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Canada inches toward to 200,000 COVID-19 case mark, with most new cases in Quebec

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Oct 19th, 2020

Canada’s COVID-19 caseload is nearing the 200,000 mark, with the majority of new infections in Quebec this weekend.

Public health officials reported 1,803 new cases across the country today, for a total of 198,127.

Quebec accounted for 1,094 of those new cases, marking the third day in a row the province has had more than 1,000 infections.

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube tweeted that the number of hospitalizations in the province continues to rise and urged residents to “break the wave to slow this down” and “protect the most vulnerable.”

Ontario had the second-highest number of new cases today, with 658 reported, while Manitoba had 44.

New Brunswick posted five new cases and Nova Scotia had two, both of which are said to be related to travel outside Atlantic Canada.

Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said in a statement that the country must remain united “to get all of Canada back on a ‘slow burn”’ and reduce cases of COVID-19 infection “to manageable levels.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 18, 2020.

Remote work has been about survival. What’s happened to careers?

THE BIG STORY | posted Monday, Oct 19th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, in the early days of the pandemic, it was fun to compare crude work-from-home setups. Eight months later, with no end in sight, the novelty is long gone. What’s changed about the traditional career over the past year? How can workers do more than try to get through the day and move on with their careers? What does every manager need to be doing to support them? And how are you supposed to network over Zoom?

GUEST: Dr. Sonia Kang, Canada Research Chair in Identity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the University of Toronto; Host of For The Love of Work

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

China accuses Canada of condoning alleged anti-China remarks

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Monday, Oct 19th, 2020

China said Monday that it has complained to Canada for allegedly condoning anti-China comments that appeared in Canadian media following controversial remarks made by the Chinese ambassador.

Ties between the countries are at their lowest point in years amid China’s outrage over Canada’s detention of a top executive of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei. Last week, China’s ambassador to Canada, Cong Peiwu, branded pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong as violent criminals and said if Canada grants them asylum it would amount to interference in China’s internal affairs.

“If the Canadian side really cares about the stability and the prosperity in Hong Kong, and really cares about the good health and safety of those 300,000 Canadian passport-holders in Hong Kong, and the large number of Canadian companies operating in Hong Kong SAR, you should support those efforts to fight violent crimes,” Cong said last week in a video news conference from the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa.

Cong was asked whether his remarks amounted to a threat, to which he replied, “That is your interpretation.”

On Saturday, the Toronto Sun published an editorial calling on Cong to either apologize or leave Canada. “It’s not enough for the Trudeau government to publicly scold Cong,” the paper said. “If he won’t apologize and retract his threats, boot him back to Beijing.”

Cherie Wong, the executive director of Alliance Canada Hong Kong, a group that advocates for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, called Cong’s comment a “direct threat” to all Canadians.

“It should not be lost on Canadians living in Hong Kong or China, they could be next. Ambassador Cong suggested so himself,” Wong said.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian did not identify specific comments that he said resulted from a deliberate misinterpretation of Cong’s remarks, but said Canadian leaders “did not verify, but also condoned the anti-China comments spreading across the nation and made groundless accusations against China.”

“We express strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to it and have lodged solemn complaints with the Canadian side,” Zhao told reporters Monday at a daily briefing.

Protests against the Hong Kong and mainland Chinese governments swelled last year, and Beijing clamped down on expressions of anti-government sentiment in the city with a new national security law that took effect June 30.

The law outlaws subversive, secessionist and terrorist activity, as well as collusion with foreign powers to interfere in the city’s internal affairs. The U.S., Britain and Canada accuse China of infringing on the city’s freedoms.

At the news conference, Cong also flatly rejected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s assertion that China is engaging in coercive diplomacy by imprisoning two Canadian men in retaliation for the arrest of a Chinese Huawei executive on an American extradition warrant. The executive, Meng Wanzhou, is living under house arrest in Vancouver while her case wends through a British Columbia court.

In December 2018, China imprisoned two Canadian men, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and charged them with undermining China’s national security. Convicted Canadian drug smuggler Robert Schellenberg was also sentenced to death in a sudden retrial shortly after Meng’s arrest.

Online hate, racist hiring practices among targets of $15M federal anti-racism funds

MIA RABSON, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Oct 16th, 2020

OTTAWA — At least a dozen new projects to go after online hate are being funded through Ottawa’s anti-racism strategy today.

Diversity Minister Bardish Chagger says 85 projects are getting money through the anti-racism action program.

That program is part of the $45 million the federal government set aside in 2019 for the anti-racism strategy.

The Liberals promised to double the funding for the strategy in the 2019 election campaign but that has not yet happened.

Projects to target online hate were given priority in the action program and a dozen were approved, including one by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network that will get $268,000 to monitor extreme-right groups and report illegal activities to police.

There are also projects to combat racism within policing, and to break down systemic barriers in employment hiring practices.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 15, 2020.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

How Canada’s legacy of slavery lingers on today

THE BIG STORY | posted Friday, Oct 16th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, most Canadians didn’t learn much about slavery in Canada in history class. Curriculums in this country have mostly focused on the Underground Railroad and largely glossed over the fact that slavery was legal here. That history explains much about the blatant racism that still exists in this country today, but it also explains far less obvious things about the everyday lives of many Black Canadians. We’re starting to confront that history now, but we have a long way to go.

GUEST: Charmaine A. Nelson is the Tier I Canada Research Chair in Transatlantic Black Diasporic Art and Community Engagement at NSCAD University. She will direct the first-ever institute for the study of Canadian Slavery.

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

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada | posted Friday, Oct 16th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. EDT on Oct. 16, 2020:

There are 191,730 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 89,963 confirmed (including 6,005 deaths, 75,467 resolved)

_ Ontario: 62,196 confirmed (including 3,022 deaths, 53,291 resolved)

_ Alberta: 21,443 confirmed (including 288 deaths, 18,417 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 11,034 confirmed (including 250 deaths, 9,257 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 3,098 confirmed (including 38 deaths, 1,533 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 2,232 confirmed (including 25 deaths, 1,936 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,092 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,024 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 292 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 200 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 284 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 271 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 63 confirmed (including 60 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut:  No confirmed cases

_ Total: 191,730 (0 presumptive, 191,730 confirmed including 9,699 deaths, 161,489 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 16, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Percy Schmeiser, Saskatchewan farmer known for fight against Monsanto, dies at 89

DANIELA GERMANO, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Oct 15th, 2020

Percy Schmeiser, a Saskatchewan farmer who became famous during his legal battle with biotech giant Monsanto, has died.

John Schmeiser said his father died quietly Tuesday afternoon at the age of 89.

He had Parkinson’s disease, his son said Wednesday.

Percy Schmeiser, who was from Bruno, Sask., came into the spotlight in the late 1990s after he was sued and taken to court by Monsanto for using its genetically modified canola seeds without a licence.

He denied intentionally using the company’s herbicide-resistant Roundup Ready seeds, saying they could have blown over from a neighbour’s farm or passing trucks.

The case went to the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled that he infringed on Monsanto’s patent but did not have to pay damages to the company.

His death comes days after a movie about his life, simply called “Percy,” was released.

Oscar winning actor Christopher Walken stars as Schmeiser in the film that hit select theatres Friday in Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Regina and Saskatoon. It is to be released in other cities throughout the fall.

In a statement Wednesday, producer Daniel Bekerman said the filmmaking team developed a profound respect and admiration for Schmeiser.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of his passing. The Schmeiser family are wonderful people and we send our love to them,” Bekerman said.

“We are honoured to play a part in telling the story of a man who stood by his principles in the face of tremendous adversity.”

Schmeiser’s story has also been controversial. Some in the agriculture industry have criticized the “Percy” trailer on social media, saying it contains inaccuracies, including its depiction of Schmeiser as innocent.

In an interview earlier this month, “Percy” director Clark Johnson said such arguments are fair, but the movie is meant to “to get a debate and a conversation going.”

“If you want to take the position that he knew all along and he did it on purpose, take that position, that’s fine,” Johnson told The Canadian Press.

But he said he doesn’t think Schmeiser would risk everything he owned “to make up this lie.”

Schmeiser’s son said a private service will be held for the family, He declined to comment further.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 14, 2020.

Daniela Germano, The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Oct 15th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EDT on Oct. 15, 2020:

There are 189,227 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 88,994 confirmed (including 5,977 deaths, 74,483 resolved)

_ Ontario: 61,413 confirmed (including 3,017 deaths, 52,512 resolved)

_ Alberta: 21,199 confirmed (including 287 deaths, 18,223 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 10,734 confirmed (including 250 deaths, 8,974 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 2,925 confirmed (including 37 deaths, 1,514 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 2,199 confirmed (including 25 deaths, 1,920 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,092 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,023 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 292 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 200 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 283 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 271 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 63 confirmed (including 60 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut:  No confirmed cases

_ Total: 189,227 (0 presumptive, 189,227 confirmed including 9,664 deaths, 159,213 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 15, 2020.

The Canadian Press

How to prepare for a winter in lockdown

THE BIG STORY | posted Thursday, Oct 15th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, unless you’re lucky enough to live in some of the areas of Canada that are largely free of Covid-19, you’re likely staring down a long few months spent isolated from most of the community and spent largely inside your house. The case numbers are rising. We’re told it’s not safe to socialize indoors and we’re just weeks away from the first deep freeze and snowstorm.

It can feel like a lot—if you let it. That’s not us pep-talking you. It’s science. There are people who live so far north that winter dominates their lives; who live with darkness during the day for weeks at a time. And if you survey those people about winter, well, you’d find they’re better at dealing with it than you are. So, what’s their secret?

GUEST: David Robson, science journalist and author of The Intelligence Trap

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Loneliness taking toll on Canadian mental health in COVID era, study finds

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Oct 14th, 2020

A new report on the mental health of Canadian workers suggests loneliness is worse for many people than the fear of dying from COVID-19.

Morneau Shepell’s overall mental health index for September was down 10.2 points from its pre-2020 benchmark. The reading in August was down 11.2 points from the benchmark, while July was down 10.4 points.

While the financial impact of the pandemic and getting ill with COVID-19 were the most prevalent concerns, people who identified loneliness as a concern had the lowest mental health score at minus 25.8.

That was even lower than the score of minus 17.7 for those who cited a fear of dying from COVID-19 as a worry.

Morneau Shepell’s latest monthly report on its mental health index is based on online responses collected Aug. 21 to 30, before the recent surge of COVID cases.

The polling industry’s professional body says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Oct 14th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EDT on Oct. 14, 2020:

There are 186,882 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 87,791 confirmed (including 5,970 deaths, 73,734 resolved)

_ Ontario: 60,692 confirmed (including 3,017 deaths, 51,729 resolved)

_ Alberta: 20,956 confirmed (including 286 deaths, 18,055 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 10,734 confirmed (including 250 deaths, 8,974 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 2,779 confirmed (including 35 deaths, 1,496 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 2,174 confirmed (including 25 deaths, 1,911 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,092 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,023 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 284 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 200 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 283 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 271 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 63 confirmed (including 60 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved), 1 presumptive

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut:  No confirmed cases

_ Total: 186,882 (1 presumptive, 186,881 confirmed including 9,654 deaths, 157,486 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 14, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Inside the Atlantic Bubble, where life is close to normal

THE BIG STORY | posted Wednesday, Oct 14th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, we don’t have to look as far as New Zealand to find examples of how the battle against COVID-19 can be won. We have a success story right here in Canada, where the so-called Atlantic Bubble has held up very well over the past several months, and where life is mostly back to normal. There is even hockey, with fans in the stands and everything.

So how can the rest of Canada follow the Atlantic Bubble’s example? Is it even possible for larger provinces? How have they managed to stamp out COVID-19, and what kind of price have they paid for doing so?

GUEST: Greg Mercer, Atlantic Canada reporter, The Globe and Mail

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Actor Jon Cryer turns to B.C. ring-finder to search for lost wedding band

NICK WELLS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Oct 13th, 2020

VANCOUVER — An actor is sharing his gratitude towards a Vancouver service specializing in finding lost rings after losing his own wedding band, kicking off a panicked search attempt.

Jon Cryer, known for his role in the television series Two and a Half Men, was walking along Vancouver’s seawall to meet up with castmates, on Friday when he lost his wedding ring.

“I pulled my hand out of my pocket and heard a ‘ping!’ To my left. I walked a couple more steps and realized my wedding ring was gone…,” he wrote on Twitter.

Cryer said he frantically searched for the missing wedding band but rain and a lack of working lamp posts hindered his efforts.

Losing the ring was especially hard, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions restricting him from seeing his wife regularly while filming in Vancouver, he wrote.

He returned Saturday to search through a muddy section of grass he believed the ring could be in, but didn’t have any luck.

Cryer turned to a company called the Ring Finders, that specialize in searching for rings and other lost valuables, to help him in his quest.

“In my mind, I’m thinking ‘there’s a 95 per cent chance it was probably dropped where someone could’ve seen it’,” said Chris Turner, who founded the company in 2009.

But the pair were lucky.

Turner says it took him three minutes to locate the ring using a metal detector.

The ring was found buried in a clump of grass near to where Cryer had searched on Saturday.

“This one surprised me. The odds of that ring making it to the grass, not only the grass, the deepest part of the grass … I was just astonished. I was like ‘the gods are on his side for sure’,” he said.

Cryer said he’s stunned at how quickly the ring was found.

“I’m still beside myself,” he wrote on Twitter.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 13, 2020.

