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Hearing today in case of Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jan 25th, 2021

A court hearing is scheduled today in the case of Jacob Hoggard, the frontman for the Canadian rock band Hedley, who is charged with sex-related offences.

Pre-trial motions are expected to get underway, with a trial set for April — though there may be further delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hoggard has opted to be tried by a jury, and new jury trials have been put on hold until at least May to limit the spread of the virus.

The singer pleaded not guilty at his preliminary hearing to sexual assault causing bodily harm and sexual interference.

He was arrested and charged in 2018 in connection with alleged incidents involving a woman and a teenager.

The complainants cannot be identified due to a publication ban.

A look at COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada on Jan. 25, 2021

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jan 25th, 2021

The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Monday Jan. 25, 2021.

In Canada, the provinces are reporting 15,213 new vaccinations administered for a total of 816,451 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 2,154.265 per 100,000.

There were zero new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 1,122,450 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 72.74 per cent of their available vaccine supply.

Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis.

Newfoundland is reporting 3,258 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 8,549 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 16.326 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 16,500 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 51.81 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

P.E.I. is reporting 1,423 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 6,525 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 41.134 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 9,225 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 70.73 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nova Scotia is reporting 2,975 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 10,575 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.836 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 28,850 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 36.66 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

New Brunswick is reporting 2,704 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 10,436 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.379 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 21,675 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 48.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Quebec is reporting 8,503 new vaccinations administered for a total of 218,755 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 25.565 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 238,100 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 91.88 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Ontario is reporting 4,427 new vaccinations administered for a total of 280,573 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 19.101 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 411,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 68.16 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Manitoba is reporting 1,389 new vaccinations administered for a total of 28,941 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 21.017 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 55,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 52.01 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Saskatchewan is reporting 654 new vaccinations administered for a total of 33,039 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 28.019 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 32,725 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 101 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Alberta is reporting 240 new vaccinations administered for a total of 99,047 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 22.50 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 122,725 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 80.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

British Columbia is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 110,566 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 21.546 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 144,550 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 76.49 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 3,730 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 89.382 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 14,400 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 35 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 25.9 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,893 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 41.956 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 14,400 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 32 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 13.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nunavut is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 3,822 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 98.693 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 12,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 31 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 31.85 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

*Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 25, 2021.

The Canadian Press

What do employees need to work through a long, dark winter?

THE BIG STORY | posted Monday, Jan 25th, 2021

In today’s Big Story podcast, good morning. It’s Monday. It’s January. It’s cold. It’s dark. There’s a pandemic. If you have been following public health guidelines in many parts of the country, you probably went, roughly, nowhere this weekend. And saw nobody. And now it’s back to work.

What responsibility do employers have for helping their employees with their mental health? What’s the business case for taking it seriously? How can we all help our friends and coworkers make it to the spring with their mental health intact?

You can find the mini-guide on MHCC’s COVID-19 Resource Hub.

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

A look at COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jan 22nd, 2021

The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 10:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021.

In Canada, the provinces are reporting 42,622 new vaccinations administered for a total of 738,864 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,949.546 per 100,000.

There were 13,260 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 920,775 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 80.24 per cent of their available vaccine supply.

Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis.

Newfoundland is reporting 3,258 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 8,549 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 16.326 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 13,575 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.6 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 62.98 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

P.E.I. is reporting 1,423 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 6,525 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 41.134 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 8,250 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 79.09 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nova Scotia is reporting 5,996 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 9,827 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.07 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 23,000 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 42.73 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

New Brunswick is reporting 2,704 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 10,436 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.379 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 17,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 58.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Quebec is reporting 11,950 new vaccinations administered for a total of 186,210 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 21.762 per 1,000. There were 975 new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 238,100 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 78.21 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Ontario is reporting 15,899 new vaccinations administered for a total of 253,817 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.279 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 277,050 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 91.61 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Manitoba is reporting 1,519 new vaccinations administered for a total of 23,884 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.345 per 1,000. There were 9,360 new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 55,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 42.92 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Saskatchewan is reporting 2,548 new vaccinations administered for a total of 29,781 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 25.256 per 1,000. There were 2,925 new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 32,225 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.7 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 92.42 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Alberta is reporting 1,263 new vaccinations administered for a total of 96,506 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 21.923 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 101,275 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 95.29 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

British Columbia is reporting 6,776 new vaccinations administered for a total of 104,901 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 20.442 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 133,475 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.6 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 78.59 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Yukon is reporting 570 new vaccinations administered for a total of 3,160 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 75.723 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 43.89 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,893 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 41.956 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 26.29 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nunavut is reporting 830 new vaccinations administered for a total of 3,375 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 87.151 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 56.25 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

*Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 21, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Tory, Trudeau urge Pfizer to improve COVID-19 vaccine production

MIA RABSON AND JOHN CHIDLEY-HILL, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jan 22nd, 2021

Toronto Mayor John Tory has joined a chorus of Canadian politicians in urging Pfizer-Biotech to produce more COVID-19 vaccine.

Tory followed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford, among others, in speaking directly to executives from the pharmaceutical multinational. Tory said he wanted to make a constructive case after the company said it would not be able to fulfil next week’s order to the federal government.

“The best way to go about these kinds of conversations is to make your case as a Canadian, which I did, and as the mayor of the largest city in the country, and to try to make Canada’s case,” Tory said.

Tory said he knows members of Pfizer’s management team from his previous career as a business executive, and that he reached out to them in concert with the federal government.

“I’m trying to help the country’s efforts to try to see if we can’t get more supply,” the mayor said. “I can’t tell you what results my intervention, or anybody else’s, will have.”

Toronto has had to shut down its two vaccination programs until the federal government provides more doses to the city’s public health unit.

An immunization clinic at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre closed after two days of inoculating front-line health care workers. The city also paused a pilot in shelters for people experiencing homelessness.

Dr. Eileen De Villa, Toronto’s chief medical officer, said everyone’s frustrated with the shipping delay, because the vaccine offers people hope.

“Having it slowed down and having the change in course is not what we wanted,” De Villa said. “But we expect there will be eventually vaccine coming available and we’ll do our very best.”

De Villa said there were 986 new cases of COVID-19 in Toronto on Thursday and 10 more deaths linked to the virus. The update included 102 cases from earlier in the week that had previously gone unreported because of a technical error.

Councillor Joe Cressy, chairman of the Toronto Board of Health, joined Tory and De Villa at the Thursday afternoon news conference. All three detailed the city’s ongoing efforts to support racialized communities that have been hit hardest by the pandemic.

Toronto, Ontario Health, hospitals, and community health providers have been working to improve access to testing in those neighbourhoods. Toronto reports nearly 271 testing clinics have been booked in more than 20 different city-owned facilities, with 89 more dates to come in January at 12 different sites.

Trudeau’s conversation with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla on Thursday came the same day the company informed Canada delays to its shipments of COVID-19 vaccines are going to be even worse than previously thought.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander now overseeing the vaccine logistics for the Public Health Agency of Canada, said last week a factory expansion at Pfizer’s Belgium plant was going to slow production, cutting Canada’s deliveries over four weeks in half.

In exchange, Pfizer expects to be able to ship hundreds of millions more doses worldwide over the rest of 2021.

Tuesday, Fortin said Canada would receive 80 per cent of the previously expected doses this week, nothing at all next week, and about half the promised deliveries in the first two weeks of February.

Thursday, he said the doses delivered in the first week of February will only be 79,000, one one-fifth of what was once expected. Fortin doesn’t know yet what will come the week after, but overall, Canada’s doses over three weeks are going to be just one-third of what had been planned.

Fortin said some provinces may be hit even harder than others because of limits on the way the Pfizer doses can be split up for shipping. The vaccine is delicate and must be kept ultra frozen until shortly before injecting it. The company packs and ships specialized coolers, with GPS thermal trackers, directly to provincial vaccine sites.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said earlier this week he doesn’t blame the federal government for the dose delays but wanted Trudeau to do more to push back about it.

“If I was in (Trudeau’s) shoes … I’d be on that phone call every single day. I’d be up that guy’s yin-yang so far with a firecracker he wouldn’t know what hit him,” he said of Pfizer’s executives.

Trudeau informed Ford and other premiers of the call with Bourla during a regular teleconference to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic. Until Thursday, all calls between the federal cabinet and Pfizer had been handled by Procurement Minister Anita Anand.

Ford also spoke to Pfizer Canada CEO Cole Pinnow Wednesday.

Trudeau didn’t suggest the call with Bourla made any difference to the delays, and noted Canada is not the only country affected.

Europe, which on the weekend thought its delayed doses would only be for one week after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke to Bourla, now seems poised to be affected longer. Italy is so angry it is threatening to sue the U.S.-based drugmaker for the delays.

Mexico said this week it is only getting half its expected shipment this week and nothing at all for the next three weeks. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain also reported delays getting doses. Pfizer Canada spokeswoman Christina Antoniou said more countries were affected but wouldn’t say which ones.

Fortin said Pfizer has promised to deliver four million doses to Canada by the end of March and that is not going to change with the delay. With the current known delivery schedule, the company will have to ship more than 3.1 million doses over 7 1/2 weeks to meet that commitment.

Deliveries from Moderna, the other company that has a COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Canada, are not affected. Canada has received about 176,000 doses from Moderna to date, with deliveries arriving every three weeks.

Moderna has promised two million doses by the end of March.

Both vaccines require first doses and then boosters several weeks later for full effectiveness. Together Pfizer and Moderna intend to ship 20 million doses to Canada in the spring, and 46 million between July and September. With no other vaccines approved, that means Canada will get enough doses to vaccinate the entire population with two doses by the end of September.

Trudeau will be first foreign leader to speak with Biden

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jan 22nd, 2021

The first phone call of the 46th American President Joe Biden comes Friday and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be on the other end of the line.

The White House press secretary says the two leaders will discuss the important relationship between Canada and the United States, as well as Biden’s decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline.

One of the orders Biden signed on his first day was one to rescind former president Donald Trump’s approval of the $8-billion U.S. cross-border pipeline expansion.

The project stalled throughout Barack Obama’s two terms before being outright cancelled in 2015, then twice resurrected by Trump.

Trudeau has been careful to point out that Biden’s campaign had already promised to block the expansion.

Trudeau says he is disappointed, but acknowledges the president’s decision to fulfill his election campaign promise on Keystone XL.

Trudeau welcomed Biden’s other moves, including rejoining the Paris accord, a moratorium on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and reversing the travel ban on Muslim-majority countries.

Some provinces yet to say when jail inmates to be vaccinated against COVID-19

STEPHANIE TAYLOR, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jan 21st, 2021

A director at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association believes provinces should set targets for vaccinating inmates in provincial jails — something half of jurisdictions have yet to do.

The Correctional Service of Canada has started vaccinations for federal prisoners who are older or considered “medically vulnerable.” But, as of last week, provinces had yet to start giving shots to inmates awaiting trial or serving shorter sentences in provincial jails.

“Prisoners are disproportionately impacted by health conditions that would make them very susceptible to serious illness and death as a result of COVID,” said Abby Deshman with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Because of a limited vaccine supply, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends people in correctional centres get vaccinated behind those in long-term care homes, seniors 70 and older, critical health-care workers and adults in Indigenous communities.

British Columbia, Ontario, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia said that, as of last week, prisoners and staff are scheduled for vaccination in the second round of vaccinations, with estimated start dates between next month and June.

Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec didn’t provide a timeline for when inmates will receive their shots. Newfoundland and Labrador said its inmates will be part of the second phase of its vaccine distribution, but didn’t specify dates.

Saskatchewan said the ranking of vulnerable groups is still to be determined.

The Northwest Territories and Yukon planned to start giving shots this week. Nunavut didn’t respond to inquiries.

Deshman was part of a research project that tracked COVID-19 cases in jails and prisons. It found that since Dec. 1, there have been at least 1,962 infections among staff and inmates — more than all of the cases reported from last March until November.

“We should have targets for immunizing key vulnerable populations, regardless of who they are,” she said.

“If those targets need to be adjusted, if they cannot be met, that needs to be publicly communicated and explained.”

She noted some politicians, including federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Ontario Premier Doug Ford, have pushed back against early vaccinations for federal inmates.

Justin Piche, a criminology professor at the University of Ottawa, said there are far fewer older prisoners in provincial jails than in federal prisons, where one out of five inmates is 50 and older.

He said rhetoric from leaders that pits one group against another isn’t helpful.

“Prisons are among the congregate settings that are seeing significant transmission,” he said.

“You have prisoners who are getting COVID-19 at higher rates. You have prison staff that are going in and out of there on a day-to-day basis, going back to their families, going back to their communities.”

The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers believes it’s wrong that Ottawa didn’t vaccinate correctional staff along with prisoners, and instead left it up to provinces to decide where staff fall in the vaccine line.

“It’s completely foolish,” said national president Jeff Wilkins.

“We have (Saskatchewan Penitentiary), for example, which has seen quite an extensive outbreak. Our members are getting burnt out.”

As of last week, Manitoba listed provincial and federal correctional health-care workers as eligible to be vaccinated.

Wilkins wants to see correctional officers inoculated along with long-term care staff.

“In some areas, we’ve seen the rates of the institution be much higher than the community.”

Catherine Latimer, executive director of the John Howard Society of Canada, questions why doses were sent to institutions in Atlantic Canada, which have no active COVID-19 cases, while inmates in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are at higher risk.

Latimer is also concerned about what she says is solitary confinement-like measures being used to contain the novel coronavirus.

“It’s a very, very harsh correctional environment right now,” she said.

“We’re probably going through the worst period in terms of general corrections, at least on the federal side, in the last 50 years.”

WestJet to reintroduce Boeing 737 Max in flight from Calgary to Vancouver

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jan 21st, 2021

WestJet Airlines will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada on Thursday since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes.

Transport Canada lifted its grounding order for the Max on Wednesday after approving design changes to the plane and requiring pilots to undergo additional training.

WestJet executives will hold a press conference after the morning flight between Calgary and Vancouver.

The event is part of a campaign to reintroduce the Max to service while assuring the public that the plane’s safety issues have been addressed.

In wake of decision to kill Keystone XL, Biden’s first foreign-leader call? Trudeau

JAMES MCCARTEN, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jan 21st, 2021

WASHINGTON — If Joe Biden’s decision to kill off Keystone XL is supposed to sound the death knell for Canada-U.S. relations, you wouldn’t know it from the newly minted president’s call sheet.

The 46th president’s first phone call with a foreign leader comes today and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be on the other end of the line.

“I expect they will certainly discuss the important relationship with Canada, as well as his decision on the Keystone pipeline we announced earlier today,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday.

“His early calls will be with partners and allies; he feels it’s important to rebuild those relationships and to address the challenges and threats we’re facing in the world.”

Deep in the stack of leather-bound executive orders Biden signed on his first day in the White House was one to rescind former president Donald Trump’s approval of the US$8-billion cross-border pipeline expansion.

The project, first proposed in 2008, has been bouncing around the White House in various forms of limbo — stalled throughout Barack Obama’s two terms before being outright cancelled in 2015, then twice resurrected by Trump.

Trudeau, who has been careful to point out that Biden’s campaign had already promised to block the expansion, did so again Wednesday in a statement that was more celebratory than scolding.

“While we welcome the president’s commitment to fight climate change, we are disappointed but acknowledge the president’s decision to fulfil his election campaign promise on Keystone XL,” the statement said.

Trudeau welcomed Biden’s other moves, including rejoining the Paris accord, a moratorium on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and reversing the travel ban on Muslim-majority countries.

In truth, no one in the Liberal government has suggested the decision is likely to do much to impede talks on other major Canada-U.S. priorities, like winning exemptions to Biden’s promised Buy American provisions.

“From autos to our stockpiles, we’re going to buy American,” Biden said during the campaign, “No government contracts will be given to companies that don’t make their products here in America.”

It took Canada nearly a year to negotiate waivers to similar rules in 2010 when Barack Obama’s administration was preparing to spend more than $800 billion to bounce back from the Great Recession.

Biden’s plan, aimed at ensuring Americans are the primary beneficiaries of the government’s efforts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, will also involve a “Buy American” office operating directly out of the White House.

It will also include executive orders to more strictly enforce, expand and tighten the provisions, a strategy to make U.S. products more competitive and expanded the list of “critical materials” that must be American-made.

The new administration will also inherit a Trump-fuelled feud between U.S. and Canadian dairy producers with all the hallmarks of the intractable and ongoing softwood lumber dispute.

And Biden has nominated cabinet members whose track records suggest they won’t back down from fights.

John Kerry, Biden’s hand-picked envoy on climate change, was secretary of state in 2015 when he successfully urged Obama to reject Keystone XL.

Tom Vilsack, Biden’s proposed new agriculture secretary, cheered U.S. trade ambassador Robert Lighthizer’s decision earlier this month to formally accuse Canada of denying U.S. dairy producers rightful access to markets north of the border.

And Katherine Tai, a trade-talks veteran nominated as Lighthizer’s successor, is widely seen as a hard-nosed negotiator whose main role will be to enforce existing trade agreements and Buy American rules.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021.

James McCarten, The Canadian Press

Is Canada’s democracy safer than America’s?

NEWS STAFF | posted Wednesday, Jan 20th, 2021

In today’s Big Story podcast, Joe Biden will be sworn into office today, hopefully without incident. But in the United States, proponents of democracy are analyzing how close their own came to collapsing. When one party, or even just one powerful politician, decides to disregard norms that have always held fair elections together, it creates stress on a system not designed with bad actors in mind.

So how safe, by comparison, is our democracy in Canada? What checks and balances exist here that don’t exist in the US? How could determined parties or politicians attempt to undermine democracy? And how much depends not on laws but on a collective belief in the democratic process?

GUEST: Stewart Prest, political scientist

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

All eyes on the United States as Canadians tune in to Joe Biden’s inauguration

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jan 20th, 2021

Canadians will be watching with bated breath as a new U.S. president takes office today.

President-elect Joe Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris are to be sworn in at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

The pandemic has placed limits on the size of the crowd that would typically gather in the U.S. capital for the ceremony.

So has the lingering threat of violence after President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol building this month to stop the transition of power, egged on by the president himself.

Thousands of National Guard troops have been deployed ahead of the event, further stoking anxiety among Americans and concerned observers.

Wanda Beatty plans to watch the ceremony from her Peterborough, Ont., home, switching between news outlets while chatting online with family.

Three of Beatty’s sisters live in the U.S. and she says the instability has taken a toll on them.

“I’m not worried for their safety, I’m just worried, really, for their mental health,” Beatty said in an interview this week.

“It’s such a bizarre, unprecedented time.”

Despite concerning recent events, Beatty says she’s hopeful that the transition will go smoothly.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that, hopefully, things won’t be as bad as it seems like there’s a potential for.”

Others across Canada are planning to watch the ceremony with roommates and in workplaces as they observe pandemic guidelines.

Katie Thompson of Thompson Chiropractic in Barrie, Ont., says the clinic plans to stream the proceedings live after several patients asked to schedule appointments around the event.

“It feels like we have been building up to this day for, well, quite frankly, four years.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Expelling Derek Sloan from Conservative caucus not entirely up to Erin O’Toole

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jan 20th, 2021

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole wants Derek Sloan booted out of his party’s caucus but it’s not entirely up to him. Here’s what needs to happen:

Conservative MPs will have to vote on the matter, thanks to their decision to adopt a provision of the Reform Act, legislation introduced by one of their own, Michael Chong, and passed in 2015.

Under the act, each party’s caucus must vote at its first meeting after an election on whether to adopt the various provisions enshrined in the legislation, which is aimed at rebalancing power between MPs and their party leaders.

Following the 2019 election, only Conservative and Bloc Québécois MPs voted to give themselves the power to decide when to expel a caucus member.

Consequently, in order to remove Sloan, 20 per cent of Conservative MPs — 24 of the party’s current 121 MPs — had to sign a notice seeking a review of Sloan’s membership in the caucus.

The matter must then be put to a vote by secret ballot, which is set to take place Wednesday morning. A majority of MPs must support expulsion for Sloan to be ejected.

O’Toole said Monday he wanted Sloan’s fate decided as quickly as possible after learning that his former rival accepted a donation during the leadership race from a well-known white nationalist.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Poll finds strong support for COVID-19 curfews despite doubts about effectiveness

JOAN BRYDEN, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jan 19th, 2021

Almost two-thirds of Canadians would support a nightly curfew if necessary to curb the spread of COVID-19 — even though they’re not convinced it would be effective, a new poll suggests.

Sixty-five per cent of respondents to a poll by Léger and the Association for Canadian Studies said they would support temporary curfews in their provinces if recommended by public health officials.

In Quebec, where the government imposed a month-long curfew 10 days ago, 74 per cent said they support the move.

Nevertheless, only 57 per cent of Quebecers and just 39 per cent of respondents in the rest of the country said they think curfews are an effective way to reduce the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The poll of 1,516 Canadians was conducted Jan. 15 to 18.

Léger executive vice-president Christian Bourque said the results suggest Canadians “want to do their part and will stand by their governments” in efforts to reduce the spread of the virus. But it also suggests provinces “need to sell this thing (curfews) if they want to make it work.”

The poll also suggests that Canadians’ mental health has suffered as the pandemic drags on.

Twenty-one per cent rated their mental health as bad or very bad, up eight points since last April, when the first wave of COVID-19 rolled over Canada.

Thirty-two per cent rated their mental health as excellent or very good, a 10-point drop since April. Another 45 per cent described their mental health as good, down three points since April.

Bourque said mental health experts do not consider “good” to be a particularly positive rating, akin to someone saying they feel OK.

The poll suggests 59 per cent remain somewhat or very afraid of contracting COVID-19, virtually unchanged since April.

Seventy-one per cent of respondents said they intend to get vaccinated against the coronavirus when a vaccine becomes available to them.

Two vaccines have been approved for use in Canada so far and provinces have begun immunizing front line health care workers, long-term care home workers and residents and some others considered among the most vulnerable.

Forty-seven per cent of respondents said they’ll take the first vaccine available to them, while 27 per cent said they’ll wait for other vaccines to become available. Another 11 per cent said they won’t take any vaccine and 15 per cent didn’t know what they’ll do.

The online poll cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

Tory MP Derek Sloan says he’ll fight efforts to expel him from party ranks

STEPHANIE LEVITZ, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jan 19th, 2021

OTTAWA — Ontario Conservative MP Derek Sloan says he’ll fight efforts by his party’s leader to boot him from caucus.

Sloan says a decision by leader Erin O’Toole that he should be tossed out over a donation to his leadership campaign by a known white supremacist is ridiculous.

O’Toole announced he’s launching the effort to remove Sloan late Monday, after news broke that Sloan’s campaign had received a donation from Paul Fromm last year.

O’Toole framed the decision as being a question of having no tolerance for racism within his party.

But Sloan is raising questions about that approach, saying Fromm is a party member and that fact would have previously been known both to O’Toole and to the party itself.

Sloan generated controversy during the leadership campaign for his aggressively social conservative views, and his presence in caucus has been polarizing ever since.

He had survived a bid to oust him during the leadership race itself, when comments he made about the country’s chief public health officer saw him accused of racism, a charge he denied.

At that time, O’Toole refused to support an effort to expel him.

Sloan said in an interview with The Canadian Press that O’Toole ran a leadership campaign on fighting cancel culture and “promoting a big tent version of the Conservative Party.”

“And I hope that he has not jettisoned that in favour of perceived short-term political gain,” Sloan said.

To kick out one of their own, 20 per cent of Conservative MPs — 24 of the party’s current 121 MPs — must sign in writing a notice seeking a review of Sloan’s membership in the caucus.

The matter must then be put to a vote by secret ballot and a majority of MPs must support expulsion.

O’Toole said in a statement late Monday he wants the vote to take place as swiftly as possible.

The party’s caucus is set to meet Thursday and Friday to plot strategy for the upcoming parliamentary sitting but the vote is likely to take place before then.

Several MPs mused privately late Monday there are concerns O’Toole’s move sets a high bar for what’s considered an offence so severe as to be kicked out of caucus.

Others appeared to welcome the move, sharing O’Toole’s statement on social media.

Late Monday, Sloan said he’d yet to speak to any of his fellow caucus members to assess how they’ll vote.

But he told his supporters he intended to put his all behind a fight to remain.

“I’m not going down into the night quietly, he said.

“So they’ve picked a fight with the wrong person.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021.

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

A look at COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada on Monday, Jan. 18, 2021

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jan 19th, 2021

The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 11:00 p.m. ET on Monday Jan. 18, 2021.

In Canada, the provinces are reporting 42,543 new vaccinations administered for a total of 613,285 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,618.197 per 100,000.

There were 31,065 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 848,565 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 72.27 per cent of their available vaccine supply.

Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis.

Newfoundland is reporting 1,531 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,291 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.104 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 11,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 47.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

P.E.I. is reporting 1,502 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,102 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 32.163 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 8,250 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 61.84 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nova Scotia is reporting 3,769 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,600 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 7.788 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 23,000 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 33.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

New Brunswick is reporting 2,704 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 10,436 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.379 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 17,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 58.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Quebec is reporting 6,845 new vaccinations administered for a total of 153,539 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.944 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 196,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 78.27 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Ontario is reporting 9,691 new vaccinations administered for a total of 209,788 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 14.282 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 277,050 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 75.72 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Manitoba is reporting 4,212 new vaccinations administered for a total of 17,751 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 12.891 per 1,000. There were 12,665 new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 46,290 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 38.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Saskatchewan is reporting 2,459 new vaccinations administered for a total of 22,618 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 19.182 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 29,300 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 77.19 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Alberta is reporting 3,879 new vaccinations administered for a total of 89,814 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 20.403 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 101,275 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 88.68 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

British Columbia is reporting 11,432 new vaccinations administered for a total of 87,346 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.021 per 1,000. There were 18,400 new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 117,875 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 74.1 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Yukon is reporting 163 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,347 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 32.278 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 18.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 512 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 11.348 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 7.111 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nunavut is reporting 1,158 new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,141 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 55.286 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 35.68 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

*Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 18, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Kenney, Moe condemn Biden’s plan to scrap Keystone XL on Day 1 of presidency

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jan 18th, 2021

The premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan are condemning Joe Biden’s plan to scrap the Keystone XL pipeline expansion on his first day as U.S. president.

Biden’s plan is outlined in transition documents seen by The Canadian Press.

Jason Kenney and Scott Moe say halting construction on the controversial project will be disastrous for both the Canadian and U.S. economies.

Kenney says his government — which announced a $1.5 billion investment into the expansion last year — is prepared to “use all legal avenues available to protect its interest in the project.”

Moe, meanwhile, is urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to meet with Biden and says his government will be in touch with its contacts in Washington.

Trudeau has so far been silent on the issue, but his ambassador to the U.S., Kirsten Hillman, is defending the pipeline, saying it fits into Canada’s climate plan and promises good jobs.

TC Energy Corp. doubled down on that last night, confirming an ambitious plan to spend $1.7 billion US on a solar, wind and battery-powered operating system for the pipeline to ensure it is zero-emission by 2030, and to rely exclusively on union labour.

A look at COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada on Jan. 18, 2021

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jan 18th, 2021

The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Monday Jan. 18, 2021.

In Canada, the provinces are reporting 27,451 new vaccinations administered for a total of 570,742 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,505.944 per 100,000.

There were zero new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 761,500 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 74.95 per cent of their available vaccine supply.

Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis.

Newfoundland is reporting 3,506 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,291 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.104 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 11,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 47.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

P.E.I. is reporting 1,502 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,102 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 32.163 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 8,250 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 61.84 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nova Scotia is reporting 3,769 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,600 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 7.788 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 23,000 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 33.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

New Brunswick is reporting 2,713 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,732 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.912 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 17,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 43.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Quebec is reporting 8,838 new vaccinations administered for a total of 146,694 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.144 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 162,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 90.45 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Ontario is reporting 11,007 new vaccinations administered for a total of 200,097 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.622 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 277,050 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 72.22 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Manitoba is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 13,539 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.832 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 33,625 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 40.26 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Saskatchewan is reporting 3,232 new vaccinations administered for a total of 20,159 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.096 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 24,400 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 82.62 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Alberta is reporting 4,374 new vaccinations administered for a total of 85,935 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 19.522 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 84,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 102.1 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

British Columbia is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 75,914 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 14.794 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 99,475 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 76.31 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,184 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 28.372 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 16.44 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 512 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 11.348 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 7.111 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nunavut is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 983 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 25.383 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 16.38 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

*Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 18, 2021.

The Canadian Press

3 experts on how well Canada has fought COVID-19 and how we could do better

MAAN ALHMIDI THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jan 18th, 2021

As new cases of COVID-19 surge across Canada, the federal government and the provinces have been imposing stricter measures to try to limit the illness’s spread.

The Canadian Press interviewed three leading Canadian experts in disease control and epidemiology, asking their thoughts on Canada’s handling of the pandemic, the new restrictions on activities — and what else can be done. Here’s what they had to say.

John Brownstein, Montreal-born Harvard University epidemiologist and chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital

Having a national testing strategy in Canada that uses rapid tests people could do at home would limit the spread of the virus, Brownstein says.

“That would enable us to get insight on infection and actually have people isolate,” he says.

No such tests have been approved in Canada yet.

“We’ve been saying this all along, so it’s not just a purely Canadian issue, but having a strategy that implements that kind of information would go a long way to drive infections down in communities while we wait for the vaccine.”

Brownstein says curfews have unintended consequences because they force people to get together over a shorter period of time during the day.

“We haven’t seen a lot of evidence that curfews have driven down infection.”

He says a mix of testing and quarantine is the best way to make sure international travellers don’t cause outbreaks when they return from the pandemic hot spots.

Testing alone is not enough, he says, because tests can come back negative during the novel coronavirus’s incubation period; people should be careful about relying on test results that could give a false sense of security.

Brownstein says pandemic fatigue is real and the governments’ support for people suffering in the crisis should continue.

He says promoting low-risk activities, including walking and exercising outdoors, is also important.

“Whatever we can do to allow for people to spend more time outside, probably the better.”

David Juncker, professor of medicine and chair of the department of biomedical engineering at McGill University

Canada needs a national strategy for how to use rapid tests for the virus that causes COVID-19, says Juncker.

Juncker is an adviser for Rapid Test and Trace, an organization advocating for a mass rapid-testing system across Canada.

“Initially the Canadian government (spoke) against (rapid tests) and then they pivoted sometime in October or September,” he says. The federal government then bought thousands of rapid tests and sent them to the provinces, where they’ve mostly sat unused.

“Every province is trying to come up with their own way of trying them — running their own individual pilots. There’s a lack of exchange of information and lack of guidelines in terms of how to best deploy them,” he says.

Juncker says the testing regime based on swabs collected in central testing sites was working in the summer but it collapsed in the fall.

He says medical professionals prefer those tests because they are more accurate and can detect low levels of the virus, which is important for diagnoses, but rapid tests can be useful for public health through sheer volume, if they’re used properly.

A federal advisory panel’s report released Friday, laying out the best uses for different kinds of tests, is a step in the right direction, he says.

“I’m happy to see we’re slowly shifting from the point of view of ‘Should we use rapid tests?’ to a point of view (of) ‘How can we best use them?’”

More recent research suggests that rapid tests are more accurate than was previously thought, he says.

“We still don’t have enough capacity to test everyone so we’d have to use them in a strategic way.”

Juncker says the lockdowns in Ontario and Quebec should have happened earlier in the fall, when cases started to rise.

He says the late lockdowns in Canada won’t be as effective as those in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South Korea, where early lockdowns effectively stopped the disease from spreading.

“Countries that were most aggressive early on, are the ones that have, I think, the best outcome.”

He says countries where health decisions are fragmented across the country, including Canada, have added challenges.

“If you live in Ottawa-Gatineau, you have one province (that) allows one thing, the other province allows another thing, so this creates confusion among the citizens,” he said.

Donald Sheppard, chair of the department of microbiology and immunology in the faculty of medicine at McGill University and member of Canada’s COVID-19 therapeutics task force

Canada’s federal-provincial sharing of power over health care is highly inefficient and has led to major problems, says Sheppard.

“There’s a lot breakdown in communication, a lot of territorialism. It’s greatly impacted the efficiency of the response,” he says.

The problems in long-term care homes are examples.

“Quebec is screaming they want money but they’re refusing to sign on to the minimum standards of long term care,” he says. “I think it’s heinous.”

He says highly centralized authority and decision-making has had a stifling effect on innovation.

“It puts up roadblocks, and has led to the Canadian health-care system having lost any attempt to be innovative and nimble,” he says.

Sheppard says he doesn’t think there will be mass vaccinations for Canadians this summer and the September timetable that the federal government is talking about for vaccinating everybody is optimistic.

“Remember that we don’t have vaccines that are approved in under-11-year-olds,” he says. “There will still be opportunities for the virus to circulate in children, particularly children are in school settings.”

He suggested that the current immunization campaign’s goal is not herd immunity, eliminating transmission of the virus and rendering is extinct.

“The goal here is to create an iron wall of immunity around the ‘susceptibles’ in our population, such that this becomes a virus of the same public health importance as influenza.

International students frustrated by federal work limits during pandemic

HOLLY MCKENZIE-SUTTER, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jan 15th, 2021

TORONTO — Pooria Behrouzy was honoured to be offered a full-time job as a COVID-19 vaccine support worker at Trillium Health Partners last month.

The international student in health informatics at George Brown College was already on staff at the Mississauga, Ont., hospital network after working on an IT project, and he was eager to contribute to the rollout of the vaccine that’s brought hope during the pandemic’s increasingly grim second wave.

But a roadblock stopped Behrouzy from accepting the full-time shifts offered: as an international student, he can only work a maximum of 20 hours per week while classes are in session or he risks losing his study permit and legal status in Canada.

Behrouzy, who is now working part time at the hospital, said it’s disappointing that he can’t contribute fully.

“I can work and I can help against this COVID … why (am I) not able to do that?” said the 42-year-old, who is from Iran. “It’s very sad that I’m not fully available.”

His colleague Passang Yugyel Tenzin had a similar experience.

Tenzin, a 26-year-old graduate of health informatics currently studying in another IT program, was working on the same project at the hospital as Behrouzy before he received an offer to work on the vaccine support team as well.

The non-medical role involves providing scheduling support to ensure all available doses are administered and other administrative tasks that keep the process running smoothly.

Tenzin, who is from Bhutan, signed on for the job in a part-time capacity but noted that the 20-hour limit would make scheduling 12-hour shifts a challenge.

Working full time would be beneficial for his own education and for the health-care system that’s struggling to keep up with skyrocketing COVID-19 infections, vaccinations and other important services, he said.

“We can learn more and on top of that, we can contribute more to this situation currently, because they actually need a lot of people,” Tenzin said in a phone interview.

“We can contribute a lot if we were given the opportunity to work full time.”

Ottawa temporarily lifted the restriction on international students’ work hours last April, saying the change was aimed at easing the staffing crunch in health care and other essential workplaces.

The measure expired on Aug. 31, 2020, and has not been reinstated.

The press secretary for the office of the federal immigration minister said the government is grateful for the role newcomers have played in Canada’s pandemic response.

“As more students returned to regular studies in the fall of 2020, the work hour restriction was reinstated at the request of provinces, territories and educational institutions, due to concerns about students working full time while also completing a full course load,” Alexander Cohen said in a statement.

Behrouzy said he doesn’t understand why the limit on work hours was reinstated while the pandemic is still ongoing and hospitals need more support than ever.

“I’m available to work and all the schools, the universities and colleges are remote now, so why not extend this exception again?” he said. “It’s really disappointing.”

Trillium Health Partners said in a statement that it’s continually assessing staffing needs at its COVID-19 vaccine clinics, and international students currently work on its vaccine team in administrative functions.

“THP supports and accommodates international students within the federal government requirements,” it said.

Sarom Rho, who leads the Migrant Students United campaign with the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, said the pandemic is an opportunity to ditch the restriction on work hours that advocates have long fought to remove.

Rho said she’s spoken with students in other health-care fields like nursing who are also eager to work more but are hindered by the limit on their hours.

“This kind of unfairness is totally based on status,” Rho said.

“The fact that they are migrants is what is causing the limitation and the restrictions of how they can work, where they can work and when they can work, and how that work will be valued.”

Migrant Students United also wants Ottawa to make work hours done in essential jobs count towards permanent residency applications. Rho said it’s time to consider how work done by people on study permits is valued in Canada.

“Respecting the labour is fundamental,” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021.

Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press

A look at COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jan 15th, 2021

The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 10:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021.

In Canada, the provinces are reporting 40,283 new vaccinations administered for a total of 459,492 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,212.403 per 100,000.

There were 5,850 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 594,975 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 77.23 per cent of their available vaccine supply.

Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis.

Newfoundland is reporting 3,506 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,291 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.104 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 11,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 47.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

P.E.I. is reporting 2,982 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,102 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 32.163 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 6,075 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 83.98 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nova Scotia is reporting 1,111 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 3,831 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 3.926 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 13,450 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 28.48 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

New Brunswick is reporting 2,713 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,732 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.912 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 11,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.19 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Quebec is reporting 8,339 new vaccinations administered for a total of 115,704 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.522 per 1,000. There were 5,850 new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 162,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 71.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Ontario is reporting 14,237 new vaccinations administered for a total of 159,021 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.826 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 196,125 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 81.08 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Manitoba is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 12,409 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.012 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 25,825 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 48.05 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Saskatchewan is reporting 1,585 new vaccinations administered for a total of 11,985 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.164 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 17,575 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 68.19 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Alberta is reporting 8,809 new vaccinations administered for a total of 66,953 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 15.21 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 59,800 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 112 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

British Columbia is reporting 6,316 new vaccinations administered for a total of 69,746 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.592 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 71,200 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 97.96 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 685 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 16.415 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 9.514 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 512 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 11.348 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 7.111 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nunavut is reporting 121 new vaccinations administered for a total of 521 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 13.453 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 8.683 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

*Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 14, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Alberta monolith comes with message to save eastern slopes of Rocky Mountains

COLETTE DERWORIZ, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jan 15th, 2021

A towering stainless steel monolith set up along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta comes with a message.

The three-metre-tall structure, which reflects its surroundings, is one of many that have been found around the world in recent months. Monoliths have been discovered on a California trail, a Utah desert and at sites across Canada.

Many have popped up without explanation, but the woman who built the one in southern Alberta says she wanted to draw attention to the threats the area is facing as the province moves to open a vast stretch of the mountains to open-pit coal mining.

“This land holds the bones and dreams of our ancestors. This soil remembers the thunder of buffalo hooves and … still fosters wild grasses. These mountain-fed waters are the lifeblood of southern Alberta,” Elizabeth Williams wrote in an Instagram post on her wildstonestories page earlier this month.

“They deserve our attention. They warrant our protection. They are under threat,” she wrote.

“The shiny beacon is not the focal point, but the land, which it reflects.”

Williams, who couldn’t work as a massage therapist during COVID-19 restrictions, said she’s been watching some of the provincial government’s recent decisions.

“I felt compelled to take action,” she said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

Williams is most concerned about the potential for mining along the eastern slopes and the reallocation of water rights in the area.

“It’s staggering to me so few Albertans are aware that this is happening,” she said.

She wanted to do something to inspire others to pay attention and take action.

Similar concerns were raised this week by Alberta country singer Corb Lund, who criticized the plan for an area that contains the headwaters for freshwater on which millions depend. Coal mining can release selenium, a highly toxic element already poisoning watersheds downstream of coal mines in British Columbia. Paul Brandt, another country music star from Alberta, added his voice to protest the coal mines Thursday.

Williams, who hopes her monolith adds to the growing conversation in Alberta, said she built it after talking to an artist, ordering the stainless steel and borrowing a welding shop. She installed it with the help of volunteers after getting permission from private landowners to put it on their property.

“I thought, ‘If I make this to last, if I make this extra beautiful and I get it on private land, it can stay and it can become a beacon for the curious.’”

The monolith, which was installed in early January, has come with challenges.

Williams broke her hand as she and some volunteers were installing it on a windy day where the Oldman River meets Highway 22, known as the Cowboy Trail. And her creation was vandalized by a man who pulled his big truck over at a pullout along the highway and tried to take the monolith apart.

“I have it all on camera,” said Williams, who noted people are keeping a close eye on the area.

Others have expressed intrigue and interest after spotting it on the landscape.

“It looked a little bit startling to see it where it hadn’t been before,” said Kevin van Tighem, a conservationist and author who owns property in southern Alberta. “It’s really beautiful. It’s a real work of art.

“It’s really striking how it reflects so much of the landscape and by doing that moves us into thinking about reflecting on the landscape.”

He said he hopes it draws attention to the natural beauty of the eastern slopes, which he believes are under serious threat as companies start exploring for coal.

“Things are happening out of sight and out of mind,” said van Tighem. “This thing stands up like a giant reflective beacon that says we can’t leave these things out of sight and out of mind.

“We have to reflect on who we are and where we’re going. We’re on the cusp here. This is leading us to permanent change and permanent loss.

“We cannot not be paying attention.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021

Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press

Feds look at using border data to find travellers applying for sickness benefit

JORDAN PRESS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jan 14th, 2021

OTTAWA — A federal official says the government is considering using data on incoming travellers to prevent vacationers from claiming a benefit for people who must quarantine or isolate due to COVID-19.

The Canadian Press isn’t identifying the source because the person was not authorized to speak publicly on behind-the-scenes discussions.

The government promised earlier this week to introduce legislation to prevent anyone who returns to Canada after a vacation or another non-essential trip from receiving the $500-a-week benefit during the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

The source says officials are drafting the legislation and expect it to include information-sharing mechanisms among agencies and departments to identify anyone looking to flout the rules.

