, 2020.

The Canadian Press

A window into the failure and racism in Canada’s child welfare programs

THE BIG STORY | posted Wednesday, Jul 29th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, there are at least 102 kids. Most of them are Indigenous. Over seventeen years their money was stolen from their bank accounts, pushing them into poverty, homelessness and worse. And nobody noticed. Nobody cared.

A multimillion dollar settlement from the BC government admits that this happened, and attempts to make up for the failures with at least $25,000 per victim. But no criminal charges have been filed. No inquiry is forthcoming. And the details of how this happened gives us a look into just how unfair the system that’s supposed to help these kids can be.

GUEST: Holly Moore, Investigative Producer, APTN

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Stolen teddy bear with late mother’s voice returned to Vancouver woman

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jul 29th, 2020

VANCOUVER – Mara Soriano says her knees buckled as a two Good Samaritans handed her a bag containing a brown teddy bear in a red-and-white dress and white jacket.

https://twitter.com/drawmaradraw/status/1288360874462162950?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1288360874462162950%7Ctwgr%5E&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Ftoronto.citynews.ca%2F2020%2F07%2F29%2Fstolen-bear-returned-vancouver%2F

For the past four days Soriano has walked up and down Vancouver alleyways, looked under dumpsters, put up posters and responded to every email and tweet that she thought could lead her back to a teddy bear that carried her late mother’s voice.

Last night she sobbed with joy when she was reunited with the bear.

The bear was stolen while she was moving to a new apartment on Friday, and Soriano put out a call for it on social media that soon went viral.

Celebrities including Ryan Reynolds and George Stroumboulopoulos each promised rewards for its return.

Marilyn Soriano was diagnosed with cancer about 10 years ago when Mara was 18 and died last June.

She gave her daughter the bear in December 2017.

It was put together at Build-A-Bear and featured glasses and a jacket like the ones she used to wear.

Soriano says she got an email last night from someone who said they had the bear and wanted to return it to her and met up with two people at a safe location.

She says the bear is in perfect condition.

When she gets married next summer, Soriano says the bear will have a special seat at the front where her mom would have been.

But for the next few days, she’s going to carry the bear around and planned to go to sleep with it last night.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for July 28

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jul 28th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada on July 28 at 4 a.m. —

There are 114,597 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 58,728 confirmed (including 5,667 deaths, 50,886 resolved)

_ Ontario: 38,799 confirmed (including 2,764 deaths, 34,461 resolved)

_ Alberta: 10,390 confirmed (including 186 deaths, 8,774 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 3,500 confirmed (including 193 deaths, 3,043 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,209 confirmed (including 16 deaths, 886 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,067 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 1,004 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 386 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 319 resolved), 14 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 266 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 259 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 170 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 165 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 36 confirmed (including 34 resolved)

_ Yukon: 14 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 114,597 (14 presumptive, 114,583 confirmed including 8,901 deaths, 99,862 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 28, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Parents divided over sending kids back to school: Poll

LEE BERTHIAUME THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jul 28th, 2020

As the clock ticks down to September, a new poll suggests many Canadian parents are on the fence about whether to send their kids to school if and when classrooms are reopened.

The poll by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies comes as provincial governments are working on how to get students back into classrooms, most of which have been shuttered since mid-March due to COVID-19.

Fifty-nine per cent of respondents with children said they would send their kids to school if there is some type of classroom instruction at least a few days a week. But 18 per cent said they would keep children at home while the remaining 23 per cent said they didn’t know.

“This will require a lot of flexibility from employers in the fall”

The Leger online poll of 1,517 Canadians over age 18 — of which 391 were parents with children in their households — took place July 24 to 26. The poll cannot be given a margin of error because it is not a random sample.

“We’re five weeks away from what’s a normal back-to-school time and still a quarter of parents don’t know what they’ll do,” Leger vice-president Christian Bourque said, adding: “A lot of it is still up in the air because provinces have really not made all their decisions.”

Many provinces have yet to decide whether to reopen schools and, if so, whether to do so full-time or with some type of hybrid model involving some in-class instruction possibly bolstered by online courses.

Parents in Quebec were most likely to say they planned to send their children back to school. The province reopened schools outside Montreal in the spring, with voluntary attendance. Parents in Alberta were most likely to keep their kids home while those in B.C. were most likely to be undecided.

Parents were more united on implementing safeguards to prevent students and teachers from contracting COVID-19, including mandatory temperature checks for children (82 per cent support), protective masks for school staff (81 per cent) and screening questionnaires (77 per cent).

Two-thirds were also supportive of students having to wear masks. Support for the measure was strongest in Ontario, which has seen a resurgence in COVID-19 cases in the past week, and weakest in Atlantic Canada, which has seen far fewer cases.

“All of this in terms of trying to protect staff and children seems to be making sense to parents,” Bourque said. “People still feel the importance of safety first, protection first, over the fun of being in school.”

Respondents were also asked how they would respond to a student or teacher in their child’s class testing positive for COVID-19. Forty-five per cent said they would respond by following the school’s advice, while half said they would keep them home for at least two weeks (30 per cent) or indefinitely (20 per cent).

“We’re five weeks away from what’s a normal back-to-school time and still a quarter of parents don’t know what they’ll do.”

And while many parents had plans for juggling some type of school schedule or model that will see students stay at home at least part of the time, 13 per cent said they did not know what they would do and 16 per cent said they would alternate going into work with a spouse.

“This will require a lot of flexibility from employers in the fall because most people expect that we will be confronted with some type of hybrid model of how our children go back to school,” Bourque said.

Forty-one per cent of all respondents said they would be more worried about personally contracting COVID-19 if schools reopen while 48 per cent said it did not change their fears either way. Bourque suggested that was a reflection of already-high concerns about the illness.

Fifty-seven per cent of respondents said they were somewhat or very afraid of getting COVID-19 versus 41 per cent who were not.

Leafs back in action as NHL returns after hiatus due to COVID-19

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jul 28th, 2020

NHL hockey returns Tuesday after a months-long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Montreal Canadiens are in Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs and the Edmonton Oilers meet the Calgary Flames at Rogers Place as part of today’s three-game exhibition schedule that kicks off Phase 4 of the league’s return-to-play plan.

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers square off in Toronto in today’s other game.

Edmonton and Toronto are serving as hub cities for the 24 NHL teams that are returning to action, though the Canadiens and Flames are listed as the home teams tonight.

Each team will play an exhibition game at Scotiabank Arena or Rogers Place between today and Thursday before the playoff qualification round begin on Saturday.

The NHL suspended its season March 12 due to the spreading global pandemic and announced its four-stage return plan May 26.

Amusement parks welcome back fewer guests with new pandemic precautions

TARA DESCHAMPS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jul 27th, 2020

Quebecers who have spent the summer missing the Goliath’s 170-foot drops are in luck.

The sky-high ride was among more than 40 attractions in operation this weekend as Six Flags Entertainment Corp. reopened its La Ronde amusement park in Montreal following a months-long closure to stop the spread of COVID-19.

But the park — and a handful of its counterparts across Canada — are looking a lot different these days as operators unveil a slew of measures meant to keep guests safe.

“There used to be thousands and thousands of people walking around, huge lineups and crowds and all that, but this is not what you will see when you get to La Ronde because this is a new reality,” said spokesperson Karina Thevenin.

La Ronde opened in preview mode on Saturday and Sunday, along with this coming Friday. It will host a few exclusive days for members and seasons pass holders on Aug. 1 and 2 before welcoming the general public.

La Ronde has rolled out a new online reservation systems that helps it restrict capacity and stagger entry times, so guests can easily physically distance.

When they arrive, guests are asked to don a mask and to step through a thermal imaging system that will measure body temperature and help the park weed out guests who may have COVID-19 symptoms.

While queuing for rides, guests will see footprints and markers on the ground, helping them to keep six feet or more apart, and rides will also have seats blocked off to aid with physical distancing.

While the Fuji-Q Highland amusement park near Tokyo has asked guests to “scream inside your heart” and not out loud to stop the spread of COVID-19, Thevenin said guests are free to make noise as long as they are wearing a mask.

“I tried a roller coaster with a mask on and it works just fine,” Thevenin said. “I was screaming to my heart’s content.”

Meanwhile, Calaway Park in Calgary has kept six high-velocity rides, including Vortex, Ocean Motion, Free Fallin’ and Wave Rider, closed to stop the spread of droplets.

Out of 32 rides, 26 have reopened and six — Dodgem, Storm, Air Gliders, Bumble Blast, Sky Wynder and Dream Machine — require guests to wear a mask, said Bob Williams, the park’s general manager.

Calaway also upped its sanitizations, so rides are cleaned after every cycle, and staff wear face masks and sometimes, also shields.

Calaway settled on what COVID-19 precautions to take at the park by conferring with public health officials and consulting with other theme parks, though few have reopened in Canada.

Canada’s Wonderland, just outside Toronto in Vaughan, and Galaxyland at the West Edmonton Mall both remain closed.

Over in Cavendish, P.E.I, the Sandspit Amusement Park has been open since June 26 with increased precautions and an approach “like a barbeque where you start low and go slow,” said Matthew Jelley, the president of Sandspit operator, Maritime Fun Group.

The park is operating at about 15 per cent capacity, but it took at least 10 days for it to attract even that many guests, he said.

Instead of charging guests who wanted to go on rides and letting the rest in free, Jelley said everyone must now pay admission.

It was a hard choice to make, but one that was necessary because the park has 365 days of expenses even though it isn’t welcoming guests year-round, he added.

It’s a reality Shelley Frost, chief executive of Playland-operator Pacific North Exhibition, knows well.

The Vancouver park, she said, wasn’t able to accommodate end-of-school or graduation parties and had to open on July 17, far later than it usually would.

“We do about $60 million a year between the fair and our year-round events like concerts and festivals and we already have a confirmed loss of about $52 million of that, so we’ve been doing a lot of layoffs and austerity measures,” said Frost.

The park has yet to hit its reduced capacity rates, but guests are slowly returning to ride the Tea Cups, Sea to Sky Swinger and Bug Whirled.

The park will soon open bigger rides like a wooden roller coaster that Frost hopes will attract teens, but she is keeping her expectations muted.

“We were very excited to be able to be a little ray of hope for things getting close to being you being back to normal, but we are very cognizant of the fact that people are very different in terms of how comfortable they are.”

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Monday, July 27

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jul 27th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. on July 27, 2020:

There are 113,913 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 58,583 confirmed (including 5,667 deaths, 50,812 resolved)

_ Ontario: 38,680 confirmed (including 2,763 deaths, 34,359 resolved)

_ Alberta: 10,086 confirmed (including 178 deaths, 8,567 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 3,419 confirmed (including 191 deaths, 2,934 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,178 confirmed (including 16 deaths, 873 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,067 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 1,004 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 381 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 319 resolved), 13 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 266 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 259 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 170 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 165 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 36 confirmed (including 34 resolved)

_ Yukon: 14 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 2 presumptive

_ Total: 113,913 (15 presumptive, 113,898 confirmed including 8,890 deaths, 99,357 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 27, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Halifax rally hopes to increase pressure for public inquiry into April massacre

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jul 27th, 2020

HALIFAX — People are gathering at a Halifax park today to demand a public inquiry into the Nova Scotia mass shootings.

The gathering at Victoria Park comes less than a week after the province unveiled a plan for a panel review into the massacre.

Organizers say a 22-minute general strike will begin at noon local time to honour the 22 victims who were killed last April.

Several local women’s rights advocates, as well as Dartmouth South MLA Claudia Chender, of Nova Scotia’s New Democrats, are expected to speak at the rally.

Many of the victims’ families have called for a public inquiry into what happened during the shootings on April 18 and 19 and what led to the rampage.

Activists, lawyers, Nova Scotia opposition parties and federal senators from across Canada have also joined that call over the past several months.

But the federal and Nova Scotia governments said last week that a three-person panel would be set up to review the massacre.

That review body will be led by Michael MacDonald, a former chief justice of Nova Scotia, and includes former federal Liberal cabinet minister Anne McLellan, and Leanne Fitch, the former chief of police in Fredericton.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said that he believes the panel will be able to get the answers that the victims’ families are demanding.

He also told reporters that the panellists will be able to ask his government for assistance should they need it.

But critics have criticized a perceived lack of transparency and say the panel does not have enough power to lead an in-depth investigation.

The organizers of Monday’s rally expressed hope that they will be able to pressure Ottawa and Halifax to reverse course and ultimately order a public inquiry.

“We need systemic and structural change to come from this,” Martha Paynter, one of the event organizers, said in an interview on Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 27, 2020.

 

The Canadian Press

Disabled Canadians struggle to be paired with service animals amid pandemic

OSOBE WABERI, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jul 24th, 2020

If the past three months without a service dog have been a challenge for Ann Moxley, the next year seems poised to be a struggle.

The Victoria resident, who lives with physical disabilities, used to rely on her faithful companion Gretzky for a variety of household tasks. She fondly recalls times when Gretzky would pick up a wallet that slipped from her pocket or retrieve a toque and mittens blown into the road by a gust of wind.

But Moxley has been without his support since his death from a rare liver condition in April. And since the COVID-19 pandemic has caused Canada’s service dog training schools to halt or suspend their programs, she isn’t scheduled to meet his successor until at least July 2021.

“It’s hard, it’s all I can do to exist,” Moxley said in an interview. “It’s incredibly lonely.”

Moxley plans to get her new companion from Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides, a school based in Oakville, Ont., that trains service animals to support people with a range of physical and sensory disabilities.

Chief Executive Officer Beverly Crandell said COVID-19 has forced the school to cancel in-person training classes, adding more names to an already-lengthy waiting list of people eager for service dog support.

She said while dogs have been successfully placed in foster homes while classes are on-hold, addressing the needs of their future human partners has proven much more complex.

“Clients are a different story,” Crandell said. “… They have been put on hold.”

Figures provided by the school estimate approximately 80 disabled Canadians have had their training deferred due to the pandemic. Officials said the school is offering virtual support to its existing clients and looks forward to the day when it can “create more life-changing matches for people with disabilities.”

Pandemic-related setbacks also abound at Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind, an Ottawa-area training facility that cancelled all in-person classes at the end of March when public health-related lockdowns took effect across the country.

Manager of Development Alex Ivic said the school has had to explore alternatives to replace the residential model at the heart of its usual training program. Local clients, for instance, began receiving home-based training in May.

Ivic said the campus reopened to students last month, though only one person at a time is allowed to occupy the residence.

“The pandemic gave us new challenges,” Ivic said. “We had to push everything back and the wait times for those waiting for a dog are variable.”

Moxley anticipates additional struggles when she’s finally cleared to train with a new dog, saying COVID-19-related restrictions make the prospect of travelling from Victoria to Oakville daunting and possibly risky.

Canada’s service animal training schools don’t generally receive government support, relying instead on charitable donations to stay afloat. Both the Lions school and Canadian Guide Dogs for the blind said the financial squeeze caused by the pandemic adds another dimension to their struggles to keep going during a time of upheaval.

But Ivic, for one, remains optimistic, saying schools are committed to matching successful service dog teams while preserving the health of all concerned.

“I hope things will go back to normal one day to train multiple clients at once,” he said. “I know there will be changes in our protocols to keep people safe,” Ivic said.

Court appearance for Calgary man facing terrorism charges

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jul 24th, 2020

CALGARY — A Calgary man facing terrorism charges is to make a court appearance today.

Hussein Sobhe Borhot, who is 34, is charged with participation in activity of a terrorism group and commission of an offence for a terrorist group.

Investigators from the RCMP’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team allege the accused travelled to Syria between May 2013 and June 2014 to join Islamic State militants.

They allege the group trained him for the purpose of enhancing its ability and that Borhot knowingly committed the offence of kidnapping while working with the militants.

Borhot has been ordered held in custody.

RCMP say the investigation continues and further charges and arrests are possible.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 24, 2020

 

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Friday, July 24

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jul 24th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 3 a.m. ET on July 24, 2020:

There are 112,672 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 58,080 confirmed (including 5,662 deaths, 50,505 resolved)

_ Ontario: 38,210 confirmed (including 2,755 deaths, 33,963 resolved)

_ Alberta: 9,975 confirmed (including 176 deaths, 8,506 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 3,392 confirmed (including 190 deaths, 2,898 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,072 confirmed (including 16 deaths, 838 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,067 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 1,003 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 362 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 319 resolved), 13 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 264 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 259 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 170 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 163 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 36 confirmed (including 31 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 2 presumptive

_ Total: 112,672 (15 presumptive, 112,657 confirmed including 8,874 deaths, 98,514 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 24, 2020.

The Canadian Press

What investigators revealed about deaths of girls, father in Quebec

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Jul 23rd, 2020

MONTREAL — A look at what provincial police revealed Wednesday about the deaths of Norah and Romy Carpentier and their father:

– At 9:30 p.m. on July 8, Martin Carpentier, 44, is driving with his daughters Norah, 11, and Romy, 6, when they are in a serious car crash in St-Apollinaire, Que.

– Police accident analysts concluded Carpentier tried to regain control of the car and the crash was not deliberate.

– The father and daughters are last seen crossing the highway into a wooded area. Carpentier is barefoot and is carrying one of the girls.

– They walk south into the woods, covering 1.7 kilometres before reaching an empty trailer. DNA evidence puts Carpentier inside the trailer, and police believe the girls were still with him. He steals items, including a shovel and a lighter.

– About 750 metres further south, the bodies of Norah and Romy are found on July 11. Autopsy results show the girls had been injured in the crash but died from being struck with a blunt object by Carpentier.

– The search for Carpentier continues for another nine days before his body is found July 20, about 5.5 kilometres from where the crash occurred. Police had searched the area on July 10 and July 17 without finding him. His body was found near a ladder in a dense forested area.

– The investigation has concluded that all three family members were dead within 12 hours of the crash.

– Investigators received roughly 1,000 tips and visited 700 buildings.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 22, 2020.

 

The Canadian Press

Search continues for man accused stabbing officer and police dog in Nova Scotia

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jul 23rd, 2020

BRIDGEWATER, N.S. — The search continues today in Nova Scotia’s South Shore for a fugitive accused of stabbing a police sergeant, assaulting a woman and injuring a police dog.

Tobias Charles Doucette, who is in his 30s, was charged with attempted murder after he allegedly struck an officer in the neck with an edged weapon when police responded to a domestic violence call Monday night at the Bridgewater Hotel.

The suspect allegedly fled on foot.

An RCMP dog and handler located Doucette briefly Tuesday, but the suspect escaped, fleeing into the woods on foot off Highway 331 in Conquerall Bank, N.S.

Police say the dog was stabbed with a stick during the encounter.

They wouldn’t say whether Doucette was known to police, but cautioned that members of the public should avoid contact if they encounter him.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2020

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Thursday, July 23

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jul 23rd, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on July 23, 2020:

There are 112,240 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 57,938 confirmed (including 5,662 deaths, 50,373 resolved)

_ Ontario: 38,107 confirmed (including 2,755 deaths, 33,812 resolved)

_ Alberta: 9,861 confirmed (including 174 deaths, 8,436 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 3,362 confirmed (including 189 deaths, 2,888 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,067 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 1,003 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,030 confirmed (including 15 deaths, 825 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 361 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 318 resolved), 13 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 264 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 259 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 170 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 163 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 36 confirmed (including 31 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 2 presumptive

_ Total: 112,240 (15 presumptive, 112,225 confirmed including 8,870 deaths, 98,137 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Finance Minister Bill Morneau set to testify on deal with WE Charity

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jul 22nd, 2020

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will appear Wednesday before a House of Commons committee that is probing a cancelled agreement for WE Charity to run a student-volunteer program.

Morneau has apologized for not recusing himself from the cabinet discussions and vote on the agreement, given his daughters have ties to WE — including one who works in an administrative arm of the organization.

He will be the latest cabinet minister to be grilled over the aborted deal that would have seen WE receive more than $43.5 million to oversee a program with a budget of up to $912 million.

Morneau, like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is being investigated by the federal ethics watchdog for possible violations of conflict of interest rules.

On Tuesday, Canada’s top bureaucrat said he couldn’t see not having the finance minister and prime minister involved in discussions about a program as big in scope and price as the Canada Student Service Grant program.

The program proposed paying students up to $5,000 toward education costs based on the number of hours they volunteer.

The Liberals have said the non-partisan public service recommended going with WE as it was the only organization in the country to administer a program as quickly and as broadly as what the government wanted.

In early July, the organization handed back control of the program to the government amid the controversy about its connections to Trudeau. The organization has paid speaking fees to his mother and brother.

The finance committee also heard Tuesday from the head of the Public Service Alliance of Canada that public servants could have delivered the program, while lawyer Joshua Mandryk raised concerns about effectively paying students below minimum wage and calling it volunteering.

The Canadian Federation of Students is calling on the government to abandon the program and push all the money into an emergency benefit for out-of-work students.

The group warns students may be unable to accumulate enough hours to receive grants because it’s almost August and there is no clarity on when the program will launch.

“Students have waited for this program to roll out since April and now they’re told they have to wait even longer,” national chair Sofia Descalzi said in a statement.

“This is unacceptable.”

Police to provide update on case of father, sisters found dead near Quebec City

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jul 22nd, 2020

MONTREAL — Quebec provincial police will hold a news conference later today to shed light on the circumstances surrounding the deaths of two young sisters and their father in St-Apollinaire, southwest of Quebec City.

Provincial police announced on Twitter on Monday night they found what they believed is the body of Martin Carpentier in the same search area they had looked during an intense 10-day manhunt.

Police said it appeared Carpentier took his own life, but did not provide further details or say how he had gone undetected for 12 days.

The discovery came nearly two weeks after Carpentier’s car was involved in a crash on the evening of July 8 in the small town, but neither he nor daughters Norah and Romy Carpentier were inside the vehicle when responders reached the scene.

An Amber Alert was triggered the next day, but lifted on July 11 when the bodies of Norah, 11, and Romy, 6, were found in the woods nearby. Police have not yet released their cause of death.

On Monday afternoon, hundreds gathered outside the funeral of the two girls, which took place in their hometown of Levis, Que.

The availability this afternoon will take place at Quebec provincial police headquarters in Montreal.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 22, 2020.

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Wednesday, July 22

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jul 22nd, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on July 22, 2020:

There are 111,697 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 57,796 confirmed (including 5,658 deaths, 50,298 resolved)

_ Ontario: 37,942 confirmed (including 2,753 deaths, 33,605 resolved)

_ Alberta: 9,728 confirmed (including 167 deaths, 8,363 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 3,328 confirmed (including 189 deaths, 2,873 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,067 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 1,003 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 970 confirmed (including 15 deaths, 813 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 353 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 318 resolved), 13 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 263 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 259 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 170 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 163 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 36 confirmed (including 31 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 2 presumptive

_ Total: 111,697 (15 presumptive, 111,682 confirmed including 8,857 deaths, 97,755 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 22, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Alex Trebek says if current cancer treatment doesn’t work, it might be his last

VICTORIA AHEARN, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jul 21st, 2020

Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek says if his current treatment for Stage 4 pancreatic cancer doesn’t work, he’ll probably stop pursuing medical intervention.

In his touching new memoir, The Answer Is … Reflections on My Life, the Sudbury, Ont.-raised TV personality writes that “quality of life was an important consideration” in the decision.

The seven-time Emmy Award winner says he and his wife, Jean Currivan, and their two children had “a good cry” when he told them.

Trebek adds he’s “lived a good, full life,” knows he’s nearing the end of it, and is “not afraid of dying.”

The 79-year-old, who lives in Los Angeles and turns 80 on Wednesday, announced his cancer diagnosis in March 2019 and has continued to work on Jeopardy! throughout his treatment.

His new memoir looks back on his life and career, and gives up-to-date reflections on his health, the world, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ever-poised quiz-show legend has kept viewers updated on his cancer treatment with social-media videos in which he’s often on the Jeopardy! set wearing a suit and speaking in a positive tone.

But in the book he admits there are moments when he regrets going public with his diagnosis, noting he feels “a lot of pressure to always be tough.”

Trebek, who is usually private about his personal life, writes about his vulnerable moments and the toll cancer has taken on his body.

He says there are days when he’s been “a basket case” before taping.

But as soon as he gets onstage, “it all changes suddenly. I’m myself again. I feel good,” he writes.

“No matter how I feel before the show, when I get out there it’s all forgotten because there’s a show to be done. Work to do.”

Trebek writes about getting his affairs in order and talking to his doctor about hospice care.

As for retirement, he says he knows there will come a time when he won’t be able to host as well as the job demands.

“Whenever it gets to that point, I’ll walk away,” he writes.

The Answer Is … Reflections on My Life (Simon & Schuster) also has photos of Trebek as it runs down his upbringing with his younger sister Barbara and parents George Edward Terebeychuk and Lucille Lagace.

His father was a Ukrainian immigrant and chef at a hotel, and his French-Canadian mother tended the house and spent about a year and a half in a sanatorium being treated for tuberculosis. They eventually separated.

During and after his philosophy studies at the University of Ottawa, Trebek started announcing and hosting for CBC radio and TV, on programs including “Music Hop” and the quiz show “Reach for the Top.”

He eventually moved to Los Angeles, landing many hosting gigs on game shows including The Wizard of OddsHigh Rollers and Battlestars.

Trebek made his debut as Jeopardy! host in 1984 and has become a mainstay for weekday family viewing and a beloved figure in pop-culture, inspiring several impersonations of him that he addresses in the book.

Jeopardy! fans will delight in Trebek’s reflections on his favourite moments and contestants on the show, and his thoughts on whether certain strategies help in winning.

Trebek also peppers the chapters with salty language, offering fun tidbits on his famous moustache and “expensive hairpiece.”

Each chapter title begins with What Is … in a nod to the Jeopardy! format, in which clues are presented in the form of answers and contestants have to say their guess in the form of a question.

The final chapter breaks from the format with: The Answer Is … Life.

Trebek writes he’d like to be “remembered first of all as a good and loving husband and father,” and for helping people perform at their best.

“Because that was my job. That is what a host is supposed to do.”

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Tuesday, July 21

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jul 21st, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. on July 21, 2020:

There are 111,124 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 57,616 confirmed (including 5,657 deaths, 50,190 resolved)

_ Ontario: 37,739 confirmed (including 2,752 deaths, 33,513 resolved)

_ Alberta: 9,587 confirmed (including 167 deaths, 8,308 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 3,300 confirmed (including 189 deaths, 2,858 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,067 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 1,003 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 962 confirmed (including 15 deaths, 802 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 343 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 318 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 262 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 259 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 170 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 163 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 36 confirmed (including 31 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 2 presumptive

_ Total: 111,124 (13 presumptive, 111,111 confirmed including 8,855 deaths, 97,474 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 21, 2020.

The Canadian Press

B.C.’s top doctor says ‘pay attention now’ to higher COVID-19 cases

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jul 21st, 2020

British Columbia’s provincial health officer says a higher number of COVID-19 cases over the last three days means the province could experience a rapid rebound of infections after successfully “bending the curve.”

Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday that B.C. recorded 102 cases of the virus since Friday because people have increased their contacts to 20 or 30 people in some cases, from a low of three to four, so it’s time to “pay attention now.”

Henry said she’s concerned the province is at a “tipping point” and it’s more challenging for public health workers to do contact tracing when an infected person has socialized with a high number of people.

Gatherings should be limited to six people, mostly outdoors, and people should know who they’re connecting with as well as have a “contact keeper” in case someone in a group becomes ill, she said.

“There are hundreds of people exposed over the last few weeks,” she said of events mostly involving young people at private parties in Kelowna, where more than 60 cases have now been connected.

“We know the more people get ill the more chances, even young people, will have severe illness (and) will end up in hospital and unfortunately some people will die,” Henry said, adding it could include members of the community who work in hospitals and long-term care facilities to whom the virus is transmitted.

B.C. has recorded a total of 3,300 cases of COVID-19 and 189 deaths.

A survey of over 394,000 British Columbians indicates younger people between the ages of 18 to 29 are experiencing more mental health and financial concerns, Henry said.

Many are not working due to the pandemic in jobs including arts and entertainment, accommodation, food services and retail.

Overall, 62 per cent of respondents indicated they’re concerned about the health of a vulnerable family member.

The survey also suggests only 67 per cent of people stay home from work when they’re sick, and Henry said there’s a need to address the reasons behind that.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the 102 cases over three days, representing an average of 34 cases a day, may not be a lot compared with other jurisdictions in Canada but they’re enough to cause discomfort in a province that could reverse its positive trend on the pandemic.

“It is, I think, a sobering reminder of how fleeting success can be when we turn our backs on COVID-19,” he said, adding British Columbians need to recommit to measures such as physical distancing.

“There’s a place for common sense but right now there’s a need for COVID sense and to use it.”

By Camille Bains in Vancouver

Tour company already investigating glacier bus crash that killed three

BILL GRAVELAND, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jul 20th, 2020

COLUMBIA ICEFIELD, Alta. — The president of the company that runs the bus tours at the Columbia Icefield between Banff and Jasper said changes will be made, if necessary, after a rollover on the glacier killed three people and sent two dozen to hospital.

The cause of the accident hasn’t been determined. The off-road bus rolled off the road to the glacier Saturday afternoon and came to rest on a rocky slope, its six huge tires pointed up at the sky.

The RCMP, Occupational Health and Safety and the Transportation Safety Board spent Sunday milling about the vehicle, which slid about 50 metres down a steep embankment coming to rest near the glacier.

It’s unclear how soon it will be removed from its current location but an internal investigation is underway as well.

“We started right away to review what happened, what is our process with our protocol at every step and so we’re doing that internally but we are also working with the external teams to ensure that gets a fulsome review,” said Dave McKenna, the president of the Banff Jasper Collection by Pursuit, which operates the tours and its fleet of 22 vehicles.

The RCMP said the cause of the accident still isn’t known and the snow coach, called an Ice Explorer, will receive a full mechanical inspection.

The red and white big-wheeled buses regularly take tourists up a rough rocky road onto the Athabasca Glacier in Jasper National Park.

In all, 27 people were aboard when it crashed.

Alberta Heath Services said, of the 24 survivors, 14 had life-threatening head or pelvis injuries. Five others were in serious condition with broken bones and the remaining five suffered minor injuries.

McKenna said the Ice Explorers are offroad vehicles and seatbelts are not required. They aren’t allowed on highways and have a top speed of 40 kilometres an hour.

He said once the investigation is complete, Pursuit will implement any changes that might be part of recommendations for things like seatbelts.

“We will wait until the investigation is over and we will listen to all the recommendations and anything we’re required to do.”

Tours have been offered on the glacier since 1969 and the current type of Ice Explorers have been used since the early 1980s but are constantly upgraded.

“We average about 480,000 visitors a year and we’ve been operating these vehicles since the early 80s. We’ve had over 16 million passengers safely taken out on to the ice over all these years. No major incidents,” McKenna said.

“Over 39 years of course there’s a few bumps but nothing serious with fatalities or critical injuries.”

Angela Bye was on one of the coaches just before Saturday’s accident. She said she never worried about her safety.

“We were in the exact same vehicle, hours before. It’s like being in a school bus with really tall seats. The seats are way more padded than a school bus. They explained how it ran. How the wheels work,” she said.

“I felt very safe.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 20, 2020.

Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

 

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Monday, July 20

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jul 20th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. on July 20, 2020:

There are 110,338 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 57,466 confirmed (including 5,655 deaths, 50,050 resolved)

_ Ontario: 37,604 confirmed (including 2,751 deaths, 33,407 resolved)

_ Alberta: 9,219 confirmed (including 167 deaths, 8,193 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 3,198 confirmed (including 189 deaths, 2,802 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,067 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 1,002 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 943 confirmed (including 15 deaths, 799 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 332 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 318 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 262 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 259 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 169 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 163 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 36 confirmed (including 29 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 2 presumptive

_ Total: 110,338 (13 presumptive, 110,325 confirmed including 8,852 deaths, 97,051 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 20, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Walmart Canada investing $3.5B over 5 years, notably on technology

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jul 20th, 2020

Walmart Canada plans to invest $3.5 billion over the next five years to improve service in stores and on the web, renovate 150 stores and build two new distribution centres.

The retail giant says the investment will create hundreds of construction jobs in Canada and forge partnerships with Canadian high-tech companies.

Future technology initiatives include the use of payment on mobile devices so that customers can pay for purchases anywhere in the store.

The company also aims to soon offer a complete merchandise pick-up service at about 270 branches, or 70 per cent of its locations in Canada.

Renovations to more than one-third of its stores will be completed over three years.

Walmart is also planning to spend $1.1 billion to speed up the flow of products by building two new distribution centres, in Vaughan, Ont. and Surrey, B.C., as well as renovating an existing centre in Cornwall, Ont.

“Today’s significant investment will position us for future growth and make Walmart Canada even better for our associates and our customers,” says Horacio Barbeito, president and CEO.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Friday, July 17

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jul 17th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. on July 17, 2020:

There are 109,155 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 57,001 confirmed (including 5,646 deaths, 26,097 resolved)

_ Ontario: 37,052 confirmed (including 2,732 deaths, 32,920 resolved)

_ Alberta: 9,114 confirmed (including 165 deaths, 8,142 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 3,170 confirmed (including 189 deaths, 2,789 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,067 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 1,002 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 923 confirmed (including 15 deaths, 794 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 320 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 318 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 262 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 168 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 163 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 36 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 2 presumptive

_ Total: 109,155 (13 presumptive, 109,142 confirmed including 8,822 deaths, 72,539 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 17, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Missing Quebec father may be desperate and looking for materials, police say

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jul 17th, 2020

ST-APOLLINAIRE, Que. — Quebec provincial police continue to search for the father of two young girls found dead last weekend in a rural area southwest of Quebec City.

Police say 44-year-old Martin Carpentier may be desperate and looking for materials to ensure his survival.

They say they have found evidence Carpentier was in a trailer in the area where police have focused their search since the bodies of Norah and Romy Carpentier, aged 11 and six, were discovered last Saturday.

They’re asking residents of Lotbiniere, Que., and surrounding areas west of Quebec City to check their cottages, trailers or buildings for signs of a break-in, such as missing or moved clothing, food or equipment.

Police are also suggesting citizens search in pairs or with a police escort and to call 911 if they see any signs of the missing man.

Investigators have said the girls and their father were believed to have been in a serious car crash on Highway 20 in St-Apollinaire, Que., last Wednesday, but there was nobody inside the vehicle when they arrived on scene.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 17, 2020

The Canadian Press

Coronavirus convalescent plasma trials underway at Mt. Sinai Hospital

DILSHAD BURMAN | posted Friday, Jul 17th, 2020

Since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers have been looking at convalescent plasma as a way to battle the virus.

Clinical plasma trails are now underway through the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute (LTRI), located at Mount Sinai hospital in Toronto.

What is convalescent plasma?

Blood is essentially made up of three components – red blood cells, white blood cells and plasma.

When a person gets infected with a virus, their immune system launches a response and antibodies are created to fight off the virus. Convalescent plasma refers to plasma obtained from the blood of such a person, which contains those antibodies after they’ve recovered.

How is the clinical trial conducted?

The LTRI clinical trial is called “Conquer” and began just over a month ago – approximately five months after COVID-19 first made it’s appearance. Usually, clinical trials take several years to develop.

The trial is conducted on patients who have been admitted to hospital with a severe case of COVID-19 and require oxygen.

Patients are approached by a research coordinator to determine if they are eligible for the trial. They then explain the trial, its benefits, and risks.

“The majority of people that come into hospital really want to be part of the clinical trial,” said Dr. Michael Fralick, a clinician scientist working on the Conquer trial.

Once enrolled, patients are then randomized to receive either convalescent plasma or standard of care – which refers to the regular course of hospital treatment for COVID-19, without convalescent plasma.

“If an individual is diagnosed with COVID-19, their immune system will mount a response and their immune system will generate these antibodies. The goal with giving them plasma is to give them that … extra boost of antibodies to help them fight the infection,” Fralick explained.

So far, about 40 patients have been enrolled in the clinical trial across different hospitals in Toronto and the province.

Is it working?

Fralick said preliminary data is encouraging and suggested there might be a benefit to administering convalescent plasma to COVID-19 patients — citing a study in China that had to be cut short because they simply ran out of patients to enroll.

Convalescent plasma is known to be safe, but the current trials are aiming to find out whether it’s actually effective in the fight against COVID-19.

As the study is still in the early stages, it’s still wait and watch.

“In order for us to know – is this curative or not – we need results from the clinical trial,” Fralick said. “Is it life saving? The only way we’ll know that is by completing the clinical trial Mt. Sinai is involved with as well as other clinical trials of this treatment.”

Fralick said they have to resist the temptation to look at the data too early — more patients need to be recruited into the study to get a definitive answer.

“There’s risks with everything in medicine. So we want to make sure that this has clear benefits before we roll it out to anyone who gets COVID-19 and is hospitalized.”

How can you donate plasma?

In order to donate plasma to be used in the clinical trials, there are some basic criteria that need to be met:

  • You must be under the age of 67
  • You must be completely recovered from COVID-19
  • A month has passed since your recovery

Convalescent plasma is collected by Canadian Blood Services.

For more information on eligibility criteria and how to donate click here: Convalescent plasma donation

If I donate plasma, can they tell me if I had COVID-19?

Convalescent plasma donations are accepted from people who have recovered from COVID-19.

Testing for antibodies is able to detect residual traces of COVID-19, but currently, this type of testing is not aimed at determining whether or not a person had the virus. Tests to detect only whether a person had the virus in the past are currently not available.

Dr. Anne-Claude Gingras, Senior Investigator of serology testing at LTRI, said there’s not much the average person can do with that information.

“You don’t know what that means in terms of – will it protect you from further infection?” she said.

She said the serology testing currently underway at LTRI is working to determine among other things:

  • A better way to measure whether a person had the virus in order to track population health
  • What type and how much of the antibodies were generated, when and how fast they were generated and how long they stay in the system and whether all those values relate to good vs. bad outcomes
  • Whether those antibodies will prove to be protective if the person were to get infected again and how long would they last
  • How this knowledge will further inform how to respond if one is infected again

Antibody testing is also being conducted to determine how prevalent the virus is in the Canadian population. Dr. Gingras said the LTRI study is associated with a government pilot program that is testing about 100,000 samples acquired through blood donations.

While each individual will not be called back with results, the findings of the study “should indicate whether they think that the prevalence rate is higher or lower than people have been guessing,” Dr. Gingras explained.

The results of that study are expected within a few weeks.

WE Charity restructuring operations after being centre of sole-sourced contract

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jul 16th, 2020

WE Charity is restructuring its operations weeks after its sole-sourced contract with the government shone a spotlight on the organization at the centre of an ethics investigation of the prime minister.

The charity says it will return to its roots by prioritizing international development work focused on children and their families.

But after 25 years of rapid growth, WE Charity says its structure is too complicated and needs to be more transparent.

A formal review will be conducted by experts Korn Ferry to streamline its operations and clearly separate the social enterprise from the charitable entities. The firm will also review the board of directors for diversity, inclusion and independence.

A chief risk and compliance officer independent from management will be hired to oversee all risk management, regulatory and governance compliance.

Avis Glaze, an international leader in the field of education, and McCarthy Tetrault LLP will conduct a workplace review.

David Onley, the former lieutenant governor of Ontario, will join become an executive adviser to provide advice on the transformation and implement Korn Ferry’s recommendations.

“By making these changes within our organization, WE can move forward to the next 25 years of impact focused on what matters most: the communities and youth we serve,” it said in a news release.

Federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion is investigating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for a potential conflict of interest after he failed to recuse himself from a decision to award a $900-million student-aid program to WE even though his mother, brother and wife received a combined $283,400 for a number of appearances at the organization’s events.

‘They haven’t even apologized,’ says mother of man killed by police after calling 911

LIAM CASEY, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jul 16th, 2020

TORONTO — The silence inside the Campbells’ home west of Toronto has grown like a cancer in the weeks since April 6.

That’s when D’Andre Campbell, one of six siblings who live in the Brampton, Ont., home with their parents, called 911 on himself and was later shot dead by police.

Before that night, laughter filled the house, along with the sounds of D’Andre Campbell’s footsteps. He was the only one who wore shoes inside the house, his mother recalls, and the sound telegraphed his movements at all hours of the day.

“I miss those footsteps,” says Yvonne Campbell, as tears fall into her face mask.

D’Andre Campbell’s family still does not know why he called 911 that night. The province’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit, says officers from Peel Regional Police were dispatched to a “domestic situation,” but the family says the 26-year-old was no threat to anyone that day.

Two officers fired stun guns at Campbell before another officer fired his gun multiple times, according to the SIU, which has taken over the investigation. The SIU says a knife was recovered at the scene.

The Campbells, who are Black,  say several of them witnessed D’Andre’s death in the kitchen of their home, where he used to eat some of his favourite foods: spaghetti, lasagna and ice cream.

“My brother bled out there instantly and he didn’t do anything wrong,” says Campbell’s sister, Michelle.

Three months later, the family says they have yet to hear from both the SIU and Peel police.

“I need justice for my son, I need answers,” Yvonne Campbell says in a recent interview at the office of the family’s lawyers — Jeremy Solomon and Mary DeRose — who are contemplating litigation.

The family did not want to discuss details of D’Andre Campbell’s death due to the possibility of a civil action. But they want the public to know about his life.

Nearly 10 years ago, when D’Andre Campbell was 17, doctors diagnosed him with schizophrenia. The family noticed he became quiet and withdrawn.

“He got very paranoid, so I knew something was off,” Yvonne Campbell says.

Doctors prescribed him medication, she says, and he lived the vast majority of his life symptom-free — smiling, laughing and listening to music.

He worked for four years at a company’s shipping and receiving department and was doing well for a time, Yvonne Campbell says, but at some point he “got a little edgy” and was given some time off.

He returned briefly to work, then stopped.

“I didn’t really pressure him to work because I know his situation,” his mother says. “I’d rather he be home.”

The young man became a homebody, only leaving to go to the store, buy lottery tickets or to celebrate his birthday in mid-December at his favourite restaurant, Mandarin.

He felt safe in his home, the family says, and often did not go on vacation with them.

The family says they called 911 on several occasions in the past when D’Andre Campbell hit a “peak,” which usually indicated his medication was no longer working.

“He’d be back and forth, wouldn’t sit down and always thought there was something there,” Michelle Campbell says.

Calling 911 was “the only way we can get him to see a doctor, he willingly won’t want to go, so we have to call police and then he’ll go,” Michelle Campbell says. He’d spend a few days in hospital and then be fine.

The family say they want answers, but the SIU investigation into the young man’s death could take up to a year to conclude.

“The system is screwed up,” Michelle Campbell says. “Three months later and we still don’t know anything. It’s not fair and I don’t have any faith in the investigation.”

The family wants to know the contents of the 911 call along with the name of the officer who killed D’Andre Campbell. They also want that officer to talk to the SIU and provide his notes, which the watchdog agency says he has not done.

The SIU says they’ve interviewed four officers who witnessed the killing, but legally cannot compel the officer who shot D’Andre Campbell to be interviewed or give over his notes due to a regulation in the provincial Police Services Act.

Spokeswoman Monica Hudon says the agency only recently received results from the Centre of Forensic Science for items of evidence and received the post-mortem results last week.

“While the SIU recognizes it is important to resolve cases in a timely manner, the thoroughness of the investigation must take precedence over the length of time it takes to finish an investigation,” Hudon says.

The Campbells also want to see changes to the way police respond to calls involving people who struggle with mental illness.

“They definitely shouldn’t be going with guns,” says Michelle Campbell, adding officers should be wearing body cameras.

Yvonne Campbell wants police to say they’re sorry for her son’s death.

“The police have torn my family apart,” she says. “They haven’t even apologized, or offered condolences.”

Peel police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The youngest Campbell sibling, 10-year-old Claudius Jr., is struggling to cope with the sudden death of his brother, who would often offer him late-night snacks. Now the boy often cries alone in his room.

“Sometimes he doesn’t want to sleep by himself so he comes into my room and I put on the TV till he falls asleep,” says Michelle Campbell, the eldest of the siblings at 29, as she wipes tears from her face.

Dajour Campbell, wearing a shirt with his late brother’s image on it, says time has lost its meaning.

“It’s been the same day on repeat. I don’t feel like getting out of my bed,” the 22-year-old says. “It doesn’t feel like the same house.”

Yvonne Campbell says she tries to fill the silence with music to keep thoughts of what happened to her son at bay.

“It’s very hard,” she says. “Every day we get up looking for answers and there are no answers.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 16, 2020.

Liam Casey, The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Thursday, July 16

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jul 16th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on July 16, 2020:

There are 108,829 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 56,859 confirmed (including 5,636 deaths, 26,097 resolved)

_ Ontario: 37,052 confirmed (including 2,732 deaths, 32,920 resolved)

_ Alberta: 8,994 confirmed (including 163 deaths, 8,127 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 3,149 confirmed (including 189 deaths, 2,753 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,067 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 1,002 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 881 confirmed (including 15 deaths, 791 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 319 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 318 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 262 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 168 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 163 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 36 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 2 presumptive

_ Total: 108,829 (13 presumptive, 108,816 confirmed including 8,810 deaths, 72,485 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 16, 2020.

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Tuesday, July 14

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jul 14th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on July 14, 2020:

There are 108,155 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 56,621 confirmed (including 5,628 deaths, 25,911 resolved)

_ Ontario: 36,839 confirmed (including 2,722 deaths, 32,663 resolved)

_ Alberta: 8,826 confirmed (including 161 deaths, 7,989 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 3,115 confirmed (including 189 deaths, 2,718 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,066 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 1,000 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 871 confirmed (including 15 deaths, 766 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 314 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 317 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 262 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 166 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 163 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 35 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 108,155 (11 presumptive, 108,144 confirmed including 8,790 deaths, 71,841 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 14, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Health-care workers to announce political action in response to emergency orders

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jul 14th, 2020

HAMILTON — A union representing Ontario health-care workers says it will announce “political action” this morning in response to the province potentially extending its emergency powers.

The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, a division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, will be making the announcement at Hamilton General Hospital.

A spokeswoman for the union confirms that 98 per cent of its membership voted in favour of some form of political action over the weekend.

The Progressive Conservative government introduced a bill last week that would allow it to keep some emergency measures in place in the months ahead.

Health-care workers, including nurses, say the orders suspend their collective bargaining agreement with the province.

Union president Michael Hurley says while that was acceptable in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s now a detriment to health-care workers.

Hurley says a suspended agreement means hospital staff may have their shifts changed, be moved from site to site, or have vacation requests denied.

He suggested last week that the union’s action could take many forms, including wearing stickers to work, organizing a rally or even an interruption of work.

“No one wants to turn their attention from providing patient care to having to defend some basic workplace rights,” said Hurley on Friday. “That’s the last thing anyone wants to do, so we’re hoping that the government reconsiders its position.”

Human clinical trials begin for Quebec-made COVID-19 vaccine candidate

CASSANDRA SZKLARSKI, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jul 14th, 2020

Canadian trials have just begun for a prospective COVID-19 vaccine but its Quebec-based manufacturer is already downplaying its potential impact.

Dr. Bruce Clark, president and CEO of the biopharmaceutical company Medicago, cautions observers against holding unrealistic expectations that his product — or any of the numerous vaccines in development globally — will bring the pandemic to a screeching halt.

“Whatever vaccine we get in this first round — unless it’s a miracle — it’s not going to be perfect,” says Clark, whose company began trials for its proposed vaccine Monday in Quebec City.

“It’s going to have to undergo development, it’s going to take probably years to come up with an understanding of the right vaccine, the right approach. It’s not the panacea.