Nick Wells, The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Oct 13th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EDT on Oct. 13, 2020:

There are 182,707 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 86,976 confirmed (including 5,965 deaths, 72,857 resolved)

_ Ontario: 59,139 confirmed (including 3,005 deaths, 50,437 resolved)

_ Alberta: 19,995 confirmed (including 282 deaths, 17,488 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 10,185 confirmed (including 245 deaths, 8,502 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 2,578 confirmed (including 32 deaths, 1,483 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 2,092 confirmed (including 25 deaths, 1,888 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,092 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,023 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 283 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 270 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 272 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 199 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 61 confirmed (including 58 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved), 1 presumptive

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut:  No confirmed cases

_ Total: 182,707 (1 presumptive, 182,706 confirmed including 9,625 deaths, 154,238 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 13, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Climate change reporting needs hope as well as fear

THE BIG STORY | posted Tuesday, Oct 13th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, you have heard plenty of dire predictions and seen hundreds of horrible photographs. The Earth is in trouble, there’s no doubt. But when coverage of climate change always focuses on so-called “disaster porn,” it can create a self-fulfilling prophecy. How can reporters covering the very real danger we’re facing avoid fostering a sense of inevitability among the people we need to make changes?

GUEST: Sheril Kirshenbaum, host of NPR’s Serving Up Science

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 for Oct. 9

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Oct 9th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EDT on Oct. 8, 2020:

There are 175,556 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 82,992 confirmed (including 5,915 deaths, 68,585 resolved)

_ Ontario: 56,742 confirmed (including 2,992 deaths, 48,308 resolved)

_ Alberta: 19,718 confirmed (including 283 deaths, 17,338 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 10,066 confirmed (including 245 deaths, 8,398 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 2,344 confirmed (including 27 deaths, 1,454 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 2,012 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,845 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,089 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,021 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 276 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 269 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 225 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 199 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 59 confirmed (including 57 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut:  No confirmed cases

_ Total: 175,556 (0 presumptive, 175,556 confirmed including 9,557 deaths, 147,507 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 9, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Trudeau to announce more federal funding for food banks during pandemic

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Oct 9th, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will announce today more federal funding for food banks across Canada to help them meet the surge in demand for their services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trudeau revealed plans for the “big announcement” Thursday night as he took part in a virtual, cross-country town hall with people who run or volunteer at food banks.

As a second wave of the pandemic sweeps the country and with the approach of Thanksgiving and Christmas, he predicted that food banks will be under more pressure to feed those who can’t afford groceries or are afraid to venture outside their homes to get them.

During the height of the first wave back in April, the federal government gave $100 million to national, regional and local organizations that work to alleviate food insecurity, including Food Banks Canada, the Salvation Army and Community Food Centres Canada.

Trudeau is expected to announce another similar infusion of federal funds to help such groups continue to meet demand, which has exploded during the pandemic along with unemployment.

During the town hall, Trudeau was thanked profusely and repeatedly for the first instalment and heard stories about how food banks have used the funds to find creative ways to help more people even as the pandemic has caused a shortage of volunteers and food supplies.

“I’ll give you guys a sneak preview,” Trudeau told food bank workers.

“I’ll be making a big announcement tomorrow about more supports that you should stay tuned for. But I know that the work you’re doing is incredible. We need to make sure that you have the tools to keep being able to say ‘yes’ when people ask for help.”

‘All we can do is brace for impact’: Canada plans for US political chaos

THE BIG STORY | posted Friday, Oct 9th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, our neighbour is in trouble. Whatever the results of the American election on November 3, there’s only a small chance they won’t be contested. The upheaval could last for months. It could get violent. It could fracture America.

All of this obviously impacts Canada, so what are we doing to prepare? What should we be doing? How can our government gameplan for whatever happens in the coming months, and what are the best-case and worst-case scenarios for Canada if chaos reigns to the south?

GUEST: Balkan Devlen, senior fellow at McDonald Laurier Institute, Superforecaster for Good Judgment, Inc.

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

International couples plan reunions in Canada under new travel exception

Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Oct 8th, 2020

Alia Youssef and Mohamed El-Sawah have been in a long-distance relationship for the better part of a year, though they live just a 35-minute drive apart.
Youssef lives in Windsor, Ont., El-Sawah in a suburb of Detroit, Mich.
When the Canada-U.S. border was closed in March due to COVID-19, they were forced to place many of the cultural and religious traditions important to their Egyptian, Muslim engagement on hold. Youssef has yet to meet her husband-to-be’s parents in person. The two have been looking at wedding venues and getting to know each other’s families over video calls.
“We’re engaged with no rings, let’s call it that,” El-Sawah said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

Couples like Youssef and El-Sawah have been in a grey area since pandemic-related travel restrictions came into effect, unable to reunite due to their unmarried status. But some hope appeared last week when Ottawa announced it would ease some border restrictions.
Starting Thursday, romantic partners of Canadians can apply to enter the country, with documentation proving at least a year-long relationship. Extended family members including grandparents, adult children and grandchildren and those seeking entry for compassionate grounds may also apply.
Specifics on who qualifies, what documents are required and how to apply will be defined in greater detail on Thursday.
It’s a welcome avenue for couples whose lives have been placed on hold for the last eight months. Youssef, El-Sawah and others in international engagements can now proceed cautiously with their wedding plans – factoring in quarantine requirements, work obligations and limits on other relatives allowed to travel and participate.
“We’re really happy, but it’s just now we have to take what we have and work with it,” Youssef said.
The pair plan to reunite in December, when El-Sawah can take the required two weeks off from work. At the end of his quarantine, they hope to finally exchange rings and hold a small engagement party, though El-Sawah will be the only member of his biological family there.
While Ottawa has stressed that nobody should make travel plans until they’ve been approved under the program, some have eagerly started booking accommodations and packing their bags.
Sarah Campbell of Stratford, Ont., cried tears of happiness at the announcement. She’s been separated from her fiance Jacob Taylor during the pandemic and through a cancer diagnosis this July.
Campbell and Taylor, who lives in Bath, England, are gathering documents showing proof of their relationship in anticipation of the soon-to-be-announced requirements.
“We’re hoping he can be here by Saturday,” she said in a telephone interview. “Jacob is ready to go.”
If everything goes according to plan, they hope to be married by the end of the month — the day after Taylor’s quarantine ends.
Kaylee Carson of Cleveland, Ohio, also moved quickly after hearing the news. She snapped up an available Airbnb in Barrie, Ont., where her Canadian fiance Darren Quesnel works.
“I went ahead and booked,” Carson said by phone. “I’m going to be there for two months, so I just booked the first month and I figured if I’m not there by then he can just go stay at the Airbnb until I get there.”
She’s happy an end to their separation is in sight, though the eventual wedding date in the U.S. is still to be determined.
“It’s just a relief to know that I’m going to get to go see him,” she said.
David Poon has been running a campaign along with other families not covered by the former travel exemptions, asking Ottawa to adapt immigration measures to accommodate those left out. He said participants are grateful the government found a solution.
“We know that it was an incredibly difficult problem to solve,” he said from Ireland, where the Canadian doctor is currently staying with his partner.
The key demand – allowing adult children and non-married couples to reunite in Canada – has been won, but Poon said the biggest hurdle remaining for the approximately 7,500 people involved in the campaign is inability for many to take time off work to quarantine. Those on temporary visas also face challenges bringing their loved ones to Canada.
He stressed that the campaign isn’t fighting quarantine rules, but looking for a solution so more people can take advantage of the program – like requiring the Canadian partner to isolate once their significant other leaves the country, no matter the length of their stay.
The uncertainty of waiting and the challenges of planning a wedding long-distance during a pandemic have been painful, El-Sawah said. But the experience has brought the couple together on a deeper level, and convinced him beyond a doubt that he’s found a soul mate and life partner in Youssef.
“It affirmed my love for this woman,” he said. “The silver lining to me is I know a thousand per cent, a million per cent that she’s the one and she’s willing to put the effort. Whatever life throws at us, we’ll be able to handle it.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 7, 2020.

Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in for Oct. 8

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Oct 8th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 1 a.m. EDT on Oct. 8, 2020:
There are 173,124 confirmed cases in Canada.
_ Quebec: 81,914 confirmed (including 5,906 deaths, 67,735 resolved)
_ Ontario: 55,945 confirmed (including 2,988 deaths, 47,613 resolved)

_ Alberta: 19,354 confirmed (including 281 deaths, 17,163 resolved)
_ British Columbia: 9,956 confirmed (including 244 deaths, 8,296 resolved)
_ Manitoba: 2,278 confirmed (including 27 deaths, 1,448 resolved)
_ Saskatchewan: 1,994 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,832 resolved)
_ Nova Scotia: 1,089 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,021 resolved)
_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 276 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 269 resolved)
_ New Brunswick: 222 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 198 resolved)
_ Prince Edward Island: 59 confirmed (including 57 resolved)
_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)
_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)
_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)
_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 4 presumptive
_ Total: 173,124 (4 presumptive, 173,120 confirmed including 9,541 deaths, 145,665 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 8, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Netflix Canada increasing some of its prices

Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Oct 8th, 2020

Netflix Canada is increasing some of its prices again.
The streaming giant says the basic plan for subscribers remains unchanged at $9.99 a month, but the standard monthly plan is going up by one dollar to $14.99, and the premium by two dollars to $18.99.
Netflix says it’s implementing the price increase so it “can invest more in films and shows as well as the quality of members’ product experience.”
The company says new members who sign up will see the updated prices effective immediately.

The new charges will roll out to existing members according to their billing cycle over the coming weeks.
Existing members will be notified about the change via email and the Netflix app 30 days before the new prices are applied to them.
Netflix has cancelled some of its programming recently due to COVID-19 pandemic-related issues, including “Glow,” “The Society” and “I Am Not Okay With This.”
The company’s last price increase in Canada was announced in November 2018. At that time it bumped up the basic monthly plan by a dollar to $9.99, the standard by $3 to $13.99, and the premium by $3 to $16.99.
The basic plan lets subscribers watch on one screen at a time at a lower-quality resolution. The standard plan allows two screens with high-definition resolution. And the premium offers four-screen usage and ultra HD, 4K video.
“Canadians have never had more choices when it comes to entertainment and we’re more committed than ever to delivering an experience that exceeds their expectations,” Netflix said in a statement about Thursday’s price increase.
“Members tell us how much they value variety and we’re updating our prices so that we can continue to invest in more shows and films. As always we will continue to offer a range of plans so that people can pick a price that works for their budget.”
Netflix launched in Canada in September 2010, charging $7.99 for unlimited TV shows and movies per month.

Military reports more than 220 Canadian troops caught COVID-19

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Oct 7th, 2020

The Canadian Armed Forces is lifting the veil of secrecy over the number of troops with COVID-19, as the military gets ready for fresh calls to help out during the second wave of the pandemic.
In its first full update since mid-March, the military revealed Tuesday that a total of 222 Canadian service members have contracted COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
That includes 24 active cases. The others have been resolved.
Defence Department spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier said no military members had died from the illness.

This is the first time the public has known the scope of infections in the Canadian Armed Forces since March 20, when officials said they would stop sharing such details. There were three cases at that time.
The military did later reveal that 55 of the more than 1,600 soldiers deployed into long-term care facilities in Ontario and Quebec in the spring had become infected with the novel coronavirus.
But it refused to provide overall figures for the nearly 100,000-strong force, with officials expressing concern the information could be used by foreign adversaries hoping to take advantage of the pandemic.
“Leadership is closely monitoring the extent of COVID-19 in the defence team,” the Department of National Defence said on its website Tuesday after publishing the new figures.
It went on to credit “the rigorous application of public health measures” and other risk-mitigation strategies for “effectively containing the spread of the virus amongst our personnel.”
The release of the figures came as senior defence officials told the Armed Forces to be ready for new orders as the number of cases of COVID-19 across Canada continues to rise.
In a message to the troops, chief of defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance and Jody Thomas, deputy minister at the Defence Department, warned the situation “is different and more complex than we faced in March.”
As a result, they said, new orders are coming soon to “to refocus our efforts, and position National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces for success this fall.”
In the meantime, “we must accept that we now live in an environment that will remain altered by COVID-19 for the foreseeable future. To succeed in this environment, we must reject complacency.”

Error in Via Rail terror case doesn’t warrant new trial, Crown tells Supreme Court

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Oct 7th, 2020

OTTAWA — Federal lawyers are telling the Supreme Court of Canada it would be a miscarriage of justice to grant a new trial to two men accused of plotting to crash a Via Rail train.
Raed Jaser and Chiheb Esseghaier were found guilty in 2015 of terror-related charges arising mainly from an alleged al-Qaida-inspired scheme to derail a passenger train travelling between the United States and Canada.
Both men appealed their convictions, with counsel for Jaser and a court-appointed lawyer for Esseghaier arguing the jury at the trial was improperly constituted.
In August last year, the Ontario Court of Appeal ordered a fresh trial for the men on grounds the jury was indeed chosen incorrectly.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to review the appeal court’s decision in a hearing this afternoon.
In a written submission to the court, the Crown argues the convictions should not be overturned on the basis of a highly technical error in the jury selection process that did not cause any prejudice to fair trial rights.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 7, 2020.