The earliest legislation could be introduced is later this month when the House of Commons is scheduled to return from a break.

In the meantime, the government says it will hold off processing applications from anyone who returned from overseas until the new rules are in place, retroactive to Jan. 3.

It wouldn’t take much to for the government to start matching up names of incoming travellers with those who have applied for the sickness benefit after having updated a similar program in the last year.

That program now sees roughly 20 million names of anyone arriving by land or air shared with Employment and Social Development Canada to help its investigators identify improper payments of unemployment and seniors benefits.

Federal border officials have since 1992 shared information on arriving travellers with their counterparts overseeing benefits like employment insurance to flag claimants who didn’t tell the government about absences from Canada and whi might have received benefits they weren’t eligible to receive.

At first, the information was shared from the declaration cards people filled out on arrival, but it has since gone digital with self-serve kiosks at airports tracking names. It also now includes people arriving by land.

Those details are in two briefing notes from late 2019 and obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

Employment and Social Development Canada said it began looking for EI recipients in the data just before the calendar turned to 2020. The data started being scoured for old-age security recipients over the summer.

A November 2019 briefing note to the department’s deputy minister said officials expected to “significantly increase the recovery of payments made to ineligible El claimants” because the new measures “(do) not rely on travellers to self-disclose absences from Canada.”

The department was unable to share any results from the program, but also noted it began during an unprecedented drop in cross-border travel as a result of the pandemic.

On Wednesday, Statistics Canada reported only 146,000 Canadians driving home from the United States in December, a 92.4 per cent year-over-year decline from the 1.9 million in December 2019.

But enough have returned home that the government was forced to address concerns some were using the two-week sickness benefit to finance the quarantine period, even though that wasn’t its purpose.

The sickness benefit is supposed to go to anyone who has to stay home for at least half their usual work week because they are sick or have to quarantine because of COVID-19. Anyone with underlying medical conditions can also qualify for the aid.

More than $271.4 million has been paid out in benefits since the program launched in late September, with the number of applications in each two-week pay period falling steadily since mid-October.

The government is allowing anyone exempt from the quarantine rules, such as health-care workers who need to cross the border for their jobs, to be eligible for the sickness benefit upon their return to Canada.

While the government is holding up processing of some claims, it is urging anyone who received the benefit after travelling to contact the Canada Revenue Agency to avoid repayment orders.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021.

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

A look at COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jan 14th, 2021

The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 10:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021.

In Canada, the provinces are reporting 30,716 new vaccinations administered for a total of 419,209 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,106.113 per 100,000.

There were 43,875 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 589,125 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 71.16 per cent of their available vaccine supply.

Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis.

Newfoundland is reporting 3,506 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,291 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.104 per 1,000. There were 2,925 new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 11,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 47.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

P.E.I. is reporting 2,106 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 4,226 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 26.641 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 6,075 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.56 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nova Scotia is reporting 1,111 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 3,831 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 3.926 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 13,450 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 28.48 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

New Brunswick is reporting 3,627 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,732 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.912 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 11,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.19 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Quebec is reporting 7,855 new vaccinations administered for a total of 107,365 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 12.548 per 1,000. There were 40,950 new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 156,325 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 68.68 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Ontario is reporting 11,231 new vaccinations administered for a total of 144,784 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.857 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 196,125 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 73.82 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Manitoba is reporting 2,056 new vaccinations administered for a total of 12,409 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.012 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 25,825 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 48.05 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Saskatchewan is reporting 520 new vaccinations administered for a total of 10,400 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 8.82 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 17,575 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 59.17 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Alberta is reporting 5,826 new vaccinations administered for a total of 58,144 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.208 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 59,800 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 97.23 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

British Columbia is reporting 1,136 new vaccinations administered for a total of 63,430 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 12.361 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 71,200 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 89.09 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Yukon is reporting 190 new vaccinations administered for a total of 685 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 16.415 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 9.514 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 512 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 11.348 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 7.111 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nunavut is reporting 371 new vaccinations administered for a total of 400 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 10.329 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 6.667 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

*Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 13, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Emergency doctors call for greater transparency on vaccine rollout

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jan 14th, 2021

OTTAWA — The professional group for emergency doctors in Canada wants more transparency about COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

The Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians is calling for a clear description of who is being prioritized for the first doses and why.

It also wants priority to go to those directly caring for patients who are critically ill or suspected of having COVID-19.

The association says many members in areas with limited human resources have not been vaccinated, but urban providers who have less patient contact appear to have received doses.

A Wednesday statement says communication about the process so far doesn’t support claims that the vaccine rollout will follow an ethical framework.

Many doctors don’t know when they will be vaccinated and the association says that needs to change.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Dogs bring owners joy and a reason to be out at night during Quebec’s curfew

MORGAN LOWRIE, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jan 13th, 2021

MONTREAL — When the Quebec government announced it was imposing an 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew to limit the spread of COVID-19, Ita Skoblinski posted a tongue-in-cheek message to her local community Facebook group, offering to let people borrow her dog for late-night walks.

The Montreal woman saw the message as an excuse to post a cute picture of her husky, Waylon, and poke a little fun at the curfew, which includes an exception for people walking dogs within a kilometre of their homes. But to Skoblinki’s surprise, she received serious responses.

“People sent me kind of long messages about themselves, saying they would love to take the dog out,” she said in a phone interview.

While she found the messages “very sweet,” Skoblinski was quick to clarify that she’d been joking.

“Even if we wanted to, it doesn’t make any sense . . . . How would they go home after they drop him?” she said.

Some rescue organizations report COVID-19 led to a surge in demand for pets, as people moved to working from home and found they had more time and energy for a new companion. Animatch, a Montreal-based dog adoption service, wrote on its website that it received 7,500 applications last year compared to 3,500 in 2019, leading to its first-ever dog shortage.

But the curfew that took effect Saturday night in Quebec and its exception for dog walkers has added a new twist. Several ads for dog rentals — presumably jokes or hoaxes — have sprung up on sites such as Kijiji and have been widely shared on social media, as have posts like Skoblinski’s.

And in Sherbrooke, Que., a woman who was walking her husband on a leash was fined for violating curfew rules — despite protesting they deserved to fall under the dog-walking exemption, according to media outlet La Tribune.

Elise Desaulniers, the executive director of the SPCA, says the idea of people adopting dogs just to go walking makes for “lots of funny memes on the web,” but she hasn’t heard of it happening in real life.

But while it’s hard to measure if there was an increased demand for pets last year because of changes to how the process happens, she says it certainly seemed like “a lot of people” were looking to adopt in 2020 due to decreased travel and more time at home.

Skoblinski completely understands why people would want to spend time with animals during the pandemic. She says Waylon, who has his own TikTok account and has been featured on singer Waylon Jennings’ Instagram, has been a great addition to the family.

However, she doesn’t believe getting to walk him after 8 p.m. is such a treat. She said it feels “creepy” to walk after curfew when the streets are deserted, so she usually gets her dog’s exercise done earlier.

On Tuesday afternoon at a dog park in Montreal’s Pointe-St-Charles neighbourhood, several dog owners said they were relieved the rules contain an exception for their pets.

Walking his dog at night with nobody around is “special,” said Simon Vadeboncoeur, as he watched his dog Norton wrestle with another dog in the snow. “You walk and you see no one, and no sound, it’s very calm,” he said. But he said he wouldn’t walk more often just to get outside after curfew.

Pavlina Aubin, there with her one-year old dog Blaki, said she didn’t feel as safe without other people around.

“It’s a little stressful,” she said. “There aren’t a lot of people outside, and even though I love my neighbourhood, there are some areas that are less reassuring.”

Aubin said that while she didn’t adopt her dog because of COVID-19, the joy he’s brought her has helped her to get through the difficult last year — a sentiment echoed by several other owners.

But she worries some people who want to adopt dogs during the pandemic don’t understand how much work is involved.

Desaulniers, the head of the SPCA, says some people who bought puppies online may not have done their full research, and she fears the animals may later end up in shelters. She suggests that people looking for a new pet should be patient, go through reputable rescue organizations and be open to adopting older animals.

“Adopting during COVID is not a bad thing, but you have to realize the animal will be with you for a long time,” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 13, 2021

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

A look at COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jan 13th, 2021

The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 10:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021.

In Canada, the provinces are reporting 28,333 new vaccinations administered for a total of 388,493 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,025.067 per 100,000.

There were zero new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 545,250 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 71.25 per cent of their available vaccine supply.

Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis.

Newfoundland is reporting 1,975 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 3,760 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 7.181 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 8,250 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.6 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 45.58 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

P.E.I. is reporting 2,106 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 4,226 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 26.641 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 6,075 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.56 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nova Scotia is reporting 1,111 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 3,831 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 3.926 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 13,450 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 28.48 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

New Brunswick is reporting 4,827 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,732 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.912 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 11,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.19 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Quebec is reporting 7,058 new vaccinations administered for a total of 99,510 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 11.63 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 115,375 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 86.25 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Ontario is reporting 11,448 new vaccinations administered for a total of 133,553 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.092 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 196,125 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 68.1 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Manitoba is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 10,353 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 7.518 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 25,825 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 40.09 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Saskatchewan is reporting 932 new vaccinations administered for a total of 9,880 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 8.379 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 17,575 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 56.22 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Alberta is reporting 5,527 new vaccinations administered for a total of 52,318 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 11.885 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 59,800 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 87.49 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

British Columbia is reporting 2,392 new vaccinations administered for a total of 62,294 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 12.139 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 71,200 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 87.49 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 495 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 11.862 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 6.875 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

The Northwest Territories are reporting 350 new vaccinations administered for a total of 512 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 11.348 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 7.111 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nunavut is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 29 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 0.749 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 0.4833 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

*Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 12, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Pandemic worsening mental health for women more than men, poll suggests

JORDAN PRESS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jan 13th, 2021

Aisha Addo was having a talk just the other day with a close friend about how they were faring as the pandemic stretched into 2021.

She said her friend spoke candidly about feeling like she was falling into a state of depression and being unable to pull herself out of it.

“We’re all experiencing the same things — some people more intensely than others,” said Addo, who founded the non-profit Power To Girls Foundation.

New polling from Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies suggests some Canadians feel their mental health has declined as the pandemic has rolled on, with the impacts potentially striking women, single parents, the unemployed, relatively recent immigrants and racialized people more than others.

The survey shows female respondents were more likely than men to report their mental health as bad or very bad across a range of age groups, but especially between the ages of 18 and 34 years old.

Rates of worsening mental health were also high for single parents in the survey, with 40 per cent describing their mental health as bad or very bad.

Tanya Hayles, founder of the global group Black Moms Connection, said many parents are feeling stretched by having to work from home while overseeing virtual learning. She said a further burden for Black parents are issues of systemic racism.

“This pandemic has adversely affected women more than men and it’s women who are leaving the workforce altogether to make sure that their children have what they need,” she said.

“If you’re a single parent, there are no breaks.”

Jack Jedwab, president of the Association for Canadian Studies, said mental health might worsen with new lockdowns and restrictions as people lose the outlet of visiting friends and family. Some respondents in the survey said they did that over the holidays.

“It’s a very significant challenge for governments that are introducing lockdowns and curfews to not see the mental health side of this crisis get exacerbated,” Jedwab said.

The online survey was conducted Jan. 2-3 with 1,523 respondents. It can’t be assigned a margin of error because web panels are not considered random samples of the population.

The results mirror findings from earlier on in the pandemic when women reported feeling more worried than men about COVID-19 as they began taking on added care duties for children and aging parents, and lost their jobs at a faster rate than men, said Andrea Gunraj, vice-president of public engagement at the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

Another factor at play is the increased risk for gender-based violence that predominantly targets women, she said.

“This picture of increased violence, and increased stresses in caregiving and housework, that intersects with the economic stresses that women uniquely have been facing,” Gunraj said.

“It tells a certain picture about women’s mental health right now … and the pandemic being a gender-pandemic at large.

The polling analysis also looked at results for immigrants and some racialized communities, which came through reviewing six surveys by Leger involving over 9,000 respondents between Oct. 29, 2020, and Jan. 3, 2021. It too cannot be assigned a margin of error as a web-based survey.

The data suggests that 25 per cent of people who have lived in Canada for less than five years reported their mental health was bad or very bad, while 19 per cent of respondents who were born in Canada reported the same.

Nearly 27 per cent of respondents who identified as South Asian reported their mental health being at that level, while 20 per cent of those who identified as Black and about 18 per cent of those who identified as Chinese reported the same.

Even before the pandemic, there was a lack of mental health resources for minority communities, Addo said. Many relied on their community for mental health support, which has disappeared with public health requests to avoid visiting friends and family, she said.

Accessing other resources is also difficult for vulnerable populations, particularly those with children learning remotely and maybe only one computer at home, Addo said.

Addo suggested governments create a mental health fund or program to ensure people who need it have someone to speak with.

“The moment that people are left to their own devices and are left to their own thoughts, it’s easy to fall into depression, it’s easy to become more anxious, and it’s easy to feel more lonely,” she said.

Any mental health services created should be diverse, Hayles said, noting that Black Canadians are often more comfortable expressing their issues to Black therapists.

A look at COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jan 12th, 2021

The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 10:30 p.m. ET on Monday Jan. 11, 2021.

In Canada, the provinces are reporting 39,116 new vaccinations administered for a total of 359,054 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 947.39 per 100,000.

There were zero new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 545,250 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 65.85 per cent of their available vaccine supply.

Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis.

Newfoundland is reporting 1,975 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 3,760 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 7.181 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 8,250 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.6 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 45.58 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

P.E.I. is reporting 1,650 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 3,600 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 22.694 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 6,075 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 59.26 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nova Scotia is reporting zero new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 2,720 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 2.787 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 13,450 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 20.22 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

New Brunswick is reporting 4,827 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,732 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.912 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 11,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.19 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Quebec is reporting 8,065 new vaccinations administered for a total of 92,452 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.805 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 115,375 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 80.13 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Ontario is reporting 8,859 new vaccinations administered for a total of 122,105 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 8.313 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 196,125 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 62.26 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Manitoba is reporting 855 new vaccinations administered for a total of 10,353 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 7.518 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 25,825 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 40.09 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Saskatchewan is reporting 1,019 new vaccinations administered for a total of 8,948 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 7.588 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 17,575 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 50.91 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Alberta is reporting 1,797 new vaccinations administered for a total of 46,791 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.629 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 59,800 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 78.25 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

British Columbia is reporting 13,643 new vaccinations administered for a total of 59,902 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 11.673 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 71,200 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 84.13 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Yukon is reporting 190 new vaccinations administered for a total of 500 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 11.982 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 6.944 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 162 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 3.591 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 2.25 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nunavut is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 29 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 0.749 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 0.4833 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

*Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 11, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Trudeau to shuffle cabinet before hosting ministerial retreat

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jan 12th, 2021

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will conduct a small shuffle of his ministers today before holing up later in the day for a cabinet retreat to plot strategy for the resumption of Parliament.

The shuffle is due to the departure of Navdeep Bains, who is not intending to run again in the next election, which could come as early as this spring.

Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne is expected to replace Bains while Transport Minister Marc Garneau moves into Champagne’s old job.

Toronto-area backbencher Omar Alghabra is expected to take over the Tranpsort portfolio.

Trudeau has been clear that he wants departments crucial to the country’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic to be overseen by ministers who will be around to help sell the government’s agenda during the next election campaign.

The cabinet retreat — four one-day sessions to take place over the next two weeks — is to focus on what more the government needs to do to manage the pandemic, which continues to rage across the country, including ways to accelerate the rollout of vaccines.

It is also supposed to focus on the eventual economic recovery and the Liberal government’s plans to invest billions in the fight against climate change, job creation, affordable housing, skills training and a national child-care program.

The retreat is taking place as the government prepares for the resumption of Parliament on Jan. 25, in what is bound to be a more aggressively partisan environment.

The pandemic forced a measure of cross-party co-operation last year, which allowed Trudeau’s minority Liberal government to operate without any serious threat to its survival.

But the spirit of collaboration was badly strained by the end of last year and is likely to evaporate altogether this year, particularly once the the government introduces a budget expected to send the already-historic federal deficit into the stratosphere.

The government will need the support of at least one of the main opposition parties to survive a confidence vote on the budget.

Trudeau began holding periodic cabinet retreats six years ago, billing them as a way to encourage bonding among ministers while getting outside the Ottawa bubble.

COVID-19 put an end to the regional outreach aspect of cabinet retreats last September. Trudeau and his ministers confined themselves to a few days holed up in a government building in the nation’s capital to ponder how to get the country through what was then just the start of the second wave.

And now the pandemic is putting an end to the bonding aspect of retreats as well.

Trudeau will be hosting a retreat that will be entirely virtual, with ministers participating via videoconference from separate locations around the country.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 12, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Is the internet breaking your parents’ brains?

THE BIG STORY | posted Tuesday, Jan 12th, 2021

In today’s Big Story podcast, our parents warned us that the Internet could harm us—from stalkers to kidnappers, pedophiles, the dangers of too much screen time and countless other things—but did they heed their own lessons? Boomers lead the pack as the generation most likely to share disinformation, and over the past few months we’ve seen some of the results play out in real time.

How can those of us who grew up online help the people we love who didn’t learn the nuances of the way algorithms try to seduce them? Help them tell the difference between reliable and sketchy news reports? Help them understand exactly how and why social media wants them to be so angry? Can we help our parents stay safe online the way they once tried to do for us?

GUEST: Bonnie Kristian, The Week

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Will Canada’s transit systems change forever?

THE BIG STORY | posted Monday, Jan 11th, 2021

In today’s Big Story podcast, ridership is down by more than half, while costs to keep vehicles clean and employees and passengers safe are higher than ever before. Covid-19 has put an incredible strain on transit agencies across Canada.

But at the same time, has the pandemic begun to change how we operate public transit—perhaps not with a break-even mentality but as a moral obligation to get Canadians where they need to go? Might more funding become available to run different routes at different times and ease crowding? Or will politicians back off as soon as the pandemic begins to ease?

GUEST: Ben Spurr, Transportation Reporter, Toronto Star

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

CRTC to launch hearing on CBC’s application to renew broadcasting licences

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jan 11th, 2021

OTTAWA — Canada’s telecommunications regulator will launch a multi-day review today of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.’s broadcasting licences.

The CRTC says electronic hearings will begin at 10 a.m. before its five-member panel.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission will first hear from the public broadcaster which is seeking to renew licences for its various English- and French-language audio and audio-visual programming services.

Seventy interveners are scheduled to begin presentations on Friday and continue over eight days until Jan. 26.

The Canadian Media Producers Association will make the first presentation.

Others include the Canadian Olympic Committee, Quebecor Media Inc., Friends of Canadian Broadcasting and the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages.

CBC’s response to the intervener presentations is scheduled for Jan. 27.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 11, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:QBR.B)

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Monday, Jan. 11, 2021

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jan 11th, 2021

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Monday Jan. 11, 2021.

There are 660,289 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Canada: 660,289 confirmed cases (84,567 active, 558,772 resolved, 16,950 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 7,817 new cases Sunday from 74,131 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 11 per cent. The rate of active cases is 224.98 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 56,775 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 8,111.

There were 117 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 1,085 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 155. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.41 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 45.09 per 100,000 people.

There have been 14,584,109 tests completed.

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 393 confirmed cases (eight active, 381 resolved, four deaths).

There was one new case Sunday from 152 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.66 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.53 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been three new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people.

There have been 74,689 tests completed.

_ Prince Edward Island: 102 confirmed cases (eight active, 94 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday from 152 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 5.1 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of six new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 83,106 tests completed.

_ Nova Scotia: 1,528 confirmed cases (28 active, 1,435 resolved, 65 deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday from 900 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.88 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 27 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people.

There have been 187,035 tests completed.

_ New Brunswick: 779 confirmed cases (185 active, 585 resolved, nine deaths).

There were 14 new cases Sunday from 1,001 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.4 per cent. The rate of active cases is 23.81 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 161 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 23.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 1.16 per 100,000 people.

There have been 121,496 tests completed.

_ Quebec: 228,821 confirmed cases (24,472 active, 195,663 resolved, 8,686 deaths).

There were 2,588 new cases Sunday from 10,312 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 25 per cent. The rate of active cases is 288.42 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 18,517 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,645.

There were 39 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 339 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 48. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.57 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 102.37 per 100,000 people.

There have been 2,596,108 tests completed.

_ Ontario: 215,782 confirmed cases (30,079 active, 180,720 resolved, 4,983 deaths).

There were 3,945 new cases Sunday from 60,270 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 6.5 per cent. The rate of active cases is 206.49 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 24,820 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 3,546.

There were 61 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 333 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 48. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.33 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 34.21 per 100,000 people.

There have been 8,223,608 tests completed.

_ Manitoba: 26,317 confirmed cases (4,729 active, 20,850 resolved, 738 deaths).

There were 151 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 345.32 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,191 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 170.

There were five new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 55 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is eight. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.57 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 53.89 per 100,000 people.

There have been 424,107 tests completed.

_ Saskatchewan: 18,110 confirmed cases (3,493 active, 14,426 resolved, 191 deaths).

There were 307 new cases Sunday from 1,344 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 23 per cent. The rate of active cases is 297.41 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,029 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 290.

There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 33 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.4 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 16.26 per 100,000 people.

There have been 313,181 tests completed.

_ Alberta: 111,452 confirmed cases (14,116 active, 96,052 resolved, 1,284 deaths).

There were 811 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 322.92 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 7,045 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,006.

There were 12 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 238 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 34. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.78 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 29.37 per 100,000 people.

There have been 1,547,298 tests completed.

_ British Columbia: 56,632 confirmed cases (7,439 active, 48,205 resolved, 988 deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 146.69 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,970 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 424.

There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 87 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.25 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 19.48 per 100,000 people.

There have been 993,289 tests completed.

_ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (10 active, 59 resolved, one deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 24.48 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of six new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people.

There have been 6,079 tests completed.

_ Northwest Territories: 24 confirmed cases (zero active, 24 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 8,083 tests completed.

_ Nunavut: 266 confirmed cases (zero active, 265 resolved, one deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.58 per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,954 tests completed.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 11, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Calls for Ribbon Skirt Day after Saskatchewan Indigenous student wearing one shamed

STEPHANIE TAYLOR, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jan 8th, 2021

REGINA — Chris Kulak says his 10-year-old daughter, Isabella, thinks it might be time for a new downstairs closet to hold all the ribbon skirts arriving from around the world.

The brightly patterned handmade skirts adorned with bands of ribbon are worn by Indigenous women during ceremonies and as an expression of cultural pride — something the Grade 5 student has touched off in others after a bad experience at her school.

Isabella, a member of the Cote First Nation in Saskatchewan, wore her ribbon skirt to school last month when it held a formal day before Christmas break.

“We encouraged her to wear it. Probably changed her shirt three or four times. You could tell she was nervous about does it match? Does it look good?” Kulak said in a phone interview about his daughter.

“We thought she looked wonderful.”

Isabella attends school in Kamsack, a town about 270 kilometres east of Regina. The day she wore her traditional skirt, she left the house smiling, said Kulak.

But when she came home, she had taken it off and she acted withdrawn.

The family learned a staff member had told Isabella her outfit didn’t match and the skirt wasn’t considered formal. The staffer compared what Isabella had on to another student wearing a store-bought dress, he said.

The Good Spirit School Division has apologized for what Isabella’s father said he believes was a racially motivated comment.

“This was a tremendous error,” said Quintin Robertson, the division’s education director, who added that the individual who made the comment accepts responsibility.

“We needed to acknowledge the systemic racism that still does exist and the cultural ignorance that still does exist in our school division and in our province.”

Robertson said the division is discussing the matter with the Cote First Nation, which is part of a group suggesting that a Ribbon Skirt Day be held nationally every Jan. 4.

That was Isabella’s first day back to school and members of her family wearing ribbon skirts walked to her there, said Kulak. He and others spoke, and his daughter was drummed into the building, with supporters there from other First Nations, plus division staff.

“It began the movement and that date should be honoured,” he said.

“That’s when everybody finally woke up and realized that they had to stand up and make some noise.”

Robertson said the division will hold a Ribbon Skirt Day honouring Indigenous culture, including ribbon shirts, which are worn by men, on whatever day is decided with the First Nation.

Hundreds of photos of women proudly wearing their ribbon skirts with messages of encouragement for Isabella have appeared on social media and a Facebook page set up to show support for her.

“Stand tall little one … your aunties have your back!” Manitoba NDP member of the legislature Nahanni Fontaine tweeted along with a photo of her and other women in their ribbon skirts.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, which represents Saskatchewan’s 74 First Nations, has also called for schools to participate in a Ribbon Skirt Day.

“I stand with young Isabella and the Kulak family in encouraging support for a national Ribbon Skirt Day, and all efforts to increase and improve respect and understanding of First Nations cultures,” Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde, who spoke with the girl Thursday, said in a statement.

“A day marking her important story, and focusing on the importance of continuing to learn and share from one another, is something every Canadian should get behind.”

Kulak said his family never asked for any attention, but believes part of the reason his daughter’s story started a movement was that for too long Indigenous peoples have had to hide their cultural pride.

“When this happened to my little girl, the ladies of the Prairies and all across the nation — and the men as well — decided that was enough.

“The court of public opinion spoke pretty loudly and it’s pretty obvious what they thought.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 8, 2021.

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

Canadian economy lost 63,000 jobs in December, first decline since April

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jan 8th, 2021

Statistics Canada says the economy lost 63,000 jobs in December in the first monthly decline since April amid tightened public health restrictions to slow a resurgence in the pandemic.

The unemployment rate edged up to 8.6 per cent compared with 8.5 per cent in November.

The result ended a streak of monthly job gains that began in May as restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the pandemic began to ease.

Full-time employment in December rose by 36,500, but there was a loss of 99,000 part-time jobs.

Statistics Canada also noted that total hours worked fell for the first time since April as they declined 0.3 per cent in December.

Financial data firm Refinitiv says economists on average had expected the report to show a loss of 27,500 jobs for December. The unemployment rate was expected to be 8.6 per cent.

‘It’s like walking in darkness’: One year since Flight 752

THE BIG STORY | posted Friday, Jan 8th, 2021

In today’s Big Story podcast, at the time it seemed like it might be the worst disaster of 2020. When Flight 752 was shot down in Iran, 176 passengers and crew, including 55 Canadians, were killed. In the months to come, the cries for answers would be drowned out by the rise of COVID-19, leaving the victims’ loved ones still searching for answers and justice.

What can be done to get them the concrete information that might give them closure? What does justice look like? What’s it like when the world forgets a tragedy that you live with every day?

GUEST: Hamed Esmaeilion had family on Flight 752

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Discovery of two-million-year-old tools shows human adaptability: scientist

BOB WEBER, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jan 7th, 2021

To the uninitiated, they look like chipped rocks.

To Julio Mercader of the University of Calgary, they look like two-million-year-old messages from the dawn of human technology.

“It is really the beginnings of technological dependence,” said Mercader, lead author of a paper published Thursday in the journal Nature.

“The tools are from an early phase of that period that is marking a new relationship between humans and the environment.”

The paper presents the combined work of 29 scientists from three continents. They analyzed a few dozen stone tools found at Oldupai Gorge, an African site considered by many to be where humans first appeared. Dating back two million years, the hand axes, quartz flakes and rock cores are among the oldest tools ever found.

They are so old they predate Homo sapiens. They may have been the work of Homo habilis (“handy man”), whose remains have been found nearby.

Any artifacts of that antiquity are precious. Mercader said what makes these especially valuable is that researchers from a wide variety of disciplines have been able to place them in an environmental context that shows just how adaptable humans have been since the start.

The tools span a time period of about 235,000 years. “It maybe sounds like a lot,” said Mercader, “but in human evolution it is not a lot.”

Over that time, the site’s environment changed rapidly and often. It was a woodland, a lakeshore, a grassland, a meadow.

Those unimaginably ancient humans were at home in them all.

“No matter the change in the environment, the moment there is a disruption, a drastic change in the local ecology, humans move in right away,” Mercader said.

“There was a huge volcanic eruption that really blanketed the landscape with a solid mass of molten rock. The moment that cools down and there are new plants and animals coming in, humans are doing the same.

“What it shows is the huge versatility and flexibility of behaviour that allows early humans to exploit whatever environment that happens to be in their proximity. This has deep roots.”

The tools themselves are made from rocks that were found immediately adjacent or nearby. The makers seem to have carried around preferred stone cores they could use to knap a fresh flake when needed.

The tools didn’t change much over time, said Mercader.

“The technology is kept flexible enough and general enough so that no matter what, you can still exploit the environment. It’s like a Swiss Army knife.”

The discoveries are the result of years of work in the area.

Researchers — trained to know the difference between a tool and a naturally chipped rock — first walk the landscape, looking for exposed bits of fossil bone. Lots of bone fossils suggest other artifacts may be nearby and a test dig ensues.

“If we like what we see, we open more space.

Mercader said the research is a textbook example of how scientists from different disciplines can collaborate to shed light on the far distant past.

“Working together with geoscientists and chemists and paleoecologists and paleogeographers, there is a lot we can infer from stone tools and the context in which they are found.”

And there’s nothing quite like holding in your hand a stone that some ancient toolmaker also held, Mercader said.

“That is the excitement that makes you want to become an archeologist.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 7, 2021.

— Follow @row1960 on Twitter

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

Quebec to impose 8 p.m. provincewide curfew until Feb. 8

THE CANADIAN PRESS, NEWS STAFF | posted Thursday, Jan 7th, 2021

Quebecers need to be jolted into recognizing the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic, Premier Francois Legault said Wednesday, before announcing a provincewide 8 p.m. curfew for the next four weeks.

Legault said despite the fact schools, retail stores and many other businesses have been closed since December, COVID-19 infections and related hospitalizations continue to rise. Too many seniors are ending up in hospital after becoming infected in private homes, he added.

“We are obliged to provide a type of shock treatment so that people reduce their visits,” he told reporters. Quebec will become the first province in the country to impose such a drastic measure to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Beginning Saturday and until at least Feb. 8, Quebecers will be under a curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., Legault said, adding that anyone caught breaking the rules is liable to a fine between $1,000 and $6,000. The government is considering creating a document for people who have to be out after the curfew, which they can show police.

“When we say we are giving an electroshock it’s really for four weeks, a period that should make a difference,” Legault said.

“The police are important allies in the fight against the virus,” he added. “I need the police and Quebec needs the police to be able to succeed with this shock treatment during the next four weeks.”

The premier said all non-essential businesses that he ordered closed in December will remain closed until at least Feb. 8, when the curfew is scheduled to be lifted.

Legault, however, said primary schools will reopen as scheduled, on Jan. 11, and high school students will return to in-person learning the week after, on Jan. 18. “Our children have to be able to continue to learn,” he said.

Speaking before Legault’s news conference, Dr. Donald Sheppard, chair of the microbiology and immunology department at McGill University, said the government needed to explain the logic behind a curfew because the majority of outbreaks documented by public health have been in workplaces and schools.

Public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda said the curfew is part of a series of measures aimed at reducing the possibility of gatherings and of contact between people. “There’s no science that can tell you what measure will have what percentage effect,” he told reporters.

Arruda said he believes many small gatherings around Christmas led to the large number of COVID-19 cases being reported in Quebec.

Earlier on Wednesday, Quebec reported 2,641 new COVID-19 infections and 47 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. The Health Department said hospitalizations jumped by 76, to 1,393 – the largest number since late May – and 202 people were in intensive care, a rise of eight.

Despite calls from some health experts to shut down the manufacturing and construction sectors, Legault said the government won’t close factories or order work sites to stop operating. Factories, he said, have been asked to postpone “non-essential” manufacturing. The type of production that will be designated “essential” will be decided, he explained, following discussions between manufacturers and government officials.

The majority of people in hospital with COVID-19 are over 65 years old and are unlikely working in the manufacturing sector, Legault said, in an attempt to explain his decision. Arruda said many factories are producing essential products such as food and can’t be closed.

Quebec’s health-care system is under heavy strain, Health Minister Christian Dube said, adding that some kidney transplants have been cancelled. That sort of strain is worrying for experts like Sheppard who said surgeries and cancer screenings are being put off and intensive care units are filling up,

“The biggest worry is, eventually, if we don’t do anything, we’ll get to the point where it’s going to be the decision where we have two patients, one ventilator and someone has to decide,” Sheppard said in an interview Wednesday.

He said the impact of cancelled procedures is already being felt: breast cancer patients are presenting with larger tumours than they were before the pandemic, a sign that they’re being diagnosed late.

Quebec’s INESSS institute, a government-mandated health-care think tank, warned on Dec. 31 that hospitals in the Montreal area are likely to run out of dedicated COVID-19 beds within three weeks.

Much of Quebec, including the province’s largest cities, has been under partial lockdown since October, when bars, restaurant dining rooms, gyms and entertainment venues were closed. In December, Legault closed all “non-essential” retail stores and extended the winter break for elementary and high school students.

Quebec has reported an average of 2,597 new cases a day over the past week, Health Minister Christian Dube said on Twitter Wednesday.

That figure represents 300 cases a day per million people – more than any province in Canada. The next highest is Alberta with 233.8 cases per million, followed by Ontario with 221.9, according to a report released Wednesday by National Bank Financial Markets based on data from Johns Hopkins University.

Officials said 6,221 doses of vaccine were administered Tuesday, for a total of 38,984. Quebec has reported 217,999 COVID-19 infections and 8,488 deaths linked to the virus since the beginning of the pandemic.

Teachers are doing their best, but they’re at the breaking point

THE BIG STORY | posted Thursday, Jan 7th, 2021

In today’s Big Story podcast, the past year has been hard on all of us—but especially for those to whom we entrust our children. From a rush to online learning with schools closed, to a hasty back-to-school plan that was followed by rising COVID-19 numbers in schools, to the uncertainty of not knowing when or how they’ll be able to teach their students this winter…many educators are close to giving up.

How can we keep our education system functioning while also protecting our kids, our families and the people we need to teach them? What have we learned about our education system that could help us adapt in the future? And what happens to it if enough teachers decide they simply can’t take it anymore, and leave the public system for private schools?

GUEST: Inori Roy

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

People’s Party leader and former MP Maxime Bernier travelled to Florida last fall

STEPHANIE LEVITZ, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jan 6th, 2021

OTTAWA — The one-time Conservative cabinet minister and MP who broke ranks to form his own political party is among the Canadians who’ve headed south in recent months.

Maxime Bernier, who leads the libertarian People’s Party of Canada, went to Florida in November with his wife for a vacation.

A spokesman says the pair did quarantine for the full 14 days required when they returned.

Bernier has been vocal in his disagreement with COVID-19 lockdown measures, including restrictions on travel.

In recent days, he’s used social media to berate the politicians who’ve been caught flouting public health warnings and heading abroad, accusing them of being hypocrites.

Bernier says the issue shouldn’t be that they travelled but that they agreed with the restrictions in the first place, and then broke them.

Several federal members of Parliament, at least one senator, and provincial politicians have been outed for taking trips outside Canada in the last few months despite the fact public health and government leaders have been urging everyone to stay home.

The senator, Conservative Don Plett, was a longtime caucus colleague of Bernier’s, but that didn’t stop the former MP from the Quebec riding of Beauce for castigating him on social media this week.

“Another moron,” Bernier wrote.

“Let me make this very clear: The problem is NOT that they travelled abroad. It’s that they publicly agree with the silly authoritarian rules imposed on Canadians AND THEN FLOUT THEM.”

Bernier was a Conservative MP from 2006 until he quit the party in 2018, following his razor-thin loss in the party’s leadership race the previous year.

He then formed his own party, arguing the conservative movement in Canada was moving too far to the centre.

While the People’s Party ran candidates across the country in the 2019 federal election, none — including Bernier — was elected.

He tried again in a federal byelection earlier this year in a Toronto riding, but lost to the Liberals.

Bernier’s approach to the pandemic has mirrored that of other populist, right-wing politicians around the world.

He’s been strongly against lockdowns, arguing they are a violation of people’s rights and do more harm than good, and he also attended at least one anti-mask rally, though photos from the event show him with a mask, just tucked under his chin.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 5, 2021.

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard to apply for bail in Winnipeg

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jan 6th, 2021

WINNIPEG — Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard is expected to seek bail today following his arrest in Winnipeg last month over charges he faces in the United States of using his influence to lure women and girls for sex.

Nygard, who is 79, was arrested in December under the Extradition Act and faces nine counts in the southern District of New York, including racketeering and sex trafficking.

Documents from the U.S. Attorney’s Office allege Nygard frequently targeted women and underage girls from disadvantaged economic backgrounds with promises of modelling and other financial opportunities.

They allege the criminal conduct occurred over 25 years and involved dozens of women in the United States, the Bahamas and Canada, among other locations.

Nygard’s lawyer, Jay Prober, has said his client denies all the allegations.

Prober had said he would pursue bail because of concerns over Nygard’s health behind bars.

The U.S. indictment alleges Nygard forcibly sexually assaulted many women and girls, some who were between 14 and 17 years old. It alleges others were forcibly assaulted by Nygard’s associates or drugged to ensure their compliance with his sexual demands.

Nygard stepped down as chairman of his company after the FBI and police raided his offices in New York City in February.

The fashion mogul is also the subject of a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. with similar allegations involving 57 women, including 18 Canadians. It alleges Nygard used violence, intimidation, bribery and company employees to lure victims and avoid accountability for decades.

The lawsuit was put on pause in August. While reasons for the stay in the suit were sealed, the court docket said it resulted from a government motion that named three federal prosecutors — an indication the criminal investigation was proceeding.

Two of Nygard’s sons filed a separate lawsuit against him months later claiming they were statutorily raped at his direction when they were teens. The sons allege Nygard arranged for a woman to have sex with them.

Nygard has said through his lawyer that he denies all the allegations in the lawsuits. He has blamed the accusations on a feud with his billionaire neighbour in the Bahamas.

Nygard came to Canada as a child from Finland with his parents in 1942. He founded his fashion company in Winnipeg in 1967 and it grew to become a brand name sold in stores around the world.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 6, 2021.

The Canadian Press

New Brunswick RCMP issue alert warning residents about armed man wanted for shooting

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jan 6th, 2021

MONCTON, N.B. — Police in New Brunswick are warning residents about a man carrying firearms who is wanted for a shooting Tuesday near a high school in Riverview.

The RCMP have distributed an Alert Ready message to the greater Moncton area, saying 24-year-old Janson Bryan Baker intends to use the firearms.

Baker is described as 5-foot-9, 145 pounds, with short brown hair, brown eyes and tattoos on his neck, right cheek and forehead.

The Mounties say he is believed to be driving a black 2020 Hyundai Elantra with black tinted windows.

Police say Baker should not be approached.

Shortly after the shooting near Riverview High School was reported Tuesday at 5:15 p.m., a man was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 6, 2021.

The Canadian Press

How the Georgia Senate runoffs could impact Canada

CARYN CEOLIN | posted Tuesday, Jan 5th, 2021

Political observers are casting Georgia’s Senate runoff elections as pivotal to U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s ability to make decisions that will affect the entire United States, and in some cases, the entire world.

“It’s about literally life or death for communities all across this country,” said Democratic strategist Antjuan Seawright. “Because if Joe Biden and Kamala Harris do not have a collective Congress to help them pass necessary legislation that will move this country forward, what are we going to be able to do?”

On Tuesday, Georgians will cast their ballots for the state’s two outstanding Senate seats. The outcome will decide which party will have the upper hand in the upper chamber.

Seawright tells 680 NEWS the stakes include whether laws get passed, potentially boosting Biden’s policy priorities, both domestic and foreign.

“That’s why you see so much attention around Georgia and making certain people understand how high the stakes are,” he said.

Democrats have a president in the White House and run the House of Representatives. Republicans currently control the Senate. A Democratic sweep in the runoffs would lead to a 50-50 split, in which case, tie-breaking votes would go to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Sarah Goldfeder, a former U.S. diplomat under two American ambassadors, is in favour of a gridlocked Congress.

“I do think having a tight government, having very tight margins in the House and very tight margins in the Senate are better for government and better for America overall,” she said.

Whoever wins will hold only a slim Senate margin, says Goldfeder, now an Ottawa-based consultant. That will make it harder to implement significant legislative changes.

“In many ways you can think of it like a minority government here in Canada. They have to negotiate,” she said. “If the Republicans want something or the Democrats want something, they’re going to have to win over their more moderate members.”

Regardless of what happens Tuesday, Seawright says these races will shape the coming years in U.S. politics.

“This election in Georgia is about who will be able to govern effectively and get things done for the collective United States of America,” he said.

Nearly half of Canadians visited friends, family over holidays, new poll suggests

STEPHANIE LEVITZ, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jan 5th, 2021

A new survey suggests nearly half of Canadians visited with family or friends over the winter holiday period.

The Leger/Association for Canadian Studies poll found 48 per cent of those surveyed visited with people outside their households, compared to 52 per cent who said they did not.

Public health officials had pleaded with Canadians to sharply limit their contacts during the holidays to avoid massive spikes in COVID-19 cases.

But it appears something gave for Canadians, said Leger vice-president Christian Bourque.

“Usually we Canadians are sort of much more, I would say, disciplined when it comes to going by what governments are recommending in terms of our behaviour, but over the holidays, apparently, it was sort of tougher on Canadians,” he said.

Of those who did visit with friends or family outside their homes, 34 per cent did once, 12 per cent did two or three times, and two per cent did it often.

COVID-19 case numbers are rising, and the poll suggests 62 per cent surveyed have little to no confidence in Canada’s ability to limit the spread of COVID-19 over the next few weeks.