“To assume that we can have, in 18 months, the solution to a pandemic that comes around once in a generation, is naive.”

So much is still unknown about COVID-19, notes Clark, including how it may manifest during the flu season later this year.

He suspects a more likely scenario is that a vaccine will offer only part of the solution, along with new therapeutics and ongoing public health interventions.

Medicago’s first phase of clinical trials will test a plant-based product on 180 healthy men and women, aged 18 to 55.

The randomized, partially blinded study uses technology that does not involve animal products or live viruses like traditional methods.

Clark notes that vaccine developers typically use chicken eggs to propagate a virus, but Medicago uses recombinant technology involving the genetic sequence of a virus, with living plants as the host.

The resulting virus-like particles mimic the shape and dimensions of a virus, which allows the body to recognize them and spark an immune response.

Clark says the plant-based approach is significantly faster and offers more consistent results than egg-based or cell-based methods.

While it takes five to six months to propagate a virus in eggs, the plant-based technique requires just five to six weeks, he says.

“In a pandemic, something like COVID, if you’re able to cut that much time off development, you have a substantial impact on public health.”

Meanwhile, Clark says viruses are prone to mutations as they adapt and grow in an egg, which could result in a vaccine that doesn’t exactly match the circulating virus. In contrast, “a plant is a plant,” and that makes production easily scalable.

“One plant behaves like 100,000 plants,” he says.

The trial will evaluate three different dosages alone, or with one of two adjuvants provided by GlaxoSmithKline and Dynavax. An adjuvant can boost the effectiveness of a vaccine for a better immunological response, thereby reducing the required dose, Clark adds.

He hopes to know the effectiveness of the adjuvants and dosing by October, and then kick off a second, more targeted trial phase involving about 1,000 participants.

Clark says the third phase would involve about 15,000 to 20,000 subjects, and may be a global study, depending on circumstances of the pandemic.

If the vaccine is successful, Clark points to another uncertainty.

Because the company’s commercial plant is across the border in Durham, N.C., he says there’s no guarantee of a Canadian supply.

“‘Guarantee’ is a strong word,” says Clark. “Strange things happen to borders in the context of a pandemic.”

Such border complications were made clear to Canadians in April when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau complained about problems with incomplete or non-existent deliveries of critical COVID-19 supplies. At the time, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered U.S. producers to prioritize the domestic market.

Clark suggested similar hurdles could impact vaccine distribution, putting immediate pressure on Medicago to complete construction of a large-scale manufacturing facility in its home base of Quebec City.

“Certainly, we need a facility in Canada,” Clark says.

“There’s no guarantee on the easy flow of materials back and forth across the border should we have a successful vaccine. We have to keep the focus on completing the Canadian facility so that we have domestic capacity. I think this is what most countries are concerned about.”

By the end of 2023, the Quebec City plant is expected to be able to produce up to one billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine annually.

Until then, Medicago says it expects to be able to make approximately 100 million doses by the end of 2021, assuming its trials are successful.

Clark says countries must temper any nationalist agendas that might emerge with a viable vaccine and acknowledge that the fight against COVID-19 is global.

Meeting that demand would require multiple manufacturers, multiple distribution routes, and lots of co-operation, he says, possibly through the World Health Organization.

“There has to be some ability to share those around and distribute, whether that’s through an entity like the WHO, or something equivalent.”

Northern schools face additional challenges for reopening — and staying closed

NICOLE THOMPSON AND MICHELLE MCQUIGGE, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jul 13th, 2020

Teachers in Ontario’s northern school boards are sounding the alarm about back-to-school plans, saying the region’s vast geography and sparse population present challenges not considered in southern parts of the province.

School boards provincewide are still in the process of developing contingency plans for September, and while the teachers say reopening will be hard for everyone, they note that the general guidelines developed by the Ministry of Education don’t take into account the lack of resources in the Far North.

“We want to be in the schools. We want to be delivering quality education,” said Kim Douglas, president of the local elementary teachers’ union for the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board. “(But) I don’t think they have enough equipment, enough cleaning, enough help to even allay the fears that people are feeling, going back into the school.”

The Dryden, Ont.-based union representative, who spent three decades as a teacher, said schools in her board are few and far between, and have scant staff.

In one school, she said, there’s one full-time teacher, a part-time teacher and an education assistant. There’s no administrator, which raises a new host of problems during a pandemic.

“When there’s no administrator on site, and a kid gets sick, what do you do?” Douglas said. “Who’s gonna be responsible for that child?”

But the barriers to remote learning are also greater up north, she said.

“A lot of us don’t have Wi-Fi abilities at our homes,” Douglas said. “We pay an exorbitant amount of money to get Wi-Fi. And for us to do online learning, it’s been a challenge for many members. I’ve had members who have paid upwards of $700 for their Wi-Fi, just to do the distance learning.”

And while she noted that the risk of contracting COVID-19 in her region is relatively low, many people live along the Trans-Canada Highway and could be coming into contact with truckers and other travellers who have recently been in coronavirus hotspots.

Louis Clausi, a representative for the northeastern unit of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association who was a high school teacher for 20 years, said the geography in his board is also an issue.

“For me to even drive from one end of my board to the other, to go from Kapuskasing to Cobalt, is a six-hour drive,” he said. “It’s hard for the board to organize such a large area and to deal with all these specific issues.”

He listed daycare and busing as two areas of particular concern.

And he said in his region, it’s even more important to come up with a plan quickly — some schools are due to resume in late August because they take a break in October for the hunt.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce has said boards are expected to prepare plans for three scenarios come September: regular in-class instruction with physical-distancing measures in place, full-time remote learning, and a hybrid model blending both approaches.

Lecce later said he expects all students to start the 2020-21 school year with the blended model, which will see no more than 15 students in class attending on alternating days or weeks.

But more recently, he’s expressed a preference for fully in-class learning and said it’s looking increasingly likely that it will be possible.

“That data’s fluid, but it’s moving in the right direction,” Lecce said late last week. “It gives us promise about our reopening plan to get to where those boards, a lot of parents and every member of our caucus wants to go — which is day-to-day learning. Our kids need it.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 13, 2020.

Nicole Thompson and Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Monday, July 13

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jul 13th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on July 13, 2020:

There are 107,589 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 56,521 confirmed (including 5,627 deaths, 25,862 resolved)

_ Ontario: 36,723 confirmed (including 2,719 deaths, 32,534 resolved)

_ Alberta: 8,596 confirmed (including 160 deaths, 7,844 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 3,053 confirmed (including 187 deaths, 2,679 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,066 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 1,000 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 815 confirmed (including 15 deaths, 757 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 314 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 314 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 262 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 166 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 163 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 33 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 107,589 (11 presumptive, 107,578 confirmed including 8,783 deaths, 71,467 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 13, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Quebec police still looking for father, two days after missing girls found dead

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jul 13th, 2020

ST-APOLLINAIRE, Que. — Quebec provincial police continued to search through the night for the father of two girls whose bodies were found Saturday in a small town southwest of Quebec City.

The bodies of Norah and Romy Carpentier, aged 11 and 6, were located in a wooded area in the community of St-Apollinaire, Que.

The girls had last been seen on Wednesday and became the subject of an Amber Alert the next day.

On Sunday, the manhunt for their father, Martin Carpentier, 44, had authorities tightening the search in a thickly wooded area near where the young sisters from Levis, Que. were found.THE CANADIAN PRESS

Residents had helped with the searches until Saturday, but police asked people to stay away from the area Sunday to let officers work.

The attention of the entire province has been on the case, especially in the town of just over 6,000 people where it’s playing out.

Police have said the girls and their father were believed to have been in a car crash on Highway 20 in St-Apollinaire on Wednesday evening.

Investigators said the car was heading east when it skidded into the median, flipped over and landed on the shoulder on the opposite side of the highway.

But police did not find any occupants inside the car when they arrived.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 13, 2020.

Three found dead after downtown motel fire in Prince George, B.C.

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jul 9th, 2020

PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. — The RCMP say the bodies of three people have been found at the scene of a motel fire in downtown Prince George, B.C.

Cpl. Craig Douglass says emergency services were called to the Econo Lodge City Centre Inn on Victoria Street around 9 a.m. Wednesday.

He says fire crews tackled the blaze, which engulfed a portion of the building, while police assisted with staff and guests who evacuated the structure.

At about 12:30 p.m., Douglass says personnel clearing the building found the three bodies, but he did not have details about their identities.

Douglass says an investigation is underway and determining the cause of the fire will take some time.

The RCMP are also working to determine if anyone is missing, but Douglass says with so many people fleeing the area and others gathering to observe the blaze, that has been difficult.

“You can imagine a scene like this is chaos,” he says.

The BC Coroners Services says it has begun a fact-finding investigation, but it is in its early stages and no other information can be released at this time.

“We are investigating to determine who died, and to investigate how, where, when and by what means,” spokesman Andy Watson says.

— By Amy Smart in Vancouver.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2020.

 

The Canadian Press

Raptors VanVleet knows hardship small businesses face during pandemic

Lindsay Dunn | posted Thursday, Jul 9th, 2020

The Toronto Raptors are on their way to Orlando Thursday but fan-favorite Fred VanVleet has Canada in his heart and on his mind. He ventured into the small business world a few years ago as he is one of many of the Raptors who have their own clothing line. Even though he isn’t in Toronto he is encouraging people to support small businesses in their community during the pandemic.

“I own my own small business so it definitely hits home for me,” VanVleet told CityNews from Florida. “I know what it takes to run a small business. I know the challenges that come with that, the hustle and drive that you have to have to keep up. It’s so important for me to spend, and to shop small. It’s something that I just live every day, it’s is something I believe in.”

VanVleet recently teamed up with American Express for their Shop Small campaign and even though he hasn’t been in Toronto in a few months, he wants to make sure the city is taking care of each other.

“That’s one of the things I love about Toronto’s is the small businesses and you know, it just gives the city a culture and a vibe. Because of the year that we’ve had 2020 hasn’t been kind to anybody. I’ve seen personally, how Canada and especially Toronto, come together, we saw last year when we won.”

“One of the most incredible moments of my life was that parade. And just the people celebrating so if I can try to get some of that energy going with the people and encourage people to shop small and to spend the money with businesses that they love. They can recirculate those funds and get the economy going and help people that are in need and these business owners, you know, have probably taken a big hit this year.”

There is one place, in particular, he has been missing in Toronto.

“I really miss my barber right now,” VanVleet said with a laugh. “Shout out to my barber Brian at Throne Barbershop, I’ve been missing him since I haven’t been able to be in Toronto for almost four months now.”

Before flying to Florida, the 26-year-old was in self-quarantine with his girlfriend and their two kids. He admits it was the longest he has ever been at home since he was a kid.

“It was nice. I was able to be there all day every day, every second. I got to help with the baths and the lunches and putting them to bed. We got a lot closer over that time which made it even hard to leave.”

The Raptors were in the Fort-Meyers – Naples, Florida area for the last two weeks before immersing themselves in the NBA Bubble in Orlando, where they hope to defend their title. During that time his teammate Kyle Lowry didn’t speak to the media and no photos were taken of the veteran NBA All-Star.

“No comment, no comment, I can’t comment on his whereabouts,” VanVleet joked. “He’s here, no worries. Raptors fans will be happy when they see him lace-up with us.”

The Raptors will host the Los Angeles Lakers when their season resumes in Orlando on August 1st.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Thursday, July 9

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jul 9th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 p.m. ET on July 9, 2020:

There are 106,434 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 56,079 confirmed (including 5,603 deaths, 25,534 resolved)

_ Ontario: 36,178 confirmed (including 2,700 deaths, 31,805 resolved)

_ Alberta: 8,482 confirmed (including 158 deaths, 7,716 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 3,008 confirmed (including 186 deaths, 2,645 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,066 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 998 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 808 confirmed (including 15 deaths, 746 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 314 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 312 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 165 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 162 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 32 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 1 presumptive

_ Total: 106,434 (12 presumptive, 106,422 confirmed including 8,737 deaths, 70,232 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 9, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Montreal police to announce street checks policy after systemic bias report

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Jul 8th, 2020

Montreal police are to announce a new policy on street checks today, months after a damning independent report found evidence of systemic bias linked to race in who they decide to stop.

Last October, Police chief Sylvain Caron said he was humbled and alarmed by the numbers but stressed that it was a reflection of a lack of policy.

The authors crunched three years worth of police data to come up with their conclusions, which they stopped short of conclusively describing as racial profiling.

Street checks involve officers stopping a person and recording their information regardless of whether an offence has been committed.

The report last fall suggested that people from certain racialized groups were much more likely than others to be stopped by police.

It found that Indigenous women were 11 times more likely to be questioned than their white counterparts; that Black and Indigenous Montrealers were between four and five times more likely to be subjected to stops while those of Arab descent were twice as likely to be stopped.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 8, 2020.

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Wednesday, July 8

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jul 8th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on July 8, 2020:

There are 106,167 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 55,997 confirmed (including 5,590 deaths, 25,458 resolved)

_ Ontario: 36,060 confirmed (including 2,691 deaths, 31,603 resolved)

_ Alberta: 8,436 confirmed (including 157 deaths, 7,659 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 2,990 confirmed (including 183 deaths, 2,645 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,065 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 998 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 806 confirmed (including 15 deaths, 737 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 314 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 307 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 165 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 162 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 32 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 1 presumptive

_ Total: 106,167 (12 presumptive, 106,155 confirmed including 8,711 deaths, 69,883 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Ban federal use of facial-recognition tools, groups urge Trudeau government

JIM BRONSKILL , THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jul 8th, 2020

OTTAWA — Dozens of groups and individuals working to protect privacy, human rights and civil liberties want the Trudeau government to ban the use of facial-recognition surveillance by federal law-enforcement and intelligence agencies.

In an open letter to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, they call the technology “highly problematic,” given its lack of accuracy and invasive nature, and say it poses a threat to Canadians’ fundamental rights.

They tell the minister that in the absence of meaningful policy or regulation governing facial recognition, it cannot be considered safe for use in Canada.

The letter is signed by Tim McSorley, national co-ordinator of the Ottawa-based International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, and Laura Tribe, executive director of Open Media, who are spearheading the campaign.

It is endorsed by 29 other prominent groups including Amnesty International Canada, the Canadian Federation of Students, the Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association and Privacy International, as well as 46 academics, researchers, lawyers and other civil society members.

The letter also calls on the government to initiate a meaningful, public consultation on all aspects of facial-recognition technology in Canada and to establish clear, transparent policies and laws regulating its use, including reforms to federal privacy law.

The letter comes as concerns mount over police killing and mistreatment of Black and Indigenous people, prompting widespread discussion about curbing the powers and resources of law-enforcement agencies.

“At a time like this, the public should be certain of the fact that their rights and freedoms are protected,” the letter says.

The federal privacy commissioner said this week that U.S. firm Clearview AI will stop offering its facial-recognition services in Canada in response to an investigation by the commissioner and three provincial counterparts.

Clearview AI’s technology worries many privacy advocates because it apparently allows for the collection of huge numbers of images from various sources with the aim of helping police forces, financial institutions and other clients identify individuals.

Clearview’s retreat includes an indefinite suspension of the company’s contract with the RCMP, its last remaining client in Canada.

Federal officials have also used photo-matching technology to pinpoint people — all wanted on immigration warrants — who used false identities to apply for travel documents.

But the letter to Blair says inadequate regulation of facial recognition and a lack of information means it is impossible to know which police forces and intelligence agencies are using the tool, and to what ends, including during protests.

It cites studies that have found the technology to be inaccurate and especially prone to misidentifying the faces of women and people with darker skin.

“These errors can lead already marginalized communities to be even more likely to face profiling, harassment and violations of their fundamental rights,” the letter says.

This is particularly concerning given the technology’s use in situations where biases are common, including when individuals are travelling and crossing borders as well as in the context of criminal investigations, and national security and anti-terrorism operations, it says.

“If, as federal officials have said, the Canadian government is serious about ending racial disparities in policing, banning facial recognition surveillance is a clear first step.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2020.

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Tuesday, July 7

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jul 7th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on July 7, 2020:

There are 105,935 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 55,937 confirmed (including 5,577 deaths, 25,378 resolved)

_ Ontario: 35,948 confirmed (including 2,689 deaths, 31,426 resolved)THE CANADIAN PRESS

_ Alberta: 8,389 confirmed (including 155 deaths, 7,627 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 2,978 confirmed (including 183 deaths, 2,629 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,065 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 998 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 805 confirmed (including 14 deaths, 732 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 314 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 304 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 165 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 162 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 32 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 1 presumptive

_ Total: 105,935 (12 presumptive, 105,923 confirmed including 8,693 deaths, 69,570 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 7, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Turbulence in Canadian opinion on airlines COVID-19 response: poll

STEPHANIE LEVITZ, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jul 7th, 2020

A new poll suggests turbulence ahead for airlines seeking public support for their current COVID-19 plans.

Seventy-two per cent of Canadians surveyed by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies say they’re not comfortable flying since a decision by some airlines to relax their own in-flight physical distancing requirements.

As of July 1, Air Canada and WestJet both ended policies blocking the sale of adjacent seats.

The measure was seen to align with a guidance document for the aviation industry issued by Transport Canada in April to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

Among other things, the department had suggested passengers should be widely spaced when possible, though they did not make it mandatory.

Airlines, however, are required to make passengers and air crews wear masks.

Only 22 per cent of those surveyed said they’re comfortable getting aboard with no in-flight physical distancing and a requirement to wear masks.

There’s more to it to keep flights safe, WestJet said in a statement last week after critics attacked its plan.

“What makes an airplane, and the entire journey, safe is the layers of enhanced cleaning, the wearing of masks and the hospital-grade HEPA filters that remove 99.999 per cent of all airborne particles,” the airline said.

“The hygiene standards we have now are world-class and backed by industry experts.”

Critics have also previously pounced on the airlines for another move: refusing to fully refund tickets for flights cancelled due to the pandemic.

Thousands of people have beseeched Transport Minister Marc Garneau to compel airlines to issue refunds, but he has refused, arguing that mandating reimbursements from a sector that’s lost more than 90 per cent of its revenue would cripple the industry.

But 72 per cent of those polled say they totally oppose his decision.

In lieu of refunds, the airlines have offered vouchers but the poll suggests that it may take a while before people will rebook previously cancelled trips: 85 per cent of those surveyed told pollsters they have no plans to travel outside the country by the end of the year.

The survey polled 1,517 people and can’t be assigned a margin of error because online polls are not considered truly random.

Pollsters were in the field between July 3 and 5, a historically popular few days for Canadians and Americans to be on the move between the two countries, given the July 1 Canada Day holiday and the U.S.’s July 4 Independence Day.

But the border remains closed to non-essential traffic, and the majority of Canadians surveyed said they feel it needs to stay that way. The current mutual closure agreement is due to expire July 21.

Of Canadians polled, 86 per cent said they totally disagreed with re-opening the border at the end of July, allowing Americans back into the country.

Americans seem more eager both to head north and to welcome Canadians south; 50 per cent agreed the border should re-open and 36 per cent disagreed.

The potential for cross-border transmission of the virus has been a key factor in the decision to keep the border closed. Currently, rates of COVID-19 infection in the U.S. continue to climb, while in Canada the curve appears to be on a downward trajectory nearly everywhere.

Still, the survey suggests Canadians don’t feel they are out of the woods. Thirty-nine per cent believe the worst is yet to come, while 35 per cent believe the worst of the crisis has passed.

In the U.S., 42 per cent of those surveyed felt the darkest days are ahead, 25 per cent believe the U.S. is in the middle of the worst part now while 21 per cent think that’s already passed.

What’s the story behind the Liberals’ cancelled WE Charity deal?

THE BIG STORY | posted Tuesday, Jul 7th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, the organization was supposed to distribute more than $900 million in student grants, but the reaction when the deal was announced was immediate and intense. There’s now an ethics investigation and WE has walked away from the plan. What happened? Why did the Liberals agree to this, and what should they have known about the organization before announcing it would be handling nearly a billion dollars of taxpayer money?

GUEST: Jesse Brown, Canadaland

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Lac-Megantic to mark 7th anniversary of 2013 rail disaster with memorial site

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jul 6th, 2020

Lac-Megantic will mark the seventh anniversary of a tragic rail disaster that claimed 47 lives by inaugurating a long-planned memorial space.

On July 6, 2013, a runaway train hauling tanker cars loaded with volatile crude oil barrelled into the town of 6,000, derailed and exploded, destroying a large part of the Quebec town’s downtown area.

The memorial — which has taken three years to construct — will be set up at the site of the former Musi-Cafe in the heart of the city, where staff and patrons made up many of the victims.

The project, designed by architects Pierre Thibault and Jerome Lapierre, was created with the objective of everyone being able to remember, in their own way, the community-changing event, the city said in a statement.

Given the COVID-19 pandemic and physical distancing measures, the inauguration will be broadcast on Facebook, with several guests attending in person and residents invited to visit in the days and weeks to come.

As per tradition, the bells of Ste-Agnes Church will ring at noon in tribute to the victims.

The city says it has obtained written confirmation from Canadian Pacific Railway that no train will run in Lac-Megantic on July 6.

Mayor Juile Morin says it was the least that could be done out of respect for citizens who still have to watch trains passing through the heart of the city daily.

Morin says the city wants the authorization to be renewed in perpetuity, even after a railway bypass is built and the downtown rails are dismantled.

A look at how provinces plan to emerge from the COVID-19 shutdown

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jul 6th, 2020

Provinces and territories have been releasing plans for easing restrictions that were put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Here is what some of the provinces have announced so far:

Newfoundland and Labrador

On July 3, Newfoundland and Labrador joined the other Atlantic provinces in lifting travel restrictions within the region.

Residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island can now travel to any of the other three provinces without self-isolating for 14 days after arriving.

Visitors from provinces and territories outside the region are still required to self-isolate for 14 days and adhere to local entry requirements. However, once the self-isolation period has passed, those visitors will also be allowed to travel within the Atlantic region.

The premiers of Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick have also hinted restrictions could soon be lifted for visitors from the rest of Canada if all goes well.

The province has also said it would begin allowing provincial historic sites to reopen, starting July 4. All sites will have one-way flow patterns for visitors, with designated entrance and exit doors where possible.

The province entered “Alert Level 3” on June 8 in its five stage reopening plan. It means groups of up to 20 people are now permitted, as long as they observe physical distancing. Up to 19 people are allowed on public transit.

Private health clinics, such as optometrists and dentists, can open, as well as medium-risk businesses such as clothing stores and hair salons.

Eleven government service centres reopened to offer in-person services that can be booked by appointment, including written tests, driver exams and identification photos.

During Level 4, some businesses such as law firms and other professional services were allowed to reopen along with regulated child-care centres, with some restrictions.

Outdoor games of tennis were allowed to resume, though players must bring their own equipment and not share it.

At Level 2, businesses with performance spaces and gyms are to reopen, while Level 1 would represent “the new normal.”

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia and the other Atlantic provinces lifted travel restrictions within the region on July 3.

Residents of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island can now travel to any of the other three provinces without self-isolating for 14 days after arriving.

The province has also increased the limits on gatherings organized by recognized business or community organizations. That includes weddings, funerals, cultural events, concerts, festivals, dance recitals and faith-based gatherings, which, as of July 3, increased to 250 people if they’re outdoors and 200 — with maximum 50 per cent capacity — if they’re indoors. In either case, physical distancing is still required.

The province announced on June 26 that all bars and restaurants could resume operating at full capacity and serve customers until midnight. However, establishments must continue to adhere to physical distancing rules.

The province is also allowing private campgrounds to operate at 100 per cent capacity.  Provincial campgrounds reopened June 15 at reduced capacity to ensure a minimum of six metres between individual sites.

All public pools can now reopen with physical distancing for lane swimming and aquafit classes.

These events do not include family gatherings, which remain limited to a 50-person maximum with physical distancing.

The province earlier announced that Nova Scotians could start gathering in close social groups of up to 10 without physical distancing.

Licensed child-care centres and family daycare homes reopened across the province on June 15.

Nova Scotia has allowed summer day camps for children to open as long as they have a plan to follow public health measures.

Most businesses ordered shut in late March were allowed to reopen on June 5. The list of businesses includes bars and restaurant dining rooms, hair salons, barber shops, gyms and yoga studios, among others.

Some health providers were also able to reopen, including dentistry, optometry, chiropractic and physiotherapy offices.

The province has said there will be no return to school this year.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island and the other Atlantic provinces lifted travel restrictions within the region on July 3.

The province has now moved into Phase 4 of its reopening strategy.

Households can gather in groups of up to 15 indoors and up to 100 people can congregate in larger venues. People can also gather for religious services of up to 50, or up to 100 in larger churches.

More personal services are also available and casinos are reopening.

Under Phase 3, which began June 1, in-house dining at restaurants was allowed. Small groups were permitted to participate in recreational and some sporting activities and libraries got the green light to reopen. Gatherings of up to 15 people indoors and 20 people outdoors and the reopening of child-care centres were also allowed.

As well, family and friends could once again visit residents at long-term care homes, though the visits require an appointment and must take place outdoors.

People wanting to travel to seasonal residences can apply to do so, and will be put through a risk assessment before approval. Seasonal residents will also to be tested for COVID-19 before completing two weeks in self-isolation after arriving in the province.

Under Phase 2, non-contact outdoor recreational activities were permitted, and retail businesses could reopen with physical distancing and select health-service providers.

Priority non-urgent surgeries resumed on May 1.

The P.E.I. legislature resumed May 26.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick and the other Atlantic provinces lifted travel restrictions within the region on July 3.

Its premier has also hinted restrictions could soon be lifted for visitors from the rest of Canada if all goes well.

The province moved to the yellow phase of its COVID-19 recovery plan on May 22, allowing barbers and hair stylists to reopen as well as churches and fitness facilities. Dental care, massage, chiropractors and other “close contact” businesses and services could also reopen.

But the Campbellton region, which extends from Whites Brook to the Belledune, had to take a step backwards to the “orange” level on May 27. Residents were told to once again avoid contacts outside their two-household bubble. Non-regulated health professionals and personal service businesses that opened May 22 also had to close again. And people should only be travelling in and out of Zone 5 for essential reasons.

Further restrictions were lifted on June 5. Outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people were allowed, as well as indoor religious services of up to 50 people, low-contact team sports and the opening of a long list of facilities including swimming pools, gyms, rinks, water parks, and yoga and dance studios.

Under New Brunswick’s latest recovery rules, Canadian residents can now visit family members or properties they own in the province, provided they self-isolate for 14 days — or the duration of their visit if it’s less than two weeks.

As well, New Brunswick residents no longer need to self-isolate when returning from work in another Canadian province or territory.

All organized sports can resume with appropriate physical distancing and sanitizing. Overnight camps can reopen and indoor visits can resume at long-term care facilities for one visitor at a time, or two if one of the visitors needs help.

The cap on the number of people who can gather in controlled venues — including churches, swimming pools and rinks — has been lifted, but crowd numbers will be limited by the ability to maintain physical distancing.

Masks in any building open to the general public are required except for children under the age of two, children in daycare and people who can’t wear face coverings for medical reasons.

Retail businesses, offices, restaurants, libraries, museums and seasonal campgrounds were earlier allowed to reopen providing they have clear plans for meeting public health guidelines.

The final phase, which officials have said will probably come only after a vaccine is available, is to include large gatherings.

Quebec

Premier Francois Legault says masks will be mandatory for all public transit users as of July 13.

Legault says following a two-week grace period ending July 27, anyone without a mask will not be permitted onto a public transit system anywhere in the province.

Quebec reopened several sectors and relaxed the rules for indoor gatherings on June 22, particularly impacting the Montreal area.

Restaurants can reopen in the greater Montreal and Joliette areas while indoor gatherings of up to 10 people from three households are now permitted in these regions, like elsewhere in Quebec.

Gyms, arenas, cinemas, concert venues and places of worship can reopen across the province with a maximum capacity of 50 people for indoor gatherings.

Day camps across the province have also reopened, with physical distancing. Sleep-away summer camps won’t be allowed to reopen until next year.

Residents of long term care homes that don’t have active COVID-19 cases were earlier allowed to receive visitors inside, meet people outdoors and participate in group activities.

They were also allowed to leave the facilities unaccompanied for more than 24 hours. Volunteers and hairdressers were also allowed inside the facilities.

On May 25, some retail businesses reopened in the greater Montreal area, while retail stores outside Montreal reopened on May 11.

Parks and pools have also been allowed to reopen across the province with certain restrictions.

Sports teams resumed outdoor practices on June 8, and matches can resume at the end of the month. That includes baseball, soccer and any other sports that can be played outdoors.

Quebec’s construction and manufacturing industries have resumed operations with limits on the number of employees who can work per shift. Elementary schools and daycares outside Montreal reopened on May 11, but high schools, junior colleges and universities will stay closed until September.

Elementary schools in the greater Montreal area are to remain closed until late August.

Courthouses across the province were permitted to reopen on June 1, with limited seating capacity and Plexiglas barriers protecting clerks and judges.

Camping is now allowed outside the Montreal and Joliette regions, as are cottage rentals.

Checkpoints set up to slow the spread of COVID-19 came down on May 18 in various parts of Quebec, including between Gatineau and Ottawa.

Ontario

Ontario’s courts will resume in-person proceedings today (July 6) after being shuttered for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry of the Attorney General has said courtrooms will reopen gradually, with the goal of having all courtrooms operational by November 1.

Torontonians riding public transit must now wear face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 — the new rule going into effect July 2.

Toronto city council voted to make wearing masks mandatory in public indoor settings, with the bylaw coming in to effect on July 7.

Mayor John Tory says the temporary bylaw will not affect social gatherings.

Mayors from the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area asked Premier Doug Ford to make masks mandatory across Ontario, but the premier rejected the idea.

Ferry service between Toronto and the Toronto Islands resumed on June 27 but at only 50 per cent capacity to allow for physical distancing.

The Toronto Zoo also reopened and the province said it was loosening some restrictions around indoor sports and fitness to enable amateur and professional athletes to train.

Ontario’s two most heavily populated regions had more businesses open their doors on June 24 as Toronto and Peel moved into Stage 2 of Ontario’s pandemic reopening framework.

All regions of the province except the southwestern communities of Leamington and Kingsville have now officially entered Stage 2.

Businesses given the green light to resume operations in Toronto and Peel include hair stylists, pools and tour guide services.

Restaurants are also allowed to reopen their patios for dine-in service, though no one is yet allowed to be served indoors.

Meanwhile, the limit on social gatherings increased from five to 10 provincewide. Restrictions on wedding and funeral ceremonies were also eased. The number of people allowed to attend an indoor ceremony is restricted to 30 per cent capacity of the venue, while outdoor events are limited to 50 people. However, the number of people allowed to attend all wedding and funeral receptions remains at 10.

Ontarians can resume visiting loved ones in long-term care homes, as long as they test negative for COVID-19.

All construction has resumed, with limits also lifted on maintenance, repair and property management services, such as cleaning, painting and pool maintenance.

Golf courses can reopen though clubhouses can only open for washrooms and take-out food. Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches can also open, as can private parks and campgrounds for trailers and RVs whose owners have a full season contract, and businesses that board animals.

Short-term rentals including lodges, cabins, cottages, homes and condominiums were allowed to resume operations on June 5.

The Ontario government says students will likely return to school in September with a mix of in-class and remote learning, though boards will develop various scenarios, depending on how COVID-19 is spreading at that point. Premier Doug Ford has said there won’t be a one-size-fits-all approach in schools, but parents provincewide will have the option of sending their children back to class or keeping them learning remotely.

This summer’s Honda Indy Toronto has been cancelled.

Manitoba

Several more restrictions were eased in Manitoba on June 21.

Restaurants and bars no longer have to operate at half capacity, however tables must be two metres apart or have a physical barrier in between them. Non-smoking bingo halls and video lottery terminal lounges can also reopen at 50 per cent capacity.

Child care centres and retail stores can return to normal capacity, and people arriving in Manitoba from the other western provinces, northern territories and northwestern Ontario no longer have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Larger public gatherings are also allowed.

Instead of a cap of 25 people indoors and 50 outdoors, people can fill up to 30 per cent of the capacity of any venue as long as they can be split into groups of 50 indoors or 100 outdoors. Each group must be able to enter and exit separately.

On June 1, the province eased a ban on people visiting loved ones in personal care homes. Homes can now offer outdoor visits with a maximum of two guests per resident. Visitors will be screened upon arrival and must practice physical distancing.

Amateur sports and recreation programs, as well as bowling alleys, have been allowed to resume operations.

Elementary and high schools will not reopen this school year.

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan’s top doctor says his advice on wearing masks to protect against COVID-19 could change in the coming months.

Wearing a mask in Saskatchewan isn’t mandatory now, but chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab says it may become a rule if there’s an uptick in transmission rates.

Saskatchewan is expanding its COVID-19 guidelines for visitors to long-term care homes. Starting July 7, health officials say residents of long-term care homes can have two family members or support persons for visits, with one person allowed in the facility at a time.

Patients in intensive care and those receiving palliative care can have two people present at the same time, as long as they keep physical distance.

Visitors are expected to follow health-care guidelines, such as wearing masks, to protect others against the spread of COVID-19.

Saskatchewan moved into the latest  phase of its reopening strategy on June 22.

Under Phase 4.1 camping in national parks can resume, but by reservation only.

Youth camps can reopen, but for day use only, and with guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19, including the constant disinfection of play structures and monitoring of children for coronavirus symptoms.

Outdoor sports like soccer, softball and flag football can resume, though full-contact sports remain prohibited, as does competitive play, tournaments and inter-provincial travel for games.

Shared equipment must be disinfected frequently, while congratulatory gestures, such as high fives and handshakes, are not permitted.

Saskatchewan’s outdoor swimming pools and spray parks can reopen with physical distancing, maximum capacity, and stringent cleaning rules in effect.

Though they can now do so, some municipalities, including Regina and Saskatoon, have said they won’t be reopening their outdoor pools right away.

The province is also doubling the allowable size of indoor public and private gatherings to 30 people where space allows for two metres between participants.

The third phase of Saskatchewan’s reopening plan started June 8 with the province lifting a ban on non-essential travel in the north.

More businesses were also allowed to reopen, including places of worship and personal care services such as nail salons, tattoo parlours and gyms.

Up to 150 people or one-third the capacity of a building, whichever is less, can attend church services, including weddings and funerals.

Outdoor graduations can be held with a maximum 30 graduates per class and an overall attendance of 150 people. The previous limit was 15 people indoors and 30 people outdoors.

Restaurants and bars can open at half capacity, with physical distancing between tables, and child-care centres can open their doors to a maximum of 15 kids.

The second part of Phase 4 is expected to include reopening guidelines for indoor pools, rinks, libraries, museums, galleries, movie theatres, casinos and bingo halls. A date for Phase 4.2 has yet to be announced.

In Phase 5, the province will consider lifting restrictions on the size of public gatherings.

The Saskatchewan government says students will return to regular classes in September.

Alberta

In Alberta, everything from gyms and arenas to spas, movie theatres, libraries, pools and sports activities got the green light to reopen on June 12.

More people were also allowed to book campsites and sit in restaurants at the same time.

Fifty people can now gather indoors and up to 100 can congregate outside.

Among the other activities allowed to go ahead are casinos and bingo halls, community halls, instrumental concerts, massage, acupuncture and reflexology, artificial tanning and summer schools.

Major festivals and sporting events remain banned, as do nightclubs and amusement parks. Vocal concerts are not being allowed, given that singing carries a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Alberta aims to have students back in classrooms this September though Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says a final decision will be made by Aug. 1.

British Columbia

British Columbia announced on June 30 that it would allow visitors in to long-term care homes.

Government health restrictions were eased to permit one designated person to see a long-term care resident after being limited to virtual meetings or phone calls since March.

The province allowed hotels, motels, spas, resorts, hostels and RV parks to resume operating on June 24.

Premier John Horgan said the province has been successful at flattening the curve on COVID-19, which means it can ease more health restrictions and gradually move into the third phase of its reopening plan.

He said the province is able to open more industries, institutions and recreation areas, but gatherings must remain at 50 people or less.

The government allowed a partial reopening of the B.C. economy starting May 19.

The reopenings are contingent on organizations and businesses having plans that follow provincial guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19.

Parents in B.C. were given the choice of allowing their children to return to class on a part-time basis starting June 1. The government said its goal is for the return of full-time classes in September, if it’s safe.

Conventions, large concerts, international tourism and professional sports with a live audience will not be allowed to resume until either a vaccine is widely available, community immunity has been reached, or effective treatment can be provided for the disease.

Nunavut

Nunavut, which now has one presumptive case of COVID-19, implemented a wide range of public health measures to keep residents safe. But some have since been relaxed.

Gyms and pools are available for solo workouts and lap swims.

Dental, physiotherapy, massage and chiropractic clinics, as well as offices and stores can open with appropriate safety measures.

Individuals may visit galleries, museums and libraries, and daycares are open.

Outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people are permitted while indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people. Territorial parks are being reopened for outdoor activities only and municipal playgrounds have also reopened.

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories announced on May 12 a three-phase reopening plan.

The plan includes more gatherings and the possible reopening of some schools and businesses. However, the territory’s borders remain closed indefinitely to non-residents and non-essential workers.

There are several requirements that must be met before any measures are relaxed: there must be no evidence of community spread; travel entry points in the territory are strong and secure; risks are reduced from workers coming into the territory; and expanded community testing is available.

Yukon

New guidelines have been released for long-term care facilities that will allow for visits with one designated person at a pre-set location outdoors.

The territory also said bars with an approved health and safety plan could reopen at half capacity under certain other restrictions starting June 19.

Territorial parks and campgrounds have also reopened.

Two households of up to 10 people in total are currently able to interact with each other as part of a “household bubble.”

Travel restrictions between Yukon and B.C. were lifted July 1 under the second phase of the territory’s pandemic restart plan. Travellers between the province and territory are no longer required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Residents of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut can now enter Yukon without quarantining, as long as they travel directly from one of the territories or through B.C.

All residents of Canada who live outside Yukon, B.C., the Northwest Territories and Nunavut must self-isolate for 14 days in Whitehorse when they arrive in the territory.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 6, 2020

The Canadian Press

Inside the month Canada lost to COVID-19

THE BIG STORY | posted Monday, Jul 6th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, warning bells were sounding. Some of the country’s leading scientists were writing urgent emails to politicians and public health units. There was an emergency coming. It was going to get bad. We should take action now.

Still, Canada waited to take steps such as closing borders, securing PPE and planning for a massive wave of COVID-19. Compared to our neighbours to the south, we’ve handled the crisis fairly well—but what could we have done with an extra month to plan? How many lives and millions of dollars could we have saved? Who sounded the warnings, and who listened? And who didn’t?

GUEST: Robyn Doolittle, The Globe and Mail

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Atlantic Canada prepares to lift travel restrictions as regional “bubble” opens

HOLLY MCKENZIE-SUTTER, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jul 3rd, 2020

Atlantic Canadians are closely eyeing travel requirements and coronavirus case numbers across the region as the four provinces prepare to open their borders to their neighbours Friday, an experiment that’s prompted excitement and anxiety among residents.

COVID-19 cases in the region have dwindled in recent weeks, and the four provinces have agreed to waive isolation requirements among the group to boost their economies and offer social support to residents.

While many tourism operators and those missing family and friends celebrated the news, others have criticized the bubble over fears that the virus will rebound.

An online petition asking Newfoundland and Labrador to keep its borders closed has generated nearly 15,000 signatures this week.

“Our province has been slowly healing and going back to normal, we want to keep it that way,” the petition reads. “This is not the time.”

Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, chief medical officer of health, addressed fears that the province is moving too fast in a news conference this week, pointing to low case numbers while encouraging residents to trust in science.

Her Nova Scotian counterpart, Dr. Robert Strang, also shared a message to anxious residents in a statement on Thursday encouraging them to continue following health guidelines.

“I know many people are still nervous about this virus. Our visitors may be, too,” Strang’s statement said. “We can make their visits a safe experience for everyone by being patient and kind, by practising good hand hygiene, distancing and by wearing a mask when you can’t stay six feet apart.”

Nova Scotia, the most populous province in the region, has reported three new COVID-19 cases this week, two related to travel to the U.S. and the third involving a temporary worker who arrived from outside Canada.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting Thursday, Premier Stephen McNeil addressed concerns about the bubble, telling Nova Scotians the economic opportunity won’t come at the expense of their health.

“Our tourism sector needs this, and we need to try to make it work, but I want to reassure all of you that if we see a spike of COVID, we will re-evaluate,” McNeil said.

St. John’s resident David Brake was in the process of planning a late-July trip to Prince Edward Island with his two children on the eve of the travel bubble’s opening.

While he would usually plan a vacation further afield, Brake decided to take advantage of the travel bubble this year and visit a new province, scheduling a flight to Halifax, with plans to stop in New Brunswick on the way to the Island.

He said he’s confident that the trip will be safe for his family given the low coronavirus case numbers at the moment.

But he’s pondering how his holiday might be perceived by neighbours upon his return, with many Newfoundlanders still skeptical about whether it’s safe to venture off the island that has so far beaten back the virus.

“If I’m not isolated because nobody asked me to, am I going to be a pariah for two weeks? Are my children going to be a pariah for two weeks?” he wondered.

For those planning trips to another province, some identification and preventive measures will be required.

Adults travelling to Nova Scotia must show proof of residency in one of the four provinces in order to enter without having to isolate for 14 days.

Prince Edward Island is asking visitors to fill out a form with details including proof of residence, health declarations and planned arrival and departure dates for each person.

Marine Atlantic, a Crown corporation running ferry services between Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia, said it’s seen a spike in bookings, with 3,000 reservations booked in the first six days following the Atlantic bubble announcement.

A statement said the bump “exhausted” capacity, which had been limited to allow for proper distancing and adherence to public health measures. The company will be slowly increasing passenger limits in coming weeks.

While tourism operators welcomed the news, some say the Atlantic bubble won’t bring in enough revenue for their businesses to survive.

Carol Alderdice, president of the Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick, said visitors from within the region won’t be enough to help struggling businesses through the difficult year.

She said Atlantic Canadians typically account for just over 30 per cent of tourism visits in the province, and most operators are eager to see restrictions on entry eased for visitors from elsewhere in Canada, especially Ontario and Quebec.

“It’s definitely not enough to make up for the season, absolutely not,” Alderdice said from Fredericton.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 2, 2020.

Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press

Provincial watchdog probes often don’t lead to charges against police

AMY SMART, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jul 3rd, 2020

An analysis of data from civilian police watchdogs in Canada shows that most of their investigations do not result in charges against officers.

Charges were laid or forwarded to Crown prosecutors for consideration in three to nine per cent of the cases opened by the provincial agencies, a review by The Canadian Press of their most recent annual reports largely covering 2018 and 2019 found.

Seven provinces have independent police oversight agencies that probe cases of death and serious injury that could be the result of police action or inaction, however, the data was incomplete for some units.

Erick Laming, a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto who studies police use of force and its impacts on Indigenous and Black communities, said the numbers can be interpreted in two ways.

They may be taken to mean that watchdogs cast wide nets in their investigations and officers in most cases were justified in their use of force. But they can also be seen as evidence that the agencies are toothless against a legal system that makes it difficult to prosecute officers, he said.

Under the Criminal Code, a police officer is justified in using force in a lawful arrest as long as the officer acts on “reasonable and probable grounds and uses only as much force as reasonably necessary in the circumstances.”

If they fear for their life or someone else’s and that fear is deemed reasonable, they are typically cleared, he said.

“They have a very long rope when you think about it,” Laming said.

Civilian oversight agencies are relatively new. Apart from 30-year-old Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit, which closed 416 cases and charged officers in 15 of them in 2018, most have been introduced in the past decade.

They’re a welcome addition to police oversight, given that the alternative sees police or watchdogs from outside jurisdictions conduct investigations, Laming said.

“When you have another police service going in to investigate that has no connection to that area, it’s problematic,” he said.

But the agencies aren’t perfect, Laming said. They typically have a high threshold for defining “serious injury” so anything that doesn’t end in hospitalization is excluded from an investigation, he said.

The use of former police officers as investigators is also seen by some as a built-in bias, while Laming said they should strive to include more Indigenous, Black and other investigators of colour.

A Canadian Press review found that of the 167 members involved in these units, 111 are former police officers.

And only some of the agencies are empowered to lay charges themselves, while others can only share the results of their investigations with the Crown, Laming said.

Felix Cacchione, director of Nova Scotia’s Serious Incident Response Team, said officers are expected to use a “continuum of force” when responding to a call.

“The first part of that continuum is trying to reason with the person, calm them down, diffuse the situation verbally and then it progresses from there,” he said.

Cacchione’s team recorded the highest rate of charges among the provincial units, with four charges laid in 44 cases opened in 2018-19. The charges represent nine per cent of all cases opened that year — although charges were laid in 22 per cent of the cases that resulted in investigations.

“If a peace officer or a person assisting a peace officer is in a situation that poses a threat of grievous bodily harm, then that peace officer or person assisting can use as much force as necessary to prevent the threat from being a reality,” he said.

If an officer enters an empty church and there’s a person 12 metres away “ranting and raving” with a knife, that’s not enough to justify the use of force, said Cacchione. If the person is two metres away with a butcher’s knife, that’s considered a real threat, he said.

Cacchione worked as a criminal defence lawyer for decades before taking the job at the civilian agency in 2018. He said he was shocked to learn police training involves aiming for the centre body mass of someone posing a threat.

“Whenever I would hear someone being shot six, seven, eight, nine times by a police officer, I would think, well what’s going on, this is excessive. Why didn’t they shoot the person in the knee or the arm?”

He said he learned officers are trained that way because they’re likely to miss an arm or a leg. Cacchione recalled watching an instructor with a timer order an officer to shoot the centre body mass three times, then the head twice on the count of three.

“That takes just 2.4 seconds,” he said.

Based on what he’s learned, Cacchione said he believes there should be a greater involvement of mental health workers where possible, although there’s not always time in dynamic situations.

Adam Palmer, president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, said there are many levels of oversight in Canada, ranging from police boards for municipal forces to complaint commissioners and other bodies.

He would welcome the introduction of civilian oversight bodies for incidents of death or serious harm in jurisdictions that don’t have them yet, he said.

“I’m definitely in favour of it,” said Palmer, who is also chief constable of the Vancouver Police Department.

Data from the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. shows Palmer’s police department was investigated 30 times last year, a large number relative to other forces in B.C. The next highest source of complaints was the RCMP’s Surrey and Prince George detachments, with six investigations each.

Although Vancouver with a population of 630,000 is marginally larger than Surrey at 520,000, Palmer attributed the high number of incidents to Vancouver’s role as a hub city that is a destination for people from across the region, rather than training or officer conduct.

In the vast majority of cases, officers were not charged and Palmer said that shows they operated legally.

Nobody wants to see anyone injured during an interaction with police, but it’s unrealistic to expect that’s entirely avoidable, he said.

“Sometimes to get in there and save somebody’s life or assist someone in need you will need to use physical force,” he said. “Not every case will be de-escalated.”

Harsha Walia, executive director of the BC Civil Liberties Association, said oversight of the police wouldn’t need to be reviewed if there was a broader shift to reduce the scope and scale of the departments, including the removal of mental-health calls from their mandate.

“It’s clear we need other solutions,” she added.

When officers are involved in a violent incident, they should be held to a higher standard than other citizens, said Walia.

“There have to be different standards in place based on the power dynamic,” she said.