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in for Oct. 7

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Oct 7th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 1 a.m. EDT on Oct. 7, 2020:
There are 171,324 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 81,014 confirmed (including 5,899 deaths, 67,033 resolved)
_ Ontario: 55,362 confirmed (including 2,987 deaths, 46,906 resolved)

_ Alberta: 19,211 confirmed (including 281 deaths, 17,030 resolved)
_ British Columbia: 9,841 confirmed (including 244 deaths, 8,184 resolved)
_ Manitoba: 2,246 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,441 resolved)
_ Saskatchewan: 1,984 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,821 resolved)
_ Nova Scotia: 1,089 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,021 resolved)
_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 276 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 269 resolved)
_ New Brunswick: 205 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 198 resolved)
_ Prince Edward Island: 59 confirmed (including 57 resolved)
_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)
_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)
_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)
_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 4 presumptive
_ Total: 171,324 (4 presumptive, 171,320 confirmed including 9,530 deaths, 143,993 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

Nunavut confirms nine positive COVID-19 cases at mine, others presumptive

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Oct 6th, 2020

IQALUIT, Nunavut — Nunavut has confirmed nine positive cases of COVID-19 at the Hope Bay gold mine in the western part of the territory.

The Nunavut government announced the positive cases in a news release this evening.

Another four presumptive positive cases have also been identified and are pending testing at a lab in southern Canada.

Last week, the territory declared eight presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 at the mine, which is located 125 kilometres southwest of Cambridge Bay.

The release says the government is still working to determine whether the cases at the mine will count as the first in the territory.

It also says twelve people remain in isolation and all non-critical travel to and from the mine is on hold.

There are no Nunavut residents currently working at the fly-in only mine.

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

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Oct. 6

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Oct 6th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EDT on Oct. 6, 2020:

There are 168,961 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 79,650 confirmed (including 5,884 deaths, 66,180 resolved)

_ Ontario: 54,814 confirmed (including 2,980 deaths, 46,360 resolved)

_ Alberta: 18,935 confirmed (including 280 deaths, 16,872 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 9,739 confirmed (including 242 deaths, 8,115 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 2,191 confirmed (including 23 deaths, 1,429 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,968 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,801 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,089 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,021 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 276 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 269 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 203 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 196 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 59 confirmed (including 57 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 4 presumptive

_ Total: 168,961 (4 presumptive, 168,957 confirmed including 9,504 deaths, 142,333 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

Canadians divided over whether to let pandemic disrupt Halloween, holidays

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Oct 6th, 2020

Canadians are divided about whether to let the COVID-19 pandemic disrupt their plans for upcoming holidays and seasonal events, a new poll suggests.

The poll, conducted by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies, comes as COVID-19 cases are surging and public health authorities are pleading with Canadians in places with rising case counts to avoid contact with anyone outside their immediate families or at least to stick to small social circles.

The results suggest that message is only partially getting through.

Respondents with children who went door to door for Halloween last year were closely divided on whether to let them go trick-or-treating again this year, with 52 per cent saying they won’t and 48 per cent saying they will.

The poll found sharp regional variations, however. About two-thirds of respondents in Atlantic Canada, which has been relatively untouched by COVID-19’s resurgence, said they will let their kids go out. In harder-hit Ontario and Quebec, two-thirds said they won’t.

Those kids who do go trick-or-treating will find slimmer pickings, with 49 per cent of respondents nationwide saying they won’t open their doors this year to hand out candy.

Again, Atlantic Canadians were more likely to say they’d give out treats; in Ontario and Quebec, trick-or-treaters seem set for sparse pickings. In Ontario, 24 per cent of respondents said they’ll give out treats. In Quebec, just 13 per cent.

Respondents were also divided about celebrating Thanksgiving this coming weekend, with 40 per cent of respondents saying the pandemic is causing them to change their plans — and an equal percentage saying it is not. Another 20 per cent said they don’t usually celebrate Thanksgiving in any event.

As for the Christmas holiday season, 49 per cent said they’ll change their plans, 44 per cent said they won’t. Another eight per cent said they don’t usually celebrate that holiday.

Those who intend to change their plans were asked to describe how. They were allowed to give multiple answers.

Seventy-four per cent said they’ll celebrate with close or immediate family members to keep their social interactions to a minimum, 54 per cent said they’ll limit celebrations to a smaller number of visitors, 40 per cent plan to issue strict instructions against kissing, hugging or handshaking, and 37 per cent plan to avoid air travel.

Thirty per cent said they’ll hold virtual celebrations and 25 per cent said they won’t attend religious services or celebrations they would otherwise have gone to. Nineteen per cent said they plan to cancel celebrations altogether.

The online poll of 1,523 adult Canadians was conducted Oct. 2 to 4. It cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

Almost three-quarters of respondents — 72 per cent — said Canada has already entered the second wave of the pandemic, up 10 points since just last week.

There was less division over how governments should respond to the second wave of the deadly coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Fifty-three per cent said high-risk businesses and activities should be shut down while others should remain open for the time being. Another 28 per cent said as many businesses as possible should be kept open while we see how the second wave progresses, while 14 per cent favoured a near-total lockdown similar to that imposed last spring.

Fully 85 per cent said they’d support shutting down bars, nightclubs and casinos, while 74 per cent would support shutting down movie theatres and all amateur sports, including school sports.

Sixty-seven per cent would back shutting down places of worship, 61 per cent interprovincial travel, 52 per cent schools and universities, 52 per cent visits to long-term or personal care homes, 47 per cent parks and playgrounds, 46 per cent restaurants and offices, 44 per cent shopping malls and 33 per cent retail stores.

Tam urges Thanksgiving caution amid recent rise in cases of COVID-19

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Oct 5th, 2020

MONTREAL — Canada’s top public health officer is urging people to plan ahead to make sure this year’s Thanksgiving holiday is safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Theresa Tam says indoor gatherings should be kept small, especially in parts of the country where infection rates are high.

She says people celebrating outdoors should follow physical distancing guidelines and encouraged people to avoid sharing food and other objects during their meals.

Tam is also suggesting that Canadians opt for virtual Thanksgiving dinners instead of in-person gatherings.

Tam’s suggestions come as new COVID-19 case numbers surge in several parts of the country, most notably Quebec and Ontario.

Quebec reported more than 1,000 new diagnoses for the third straight day on Sunday, while Ontario has recorded more than 500 cases every day for the past week.

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

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Oct. 5

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Oct 5th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. EDT on Oct. 5, 2020:

There are 166,160 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 78,459 confirmed (including 5,878 deaths, 65,304 resolved)

_ Ontario: 54,199 confirmed (including 2,975 deaths, 45,819 resolved)

_ Alberta: 18,357 confirmed (including 272 deaths, 16,527 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 9,381 confirmed (including 238 deaths, 7,813 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 2,140 confirmed (including 23 deaths, 1,421 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,959 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,782 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,089 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,021 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 276 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 269 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 201 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 193 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 59 confirmed (including 57 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 7 presumptive

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Total: 166,160 (7 presumptive, 166,153 confirmed including 9,481 deaths, 140,239 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

How do you vaccinate an entire planet?

THE BIG STORY | posted Monday, Oct 5th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, if all goes well, sometime in the next six months, one of the many Covid-19 vaccine candidates will receive approval for human use. It will be a day to celebrate. The end of the pandemic will at long last be in sight.

But what happens next? Who gets the first doses? The second batch? How do you actually vaccinate billions and billions of people, quickly and safely? A vaccine isn’t the end of the road, as today’s guest will tell us, it’s more like an off-ramp.

GUEST: Danielle Groen

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Anna Olson’s Thanksgiving Recipes!

Kyle Mack | posted Monday, Oct 5th, 2020

Baked Chicken (Turkey) Katsu with Cucumber Salad & Ginger Cabbage

“Katsu” is Japanese for “cutlet” and these crispy, panko-crusted chicken cutlets make for a delightfully comforting meal.  The comfort comes from the contrast of the crunch of the cutlet’s crust against the sweet-salty taste of the katsu sauce and the ice-cold refreshing nature of the cabbage, but also in the virtue of this dish.  If ordered in a restaurant, your chicken katsu would be deep-fried, but here the cutlets are oven-baked, minimizing the fat used.

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 18 minutes

 

Ingredients:

Cucumber Salad & Cabbage:

1 English cucumber, thinly sliced on a mandolin

2 Tbsp (30 mL) rice wine vinegar

1 tsp (5 mL) sesame oil

½ tsp (2 mL) table salt

4 cups (1 L) finely sliced green cabbage (sliced on a mandolin)

1 Tbsp (15 mL) finely grated fresh ginger

2 lemons

 

Katsu Sauce:

1/3 cup (80 mL) ketchup

2 Tbsp (30 mL) soy sauce

8–10 dashes Worcestershire sauce

 

Chicken Katsu:

2 cups (500 mL) panko breadcrumbs

2 Tbsp (30 mL) butter

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb/450 g)

2/3 cup (100 g) all-purpose flour

2 large eggs + 2 Tbsp (30 mL) water

Salt and pepper

6 cups (1.5 L) cooked Japanese sticky rice

3 Tbsp (45 mL) toasted sesame seeds

 

  1. For the cucumber salad, toss the cucumber with the rice vinegar, sesame oil and salt, and chill until ready to eat. Chill the thinly sliced cabbage in ice-water to crisp for 20 minutes, then drain and pat dry with kitchen towels just before serving, then toss with the ginger and juice of 1 lemon. Cut the lemon into 6 wedges and chill.

 

  1. For the sauce, whisk together the ketchup, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce, and pour into 6 little serving dishes.

 

  1. Toast the panko in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 8 minutes, then stir in the butter until melted. Set aside to cool.

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F (200C). Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and place a wire rack over top.

 

  1. Slice the chicken breasts into ¾-inch (18 mm) slices against the grain. Place 1 to 2 slices in a cut-open resealable plastic bag and pound with a meat mallet (or the bottom of a pot) until it is just under ½-inch (12 mm) thick and chill until ready to cook.

 

  1. Set up 3 flat bowls —the first for the flour, the second for the egg wash, and the third for the toasted panko breadcrumbs. Add a little salt and pepper to each bowl and stir in. Dip each of the chicken cutlets into the flour, shake off the excess, then into the egg and, finally, into the panko, coating it thoroughly. Set the breaded cutlets on the wire rack set over the baking sheet and bake until golden brown and crispy, about 18 minutes. Check that the chicken is cooked through by cutting into a cutlet. If the juices run clear, it’s done.

 

  1. To serve, slice each cutlet into 5 strips and serve with cooked Japanese rice, the Tonkatsu sauce, cucumber salad, and a mound of the drained cabbage. Sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds over the cutlets, cucumber salad and cabbage and serve with a wedge of lemon.

 

 

MAE’S BROCCOLI CHEDDAR SALAD

 

Serves 6

Prep Time: Under 15 minutes

Cook Time:

 

1/4 cup (40 g)           raisins

1/4 cup (40 g)           dried cranberries

3 cups (750 mL)       broccoli florets, cut into very small pieces

4 strips                       cooked bacon, chopped

1                                  green onion, sliced

1/3 cup (80 mL)        mayonnaise

3 tbsp (45 mL)          sour cream

1 tbsp (15 mL)          lemon juice

1 cup (110 g)            coarsely grated medium Cheddar cheese

salt and pepper

 

  1. Soak raisins and dried cranberries in hot tap water for a minute or two, to soften. Drain and reserve.

 

  1. Toss broccoli**, bacon and green onion together. In a separate bowl, stir mayonnaise, sour cream and lemon juice and stir into broccoli mixture. Add cheddar cheese, raisins and dried cranberries and season to taste.

 

Chill until ready to serve.

 

 

**To make the broccoli easier to digest and brighten its colour, it can be blanched in boiling, salted water for 30 seconds and then shocked in an ice bath before draining well.

With Trump testing positive, a look at some Canadian politicians and COVID-19

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Oct 2nd, 2020

United States President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. Here is a look as some Canadian politicians who have tested positive or needed to isolate themselves and get tested for COVID-19:

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole _ O’Toole and his wife tested positive for the virus last month, not long after O’Toole won the leadership of the party. It’s believed he contracted the virus from a staffer who was in his immediate circle. He emerged from quarantine this week to deliver his official reply to the Liberals’ throne speech. “We all have to be very cautious,” he said upon his return.

Yves-Francois Blanchet _ The Bloc Quebecois leader and his wife also tested positive for the virus last month. He returned to Parliament the same day as O’Toole saying he was lucky to have caught a mild case of the illness. “Some people go through it much more painfully than I did,” he said. “I was very, very, very lucky. Some people die of that thing.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau _ Trudeau’s wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau tested positive for COVID-19 on March 12 after a trip to the United Kingdom. The prime minister subsequently went into a 14-day isolation at home with his three kids, just as the pandemic lockdown was beginning in Canada. Trudeau remained in isolation for almost a month, not returning to Parliament Hill until April 8. He never developed symptoms and never got tested for COVID-19, but says he will take an antibody test when they are widely available.

Bill Morneau _ The former federal finance minister was one of at least eight MPs who were tested for COVID-19 and self-isolated after meeting with United Nations World Food Program executive director David Beasley in Ottawa on March 11 and March 12. Beasley met privately with Morneau, attended a reception and appeared at a House of Commons committee. He tested positive for COVID-19 about a week later. Liberal Anita Vandenbeld, NDP Heather McPherson, and Conservatives David Sweet, Mike Lake and Randy Hoback are among those who isolated after coming into contact with Beasley. None tested positive.

Kamal Khera _ The Brampton-West Liberal MP was the first Canadian politician to test positive for COVID-19 on March 25. Khera developed flu-like symptoms and was tested the next day. She was one of the MPs who met with Beasley, though her office said it was not clear where she contracted the virus.