That pessimism is notable, considering that before the holidays, polls suggested Canadians were feeling optimistic about 2021, Bourque said.

But stories in the waning days of 2020 about delays in vaccine rollouts, climbing case counts and news that many politicians left the country over the holidays despite limits on travel, seem to be turning Canadians’ moods, he said.

“I think it’s gotten people to be more skeptical about how much we can do in the short term,” he said.

Throughout the pandemic, Leger has asked Canadians about their mental health, and Bourque said the latest round of responses reflect a downturn: in the most recent survey, only 33 per cent rated their mental health as good, the lowest figure yet, he said.

“January is set up to be a bit gloomy,” he said.

Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies carried out the survey of 1,506 Canadians between Dec. 30, 2020 and Jan. 3, 2021.

The poll was conducted online, and cannot be assigned a margin of error as online surveys aren’t considered truly random.

As pollsters were asking the questions, news reports surfaced of politicians, including Ontario’s finance minister, several federal MPs and provincial politicians in Alberta, among others, taking trips outside the country in recent months.

That’s in spite of repeated warnings from local and national governments, as well as public health officials, that travel should be limited only to essential trips.

In the survey, 87 per cent of those asked said they would support a total ban on international travel until there are several consecutive days of reduced numbers of COVID-19 cases

Bourque said that number is consistent with similar questions asked throughout the pandemic, but also reflects a growing desire by Canadians for governments to take concrete action to try to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The federal government has said only a small fraction of the active cases in Canada can be directly linked to recent travel, though it did ban incoming flights from the United Kingdom after a new variant of COVID-19 that is believed to be more contagious surfaced there late last year.

Families of downed Ukrainian flight 752 victims struggle with loss a year later

BY LIAM CASEY AND HINA ALAM, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jan 5th, 2021

A broken cellphone and a muddied wallet were the only possessions Alireza Ghandchi received from Iran after his wife and two children were killed in a Ukrainian plane crash last year.

“No luggage, no dolls, no anything,” he said.

His son, Daniel, was eight-years-old and his daughter, Dorsa, was just three days shy of turning 16. The family from Richmond Hill, Ont., was returning home after spending the holidays in Iran when their plane — Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 — was shot down by the Iranian army.

Ghandchi says his last conversation was with his daughter about 90 minutes before the flight while his wife, Faezeh, was checking in.

Everything was fine, Dorsa told him.

Now, pictures of his family fill his walls and memories of them fill his heart. When it gets overwhelming, Ghandchi goes into his storage, smells his wife’s perfume, hugs his children’s clothes and cries.

Ghandchi says there are times when nothing at all can help him with the grief of losing his entire family.

All 176 passengers on board the Ukraine passenger jet died in the crash on Jan. 8, 2020. There were 138 people on board with ties to Canada.

A year later, families cling to memories of their lost loved ones along with a few mementoes they received from the Iranian authorities.

Not all of the passengers’ personal possessions were destroyed in the crash. There were reports of looting at the site of the crash and some of the victims’ families have accused Iranian authorities of withholding valuable items such as jewelry, cellphones and cash.

Ralph Goodale, who is Ottawa’s special adviser on the Ukrainian plane crash, blasted Iran in a recent report for its treatment of the victims’ families, including the “withholding of personal effects.”

For Amirali Alavi, who lost his mother, Neda Sadighi, in the tragedy, the past year has been “one devastating blow after another.”

He received her pristine boarding pass, a few crumpled rings, a destroyed laptop, a few credit cards and identification — but no wallet, no luggage, no carry-on. Most of her jewelry was missing as was the cash she carried.

“Some of these things don’t have monetary value, but they have a lot of sentimental value to the families,” Alavi said. “It feels like psychological warfare.”

Alavi is not alone.

Several other families say they’ve received little to nothing of their loved ones’ possessions back from Iran, which further compounds their grief.

Most of the relatives have banded together to form the Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims. With contacts throughout Iran, they’re doing their own investigation, Alavi said.

They’ve unearthed video of the crash site that shows officials going through passengers’ bags and sorting them into bins, he said.

“They’re separating the contents, taking them out without any effort of preserving them and tossing the bags in one box, belongings in the other box,” Alavi said.

“Nobody knows what happened to them.”

He said one family got back a laptop without its hard drive, while another received a leather bracelet without its gold pieces.

Tensions were running high on the day the Ukrainian plane was downed.

Hours before the crash, Iran launched an attack on U.S. military forces at two airbases in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of Qasem Soleimani, a feared general and head of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

Alavi, a law and business student at the University of Toronto, watched an online flight tracker as PS752 took off at 6:12 a.m. Tehran time, more than an hour late from its scheduled departure time. He felt a sense of relief when the site showed the plane making its way into Azerbaijan airspace.

He was excited to have his mother back. In 2010, Sadighi, an ophthalmologist, gave up her practice in Iran and moved to Canada with her husband, Farzad Alavi, a doctor, hoping for a better life for their son.

The tracking site Alavi watched that night was wrong. Six minutes after takeoff, the plane was hit by ground-to-air missiles and crashed into a children’s playground.

Iran said the takedown was human error, which many families do not believe.

Mahmoud Zibaie also tracked the flight online. He even took a video of the tracking technology to later show it to his computer-savvy 15-year-old daughter, Maya, who was on the plane with his wife, Shahrzad Hashemi.

A few minutes after takeoff, he left to brew some tea. By the time he returned to his computer, the plane had vanished from the screen. He soon saw reports of the crash on social media.

His pain and anguish remain fresh and he is overwhelmed at times by feelings of guilt. Zibaie was supposed to be on that plane with his family, but he came home a few days earlier because he worried about taking too much time off from his new job.

“It’s very, very, very tough still, the wound is fresh. And I believe that it will take a very long time to heal,” he said.

Like several other families, Zibaie has channelled much of his grief towards building a school in an impoverished part of Iran.

Zibaie still looks at Maya’s first email she sent when she was four years old — a painting she made on the computer — for comfort. His wife was a decorative painter and his daughter had inherited her talents.

He applied to immigrate to Canada in 2006 when Maya was two years old. They landed in Toronto in 2016. Four years later, he buried his wife and daughter in Tehran.

Zibaie found he could no longer live in the same home in Toronto so he moved to Ottawa.

“Every place I went was a memory,” he said. “It was too hard.”

He, too, wishes for more of his family’s belongings back.

He has gotten back his daughter’s burned passport and some of his wife’s banking cards.

“That’s all I’ve gotten back,” he said. “It hurts.”

Arman Abtahi was relieved when his brother’s remains arrived in a sealed coffin so the last memory of him would be of the final time the family had seen him — smiling and waving goodbye.

He had hoped the Iranian authorities would send back his brother’s ring so their mother could have something of her 37-year-old son.

“We didn’t get back anything,” he said. “Not his luggage, not his watch, not his ring, we just got his body.”

Abtahi’s brother was a postdoctoral scholar at the University of British Columbia. He had gone to Iran to celebrate his first wedding anniversary because his wife’s visa to Canada was rejected.

The last thing Abtahi told his brother was that he would pick him up at the airport.

“Instead, I went to the airport to go back to Iran to bury him,” he said.

Bail hearing scheduled today for teens accused in death of Calgary police officer

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jan 4th, 2021

CALGARY — Two teens charged with first-degree murder in the death of a Calgary police officer are due in court today for a bail hearing.

The accused — 19-year-old Amir Abdulrahman and a 17-year-old boy — were arrested on Friday afternoon after turning themselves in.

They had been wanted in the death of 37-year-old Sgt. Andrew Harnett, who was killed while conducting a traffic stop on New Year’s Eve.

Calgary police have said Harnett pulled over an SUV, which then struck and killed him.

They’ve alleged the younger of the two accused was behind the wheel, while they say Abdulrahman was a passenger.

The pair had their first court appearance on Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 4, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Helicopter crash victims identified as parents, two children in family of seven

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jan 4th, 2021

DEBOLT, Alta. — Four people who died in a helicopter crash on New Year’s Day are being identified by loved ones as members of a strong and loving farm family from a small community in northern Alberta.

The families of 45-year-old Wade Balisky and 37-year-old Aubrey Balisky say in a joint statement that they are grappling with the loss of the couple and two of their children, eight-year-old Jewel and two-year-old Fleur.

The family says Wade and Aubrey are survived by their three other children, 16-year-old Chevey, 14-year-old Remington and 12-year-old Indya.

The family lived together in the small farming community of DeBolt, Alta., about 45 kilometres east of Grande Prairie.

RCMP have said emergency responders received an emergency signal from a Robinson R44 helicopter and arrived to find the aircraft crashed in a field in nearby Birch Hills county with no survivors.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

“We have been devastated by our sudden loss of Wade, Aubrey, Jewel and Fleur,” the Balisky and Warkentin families said in a joint statement.

“Chevey, Remington and Indya will need your prayers, love and support as they grapple with the loss of their father, mother and sisters. They know that they were loved and are loved.”

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

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Monday, Jan. 4, 2021

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jan 4th, 2021

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Monday Jan. 4, 2021.

There are 601,663 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Canada: 601,663 confirmed cases (80,822 active, 504,976 resolved, 15,865 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 6,578 new cases Sunday from 50,584 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. The rate of active cases is 215.01 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 48,389 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,913.

There were 41 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 757 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 108. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.29 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 42.21 per 100,000 people.

There have been 14,041,448 tests completed.

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 390 confirmed cases (12 active, 374 resolved, four deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday from 260 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.3 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of three new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people.

There have been 73,148 tests completed.

_ Prince Edward Island: 96 confirmed cases (six active, 90 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday from 217 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 3.82 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 80,395 tests completed.

_ Nova Scotia: 1,499 confirmed cases (27 active, 1,407 resolved, 65 deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday from 617 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.78 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 34 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is five.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people.

There have been 181,051 tests completed.

_ New Brunswick: 618 confirmed cases (42 active, 567 resolved, nine deaths).

There were seven new cases Sunday from 215 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.3 per cent. The rate of active cases is 5.41 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 26 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four.

There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.02 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.16 per 100,000 people.

There have been 116,049 tests completed.

_ Quebec: 210,304 confirmed cases (22,501 active, 179,456 resolved, 8,347 deaths).

There were 2,869 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 265.19 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 17,649 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,521.

There were 11 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 324 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 46. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.55 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 98.37 per 100,000 people.

There have been 2,507,746 tests completed.

_ Ontario: 190,962 confirmed cases (23,611 active, 162,701 resolved, 4,650 deaths).

There were 2,964 new cases Sunday from 48,175 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 6.2 per cent. The rate of active cases is 162.09 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 19,546 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,792.

There were 25 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 273 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 39. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.27 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 31.92 per 100,000 people.

There have been 7,838,837 tests completed.

_ Manitoba: 25,126 confirmed cases (4,461 active, 19,982 resolved, 683 deaths).

There were 100 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 325.75 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 981 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 140.

There were five new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 38 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.4 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 49.87 per 100,000 people.

There have been 409,113 tests completed.

_ Saskatchewan: 16,083 confirmed cases (2,841 active, 13,084 resolved, 158 deaths).

There were 238 new cases Sunday from 1,017 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 23 per cent. The rate of active cases is 241.9 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,269 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 181.

There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 17 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.21 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 13.45 per 100,000 people.

There have been 305,692 tests completed.

_ Alberta: 104,228 confirmed cases (18,355 active, 84,827 resolved, 1,046 deaths).

There were an estimated 400 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 419.9 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 6,876 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 982.

There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 64 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is nine. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.21 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 23.93 per 100,000 people.

There have been 1,547,298 tests completed.

_ British Columbia: 51,990 confirmed cases (8,962 active, 42,127 resolved, 901 deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 176.72 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,998 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 285.

There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 40 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is six. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.11 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 17.77 per 100,000 people.

There have been 962,565 tests completed.

_ Yukon: 64 confirmed cases (four active, 59 resolved, one deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 9.79 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of four new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,927 tests completed.

_ Northwest Territories: 24 confirmed cases (zero active, 24 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 7,906 tests completed.

_ Nunavut: 266 confirmed cases (zero active, 265 resolved, one deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday from 83 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of one new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.58 per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,645 tests completed.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 4, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Police find body of child following Northwest Territories house fire

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Dec 31st, 2020

FORT PROVIDENCE, N.W.T. — RCMP say they have located the body of a child following a house fire in Fort Providence, Northwest Territories.

Police say they were called around 1:20 p.m. Monday to a house that was fully engulfed in flames in the community of about 700 people southwest of Yellowknife.

When they arrived, they were told one child was unaccounted for.

Officers say they tried to enter the home at the time, but the fire was too severe.

A GoFundMe page set up by a relative says a daughter died in the fire and the family has five other children.

Several other people in the home were treated for minor injuries.

On Tuesday, Health Minister Julie Green said the territory’s health authority was sending extra counsellors to help support the community.

As of Wednesday afternoon, around $13,000 had been raised for the family through the GoFundMe page.

The coroner’s office of the Northwest Territories is investigating.

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

The Canadian Press

B.C. mom who gave birth in a coma due to COVID-19 discharged from hospital

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Dec 31st, 2020

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — A mother who had an emergency C-section in British Columbia while in a coma due to complications from COVID-19 returned home to her family in time for Christmas.

Gillian McIntosh was in her third trimester when she went to hospital in Abbotsford with COVID-19 symptoms in November.

The 37-year-old was placed in an induced coma and was on a ventilator for a month due to complications from the virus

Her family says in a statement that the mother of two was discharged from hospital on Christmas Eve.

McIntosh thanked those who supported her family during her health scare.

She says in the statement that it was a surreal experience to wake up from a coma and find out she had given birth, particularly when her last memory is of going to hospital.

Her family says that doctors do not yet know how long it will take for McIntosh’s lungs to return to a healthy state.

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

The Canadian Press

Conservative MP Phil McColeman says he won’t seek re-election

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Dec 31st, 2020

OTTAWA — A long-time Conservative MP says he won’t seek re-election when the next federal vote comes around.

Phil McColeman made the announcement in a social media post.

He says it has been a privilege to represent Ontario’s Brantford-Brant for the last 12 years, and thanks the riding’s voters for placing their trust and confidence in him.

McColeman also thanks his family, volunteers, supporters and staff.

He says while he’ll greatly miss representing the riding in Parliament, he looks “forward to welcoming my Conservative successor.”

McColeman first won the riding in 2008, taking a seat held by Liberals and New Democrats6 since the late 1960s.

His announcement is the latest from a Conservative incumbent who has decided to step down when Canadians next go to the polls.

In late November, Peter Kent said he wouldn’t run again in his Toronto-area riding.

Conservatives DIane Finley and Bruce Stanton have also announced they won’t stand for re-election.

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

The Canadian Press

Raptors lose first season opener in eight years in loss to Pelicans

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Dec 24th, 2020

Brandon Ingram scored 24 points and JJ Redick added 23 as the New Orleans Pelicans beat Toronto 113-99 in the Raptors’ season opener Wednesday at Amalie Arena.

Pascal Siakam had 20 points in one of the bright spots of the loss, the Raptors’ first defeat in a season opener in eight seasons. Kyle Lowry added 18 points and 10 assists, Aron Baynes had 11 points and nine rebounds, and Norman Powell and Chris Boucher chipped in with 12 points apiece.

The Raptors led for most of the first half but went ice cold in the third quarter. They went 0-for-10 from three-point range and were outscored 38-22 in the frame, and trailed 88-79 to start the fourth.

The Pelicans kept their foot on the gas in the fourth, and when Redick knocked down a three-pointer with 5:15 to play, New Orleans led by 14 points.

The Raptors went a horrible 2-for-17 from distance in the second half.

Siakam had been enjoying a career year before the NBA shut down for COVID-19 last March, and was never quite himself when the league resumed in the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World. Fans weren’t kind to the 26-year-old when the Raptors were eliminated by Boston in the second round of the playoffs.

Siakam said he’d lost his love of the game. It looked like it was back on Wednesday.

Siakam not only scored on an array of shots, but pitched some excellent passes out of crowds.

The night marked the beginning of the most bizarre season in Raptors history, a small crowd of about 3,000 fans dotting Amalie Arena. The venue will be Toronto’s temporary home for at least the first half of the season due to Canada’s travel restrictions around COVID-19.

In a sign of these strange times, the Raptor mascot waved the team flag before the game clad in a black protective face mask.

The Raptors tipped off a few hours after the league announced Houston’s game against Oklahoma City was postponed due to positive COVID-19 tests plus James Harden’s violation of the league’s coronavirus protocols left the Rockets without the league-mandated eight available players.

It was a discouraging blow on Day 2 of a season that feels like the league is playing with its collective fingers crossed while the pandemic continues to rage in the U.S.

The Raptors had their own scare earlier in the day. Powell was listed as questionable after some inconclusive tests with someone in his “circle of people,” coach Nick Nurse said.

Nurse said despite the rocky start, he’s “fairly comfortable” about playing.

“I understand that there are some people – players and staff, et cetera – testing positive. I’d be much more concerned if there was a number of players going to the hospital, a number of staff going to the hospital, and I just don’t see that as the case with all these colleges and universities and all the athletes that test.”

Amalie Arena is one of just a few facilities around the league that is permitting a limited number of fans this season.

The Raptors trailed in the early minutes, but Siakam’s three capped a mini 7-0 run that put Toronto up by four. The Raptors led 26-23 to start the second quarter.

Siakam knocked down back-to-back three-pointers – both off passes from sharp-shooter Matt Thomas – to put the Raptors up by 11 with 1:46 left in the first half. Toronto took a 57-50 advantage into the halftime break.

The Raptors now depart on their first road trip of the regular season, playing against former teammate DeMar DeRozan and the Spurs in San Antonio on Boxing Day. They play at Philadelphia on Dec. 28.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Dec 24th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Thursday Dec. 24, 2020.

There are 528,354 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Canada: 528,354 confirmed cases (75,305 active, 438,452 resolved, 14,597 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 6,845 new cases Wednesday from 89,189 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.7 per cent. The rate of active cases is 200.34 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 46,724 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,675.

There were 172 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 798 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 114. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.3 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 38.83 per 100,000 people.

There have been 13,343,345 tests completed.

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 384 confirmed cases (26 active, 354 resolved, four deaths).

There was one new case Wednesday from 232 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.43 per cent. The rate of active cases is 4.99 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 20 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people.

There have been 71,012 tests completed.

_ Prince Edward Island: 91 confirmed cases (seven active, 84 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Wednesday from 823 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 4.46 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 77,149 tests completed.

_ Nova Scotia: 1,458 confirmed cases (35 active, 1,358 resolved, 65 deaths).

There were four new cases Wednesday from 992 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.40 per cent. The rate of active cases is 3.6 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 28 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people.

There have been 171,951 tests completed.

_ New Brunswick: 585 confirmed cases (47 active, 530 resolved, eight deaths).

There were five new cases Wednesday from 516 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.97 per cent. The rate of active cases is 6.05 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 18 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 1.03 per 100,000 people.

There have been 113,276 tests completed.

_ Quebec: 183,523 confirmed cases (19,381 active, 156,275 resolved, 7,867 deaths).

There were 2,247 new cases Wednesday from 10,758 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 21 per cent. The rate of active cases is 228.42 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 14,350 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,050.

There were 73 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 254 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 36. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.43 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 92.72 per 100,000 people.

There have been 2,436,763 tests completed.

_ Ontario: 162,663 confirmed cases (19,424 active, 139,010 resolved, 4,229 deaths).

There were 2,408 new cases Wednesday from 54,808 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.4 per cent. The rate of active cases is 133.35 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 16,128 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,304.

There were 41 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 194 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 28. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.19 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 29.03 per 100,000 people.

There have been 7,281,798 tests completed.

_ Manitoba: 23,381 confirmed cases (4,427 active, 18,349 resolved, 605 deaths).

There were 201 new cases Wednesday from 2,139 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 9.4 per cent. The rate of active cases is 323.26 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,555 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 222.

There were 15 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 82 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.86 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 44.18 per 100,000 people.

There have been 399,378 tests completed.

_ Saskatchewan: 14,101 confirmed cases (3,850 active, 10,121 resolved, 130 deaths).

There were 159 new cases Wednesday from 985 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 16 per cent. The rate of active cases is 327.81 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,507 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 215.

There were five new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 32 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.39 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 11.07 per 100,000 people.

There have been 295,964 tests completed.

_ Alberta: 93,781 confirmed cases (17,821 active, 75,070 resolved, 890 deaths).

There were 1,301 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 407.68 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,184 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,312.

There were 19 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 130 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 19. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.42 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 20.36 per 100,000 people.

There have been 1,547,298 tests completed.

_ British Columbia: 48,027 confirmed cases (10,279 active, 36,952 resolved, 796 deaths).

There were 517 new cases Wednesday from 17,821 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.9 per cent. The rate of active cases is 202.69 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,924 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 561.

There were 19 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 104 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 15. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.29 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 15.7 per 100,000 people.

There have been 929,744 tests completed.

_ Yukon: 59 confirmed cases (zero active, 58 resolved, one deaths).

There were zero new cases Wednesday from six completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,878 tests completed.

_ Northwest Territories: 24 confirmed cases (one active, 23 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Wednesday from 38 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.23 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 7,725 tests completed.

_ Nunavut: 264 confirmed cases (seven active, 255 resolved, two deaths).

There were two new cases Wednesday from 71 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.8 per cent. The rate of active cases is 18.05 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of six new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There were zero new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.74 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 5.16 per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,333 tests completed.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 24, 2020.

The Canadian Press

‘Very hopeful:’ Planning underway for modified Calgary Stampede in 2021

BILL GRAVELAND, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Dec 24th, 2020

CALGARY — A world-famous annual rodeo that survived the Great Depression, two world wars and a devastating flood seven years ago was felled by a microscopic virus this year and will have a different look if it’s allowed to go forward in 2021.

Calgary Stampede president Dana Peers says planning is underway, with fingers crossed, to stage the celebration of cowboy life, which brings in a million visitors each year and gives the local economy a $282-million boost.

“Who would have thought it would be a pandemic that would really take us to a whole new level of challenge?” Peers said in an interview.

The Stampede first started on an annual basis in 1923. It had been held every year since, including in 2013 when Calgary and other communities in southern Alberta were devastated by flooding. The grounds were under water, but frantic efforts enabled the 10-day rodeo, fair and midway to go ahead.

“Unlike the floods, where the waters receded and they allowed us to get in there and get the physical work done and move forward, here we are 10 months later and the pandemic hasn’t receded,” Peers said.

“For that reason, we haven’t been able to turn around like we did in 2013.”

Another challenge, Peers said, is there’s been little revenue, since most of the 1,200 events held at Stampede Park each year were also cancelled. A COVID-19 testing site was set up instead and the rodeo grandstand has been used as a courthouse to allow for physical distancing.

Peers said he remains “very hopeful” the Stampede will be held in some form next year. Stampede officials are working with Alberta Health Services and Calgary’s Emergency Management Agency to find a way to hold it safely. He said the arrival of vaccines is also a positive.

“We need to think about new ways to be able to have people (in the) park safely, to be able to social distance, to have those kind of events where people can feel safe,” Peers said.

“I see 2021 as a bridge year. We’re hopefully going to … still have a Stampede. And by the time we get to 2022, hopefully we’re back to a situation where it would be more normal.”

University of Calgary professor Aritha van Herk, who wrote “Stampede and the Westness of the West,” said event officials showed leadership by cancelling in 2020, but people are anxious for it to return.

“You’re not a Calgarian unless you’ve participated completely, drunk too much, danced your feet off. Every part of it is part of the city’s character.”

Van Herk said she expects the event will go ahead next year on a limited basis.

“I bet they will try to do it in such a way that they really limit attendance and they’ll use this opportunity to rethink everything. We’ve been going for a 100 years. What can we make better?”

The City of Calgary had already been hit with a financial crisis linked to a drop in oil prices, which led to layoffs and extensive amounts of empty space before the pandemic began.

The president and CEO of Calgary Economic Development said the city has a perception problem, which hasn’t been helped by focusing on the Stampede and energy sector while ignoring the booming tech and financial sectors.

“People think of us as only an oil and gas town … and yet there’s so much more going on and has been for the last several years,” said Mary Moran.

“It doesn’t mean you abandon your heritage. We have to honour that.”

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

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Liberals post call-out for candidates for next federal election

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Dec 23rd, 2020

OTTAWA — The federal Liberals are looking for candidates seeking to run for them in the next election, focusing on people who have been working to help their communities through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau makes the pitch in a video posted to the party website.

With his jacket off and tie loosened for the camera, Trudeau says holidays at the end of the year are a natural time to think about what comes next, and people who have been rolling up their sleeves to assist with the pandemic might want to think about jumping into politics.

Trudeau also says the party wants a candidate roster that represents all voices in shaping Canada’s post-pandemic future.

The Liberals say that in constituencies held by MPs from other parties, the local riding association will have to show that it’s looked hard for potential candidates from communities or backgrounds that are under-represented in Parliament.

Trudeau, who heads a minority government, does not say when he expects that election to come, other than it will be “at some point in the years ahead.”

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

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Dec 23rd, 2020

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

There are 521,509 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Canada: 521,509 confirmed cases (75,523 active, 431,561 resolved, 14,425 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 6,195 new cases Tuesday from 65,175 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 9.5 per cent. The rate of active cases is 200.92 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 46,295 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,614.

There were 93 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 766 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 109. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.29 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 38.38 per 100,000 people.

There have been 13,254,156 tests completed.

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 383 confirmed cases (32 active, 347 resolved, four deaths).

There was one new case Tuesday from 359 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.28 per cent. The rate of active cases is 6.14 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 24 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people.

There have been 70,780 tests completed.

_ Prince Edward Island: 91 confirmed cases (seven active, 84 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 4.46 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 76,326 tests completed.

_ Nova Scotia: 1,454 confirmed cases (40 active, 1,349 resolved, 65 deaths).

There were seven new cases Tuesday from 1,097 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.64 per cent. The rate of active cases is 4.12 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 28 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people.

There have been 170,959 tests completed.

_ New Brunswick: 580 confirmed cases (47 active, 525 resolved, eight deaths).

There were two new cases Tuesday from 271 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.74 per cent. The rate of active cases is 6.05 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 21 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 1.03 per 100,000 people.

There have been 112,760 tests completed.

_ Quebec: 181,276 confirmed cases (18,809 active, 154,673 resolved, 7,794 deaths).

There were 2,183 new cases Tuesday from 9,879 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 22 per cent. The rate of active cases is 221.67 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 14,000 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,000.

There were 28 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 223 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 32. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.38 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 91.86 per 100,000 people.

There have been 2,426,005 tests completed.

_ Ontario: 160,255 confirmed cases (19,300 active, 136,767 resolved, 4,188 deaths).

There were 2,202 new cases Tuesday from 43,784 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 132.5 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 15,859 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,266.

There were 21 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 196 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 28. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.19 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 28.75 per 100,000 people.

There have been 7,226,990 tests completed.

_ Manitoba: 23,180 confirmed cases (4,382 active, 18,208 resolved, 590 deaths).

There were 155 new cases Tuesday from 1,477 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 10 per cent. The rate of active cases is 319.98 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,645 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 235.

There were 18 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 82 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.86 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 43.08 per 100,000 people.

There have been 397,239 tests completed.

_ Saskatchewan: 13,942 confirmed cases (3,945 active, 9,872 resolved, 125 deaths).

There were 181 new cases Tuesday from 1,070 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 17 per cent. The rate of active cases is 335.9 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,510 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 216.

There were three new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 27 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.33 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 10.64 per 100,000 people.

There have been 294,979 tests completed.

_ Alberta: 92,480 confirmed cases (18,311 active, 73,298 resolved, 871 deaths).

There were 1,021 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 418.89 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,153 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,308.

There were 11 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 127 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 18. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.42 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 19.93 per 100,000 people.

There have been 1,547,298 tests completed.

_ British Columbia: 47,510 confirmed cases (10,639 active, 36,094 resolved, 777 deaths).

There were 443 new cases Tuesday from 7,160 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 6.2 per cent. The rate of active cases is 209.79 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 4,047 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 578.

There were 12 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 109 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 16. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.31 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 15.32 per 100,000 people.

There have been 911,923 tests completed.

_ Yukon: 59 confirmed cases (zero active, 58 resolved, one deaths).

There were zero new cases Tuesday from 17 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,872 tests completed.

_ Northwest Territories: 24 confirmed cases (three active, 21 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Tuesday from 26 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 6.69 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 7,687 tests completed.

_ Nunavut: 262 confirmed cases (eight active, 252 resolved, two deaths).

There were zero new cases Tuesday from 35 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 20.63 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of four new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There were zero new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.74 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 5.16 per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,262 tests completed.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 23, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Couples do Christmas online, in person if ‘lucky’ during Canada-U.S. border closure

CAMILLE BAINS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Dec 23rd, 2020

VANCOUVER — Like many couples, Kaelynn Ball and Dave Hogsten will be enjoying a leisurely breakfast on Christmas Day before opening presents. In their case, they’ll be watching each other prepare their own meals on a screen as they spend hours together while she is at home in Canada and he is in the United States.

Ball, of Surrey, B.C., met Hogsten online on Dec. 26, 2018, before she travelled to his home in Baltimore, Md., six months later and then again last Christmas, when she presented his family with maple syrup from Canada.

Hogsten proposed during a visit to Ball’s home in February, around the time concerns about a new and deadly coronavirus were spreading around the globe, and forced the closure of the Canada-U.S. border to non-essential travel in mid-March.

Ball, 24, and Hogsten, 37, were among cross-border couples and families that met last summer in Surrey at Peace Arch Park, a no-quarantine-required international loophole where Canadians — under the watchful eye of RCMP officers — could meet with their loved ones in Washington state.

Now, Ball has created an online community of couples, including many from around the U.S. that she met at the park, so they can share their experiences of navigating a long-distance relationship during a pandemic.

“People have been able to share their stories and connect with each other and say, ‘What’s been hard about this year? What’s been good about this year?’”

Her suggestions for date nights via Zoom or Skype are a big hit.

“We do board game nights, video game nights. We’re doing a Mexican night. We’re making margaritas and we’re getting takeout,” she said. “We’re always mixing it up, and I’ve had a lot of people actually message me and say, ‘Wow, that’s a great idea.’”

Ball and Hogsten have even done a pretend pub-crawl to keep things interesting while spending so much time onscreen and not knowing when they’ll see each other in person.

She also supports an online group called Faces of Advocacy, which lobbied the federal government to ease border restrictions in October so family members and couples in a long-term relationship could see each other, as long as they quarantine for 14 days.

Ball and Hogsten are eager to make wedding plans but have a few hurdles to cross, including getting vaccinated and waiting for the border to reopen, she said, adding she’s learned a few things about patience while trying to spark romance during COVID-19.

“Sometimes things take time. You can’t have everything immediately when you want it.”

Shannon McMullin, 33, of St. Catharines, Ont., has learned about the importance of timing during her long-distance relationship with Erin Spicer of Buffalo, N.Y., after they met online a year and a half ago.

Spicer, 34, drove to St. Catharines hours before the Canada-U.S. border closed to non-essential travel on March 18.

“We were so lucky that she got here,” McMullin said.

After Spicer returned home at the end of June, the couple tried unsuccessfully to meet on the Rainbow Bridge connecting Niagara Falls, Ont., and Niagara Falls, N.Y.

That’s when they decided to drive seven hours each way to a border crossing between Quebec and Vermont every two weeks to meet at a dead-end road.

The setting wasn’t so romantic, but it’s where they got engaged in September.

“The border guards knew us and they were nice to us. So they actually let us put the ring on each other’s finger and give each other a hug and kiss across the border,” McMullin said.

Spicer applied for an exemption to the travel ban and returned to Canada in November.

“We actually get to spend Christmas together even though it’ll look different than other years. It’s going to be one to remember, that’s for sure,” McMullin said.

They’re planning to get married soon, likely with just McMullin’s two-and-a-half-year-old twins Harper and Hannah there, she said.

“But then we’ll probably still do a big celebration in a couple of years when the world’s back to normal.”

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

Camille Bains, The Canadian Press

Ontario premier demands increased COVID-19 testing at airports as new variant emerges

STEPHANIE LEVITZ, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Dec 22nd, 2020

OTTAWA — Ontario Premier Doug Ford blasted the federal government today for not moving faster on COVID-19 testing for incoming international travellers as a new variant is prompting more border closures.

Late yesterday, the federal government announced it was banning all incoming passenger flights from the U.K. for 72 hours due to a new manifestation of the novel coronavirus that is dominating cases in that country.

Early science suggests the new variant is more transmissible than other strains, but so far it has not been documented in Canada.

Still, the federal government said it was closing the border to arriving flights to give public health officials time to gather further evidence and conduct additional research.

Opposition critics welcomed the ban but questioned the 72-hour limit, saying they weren’t confident that evidence could be gathered in that time frame.

Global Affairs also published a notice today telling Canadians not to travel to the United Kingdom because of the new variant.

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

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

Estate of Nova Scotia mass killer Gabriel Wortman valued at $2.1 million

MICHAEL TUTTON, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Dec 22nd, 2020

HALIFAX — The estate belonging to Nova Scotia mass murderer Gabriel Wortman is valued at $2.1 million — about one-third of which is in cash seized by police, according to newly released court documents.

Wortman was shot dead by a police officer at a gas station in Enfield, N.S., on April 19, after the gunman had killed 22 people during a 13-hour rampage across the province.

The Dec. 14 appraisal prepared for the probate court says six properties listed under the killer’s name in Halifax and Portapique, N.S., — the small community where the killing began — are worth approximately $1.2 million.

Three corporations — including the 51-year-old’s denturist clinic — are valued at $128,711, while the appraiser estimated the killer had roughly $3,760 worth of household goods. The total amount of “cash on hand” is listed as $705,000, which the RCMP seized from the killer’s residence in Portapique.

The estate is facing several lawsuits, both from Wortman’s common law spouse, Lisa Banfield, and from the families of his victims. The victims’ families are trying to get a class action certified that seeks compensation for the deaths and for the damage Wortman caused.

Sandra McCulloch, a lawyer for the families, said what’s left of Wortman’s estate belongs to his many victims.

“Whether it’s a couple of dollars or a lot of dollars, our view is that the families are the people to whom those funds should go,” she said in an interview Monday. “The lawsuit would have carried on regardless of the size of the estate.”

Court documents have said the cash was stockpiled in the final weeks before Wortman drove through the province in a replica police vehicle, killing people he knew and didn’t know, and burning properties.

In applications for search warrants, police have stated that Wortman liquidated $475,000 of investments and requested the money in $100 bills, which he had picked up from a Brinks outlet in Halifax on March 30.

Witnesses quoted in the search warrant applications have said a “paranoid” Wortman was growing increasingly anxious about COVID-19 before he had liquidated the investments.

The newly released court document says a bank account in Wortman’s name had about $40,919 in it. It also lists a CPP death benefit worth $2,500 and a few small balances on credit cards.

The application for the class action against Wortman’s estate names three categories of plaintiffs. The first involves direct relatives of those killed, such as parents, children and spouses. The second involves all people who suffered personal injuries from the gunman, excluding Banfield. And the third category involves all people who suffered damage to property.

Banfield filed a notice of claim on the estate in probate court on Nov. 10. In the document, the lawyer for Wortman’s common law spouse said while Banfield isn’t a shareholder, “she and the deceased operated the (denturist) business as a joint venture,” adding that her work was critical to its success.

She also claimed the deceased and the estate would be “unjustly enriched if the applicant (Banfield) were not entitled “to a share of the assets in the name of the deceased (Wortman) at the time of his death.”

In addition, Banfield — who has renounced her right to be an executor of the estate, and has asked it be administered by the public trustee — launched her own legal action in August for damages against the estate.

At the time, she said she was the victim of assault and battery the night Wortman began his rampage and said she had suffered “intentional infliction of mental suffering.”

The RCMP has said Banfield was handcuffed but managed to escape and fled to nearby woods on the night of April 18. She emerged the next morning and told police at 6:30 a.m. that Wortman was driving a police replica vehicle.

On Dec. 4, the RCMP announced that three people, including Banfield, had been charged with supplying ammunition to the gunman. Police have said the alleged offences occurred between March 17 and April 18, but that those charged “had no prior knowledge of the gunman’s actions.”

The Halifax-based probate court provides for the protection of heirs, recipients of legacies and of estate creditors. It also provides a forum for adjudication and appoints executors, administrators, appraisers, and guardians in relation to all estate matters.

Adrienne Bowers, the solicitor for the public trustee, said in the court document that the initial value of the estate was pegged at about $1.2 million. She said that if new assets are discovered, she would alert the probate court within 30 days.

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

Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Monday, Dec. 22, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Dec 22nd, 2020

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

There are 515,314 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Canada: 515,314 confirmed cases (77,361 active, 423,621 resolved, 14,332 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 6,381 new cases Monday from 73,365 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 8.7 per cent. The rate of active cases is 205.81 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 46,452 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,636.

There were 68 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 779 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 111. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.3 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 38.13 per 100,000 people.

There have been 13,188,981 tests completed.

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 382 confirmed cases (31 active, 347 resolved, four deaths).

There were zero new cases Monday from 187 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 5.94 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 23 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people.

There have been 70,421 tests completed.

_ Prince Edward Island: 91 confirmed cases (seven active, 84 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Monday from 905 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 4.46 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 76,326 tests completed.

_ Nova Scotia: 1,447 confirmed cases (38 active, 1,344 resolved, 65 deaths).

There were two new cases Monday from 960 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.21 per cent. The rate of active cases is 3.91 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 27 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people.

There have been 169,862 tests completed.

_ New Brunswick: 578 confirmed cases (49 active, 521 resolved, eight deaths).

There were four new cases Monday from 272 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.5 per cent. The rate of active cases is 6.31 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 20 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 1.03 per 100,000 people.

There have been 112,489 tests completed.

_ Quebec: 179,093 confirmed cases (18,458 active, 152,869 resolved, 7,766 deaths).

There were 2,108 new cases Monday from 10,456 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 20 per cent. The rate of active cases is 217.54 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 13,558 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,937.

There were 30 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 233 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 33. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.39 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 91.53 per 100,000 people.

There have been 2,416,126 tests completed.

_ Ontario: 158,053 confirmed cases (19,019 active, 134,867 resolved, 4,167 deaths).

There were 2,123 new cases Monday from 52,723 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 130.57 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 15,932 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,276.

There were 17 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 195 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 28. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.19 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 28.61 per 100,000 people.

There have been 7,183,206 tests completed.

_ Manitoba: 23,025 confirmed cases (5,736 active, 16,717 resolved, 572 deaths).

There were 166 new cases Monday from 6,503 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.6 per cent. The rate of active cases is 418.85 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,761 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 252.

There were three new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 73 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 10. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.76 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 41.77 per 100,000 people.

There have been 395,762 tests completed.

_ Saskatchewan: 13,761 confirmed cases (3,990 active, 9,649 resolved, 122 deaths).

There were 206 new cases Monday from 1,232 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 17 per cent. The rate of active cases is 339.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,523 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 218.

There were four new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 31 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.38 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 10.39 per 100,000 people.

There have been 293,909 tests completed.

_ Alberta: 91,459 confirmed cases (19,165 active, 71,434 resolved, 860 deaths).

There were 1,240 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 438.43 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,473 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,353.

There were nine new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 127 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 18. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.42 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 19.67 per 100,000 people.

There have been 1,547,298 tests completed.

_ British Columbia: 47,067 confirmed cases (10,847 active, 35,455 resolved, 765 deaths).

There were 529 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 213.89 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 4,124 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 589.

There were five new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 118 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 17. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.33 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 15.08 per 100,000 people.

There have been 904,763 tests completed.

_ Yukon: 59 confirmed cases (one active, 57 resolved, one deaths).

There were zero new cases Monday from 33 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.45 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,855 tests completed.

_ Northwest Territories: 24 confirmed cases (three active, 21 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Monday from 26 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 6.69 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of three new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 7,661 tests completed.

_ Nunavut: 262 confirmed cases (17 active, 243 resolved, two deaths).

There were three new cases Monday from 68 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.4 per cent. The rate of active cases is 43.84 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of six new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There were zero new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.74 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 5.16 per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,227 tests completed.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 22, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, dubbed ‘Christmas Star,’ visible tonight

ROB DRINKWATER, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Dec 21st, 2020

A rare celestial event is making an already unique holiday season even more unusual, as what’s been dubbed the “Christmas Star” is set to appear over Canada on Monday evening, brighter than it’s been in nearly eight centuries.

It’s not really a star at all — it’s a convergence of Jupiter and Saturn — but because of their close proximity they will appear to the naked eye to be one, single bright star.

For the last few weeks, the two planets have appeared nearer and nearer in the night sky, and will be at their closest on Dec. 21, appearing above the southwest horizon shortly after sunset.

“It’s a sense of anticipation, which of course, is what Christmas is all about, that waiting. And here we’re waiting for those planets to almost merge in the sky,” said astronomer and physicist Brian Martin, a professor emeritus at King’s University, a Christian institution in Edmonton.

“It captures the sense of what it’s like to be waiting for the birth of Christ and to celebrate that on the 25th of December.”

Every year around this time, Stephen Jeans, who teaches earth and space science at Ambrose University, another Christian institution in Calgary, delivers a “Star of Bethlehem” lecture for the Canadian Scientific and Christian Affiliation, a fellowship of Christian scientists.

The lecture, which isn’t being held this year due to COVID-19, focuses on the star that the Magi, or the Three Wise Men, followed to Bethlehem, and what astronomical event it possibly could have been.

There’s some who speculate it was a comet, but Jeans said those are typically bad omens, so he suggests it may have been a conjunction of planets similar to what’s on display now.