A look at how provinces plan to emerge from the COVID-19 shutdown

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jul 3rd, 2020

Provinces and territories have been releasing plans for easing restrictions that were put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Here is what some of the provinces have announced so far:

Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador is joining the other Atlantic provinces in lifting travel restrictions within the region today, with an agreement that’s causing a mix of anxiety and excitement among people in the region.

Residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island can now travel to any of the other three provinces without self-isolating for 14 days after arriving.

The premiers of Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick have hinted restrictions could soon be lifted for visitors from the rest of Canada if all goes well.

The province said Tuesday that it will begin allowing provincial historic sites to reopen, starting July 4.

All sites will have one-way flow patterns for visitors, with designated entrance and exit doors where possible.

The province entered “Alert Level 3” on June 8 in its five stage reopening plan. It means groups of up to 20 people are now permitted, as long as they observe physical distancing. Up to 19 people are allowed on public transit.

Private health clinics, such as optometrists and dentists, can open, as well as medium-risk businesses such as clothing stores and hair salons.

Eleven government service centres reopened to offer in-person services that can be booked by appointment, including written tests, driver exams and identification photos.

During Level 4, some businesses such as law firms and other professional services were allowed to reopen along with regulated child-care centres, with some restrictions.

Outdoor games of tennis were allowed to resume, though players must bring their own equipment and not share it.

At Level 2, businesses with performance spaces and gyms are to reopen, while Level 1 would represent “the new normal.”

The four Atlantic provinces have also announced plans to ease interprovincial travel restrictions, creating a so-called “bubble” as the region has reported relatively few new COVID-19 infections in recent weeks.

As of July 3, residents of Atlantic Canada will be allowed to travel within the region without having to self-isolate for two weeks when arriving in another province.

Visitors from provinces and territories outside the region will still be required to self-isolate for 14 days and adhere to local entry requirements. However, once the self-isolation period has passed, those visitors will also be allowed to travel within the Atlantic region.

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia and the other Atlantic provinces are lifting travel restrictions within the region today, causing a mix of anxiety and excitement among people in the region.

Residents of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island can now travel to any of the other three provinces without self-isolating for 14 days after arriving.

The province is also increasing the limits on gatherings organized by recognized business or community organizations today. That includes weddings, funerals, cultural events, concerts, festivals, dance recitals and faith-based gatherings, which will increase to 250 people if they’re outdoors and 200 — with maximum 50 per cent capacity — if they’re indoors. In either case, physical distancing is still required.

The province announced on June 26 that all bars and restaurants could resume operating at full capacity and serve customers until midnight. However, establishments must continue to adhere to physical distancing rules.

The province is also allowing private campgrounds to operate at 100 per cent capacity.  Provincial campgrounds reopened June 15 at reduced capacity to ensure a minimum of six metres between individual sites.

All public pools can now reopen with physical distancing for lane swimming and aquafit classes.

These events do not include family gatherings, which remain limited to a 50-person maximum with physical distancing.

The province earlier announced that Nova Scotians could start gathering in close social groups of up to 10 without physical distancing.

Licensed child-care centres and family daycare homes reopened across the province on June 15.

Nova Scotia has allowed summer day camps for children to open as long as they have a plan to follow public health measures.

Most businesses ordered shut in late March were allowed to reopen on June 5. The list of businesses includes bars and restaurant dining rooms, hair salons, barber shops, gyms and yoga studios, among others.

Some health providers were also able to reopen, including dentistry, optometry, chiropractic and physiotherapy offices.

The province has said there will be no return to school this year.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island and the other Atlantic provinces are lifting travel restrictions within the region today.

The province moved into Phase 4 of its reopening strategy over the weekend.

Households can now gather in groups of up to 15 indoors and up to 100 people can congregate in larger venues. People can also gather for religious services of up to 50, or up to 100 in larger churches.

More personal services are also available and casinos are reopening.

Under Phase 3, which began June 1, in-house dining at restaurants was allowed. Small groups were permitted to participate in recreational and some sporting activities and libraries got the green light to reopen. Gatherings of up to 15 people indoors and 20 people outdoors and the reopening of child-care centres were also allowed.

As well, family and friends could once again visit residents at long-term care homes, though the visits require an appointment and must take place outdoors.

People wanting to travel to seasonal residences can apply to do so, and will be put through a risk assessment before approval. Seasonal residents will also to be tested for COVID-19 before completing two weeks in self-isolation after arriving in the province.

Under Phase 2, non-contact outdoor recreational activities were permitted, and retail businesses could reopen with physical distancing and select health-service providers.

Priority non-urgent surgeries resumed on May 1.

The P.E.I. legislature resumed May 26.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick and the other Atlantic provinces are lifting travel restrictions within the region today, causing a mix of anxiety and excitement among people in the region.

Its premier has also hinted restrictions could soon be lifted for visitors from the rest of Canada if all goes well.

New Brunswick marked one week since it last saw a positive case on Tuesday.

The province moved to the yellow phase of its COVID-19 recovery plan back on May 22, allowing barbers and hair stylists to reopen as well as churches and fitness facilities. Dental care, massage, chiropractors and other “close contact” businesses and services could also reopen.

But the Campbellton region, which extends from Whites Brook to the Belledune, had to take a step backwards to the “orange” level on May 27. Residents were told to once again avoid contacts outside their two-household bubble. Non-regulated health professionals and personal service businesses that opened May 22 also had to close again. And people should only be travelling in and out of Zone 5 for essential reasons.

Further restrictions were lifted on June 5. Outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people were allowed, as well as indoor religious services of up to 50 people, low-contact team sports and the opening of a long list of facilities including swimming pools, gyms, rinks, water parks, and yoga and dance studios.

Under New Brunswick’s latest recovery rules, Canadian residents can now visit family members or properties they own in the province, provided they self-isolate for 14 days — or the duration of their visit if it’s less than two weeks.

As well, New Brunswick residents no longer need to self-isolate when returning from work in another Canadian province or territory.

All organized sports can resume with appropriate physical distancing and sanitizing. Overnight camps can reopen and indoor visits can resume at long-term care facilities for one visitor at a time, or two if one of the visitors needs help.

The cap on the number of people who can gather in controlled venues — including churches, swimming pools and rinks — has been lifted, but crowd numbers will be limited by the ability to maintain physical distancing.

Masks in any building open to the general public are required except for children under the age of two, children in daycare and people who can’t wear face coverings for medical reasons.

Retail businesses, offices, restaurants, libraries, museums and seasonal campgrounds were earlier allowed to reopen providing they have clear plans for meeting public health guidelines.

The final phase, which officials have said will probably come only after a vaccine is available, is to include large gatherings.

Quebec

Premier Francois Legault says masks will be mandatory for all public transit users as of July 13.

The premier says following a two-week grace period ending July 27, anyone without a mask will not be permitted onto a public transit system anywhere in the province.

Quebec reopened several sectors and relaxed the rules for indoor gatherings on June 22, particularly impacting the Montreal area.

Restaurants can reopen in the greater Montreal and Joliette areas while indoor gatherings of up to 10 people from three households are now permitted in these regions, like elsewhere in Quebec.

Gyms, arenas, cinemas, concert venues and places of worship can reopen across the province with a maximum capacity of 50 people for indoor gatherings.

Day camps across the province have also reopened, with physical distancing. Sleep-away summer camps won’t be allowed to reopen until next year.

Residents of long term care homes that don’t have active COVID-19 cases were earlier allowed to receive visitors inside, meet people outdoors and participate in group activities.

They were also allowed to leave the facilities unaccompanied for more than 24 hours. Volunteers and hairdressers were also allowed inside the facilities.

On May 25, some retail businesses reopened in the greater Montreal area, while retail stores outside Montreal reopened on May 11.

Parks and pools have also been allowed to reopen across the province with certain restrictions.

Sports teams resumed outdoor practices on June 8, and matches can resume at the end of the month. That includes baseball, soccer and any other sports that can be played outdoors.

Quebec’s construction and manufacturing industries have resumed operations with limits on the number of employees who can work per shift. Elementary schools and daycares outside Montreal reopened on May 11, but high schools, junior colleges and universities will stay closed until September.

Elementary schools in the greater Montreal area are to remain closed until late August.

Courthouses across the province were permitted to reopen on June 1, with limited seating capacity and Plexiglas barriers protecting clerks and judges.

Camping is now allowed outside the Montreal and Joliette regions, as are cottage rentals.

Checkpoints set up to slow the spread of COVID-19 came down on May 18 in various parts of Quebec, including between Gatineau and Ottawa.

Ontario

Torontonians riding public transit must wear face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as of Thursday.

The Toronto Transit Commission made the rule last month, but it’s only now coming into effect.

Toronto city council voted to make wearing masks mandatory in public indoor settings, with the bylaw coming in to effect on July 7.

Mayor John Tory says the temporary bylaw will not affect social gatherings.

Mayors from the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area asked Premier Doug Ford on Monday to make masks mandatory across Ontario, but the premier rejected the idea.

Ferry service between Toronto and the Toronto Islands resumed on June 27 but at only 50 per cent capacity to allow for physical distancing.

The Toronto Zoo also reopened and the province said it’s loosening some restrictions around indoor sports and fitness to enable amateur and professional athletes to train.

Ontario’s two most heavily populated regions had more businesses open their doors on June 24 as Toronto and Peel moved into the next stage of the province’s COVID-19 recovery plan.

The two regions officially entered Stage 2 of the pandemic reopening framework, joining nearly all the rest of the province that began ramping up activities on June 19. All regions of the province except the southwestern communities of Leamington and Kingsville have officially entered Stage 2.

Businesses given the green light to resume operations in Toronto and Peel include hair stylists, pools and tour guide services.

Restaurants are also allowed to reopen their patios for dine-in service, though no one is yet allowed to be served indoors.

Meanwhile, the limit on social gatherings increased from five to 10 provincewide. Restrictions on wedding and funeral ceremonies were also eased. The number of people allowed to attend an indoor ceremony is restricted to 30 per cent capacity of the venue, while outdoor events are limited to 50 people. However, the number of people allowed to attend all wedding and funeral receptions remains at 10.

Ontarians can resume visiting loved ones in long-term care homes, as long as they test negative for COVID-19.

All construction has resumed, with limits also lifted on maintenance, repair and property management services, such as cleaning, painting and pool maintenance.

Golf courses can reopen though clubhouses can only open for washrooms and take-out food. Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches can also open, as can private parks and campgrounds for trailers and RVs whose owners have a full season contract, and businesses that board animals.

Short-term rentals including lodges, cabins, cottages, homes and condominiums were allowed to resume operations on June 5.

The Ontario government says students will likely return to school in September with a mix of in-class and remote learning, though boards will develop various scenarios, depending on how COVID-19 is spreading at that point. Premier Doug Ford has said there won’t be a one-size-fits-all approach in schools, but parents provincewide will have the option of sending their children back to class or keeping them learning remotely.

This summer’s Honda Indy Toronto has been cancelled.

Manitoba

Several more restrictions were eased in Manitoba on June 21.

Restaurants and bars no longer have to operate at half capacity, however tables must be two metres apart or have a physical barrier in between them. Non-smoking bingo halls and video lottery terminal lounges can also reopen at 50 per cent capacity.

Child care centres and retail stores can return to normal capacity, and people arriving in Manitoba from the other western provinces, northern territories and northwestern Ontario no longer have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Larger public gatherings are also allowed.

Instead of a cap of 25 people indoors and 50 outdoors, people can fill up to 30 per cent of the capacity of any venue as long as they can be split into groups of 50 indoors or 100 outdoors. Each group must be able to enter and exit separately.

On June 1, the province eased a ban on people visiting loved ones in personal care homes. Homes can now offer outdoor visits with a maximum of two guests per resident. Visitors will be screened upon arrival and must practice physical distancing.

Amateur sports and recreation programs, as well as bowling alleys, have been allowed to resume operations.

Elementary and high schools will not reopen this school year.

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan’s top doctor says his advice on wearing masks to protect against COVID-19 could change in the coming months.

Wearing a mask in Saskatchewan isn’t mandatory now, but chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab says it may become a rule if there’s an uptick in transmission rates.

Saskatchewan moved into the next phase of its reopening strategy on June 22.

Under Phase 4.1 camping in national parks can resume, but by reservation only.

Youth camps can reopen, but for day use only, and with guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19, including the constant disinfection of play structures and monitoring of children for coronavirus symptoms.

Outdoor sports like soccer, softball and flag football can resume, though full-contact sports remain prohibited, as does competitive play, tournaments and inter-provincial travel for games.

Shared equipment must be disinfected frequently, while congratulatory gestures, such as high fives and handshakes, are not permitted.

Saskatchewan’s outdoor swimming pools and spray parks can reopen with physical distancing, maximum capacity, and stringent cleaning rules in effect.

Though they can now do so, some municipalities, including Regina and Saskatoon, have said they won’t be reopening their outdoor pools right away.

The province is also doubling the allowable size of indoor public and private gatherings to 30 people where space allows for two metres between participants

The third phase of Saskatchewan’s reopening plan started June 8 with the province lifting a ban on non-essential travel in the north.

More businesses were also allowed to reopen, including places of worship and personal care services such as nail salons, tattoo parlours and gyms.

Up to 150 people or one-third the capacity of a building, whichever is less, can attend church services, including weddings and funerals.

Outdoor graduations can be held with a maximum 30 graduates per class and an overall attendance of 150 people. The previous limit was 15 people indoors and 30 people outdoors.

Restaurants and bars can open at half capacity, with physical distancing between tables, and child-care centres can open their doors to a maximum of 15 kids.

The second part of Phase 4 is expected to include reopening guidelines for indoor pools, rinks, libraries, museums, galleries, movie theatres, casinos and bingo halls. A date for Phase 4.2 has yet to be announced.

In Phase 5, the province will consider lifting restrictions on the size of public gatherings.

The Saskatchewan government says students will return to regular classes in September.

Alberta

In Alberta, everything from gyms and arenas to spas, movie theatres, libraries, pools and sports activities got the green light to reopen on June 12.

More people were also allowed to book campsites and sit in restaurants at the same time.

Fifty people can now gather indoors and up to 100 can congregate outside.

Among the other activities allowed to go ahead are casinos and bingo halls, community halls, instrumental concerts, massage, acupuncture and reflexology, artificial tanning and summer schools.

Major festivals and sporting events remain banned, as do nightclubs and amusement parks. Vocal concerts are not being allowed, given that singing carries a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Alberta aims to have students back in classrooms this September though Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says a final decision will be made by Aug. 1.

British Columbia

British Columbia announced on Tuesday that it would allow visitors in to long-term care homes. Provincial long-term care homes had been restricting visitors since March.

Isobel Mackenzie, B.C.’s advocate for seniors, said people were in tears after hearing government health restrictions will be eased to permit one designated person to see a long-term care resident after being limited to virtual meetings or phone calls since March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The province allowed hotels, motels, spas, resorts, hostels and RV parks to resume operating on June 24.

Premier John Horgan said the province has been successful at flattening the curve on COVID-19, which means it can ease more health restrictions and gradually move into the third phase of its reopening plan.

He said the province is able to open more industries, institutions and recreation areas, but gatherings must remain at 50 people or less.

The government allowed a partial reopening of the B.C. economy starting May 19.

The reopenings are contingent on organizations and businesses having plans that follow provincial guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19.

Parents in B.C. were given the choice of allowing their children to return to class on a part-time basis starting June 1. The government said its goal is for the return of full-time classes in September, if it’s safe.

Conventions, large concerts, international tourism and professional sports with a live audience will not be allowed to resume until either a vaccine is widely available, community immunity has been reached, or effective treatment can be provided for the disease.

Nunavut

Although Nunavut still has no confirmed cases of COVID-19, the territory did implement a wide range of public health measures to keep residents safe.

Some have since been relaxed.

Gyms and pools are available for solo workouts and lap swims.

Dental, physiotherapy, massage and chiropractic clinics, as well as offices and stores can open with appropriate safety measures.

Individuals may visit galleries, museums and libraries, and daycares are open.

Outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people are permitted while indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people. Territorial parks are being reopened for outdoor activities only and municipal playgrounds will be reopened, the government of Nunavut said in a statement on Monday.

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories announced on May 12 a three-phase reopening plan.

The plan includes more gatherings and the possible reopening of some schools and businesses. However, the territory’s borders remain closed indefinitely to non-residents and non-essential workers.

There are several requirements that must be met before any measures are relaxed: there must be no evidence of community spread; travel entry points in the territory are strong and secure; risks are reduced from workers coming into the territory; and expanded community testing is available.

Yukon

New guidelines have been released for long-term care facilities that will allow for visits with one designated person at a pre-set location outdoors.

The territory also said bars with an approved health and safety plan could reopen at half capacity under certain other restrictions starting June 19.

Travel restrictions will be lifted between Yukon and B.C. after July 1 under the second phase of the territory’s pandemic restart plan. After that date, travellers between the province and territory will no longer be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Residents of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut will be also allowed to enter Yukon without quarantining, as long as they travel directly from one of the territories or through B.C.

Territorial parks and campgrounds have also reopened.

Two households of up to 10 people in total are currently able to interact with each other as part of a “household bubble.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 1, 2020

The Canadian Press

Studies show no consistent evidence body cameras reduce police violence

KELLY GERALDINE MALONE, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jul 2nd, 2020

A Calgary police officer loudly tells an Indigenous man to put his hands on the roof of his car and, within seconds, the situation escalates to yelling. Body-worn camera video from the officer’s chest then shows the man’s head pushed into his vehicle.

Herbert Daniels, 67, made a freedom of information request to get the video of his arrest, saying it demonstrates excessive force.

Using the arrest of Daniels as an example, many politicians have been calling for wider use of police body cameras in the wake of global protests calling to defund police, claiming the technology increases accountability.

There is, however, no consistent evidence that the cameras reduce police violence.

A study in the Criminology & Public Policy journal published last year looked at 70 other studies into body-worn cameras and found the technology had statistically insignificant impacts on police and citizen behaviour.

“(Cameras) will not be an easy panacea for improving police performance, accountability, and relationships with citizens,” the study said.

A trial published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America in 2019 also found the cameras “did not meaningfully affect” police behaviour on outcomes that include complaints and use of force.

A six-month study by Western Australia Police Force in 2016 actually found a small increase in use-of-force incidents when officers wore the cameras.

Minneapolis police officers involved in the May arrest of George Floyd were wearing body cameras as one of them knelt on the Black man’s neck for several minutes and he died.

Data is still emerging in Canada about the efficacy of the cameras. Since 2010, many police forces have implemented pilot projects but most abandoned them later, saying they didn’t provide value for what they cost to both purchase the devices and store the data. Calgary is the only large police force to so far adopt the technology for front-line officers.

A final report into an Edmonton pilot project, which ran from 2011 to 2014, said the cameras had a potential for positive outcomes. But it found concerns about policy and no quantitative evidence that the cameras had an impact on complaints against officers.

“Body-worn cameras not only create concerns about the public’s privacy rights but can also affect how officers relate to people in the community, the community’s perception of the police, and expectations about how police agencies should share information,” the report said.

There have also been pilot projects in Toronto, Thunder Bay and Montreal. Montreal found the cameras had little impact on police interventions and there were significant logistical and financial challenges.

Some smaller forces have cameras for a few officers. Fredericton police have six and the force in Medicine Hat, Alta., has 10.

Recently, many communities have changed their positions on cameras. Toronto Mayor John Tory said he expects to have cameras on officers by the fall and Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said the technology will be adopted as soon as possible. The RCMP has also committed to outfitting some officers with cameras.

Nunavut is pushing forward with a pilot project for cameras after a bystander recorded footage of police using a car door to knock a man over during an arrest.

Erick Laming is a Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation PhD candidate in criminology at the University of Toronto. He also researches police use of force and oversight.

He said he’s concerned the technology is being rushed by politics and not empirical data.

“We have to look at how police respond to (situations),” he said. “It’s not really the body camera.”

Laming said there isn’t transparency about police force policies on cameras, such as ensuring public privacy, who gets access to the video or when officers are required to turn them on.

Sgt. Travis Baker leads the body camera project for the Calgary police, which has equipped about 1,150 officers with cameras.

City council originally approved $5 million to get the cameras and to fund an eight-year contract with Axon, an American company that supplies the gear and stores the data. All video is uploaded into a cloud-based storage system based in Ontario and only officers involved in an investigation get access to the video related to it, Baker said.

Before the cameras were rolled out, the Calgary force conducted a privacy impact assessment, Baker said. Broadly speaking, the policy says officers are required to record any interaction they have with the public.

An evaluation of the project is underway, with information about use-of-force and complaints to be released later this year. Baker, however, said all officers have embraced the technology.

He said the cameras hold police and the public accountable.

“We truly see it as a tool,” Baker said. “It gathers evidence at a level that is unprecedented. It keeps absolutely everybody engaged and honest in the interaction.”

A look at how provinces plan to emerge from COVID-19 shutdown

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jul 2nd, 2020

Provinces and territories have been releasing plans for easing restrictions that were put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Here is what some of the provinces have announced so far:

Newfoundland and Labrador

The province said Tuesday that it will begin allowing provincial historic sites to reopen, starting July 4.

All sites will have one-way flow patterns for visitors, with designated entrance and exit doors where possible.

The province entered “Alert Level 3” on June 8 in its five stage reopening plan. It means groups of up to 20 people are now permitted, as long as they observe physical distancing. Up to 19 people are allowed on public transit.

Private health clinics, such as optometrists and dentists, can open, as well as medium-risk businesses such as clothing stores and hair salons.

Eleven government service centres reopened to offer in-person services that can be booked by appointment, including written tests, driver exams and identification photos.

During Level 4, some businesses such as law firms and other professional services were allowed to reopen along with regulated child-care centres, with some restrictions.

Outdoor games of tennis were allowed to resume, though players must bring their own equipment and not share it.

At Level 2, businesses with performance spaces and gyms are to reopen, while Level 1 would represent “the new normal.”

The four Atlantic provinces have also announced plans to ease interprovincial travel restrictions, creating a so-called “bubble” as the region has reported relatively few new COVID-19 infections in recent weeks.

As of July 3, residents of Atlantic Canada will be allowed to travel within the region without having to self-isolate for two weeks when arriving in another province.

Visitors from provinces and territories outside the region will still be required to self-isolate for 14 days and adhere to local entry requirements. However, once the self-isolation period has passed, those visitors will also be allowed to travel within the Atlantic region.

Nova Scotia

The province announced on June 26 that all bars and restaurants could resume operating at full capacity and serve customers until midnight. However, establishments must continue to adhere to physical distancing rules.

The province is also allowing private campgrounds to operate at 100 per cent capacity.  Provincial campgrounds reopened June 15 at reduced capacity to ensure a minimum of six metres between individual sites.

All public pools can now reopen with physical distancing for lane swimming and aquafit classes.

On Friday (July 3), Nova Scotia will increase the limits on gatherings organized by recognized business or community organizations. That includes weddings, funerals, cultural events, concerts, festivals, dance recitals and faith-based gatherings, which will increase to 250 people if they’re outdoors and 200 — with maximum 50 per cent capacity — if they’re indoors. In either case, physical distancing is still required.

These events do not include family gatherings, which remain limited to a 50-person maximum with physical distancing.

The province earlier announced that Nova Scotians could start gathering in close social groups of up to 10 without physical distancing.

Licensed child-care centres and family daycare homes reopened across the province on June 15.

Nova Scotia has allowed summer day camps for children to open as long as they have a plan to follow public health measures.

Most businesses ordered shut in late March were allowed to reopen on June 5. The list of businesses includes bars and restaurant dining rooms, hair salons, barber shops, gyms and yoga studios, among others.

Some health providers were also able to reopen, including dentistry, optometry, chiropractic and physiotherapy offices.

The province has said there will be no return to school this year.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island moved into Phase 4 of its reopening strategy over the weekend.

Households can now gather in groups of up to 15 indoors and up to 100 people can congregate in larger venues. People can also gather for religious services of up to 50, or up to 100 in larger churches.

More personal services are also available and casinos are reopening.

Under Phase 3, which began June 1, in-house dining at restaurants was allowed. Small groups were permitted to participate in recreational and some sporting activities and libraries got the green light to reopen. Gatherings of up to 15 people indoors and 20 people outdoors and the reopening of child-care centres were also allowed.

As well, family and friends could once again visit residents at long-term care homes, though the visits require an appointment and must take place outdoors.

People wanting to travel to seasonal residences can apply to do so, and will be put through a risk assessment before approval. Seasonal residents will also to be tested for COVID-19 before completing two weeks in self-isolation after arriving in the province.

Under Phase 2, non-contact outdoor recreational activities were permitted, and retail businesses could reopen with physical distancing and select health-service providers.

Priority non-urgent surgeries resumed on May 1.

The P.E.I. legislature resumed May 26.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick marked one week since it last saw a positive case on Tuesday.

The province moved to the yellow phase of its COVID-19 recovery plan back on May 22, allowing barbers and hair stylists to reopen as well as churches and fitness facilities. Dental care, massage, chiropractors and other “close contact” businesses and services could also reopen.

But the Campbellton region, which extends from Whites Brook to the Belledune, had to take a step backwards to the “orange” level on May 27. Residents were told to once again avoid contacts outside their two-household bubble. Non-regulated health professionals and personal service businesses that opened May 22 also had to close again. And people should only be travelling in and out of Zone 5 for essential reasons.

Further restrictions were lifted on June 5. Outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people were allowed, as well as indoor religious services of up to 50 people, low-contact team sports and the opening of a long list of facilities including swimming pools, gyms, rinks, water parks, and yoga and dance studios.

Under New Brunswick’s latest recovery rules, Canadian residents can now visit family members or properties they own in the province, provided they self-isolate for 14 days — or the duration of their visit if it’s less than two weeks.

As well, New Brunswick residents no longer need to self-isolate when returning from work in another Canadian province or territory.

All organized sports can resume with appropriate physical distancing and sanitizing. Overnight camps can reopen and indoor visits can resume at long-term care facilities for one visitor at a time, or two if one of the visitors needs help.

The cap on the number of people who can gather in controlled venues — including churches, swimming pools and rinks — has been lifted, but crowd numbers will be limited by the ability to maintain physical distancing.

Masks in any building open to the general public are required except for children under the age of two, children in daycare and people who can’t wear face coverings for medical reasons.

Retail businesses, offices, restaurants, libraries, museums and seasonal campgrounds were earlier allowed to reopen providing they have clear plans for meeting public health guidelines.

The final phase, which officials have said will probably come only after a vaccine is available, is to include large gatherings.

Quebec

Premier Francois Legault says masks will be mandatory for all public transit users as of July 13.

The premier says following a two-week grace period ending July 27, anyone without a mask will not be permitted onto a public transit system anywhere in the province.

Quebec reopened several sectors and relaxed the rules for indoor gatherings on June 22, particularly impacting the Montreal area.

Restaurants can reopen in the greater Montreal and Joliette areas while indoor gatherings of up to 10 people from three households are now permitted in these regions, like elsewhere in Quebec.

Gyms, arenas, cinemas, concert venues and places of worship can reopen across the province with a maximum capacity of 50 people for indoor gatherings.

Day camps across the province have also reopened, with physical distancing. Sleep-away summer camps won’t be allowed to reopen until next year.

Residents of long term care homes that don’t have active COVID-19 cases were earlier allowed to receive visitors inside, meet people outdoors and participate in group activities.

They were also allowed to leave the facilities unaccompanied for more than 24 hours. Volunteers and hairdressers were also allowed inside the facilities.

On May 25, some retail businesses reopened in the greater Montreal area, while retail stores outside Montreal reopened on May 11.

Parks and pools have also been allowed to reopen across the province with certain restrictions.

Sports teams resumed outdoor practices on June 8, and matches can resume at the end of the month. That includes baseball, soccer and any other sports that can be played outdoors.

Quebec’s construction and manufacturing industries have resumed operations with limits on the number of employees who can work per shift. Elementary schools and daycares outside Montreal reopened on May 11, but high schools, junior colleges and universities will stay closed until September.

Elementary schools in the greater Montreal area are to remain closed until late August.

Courthouses across the province were permitted to reopen on June 1, with limited seating capacity and Plexiglas barriers protecting clerks and judges.

Camping is now allowed outside the Montreal and Joliette regions, as are cottage rentals.

Checkpoints set up to slow the spread of COVID-19 came down on May 18 in various parts of Quebec, including between Gatineau and Ottawa.

Ontario

Starting today, Torontonians riding public transit must wear face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Toronto Transit Commission made the rule last month, but it’s only now coming into effect.

Toronto city council voted to make wearing masks mandatory in public indoor settings, with the bylaw coming in to effect on July 7.

Mayor John Tory says the temporary bylaw will not affect social gatherings.

Mayors from the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area asked Premier Doug Ford on Monday to make masks mandatory across Ontario, but the premier rejected the idea.

Ferry service between Toronto and the Toronto Islands resumed on June 27 but at only 50 per cent capacity to allow for physical distancing.

The Toronto Zoo also reopened and the province said it’s loosening some restrictions around indoor sports and fitness to enable amateur and professional athletes to train.

Ontario’s two most heavily populated regions had more businesses open their doors on June 24 as Toronto and Peel moved into the next stage of the province’s COVID-19 recovery plan.

The two regions officially entered Stage 2 of the pandemic reopening framework, joining nearly all the rest of the province that began ramping up activities on June 19. All regions of the province except the southwestern communities of Leamington and Kingsville have officially entered Stage 2.

Businesses given the green light to resume operations in Toronto and Peel include hair stylists, pools and tour guide services.

Restaurants are also allowed to reopen their patios for dine-in service, though no one is yet allowed to be served indoors.

Meanwhile, the limit on social gatherings increased from five to 10 provincewide. Restrictions on wedding and funeral ceremonies were also eased. The number of people allowed to attend an indoor ceremony is restricted to 30 per cent capacity of the venue, while outdoor events are limited to 50 people. However, the number of people allowed to attend all wedding and funeral receptions remains at 10.

Ontarians can resume visiting loved ones in long-term care homes, as long as they test negative for COVID-19.

All construction has resumed, with limits also lifted on maintenance, repair and property management services, such as cleaning, painting and pool maintenance.

Golf courses can reopen though clubhouses can only open for washrooms and take-out food. Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches can also open, as can private parks and campgrounds for trailers and RVs whose owners have a full season contract, and businesses that board animals.

Short-term rentals including lodges, cabins, cottages, homes and condominiums were allowed to resume operations on June 5.

The Ontario government says students will likely return to school in September with a mix of in-class and remote learning, though boards will develop various scenarios, depending on how COVID-19 is spreading at that point. Premier Doug Ford has said there won’t be a one-size-fits-all approach in schools, but parents provincewide will have the option of sending their children back to class or keeping them learning remotely.

This summer’s Honda Indy Toronto has been cancelled.

Manitoba

Several more restrictions were eased in Manitoba on June 21.

Restaurants and bars no longer have to operate at half capacity, however tables must be two metres apart or have a physical barrier in between them. Non-smoking bingo halls and video lottery terminal lounges can also reopen at 50 per cent capacity.

Child care centres and retail stores can return to normal capacity, and people arriving in Manitoba from the other western provinces, northern territories and northwestern Ontario no longer have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Larger public gatherings are also allowed.

Instead of a cap of 25 people indoors and 50 outdoors, people can fill up to 30 per cent of the capacity of any venue as long as they can be split into groups of 50 indoors or 100 outdoors. Each group must be able to enter and exit separately.

On June 1, the province eased a ban on people visiting loved ones in personal care homes. Homes can now offer outdoor visits with a maximum of two guests per resident. Visitors will be screened upon arrival and must practice physical distancing.

Amateur sports and recreation programs, as well as bowling alleys, have been allowed to resume operations.

Elementary and high schools will not reopen this school year.

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan’s top doctor says his advice on wearing masks to protect against COVID-19 could change in the coming months.

Wearing a mask in Saskatchewan isn’t mandatory now, but chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab says it may become a rule if there’s an uptick in transmission rates.

Saskatchewan moved into the next phase of its reopening strategy on June 22.

Under Phase 4.1 camping in national parks can resume, but by reservation only.

Youth camps can reopen, but for day use only, and with guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19, including the constant disinfection of play structures and monitoring of children for coronavirus symptoms.

Outdoor sports like soccer, softball and flag football can resume, though full-contact sports remain prohibited, as does competitive play, tournaments and inter-provincial travel for games.

Shared equipment must be disinfected frequently, while congratulatory gestures, such as high fives and handshakes, are not permitted.

Saskatchewan’s outdoor swimming pools and spray parks can reopen with physical distancing, maximum capacity, and stringent cleaning rules in effect.

Though they can now do so, some municipalities, including Regina and Saskatoon, have said they won’t be reopening their outdoor pools right away.

The province is also doubling the allowable size of indoor public and private gatherings to 30 people where space allows for two metres between participants

The third phase of Saskatchewan’s reopening plan started June 8 with the province lifting a ban on non-essential travel in the north.

More businesses were also allowed to reopen, including places of worship and personal care services such as nail salons, tattoo parlours and gyms.

Up to 150 people or one-third the capacity of a building, whichever is less, can attend church services, including weddings and funerals.

Outdoor graduations can be held with a maximum 30 graduates per class and an overall attendance of 150 people. The previous limit was 15 people indoors and 30 people outdoors.

Restaurants and bars can open at half capacity, with physical distancing between tables, and child-care centres can open their doors to a maximum of 15 kids.

The second part of Phase 4 is expected to include reopening guidelines for indoor pools, rinks, libraries, museums, galleries, movie theatres, casinos and bingo halls. A date for Phase 4.2 has yet to be announced.

In Phase 5, the province will consider lifting restrictions on the size of public gatherings.

The Saskatchewan government says students will return to regular classes in September.

Alberta

In Alberta, everything from gyms and arenas to spas, movie theatres, libraries, pools and sports activities got the green light to reopen on June 12.

More people were also allowed to book campsites and sit in restaurants at the same time.

Fifty people can now gather indoors and up to 100 can congregate outside.

Among the other activities allowed to go ahead are casinos and bingo halls, community halls, instrumental concerts, massage, acupuncture and reflexology, artificial tanning and summer schools.

Major festivals and sporting events remain banned, as do nightclubs and amusement parks. Vocal concerts are not being allowed, given that singing carries a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Alberta aims to have students back in classrooms this September though Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says a final decision will be made by Aug. 1.

British Columbia

British Columbia announced on Tuesday that it would allow visitors in to long-term care homes. Provincial long-term care homes had been restricting visitors since March.

Isobel Mackenzie, B.C.’s advocate for seniors, said people were in tears after hearing government health restrictions will be eased to permit one designated person to see a long-term care resident after being limited to virtual meetings or phone calls since March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The province allowed hotels, motels, spas, resorts, hostels and RV parks to resume operating on June 24.

Premier John Horgan said the province has been successful at flattening the curve on COVID-19, which means it can ease more health restrictions and gradually move into the third phase of its reopening plan.

He said the province is able to open more industries, institutions and recreation areas, but gatherings must remain at 50 people or less.

The government allowed a partial reopening of the B.C. economy starting May 19.

The reopenings are contingent on organizations and businesses having plans that follow provincial guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19.

Parents in B.C. were given the choice of allowing their children to return to class on a part-time basis starting June 1. The government said its goal is for the return of full-time classes in September, if it’s safe.

Conventions, large concerts, international tourism and professional sports with a live audience will not be allowed to resume until either a vaccine is widely available, community immunity has been reached, or effective treatment can be provided for the disease.

Nunavut

Although Nunavut still has no confirmed cases of COVID-19, the territory did implement a wide range of public health measures to keep residents safe.

Some have since been relaxed.

Gyms and pools are available for solo workouts and lap swims.

Dental, physiotherapy, massage and chiropractic clinics, as well as offices and stores can open with appropriate safety measures.

Individuals may visit galleries, museums and libraries, and daycares are open.

Outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people are permitted while indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people. Territorial parks are being reopened for outdoor activities only and municipal playgrounds will be reopened, the government of Nunavut said in a statement on Monday.

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories announced on May 12 a three-phase reopening plan.

The plan includes more gatherings and the possible reopening of some schools and businesses. However, the territory’s borders remain closed indefinitely to non-residents and non-essential workers.

There are several requirements that must be met before any measures are relaxed: there must be no evidence of community spread; travel entry points in the territory are strong and secure; risks are reduced from workers coming into the territory; and expanded community testing is available.

Yukon

New guidelines have been released for long-term care facilities that will allow for visits with one designated person at a pre-set location outdoors.

The territory also said bars with an approved health and safety plan could reopen at half capacity under certain other restrictions starting June 19.

Travel restrictions will be lifted between Yukon and B.C. after July 1 under the second phase of the territory’s pandemic restart plan. After that date, travellers between the province and territory will no longer be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Residents of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut will be also allowed to enter Yukon without quarantining, as long as they travel directly from one of the territories or through B.C.

Territorial parks and campgrounds have also reopened.

Two households of up to 10 people in total are currently able to interact with each other as part of a “household bubble.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 1, 2020

The Canadian Press

3 children under 5 killed in tractor accident, 7 others injured

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jul 2nd, 2020

Three children under the age of five are dead following a tractor accident Wednesday evening southeast of Montreal.

Provincial police say seven other people were injured in the mishap in Notre-Dame-de-Stanbridge, about 55 kilometres southeast of Montreal.

The injured include three children whose lives are not believed to be in danger, and four adults, two of whom are in critical condition.

The accident occurred shortly before 7 p.m. as the farm tractor was apparently carrying 10 people and pieces of wood in its front shovel.

Provincial police spokeswoman Anik Lamirande says that for unknown reasons, all the people were suddenly thrown from the shovel.

Police say alcohol could have been a factor in the accident, and the tractor’s driver, a man in his 30s, has been arrested and is expected to appear in court later today.

Poll suggests COVID-19 not changing Canada Day for many Canadians

STEPHANIE LEVITZ, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jun 30th, 2020

COVID-19 means the true north is not entirely free this Canada Day, but a new survey suggests that’s not going to change how many people mark the holiday.

Leger Marketing and Association for Canadian Studies surveyed Canadians asking whether, given all that’s gone on in the last three months with the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ll be more or less likely to find a way to celebrate this year.

For 42 per cent of those polled, this Canada Day will be no different than any other.

Sixteen per cent overall of those surveyed are feeling that true patriot love — they say they’re more likely this year to find a way to celebrate, even if it’s just a small gathering.

The feeling is strongest in B.C., the province widely seen as weathering the COVID-19 storm better than others. There, 22 per cent say they’re more likely to party.

But 38 per cent overall in Canada are standing on guard, saying it’s actually less likely they’ll mark the holiday.

In Ontario, still struggling with pockets of oubtreaks, 44 per cent say they’re less likely to mark the occasion, and the figure is the same for those in Alberta.

In the U.S., where there is a surge of outbreaks and some states have even revised their opening plans, 39 per cent of those polled say it’s less likely they’ll mark their own national holiday, the Fourth of July.

For 35 per cent of Americans, their plans are unchanged, while 18 per cent say they’re more likely to celebrate.

The poll surveyed 1,524 Canadians and 1,002 Americans online between June 26 and June 28 and cannot assigned a margin of error because internet polls are not considered truly random.

As both countries get set to celebrate, there is more of a divide when it comes to how they’re feeling about their respective nations.

Of those polled, 90 per cent say they’re proud to be Canadian, compared to 74 per cent of Americans.

For Americans, it is a phrase rooted in the Declaration of Independence that gives them the most pride: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — 93 per cent said that was the thing that made them most proud to be American.

For Canadians, the slightly less cinematic slogan of “peace, order and good government” was also at the top of the list, as was universal health care, the natural landscape and equal rights.

Mid-way through the rankings? Political leadership. Fifty-five per cent of Canadians surveyed said it was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who makes them proud, compared to 42 per cent who feel the same about U.S. President Donald Trump.

A look at how provinces plan to emerge from COVID-19 shutdown

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jun 30th, 2020

Provinces and territories have been releasing plans for easing restrictions that were put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Here is what some of the provinces have announced so far:

Newfoundland and Labrador

The province entered “Alert Level 3” on June 8 in its five stage reopening plan. It means groups of up to 20 people are now permitted, as long as they observe physical distancing. Up to 19 people are allowed on public transit.

Private health clinics, such as optometrists and dentists, can open, as well as medium-risk businesses such as clothing stores and hair salons.

Eleven government service centres reopened to offer in-person services that can be booked by appointment, including written tests, driver exams and identification photos.

During Level 4, some businesses such as law firms and other professional services were allowed to reopen along with regulated child-care centres, with some restrictions.

Outdoor games of tennis were allowed to resume, though players must bring their own equipment and not share it.

At Level 2, businesses with performance spaces and gyms are to reopen, while Level 1 would represent “the new normal.”

The four Atlantic provinces have also announced plans to ease interprovincial travel restrictions, creating a so-called “bubble” as the region has reported relatively few new COVID-19 infections in recent weeks.

As of July 3, residents of Atlantic Canada will be allowed to travel within the region without having to self-isolate for two weeks when arriving in another province.

Visitors from provinces and territories outside the region will still be required to self-isolate for 14 days and adhere to local entry requirements. However, once the self-isolation period has passed, those visitors will also be allowed to travel within the Atlantic region.

Nova Scotia

The province announced on June 26 that all bars and restaurants could resume operating at full capacity and serve customers until midnight. However, establishments must continue to adhere to physical distancing rules.

The province is also allowing private campgrounds to operate at 100 per cent capacity.  Provincial campgrounds reopened June 15 at reduced capacity to ensure a minimum of six metres between individual sites.

All public pools can now reopen with physical distancing for lane swimming and aquafit classes.

On Friday (July 3), Nova Scotia will increase the limits on gatherings organized by recognized business or community organizations. That includes weddings, funerals, cultural events, concerts, festivals, dance recitals and faith-based gatherings, which will increase to 250 people if they’re outdoors and 200 — with maximum 50 per cent capacity — if they’re indoors. In either case, physical distancing is still required.

These events do not include family gatherings, which remain limited to a 50-person maximum with physical distancing.

The province earlier announced that Nova Scotians could start gathering in close social groups of up to 10 without physical distancing.

Licensed child-care centres and family daycare homes reopened across the province on June 15.

Nova Scotia has allowed summer day camps for children to open as long as they have a plan to follow public health measures.

Most businesses ordered shut in late March were allowed to reopen on June 5. The list of businesses includes bars and restaurant dining rooms, hair salons, barber shops, gyms and yoga studios, among others.

Some health providers were also able to reopen, including dentistry, optometry, chiropractic and physiotherapy offices.

The province has said there will be no return to school this year.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island moved into Phase 4 of its reopening strategy over the weekend.

Households can now gather in groups of up to 15 indoors and up to 100 people can congregate in larger venues. People can also gather for religious services of up to 50, or up to 100 in larger churches.

More personal services are also available and casinos are reopening.

Under Phase 3, which began June 1, in-house dining at restaurants was allowed. Small groups were permitted to participate in recreational and some sporting activities and libraries got the green light to reopen. Gatherings of up to 15 people indoors and 20 people outdoors and the reopening of child-care centres were also allowed.

As well, family and friends could once again visit residents at long-term care homes, though the visits require an appointment and must take place outdoors.

People wanting to travel to seasonal residences can apply to do so, and will be put through a risk assessment before approval. Seasonal residents will also to be tested for COVID-19 before completing two weeks in self-isolation after arriving in the province.

Under Phase 2, non-contact outdoor recreational activities were permitted, and retail businesses could reopen with physical distancing and select health-service providers.

Priority non-urgent surgeries resumed on May 1.

The P.E.I legislature resumed May 26.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick moved to the yellow phase of its COVID-19 recovery plan on May 22, allowing barbers and hair stylists to reopen as well as churches and fitness facilities. Dental care, massage, chiropractors and other “close contact” businesses and services could also reopen.

But the Campbellton region, which extends from Whites Brook to the Belledune, had to take a step backward to the “orange” level on May 27. Residents were told to once again avoid contacts outside their two-household bubble. Non-regulated health professionals and personal service businesses that opened May 22 also had to close again. And people should only be travelling in and out of Zone 5 for essential reasons.

Further restrictions were lifted on June 5. Outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people were allowed, as well as indoor religious services of up to 50 people, low-contact team sports and the opening of a long list of facilities including swimming pools, gyms, rinks, water parks, and yoga and dance studios.

Under New Brunswick’s latest recovery rules, Canadian residents can now visit family members or properties they own in the province, provided they self-isolate for 14 days — or the duration of their visit if it’s less than two weeks.

As well, New Brunswick residents no longer need to self-isolate when returning from work in another Canadian province or territory.

All organized sports can resume with appropriate physical distancing and sanitizing. Overnight camps can reopen and indoor visits can resume at long-term care facilities for one visitor at a time, or two if one of the visitors needs help.

The cap on the number of people who can gather in controlled venues — including churches, swimming pools and rinks — has been lifted, but crowd numbers will be limited by the ability to maintain physical distancing.

Masks in any building open to the general public are required except for children under the age of two, children in daycare and people who can’t wear face coverings for medical reasons.

Retail businesses, offices, restaurants, libraries, museums and seasonal campgrounds were earlier allowed to reopen providing they have clear plans for meeting public health guidelines.

The final phase, which officials have said will probably come only after a vaccine is available, is to include large gatherings.

Quebec

Quebec reopened several sectors and relaxed the rules for indoor gatherings on June 22, particularly impacting the Montreal area.

Restaurants can reopen in the greater Montreal and Joliette areas while indoor gatherings of up to 10 people from three households are now permitted in these regions, like elsewhere in Quebec.

Gyms, arenas, cinemas, concert venues and places of worship can reopen across the province with a maximum capacity of 50 people for indoor gatherings.

Day camps across the province have also reopened, with physical distancing. Sleep-away summer camps won’t be allowed to reopen until next year.

Residents of long term care homes that don’t have active COVID-19 cases were earlier allowed to receive visitors inside, meet people outdoors and participate in group activities.

They were also allowed to leave the facilities unaccompanied for more than 24 hours. Volunteers and hairdressers were also allowed inside the facilities.

On May 25, some retail businesses reopened in the greater Montreal area, while retail stores outside Montreal reopened on May 11.

Parks and pools have also been allowed to reopen across the province with certain restrictions.

Sports teams resumed outdoor practices on June 8, and matches can resume at the end of the month. That includes baseball, soccer and any other sports that can be played outdoors.

Quebec’s construction and manufacturing industries have resumed operations with limits on the number of employees who can work per shift. Elementary schools and daycares outside Montreal reopened on May 11, but high schools, junior colleges and universities will stay closed until September.

Elementary schools in the greater Montreal area are to remain closed until late August.

Courthouses across the province were permitted to reopen on June 1, with limited seating capacity and Plexiglas barriers protecting clerks and judges.

Camping is now allowed outside the Montreal and Joliette regions, as are cottage rentals.

Checkpoints set up to slow the spread of COVID-19 came down on May 18 in various parts of Quebec, including between Gatineau and Ottawa.

Ontario

Ferry service between Toronto and the Toronto Islands resumed on June 27 but at only 50 per cent capacity to allow for physical distancing.

The Toronto Zoo also reopened and the province said it’s loosening some restrictions around indoor sports and fitness to enable amateur and professional athletes to train.

Ontario’s two most heavily populated regions saw more businesses open their doors on June 24 as Toronto and Peel moved into the next stage of the province’s COVID-19 recovery plan.

The two regions officially entered Stage 2 of the pandemic reopening framework, joining nearly all the rest of the province that began ramping up activities on June 19. All regions of the province except the southwestern communities of Leamington and Kingsville have officially entered Stage 2.