Seamus O’Regan _ The federal minister of natural resources was tested and self-isolated in early March after developing a bad cold. He had earlier gone to a mining conference in Toronto attended by more than 23,000 people from around the world. At least three people at the conference tested positive for COVID-19, but O’Regan was not among them.

Francois-Philippe Champagne _ The foreign affairs minister was tested for COVID-19 in March after falling ill following a trip overseas. He tested negative.

Mary Ng _ The international trade minister went into isolation March 11 on the advice of her doctor after a persistent cough, and her asthma, were causing her problems. She tested negative.

Jagmeet Singh _ The NDP Leader isolated himself in March out of an abundance of caution when he experienced mild cold symptoms.

Anthony Housefather _ The Montreal Liberal MP put himself into isolation in mid-March after returning from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington, D.C. the first three days of March. A Toronto resident who also attended the conference tested positive after returning home.

Sylvie Parent _ The mayor of Longueuil, Que., on Montreal’s south shore, tested positive for COVID-19 this week. Her positive test has led to the isolation and testing of at least seven other Quebec politicians, including three provincial cabinet ministers and Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 1, 2020.

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Oct. 2

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Oct 2nd, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. EDT on Oct. 2, 2020:

There are 160,542 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 75,221 confirmed (including 5,850 deaths, 63,144 resolved)

_ Ontario: 52,248 confirmed (including 2,851 deaths, 44,422 resolved)

_ Alberta: 18,235 confirmed (including 269 deaths, 16,370 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 9,220 confirmed (including 235 deaths, 7,695 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 2,029 confirmed (including 20 deaths, 1,388 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,927 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,759 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,088 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,021 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 275 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 269 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 200 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 192 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 59 confirmed (including 57 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 7 presumptive

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Total: 160,542 (7 presumptive, 160,535 confirmed including 9,319 deaths, 136,350 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 2, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Have you been sold a lie about recycling?

THE BIG STORY | posted Friday, Oct 2nd, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, you’re a good citizen, so you probably toss your plastic into the recycling bin. Especially if it has those little recycling arrows on it. Why wouldn’t you? Public service campaigns have been telling you to do this forever? But what if those campaigns were a lie, designed to make you feel better about the plastic you use? What is plastic recycling was never going to be effective, except at selling more plastic?

GUEST: Laura Sullivan, NPR News investigative correspondent

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Health Canada approves rapid test for COVID-19

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Oct 1st, 2020

Health Canada has given the green light to a rapid test for COVID-19.

The department posted news of the approval of the Abbott Diagnostics ID Now test this afternoon, a day after the government said it had a deal to buy nearly eight million of the tests from the company.

The deal was conditional on Health Canada’s approving the tests, which it has done today.

The test has been in use in the United States for several months already.

Abbott’s website says the test can produce results in less than 13 minutes in the same place a nasal swab is taken from a patient.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who has been calling for quicker approval from the federal government on rapid testing, called the announcement a “great first step” when it comes to expanded testing options in Canada.

“What we need now is more information about when we can expect the federal government to deliver these units where they’re needed most, including remote and indigenous communities, long-term care homes and other congregate care settings at highest risk of experiencing outbreaks,” Ford said in a statement.

“We don’t have a moment to spare as cases continue to rise.”

Ford also called on the federal government to approval additional rapid test kits such as the BinaxNOW antigen test from Abbott, which has already been approved for use in the United States. That test is described as a highly portable credit card sized test kit that provides results in 15 minutes.

In Question Period, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the approved tests would be distributed to provinces and territories “in the coming weeks.”

Health Canada has emergency authority to quickly approve tests for COVID-19 and has been under increasing pressure to allow the use of rapid testing in Canada as cases surge and Canadians are sometimes waiting days to get their test results.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Oct. 1

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Oct 1st, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EDT on Oct. 1, 2020:

There are 158,765 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 74,288 confirmed (including 5,834 deaths, 62,564 resolved)

_ Ontario: 51,710 confirmed (including 2,848 deaths, 43,907 resolved)

_ Alberta: 18,062 confirmed (including 267 deaths, 16,213 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 9,138 confirmed (including 234 deaths, 7,591 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,993 confirmed (including 20 deaths, 1,327 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,913 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,750 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,088 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,021 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 274 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 269 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 200 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 192 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 59 confirmed (including 57 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 7 presumptive

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Total: 158,765 (7 presumptive, 158,758 confirmed including 9,297 deaths, 134,924 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 1, 2020.

The Canadian Press

B.C. is going to the polls during a pandemic. Why?

THE BIG STORY | posted Thursday, Oct 1st, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, September was a month for rising COVID-19 case counts in British Columbia. October will be a month for an election. Why now? That depends on who you ask. The NDP claim they need a mandate to govern more responsively during a pandemic. Their opponents say it’s a power grab because the NDP’s poll numbers are high.

What will British Columbians think? Will they punish the NDP for forcing them to the polls? Will they lock in a government they appear to approve of? And how do you run an election in a pandemic anyway? What will be different about this one, and how can other provinces learn from what happens in B.C. this October?

GUEST: Liza Yuzda, Legislative Reporter, News 1130

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

The Mohawk Institute: A first look at the former residential school, renovated to tell its history

Melanie Ng and Talia Knezic | posted Wednesday, Sep 30th, 2020

Warning: The story and video contain details that are graphic and may be disturbing.

 

 

The Mohawk Institute in Brantford is one of two remaining residential schools in Ontario. Other such buildings have been torn down or converted, but the hope is that this location is preserved for better understanding and learning. Breakfast Television is the first media to walk through this building since undergoing renovations, with host Melanie Ng taken on the tour.

Each room, each wall, and each door holds within it decades of pain and suffering. Carley Gallant-Jenkins, a coordinator for “Save The Evidence,” speaks of its history. Established in 1831, children from Six Nations were taken away from their parents and brought here to assimilate — with the goal of eliminating their Indigenous cultures and language.

Entering the various rooms, Gallant-Jenkins points out what would occur in each, starting with the boys’ side of the building.

“Teachers and faculty who worked here would pull boys out of their beds at night, bring them down here, make them fight, and they’d watch through windows,” Gallant-Jenkins says.

“The boy who lost would have to clean up afterwards. The boy who won would get extra perks,” she adds, referring to the ‘fight hallway.’

Moving to the boiler room, we learn that physical and sexual abuse often took place in these types of areas because of how loud they were.

“One of the girls’ roles was to do laundry for students and the surrounding community,” Gallant-Jenkins says.

“They were hired out from the school to do the community’s laundry; the school was profiting off of their labour.”

The cafeteria, which was a gathering space where siblings could catch a glimpse of one another, was separated by gender and number.

“They did do their best to try and separate family units,” Gallant-Jenkins says.

In 1970, The Mohawk Institute closed its doors but reopened two years later as the Woodland Cultural Centre. It was deemed a local historic site so that decisions would remain within the hands of the community.

The centre was designed to promote First Nations culture and heritage. After a major flood in 2013 caused severe damage to the building, the community voted to rebuild it.

“If this is a pile of rubble with a plaque in front of it saying what it was, it’s not the same as walking through these hallways and standing where these children stood,” Gallant-Jenkins says when asked why the decision to restore the building was made.

The “Save The Evidence” campaign cost millions of dollars. The ideal timeline was for the building to open its doors again in 2020, but fundraising efforts were hampered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With hundreds of thousands more to raise, organizers are now hoping for a 2022 opening.

“I think I want people, personally, to be left with the resilience, to see what happened to these people, and to see where these communities are today,” Gallant-Jenkins says.

Click here for more information on the Save The Evidence campaign.

Click here to join a virtual tour of your own, for a small fee to support fundraising efforts.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sept. 30

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Sep 30th, 2020

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

There are 156,967 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 73,450 confirmed (including 5,833 deaths, 62,095 resolved)

_ Ontario: 51,085 confirmed (including 2,844 deaths, 43,450 resolved)

_ Alberta: 17,909 confirmed (including 266 deaths, 16,072 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 9,013 confirmed (including 234 deaths, 7,485 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,953 confirmed (including 20 deaths, 1,327 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,899 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,737 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,087 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,021 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 272 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 267 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 200 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 191 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 59 confirmed (including 57 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 7 presumptive

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Total: 156,967 (7 presumptive, 156,960 confirmed including 9,291 deaths, 133,735 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

On the front lines as COVID-19 surges in Ontario

CHRISTINE CHUBB | posted Wednesday, Sep 30th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, cases are increasing exponentially. Hospital admissions are beginning to follow them. The doctors who oversee ICUs are nervous. And the public is looking for clear rules they can follow—only those seem to vary by public health unit.

Dr. Michael Warner runs an ICU in Toronto. He can see the line from his hospital’s COVID-19 assessment centre stretching down the road from his office. Along with other doctors and epidemiologists, he’s been sounding warning bells about how close COVID-19 is to being out of control all over again. So what needs to happen now?

GUEST: Dr. Michael Warner

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Quebec woman accused of threatening Trump ordered to remain in U.S. custody

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Sep 29th, 2020

A Quebec woman accused of sending a ricin-laced threat to President Donald Trump has been ordered to remain in U.S. custody.

District Court Judge Kenneth Schroeder Jr. says Pascale Ferrier was clearly capable of causing harm when she tried to cross the Canada-U. S. border last week.

Ferrier, 53, was arrested while attempting to enter the United States at the Peace Bridge border crossing in Buffalo.

Timothy Lynch of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Buffalo says Ferrier had a semi-automatic handgun and 294 rounds of ammunition at the time.

Lynch also says experts in Canada found traces of ricin in a mortar and pestle recovered from her apartment in Montreal.

Ferrier’s lawyer, Fonda Kubiak, entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of her client and insisted she is entitled to the presumption of innocence.

Nunavut government deploys team after 7 presumptive cases of COVID-19 at mine

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Sep 29th, 2020

IQALUIT, Nunavut — Nunavut is reporting seven presumptive cases of COVID-19 at a mine in the western region of the territory.

Dr. Michael Patterson, the territory’s chief public health officer, says in a news release that the seven cases are at Hope Bay gold mine, 125 kilometres southwest of Cambridge Bay.

Patterson’s office is waiting for test results to come back from a southern lab.

Nunavut confirmed two cases of the virus at Hope Bay on Sept.19, but the government says there is no established link between them and the seven presumptive cases announced today.

The release says the presumptive cases and all known contacts are isolating.

The Nunavut government’s rapid response team has been deployed.

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

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sept. 29

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Sep 29th, 2020

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

There are 155,307 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 72,651 confirmed (including 5,826 deaths, 61,629 resolved)

_ Ontario: 50,531 confirmed (including 2,840 deaths, 43,127 resolved)

_ Alberta: 17,749 confirmed (including 265 deaths, 15,935 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 8,908 confirmed (including 233 deaths, 7,346 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,919 confirmed (including 20 deaths, 1,281 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,892 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,719 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,087 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,021 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 272 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 267 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 200 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 191 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 58 confirmed (including 57 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 7 presumptive

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Total: 155,307 (7 presumptive, 155,300 confirmed including 9,278 deaths, 132,606 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

CERB program ends as COVID-19 cases continue to rise

NEWS STAFF | posted Monday, Sep 28th, 2020

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) established to support Canadians financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic ended on Sunday.

The federal income assistance program provided more than 8.5 million individuals with $2,000 a month starting April 6.

In its place is employment insurance (EI), which the government says the majority of people will go on.

Anyone who applied for and received the CERB through Service Canada and is eligible for EI is supposed to be automatically transitioned over to employment insurance. Anyone who applied and received the CERB through the CRA would need to apply anew for EI, if they qualify.

The government says the first payment will come the week of Oct. 11. About 80 per cent are expected to receive payments by Oct. 14; a further 10 per cent within the first two weeks.

The $500-a-week floor on benefits in EI, or $300 per week floor for new parents using the extended-leave option, will be taxable. Jobless benefits through this EI program will be available for at least 26 weeks, and claimants will be allowed to earn more than they did under the CERB — up to $38,000 annually, before being completely cut off.

The threshold to qualify for EI has been reduced to 120 hours of insurable work for those coming back into the system that has been nearly dormant since March.

The government says 2.8 million people will qualify for EI as of Monday.

Three new benefits have also been added:

  • The Canada Recovery Benefit: $500 per week for up to 26 weeks to self-employed workers or those not eligible for EI but still need income support.
  • Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit: $500 per week for up to two weeks, for those who cannot work because they are sick or must self-isolate for reasons related to COVID-19.
  • Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit: $500 per week for up to 26 weeks per household to eligible workers who cannot work because they must care for children or family members due to the closure of schools, day cares or care facilities.

Click here for more info on federal financial assistance.

Meanwhile cases continue to soar in Ontario, adding to fears of another potential lockdown.

On Friday, Premier Ford ordered bars and restaurants to close by midnight and ordered all strip clubs to close.

Ontario reported 491 new cases on Sunday — the highest number of cases since May.

With files from Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sept. 28

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Sep 28th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. EDT on Sept. 28, 2020:

There are 153,124 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 71,901 confirmed (including 5,825 deaths, 61,129 resolved)

_ Ontario: 49,831 confirmed (including 2,839 deaths, 42,796 resolved)

_ Alberta: 17,343 confirmed (including 261 deaths, 15,585 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 8,641 confirmed (including 230 deaths, 7,036 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,880 confirmed (including 19 deaths, 1,272 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,878 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,710 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,087 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,021 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 272 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 267 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 200 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 191 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 58 confirmed (including 57 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 153,124 (0 presumptive, 153,124 confirmed including 9,268 deaths, 131,097 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

How are kids coping with COVID-19 and school?