“The nice thing about this is it can be seen across the country at the same time,” Jeans explained.

“You’re going to have the opportunity to see the same event that all your friends and relatives will see: a really large double planet that looks like the Christmas star.”

The last time there was such a convergence of Jupiter and Saturn was in the 17th Century, but it wasn’t visible at night. You have to go back to March 4, 1226, that the conjunction was seen by people.

Martin notes that in 2 BCE, there was a conjunction between Jupiter and Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo, which the Magi may have been following.

Jupiter was the Roman god of sky and thunder while Leo, the lion, is king of the beasts.

“If you saw the king of the gods circling around the king star, Regulus, in the constellation Leo, that would get your attention of you were an astrologer,” Martin said.

“It’s kind of interesting that we have this wonderful conjunction right now in one of the darkest Christmases we’ve experienced, and just before the birth of Christ there was this amazing conjunction of three kings, in a sense bowing before one another.”

Stargazers typically gather in groups at observatories or with backyard telescopes for such events, but that won’t be happening this year due to COVID-19.

There’s also the chance the conjunction won’t be visible because of the weather. Clouds, heavy snow, or rain are in the forecast for many Canadian cities. The planets will still be visible on Tuesday night, but by then they will be moving apart.

Jeans said to look south between where the moon is visible and the sun just set. He said if you bring your cellphone, you can call friends and family and look at it at the same time.

“It only lasts about an hour and then the ‘Christmas Star’ will follow the sun and set itself in the west.”

A look at officer shootings by police force in Canada in 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Dec 21st, 2020

There were 55 police shootings that resulted in death or injury in Canada between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30 of this year. Of those, 34 were fatal.

The Canadian Press tracked each shooting using information from police, independent investigative units and independent reporting. Here is a break down of the shootings by police force:

 RCMP: 15 (12 fatal)

— Peel Regional Police, Ont: 6 (3 fatal)

 Winnipeg Police Service: 5 (4 fatal)

 Sûerté de Québec: 5 (5 fatal)

 Ontario Provincial Police: 5 (4 fatal)

— Service de police de la Ville de Montréal: 4 (1 fatal)

— Edmonton Police Service: 3 (1 fatal)

 Toronto Police Service: 3 (2 fatal)

 Hamilton Police Service: 1 (fatal)

— Edmundston Police Force, N. B: 1 (fatal)

 Nishnawbe Aski Police Service, Ont: 1

— Timmins Police Service, Ont: 1

— York Regional Police, Ont: 1

— Delta Police Department, B. C: 1

— Abbotsford Police Department, B. C: 1

 Halifax Regional Police: 1

— New Glasgow Police Service, N. S: 1

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

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Monday, Dec. 21, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Dec 21st, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Monday Dec. 21, 2020.

There are 507,795 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Canada: 507,795 confirmed cases (76,859 active, 416,708 resolved, 14,228 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 6,203 new cases Sunday from 81,813 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.6 per cent. The rate of active cases is 204.47 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 45,664 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,523.

There were 74 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 755 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 108. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.29 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 37.85 per 100,000 people.

There have been 13,115,616 tests completed.

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 382 confirmed cases (34 active, 344 resolved, four deaths).

There were two new cases Sunday from 364 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.55 per cent. The rate of active cases is 6.52 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 24 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people.

There have been 70,234 tests completed.

_ Prince Edward Island: 91 confirmed cases (seven active, 84 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 4.46 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 75,421 tests completed.

_ Nova Scotia: 1,445 confirmed cases (41 active, 1,339 resolved, 65 deaths).

There were two new cases Sunday from 982 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.20 per cent. The rate of active cases is 4.22 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 30 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people.

There have been 168,902 tests completed.

_ New Brunswick: 574 confirmed cases (46 active, 520 resolved, eight deaths).

There were -4 new cases Sunday from 307 completed tests, for a positivity rate of -1.3 per cent. The rate of active cases is 5.92 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 17 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 1.03 per 100,000 people.

There have been 112,217 tests completed.

_ Quebec: 176,985 confirmed cases (18,205 active, 151,044 resolved, 7,736 deaths).

There were 2,146 new cases Sunday from 11,533 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 19 per cent. The rate of active cases is 214.56 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 13,070 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,867.

There were 21 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 228 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 33. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.38 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 91.17 per 100,000 people.

There have been 2,405,670 tests completed.

_ Ontario: 155,930 confirmed cases (18,567 active, 133,213 resolved, 4,150 deaths).

There were 2,316 new cases Sunday from 67,142 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.4 per cent. The rate of active cases is 127.46 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 15,749 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,250.

There were 25 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 201 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 29. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.2 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 28.49 per 100,000 people.

There have been 7,130,483 tests completed.

_ Manitoba: 22,859 confirmed cases (5,749 active, 16,541 resolved, 569 deaths).

There were 229 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 419.8 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,836 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 262.

There were 13 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 79 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 11. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.82 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 41.55 per 100,000 people.

There have been 389,259 tests completed.

_ Saskatchewan: 13,555 confirmed cases (3,880 active, 9,557 resolved, 118 deaths).

There were 226 new cases Sunday from 1,485 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 15 per cent. The rate of active cases is 330.36 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,584 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 226.

There were three new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 29 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.35 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 10.05 per 100,000 people.

There have been 292,677 tests completed.

_ Alberta: 90,219 confirmed cases (19,201 active, 70,167 resolved, 851 deaths).

There were 1,286 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 439.25 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 10,120 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,446.

There were 10 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 132 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 19. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.43 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 19.47 per 100,000 people.

There have been 1,547,298 tests completed.

_ British Columbia: 45,400 confirmed cases (11,087 active, 33,589 resolved, 724 deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 218.62 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,216 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 459.

There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 84 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.24 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 14.28 per 100,000 people.

There have been 904,763 tests completed.

_ Yukon: 59 confirmed cases (one active, 57 resolved, one deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 2.45 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of one new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,822 tests completed.

_ Northwest Territories: 24 confirmed cases (nine active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 20.08 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of three new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 7,635 tests completed.

_ Nunavut: 259 confirmed cases (32 active, 225 resolved, two deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 82.52 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.

There were two new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.74 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 5.16 per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,159 tests completed.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 21, 2020.

The Canadian Press

RCMP officers recognized N.S. gunman after pulling up at gas pump next to him

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Dec 18th, 2020

HALIFAX — A new report from an independent police watchdog reveals that the April 19 fatal shooting of the Nova Scotia mass killer occurred after two RCMP officers happened to pull up at a gas pump next to the gunman’s vehicle.

Nova Scotia’s Serious Incident Response Team says when the officers arrived at the Enfield, N.S., gas station, it was not known Gabriel Wortman had switched vehicles and was driving a grey Mazda3 stolen from a victim.

The watchdog agency’s report says two officers stopped at a pump next to the Mazda, and when the officer who was driving got out to refuel, he saw a man with a noticeable injury and blood on his forehead.

The report says the driver recognized the gunman, who had killed 22 people in a rampage beginning the previous night, drew his service weapon and alerted his partner that Wortman was in the vehicle next to theirs.

The agency says the second officer moved across the front of the vehicle and Wortman raised the pistol he had stolen from RCMP Const. Heidi Stevenson, whom he had killed about 30 minutes earlier. Both officers opened fire and Wortman died at the scene.

Nova Scotia’s police watchdog concludes the officers were justified in their actions and no charges are warranted.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 17, 2020.

The Canadian Press

“Christmas is a little different this year”: An interview with Santa

THE BIG STORY | posted Friday, Dec 18th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, over the past ten months we’ve been accustomed to seeing our daily routines change in ways large and small. Covid-19 has popularized phrases from “in these unprecedented times” to X “will look a little different this year”. And for many Canadian families there is no annual tradition as profound as the holidays. And for those families’ children there’s nothing quite like Santa Claus.

So how is the Jolly Old Elf coping with Covid, keeping his workplace safe and making sure that even if Christmas is different, it’s still special? Well, we asked him.

(Yes, this episode is child-friendly! Happy holidays from the Big Story team.)

GUEST: … Santa!

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

12 big Canadian companies to start voluntary rapid COVID-19 testing of employees

RICHARD SOUTHERN | posted Friday, Dec 18th, 2020

Some of Canada’s largest companies are joining together for a pilot project to screen their employees for COVID-19 before they enter the office.

Called the ‘Rapid Screening Consortium,’ it sees 12 different companies including Air Canada, Loblaws, Magna, Scotiabank and Suncor administer a rapid COVID-19 screening test twice a week to employees who volunteer to be tested. Those who sign up will be screened before entering their workplace and will receive the results within 15 minutes.

The project was spearheaded by Creative Destruction Lab at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and Professor Janice Stein.

Stein tells 680 NEWS that the project is aimed at making essential workplaces safer.

“This is an attempt to make those people who are actually at a work site feel safer and be safer because their colleagues that are with them are being screened on a voluntary basis twice a week,” she said.

The rapid screening tests are from Health Canada and use a light nasal swab administered by a health professional. Employees will wait to get the result before entering their workplaces. The screening is not meant to replace mask wearing or social distancing, but is intended as an extra layer of protection.

The program relies on volunteer signups, but the Consortium says it is hopeful that it can increase the level of participation to a point where it becomes meaningful.

The trial will get underway on Dec. 28 and will last until April, at which point the Rapid Screening Consortium will present a handbook and will set up a mentoring system for other, smaller companies that wish to do the screenings, creating what it says will be a “plug and play model.”

The complete list of companies taking part in the pilot project are:

Air Canada
Canada Pension Plan Investment Board
Genpact
Loblaw Companies Limited
Magna
MDA Space
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment
Nutrien
Rogers
Scotiabank
Shoppers Drug Mart
Suncor

As vulnerable youth face CERB clawbacks, Trudeau says Liberals looking over options

JORDAN PRESS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Dec 17th, 2020

Marie Christian recalls the confusion that reigned as the young people she works with tried to navigate government aid at the onset of the pandemic.

The program director for Voices: Manitoba’s Youth in Care Network, works with those aged 12 to 30 who are or have been in foster care. Many who aged out of care lost their part-time jobs during the first wave of COVID-19.

They were encouraged to apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit when the $500-a-week income support was rolled out amid historic job losses this spring. And many did.

“Receiving CERB finally allowed them to take a breath,” Christian said.

“Not only did it help them to provide food and keep a roof over their head for themselves, and maybe for their young family, it just helped them to catch up a little bit, maybe pay off a little bit more of that hydro bill to make sure that their lights can stay on.”

They are now among the 441,000 people who have received letters from the Canada Revenue Agency questioning their eligibility for the CERB, and warning they may owe back some of the payments.

Groups that support them are warning repayment efforts could lead many to become homeless, and asking the government to grant amnesty for any of these youth who received the CERB.

“You would receive amnesty from repayment as a measure of recognizing your particular vulnerability,” said Rachel Gouin, executive director of the Child Welfare League of Canada.

“It should not be that hard.”

Faced with the issue, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government didn’t give aid to vulnerable people to pay the bills through the pandemic “to then claw it back afterwards.”

“We need to have a system that goes after people who are deliberately trying to defraud the system,” he said in an interview with The Canadian Press. “But people who received money that they needed, or made good-faith mistakes about the application, should not worry about it.”


RELATED: Self-employed Canadians may have to pay back CERB


The letters have created a groundswell of anxiety as the Canada Revenue Agency questions whether some of the nearly nine million CERB recipients met eligibility rules for the payments.

The government has always said it would check afterward on eligibility and recoup wrongful payments.

While self-employed people have received much attention over a dispute about eligibility, letters have also gone to some of the estimated 6,000 to 7,000 young people who aged out of care each year — meaning they turn 18 or 19, depending on provincial rules, and are left to a patchwork of supports.

Christian said her group helped young people connect with officials and experts to understand the eligibility requirements before deciding whether to apply.

“We were all searching, we were all scrambling trying to figure out how to survive during the pandemic,” she said. “The different rules and the different recommendations that were put out caused a little bit of confusion.”

Gouin said repayments may not be an option for many of these youth because they don’t have much to start with. Nor do they have families to turn to, she said.

The CRA said any recipients found ineligible will have to eventually pay money back, but noted that collection efforts won’t happen until “it is responsible to do so.”

Child-welfare groups have quietly raised concerns to federal cabinet ministers, but left meetings without any hint something would be done.

“The fact that the government is asking … them to repay something that they desperately needed to survive in the pandemic to me is atrocious. It’s inhumane, to be honest,” said Melanie Doucet, a McGill University researcher probing the effects on youth aging out of care during the pandemic.

Trudeau said in the Wednesday interview that the government will have more to say in the coming months about what the medium-term path for this group of aid recipients could look like, without going into further detail.

“We will be evaluating and looking at how we can help the vulnerable and make sure that we get through this, all of us, as best as we possibly can,” Trudeau said.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Dec 17th, 2020

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

There are 481,630 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Canada: 481,630 confirmed cases (75,885 active, 391,946 resolved, 13,799 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 6,416 new cases Wednesday from 64,919 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 9.9 per cent. The rate of active cases is 201.88 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 46,300 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,614.

There were 140 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 816 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 117. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.31 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 36.71 per 100,000 people.

There have been 12,756,869 tests completed.

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 364 confirmed cases (23 active, 337 resolved, four deaths).

There were five new cases Wednesday from 582 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.86 per cent. The rate of active cases is 4.41 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 11 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people.

There have been 68,326 tests completed.

_ Prince Edward Island: 89 confirmed cases (16 active, 73 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Wednesday from 939 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 10.19 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of five new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 74,161 tests completed.

_ Nova Scotia: 1,430 confirmed cases (55 active, 1,310 resolved, 65 deaths).

There were four new cases Wednesday from 1,583 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.25 per cent. The rate of active cases is 5.66 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 41 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is six.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people.

There have been 164,699 tests completed.

_ New Brunswick: 567 confirmed cases (52 active, 507 resolved, eight deaths).

There were eight new cases Wednesday from 567 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.4 per cent. The rate of active cases is 6.69 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 25 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four.

There were zero new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.02 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.03 per 100,000 people.

There have been 110,544 tests completed.

_ Quebec: 169,173 confirmed cases (17,392 active, 144,168 resolved, 7,613 deaths).

There were 1,897 new cases Wednesday from 9,999 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 19 per cent. The rate of active cases is 204.97 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,705 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,815.

There were 42 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 264 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 38. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.44 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 89.72 per 100,000 people.

There have been 2,359,553 tests completed.

_ Ontario: 146,535 confirmed cases (17,084 active, 125,416 resolved, 4,035 deaths).

There were 2,139 new cases Wednesday from 47,580 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.5 per cent. The rate of active cases is 117.28 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 13,735 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,962.

There were 43 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 199 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 28. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.2 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 27.7 per 100,000 people.

There have been 6,876,041 tests completed.

_ Manitoba: 21,826 confirmed cases (5,797 active, 15,506 resolved, 523 deaths).

There were 291 new cases Wednesday from 2,478 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 12 per cent. The rate of active cases is 423.3 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,171 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 310.

There were 15 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 85 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.89 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 38.19 per 100,000 people.

There have been 384,964 tests completed.

_ Saskatchewan: 12,594 confirmed cases (4,213 active, 8,283 resolved, 98 deaths).

There were 162 new cases Wednesday from 1,109 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 15 per cent. The rate of active cases is 358.72 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,695 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 242.

There were zero new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 27 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.33 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 8.34 per 100,000 people.

There have been 286,679 tests completed.

_ Alberta: 84,597 confirmed cases (20,169 active, 63,668 resolved, 760 deaths).

There were 1,270 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 461.39 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 11,109 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,587.

There were 16 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 107 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 15. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.35 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 17.39 per 100,000 people.

There have been 1,547,298 tests completed.

_ British Columbia: 44,103 confirmed cases (11,035 active, 32,376 resolved, 692 deaths).

There were 640 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 217.6 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 4,766 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 681.

There were 24 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 133 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 19. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.37 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 13.65 per 100,000 people.

There have been 866,132 tests completed.

_ Yukon: 59 confirmed cases (one active, 57 resolved, one deaths).

There were zero new cases Wednesday from 17 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.45 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of one new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,790 tests completed.

_ Northwest Territories: 22 confirmed cases (seven active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Wednesday from 44 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 15.62 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of seven new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 7,552 tests completed.

_ Nunavut: 258 confirmed cases (41 active, 217 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Wednesday from 21 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 105.72 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 29 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,054 tests completed.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 17, 2020.

The Canadian Press

A pandemic makes local news more critical, but also more endangered

THE BIG STORY | posted Thursday, Dec 17th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, 10 months into this pandemic, after so many of us rediscovered how vital local news can be, there are even fewer local newsrooms in Canada than when it began.

How did we end up here? What are we losing when small-town papers die? How is it possible this virus has made local news both more necessary, and more impossible to sustain as a business, than ever before?

GUEST: April Lindgren, principal investigator for the Local News Research Project

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

‘Build it and they will come’: Canada’s public transit looks to rebound from COVID-19

JACOB SEREBRIN, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Dec 16th, 2020

MONTREAL — The COVID-19 pandemic has led to massive declines in public transit ridership across Canada, yet many cities decided to maintain service levels this year, while others even chose to expand.

Not long after the global health crisis reached Canada, rates of public transit use across the country dropped by about 85 per cent, according to prof. Matti Siemiatycki of University of Toronto’s geography and planning department.

The transportation policy expert said there were fears transit agencies in Canada would have to make drastic service cuts. “Public transit networks have been among the most impacted sectors in the economy from the pandemic,” he said in a recent interview.

Instead, provincial and federal funding rescued the country’s transit systems from the verge of collapse, he said. In the United States, however, public transit systems are facing the “dreaded transit death spiral,” Siemiatycki said, where cuts lead to further declines in ridership, which lead to further cuts and declines.

Washington, D.C., and Boston have announced major service cuts. In New York City, the local transit authority said in mid-November it may be forced to cut bus and subway service by 40 per cent and lay off more than 9,000 workers.

In contrast, Toronto and Montreal are expanding their transit systems. Luc Tremblay, CEO of the Montreal Transit Corp. said in a recent interview Montreal chose to maintain service levels in 2020 at 2019 levels — despite the fact ridership is about 65 per cent of what it was before COVID-19 hit.

Montreal, Tremblay said, made that choice so service is available when riders decide to return. “It’s the key,” he explained. “Build it and they will come.”

On Dec. 15, as Quebec imposed more COVID-19-related restrictions to stop a surge in infections across the province, the government announced a major expansion to the city’s light rail system. Twenty-three new stations will be added to the commuter rail network, with construction set to begin in 2023.

In the country’s largest city, the Toronto Transit Commission said service during the week of Dec. 4 was at 95 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. The transit agency said it will maintain the same level of service in 2021. The Ontario government is also moving forward with a $28-billion plan to expand transit in the Toronto area.

In British Columbia, transit agencies will receive more than $1 billion in federal and provincial funding to maintain service levels. Federal money also helped Winnipeg’s public transit agency fill a gap in its budget after ridership — and fare revenue — declined.

Marco D’Angelo, president and CEO of the Canadian Urban Transit Association, a trade association that represents the country’s public transit agencies, said service across the country is currently about 87 per cent of pre-COVID levels.

“Systems are not planning to reduce service, but that will likely change unless governments extend financial support,” he said in an email.

Siemiatycki said that while ridership is down, the health crisis has shown the importance of public transit. “Even through the pandemic, transit played a critical role in our economies,” he said. “Transit was a lifeline service for people to reach their front-line place of employment.”

Daniel Bergeron with Montreal’s public transit authority said he expects the pandemic-induced decline in ridership to have an almost $1-billon impact on the agency’s budget between 2020 and 2022. He said government subsidies will help cover most of the shortfall, but added that expenses will need to be cut and improvements put off in order to continue to offer service at 2019 levels.

When the pandemic is over, people will move around differently, he said, adding that he expects service to increase outside traditional peak periods. People working from home will be more likely to take trips during the day instead of at rush hour, he said.

“In the short term, there’s uncertainty,” he said. “But in 10, 20 years, it will be a new normal but still normal. We may have a bit more working from home, but it’s not open to everybody.”

People will still have to go to work in shops, restaurants and manufacturing facilities, and he thinks people will still want to go out to restaurants and go shopping downtown.

“Good quality of life is not living near a highway,” Bergeron said. “Nice neighbourhoods usually come with good public transport services.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 16, 2020.

———

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press

Is Canada’s new climate plan finally getting serious?

THE BIG STORY | posted Wednesday, Dec 16th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, it’s as ambitious as any Canadian government has been so far—but is it enough? A new climate plan rolled out by Justin Trudeau last week takes aim at some real metrics for change. So how would it directly impact your life, and your wallet?

What else is the government doing to move us into the future? How much depends on cooperation from the provinces? And is this another target we make plans for but never hit, or is this a real, bold step towards climate action?

GUEST: Catherine Abreu, Executive Director, Climate Action Network Canada

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 Tuesday, Dec. 16

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Dec 16th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Tuesday Dec. 16, 2020.

There are 475,214 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Canada: 475,214 confirmed cases (75,580 active, 385,975 resolved, 13,659 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 6,352 new cases Tuesday from 57,193 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 11 per cent. The rate of active cases is 201.07 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 46,179 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,597.

There were 106 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 792 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 113. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.3 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 36.34 per 100,000 people.

There have been 12,691,950 tests completed.

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 359 confirmed cases (20 active, 335 resolved, four deaths).

There were zero new cases Tuesday from 429 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 3.83 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of seven new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people.

There have been 67,744 tests completed.

_ Prince Edward Island: 89 confirmed cases (16 active, 73 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Tuesday from 911 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 10.19 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of five new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 73,222 tests completed.

_ Nova Scotia: 1,426 confirmed cases (57 active, 1,304 resolved, 65 deaths).

There were six new cases Tuesday from 1,370 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.44 per cent. The rate of active cases is 5.87 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 43 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is six.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people.

There have been 163,116 tests completed.

_ New Brunswick: 559 confirmed cases (48 active, 503 resolved, eight deaths).

There was one new case Tuesday from 407 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.25 per cent. The rate of active cases is 6.18 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 18 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three.

There were zero new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.02 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.03 per 100,000 people.

There have been 109,977 tests completed.

_ Quebec: 167,276 confirmed cases (16,811 active, 142,894 resolved, 7,571 deaths).

There were 1,741 new cases Tuesday from 11,592 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 15 per cent. The rate of active cases is 198.13 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,536 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,791.

There were 38 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 258 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 37. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.43 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 89.23 per 100,000 people.

There have been 2,349,554 tests completed.

_ Ontario: 144,396 confirmed cases (17,031 active, 123,373 resolved, 3,992 deaths).

There were 2,275 new cases Tuesday from 38,272 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.9 per cent. The rate of active cases is 116.92 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 13,486 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,927.

There were 20 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 184 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 26. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.18 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 27.41 per 100,000 people.

There have been 6,828,461 tests completed.

_ Manitoba: 21,535 confirmed cases (5,762 active, 15,265 resolved, 508 deaths).

There were 271 new cases Tuesday from 2,595 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 10 per cent. The rate of active cases is 420.75 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,159 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 308.

There were nine new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 88 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 13. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.92 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 37.09 per 100,000 people.

There have been 382,486 tests completed.

_ Saskatchewan: 12,432 confirmed cases (4,204 active, 8,130 resolved, 98 deaths).

There were 194 new cases Tuesday from 1,343 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 14 per cent. The rate of active cases is 357.95 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,835 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 262.

There were seven new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 32 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.39 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 8.34 per 100,000 people.

There have been 285,570 tests completed.

_ Alberta: 83,327 confirmed cases (20,649 active, 61,934 resolved, 744 deaths).

There were 1,341 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 472.37 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 11,299 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,614.

There were 11 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 104 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 15. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.34 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 17.02 per 100,000 people.

There have been 1,547,298 tests completed.

_ British Columbia: 43,463 confirmed cases (10,929 active, 31,866 resolved, 668 deaths).

There were 520 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 215.51 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 4,745 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 678.

There were 21 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 125 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 18. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.35 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 13.17 per 100,000 people.

There have been 866,132 tests completed.

_ Yukon: 59 confirmed cases (one active, 57 resolved, one deaths).

There were zero new cases Tuesday from 50 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.45 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of one new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,773 tests completed.

_ Northwest Territories: 22 confirmed cases (seven active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).

There was one new case Tuesday from 143 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.70 per cent. The rate of active cases is 15.62 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been seven new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 7,508 tests completed.

_ Nunavut: 258 confirmed cases (45 active, 213 resolved, zero deaths).

There were two new cases Tuesday from 81 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.5 per cent. The rate of active cases is 116.04 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 38 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is five.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,033 tests completed.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 16, 2020.

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Dec. 15, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Dec 15th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Monday Dec. 15, 2020.

There are 468,862 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Canada: 468,862 confirmed cases (75,842 active, 379,467 resolved, 13,553 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 6,731 new cases Monday from 75,433 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 8.9 per cent. The rate of active cases is 201.77 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 45,808 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,544.

There were 80 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 776 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 111. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.29 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 36.06 per 100,000 people.

There have been 12,634,757 tests completed.

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 359 confirmed cases (23 active, 332 resolved, four deaths).

There was one new case Monday from 395 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.25 per cent. The rate of active cases is 4.41 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been eight new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people.

There have been 67,315 tests completed.

_ Prince Edward Island: 89 confirmed cases (17 active, 72 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Monday from 643 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 10.83 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of five new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 72,311 tests completed.

_ Nova Scotia: 1,420 confirmed cases (57 active, 1,298 resolved, 65 deaths).

There were five new cases Monday from 952 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.53 per cent. The rate of active cases is 5.87 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 44 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is six.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people.

There have been 161,746 tests completed.

_ New Brunswick: 558 confirmed cases (60 active, 490 resolved, eight deaths).

There was one new case Monday from 411 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.24 per cent. The rate of active cases is 7.72 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 22 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three.

There were zero new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.02 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.03 per 100,000 people.

There have been 109,570 tests completed.

_ Quebec: 165,535 confirmed cases (16,657 active, 141,345 resolved, 7,533 deaths).

There were 1,620 new cases Monday from 9,900 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 16 per cent. The rate of active cases is 196.31 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,359 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,766.

There were 25 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 256 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 37. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.43 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 88.78 per 100,000 people.

There have been 2,337,962 tests completed.

_ Ontario: 142,121 confirmed cases (16,586 active, 121,563 resolved, 3,972 deaths).

There were 1,940 new cases Monday from 55,224 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.5 per cent. The rate of active cases is 113.86 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,887 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,841.

There were 23 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 174 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 25. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.17 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 27.27 per 100,000 people.

There have been 6,790,189 tests completed.

_ Manitoba: 21,264 confirmed cases (5,791 active, 14,974 resolved, 499 deaths).

There were 241 new cases Monday from 5,769 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.2 per cent. The rate of active cases is 422.87 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,133 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 305.

There were nine new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 92 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 13. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.96 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 36.44 per 100,000 people.

There have been 379,891 tests completed.

_ Saskatchewan: 12,238 confirmed cases (4,380 active, 7,767 resolved, 91 deaths).

There were 267 new cases Monday from 1,657 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 16 per cent. The rate of active cases is 372.94 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,826 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 261.

There were two new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 31 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.38 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 7.75 per 100,000 people.

There have been 284,227 tests completed.

_ Alberta: 81,986 confirmed cases (21,123 active, 60,130 resolved, 733 deaths).

There were 1,887 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 483.22 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 11,685 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,669.

There were 14 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 102 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 15. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.33 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 16.77 per 100,000 people.

There have been 1,547,298 tests completed.

_ British Columbia: 42,943 confirmed cases (11,089 active, 31,207 resolved, 647 deaths).

There were 759 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 218.66 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 4,791 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 684.

There were seven new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 120 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 17. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.34 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 12.76 per 100,000 people.

There have been 866,132 tests completed.

_ Yukon: 59 confirmed cases (four active, 54 resolved, one deaths).

There was one new case Monday. The rate of active cases is 9.79 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been five new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,723 tests completed.

_ Northwest Territories: 21 confirmed cases (six active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Monday from 334 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 13.39 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of six new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 7,365 tests completed.

_ Nunavut: 256 confirmed cases (49 active, 207 resolved, zero deaths).

There were nine new cases Monday from 148 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 6.1 per cent. The rate of active cases is 126.35 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 37 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is five.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 4,952 tests completed.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 15, 2020.

The Canadian Press

‘Tis the season for mass evictions?

THE BIG STORY | posted Tuesday, Dec 15th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, a moratorium on evictions in Ontario was once part of Premier Doug Ford’s plan to “make sure you and your family can stay in your home during this difficult time.” But that moratorium didn’t last forever and the past month has seen a torrent of virtual eviction hearings, with tenants often left frustrated, confused and in tears by the process.

What happened to “no COVID-19 evictions” in Ontario? Why have so many been happening at once? What are the opposition at Queen’s Park and activists on the ground doing to stop it? And what are the real problems with tenant rights in Canada’s largest province?

GUEST: NDP MPP Suze Morrison, Official Opposition Critic for Tenant Rights

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Majority of Canadians support holiday lockdown to fight COVID-19: Poll

LEE BERTHIAUME, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Dec 15th, 2020

OTTAWA — A new poll suggests a majority of Canadians support the idea of a lockdown on non-essential businesses and services during the holidays to fight a surge in new COVID-19 cases across the country.

Sixty-five per cent of respondents in the poll conducted by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies said they supported a general lockdown in their province during Christmas and New Year’s to tackle the pandemic versus 29 per cent who opposed the idea.

Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque expressed surprise at the seemingly strong support, which was largely the same no matter the respondent’s age or where in Canada they lived.

“I expected it to be a 50-50 type thing because we’re already under some pretty severe restrictions as it is,” Bourque said. “With the holidays coming up, Canadians are basically saying: `Buckle up. There’s a few weeks left.’ ”

To that end, 51 per cent respondents believed the worst of the pandemic is currently upon the country while 29 per cent felt it is yet to come. Only 10 per cent felt the worst had past and a similar number did not know.

Those numbers perhaps reflect the continuing surge in cases, including in parts of the country that were previously almost untouched. They also coincide with new modelling from the Public Health Agency of Canada suggesting the country could top 575,000 cases and nearly 15,000 deaths by Christmas.

Despite the surge, Bourque said he would have expected the arrival of the first Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine and the start of a mass-vaccination campaign this week to have created more of a sense of optimism.

“But people are saying: ‘We’re not there yet,’ ” he said.

At the same time, despite the excitement surrounding the arrival of those Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses, attitudes around getting inoculated remained largely unchanged.

Sixty-six per cent of respondents said they planned to get a shot when it becomes available to them, which was roughly the same as when the pollsters asked the same question in previous weeks. Sixteen per cent said they had no plans to get a vaccine while 18 per cent did not know.

That suggests some continued hesitancy when it comes to the vaccine.

Similarly, 31 per cent said they would take the first vaccine that becomes available while 44 per cent want to wait until others are on offer, which was similar to previous weeks. Twelve per cent had no plans to get vaccinated and 14 per cent did not know.

The poll of 1,528 adult Canadians in an online panel was conducted from Dec. 11 to Dec. 13 and cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random.

RELATED: Everything you need to know about coronavirus

Vaccine rollout and assisted dying debate: In The News for Dec. 14

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Dec 14th, 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 Dec. 14 …

What we are watching in Canada …

MONTREAL — The first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine have arrived in Canada.

Some of the country’s initial 30,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines touched down last night, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Twitter, sharing a photo of a plane being unloaded.

“This is good news,” he said. “But our fight against COVID-19 is not over. Now more than ever, let’s keep up our vigilance.”

The plane touched down at Mirabel International Airport in Montreal.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are bound for 14 distribution sites across the country, across all 10 provinces, and more doses are expected to cross the border today.

Quebec is expected to be the first province to administer the vaccine, saying it’s prepared to start inoculating residents of two long-term care homes as early today.

Other provinces say they’ll vaccinate long-term care residents and front-line health-care workers later in the week.

Also this …

OTTAWA — It’s out of the political frying pan and into the fire today for the Trudeau government’s bill to expand access to medically assisted dying.

Opening debate on Bill C-7 begins tonight in the Senate, where the government has no control over independent-minded, less-partisan senators who appear determined to amend the legislation.

In the House of Commons, the minority government faced delay tactics from a majority of Conservative MPs who vehemently oppose expanding assisted dying to intolerably suffering people who are not already near death.

But, with the Bloc Quebecois and NDP backing the bill, its eventual passage last Thursday was assured; the government did not have to make any significant amendments and it faced no political pressure to do more to help Canadians access medical assistance in dying (MAID).

That is about to change in the Senate, where the government will face a flurry of amendments from both sides of the equation: senators who think the bill is unconstitutional because it goes too far and those who think it’s unconstitutional because it doesn’t go far enough.

Adding urgency to the situation, senators are being pressed to put the bill through all the legislative hoops by Friday, the court-imposed deadline for revamping Canada’s assisted dying regime.

And this…

While some families don’t want pandemic reminders to cloud Christmas within their own homes, others are finding whimsical ways to incorporate COVID-related elements into their rituals.

London, Ont., mom Ursula Goncalves is leaving hand sanitizer for Santa this year, placing a bottle next to the milk and cookies her eight-year-old daughter Halina and six-year-old son Daniel usually set out for the clandestine gift-giver.

Dr. Todd Cunningham, a child psychology expert at the University of Toronto, says adding pandemic themes to our merry festivities can be helpful by reinforcing messages kids have been hearing for months.

“We’ve talked often about ways of keeping ourselves safe,” he said. “So it would make sense to them in terms of our current context to (incorporate) those things.”

It also isn’t surprising some kids are expressing concern for Santa’s safety, Cunningham added, especially if they understand his advanced age might make him more susceptible to the virus.

So it’s a good thing Santa is a magical being, as some of Canada’s top doctors have clarified.

B.C.’s Dr. Bonnie Henry said recently Kris Kringle is likely immune to COVID-19, while Prince Edward Island’s Dr. Heather Morrison announced that Santa and Mrs. Claus had been granted essential worker status along with their elves and reindeer.

Sheri Madigan, a child development researcher at the University of Calgary, says introducing COVID safety elements may help calm worried youngsters, and further their understanding of the virus.

ICYMI …

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney is recovering after undergoing an emergency surgery on Friday.

A family spokesman says the “urgent procedure” was a “complete success” and Mulroney was released from hospital this afternoon.

Mulroney is 81.

His daughter Caroline Mulroney, who is Ontario’s minister of transportation, says her dad is “feeling better and is now resting at home.”

She thanked everyone for their good wishes.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and former Liberal cabinet minister Jody Wilson-Raybould are among those offering support.

What we are watching in the U.S. …  

WASHINGTON — Presidential electors are meeting across the United States today to formally choose Joe Biden as America’s next president.

Today is the day set by law for the meeting of the Electoral College.

In reality, electors meet in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to cast their ballots.

The results will be sent to Washington, and tallied in a Jan. 6 joint session of Congress over which Vice-President Mike Pence will preside.

The electors’ votes have drawn more attention than usual this year because President Donald Trump has refused to concede the election and continued to make baseless allegations of fraud.

Also this …

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump says he’s reversing an administration directive to vaccinate top government officials against COVID-19 while public distribution of the shot is limited to front-line health workers and people in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

The U.S. president made the announcement in a tweet last night, hours after his administration confirmed that senior U.S. officials, including some White House aides who work in close proximity to Trump, would be offered vaccines as soon as this week under federal continuity of government plans.

It was not immediately clear what effect Trump’s tweet would have on the government’s efforts to protect top leadership.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

BRUSSELS — European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier says he still has the firm belief that a Brexit trade agreement is possible, and has whittled the outstanding disputes to be settled ahead of the New Year to just two.

Barnier said today the nine-month negotiations have come down to finding settlements on fair-competition rules and fishing rights, no longer mentioning issue of the legal mechanisms for resolving future disputes that also long dogged the negotiations.

Both sides are teetering on the brink of a no-deal Brexit departure, but have committed to a final push ahead of Jan. 1, when a transitional period following Britain’s Jan. 31 departure from the bloc is to end.

Also this …

BERLIN — The German government is calling on citizens to forgo Christmas shopping two days before the country heads into a hard lockdown that will shut most stores, tighten social distancing rules and close schools across the country.

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said he hoped people would only buy what they really needed, like groceries, adding that “the faster we get these infections under control, the better it is for everyone.”

The country’s central disease control centre reported 16,362 new cases today — that’s about 4,000 cases more than a week ago.

Germany will step up the country’s lockdown measures beginning Wednesday and running to Jan. 10.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 14, 2020

The Canadian Press

Year in review: A look at news events in November 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Dec 14th, 2020

A look at news events in November 2020:

01 – The Royal Canadian Legion named Debbie Sullivan of Saint John, N.B., as this year’s Silver Cross mother. Her son, navy Lt. Chris Saunders, was killed at the age of 32 when a fire broke out aboard his submarine 16 years ago.

01 – Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland was cleared of COVID-19. She got tested after her COVID Alert phone app told her she’d been near an infected person.

02 – Former federal cabinet minister Peter MacKay announced he is quitting politics. MacKay had been spending the fall pondering his political future after finishing second to Erin O’Toole in the Conservative party leadership contest.

02 – For the first time, an HIV self-test was approved for use in Canada. The one-minute, finger-prick blood test manufactured by Richmond, B.C.-based bioLytical Laboratories was granted a medical device licence by Health Canada. Experts have said self-testing is critical to increasing access to life-extending treatments and preventing the spread of infection in Canada.

02 – Canadian aviation pioneer Max Ward died. A family friend said he collapsed at his home in Edmonton and died in hospital, 20 days short of his 99th birthday. Northerners still credit Ward for helping to open up the Northwest Territories when he worked as a Yellowknife bush pilot. He built his business into a regional carrier, then into Wardair, at one time Canada’s largest charter airline.

03 – Toronto rapper Drake earned his 21st No. 1 hit on Billboard’s R&B/hip-hop songs chart, with his song “Laugh Now Cry Later.” The milestone broke a record held by two legendary performers, Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder, who each had 20 songs top the chart.

03 – One of the strangest U.S. presidential campaigns in history came to an end. Despite fears of clashes at polling places, chaos sparked by the coronavirus pandemic and confusion due to disinformation and swiftly changing voting rules, millions across the country cast ballots in a historically contentious election with few problems.

04 – Democrat Joe Biden took the battleground states of Michigan and Wisconsin, bringing him just six electoral college votes away from the presidency. Biden said at an afternoon press conference that he expected to win the presidency, though he stopped short of outright declaring victory.

05 – A Minnesota judge ruled that all four Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd’s death would be tried together and that the trial will be held locally. Judge Peter Cahill turned down defence requests to move the trial, rejecting their argument that pre-trial publicity would make it impossible for the four men to get a fair trial.

05 – General Motors announced it would resume making pickup trucks at its assembly plant in Oshawa, Ont. The company made the announcement after it reached a tentative contract with Unifor overnight.

05 – The first Black baby doll to have an Afro was inducted into the U.S. National Toy Hall of Fame. Baby Nancy was launched in 1968 by Operation Bootstrap, a non-profit Black community self-help organization that emerged in the aftermath of the Watts riots in Los Angeles. Other 2020 inductees included sidewalk chalk and the wooden block game Jenga.

06 – Nunavut recorded its first confirmed case of COVID-19. Health officials began contact tracing and a rapid response team was dispatched to the Hudson Bay community of Sanikiluaq. Everyone in the community of about 850 people was urged to stay home and limit contact with others.

06 – Democrat Joe Biden said he was already preparing to assume the presidency even though he had not been declared the winner. During a prime-time address, Biden cited his lead in key states such as Georgia and Pennsylvania as reasons for his confidence.

07 – Manitoba’s government decided to extend the province’s state of emergency for another 30 days.

07 – Joe Biden won the U.S. presidential election, clinching his victory in the electoral college over President Donald Trump. In his first address, Biden pledged to be a president “who seeks not to divide but to unify.” With the win, Kamala Harris became the first woman and first person of colour to be elected vice-president. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he looked forward to helping the Biden administration tackle the world’s greatest challenges.

08 – Alex Trebek, one of Canada’s most famous citizens and the legendary host of iconic quiz show “Jeopardy!” died at 80. The show’s Twitter account said Trebek died at home, surrounded by family and friends. He had revealed in March 2019 that he’d been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Trebek kept working, recording new episodes of “Jeopardy!” until late October. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canadians had “lost an icon.”

08 – Canadian hockey pioneer Howie Meeker died at age 97. Meeker won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie in 1947 and went on to win the Stanley Cup on four occasions over eight seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He also had a 30-year broadcasting career.

08 – The final ballot count for B.C.’s Oct. 24 provincial election confirmed the New Democrats will govern the province with 57 of 87 seats in the legislature. Premier John Horgan said he was “humbled and honoured” by the support British Columbians showed his party.

09 – Pfizer said preliminary data suggested its COVID-19 vaccine may be 90 per cent effective in preventing the virus. Pfizer’s senior vice-president of clinical development said the company decided to reveal the early data in an effort to offer some hope in the midst of the global health crisis.

10 – The Manitoba government forced non-essential stores to close and banned social gatherings in an effort to stop a surge of COVID-19 cases. Premier Brian Pallister said the province was at a critical point in its fight against the virus.

10 – The man charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder in the Toronto van attack pleaded not guilty. Lawyers for Alek Minassian asked the court to find him not criminally responsible for his actions on April 23, 2018, when he drove the vehicle down a busy sidewalk. The judge hearing the case said the trial would turn on Minassian’s state of mind at the time, since he had admitted in court to carrying out the attack.

11 – Remembrance Day was marked with scaled-down ceremonies across the country because of COVID-19. The Royal Canadian Legion told Canadians not to attend ceremonies in person.