Businesses given the green light to resume operations in Toronto and Peel include hair stylists, pools and tour guide services.

Restaurants are also allowed to reopen their patios for dine-in service, though no one is yet allowed to be served indoors.

Meanwhile, the limit on social gatherings increased from five to 10 provincewide. Restrictions on wedding and funeral ceremonies were also eased. The number of people allowed to attend an indoor ceremony is restricted to 30 per cent capacity of the venue, while outdoor events are limited to 50 people. However, the number of people allowed to attend all wedding and funeral receptions remains at 10.

Ontarians can resume visiting loved ones in long-term care homes, as long as they test negative for COVID-19.

All construction has resumed, with limits also lifted on maintenance, repair and property management services, such as cleaning, painting and pool maintenance.

Golf courses can reopen though clubhouses can only open for washrooms and take-out food. Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches can also open, as can private parks and campgrounds for trailers and RVs whose owners have a full season contract, and businesses that board animals.

Short-term rentals including lodges, cabins, cottages, homes and condominiums were allowed to resume operations on June 5.

The Ontario government says students will likely return to school in September with a mix of in-class and remote learning, though boards will develop various scenarios, depending on how COVID-19 is spreading at that point. Premier Doug Ford has said there won’t be a one-size-fits-all approach in schools, but parents provincewide will have the option of sending their children back to class or keeping them learning remotely.

Ontario schools are to remain closed for the rest of the current school year.

This summer’s Honda Indy Toronto has been cancelled.

Manitoba

Several more restrictions were eased in Manitoba on June 21.

Restaurants and bars no longer have to operate at half capacity, however, tables must be two metres apart or have a physical barrier in between them. Non-smoking bingo halls and video lottery terminal lounges can also reopen at 50 per cent capacity.

Child care centres and retail stores can return to normal capacity, and people arriving in Manitoba from the other western provinces, northern territories and northwestern Ontario no longer have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Larger public gatherings are also allowed.

Instead of a cap of 25 people indoors and 50 outdoors, people can fill up to 30 per cent of the capacity of any venue as long as they can be split into groups of 50 indoors or 100 outdoors. Each group must be able to enter and exit separately.

On June 1, the province eased a ban on people visiting loved ones in personal care homes. Homes can now offer outdoor visits with a maximum of two guests per resident. Visitors will be screened upon arrival and must practice physical distancing.

Amateur sports and recreation programs, as well as bowling alleys, have been allowed to resume operations.

Elementary and high schools will not reopen this school year.

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan moved into the next phase of its reopening strategy on June 22.

Under Phase 4.1 camping in national parks can resume, but by reservation only.

Youth camps can reopen, but for day use only, and with guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19, including the constant disinfection of play structures and monitoring of children for coronavirus symptoms.

Outdoor sports like soccer, softball and flag football can resume, though full-contact sports remain prohibited, as does competitive play, tournaments and inter-provincial travel for games.

Shared equipment must be disinfected frequently, while congratulatory gestures, such as high fives and handshakes, are not permitted.

Saskatchewan’s outdoor swimming pools and spray parks can reopen with physical distancing, maximum capacity, and stringent cleaning rules in effect.

Though they can now do so, some municipalities, including Regina and Saskatoon, have said they won’t be reopening their outdoor pools right away.

The province is also doubling the allowable size of indoor public and private gatherings to 30 people where space allows for two metres between participants

The third phase of Saskatchewan’s reopening plan started June 8 with the province lifting a ban on non-essential travel in the north.

More businesses were also allowed to reopen, including places of worship and personal care services such as nail salons, tattoo parlours and gyms.

Up to 150 people or one-third the capacity of a building, whichever is less, can attend church services, including weddings and funerals.

Outdoor graduations can be held with a maximum 30 graduates per class and an overall attendance of 150 people. The previous limit was 15 people indoors and 30 people outdoors.

Restaurants and bars can open at half capacity, with physical distancing between tables, and child-care centres can open their doors to a maximum of 15 kids.

The second part of Phase 4 is expected to include reopening guidelines for indoor pools, rinks, libraries, museums, galleries, movie theatres, casinos and bingo halls. A date for Phase 4.2 has yet to be announced.

In Phase 5, the province will consider lifting restrictions on the size of public gatherings.

The Saskatchewan government says students will return to regular classes in September.

Alberta

In Alberta, everything from gyms and arenas to spas, movie theatres, libraries, pools and sports activities got the green light to reopen on June 12.

More people were also allowed to book campsites and sit in restaurants at the same time.

Fifty people can now gather indoors and up to 100 can congregate outside.

Among the other activities allowed to go ahead are casinos and bingo halls, community halls, instrumental concerts, massage, acupuncture and reflexology, artificial tanning and summer schools.

Major festivals and sporting events remain banned, as do nightclubs and amusement parks. Vocal concerts are not being allowed, given that singing carries a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Alberta aims to have students back in classrooms this September though Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says a final decision will be made by Aug. 1.

British Columbia

British Columbia allowed hotels, motels, spas, resorts, hostels and RV parks to resume operating on June 24.

Premier John Horgan said the province has been successful at flattening the curve on COVID-19, which means it can ease more health restrictions and move into the third phase of its reopening plan.

He said the province is able to open more industries, institutions and recreation areas, but gatherings must remain at 50 people or less.

The government allowed a partial reopening of the B.C. economy starting May 19.

The reopenings are contingent on organizations and businesses having plans that follow provincial guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19.

Parents in B.C. were given the choice of allowing their children to return to class on a part-time basis starting June 1. The government said its goal is for the return of full-time classes in September, if it’s safe.

Conventions, large concerts, international tourism and professional sports with a live audience will not be allowed to resume until either a vaccine is widely available, community immunity has been reached, or effective treatment can be provided for the disease.

Nunavut

Although Nunavut still has no confirmed cases of COVID-19, the territory did implement a wide range of public health measures to keep residents safe.

Some have since been relaxed.

Gyms and pools are available for solo workouts and lap swims.

Dental, physiotherapy, massage and chiropractic clinics, as well as offices and stores can open with appropriate safety measures.

Individuals may visit galleries, museums and libraries, and daycares are open.

Outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people are permitted while indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people. Territorial parks are being reopened for outdoor activites only and municipal playgrounds will be reopened, the government of Nunavut said in a statement on Monday.

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories announced on May 12 a three-phase reopening plan.

The plan includes more gatherings and the possible reopening of some schools and businesses. However, the territory’s borders remain closed indefinitely to non-residents and non-essential workers.

There are several requirements that must be met before any measures are relaxed: there must be no evidence of community spread; travel entry points in the territory are strong and secure; risks are reduced from workers coming into the territory; and expanded community testing is available.

Yukon

New guidelines have been released for long-term care facilities that will allow for visits with one designated person at a pre-set location outdoors.

The territory also said bars with an approved health and safety plan could reopen at half capacity under certain other restrictions starting June 19.

Travel restrictions will be lifted between Yukon and B.C. after July 1 under the second phase of the territory’s pandemic restart plan. After that date, travellers between the province and territory will no longer be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Residents of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut will be also allowed to enter Yukon without quarantining, as long as they travel directly from one of the territories or through B.C.

Territorial parks and campgrounds have also reopened.

Two households of up to 10 people in total are currently able to interact with each other as part of a “household bubble.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 30, 2020

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jun 30th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 2 a.m. ET on June 30, 2020:

There are 103,918 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 55,390 confirmed (including 5,485 deaths, 24,602 resolved)

_ Ontario: 34,911 confirmed (including 2,665 deaths, 30,196 resolved)

_ Alberta: 8,067 confirmed (including 154 deaths, 7,354 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 2,904 confirmed (including 174 deaths, 2,577 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,061 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 998 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 779 confirmed (including 13 deaths, 679 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 313 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 300 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 165 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 158 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 27 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 103,918 (11 presumptive, 103,907 confirmed including 8,566 deaths, 67,178 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 30, 2020.

The Canadian Press

B.C. teenager photographs personal experiences of people around the world

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jun 29th, 2020

VANCOUVER — A 17-year-old British Columbia student has been documenting the personal experiences of strangers around the world during this pandemic one photograph at a time.

Asalah Youssef of Langley Fine Arts School said the Screenshots of Home project came about from a yearning to create and connect with people who are united in isolation.

“I mean, the whole world was told to stay at home,” she said.

Youssef said she was seeing people connect virtually, which got her thinking about photography in a different way.

“I put down my regular camera, pushed my Canon camera to the side and picked up my phone to start photographing people virtually.”

Since April, she has photographed 45 people from different parts of the world including Lebanon, the United States, London, Costa Rica, Tanzania, Ecuador, France, Mexico and Israel.

The teen reaches out to people through Instagram, tells them about her project and asks if they want to participate, she said, adding that she met some people through friends.

“The beginning is just us having a conversation because, as you can imagine, I’m asking something quite personal of them — to have a FaceTime call and to document them and photograph them.”

She eventually leads them through lighting, posing, and where to position their phone, then takes a screen shot, Youssef explained.

“It’s a beautiful collaboration between me and someone who, most of the time, I have never met before.”

The clarity of the photos surprised her, she said with a laugh.

“Sometimes you can see the glitchiness of the photograph and, you know what, I kind of embrace that because I think… it’s telling of the way it was taken,” she said.

“But sometimes you can’t even tell it’s on FaceTime, which is also quite beautiful.”

These photographs, Youssef said, are helping her stay in the present, embrace and work with the situation, and look for joy and beauty in the every day.

“It is highlighting the more personal part of this pandemic and the experience of quarantining at home. A hundred years from now, people are going to look at these photographs and see all different experiences and get a really personal look into this pandemic.”

Youssef noted that one of the most memorable shoots was a woman in the state of New Jersey who is a fashion designer and has been getting through the pandemic and lockdown by creating pieces of clothing and masks.

“She said to me during the shoot ‘creativity cannot be quarantined’. She was such a bright and colourful person and it was really lovely leaving the conversation just feeling so filled, like my cup was full having this conversation with a fellow artist I had never met before who I connected with during this time.”

Another conversation Youssef said touched her was with a woman in France who lost her father during quarantine.

“She couldn’t hold his hand and she was saying how absolutely devastating that was and how much emotion that brought up for her. Her photo is her leaning up against a wall and you can feel that emotion through it.”

Youssef said her mother and she were recently having a conversation about “how cool it would be” to do a second instalment of Screenshots of Home, where she visits the same people in person once everyone gets through it.

“That would be quite special. You never know.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2020.

The Canadian Press

A look at how provinces plan to emerge from COVID-19 shutdown

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jun 29th, 2020

Provinces and territories have been releasing plans for easing restrictions that were put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Here is what some of the provinces have announced so far:

Newfoundland and Labrador

The province entered “Alert Level 3” on June 8 in its five stage reopening plan. It means groups of up to 20 people are now permitted, as long as they observe physical distancing. Up to 19 people are allowed on public transit.

Private health clinics, such as optometrists and dentists, can open, as well as medium-risk businesses such as clothing stores and hair salons.

Eleven government service centres reopened to offer in-person services that can be booked by appointment, including written tests, driver exams and identification photos.

During Level 4, some businesses such as law firms and other professional services were allowed to reopen along with regulated child-care centres, with some restrictions.

Outdoor games of tennis were allowed to resume, though players must bring their own equipment and not share it.

At Level 2, businesses with performance spaces and gyms are to reopen, while Level 1 would represent “the new normal.”

The four Atlantic provinces have also announced plans to ease interprovincial travel restrictions, creating a so-called “bubble” as the region has reported relatively few new COVID-19 infections in recent weeks.

As of July 3, residents of Atlantic Canada will be allowed to travel within the region without having to self-isolate for two weeks when arriving in another province.

Visitors from provinces and territories outside the region will still be required to self-isolate for 14 days and adhere to local entry requirements. However, once the self-isolation period has passed, those visitors will also be allowed to travel within the Atlantic region.

Nova Scotia

The province announced on June 26 that all bars and restaurants could resume operating at full capacity and serve customers until midnight. However, establishments must continue to adhere to physical distancing rules.

The province is also allowing private campgrounds to operate at 100 per cent capacity.  Provincial campgrounds reopened June 15 at reduced capacity to ensure a minimum of six metres between individual sites.

All public pools can now reopen with physical distancing for lane swimming and aquafit classes.

On Friday (July 3), Nova Scotia will increase the limits on gatherings organized by recognized business or community organizations. That includes weddings, funerals, cultural events, concerts, festivals, dance recitals and faith-based gatherings, which will increase to 250 people if they’re outdoors and 200 — with maximum 50 per cent capacity — if they’re indoors. In either case, physical distancing is still required.

These events do not include family gatherings, which remain limited to a 50-person maximum with physical distancing.

The province earlier announced that Nova Scotians could start gathering in close social groups of up to 10 without physical distancing.

Licensed child-care centres and family daycare homes reopened across the province on June 15.

Nova Scotia has allowed summer day camps for children to open as long as they have a plan to follow public health measures.

Most businesses ordered shut in late March were allowed to reopen on June 5. The list of businesses includes bars and restaurant dining rooms, hair salons, barber shops, gyms and yoga studios, among others.

Some health providers were also able to reopen, including dentistry, optometry, chiropractic and physiotherapy offices.

The province has said there will be no return to school this year.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island moved into Phase 4 of its reopening strategy over the weekend.

Households can now gather in groups of up to 15 indoors and up to 100 people can congregate in larger venues. People can also gather for religious services of up to 50, or up to 100 in larger churches.

More personal services are also available and casinos are reopening.

Under Phase 3, which began June 1, in-house dining at restaurants was allowed. Small groups were permitted to participate in recreational and some sporting activities and libraries got the green light to reopen. Gatherings of up to 15 people indoors and 20 people outdoors and the reopening of child-care centres were also allowed.

As well, family and friends could once again visit residents at long-term care homes, though the visits require an appointment and must take place outdoors.

People wanting to travel to seasonal residences can apply to do so, and will be put through a risk assessment before approval. Seasonal residents will also to be tested for COVID-19 before completing two weeks in self-isolation after arriving in the province.

Under Phase 2, non-contact outdoor recreational activities were permitted, and retail businesses could reopen with physical distancing and select health-service providers.

Priority non-urgent surgeries resumed on May 1.

The P.E.I legislature resumed May 26.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick moved to the yellow phase of its COVID-19 recovery plan on May 22, allowing barbers and hair stylists to reopen as well as churches and fitness facilities. Dental care, massage, chiropractors and other “close contact” businesses and services could also reopen.

But the Campbellton region, which extends from Whites Brook to the Belledune, had to take a step backwards to the “orange” level on May 27. Residents were told to once again avoid contacts outside their two-household bubble. Non-regulated health professionals and personal service businesses that opened May 22 also had to close again. And people should only be travelling in and out of Zone 5 for essential reasons.

Further restrictions were lifted on June 5. Outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people were allowed, as well as indoor religious services of up to 50 people, low-contact team sports and the opening of a long list of facilities including swimming pools, gyms, rinks, water parks, and yoga and dance studios.

Under New Brunswick’s latest recovery rules, Canadian residents can now visit family members or properties they own in the province, provided they self-isolate for 14 days — or the duration of their visit if it’s less than two weeks.

As well, New Brunswick residents no longer need to self-isolate when returning from work in another Canadian province or territory.

All organized sports can resume with appropriate physical distancing and sanitizing. Overnight camps can reopen and indoor visits can resume at long-term care facilities for one visitor at a time, or two if one of the visitors needs help.

The cap on the number of people who can gather in controlled venues — including churches, swimming pools and rinks — has been lifted, but crowd numbers will be limited by the ability to maintain physical distancing.

Masks in any building open to the general public are required except for children under the age of two, children in daycare and people who can’t wear face coverings for medical reasons.

Retail businesses, offices, restaurants, libraries, museums and seasonal campgrounds were earlier allowed to reopen providing they have clear plans for meeting public health guidelines.

The final phase, which officials have said will probably come only after a vaccine is available, is to include large gatherings.

Quebec

Quebec reopened several sectors and relaxed the rules for indoor gatherings on June 22, particularly impacting the Montreal area.

Restaurants can reopen in the greater Montreal and Joliette areas while indoor gatherings of up to 10 people from three households are now permitted in these regions, like elsewhere in Quebec.

Gyms, arenas, cinemas, concert venues and places of worship can reopen across the province with a maximum capacity of 50 people for indoor gatherings.

Day camps across the province have also reopened, with physical distancing. Sleep-away summer camps won’t be allowed to reopen until next year.

Residents of long term care homes that don’t have active COVID-19 cases were earlier allowed to receive visitors inside, meet people outdoors and participate in group activities.

They were also allowed to leave the facilities unaccompanied for more than 24 hours. Volunteers and hairdressers were also allowed inside the facilities.

On May 25, some retail businesses reopened in the greater Montreal area, while retail stores outside Montreal reopened on May 11.

Parks and pools have also been allowed to reopen across the province with certain restrictions.

Sports teams resumed outdoor practices on June 8, and matches can resume at the end of the month. That includes baseball, soccer and any other sports that can be played outdoors.

Quebec’s construction and manufacturing industries have resumed operations with limits on the number of employees who can work per shift. Elementary schools and daycares outside Montreal reopened on May 11, but high schools, junior colleges and universities will stay closed until September.

Elementary schools in the greater Montreal area are to remain closed until late August.

Courthouses across the province were permitted to reopen on June 1, with limited seating capacity and Plexiglas barriers protecting clerks and judges.

Camping is now allowed outside the Montreal and Joliette regions, as are cottage rentals.

Checkpoints set up to slow the spread of COVID-19 came down on May 18 in various parts of Quebec, including between Gatineau and Ottawa.

Ontario

Ferry service between Toronto and the Toronto Islands resumed on June 27 but at only 50 per cent capacity to allow for physical distancing.

The Toronto Zoo also reopened and the province said it’s loosening some restrictions around indoor sports and fitness to enable amateur and professional athletes to train.

Ontario’s two most heavily populated regions saw more businesses open their doors on June 24 as Toronto and Peel moved into the next stage of the province’s COVID-19 recovery plan.

The two regions officially entered Stage 2 of the pandemic reopening framework, joining nearly all the rest of the province that began ramping up activities on June 19. All regions of the province except the southwestern communities of Leamington and Kingsville have officially entered Stage 2.

Businesses given the green light to resume operations in Toronto and Peel include hair stylists, pools and tour guide services.

Restaurants are also allowed to reopen their patios for dine-in service, though no one is yet allowed to be served indoors.

Meanwhile, the limit on social gatherings increased from five to 10 provincewide. Restrictions on wedding and funeral ceremonies were also eased. The number of people allowed to attend an indoor ceremony is restricted to 30 per cent capacity of the venue, while outdoor events are limited to 50 people. However, the number of people allowed to attend all wedding and funeral receptions remains at 10.

Ontarians can resume visiting loved ones in long-term care homes, as long as they test negative for COVID-19.

All construction has resumed, with limits also lifted on maintenance, repair and property management services, such as cleaning, painting and pool maintenance.

Golf courses can reopen though clubhouses can only open for washrooms and take-out food. Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches can also open, as can private parks and campgrounds for trailers and RVs whose owners have a full season contract, and businesses that board animals.

Short-term rentals including lodges, cabins, cottages, homes and condominiums were allowed to resume operations on June 5.

The Ontario government says students will likely return to school in September with a mix of in-class and remote learning, though boards will develop various scenarios, depending on how COVID-19 is spreading at that point. Premier Doug Ford has said there won’t be a one-size-fits-all approach in schools, but parents provincewide will have the option of sending their children back to class or keeping them learning remotely.

Ontario schools are to remain closed for the rest of the current school year.

This summer’s Honda Indy Toronto has been cancelled.

Manitoba

Several more restrictions were eased in Manitoba on June 21.

Restaurants and bars no longer have to operate at half capacity, however tables must be two metres apart or have a physical barrier in between them. Non-smoking bingo halls and video lottery terminal lounges can also reopen at 50 per cent capacity.

Child care centres and retail stores can return to normal capacity, and people arriving in Manitoba from the other western provinces, northern territories and northwestern Ontario no longer have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Larger public gatherings are also allowed.

Instead of a cap of 25 people indoors and 50 outdoors, people can fill up to 30 per cent of the capacity of any venue as long as they can be split into groups of 50 indoors or 100 outdoors. Each group must be able to enter and exit separately.

On June 1, the province eased a ban on people visiting loved ones in personal care homes. Homes can now offer outdoor visits with a maximum of two guests per resident. Visitors will be screened upon arrival and must practice physical distancing.

Amateur sports and recreation programs, as well as bowling alleys, have been allowed to resume operations.

Elementary and high schools will not reopen this school year.

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan moved into the next phase of its reopening strategy on June 22.

Under Phase 4.1 camping in national parks can resume, but by reservation only.

Youth camps can reopen, but for day use only, and with guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19, including the constant disinfection of play structures and monitoring of children for coronavirus symptoms.

Outdoor sports like soccer, softball and flag football can resume, though full-contact sports remain prohibited, as does competitive play, tournaments and inter-provincial travel for games.

Shared equipment must be disinfected frequently, while congratulatory gestures, such as high fives and handshakes, are not permitted.

Saskatchewan’s outdoor swimming pools and spray parks can reopen with physical distancing, maximum capacity, and stringent cleaning rules in effect.

Though they can now do so, some municipalities, including Regina and Saskatoon, have said they won’t be reopening their outdoor pools right away.

The province is also doubling the allowable size of indoor public and private gatherings to 30 people where space allows for two metres between participants

The third phase of Saskatchewan’s reopening plan started June 8 with the province lifting a ban on non-essential travel in the north.

More businesses were also allowed to reopen, including places of worship and personal care services such as nail salons, tattoo parlours and gyms.

Up to 150 people or one-third the capacity of a building, whichever is less, can attend church services, including weddings and funerals.

Outdoor graduations can be held with a maximum 30 graduates per class and an overall attendance of 150 people. The previous limit was 15 people indoors and 30 people outdoors.

Restaurants and bars can open at half capacity, with physical distancing between tables, and child-care centres can open their doors to a maximum of 15 kids.

The second part of Phase 4 is expected to include reopening guidelines for indoor pools, rinks, libraries, museums, galleries, movie theatres, casinos and bingo halls. A date for Phase 4.2 has yet to be announced.

In Phase 5, the province will consider lifting restrictions on the size of public gatherings.

The Saskatchewan government says students will return to regular classes in September.

Alberta

In Alberta, everything from gyms and arenas to spas, movie theatres, libraries, pools and sports activities got the green light to reopen on June 12.

More people were also allowed to book campsites and sit in restaurants at the same time.

Fifty people can now gather indoors and up to 100 can congregate outside.

Among the other activities allowed to go ahead are casinos and bingo halls, community halls, instrumental concerts, massage, acupuncture and reflexology, artificial tanning and summer schools.

Major festivals and sporting events remain banned, as do nightclubs and amusement parks. Vocal concerts are not being allowed, given that singing carries a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Alberta aims to have students back in classrooms this September though Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says a final decision will be made by Aug. 1.

British Columbia

British Columbia allowed hotels, motels, spas, resorts, hostels and RV parks to  resume operating on June 24.

Premier John Horgan said the province has been successful at flattening the curve on COVID-19, which means it can ease more health restrictions and gradually move into the third phase of its reopening plan.

He said the province is able to open more industries, institutions and recreation areas, but gatherings must remain at 50 people or less.

The government allowed a partial reopening of the B.C. economy starting May 19.

The reopenings are contingent on organizations and businesses having plans that follow provincial guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19.

Parents in B.C. were given the choice of allowing their children to return to class on a part-time basis starting June 1. The government said its goal is for the return of full-time classes in September, if it’s safe.

Under the part-time plan, for kindergarten to Grade 5, most students will go to school half time, while grades 6 to 12 will go about one day a week.

Conventions, large concerts, international tourism and professional sports with a live audience will not be allowed to resume until either a vaccine is widely available, community immunity has been reached, or effective treatment can be provided for the disease.

Nunavut

Although Nunavut still has no confirmed cases of COVID-19, the territory did implement a wide range of public health measures to keep residents safe.

Some have since been relaxed.

Gyms and pools are available for solo workouts and lap swims.

Dental, physiotherapy, massage and chiropractic clinics, as well as offices and stores can open with appropriate safety measures.

Individuals may visit galleries, museums and libraries, and daycares are open.

Outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people are permitted. Territorial parks and municipal playgrounds may reopen.

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories announced on May 12 a three-phase reopening plan.

The plan includes more gatherings and the possible reopening of some schools and businesses. However, the territory’s borders remain closed indefinitely to non-residents and non-essential workers.

There are several requirements that must be met before any measures are relaxed: there must be no evidence of community spread; travel entry points in the territory are strong and secure; risks are reduced from workers coming into the territory; and expanded community testing is available.

Yukon

New guidelines have been released for long-term care facilities that will allow for visits with one designated person at a pre-set location outdoors.

The territory also said bars with an approved health and safety plan could reopen at half capacity under certain other restrictions starting June 19.

Travel restrictions will be lifted between Yukon and B.C. after July 1 under the second phase of the territory’s pandemic restart plan. After that date, travellers between the province and territory will no longer be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Residents of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut will be also allowed to enter Yukon without quarantining, as long as they travel directly from one of the territories or through B.C.

Territorial parks and campgrounds have also reopened.

Two households of up to 10 people in total are currently able to interact with each other as part of a “household bubble.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2020

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jun 29th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00.am. on June 29, 2020:

There are 103,250 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 55,079 confirmed (including 5,448 deaths, 23,786 resolved)

_ Ontario: 34,654 confirmed (including 2,658 deaths, 30,107 resolved)

_ Alberta: 7,996 confirmed (including 154 deaths, 7,322 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 2,878 confirmed (including 174 deaths, 2,545 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,061 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 998 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 778 confirmed (including 13 deaths, 661 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 311 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 300 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 165 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 158 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 27 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 103,250 (11 presumptive, 103,239 confirmed including 8,522 deaths, 66,191 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Canada almost self-sufficient in PPE as Canadian businesses step up: PM

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jun 26th, 2020

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canadian companies are now producing so much personal protective equipment needed in the fight against COVID-19 that Canada is almost at the point of being self-sufficient.

He’ll underscore that contention today with a visit to a Kanata, Ont., brewery that has retooled to make hand sanitizer during the pandemic.

The visit to Big Rig Brewery, which has used the federal wage subsidy to rehire workers, is also intended to emphasize Trudeau’s repeated plea to businesses to take advantage of the program to get back on their feet. It’s his third visit in as many weeks to a company that’s used the subsidy to hire back laid off employees.

Today’s visit underlines comments Trudeau made during a pre-taped interview that aired Thursday evening at the online Collision tech conference.

He touted the various federal financial support programs aimed at helping businesses survive the pandemic-induced economic shutdown and to promote innovation to help fight the disease.

And he said many Canadian companies have taken advantage of those programs to retool and start producing masks, gowns, ventilators, sanitizer and other personal protective equipment.

Indeed, Trudeau said so many have stepped up that “even as, like every country, we’re having to import massive amounts of PPE because we didn’t have enough from the beginning, we’re now getting to a place where we’re close to self-sufficient on that and able to turn around and share with the world, particularly the developing world.”

Having a secure domestic supply will be particularly important if there is a second wave of the deadly virus that causes COVID-19 in the fall, triggering another wild, global scramble for PPE.

China is the dominant supplier of PPE. With the outbreak starting in that country, there was a severe shortage of equipment as the disease first started spreading around the world in March. Countries were out-bidding one another for supplies that were often never delivered.

But the Public Services and Procurement Canada website says Canada has still not received anywhere near the quantities of PPE that have been ordered.

As of June 16, 55.7 million face shields had been ordered but only 17.6 million received; more than one billion pairs of gloves ordered but only 42.3 million received; 126.6 million gowns ordered but only 4.6 million received; 20.4 million litres of hand sanitizer ordered but just 7.1 million litres received.

As well, Canada had ordered 121.9 million of the coveted N95 respirators and 340.8 million surgical masks, just 12.9 million and 110.9 million of which respectively had been received. Of the 40,328 ventilators ordered, just 367 had been received.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 26, 2020.

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jun 26th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 6:15 a.m. ET on June 26, 2020:

There are 102,622 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 55,079 confirmed (including 5,448 deaths, 23,786 resolved)

_ Ontario: 34,205 confirmed (including 2,641 deaths, 29,528 resolved)

_ Alberta: 7,851 confirmed (including 154 deaths, 7,191 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 2,869 confirmed (including 173 deaths, 2,517 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,061 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 998 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 759 confirmed (including 13 deaths, 648 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 305 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 294 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 165 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 143 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 27 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 102,622 (11 presumptive, 102,611 confirmed including 8,504 deaths, 65,419 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 26, 2020.

The Canadian Press

A look at how provinces plan to emerge from COVID-19 shutdown

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jun 26th, 2020

Provinces and territories have been releasing plans for easing restrictions that were put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Here is what some of the provinces have announced so far:

Newfoundland and Labrador

The province entered “Alert Level 3” on June 8 in its five stage reopening plan. It means groups of up to 20 people are now permitted, as long as they observe physical distancing. Up to 19 people are allowed on public transit.

Private health clinics, such as optometrists and dentists, can open, as well as medium-risk businesses such as clothing stores and hair salons.

Eleven government service centres reopened to offer in-person services that can be booked by appointment, including written tests, driver exams and identification photos.

During Level 4, some businesses such as law firms and other professional services were allowed to reopen along with regulated child-care centres, with some restrictions.

Outdoor games of tennis were allowed to resume, though players must bring their own equipment and not share it.

At Level 2, businesses with performance spaces and gyms are to reopen, while Level 1 would represent “the new normal.”

The four Atlantic provinces also announced plans Thursday to ease interprovincial travel restrictions, creating a so-called “bubble” as the region has reported relatively few new COVID-19 infections in recent weeks.

As of July 3, residents of Atlantic Canada will be allowed to travel within the region without having to self-isolate for two weeks when arriving in another province.

Visitors from provinces and territories outside the region will still be required to self-isolate for 14 days and adhere to local entry requirements. However, once the self-isolation period has passed, those visitors will also be allowed to travel within the Atlantic region.

Nova Scotia

Provincial campgrounds reopened June 15 at reduced capacity to ensure a minimum of six metres between individual sites. Private campgrounds had already been given the green light to reopen, but only at 50 per cent capacity. They must also ensure public health protocols are followed, including adequate distancing between campsites.

Licensed child-care centres and family daycare homes also reopened across Nova Scotia on June 15.

On May 29, Premier Stephen McNeil announced a new gathering limit of 10 people, doubling the limit of five that was imposed in late March. The limit is the same indoors and outdoors, with exceptions for outdoor weddings and funeral services which can have 15 people.

Nova Scotia has allowed summer day camps for children to open as long as they have a plan to follow public health measures.

Most businesses ordered shut in late March were allowed to reopen on June 5. The list of businesses includes bars and restaurant dining rooms, hair salons, barber shops, gyms and yoga studios, among others.

Some health providers were also able to reopen, including dentistry, optometry, chiropractic and physiotherapy offices.

McNeil earlier said there would be no return to school this year.

Prince Edward Island

The province moved into the third phase of its reopening plan June 1, which allows such things as in-house dining at restaurants, small groups to participate in recreational and some sporting activities and libraries to reopen. Phase three also allows gatherings of up to 15 people indoors and 20 people outdoors and the reopening of child-care centres.

As well, family and friends can visit residents at long-term care homes. The visits require an appointment and must take place outdoors.

Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King said people wanting to travel to seasonal residences could apply, and would be put through a risk assessment before approval. Seasonal residents were also to be tested for COVID-19 before completing two weeks in self-isolation after arriving in the province.

Under Phase 2, non-contact outdoor recreational activities were permitted, and retail businesses could reopen with physical distancing and select health-service providers.

Priority non-urgent surgeries resumed on May 1.

The P.E.I legislature resumed May 26.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick moved to the yellow phase of its COVID-19 recovery plan on May 22, allowing barbers and hair stylists to reopen as well as churches and fitness facilities. Dental care, massage, chiropractors and other “close contact” businesses and services could also reopen.

But the Campbellton region, which extends from Whites Brook to the Belledune, had to take a step backwards to the “orange” level on May 27. Residents were told to once again avoid contacts outside their two-household bubble. Non-regulated health professionals and personal service businesses that opened May 22 also had to close again. And people should only be travelling in and out of Zone 5 for essential reasons.

Further restrictions were lifted on June 5. Outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people were allowed, as well as indoor religious services of up to 50 people, low-contact team sports and the opening of a long list of facilities including swimming pools, gyms, rinks, water parks, and yoga and dance studios.

Under New Brunswick’s latest recovery rules, Canadian residents can now visit family members or properties they own in the province, provided they self-isolate for 14 days — or the duration of their visit if it is less than two weeks.

As well, New Brunswick residents no longer need to self-isolate when returning from work in another Canadian province or territory.

All organized sports will resume with appropriate physical distancing and sanitizing. Overnight camps will reopen and indoor visits will resume at long-term care facilities for one visitor at a time, or two if one of the visitors needs help.

The cap on the number of people who can gather in controlled venues — including churches, swimming pools and rinks — has been lifted, but crowd numbers will be limited by the ability to maintain physical distancing.

Masks in any building open to the general public are required except for children under the age of two, children in daycare and people who cannot wear face coverings for medical reasons.

Retail businesses, offices, restaurants, libraries, museums and seasonal campgrounds were earlier allowed to reopen providing they had clear plans for meeting public health guidelines.

The final phase, which officials have said will probably come only after a vaccine is available, is to include large gatherings.

Quebec

Quebec reopened several sectors and relaxed the rules for indoor gatherings Monday, particularly impacting the Montreal area.

Restaurants can reopen in the greater Montreal and Joliette areas while indoor gatherings of up to 10 people from three households are now permitted in these regions, like elsewhere in Quebec.

Gyms, arenas, cinemas, concert venues and places of worship may reopen across the province with a maximum capacity of 50 people for indoor gatherings.

Day camps across the province reopened Monday, with physical distancing. Sleep-away summer camps won’t be allowed to reopen until next year.

Residents of long term care homes that don’t have active COVID-19 cases were earlier allowed to receive visitors inside, meet people outdoors and participate in group activities.

They were also allowed to leave the facilities unaccompanied and remain out for more than 24 hours. Beginning Friday, volunteers and hairdressers will also be allowed inside the facilities.

On May 25, some retail businesses reopened in the greater Montreal area, while retail stores outside Montreal reopened on May 11.

Parks and pools have also been allowed to reopen across the province with certain restrictions.

Sports teams resumed outdoor practices on June 8, and matches can resume at the end of the month. That includes baseball, soccer and any other sports that can be played outdoors.

Quebec’s construction and manufacturing industries have resumed operations with limits on the number of employees who can work per shift. Elementary schools and daycares outside Montreal reopened on May 11, but high schools, junior colleges and universities will stay closed until September.

Elementary schools in the greater Montreal area are to remain closed until late August.

Courthouses across the province were permitted to reopen on June 1, with limited seating capacity and Plexiglas barriers protecting clerks and judges.

Camping is now allowed outside the Montreal and Joliette regions, as are cottage rentals.

Checkpoints set up to slow the spread of COVID-19 came down on May 18 in various parts of Quebec, including between Gatineau and Ottawa.

Ontario

Ontario’s two most heavily populated regions saw more businesses open their doors Wednesday as Toronto and Peel moved into the next stage of the province’s COVID-19 recovery plan.

The two regions officially entered Stage 2 of the pandemic reopening framework, joining nearly all the rest of the province that began ramping up activities on June 19.

Windsor-Essex remains the only region not cleared to move to the next phase, due to stubbornly high COVID-19 case numbers on farms in the region.

Businesses given the green light to resume operations in Toronto and Peel include hair stylists, pools and tour guide services.

Restaurants are also allowed to reopen their patios for dine-in service, though no one is yet allowed to be served indoors.

Meanwhile, the limit on social gatherings increased from five to 10 provincewide. Restrictions on wedding and funeral ceremonies across the province were also eased. The number of people allowed to attend an indoor ceremony is restricted to 30 per cent capacity of the venue, while outdoor events are limited to 50 people. However, the number of people allowed to attend all wedding and funeral receptions remains at 10.

Ontarians can resume visiting loved ones in long-term care homes, as long as they test negative for COVID-19.

All construction has resumed, with limits also lifted on maintenance, repair and property management services, such as cleaning, painting and pool maintenance.

Golf courses can reopen though clubhouses can only open for washrooms and take-out food. Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches can also open, as can private parks and campgrounds for trailers and RVs whose owners have a full season contract, and businesses that board animals.

Short-term rentals including lodges, cabins, cottages, homes and condominiums were allowed to resume operations on June 5.

The Ontario government says students will likely return to school in September with a mix of in-class and remote learning, though boards will develop various scenarios, depending on how COVID-19 is spreading at that point. Premier Doug Ford said there won’t be a one-size-fits-all approach in schools, but parents provincewide will have the option of sending their children back to class or keeping them learning remotely.

Ontario schools are to remain closed for the rest of the current school year.

This summer’s Honda Indy Toronto has been cancelled.

Manitoba

Several more restrictions were eased in Manitoba on Sunday.

Restaurants and bars no longer have to operate at half capacity, however tables will have to be two metres apart or have a physical barrier in between them. Non-smoking bingo halls and video lottery terminal lounges can also reopen at 50 per cent capacity.

Child care centres and retail stores can return to normal capacity, and people arriving in Manitoba from the other western provinces, northern territories and northwestern Ontario no longer have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Larger public gatherings are also allowed.

Instead of a cap of 25 people indoors and 50 outdoors, people can fill up to 30 per cent of the capacity of any venue as long as they can be split into groups of 50 indoors or 100 outdoors. Each group must be able to enter and exit separately.

On June 1, the province eased a ban on people visiting loved ones in personal care homes. Homes can now offer outdoor visits with a maximum of two guests per resident. Visitors will be screened upon arrival and must practice physical distancing.

Amateur sports and recreation programs, as well as bowling alleys, have been allowed to resume operations.

Elementary and high schools will not reopen this school year.

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan moved into the next phase of its reopening strategy Monday.

Under Phase 4.1 camping in national parks can resume, but by reservation only.

Youth camps can reopen, but for day use only, and with guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19, including the constant disinfection of play structures and monitoring of children for coronavirus symptoms.

Outdoor sports like soccer, softball and flag football can resume, though full-contact sports remain prohibited, as does competitive play, tournaments and inter-provincial travel for games.

Shared equipment must be disinfected frequently, while congratulatory gestures, such as high fives and handshakes, are not permitted.

Saskatchewan’s outdoor swimming pools and spray parks can reopen with physical distancing, maximum capacity, and stringent cleaning rules in effect.

Though they can now do so, some municipalities, including Regina and Saskatoon, have said they won’t be reopening their outdoor pools right away.

The province is also doubling the allowable size of indoor public and private gatherings to 30 people where space allows for two metres between participants

The third phase of Saskatchewan’s reopening plan started June 8 with the province lifting a ban on non-essential travel in the north.

More businesses were also allowed to reopen, including places of worship and personal care services such as nail salons, tattoo parlours and gyms.

Up to 150 people or one-third the capacity of a building, whichever is less, can attend church services, including weddings and funerals.

Outdoor graduations can be held with a maximum 30 graduates per class and an overall attendance of 150 people. The previous limit was 15 people indoors and 30 people outdoors.

Restaurants and bars can open at half capacity, with physical distancing between tables, and child-care centres can open their doors to a maximum of 15 kids.

The second part of Phase 4 is expected to include reopening guidelines for indoor pools, rinks, libraries, museums, galleries, movie theatres, casinos and bingo halls. A date for Phase 4.2 has yet to be announced.

In Phase 5, the province will consider lifting restrictions on the size of public gatherings.

The Saskatchewan government says students will return to regular classes in September.

Alberta

In Alberta, everything from gyms and arenas to spas, movie theatres, libraries, pools and sports activities got the green light to reopen on June 12.

More people were also allowed to book campsites and sit in restaurants at the same time.

Fifty people can now gather indoors and up to 100 can congregate outside.

Among the other activities allowed to go ahead are casinos and bingo halls, community halls, instrumental concerts, massage, acupuncture and reflexology, artificial tanning and summer schools.

Major festivals and sporting events remain banned, as do nightclubs and amusement parks. Vocal concerts are not being allowed, given that singing carries a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Alberta aims to have students back in classrooms this September though Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says a final decision will be made by Aug. 1.

British Columbia

British Columbia allowed hotels, motels, spas, resorts, hostels and RV parks to resume operating on Wednesday.

Premier John Horgan said the province has been successful at flattening the curve on COVID-19, which means it can ease more health restrictions and gradually move into the third phase of its reopening plan.

He said the province is able to open more industries, institutions and recreation areas, but gatherings of people must remain at 50 people or less.

The provincial government allowed a partial reopening of the B.C. economy starting May 19.

The reopenings are contingent on organizations and businesses having plans that follow provincial guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19.

Parents in B.C. were given the choice of allowing their children to return to class on a part-time basis starting June 1. The government said its goal is for the return of full-time classes in September, if it’s safe.

Under the part-time plan, for kindergarten to Grade 5, most students will go to school half time, while grades 6 to 12 will go about one day a week.

Conventions, large concerts, international tourism and professional sports with a live audience will not be allowed to resume until either a vaccine is widely available, community immunity has been reached, or effective treatment can be provided for the disease.

Nunavut

Although Nunavut still has no confirmed cases of COVID-19, the territory did implement a wide range of public health measures to keep residents safe.

Some have since been relaxed.

Gyms and pools are available for solo workouts and lap swims.

Dental, physiotherapy, massage and chiropractic clinics, as well as offices and stores can open with appropriate safety measures.

Individuals may visit galleries, museums and libraries, and daycares are open.

Outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people are permitted. Territorial parks and municipal playgrounds may reopen.

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories announced on May 12 a three-phase reopening plan.

The plan includes more gatherings and the possible reopening of some schools and businesses. However, the territory’s borders remain closed indefinitely to non-residents and non-essential workers.

There are several requirements that must be met before any measures are relaxed: there must be no evidence of community spread; travel entry points in the territory are strong and secure; risks are reduced from workers coming into the territory; and expanded community testing is available.

Yukon

New guidelines have been released for long-term care facilities that will allow for visits with one designated person at a pre-set location outdoors.

The territory also said bars with an approved health and safety plan could reopen at half capacity under certain other restrictions starting June 19.

Travel restrictions will be lifted between Yukon and B.C. after July 1 under the second phase of the territory’s pandemic restart plan. After that date, travellers between the province and territory will no longer be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Residents of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut will be also allowed to enter Yukon without quarantining, as long as they travel directly from one of the territories or through B.C.

Territorial parks and campgrounds have also reopened.

Two households of up to 10 people in total are currently able to interact with each other as part of a “household bubble.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 24, 2020

The Canadian Press

A look at how provinces plan to emerge from COVID-19 shutdown

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jun 25th, 2020

Provinces and territories have been releasing plans for easing restrictions that were put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Here is what some of the provinces have announced so far:

Newfoundland and Labrador

The province entered “Alert Level 3” on June 8 in its five stage reopening plan. It means groups of up to 20 people are now permitted, as long as they observe physical distancing. Up to 19 people are allowed on public transit.

Private health clinics, such as optometrists and dentists, can open, as well as medium-risk businesses such as clothing stores and hair salons.

Travel within the province is also permitted, including to second homes, parks and campgrounds. And 11 government service centres will reopen to offer in-person services that can be booked by appointment, including written tests, driver exams and identification photos.

During Level 4 some businesses such as law firms and other professional services were allowed to reopen along with regulated child-care centres, with some restrictions.

Outdoor games of tennis were allowed to resume, though players must bring their own equipment and not share it.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said the province could move to the next alert level by as soon as today (June 22nd).

At Level 2, businesses with performance spaces and gyms are to reopen, while Level 1 would represent “the new normal.”

Nova Scotia

Provincial campgrounds reopened June 15 at reduced capacity to ensure a minimum of six metres between individual sites. Private campgrounds had already been given the green light to reopen, but only at 50 per cent capacity. They must also ensure public health protocols are followed, including adequate distancing between campsites.

Licensed child-care centres and family daycare homes also reopened across Nova Scotia on June 15.

On May 29, Premier Stephen McNeil announced a new gathering limit of 10 people, doubling the limit of five that was imposed in late March. The limit is the same indoors and outdoors, with exceptions for outdoor weddings and funeral services which can have 15 people.

Nova Scotia has allowed summer day camps for children to open as long as they have a plan to follow public health measures.

Most businesses ordered shut in late March were allowed to reopen on June 5. The list of businesses includes bars and restaurant dining rooms, hair salons, barber shops, gyms and yoga studios, among others.

Some health providers were also able to reopen, including dentistry, optometry, chiropractic and physiotherapy offices.

McNeil earlier said there would be no return to school this year.

Prince Edward Island

The province moved into the third phase of its reopening plan June 1, which allows such things as in-house dining at restaurants, small groups to participate in recreational and some sporting activities and libraries to reopen. Phase three also allows gatherings of up to 15 people indoors and 20 people outdoors and the reopening of child-care centres.

As well, family and friends can visit residents at long-term care homes. The visits require an appointment and must take place outdoors.

Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King said people wanting to travel to seasonal residences could apply, and would be put through a risk assessment before approval. Seasonal residents were also to be tested for COVID-19 before completing two weeks in self-isolation after arriving in the province.

Under Phase 2, non-contact outdoor recreational activities were permitted, and retail businesses could reopen with physical distancing and select health-service providers.

Priority non-urgent surgeries resumed on May 1.

The P.E.I legislature resumed May 26.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick moved to the yellow phase of its COVID-19 recovery plan on May 22, allowing barbers and hair stylists to reopen as well as churches and fitness facilities. Dental care, massage, chiropractors and other “close contact” businesses and services could also reopen.

But the Campbellton region, which extends from Whites Brook to the Belledune, had to take a step backwards to the “orange” level on May 27. Residents were told to once again avoid contacts outside their two-household bubble. Non-regulated health professionals and personal service businesses that opened May 22 also had to close again. And people should only be travelling in and out of Zone 5 for essential reasons.

Further restrictions were lifted on June 5. Outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people were allowed, as well as indoor religious services of up to 50 people, low-contact team sports and the opening of a long list of facilities including swimming pools, gyms, rinks, water parks, and yoga and dance studios.

Under New Brunswick’s latest recovery rules, Canadian residents can now visit family members or properties they own in the province, provided they self-isolate for 14 days — or the duration of their visit if it is less than two weeks.

As well, New Brunswick residents no longer need to self-isolate when returning from work in another Canadian province or territory.

All organized sports will resume with appropriate physical distancing and sanitizing. Overnight camps will reopen and indoor visits will resume at long-term care facilities for one visitor at a time, or two if one of the visitors needs help.

The cap on the number of people who can gather in controlled venues — including churches, swimming pools and rinks — has been lifted, but crowd numbers will be limited by the ability to maintain physical distancing.

Masks in any building open to the general public are required except for children under the age of two, children in daycare and people who cannot wear face coverings for medical reasons.

Retail businesses, offices, restaurants, libraries, museums and seasonal campgrounds were earlier allowed to reopen providing they had clear plans for meeting public health guidelines.

The final phase, which officials have said will probably come only after a vaccine is available, is to include large gatherings.

Quebec

Quebec reopened several sectors and relaxed the rules for indoor gatherings Monday, particularly impacting the Montreal area.

Restaurants can reopen in the greater Montreal and Joliette areas while indoor gatherings of up to 10 people from three households are now permitted in these regions, like elsewhere in Quebec.