THE BIG STORY | posted Monday, Sep 28th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, if you think that parents are nervous about Back To School, imagine how the kids are feeling. You’re going back to school, or maybe trying to learn from home. You’re not allowed to hang out with your friends except with masks and at a distance, yet you’re still supposed to share rooms with them. Your teachers are masked. They’re measuring space between your desks. You’re worried about a virus you could spread to your parents and grandparents. And you’re supposed to go on with your school year as best you can.

That’s…not easy. So how are kids coping? We spoke to one, and got some advice.

GUEST: Andy Binau

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Sentencing arguments begin for off-duty cop who assaulted Dafonte Miller

PAOLA LORIGGIO, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Sep 25th, 2020

Sentencing arguments are expected to begin Friday in the case of an off-duty Toronto police officer convicted of assault in the beating of a young Black man.

Const. Michael Theriault and his brother, Christian Theriault, were charged with aggravated assault and obstruction of justice in connection with the December 2016 incident in Whitby, Ont.

Prosecutors alleged the Theriault brothers chased Dafonte Miller, then 19, and beat him with a metal pipe, leaving him with a ruptured eye and several other injuries.

The defence argued the pair wanted to arrest Miller after catching him and his friends breaking into the Theriault family truck.

They alleged Miller was the one armed with a pipe and the brothers were forced to defend themselves.

In a widely watched virtual hearing in June, Ontario Superior Court Justice Joseph Di Luca said he couldn’t rule out the possibility that self-defence played a role in the early portion of the encounter.

It was during that part of the incident that Miller sustained the eye injury that warranted the aggravated assault charge, Di Luca said.

However, the judge said the self-defence argument fell apart shortly afterwards when Michael Theriault grabbed a roughly metre-long pipe and hit Miller in the head as the young man was trying to flee.

Theriault was thus acquitted of aggravated assault but convicted of the lesser charge of assault.

The officer was also found not guilty on the obstruction of justice charge, and his brother was cleared of all charges.

Michael Theriault’s lawyers had filed an application to vacate the verdict, arguing assault was not listed as an option on the indictment and should not have been available for a guilty verdict.

Di Luca dismissed the application earlier this month and released his reasons for doing so on Wednesday.

In the decision, the judge said the defence’s bid was not based on fresh evidence or a change in law, but rather on a new legal argument that was not raised during closing arguments “despite there having been ample opportunity to do so.”

He noted that the argument that he made an error in law is one that should be left to the Appeal Court.

The judge also took issue with the defence’s interpretation of aggravated assault, which he said would lead to a “fundamental change” in the hierarchy of assault-related offences.

“Ultimately, I see no reason to depart from the settled understanding of the offence of aggravated assault, which situates the offence consistently and cohesively within a scheme of offences against the person,” Di Luca wrote.

The Crown is also challenging the verdict, arguing Di Luca “erred in his analysis and assessment of the defence of self-defence.”

Miller and his family are expected to give victim impact statements during Friday’s hearing in Oshawa. The sentencing decision is expected to come at a later date.

The case has spurred numerous protests against anti-Black racism and police discrimination.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sept. 25

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Sep 25th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EDT on Sept. 25, 2020:

There are 149,094 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 69,670 confirmed (including 5,810 deaths, 59,943 resolved)

_ Ontario: 48,496 confirmed (including 2,836 deaths, 41,886 resolved)

_ Alberta: 17,190 confirmed (including 261 deaths, 15,467 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 8,543 confirmed (including 229 deaths, 6,917 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,835 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,681 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,711 confirmed (including 19 deaths, 1,243 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,087 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,021 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 272 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 267 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 199 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 191 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 58 confirmed (including 57 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 149,094 (0 presumptive, 149,094 confirmed including 9,249 deaths, 128,706 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 25, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Is there really life on Venus? How do we find out?

THE BIG STORY | posted Friday, Sep 25th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, last week, an unlikely research project made a startling discovery: Phosphine gas in the atmosphere of Venus. That’s something that, as far as we know, is created by living organisms. Our efforts to find signs of life on other worlds, and a lot of our space dreaming in general, tend to focus on Mars. But all of a sudden we need to take a closer look at our other planetary neighbour.

So how can we find out if there’s really life right next door? What do we know about Venus and why has it been so hard to figure out so far? What else could possibly cause the presence of Phosphine and what would it mean, to space exploration and everything else, if this is really true?

GUEST: Neel Patel, space reporter, MIT Technology Review

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

COVID-19 hits more schools amid growing fears of pandemic’s second wave

COLIN PERKEL THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Sep 24th, 2020

More than 400 schools in Quebec and another 153 in Ontario are reporting at least one case of coronavirus disease.

The figures from the group COVID Ecoles Quebec and the Ontario government come as authorities across Canada battle a second wave of COVID-19.

Data from Ontario show cases among people in their 20s have risen sharply in recent months.

One expert attributes the increase among younger Canadians in part to the reopening of schools and universities.

Several provinces and universities have warned of stiff fines for violating anti-COVID restrictions.

However, Quebec says it will not allow police to enter homes without a warrant to break up gatherings that violate the measures.

In all, COVID has killed about 9,250 people in Canada, as the cumulative case count edged toward the 150,000 mark.

Quebec, with more than 69,000 cases, has accounted for about 48 per cent of the total cases but 63 per cent of the deaths. Ontario’s more than 48,000 reported cases account for 33 per cent nationally, and 31 per cent of fatalities

On Wednesday, Quebec reported 471 new cases. Another four reported deaths from the novel coronavirus brought the province’s total fatalities to 5,809.

Ontario, which has shown a steady increase in new cases since mid-August after months of declines, reported 335 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and another three deaths. Almost 70 per cent of the new cases were in people under the age of 40, the province’s health minister, Christine Elliott, said.

Concern is also mounting as more long-term care homes in Ontario, brutally hit by the virus earlier in the year, report outbreaks. Almost 70 per cent of fatalities have been among those aged 80 and older and another 27 per cent were 60 to 79 years of age.

While older people and those with underlying health conditions are generally more susceptible to severe illnesses from SARS-CoV-2, younger people can spread the contagious disease _ often before showing any symptoms.

Ontario data indicate the number of new cases among people in their 20s has reached similar levels to those seen among people in their 80s in mid-April. Along with school reopenings, Dr. Brian Ward, a professor of medicine at McGill University, cited bars and parties as key factors, along with a “general sense of invulnerability” among younger people.

“COVID fatigue also clearly plays a role,” Ward said.

The worrisome upward trend in new cases — particularly among younger people — comes as the federal Liberal government gets set to lay out its plan to take on a second wave of COVID-19 as part of its speech from the throne Wednesday. Public health officials have warned a return to strict lockdowns might be required to curb a pandemic resurgence.

Stringent lockdowns implemented in the spring caused unprecedented economic disruption, prompting the federal government to spend tens of billions of dollars on wage and other business supports as unemployment skyrocketed. Some of those spending programs, however, are set to end but the government has promised replacements.

Feds promise help for surging COVID-19 test demand but won’t OK rapid-test tech yet

MIA RABSON, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Sep 24th, 2020

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is promising to do more to help provinces respond to soaring demands for COVID-19 testing but there is still no indication of when the government will approve the tests that can deliver results in mere minutes.

The promise of aid for testing comes in the speech from the throne read in Ottawa today.

Canadians across the country are finding it harder to get tested for COVID-19, as demand soars and the capacity to swab people and test those swabs in labs is maxed out.

A Health Canada spokesman says the department is making it a priority to review six proposals for rapid-testing systems but that none has yet been approved.

The government says in the throne speech that as soon as the tests are approved it will do everything it can to deploy them quickly.

But two Ottawa public health experts say the rapid tests can help reduce the burden on the system even if they aren’t as accurate as the government would normally like.

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

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sept. 24

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Sep 24th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EDT on Sept. 24, 2020:

There are 147,753 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 69,088 confirmed (including 5,809 deaths, 59,686 resolved)

_ Ontario: 48,087 confirmed (including 2,835 deaths, 41,600 resolved)

_ Alberta: 17,032 confirmed (including 260 deaths, 15,252 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 8,395 confirmed (including 227 deaths, 6,769 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,830 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,673 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,674 confirmed (including 18 deaths, 1,238 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,087 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,021 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 272 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 267 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 197 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 191 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 58 confirmed (including 57 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 147,753 (0 presumptive, 147,753 confirmed including 9,243 deaths, 127,787 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

Public health officials urge Canadians to limit contacts again as COVID-19 cases rise

MIA RABSON AND JIM BRONSKILL, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Sep 23rd, 2020

here will be a dramatic resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Canada unless people limit contact with others in coming days, the country’s chief public health officer warns.

“We don’t want it to go up a giant ski hill,” Dr. Theresa Tam said Tuesday as she described the potential for a sharp upward curve.

The Public Health Agency of Canada released its latest modelling Tuesday, predicting up to 155,795 cases and up to 9,300 deaths by early October if the current trajectory of the epidemic continues.

The message throughout the presentation was clear: everyone needs to act now to limit their contacts or things will get worse.

“Canada is at a crossroads and individual action to reduce contact rates will decide our path,” said a presentation deck released Tuesday.

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu echoed that advice as she urged people to think carefully before accepting invitations to social gatherings.

“All of us have the future in our hands,” she said Tuesday during a media briefing in Ottawa.

She also said, however, that the spread of the novel coronavirus is not the same across the country, or even across single provinces, so determining whether restrictions need tightening demands a “surgical approach.”

Meanwhile, Canada has now committed more than $1 billion to buy doses of COVID-19 vaccines after securing a fifth deal with Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline Tuesday.

Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Tuesday that Canada has a deal in place to buy up to 72 million doses of their experimental vaccine candidate, which is just starting the second of three trial phases this month.

In all, Canada has committed $1 billion to buy at least 154 million doses of vaccines from five different companies, and most of that money will not be refunded even if the vaccines never get approved.

“We need to make a substantial investment in order to ensure that Canada is well positioned to secure access to the successful vaccine or vaccines,” she said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“The way in which we are doing that is to bet on multiple horses at the same time in order to ensure that as one or more of those horses crosses the finish line, we have access to those vaccines.”

Canada has signed deals with Moderna, Pfizer, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson and now Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, all of which are among some of the most promising vaccines, but none of which have completed all the required clinical trials, or been approved for use in Canada.

On Sept. 3, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline said their vaccine candidate was going to begin Phase 1/2 trials which will test it on 440 individuals. The hope is the vaccine will be ready for the third and final phase of trials by the end of the year, and approved for use in the first half of 2021.

Moderna has a vaccine in Phase 3 trials, and Pfizer’s is in a combined Phase 2 and 3 trial. Novavax is in a Phase 2 trial, while Johnson & Johnson is in a Phase 1/2 trial.

Most clinical trials have three phases to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine or drug being developed.

Each level of trials adds more volunteers on whom the drug is tested, looking for adverse health effects and whether the vaccine does cause a person to develop antibodies that can protect against COVID-19.

Anand said Canada has also signed an agreement with Gilead Sciences and McKesson Canada to get 150,000 vials of remdesivir, the only antiviral drug that has proven effective at treating patients with COVID-19. Health Canada approved the drug for use on COVID-19 patients at the end of July.

The doses will begin arriving at Canadian hospitals this month.

Canada has also joined the international vaccine co-operative known as the COVAX Facility, which is bringing together wealthy countries with low- and middle-income countries to collectively invest in doses of vaccines.

It has not yet announced how much money it will contribute, a figure that was to have come last week but has been delayed. Anand says Canada remains committed to COVAX and more details will be coming soon.

Canada has chosen to participate in both parts of the COVAX program. The first is for any country to join to get access to vaccines, and the second is a fund for wealthy countries to help low-income countries participate.

The Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research and the Canadian Society for International Health have both criticized Canada for acting to buy doses of vaccine for itself, hindering efforts to ensure vaccines that are successful are distributed fairly around the world.

GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, said Monday that 64 wealthy countries had joined the COVAX Facility, including Canada. The United States has not joined.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sept. 23

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Sep 23rd, 2020

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

There are 146,663 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 68,617 confirmed (including 5,805 deaths, 59,450 resolved)

_ Ontario: 47,752 confirmed (including 2,832 deaths, 41,342 resolved)

_ Alberta: 16,889 confirmed (including 258 deaths, 15,066 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 8,304 confirmed (including 227 deaths, 6,589 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,824 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,654 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,632 confirmed (including 18 deaths, 1,234 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,087 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,021 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 272 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 267 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 196 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 191 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 57 confirmed (including 56 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 146,663 (0 presumptive, 146,663 confirmed including 9,234 deaths, 126,903 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

Post-tropical storm Teddy makes landfall in Nova Scotia

MICHAEL MACDONALD, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Sep 23rd, 2020

The centre of post-tropical storm Teddy made landfall in eastern Nova Scotia this morning, delivering another round of punishing winds and heavy rain to a province that has already had plenty of both.

Meteorologists say the storm arrived near Sheet Harbour, about 115 kilometres east of Halifax, around 8 a.m. local time.

The large storm was churning out winds over 100 kilometres per hour as it neared the coastline.

On Hart Island, which is north of Canso at the eastern edge of the mainland, a peak gust of 81 kilometres per hour was recorded at 8 a.m.

Overnight, thousands of homes and businesses across Nova Scotia lost power.

By 9 a.m., about 9,000 Nova Scotia Power customers were still in the dark — a number that doubled in two hours.

Schools were closed, public transit in Halifax was suspended, many flights were cancelled but no major damage was reported _ aside from downed and damaged trees and power lines.