12 – A $50-million foundation to help survivors of the ’60s Scoop was ceremonially launched. Its aim is to help heal the damage done by taking Indigenous children from their families and placing them in non-Indigenous homes. Establishment of the foundation was part of a class-action settlement with the federal government.

13 – China finally issued congratulations to U.S. president-elect Joe Biden. Beijing, along with Moscow, had not immediately joined the international throng that congratulated Biden after he and running mate Kamala Harris secured enough electoral college votes to unseat Donald Trump. A spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry said “We respect the choice of the American people.”

13 – The Miami Marlins hired Kim Ng as their general manager, making her the highest-ranking woman in baseball operations in the major leagues and the second female general manager for a men’s team in a major professional sport in North America. Jo-Anne Polak held the position with the now-defunct Ottawa Rough Riders of the CFL from 1988-91. Ng started her Major League Baseball career as an intern 30 years ago and won three World Series rings while spending 21 years in the front offices of the Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers.

16 – Hackers targeted the City of Saint John, N.B., with a cyberattack. Officials said the “significant” intrusion into the city’s computer system forced an emergency shutdown.

16 – Canada’s COVID-19 case count topped 300,000 — less than a month after it crossed the 200,000 threshold.

16 – Former federal finance minister Bill Morneau was appointed a senior fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. He will also teach a graduate course on global economic policy-making in the spring semester.

17 – The federal Conservatives demanded that the Trudeau government side with Canada’s allies and reject 5G technology from China. Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said the Liberals must also crack down on the improper influence of China on Chinese-Canadians, though he acknowledged there could be an economic cost to Canada’s actions.

17 – The head of the World Health Organization said Canada deserves praise for its efforts to fight COVID-19. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also said distributing any vaccine would be among the most daunting logistical efforts since the Second World War.

18 – American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer said new numbers from its ongoing COVID-19 vaccine study suggest the shots are 95 per cent effective. The announcement came just a week after the company first revealed preliminary results. Initially, Pfizer and German partner BioNTech said the vaccine was more than 90 per cent effective.

18 – A jet grounded worldwide after two crashes that killed 346 people, including 18 Canadians, was cleared to fly again. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said it would certify the Boeing 737 Max jet to fly after a comprehensive and methodical 20-month review process. Boeing said it overhauled anti-stall software that pushed the nose down repeatedly on both planes that crashed, overcoming the pilots’ struggles to regain control. Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Canada would impose different requirements than the U.S., including added procedures on the flight deck and before takeoff.

19 – A team of scientists from Oxford University and drugmaker AstraZeneca said their COVID-19 vaccine shows a robust immune response in healthy adults aged 56-69 and people over 70. Phase 2 study results found the vaccine is as effective for older people as it is for the younger demographic, and that it produced few side-effects.

19 – RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki insisted there is no room in the federal police force for hateful, misogynistic or homophobic attitudes. Her comments came after an independent report found the force’s “toxic” culture tolerates such attitudes. The report from former Supreme Court justice Michel Bastarache concludes that change must be initiated from outside the RCMP, and it’s past time for the federal government to take meaningful and radical action.

19 – Newly released data on emergency COVID-19 aid showed some of the country’s highest income earners used a key benefit for workers. Figures from the Canada Revenue Agency show nearly 115,000 people who earned between about $100,000 and $200,000 last year applied for the $2,000-a-month Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

20 – Canada’s ambassador to China met virtually with Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who have been detained in China since December 2018. Their arrests came not long after Canada detained Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver. Global Affairs Canada said Ambassador Dominic Barton was granted on-site virtual consular access to Kovrig and Spavor. The federal government said no further information could be disclosed about the meetings.

20 – A Fredericton jury found 50-year-old Matthew Raymond not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder for the 2018 killings of four people. The families of Donnie Robichaud, Bobbie Lee Wright and police constables Robb Costello and Sara Burns hugged each other and sobbed after the verdict was announced. Raymond bowed his head and wiped away tears but said nothing.

20 – A celebrated journalist, historian, world traveller and fiction writer who became a pioneer of the transgender movement died at 94. Jan Morris was a prolific and accomplished author and journalist who wrote dozens of books on a variety of subjects.

20 – Pfizer asked U.S. regulators to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech also submitted applications in other countries — Canada included.

21 – Canada and Britain announced a new trade deal, beating the Dec. 31 Brexit deadline that would have triggered new tariffs on a range of Canadian exports. Britain is Canada’s fifth-largest trading partner, with $29 billion in two-way merchandise trade in 2019.

22 – Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes kicked off the 2020 American Music Awards with a performance of their new duet ”Monster.” The Weeknd won favourite soul/R&B male artist, favourite soul/R&B album for ”After Hours” and favourite soul/R&B song for ”Heartless.”

23 – British pharma company AstraZeneca and Oxford University said their COVID-19 vaccine showed positive results. Late-stage trials indicated the coronavirus vaccine was up to 90 per cent effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals.

23 – The premiers of Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador announced they would temporarily pull out of the so-called “Atlantic Bubble” for two weeks amid a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Atlantic Canada.

23 – After weeks of delay, the U.S. government finally acknowledged president-elect Joe Biden was the “apparent winner” of the Nov. 3 election, clearing the way for co-operation on a transition of power.

24 – Canada reached another agreement with a pharmaceutical company to buy doses of a potential COVID-19 treatment. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government bought 26,000 doses of an unnamed drug co-developed by Vancouver’s AbCellera Biologics and Eli Lilly, with an option to buy thousands more. The two companies announced last March they were co-operating on developing a treatment using antibodies from a patient who had already had the illness.

24 – Two swing states certified Democrat Joe Biden as the winner of the U.S. presidential election. Both Nevada and Pennsylvania formally declared their results from the Nov. 3 vote.

24 – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada’s lack of vaccine-production facilities meant we would likely receive our COVID-19 vaccines after countries like the U.S., Germany and the U.K. But Trudeau said Ottawa was working with the provinces and the military to ensure vaccines are distributed across the country as soon as they are delivered.

24 – Indigenous hockey pioneer Fred Sasakamoose died after a presumed case of COVID-19. His son, Neil, said the 86-year-old died in a Prince Albert, Sask., hospital after several days of fighting the virus. Fred Sasakamoose played 11 games with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1953-54, becoming one of the first Indigenous players in the then-six-team NHL.

25 – The Weeknd blasted the Grammy Awards as “corrupt,” after the Canadian pop star walked away with zero nominations. The three-time Grammy winner criticized the Recording Academy on Twitter after he was snubbed, despite having one of the year’s biggest albums with “After Hours.” Fellow Canadian Justin Bieber earned four nominations.

25 – Argentine soccer “Golden Boy” Diego Maradona died at the age of 60. Maradona was among the best players in history and led his country to the 1986 World Cup title before later struggling with cocaine use and other health problems. He captivated fans over a two-decade career and famously scored the “Hand of God” goal, in which he punched the ball into England’s net during the 1986 World Cup quarterfinals.

26 – Federal health officials said Canada now has purchase agreements with seven COVID-19 vaccine producers. Deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo said most were in the final stages of testing before they can go to Health Canada for approval.

26 – Quebec’s highest court declared that a provision of the Criminal Code that allows for life sentences to be served consecutively is unconstitutional. The decision effectively reduced the sentence given to the man who murdered six people in a Quebec City mosque in 2017. Alexandre Bissonnette, who is 30, was sentenced in February 2019 to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 40 years. With concurrent sentences, he will be eligible to apply for parole after serving 25 years.

26 – AstraZeneca and Oxford University acknowledged a manufacturing error in their COVID-19 vaccine, raising questions about preliminary results reported earlier that showed the vaccine to be 90 per cent effective.

26 – New Brunswick became the latest Atlantic province to opt out of the so-called bubble, and demand anyone entering the province self-isolate for 14 days. The province also introduced heightened public health measures in the Fredericton area.

27 – The Governor General’s office announced 114 new inductees to the Order of Canada, including Olympians Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue, Indigenous writer Thomas King and winemaker John Peller.

27 – Justin Trudeau said most Canadians should receive the COVID-19 vaccine by September 2021. The prime minister said Canada’s vaccine distribution program would be led by former NATO commander Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin.

29 – Dave Prowse, the man behind the mask of Darth Vader in the original “Star Wars” trilogy, died at 85. Prowse was a weightlifter before taking up acting and was noticed by director George Lucas. Although physically perfect for the Vader part, his lilting English West Country accent was considered less ideal, and the lines were re-recorded by James Earl Jones.

29 – The federal government extended the myriad travel restrictions and rules meant to curb the spread of COVID-19. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and Health Minister Patty Hajdu said the rules, first imposed near the beginning of the global outbreak, would now be in effect until Jan. 21, 2021, for travellers entering Canada from a country other than the United States. Among the rules is a requirement for anyone entering the country to self-isolate for 14 days.

30 – Merriam-Webster’s choice for its 2020 word of the year was a no-brainer. The dictionary chose “pandemic,” which started to trend on merriam-webster.com as early as January and again in February. On March 11, when the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic, lookups on the site for pandemic were about 115,000 — 800 per cent higher than a year before. This year’s runners-up included coronavirus, quarantine, asymptomatic, mamba, kraken and malarkey.

30 – With the federal deficit closing in on $400 billion this fiscal year, the Trudeau Liberals said there is even more spending ahead. The fall economic update delivered by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland looks beyond the pandemic, to where the Liberals see the economy going a few years from now. The government’s fall economic update proposes to send extra child-benefit payments to families with young children next year as well as cash for skills training and to create new jobs. It also plans to inject another $100 billion into the economy over three years once the pandemic is over.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 15, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Canadian Press NewsAlert: Ontario to administer first COVID-19 vaccines today

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Dec 14th, 2020

TORONTO — Ontario says it will administer the province’s first COVID-19 vaccination today.

Premier Doug Ford’s office says a health-care worker will receive the first dose at a hospital in Toronto.

The first shots will be administered at the University Health Network.

The province was to receive 6,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine this weekend, and plans to give them to approximately 2,500 health-care workers in the first phase of its immunization plan.

Half the shots will be administered this week and the other half will be intentionally held back to give the same workers a required second dose 21 days later.

Ford has said health-care workers, long-term care residents, and their caregivers will be among the first to receive the vaccine.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 14, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Canada not immune to QAnon as pandemic fuels conspiracy theories, experts say

BRENNA OWEN, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Dec 11th, 2020

Conspiracy theories, including those propagated by the once-fringe QAnon movement, have gained traction as the COVID-19 pandemic fuels fear, social and economic insecurity, and mistrust in authorities, experts in Canada say.

The reach and visibility of QAnon have grown as its followers’ beliefs mix with misinformation and debunked claims related to the pandemic, said Amarnath Amarasingam, a fellow with the Global Network on Extremism and Technology and a professor in the school of religion at Queen’s University.

It’s hard to say where the discredited QAnon belief system begins and ends, he said, describing it as a multifaceted conspiracy theory that’s become increasingly overarching since the first so-called “Q drop,” a post by an anonymous user called Q on the online forum 4chan in late 2017.

QAnon draws on and fuels an array of beliefs, he said, from anti-Semitism to white nationalism to the idea that U.S. President Donald Trump is secretly working to take down a cabal of corrupt, Satan-worshipping liberal elites who are abusing and trafficking children for sex.

It’s so absurd it should be the perfect conspiracy theory to ignore, said Amarasingam.

But Trump’s refusal to denounce QAnon has pushed it into the mainstream, where its ideas are being cherry-picked and sprinkled throughout various movements, including those opposing public health rules aimed at fighting the spread of COVID-19, he said.


RELATED: COVID-19 conspiracies creating a ‘public health crisis’ in Canada, experts say


QAnon has become almost “socio-religious,” said Amarasingam, as some believers view Q as a prophet who arrived to wake up the sleeping masses. At the same time, Q’s posts are often cryptic and vague, empowering followers to find meaning and apply it to their local concerns.

That makes QAnon nimble. It’s most prevalent in the U.S., he said, but signs of QAnon have cropped up online or at rallies in at least 70 countries as people take what they need and leave the rest.

“They’ll take the anti-deep state stuff,” he said. “But they might leave behind the satanic cabal and the child enslavement aspect.”

It’s as though QAnon’s followers don’t need Q or Trump anymore; the movement has become a parasite that feeds on broader conspiratorial thinking about “the all-powerful elite that are harming little people,” he said.

Anti-mask and anti-vaccination movements are among those drawing from QAnon as a kind of “floating resource,” Amarasingam said.

And Canada is not immune, he said.

QAnon message boards were set alight after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a United Nations conference this fall that the pandemic is an opportunity to “reset” and reimagine economic systems to address challenges such as poverty and climate change, said Amarasingam.

“They interpreted it as a kind of slip-up,” he said. “Like it was showing evidence that there was this master plan at work, that COVID could have indeed been a hoax that was planned by powerful elites to then bring about all these new economic and social changes, or large-scale societal shifts.”

The reframing of the fallout from the pandemic as an anti-government conspiracy theory is dangerous, said Amarasingam, because it could affect whether people get vaccinated and follow public health rules.

A report by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a think tank focused on extremism and polarization, found Canada is among the top four countries driving QAnon content on Twitter, alongside the United States, the U.K. and Australia.

The Manitoba man accused of breaking through a gate at the Rideau Hall near the residences of the prime minister and the Governor General this summer while heavily armed had posted QAnon-related content on social media, said Peter Smith, a researcher with the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.

An Ontario-based woman was responsible for popularizing the QAnon-related conspiracy theory that wardrobes and other furniture sold by the company Wayfair arrived with a trafficked child inside, he said.

And a web-based show run by a Montreal man who spreads QAnon content and false claims about COVID-19 is popular across French-speaking Europe, said Smith. The show was recently banned from Facebook and YouTube.

Twitter has taken steps to crack down on QAnon-related accounts and content, while groups were removed and banned from Facebook in October.

Smith said Q told followers to use “camouflage” and many moved to sites like Parler, which bills itself as the “world’s premier free speech platform.” Others popped up again on Facebook under names like “Cue,” he said.


RELATED: Facebook to remove COVID-19 vaccine-related misinformation


QAnon came alive when disinformation was already surging on social media, said Dr. Ghayda Hassan, the director of the Canadian Practitioners Network for the Prevention of Radicalization and Extremist Violence.

“The speed of access of information does not give us time to validate it,” said Hassan, a clinical psychologist who also serves as co-chair on the UNESCO initiative on the prevention of violent radicalization.

And the pandemic has created conditions that stir up conspiratorial thinking, she said, including fear, social and financial insecurity, a sense of being controlled and a shaken trust in government and health authorities.

So, why do people believe in what may seem weird or insane to another?

They’re trying to find meaning, said Hassan.

In times of crisis, “we need to understand why this is happening, and often finding a cause involves scapegoating,” she said.

QAnon relies on certain facts that exist, she added, pointing to child abuse.

“It’s just how these facts are connected together that appears totally illogical to us.”

Hassan said people pick and choose what makes sense to them from within the QAnon universe, spurring its growth.

“It takes on the colour of whatever discourse is prevalent in whatever area.”

Hassan noted she will be watching for the effects of social isolation once COVID-19 outbreaks are under control and public health rules are relaxed.

Although we might think people will be eager to connect with each other again, she said, sometimes the opposite happens.

“That is an increase in isolation, but also a deterioration of interpersonal and social skills and capacities.”

Hassan wants better media literacy education and stronger standards for how social networking companies manage content on their platforms.

Amarasingam, meanwhile, said he’s been part of discussions with major social media companies about how to tackle content related to the Islamic State and al-Qaida, which is in some ways easier to handle than misinformation.

“When it was ISIS beheading videos, you can make that decision pretty quickly,” he said. “But when you talk about (Make America Great Again) or when you talk about lockdown content, it’s not always so clear-cut.”

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

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Friday, Dec. 11, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Dec 11th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Friday, Dec. 11, 2020.

There are 442,069 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Canada: 442,069 confirmed cases (73,225 active, 355,735 resolved, 13,109 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 6,739 new cases Thursday from 91,423 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.4 per cent. The rate of active cases is 194.8 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 45,800 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,543.

There were 126 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 702 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 100. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.27 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 34.87 per 100,000 people.

There have been 12,317,829 tests completed.

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 354 confirmed cases (20 active, 330 resolved, four deaths).

There was one new case Thursday from 507 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.20 per cent. The rate of active cases is 3.83 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 14 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people.

There have been 65,840 tests completed.

_ Prince Edward Island: 84 confirmed cases (13 active, 71 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Thursday from 1,450 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 8.28 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 11 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 67,473 tests completed.

_ Nova Scotia: 1,393 confirmed cases (64 active, 1,264 resolved, 65 deaths).

There were four new cases Thursday from 1,308 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.31 per cent. The rate of active cases is 6.59 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 50 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is seven.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people.

There have been 157,619 tests completed.

_ New Brunswick: 546 confirmed cases (75 active, 464 resolved, seven deaths).

There were four new cases Thursday from 502 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.80 per cent. The rate of active cases is 9.65 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 26 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people.

There have been 107,435 tests completed.

_ Quebec: 158,310 confirmed cases (16,018 active, 134,910 resolved, 7,382 deaths).

There were 1,842 new cases Thursday from 11,552 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 16 per cent. The rate of active cases is 188.78 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 11,778 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,683.

There were 33 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 227 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 32. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.38 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 87 per 100,000 people.

There have been 2,291,928 tests completed.

_ Ontario: 134,783 confirmed cases (16,233 active, 114,679 resolved, 3,871 deaths).

There were 1,983 new cases Thursday from 59,788 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.3 per cent. The rate of active cases is 111.44 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 13,037 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,862.

There were 35 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 159 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 23. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.16 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 26.57 per 100,000 people.

There have been 6,554,562 tests completed.

_ Manitoba: 19,947 confirmed cases (5,380 active, 14,116 resolved, 451 deaths).

There were 292 new cases Thursday from 2,437 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 12 per cent. The rate of active cases is 392.85 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,196 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 314.

There were 13 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 98 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 14. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 1.02 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 32.93 per 100,000 people.

There have been 371,441 tests completed.

_ Saskatchewan: 11,223 confirmed cases (4,682 active, 6,466 resolved, 75 deaths).

There were 324 new cases Thursday from 1,571 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 21 per cent. The rate of active cases is 398.65 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,979 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 283.

There were four new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 21 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.26 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 6.39 per 100,000 people.

There have been 277,275 tests completed.

_ Alberta: 75,054 confirmed cases (20,163 active, 54,225 resolved, 666 deaths).

There were 1,566 new cases Thursday from 5,964 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 26 per cent. The rate of active cases is 461.26 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,031 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,719.

There were 13 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 91 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 13. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.3 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 15.24 per 100,000 people.

There have been 1,547,298 tests completed.

_ British Columbia: 40,060 confirmed cases (10,525 active, 28,948 resolved, 587 deaths).

There were 723 new cases Thursday from 6,184 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 12 per cent. The rate of active cases is 207.54 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 4,639 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 663.

There were 28 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 106 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 15. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.3 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 11.57 per 100,000 people.

There have been 859,644 tests completed.

_ Yukon: 58 confirmed cases (10 active, 47 resolved, one deaths).

There were zero new cases Thursday from 28 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 24.48 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of eight new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,701 tests completed.

_ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Thursday from 90 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 6,781 tests completed.

_ Nunavut: 229 confirmed cases (42 active, 187 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Thursday from 42 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 108.3 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 31 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 4,756 tests completed.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 11, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Kids need media literacy education to match the rise of social networks: experts

BRENNA OWEN, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Dec 11th, 2020

Kids in Canada need greater access to up-to-date media literacy education to help them navigate what’s real and what’s fake or misleading online, experts say.

The rise of social media has led to the proliferation of misinformation and disinformation, which is spread intentionally, said Dr. Ghayda Hassan, a clinical psychologist and the director of the Canadian Practitioners Network for the Prevention of Radicalization and Extremist Violence.

“Because of the speed of access to information, cognitively, people do not have time to process and to validate the kind of information they receive, so there are a lot of biases that interfere,” said Hassan, who is also a UNESCO co-chair for the prevention of radicalization.

“The fact that information is often on social media propagated by individuals that we may like, that we may trust or that we may directly know, gives them more credibility,” she said in an interview.

The COVID-19 pandemic is stoking fear and fuelling social and economic instability, creating conditions that intensify conspiratorial thinking, she said, adding she’s concerned that young people are particularly vulnerable.

Hassan is calling for stronger standards for how social media companies manage content on their platforms and a national strategy and mandatory curriculums covering digital media literacy in schools.

“It has to become obligatory material, just as you teach math to kids.”

School curriculums in each province and territory have included media literacy for nearly 20 years, but the material largely hasn’t been updated to reflect how media has changed since the 1990s, said Matthew Johnson, the director of education for the Ottawa-based non-profit MediaSmarts.

“The model today is not of a distribution chain, but of a network that is functionally infinite,” he said. “In theory, anybody on YouTube can have as large an audience as a TV news network or a world leader.”

Tools and signals that may have worked on stories from traditional print and broadcast media in the past, such as bylines or photo credits, may not be as useful for authenticating information on social media.

Some of those signals or markers of reliability, such as a professional-looking website, may even be counterproductive, said Johnson.

“That’s often extremely misleading,” he said. “The people who intentionally spread misinformation or disinformation know that we look at that, and so they will put a lot of effort into making something that looks good.”

The extent to which media literacy is actually taught varies by province and territory, said Johnson. For example, B.C. has what he called an excellent digital literacy curriculum, but it’s not mandatory. In Ontario, where media literacy is part of the evaluated language arts curriculum, he said it receives the least classroom time among other components.

“We don’t have any good recent data about what teachers are actually teaching and what students are actually learning at a national level.”

MediaSmarts offers parents, teachers and students tips for authenticating information, from fact-checking tools to finding and verifying original sources and checking others to assess the veracity and intent of a story.

It draws on key concepts in media and digital media literacy, including that digital media has unexpected audiences, that online experiences are shaped by the social networks and search engines themselves, and that what we do online can have real-world impacts.

Joyce Grant is a freelance journalist and the co-founder of TeachingKidsNews.com, a website she describes as a transparent source of news for kids that also helps them understand how credible news is made and how to spot content that’s deceptive or misleading.

“Fake news, as it gets better, starts to better mimic journalism. So, really, what it comes down to now is critical thinking,” said Grant, who began delivering in-class media literacy workshops around a decade ago.

She aims to help youth recognize echo chambers or silos on social media and break out of them by seeking out diverse sources of information.

The goal is also a healthy skepticism that asks, “What seems off about this? What is missing? Where are the points of view? Why did this person write this article or post?” said Grant.

“All of a sudden the light comes on, and then, yeah, they’re all over it … nobody wants to be fooled, right?”

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

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press

Premiers’ demands for long-term health funding increase takes back seat to COVID-19

JOAN BRYDEN, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Dec 10th, 2020

A first ministers meeting Thursday that was supposed to be devoted to long-term, federal health care funding  seems destined to be taken over by a more urgent priority: surviving the COVID-19 pandemic.

Premiers asked for the meeting in September and wanted it focused exclusively on their unanimous demand that Ottawa add at least $28 billion a year to its annual health transfer payment to provinces and territories.

But while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s willing to discuss the issue, he has been clear that getting through the pandemic is more pressing, as far as he’s concerned.

As host of the daylong meeting, he’s scheduled the first half to focus on the rollout of vaccines to inoculate Canadians against COVID-19, the first of which is slated to begin delivery next week.

The second half of the meeting, to be conducted via teleconference, will be devoted to health care funding and improving health care in general.

On Wednesday, premiers were scaling back expectations, saying it will take multiple meetings to come to any resolution on health transfers.

Ontario’s Doug Ford is hoping to persuade Trudeau to commit to a resolution in time for increased funding to be included in the next federal budget.

The premiers’ demand for more health care cash comes as the federal government is facing an unprecedented deficit approaching $400 billion, with more billions yet to be doled out to help Canadians weather the pandemic and the shattered economy to eventually bounce back.

So premiers can hardly be surprised that Trudeau doesn’t seem in any rush to deal with their decades-long complaint that Ottawa is not paying its fair share of annual health care costs.

The federal government this year will transfer to the provinces nearly $42 billion for health care, under an arrangement that sees the transfer increase by at least three per cent each year.

But the premiers contend that amounts to only 22 per cent of the actual cost of delivering health care and doesn’t keep pace with yearly cost increases of about six per cent.

They want Ottawa to increase its share to 35 per cent and maintain it at that level, which would mean an added $28 billion this year, rising by roughly another $4 billion in each subsequent year.


RELATED: PM, premiers, to discuss additional health spending


In calculating the federal share, the premiers include only the cash transfers they get from Ottawa. They do not include the billions in tax transfers they also get — essentially tax room vacated by the feds so that provinces and territories can increase their taxes to help pay for health care.

In a 2008 report, the auditor general of Canada pegged the value of the tax transfer for health care at $12.6 billion.

Nor do the premiers include any of the money the federal government has transferred to them specifically to combat the COVID-19 health crisis.

On top of the annual transfer this year, the federal government has given the provinces an extra $19 billion to help them cope with the fallout from the pandemic, including more than $10 billion specifically for pandemic-related health-care costs.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland promised $1 billion more for long-term care homes, which have been hardest hit by the pandemic, in her fiscal update last month.

The federal government has also spent billions purchasing personal protective equipment, rapid testing kits and lining up purchases of potential vaccine candidates.

Trudeau has noted repeatedly that Ottawa has footed the bill for 80 per cent of all the money spent by governments in Canada to fight COVID-19.

But the premiers say all that extra money is one-off; what they need is an increase in annual health transfers to ensure stable, predictable, long-term funding.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Dec 10th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Thursday Dec. 10, 2020.

There are 435,330 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Canada: 435,330 confirmed cases (72,336 active, 350,011 resolved, 12,983 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 6,295 new cases Wednesday from 78,579 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 8.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 192.44 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 45,555 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,508.

There were 116 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 658 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 94. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.25 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 34.54 per 100,000 people.

There have been 12,226,406 tests completed.

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 353 confirmed cases (20 active, 329 resolved, four deaths).

There was one new case Wednesday from 366 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.27 per cent. The rate of active cases is 3.83 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 13 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people.

There have been 65,333 tests completed.

_ Prince Edward Island: 84 confirmed cases (13 active, 71 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Wednesday from 1,311 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 8.28 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 66,023 tests completed.

_ Nova Scotia: 1,389 confirmed cases (71 active, 1,253 resolved, 65 deaths).

There were six new cases Wednesday from 1,173 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.51 per cent. The rate of active cases is 7.31 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 57 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is eight.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people.

There have been 156,311 tests completed.

_ New Brunswick: 542 confirmed cases (74 active, 461 resolved, seven deaths).

There was one new case Wednesday from 599 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.17 per cent. The rate of active cases is 9.53 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 28 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people.

There have been 106,933 tests completed.

_ Quebec: 156,468 confirmed cases (15,427 active, 133,692 resolved, 7,349 deaths).

There were 1,728 new cases Wednesday from 10,169 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 17 per cent. The rate of active cases is 181.82 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 11,406 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,629.

There were 36 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 224 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 32. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.38 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 86.61 per 100,000 people.

There have been 2,280,376 tests completed.

_ Ontario: 132,800 confirmed cases (16,089 active, 112,875 resolved, 3,836 deaths).

There were 1,890 new cases Wednesday from 46,958 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 110.45 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,878 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,840.

There were 28 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 138 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 20. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.14 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 26.33 per 100,000 people.

There have been 6,494,774 tests completed.

_ Manitoba: 19,655 confirmed cases (5,348 active, 13,869 resolved, 438 deaths).

There were 279 new cases Wednesday from 2,296 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 12 per cent. The rate of active cases is 390.52 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,271 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 324.

There were 18 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 96 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 14. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is one per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 31.98 per 100,000 people.

There have been 369,004 tests completed.

_ Saskatchewan: 10,899 confirmed cases (4,707 active, 6,121 resolved, 71 deaths).

There were 302 new cases Wednesday from 1,240 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 24 per cent. The rate of active cases is 400.78 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,917 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 274.

There were five new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 18 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.22 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 6.05 per 100,000 people.

There have been 275,704 tests completed.

_ Alberta: 73,488 confirmed cases (20,199 active, 52,636 resolved, 653 deaths).

There were 1,460 new cases Wednesday from 6,551 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 22 per cent. The rate of active cases is 462.08 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,319 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,760.

There were 13 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 92 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 13. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.3 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 14.94 per 100,000 people.

There have been 1,541,334 tests completed.

_ British Columbia: 39,337 confirmed cases (10,330 active, 28,448 resolved, 559 deaths).

There were 619 new cases Wednesday from 7,723 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 8.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 203.69 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 4,609 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 658.

There were 16 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 90 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 13. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.25 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 11.02 per 100,000 people.

There have been 853,460 tests completed.

_ Yukon: 58 confirmed cases (10 active, 47 resolved, one deaths).

There were zero new cases Wednesday from 66 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 24.48 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of nine new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,673 tests completed.

_ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Wednesday from 62 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 6,691 tests completed.

_ Nunavut: 229 confirmed cases (48 active, 181 resolved, zero deaths).

There were nine new cases Wednesday from 65 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 14 per cent. The rate of active cases is 123.78 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 36 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is five.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 4,714 tests completed.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 10, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Woman says she’d clean toilets to work at B.C. care home and see husband

CAMILLE BAINS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Dec 10th, 2020

VANCOUVER — Lynne Smith’s daily visits to a long-term care home ended abruptly after a COVID-19 outbreak three weeks ago but she jumped at the chance to work at the facility that is hiring family members so she can see her husband.

“I felt so powerless and unhelpful. Laundry and being in dietary and being a housekeeper are not really my forte but I mean, I’ll do anything.” Smith said. “I’ll wash dishes, I’ll clean toilets.”

Smith’s husband, Derrick Smith, 72, has been living at Menno Place in Abbotsford, B.C., since February 2018 after moving there from another facility following a stroke and brain surgery.

Menno Place is recruiting residents’ families because so many employees have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in an outbreak that started on Nov. 17 after one resident became ill following treatment in hospital.

Smith said she’d visited her husband daily with their dog, Chester, even as they were forced to see each other through a window when visits were limited.

“I’ll do it for free. Just get me in there so I could help somebody,” said Smith, who had already been doing some of her husband’s laundry and cleaned his hearing aids and teeth.

Karen Biggs, CEO of Menno Place, said 31 residents and 21 staff had become ill on a unit that is home to 45 people but the care home began putting together a plan to hire families after the first few infections to avoid a staffing crisis that has hit other facilities.

“We’re getting very, very tight because staff are going off sick or they’re going off with pending swabs,” she said of those awaiting the results of COVID-19 tests.

The home’s director of human resources, the manager of housekeeping and laundry and the executive director of finance have come in on days off to work for staff who were sick or doing extra duties for patients confined to their rooms, Biggs said.

Menno Place had been trying to hire staff for months, she said.

“Because of the single-site order, it’s very, very hard to recruit people right now,” Biggs said of a policy by the provincial health officer for staff in care homes to work in only one facility to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading from place to place, as was the case earlier in the pandemic.

Biggs said 54 applicants, including residents’ grandchildren, had responded to a request on the facility’s website to work in laundry service, delivering food trays to rooms and doing housekeeping duties because of enhanced cleaning requirements during the outbreak.

Two people have so far been hired to do housekeeping, including a former care aide who once worked at Menno Place and whose mother is a resident at the facility, Biggs said, adding families in Alberta whose loved ones also live there have inquired about whether they’d need to quarantine for two weeks before starting work.

Residents’ families would get the same safety training offered to other employees around infection control and the use of personal protective equipment, she said.

The added bonus is those who work at the facility would get to see their loved one while cleaning their room, for example, but not having direct contact with them.

“I’d clean spotless If my mother was on the unit,” Biggs said.

Isobel Mackenzie, the advocate for seniors in British Columbia, said Menno Place seems to be the first long-term care facility in Canada to hire families.

The important role of families who help with everything from feeding to helping care for their loved ones has been acknowledged during the pandemic, she said, adding getting to see people while working at a care home may be the only hope for those who have been forced to stay away.

“I think Menno Place is showing a flexibility and ingenuity around how to get some extra hands in there quickly.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 10, 2020.

Camille Bains, The Canadian Press

Five things to know about the rollout of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Dec 8th, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that a small number of the most vulnerable in Canada could get Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine before the holidays.

Here are five things to know about the vaccine’s rollout:

Who will get the vaccine first?

The Public Health Agency of Canada is overseeing the vaccine distribution to the provinces, but provincial governments decide who gets it and when, and puts in place the plan for that to happen.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunizations last week recommended priority be given to residents and workers in long-term care homes, front-line health workers, people over the age of 80 and adults living in Indigenous communities.

But, remote locations,  including northern Indigenous reserves, won’t be getting the Pfizer vaccine for now because of the need to keep it so cold before it is ready for use.

Health Canada approvals

Everything hinges on Health Canada approving the Pfizer vaccine, with a decision expected on that in the coming days.

Trudeau said that if approval comes by the end of the week, Canadians will begin getting vaccinated next week.

How much of the vaccine will Canada get?

Trudeau said Monday the contract with Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, was adjusted this week to reflect that up to 249,000 doses of their vaccine will be delivered to Canada before the end of December.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey said he anticipates receiving 1,950 doses at the receiving site in St. John’s next week.

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube said four shippers with about 4,000 doses are to go to Quebec next week, which will be distributed to long-term care homes and residential seniors’ homes first.

That would be enough to vaccinate about 2,000 people to start, with Dube saying more doses will arrive between Dec. 21 and Jan. 4, enough to vaccinate between 22,000 and 28,000 people.

Retired Gen. Rick Hiller, who is leading Ontario’s vaccine task force, said a very small number of doses would land in that province next week, but that he anticipates 2.4 million doses in the first three months of next year.

How will be the Pfizer vaccine be distributed?

Pfizer is shipping its doses from its manufacturing plant in Puurs, Belgium, directly to 14 receiving sites in each province that are equipped with at least one ultralow temperature freezer.

There are two delivery sites in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta, and one in each of the other six provinces. None of the early shipments are headed for the territories.

Canada and the provinces enacted a “dry run” Monday, with empty boxes shipped from Belgium to test Canada’s readiness.

Most provinces indicated they are ready now to receive the vaccine, including having ultralow temperature freezers set up at the receiving sites.

Temperature issues

Pfizer’s vaccine has to be kept frozen below -70 C until just before it is diluted to be injected into a patient.

The company has developed special thermal shipping boxes that can carry the doses, packed on dry ice, for up to 10 days.

The shippers can be used as temporary storage on sites where the vaccines are going to be injected as well. In between they must be stored in ultralow temperature freezers.

The vaccine can be kept in a refrigerator, at temperatures between 2 C and 8 C for up to five days, and then at room temperature for no more than two hours.

Each shipping box is equipped with a GPS-enabled thermal tracker to monitor the location and temperature during shipping.

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

The Canadian Press

COVID-19 has hit Canadian charities where it hurts

THE BIG STORY | posted Tuesday, Dec 8th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, this is the time of year when Canadians traditionally up their giving. But a lot of that tends to happen in person. This year, Covid-19 has made that tough. And the big picture isn’t much better: In a year of economic hardship, fewer Canadians have money to spare for charity, and more Canadians than usual need the help these organizations provide.

How has the pandemic hit charities? What have they done to adjust to “these unprecedented times”? And how can Canadians who do have the means get their money where it needs to be for the holidays?

GUEST: Bruce MacDonald, President and CEO of Imagine Canada

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 Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Dec 8th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020.

There are 423,054 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Canada: 423,054 confirmed cases (71,542 active, 338,735 resolved, 12,777 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 6,499 new cases Monday from 91,974 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.1 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 44,915 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,416.

There were 84 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 647 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 92. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.25 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.99 per 100,000 people.

There have been 12,069,537 tests completed.

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 351 confirmed cases (28 active, 319 resolved, four deaths).

There were zero new cases Monday from 243 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 13 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people.

There have been 64,611 tests completed.

_ Prince Edward Island: 84 confirmed cases (14 active, 70 resolved, zero deaths).

There were four new cases Monday from 719 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.56 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 63,831 tests completed.

_ Nova Scotia: 1,376 confirmed cases (90 active, 1,221 resolved, 65 deaths).

There were eight new cases Monday from 1,036 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.77 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 71 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 10.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people.

There have been 154,250 tests completed.

_ New Brunswick: 536 confirmed cases (81 active, 448 resolved, seven deaths).

There were two new cases Monday from 389 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.51 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 35 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is five.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people.

There have been 105,857 tests completed.

_ Quebec: 153,176 confirmed cases (14,602 active, 131,297 resolved, 7,277 deaths).

There were 1,577 new cases Monday from 12,046 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 10,805 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,544.

There were 22 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 221 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 32. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.37 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 85.76 per 100,000 people.

There have been 2,260,394 tests completed.

_ Ontario: 129,234 confirmed cases (16,034 active, 109,402 resolved, 3,798 deaths).

There were 1,925 new cases Monday from 43,803 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.4 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,742 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,820.

There were 26 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 142 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 20. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.14 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 26.07 per 100,000 people.

There have been 6,409,900 tests completed.

_ Manitoba: 19,131 confirmed cases (5,462 active, 13,262 resolved, 407 deaths).

There were 325 new cases Monday from 6,895 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.7 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,306 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 329.

There were 12 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 95 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 14. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.99 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 29.72 per 100,000 people.

There have been 364,419 tests completed.

_ Saskatchewan: 10,412 confirmed cases (4,763 active, 5,589 resolved, 60 deaths).

There were 273 new cases Monday from 1,737 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 16 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,848 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 264.

There was one new reported death Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 13 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.16 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 5.11 per 100,000 people.

There have been 273,161 tests completed.

_ Alberta: 70,301 confirmed cases (20,067 active, 49,603 resolved, 631 deaths).

There were 1,735 new cases Monday from 24,878 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,124 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,732.

There were 16 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 90 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 13. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.29 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 14.44 per 100,000 people.

There have been 1,527,350 tests completed.

_ British Columbia: 38,152 confirmed cases (10,338 active, 27,287 resolved, 527 deaths).

There were 647 new cases Monday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 4,914 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 702.

There were seven new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 86 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.24 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 10.39 per 100,000 people.

There have been 828,968 tests completed.

_ Yukon: 54 confirmed cases (12 active, 41 resolved, one deaths).

There were zero new cases Monday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of seven new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,522 tests completed.

_ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Monday from 62 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 6,573 tests completed.

_ Nunavut: 219 confirmed cases (51 active, 168 resolved, zero deaths).

There were three new cases Monday from 166 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.8 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 38 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is five.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 4,625 tests completed.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 8, 2020.

The Canadian Press

National Student Loan Service Centre plagued by delays as requests for help soar

NICOLE THOMPSON, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Dec 7th, 2020

Throngs of former students have been unable to reach Canada’s loans centre, which is working through a backlog of more than 30,000 applications for repayment assistance.

The phone lines for the National Student Loans Service Centre have been clogged since a pandemic-induced moratorium on student loan collections lifted at the end of September, the agency said, pointing to a message on its website warning about long wait times and dropped calls.

“We’re currently experiencing unprecedented call volumes and are receiving a higher than usual volume of (repayment assistance plan) applications,” said spokeswoman Isabelle Maheu.

The agency said it saw 169,000 RAP applications between Oct. 1 – when loan payments resumed – and late November. Of those, 30,600 had yet to be processed.

The plan protects borrowers from having to repay their Canada Student Loan until they are earning at least $25,000 per year, and caps payments for those over the threshold.

But current and former students said their issues with the service centre go beyond long wait times.

Jaylen Bastos, a master’s student at the University of British Columbia, has been trying in vain to reach someone at the centre after receiving an email in mid-October about payments resuming.

Bastos, who uses the gender-neutral pronouns they and them, said they called every week, but could never get through.

And throughout November, they said, calls resulted in a message saying the phones were overloaded.

But even so, on Dec. 1, the service automatically withdrew $400 from their account.

“They just took money out of my account on the same day that I had to pay rent, and I was not expecting it to happen. So I was like, ‘Oh, okay, now I just have to come up with $400 extra during this pandemic, which is questionable for income for everyone,” they said.

Bastos tried calling their bank to see if it could do anything about it, but no luck, they said.

“It’s super frustrating, because there’s no options, right? There’s only one number to call, they don’t accept email, there’s no other way to access this service or get in contact with anyone,” they said.

For the foreseeable future, Bastos said, they’ll keep calling the centre in an effort to get through — and take screenshots after each failed attempt to show they did their due diligence.

The service centre said it’s still experiencing a high volume of calls, but that call centre capacity has increased, so students are able to get through again — though that hasn’t been Bastos’ experience.

The agency spokeswoman also said calls are higher in part because autumn is when new graduates are expected to start repaying their loans.

There are also more calls because of enhanced security protocols introduced after a “cyber incident” that affected a number of government departments, Maheu said.

“Clients that require assistance to access their online account due to increased security measures are a significant portion of the borrowers calling the NSLSC,” she said.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Monday, Dec. 7, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Dec 7th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Monday Dec. 7, 2020.

There are 415,182 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Canada: 415,182 confirmed cases (73,379 active, 329,138 resolved, 12,665 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 6,261 new cases Sunday from 71,793 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 8.7 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 43,146 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,164.

There were 76 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 601 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 86. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.69 per 100,000 people.

There have been 11,977,563 tests completed.

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 351 confirmed cases (30 active, 317 resolved, four deaths).

There were four new cases Sunday from 234 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.7 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 14 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people.

There have been 64,368 tests completed.