Gyms, arenas, cinemas, concert venues and places of worship may reopen across the province with a maximum capacity of 50 people for indoor gatherings.

Day camps across the province reopened Monday, with physical distancing. Sleep-away summer camps won’t be allowed to reopen until next year.

Residents of long term care homes that don’t have active COVID-19 cases were earlier allowed to receive visitors inside, meet people outdoors and participate in group activities.

They were also allowed to leave the facilities unaccompanied and remain out for more than 24 hours. Beginning Friday, volunteers and hairdressers will also be allowed inside the facilities.

On May 25, some retail businesses reopened in the greater Montreal area, while retail stores outside Montreal reopened on May 11.

Parks and pools have also been allowed to reopen across the province with certain restrictions.

Sports teams resumed outdoor practices on June 8, and matches can resume at the end of the month. That includes baseball, soccer and any other sports that can be played outdoors.

Quebec’s construction and manufacturing industries have resumed operations with limits on the number of employees who can work per shift. Elementary schools and daycares outside Montreal reopened on May 11, but high schools, junior colleges and universities will stay closed until September.

Elementary schools in the greater Montreal area are to remain closed until late August.

Courthouses across the province were permitted to reopen on June 1, with limited seating capacity and Plexiglas barriers protecting clerks and judges.

Camping is now allowed outside the Montreal and Joliette regions, as are cottage rentals.

Checkpoints set up to slow the spread of COVID-19 came down on May 18 in various parts of Quebec, including between Gatineau and Ottawa.

Ontario

Ontario’s two most heavily populated regions will see more businesses open their doors today as Toronto and Peel move into the next stage of the province’s COVID-19 recovery plan.

The two regions officially enter Stage 2 of the pandemic reopening framework, joining nearly all the rest of the province that began ramping up activities on June 19.

Windsor-Essex remains the only region not cleared to move to the next phase, due to stubbornly high COVID-19 case numbers on farms in the region.

Businesses given the green light to resume operations in Toronto and Peel today include hair stylists, pools and tour guide services.

Restaurants are also allowed to reopen their patios for dine-in service, though no one is yet allowed to be served indoors.

Meanwhile, the limit on social gatherings increased from five to 10 provincewide. Restrictions on wedding and funeral ceremonies across the province were also eased. The number of people allowed to attend an indoor ceremony is restricted to 30 per cent capacity of the venue, while outdoor events are limited to 50 people. However, the number of people allowed to attend all wedding and funeral receptions remains at 10.

Ontarians can resume visiting loved ones in long-term care homes, as long as they test negative for COVID-19.

All construction has resumed, with limits also lifted on maintenance, repair and property management services, such as cleaning, painting and pool maintenance.

Golf courses can reopen though clubhouses can only open for washrooms and take-out food. Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches can also open, as can private parks and campgrounds for trailers and RVs whose owners have a full season contract, and businesses that board animals.

Short-term rentals including lodges, cabins, cottages, homes and condominiums were allowed to resume operations on June 5.

The Ontario government says students will likely return to school in September with a mix of in-class and remote learning, though boards will develop various scenarios, depending on how COVID-19 is spreading at that point. Premier Doug Ford said there won’t be a one-size-fits-all approach in schools, but parents provincewide will have the option of sending their children back to class or keeping them learning remotely.

Ontario schools are to remain closed for the rest of the current school year.

This summer’s Honda Indy Toronto has been cancelled.

Manitoba

Several more restrictions were eased in Manitoba on Sunday.

Restaurants and bars no longer have to operate at half capacity, however tables will have to be two metres apart or have a physical barrier in between them. Non-smoking bingo halls and video lottery terminal lounges can also reopen at 50 per cent capacity.

Child care centres and retail stores can return to normal capacity, and people arriving in Manitoba from the other western provinces, northern territories and northwestern Ontario no longer have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Larger public gatherings are also allowed.

Instead of a cap of 25 people indoors and 50 outdoors, people can fill up to 30 per cent of the capacity of any venue as long as they can be split into groups of 50 indoors or 100 outdoors. Each group must be able to enter and exit separately.

On June 1, the province eased a ban on people visiting loved ones in personal care homes. Homes can now offer outdoor visits with a maximum of two guests per resident. Visitors will be screened upon arrival and must practice physical distancing.

Amateur sports and recreation programs, as well as bowling alleys, have been allowed to resume operations.

Elementary and high schools will not reopen this school year.

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan moved into the next phase of its reopening strategy Monday.

Under Phase 4.1 camping in national parks can resume, but by reservation only.

Youth camps can reopen, but for day use only, and with guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19, including the constant disinfection of play structures and monitoring of children for coronavirus symptoms.

Outdoor sports like soccer, softball and flag football can resume, though full-contact sports remain prohibited, as does competitive play, tournaments and inter-provincial travel for games.

Shared equipment must be disinfected frequently, while congratulatory gestures, such as high fives and handshakes, are not permitted.

Saskatchewan’s outdoor swimming pools and spray parks can reopen with physical distancing, maximum capacity, and stringent cleaning rules in effect.

Though they can now do so, some municipalities, including Regina and Saskatoon, have said they won’t be reopening their outdoor pools right away.

The province is also doubling the allowable size of indoor public and private gatherings to 30 people where space allows for two metres between participants

The third phase of Saskatchewan’s reopening plan started June 8 with the province lifting a ban on non-essential travel in the north.

More businesses were also allowed to reopen, including places of worship and personal care services such as nail salons, tattoo parlours and gyms.

Up to 150 people or one-third the capacity of a building, whichever is less, can attend church services, including weddings and funerals.

Outdoor graduations can be held with a maximum 30 graduates per class and an overall attendance of 150 people. The previous limit was 15 people indoors and 30 people outdoors.

Restaurants and bars can open at half capacity, with physical distancing between tables, and child-care centres can open their doors to a maximum of 15 kids.

The second part of Phase 4 is expected to include reopening guidelines for indoor pools, rinks, libraries, museums, galleries, movie theatres, casinos and bingo halls. A date for Phase 4.2 has yet to be announced.

In Phase 5, the province will consider lifting restrictions on the size of public gatherings.

The Saskatchewan government says students will return to regular classes in September.

Alberta

In Alberta, everything from gyms and arenas to spas, movie theatres, libraries, pools and sports activities got the green light to reopen on June 12.

More people were also allowed to book campsites and sit in restaurants at the same time.

Fifty people can now gather indoors and up to 100 can congregate outside.

Among the other activities allowed to go ahead are casinos and bingo halls, community halls, instrumental concerts, massage, acupuncture and reflexology, artificial tanning and summer schools.

Major festivals and sporting events remain banned, as do nightclubs and amusement parks. Vocal concerts are not being allowed, given that singing carries a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Alberta aims to have students back in classrooms this September though Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says a final decision will be made by Aug. 1.

British Columbia

British Columbia allowed hotels, motels, spas, resorts, hostels and RV parks to resume operating on Wednesday.

Premier John Horgan said the province has been successful at flattening the curve on COVID-19, which means it can ease more health restrictions and gradually move into the third phase of its reopening plan.

He said the province is able to open more industries, institutions and recreation areas, but gatherings of people must remain at 50 people or less.

The provincial government allowed a partial reopening of the B.C. economy starting May 19.

The reopenings are contingent on organizations and businesses having plans that follow provincial guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19.

Parents in B.C. were given the choice of allowing their children to return to class on a part-time basis starting June 1. The government said its goal is for the return of full-time classes in September, if it’s safe.

Under the part-time plan, for kindergarten to Grade 5, most students will go to school half time, while grades 6 to 12 will go about one day a week.

Conventions, large concerts, international tourism and professional sports with a live audience will not be allowed to resume until either a vaccine is widely available, community immunity has been reached, or effective treatment can be provided for the disease.

Nunavut

Although Nunavut still has no confirmed cases of COVID-19, the territory did implement a wide range of public health measures to keep residents safe.

Some have since been relaxed.

Gyms and pools are available for solo workouts and lap swims.

Dental, physiotherapy, massage and chiropractic clinics, as well as offices and stores can open with appropriate safety measures.

Individuals may visit galleries, museums and libraries, and daycares are open.

Outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people are permitted. Territorial parks and municipal playgrounds may reopen.

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories announced on May 12 a three-phase reopening plan.

The plan includes more gatherings and the possible reopening of some schools and businesses. However, the territory’s borders remain closed indefinitely to non-residents and non-essential workers.

There are several requirements that must be met before any measures are relaxed: there must be no evidence of community spread; travel entry points in the territory are strong and secure; risks are reduced from workers coming into the territory; and expanded community testing is available.

Yukon

New guidelines have been released for long-term care facilities that will allow for visits with one designated person at a pre-set location outdoors.

The territory also said bars with an approved health and safety plan could reopen at half capacity under certain other restrictions starting June 19.

Travel restrictions will be lifted between Yukon and B.C. after July 1 under the second phase of the territory’s pandemic restart plan. After that date, travellers between the province and territory will no longer be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Residents of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut will be also allowed to enter Yukon without quarantining, as long as they travel directly from one of the territories or through B.C.

Territorial parks and campgrounds have also reopened.

Two households of up to 10 people in total are currently able to interact with each other as part of a “household bubble.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 24, 2020

The Canadian Press

Study finds Canada’s proportion of LTC deaths double the average of other nations

CASSANDRA SZKLARSKI THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jun 25th, 2020

TORONTO — A new study finds the proportion of Canadian COVID-19 deaths that have occurred in long-term care facilities is about twice the average of rates from other developed nations.

The analysis released today by the Canadian Institute for Health Information provides a damning snapshot of senior care as of May 25, when LTC residents made up 81 per cent of all reported COVID-19 deaths in the country compared to an average of 42 per cent among all countries studied.

The data compares Canada’s record to that of 16 other countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The proportion of LTC deaths ranged from less than 10 per cent in Slovenia and Hungary to 31 per cent in the United States to 66 per cent in Spain.

At 5,324, the reported number of LTC deaths in Canada was near the average but data varied widely among countries: from 28 in Australia to 30,000 in the U.S., with more than 10,000 in France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Researchers point to limitations that prevent some comparisons — countries vary in COVID-19 testing and reporting practices, and in their definition of long-term care.

In addition, COVID-19 cases are often under-reported and in the case of Italy, data was available from only 52 per cent of the nursing homes operating in the country.

Nevertheless, Tracy Johnson, CIHI’s director of health systems analysis and emerging issues, says the data offers valuable insight into a tragedy many families, caregivers and residents have been trying to illustrate since the pandemic began.

Johnson notes countries that implemented additional LTC precautions at the same time as standard stay-at-home orders had fewer LTC infections and deaths.

That includes Australia, Austria and Slovenia, which ordered broad LTC testing and training, isolation wards to manage clusters, surge staffing, specialized teams and personal protective equipment.

Johnson says the findings suggest such measures could be key to mitigating the impact of a possible second wave.

But for now, she notes several of Canada’s hardest-hit facilities are still grappling with the devastating fallout of existing infections.

Long-awaited details of federal student service grant to be unveiled today

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jun 25th, 2020

OTTAWA — The federal government is to launch a program today aimed at encouraging students to volunteer in the fight against COVID-19 — more than two months after first announcing it and just in time for those who haven’t been able to find a summer job.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is also expected to announce a substantial increase in funding for a host of other existing programs, like Canada Summer Jobs, aimed at creating thousands of new opportunities for youth.

Back in April, Trudeau announced creation of the Canada Student Service Grant, a way of giving students who can’t find a summer job a chance to earn some money while volunteering in “national service” activities related to fighting the pandemic.

Eligible students are to receive grants of $1,000 to $5,000 to support the costs of post-secondary education in the fall.

The amount of each grant is dependent on the time devoted to volunteer work.

The grant program was part of a multi-pronged, $9-billion investment by the federal government to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic on young people.

“Volunteering can be a fantastic way to build skills, make contacts or just give back,” Trudeau said at the time. “If you’re volunteering instead of working, we’re going to make sure that you have support too.”

Ever since, students and organizations that rely on volunteers have been anxiously awaiting details, worried that the window for their summer activities was rapidly narrowing.

Today’s launch of the “I want to help” online platform will finally provide more information about who’s eligible for the grants, the number of hours needed to qualify for various levels of grant money, how to apply and how applications will be assessed.

It will also include a list of not-for-profit organizations for which volunteer work will be compensated.

Walmart Canada ‘All Lives Matter’ T-shirts draw fire from social media users

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jun 24th, 2020

Sale of T-shirts on Walmart Canada’s website with the words “All Lives Matter” printed across the front has drawn furor from social media users.

The company is also selling T-shirts with “Blue Lives Matter” and “Irish Lives Matter” printed across them.

In a statement, Walmart Canada says it stands against any form of racism or discrimination and promotes listening, seeking to understand and embracing individual differences.

It says a third-party marketplace has a number of items with variations on the phrase “lives matter,” and it will review those items to ensure compliance with Walmart’s terms and conditions.

But several social media users called out the company, with one Twitter user identified as Farzana Khan asking Walmart to remove the T-shirts, calling them “disgusting.”

Another user, Beth MacDonnell, also called for their removal asking “who approved this?”

The report by The Canadian Press was first published on June 23, 2020.

 

 

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jun 24th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 2 a.m. ET on June 24, 2020:

There are 101,963 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 54,884 confirmed (including 5,424 deaths, 23,620 resolved)

_ Ontario: 33,853 confirmed (including 2,619 deaths, 29,107 resolved)THE CANADIAN PRESS

_ Alberta: 7,781 confirmed (including 153 deaths, 7,096 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 2,835 confirmed (including 170 deaths, 2,471 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,061 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 998 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 753 confirmed (including 13 deaths, 642 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 303 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 293 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 165 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 143 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 27 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 101,963 (11 presumptive, 101,952 confirmed including 8,454 deaths, 64,684 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 24, 2020.

The Canadian Press

More GTA businesses open up and the Hockey Hall of Fame; In The News for June 24

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jun 24th, 2020

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 June 24 …

What we are watching in Canada … 

TORONTO — Ontario’s two most heavily populated regions will see more businesses open their doors today as Toronto and Peel move into the next stage of the province’s COVID-19 recovery plan.

The two regions officially enter Stage 2 of the pandemic reopening framework, joining nearly all the rest of the province that began ramping up activities over the past two weeks.

Windsor-Essex remains the only region not cleared to move to the next phase, due to stubbornly high COVID-19 case numbers on farms in the region.

Businesses given the green light to resume operations in Toronto and Peel today include hair stylists, pools and tour guide services.

Restaurants are also allowed to reopen their patios for dine-in service, though no one is yet allowed to be served indoors.

In all cases, the Ontario government says proper physical distancing measures must be maintained to prevent a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Also this …

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be among some 600 prominent politicians, business leaders and journalists featured at one of the world’s largest tech conferences.

The two-day Collision conference begins today and Trudeau is to take part in a question and answer session with a Financial Times editor on Thursday.

The conference — billed as Collision from Home this year — is taking place virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Collision website, more than 32,000 people from 140 countries are expected to join the conference.

Trudeau’s session, which was recorded in advance, focuses on Canada’s response to the pandemic, with particular emphasis on the role of science and innovation in fighting the deadly novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and attempts to find treatments and an eventual vaccine.

Among the other featured speakers are Microsoft president Brad Smith, World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Netflix chief production officer Greg Peters and Canadian author Margaret Atwood.

Trudeau is taking a break today from his daily pandemic briefing outside Rideau Cottage to quietly celebrate St. Jean Baptiste Day, Quebec’s Fete nationale.

ICYMI (In case you missed it) …

Sale of T-shirts on Walmart Canada’s website with the words “All Lives Matter” printed across the front has drawn furor from social media users.

The company is also selling T-shirts with “Blue Lives Matter” and “Irish Lives Matter” printed across them.

In a statement, Walmart Canada says it stands against any form of racism or discrimination and promotes listening, seeking to understand and embracing individual differences.

It says a third-party marketplace has a number of items with variations on the phrase “lives matter,” and it will review those items to ensure compliance with Walmart’s terms and conditions.

But several social media users called out the company, with one Twitter user identified as Farzana Khan asking Walmart to remove the T-shirts, calling them “disgusting.”

Another user, Beth MacDonnell, also called for their removal asking “who approved this?”

What we are watching in the U.S. …

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Several hundred people gathered in Marion Square, in the historic South Carolina city of Charleston, today to watch the removal of a statue of former vice-president and slavery advocate John C. Calhoun.

Just before 1 a.m. local time, workers using cranes began to bring the statue down from its 30-metre monument in downtown Marion Square.

In the wake of protests and unrest, city council members voted Tuesday to remove the statue and place it permanently at “an appropriate site where it will be protected and preserved.”

The city council voted 13-0 Tuesday evening on a resolution to remove the statue.

What we are watching elsewhere in the world …

BEIJING — China appears to have tamed a new outbreak of the coronavirus in Beijing, once again demonstrating its ability to quickly mobilize vast resources by testing nearly 2.5 million people in 11 days.

But elsewhere in the world, cases were surging. India reported a record daily increase of nearly 16,000 new cases. Mexico also set a record with more than 6,200 new cases.

In the U.S., increases over the past few days have jumped to near the level of the outbreak’s previous peak in April. Several states set single-day records, including Arizona, California, Mississippi, Nevada and Texas.

Worldwide, more than 9.2 million people have contracted the virus, including more than 477,000 who have died.

Today in 1880 … 

“O Canada,” with music by Calixa Lavallee and French lyrics by Judge A.B. Routhier, was performed for the first time at the Skaters’ Pavilion in Quebec City.

In sports …

TORONTO — Former Calgary Flames star Jarome Iginla headlines the list of first-time eligible players for selection to the Hockey Hall of Fame today.

The class of 2020 will be unveiled this afternoon after the selection committee meets.

Iginla had 1,300 points in 1,554 career NHL games and helped Canada win gold at the Olympics in 2002 in Salt Lake City and 2010 in Vancouver.

At the latter Winter Games, Iginla made the pass to Sidney Crosby for the golden goal in overtime against the United States.

Other players eligible for the first time include Marian Hossa and Shane Doan.

Fans of the Senators will be anxious to see if longtime Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson gets the nod in his fourth year on the ballot.

Former Canadian women’s team forward Jennifer Botterill and goalie Kim St-Pierre also are eligible this year.

In entertainment …

New seasons of “Transplant” and “Jann” are among the shows bound for CTV as Bell Media navigates COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns and vows to increase representation and diversity in its content.

The company announced its upcoming lineup on Tuesday, including a second season of the hit homegrown medical drama “Transplant,” starring Hamza Haq as a Syrian doctor building a new life in Canada. An air date hasn’t been announced.

And the Canadian comedy “Jann,” from singer-songwriter-actress Jann Arden, will premiere a second season this fall and has been renewed for a third.

New shows on the CTV docket include “Filthy Rich,” starring Kim Cattrall as the wife of a wealthy patriarch, played by Gerald McRaney, whose sudden death reveals his secret life.

There’s also Chuck Lorre’s new comedy “B Positive,” starring Thomas Middleditch and Annaleigh Ashford as an unlikely duo who bond during his search for a kidney donor.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 24, 2020.

The Canadian Press

A long fight to make the Air India bombing a ‘Canadian’ tragedy

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jun 23rd, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, today is the 35th anniversary of the Air India bombing, which killed 329 people, 280 of them Canadian citizens. In the immediate tragedy, the terrorist attack was seen largely as a foreign incident. As recently as 2007, not even half of Canadians considered it a “Canadian” tragedy. Why did the largest mass murder of Canadians in the country’s history remain for so long a story about India and Ireland? And how have things changed in the past decade to reframe it?

GUEST: Chandrima Chakraborty, Professor, Department of English and Cultural Studies, McMaster University

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Two-thirds favour keeping 2 metres physical distance: Leger poll

JOAN BRYDEN THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jun 23rd, 2020

Two-thirds of Canadians don’t want to relax physical distancing rules imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19, a new poll suggests.

And even if they were relaxed, a strong majority wouldn’t be comfortable taking part in activities that would bring them closer to other people, like going to a movie theatre.

Sixty-six per cent of respondents to the poll, conducted by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies, said two metres should remain the safe distance kept between people, as recommended by Canada’s public health authorities.

Just 12 per cent favoured reducing the distance to 1.5 metres, as is required in many European countries, and only 10 per cent favoured a reduction to one metre, the minimum recommended by the World Health Organization.

If the physical distancing rule were reduced to one metre, just 40 per cent said they’d be comfortable dining in a restaurant, 28 per cent going to a movie theatre, 24 per cent to a gym and 21 per cent to a bar or night club.

“We’ve been schooled on two metres for over three months now,” said Leger executive vice-president Andrew Enns.

“It’s difficult for Canadians to now suddenly start to be convinced that it’s OK to make that a closer distance.”

The online poll of 1,521 adult Canadians was conducted June 19 to 21. It cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

Enns said the reluctance to get closer with their fellow Canadians reflects a “very persistent level of anxiety” about the deadly new coronavirus that causes COVID-19, despite a steady decline in the number of new cases in Canada.

Just 43 per cent of respondents said they believe the first wave of the pandemic is over and 74 per cent think there’ll be a second wave, according to the poll. And 51 per cent said they are very or somewhat afraid of contracting COVID-19.

Forty-two per cent said they believe the worst of the crisis is over but an equal number said we’re in the worst of it now or the worst is yet to come (10 per cent and 32 per cent, respectively).

Almost half (46 per cent) said they find it very or somewhat stressful to leave the house and go out in public.

Sixty-two per cent said it will take time before life returns to normal, while 28 per cent said it will never return to normal.

All those measures of continued anxiety about COVID-19 are likely contributing to people saying “I’m not going closer than two metres because this thing’s not over,” Enns said.

Health Canada recalls more hand sanitizers that contain industrial-grade ethanol

NEWS STAFF AND THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jun 23rd, 2020

Health Canada has recalled three more hand sanitizer brands because they say it contains industrial-grade ethanol that has not been authorized to use in hand sanitizers in Canada.

The original recall was issued earlier this month and was expanded on Monday to include Gel Antiseptique Pour Les Mains, Germzero, and Tekare Instant Hand Cleanser Gel. Click here for a full list of the recalled products.

“Industrial-grade ethanol contains impurities that are not found in the type of ethanol approved for use in manufacturing hand sanitizers, such as technical-grade, food-grade or pharmaceutical-grade ethanol. In addition, chemicals that may not be approved for use in hand sanitizers are added to industrial-grade ethanol,” Health Canada says in a release.

It warns that frequent use of these products can result in dry skin, causing irritation or cracking.

“Since industrial-grade ethanol has not been approved for use in hand sanitizers in Canada, the department has not reviewed it for safety or efficacy.”

Consumers are advised to stop using the products immediately and return them to their local pharmacy for proper disposal.

Quebec, Saskatchewan and Manitoba easing more COVID-19 restrictions

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jun 22nd, 2020

Quebec, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are all easing more of the restrictions they implemented to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Quebec, which accounts for just over half of Canada’s COVID-19 cases, is reopening several sectors today, impacting the Montreal area in particular.

Restaurants can open again in the greater Montreal and Joliette areas while indoor gatherings of up to 10 people from three households are now permitted in these regions, as they have been elsewhere in Quebec since last week.

Day camps, along with gyms, arenas, cinemas, concert venues and places of worship can reopen across the province with a maximum capacity of 50 people for indoor gatherings.

Meanwhile, Saskatchewan moves to Phase 4.1 of its reopening strategy today, which allows camping in national parks to resume, but by reservation only.

Youth camps can reopen, but for day use only, and with guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19, including the constant disinfection of play structures and monitoring of children for coronavirus symptoms.

Outdoor sports like soccer, softball and flag football can resume, though full-contact sports remain prohibited, as does competitive play, tournaments and inter-provincial travel for games.

Shared equipment must be disinfected frequently, and no high-fiving or handshakes are allowed.

Saskatchewan’s outdoor swimming pools and spray parks can also reopen with physical distancing, maximum capacity, and stringent cleaning rules in effect.

However, some municipalities, including Regina and Saskatoon, have said they won’t be reopening their outdoor pools right away.

The province is also doubling the allowable size of indoor public and private gatherings to 30 people where space allows for two metres between participants.

Manitoba moved to relax more of its restrictions yesterday.

Restaurants and bars no longer have to operate at half capacity, however, tables must be two metres apart or have a physical barrier between them.

Non-smoking bingo halls and video lottery terminal lounges can also reopen at half capacity.

Child care centres and retail stores can return to normal capacity, and people arriving in Manitoba from other western provinces, northern territories and northwestern Ontario no longer have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Larger public gatherings are also permitted. People can now fill up to 30 per cent of the capacity of any venue as long as they can be split into groups of 50 indoors or 100 outdoors.

By the end of Sunday Canada’s COVID-19 case total stood at 101,337, including 8,430 deaths and 63,886 cases resolved.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jun 22nd, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. on June 22, 2020:

There are 101,337 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 54,766 confirmed (including 5,417 deaths, 23,322 resolved)

_ Ontario: 33,476 confirmed (including 2,606 deaths, 28,719 resolved)

_ Alberta: 7,704 confirmed (including 152 deaths, 7,018 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 2,790 confirmed (including 168 deaths, 2,444 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,061 confirmed (including 62 deaths, 998 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 746 confirmed (including 13 deaths, 643 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 302 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 293 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 164 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 135 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 27 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 101,337 (11 presumptive, 101,326 confirmed including 8,430 deaths, 63,886 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 22, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Racism in Canada’s military and a deal with Mexico; In The News for June 22

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jun 22nd, 2020

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 June 22 …

What we are watching in Canada … 

OTTAWA — Canada’s top military and civilian defence officials have apologized for not responding sooner to questions about systemic racism in the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces.

The apology is in a letter written by Defence Department deputy minister Jody Thomas and chief of defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance and distributed to troops and Defence Department employees on Friday.

The letter coincides with a wave of anti-racism demonstrations and sentiment in the U.S. and Canada following the killing of an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, in the U.S. by white police officers last month.

Thomas and Vance go on to reveal that military police are investigating reports of a service member spreading anti-Black pictures in Quebec.

They also acknowledge that racism is a real problem many Defence Department and military members experience on a daily basis — and that past efforts to curb it have been unsuccessful.

Also this …

OTTAWA — The Mexican government says it will resume sending farm workers to Canada after securing promises for more inspections and oversight to curb outbreaks of COVID-19.

At least two Mexican men have died and hundreds more have fallen ill with COVID-19 in recent weeks on farms across the country.

The situation led Mexico to temporarily stop allowing workers to leave for Canada, sending shock waves through the agricultural sector, which is highly dependent on foreign labour.

But the Mexican government says it has now struck a deal with the federal Liberal government that will lead to improvements in the temporary foreign worker program.

In a press release late Sunday, Mexico says Canada has committed to increased inspections, as well as more support for Mexican officials and workers to identify and report unsafe working conditions.

A working group will also be set up with Mexican and Canadian government officials to deal with the issue.

And this …

Quebec, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are all easing more of the restrictions they implemented to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Restaurants can open again in the greater Montreal and Joliette areas while indoor gatherings of up to 10 people from three households are now permitted in these regions, as they have been elsewhere in Quebec since last week.

Day camps, along with gyms, arenas, cinemas, concert venues and places of worship can reopen across the province with a maximum capacity of 50 people for indoor gatherings.

Meanwhile, Saskatchewan moves to Phase 4.1 of its reopening strategy today, which allows camping in national parks to resume, but by reservation only.

Youth camps can reopen, but for day use only, while outdoor sports like soccer, softball and flag football can resume, though full-contact sports remain prohibited.

Saskatchewan’s outdoor swimming pools and spray parks can also reopen and the province is doubling the allowable size of indoor public and private gatherings to 30 people.

Manitoba moved to relax more of its restrictions yesterday, allowing restaurants, bars, child care centres and retail stores to operate at full capacity.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

SEATTLE — Police in Seattle say one person has been wounded in the second shooting in Seattle’s protest zone in less than 48 hours.

The shooting happened late Sunday night in the area near Seattle’s downtown known as CHOP, for “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest.”

A pre-dawn shooting Saturday had left a 19-year-old man dead and another person critically injured.

Meanwhile, two people have been killed and seven others wounded in a shooting in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Charlotte police initially tweeted early today that one person had died at the scene and several others had gunshot wounds, but they later said that two people were confirmed dead.

They also said that five other people were hit by vehicles after the shooting.

What we are watching in elsewhere in the world …

NEW DELHI — The world is recording the largest daily increases yet in coronavirus cases, with infections soaring in India’s rural villages after migrant workers fled major cities.

Infections slowed in China and South Korea, suggesting progress in stemming their newest outbreaks.

South Korea reported 17 new cases of COVID-19 today, the first time its daily jump came down to the teens in nearly a month, but the mayor of Seoul, the capital, warned new restrictions might be imposed.

The nine new cases in Beijing was the least recorded in over a week.

Tallies by the World Health Organization and Johns Hopkins University show the number of coronavirus infections worldwide approaching 9 million, with more than 468,000 deaths.

And in sports …

TALLADEGA, Ala. — NASCAR is investigating after a noose was found in the garage stall of Bubba Wallace at the race in Talladega, Alabama.

Wallace is the only full-time Black driver in NASCAR’s top Cup Series.

Two weeks ago, he successfully pushed for NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag at its tracks and properties.

NASCAR says it is “outraged” and said there is no place for racism in NASCAR.

Wallace says he was saddened but undeterred.

The series races at Talladega on today after a one-day rain delay.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 22, 2020.

The Canadian Press

China charges 2 Canadians with spying in Huawei-linked case

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jun 19th, 2020

China has charged two detained Canadians with spying, escalating tensions between the two countries following the arrest in Vancouver 18 months ago of a senior Huawei executive wanted on U.S. charges.

Chinese prosecutors said Friday that Michael Kovrig was charged in Beijing on suspicion of spying for state secrets and intelligence.

Michael Spavor was charged in Dandong city near the North Korean border on suspicion of spying for a foreign entity and illegally providing state secrets.

The charges were announced by China’s highest prosecutor’s office in brief social media posts.

Asked what evidence China had against the two, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said only that each is charged with “secretly gathering state secrets for overseas forces with particularly serious consequences.”

“The facts are clear and the evidence solid and sufficient,” Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing. Zhao gave no details.

Both men have been held since December 2018 in a move seen as an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng Wanzhou, a top executive at Chinese tech giant Huawei.

China has denied any explicit link between her case and the lengthy detention of the two Canadian men, but outside experts see them as tied and Chinese diplomats have strongly implied a connection.

The daughter of Huawei’s founder was arrested at Vancouver’s airport on Dec. 1, 2018, at the request of U.S. authorities who want her on fraud charges, which she and the company have denied.

Meng is out on bail as hearings are ongoing in B.C. Supreme Court after a judge rejected the first set of arguments from her lawyers late last month in a bid to set her free.

Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes ruled Meng’s alleged offences would constitute a crime in Canada and the case should proceed.

The next round of legal arguments is set to focus on whether Meng’s arrest was unlawful and whether the U.S. records of the case contain misstatements or omissions.

The Chinese embassy in Ottawa denounced Holmes’s decision and called once more for Meng’s immediate release.

Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne responded in turn by calling for the release of the two “arbitrarily detained” Canadian men.

Kovrig is an ex-diplomat who was working for the International Crisis Group and Spavor is an entrepreneur who did business in North Korea.

They have been in Chinese prisons since they were arrested nine days after Meng’s arrest.

The conditions under which the two Canadians are being held has been the subject of scrutiny.

Kovrig and Spavor had no access to lawyers or their families as of May, with the exception of a phone call the Chinese embassy said Kovrig was allowed to make to his sick father in mid-March.

At the same time, the embassy said Kovrig and Spavor were being provided with better food to strengthen their immunity against the novel coronavirus.

It said detention centres were closed due to the epidemic, so Kovrig and Spavor were receiving more frequent letters and parcels to ensure their contact with Canadian diplomats in China.

The allegations against Meng, who is Huawei’s chief financial officer, date back to 2013.

The U.S. is seeking to extradite Meng on fraud charges based on allegations she lied to HSBC about Huawei’s relationship with Skycom, a telecommunications company in Iran, putting the bank at risk of violating American sanctions against that country.

But in a case management memo dated June 12, Meng’s lawyers assert their client delivered a presentation to an HSBC banker in Hong Kong that included statements about Huawei’s business activities in Iran, and the statements were omitted from U.S. records of the case.

They argue Meng’s statements provided the bank with “the material facts it needed to know in order to assess whether there was any risk to HSBC in continuing to provide banking services to Huawei, including processing U.S. dollar transactions related to Huawei’s commerce in Iran.”

The tensions between Canada and China have spilled over into trade between the two countries as China suspended imports of Canadian canola.

Earlier this month, Huawei’s ambitions to be a player in Canada’s 5G network were very much cast in doubt after two of the country’s three largest telecom companies announced partnerships with the Chinese company’s European rivals.

Bell Canada announced on June 2 that Sweden-based Ericsson will be its second supplier of the radio access network equipment — a major component in fifth-generation wireless networks — following its choice of Finland’s Nokia in February.

Later in the day, Telus Corp., which uses Huawei equipment extensively in its current network, announced that it too had selected Ericsson and Nokia for its 5G network needs.

Huawei is the world’s biggest supplier of network gear used by phone and internet companies.

The announcements come as Ottawa continues its review of Huawei’s role in Canada’s 5G networks over security concerns due to suspicions about the company’s relationship with China’s government.

The United States has warned Canada, the United Kingdom and other allies that it will limit intelligence sharing with countries that have Huawei equipment in their 5G networks — citing its potential use for spying by China, an allegation Huawei denies.

Retail sales plunged 26.4 per cent in April: StatsCan

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jun 19th, 2020

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says retail sales fell by more than a quarter in April as motor vehicle and parts dealers took the largest hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agency says retail sales fell 26.4 per cent to $34.7 billion in April leaving them down 33.6 per cent since physical distancing measures were implemented in mid-March.

Economists on average had expected a drop in April of 15.1 per cent, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

While essential services like grocery stores remained open, most retailers did not offer in-store shopping in April due to public health restrictions meant to slow the spread of the pandemic.

However, many retailers started or expanded their online presence and curbside pick-up services in response to the closures.

Statistics Canada says online sales surged to a record high, representing 9.5 per cent of the total retail market.

Juneteenth in Tulsa: freedom still a distant, delayed dream for Black America

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jun 19th, 2020

TULSA, Okla. — Black Americans are gathering today to mark the anniversary of an emancipation that came two and a half years late — liberty that many say feels like it never came at all.

It’s been 155 years since slaves in Texas learned of their freedom on June 19, 1865, nearly 30 months after Abraham Lincoln issued his famous Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863.

In 2020, as protests against racially motivated police brutality continue in cities and towns across the U.S., Black activists say Juneteenth will be even more bittersweet.

That’s especially true in Tulsa, the scene of a race riot in 1921 that many historians consider the single worst eruption of racial violence in American history.

It’s also where President Donald Trump has chosen to relaunch his presidential re-election campaign.

Trump’s “Keep America Great” rally was originally scheduled to take place today, but it was later rescheduled for Saturday —a controversy the president credits for making what he calls an otherwise unknown holiday “very famous.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 19, 2020.

 

The Canadian Press

Trudeau government passes confidence test with support from New Democrats

LEE BERTHIAUME, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jun 18th, 2020

The federal Liberal government avoided defeat with help from the NDP on Wednesday as the two joined forces to pass a multibillion-dollar spending bill in the House of Commons and avert a summer election.

The result had been considered a foregone conclusion after the Liberals assured the New Democrats’ support – and their own survival – by extending Tuesday the $2,000-a-month Canada Emergency Response Benefit another eight weeks.

In return, the NDP supported the government in passing the supplementary spending estimates – some $87 billion in planned government spending, most of which is aimed at pandemic-related support for Canadians and businesses.

Only about $6 billion actually involves new spending; the other $81 billion had already been approved by Parliament.

Because the Liberals hold only a minority of seats in the House of Commons, they needed the support of at least one party to pass the spending bill or risk plunging the country into an election.

Any bill involving government spending is typically considered a confidence matter. A government that fails to win a vote of confidence in the Commons is deemed defeated.

“The prime minister says he has heard us and is extending support through CERB through the summer,” NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said in a statement prior to the estimates being approved.

“This is what we were calling for in the short term. We’ll keep working to make sure help is there for Canadians who need it in the long term.”

Trudeau announced Tuesday that the CERB would be extended to a maximum of 24 weeks instead of 16 weeks for people who lost their jobs or saw their hours slashed due to the pandemic.

The extension means the first cohort of applicants who signed up in April and were set to max out their payment periods in early July won’t have to worry if they have no jobs to go back to over the summer or are unable to work because of health reasons.

Yet while the supplementary estimates were approved – on division, which means with some opposition but no recorded vote – there was still no resolution to an emergency aid bill that stalled last week as the government butted heads with opposition parties.

That bill included measures to deliver a one-time, tax-free benefit of up to $600 to Canadians with disabilities, an expansion to the wage subsidy program and fines or jail time for Canadians who deliberately defraud the CERB program.

The government needed unanimous consent to quickly pass the bill in a matter of hours last week but none of the opposition parties would support it.

It then offered to deal with the disability benefit separately, which was supported by the NDP and the Bloc but the Conservatives blocked that idea.

The bill remained on the order paper Wednesday, meaning the government could have theoretically tried again, but that wasn’t in the cards.

The government will instead try to work out other ways to deliver the disability benefit and other measures without needing legislation.

The approval of the supplementary estimates followed almost five hours of parliamentary debate that was preceded by Singh being kicked out of the House of Commons for calling a Bloc Quebecois MP racist over an NDP motion on systemic racism in the RCMP.

The debate coincided with news that Canada had lost its bid to win a temporary seat at the United Nations’ Security Council, which prompted several sharp exchanges between the Conservatives and Liberals over the cost of the campaign.

The prime minister was not present for the proceedings, which mark the end of an unprecedented parliamentary sitting that saw the House of Commons – like much of the rest of the country – all but shut down because of COVID-19.

Trudeau instead left it to his ministers to respond to opposition questions and concerns, including Conservative complaints about a lack of transparency and accountability over the government’s response to the pandemic.

The Conservatives and Bloc had been calling for the resumption of Parliament rather than the special COVID-19 committee that has been holding hybrid hearings for the past few weeks with some MPs attending in person and others virtually.

The Liberals announced Wednesday that they will provide a “snapshot” of the country’s economy on July 8.

N.S. inmates worry housing during COVID-19 could end unless funding extended

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jun 18th, 2020

HALIFAX — Several advocacy groups in Nova Scotia say 20 provincial inmates who shifted to community housing during the COVID-19 crisis could lose their residences by the end of the month unless a fresh source of funding can be found.

A release from the John Howard Society of Nova Scotia, the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia, and Coverdale Courtwork Society says the groups have been providing emergency housing in two hotels for the inmates, and helping them gradually find other accommodations.

The inmates have also been receiving support and services from on-site staff during the pandemic thanks to the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia, which was receiving money from the federal Reaching Home program.

However, the agencies say the program — supported by Employment and Social Development — is wrapping up its support, and without some other source of about $60,000 per month, the assistance to the inmates would end this month.THE CANADIAN PRESS

Emma Halpern, the regional advocate of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia, says the groups are looking for help from the provincial Justice Department to help keep the inmates from a return to jail or life on the street.

She says a request has been sent asking for at least three months of support to give the societies more time to find housing for the former inmates.

Halpern says to date there has been no recidivism among the 33 people who have used the program.

To date, 13 have found supported housing where they could continue to meet the conditions of their release. However, Halpern says the agencies haven’t been able to find housing for the remaining clients yet.

“As of June 30, we could have people going back to jail because they have nowhere to live, and their conditions require them to have somewhere to live,” she said.

“Could we just keep some funds so we could find a way to resettle those people?”

She said most of those released from provincial facilities were “released either because of compromised immune systems or … they were there because they didn’t have an address and we sometimes use jail as a homeless shelter.”

Mary Doucette, a 64-year-old woman who used the program and now has her own apartment, said she thanks God it was there for her.

“There was no place for me and (police) called the Elizabeth Fry Society and they put me in a hotel and kept me there until they found me an apartment,” Doucette said in an interview.

“The support was there. Everything you needed was there. You weren’t left on your own.”

Ashley Avery, executive director of the Coverdale Courtwork Society, said it would save the province money to help continue the program.

She said the average daily cost per adult in custody is $271 per day, while the program has been operating at about $125 per day.

“Not only is this model incredibly successful, it is cost-effective,” Avery wrote in a news release.

A spokeswoman for the Nova Scotia Department of Justice referred all questions to the federal government, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 18, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Stakes high for second debate of Conservative party leadership race

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jun 18th, 2020

The stakes are high tonight for the four contenders for leadership of the Conservative party as they face off in what’s likely the final debate of the race.

All four will be fresh off last night’s French-language debate, a nearly two hour event that largely saw Erin O’Toole and Peter MacKay dominate in heated exchanges on everything from carbon taxes to abortion.

But tonight, the other two candidates are aiming to score some points of their own.

Both Leslyn Lewis and Derek Sloan acknowledged that with only basic French skills they could only go so far in the first event.

But Lewis says the English language debate will put the four on more equal footing and potentially help her continue building the momentum she’s had behind her campaign in recent days.

Sloan says his goal is to show he is “ready to rumble” and suggested he will aim to bolster his support in the West.

Conservative party members will elect a new leader at some point after Aug. 21, the deadline to return their ballots by mail.

During the French debate, MacKay repeatedly went after O’Toole, calling him an “angry man,” accusing him of flip-flopping on his platform and pushed him on the fact he wouldn’t say whether he was in favour or against abortion.

O’Toole grew increasingly angry, accusing MacKay of being a liar, and said afterwards he was frustrated by MacKay’s attacks, calling them divisive and disappointing.

MacKay suggested they’d presented a fair exchange of ideas to Francophone voters.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jun 17th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. on June 17, 2020:

There are 99,467 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 54,146 confirmed (including 5,269 deaths, 22,350 resolved)

_ Ontario: 32,554 confirmed (including 2,538 deaths, 27,431 resolved)

_ Alberta: 7,482 confirmed (including 151 deaths, 6,882 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 2,756 confirmed (including 168 deaths, 2,416 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,061 confirmed (including 62 deaths, 997 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 684 confirmed (including 13 deaths, 631 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 293 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 292 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 257 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 163 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 131 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 27 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 99,467 (11 presumptive, 99,456 confirmed including 8,213 deaths, 61,443 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 17, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Conservative leadership debate and India-China clash; In The News for June 17

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Jun 17th, 2020

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 June 17 …

N.B. Premier meets with First Nations leaders …

FREDERICTON — New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs will likely face some tough questions today when he meets with First Nations leaders.

The meeting follows the deaths of two Indigenous people were shot by police.

First Nations leaders have come forward to say there should be some kind of Indigenous-led investigation into the deaths.

Imelda Perley, a well-known elder, says some kind of Indigenous presence would ensure cultural sensitivity.

Earlier this week, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Perry Bellegarde, said Indigenous people in New Brunswick are feeling mistrust about the existing investigation.

The ongoing probe is being led by Quebec’s independent police watchdog agency, known as the BEI, because New Brunswick has no oversight body of its own.

Inflation figures on tap …

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada is set to release its latest inflation reading today.

The consumer price index for May reflects a month that saw the gradual reopening of businesses that were shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Economists on average expect the consumer price index to remain unchanged compared with a year ago — meaning an inflation rate of zero.

That would compare with a year-over-year decline of 0.2 per cent in April, when energy prices plunged.

The consumer price index measures price changes for a fixed basket of goods and services.

COVID-19 in Ontario …

TORONTO — Insurance companies have provided $685 million in relief to Ontario drivers using their cars less during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the province’s finance minister says more should be done.

The regulatory body says about 70 per cent of policy holders are receiving some form of relief, with an average savings of $150.

The Financial Services Regulatory Authority says the $685 million in relief amounts to about five per cent of the total annual premiums Ontario drivers pay.

Finance Minister Rod Phillips says 10 out of the 14 major insurance companies have provided rebates to customers.

Phillips announced a regulatory change in April to enable the companies to provide auto insurance premium rebates to consumers for up to 12 months after the emergency has ended.

Phillips says he will look at the companies not supporting their customers and will publicly name them if necessary.

“I believe there’s still more that can be done,” he said in an interview. “I don’t believe all of the companies are participating at the level that they should.”

Cue the debate …

OTTAWA — Four federal Conservative party leadership candidates face off against each other for the first time tonight in a race that’s been repeatedly upended by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tonight’s debate, being held in French, will be followed by another one tomorrow in English, both taking place in downtown Toronto and livestreamed online.

None of the four candidates — Leslyn Lewis, Peter MacKay, Erin O’Toole and Derek Sloan — are fluently bilingual.

So tonight’s debate will be a key indicator if any of them can adequately manage to debate the issues in one of the country’s official languages.

MacKay’s French is expected to be under the microscope, with his campaign having made several mistakes earlier on in the race that made him the subject of much mockery in Quebec.

But eyes are also on Lewis, the lone non-politician of the bunch who has been steadily gaining support in recent days, and the debate marks a debut of sorts for her in the broader public eye.

India-China clash …

A clash high in the Himalayas between the world’s two most populated countries claimed the lives of 20 Indian soldiers in a border region that the two nuclear armed neighbours have disputed for decades, Indian officials said Tuesday.

The clash in the Ladakh region Monday — during which Indian officials said neither side fired any shots — was the first deadly confrontation between India and China since 1975. Experts said it would be difficult for the two nations to ease heightened tensions.

The Indian and Chinese troops fought each other with fists and rocks, Indian officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the information.

The Indian Army initially said in a statement that three Indian soldiers had died, but later updated the number to 20 and said 17 “were critically injured in the line of duty at the standoff location and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high altitude terrain.” The statement did not disclose the nature of the soldiers’ injuries.

China accused Indian forces of carrying out “provocative attacks” on its troops without offering more details and did not disclose if any of its soldiers died.

After the clash, the two sides “disengaged” from the area where the fighting happened, the Indian Army statement said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 17, 2020

The Canadian Press

Annual inflation rate in May sinks to 0.4%

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Jun 17th, 2020

Statistics Canada says inflation pulled back even further in May as businesses shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic began to reopen slowly.

The agency says the consumer price index fell 0.4 per cent compared with a year ago, making it the second month in a row for negative inflation after a 0.2 per cent drop for April.

Prices rose in four of the eight major components on a year-over-year basis.

Transportation prices contributed the most to the overall decline, mainly because of lower gas prices compared with May last year.

Statistics Canada says that excluding gasoline, the consumer price index rose 0.7 per cent, the smallest increase since January 2013.

Economists on average expected the consumer price index to remain unchanged compared with a year ago – meaning an annual inflation rate of zero.

A look at how provinces plan to emerge from COVID-19 shutdown

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jun 16th, 2020

Provinces have been releasing plans for easing restrictions that were put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Here is what some of the provinces have announced so far:

Newfoundland and Labrador

The province entered “Alert Level 3” on June 8 in its five stage reopening plan. It means groups of up to 20 people are now permitted, as long as they observe physical distancing. Up to 19 people are allowed on public transit.

Private health clinics, such as optometrists and dentists, can open, as well as medium-risk businesses such as clothing stores and hair salons.

Travel within the province is also permitted, including to second homes, parks and campgrounds. And 11 government service centres will reopen to offer in-person services that can be booked by appointment, including written tests, driver exams and identification photos.

During Level 4 some businesses such as law firms and other professional services were allowed to reopen along with regulated child-care centres, with some restrictions.