Citizens living in high-risk locations in the Sambro area, Peggy’s Cove and along the eastern shore were asked by Halifax Regional Municipality to make plans immediately to self-evacuate.

The storm was reclassified as a post-tropical storm overnight, but that change doesn’t mean Teddy has become a weakling. The designation refers to the structure of the storm, not its strength.

On Tuesday, the Canadian Hurricane Centre and provincial officials made it clear that the storm surge ahead of Teddy was their main concern, especially with 10-metre waves in the forecast.

Though residents were warned to stay away from the coast, photos on social media and on web cameras showed plenty of gawkers on the rocks at Peggy’s Cove and near the sprawling beaches at Lawrencetown, an area east of Halifax.

“Over the last number of years, we’ve lost a lot of people who have gone to the coast to watch those waves,” said Bob Robichaud, meteorologist with the Canadian Hurricane Centre in Halifax.

Officials in Halifax have suspended the city’s municipal bus and harbour ferry services. Garbage collection was also cancelled for today.

Nova Scotia Power has 300 crews standing by to handle power outages — 170 of them from other Atlantic provinces.

The storm was expected to track over eastern Nova Scotia, the eastern half of Prince Edward Island and southwestern Newfoundland.

Though residents of southwestern Newfoundland have been warned to watch for a storm surge later today, the wind and rain wasn’t expected to pose much of a threat.

Marine Atlantic, the Crown corporation that operates the ferry service linking Nova Scotia with Newfoundland, has cancelled all sailings across the Cabot Strait.

Woman suspected of sending ricin to White House expected in court today

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Sep 22nd, 2020

ST. HUBERT, Que. — A woman suspected of sending envelopes containing the poison ricin, which were addressed to the White House and other places in Texas and may have come from Canada, is expected to appear in federal court in Buffalo, New York, today.

Officials in the U.S. say the letter going to Washington, D.C., had been intercepted earlier this week before it reached the White House.

The Mounties raided the woman’s home in Montreal on Monday and said they didn’t know if she lived there, but added that there was a clear link between her and that residence.

The RCMP’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives team is leading the operation with support from local police and firefighters.

The home is located in a multi-unit building on Vauquelin Blvd. in St-Hubert, Que., bordering a forest and not far from an airport.

Canadian law enforcement was called in to help the FBI investigate after American authorities found evidence the suspicious letter to the White House had originated in Canada.

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

— With files from The Associated Press.

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sept. 22

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Sep 22nd, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 1 a.m. EDT on Sept. 22, 2020:

There are 145,415 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 68,128 confirmed (including 5,804 deaths, 59,131 resolved)

_ Ontario: 47,274 confirmed (including 2,829 deaths, 41,146 resolved)

_ Alberta: 16,739 confirmed (including 256 deaths, 15,024 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 8,208 confirmed (including 227 deaths, 5,972 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,814 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,645 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,608 confirmed (including 18 deaths, 1,227 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,086 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,020 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 272 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 267 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 196 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 191 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 57 confirmed (including 56 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 145,415 (0 presumptive, 145,415 confirmed including 9,228 deaths, 125,712 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

Majority of Canadians support wearing masks during COVID-19, oppose protests: poll

LEE BERTHIAUME THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Sep 22nd, 2020

OTTAWA — A new survey suggests the recent rise in new COVID-19 cases across Canada comes with a similar increase in support for the mandatory wearing of masks in public places.

The online survey by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies says 83 per cent of respondents feel governments should order people to wear a mask in all indoor public spaces.

That represented a 16 per cent increase from July, before the recent rise in COVID-19 cases has sparked concerns many parts of the country are entering the dreaded second wave of the pandemic.

Even more — 87 per cent — felt wearing a mask was a civic duty because it protects others from COVID-19 while 21 per cent felt it was an infringement on personal freedoms, a decline of six per cent from July.

As for the anti-mask protests that have happened in various parts of the country in recent weeks, 88 per cent of respondents said they opposed the demonstrations while 12 per cent supported them.

The online poll was conducted Sept. 18 to 20 and surveyed 1,538 adult Canadians. It cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

AP sources: Woman accused of sending ricin letter arrested

MICHAEL BALSAMO, ERIC TUCKER AND COLLEEN LONG, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Monday, Sep 21st, 2020

WASHINGTON — A woman suspected of sending an envelope containing the poison ricin, which was addressed to White House, has been arrested at the New York-Canada border, three law enforcement officials told The Associated Press on Sunday.

The woman was taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and is expected to face federal charges, the officials said.

The letter addressed to the White House appeared to have originated in Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have said. It was intercepted at a government facility that screens mail addressed to the White House and President Donald Trump and a preliminary investigation indicated it tested positive for ricin, according to the officials.

The officials were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Michael Balsamo, Eric Tucker And Colleen Long, The Associated Press

Latest track forecast for Teddy has storm on a course for Atlantic Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Sep 21st, 2020

HALIFAX — Weather warnings have been issued for virtually all of Atlantic Canada as Hurricane Teddy advances toward the East Coast.

A tropical storm watch is now in effect for the Atlantic coastlines of mainland Nova Scotia and Cape Breton, where the storm could make landfall on Tuesday night.

Environment Canada says strong winds, heavy rain and pounding surf are in the forecast, with the storm’s expected track now encompassing all of mainland Nova Scotia and Cape Breton.

Though Teddy will likely transition to a post-tropical storm as it closes in on the region, it is expected to churn out gusts in excess of 80 to 100 kilometres per hour.

The highest rainfall amounts are likely to be north and west of Teddy’s eventual track, which is expected to take the storm over Nova Scotia, the eastern half of Prince Edward Island and over southwestern Newfoundland.

Rainfall amounts in these areas could exceed 50 millimetres, with some areas getting as much as 75 to 100 mm.

Rain ahead of Teddy will likely reach Nova Scotia by Tuesday afternoon and will continue in many areas into Wednesday.

Earlier this morning, the Category 2 hurricane was about 315 kilometres south-southeast of Bermuda, producing maximum sustained winds at 165 kilometres per hour.

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

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sept. 21

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Sep 21st, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. EDT on Sept. 21, 2020:

There are 143,649 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 67,542 confirmed (including 5,802 deaths, 58,796 resolved)

_ Ontario: 46,849 confirmed (including 2,827 deaths, 40,968 resolved)

_ Alberta: 16,381 confirmed (including 255 deaths, 14,702 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 7,842 confirmed (including 223 deaths, 5,797 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,807 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,643 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,586 confirmed (including 16 deaths, 1,216 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,086 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,020 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 272 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 267 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 194 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 189 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 57 confirmed (including 56 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 143,649 (0 presumptive, 143,649 confirmed including 9,217 deaths, 124,687 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

Mouth wash test coming for school aged children in B.C.

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Sep 18th, 2020

British Columbia is introducing a new saline gargle test for students from kindergarten to Grade 12 to help make COVID-19 testing easier for children and teenagers.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said B.C. is one of the first places in the world to use a mouth rinse gargle test for the new coronavirus.

“Unlike the (nasal) swab, this is a new saline gargle where you put a little bit of saline water, that is sterile water, in your mouth, you swish it around and spit it into a little tube,” she said at a news conference Thursday.

“This test is kind of cool and something we’ve had in the works for a while. This new method is more comfortable, particularly for our younger children.”

It is developed by a B.C. company, which reduces the province’s dependency on the global supply chain, she said.

Henry described the test as more efficient, which shortens the long lineups and wait times.

Getting tested is key in the fight against the pandemic and the test will make it easier to collect samples from young people, she said.

The test can be done without a health professional by parents or children themselves.

With schools reopening, Henry said the focus of this new and “easier” method of testing will be on children until there are more supplies.

“And we’re hoping to make it more broadly available as we go forward.”

The province announced a record daily high of 165 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and one additional death, bringing the death toll to 220.

There has been a total of 7,663 cases of COVID-19 in the province.

The uptick is caused by a combination of increased testing, awareness and contact tracing, Henry said.

“Remember that today’s cases are people who have been exposed over the last two weeks.”

The province tested 7,674 people for COVID-19 on Wednesday, the highest number of COVID-19 tests ever conducted in B.C. in a single day.

Health Minister Adrian Dix reminded people to keep groups small and limit social gatherings.

“So, this weekend, and as we plan for Thanksgiving in the fall months ahead, let us once again close ranks on COVID-19, and change its course,” he said.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sept. 18

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Sep 18th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EDT on Sept. 18, 2020:

There are 140,867 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 66,356 confirmed (including 5,791 deaths, 58,012 resolved)

_ Ontario: 45,676 confirmed (including 2,825 deaths, 40,424 resolved)

_ Alberta: 16,274 confirmed (including 254 deaths, 14,537 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 7,663 confirmed (including 220 deaths, 5,719 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,757 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,624 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,500 confirmed (including 16 deaths, 1,191 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,086 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,020 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 271 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 266 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 194 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 189 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 57 confirmed (including 56 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 140,867 (0 presumptive, 140,867 confirmed including 9,200 deaths, 123,071 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 18, 2020.

The Canadian Press

The case that gave birth to Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit

THE BIG STORY | posted Friday, Sep 18th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, in 1988, Toronto lawyer Clayton Ruby represented the family of a young man named Michael Wade Lawson. Though neither Ruby, the family or anyone else involved at the time knew it, it’s a case that’s had a profound impact on how police forces in Canada’s largest province do — and don’t — hold themselves accountable.

Michael Wade Lawson, you see, was 17 — a young Black man who was shot and killed by the police. After his death, amid a public outcry, Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit was created, to investigate cases of police misconduct that resulted in injury or death to civilians. And that’s where today’s story begins.

GUEST: Clayton Ruby

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

B.C. government set to release plan to recharge economy after COVID-19 blow

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Sep 17th, 2020

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government is expected to reveal how it plans to stimulate an economic rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Premier John Horgan and Finance Minister Carole James are scheduled to release details today of the $1.5-billion economic recovery plan.

Last week, James announced the province’s most recent financial numbers from April to June project an economic decline of 6.7 per cent for this year.

She said the budget is forecast to post a deficit of almost $13 billion for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

The Opposition Liberals have accused the NDP government of being too slow in responding to the economic devastation of the pandemic, noting other provinces released their plans months ago.

The announcement comes as daily cases of COVID-19 surpass 100 and amid speculation that Horgan is considering calling an early election ahead of next fall’s fixed date.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 17, 2020.

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sept. 17

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Sep 17th, 2020

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

There are 139,747 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 65,857 confirmed (including 5,788 deaths, 57,804 resolved)

_ Ontario: 45,383 confirmed (including 2,822 deaths, 40,245 resolved)

_ Alberta: 16,128 confirmed (including 254 deaths, 14,379 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 7,498 confirmed (including 219 deaths, 5,646 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,751 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,620 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,489 confirmed (including 16 deaths, 1,190 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,086 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,020 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 271 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 266 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 194 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 189 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 57 confirmed (including 56 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 139,747 (0 presumptive, 139,747 confirmed including 9,193 deaths, 122,448 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 17, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Inside the making of an incel

THE BIG STORY | posted Thursday, Sep 17th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, this November, accused killer Alek Minassian will face trial for the 2018 Toronto van attack that killed 10 people and injured 16. In the aftermath of that attack, we learned that Minassian subscribed to the incel ideology — which has been linked to mass killings around the world.

Incels entered the public consciousness as lonely people obsessed with other people’s sex lives. But in recent years they’ve become increasingly deadly. How do young men find themselves radicalized into the incel subculture online? Where are they slipping through the cracks? And how can we respond more effectively to signs of violence before it happens?

GUEST: Katharine Laidlaw

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Rampant COVID-19 school closures, lack of online learning plague poorer countries

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Sep 16th, 2020

OTTAWA — As fretful Canadian parents mull sending their children to school or opting for at-home learning, there are countries where no school at all is the only option.

One is Lebanon, where the fallout from the massive Aug. 4 port explosion in Beirut will keep tens of thousands of children out of classrooms because their schools were levelled or severely damaged.

Peter Simms, the education adviser for Plan International Canada, says a lost year of school is threatening to compound the “toxic stress” that young people in Lebanon were already experiencing after surviving the explosion.

In Lebanon, 180 schools were damaged in the blast and that will keep 85,000 students out of classrooms.

The United Nations estimates 1.5 billion children were adversely affected by COVID-19 school closures.

Aid agencies such as World Vision and Save the Children say the education vacuum is exposing girls, especially, to rising violence and sexual exploitation.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 15, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Air quality improves slightly in Vancouver from U.S. wildfires

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Sep 16th, 2020

VANCOUVER — Air quality in the Vancouver area has improved slightly but an advisory on smoke that drifted north from wildfires in the United States was still in effect on Tuesday.

The advisory was initiated on Sept. 8 for Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley Regional District because of smoke from fires in Washington and Oregon.

Metro Vancouver says while the air quality did improve slightly, ground-level smoke still remains and it is expected to remain through the week.

It says a change in the weather on Friday may help improve the air quality through the weekend.

A fire at a timber wharf continued to burn in New Westminster on Tuesday after catching fire on Sunday night, which Metro Vancouver says was causing “considerable local smoke.”

Canada Post cancelled delivery services for several parts of British Columbia on Monday because of the wildfire smoke and deliveries remained suspended for some communities on Tuesday including Castlegar, Duncan, the Okanagan Valley, Trail and White Rock.

The corporation said air quality over central and southern B.C. made delivery unsafe for its workers.

It resumed deliveries in other parts of central and southern British Columbia but warned there could be delays.