_ Prince Edward Island: 80 confirmed cases (11 active, 69 resolved, zero deaths).

There were four new cases Sunday from 546 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.73 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of eight new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 63,112 tests completed.

_ Nova Scotia: 1,368 confirmed cases (88 active, 1,215 resolved, 65 deaths).

There were four new cases Sunday from 849 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.47 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 78 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 11.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people.

There have been 153,214 tests completed.

_ New Brunswick: 534 confirmed cases (82 active, 445 resolved, seven deaths).

There were four new cases Sunday from 502 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.80 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 39 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is six.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people.

There have been 105,468 tests completed.

_ Quebec: 151,599 confirmed cases (14,326 active, 130,018 resolved, 7,255 deaths).

There were 1,691 new cases Sunday from 10,235 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 17 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 10,561 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,509.

There were 24 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 222 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 32. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.37 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 85.5 per 100,000 people.

There have been 2,248,348 tests completed.

_ Ontario: 127,309 confirmed cases (15,547 active, 107,990 resolved, 3,772 deaths).

There were 1,924 new cases Sunday from 57,313 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.4 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,563 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,795.

There were 15 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 124 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 18. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.89 per 100,000 people.

There have been 6,366,097 tests completed.

_ Manitoba: 18,806 confirmed cases (9,216 active, 9,195 resolved, 395 deaths).

There were 383 new cases Sunday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,323 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 332.

There were 14 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 94 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 13. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.98 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 28.84 per 100,000 people.

There have been 357,524 tests completed.

_ Saskatchewan: 10,139 confirmed cases (4,550 active, 5,530 resolved, 59 deaths).

There were 409 new cases Sunday from 2,114 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 19 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,900 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 271.

There were four new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 14 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.17 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 5.02 per 100,000 people.

There have been 271,424 tests completed.

_ Alberta: 68,566 confirmed cases (19,484 active, 48,467 resolved, 615 deaths).

There were 1,836 new cases Sunday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,122 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,732.

There were 19 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 82 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.27 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 14.07 per 100,000 people.

There have been 1,502,472 tests completed.

_ British Columbia: 36,132 confirmed cases (9,982 active, 25,658 resolved, 492 deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,490 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 499.

There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 65 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is nine. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.18 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 9.7 per 100,000 people.

There have been 828,968 tests completed.

_ Yukon: 54 confirmed cases (12 active, 41 resolved, one deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of nine new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,522 tests completed.

_ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 6,511 tests completed.

_ Nunavut: 216 confirmed cases (51 active, 165 resolved, zero deaths).

There were two new cases Sunday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 39 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is six.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 4,459 tests completed.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 7, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Ottawa prepares COVID-19 vaccine distribution test run

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Dec 7th, 2020

The military, health workers and government officials will go through a practice run today of the complex plan to deliver COVID-19 vaccines across the country.

The first vaccine, made by Pfizer-BioNtech, could be approved for use in Canada as early as this week.

And Major-General Dany Fortin, who’s leading the military through the vaccine distribution process, says the dry run is intended to get everyone involved comfortable with the intense requirements of handling a vaccine that has to be kept below minus 70 Celcius at all times.

The national operations centre quarterbacking the effort is looking at two phases of a vaccine rollout, starting with about six million doses this winter — enough to vaccinate three million people with two doses each.

The military could be called upon to fly doses on short order from Europe, the U.S. or elsewhere, and to help get them to remote, northern and coastal communities.

But the military remains as much in the dark as everyone else about the specific timing for the doses to start arriving.

‘My only wish:’ Children asking pet charity to help their furry friends at Christmas

BILL GRAVELAND, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Dec 4th, 2020

One child asks for a coat for her dog in case her family gets evicted. Another girl hopes Santa can bring her pet medication he needs. Another wishes for enough dog food.

A charity that provides subsidized pet care, including food hampers and medical treatment, for low-income residents is receiving Christmas letters from children asking for help for their furry friends.

Parachutes for Pets in Calgary has delivered 2,000 pet food hampers since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March. But demand, especially during the second wave of the pandemic, is taking its toll on both the organization and those receiving help.

“Instead of Santa I wanted to write to you guys. My dog Badger is really cute and my best friend. He needs pills or he gets really, really sick. Could you bring me his pills for my Santa gift? I’ve been really good and so has he,” reads a letter signed Hanna and Badger.

The organization says it has received 14 letters from children in the last week that normally would have gone to Santa.

“My Christmas wish this year is a coat for my dog Max. Mom says we can’t pay rent after this month and I want Max to be warm if we have to stay in our car,” wrote Kaylee.

“I have a warm coat and I think one would be good for him to stay warm. Please tell Santa this is my only wish. Merry Christmas.”

Melissa David, who founded the charity, said the messages from the kids are heartbreaking.

“Instead of writing to Santa, they’ve written to us. Their Christmas wish is either for their dog to get medication and their dog to get food, so they don’t have to share their meal with them.”

David said the charity referred Kaylee’s mom, who was at risk of being evicted, with an agency to deal with her rent arrears.

She said the charity made it through the first wave of the pandemic, but the resurgence of COVID-19 in the last months has resulted in demands coming at a “fast and furious rate.”

“This second wave is going to cripple us. The amount of additional homeless with pets and domestic violence incidents involving pets is astronomical,” David said.

People are still donating food items, she said, but there’s also a need for cash, which is in short supply.

“This (pandemic) in addition to everyday challenges that are still here, such as cancer and illness, is really making it difficult for people to keep their pets at a time they can’t afford mentally to lose them.”

David said she is reaching out in desperation since there are limits on what help the charity can arrange.

“We were passed over for most COVID grants because animals were not considered essential.”

There are also messages asking for help from physically abused women who are afraid to leave their pets behind.

“They want to take their pet with them. They’re at the lowest of lows and they don’t leave with anything but the clothes on their back. And if that pet stays, statistics are 80 per cent that it will be tortured or killed or used as some sort of revenge by the abuser.”

The head of the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter said crisis calls between April and September were up nearly 65 per cent compared with the year before.

Shelter CEO Kim Ruse confirms many women stay where they are for fear of their pets being harmed.

“Not having a place for pets to go often stops women from leaving abusive and dangerous situations,” Ruse said. “Many are unaware that there are options for keeping pets safe while finding safety for themselves and their children.”

She said the agency does have pet-friendly rooms to accommodate small animals.

“Allowing pets in the shelter will help provide emotional and healing support for women and their children during their stay.”

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Friday, Dec. 4, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Dec 4th, 2020

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

There are 396,270 confirmed cases in Canada.

Canada: 396,270 confirmed cases (69,255 active, 314,608 resolved, 12,407 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 6,495 new cases Thursday from 86,875 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.5 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 43,173 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,168.

There were 82 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 608 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 87. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.01 per 100,000 people.

There have been 11,739,689 tests completed.

Newfoundland and Labrador: 340 confirmed cases (29 active, 307 resolved, four deaths).

There were zero new cases Thursday from 420 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 13 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people.

There have been 63,583 tests completed.

Prince Edward Island: 73 confirmed cases (five active, 68 resolved, zero deaths).

There was one new case Thursday from 584 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.17 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been three new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 61,621 tests completed.

Nova Scotia: 1,343 confirmed cases (119 active, 1,159 resolved, 65 deaths).

There were 11 new cases Thursday from 1,300 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.85 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 86 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 12.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people.

There have been 150,559 tests completed.

New Brunswick: 520 confirmed cases (111 active, 402 resolved, seven deaths).

There were six new cases Thursday from 1,179 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.51 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 55 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is eight.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people.

There have been 103,791 tests completed.

Quebec: 146,532 confirmed cases (13,198 active, 126,179 resolved, 7,155 deaths).

There were 1,470 new cases Thursday from 11,594 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,638 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,377.

There were 30 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 208 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 30. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.35 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 84.33 per 100,000 people.

There have been 2,215,810 tests completed.

Ontario: 121,746 confirmed cases (14,795 active, 103,239 resolved, 3,712 deaths).

There were 1,824 new cases Thursday from 51,144 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.6 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,385 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,769.

There were 14 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 137 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 20. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.48 per 100,000 people.

There have been 6,197,157 tests completed.

Manitoba: 17,751 confirmed cases (9,130 active, 8,268 resolved, 353 deaths).

There were 367 new cases Thursday from 2,804 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,463 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 352.

There were 11 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 87 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.91 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.78 per 100,000 people.

There have been 354,449 tests completed.

Saskatchewan: 9,244 confirmed cases (4,017 active, 5,173 resolved, 54 deaths).

There were 262 new cases Thursday from 1,696 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 15 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,882 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 269.

There was one new reported death Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 14 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.17 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 4.6 per 100,000 people.

There have been 265,300 tests completed.

Alberta: 63,023 confirmed cases (17,743 active, 44,705 resolved, 575 deaths).

There were 1,854 new cases Thursday from 8,049 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 23 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 11,145 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,592.

There were 14 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 65 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is nine. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.21 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 13.15 per 100,000 people.

There have been 1,495,622 tests completed.

British Columbia: 35,422 confirmed cases (10,013 active, 24,928 resolved, 481 deaths).

There were 694 new cases Thursday from 7,929 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 8.8 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,449 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 778.

There were 12 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 97 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 14. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.27 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 9.48 per 100,000 people.

There have been 815,367 tests completed.

Yukon: 50 confirmed cases (20 active, 29 resolved, one deaths).

There was one new case Thursday from 89 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.1 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been 11 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,488 tests completed.

Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Thursday from 48 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 6,482 tests completed.

Nunavut: 198 confirmed cases (75 active, 123 resolved, zero deaths).

There were five new cases Thursday from 39 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 43 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is six.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 4,384 tests completed.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 4, 2020.

The Canadian Press

What we do and don’t know about COVID-19 vaccines for Canadians

THE BIG STORY | posted Friday, Dec 4th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, we have more doses on order per capita than any other nation. But we also have no real domestic production capacity. If you ask the Liberals, we’re among the world leaders in terms of when Canadians can expect to be vaccinated. If you ask the Conservatives, we’re well behind our peer countries already.

Who is telling the truth? What are the facts on the COVID-19 vaccines Canada has ordered? What needs to happen next? And when will needles start going into arms on Canadian soil?

GUEST: Matt Gurney

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

St. Michael’s College sex assault trial to hear more of complainant’s police statement

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Dec 3rd, 2020

he trial of a teen boy accused of sexually assaulting two fellow students at a renowned Toronto high school is set to continue Thursday.

The teen has pleaded not guilty to two counts each of gang sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon and assault with a weapon in connection with two incidents at St. Michael’s College School in the fall of 2018.

Earlier this week, court viewed part of a video in which one of the complainants, also a teen boy, told police about an October 2018 incident in the school’s locker room.

In the video, the complainant recalled hearing a group of students laugh as they held back his arms and sexually assaulted him with a broom handle after football practice.

The role of the accused was not specified in the portion of the video played in court, and the complainant did not mention him by name in that part of the footage.

More of the video is expected to be shown in Thursday’s hearing, which is taking place in court and over videoconference.

Court has heard there were two sexual assaults on campus in 2018 when boys involved with a school football team pinned down two different victims and sexually assaulted them with a broom handle in a locker room.

Three teens have already pleaded guilty to sexual assault with a weapon and assault with a weapon for their roles in the incidents and have been sentenced to two years of probation.

One of them also pleaded guilty to making child pornography for recording one of the sex assaults in a video that was then shared within the school and beyond.

Another student received a two-year probationary sentence with no jail time after pleading guilty. The charges against two other students were dropped.

None of the teens involved in the case – including the accused, the complainants and some witnesses – can be identified under prov.isions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

The trial began in March but was on hold for several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A delicate balance between humans, bears and fish

THE BIG STORY | posted Thursday, Dec 3rd, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, it’s a cycle that repeats itself in many ecosystems where humans live: Harmony, profit, imbalance and then a desperate need to fix things. When wild salmon runs around Wuikinuxv, BC, dwindled to almost nothing, the local grizzly bears grew hungry — and dangerous to humans. Now the salmon are returning, but the community must find a way to manage both the fish and bear populations, and keep the forest healthy.

GUEST: Jimmy Thompson, Beside.media

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 Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Dec 3rd, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Thursday Dec. 3, 2020.

There are 389,775 confirmed cases in Canada.

Canada: 389,775 confirmed cases (67,564 active, 309,886 resolved, 12,325 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 6,307 new cases Wednesday from 79,492 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.9 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 42,309 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,044.

There were 114 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 615 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 88. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 32.79 per 100,000 people.

There have been 11,652,814 tests completed.

Newfoundland and Labrador: 340 confirmed cases (30 active, 306 resolved, four deaths).

There was one new case Wednesday from 319 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.31 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been 16 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people.

There have been 63,163 tests completed.

Prince Edward Island: 72 confirmed cases (four active, 68 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Wednesday from 354 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 61,037 tests completed.

Nova Scotia: 1,332 confirmed cases (127 active, 1,140 resolved, 65 deaths).

There were 17 new cases Wednesday from 2,340 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.73 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 89 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 13.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people.

There have been 149,259 tests completed.

New Brunswick: 514 confirmed cases (119 active, 388 resolved, seven deaths).

There were six new cases Wednesday from 1,062 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.56 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 61 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is nine.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people.

There have been 102,612 tests completed.

Quebec: 145,062 confirmed cases (12,740 active, 125,197 resolved, 7,125 deaths).

There were 1,514 new cases Wednesday from 9,764 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 16 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,632 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,376.

There were 41 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 210 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 30. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.35 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 83.97 per 100,000 people.

There have been 2,204,216 tests completed.

Ontario: 119,922 confirmed cases (14,526 active, 101,698 resolved, 3,698 deaths).

There were 1,723 new cases Wednesday from 42,779 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,039 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,720.

There were 35 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 144 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 21. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.14 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.39 per 100,000 people.

There have been 6,146,013 tests completed.

Manitoba: 17,384 confirmed cases (8,970 active, 8,072 resolved, 342 deaths).

There were 277 new cases Wednesday from 2,336 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 12 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,477 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 354.

There were 14 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 86 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 24.97 per 100,000 people.

There have been 351,645 tests completed.

Saskatchewan: 8,982 confirmed cases (3,970 active, 4,959 resolved, 53 deaths).

There were 237 new cases Wednesday from 1,342 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 18 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,935 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 276.

There were two new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 16 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.19 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 4.51 per 100,000 people.

There have been 263,604 tests completed.

Alberta: 61,169 confirmed cases (17,144 active, 43,464 resolved, 561 deaths).

There were 1,685 new cases Wednesday from 13,989 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 12 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 10,368 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,481.

There were 10 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 61 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is nine. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.2 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 12.83 per 100,000 people.

There have been 1,487,573 tests completed.

British Columbia: 34,728 confirmed cases (9,835 active, 24,424 resolved, 469 deaths).

There were 834 new cases Wednesday from 5,062 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 16 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,642 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 806.

There were 12 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 98 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 14. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.28 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 9.25 per 100,000 people.

There have been 807,438 tests completed.

Yukon: 49 confirmed cases (19 active, 29 resolved, one deaths).

There were two new cases Wednesday from 63 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.2 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 10 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,399 tests completed.

Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Wednesday from 37 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 6,434 tests completed.

Nunavut: 193 confirmed cases (80 active, 113 resolved, zero deaths).

There were 11 new cases Wednesday from 45 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 24 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 38 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is five.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 4,345 tests completed.

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

The Canadian Press

Trudeau suggests Canada-U.S. border restrictions will be in place for a long time

LUCAS CASALETTO | posted Wednesday, Dec 2nd, 2020

Canada’s prime minister says the government will not lift a ban on non-essential travel with the United States until the COVID-19 outbreak is under control not only here at home, but around the world.

“Until the virus is significantly more under control everywhere around the world, we’re not going to be releasing the restrictions at the border,” said Trudeau at his daily briefing on Tuesday.

Canada and the U.S. agreed to the ban in March and have continued to roll it out on a monthly basis ever since.

Visits such as vacations, day trips and cross-border shopping excursions have been forbidden in an effort to limit the spread of the virus.

The travel ban does not apply to those who must cross to ensure the continued flow of goods and essential services, including truckers and hospital staff.

This comes as almost 100,000 people remain hospitalized in the U.S. as states and cities search for answers and look to implement strict new health measures the curve the spread of the virus.

Recently, top public health expert in the U.S., Dr. Anthony Fauci, admitted the country was “not in a good place” following a spike in numbers that coincided with American Thanksgiving and excessive travel.

Trudeau, meanwhile, said the federal government has added certain exemptions to reunite extended family members.

“We are incredibly lucky that trade in essential goods, in agricultural products, in pharmaceuticals is flowing back and forth as it always has.”

Nunavut COVID-19 lockdown lifts today, Arviat still under restrictions

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Dec 2nd, 2020

Nunavut’s two-week lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19 is to end Wednesday as the territory continues to see a drop in new cases.

Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, said earlier this week that schools, businesses and workplaces could reopen.

Restrictions are to lift in all communities except Arviat, which has 76 active cases and will remain shut down for at least two more weeks.

Patterson says that’s because his team hasn’t determined if community transmission there is ongoing.

The Canadian Red Cross is on the ground in Arviat to help people self-isolate and to contact trace.

Rankin Inlet and Whale Cove, in the same region as Arviat along the west cost of Hudson Bay, still have active COVID-19 cases, but no evidence of community transmission.

Nunavut had 93 active infections and 89 recovered cases on Tuesday for a total of 182.

The territory had not had any cases at all until early November.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Dec 2nd, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Wed. Dec. 2, 2020.

There are 383,468 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Canada: 383,468 confirmed cases (66,369 active, 304,888 resolved, 12,211 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 5,329 new cases Tuesday from 97,680 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.5 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 41,024 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 5,861.

There were 81 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 593 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 85. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 32.49 per 100,000 people.

There have been 11,573,322 tests completed.

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 339 confirmed cases (33 active, 302 resolved, four deaths).

There was one new case Tuesday from 324 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.31 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been 16 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people.

There have been 62,844 tests completed.

_ Prince Edward Island: 72 confirmed cases (four active, 68 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Tuesday from 760 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of three new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 60,683 tests completed.

_ Nova Scotia: 1,315 confirmed cases (142 active, 1,108 resolved, 65 deaths).

There were 10 new cases Tuesday from 3,165 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.32 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 88 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 13.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people.

There have been 146,919 tests completed.

_ New Brunswick: 508 confirmed cases (116 active, 385 resolved, seven deaths).

There were seven new cases Tuesday from 1,065 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.66 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 58 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is eight.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people.

There have been 101,550 tests completed.

_ Quebec: 143,548 confirmed cases (12,264 active, 124,200 resolved, 7,084 deaths).

There were 1,177 new cases Tuesday from 8,376 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 14 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,218 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,317.

There were 28 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 197 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 28. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.33 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 83.49 per 100,000 people.

There have been 2,194,452 tests completed.

_ Ontario: 118,199 confirmed cases (14,524 active, 100,012 resolved, 3,663 deaths).

There were 1,707 new cases Tuesday from 33,508 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.1 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 11,689 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,670.

There were seven new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 144 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 21. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.14 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.15 per 100,000 people.

There have been 6,103,234 tests completed.

_ Manitoba: 17,107 confirmed cases (9,066 active, 7,713 resolved, 328 deaths).

There were 282 new cases Tuesday from 2,201 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,549 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 364.

There were 16 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 80 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 11. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.83 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 23.95 per 100,000 people.

There have been 349,309 tests completed.

_ Saskatchewan: 8,745 confirmed cases (3,819 active, 4,875 resolved, 51 deaths).

There were 181 new cases Tuesday from 1,444 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,862 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 266.

There were four new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 14 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.17 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 4.34 per 100,000 people.

There have been 262,262 tests completed.

_ Alberta: 59,484 confirmed cases (16,628 active, 42,305 resolved, 551 deaths).

There were 1,307 new cases Tuesday from 27,600 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.7 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,948 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,421.

There were 10 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 59 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is eight. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.19 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 12.6 per 100,000 people.

There have been 1,473,584 tests completed.

_ British Columbia: 33,894 confirmed cases (9,663 active, 23,774 resolved, 457 deaths).

There were 656 new cases Tuesday from 18,967 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.5 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,546 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 792.

There were 16 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 99 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 14. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.28 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 9.01 per 100,000 people.

There have been 802,376 tests completed.

_ Yukon: 47 confirmed cases (17 active, 29 resolved, one deaths).

There were zero new cases Tuesday from 170 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of nine new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,336 tests completed.

_ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Tuesday from 42 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 6,397 tests completed.

_ Nunavut: 182 confirmed cases (93 active, 89 resolved, zero deaths).

There was one new case Tuesday from 58 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.7 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been 38 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is five.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 4,300 tests completed.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 2, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Trial set to resume for teen accused in St. Michael’s College School sex assault case

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Dec 1st, 2020

The trial of a teen accused of sexually assaulting two students at a prestigious Toronto high school is set to resume today.

The former student of St. Michael’s College School has pleaded not guilty to two counts each of gang sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon and assault with a weapon.

The charges relate to incidents that occurred on campus in the fall of 2018. The trial began in March.

Court has previously heard there were two sexual assaults at the school in 2018 when boys involved with a school football team pinned down two different victims and sexually assaulted them with a broom handle in a locker room.

Three teens have already pleaded guilty to sexual assault with a weapon and assault with a weapon for their roles in the incidents and have been sentenced to two years of probation.

One of them also pleaded guilty to making child pornography for recording one of the sex assaults in a video that was then shared widely within and outside the school.

Another student received a two-year probationary sentence with no jail time after pleading guilty. The charges against two other students were dropped.

Neither the accused teen, the perpetrators or the victims can be identified under provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Dec. 1, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Dec 1st, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020.

There are 378,139 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Canada: 378,139 confirmed cases (66,037 active, 299,972 resolved, 12,130 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 6,103 new cases Monday from 63,070 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 9.7 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 40,584 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 5,798.

There were 66 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 609 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 87. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 32.27 per 100,000 people.

There have been 11,475,642 tests completed.

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 338 confirmed cases (36 active, 298 resolved, four deaths).

There was one new case Monday from 247 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.40 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been 17 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people.

There have been 62,520 tests completed.

_ Prince Edward Island: 72 confirmed cases (four active, 68 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Monday from 846 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of three new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 59,923 tests completed.

_ Nova Scotia: 1,305 confirmed cases (138 active, 1,102 resolved, 65 deaths).

There were 15 new cases Monday from 2,564 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.59 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 115 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 16.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people.

There have been 143,754 tests completed.

_ New Brunswick: 501 confirmed cases (120 active, 374 resolved, seven deaths).

There were six new cases Monday from 1,079 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.56 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 56 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is eight.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people.

There have been 100,485 tests completed.

_ Quebec: 142,371 confirmed cases (12,138 active, 123,177 resolved, 7,056 deaths).

There were 1,333 new cases Monday from 8,655 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 15 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,165 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,309.

There were 23 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 214 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 31. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.36 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 83.16 per 100,000 people.

There have been 2,186,076 tests completed.

_ Ontario: 116,492 confirmed cases (14,197 active, 98,639 resolved, 3,656 deaths).

There were 1,746 new cases Monday from 38,117 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.6 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 10,991 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,570.

There were eight new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 151 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 22. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.15 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.1 per 100,000 people.

There have been 6,069,726 tests completed.

_ Manitoba: 16,825 confirmed cases (9,260 active, 7,253 resolved, 312 deaths).

There were 342 new cases Monday from 9,003 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.8 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,738 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 391.

There were 11 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 76 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 11. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.79 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 22.78 per 100,000 people.

There have been 347,108 tests completed.

_ Saskatchewan: 8,564 confirmed cases (3,879 active, 4,638 resolved, 47 deaths).

There were 325 new cases Monday from 2,451 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,856 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 265.

There were two new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 10 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is one. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is four per 100,000 people.

There have been 260,818 tests completed.

_ Alberta: 58,177 confirmed cases (16,454 active, 41,182 resolved, 541 deaths).

There were 1,733 new cases Monday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,756 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,394.

There were eight new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 65 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is nine. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.21 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 12.38 per 100,000 people.

There have been 1,445,984 tests completed.

_ British Columbia: 33,238 confirmed cases (9,686 active, 23,111 resolved, 441 deaths).

There were 596 new cases Monday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,831 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 833.

There were 14 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 93 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 13. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.26 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 8.7 per 100,000 people.

There have been 783,409 tests completed.

_ Yukon: 47 confirmed cases (17 active, 29 resolved, one deaths).

There were two new cases Monday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of nine new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,166 tests completed.

_ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Monday from 53 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 6,355 tests completed.

_ Nunavut: 181 confirmed cases (108 active, 73 resolved, zero deaths).

There were four new cases Monday from 55 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.3 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 47 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is seven.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 4,242 tests completed.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Canadians not worried other countries will get COVID-19 vaccine first: poll

MAAN ALHMIDI, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Dec 1st, 2020

OTTAWA — A new poll suggests most Canadians aren’t currently worried that people in other countries might get a COVID-19 vaccine first.

Thirty-seven per cent of respondents to a survey conducted by Léger and the Association for Canadian Studies say they are very concerned that Canada may not receive doses of a new COVID vaccine as early as the United States.

“That’s not necessarily low, but I think most pundits would have expected this number to be much higher,” said Léger executive vice-president Christian Bourque.

Meanwhile, 48 per cent say they are not concerned about getting a vaccine first and 10 per cent say they don’t care at all or are not planning to get vaccinated anyway.

Getting a vaccine before other countries doesn’t seem to be “a major (issue for the Liberal government), which is contrary to what we might have thought … when the prime minister actually said that we would not be the first ones to get doses,” Bourque said.

The amount of concern regarding getting a COVID-19 vaccine first varies along party lines, with 45 per cent of self-identified Conservative supporters saying they are very concerned that Canada may not receive doses of a new COVID vaccine at the same time as other countries. Only 38 per cent of Liberal supporters say they are concerned.

“The Conservative voters have the highest rate of people who say they’re very concerned about not getting (a vaccine) first,” said Bourque. “It’s probably just because they tend to have a negative view or perspective on the Trudeau government, period.”

Furthermore, with the likelihood of multiple vaccines arriving over a period of time, just 28 per cent of respondents said they will take the first vaccine they can get, while 45 per cent said they will wait for other vaccines to become available.

Forty-one per cent of respondents say they want the vaccine to be mandatory for all Canadians and 55 per cent say it should be given on a voluntary basis.

But the poll suggests that the vast majority of Canadians want people entering Canada to be vaccinated against COVID-19, with 83 per cent of respondents saying vaccines should be required. Also, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said employers should be able to demand that workers be vaccinated.

The poll suggests that 65 per cent of Canadians intend to take a COVID-19 vaccine when it’s approved by Health Canada and available for free while 17 per cent say they don’t intend to.

“That proportion used to be a bit higher, closer to 70 per cent in the spring. Since then it’s gone down,” said Bourque. “Over the past three months, when we’ve actually asked the question again, it is fairly stable in the mid-60s.”

“It really seems that two thirds of us are kind of committed to this idea of getting the vaccine when it’s available.”

The poll of 1,516 adult Canadians in an online panel was conducted from Nov. 26 to Nov. 29 and cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random.

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

———

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press

Sometimes you have to talk about Fight Club

THE BIG STORY | posted Monday, Nov 30th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, it seemed like a prank posted to social media—but there are witnesses who confirmed that the advertised fight night between McGill University students actually happened. Nobody was hurt, and it might have been a harmless enough story, but it illustrates the challenges first-year students are facing this year in dorms that they joke have become their prisons.

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Wild winter, drastic swings in store for Canada this year: Weather Network

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Nov 30th, 2020

A prominent Canadian forecaster says the country’s residents could experience everything from winter wonderlands to spring-like spells in the months ahead.

The Weather Network says cooler Pacific Ocean temperatures off the coast of South America, also known as “La Niña,” will create a strong jet stream separating warm southern air masses from their colder northern counterparts.

Chief Meteorologist Chris Scott says this means most Canadians can brace for a wildly variable winter with major departures from seasonal norms.

In British Columbia and the Prairies, for instance, Scott says forecasters are calling for above-average snowfall levels and temperatures below seasonal norms.

He says major swings in both temperatures and precipitation levels are on tap for Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, with stretches of both extreme cold and unusually mild air forecast alongside a mix of storms and dry spells.

Scott says Newfoundland and Labrador and northern Canada are slated to buck the trend, with the eastern-most province set to experience a more typical winter while colder than average conditions are expected across all three territories.

But Scott said the long-term patterns may not be evident at first, since the December forecast is calling for conditions that defy the overall forecasts. In broad strokes, he predicted an overall milder month for western Canada with more wintry conditions likely in Ontario and points east.

“It’s going to be quite a winter,” Scott said in a telephone interview. “A lot of extremes within the given regions. And if you’re talking to your friends or family back east or out west, you’re probably going to have a very different experience from week to week as the weather changes across the country.”

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

The Canadian Press

Federal Liberals to deliver fall economic statement

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Nov 30th, 2020

OTTAWA – The federal Liberals will provide Canadians with a long-awaited update on the health of federal finances later today, and potentially unveil a suite of new spending.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will deliver the fall economic statement in the House of Commons this afternoon after markets close.

The economic statement should have a full accounting of pandemic spending so far, and the depth of this year’s deficit, which in July was forecast at a historic $343.2 billion amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Estimates vary of how deep a deficit the Liberals will unveil today, with a Scotiabank report Friday saying a range of $400 billion to $450 billion is possible.

The government is under pressure to help out industries like travel and restaurants that may take longer to recover from the pandemic.

Observers are keeping a close eye on how much spending space new promises take up, which could limit the government’s capacity to spend in next year’s budget before deficits become permanent.

The government is also expected to reveal a small step today towards a national child-care system.

Top officials weighed Canadian warship’s passage through sensitive strait near China

Talia Knezic | posted Friday, Nov 27th, 2020

Newly released documents have shed light on the secret government talks and debate that took place ahead of a Canadian warship’s passage through a sensitive waterway near China last year.

Those discussions included a private meeting between the top bureaucrats at the Department of National Defence and Global Affairs Canada, weeks before HMCS Ottawa sailed through the Taiwan Strait.

Defence officials were also told to keep quiet about the frigate’s trip in September 2019, three months after Chinese fighter jets buzzed two other Canadian ships making the same voyage.

And they were ordered to keep the Privy Council Office, the department that supports the prime minister, in the loop as the Ottawa was making its way through the waterway.

The unusual level of attention from the highest levels of government laid out in the documents, obtained by The Canadian Press through access to information, underscores the sensitivities surrounding the trip.

That is because while much of the world considers the 180-kilometre strait to be international waters, Beijing claims ownership of the strait separating mainland China from Taiwan.

Beijing, which regards the self-ruled island of Taiwan as a rogue province, has repeatedly condemned such passages by foreign warships from the U.S., Canada and elsewhere as illegal.

HMCS Ottawa ended up sailing through the Taiwan Strait twice in early September. Media reports at the time said the frigate was shadowed by the Chinese navy.

The heavily redacted memo to Global Affairs deputy minister Marta Morgan dated Aug. 7, 2019 starts by saying the Defence Department was looking for a risk assessment for the Ottawa’s planned transit.

Defence Department deputy minister Jody Thomas “has also requested a meeting with you on Aug. 12 to discuss this deployment,” the memo adds.

While HMCS Ottawa was in the region at the time helping enforce United Nations sanctions against North Korea, the memo noted that the frigate was due to make a port visit in Bangkok in mid-September.

Defence officials have publicly stated that the decision to have the Ottawa sail through the strait was because the route was the fastest way for the frigate to reach Bangkok from its position near North Korea.

The memo backs that assertion, noting that going around Taiwan would add one or two days to the trip each way.

Yet it also says the navy’s presence in the South China Sea, of which the Taiwan Strait is a part, “has demonstrated Canadian support for our closest partners and allies, regional security and the rules-based international order.”

Global Affairs ultimately agreed to the Ottawa’s sailing through the strait, but called on defence officials to keep the trip quiet, in large part because of fears the trip would coincide with the federal election campaign.

“Finally, GAC will ask DND to ensure that it keeps PCO informed as this naval deployment progresses,” the memo adds.

Former Canadian ambassador to China David Mulroney described the discussions leading up to the Ottawa’s transit of the Taiwan Strait as “an illustration of smart and effective consultation producing the right decision.”

“It is tremendously important that China sees that, in addition to the United States, other serious countries like Canada will not be intimidated into surrendering the Taiwan Strait and Taiwan itself to China’s complete control,” he said.

“The RCN, working closely with Global Affairs, is promoting the national interest and asserting our sovereignty from the far side of the world.”

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

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Black Friday shopping in a pandemic: COVID-19 closes some stores, sales move online

Talia Knezic | posted Friday, Nov 27th, 2020

Black Friday, the one-day shopping bonanza known for its big bargains and large crowds, has arrived.

While rising COVID-19 cases and weeks of staggered deals have muted the usual fanfare of the shopping event, retailers are banking on today’s sales to bolster their bottom line.

Retail analysts say some bargain hunters are still expected to shop in brick-and-mortar stores, where possible, in the hopes of snagging a doorbuster deal.

But they say the majority of this year’s Black Friday purchases are expected to be made online.

Eric Morris, head of retail at Google Canada, says e-commerce in Canada has doubled during the pandemic.

He says given ongoing lockdowns and in-store capacity limits, online sales are expected to be strong today and remain heightened over the holiday shopping season.

Indeed, big box stores, which often attract the largest lineups and crowds on Black Friday, have moved most promotions online.

Yet although Black Friday’s top sellers tend to be big-ticket electronics, some shoppers might be on the hunt for deals on more basic items.

Lisa Hutcheson, managing partner at consulting firm J.C. Williams Group, says some shoppers may take advantage of today’s sales to “stock up and hunker down for the winter.”

Black Friday, which started as a post-Thanksgiving sale in the United States, has gained in popularity in Canada in recent years.

It’s also become an increasingly important sales event for retailers, along with Cyber Monday, overshadowing Boxing Day.

Robin Sahota, managing director and Canadian retail lead for professional services firm Accenture, says retailers might be saving some special discounts for Cyber Monday.

“It’s going to be a day where retailers look to add some sweeteners to entice consumers, particularly with the pull forward of Black Friday,” he says. “I think folks will be seeking out something special on Cyber Monday.”

A COVID-19 Black Friday and stricter rules in Saskatchewan: In The News for Nov. 27

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Nov 27th, 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 Nov. 27 …

What we are watching in Canada …

Black Friday, the one-day shopping bonanza known for its big bargains and large crowds, has arrived.

While rising COVID-19 cases and weeks of staggered deals have muted the usual fanfare of the shopping event, retailers are banking on today’s sales to bolster their bottom line.

Retail analysts say some bargain hunters are still expected to shop in brick-and-mortar stores, where possible, in the hopes of snagging a doorbuster deal.

But they say the majority of this year’s Black Friday purchases are expected to be made online.

Eric Morris, head of retail at Google Canada, says e-commerce in Canada has doubled during the pandemic.

He says given ongoing lockdowns and in-store capacity limits, online sales are expected to be strong today and remain heightened over the holiday shopping season.

Indeed, big box stores, which often attract the largest lineups and crowds on Black Friday, have moved most promotions online.

Yet although Black Friday’s top sellers tend to be big-ticket electronics, some shoppers might be on the hunt for deals on more basic items.

Lisa Hutcheson, managing partner at consulting firm J.C. Williams Group, says some shoppers may take advantage of today’s sales to “stock up and hunker down for the winter.”

Also this …

REGINA — Group sports are suspended in Saskatchewan starting today and no more than 30 people are allowed to gather inside public venues as the province tries to contain its spread of COVID-19.

The cap applies to bingo halls, worship services, casinos, and receptions for weddings and funerals.

The Saskatchewan Party government announced added health measures on Wednesday after weeks of rising cases that have driven up hospitalizations.

Although formal competition is prohibited, athletes and dancers who are 18 years old and younger can still practise in groups of eight if they stay far enough apart and wear masks — now required in all indoor fitness facilities.

No more than four people can sit together at a bar or restaurant and tables must be three metres apart if they are not separated by a barrier.

Large retail stores have to cut their capacity by half.

The measures are to be in place until Dec. 17.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

Americans are marking the Thanksgiving holiday amid an unrelenting pandemic that has upended traditions at dinner tables all around the country.

Zoom and FaceTime calls are fixtures this year, and people who have lost family members to the virus are keeping an empty seat to honour their loved ones.

Far fewer volunteers will help at soup kitchens or community centres.

A Utah health department has been delivering boxes of food to residents who are infected with the virus and can’t go to the store.

A New York nursing home is offering drive-up visits for families of residents struggling with celebrating the holiday alone.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

SEOUL — South Korea’s spy agency has told lawmakers that North Korea executed at least two people, banned fishing at sea and locked down its capital as part of frantic anti-coronavirus steps.

The lawmakers cited the National Intelligence Service as saying that North Korea also ordered diplomats overseas to refrain from any acts that could provoke the United States because it is worried about president-elect Joe Biden’s expected new approach toward the North.

One lawmaker cited the agency as saying North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is displaying excessive anger and taking irrational measures over the pandemic and its economic impact.

On this day in 1998 …

Hells Angels kingpin Maurice (Mom) Boucher was acquitted of killing two Quebec prison guards.

ICYMI …

A Venezuelan woman who believes she was used as part of Jason Kenney’s argument not to lockdown restaurants in Alberta remembers her encounter with the premier as less dramatic than he suggested.

Carolina De La Torre says Kenney got her central feelings correct, but she said she did not break down into tears the way Kenney recalled.

“No crying,” the 57-year-old woman said with a laugh during a phone interview Thursday.

She also said it was Kenney who approached her Calgary food court booth called Arepas Ranch for lunch in October, not the other way around as the premier told it.

After weeks of mounting COVID-19 cases, as more than 1,000 new cases and 16 deaths were reported on Tuesday, Kenney announced new rules that included making indoor private social events illegal.

During the news conference, Kenney gave an example of how much a lockdown would hurt businesses by telling the story of a Venezuelan refugee he met.

“A couple of weeks ago, I was in my constituency, at a little food court thing and a new Albertan, a refugee from Venezuela socialism, came up to me,” Kenney said.

“She had just opened a little food kiosk, she recognized me, she came up to me, and she broke down in tears in front of me saying, ‘sir, I put my entire life savings as a refugee into this business, we’re struggling to pay the bills, if you shut me down, I’m going to lose it all, everything, and I’ll be in abject poverty.’”

“For some, perhaps, it is a little bit too easy to say just flick a switch. Shut them down,” Kenney said.

“I would ask people who have the certainty of a paycheque to think for a moment about those individuals whose entire life savings are tied up in businesses.”

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

The Canadian Press

COVID projections and ‘Schitt’s Creek’ motel for sale: In The News for Nov. 26

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Nov 26th, 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 Nov. 26 …

What we are watching in Canada …

TORONTO — Ontario health officials are expected to release new COVID-19 projections today.

It will be the first time they have released such data since sending the province’s two biggest virus hot spots — Toronto and Peel Region — into lockdown earlier this week.

Two weeks ago, the province unveiled modelling that showed Ontario could see as many as 6,500 new daily cases of COVID-19 by mid-December unless steps are taken to limit the spread of the virus.

It said the province would reach 2,500 new daily cases by that time if the growth rate was at three per cent, or 6,500 if the growth rate was at five per cent.

At the time, Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, one of the experts behind the projections, said a five per cent growth rate was “slightly optimistic.”

Premier Doug Ford announced he would lower thresholds for imposing stricter COVID-19 measures under the province’s colour-coded restrictions system the following day.

Also this …

Quebec’s highest court is scheduled to deliver its ruling today on appeals to the life sentence of Alexandre Bissonnette, who shot and killed six men in a Quebec City mosque in 2017.

Bissonnette was sentenced in February 2019 to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 40 years.

Both sides appealed the ruling: the defence said the killer should be allowed a parole hearing in 25 years while the Crown said 40 years wasn’t enough, and Bissonnette should not have the possibility to leave prison before 50 years.

And in Toronto, a psychiatrist is expected to testify for the defence in the murder trial for a man who drove a van down a crowded Toronto sidewalk, killing 10 people.

Alek Minassian has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder.

The defence argues the 28-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., should be found not criminally responsible for his actions on April 23, 2018, due to autism spectrum disorder.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

WASHINGTON — A big Biden family Thanksgiving is off the table for president-elect Joe Biden because of the pandemic.

In remarks billed as a Thanksgiving address to the nation, the Democrat urged Americans to “hang on” and not “surrender to the fatigue” after months of coping with the virus.

He noted that public health officials have asked Americans to give up many of the traditions that make Thanksgiving special, like big indoor family get-togethers.

Biden said he knows how hard it is to give up family traditions but that it’s very important this year given the spike in virus cases, averaging about 160,000 a day.

He urged everyone to wear masks, practice social distancing and limit the size of groups, calling it a “patriotic duty” until a vaccine is approved.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

SEOUL — The operator of an online chat room in South Korea was sentenced today to 40 years in prison for blackmailing dozens of women, including minors, into filming sexually explicit video and selling them to others.

The Seoul Central District Court convicted Cho Ju-bin, 24, of violating the laws on protecting minors and organizing a criminal ring, court spokesman Kim Yong Chan said.

The court ruled Cho “used various methods to lure and blackmail a large number of victims into making sexually abusive contents and distributed them to many people for an extended period,” Kim said. “

He particularly disclosed the identities of many victims and inflicted irreparable damages to them.”

Cho has maintained he only cheated victims into making such video but didn’t blackmail or coerce them, forcing some of the victims to testify in court.

Kim said the court decided to isolate Cho from society for a prolonged period in consideration of his attitude and the seriousness and evil influence of his crime.