Outdoor games of tennis were allowed to resume, though players must bring their own equipment and not share it.

Pet grooming services began operating May 25, with companies ordered to ensure their employees have personal protective equipment.

Municipal parks, golf courses and driving ranges as well as recreational hunting and fishing were also allowed to reopen in previous weeks.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald says the province could move to the next alert level by June 22nd.

At Level 2, businesses with performance spaces and gyms are to reopen, while Level 1 would represent “the new normal.”

Nova Scotia

Provincial campgrounds reopened June 15 at reduced capacity to ensure a minimum of six metres between individual sites. Private campgrounds had already been given the green light to reopen, but only at 50 per cent capacity. They must also ensure public health protocols are followed, including adequate distancing between campsites.

Licensed child-care centres and family daycare homes also reopened across Nova Scotia June 15.

On May 29 Premier Stephen McNeil announced a new gathering limit of 10 people, doubling the limit of five that was imposed in late March.

Physical distancing of two metres is still required, except among members of the same household or family “bubble.” The limit is the same indoors and outdoors, with exceptions for outdoor weddings and funeral services which can have 15 people.

The gathering limit also applies to arts and culture activities such as theatre performances and dance recitals, faith gatherings, and sports and physical activity. Businesses such as theatres, concerts, festivals and sporting activities also must adhere to the 10-person limit.

Nova Scotia has allowed summer day camps for children to open as long as they have a plan to follow public health measures to guard against COVID-19. The plans must cover areas such as increased cleaning, staggered pick up and drop off times and the screening of staff and campers.

Most businesses ordered shut in late March were allowed to reopen on June 5, if they have a plan that follows physical distancing protocols. The list of businesses includes bars and restaurant dining rooms, hair salons, barber shops, gyms and yoga studios, among others.

Some health providers were also able to reopen, including dentistry, optometry, chiropractic and physiotherapy offices. Veterinary services can resume business along with some unregulated professions, such as massage therapy, podiatry and naturopathy.

McNeil earlier said there would be no return to school this year. However, the province has announced an exemption to allow some public celebrations for high school graduations. Strict physical distancing rules will apply, and the exemption will last until June 30.

Trails and provincial and municipal parks can reopen along with garden centres, nurseries and similar businesses, but playground equipment is still off limits.

Public beaches have reopened along with outdoor activities like archery, horseback riding, golf, paddling, boating and tennis, with the proviso that social distancing and hygiene be maintained. Sportfishing is permitted and people can attend boating, yacht or sailing clubs for the purpose of preparing boats for use.

Drive-in religious services are now allowed, if people stay in their cars, park two metres apart and there are no interactions between people.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King says people wanting to travel to seasonal residences must apply, and those will be put through a risk assessment before approval. Seasonal residents will also be tested for COVID-19 before completing the two weeks they must spend in self-isolation after arriving in the province.

The province moved into the third phase of its reopening plan June 1, which allows such things as in-house dining at restaurants, small groups to participate in recreational and some sporting activities and libraries to reopen. Phase three also allows gatherings of up to 15 people indoors and 20 people outdoors and the reopening of child-care centres.

As well, family and friends can visit residents at long-term care homes. The visits require an appointment and must take place outdoors.

Under phase 2, non-contact outdoor recreational activities were permitted, and retail businesses could reopen with physical distancing measures in place.

Priority non-urgent surgeries and select health-service providers, including physiotherapists, optometrists and chiropractors, resumed on May 1.

The P.E.I legislature resumed May 26.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick moved to the “yellow phase” of its COVID-19 recovery plan on May 22, allowing barbers and hair stylists to reopen as well as churches and fitness facilities. Dental care, massage, chiropractors and other “close contact” businesses and services could also reopen.

But the Campbellton region, which extends from Whites Brook to the Belledune, had to take a step backwards to the “orange” level on May 27. Residents were told to once again avoid contacts outside their two-household bubble. Non-regulated health professionals and personal service businesses that opened May 22 also had to close again. And people should only be travelling in and out of Zone 5 for essential reasons.

Restrictions in the yellow phase of the province’s recovery plan were lifted on June 5. The activities now allowed include outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people, indoor religious services of up to 50 people, low-contact team sports and the opening of a long list of facilities including swimming pools, gyms, rinks, water parks, and yoga and dance studios.

People must now wear face coverings in any building open to the general public. Children under the age of two, children in daycare and people who cannot wear face coverings for medical reasons are exempt from the requirement.

Licensed daycares started reopening May 19. Children don’t have to wear masks or maintain physical distancing but are being kept in small groups.

Anyone who has travelled outside of New Brunswick will not be allowed to visit early learning and child-care facilities for 14 days.

Retail businesses, offices, restaurants, libraries, museums and seasonal campgrounds were earlier allowed to reopen providing they have clear plans for meeting public health guidelines. The resumption of elective surgeries was also part phase two of the province’s reopening plan.

Phase one, which started on April 24, allowed limited play on golf courses as well as fishing and hunting. Post-secondary students could return if it was deemed safe by the school, and outdoor church services were again permitted, providing people remain in their vehicles and are two metres apart.

The final phase, which will probably come only after a vaccine is available, will include large gatherings.

Quebec

Quebec began allowing outdoor gatherings with a maximum of 10 people from three families with social distancing in place on May 22.

On May 25 some retail businesses reopened in the greater Montreal area. Quebec reopened retail stores outside Montreal on May 11.

Parks and pools can reopen across the province but are still be subject to physical distancing and other health measures

Day camps across the province will be allowed to open as of June 22, with physical distancing and other COVID-19 health measures in effect. That means smaller groups of children and frequent handwashing. Sleep-away summer camps won’t be allowed to reopen until next year.

Sports teams resumed outdoor practices on June 8, and matches can resume at the end of the month. That includes baseball, soccer and any other sports that can be played outdoors. But players will have to keep a safe distance between them.

Lottery terminals have reopened after being shut down on March 20 with sales moving to online only.

Quebec’s construction and manufacturing industries have resumed operations with limits on the number of employees who can work per shift. Elementary schools and daycares outside Montreal reopened on May 11, but high schools, junior colleges and universities will stay closed until September.

Elementary schools in the greater Montreal area will remain closed until late August.

Courthouses across the province were permitted to reopen on June 1, with limited seating capacity and Plexiglas barriers protecting clerks and judges.

Camping is now allowed outside the Montreal and Joliette regions, as are cottage rentals.

Hairdressers, nail salons and other personal care businesses in the Montreal area reopened June 15. These types of businesses, along with shopping malls, located outside the Montreal area were allowed to reopen earlier this month.

Checkpoints set up to slow the spread of COVID-19 came down on May 18 in various parts of Quebec, including between Gatineau and Ottawa.

Meanwhile, Quebecers hoping to drive to Iles-de-la-Madeleine this summer will be permitted to travel through New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island to take the ferry as of June 26. Quebec travellers will need to get a document permitting the trip and they won’t be able to cross the provincial borders without it.

Ontario

All regions of Ontario except for Toronto, Peel and Windsor-Essex will be in Stage 2 of the province’s phased reopening plan as of June 19.

The current pandemic restrictions will stay in place for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas, which have a high concentration of COVID-19 cases. Border regions such as Windsor-Essex, Lambton County and Niagara, as well as Haldimand-Norfolk, which has seen an outbreak among migrant workers, are also barred, for the time being, from moving to Stage 2.

The second stage includes restaurant patios, hair salons and swimming pools.  Child-care centres across Ontario can also reopen.

Meanwhile, the limit on social gatherings increased from five to 10 provincewide, but people must still stay two metres away from anyone outside their own household. The new guidelines mean physical distancing does not need to be practised between members of the same circle.

Restrictions on wedding and funeral ceremonies across the province are also being eased as part of the phased reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of people allowed to attend an indoor ceremony is restricted to 30 per cent capacity of the venue, while outdoor events are limited to 50 people. However, the number of people allowed to attend all wedding and funeral receptions remains at 10. Participants must follow health and safety protocols, including physical distancing from people not from the same household or their established 10-person social circle

Ontario began its first stage of reopening May 19 by lifting restrictions on surgeries. Most retail stores with a street entrance were also allowed to reopen with physical distancing restrictions, and curbside pickup and delivery.

Ontarians can now resume visiting loved ones in long-term care homes, with restrictions in place, including that they test negative for COVID-19.

The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario says the profession is in Stage 2 of its three-phase reopening plan. Dentists had previously only been allowed to practice emergency or urgent care on patients in-person but can now offer other essential services with enhanced precautions.

All construction has resumed, with limits also lifted on maintenance, repair and property management services, such as cleaning, painting and pool maintenance.

Golf courses can reopen though clubhouses can only open for washrooms and take-out food. Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches can also open, as can private parks and campgrounds for trailers and RVs whose owners have a full season contract, and businesses that board animals.

Other businesses and services included in the stage one reopening included regular veterinary appointments, pet grooming, pet sitting and pet training; libraries for pickup or deliveries; and housekeepers and babysitters.

Drive-in movie theatres and batting cages reopened May 31 with physical distancing measures in effect.

Short-term rentals including lodges, cabins, cottages, homes and condominiums were allowed to resume operations on June 5.

Backcountry campers returned to provincial parks June 1 with certain stipulations. No more than five people can occupy a single campsite, unless they live in the same household. Provincial parks also expanded permission for picnics and off-leash pet areas.

Ontario schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year and this summer’s Honda Indy Toronto has been cancelled.

Manitoba

The Manitoba government has lifted its one-month limit on people’s prescription drug supplies, allowing people to again get prescriptions filled or refilled for 90 days.

Its health offices, including dentists, chiropractors and physiotherapists can also reopen. Retail businesses can reopen at half occupancy providing they ensure physical spacing.

Museums and libraries can reopen, but with occupancy limited to 50 per cent.

Playgrounds, golf courses and tennis courts have reopened as well, along with parks and campgrounds.

On May 22 the province began allowing groups of up to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.

On June 1, the province eased a ban on people visiting loved ones in personal care homes. Homes can now offer outdoor visits with a maximum of two guests per resident. Visitors will be screened upon arrival and must practice physical distancing.

Community centres and seniors’ clubs are also getting the go-ahead with limits on customer capacity and rules for physical distancing.

Bars, tattoo parlours, dine-in restaurants, fitness clubs and pools could reopen June 1 under limited capacity.

Elementary and high schools stopped in-class instruction in March and will not reopen this school year. But they were allowed, as of June 1, to offer tutoring or student assessments in small groups. Some extracurricular sports and other activities can restart.

At universities and colleges, some specific instruction such as labs and arts studios can resume for up to 25 students and staff at a time.

Amateur sports and recreation programs, as well as bowling alleys, can also resume operations.

A ban on non-essential travel to the province’s north was also eased starting June 1. Southern residents can now travel directly to cottages, campgrounds and parks, but are being told to avoid visiting northern communities.

Film productions can resume, as well as outdoor religious services with no crowd limits providing people stay in their vehicles.

Movie theatres and casinos must remain closed. Concerts, professional sporting events and other large public gatherings won’t be considered until at least September.

Manitoba extended its province-wide state of emergency until mid-June, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Saskatchewan

The third phase of Saskatchewan’s reopening plan started June 8 with the province lifting a ban on non-essential travel in the north.

More businesses can also reopen, including places of worship, personal care services such as nail salons, tattoo parlours and gyms.

Saskatchewan has increased the size of gatherings allowed for church services and graduation ceremonies.

The government says up to 150 people or one-third the capacity of a building, whichever is less, can attend church services, including weddings and funerals.

The province says outdoor graduations can be held with a maximum 30 graduates per class and an overall attendance of 150 people. The previous limit was 15 people indoors and 30 people outdoors.

Restaurants and bars can open at half capacity, with physical distancing between tables, and child-care centres can open their doors to a maximum of 15 kids.

The province’s five-phase plan started May 11 with dentists, optometrists and other health professionals allowed to resume services. Phase 1 also included reopened golf courses and campgrounds.

Phase 4 could see arenas, swimming pools and playgrounds opening, while in Phase 5, the province would consider lifting restrictions on the size of public gatherings.

The Saskatchewan government says students will return to regular classes in September.

Alberta

In Alberta, everything from gyms and arenas to spas, movie theatres, libraries, pools and sports activities got the green light to reopen on June 12.

More people were also allowed to book campsites and sit in restaurants at the same time.

Fifty people can now gather indoors and up to 100 can congregate outside.

Among the other activities allowed to go ahead are casinos and bingo halls, community halls, instrumental concerts, massage, acupuncture and reflexology, artificial tanning and summer schools.

The 50 per cent capacity for campgrounds has been lifted, and all sites are to open for reservations by the end of the month.

There is no cap on people attending worship services as long as they physically distance and practise proper hand-washing and other hygiene protocols.

Restaurants can open at full capacity, but no more than six people are allowed per table.

Major festivals and sporting events remain banned, as do nightclubs and amusement parks. Vocal concerts are not being allowed, given that singing carries a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Alberta aims to have students back in classrooms this September with some health measures in place to deal with COVID-19.

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says a decision will be made by Aug. 1.

British Columbia

The provincial government allowed a partial reopening of the B.C. economy starting May 19.

The reopening plans are contingent on organizations and businesses having plans that follow provincial guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19. Hotels, resorts and parks will follow in June.

Parents in B.C. were given the choice of allowing their children to return to class on a part-time basis starting June 1. The government said its goal is for the return of full-time classes in September, if it’s safe.

Under the part-time plan, for kindergarten to Grade 5, most students will go to school half time, while grades 6 to 12 will go about one day a week. A mix of online and classroom post-secondary education is planned for September.

Conventions, large concerts, international tourism and professional sports with a live audience will not be allowed to resume until either a vaccine is widely available, community immunity has been reached, or effective treatment can be provided for the disease.

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories announced on May 12 a three-phase reopening plan, but the government didn’t say when it would be implemented.

The plan includes more gatherings and the possible reopening of some schools and businesses. However, the territory’s borders remain closed indefinitely to non-residents and non-essential workers.

There are several requirements that must be met before any measures are relaxed: there must be no evidence of community spread; travel entry points in the territory are strong and secure; risks are reduced from workers coming into the territory; and expanded community testing is available.

Yukon

In the Yukon new guidelines have been released for long-term care facilities that will allow for visits with one designated person at a pre-set location outdoors.

The territory also says bars with an approved health and safety plan can reopen at half capacity under certain other restrictions starting June 19.

Travel restrictions will be lifted between Yukon and B.C. after July 1 under the second phase of the territory’s pandemic restart plan. After that date, travellers between the province and territory will no longer be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

The territory says monitoring the status of neighbouring jurisdictions will determine if it’s safe to further lift restrictions.

Yukon has been gradually easing pandemic restrictions since May 15 with dine-in restaurants, day cares and recreational centres reopening.

Territorial parks and campgrounds have also reopened.

Two households of up to 10 people in total are currently able to interact with each other as part of a “household bubble.”

The territory’s reopening plan outlines five phases including a period after a vaccine is available.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 16, 2020

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jun 16th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. on June 16, 2020:

There are 99,147 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 54,054 confirmed (including 5,242 deaths, 22,213 resolved)

_ Ontario: 32,370 confirmed (including 2,527 deaths, 27,213 resolved)

_ Alberta: 7,453 confirmed (including 151 deaths, 6,862 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 2,745 confirmed (including 168 deaths, 2,395 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,061 confirmed (including 62 deaths, 996 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 683 confirmed (including 13 deaths, 629 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 293 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 292 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 257 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 160 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 129 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 27 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 99,147 (11 presumptive, 99,136 confirmed including 8,175 deaths, 61,042 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 16, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Trust in police questioned and whistle while you work; In The News for June 16

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jun 16th, 2020

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 June 16 …

Police poll …

OTTAWA — More Canadians are questioning their trust in the police as protests against racism and police brutality sparked by the killing of George Floyd last month sweep across North America, a new poll suggests.

While the majority of Canadians remain largely trusting of their law-enforcement agencies, the Leger and Association for Canadian Studies survey shows a noticeable drop in the number who said they trusted the police somewhat or a lot in recent months.

Seventy per cent of survey respondents over the weekend indicated they trusted the police a lot or somewhat — a decline of nine percentage points from May and 11 points from April.

The decline coincides with the May 25 killing of Floyd, a Black man, by white police officers in Minneapolis, which was captured on video and has since sparked anti-racism protests in the U.S. and Canada as well as calls for changes to police conduct.

“It does signal that a percentage of Canadians are asking themselves questions about how police forces are doing their work,” Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque said of the survey results.

On that score, the poll found that 90 per cent of respondents were in favour of police wearing body cameras while 87 per cent supported providing more hours of training for officers on relations with visible minorities.

Helicopter plan …

OTTAWA — The Canadian military is promising today to share its plan for getting Cyclone helicopters back in the air after a deadly crash off the coast of Greece in April.

Officials have not revealed what caused the Cyclone known as Stalker 22 to crash, killing six service members.

A preliminary report released last week said only that the helicopter did not respond as the crew expected before it went down in the Ionian Sea while coming in for a landing on HMCS Fredericton.

The investigation is now focusing on what the military has described as “aircraft systems and human factors.”

The entire Cyclone fleet was put on what the military called an “operational pause” after the crash as a precaution.

At a briefing in Ottawa, military officials are to talk about how and when the pause ends.

COVID-19 in Canada …

TORONTO — Whistle while you work to help Ontario bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic — but please, don’t sing.

That’s the gist of the message coming from the provincial government, which has included explicit bans on singing — even dancing — in parts of its plan to reopen businesses temporarily shuttered by the deadly outbreak.

Stage 2 of Ontario’s economic recovery plan contains numerous guidance documents for sectors cleared to resume or expand their operations.

The guidance prepared for restaurants and bars states that both singing and dancing are banned in the outdoor seating areas where customers are currently allowed to gather in limited numbers.

Documents state singing is also banned in child-care settings and discouraged in places of worship that were given the green light to open their doors across Ontario last week.

The provincial ministry of health says the anti-crooning commandments are rooted in science, and doctors with expertise in the matter agree.

“It’s gross to think about, but every time we talk, we’re spitting into the world around us,” said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease physician and scientist with the Toronto General Hospital.

“And if we’re singing, shouting or breathing heavily, we’re likely expelling more saliva and nasal secretions … and if someone’s infected, then those secretions will shed more virus.”

Baseball battle …

NEW YORK — Commissioner Rob Manfred says there might be no major league season after a breakdown in talks between teams and the union on how to split up money in a season delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. The league also said several players have tested positive for COVID-19.

Two days after union head Tony Clark declared additional negotiations futile, Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem sent a seven-page letter to players’ association chief negotiator Bruce Meyer asking the union whether it will waive the threat of legal action and tell MLB to announce a spring training report date and a regular season schedule.

These were just the latest escalating volleys in a sport viewing disagreements over starting the season as a preliminary battle ahead of bargaining to replace the labour contract that expires on Dec. 1, 2021.

“It’s just a disaster for our game, absolutely no question about it,” Manfred said during an appearance on ESPN that included the heads of the other major U.S. professional leagues. “It shouldn’t be happening, and it’s important that we find a way to get past it and get the game back on the field for the benefit of our fans.”

Spring training was stopped because of the pandemic on March 12, two weeks before opening day, and the sides reached an agreement on March 26 on how to revise their labour deal to account for the virus.

Since then, the hostility has escalated to 1990s levels as the sides exchanged offers. MLB claims teams can’t afford to play without fans and pay the prorated salaries called for in the March deal, which included a provision for “good-faith” negotiations over the possibility of games in empty ballparks or neutral sites.

People queue outside shops in England…

Long lines stretched along streets across England as shops selling items considered as nonessential during the coronavirus pandemic, such as sneakers and toys, welcomed customers on Monday for the first time since the U.K. was put into lockdown in late March.

Starved of the retail experience for the best part of three months, shoppers generally appeared to abide by the social distancing requirement to stay two meters (6-1/2 feet) apart as they awaited their turn to enter the stores.

Not everywhere, though — pushing and shoving was evident at the NikeTown store on Oxford Street, London’s world-famous shopping mecca, at its reopening.

For friends Dionne Sumner and Olivia Copeland, both 25, it was a far more orderly experience when they waited to get into their local budget clothes retailer Primark in Liverpool. Arriving at the store at 8:30 a.m., they queued for about 15 minutes before getting in.

“This has been planned, we’ve been really missing it,” Copeland said after spending more than 200 pounds ($250). “It is nice to get back out, it’s better than being stuck in the house.”

Monday’s reopening of shops, from department stores to booksellers and electronic retailers, only applies to England. Scotland and Wales are taking a more tentative approach to the easing of the coronavirus restrictions. Northern Ireland’s stores reopened last week. England also saw zoos, safari parks and drive-in cinemas reopen on Monday.

COVID-19 in entertainment…

For the fourth time in its history, the Oscars are being postponed. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the ABC Television Network said Monday that the 93rd Academy Awards will now be held April 25, 2021, eight weeks later than originally planned because of the pandemic’s effects on the movie industry.

The Academy’s Board of Governors also decided to extend the eligibility window beyond the calendar year to Feb. 28, 2021, for feature films, and delay the opening of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures from December until April 30, 2021.

“Our hope, in extending the eligibility period and our Awards date, is to provide the flexibility filmmakers need to finish and release their films without being penalized for something beyond anyone’s control,” said Academy President David Rubin and Academy CEO Dawn Hudson in a joint statement.

Karey Burke, the president of ABC Entertainment, added: “We find ourselves in uncharted territory this year and will continue to work with our partners at the Academy to ensure next year’s show is a safe and celebratory event.”

The 12th annual Governors Awards has also been cancelled. The event, in which honorary Oscars are bestowed to previously announced recipients, is generally held in Los Angeles during the second week of November. The untelevised event is a major gathering for many of the year’s awards hopefuls.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 16, 2020

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jun 15th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. on June 15, 2020:

There are 98,787 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 53,952 confirmed (including 5,222 deaths, 21,742 resolved)

_ Ontario: 32,189 confirmed (including 2,519 deaths, 26,961 resolved)

_ Alberta: 7,433 confirmed (including 150 deaths, 6,861 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 2,709 confirmed (including 168 deaths, 2,354 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,061 confirmed (including 62 deaths, 996 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 665 confirmed (including 13 deaths, 628 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 293 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 289 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 256 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 157 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 129 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 27 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 98,787 (11 presumptive, 98,776 confirmed including 8,146 deaths, 60,272 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 15, 2020.

The Canadian Press

A look at how provinces plan to emerge from COVID-19 shutdown

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Jun 15th, 2020

Provinces have been releasing plans for easing restrictions that were put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Here is what some of the provinces have announced so far:

Newfoundland and Labrador

The province entered “Alert Level 3” on June 8 in its five stage reopening plan. It means groups of up to 20 people are now permitted, as long as they observe physical distancing. Up to 19 people are allowed on public transit.

Private health clinics, such as optometrists and dentists, can open, as well as medium-risk businesses such as clothing stores and hair salons.

Travel within the province is also permitted, including to second homes, parks and campgrounds. And 11 government service centres will reopen to offer in-person services that can be booked by appointment, including written tests, driver exams and identification photos.

During Level 4 some businesses such as law firms and other professional services were allowed to reopen along with regulated child-care centres, with some restrictions.

Outdoor games of tennis were allowed to resume, though players must bring their own equipment and not share it.

Pet grooming services began operating May 25, with companies ordered to ensure their employees have personal protective equipment.

Municipal parks, golf courses and driving ranges as well as recreational hunting and fishing were also allowed to reopen in previous weeks.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald says the province could move to the next alert level by June 22nd.

At Level 2, businesses with performance spaces and gyms are to reopen, while Level 1 would represent “the new normal.”

Nova Scotia

Provincial campgrounds are to reopen today (June 15) at reduced capacity to ensure a minimum of six metres between individual sites. Private campgrounds had already been given the green light to reopen, but only at 50 per cent capacity. They must also ensure public health protocols are followed, including adequate distancing between campsites.

Licensed child-care centres and family daycare homes will also reopen across Nova Scotia today (June 15).

On May 29 Premier Stephen McNeil announced a new gathering limit of 10 people, doubling the limit of five that was imposed in late March.

Physical distancing of two metres is still required, except among members of the same household or family “bubble.” The limit is the same indoors and outdoors, with exceptions for outdoor weddings and funeral services which can have 15 people.

The gathering limit also applies to arts and culture activities such as theatre performances and dance recitals, faith gatherings, and sports and physical activity. Businesses such as theatres, concerts, festivals and sporting activities also must adhere to the 10-person limit.

Nova Scotia has allowed summer day camps for children to open as long as they have a plan to follow public health measures to guard against COVID-19. The plans must cover areas such as increased cleaning, staggered pick up and drop off times and the screening of staff and campers.

Most businesses ordered shut in late March were allowed to reopen on June 5, if they have a plan that follows physical distancing protocols. The list of businesses includes bars and restaurant dining rooms, hair salons, barber shops, gyms and yoga studios, among others.

Some health providers were also able to reopen, including dentistry, optometry, chiropractic and physiotherapy offices. Veterinary services can resume business along with some unregulated professions, such as massage therapy, podiatry and naturopathy.

McNeil earlier said there would be no return to school this year. However, the province has announced an exemption to allow some public celebrations for high school graduations. Strict physical distancing rules will apply, and the exemption will last until June 30.

Trails and provincial and municipal parks can reopen along with garden centres, nurseries and similar businesses, but playground equipment is still off limits.

Public beaches have reopened along with outdoor activities like archery, horseback riding, golf, paddling, boating and tennis, with the proviso that social distancing and hygiene be maintained. Sportfishing is permitted and people can attend boating, yacht or sailing clubs for the purpose of preparing boats for use.

Drive-in religious services are now allowed, if people stay in their cars, park two metres apart and there are no interactions between people.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King says people wanting to travel to seasonal residences must apply, and those will be put through a risk assessment before approval. Seasonal residents will also be tested for COVID-19 before completing the two weeks they must spend in self-isolation after arriving in the province.

The province moved into the third phase of its reopening plan June 1, which allows such things as in-house dining at restaurants, small groups to participate in recreational and some sporting activities and libraries to reopen. Phase three also allows gatherings of up to 15 people indoors and 20 people outdoors and the reopening of child-care centres.

As well, family and friends can visit residents at long-term care homes. The visits require an appointment and must take place outdoors.

Under phase 2, non-contact outdoor recreational activities were permitted, and retail businesses could reopen with physical distancing measures in place.

Priority non-urgent surgeries and select health-service providers, including physiotherapists, optometrists and chiropractors, resumed on May 1.

The P.E.I legislature resumed May 26.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick moved to the “yellow phase” of its COVID-19 recovery plan on May 22, allowing barbers and hair stylists to reopen as well as churches and fitness facilities. Dental care, massage, chiropractors and other “close contact” businesses and services could also reopen.

But the Campbellton region, which extends from Whites Brook to the Belledune, had to take a step backwards to the “orange” level on May 27. Residents were told to once again avoid contacts outside their two-household bubble. Non-regulated health professionals and personal service businesses that opened May 22 also had to close again. And people should only be travelling in and out of Zone 5 for essential reasons.

Restrictions in the yellow phase of the province’s recovery plan were lifted on June 5. The activities now allowed include outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people, indoor religious services of up to 50 people, low-contact team sports and the opening of a long list of facilities including swimming pools, gyms, rinks, water parks, and yoga and dance studios.

People must now wear face coverings in any building open to the general public. Children under the age of two, children in daycare and people who cannot wear face coverings for medical reasons are exempt from the requirement.

Licensed daycares started reopening May 19. Children don’t have to wear masks or maintain physical distancing but are being kept in small groups.

Anyone who has travelled outside of New Brunswick will not be allowed to visit early learning and child-care facilities for 14 days.

Retail businesses, offices, restaurants, libraries, museums and seasonal campgrounds were earlier allowed to reopen providing they have clear plans for meeting public health guidelines. The resumption of elective surgeries was also part phase two of the province’s reopening plan.

Phase one, which started on April 24, allowed limited play on golf courses as well as fishing and hunting. Post-secondary students could return if it was deemed safe by the school, and outdoor church services were again permitted, providing people remain in their vehicles and are two metres apart.

The final phase, which will probably come only after a vaccine is available, will include large gatherings.

Quebec

Quebec began allowing outdoor gatherings with a maximum of 10 people from three families with social distancing in place on May 22.

On May 25 some retail businesses reopened in the greater Montreal area. Quebec reopened retail stores outside Montreal on May 11.

Parks and pools can reopen across the province but are still be subject to physical distancing and other health measures

Day camps across the province will be allowed to open as of June 22, with physical distancing and other COVID-19 health measures in effect. That means smaller groups of children and frequent handwashing. Sleep-away summer camps won’t be allowed to reopen until next year.

Sports teams resumed outdoor practices on June 8, and matches can resume at the end of the month. That includes baseball, soccer and any other sports that can be played outdoors. But players will have to keep a safe distance between them.

Lottery terminals have reopened after being shut down on March 20 with sales moving to online only.

Quebec’s construction and manufacturing industries have resumed operations with limits on the number of employees who can work per shift. Elementary schools and daycares outside Montreal reopened on May 11, but high schools, junior colleges and universities will stay closed until September.

Elementary schools in the greater Montreal area will remain closed until late August.

Courthouses across the province were permitted to reopen on June 1, with limited seating capacity and Plexiglas barriers protecting clerks and judges.

Camping is now allowed outside the Montreal and Joliette regions, as are cottage rentals.

Hairdressers, nail salons and other personal care businesses in the Montreal area can reopen today (June 15). These types of businesses, along with shopping malls, located outside the Montreal area were allowed to reopen earlier this month.

Checkpoints set up to slow the spread of COVID-19 came down on May 18 in various parts of Quebec, including between Gatineau and Ottawa.

Meanwhile, Quebecers hoping to drive to Iles-de-la-Madeleine this summer will be permitted to travel through New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island to take the ferry as of June 26. Quebec travellers will need to get a document permitting the trip and they won’t be able to cross the provincial borders without it.

Ontario

Most Ontario regions outside the Toronto and Hamilton area were allowed to reopen more businesses on June 12 as the province moved to Stage 2 of its reopening strategy. The second stage includes restaurant patios, hair salons and swimming pools.  Child-care centres across Ontario can also reopen.

Meanwhile, the limit on social gatherings increased from five to 10 provincewide, but people must still stay two metres away from anyone outside their own household. The new guidelines mean physical distancing does not need to be practised between members of the same circle.

Restrictions on wedding and funeral ceremonies across the province are also being eased as part of the phased reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of people allowed to attend an indoor ceremony is restricted to 30 per cent capacity of the venue, while outdoor events are limited to 50 people. However, the number of people allowed to attend all wedding and funeral receptions remains at 10. Participants must follow health and safety protocols, including physical distancing from people not from the same household or their established 10-person social circle

The current pandemic restrictions will stay in place for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas, which have a high concentration of COVID-19 cases. Border regions such as Windsor-Essex, Lambton County and Niagara, as well as Haldimand-Norfolk, which has seen an outbreak among migrant workers, are also barred, for the time being, from moving to Stage 2.

Ontario began its first stage of reopening May 19 by lifting restrictions on surgeries. Most retail stores with a street entrance were also allowed to reopen with physical distancing restrictions, and curbside pickup and delivery.

Ontarians can now resume visiting loved ones in long-term care homes, with restrictions in place, including that they test negative for COVID-19.

The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario says the profession is in Stage 2 of its three-phase reopening plan. Dentists had previously only been allowed to practice emergency or urgent care on patients in-person but can now offer other essential services with enhanced precautions.

All construction has resumed, with limits also lifted on maintenance, repair and property management services, such as cleaning, painting and pool maintenance.

Golf courses can reopen though clubhouses can only open for washrooms and take-out food. Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches can also open, as can private parks and campgrounds for trailers and RVs whose owners have a full season contract, and businesses that board animals.

Other businesses and services included in the stage one reopening included regular veterinary appointments, pet grooming, pet sitting and pet training; libraries for pickup or deliveries; and housekeepers and babysitters.

Drive-in movie theatres and batting cages reopened May 31 with physical distancing measures in effect.

Short-term rentals including lodges, cabins, cottages, homes and condominiums were allowed to resume operations on June 5.

Backcountry campers returned to provincial parks June 1 with certain stipulations. No more than five people can occupy a single campsite, unless they live in the same household. Provincial parks also expanded permission for picnics and off-leash pet areas.

Ontario schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year and this summer’s Honda Indy Toronto has been cancelled.

Manitoba

The Manitoba government has lifted its one-month limit on people’s prescription drug supplies, allowing people to again get prescriptions filled or refilled for 90 days.

Its health offices, including dentists, chiropractors and physiotherapists can also reopen. Retail businesses can reopen at half occupancy providing they ensure physical spacing.

Museums and libraries can reopen, but with occupancy limited to 50 per cent.

Playgrounds, golf courses and tennis courts have reopened as well, along with parks and campgrounds.

On May 22 the province began allowing groups of up to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.

On June 1, the province eased a ban on people visiting loved ones in personal care homes. Homes can now offer outdoor visits with a maximum of two guests per resident. Visitors will be screened upon arrival and must practice physical distancing.

Community centres and seniors’ clubs are also getting the go-ahead with limits on customer capacity and rules for physical distancing.

Bars, tattoo parlours, dine-in restaurants, fitness clubs and pools could reopen June 1 under limited capacity.

Elementary and high schools stopped in-class instruction in March and will not reopen this school year. But they were allowed, as of June 1, to offer tutoring or student assessments in small groups. Some extracurricular sports and other activities can restart.

At universities and colleges, some specific instruction such as labs and arts studios can resume for up to 25 students and staff at a time.

Amateur sports and recreation programs, as well as bowling alleys, can also resume operations.

A ban on non-essential travel to the province’s north was also eased starting June 1. Southern residents can now travel directly to cottages, campgrounds and parks, but are being told to avoid visiting northern communities.

Film productions can resume, as well as outdoor religious services with no crowd limits providing people stay in their vehicles.

Movie theatres and casinos must remain closed. Concerts, professional sporting events and other large public gatherings won’t be considered until at least September.

Manitoba extended its province-wide state of emergency until mid-June, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Saskatchewan

The third phase of Saskatchewan’s reopening plan started June 8 with the province lifting a ban on non-essential travel in the north.

More businesses can also reopen, including places of worship, personal care services such as nail salons, tattoo parlours and gyms.

Saskatchewan has increased the size of gatherings allowed for church services and graduation ceremonies.

The government says up to 150 people or one-third the capacity of a building, whichever is less, can attend church services, including weddings and funerals.

The province says outdoor graduations can be held with a maximum 30 graduates per class and an overall attendance of 150 people. The previous limit was 15 people indoors and 30 people outdoors.

Restaurants and bars can open at half capacity, with physical distancing between tables, and child-care centres can open their doors to a maximum of 15 kids.

The province’s five-phase plan started May 11 with dentists, optometrists and other health professionals allowed to resume services. Phase 1 also included reopened golf courses and campgrounds.

Phase 4 could see arenas, swimming pools and playgrounds opening, while in Phase 5, the province would consider lifting restrictions on the size of public gatherings.

The Saskatchewan government says students will return to regular classes in September.

Alberta

In Alberta, everything from gyms and arenas to spas, movie theatres, libraries, pools and sports activities got the green light to reopen on June 12.

More people were also allowed to book campsites and sit in restaurants at the same time.

Fifty people can now gather indoors and up to 100 can congregate outside.

Among the other activities allowed to go ahead are casinos and bingo halls, community halls, instrumental concerts, massage, acupuncture and reflexology, artificial tanning and summer schools.

The 50 per cent capacity for campgrounds has been lifted, and all sites are to open for reservations by the end of the month.

There is no cap on people attending worship services as long as they physically distance and practise proper hand-washing and other hygiene protocols.

Restaurants can open at full capacity, but no more than six people are allowed per table.

Major festivals and sporting events remain banned, as do nightclubs and amusement parks. Vocal concerts are not being allowed, given that singing carries a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Alberta aims to have students back in classrooms this September with some health measures in place to deal with COVID-19.

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says a decision will be made by Aug. 1.

British Columbia

The provincial government allowed a partial reopening of the B.C. economy starting May 19.

The reopening plans are contingent on organizations and businesses having plans that follow provincial guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19. Hotels, resorts and parks will follow in June.

Parents in B.C. were given the choice of allowing their children to return to class on a part-time basis starting June 1. The government said its goal is for the return of full-time classes in September, if it’s safe.

Under the part-time plan, for kindergarten to Grade 5, most students will go to school half time, while grades 6 to 12 will go about one day a week. A mix of online and classroom post-secondary education is planned for September.

Conventions, large concerts, international tourism and professional sports with a live audience will not be allowed to resume until either a vaccine is widely available, community immunity has been reached, or effective treatment can be provided for the disease.

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories announced on May 12 a three-phase reopening plan, but the government didn’t say when it would be implemented.

The plan includes more gatherings and the possible reopening of some schools and businesses. However, the territory’s borders remain closed indefinitely to non-residents and non-essential workers.

There are several requirements that must be met before any measures are relaxed: there must be no evidence of community spread; travel entry points in the territory are strong and secure; risks are reduced from workers coming into the territory; and expanded community testing is available.

Yukon

In the Yukon new guidelines have been released for long-term care facilities that will allow for visits with one designated person at a pre-set location outdoors.

The territory also says bars with an approved health and safety plan can reopen at half capacity under certain other restrictions starting June 19.

Travel restrictions will be lifted between Yukon and B.C. after July 1 under the second phase of the territory’s pandemic restart plan. After that date, travellers between the province and territory will no longer be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

The territory says monitoring the status of neighbouring jurisdictions will determine if it’s safe to further lift restrictions.

Yukon has been gradually easing pandemic restrictions since May 15 with dine-in restaurants, day cares and recreational centres reopening.

Territorial parks and campgrounds have also reopened.

Two households of up to 10 people in total are currently able to interact with each other as part of a “household bubble.”

The territory’s reopening plan outlines five phases including a period after a vaccine is available.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 15, 2020

The Canadian Press

National Housing Council staffing and B.C. oil leak; In The News for June 15

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Jun 15th, 2020

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 June 15 …

COVID-19 in Canada …

OTTAWA — A key body the Liberals vowed to create to help resolve systemic inequities in Canada’s housing system remains unstaffed, with delays in appointments chalked up to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The national housing council and a related advocate were created, on paper, as part of the Liberal government’s decade-long housing strategy that was put into law last year.

Applications closed in mid-October but the positions hadn’t been filled by the time the pandemic struck Canada in mid-March.

An online notice from early April says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. still hopes to establish the council this year, but suggests a delay due to COVID-19.

The notice said the federal government was “focused on addressing this crisis” given the “uncertain and evolving circumstances related to COVID-19.” The notice added that appointing the council “remains a priority for the government.”

Two months later and with the backdrop of promises by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to address systemic racism and inequities in Canada, appointments have not been made.

Leilani Farha, global director of The Shift, a group that advocates for the right to housing, said the council and advocate could be playing a large role in how governments respond to the pandemic.

Also this …

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — Trans Mountain estimates as much as 1,195 barrels, or 190,000 litres, of light crude spilled from its pipeline pumping station in Abbotsford, B.C.

While an investigation is ongoing, the Crown-owned company said in a statement the cause of the spill appears to be related to a fitting on a one-inch, or 2.5-centimetre, piece of pipe.

The statement said the pipeline restarted on Sunday afternoon, after all safety protocols were completed.

It said the spill was fully contained on Trans Mountain property, the free-standing oil has been recovered and it will be disposed of at an approved facility.

Sumas First Nation Chief Dalton Silver said the spill happened just south of a cultural and burial ground of great significance to their people.

He said in a statement Sunday that it’s the fourth time in 15 years that there has been a spill from the pipeline on their land.

In Case You Missed It …

MIRAMICHI, N.B. — A former provincial ombudsman says the recent police shootings of two Indigenous people in New Brunswick have left him feeling distraught over the lack of police training on dealing with mental health issues, like those presented by the two victims.

“I’ve long felt that police are not really well equipped to deal with these kind of cases,” Bernard Richard said in an interview Sunday.

“In most provinces (including New Brunswick), there are crisis intervention units that are available around the clock to respond to these types of situations.”

However, there has been no indication whether police sought the help of mental health experts before the deadly shootings in Edmundston and near Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq Nation, west of Miramichi.

“That would be one of the first questions I would have to ask,” said Richard, who served as the province’s ombudsman from 2004 to 2011 and now advises six Mi’kmaq First Nations in New Brunswick on child protection issues.

“I was a bit stunned that, in both these cases, the primary response was police, and they felt it necessary to use lethal force.”

And in both cases, police were called to deal with people who appeared to be suffering from mental health challenges, Richard said.

What we’re watching in the U.S. …

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Senate Republicans are poised to unveil an extensive package of policing changes that includes new restrictions on police choke holds and other practices as President Donald Trump signals his support following the mass demonstrations over the deaths of George Floyd and other black Americans.

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the sole African American Republican in the Senate, has been crafting the package set to roll out Wednesday. While it doesn’t go as far as a sweeping Democratic bill heading toward a House vote, the emerging GOP legislation shares similar provisions as Congress rushes to respond.

With Trump set to announce executive actions on law enforcement as soon as Tuesday, the crush of activity shows how quickly police violence and racial prejudice are transforming national party priorities.

“I think we’re going to get to a bill that actually becomes law,” Scott said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Scott said the choke hold, in particular, “is a policy whose time has come and gone.”

The GOP package is one of the most extensive proposed overhauls to policing procedures yet from Republicans, who have long aligned with Trump’s “law and order” approach but are suddenly confronted with a groundswell of public unrest in cities large and small over police violence.

Over the weekend, the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks during a routine stop by a white officer in Atlanta led to an outcry, more protests and the police chief’s swift ouster.

What we’re watching in the elsewhere…

SEOUL — South Korea’s president called on North Korea to stop raising animosities and return to talks, saying Monday the rivals must not reverse the peace deals that he and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reached during 2018 summits.

President Moon Jae-in’s efforts to defuse rising animosities came after North Korea threatened Friday to destroy an inter-Korean liaison office located in North Korea and take unspecified military steps against South Korea.

If North Korean were to take such actions it would be a serious setback to Moon’s efforts toward Korean reconciliation and finding a negotiated solution to the North Korean nuclear issue.

“North Korea must not sever communications and create tensions to turn back the clock to a past confrontational period,” Moon said during a meeting with top presidential advisers, according to his office. “We must not push back the pledges of peace that Chairman Kim Jong Un and I made.”

Moon, a liberal who met Kim three times in 2018, was a driving force behind now-dormant diplomatic efforts between Pyongyang and Washington, including the summit between Kim and President Donald Trump in Singapore in 2018.

During two of the three inter-Korean summits, Moon and Kim agreed to achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and take other steps to boost exchanges and dial down military tensions. Those summits initially helped to improve their countries’ ties significantly, before their relations became strained again after the breakdown of a second Kim-Trump summit in Vietnam in early 2019.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 15, 2020

The Canadian Press

RCMP workforce equity drive spun its wheels last year, new statistics indicate

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jun 12th, 2020

OTTAWA — A drive to make the RCMP’s workforce more diverse stalled last year as the Mounties struggled to become fully representative of the communities they police, newly available statistics show.

The national police force’s report on employment equity for 2018-19 says the diversity of its overall workforce had “not changed by any significant measure” from the previous year.

The proportion of women, visible minorities and disabled people also remained lower than the rates found in the general Canadian workforce, while the proportion of Indigenous employees was a notable exception.

The report, recently tabled in Parliament, says diversity has traditionally been a challenge for police forces in Canada, and the RCMP is no exception.

The killing of a Black man by police in Minnesota has set off a global wave of calls for law-enforcement agencies to address entrenched racism and the oppression of minorities.

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki acknowledged the police force can improve, but she stopped short of endorsing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s assessment that it faces systemic racism.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 12, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Caution abounds as Alberta eases huge raft of COVID-19 restrictions

LAUREN KRUGEL, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jun 12th, 2020

CALGARY — Restaurateur Leslie Echino laughs at the notion that even as Alberta lifts many more COVID-19 restrictions her business could return to anywhere close to normal.

Restaurants, bars, lounges and cafes will no longer be limited to half capacity starting today, although they will still have to follow distancing rules and seat no more than six people per table.

That means Echino won’t be able to squeeze any more customers into Annabelle’s Kitchen’s 70-square-metres of space in Calgary’s Marda Loop neighbourhood.

“It doesn’t change one single spot in my restaurant,” she said. “I cannot put any more bums in seats.”

The restaurant had a pre-pandemic capacity of 52, but can only hold 18 to 20 with physical distancing. Reducing the required spacing by half a metre, as other countries have done, could help accommodate a few more.

Overhead costs such as rent and utilities have been deferred, but not reduced. Echino said the restaurant would be devastated without a patio that doubles its capacity and draws customers in warm weather.

She added she doesn’t see the restaurant industry ever returning to its traditional dine-in model, and businesses will have to diversify long term with catering, curb-side pickup and delivery.

Arts Commons, a multi-venue theatre complex in downtown Calgary, is also rethinking its post-pandemic future, even though some performances can resume.

Instrumental concerts are being allowed, but respiratory droplets that might carry the novel coronavirus mean there still won’t be vocal performances. Performing groups can have up to 50 members.

Arts Commons president Alex Sarian said there’s no timeline for shows to resume.

“The last thing we want, both as an institution and as a sector, is for a second wave to be traced back to an artistic gathering,” he said. “That would be devastating.”

Sarian said Arts Commons is exploring ways to showcase the arts this summer through outdoor or livestreamed events — an especially important offering with travel still largely off the table.

“While we’re grateful to be given the opportunity to start thinking about reopening, we also have to look at our business model and figure out collectively when does it truly make sense to really start opening the floodgates?”

Indoor recreation, fitness and sports facilities can also reopen, including gyms, arenas and pools.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said not to expect any city-run facilities to be running today, aside from perhaps some outdoor dry pads for sports like ball hockey.

“We laid off 15 per cent of our staff. We didn’t hire our seasonal workers,” he said. “You can’t turn around on a dime. When the province announces on Tuesday, you just can’t have all those people hired by Friday.”

The City of Edmonton is reviewing how recreation centres, arenas, pools and libraries may open and says they might be phased in over time or continue on hold.

“The reopening of facilities is very complex and given the financial impacts of the pandemic, some services will not return this season,” the city said.

Libraries are allowed to unlock their doors, as well, but Calgary is waiting until June 23 to reopen in three locations. If that goes well, more branches will be added in the following weeks.

Also today, health services such as acupuncture, massage and reflexology can take clients, as can nail, skin and tanning salons.

Movie theatres, bingo halls, team sports and casinos (minus table games) are also set to reopen.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 12, 2020

 

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

RCMP equity drive and Bell pulls Mulroney series; In The News for June 12

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jun 12th, 2020

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 June 12 …

COVID-19 in Canada …

Alberta and Ontario are taking the next steps to reopening and getting life as close to normal as possible while COVID-19 lurks.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says everything from casinos, gyms and arenas to spas, movie theatres and pools will be allowed to reopen starting today.

Fifty people will be allowed to gather indoors and up to 100 will be able to congregate outside.

Ontario is allowing child-care centres to reopen as of today.

Child-care operators say they received a 20-page document with all the new rules for operating on Tuesday — hours after the province publicly announced centres could open.

Operators and advocates say there is no way most can implement a host of new COVID-19-era rules to open with just a few days’ notice.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says any centres that aren’t ready just shouldn’t open.

Also this …

A drive to make the RCMP’s workforce more diverse stalled last year as the Mounties struggled to become fully representative of the communities they police, newly available statistics show.