Environment Canada also maintained poor air quality advisories for a large swath of the southern part of the province.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 15, 2020.

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sept. 16

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Sep 16th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EDT on Sept. 16, 2020:

There are 138,803 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 65,554 confirmed (including 5,785 deaths, 57,628 resolved)

_ Ontario: 45,068 confirmed (including 2,820 deaths, 40,091 resolved)

_ Alberta: 15,957 confirmed (including 254 deaths, 14,212 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 7,376 confirmed (including 219 deaths, 5,548 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,741 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,616 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,466 confirmed (including 16 deaths, 1,181 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,086 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,020 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 271 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 266 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 194 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 189 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 57 confirmed (including 56 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 138,803 (0 presumptive, 138,803 confirmed including 9,188 deaths, 121,840 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 16, 2020.

The Canadian Press

COVID-19 controls tightened as cases rise and possible second wave looms

DIRK MEISSNER, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Sep 15th, 2020

The looming prospect of a second wave of COVID-19 this fall has governments cautiously monitoring daily infection rates as economies restart and students return to school.

A widespread return of economic and social restrictions that closed businesses and schools and cancelled public events in March is not the preferred option, but there may be no choice, say politicians and health officials.

“The last thing that anyone wants is to have to once again shut down our economies and suspend our lives to try and counter a massive second wave,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week.

He stressed public vigilance to fight the pandemic, frequent hand washing, mask wearing and physical distancing, because “as we’re seeing with cases rising across the country, we are not out of the woods.”

Winnipeg epidemiologist Cynthia Carr said Canadians should brace for more restrictions and shutdowns if COVID-19 cases continue to rise, even without the arrival of a second wave.

“There could still be a large increase in cases related to behaviour and that gives government opportunity to go, ‘OK, what are we going to change now to get the transmission back under control?’” she said. “That’s where government will need to focus.”

British Columbia ordered the immediate closure of nightclubs and banquet halls last week after daily COVID-19 case numbers were consistently above 100, with many infections traced to young people out socializing at events where alcohol was served.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also ordered bars, pubs, lounges and restaurants to cut off alcohol sales at 10 p.m. and close by 11 p.m., unless serving only food.

Henry said she took “draconian” measures in March to slow infections, and closing nightclubs and halls is a necessary step now.

“I think we need to all start rethinking about what we need to do to get us through the next few months as a community together, and these are some of the things that we’ll need to put aside for now,” she said at a news conference.

Last week in Quebec, the government said police can hand out tickets ranging between $400 and $6,000 to those who don’t have a face covering in indoor public spaces or on public transit.

The province also announced several measures in addition to the fines, including the banning of karaoke and obliging bars to keep registers of clients as infection numbers rise.

Carr said other public health officials will look at increasing restrictions to limit COVID-19 transmission.

“The more opportunity you give the virus to spread again, the more it will take that opportunity,” she said.

Carr, a private consultant who advises governments and communities on health policy, said the arrival of a second wave of COVID-19 will cause widespread fear because it signals the virus has changed its behaviour.

“That’s where the scariest parts are,” she said. “If the virus starts to mutate and become different and impact, for example, much younger people significantly.”

But Carr said increasing restrictions are inevitable in a second wave or uptick in COVID-19 cases.

Economics professor James Brander said politicians and health officials should carefully weigh the impact of imposing more restrictions or shutdowns on the economy in the event of a second wave or increasing infection rates.

“What you want is the low hanging fruit,” said the public policy expert at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business.

Governments were too harsh on the economy in March and with hindsight should now consider more targeted restriction options, including shutting down bars, preventing large gatherings and requiring more aggressive mask-wearing policies, Brander said.

Carr said pandemic control involves juggling three areas: health, the economy and social well-being.

“The best decision is typically related back to controlling as much as possible the transmission so that economies can get back to thriving and that people can maintain social well-being.”

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sept. 15

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Sep 15th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EDT on Sept. 15, 2020:

There are 138,010 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 65,262 confirmed (including 5,780 deaths, 57,428 resolved)

_ Ontario: 44,817 confirmed (including 2,816 deaths, 39,974 resolved)

_ Alberta: 15,833 confirmed (including 254 deaths, 14,041 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 7,279 confirmed (including 219 deaths, 5,446 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,731 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,604 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,449 confirmed (including 16 deaths, 1,176 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,086 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,020 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 271 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 266 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 194 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 189 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 55 confirmed (including 47 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 138,010 (0 presumptive, 138,010 confirmed including 9,179 deaths, 121,224 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 15, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Some Canadians believe officials exaggerate threat of COVID-19, poll suggests

JORDAN PRESS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Sep 15th, 2020

A new survey suggests there are Canadians who believe that warnings from public officials about the threat of COVID-19 are vastly overblown.

Almost one-quarter of respondents in an online poll made public today by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies say they believe public health and government officials exaggerate in their warnings, including about the need for measures like physical distancing to slow the spread of the pandemic.

Regionally, respondents in Alberta were more likely to believe the threat was embellished, followed by Atlantic Canada and Quebec, with Ontario at the bottom.

Broken down by age, younger respondents were more likely than those over 55 to believe statements were being exaggerated.

The online poll was conducted Sept. 11 to 13 and surveyed 1,539 adult Canadians. It cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque says the results may explain something else that came up in the survey: That a majority of respondents said they have relaxed how strictly they adhere to public health recommendations.

Aline Chretien, wife of former PM Jean Chretien, has died

NEWS STAFF AND THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Sep 14th, 2020

Aline Chretien may have been the most influential political figure Canadians never knew.

She was often seen at political events – a petite, elegant figure standing demurely at the side of her gregarious husband, former prime minister Jean Chretien – but was seldom heard. At least not publicly.

Behind the scenes though, she was Chretien’s confidante and most trusted adviser, his “Rock of Gibraltar,” as he always called her.

Aline Chretien died surrounded by family Saturday morning at her home in Shawinigan, Que., a family spokesman said Sunday. She was 84. A cause of death was not specified.

“Prime Minister Chretien, I think, would be the first to say that without her he never would have been prime minister,” says long-time Chretien aide Eddie Goldenberg.

“She knew very well that she had not been elected herself so she didn’t try to take the limelight. She felt that would be the wrong thing to do. She felt her role was to be supportive and … to be very candid with advice and she could do that best in private.”

Aline was instrumental in all Chretien’s seminal political decisions: to stay in the federal arena despite appeals in the 1960s to run for a seat in Quebec’s National Assembly; to quit politics in 1986 after losing the Liberal leadership to John Turner; to return to the fray in 1990; and to go for a third consecutive mandate in 2000.

She even arguably saved Chretien’s life on Nov. 5, 1995, when a jackknife-wielding, mentally unstable intruder broke into the prime minister’s official residence in the middle of the night. After encountering him in the hall outside their bedroom, Aline Chretien slammed and locked the door before calling the RCMP guardhouse and waking her husband, who then famously armed himself with a soapstone carving of a loon.

It was Aline who advised Chretien to recruit academic and future Liberal leader Stephane Dion to his cabinet after Canada’s near-death experience in the 1995 referendum on Quebec independence.

And throughout his 40 years in federal politics, it was Aline who warned him when she thought he was too loud or too aggressive or embarking on what she considered the wrong course of action.

“Those of us who worked for prime minister Chretien knew sometimes, if there was a problem, that she was, (as) I called it, the last court of appeal,” recalls Goldenberg.

“We could call her and say, ‘I’d like it if you could talk to your husband about something because he’s not listening to anybody else.’ And he sure listened to her – always.”

Aline Chaine and Chretien grew up in blue-collar families, just a few blocks apart in the Quebec pulp-and-paper town of Shawinigan. But their love affair began with a chance encounter on a bus when Aline Chaine was 16, two years younger than her eventual husband.

Chretien credits Aline with restraining some of his more boisterous youthful impulses and instilling him with self-discipline.

Aline had dreamed of studying languages at university but went instead to secretarial school at 16 so she could help support the Chaine family.

She adopted a similar support role once married to Chretien, staying home to raise daughter France and sons Hubert and Michel. During Jean Chretien’s early years in federal politics, she stayed in Shawinigan, where she was his eyes and ears in the riding.

But she never stopped her education. She became quadralingual, learning as an adult to speak English, Italian and Spanish in addition to French. She became an accomplished pianist, studying with the Royal Conservatory of Music.

And she did eventually make it to university in 2010 – as the first chancellor of Laurentian University in Sudbury.

In her autobiography, former U.S. first lady Hillary Clinton described Aline as “intelligent, sharply observant and elegant.”

But despite travelling the world with her husband and rubbing shoulders with some of the planet’s most powerful leaders, Aline always maintained close contact with family and lifelong friends in Shawinigan. The couple kept a home at nearby Lac des Piles, where Aline spent her final days.

In a rare interview with Maclean’s magazine in 1994, Aline described herself as “Madame Tout le Monde” – Mrs. Everybody.

She recounted calling her husband in a fury in 1973 when the federal Liberal government of the day was debating a cut in family allowances.

“I said `Jean, if you touch that, you’ll be in trouble. This is the only money some women in Shawinigan have got for themselves.’ You can have, as I did, a Madame Tout le Monde point of view when you are at home, listening to the radio with your kids.”

Peter Donolo, who was communications director for Chretien when he was Opposition leader and during his first term as prime minister, says Aline had refined taste in art and music but was totally unpretentious and never forgot her roots and, thus, kept her husband “grounded.”

“She was never impressed by wealth or power,” Donolo says. ” She could see through phonies in like a nanosecond.”

The first time he met Aline, Donolo says, she asked him about his young family and then advised him: “Remember, it’s very important that you not ignore your family while you’re working in politics because, after everything is done, all you have left is your family.”

She was, Donolo says, the love and “mainstay” of Chretien’s life for almost 70 years.

“I can’t think of a stronger bond between husband and wife that’s lasted this long and is as intimate and close.”

Aline and Jean Chretien marked their 63rd wedding anniversary on Sept. 10, just days before she died.

Family spokesman Bruce Hartley said only a private ceremony is being planned for now because of restrictions associated with COVID-19, with a public memorial planned for sometime in the future.

Starbucks makes masks mandatory at all Canadian locations

LISASTEACY | posted Monday, Sep 14th, 2020

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Masks will be mandatory at Starbucks’ across Canada starting Monday.

A post on the company’s website says the move was made as part of a “continued commitment to prioritize the health and well-being of partners (employees) and customers and to control the spread of COVID-19.”

Masks, or other face coverings, will be required at all “company-owned café locations in Canada.”

Those without masks will be allowed to order at drive-thrus, or pickup curbside.

“The company is committed to playing a constructive role in supporting health and government officials as they work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. All decisions are grounded in partner and customer care and safety, based on facts and science, and communicated with transparency,” the website says.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sept. 14

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Sep 14th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. EDT on Sept. 14, 2020:

There are 136,659 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 64,986 confirmed (including 5,780 deaths, 57,268 resolved)

_ Ontario: 44,504 confirmed (including 2,815 deaths, 39,841 resolved)

_ Alberta: 15,415 confirmed (including 253 deaths, 13,718 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 6,962 confirmed (including 213 deaths, 5,273 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,726 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,603 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,428 confirmed (including 16 deaths, 1,173 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,086 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,020 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 271 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 266 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 193 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 189 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 55 confirmed (including 47 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 136,659 (0 presumptive, 136,659 confirmed including 9,171 deaths, 120,431 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 14, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Trudeau agrees to virtual meeting devoted to federal health transfers to provinces

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Sep 11th, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has agreed to hold a virtual first ministers meeting on federal health care transfers to the provinces and territories.

His agreement during a conference call with premiers Thursday came one day after Quebec’s Francois Legault and Ontario’s Doug Ford issued a joint call for a significant increase in the funding Ottawa sends them to help cover mushrooming health care costs.

The federal government has already committed to transferring $19 billion to the provinces to help them cope with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, including some $10 billion for health-related expenses.

But Legault and Ford pointed out that money is a one-time transfer and argued that what the provinces need is sustainable, long-term funding to cover the ballooning costs of new technologies, drugs and an aging population, as well as ongoing pandemic-related costs.

They did not put a price tag on their demand but said a significant increase to the annual transfer is needed.

The federal government will transfer almost $42 billion to provinces and territories for health care in the current fiscal year under an arrangement that sees the transfer increase by at least three per cent each year.

Legault argued that the federal contribution covers only 21 per cent of the cost of delivering universal health care, well down from the 50 per cent share originally agreed to decades ago.

Trudeau has been holding conference calls almost every week with provincial and territorial leaders since the pandemic shut down the country in mid-March.

While those calls — 18 of them as of Thursday — have covered a range of issues, he has now agreed to devote one meeting entirely to the health transfers issue. His office says no date has been set for that call but it is likely to take place before Sept. 23, when Trudeau’s government will issue a throne speech laying out its plan for economic recovery.

Trudeau is to join Ford on Friday for IAMGOLD’s ground-breaking ceremony for their Cote Gold Project in northern Ontario, about 130 kilometres southwest of Timmins.

During construction, the project, which involves international and local First Nations partners, is expected to create more than 1,000 jobs, as well as 450 full-time jobs once completed.

Trudeau is expected to tout the project as a sign that the economy, flattened by COVID-19, is starting to get back on its feet.