Both Cho and prosecutors, who had requested a life sentence, have one week to appeal.

On this day in 1917 …

The National Hockey League was founded in Montreal with Frank Calder as president. The NHL replaced the National Hockey Association. Its first teams were the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Toronto Arenas, Ottawa Senators and Quebec Bulldogs.

In entertainment …

There’s a rose-coloured opportunity for would-be hoteliers looking to flaunt their wealth in small-town Canada.

A landmark location from the beloved CBC sitcom “Schitt’s Creek” hit the market Wednesday, offering buyers the chance to re-enact the show’s riches-to-rags saga for a listing price of $2 million.

The Hockley Motel in Mono, a town of about 8,000 people northwest of Toronto, served as the exterior set for the Rose family’s home on the Emmy Award-winning series.

The listing presents the 6.7-acre riverside property as a fixer-upper that would appeal to travellers seeking rural refuge from the commotion and contagion risk of city life in the COVID-19 era.

It’s a sales pitch that may sound familiar to “Schitt’s Creek” fans who have followed the Rose family as they refurbished their motel-turned-home in a town they once purchased as a joke, said property owner Jesse Tipping.

ICYMI …

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — A school superintendent in British Columbia is apologizing to an Indigenous mother whose daughter was given an assignment to find something good about the infamous residential school system.

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission detailed how the residential school system played a central role in perpetrating cultural genocide against Indigenous people.

Krista MacInnis says she was reduced to tears when her daughter asked for help on the Grade 6 assignment from William A. Fraser Middle School in Abbotsford.

MacInnis says she asked her daughter to erase the work she had done, which included the web address for a blog post entitled “Balancing the Biased ‘Genocide’ Story About Residential Schools.”

MacInnis says she’s since heard from the superintendent of the Abbotsford school district, Kevin Godden, who told her as a person of colour he was outraged by the assignment her daughter received.

MacInnis says she’s heard from the school’s principal, who told her he has spoken with the teacher responsible for the assignment and they would both like to apologize to the mother and her daughter.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2020

The Canadian Press

For posterity: George Pimentel project captures effects of COVID-19 on Canadian society

Talia Knezic | posted Thursday, Nov 26th, 2020

Across the world, people are living through a pandemic the likes of which has not been seen for over 100 years.

While there is little doubt that 2020 and the COVID-19 crisis will be remembered as a dark chapter, it is an extraordinary time in human history and one that is being documented extensively by almost everyone with a smartphone.

One of Canada’s most renowned photographers has taken it upon himself to curate thousands of such images submitted on social media by Canadians across the country, to capture how COVID-19 has altered every facet of their existence.

“It all started when I was looking at photos from the Spanish flu,” George Pimentel said.

With all events cancelled due to the pandemic, including the Toronto International Film Festival where Pimentel has snapped some of his most iconic images, he was left with time on his hands and a desire to do something meaningful with it.

“I thought it’s so important to document the historical value of this pandemic … to archive this for the future. I want to be able to look back at the photos one day and maybe get a sense of what time was like back then,” he explained.

Pimentel began by photographing life during the pandemic for himself — everything from gymnastics practice in a park to a physically distanced visit with his father. Hearing people’s stories as he photographed them has been both heart wrenching and eye opening, he said.

As he started creating a photo essay on his Instagram account, Pimentel began to feel that it was vital to see how others across the country were experiencing the pandemic and get a glimpse of it through their lenses.

To make his vision a reality, he decided to use social media as a hub to gather images from all walks – whether or not they were professional photographers. He began asking people to use #CanadaCOVIDPortrait to share their photos with him on Instagram in hopes of creating a country-wide archive.

“The power of social media — everyone started hash-tagging their photos. We had over 5,000 images come in. It was overwhelming,” he said.

Pimentel said the story of COVID in Canada has so many different chapters — frontline workers, businesses, families, and the elderly to name a few — and the photos he received told rich stories of their real life experiences.

“Each photo tells a story and has the diversity of Canada, from west coast to east coast, we wanted to show everything. There’s photos from Indigenous [people] and Black Lives Matter,” he said, adding that they are all strung together by the common thread of hope and resilience.

“We had over 5,000 images come in.”

Those photos are now part of the ‘Portraits in COVID Times: Documenting a Nation in Change’ exhibit at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto.

View some of the images from the exhibit below:
Photos provided by George Pimentel

Open Gallery10 items

 

The exhibit itself is one of the many things impacted by COVID-19. With indoor events and gatherings now prohibited, the outdoor format and large scale was a deliberate and necessary decision in order to make the exhibit accessible to as many people as possible.

“There’s no other exhibit like this,” Pimentel stated. “You can see the exhibit from the streetcar, while you’re riding your bike, while you’re walking down here.”

Habourfront Chief Programming Officer Iris Nemani said Pimentel’s vision for the project was in perfect harmony with the centre’s own goals of engaging with the community and bringing them innovative, COVID-safe programming during a time when their extensive roster of events had to be cancelled.

“How could we use our 10 acres and really create a visual art canvas for the community to engage artists and to also have relevant conversations? What George brought to us was absolutely a current conversation that was so poignant,” she explained.

For the first time, the entire façade of the main Harbourfront building has been taken over for a single exhibit of black and white photographs.

“Our offices are closed, so it was a non-issue for the people working inside the building. This was a moment to do something that was really impactful and large scale, so we just said let’s take over all the windows,” Nemani said.

“There’s no events going on inside and we felt like the only way to do it is outdoors and the best way to do it is to bring it out to the community,” Pimental added. “We’re just so lucky that the Harbourfront has such a great space.”

But even with the entire building covered, there are still more stories to tell. A second site along the waterfront has been chosen for Part 2 of the exhibit, expected to be completed next week.

“When [people] come down, they’re going to see that maybe they can relate to this.”

It will run along Queens Quay near Rees Street on 200 feet of lineal hoarding that will display an additional 30 images in colour.

 

“This is for the community, both that live here and those who are coming down here, and a way to bring some reflection for what we are all going through together,” Nemani said.

Pimentel added that he hopes the images will help people find common ground during what has been an incredibly divisive and polarizing time for the country.

“When [people] come down, they’re going to see that maybe they can relate to this. The most important thing is maybe they can learn from this and just see how the other side live. And really be sensitive to the issues …and lets all be kinder, it’s COVID,” he said.

Person of interest identified but not arrested in billionaire murders: police

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Nov 26th, 2020

Toronto police say they have identified a person of interest in the high-profile 2017 homicides of a billionaire philanthropist couple.

However, the force says no arrest has been made related to the murders of Barry and Honey Sherman.

The founder of generic pharmaceutical company Apotex and his wife were killed inside their Toronto mansion in December 2017.

Autopsy results revealed the couple died by “ligature neck compression” and police have said there were no signs of forced entry.

The killings shocked the city and made international headlines.

The family offered up to $10 million for information that would help solve the case, and hired its own team of private investigators.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Test of emergency public alert system expected today across Canada, CRTC says

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Nov 25th, 2020

Most people across Canada can expect an interruption Wednesday by an emergency public alert that will be broadcast on television, radio and sent to mobile devices as part of a countrywide test of the system.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission says all provinces and territories, except Nunavut, will get the alerts, but people will not be required to take action.

The exact time of the test will vary depending on the province or territory.

The agency says testing the national public alerting system is aimed at checking performance and reliability “to ensure it operates as intended in the event of a life-threatening situation.”

For a wireless device to receive a test alert, the CRTC says it must be connected to an LTE wireless or a newer wireless network, it must be wireless public alerting compatible and equipped with a recent Canadian version of its operating software.

If a mobile device meets these conditions and does not receive the test, the CRTC encourages Canadians to contact their service provider.

Testing the system, which hasn’t always gone according to plan, started in 2018.

It was supposed to be fully operational under regulator orders by April 6, 2018. But that year in Quebec, it didn’t sound at all. Many wireless subscribers in Ontario also didn’t receive it.

“Since January 2019, hundreds of emergency alert messages were successfully transmitted by emergency management officials to warn Canadians of a potentially life-threatening situation,” the CRTC said in its statement Tuesday. “These alerts have been credited with saving lives.”

This summer, Ontario Provincial Police used the system to alert Lanark County residents that an armed man was at large after a body was found in a motel room.

That alert came about three months after a denturist went on a shooting rampage in Portapique, N.S., killing 22 people. The RCMP was criticized for not using the system.

Quebec City police also faced backlash last month for not using the system to warn the public about a sword-wielding individual roaming the streets, killing two people and injuring five others.

Alert Test Times Across Canada:

  • Alberta – 1:55 PM MST
  • British Columbia – 1:55 PM PST
  • Manitoba – 1:55 PM CST
  • New Brunswick – 10:55 AM AST
  • Newfoundland & Labrador – 10:55 AM NST
  • Northwest Territories – 9:55 AM MST
  • Nova Scotia – 1:55 PM AST
  • Nunavut – No test scheduled
  • Ontario – 12:55 PM EST
  • Prince Edward Island – 12:55 PM AST
  • Quebec – 1:55 PM EST
  • Saskatchewan – 1:55 PM CST
  • Yukon – 1:55 PM MST

Tougher COVID-19 restrictions and a major Grammy snub: In The News for Nov. 25

Talia Knezic | posted Wednesday, Nov 25th, 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 Nov. 25 …

What we are watching in Canada …

The Ontario government is expected to spell out its guidelines today for celebrating the upcoming winter holidays as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Toronto and Peel Region are currently under the grey or lockdown level in the province’s tiered COVID-19 alert system, with those restrictions to stay in place at least until the week of Christmas.

Public health measures under the lockdown level include a ban on indoor gatherings except with those in the same household, as well as closing down restaurants for all but takeout and delivery.

The province’s top doctor said earlier this week it seemed unlikely the situation would improve in those regions enough over 28 days to warrant moving them to the red alert level, which is one level lower.

In Alberta, tougher COVID-19 restrictions were announced Tuesday that included limits on social gatherings and less face-to-face class time for students.

Premier Jason Kenney said there are to be no indoor gatherings, but people who live alone can have up to two personal contacts.

He says students in grades 7 through 12 will transition next week to at-home learning and the school holiday break will be extended from Dec. 18 to Jan. 11.

Banquet halls, conference centres and concert venues must also close.

Kenney added that anyone who can work from home should do so and masks will be mandatory in workplaces in Edmonton, Calgary and surrounding areas. The measures will be in effect for three weeks and re-evaluated after that.

Also this …

A review of the Catholic archdiocese of Montreal’s handling of complaints against a pedophile priest is to be released today.

The archdiocese enlisted former Quebec Superior Court justice Pepita Capriolo to examine the church’s response to complaints against former priest Brian Boucher.

Archbishop Christian Lepine is expected to speak about the report, tabled in September, at a news conference today.

Lepine requested the review himself, saying he wanted to establish who knew what in relation to Boucher’s crimes.

Boucher was sentenced in March 2019 to eight years in prison for abusing two boys after being found guilty in one case and pleading guilty in the other.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

U.S. President Donald Trump says he is not giving up his fight to overturn the election results, even as agencies across the federal government begin to support president-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration.

Career federal officials are opening the doors of agencies to hundreds of transition aides ready to prepare for Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration.

And on Tuesday, Trump signed off on allowing Biden to receive the presidential daily brief, the highly classified briefing prepared by the nation’s intelligence community for the government’s most senior leaders.

An administration official said logistics on when and where Biden will first receive the briefing were still being worked out.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

The European Union has committed to be “creative” in the final stages of the Brexit trade negotiations but warned that whatever deal emerges, the United Kingdom will be reduced to “just a valued partner,” far removed from its former membership status.

EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said “genuine progress” has been made on several issues.

And she said that on the divisive issues of fisheries, governance of any deal and the standards the U.K. must meet to export into the EU, the bloc is “ready to be creative, but we are not ready to put into question the integrity of the single market.”

On this day in 2010 …

Steven Chand, 29, convicted of trying to raise funds for the so-called Toronto 18 terror plotters, was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He had been in jail since June 2006 but because of credit for time served, he only had to serve another seven months and 10 days.

In entertainment …

The Weeknd angrily slammed the Grammy Awards, calling them “corrupt” after the Canadian pop star walked away with zero nominations despite having multiple hits this year.

The three-time Grammy winner criticized the Recording Academy on Tuesday after he was severely snubbed, despite having one of the year’s biggest albums with “After Hours” and being tapped as the Super Bowl halftime headline performer. He also topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart with “Blinding Lights” and “Heartless.”

“The Grammys remain corrupt,” the singer said on Twitter. “You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency.”

The harsh words come less than a year after the Recording Academy’s ousted CEO accused the group that determines nominations in the top categories of having conflicts of interest and not engaging in a transparent selection process.

ICYMI …

A researcher from the University of Alberta is being recognized for her innovation that uses the sharp edges on salt crystals to destroy COVID-19 droplets on reusable masks.

Ilaria Rubino, a recent PhD graduate, says a solution of mostly salt and water is used to coat the first or middle layer of the mask.

As the liquid from the droplets evaporates, she says the salt crystals grow back as spiky weapons, which damage the bacteria or virus within five minutes.

Rubino collaborated with a researcher at Georgia State University in Atlanta to advance the project she started five years ago.

She is being recognized today with an innovation award from Mitacs, a not-for-profit organization that honours researchers from academic institutions.

The salt-coated mask is expected to be available commercially next year after regulatory approval.

Rubino says it could also be used to stop the spread of other infectious illnesses, such as influenza.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020

The Canadian Press

Canada-wide survey of women’s shelters shows abuse more severe during COVID-19

BRENNA OWEN, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Nov 25th, 2020

A new national survey by Women’s Shelters Canada offers a glimpse into the experiences of front-line workers and women fleeing violence during the COVID-19 pandemic, with reports of clients facing more violence that is also increasing in severity.

The Shelter Voices survey says 52 per cent of 266 participating shelters reported seeing clients who were experiencing either somewhat or much more severe violence, as public health measures aimed at fighting COVID-19 increase social isolation, while job losses fuel tension over financial insecurity in many households.

Violence “was also happening more frequently, or abusers who hadn’t used violence in the past were suddenly using violence,” said Krys Maki, the research and policy manager for Women’s Shelters Canada.

The survey also found 37 per cent of shelters reported changes in the type of violence clients faced, including increased physical attacks resulting in broken bones, strangulation and stabbings.

Shelters and transition houses that did not report changes in the rates or type of violence were often located in communities that had seen fewer cases of COVID-19, the report notes.

The data show public health restrictions have a “huge impact on women and children who are living with their abusers,” said Maki.

The survey says 59 per cent of shelters reported a decrease in calls for help between March and May, when people were asked to stay home, and businesses, workplaces and schools shut their doors.

From June to October, “as soon as things started up again, we see a huge increase in crisis calls and requests for admittance,” said Maki.

The survey includes responses from shelters and transition houses in rural and urban areas in every province and territory.

Just over half of the shelters in population centres with 1,000 to 29,999 residents reported increases in crisis calls between June and October, said Maki, compared with 70 per cent of shelters in urban centres with populations between 100,000 and just under a million.

Women in smaller communities may be more hesitant to reach out for help, said Maki, “because everybody knows everyone, and everyone knows where the shelter is, too.”

While the survey shows women are facing more severe violence at home, at the same time, 71 per cent of shelters reported reducing their capacity in order to maintain physical distancing and other public health measures aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19.

It was more common that shelters in large population centres had to cut their capacity.

To continue serving women remotely, 82 per cent of shelters and transition houses reported purchasing new technology, such as tablets, phones and laptops, although limited cell service and internet connectivity pose challenges in rural and remote areas.

For many shelters, financial difficulties increased throughout the pandemic, as 38 per cent reported raising significantly less money compared with last year.

The shelters were mostly appreciative of the federal government’s emergency funding in response to COVID-19, with some reporting it kept them open, while others said they had to lay off staff because the money didn’t go far enough.

The federal government announced last month it would double the initial amount it was providing to gender-based violence services in response to the pandemic for a total of $100 million, some of which has been distributed through Women’s Shelters Canada.

The survey found more than three quarters  of the shelters faced staffing challenges during the pandemic. That’s not surprising, the report notes, since women make up the majority of shelter workers and have been trying to balance paid work with childcare and other family responsibilities during lockdown periods.

The release of the survey results on Wednesday coincides with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

The Canadian Centre for Women’s Empowerment is also working to have Nov. 26 recognized each year to raise awareness about economic abuse.

So far, the cities of Ottawa, Brampton, Parry Sound and Kingston have signed on in Ontario, while Victoria and Comox, B.C., will also mark the day.

There is little data about economic abuse in Canada, said Meseret Haileyesus, who founded the centre, although the shelter survey showed clients were subject to increasing coercion and control tactics, including limited access to money.

A survivor’s debt load, credit rating, and their ability to access housing and educational opportunities may be affected for years, long after they’ve left an abusive relationship, Haileyesus said.

The centre is working with MP Anita Vandenbeld on a petition urging lawmakers to expand the strategy to end gender-based violence to include economic abuse. It also wants Statistics Canada to begin collecting data and studying economic abuse.

———

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Alberta researcher gets award for COVID-19 mask innovation

CAMILLE BAINS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Nov 24th, 2020

Salt that crystallizes with sharp edges is the killer ingredient in the development of a reusable mask because any COVID-19 droplets that land on it would be quickly destroyed, says a researcher who is being recognized for her innovation.

Ilaria Rubino, a recent PhD graduate from the department of chemical and materials engineering at the University of Alberta, said a mostly salt and water solution that coats the first or middle layer of the mask would dissolve droplets before they can penetrate the face covering.

As the liquid from the droplets evaporates, the salt crystals grow back as spiky weapons, damaging the bacteria or virus within five minutes, Rubino said.

“We know that after the pathogens are collected in the mask, they can survive. Our goal was to develop a technology that is able to inactivate the pathogens upon contact so that we can make the mask as effective as possible.”

Rubino, who collaborated with a researcher at Georgia State University in Atlanta to advance the project she started five years ago, was recognized Tuesday with an innovation award from Mitacs. The Canadian not-for-profit organization receives funding from the federal government, most provinces and Yukon to honour researchers from academic institutions.

The reusable, non-washable mask is made of a type of polypropylene, a plastic used in surgical masks, and could be safely worn and handled multiple times without being decontaminated, Rubino said.

The idea is to replace surgical masks often worn by health-care workers who must dispose of them in a few hours, she said, adding the technology could potentially be used for N-95 respirators.

The salt-coated mask is expected to be available commercially next year after regulatory approval. It could also be used to stop the spread of other infectious illnesses, such as influenza, Rubino said.

Dr. Catherine Clase, an epidemiologist and associate professor of medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, said the “exciting” technology would have multiple benefits.

Clase, who is a member of the Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials in the engineering department at McMaster, said there wasn’t much research in personal protective equipment when Rubino began her work.

“It’s going to decrease the footprint for making and distributing and then disposing of every mask,” she said, adding that the mask could also address any supply issues.

The Public Health Agency of Canada recently recommended homemade masks consist of at least three layers, with a middle, removable layer constructed from a non-woven, washable polypropylene fabric to improve filtration.

Conor Ruzycki, an aerosol scientist in the University of Alberta’s mechanical engineering department, said Rubino’s innovation adds to more recent research on masks as COVID-19 cases rise and shortages of face coverings in the health-care system could again become a problem.

Ruzycki, who works in a lab to evaluate infiltration efficiencies of different materials for masks and respirators, is also a member of a physician-led Alberta group Masks4Canada, which is calling for stricter pandemic measures, including a provincewide policy on mandatory masks.

New measures expected in Alberta and pandemic weight gain: In The News for Nov. 24

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Nov 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 Nov. 24 …

What we are watching in Canada …

EDMONTON — Alberta’s chief medical officer of health says COVID-19 has become like a snowball rolling down a hill, picking up size and speed, and threatening to overwhelm the health system.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw says immediate action is needed to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Premier Jason Kenney and select cabinet ministers were to meet with Hinshaw, and new measures are expected to be announced today.

Alberta, once a leader in how to prepare for and contain the virus, has in recent weeks become a national cautionary tale.

There have been well over 1,000 new cases a day for five straight days, and there are more than 300 patients in hospital and more than 60 in intensive care.

Kenney has said he wants targeted measures to control the virus while keeping businesses as open as possible.

Others, including some doctors, say the focus needs to be on a sharp clampdown, even for a short period.

Also this …

A new poll by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies suggests many Canadians are gaining weight because they’re eating more and exercising less during COVID-19 pandemic.

Thirty-two per cent of respondents said they have gained weight since March, while 15 per cent said they lost weight over that time.

Jack Jedwab, president of the Association for Canadian Studies, says this is one of the collateral effects of the pandemic, as the survey suggests there is a link between weight gain and fear of COVID-19.

Forty-six per cent of respondents who said they are very afraid of COVID-19 gained weight during the pandemic.

Forty-four cent of those who expressed that level of fear said they have been exercising less than they did before the pandemic and about 46 per cent said they were eating more than usual.

The online survey of 1,516 Canadians was conducted Oct. 29-31 and cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

The U.S. General Services Administration has ascertained that president-elect Joe Biden is the “apparent winner” of the Nov. 3 election.

President Donald Trump, who had refused to concede the election, said Monday that he is directing his team to co-operate on the transition but is vowing to keep up the fight.

The move clears the way for the start of the transition from Trump’s administration and allows Biden to co-ordinate with federal agencies on plans for taking over on Jan. 20.

An official said Administrator Emily Murphy made the determination after Trump efforts to subvert the vote failed across battleground states, most recently in Michigan, which certified Biden’s victory Monday.

And today, Biden is preparing to formally announce his national security team to the nation.

Those being introduced during an afternoon event are among Obama administration alumni whose roles in the upcoming administration signal Biden’s shift away from the Trump administration’s “America First” policies.

The picks include former Secretary of State John Kerry to take the lead on combating climate change. Outside the realm of national security and foreign policy, Biden is expected to choose former Fed chair Janet Yellen as the first woman to serve as treasury secretary.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

China’s latest trip to the moon is another milestone in the Asian powerhouse’s slow but steady ascent to the stars.

China became the third country to put a person into orbit a generation ago and the first to land on the far side of the moon in 2019.

The Chang’e 5 mission, launched today, will be the first to bring back moon rocks and debris since a Soviet mission in 1976.

Future ambitions include a permanent space station and putting people back on the moon more than 50 years after the U.S. did.

On this day in 2002 …

Quebec Premier Bernard Landry announced that the May 24th Quebec holiday, “La fete de Dollard,” would henceforth be known as “La Journee nationale des Patriotes.” The name was changed to honour the movement that contributed to the Rebellions of 1837-38 in Lower Canada and became an early symbol of French-Canadian nationalism.

In entertainment …

Anne Murray wasn’t sure her singing voice was still intact until a few months ago.

The famed Canadian crooner had left her most-cherished instrument largely unchecked while in retirement, aside from belting out a song here and there while doing household chores.

But last summer, she decided to dust off her guitar to see whether her trademark lush alto voice could still carry a tune.

Murray says she performed a few of her old songs “just for the fun of it,” and was pleased to learn her famous pipes are still humming.

The winner of 24 Junos and four Grammys swore off recording new music more than a decade ago, but she recently compiled several of her classic tracks for a new holiday album.

“The Ultimate Christmas Collection” brings together 22 songs pulled from Murray’s various Christmas albums, including “Joy to the World, “Blue Christmas” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” with Michael Buble.

ICYMI …

A Quebec municipality that had planned to cull about 15 white-tailed deer in the coming days relented late Monday amid pressure on officials to relocate the animals.

Longueuil Mayor Sylvie Parent said in a statement the threat of people intervening or attempting to thwart the cull has forced the city to consider other options.

Parent noted the plan to capture and slaughter the deer, approved by Quebec’s Forests, Wildlife and Parks Department, was supported by a “broad consensus within the scientific community.”

But given the circumstances, she’s asking the city’s top civil servant to come up with a plan to move the deer from Michel-Chartrand Park to a sanctuary authorized by provincial officials.

Parent’s announcement came hours after an animal rescue group and a lawyer who champions animal rights urged the Montreal-area city to reconsider its plan to kill half the white-tailed deer in the park and donate the meat to a food bank.

The organization, Sauvetage Animal Rescue, along with well-known Montreal lawyer Anne-France Goldwater, had urged Parent to consider its own plan to relocate the animals to a sanctuary, free of charge.

Ultimately, the city relented but Parent said the deer situation would need to be resolved quickly.

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

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Nov 24th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EST on Nov. 24, 2020:

There are 337,555 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 133,206 confirmed (including 6,842 deaths, 115,367 resolved)

_ Ontario: 105,501 confirmed (including 3,505 deaths, 88,992 resolved)

_ Alberta: 48,421 confirmed (including 476 deaths, 34,779 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 27,407 confirmed (including 348 deaths, 19,069 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 14,087 confirmed (including 236 deaths, 5,353 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 6,708 confirmed (including 37 deaths, 3,807 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,190 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,074 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 445 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 349 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 321 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 294 resolved)

_ Nunavut: 134 confirmed (including 2 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 69 confirmed (including 64 resolved)

_ Yukon: 38 confirmed (including 1 death, 22 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed (including 10 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Total: 337,555 (0 presumptive, 337,555 confirmed including 11,521 deaths, 269,195 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

Rent relief for businesses and AMA love for The Weeknd: In The News for Nov. 23

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Nov 23rd, 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 Nov. 23 …

What we are watching in Canada …

OTTAWA — Businesses struggling to pay the bills because of the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to start applying today for a long-awaited new commercial rent-relief program offered by the federal government.

The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy replaces an earlier rent-support program for businesses introduced in the spring that saw little pickup because it relied on landlords to apply for help.

The new program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest on a sliding scale based on revenue declines, with an extra 25 per cent available to the hardest-hit firms.

Federal cabinet ministers will highlight the program during a news conference this morning in which they will also open two initiatives designed to help businesses owned by Black Canadians.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which represents thousands of small companies across the country, is welcoming the new rent program as long overdue for firms hard hit by COVID-19.

However, it is criticizing the government for not opening it to businesses that would have qualified for the previous rent-relief program, but could not access federal funds because their landlords chose not to apply.

Also this …

OTTAWA — N-D-P MP Laurel Collins is reviving a call for the environment commissioner to be a stand-alone officer of Parliament.

Collins is pushing a motion at the environment committee to pull the position out of the Office of the Auditor General and make it a separate entity.

The Victoria MP says the commissioner needs its own dedicated staff to ensure it can fulfil its mandate.

She says the commissioner used to perform up to five environmental audits annually but has just one underway this year and two planned for 2021.

The Liberal government of former prime minister Jean Chrétien created the position in 1995, but did not meet a campaign promise to make it an office independent from the auditor general.

The motion from Collins is nearly identical to one passed by the same committee 13 years ago but the request was never fulfilled.

ICYMI …

OTTAWA — Canada and Britain struck a new trade deal on Saturday, allowing the long-standing partners to trumpet a commercial triumph in the face of the economic devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The interim deal beat the looming Dec. 31 Brexit deadline, replacing Canada’s current agreement with Britain under the European Union that covers trade between the two countries.

Announced amid a virtual gathering of G-20 leaders, the interim pact is a placeholder that buys Canada and Britain another year to reach a more comprehensive agreement while also warding off a no-deal scenario that would have triggered new tariffs on a range of Canadian exports on Jan. 1

But few details were released about the new agreement. Breaking with past practice during trade negotiations, there were no pre-announcement briefings for journalists and no text was released.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U-S President Donald Trump’s campaign has filed plenty of lawsuits in six states as he tries to upend an election he lost to Democrat Joe Biden.

The strategy may have played well in front of TV cameras, but it’s proved a disaster in court, where judges uniformly have rejected claims of vote fraud.

The latest case ended Saturday, when a federal judge in Pennsylvania said Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani presented only “speculative accusations” and no proof of rampant corruption in the vote.

A law school professor says the suits threaten the future of elections because so many Americans believe the claims being made by Trump’s team.

Meanwhile, Biden is expected to nominate Antony Blinken as secretary of state, according to multiple people familiar with the Biden team’s planning.

If nominated and confirmed, Blinken would be a leading force in Biden’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which Trump questioned longtime alliances.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

LONDON — AstraZeneca says late stage trials of its COVID-19 vaccine developed with Oxford University were “highly effective’’ in preventing disease.

The results are based on interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of the vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca.

The drugmaker reported today that no hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in those receiving the vaccine.

“These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives. Excitingly that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90 per cent effective,’’ said Professor Andrew Pollard, the chief investigator for the trial.

Two other drugmakers, Pfizer and Moderna, last week reported preliminary results from late-stage trials showing that their COVID-19 vaccines were almost 95 per cent effective.

In entertainment …

LOS ANGELES — Taylor Swift won her third consecutive artist of the year prize at last night’s American Music Awards.

She beat out Canadians Justin Bieber and The Weeknd for the top award, while also winning favourite music video and favourite pop/rock female artist.

Though The Weeknd lost artist of the year, he still kicked off his all-star week as a big winner: Days before he’s expected to land multiple Grammy nominations, the pop star dominated the 2020 American Music Awards with multiple wins.

The Toronto native won favourite soul/R&B male artist, favourite soul/R&B album for “After Hours” and favourite soul/R&B song for “Heartless.

The Weeknd didn’t break character throughout last night’s three-hour show with his gauze-wrapped face, which matched the vibe of his recent album and music videos where he appears blooded and bruised.

He was one of several artists who appeared live at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles for the fan-voted awards show. Others taped performances because of the pandemic.

Bieber and fellow Canuck pop star Shawn Mendes opened the show with a performance of their new duet “Monster.”

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

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Monday, Nov. 23, 2020

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Nov 23rd, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. EST on Nov. 23, 2020:

There are 330,492 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 132,042 confirmed (including 6,829 deaths, 114,085 resolved)

_ Ontario: 103,912 confirmed (including 3,486 deaths, 87,508 resolved)

_ Alberta: 46,872 confirmed (including 471 deaths, 34,206 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 25,474 confirmed (including 331 deaths, 17,477 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 13,544 confirmed (including 229 deaths, 5,193 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 6,473 confirmed (including 33 deaths, 3,757 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,168 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,070 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 430 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 347 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 319 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 294 resolved)

_ Nunavut: 130 confirmed (including 2 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 68 confirmed (including 64 resolved)

_ Yukon: 32 confirmed (including 1 death, 22 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed (including 10 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Total: 330,492 (0 presumptive, 330,492 confirmed including 11,455 deaths, 264,048 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

Forensic psychiatrist to testify for defence at Toronto van attack trial

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Nov 23rd, 2020

A forensic psychiatrist is set to testify for the defence on Monday in the murder trial for the man who killed 10 people after driving a van down a crowded Toronto sidewalk.

Dr. John Bradford is set to provide his evaluation of Alek Minassian, who has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder.

CityNews reporter Adrian Ghobrial is covering the trial, follow his tweets below:

Minassian argues he should be found not criminally responsible due to autism spectrum disorder for his actions on April 23, 2018.

He has admitted to planning and carrying out the attack and his state of mind at the time is the sole issue at trial.

Another psychiatrist has testified that Minassian’s autism spectrum disorder left him fixated on mass killings and vulnerable to the ramblings of an American mass murderer.

Dr. Rebecca Chauhan assessed Minassian over three days in September 2018. She testified on Wednesday that his autism spectrum disorder left him struggling to understand emotions and vulnerable to the online writings of mass killer Elliot Rodger, who killed six people in a 2014 attack near the campus of the University of California.

She testified Thursday that Minassian told her he read Rodger’s manifesto almost daily between January and April, 2018.

After assessing him, she wrote in her report that Minassian started reading about mass murders and became interested in the subject in high school. “He would fanaticize about shooting people every three to four months,” she wrote.

Dr. Chauhan was brought on by Dr. Bradford because he wanted a second opinion on Minassian’s autism diagnosis.

The defence case rests on the argument that his autism spectrum disorder meant he couldn’t fully understand the consequences of his actions during the attack.

The court has heard that Minassian has told various doctors his motivation for the attacks ranged from notoriety to revenge against society for years of rejection by women to anxiety over starting a new job.

Trudeau to tout climate and trade as China, U.S. set to dominate Asia-Pacific summit

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Nov 20th, 2020

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will pitch the economic benefits of fighting climate change and doing business with Canada as he meets with counterparts from both sides of the Pacific during today’s Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation leaders’ summit.

Yet the degree to which the prime minister’s sales pitch will even be heard by APEC leaders remains unclear as Canada’s tensions with China and the much bigger dispute between Beijing and Washington threaten to overshadow the meeting.

Trudeau hinted at his planned approach to the summit during a speech on Thursday that was followed by a question-and-answer session in which Ottawa’s tense ties with Beijing and relationship with the White House figured prominently.

The summit, which is being hosted by Malaysia but held online because of COVID-19, is supposed to focus on the pandemic, particularly its economic impacts and what actions the members can take to mitigate those now and recover afterward.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump will be among the participants, with the latter likely marking one of his last such international gatherings following this month’s presidential election.

This year’s meeting also comes days after China joined nearly a dozen other Asian countries along with Australia and New Zealand in inking what is being billed as the world’s largest free-trade agreement, which excludes Canada and U.S.

Trudeau stopped short Thursday of saying Canada was interested in joining the new Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, but instead suggested Ottawa would be watching to see how Beijing behaves in the trade deal.

China “is an important player in the global economy that we need to try and include and get to play by better international rules,” the prime minister said during the question-and-answer session during the APEC CEO Dialogue on Thursday.

“So if the RCEP deal is able to actually start to create level playing fields, that’s going to be something very, very interesting. So we’re going to watch carefully.”

Trudeau during the same session defended the detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who is facing extradition to the U.S. to face fraud charges, and whose case has become a weeping sore in the relationship between Canada and China.

The prime minister also indicated that he planned to not only push back against growing protectionism around the world, particularly during the pandemic, but also call for more of the benefits of free trade and globalization reach everyday people.

Much of the attention, however, will be on Trump and Xi. The former has refused to concede this month’s U.S. presidential election to challenger Joe Biden, and has made a point in the past of calling out China on trade and security.

The Trump administration during the last APEC summit in 2018 refused to sign off on a final statement over those same issues.

The APEC meeting today will be followed this weekend by the G20 leaders’ summit, which is being hosted by Saudi Arabia and will also focus on responding to the economic damage wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the first G20 leaders’ summit held in 2008 was aimed to ensure a unified international response to the financial crisis that year, experts say the ensuring 12 years have seen growing polarization around the world along with more populism and instability.

“We’re in a geopolitically polarized environment that’s not getting any better,” said Fen Hampson, chancellor’s professor at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs.

“And unless there is a will on the part of the great powers to co-operate even at a minimum, you’re just not going to see a whole lot of action. So yes, you may get a communique. But it’s likely to be quite anodyne.”

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

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Ontario community grieving after shooting that killed officer, civilian

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Nov 20th, 2020

The mayor of a town on Ontario’s Manitoulin Island says the community is reeling after a shooting that left a police officer and a civilian dead Thursday.

Dan Osborne, mayor of Gore Bay, says news of the incident quickly spread through the small island community yesterday.

He says it’s the kind of place where everyone knows everyone, and the loss is “devastating.”

Ontario’s police watchdog said yesterday it is investigating the shooting, which took place after the officer was called to a property in Gore Bay.

The Special Investigations Unit said the call was related to an “unwanted man” on the property.

It said the officer, identified as Const. Marc Hovingh, was shot dead after he arrived, while the man on the property died in hospital.

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

 

COVID-19 projections and an Ontario community in mourning: In The News for Nov. 20

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Nov 20th, 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 Nov. 20 …

What we are watching in Canada …

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will amplify his plea for Canadians to stay home as much as possible after alarming new projections for the spread of COVID-19 in Canada are released today.

The updated projections are expected to forecast a dramatic rise in cases over the next few weeks — to as much as 60,000 new cases a day by the end of the year — if Canadians don’t strictly limit their contact with people outside their households.

Trudeau is to hold a news conference after the latest modelling is unveiled by chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam this morning.

To underscore the importance of minimizing contacts, Trudeau will conduct the news conference outside his home, Rideau Cottage — the site of his daily briefings during the first wave of the deadly pandemic last spring.

He ended that practice over the summer when the pandemic went into a bit of a lull and, throughout the fall until now, he has joined Tam and select ministers at news conferences on Parliament Hill once or twice a week.

Tam has already warned that Canada is on track to hit more than 10,000 cases per day by early December if Canadians maintain their current rate of contacts outside their household.

Also this …

TORONTO — Ontario is expected to release new public health measures today to fight the surging spread of COVID-19 in hot spot regions.

Premier Doug Ford said earlier this week that the restrictions will affect Toronto, Peel, and York Region where virus cases have been increasing in recent weeks.

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health has made recommendations to Ford’s cabinet which is expected to make a decision this morning ahead of the afternoon announcement.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe says keeping schools open remains a priority.

Ford has repeatedly said in recent days that he will take targeted action in the hot spot regions, but he would not hesitate to use full lockdowns if necessary.

And …

The mayor of a town on Ontario’s Manitoulin Island says the community is reeling after a shooting that left a police officer and a civilian dead Thursday.

Dan Osborne, mayor of Gore Bay, says news of the incident quickly spread through the small island community yesterday.

He says it’s the kind of place where everyone knows everyone, and the loss is “devastating.”

Ontario’s police watchdog said yesterday it is investigating the shooting, which took place after the officer was called to a property in Gore Bay.

The Special Investigations Unit said the call was related to an “unwanted man” on the property.

It said the officer, identified as Const. Marc Hovingh, was shot dead after he arrived, while the man on the property died in hospital.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

New York’s attorney general has sent a subpoena to the Trump Organization for records related to consulting fees paid to his daughter Ivanka Trump as part of an investigation into the president’s business dealings.

That’s according to a law enforcement official who spoke Thursday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The New York Times reported that a similar subpoena was sent to U.S. President Donald Trump’s company by the Manhattan district attorney, who is conducting a parallel probe.

Ivanka Trump tweeted that the subpoenas were “harassment pure and simple.”

The Times reported that the president reduced his company’s tax liability by deducting some consulting fees as a business expense.

On this day in 1877 …

Edmonton obtained its first telegraph service.

In entertainment …

Actor Richard Schiff, who appears on the Vancouver-filmed TV series “The Good Doctor,” has been released from hospital after being treated this week for COVID-19.

The 65-year-old American performer tweeted the update from his verified account Thursday, saying his wife and co-star on the medical drama, Sheila Kelly, was picking him up from the hospital.

Schiff said earlier this week on Twitter that he was being treated with the antiviral medication remdesivir, oxygen and steroids, three weeks after testing positive along with Kelly while filming the latest season of the series.

In an Instagram post last week, Kelly said they did not contract the virus on the set.

“The Good Doctor,” which airs on ABC and CTV, was continuing filming in Vancouver as of last week.

In business …

Postmedia has notified unionized employees in Vancouver that it wants to reduce salary expenses there by 15 per cent through a voluntary buyout program or layoffs.

Unifor Local 2000 represents Postmedia employees at the Vancouver Province and Vancouver Sun — separate daily newspapers in British Columbia’s biggest city.

The number of Postmedia employees involved with the downsizing wasn’t immediately available.

It’s the latest cost-cutting initiative this year at Canada’s largest newspaper group, which also owns the National Post, Toronto Sun and other digital and print publications.

Conventional media businesses across Canada saw a major drop in advertising revenue after the COVID-19 closures in the pandemic’s first wave.

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

Canada-Britain trade negotiation in final stages as Dec. 31 tariff deadline looms

MIKE BLANCHFIELD, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Nov 19th, 2020

Canada and Britain say they are in the final stages of negotiating a new trade deal before a Dec. 31 deadline.

That would prevent Canadian products from seafood to steaks and autos from being slapped with new tariffs when Britain leaves the European Union.

The spokeswoman for Trade Minister Mary Ng says Canada is hard at work on an interim agreement with Britain to replace the pact with the European Union that currently covers trade between the two countries.

“We understand that time is short. That’s why Canada is at the table, working hard to get a good agreement to ensure continuity, predictability and stability for Canadian businesses, exporters, and workers,” Youmy Han said in a statement to The Canadian Press.

“A deal is within reach and we continue to work with the U.K. to move this forward.”

Britain’s decision to leave the EU after its Brexit referendum means that the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA, will no longer apply to the country at the end of the year.

Han said Canada is seeking “a transitional agreement based on CETA as an interim measure once the Brexit period ends” but that government negotiators won’t finalize anything “that isn’t the best deal possible for Canadians.”

A spokesman for Britain’s international trade department said it is committed to “seeking to secure a continuity trade deal with Canada before the end of the (Brexit) transition period, and trade talks are at an advanced stage and progressing well.”

A deal would protect the $33-billion trading relationship between the two countries and “will provide stability for British exporters and act as a stepping-stone to a deeper trading relationship with Canada in the future,” said the British statement.

Trevor Kennedy, the policy director of the Business Council of Canada, said Britain remains a key European trading partner for Canada, and if a new deal isn’t reached Canadian firms will lose out on the market access they secured under CETA.

Japan and South Korea have already rolled over their old EU trade deals with Britain, while Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. are working on new agreements, Kennedy told the House of Commons trade committee this week.

“Some of these talks appear to be advanced and if (they) are in place without a transitional deal for Canada, it could result in Canadian firms losing their market share and first-mover advantage that we secured under CETA.”

Mark Agnew, the international policy director for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said that without a new bilateral deal tariffs of at least 10 per cent on Canadian exports such as lobster, beef and autos would kick in on Jan. 1, 2021.

“The short answer is that Brexit matters for Canadian businesses,” Agnew told the trade committee.