The national police force’s report on employment equity for 2018-19 says the diversity of the RCMP’s overall workforce had “not changed by any significant measure” from the previous year.

The proportion of women, visible minorities and disabled people also remained lower than the rates found in the general Canadian workforce, while the proportion of Indigenous employees was a notable exception.

“Diversity has traditionally been a challenge for police forces in Canada, and the RCMP is no exception,” says the report, recently tabled in Parliament.

The killing of a Black man by police in Minnesota has set off a global wave of calls for law-enforcement agencies to fundamentally address entrenched racism and the oppression of minorities.

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki has acknowledged her police force can improve. But she has stopped short of endorsing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s assessment that the force, like all Canadian institutions, faces systemic racism.

COVID-19 in the U.S. …

States are rolling back lockdowns, but the coronavirus isn’t done with the U.S.

Cases are rising in nearly half the states, according to an Associated Press analysis, a worrying trend that could intensify as people return to work and venture out during the summer.

In Arizona, hospitals have been told to prepare for the worst. Texas has more hospitalized COVID-19 patients than at any time before. And the governor of North Carolina said recent jumps caused him to rethink plans to reopen schools or businesses.

There is no single reason for the surges. In some cases, more testing has revealed more cases. In others, local outbreaks are big enough to push statewide tallies higher. But experts think at least some are due to lifting stay-at-home orders, school and business closures, and other restrictions put in place during the spring to stem the virus’s spread.

The increase in infections pulled stocks down sharply Thursday on Wall Street, dragging the Dow Jones Industrial Average more than 1,800 points lower and giving the S&P 500 its worst day in nearly three months. The infections deflated recent optimism that the economy could recover quickly from its worst crisis in decades.

COVID-19 in entertainment …

Reduced crowd scenes. Fewer people on set. COVID-19 testing. Handwashing stations.

Those are some of the health and safety protocols Canadian film and TV producers are mulling over for their projects as provinces including British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec ease pandemic restrictions that shut down the industry in mid-March.

But despite such measures, many independent producers can’t set a date to roll cameras yet because of a key issue: insurance.

The Canadian Media Producers Association says insurance companies that service the film and TV industry are excluding from their new production policies any coverage for COVID-19 on a go-forward basis.

That means a large number of Canadian productions that didn’t have insurance policies in place before COVID-19 — including the long-running series “Heartland” — can’t take the financial risk of starting up only to have the virus shut down the project.

The CMPA recently developed a proposal with a “market-based solution” to the problem asking the federal government to serve as a backstop.

The proposal says producers would pay premiums to access COVID-19 coverage, which would go into a dedicated pot to pay for potential claims. The government would only contribute financially, through a proposed $100-million backstop, if the funds generated though the sale of the policies were insufficient to cover the claims made.

Also this…

Bell Media pulled Jessica Mulroney’s reality series “I Do, Redo” off the air Thursday after the celebrity stylist was accused by Sasha Exeter of threatening the Toronto lifestyle influencer’s career and trying to “silence a Black woman” during the anti-Black racism movement.

Exeter said in an Instagram video Wednesday that the dispute started when she put out a call on social media for her peers to use their platform to support Black voices.

Exeter said Mulroney, who had not been speaking up about the movement on social media at that time, mistook her call to action for a personal attack and threatened her in writing last week.

Exeter accused Mulroney of lashing out at her several times since then, including a claim that she was speaking with companies about Exeter’s behaviour, which could jeopardize any potential brand partnerships.

“That’s a threat to my livelihood — and for her to threaten me, a single mom, a single Black mom, during a racial pandemic blows my mind,” said Exeter, who used to be an acquaintance of Mulroney’s. “It’s absolutely unbelievable.”

The media company issued a statement Thursday saying it had removed Mulroney’s show, which recently launched its first season, from all of its platforms.

COVID-19 in sports …

The NHL and NHL Players’ Association have given the go-ahead for teams to open training camp on July 10.

The league and union have already approved a 24-team playoff format, but still need to decide on testing and health and safety protocols along with potential host cities for the games.

“I think safety’s first and foremost,” Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jake Guentzel said earlier this week. “I still think there’s a lot to go into it.”

Camps are expected to last two weeks, if not slightly longer. Under this timeline, exhibition games could begin as soon as July 24 with playoff games starting roughly a week later.

Setting a July 10 start for camps allows players to make arrangements to return to their home cities in light of quarantine regulations in the U.S. and Canada.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said recently 17 per cent of the league’s players were overseas.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 12, 2020

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jun 11th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. on June 11, 2020:

There are 97,125 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 53,341 confirmed (including 5,081 deaths, 19,841 resolved)

_ Ontario: 31,341 confirmed (including 2,475 deaths, 25,380 resolved)

_ Alberta: 7,276 confirmed (including 151 deaths, 6,754 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 2,680 confirmed (including 167 deaths, 2,328 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,061 confirmed (including 62 deaths, 994 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 658 confirmed (including 13 deaths, 624 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 289 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 285 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 256 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 151 confirmed (including 1 death, 121 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 27 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 97,125 (11 presumptive, 97,114 confirmed including 7,960 deaths, 56,639 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 11, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Almost two-thirds of Canadians believe systemic racism exists in the country: poll

NEWS STAFF | posted Thursday, Jun 11th, 2020

Federal prison chaplains escalate fight for collective agreement

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jun 11th, 2020

OTTAWA — Federal prison chaplains are stepping up a bid to negotiate their first collective agreement to secure better wages and working conditions.

The chaplains, who provide spiritual care to federal inmates across Canada, are applying to the government for conciliation to help reach an agreement.

The United Steelworkers union represents about 180 chaplains representing a variety of faiths and spiritual practices following a 2019 decision to unionize.

Negotiations for a deal began in February but chaplaincy services have since been curtailed due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19 in federal prisons.

As a result, chaplains have been forced to turn to government-assistance programs for income support.

The union says chaplains have not seen improvements to wages and working conditions since at least 2016.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 11, 2020.

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jun 10th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on June 10, 2020:

There are 96,653 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 53,185 confirmed (including 5,029 deaths, 19,361 resolved)

_ Ontario: 31,090 confirmed (including 2,464 deaths, 24,829 resolved)

_ Alberta: 7,229 confirmed (including 151 deaths, 6,722 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 2,669 confirmed (including 167 deaths, 2,319 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,060 confirmed (including 62 deaths, 999 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 656 confirmed (including 13 deaths, 624 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 289 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 285 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 256 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 147 confirmed (including 1 death, 121 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 27 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 96,653 (11 presumptive, 96,642 confirmed including 7,897 deaths, 55,572 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 10, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Confusion over mask advice and Leafs hit the ice; In The News for June 10

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jun 10th, 2020

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 June 10 …

COVID-19 in Canada …

Parliament’s spending watchdog will detail today the possible costs associated with extending and changing the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

Budget officer Yves Giroux’s report scheduled to be released this morning comes as the House of Commons is set to discuss proposed changes to the COVID-19 pandemic-related aid.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that his government wants to rework how it doles out the 2,000-a-month benefit and get more people back to work, while also cracking down on fraud.

The most recent federal figures show 8.41 million people have applied for the CERB, with $43.51 billion in payments made as of June 4.

The figures surpassed anything the government originally expected, which is why the Finance Department recently updated its spending projections to put a $60-billion price tag on the measure, up from $35 billion.

Costs could go up if the government were to agree to extend benefits between the 16-week maximum, which the first cohort of recipients will hit early next month.

Also this …

The non-partisan spirit that has allowed Parliament to swiftly pass emergency legislation during the COVID-19 pandemic seems likely to come to an abrupt end today.

And that could leave in limbo a number of promised measures, including benefits for disabled Canadians and expansion of the wage subsidy program to include seasonal workers and some additional businesses.

The Trudeau government’s latest bill — which would also impose penalties for fraudulently claiming the Canada Emergency Response Benefit — appears to have no support among the main opposition parties.

Without unanimous consent, the government will not be able to pass the bill this afternoon after just a few hours of debate, as it has done with four previous pandemic-related bills.

The NDP is balking at the prospect of Canadians who fraudulently claimed the $2,000-a-month CERB being fined or sent to jail — despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s assurances that the punishment is aimed at those who knowingly and deliberately defraud the government, not those who make honest mistakes.

The Conservatives are holding out for a full resumption of House of Commons business.

Alberta set to reopen …

EDMONTON — After taking a small step toward reopening its economy last month, Alberta is embarking on a giant leap forward.

Premier Jason Kenney says everything from gyms and arenas to spas, movie theatres, libraries, pools and sports activities are being given a green light as of Friday.

More people will be allowed to book campsites and sit in restaurants at the same time.

Fifty people will be allowed to gather indoors and up to 100 will be able to congregate outside.

Kenney said Alberta has continued to flatten the COVID-19 curve. There are 355 active cases, with 44 people in hospital and five of those in intensive care. There have been 149 deaths.

Leafs hit the ice …

TORONTO — Walking into the Maple Leafs’ practice facility represented a small return to normalcy for John Tavares.

Toronto’s captain also got an immediate glimpse of how different life looks as the NHL moves forward in hopes of completing its pandemic-hit season.

Testing, hygiene, masks when not exercising and observing physical distancing rules are all part of a new normal as the league enters Phase 2 of its return-to-play protocol — the second of four steps with an eye towards resuming play this summer.

But Tavares quickly realized the time constraints of having roughly 45 minutes for off-ice workouts and 40 minutes of skating for these voluntary sessions with a small groups of teammates.

“The intensity is there. There’s a ton of benefit, there’s no doubt,” he said on a video conference call with reporters Tuesday. “But to just give you an example, after (Monday) I brought my sticks home so I could tape them up (and) save time at the rink. And even for guys to get some manual therapy after developing some soreness on the ice, the windows are fairly small.

“But overall, the actual work we were able to get in and being out on the ice and in the gym is going to go a long way in helping us prepare and get ready.”

Tavares skated with Ilya Mikheyev, Jake Muzzin and Jack Campbell on Monday and Tuesday, with Cody Ceci and Mitch Marner expected to join later this week to complete their six-man group.

Six other Leafs — Zach Hyman, Alexander Kerfoot, William Nylander, Morgan Rielly, Travis Dermott and minor-league goalie Joseph Woll — make up the other group confirmed to have hit the ice for the sessions that are closed to the media.

Greta Thunberg has climate message for Canada …

Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is urging developing island nations to use the upcoming United Nations Security Council election as leverage to push Canada and Norway to step up their games on climate change.

The 17-year-old from Sweden has become one of the most recognized climate activists in the world with her climate strike movement growing into a global phenomenon last year.

She is the headline signatory on a letter to UN ambassadors of small island developing states, which says that Canada and Norway both give lip service to climate action but remain steadfast in their commitment to expand fossil fuel production and subsidizing oil companies.

“For the young generation who will inherit the consequences of these decisions, it is critical that those who claim to be leading on climate action are held to account for decisions they are making back at home,” the letter reads.

Three other youth climate activists and 22 global climate scientists also signed the letter, including Eddy Carmack, a recently retired Fisheries and Oceans Canada scientist who was awarded the Order of Canada this year for his work on climate change.

The letter asks the ambassadors to raise the issue with Canada and Norway “and demand that they unite behind the science” of climate change, commit to no new oil and gas exploration or production, and phase out their existing production.

Canada is going up against Norway and Ireland for the two seats available in next week’s election to the prestigious UN body. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has devoted a lot of political capital to trying to win the spot.

Confusion reigns as UN scrambles mask, virus spread advice…

It’s an issue that’s been argued about for months, both by experts and by people strolling through parks all over the world: Can people who don’t feel sick spread the coronavirus, and if so should we all be wearing masks to stop it?

Even the World Health Organization can’t seem to get it straight. On Tuesday the U.N. health agency scrambled to explain seemingly contradictory comments it has made in recent days about the two related issues.

The confusion and mixed messages only makes controlling the pandemic that much more difficult, experts say.

“If you are giving them confusing messages or they’re not convinced about why they should do something, like wear masks, they will just ignore you,” said Ivo Vlaev, a professor of behavioural sciences at the University of Warwick.

The communications debacle highlighted WHO’s change to its longstanding mask advice — a revision that was made months after many other organizations and countries already recommended people don masks.

On Friday, WHO changed its mask advice, recommending that people wear fabric masks if they could not maintain social distancing, if they were over age 60 or had underlying medical conditions. Part of the reasoning, WHO officials said, was to account for the possibility that transmission could occur from people who had the disease but weren’t yet symptomatic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 10, 2020

The Canadian Press

No apparent opposition support for feds’ latest pandemic emergency bill

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jun 10th, 2020

OTTAWA – The non-partisan spirit that has allowed Parliament to swiftly pass emergency legislation during the COVID-19 pandemic seems likely to come to an abrupt end today.

And that could leave in limbo a number of promised measures, including benefits for disabled Canadians and expansion of the wage subsidy program to include seasonal workers and some additional businesses.

The Trudeau government’s latest bill — which would also impose penalties for fraudulently claiming the Canada Emergency Response Benefit — appears to have no support among the main opposition parties.

Without unanimous consent, the government will not be able to pass the bill this afternoon after just a few hours of debate, as it has done with four previous pandemic-related bills.

The NDP is balking at the prospect of Canadians who fraudulently claim the $2,000-a-month CERB being fined or sent to jail — despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s assurances that the punishment is aimed at those who deliberately defraud the government, not those who make honest mistakes.

The Conservatives are holding out for a full resumption of House of Commons business.

A look at how provinces plan to emerge from COVID-19 shutdown

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jun 9th, 2020

Provinces have been releasing plans for easing restrictions that were put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Here is what some of the provinces have announced so far:

Newfoundland and Labrador

The province entered “Alert Level 3” on June 8 in its five stage reopening plan.  It means groups of up to 20 people are now permitted, as long as they observe physical distancing. Up to 19 people are allowed on public transit.

Private health clinics, such as optometrists and dentists, can open, as well as medium-risk businesses such as clothing stores and hair salons.

Travel within the province is also permitted, including to second homes, parks and campgrounds. And 11 government service centres will reopen to offer in-person services that can be booked by appointment, including written tests, driver exams and identification photos.

During Level 4 some businesses such as law firms and other professional services were allowed to reopen along with regulated child-care centres, with some restrictions.

Outdoor games of tennis were allowed to resume, though players must bring their own equipment, and not share it.

Pet grooming services began operating May 25, with companies ordered to ensure their employees have personal protective equipment.

Municipal parks, golf courses and driving ranges as well as recreational hunting and fishing were also allowed to reopen in previous weeks.

At Level 2, businesses with performance spaces and gyms are to reopen  and Level 1 would represent “the new normal.”

Nova Scotia

On May 29 Premier Stephen McNeil announced a new gathering limit of 10 people, doubling the limit of five that was imposed in late March.

Physical distancing of two metres is still required, except among members of the same household or family “bubble.” The limit is the same indoors and outdoors, with exceptions for outdoor weddings and funeral services which can have 15 people.

The gathering limit also applies to arts and culture activities such as theatre performances and dance recitals, faith gatherings, and sports and physical activity. Businesses such as theatres, concerts, festivals and sporting activities also must adhere to the 10-person limit.

Private campgrounds can now reopen, but only at 50 per cent capacity and they must ensure public health protocols are followed, including adequate distancing between campsites.

Provincial campgrounds are scheduled to open June 15 at reduced capacity to ensure a minimum of six metres between individual sites.

Licensed child-care centres and family daycare homes will also reopen across Nova Scotia on June 15.

Most businesses ordered shut in late March were allowed to reopen on June 5, if they have a plan that follows physical distancing protocols. The list of businesses includes bars and restaurant dining rooms, hair salons, barber shops, gyms and yoga studios, among others.

Some health providers will also be able to reopen, including dentistry, optometry, chiropractic and physiotherapy offices. Veterinary services will be allowed to operate along with some unregulated professions, such as massage therapy, podiatry and naturopathy.

McNeil earlier announced there would be no return to school this year. However, the province has announced an exemption to allow some public celebrations for high school graduations. Community organizations, businesses or municipalities are being allowed to hold celebrations to recognize graduates because of the loss of traditional graduation ceremonies. Strict physical distancing rules will apply. The exemption will last from June 8 to June 30.

Trails and provincial and municipal parks can reopen along with garden centres, nurseries and similar businesses, but playground equipment is still off limits.

Public beaches have reopened along with outdoor activities like archery, horseback riding, golf, paddling, boating and tennis, with the proviso that social distancing and hygiene be maintained. Sportfishing is permitted and people can attend boating, yacht or sailing clubs for the purpose of preparing boats for use.

Drive-in religious services are now allowed, if people stay in their cars, park two metres apart and there are no interactions between people.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island has extended its public health emergency until June 14.

Premier Dennis King says people wanting to travel to seasonal residences must apply, and those will be put through a risk assessment before approval. Seasonal residents will also be tested for COVID-19 before completing the two weeks they must spend in self-isolation after arriving in the province.

The province moved into the third phase of its reopening plan June 1, which allows such things as in-house dining at restaurants, small groups to participate in recreational and some sporting activities and libraries to reopen. Phase three also allows gatherings of up to 15 people indoors and 20 people outdoors and the reopening of child-care centres.

As well, family and friends can visit residents at long-term care homes. The visits require an appointment and must take place outdoors.

Under phase 2, non-contact outdoor recreational activities were permitted, and retail businesses could reopen with physical distancing measures in place.

Priority non-urgent surgeries and select health-service providers, including physiotherapists, optometrists and chiropractors, resumed on May 1.

The P.E.I legislature resumed May 26.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick moved to the “yellow phase” of its COVID-19 recovery plan on May 22, allowing barbers and hair stylists to reopen as well as churches and fitness facilities. Dental care, massage, chiropractors and other “close contact” businesses and services could also reopen.

But the Campbellton region, which extends from Whites Brook to the Belledune, had to take a step backwards to the “orange” level on May 27. Residents were told to once again avoid contacts outside their two-household bubble. Non-regulated health professionals and personal service businesses that opened May 22 also had to close again. And people should only be travelling in and out of Zone 5 for essential reasons.

Restrictions in the yellow phase of the province’s recovery plan were lifted on June 5. The activities now allowed include outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people, indoor religious services of up to 50 people, low-contact team sports and the opening of a long list of facilities including swimming pools, gyms, rinks, water parks, and yoga and dance studios.

Starting June 9, people must wear face coverings in any building open to the general public. Children under the age of two, children in daycare and people who cannot wear face coverings for medical reasons are exempt from the requirement.

Licensed daycares started reopening May 19. Children don’t have to wear masks or maintain physical distancing but are being kept in small groups.

Anyone who has travelled outside of New Brunswick will not be allowed to visit early learning and child-care facilities for 14 days.

Retail businesses, offices, restaurants, libraries, museums and seasonal campgrounds were earlier allowed to reopen providing they have clear plans for meeting public health guidelines. The resumption of elective surgeries was also part phase two of the province’s reopening plan.

Phase one, which started on April 24, allowed limited play on golf courses as well as fishing and hunting. Post-secondary students could return if it was deemed safe by the school, and outdoor church services were again permitted, providing people remain in their vehicles and are two metres apart.

The final phase, which will probably come only after a vaccine is available, will include large gatherings.

Quebec

Quebec began allowing outdoor gatherings with a maximum of 10 people from three families with social distancing in place on May 22.

On May 25 some retail businesses reopened in the greater Montreal area. Quebec reopened retail stores outside Montreal on May 11.

Parks and pools can reopen across the province but are still be subject to physical distancing and other health measures

Day camps across the province will be allowed to open as of June 22, with physical distancing and other COVID-19 health measures in effect. That means smaller groups of children and frequent handwashing. Sleep-away summer camps won’t be allowed to reopen until next year.

Sports teams resumed outdoor practices starting June 8, and matches can resume at the end of the month. That includes baseball, soccer and any other sports that can be played outdoors. But players will have to keep a safe distance between them.

Lottery terminals have reopened after being shut down on March 20 with sales moving to online only.

Quebec’s construction and manufacturing industries have resumed operations with limits on the number of employees who can work per shift. Elementary schools and daycares outside Montreal reopened on May 11, but high schools, junior colleges and universities will stay closed until September.

Elementary schools in the greater Montreal area will remain closed until late August.

Courthouses across the province were permitted to reopen on June 1, with limited seating capacity and Plexiglas barriers protecting clerks and judges.

Camping is now allowed outside the Montreal and Joliette regions, as are cottage rentals.

Shopping malls, nail salons and other personal care centres are also reopening, but only outside Montreal. Hairdressers, nail salons and other personal care businesses will be able to open in the Montreal area on June 15.

Meanwhile, checkpoints set up to slow the spread of COVID-19 came down on May 18 in various parts of Quebec, including between Gatineau and Ottawa.

Ontario

Ontario has extended its emergency orders until June 19.

The orders include banning gathering in groups larger than five and the continued closure of child care centres, bars and restaurants except for take-out and delivery, libraries except for curbside pick-up or delivery, and theatres. Playgrounds, public pools and splash pads will also remain closed under the orders.

The province recently extended its state of emergency until June 30.

Ontario began its first stage of reopening May 19 by lifting restrictions on surgeries.  Most retail stores with a street entrance were also allowed to reopen with physical distancing restrictions, and curbside pickup and delivery.

The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario says the profession is in Stage 2 of its three-phase reopening plan. Dentists had previously only been allowed to practice emergency or urgent care on patients in-person but can now offer other essential services with enhanced precautions.

All construction can resume, with limits also lifted on maintenance, repair and property management services, such as cleaning, painting and pool maintenance.

Golf courses can reopen though clubhouses can only open for washrooms and take-out food. Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches can also open, as can private parks and campgrounds for trailers and RVs whose owners have a full season contract, and businesses that board animals.

Other businesses and services included in the stage one reopening include regular veterinary appointments, pet grooming, pet sitting and pet training; libraries for pickup or deliveries; and housekeepers and babysitters.

Drive-in movie theatres and batting cages reopened May 31 with physical distancing measures in effect.

Short-term rentals including lodges, cabins, cottages, homes and condominiums were allowed to resume operations on June 5.

Backcountry campers returned to provincial parks June 1 with certain stipulations. No more than five people can occupy a single campsite, unless they live in the same household. Provincial parks also expanded permission for picnics and off-leash pet areas.

Ontario schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year and this summer’s Honda Indy Toronto has been cancelled.

Manitoba

The Manitoba government has lifted its one-month limit on people’s prescription drug supplies, allowing people to again get prescriptions filled or refilled for 90 days.

Its health offices, including dentists, chiropractors and physiotherapists can also reopen. Retail businesses can reopen at half occupancy providing they ensure physical spacing.

Museums and libraries can reopen, but with occupancy limited to 50 per cent.

Playgrounds, golf courses and tennis courts have reopened as well, along with parks and campgrounds.

On May 22 the province began allowing groups of up to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.

On June 1, the province eased a ban on people visiting loved ones in personal care homes. Homes can now offer outdoor visits with a maximum of two guests per resident. Visitors will be screened upon arrival and must practice physical distancing.

Community centres and seniors’ clubs are also getting the go-ahead with limits on customer capacity and rules for physical distancing.

Bars, tattoo parlours, dine-in restaurants, fitness clubs and pools could reopen June 1 under limited capacity.

Elementary and high schools stopped in-class instruction in March and will not reopen this school year. But they were allowed, as of June 1, to offer tutoring or student assessments in small groups. Some extracurricular sports and other activities can restart.

At universities and colleges, some specific instruction such as labs and arts studios will be able to resume for up to 25 students and staff at a time.

Amateur sports and recreation programs, as well as bowling alleys, are on the list to resume operations.

A ban on non-essential travel to the province’s north was also eased starting June 1. Southern residents can now travel directly to cottages, campgrounds and parks, but are being told to avoid visiting northern communities.

Film productions can also resume, as well outdoor religious services with no crowd limits providing people stay in their vehicles.

Movie theatres and casinos must remain closed. Concerts, professional sporting events and other large public gatherings won’t be considered until at least September.

Manitoba has extended a province-wide state of emergency until mid-June, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Saskatchewan

The third phase of Saskatchewan’s reopening plan started June 8. The province is lifting a ban on non-essential travel in the north. More businesses are also being allowed to open, including places of worship, personal care services such as nail salons and tattoo parlours, as well as gyms. Restaurants and bars can open at half capacity, with physical distancing between tables. And child-care centres can also open their doors to a maximum of 15 kids.

The province’s 10-person gathering limit also increases to 15 people indoors and to 30 people outside.

The province’s five-phase plan started May 11 with dentists, optometrists and other health professionals allowed to resume services. Phase 1 also included reopened golf courses and campgrounds.

Phase 4 could see arenas, swimming pools and playgrounds opening, while in Phase 5, the province would consider lifting restrictions on the size of public gatherings.

Alberta

Alberta has completed the first phase of its economic relaunch. Retail shops, restaurants, day cares, barber shops, hair salons, farmers markets and places of worship have reopened with some conditions.

Outdoor gatherings are currently limited to 50 people, and indoor gatherings to 15.

The next phase is scheduled to begin June 19 with the reopening of stage and movie theatres, spas and services like manicures, pedicures and massages.

Alberta allowed some scheduled, non-urgent surgeries to start on May 11.

Service provided by dentists, physiotherapists and other medical professionals are also permitted. Golf courses reopened May 2, though pro shops and clubhouses remain shuttered.

British Columbia

The provincial government allowed a partial reopening of the B.C. economy starting May 19.

The reopening plans are contingent on organizations and businesses having plans that follow provincial guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19. Hotels, resorts and parks will follow in June.

Parents in B.C. were given the choice of allowing their children to return to class on a part-time basis starting June 1. The government said its goal is for the return of full-time classes in September, if it’s safe.

Under the part-time plan, for kindergarten to Grade 5, most students will go to school half time, while grades 6 to 12 will go about one day a week. A mix of online and classroom post-secondary education is planned for September.

Conventions, large concerts, international tourism and professional sports with a live audience will not be allowed to resume until either a vaccine is widely available, community immunity has been reached, or effective treatment can be provided for the disease.

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories announced on May 12 a three-phase reopening plan, but the government didn’t say when it would be implemented.

The plan includes more gatherings and the possible reopening of some schools and businesses. However, the territory’s borders remain closed indefinitely to non-residents and non-essential workers.

There are several requirements that must be met before any measures are relaxed: there must be no evidence of community spread; travel entry points in the territory are strong and secure; risks are reduced from workers coming into the territory; and expanded community testing is available.

Yukon

Travel restrictions will be lifted between Yukon and B.C. after July 1 under the second phase of the territory’s pandemic restart plan.

After that date, travellers between the province and territory will no longer be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

The territory says monitoring the status of neighbouring jurisdictions will determine if it’s safe to further lift restrictions.

Yukon has been gradually easing pandemic restrictions since May 15 with dine-in restaurants, day cares and recreational centres reopening.

Territorial parks and campgrounds will open for the summer next week.

Two households of up to 10 people in total are currently able to interact with each other as part of a “household bubble.”

The territory’s reopening plan outlines five phases including a period after a vaccine is available.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 9, 2020

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jun 9th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on June 9, 2020:

There are 96,244 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 53,047 confirmed (including 4,984 deaths, 18,714 resolved)

_ Ontario: 30,860 confirmed (including 2,450 deaths, 24,492 resolved)

_ Alberta: 7,202 confirmed (including 149 deaths, 6,698 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 2,659 confirmed (including 167 deaths, 2,309 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,059 confirmed (including 61 deaths, 999 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 654 confirmed (including 13 deaths, 624 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 289 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 284 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 256 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 146 confirmed (including 1 death, 121 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 27 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 96,244 (11 presumptive, 96,233 confirmed including 7,835 deaths, 54,553 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 9, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Floyd mourned and U.S. not investigating Prince Andrew; In The News for June 9

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jun 9th, 2020

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 June 9 …

COVID-19 in Canada …

A new poll suggests Canadians are increasingly wearing protective face masks as they emerge from months of isolating at home to curb the spread of COVID-19.

And it suggests that fear of a second wave of infections as bad or worse than the first wave may be behind their increased caution.

Just over half of respondents to the Leger and Association for Canadian Studies survey said they have worn masks to go grocery shopping, 45 per cent to go to the pharmacy, 17 per cent at work, 14 per cent on public transit and 12 per cent when they’ve gone for walks.

In each case, the percentage saying they have worn masks has gone up by two to eight points in one week.

Fifty-three per cent — up two points — said masks should be mandatory in public and confined spaces.

The online poll, conducted June 5 to 7, surveyed 1,523 adult Canadians; it cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

Also this …

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is expected to announce the province’s plan to reopen child-care centres today.

Ford says the plan will help support parents who are returning to work as Ontario’s economy gradually reopens.

Ford said Monday that most Ontario regions outside the Toronto area will be allowed to open more businesses and activities on Friday.

Restaurant patios, hair salons and swimming pools will reopen as the province takes a regional approach to restarting the economy.

The limit on social gatherings will increase from five to 10, but people must still stay two metres away from anyone outside their own household.

Some child-care centres in the province have remained opened throughout the pandemic to provide free service to the families of essential workers.

ICYMI (In case you missed it) …

Two RCMP officers have been charged in the shooting death of a 31-year-old man in northern Alberta almost two years ago.

Cpl. Randy Stenger and Const. Jessica Brown of the Whitecourt RCMP detachment were arrested Friday and were each charged with one count of criminal negligence causing death, the province’s police watchdog said Monday.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) said that Clayton Crawford died from multiple gunshot wounds inside a car after a confrontation with police on July 3, 2018.

Mounties had been investigating another shooting the day before at a home in Valhalla Centre, Alta., about 65 kilometres northwest of Grande Prairie. ASIRT said the officers were looking for a witness or possible victim in that case, when they discovered a man sleeping in the driver’s seat of a vehicle parked at a rest stop near Whitecourt.

During the confrontation, the vehicle was “put into motion” and one officer fired a service pistol while the other discharged a carbine rifle, the agency said.

Toronto police chief stepping down …

Three days after kneeling publicly in solidarity with anti-racism protesters in downtown Toronto, the city’s police chief announced his plans Monday to step down this summer.

Mark Saunders, whose contract was set to expire in eight months, told a news conference he would leave his job on July 31. He said after decades of serving in the force, he wanted to spend more time with his family.

“I look forward to being a full-time dad and a full-time husband that’s not an exhausted byproduct that walks through the door at the end of the day,” he said.

The surprise announcement comes amid growing anti-racism protests triggered by the death of George Floyd — a black man who died last month in Minneapolis after a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes.

The protests that started in the U.S. have since spread to cities around the world, including Toronto, where thousands have taken to the streets to demand police reform.

Saunders, the department’s first black chief, took over the organization in 2015 after three decades on the job, including many as a homicide detective.

Thousands mourn George Floyd…

The last chance for the public to say goodbye to George Floyd drew thousands of mourners Monday to a church in Houston where he grew up, as his death two weeks ago continues to stoke protests in America and beyond over racial injustice, and spurred France to abruptly halt the use of police choke holds.

Reflecting the weight of the moment, the service drew the families of black victims in other high-profile killings whose names have become seared in America’s conversation over race — among them Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Ahmaud Arbery and Trayvon Martin.

“It just hurts,” said Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, sobbing as he ticked off some of their names outside The Fountain of Praise church. “We will get justice. We will get it. We will not let this door close.”

Under a blazing Texas sun, mourners wearing T-shirts with Floyd’s picture or the words “I Can’t Breathe” — the phrase he said repeatedly while pinned down by a Minneapolis police officer — waited for hours to pay their respects as Floyd’s body, dressed in a brown suit, lay in an open gold-colored casket. Some sang “Lean on Me” and Houston’s police chief bumped fists and embraced others in line. Funeral home spokeswoman La’Torria Lemon said at least 6,000 attended the service.

Some knew Floyd in the nearby housing projects where he grew up. Others travelled hours or drove in from other states. Those who couldn’t make it whipped up their own tributes: In Los Angeles, a funeral-style procession of cars inched through downtown as the viewing began in Houston. In Tennessee, residents of Memphis held a moment of silence.

Bracy Burnett approached Floyd’s casket wearing a homemade denim face mask scrawled with “8:46? — the length of time prosecutors say Floyd, who was black, was pinned to the ground under a white officer’s knee before he died.

U.S. not investigating Prince Andrew…

Attorneys representing Britain’s Prince Andrew say they’ve been assured by the U.S. Department of Justice that he is not a target in the investigation of the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

The firm, Blackfords LLP, said U.S. authorities requested the help of the son of Queen Elizabeth II for the first time in January after having investigated Epstein for 16 years. He has offered three times to do so — contrary to the statements of U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, the firm said.

“Importantly, the DOJ advised us that the Duke is not and has never been a ‘target’ of their criminal investigations into Epstein and that they sought his confidential, voluntary co-operation,’’ the attorneys said.

The firm issued the unusual statement after reports in Britain’s Sun newspaper and on NBC that American authorities had formally requested that Andrew answer questions on the matter. He categorically denies wrongdoing and has repeatedly insisted that he was willing to co-operate with U.S. authorities.

Berman has instead said that Andrew has provided “zero co-operation” to the American investigators who want to interview him as part of their sex trafficking probe.

The contrasting views of what is going on behind the scenes came after The Sun newspaper reported that the DOJ submitted a mutual legal assistance request to Britain’s Home Office. Such requests are used in criminal cases under a treaty and are generally used when material can’t be obtained on a police co-operation basis.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 9, 2020

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jun 8th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. on June 8, 2020:

There are 95,699 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 52,849 confirmed (including 4,978 deaths, 18,714 resolved)

_ Ontario: 30,617 confirmed (including 2,426 deaths, 24,252 resolved)

_ Alberta: 7,138 confirmed (including 146 deaths, 6,656 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 2,632 confirmed (including 167 deaths, 2,272 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,059 confirmed (including 61 deaths, 999 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 650 confirmed (including 11 deaths, 623 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 289 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 284 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 256 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 137 confirmed (including 1 death, 121 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 27 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 95,699 (11 presumptive, 95,688 confirmed including 7,800 deaths, 54,233 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 8, 2020.

The Canadian Press

A look at how provinces plan to emerge from COVID-19 shutdown

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jun 8th, 2020

Provinces have been releasing plans for easing restrictions that were put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Here is what some of the provinces have announced so far:

Newfoundland and Labrador

The province enters “Alert Level 3” today (June 8) in its five stage reopening plan.  It means groups of up to 20 people are now permitted, as long as they observe physical distancing. Up to 19 people are allowed on public transit.

Private health clinics, such as optometrists and dentists, can open, as well as medium-risk businesses such as clothing stores and hair salons.

Travel within the province is also permitted, including to second homes, parks and campgrounds. And 11 government service centres will reopen to offer in-person services that can be booked by appointment, including written tests, driver exams and identification photos.

During Level 4 some businesses such as law firms and other professional services were allowed to reopen along with regulated child-care centres, with some restrictions.

Outdoor games of tennis were allowed to resume, though players must bring their own equipment, and not share it.

Pet grooming services began operating May 25, with companies ordered to ensure their employees have personal protective equipment.

Municipal parks, golf courses and driving ranges as well as recreational hunting and fishing were also allowed to reopen in previous weeks.

At Level 2, businesses with performance spaces and gyms are to reopen  and Level 1 would represent “the new normal.”

Nova Scotia

On May 29 Premier Stephen McNeil announced a new gathering limit of 10 people, doubling the limit of five that was imposed in late March.

Physical distancing of two metres is still required, except among members of the same household or family “bubble.” The limit is the same indoors and outdoors, with exceptions for outdoor weddings and funeral services which can have 15 people.

The gathering limit also applies to arts and culture activities such as theatre performances and dance recitals, faith gatherings, and sports and physical activity. Businesses such as theatres, concerts, festivals and sporting activities also must adhere to the 10-person limit.

Private campgrounds can now reopen, but only at 50 per cent capacity and they must ensure public health protocols are followed, including adequate distancing between campsites.

Provincial campgrounds are scheduled to open June 15 at reduced capacity to ensure a minimum of six metres between individual sites.

Licensed child-care centres and family daycare homes will also reopen across Nova Scotia on June 15.

Most businesses ordered shut in late March were allowed to reopen on June 5, if they have a plan that follows physical distancing protocols. The list of businesses includes bars and restaurant dining rooms, hair salons, barber shops, gyms and yoga studios, among others.

Some health providers will also be able to reopen, including dentistry, optometry, chiropractic and physiotherapy offices. Veterinary services will be allowed to operate along with some unregulated professions, such as massage therapy, podiatry and naturopathy.

McNeil earlier announced there would be no return to school this year. However, the province has announced an exemption to allow some public celebrations for high school graduations. Community organizations, businesses or municipalities are being allowed to hold celebrations to recognize graduates because of the loss of traditional graduation ceremonies. Strict physical distancing rules will apply. The exemption will last from June 8 to June 30.

Trails and provincial and municipal parks can reopen along with garden centres, nurseries and similar businesses, but playground equipment is still off limits.

Public beaches have reopened along with outdoor activities like archery, horseback riding, golf, paddling, boating and tennis, with the proviso that social distancing and hygiene be maintained. Sportfishing is permitted and people can attend boating, yacht or sailing clubs for the purpose of preparing boats for use.

Drive-in religious services are now allowed, if people stay in their cars, park two metres apart and there are no interactions between people.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island has extended its public health emergency until June 14.

Premier Dennis King says people wanting to travel to seasonal residences must apply, and those will be put through a risk assessment before approval. Seasonal residents will also be tested for COVID-19 before completing the two weeks they must spend in self-isolation after arriving in the province.

The province moved into the third phase of its reopening plan June 1, which allows such things as in-house dining at restaurants, small groups to participate in recreational and some sporting activities and libraries to reopen. Phase three also allows gatherings of up to 15 people indoors and 20 people outdoors and the reopening of child-care centres.

As well, family and friends can visit residents at long-term care homes. The visits require an appointment and must take place outdoors.

Under phase 2, non-contact outdoor recreational activities were permitted, and retail businesses could reopen with physical distancing measures in place.

Priority non-urgent surgeries and select health-service providers, including physiotherapists, optometrists and chiropractors, resumed on May 1.

The P.E.I legislature resumed May 26.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick moved to the “yellow phase” of its COVID-19 recovery plan on May 22, allowing barbers and hair stylists to reopen as well as churches and fitness facilities. Dental care, massage, chiropractors and other “close contact” businesses and services could also reopen.

But the Campbellton region, which extends from Whites Brook to the Belledune, had to take a step backwards to the “orange” level on May 27. Residents were told to once again avoid contacts outside their two-household bubble. Non-regulated health professionals and personal service businesses that opened May 22 also had to close again. And people should only be travelling in and out of Zone 5 for essential reasons.

Restrictions in the yellow phase of the province’s recovery plan were lifted on June 5. The activities now allowed include outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people, indoor religious services of up to 50 people, low-contact team sports and the opening of a long list of facilities including swimming pools, gyms, rinks, water parks, and yoga and dance studios.

Starting June 9, people must wear face coverings in any building open to the general public. Children under the age of two, children in daycare and people who cannot wear face coverings for medical reasons are exempt from the requirement.

Licensed daycares started reopening May 19. Children don’t have to wear masks or maintain physical distancing but are being kept in small groups.

Anyone who has travelled outside of New Brunswick will not be allowed to visit early learning and child-care facilities for 14 days.

Retail businesses, offices, restaurants, libraries, museums and seasonal campgrounds were earlier allowed to reopen providing they have clear plans for meeting public health guidelines. The resumption of elective surgeries was also part phase two of the province’s reopening plan.

Phase one, which started on April 24, allowed limited play on golf courses as well as fishing and hunting. Post-secondary students could return if it was deemed safe by the school, and outdoor church services were again permitted, providing people remain in their vehicles and are two metres apart.

The final phase, which will probably come only after a vaccine is available, will include large gatherings.

Quebec

Quebec began allowing outdoor gatherings with a maximum of 10 people from three families with social distancing in place on May 22.

On May 25 some retail businesses reopened in the greater Montreal area. Quebec reopened retail stores outside Montreal on May 11.

Parks and pools can reopen across the province but are still be subject to physical distancing and other health measures

Day camps across the province will be allowed to open as of June 22, with physical distancing and other COVID-19 health measures in effect. That means smaller groups of children and frequent handwashing. Sleep-away summer camps won’t be allowed to reopen until next year.

Sports teams can resume outdoor practices starting today (June 8), and matches can resume at the end of the month. That includes baseball, soccer and any other sports that can be played outdoors. But players will have to keep a safe distance between them.

Lottery terminals have reopened after being shut down on March 20 with sales moving to online only.

Quebec’s construction and manufacturing industries have resumed operations with limits on the number of employees who can work per shift. Elementary schools and daycares outside Montreal reopened on May 11, but high schools, junior colleges and universities will stay closed until September.

Elementary schools in the greater Montreal area will remain closed until late August.

Courthouses across the province were permitted to reopen on June 1, with limited seating capacity and Plexiglas barriers protecting clerks and judges.

Camping is now allowed outside the Montreal and Joliette regions, as are cottage rentals.

Shopping malls, nail salons and other personal care centres are also reopening, but only outside Montreal. Hairdressers, nail salons and other personal care businesses will be able to open in the Montreal area on June 15.

Meanwhile, checkpoints set up to slow the spread of COVID-19 came down on May 18 in various parts of Quebec, including between Gatineau and Ottawa.

Ontario

Ontario has extended its emergency orders until June 19.

The orders include banning gathering in groups larger than five and the continued closure of child care centres, bars and restaurants except for take-out and delivery, libraries except for curbside pick-up or delivery, and theatres. Playgrounds, public pools and splash pads will also remain closed under the orders.

The province recently extended its state of emergency until June 30.

Ontario began its first stage of reopening May 19 by lifting restrictions on surgeries.  Most retail stores with a street entrance were also allowed to reopen with physical distancing restrictions, and curbside pickup and delivery.

The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario says the profession is in Stage 2 of its three-phase reopening plan. Dentists had previously only been allowed to practice emergency or urgent care on patients in-person but can now offer other essential services with enhanced precautions.

All construction can resume, with limits also lifted on maintenance, repair and property management services, such as cleaning, painting and pool maintenance.

Golf courses can reopen though clubhouses can only open for washrooms and take-out food. Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches can also open, as can private parks and campgrounds for trailers and RVs whose owners have a full season contract, and businesses that board animals.

Other businesses and services included in the stage one reopening include regular veterinary appointments, pet grooming, pet sitting and pet training; libraries for pickup or deliveries; and housekeepers and babysitters.

Drive-in movie theatres and batting cages reopened May 31 with physical distancing measures in effect.

Short-term rentals including lodges, cabins, cottages, homes and condominiums were allowed to resume operations on June 5.

Backcountry campers returned to provincial parks June 1 with certain stipulations. No more than five people can occupy a single campsite, unless they live in the same household. Provincial parks also expanded permission for picnics and off-leash pet areas.

Ontario schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year and this summer’s Honda Indy Toronto has been cancelled.

Manitoba

The Manitoba government has lifted its one-month limit on people’s prescription drug supplies, allowing people to again get prescriptions filled or refilled for 90 days.

Its health offices, including dentists, chiropractors and physiotherapists can also reopen. Retail businesses can reopen at half occupancy providing they ensure physical spacing.

Museums and libraries can reopen, but with occupancy limited to 50 per cent.

Playgrounds, golf courses and tennis courts have reopened as well, along with parks and campgrounds.

On May 22 the province began allowing groups of up to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.

On June 1, the province eased a ban on people visiting loved ones in personal care homes. Homes can now offer outdoor visits with a maximum of two guests per resident. Visitors will be screened upon arrival and must practice physical distancing.

Community centres and seniors’ clubs are also getting the go-ahead with limits on customer capacity and rules for physical distancing.

Bars, tattoo parlours, dine-in restaurants, fitness clubs and pools could reopen June 1 under limited capacity.

Elementary and high schools stopped in-class instruction in March and will not reopen this school year. But they were allowed, as of June 1, to offer tutoring or student assessments in small groups. Some extracurricular sports and other activities can restart.

At universities and colleges, some specific instruction such as labs and arts studios will be able to resume for up to 25 students and staff at a time.

Amateur sports and recreation programs, as well as bowling alleys, are on the list to resume operations.

A ban on non-essential travel to the province’s north was also eased starting June 1. Southern residents can now travel directly to cottages, campgrounds and parks, but are being told to avoid visiting northern communities.

Film productions can also resume, as well outdoor religious services with no crowd limits providing people stay in their vehicles.

Movie theatres and casinos must remain closed. Concerts, professional sporting events and other large public gatherings won’t be considered until at least September.

Manitoba has extended a province-wide state of emergency until mid-June, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Saskatchewan

The third phase of Saskatchewan’s reopening plan starts today (June 8). The province is lifting a ban on non-essential travel in the north. More businesses are also being allowed to open, including places of worship, personal care services such as nail salons and tattoo parlours, as well as gyms. Restaurants and bars can open at half capacity, with physical distancing between tables. And child-care centres can also open their doors to a maximum of 15 kids.

The province’s 10-person gathering limit also increases to 15 people indoors and to 30 people outside.

The province’s five-phase plan started May 11 with dentists, optometrists and other health professionals allowed to resume services. Phase 1 also included reopened golf courses and campgrounds.

Phase 4 could see arenas, swimming pools and playgrounds opening, while in Phase 5, the province would consider lifting restrictions on the size of public gatherings.

Alberta

Alberta has completed the first phase of its economic relaunch. Retail shops, restaurants, day cares, barber shops, hair salons, farmers markets and places of worship have reopened with some conditions.

Outdoor gatherings are currently limited to 50 people, and indoor gatherings to 15.

The next phase is scheduled to begin June 19 with the reopening of stage and movie theatres, spas and services like manicures, pedicures and massages.

Alberta allowed some scheduled, non-urgent surgeries to start on May 11.

Service provided by dentists, physiotherapists and other medical professionals are also permitted. Golf courses reopened May 2, though pro shops and clubhouses remain shuttered.

British Columbia

The provincial government allowed a partial reopening of the B.C. economy starting May 19.

The reopening plans are contingent on organizations and businesses having plans that follow provincial guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19. Hotels, resorts and parks will follow in June.

Parents in B.C. were given the choice of allowing their children to return to class on a part-time basis starting June 1. The government said its goal is for the return of full-time classes in September, if it’s safe.

Under the part-time plan, for kindergarten to Grade 5, most students will go to school half time, while grades 6 to 12 will go about one day a week. A mix of online and classroom post-secondary education is planned for September.

Conventions, large concerts, international tourism and professional sports with a live audience will not be allowed to resume until either a vaccine is widely available, community immunity has been reached, or effective treatment can be provided for the disease.

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories announced on May 12 a three-phase reopening plan, but the government didn’t say when it would be implemented.

The plan includes more gatherings and the possible reopening of some schools and businesses. However, the territory’s borders remain closed indefinitely to non-residents and non-essential workers.

There are several requirements that must be met before any measures are relaxed: there must be no evidence of community spread; travel entry points in the territory are strong and secure; risks are reduced from workers coming into the territory; and expanded community testing is available.

Yukon

Travel restrictions will be lifted between Yukon and B.C. after July 1 under the second phase of the territory’s pandemic restart plan.

After that date, travellers between the province and territory will no longer be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

The territory says monitoring the status of neighbouring jurisdictions will determine if it’s safe to further lift restrictions.

Yukon has been gradually easing pandemic restrictions since May 15 with dine-in restaurants, day cares and recreational centres reopening.

Territorial parks and campgrounds will open for the summer next week.