Canada’s trade negotiators have amassed vast experience meeting tight deadlines and overcoming late-breaking obstacles in landing trade deals other than CETA. Canada risked being frozen out of a new North American trade pact in 2019 after the U.S. and Mexico reached their own agreement, forcing Canada to scramble.

Canada also engaged in some tough 11th-hour talks with Japan and others in 2018 to finalize the 11-country Pacific Rim deal known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. That negotiation was thrown into flux after President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal in 2017, which left Canada and the 10 remaining countries to find a way to repair their pact without the world’s largest economy as a member.

Britain, meanwhile, has for decades deferred its trade negotiation work to EU officials in Brussels. The British have had to build a new trade department since the country voted in its June 2016 referendum to leave the EU.

Britain formally left at the end of January but the two parties have lived under an 11-month transition period, which for Canada has meant CETA continued to apply to its trade relations with Britain.

In the meantime, Britain has been forced to negotiate a series of new trade agreements with the EU and others, under the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Steve Verheul, Canada’s chief trade negotiator, told the Commons trade committee in early November that talks with Britain ramped up this past summer.

“We think we’re fairly close to the finish line, but we’re not quite there,” Verheul said. “As you can imagine, in any kind of trade negotiation, the most difficult parts are the ones you deal with at the very end.”

Canada’s approach was to import as much of the existing CETA pact as possible into a new bilateral agreement.

“A lot of the issues were very easy, but there are a handful of issues where we do have to have actual negotiations to reach a landing zone,” Verheul said.

Verheul said one sticking point was working out the specific levels of market access for various Canadian products. Another revolved around “issues related to temporary entry of business people for business purposes.”

What happens when we’re tempted by herd immunity in a dark winter

The Big Story | posted Thursday, Nov 19th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, the proposal is called the Great Barrington Declaration, and while it’s couched in lots of scientific language, herd immunity is what it boils down to. It has support from a group of scientists and is scoffed at by many, many more.

But during a time when Canada’s various COVID-19 regulations, thresholds, protocols and half-lockdowns can seem incredibly confusing, the Barrington approach offers a simple answer. Especially as a dark winter looms and it feels easier to just give up. What do we know about herd immunity? Why is it so attractive? And if it’s too dangerous to consider, what are our other options to get through the months ahead?

GUEST: Andre Picard, health reporter, The Globe and Mail

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Vaccines coming to Canada and tighter restrictions: In The News for Nov. 19

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Nov 19th, 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 Nov. 19 …

What we are watching in Canada …

Ontario’s health minister is suggesting Canada could start receiving millions of doses of COVID-19 as soon as January.

Christine Elliott said in question period that the country is set to get four million doses of the Pfizer vaccine between January and March as well as two million doses of Moderna’s vaccine.

She said that 1.6 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 800,000 of the Moderna vaccine are destined for Ontario.

When asked directly to confirm the dates and numbers, federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu would only say it was “really exciting” that Canada is well-positioned to receive millions of doses from both companies.

In Alberta, Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced on Twitter that the province is expecting its per capita share of 465,000 doses from Pfizer and 221,000 from Moderna, with the first shipments to arrive early in the new year.

The news comes as some provinces begin to impose restrictions to try to control spikes in COVID-19 cases.

As of today, no more than five people will be allowed to gather inside homes in Saskatchewan for the next four weeks.

There will be no visits with seniors and others living in long-term care and personal care homes except for compassionate reasons.

Mandatory mask use in public indoor areas has been expanded to the entire province instead of only in communities of more than 5,000.

Yukon’s premier says as of Friday, everyone entering the territory other than critical services workers will be required to self-isolate for two weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Premier Sandy Silver also says the government no longer recommends any non-essential travel outside the territory.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and B.C.’s health officer are expected impose further health restrictions this week.

Also this …

Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson will show Canadians his path to net-zero emissions today.

Wilkinson will be tabling climate legislation in the House of Commons to fulfil an election promise to be more aggressive in cutting greenhouse gases.

The legislation will include legally-binding five-year targets for reducing emissions.

Wilkinson promises that the new plan will cut more emissions by 2030 than Canada promised in the Paris accord.

And it will show a path to net zero by 2050, meaning any emissions still produced 30 years from now are absorbed, rather than left in the atmosphere to contribute to global warming.

Canada has set multiple goals for curbing emissions over the last three decades but to date has never met a single one of them.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

Georgia election officials expect to release a report today on a hand tally of the presidential race.

They have repeatedly said they expect it to affirm Democrat Joe Biden’s narrow lead over Republican President Donald Trump.

The secretary of state’s office expects to put out a report on the results by midday.

The hand recount of about five million votes stemmed from an audit required by a new state law and wasn’t in response to any suspected problems with the state’s results or an official recount request.

The state has until Friday to certify results that have been certified and submitted by the counties.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

Chinese President Xi Jinping is calling for closer international co-operation on making a vaccine for the coronavirus available.

Xi spoke today in an address delivered via video at an event at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. Xi said: “To beat the virus and promote the global recovery, the international community must close ranks and jointly respond to the crisis and meet the tests.”

He said co-operation would include closer co-ordination on policies for development and distribution of a vaccine.

Chinese companies Sinovac and Sinopharm are in the late stages of testing vaccines, putting them among nearly a dozen companies at or near that level of development.

On this day in 1954 …

The United States and Canada announced the construction of a radar warning system across northern Canada.

In entertainment …

CTV will air a two-hour nighttime Santa Claus parade special this year, featuring remote performances from an array of artists, including Dolly Parton.

The broadcaster says the “Original Santa Clause Parade” was pre-taped over three days on a closed route at Canada’s Wonderland, and without spectators, in order to adhere to local COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

CTV normally airs the parade live-to-tape.

Guest performers for the nationally televised special on Dec. 5 also include Kelly Clarkson and Brett Eldredge, as well as Meghan Trainor.

Reggae star Shaggy will perform with Markham, Ont.-born actress-turned-singer Aviva Mongillo, known by her stage name Carys.

Edmonton’s Ruth B. and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra will also be among the performers on the Christmas-themed broadcast, while Melissa Grelo of “The Social” and Kelsey McEwen of “Your Morning” will host.

ICYMI …

Use of the word “Micmac” on city signs, buildings and other municipal assets in Halifax is under review.

Regional council has unanimously endorsed a motion by councillor Sam Austin requiring city staff to review how the word is used and to produce a report. Micmac is an anglicized version of the Indigenous word for the Mi’kmaq First Nation.

Austin, who represents Dartmouth Centre, says the term is outdated, adding that his motion was based on recommendations from the city’s Cornwallis task force.

The task force was created in 2018 to propose changes to the way Halifax remembers its founder, Edward Cornwallis, the British officer accused of practising genocide against Indigenous people in the 18th century.

“It’s been a simmering issue as to whether or not it’s an appropriate use of the word,” Austin says. “With the Cornwallis task force it seemed like the right time to take a look at this.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 19, 2020

The Canadian Press

How will restaurants survive the winter?

NEWS STAFF | posted Wednesday, Nov 18th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, at least in the spring, there was a summer to come and some sort of certainty — restaurants would stay closed until COVID-19 was under control. This Fall, in most places in Canada, neither of those things are true. Opening plans and case thresholds are constantly shifting, while cities and provinces have different opinions about what should be open and when.

Beyond all that, of course, there are climbing COVID case counts, which means that even open restaurants are far from guaranteed enough business to survive. So…will they? How many will make it? And what can we (and governments at all levels) do to help them get through?

GUEST: John Sinopoli, restaurateur, co-founder of savehospitality.ca

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Donald Trump on Elections Canada’s disavowal of voting machines: ‘THIS SAYS IT ALL’

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Nov 18th, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A tweet seeking to distance Elections Canada from the use of electronic voting equipment has earned a like from the president of the United States.

Despite a lack of evidence, Donald Trump is accusing a Canadian maker of vote-counting machines of conspiring against him in the Nov. 3  presidential election.

He’s now dragged Canada’s independent elections administrator into the fray.

Elections Canada tweeted Monday that it has never used tabulation equipment made by Dominion Voting Systems or anyone else in its 100-year history.

Trump retweeted the agency today in an effort to further cast doubt on the company, which was founded by Canadian partners and has offices in Toronto and Denver.

Dominion officials have categorically denied the president’s claims.

“THIS SAYS IT ALL,” Trump tweeted Tuesday after Elections Canada pointed out that it only uses paper ballots that are counted by hand.

“Elections Canada does not use Dominion Voting Systems,” the agency’s Monday tweet read. “We do not use machines to count ballots.”

Elections Canada issued another tweet Tuesday pointing out that Monday’s posting was only intended to note they don’t use vote-counting machines “and should not be construed as anything other than that.”

Dominion, founded in Toronto in the aftermath of the voting debacle that followed the 2000 U.S. election, has been pushing back hard against spiralling conspiracy theories fuelled by the president, his supporters and Trump-friendly media outlets.

“Dominion Voting Systems categorically denies false assertions about vote-switching issues with our voting systems,” the company declares in an all-caps headline on its website.

“An unsubstantiated claim about the deletion of 2.7 million pro-Trump votes that was posted on the internet and spread on social media has been taken down and debunked by independent fact-checkers.”

The website also cites last week’s declaration by the cybersecurity wing of the Department of Homeland Security that the 2020 election was “the most secure in American history.”

Despite failing to win the necessary number of electoral votes and falling more than five million votes short of Democratic challenger Joe Biden, Trump has steadfastly refused to concede the election.

Biden, for his part, has called Trump’s intransigence “embarrassing” and warned Monday that the current administration’s refusal to co-operate with his transition team could worsen the death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 17, 2020.

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Wednesday Nov. 18, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Nov 18th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EST on Nov. 18, 2020:

There are 306,468 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 126,054 confirmed (including 6,675 deaths, 107,326 resolved)

_ Ontario: 96,745 confirmed (including 3,383 deaths, 80,430 resolved)

_ Alberta: 40,962 confirmed (including 432 deaths, 30,462 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 23,661 confirmed (including 310 deaths, 16,469 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 11,608 confirmed (including 179 deaths, 4,324 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 5,422 confirmed (including 31 deaths, 3,336 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,151 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,062 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 379 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 341 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 305 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 292 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 68 confirmed (including 64 resolved)

_ Nunavut: 60 confirmed

_ Yukon: 25 confirmed (including 1 death, 22 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed (including 10 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Total: 306,468 (0 presumptive, 306,468 confirmed including 11,086 deaths, 244,151 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2020.

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Nov 17th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. EST on Nov. 17, 2020:

There are 302,234 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 125,072 confirmed (including 6,651 deaths, 105,998 resolved)

_ Ontario: 95,496 confirmed (including 3,371 deaths, 79,295 resolved)

_ Alberta: 40,189 confirmed (including 427 deaths, 29,731 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 22,994 confirmed (including 299 deaths, 16,087 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 11,339 confirmed (including 172 deaths, 4,156 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 5,182 confirmed (including 31 deaths, 3,223 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,146 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,058 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 367 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 339 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 303 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 289 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 68 confirmed (including 64 resolved)

_ Nunavut: 26 confirmed

_ Yukon: 24 confirmed (including 1 death, 22 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed (including 10 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Total: 302,234 (0 presumptive, 302,234 confirmed including 11,027 deaths, 240,285 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 17, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Growing number of Canadians plan to get vaccinated for COVID-19

CHRISTOPHER REYNOLDS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Nov 17th, 2020

A new poll suggests the proportion of Canadians planning to get vaccinated for COVID-19 is on the rise after encouraging initial results from Pfizer’s vaccine trial.

Sixty-nine per cent of respondents said they plan to get inoculated against the novel coronavirus once Health Canada approves a vaccine that is broadly available and free, according to a survey by Léger and the Association for Canadian Studies.

The number is a jump from the 63 per cent who said they would take up such an offer one month ago, and a return to levels of vaccine enthusiasm reported in a similar poll in July.

Nonetheless, 22 per cent of respondents said they did not intend to receive doses of the Pfizer vaccine in particular if it were ready in the spring, despite early results that suggest a 90 per cent efficacy rate. Another 22 per cent said they did not know.

Léger executive vice-president Christian Bourque attributed the apprehension to lack of familiarity with the pharmaceutical giant rather than a wave of anti-vaccination fever.

“It worries me that if the vaccine or vaccines were available, we might have 20 per cent of Canadians who would reject it,” he said in an interview.

“I think the public authorities will need a concerted communications effort to convince Canadians to jump on the bandwagon.”

Nonetheless, only nine per cent of respondents said they think vaccines are dangerous and should not be taken or given. Meanwhile, 79 per cent said they do not hold such a belief.

The proportion of Canadians who expect anti-pandemic measures to remain in place even after a vaccine becomes widely available is also notably high, Bourque said.

Nearly two-thirds said they anticipated that requirements such as physical distancing, limited social gatherings and face masks in public spaces would continue after vaccination becomes widespread, while one in four weren’t sure.

“It’s not like it’s going to be that great night where everybody parties all night long. People will still want themselves and their neighbours to be disciplined about this,” Bourque said.

The proportion of Canadians opposed to mandatory vaccination remains higher than earlier this year, with only 42 per cent in favour — roughly in line with figures from last month but down from the nearly 60 per cent who supported the idea in May.

Conducted Nov. 13 to 15, the online poll surveyed 1,522 Canadians. It cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

How Nunavut’s bubble finally popped

THE BIG STORY | posted Tuesday, Nov 17th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, the province went more than seven months as the last COVID-19-free spot in North America, but the past weeks have seen one case turn into a couple of dozen. Why did the bubble work so well for so long? What are the unique dangers the virus poses to Northern communities? How will officials try to reign in spread now that the virus is here? And what can we learn from how long the bubble kept Nunavut safe?

GUEST: Kent Driscoll, APTN National News

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 Monday, Nov. 16, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Nov 16th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. EST on Nov. 16, 2020:

There are 295,987 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 123,854 confirmed (including 6,626 deaths, 104,848 resolved)

_ Ontario: 94,009 confirmed (including 3,361 deaths, 78,303 resolved)

_ Alberta: 39,329 confirmed (including 407 deaths, 28,321 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 20,895 confirmed (including 290 deaths, 14,901 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 10,947 confirmed (including 162 deaths, 4,070 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 5,001 confirmed (including 31 deaths, 3,163 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,144 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,058 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 367 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 339 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 303 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 289 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 68 confirmed (including 64 resolved)

_ Yukon: 24 confirmed (including 1 death, 22 resolved)

_ Nunavut: 18 confirmed

_ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed (including 10 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Total: 295,987 (0 presumptive, 295,987 confirmed including 10,953 deaths, 235,401 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 16, 2020.

The Canadian Press

How conspiracy became our new religion

THE BIG STORY | posted Monday, Nov 16th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, almost two weeks after the American election, leading social media platforms are inundated with false claims about the results. Claims that are supported and amplified by Donald Trump and key members of his administration. After talking tough regarding disinformation in the months leading up to the election, and even slapping warnings on the president’s posts, have Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok lived up to their promises?

And the big question: Will Twitter ever ban Donald Trump? Where would their business be without him?

GUEST: Jesse Hirsh, researcher and futurist, metaviews.ca

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Moderna says its COVID-19 vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective

LAURAN NEERGAARD, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Monday, Nov 16th, 2020

For the second time this month, there’s promising news from a COVID-19 vaccine candidate: Moderna said Monday its shots provide strong protection, a dash of hope against the grim backdrop of coronavirus surges in the U.S. and around the world.

Moderna said its vaccine appears to be 94.5 per cent effective, according to preliminary data from the company’s still ongoing study. A week ago, competitor Pfizer Inc. announced its own COVID-19 vaccine appeared similarly effective — news that puts both companies on track to seek permission within weeks for emergency use in the U.S.

Dr. Stephen Hoge, Moderna’s president, welcomed the “really important milestone” but said having similar results from two different companies is what’s most reassuring.

“That should give us all hope that actually a vaccine is going to be able to stop this pandemic and hopefully get us back to our lives,” Hoge told The Associated Press.

“It won’t be Moderna alone that solves this problem. It’s going to require many vaccines” to meet the global demand, he added.

A vaccine can’t come fast enough, as virus cases topped 11 million in the U.S. over the weekend — 1 million of them recorded in just the past week. The pandemic has killed more than 1.3 million people worldwide, more than 245,000 of them in the U.S.

Still, if the Food and Drug Administration allows emergency use of Moderna’s or Pfizer’s candidates, there will be limited, rationed supplies before the end of the year. Both require people to get two shots, several weeks apart. Moderna expects to have about 20 million doses, earmarked for the U.S., by the end of 2020. Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech expect to have about 50 million doses globally by year’s end.

Moderna’s vaccine, created with the National Institutes of Health, is being studied in 30,000 volunteers who received either the real vaccination or a dummy shot. On Sunday, an independent monitoring board broke the code to examine 95 infections that were recorded starting two weeks after volunteers’ second dose — and discovered all but five illnesses occurred in participants who got the placebo.

The study is continuing, and Moderna acknowledged the protection rate might change as more COVID-19 infections are detected and added to the calculations. Also, it’s too soon to know how long protection lasts. Both cautions apply to Pfizer’s vaccine as well.

But Moderna’s independent monitors reported some additional, promising tidbits: All 11 severe COVID-19 cases were among placebo recipients, and there were no significant safety concerns.

The main side effects were fatigue, muscle aches and injection-site pain after the vaccine’s second dose, at rates that Hoge characterized as more common than with flu shots but on par with others such as shingles vaccine.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts, company’s vaccine is among 11 candidates in late-stage testing around the world, four of them in huge studies in the U.S.

Both Moderna’s shots and the Pfizer-BioNTech candidate are so-called mRNA vaccines, a brand-new technology. They aren’t made with the coronavirus itself, meaning there’s no chance anyone could catch it from the shots. Instead, the vaccine contains a piece of genetic code that trains the immune system to recognize the spiked protein on the surface of the virus.

The strong results were a surprise. Scientists have warned for months that any COVID-19 shot may be only as good as flu vaccines, which are about 50 per cent effective.

Another steep challenge: distributing doses that must be kept very cold. Both the Moderna and Pfizer shots are frozen but at different temperatures. Moderna announced Monday that once thawed, its doses can last longer in a refrigerator than initially thought, up to 30 days. Pfizer’s shots require long-term storage at ultra-cold temperatures.

Bill to ban conversion therapy being turned into political fundraising tool

STEPHANIE LEVITZ, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Nov 13th, 2020

OTTAWA — A proposed bill banning forcing someone into therapy to alter their sexual orientation is turning into a political fundraising tool.

Conservative MP and failed leadership candidate Derek Sloan is asking his supporters to help him raise $25,000 for his re-election bid on the strength of his effort to fight the bill, currently before the House of Commons.

Sloan has long been opposed to the legislation, and used it during his leadership campaign to rally supporters in the social-conservative wing of the party by suggesting it amounted to child abuse.

He alleges, among other things, that bill would criminalize private conversations, which the Liberals say it will not do.

Sloan was among seven Tory MPs who refused to back the bill in the Commons, a fact the Liberals noted in their own recent fundraising pitch.

Their email warned that Sloan and his colleagues — and by extension Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole — aren’t willing to stand up for the rights of all Canadians.

The Liberals say forcing people into so-called conversion therapy causes immense harm and the practice must be banned.

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

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

N.L. public health has COVID advice for the holiday mummering tradition

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Nov 13th, 2020

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador public health officials have issued advice for those looking to stay COVID-safe while marauding around town with underwear on the outside of their clothes.

At a news conference Thursday, the province’s chief medical officer of health asked residents to stick to their households of close contacts while mummering this holiday season.

Mummering is a popular Christmas tradition in Newfoundland and Labrador in which revellers go door to door, completely disguised, often with underwear over their clothes.

It’s common for mummers to pad their behinds and wear pillowcases or doilies over their faces with the eyes cut out.

Mummers first ask if they’re allowed in and then burst into homes to dance, sing and drink while the host tries to guess who they are.

Health authorities in the province are also advising that people will have to maintain six feet between themselves and Santa Claus this year, meaning children will not be able to sit on his knee.

Shane Mills, a St. John’s-based film director, jokes that when it comes to mummers, this year he’ll be following the protocols he learned from years of watching horror movies.

“If you’re wearing a pillow case and banging on my door, I’m not letting you in,” he said in a Facebook message.

Mills said he has always been fascinated by the terrifying, macabre idea of strangers showing up unannounced, staring out through dark holes cut out of old cloth.

His film crew Grind Mind is working on their second horror film inspired by the Newfoundland tradition, “Mummering Legends,” and they’re due to start filming in January.

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

The Canadian Press

COVID-19 testing down as positive case numbers soar in most provinces

MIA RABSON, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Nov 13th, 2020

Two months after the City of Ottawa scrambled to expand its COVID-19 testing options to deal with a massive spike in demand, it is now set to cut back on hours at testing sites this weekend because far fewer people are showing up for a swab.

The decline mirrors what is happening in much of the rest of the country, with average daily testing numbers down more than 25 per cent compared to a month ago, even as positive cases soar.

On Oct. 15, the Public Health Agency of Canada reported an average of 77,000 COVID-19 tests had been completed each day over the previous week, the highest it had ever been. That fell to an average daily count of 61,000 a week ago, and to below 55,000 this week.

In mid-October, Canada had about 2,300 new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed each day. This week, that number grew to above 4,000.

Ontario, which on Thursday recorded its fifth record case total in the last six days, was aiming to have 68,000 tests daily by the middle of November. It hasn’t hit 40,000 tests once in those six days, and twice dropped below 30,000 tests per day.

The province averaged 38,273 tests per day in October, and this month so far the daily average is 33,870.

British Columbia averaged 9,369 tests last month. So far in November the average daily test number is 8,553.

In many provinces the testing numbers bounce around dramatically. In Quebec, the province tested 30,919 people on Nov. 5. Three days later, the dropped below 19,000. By Nov. 10, it was back up over 30,000.

Dr. Howard Njoo, the deputy chief public health officer, said last week the decline could be because local health authorities were offering testing to almost anyone who asked for it earlier this fall, regardless of whether they had symptoms or possible exposure to an infected person.

“I think people are now recognizing that the best approach could or should be more focused that it may not be the best use of resources and it may actually sort of slow down the testing for those who actually need it,” he said Nov. 6.

Ontario’s testing system was unruly in September, forcing the province to massively expand hours and locations of testing sites, make an appointment booking process, and changed the criteria so people without symptoms didn’t clog the lines.

In Ottawa, the testing task force that in September was begging people not to get tested unless they had symptoms began last week to beg people to go get a test. Today, the weekend hours at one of the city’s main testing sites are being cut from 11 hours a day to eight because so many appointments were going unfilled.

Ottawa public health chief Dr. Vera Etches said weekends have become particularly slow. She said the overall numbers have come back a bit from earlier in November and didn’t express alarm that not enough people are being tested, saying it could be due to Ottawa’s declining infection rate.

Ottawa has mostly bucked Ontario’s trend of rising cases, with the infection rate falling from 70 per 100,000 people in mid-October to 38 this week. Toronto’s grew from 57 to almost 100 over that time.

“You know, if the virus level is dropping, there may be more people without symptoms or fewer people with symptoms presenting to be tested,” Etches said.

But she said she still wants people to know if they have symptoms, even very mild ones, getting a test is the responsible thing to do because “we have to detect as much COVID as possible.”

“And so it is one of the things we’re watching and we continue to work with our partners that run the testing system to try to explore more,” she said.

“Why are people coming? Why are they not coming? You know, these are these are things that’s worth exploring for sure.”

It starts with a trout, and ends up a growing disaster

THE BIG STORY | posted Thursday, Nov 12th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, this is part four of a five-part series in collaboration with The Narwhal. There are no viable solutions to stop the tide of selenium leaching into Canadian and U.S. water from a 100-kilometre stretch of coal mines near Elk Valley, B.C., which are owned and operated by mining giant Teck Resources. Deformed fish, a potential fish population collapse and contaminated drinking water signal more trouble to come…

GUEST: Carol Linnitt, Managing Editor

You can learn more at thenarwhal.ca.

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Manitoba hunkering down for 2nd time to fight spread of COVID-19

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Nov 12th, 2020

Today is the day Manitoba goes into a self-imposed economic and social hibernation to try to bring surging COVID-19 numbers back under control.

The province has been struggling to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus since it started spiking in recent weeks after a summer lull.

Gatherings are limited to five people, but the restriction does not apply to those who live in the same household.

Churches can’t hold in-person services and non-essential stores and restaurants are limited to curbside pickup and delivery.

Bars, museums and theatres are closed and recreational activities suspended, although schools remain open.

The province reported 5,676 active cases on Wednesday, the deadliest day of the pandemic for Manitoba, with nine new deaths for a total of 123.

It’s the largest per-capita caseload of active infections in the country.

Tighter public health orders had already been brought in for some areas, notably Winnipeg, but chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said earlier this week that the targeted approach was not working.

The sharp rise in cases and, with it, a record number of hospitalizations has put the health-care system under strain. Intensive care beds, including those occupied by non-COVID-patients, are running close to capacity.

There have been outbreaks in long-term care homes and hospitals, and widespread community transmission.

“We need to flatten our COVID curve and we need to do that now,” Premier Brian Pallister said Tuesday as he announced the widespread slowdown which is to last as long as four weeks.

Alek Minassian’s murder trial for carrying out Toronto van attack resumes

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Nov 12th, 2020

The trial for the man who killed 10 people and hurt 16 others in a van attack in Toronto resumes Thursday.

Alek Minassian has pleaded not guilty and has raised a defence of being not criminally responsible for his actions.

He faces 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder.

Minassian’s state of mind at the time of the attack will be the sole issue at trial.

The defence has not yet stated what mental disorder Minassian will argue he suffered from.

Minassian has admitted in court he planned and carried out the attack.

He told a detective the attack was retribution against society because he was a lonely virgin who believed women wouldn’t have sex with him.

Former coach arrested on sex charges involving teen boys in Edmonton decades ago

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Nov 11th, 2020

EDMONTON, Australia — A former track coach and official from Ottawa has been arrested on sex crime charges involving five teenage boys who were with the Edmonton Olympic Track and Field Club decades ago.

The Edmonton Police Service says Kenneth Porter, who is 72, was a coach in Edmonton at the time of the allegations between 1976 and 1980.

Porter has been charged with five counts of indecent assault and five counts of gross indecency based on the Criminal Code at the time.

Police say the charges are linked to track meets that were held in Calgary and Edmonton.

Porter has been released from custody and is to appear in Edmonton court on Dec. 7.

Edmonton police say they started the investigation in April 2019, the same month the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club announced the expulsion of Porter from the organization.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2020.

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID 19 in Canada for Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Nov 11th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. EST on Nov. 11, 2020:

There are 273,037 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 117,151 confirmed (including 6,493 deaths, 99,721 resolved)

_ Ontario: 86,783 confirmed (including 3,260 deaths, 73,417 resolved)

_ Alberta: 34,873 confirmed (including 369 deaths, 26,407 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 19,239 confirmed (including 284 deaths, 13,704 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 8,878 confirmed (including 114 deaths, 3,374 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 4,214 confirmed (including 28 deaths, 2,880 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,132 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,049 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 355 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 332 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 297 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 286 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 67 confirmed (including 64 resolved)

_ Yukon: 23 confirmed (including 1 death, 20 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 10 confirmed (including 10 resolved)

_ Nunavut: 2 confirmed

_ Total: 273,037 (0 presumptive, 273,037 confirmed including 10,624 deaths, 221,277 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

Scaled-down ceremonies mark Remembrance Day across Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Nov 11th, 2020

OTTAWA — Canadians are being encouraged to stay home this morning while they mark the service and sacrifice of those who have given their lives to defend the country.

The solemnity of Remembrance Day is butting up against the threat posed by COVID-19.

The Royal Canadian Legion is explicitly discouraging Canadians from attending Remembrance Day ceremonies in person this year and instead asking people to watch on TV or online.

The legion is promising to include many of the traditional elements of the ceremonies, such as the playing of the Last Post, the singing of In Flanders Fields, and flybys of military aircraft.

There will also be a special emphasis on the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War after many commemorations planned for earlier this year in Europe and elsewhere were cancelled because of the pandemic.

But most observances of Canada’s wartime sacrifices are expected to be extremely small, including in Ottawa, where the legion is planning to have only 100 people in place of the 30,000 who normally turn out for the national ceremony.

Many other legion branches across the country have also prepared stripped-down ceremonies, with parades by veterans and serving military personnel cancelled and wreaths laid before the events.

Private ceremonies are also being planned by long-term care facilities that are home to some of Canada’s oldest surviving veterans, many of whom might normally attend a local commemoration but who are at particularly high risk due to COVID-19.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday encouraged Canadians to mark Remembrance Day despite the pandemic.

“Even though we can’t gather as we usually do, we can always show our support for our veterans by wearing a poppy and watching the ceremonies online on Remembrance Day,” he said in French.

“Thinking of Remembrance Day, let’s pay homage to our veterans who have given us so much and to those who continue to serve today.”

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

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID 19 in Canada for Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Nov 10th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. EST on Nov. 10, 2020:

There are 268,723 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 115,989 confirmed (including 6,455 deaths, 98,740 resolved)

_ Ontario: 85,395 confirmed (including 3,245 deaths, 72,636 resolved)

_ Alberta: 34,148 confirmed (including 369 deaths, 25,826 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 18,714 confirmed (including 281 deaths, 13,425 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 8,495 confirmed (including 109 deaths, 3,234 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 4,087 confirmed (including 28 deaths, 2,769 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,129 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,048 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 355 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 328 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 297 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 286 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 66 confirmed (including 64 resolved)

_ Yukon: 23 confirmed (including 1 death, 20 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 10 confirmed (including 10 resolved)

_ Nunavut: 2 confirmed

_ Total: 268,723 (0 presumptive, 268,723 confirmed including 10,563 deaths, 218,399 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Fewer people plan to attend virtual or in-person Remembrance Day ceremonies: poll

NICOLE THOMPSON, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Nov 10th, 2020

Fewer people plan to participate in Remembrance Day ceremonies or wear poppies this year, according to a poll from Historica Canada that also suggests knowledge of Canadian military history is dwindling.

The poll found that roughly 71 per cent of respondents will wear a poppy, down from 85 per cent last year; and 28 per cent of people will attend ceremonies either online or in person, down from 41 per cent last year.

Anthony Wilson-Smith of Historica Canada says those  findings are understandable, given global pandemic, but the bigger issue, not attributable to COVID-19, is the declining knowledge of military history.

The poll conducted by Ipsos found that four in ten Canadians feel they know more about American military history than that of Canada — climbing from one-third of Canadians last year.

Meanwhile 16 per cent of Canadians never learned about Canada’s key conflicts in school — including the First World War, Second World War, Korean War and October Crisis.

It also found that 45 per cent of respondents think they know about the history of Black, Indigenous, and racialized groups in Canadian military service, but only 14 per cent could correctly identify the country’s only all-Black battalion – the No. 2 Construction Battalion.

Wilson-Smith says this year is a particularly good opportunity to brush up on Canadian military history, in part because of COVID-19.

“The pandemic, which calls for a greater sense of unity, which puts people under unprecedented conditions no one’s ever really lived through before, I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s like a wartime condition, but it calls on some of the same qualities,” he said.

“Remembrance Day has always been a time for both reflecting on loss and also, frankly, on our good fortune. And this year is a year of remembering that we have lived through difficult times before — in fact more difficult during 1939 to 45 than we’re living through today.”

It’s also a poignant Remembrance Day given the toll the pandemic has taken on veterans.

It’s difficult for many veterans to apply for federal support this year because they can’t see doctors. And those who have applied face long wait times to find out if they qualify for assistance as the government slowly works its way through a backlog of claims.

Veterans’ organizations such as the Royal Canadian Legion are also struggling financially, closing branches across the country while waiting for federal assistance.

Wilson-Smith said those looking to brush up on their Canadian military history can check out resources from Historica, or those provided by Heritage Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2020.

Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press

B.C.’s looming extinction crisis

THE BIG STORY | posted Tuesday, Nov 10th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, this is part two of a five-part series in collaboration with The Narwhal. Canada’s westernmost province markets itself as ‘Super, Natural, B.C.,’ but more than 2,000 species of animals and plants are at risk of disappearing — and unlike six other provinces, British Columbia still has no endangered species law, despite the NDP’s election promise to introduce one

GUEST: Sarah Cox, environmental reporter

You can learn more at thenarwhal.ca.

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 Monday, Nov. 9, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Nov 9th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. EST on Nov. 9, 2020:

There are 264,113 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 114,820 confirmed (including 6,440 deaths, 97,789 resolved)

_ Ontario: 84,153 confirmed (including 3,233 deaths, 71,815 resolved)

_ Alberta: 33,504 confirmed (including 363 deaths, 24,684 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 17,716 confirmed (including 276 deaths, 13,035 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 8,130 confirmed (including 106 deaths, 3,175 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 3,897 confirmed (including 28 deaths, 2,747 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,128 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,043 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 354 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 324 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 297 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 286 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 66 confirmed (including 64 resolved)

_ Yukon: 23 confirmed (including 1 death, 20 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 10 confirmed (including 10 resolved)

_ Nunavut: 2 confirmed

_ Total: 264,113 (0 presumptive, 264,113 confirmed including 10,522 deaths, 215,005 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 9, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Concerns raised about military vets struggling with effects of COVID-19

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Nov 9th, 2020

OTTAWA — As Canadians are set to mark Remembrance Day this week, concerns are being voiced about military veterans struggling with the effects of COVID-19.

Oliver Thorne, executive director of the Vancouver-based Veterans Transition Network, says the pandemic is taking a financial, emotional and physical toll on those suffering from service-related injuries.

Worries about disabled Canadian veterans first emerged in the spring as the country went into lockdown due to the pandemic.

Some of that eased as summer saw many of those restrictions lifted, but the second wave and looming winter have resurrected those fears.

The concerns run the gamut from injured veterans not being able to get the physiotherapy or rehabilitation they need, to those with post-traumatic stress disorder missing out on in-person therapy and support.

For years, veterans suffering from PTSD have been told not to isolate themselves, but instead get out of their homes and connect with support programs.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole — a veteran himself — is urging anyone struggling because of the pandemic to reach out to family, friends or support networks.

Pfizer says early data signals COVID-19 vaccine is effective

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Monday, Nov 9th, 2020

Pfizer says an early peek at its vaccine data suggests the shots may be 90% effective at preventing COVID-19, indicating the company is on track later this month to file an emergency use application with U.S. regulators.

Monday’s announcement doesn’t mean a vaccine is imminent: This interim analysis, from an independent data monitoring board, looked at 94 infections recorded so far in a study that has enrolled nearly 44,000 people in the U.S. and five other countries.

Pfizer Inc. did not provide any more details about those cases, and cautioned the initial protection rate might change by the time the study ends. Even revealing such early data is highly unusual.

“We’re in a position potentially to be able to offer some hope,” Dr. Bill Gruber, Pfizer’s senior vice president of clinical development, told The Associated Press. “We’re very encouraged.”

Authorities have stressed it’s unlikely any vaccine will arrive much before the end of the year, and limited initial supplies will be rationed.

The shots made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech are among 10 possible vaccine candidates in late-stage testing around the world — four of them so far in huge studies in the U.S. Another U.S. company, Moderna Inc., also has said it hopes to be able to file an application with the Food and Drug Administration later this month.

Volunteers in the final-stage studies, and the researchers, don’t know who received the real vaccine or a dummy shot. But a week after their second required dose, Pfizer’s study began counting the number who developed COVID-19 symptoms and were confirmed to have the coronavirus.

Because the study hasn’t ended, Gruber couldn’t say how many in each group had infections. Doing the math, that would mean almost all the infections counted so far had to have occurred in people who got the dummy shots.

Pfizer doesn’t plan to stop its study until it records 164 infections among all the volunteers, a number that the FDA has agreed is enough to tell how well the vaccine is working. The agency has made clear that any vaccine must be at least 50% effective.

No participant so far has become severely ill, Gruber said. Nor could he provide a breakdown of how many of the infections had occurred in older people, who are at highest risk from COVID-19.

Participants were tested only if they developed symptoms, leaving unanswered whether vaccinated people could get infected but show no symptoms and unknowingly spread the virus.

FDA has required that U.S. vaccine candidates be studied in at least 30,000 people. In addition to adequate numbers of older adults, those studies must also include other groups at high risk, including minorities and people with chronic health problems.

And it told companies they must track half their participants for side effects for at least two months, the time period when problems typically crop up. Pfizer expects to reach that milestone later this month, but said Monday no serious safety concerns have been reported.

Because the pandemic is still raging, manufacturers hope to seek permission from governments around the world for emergency use of their vaccines while additional testing continues — allowing them to get to market faster than normal but raising concerns about how much scientists will know about the shots.

The FDA’s scientific advisers last month said they worry that allowing emergency use of a COVID-19 vaccine could damage confidence in the shots and make it harder to ever find out how well they really work. Those advisers said it’s critical these massive studies are allowed to run to completion.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Friday, Nov. 6, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Nov 6th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EST on Nov. 6, 2020:

There are 251,334 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 111,056 confirmed (including 6,378 deaths, 94,884 resolved)

_ Ontario: 80,690 confirmed (including 3,195 deaths, 69,137 resolved)

_ Alberta: 30,447 confirmed (including 343 deaths, 23,874 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 16,560 confirmed (including 273 deaths, 12,806 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 7,177 confirmed (including 91 deaths, 2,920 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 3,536 confirmed (including 25 deaths, 2,634 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,119 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,036 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 347 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 313 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 292 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 285 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 64 confirmed (including 64 resolved)

_ Yukon: 23 confirmed (including 1 death, 20 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 10 confirmed (including 10 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 251,334 (0 presumptive, 251,334 confirmed including 10,381 deaths, 207,996 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

A tsunami of disinformation is coming from the White House

THE BIG STORY | posted Friday, Nov 6th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, almost everything the President of the United States has been saying since election day is false. His family and supporters are following suit. How is the internet handling a flood of misleading claims and outright lies? What makes the post-election disinfo so hard to debunk? How did we end up so far down this rabbit hole and is it even possible to climb back out?

GUEST: Jane Lytvynenko, Disinformation Reporter, BuzzFeed News

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Statistics Canada says economy added 84,000 jobs in October

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Nov 6th, 2020

Statistics Canada says the pace of job growth slowed in October as the economy added 84,000 jobs in the month compared with 378,000 in September.

The unemployment rate was 8.9 per cent compared with 9.0 per cent in September.

The average economist estimate was for a gain of 100,000 jobs in October and an unemployment rate of 8.8 per cent, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.

More to come

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Nov 5th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EST on Nov. 5, 2020:

There are 248,218 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 109,918 confirmed (including 6,350 deaths, 94,101 resolved)

_ Ontario: 79,692 confirmed (including 3,182 deaths, 68,189 resolved)

_ Alberta: 30,447 confirmed (including 343 deaths, 23,874 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 16,135 confirmed (including 273 deaths, 12,659 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 6,751 confirmed (including 87 deaths, 2,892 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 3,408 confirmed (including 25 deaths, 2,584 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,118 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,034 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 347 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 313 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 292 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 285 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 64 confirmed (including 64 resolved)

_ Yukon: 23 confirmed (including 1 death, 20 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 10 confirmed (including 9 resolved)

_ Nunavut:  No confirmed cases

_ Total: 248,218 (0 presumptive, 248,218 confirmed including 10,336 deaths, 206,037 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

President, supporters defiant, combative in face of escalating election dispute

JAMES MCCARTEN, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Nov 5th, 2020

FAIRFAX, Va. — With his room to manoeuvre rapidly dwindling, U.S. President Donald Trump is lashing out with threats of legal action as Joe Biden closes in on the Oval Office.

The Trump campaign is mobilizing supporters and lawyers alike in battleground states where the process of counting votes plodded late into the night Wednesday.

After claiming the 26 electoral votes in Wisconsin and Michigan, Biden was well within striking distance of the 270 electors needed to claim the presidency.

That prompted a flurry of Republican lawsuits in those two states as well as all-important Pennsylvania, where Trump supporters were expected to stage protests today.

Tense protests erupted at various locations where election officials were counting votes Wednesday, including Detroit and Philadelphia.

Media reports suggest the Trump team is also considering legal action in Nevada and Arizona, two other critical pieces of the electoral puzzle.

Biden was nursing a lead of fewer than 8,000 votes in Nevada, and a three-point lead in Arizona, a significant prize that landed under Trump’s name in 2016.

As the midnight hour approached Wednesday night, Trump was still leading narrowly in Pennsylvania, Georgia and North Carolina.

Both campaigns seamlessly transitioned their fundraising efforts from pre-election solicitations to asking for money to help bankroll the coming court fights.

Trump’s Twitter feed was laden Wednesday with complaints that the protracted process of counting mail-in ballots amounted to an effort to stack the deck in Biden’s favour.

Many of the president’s missives were flagged by Twitter as containing disputed or outright misleading election information.

Tuesday’s vote was held against an unprecedented backdrop: a pandemic that has killed more than 232,000 Americans and triggered a debilitating economic crisis in a year also marked by fierce public outrage over the country’s racial divide.

Record-setting mail-in voting, which Trump has been railing against for months, made for an especially unpredictable election night. Biden has been leading the mail-in ballot count by a ratio of roughly three to one.

Anxiety about Trump’s next moves lured protesters and activists to the streets outside the White House for a second straight night, fearful that the incumbent president might try to claim an unjust victory.

“It’s a basic rule of elections that people should get to vote when they are eligible to vote, and that those votes should be counted,” said Jessica Mason, a public policy analyst in Washington, D.C.

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

James McCarten, The Canadian Press