Two households of up to 10 people in total are currently able to interact with each other as part of a “household bubble.”

The territory’s reopening plan outlines five phases including a period after a vaccine is available.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 8, 2020

The Canadian Press

Possible motivation and the street protests continue; In The News for June 8

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jun 8th, 2020

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 June 8 …

What we are watching in Canada …

HALIFAX — More than seven weeks after a man disguised as a Mountie killed 22 people in rural Nova Scotia, the RCMP have finally hinted at what may have motivated one of the worst mass killings in Canadian history.

Last week, RCMP Supt. Darren Campbell told a briefing that a behavioural analysis of the killer determined he was an “injustice collector” — a term that is well known among criminologists.

Michael Arntfield, a professor and criminologist at Western University in London, Ont., says injustice collectors are disproportionately middle-aged males who have tabulated an inventory of every perceived slight over the course of their lives.

They can nurture grudges for years. They often feel cheated or disrespected by others, even though there may be no evidence to support those beliefs. And these negative thoughts often get stuck on an endless, self-fulfilling loop.

Witness statements, documents and police disclosures confirm the killer, 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman, displayed many of these traits — though not all the time.

Wortman killed 13 people in Portapique before slaying another nine people the following day in several communities in northern and central Nova Scotia. He was fatally shot by a Mountie at a gas station in Enfield, N.S.

In a police document used to obtain a search warrant, one witness described Wortman as a smart psychopath who had been abused as a boy and was paranoid about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also this …

MONTREAL — Thousands hit Montreal streets again Sunday to speak out in turn against racism, systemic discrimination and police brutality, following other Canadian communities that held marches this weekend.

Participants from different communities and of all ages crowded into a downtown Montreal square to listen to a cross-section of activists, community leaders, sports personalities and politicians before snaking peacefully through downtown Montreal to Dorchester Square, chanting “black lives matter” and “no justice, no peace” among other slogans.

They took a symbolic knee during the march — the second Sunday in a row the city has hosted one since the release of a video showing a white Minneapolis police officer kneeling on the neck of a black man, George Floyd, for nearly nine minutes.

Floyd fell still and died, the officer’s knee still on his neck.

His death has sparked demonstrations denouncing racism, violence and police impunity right across the globe and well-attended events were held Saturday in several Canadian cities, including Toronto, St. John’s, Calgary and London, Ont.

In Montreal, demonstrators called out Quebec Premier Francois Legault for his belief the province doesn’t have a systemic racism problem.

ICYMI (In case you missed it) …

Canada’s public safety minister says the government will be paying close attention to the independent inquiry into allegations of racism and police brutality brought forward by a First Nations chief, while another minister called the chief’s account “deeply troubling.”

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, who is a former Toronto police chief, says in a tweet that the government is “deeply concerned” by the allegations, which were made Saturday by Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam.

Adam told a news conference that he was beaten by RCMP officers and that his wife was manhandled in March when police stopped him for an expired licence plate outside a casino in Fort McMurray.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, an independent body which investigates deaths or injuries involving police, said later that day that it will investigate the incident.

Adam is facing charges of resisting arrest and assaulting police, and RCMP say the officers needed to use force during the arrest.

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says in a tweet that he’s spoken twice with Adam this weekend, and that he was disturbed by what the chief told him.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

Calls for deep police reforms gained momentum as leaders in the city where George Floyd died at the hands of an officer pushed to dismantle the entire department.

Floyd’s death sparked nationwide protests demanding a reckoning with institutional racism that have sometimes resulted in clashes with police, but many officers took a less aggressive stance over the weekend when demonstrations were overwhelmingly peaceful.

Two weeks after Floyd, an out-of-work black bouncer, died after a white Minneapolis officer pressed a knee on his neck for several minutes, a majority of the Minneapolis City Council vowed to dismantle the 800-member agency.

The state of Minnesota has launched a civil rights investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department, and the first concrete changes came when the city agreed to ban chokeholds and neck restraints.

Protesters nationwide are demanding police reforms and a reckoning with institutional racism in response to Floyd’s death, and calls to “defund the police” have become rallying cries for many.

Cities imposed curfews as several protests last week were marred by spasms of arson, assaults and smash-and-grab raids on businesses. But U.S. protests in recent days have been overwhelmingly peaceful — and over the weekend, several police departments appeared to retreat from aggressive tactics.

On Sunday, Floyd’s body arrived in Texas for a third and final memorial service, said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo. A viewing is planned for today in Houston, followed by a service and burial Tuesday in suburban Pearland.

What we are watching around the world …

LONDON — Travellers to Britain are now being required to go into quarantine for two weeks — a sweeping measure meant to halt the further spread of COVID-19.

Starting Monday, all passengers will be asked to fill in a form detailing where they will self-isolate, with only a few exceptions. Those who fail to comply with the quarantine rules could be fined.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary says the quarantine will cause “untold devastation” for the country’s tourism industry — not just on the airlines.

He told the BBC that hotels, visitor attractions and restaurants will also be hurt, and thousands of jobs will be lost.

New Zealand, meanwhile, says it has eradicated the coronavirus from its shores after health officials reported that the final person known to have contracted an infection had recovered.

It’s been 17 days since the last new case was reported in New Zealand, and Monday also marked the first time since late February that there have been no active cases. Health officials caution that new cases could be imported into the country, which has closed its borders to everybody but citizens and residents, with some exceptions.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 8, 2020

The Canadian Press

LGBTQ2SA+ Resources Across Canada

Breakfast Television Staff | posted Monday, Jun 8th, 2020

June is PRIDE month. In order to support the shift towards inclusion and equality, Breakfast Television is listing the top Canadian resources for LGBTQ2SA+ individuals.

 

Community/Support Resources

  • Kind: Ottawa based organization that simply provides a space where LGBT+ people can just be. They also provide personal and peer support, as well as various resources for those in need.
  • Egale: Canada’s leading organization for LGBTQI2S people and issues. We improve and save lives through research, education, awareness, and by advocating for human rights and equality in Canada and around the world. Our work helps create societies and systems that reflect the universal truth that all persons are equal and none is other.
  • Qmunity: Through publications, multimedia materials, one-on-one consultations, and interactive workshops, our Diversity and Inclusion Experts help individuals, families, businesses, schools, and service providers to identify and avoid discriminatory behaviours and to explore the complexity, fluidity, and potential of sexual and gender diversity.
  • LGBT Youthline: LGBT Youth Line is a Queer, Trans, Two-Spirit* youth-led organization that affirms and supports the experiences of youth (29 and under) across Ontario. We do this by providing anonymous peer support and referrals; training youth to provide support to other youth; and providing resources so youth can make informed decisions.
  • Youthsafe.net: Provides links to information and resources, in Alberta, for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (“LGBT”) people and allies. The website is focused on services for youth and young adults.
  • DailyStrength Lesbian and Gay Groups: Online chat rooms with a focus on the daily issues gay and lesbian people face, both between partners in a relationship and others.
  • It Gets Better Project: A nonprofit organization with a mission to uplift, empower, and connect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth around the globe. Growing up isn’t easy, especially when you are trying to affirm and assert your sexual orientation and/or gender identity. It can be a challenging and isolating process – but, the good news is, no one has to do it alone. 

 

Religious Affiliated Resources

  • Galva-108: This website is provided by the Gay & Lesbian Vaishnava Association, a nonprofit religious organization offering positive information and support to LGBTI Vaishnavas and Hindus, their friends, and other interested persons.
  • Gaychurch.org: This website provides resources to those who are looking for gay-affirming Christian churches. They provide a list of gay-affirming churches throughout the U.S. and Canada, as well as information on homosexuality and the bible and same-sex marriage.
  • The United Church of Canada: The United Church affirms that gender and sexuality are gifts of God and that all persons are made in the image of God. We welcome into full membership and ministry people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. The United Church is opposed to discrimination against any person on any basis by which a person is devalued 
  • Salaam Canada: Provides resources for those who identify as both Muslim and queer/trans. They provide monthly meetings, peer support and advocacy initiatives.
  • Transfaith: TransACTION is a Transgender Curriculum For Churches and Religious Institutions by Barbara Satin and the Institute for Welcoming Resources/NGLTF is an interactive curriculum.

 

Family Resources

  • COLAGE: Unites people with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer parents and caregivers into a network of peers and supports them as they nurture and empower each other to be skilled, self-confident, and just leaders in our collective communities.
  • Gay Parent Magazine: They are the leader in LGBT parenting resources since 1998. GPM’s focus is to support and empower LGBTQ parents and LGBTQs wishing to become first-time parents. On our pages, parents speak candidly about their experiences with adoption, foster care, egg and sperm donors, surrogacy, parenting with an ex, coming out after being in a straight marriage, co-parenting, divorce and custody issues, and discrimination.
  • LGBT+ Family Coalition: The LGBT+ Family Coalition is a community rights organization that advocates for the social and legal recognition of sexual- and gender-diverse families.
  • Gender Creative Kids: The Transgender Children’s Association Canada began in 2010 and offers a variety of resources to support and educate creative children and their families. We work in various circles with young people who are questioning, non-binary or transgender. By providing support, information and networking opportunities for parents, students, teachers, educators, health professionals, researchers, activists and young people across Canada, we hope to help transform the world into a safe space, rewarding and pleasant.
  • PFLAG Canada: Pflag Canada is a national charitable organization, founded by parents who wished to help themselves and their family members understand and accept their LGBTQ2S children. They provide resources, host events and help set up Pflag chapters in various regions.

 

Health-Related Resources

  • Canadian Aids Society: Committed to fighting the spread of aids through education and awareness. They provide resources for people across Canada living with HIV/AIDS or who simply want to be better educated.
  • Growth House: Growth House provides information and resources for end of life issues for LGBT+ families. Discrimination does not end with life so they provide resources for safe spaces and grief counselling for those impacted by an LGBT+ death.
  • Rainbow Couch: This UK based organization provides online/over the phone psychotherapy sessions for LGBT+ community members. The Rainbow Couch works with gender, sexual and relationship diversity: it is for you, whether you’re lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), in or out of the closet, heterosexual, monogamous, non-monogamous, kinky or a sex worker. You can be assured of sex-positive therapy that accepts you the way you are and the way you choose to live your life.
  • The Trevor Project – Trevor Chat: The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.
  • Drug Rehab – LGBT Addiction Guide: Provides resources and information on substance abuse issues within the LGBT+ community. The LGBT+ people are at a higher risk for substance abuse and addiction than heterosexual people.
  • NEDA Feeding People: Information on eating disorders within the LGBT+ population. LGBTQ+ identified folks experience unique stressors that may contribute to the development of an eating disorder. While there is still much research to be done on the relationships between sexuality, gender identity, body image, and eating disorders, we know that eating disorders disproportionately impact some segments of the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Native Youth Sexual Health Line: The Native Youth Sexual Health Network (NYSHN) is an organization by and for Indigenous youth that works across issues of sexual and reproductive health, rights and justice throughout the United States and Canada.

 

Entertainment Resources

  • After Ellen: Works the lesbian/bi pop culture beat with a fun, feminist perspective on film, television, music, books, and sports. We also cover  lifestyle issues like lesbian sex and dating, coming out, and our take on the current political climate as it affects our community.
  • YoHomo: The leading site for the cities LGBTQ2SA+ events and stories.

 

LGBT+ Homelessness Resources

  • LGBTQ2S Toolkit: Their mission is to make it better for LGBTQ2S youth experiencing homelessness. They provide this toolkit with resources and information on homelessness throughout the LGBT Youth community.
  • The 519 Housing Services: This Toronto based community centre has resources and programs for LGBT+ community members in the housing crisis. Along with housing services they also host a LGBTQ2S+ Roommate Mixer, which occurs on the first Wednesday of every month between 4 and 6pm.

 

Have any suggestions for our list? email them to feedback@breakfasttelevision.ca!

 

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jun 5th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. on June 5, 2020:

There are 93,726 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 52,143 confirmed (including 4,885 deaths, 17,098 resolved)

_ Ontario: 29,403 confirmed (including 2,357 deaths, 23,208 resolved)

_ Alberta: 7,091 confirmed (including 146 deaths, 6,611 resolved

_ British Columbia: 2,632 confirmed (including 166 deaths, 2,265 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,058 confirmed (including 61 deaths, 995 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 648 confirmed (including 11 deaths, 608 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 287 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 284 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 256 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 136 confirmed (including 1 death, 120 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 27 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 93,726 (11 presumptive, 93,715 confirmed including 7,637 deaths, 51,501 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 5, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Floyd mourned in Minneapolis and march in Ottawa; In The News for June 5

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jun 5th, 2020

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 June 5 …

What we are watching in Canada …

Demonstrators plan to march from Parliament Hill through Ottawa streets in mid-afternoon today to honour black lives lost at the hands of police.

A similarly themed Toronto march is slated to proceed south in the early afternoon from the Bloor-Yonge subway station, circling back north to city hall.

The demonstrations follow days of protests across the United States after a video showed Minneapolis police killing a black man, George Floyd, unleashing a torrent of anger over persistent racism.

A police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while he pleaded that he couldn’t breathe.

The Ottawa event is being organized by No Peace Until Justice, formed by a young black woman.

The group says its goal is to bring together black activists and organizations and allies to stand in solidarity against police brutality and societal racism.

Also this …

Statistics Canada will provide a new snapshot today of the job market as it stood last month with expectations that figures will show a continued bleeding of jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than three million jobs were lost over March and April as restrictions to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus were put in place.

The average economist estimate is for the loss of 500,000 jobs in May and for the unemployment rate to rise to 15.0 per cent, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

If that happens, it will push the unemployment rate past the 13.1 per cent set in December 1982 to its highest level in more than four decades of comparable data.

The actual figure will be influenced by how many people gave up looking for a job because they are not counted in the unemployment rate.

In April, the unemployment rate would have been 17.8 per cent instead of 13 per cent had the report counted among the unemployed those who stopped looking for work — likely because the economic shutdown has limited job opportunities.

COVID-19 in Canada …

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is to offer premiers billions in federal funding to help them safely reopen provincial and territorial economies without triggering an explosive second wave of COVID-19 cases.

Trudeau is expected to present the offer to premiers during their weekly conference call today — the twelfth such call since the pandemic sent the country into lockdown in mid-March.

Precise details, including how to allocate each province’s share of the cash, are to be negotiated in the coming days, but federal officials hope agreements can be reached quickly to get the money flowing fast.

The offer comes with some strings attached, according to federal officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly.

Trudeau is offering to transfer the money to provincial and territorial governments, provided they agree to spend it on a number of areas the federal government considers necessary to reduce the risk of a second surge of the deadly coronavirus.

They include testing, contact tracing, personal protective equipment, bolstering municipalities, helping the most vulnerable Canadians and strengthening the health care system, possibly including improving conditions in long-term care homes linked to more than 80 per cent of the deaths in Canada so far.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

Celebrities, musicians and political leaders gathered in front of George Floyd’s golden casket Thursday for a fiery memorial service for the man whose death at the hands of police sparked global protests, with a civil rights leader declaring it is time for black people to demand, “Get your knee off our necks!”

The service — the first in a series of memorials set for three cities over six days — unfolded in Minneapolis at a sanctuary at North Central University as a judge a few blocks away set bail at $750,000 each for the three fired police officers charged with aiding and abetting murder in Floyd’s death.

“George Floyd’s story has been the story of black folks. Because ever since 401 years ago, the reason we could never be who we wanted and dreamed to be is you kept your knee on our neck,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said in a fierce eulogy. “It’s time for us to stand up in George’s name and say, ‘Get your knee off our necks!’”

Floyd, a 46-year-old out-of-work bouncer, died May 25 after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, put his knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes as he lay handcuffed on the pavement, gasping that he couldn’t breathe. Chauvin has been charged with murder, and he and the others could get up to 40 years in prison.

From coast to coast, and from Paris and London to Sydney and Rio de Janeiro, the chilling cellphone video of Floyd’s slow death has set off turbulent and sometimes violent demonstrations against police brutality, racism and inequality. Some protests continued Thursday.

Those gathered at the Minneapolis tribute stood in silence for 8 minutes, 46 seconds, the amount of time Floyd was alleged to be on the ground under the control of police.

COVID-19 in Sports …

The NHL’s return-to-play plan came into even sharper focus Thursday.

If the league is able to resume the pandemic-hit 2019-20 season this summer, its playoffs will feature the usual four rounds of best-of-seven series after the qualifying portion of the schedule.

The NHL announced the 24-team format last week, but had yet to iron out some of the specifics, including whether or not the first two rounds of the playoffs would be best-of-five or best-best of seven.

Meanwhile, the NBA’s Board of Governors has approved a 22-team format for restarting the league season in late July at the Disney campus near Orlando, Florida.

The format calls for each team playing eight games to determine playoff seeding plus the possible utilization of a play-in tournament for the final spot in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference post-season fields. The National Basketball Players Association has a call on Friday to approve the plan as well.

ICYMI (In case you missed it) …

Tomas Manasek says he’s thrilled that his beliefs about Alberta independence didn’t end up costing him his personalized FREE AB licence plate.

Manasek won a battle to get a licence plate initially rejected by the Alberta Registrar of Motor Vehicles.

A rejection letter said the plate didn’t fit within the department’s guidelines.

“They said it doesn’t fit with the guidelines of the program and that they have a right to refuse anything deemed inappropriate. I guess asking for freedom and democracy is deemed inappropriate,” Manasek said.

Manasek, an Alberta Independence Party candidate in last year’s provincial election, fought the ruling with help from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.

“This plate is not offensive. It’s not vulgar, so I fail to see any reasons for the rejection,” he says

“My personal views shouldn’t make a difference. I think our democracy is strong enough to be generous. I’m entitled to my views and I am entitled to promote them.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 5, 2020

The Canadian Press

Majority of Canadians feel prejudice is a ‘serious problem’ in this country, poll finds

NEWS STAFF | posted Friday, Jun 5th, 2020

As protests over the death of George Floyd continue across the globe, here at home a new poll has found that most Canadians feel prejudice against visible minorities in our country is a “serious problem.”

In this poll, which was conducted by Dart and Maru/Blue, 69 per cent of respondents said prejudice is a “serious problem.” On the other spectrum, 31 per cent said they didn’t see it as a critical problem — with four per cent saying it isn’t a problem at all. This view was found more often in British Columbia and Quebec.

However, 70 per cent of those asked thought race relations are generally good throughout Canada, especially in their own neighbourhood and community or municipality. As well, 68 per cent surveyed said they believe race relationship with the local police department are also generally good.

“The issue that this poll really started to look at was – do Canadians overall see it? Do they feel it? Do they believe that it exists?” John Wright, a pollster for Dart and Maru/Blue, explained.

“They do believe it exists but they’re not experiencing it, they’re not feeling it, they’re not recognizing it in terms of where they are and I guess, some would say, that’s because they don’t come into contact with it. They’re relationships are different.”

Of those who said they believed race relations in Canada are “generally bad,” the majority (32 per cent) live in Alberta, followed by Atlantic Canada (27 per cent).

Ontario landed roughly in the middle when asked both questions, with 68 per cent saying “generally good” and 25 per cent saying “generally bad.”

But are we better in Canada than we were in 2010?

Only three out of 10 people asked said yes. One third said they felt race relations have improved in their municipalities and one third said they felt relationships with local police was better. The poll found the majority of those who voted positively lived in Quebec.

When it comes to police, Ontario is most likely to say race relations with local police is worse than it was 10 years ago, followed by Alberta.

Overall Quebec felt it has the best, and most improved race relations across the country while Alberta has the worst race relations.

As well, men aged 55 and up — who have a post-secondary school education and earn more than $100,000 a year — are more likely (55 per cent) to believe race relations were much better across Canada than younger Canadians between the age of 18 and 37, and women.

The survey was conducted among 1,525 randomly selected Canadian adults who are members of Maru/Blue’s online panel on June 3. It is considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

A look at how provinces plan to emerge from COVID-19 shutdown

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jun 4th, 2020

Provinces have been releasing plans for easing restrictions that were put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Here is what some of the provinces have announced so far:

Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador announced on May 29 that “bubbles” that had been limited to two households could invite six additional people into their circle.

Small gatherings for funerals, burials and weddings had already been allowed with a limit of 10 people following physical distancing rules. However, parties or other social gatherings are still banned.

Outdoor games of tennis have been allowed to resume, though players must bring their own equipment, and not share it.

Pet grooming services began operating May 25, with companies ordered to ensure their employees have personal protective equipment.

Municipal parks, golf courses and driving ranges can open and recreational hunting and fishing are permitted.

The province is in “alert level four” in its five-level reopening plan, allowing some businesses such as law firms and other professional services to reopen along with regulated child-care centres, with some restrictions.

At Level 3, private health clinics, such as optometrists and dentists, will be allowed to open, as well as medium-risk businesses such as clothing stores and hair salons. Overnight camping will also be permitted at level three, though there’s no word yet when that will happen.

At Level 2, some small gatherings will be allowed, and businesses with performance spaces and gyms are to reopen.

Level 1 would represent “the new normal.”

Nova Scotia

On May 29 Premier Stephen McNeil announced a new gathering limit of 10 people, doubling the limit of five that was imposed in late March.

Physical distancing of two metres is still required, except among members of the same household or family “bubble.” The limit is the same indoors and outdoors, with exceptions for outdoor weddings and funeral services which can have 15 people.

The gathering limit also applies to arts and culture activities such as theatre performances and dance recitals, faith gatherings, and sports and physical activity. Businesses such as theatres, concerts, festivals and sporting activities also must adhere to the 10-person limit.

Private campgrounds can reopen, but only at 50 per cent capacity and they must ensure public health protocols are followed, including adequate distancing between campsites.

Provincial campgrounds are scheduled to open June 15 at reduced capacity to ensure a minimum of six metres between individual sites.

Most businesses ordered shut in late March will be allowed to reopen June 5, if they have a plan that follows physical distancing protocols. The list of businesses includes bars and restaurant dining rooms, hair salons, barber shops, gyms and yoga studios, among others.

Some health providers will also be able to reopen, including dentistry, optometry, chiropractic and physiotherapy offices. Veterinary services will be allowed to operate along with some unregulated professions, such as massage therapy, podiatry and naturopathy.

McNeil earlier announced there would be no return to school this year, and a decision on reopening daycares would be made by June 8.

Trails and provincial and municipal parks can now reopen along with garden centres, nurseries and similar businesses, but playground equipment is still off limits.

Public beaches have reopened along with outdoor activities like archery, horseback riding, golf, paddling, boating and tennis, with the proviso that social distancing and hygiene be maintained. Sportfishing is permitted and people can attend boating, yacht or sailing clubs for the purpose of preparing boats for use.

Drive-in religious services are now allowed, if people stay in their cars, park two metres apart and there are no interactions between people.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island has extended its public health emergency until June 14.

Premier Dennis King says people wanting to travel to seasonal residences must apply beginning June 1, and those will be put through a risk assessment before approval. Seasonal residents will also be tested for COVID-19 before completing the two weeks they must spend in self-isolation after arriving in the province.

The province moved into the third phase of its reopening plan June 1, which allows such things as in-house dining at restaurants, small groups to participate in recreational and some sporting activities and libraries to reopen. Phase three also allows gatherings of up to 15 people indoors and 20 people outdoors and the reopening of child-care centres.

As well, family and friends can visit residents at long-term care homes. The visits require an appointment and must take place outdoors.

Under phase 2, non-contact outdoor recreational activities were permitted, and retail businesses could reopen with physical distancing measures in place.

Priority non-urgent surgeries and select health-service providers, including physiotherapists, optometrists and chiropractors, resumed on May 1.

The P.E.I legislature resumed May 26.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick moved to the “yellow phase” of its COVID-19 recovery plan on May 22, allowing barbers and hair stylists to reopen as well as churches and fitness facilities. Dental care, massage, chiropractors and other “close contact” businesses and services could also reopen.

But the Campbellton region, which extends from Whites Brook to the Belledune, had to take a step backwards to the “orange” level on May 27. Residents were told to once again avoid contacts outside their two-household bubble. Non-regulated health professionals and personal service businesses that opened May 22 also had to close again. And people should only be travelling in and out of Zone 5 for essential reasons.

Restrictions in the yellow phase of the province’s recovery plan will be lifted beginning June 5. The activities include outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people, indoor religious services of up to 50 people, low-contact team sports and the opening of a long list of facilities including swimming pools, gyms, rinks, water parks, and yoga and dance studios.

Licensed daycares started reopening May 19. Children don’t have to wear masks or maintain physical distancing but are being kept in small groups.

Anyone who has travelled outside of New Brunswick will not be allowed to visit early learning and child-care facilities for 14 days.

Retail businesses, offices, restaurants, libraries, museums and seasonal campgrounds were earlier allowed to reopen providing they have clear plans for meeting public health guidelines. The resumption of elective surgeries was also part phase two of the province’s reopening plan.

Phase one, which started on April 24, allowed limited play on golf courses as well as fishing and hunting. Post-secondary students could return if it was deemed safe by the school, and outdoor church services were again permitted, providing people remain in their vehicles and are two metres apart.

The final phase, which will probably come only after a vaccine is available, will include large gatherings.

Quebec

Quebec began allowing outdoor gatherings with a maximum of 10 people from three families with social distancing in place on May 22.

On May 25 some retail businesses reopened in the greater Montreal area. Quebec reopened retail stores outside Montreal on May 11.

Parks and pools can reopen across the province but are still be subject to physical distancing and other health measures

Day camps across the province will be allowed to open as of June 22, with physical distancing and other COVID-19 health measures in effect. That means smaller groups of children and frequent handwashing. Sleep-away summer camps won’t be allowed to reopen until next year.

Lottery terminals are also reopening after being shut down on March 20 with sales moving to online only.

Quebec’s construction and manufacturing industries have resumed operations with limits on the number of employees who can work per shift. Elementary schools and daycares outside Montreal reopened on May 11, but high schools, junior colleges and universities will stay closed until September.

Elementary schools in the greater Montreal area will remain closed until late August.

Courthouses across the province were permitted to reopen starting June 1, with limited seating capacity and Plexiglas barriers protecting clerks and judges.

Camping is now allowed outside the Montreal and Joliette regions, as are cottage rentals.

Shopping malls, nail salons and other personal care centres are also reopening, but only outside Montreal.

Hairdressers, nail salons and other personal care businesses will be able to open in the Montreal area on June 15.

Meanwhile, checkpoints set up to slow the spread of COVID-19 came down on May 18 in various parts of Quebec, including between Gatineau and Ottawa.

Ontario

Ontario began its first stage of reopening May 19 including lifting restrictions on retail stores and surgeries.

The province says workplaces can begin to reopen but working from home should continue as much as possible.

The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario says the profession is currently in Stage 2 of its three-phase reopening plan. Dentists had previously only been allowed to practice emergency or urgent care on patients in-person but can now offer other essential services with enhanced precautions.

All construction can resume, with limits also lifted on maintenance, repair and property management services, such as cleaning, painting and pool maintenance.

Most retail stores with a street entrance can reopen with physical distancing restrictions, and curbside pickup and delivery.

Golf courses can reopen though clubhouses can only open for washrooms and take-out food. Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches can also open, as can private parks and campgrounds for trailers and RVs whose owners have a full season contract, and businesses that board animals.

Other businesses and services included in the stage one reopening include regular veterinary appointments, pet grooming, pet sitting and pet training; libraries for pickup or deliveries; and housekeepers and babysitters.

Drive-in movie theatres and batting cages reopened May 31 with physical distancing measures in effect.

Backcountry campers returned to provincial parks June 1 with certain stipulations. No more than five people can occupy a single campsite, unless they live in the same household. Provincial parks will also expand permission for picnics and off-leash pet areas.

Premier Doug Ford earlier announced that Ontario schools would remain closed for the rest of the school year.

Meanwhile, this summer’s Honda Indy Toronto has been cancelled.

Manitoba

The Manitoba government has lifted its one-month limit on people’s prescription drug supplies, allowing people to again get prescriptions filled or refilled for 90 days.

Its health offices, including dentists, chiropractors and physiotherapists can also reopen. Retail businesses can reopen at half occupancy providing they ensure physical spacing.

Museums and libraries can reopen, but with occupancy limited to 50 per cent.

Playgrounds, golf courses and tennis courts have reopened as well, along with parks and campgrounds.

On May 22 the province began allowing groups of up to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.

On June 1, the province eased a ban on people visiting loved ones in personal care homes.

Homes can now offer outdoor visits with a maximum of two guests per resident. Visitors will be screened upon arrival and must practice physical distancing.

Community centres and seniors’ clubs are also getting the go-ahead with limits on customer capacity and rules for physical distancing.

Bars, tattoo parlours, dine-in restaurants, fitness clubs and pools could reopen June 1 under limited capacity.

Elementary and high schools stopped in-class instruction in March and will not reopen this school year. But they were allowed, as of June 1, to offer tutoring or student assessments in small groups. Some extracurricular sports and other activities can restart.

At universities and colleges, some specific instruction such as labs and arts studios will be able to resume for up to 25 students and staff at a time.

Amateur sports and recreation programs, as well as bowling alleys, are on the list to resume operations.

A ban on non-essential travel to the province’s north was also eased starting June 1. Southern residents can now travel directly to cottages, campgrounds and parks, but are being told to avoid visiting northern communities.

Film productions can also resume, as well outdoor religious services with no crowd limits providing people stay in their vehicles.

Movie theatres and casinos must remain closed. Concerts, professional sporting events and other large public gatherings won’t be considered until at least September.

Manitoba has extended a province-wide state of emergency until mid-June, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan government’s five-phase plan to reopen its economy started May 11 with dentists, optometrists and other health professionals allowed to resume services. Phase 1 also includes reopened golf courses and campgrounds.

Under phases 2 and 3 the province says restaurants, gyms and nail salons can start reopening on June 8. Restaurants will be allowed to operate at half capacity and restrictions will also lift on some personal care services, childcare centres and places of worship. The government also plans to increase its 10-person gathering limit to 15 people indoors and to 30 for those outdoors.

Phase 4 could see arenas, swimming pools and playgrounds opening, while in Phase 5, the province would consider lifting restrictions on the size of public gatherings.

Alberta

Alberta has completed the first phase of its economic relaunch. Retail shops, restaurants, day cares, barber shops, hair salons, farmers markets and places of worship have reopened with some conditions.

Outdoor gatherings are currently limited to 50 people, and indoor gatherings to 15.

The next phase is scheduled to begin June 19 with the reopening of stage and movie theatres, spas and services like manicures, pedicures and massages.

Alberta allowed some scheduled, non-urgent surgeries to start on May 11.

Service provided by dentists, physiotherapists and other medical professionals are also permitted. Golf courses reopened May 2, though pro shops and clubhouses remain shuttered.

British Columbia

The provincial government allowed a partial reopening of the B.C. economy starting May 19.

The reopening plans are contingent on organizations and businesses having plans that follow provincial guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19. Hotels, resorts and parks will follow in June.

Parents in B.C. were given the choice of allowing their children to return to class on a part-time basis starting June 1. The government says its goal is for the return of full-time classes in September, if it’s safe.

Under the part-time plan, for kindergarten to Grade 5, most students will go to school half time, while grades 6 to 12 will go about one day a week. A mix of online and classroom post-secondary education is planned for September.

Conventions, large concerts, international tourism and professional sports with a live audience will not be allowed to resume until either a vaccine is widely available, community immunity has been reached, or effective treatment can be provided for the disease.

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories announced on May 12 a three-phase reopening plan, but the government didn’t say when it would be implemented.

The plan includes more gatherings and the possible reopening of some schools and businesses. However, the territory’s borders remain closed indefinitely to non-residents and non-essential workers.

There are several requirements that must be met before any measures are relaxed: there must be no evidence of community spread; travel entry points in the territory are strong and secure; risks are reduced from workers coming into the territory; and expanded community testing is available.

Yukon

Travel restrictions will be lifted between Yukon and B.C. after July 1 under the second phase of the territory’s pandemic restart plan.

After that date, travellers between the province and territory will no longer be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

The territory says monitoring the status of neighbouring jurisdictions will determine if it’s safe to further lift restrictions.

Yukon has been gradually easing pandemic restrictions since May 15 with dine-in restaurants, day cares and recreational centres reopening.

Territorial parks and campgrounds will open for the summer next week.

Two households of up to 10 people in total are currently able to interact with each other as part of a “household bubble.”

The territory’s reopening plan outlines five phases including a period after a vaccine is available.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 4, 2020

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jun 4th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on June 4, 2020:

There are 93,085 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 51,884 confirmed (including 4,794 deaths, 17,098 resolved)

_ Ontario: 29,047 confirmed (including 2,312 deaths, 22,811 resolved)

_ Alberta: 7,076 confirmed (including 145 deaths, 6,587 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 2,623 confirmed (including 166 deaths, 2,243 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,058 confirmed (including 60 deaths, 993 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 647 confirmed (including 11 deaths, 602 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 287 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 282 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 256 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 135 confirmed (including 120 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 27 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 93,085 (11 presumptive, 93,074 confirmed including 7,498 deaths, 51,048 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 4, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Officers charged in Floyd death and vaccine summit; In The News for June 4

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jun 4th, 2020

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 June 4 …

American anti-racism protests …

Prosecutors charged three more police officers in the death of George Floyd and filed a new, tougher charge against the officer at the centre of the case, delivering a victory to protesters who have filled the streets from coast to coast to fight police brutality and racial injustice.

The most serious charge was filed against Derek Chauvin, who was caught on video pressing his knee to Floyd’s neck and now must defend himself against an accusation of second-degree murder. The three other officers at the scene were charged for the first time with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

All four were fired last week. If convicted, they could be sentenced to up to four decades in prison.

Chauvin was initially charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Those charges still stand.

The new second-degree murder charge alleges that Chauvin caused Floyd’s death without intent while committing another felony, namely third-degree assault. It carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison, compared with a maximum of 25 years for third-degree murder.

The other officers — Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao — face the same maximum penalties for aiding and abetting. All three men were in custody by Wednesday evening. Chauvin was arrested last week and is still being held.

The multiple charges against each officer would offer a jury more options to find them guilty.

Anti-racism in Canada …

B.C. Premier John Horgan is calling on the federal government to lead an anti-racism program, saying fighting racism needs a nationwide plan to ensure the participation and support of Canadians.

The premier said Wednesday he will lobby for a national anti-racism program during a conference call with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his fellow premiers Thursday.

Horgan said he’s horrified by the death of George Floyd in the United States and saddened by the unfolding situation as protests continue in cities across America.

“We are pretty clear in B.C. that again we are wanting to push as hard as we can for national approaches to these vexing problems,” he said at a news conference. “We have enough to deal with here in B.C. by ourselves, but if we are aided by a federal program and a federal initiative that has us all working together from coast to coast to coast, I think that lifts up all Canadians.”

Horgan said a federal plan, supported by the provinces, will add strength to messages of anti-racism in Canada.

COVID-19 in Canada …

Federal prison chaplains say the spiritual needs of inmates have become an unnecessary casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic at a time when offenders are feeling particularly vulnerable and alone.

The Correctional Service of Canada is allowing only emergency in-person visits from chaplains to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The correctional service says it is ensuring inmates have access to spiritual guidance from chaplains via telephone or other technology as a temporary alternative.

The chaplains, however, say few inmates even know about such options, let alone have a chance to use them. In some cases, technological hurdles are preventing prisoners from connecting with chaplains.

It means many inmates no longer have regular contact with a person they trust, said one chaplain who works with offenders at a federal prison in Ontario.

“It’s just not a good situation and the tensions are rising, and there’s a lot of fear and isolation,” she said in an interview.

“They need something to reach out to, and have something there.”

Also this …

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will take part today in his third international summit in a week as Canada campaigns for a coveted seat on the UN’s Security Council on a platform of helping to rebuild the post-pandemic world.

Today’s summit, hosted by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is aimed at ensuring poor countries will have ready access to an eventual vaccine for the deadly coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Trudeau will be joining leaders from 50 countries and major organizations, including philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates, at the international pledging conference, which hopes to raise nearly $10 billion for GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance — the leading agency for distributing vaccines to less-developed countries.

He has already announced Canada’s five-year, $600-million pledge to GAVI, which has immunized 760 million children and prevented 13 million deaths in the world’s poorest countries since 2000.

Trudeau’s participation in today’s virtual conference comes one day after he delivered an address to a virtual summit of the Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States.

He told that summit Canada is committed to helping developing countries, hardest hit by the pandemic, to survive the crisis — underlining a message he delivered last week when he co-hosted a United Nations-sponsored conference aimed at developing a co-ordinated global recovery plan that leaves no country behind.

Nova Scotia shooting update …

Nova Scotia RCMP are expected to provide an update today on their investigation into the mass killing in April that claimed the lives of 22 victims.

It’s been more than a month since the Mounties have held such a briefing — though the police force did provide an update in a statement on May 11.

Investigators have yet to reveal key details about the shooting rampage, which started late on April 18 and continued for the next 13 hours across northern and central Nova Scotia.

Among other things, police have offered few details about the weapons the killer used or how he obtained them.

They have said three of the four semi-automatic weapons came from the United States.

Gun control advocates say details about the firearms are important to the discussion surrounding the federal government’s move to ban 1,500 military-style assault firearms.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 4, 2020

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jun 3rd, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on June 3, 2020:

There are 92,410 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 51,593 confirmed (including 4,713 deaths, 16,803 resolved)

_ Ontario: 28,709 confirmed (including 2,293 deaths, 22,484 resolved)

_ Alberta: 7,057 confirmed (including 143 deaths, 6,537 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 2,601 confirmed (including 165 deaths, 2,229 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,057 confirmed (including 60 deaths, 992 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 646 confirmed (including 11 deaths, 602 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 286 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 278 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 256 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 133 confirmed (including 120 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 27 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 92,410 (11 presumptive, 92,399 confirmed including 7,395 deaths, 50,357 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 3, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Defence Department accused of using pandemic to withhold info from Parliament

LEE BERTHIAUME, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jun 3rd, 2020

OTTAWA — The Department of National Defence stands accused of trying to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to withhold information from Parliament and Canadians.

There has been widespread concern about federal departments failing to respond to access-to-information requests since the crisis first started in earnest in March, but the Opposition Conservatives say the problem is much worse at the Defence Department.

“By far National Defence is the worst offender,” said Conservative defence critic James Bezan. “There seems to be a systemic breakdown in being transparent in the department, or there’s intentional disregard for what Canadians have been requesting.”

The allegation stems from the department’s failure in recent months to respond to a large number of questions on the order paper, which are one of the primary means for members of Parliament to get information about the inner workings of federal departments.

Departments have 45 days to respond to order paper questions, which include everything from the number of veterans receiving government-subsidized Viagra to how much the government spent on advertising to the number of RCMP officers by province.

Yet in more than a dozen recent requests, the Defence Department did not respond. One of those asked how many government ships had broken down in the last year. While the Canadian Coast Guard provided a response, the Defence Department did not.

“During the unprecedented COVID-19 situation, public servants are required to work remotely and have limited access to the tools and files requested,” the department wrote in response to a recent request by Conservative MP Lianne Rood.

Bezan also flagged concerns about testimony from parliamentary budget officer Yves Giroux to a House of Commons’ committee last week about the watchdog’s request for updated information on the government’s plan to invest billions in new military kit.

“We were supposed to get the information on time to provide parliamentarians with an update,” Giroux told the standing committee on government operations and estimates on Friday.

“May was the target date for us, but we didn’t get the information on time. … We were told it will be delayed by a couple of weeks, but we have not received it yet.”

The Liberal government’s defence policy unveiled in 2017 promised $553 billion in defence spending over the next two decades, though it has been slow in getting that money out the door.

The Defence Department acknowledged it had failed to respond to 17 order paper questions in April and May and was unable to provide the information that Giroux asked to see about the planned defence spending, citing COVID-19 as the reason.

“Work on the request the PBO referred to has, in fact, been impacted by COVID-19 given the requirements for our analysts to work from secure systems inaccessible from home,” Defence Department spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier said an in email.

He went on to blame personnel having “limited access to certain records and databases” and “key military staff” being tasked with supporting the government’s COVID-19 response for not responding to the order paper question.

At the same time, Le Bouthillier said officials did respond to 12 order paper questions while Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s office said officials helped the budget officer analyze the cost of the military’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in April.

“The Department of National Defence and the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces have been working around the clock helping Canadians during this pandemic,” Sajjan’s spokesman, Todd Lane, said in a statement.

“Despite the challenges that the pandemic has posed, we remain committed to transparency and being accountable to Parliament.”

Bezan nonetheless accused the government and department of failing to provide information to Canadians and parliamentarians, whose job is to hold the government to account.

“At the beginning (of the pandemic), I would say they had the right to make those decisions,” he said. “But we’re getting to a point now that this has become a government and Minister Sajjan, in particular, stonewalling the accountability aspect of his role.”

If there are legitimate concerns, he added, efforts should be underway to install proper protocols and provide adequate safety equipment to let defence officials return to their offices and “fulfil the obligations the government has to Parliament.”

Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos, who is responsible for public access to government information, sent a letter to his cabinet colleagues last week reminding them of the need for transparency even during the COVID-19 pandemic

The message followed calls from information commissioner Caroline Maynard, the Canadian Association of Journalists and an ad-hoc accountability group for concrete actions to ensure transparency during the crisis.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 3, 2020.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Trump decries ‘lowlifes’ and racism in Canada; In The News for June 3

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jun 3rd, 2020

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 June 3 …

American anti-racism protests …

Undeterred by curfews, protesters streamed back into the nation’s streets Tuesday, hours after President Donald Trump pressed governors to put down the violence set off by George Floyd’s death and demanded that New York call up the National Guard to stop the “lowlifes and losers.”

But most protests passed peacefully, and while there were scattered reports of looting in New York City, the country appeared calmer by late Tuesday than it did a day earlier, when violence swept through multiple cities.

The president, meanwhile, amplified his hard-line calls from Monday, when he threatened to send in the military to restore order if governors didn’t do it.

“NYC, CALL UP THE NATIONAL GUARD,” he tweeted. “The lowlifes and losers are ripping you apart. Act fast!”

One day after a crackdown on peaceful protesters near the White House, thousands of demonstrators massed a block away from the presidential mansion, facing law enforcement personnel standing behind a black chain-link fence. The fence was put up overnight to block access to Lafayette Park, just across the street from the White House.

“Last night pushed me way over the edge,” said Jessica DeMaio, 40, of Washington, who attended a Floyd protest Tuesday for the first time. “Being here is better than being at home feeling helpless.”

The crowd remained in place after the city’s 7 p.m. curfew passed, defying warnings that the response from law enforcement could be even more forceful. But the protest lacked the tension of the previous nights’ demonstrations. The crowd Tuesday was peaceful, even polite. At one point, the crowd booed when a protester climbed a light post and took down a street sign. A chant went up: “Peaceful protest!”

COVID-19 in Canada …

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will continue today to make the case for a co-ordinated global response to cushion the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world’s poorest countries.

He’ll be among the leaders and heads of state to deliver remarks during a virtual summit of the Organization of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS).

Among other things, he is expected to promise that Canada will partner with developing countries, which stand to be the hardest hit by the pandemic, and help to rally the world behind measures like debt relief to help them survive the crisis.

That is similar to the message Trudeau delivered last week while co-hosting a major United Nations summit, alongside UN secretary general Antonio Guterres and Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

Without a global co-ordinated recovery plan, the UN estimates the pandemic could slash nearly US$8.5 trillion from the world economy over the next two years, forcing 34.3 million people into extreme poverty this year and potentially 130 million more over the course of the decade.

While no country has escaped the economic ravages of the deadly novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, developing countries, already in debt distress before the pandemic, cannot afford the kinds of emergency benefits and economic stimulus measures undertaken in wealthy, industrialized countries like Canada.

And this …

Nova Scotia’s largest nursing home is planning for a future of private rooms to keep residents safe, but it has taken a wrenching pandemic death toll to create the shift — and it remains unclear whether government will fund a long-term fix.

“We’re currently down to fewer than 25 rooms with shared accommodations at the Halifax campus,” Janet Simm, the Northwood facility’s chief executive, said in a recent interview.

That’s a huge shift from before the pandemic when more than 240 residents lived in two- or three-person units. Now, fewer than 50 people remain in the shared spaces, some of whom are couples or others who specifically request a roommate, Simm said.

But the facility’s desire to create more space, which its board sought for years before the pandemic, unfolded through tragedy rather than design.

COVID-19 illnesses spread among the 485 residents after asymptomatic workers brought the virus there in early April, and Simm says the bulk of the 53 who had died, as of Tuesday, and the 240 infected were in shared units.

COVID-19 in sports …

Khari Jones doesn’t have to look far for a reminder that racism exists in Canada.

The Montreal Alouettes head coach divulged during a teleconference Tuesday he received death threats while he was the quarterback of the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers because of his interracial marriage. Jones is black and his wife, Justine, is white.

An emotional Jones — speaking just over a week after a white policeman kneeled on the neck of a black man, resulting in a tragic death in Minneapolis — said the threats came in the form of letters that remain in his possession.

“It’s just a reminder you always have to be on alert a little bit,” Jones said. “It could’ve been one person but one is still too many and to do that on the basis of a person’s skin colour is horrible.

“Every once in a while, every blue moon I take a look at them. They never found the person who wrote the letters — he used a fake name — but he’s still out there, people like him are still out there. That was 20-something years ago and it’s still happening.”

Interest rate announcement looms …

The Bank of Canada is expected to keep its key interest rate unchanged this morning on the first day of governor Tiff Macklem’s tenure.

Economists expect the central bank will maintain its target for the overnight rate at 0.25 per cent, which former governor Stephen Poloz has repeatedly said is as low as it can go.

Poloz and the bank’s governing council would have met over the past few days and finalized the rate decision last night.

Macklem likely would have been part of the meetings, but it’s unlikely that the language of the rate announcement will fully capture his views.

Instead of focusing on the rate itself, experts say they will be paying close attention to the language used in the rate announcement about the expected path for the economy in the coming weeks and months.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 3, 2020

The Canadian Press

Canadian health officials urge rally-goers to keep COVID-19 in mind

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jun 2nd, 2020

OTTAWA — As protesters keep up their anti-racism rallies on both sides of the border, top health officials are hoping they don’t forget about the risk of COVID-19.

Canadian health officials are not suggesting people avoid protests, but they are stressing the importance of hand sanitizer and masks.

With physical distance being nearly impossible in some of these settings, rally-goers may have to find other ways to try to keep themselves safe.

Protests have taken place in several Canadian cities in the aftermath of a black man dying last week in Minneapolis after a white police officer pressed a knee into his neck.

George Floyd’s death has sent throngs into the streets in several U.S. and Canadian cities to decry systemic racism and police brutality.

Meanwhile, House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota is scheduled today to appear at a committee on procedure and House affairs.

He is expected to discuss the hybrid parliament and how it is functioning during the pandemic.

The Senate finance committee also meets today with many major industry leaders set to appear.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2020

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jun 2nd, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on June 2, 2020:

There are 91,705 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 51,354 confirmed (including 4,661 deaths, 16,597 resolved)

_ Ontario: 28,263 confirmed (including 2,276 deaths, 22,153 resolved)

_ Alberta: 7,044 confirmed (including 143 deaths, 6,501 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 2,597 confirmed (including 165 deaths, 2,207 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,057 confirmed (including 60 deaths, 984 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 646 confirmed (including 11 deaths, 588 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 284 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 278 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 255 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 132 confirmed (including 120 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 27 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 91,705 (11 presumptive, 91,694 confirmed including 7,326 deaths, 49,739 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2020.

The Canadian Press