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

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Sep 11th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. EDT on Sept. 11, 2020:

There are 134,923 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 64,244 confirmed (including 5,773 deaths, 56,624 resolved)

_ Ontario: 43,855 confirmed (including 2,814 deaths, 39,474 resolved)

_ Alberta: 15,304 confirmed (including 253 deaths, 13,557 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 6,830 confirmed (including 213 deaths, 5,190 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,676 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,593 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,378 confirmed (including 16 deaths, 1,002 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,086 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,019 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 269 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 265 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 193 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 188 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 55 confirmed (including 44 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 134,923 (0 presumptive, 134,923 confirmed including 9,163 deaths, 118,989 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

Political fallout continues despite shuttering of WE’s Canadian operations

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Sep 10th, 2020

OTTAWA — The demise of WE’s Canadian operations won’t take the heat off Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over his government’s decision to hire the charity to run a now-defunct student volunteer program.

NDP MP Charlie Angus says WE’s announcement Wednesday that it is shuttering its Canadian operations only underscores the lack of due diligence done by the government before handing administration of the program over to an organization that was evidently in financial distress.

Two months before the government gave the contract to WE in late June, Angus notes that the organization had laid off hundreds of staff and replaced almost its entire board of directors, which had been denied access to the charity’s financial reports.

Angus says WE was “desperate” and cashed in on its connections to Trudeau, his family and his former finance minister, Bill Morneau, in order to persuade them to pay the organization to run the student service grant program.

Trudeau himself has been a featured speaker at half a dozen WE events and his wife, mother and brother have been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years in expenses and speaking fees.

Trudeau and Morneau have apologized for not recusing themselves from the decision to pay WE up to $43.5 million to administer the program and are both under investigation by the federal ethics watchdog for possible breaches of the Conflict of Interest Act.

“WE shutting down doesn’t make the Liberals’ scandal go away,” said Angus.

The government insists it was bureaucrats who recommended that WE was the only organization capable of administering the massive national program. However, thousands of documents released by the government suggest public servants may have been nudged to look at WE by their political masters.

Two House of Commons committees were in the midst of investigating the deal and another two committees were preparing to launch separate investigations when Trudeau prorogued Parliament last month, putting an end to the committees’ work.

However, the WE affair is likely to continue dogging the government when Parliament reopens on Sept. 23 with the demise of the organization’s Canadian operations only adding fuel to the fire.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said Wednesday that WE must hand over all the documents requested by the finance committee about the student service grant program.

The program was supposed to cover up to $5,000 in education costs for students who volunteered during the COVID-19 pandemic. The government initially pegged the cost of the program at $912 million but the sole-source deal with WE put the cost at $543 million.

The deal stipulated that WE was not to make money on the program. The charity has repaid the full $30 million the government gave it to launch the program and has said it will not seek reimbursement for some $5 million in expenses incurred before WE withdrew from the deal in early July amid political controversy.

The organization had already been struggling due to the pandemic-related shutdown but the questions about the student volunteer program prompted many of its corporate sponsors to cut their ties with the charity.

WE said Wednesday it plans to lay off 115 Canadian staff and sell all its property in Canada in the coming months, including its landmark $15-million Global Learning Centre in downtown Toronto, which opened in 2017.

It follows news last month that WE would be laying off dozens of employees in Canada and the United Kingdom.

The net profits will be put in an endowment fund that will be overseen by a new board of governors and used to complete several projects in communities in Latin America, Asia and Africa that were started by WE but remain unfinished.

The fund will also cover the operating costs of several large-scale infrastructure projects, such as a hospital and college in Kenya and an agricultural centre in Ecuador. However, no new projects or programs will be launched.

All future WE Day events are also being cancelled. The organization says it will no longer have staff to work with teachers, though existing resources will be digitized and available online. WE says it was active in 7,000 schools across Canada.

Shutting down its Canadian operations “shows just how much trouble WE was in and how badly they needed this bailout from their Liberal friends,” Angus said.

“They’ve have been in economic freefall for months. This was a group that fired its board of directors for asking too many questions about its finances. The question is why didn’t the government see this before handing them over a contract worth millions?”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 10, 2020.

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sept. 10

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Sep 10th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EDT on Sept. 10, 2020:

There are 134,293 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 64,056 confirmed (including 5,771 deaths, 56,400 resolved)

_ Ontario: 43,685 confirmed (including 2,813 deaths, 39,332 resolved)

_ Alberta: 15,191 confirmed (including 248 deaths, 13,358 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 6,691 confirmed (including 213 deaths, 5,086 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,670 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,587 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,365 confirmed (including 16 deaths, 945 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,086 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,018 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 269 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 265 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 192 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 186 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 55 confirmed (including 44 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 134,293 (0 presumptive, 134,293 confirmed including 9,155 deaths, 118,254 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 10, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Parks closed, tickets for partying as Kingston deals with returning students

LIAM CASEY, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Sep 10th, 2020

Massive crowds and parties in an eastern Ontario university town have drawn criticisms from local residents and formal calls for greater co-operation to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Police and city officials in Kingston, Ont., said they’ve had to close a popular pier and beach due to crowding and issue a number of tickets since thousands of students flooded back into the city earlier this month. Local residents said they’ve also taken to the streets to break up parties in recent days.

Jeff Masuda, a Queen’s University professor, spent the early morning hours of Sunday on the long weekend trying to get dozens of Queen’s students — his neighbours — to stop partying and to abide by COVID-19 laws.

It didn’t work.

The maskless group shouted, drank and tossed beer bottles while hanging out outside and ignoring physical distancing guidelines, he said. Some yelled at the two police officers who were called to the area to deal with them, he said, while others took off to continue the night elsewhere.

Masuda walked around his neighbourhood near campus and said there were parties everywhere, including an abandoned hospital site where the same officers had shown up to deal with more revellers.

It didn’t seem like police were doing much, he said.

“There were hundreds of students mixing together across the university district,” he said.

“So now we are left in a position to wait and hope for the best. If COVID came, it’s already spread.”

The region has gone largely unscathed by COVID-19. There is currently one active case of the disease and 112 cases in total since the novel coronavirus made it to Canada. No one has died from the disease.

Kingston has a large student population even during the pandemic. While Queen’s University has limited in-person learning to about 6,600 students, or a quarter of its total population, many students learning online have returned to the city.

That has left Masuda, a professor of kinesiology and health, frustrated with the city’s plan to deal with partying students.

“Whatever plan was put in place, it failed,” Masuda said.

“It was a massive breach of COVID guidelines in the community.”

Mayor Bryan Paterson said the city, the local public health agency, police and Queen’s are doing their best.

Hundreds of Queen’s students flocked to a nearby beach and Gord Downie Pier, which led the city to issue an order to enforce physical distancing through threat of fines, Paterson said.

But police told the mayor there were simply too many people to enforce distancing, so the mayor closed the area through an emergency order on the weekend.

The number of visitors to the area had significantly increased last week after students returned to the city.

“Any other year, that would be OK, we designed and built that area for crowds of people to enjoy, but during a pandemic it’s too much,” Paterson said.

Last month, the mayor vowed to crack down on the massive parties Queen’s students have become known for.

City council approved the use of “administrative monetary penalties” that include fines for shouting, amplified sound coming from speakers and parties.

Bylaw and police officers have been out using the new laws, largely in the university district, officials said.

Since Aug. 28, the city said it has issued 45 such penalties for amplified sound, two for yelling or shouting and one nuisance party charge.

Kingston police said they laid five such charges over the long weekend.

“We’re trying to be proactive to make sure we can curb anything before it lights up here in Kingston, that’s the last thing we want,” Const. Ash Gutheinz said of cases of COVID-19.

Queen’s, for its part, said it’s been sharing all public health protocols with students and was “deeply concerned” to hear of what Masuda witnessed.

“Queen’s takes the safety of our community very seriously,” the university said in a statement. “We want to assure the community that we will continue to impress upon our students the importance of adhering to public health guidelines during these challenging times.”

Masuda said the city and the school should have engaged residents to help.

“We’re willing to put in more effort to do our part as neighbours to help the students help themselves,” he said.

The mayor said he shares the frustration of residents such as Masuda.

“This is a big challenge, I understand that, and if community members are able to help or to reach out to student neighbours, I think that’s actually a great idea,” Paterson said.

Masuda said he has since spoken to his student neighbours.

“They have been contrite and apologetic,” he said.

“With hindsight, I think many of them regret what has happened.”

Nightclubs ordered closed in B.C. over COVID 19 case spike

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Sep 9th, 2020

British Columbia’s top doctor is ordering nightclubs and banquet halls to close to control the spread of COVID-19.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says she’s ordering the closures after recent spikes in cases linked to them.

Henry says there have been 429 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. since Friday.

She says her revised health orders also include a 10 p.m. cut off for alcohol sales at bars and restaurants.

Canadians reluctant to remove statues of historical figures now seen as racist: Poll

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Sep 9th, 2020

OTTAWA — A new survey suggests that while Canadians are divided over removing statues of politicians who harboured racist views or pushed racist policies, many oppose the “spontaneous” toppling of statues of Canada’s first prime minister, John A. Macdonald.

The poll by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies follows the controversial tearing down and vandalism of a Macdonald statue in Montreal last month by activists angry over his anti-Indigenous views and policies.

Half of respondents said they oppose the idea of removing statues or monuments to politicians who espoused racist views or implemented racist policies while 31 per cent said they support such moves and 19 per cent did not know.

The divide was smaller when it came to streets, schools and other public institutions bearing the names of historic figures shown to have been racist, with 47 per cent against renaming them and 34 per cent in favour.

Yet 75 per cent of respondents to the poll conducted by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies were against the Montreal-style “spontaneous” tearing down of Macdonald statues by activists while only 11 per cent said they were in favour.

Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque says the numbers suggests Canadians are more supportive of a deliberate process of dealing with such statues — and take a dim view of activists taking matters into their own hands.

The online survey of 1,529 Canadians took place Sept. 4 to 6. An internet poll cannot be given a margin of error because it is not a random sample.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 9, 2020.

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sept. 9

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Sep 9th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EDT on Sept. 9, 2020:

There are 133,747 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 63,876 confirmed (including 5,770 deaths, 56,162 resolved)

_ Ontario: 43,536 confirmed (including 2,813 deaths, 39,196 resolved)

_ Alberta: 15,093 confirmed (including 247 deaths, 13,154 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 6,591 confirmed (including 213 deaths, 4,978 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,669 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,587 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,349 confirmed (including 16 deaths, 940 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,086 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,018 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 269 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 265 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 192 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 186 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 53 confirmed (including 44 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 133,747 (0 presumptive, 133,747 confirmed including 9,153 deaths, 117,563 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 9, 2020.

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sept. 8

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Sep 8th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EDT on Sept. 8, 2020:

There are 132,136 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 63,713 confirmed (including 5,770 deaths, 55,960 resolved)

_ Ontario: 43,161 confirmed (including 2,813 deaths, 38,958 resolved)

_ Alberta: 14,474 confirmed (including 242 deaths, 12,799 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 6,162 confirmed (including 211 deaths, 4,706 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,662 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,580 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,338 confirmed (including 16 deaths, 910 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,085 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,015 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 269 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 265 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 192 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 186 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 47 confirmed (including 44 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 132,136 (0 presumptive, 132,136 confirmed including 9,146 deaths, 116,456 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 8, 2020.

The Canadian Press

From masks to cohorting, a guide to back-to-school rules across the country

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Sep 8th, 2020

Plans are being made across the country for how to safely send students back to school in the fall as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Here is a look at what the various provinces have said about getting kids back to classes.

BRITISH COLUMBIA

British Columbia has laid out its plan for studies to resume in “learning groups” this fall. School districts are to post final back-to-school details online by Aug. 26.

Back to class: Schools were initially scheduled to welcome students back full time on Sept. 8, but the province announced it is pushing back the restart date by two days to Sept. 10.

Groups: Students will be sorted into learning groups to reduce the number of people they come in contact with. For elementary and middle school students, groups will be no larger than 60 people. Secondary school groups will be capped at 120.

Physical distancing: Students and staff don’t need to maintain physical distancing within their learning group, but contact should be minimized. Outside the group, physical distancing is required. Students should be more spaced out in classrooms.

Masks: Students and staff will not be required to wear masks in schools, but the province says it’s a “personal choice that will always be respected.” It says provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry recommends non-medical masks be worn by adults and older students when they are unable to physically distance like in hallways and on buses.

New routines: The province is urging schools to stagger recess, lunch and class transition times and take students outside whenever possible.

Transportation: Middle and high school students are asked to wear masks on buses. Students should be assigned seats, and a transparent barrier may be used to separate the driver.

ALBERTA

The province is planning to fully reopen schools from kindergarten to Grade 12 this fall. Measures will be tightened if an outbreak occurs and class sizes could be reduced to 20.

Back to class: School will be back in session with extra safety measures, but the province says there are programs to support remote and alternative learning.

Groups: Schools should sort students into cohorts by class when possible to minimize contact with others.

Physical distancing: Physical distancing is recommended when possible. Rooms should be rearranged to increase space between desks.

Masks: Masks will be mandatory for staff and many students in some school settings. Students in Grades 4 to 12 must wear masks in all common areas, such as hallways and on buses. Staff are required to wear masks whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained. Mask use will be optional for kids in kindergarten through Grade 3. The government says all students and staff will receive two reusable masks as part of the policy.

Transportation: Parents are asked to bring their children to school if they can. Students who take the bus will sit in the same seat every day.

New routines: Schools are advised to consider a “no sharing policy,” with each student bringing their own supplies. Class, lunch and recess schedules will be staggered.

SASKATCHEWAN

Saskatchewan first unveiled a set of back-to-school guidelines in June, but released more details and made some changes in August.

Back to class: Students will return to class on Sept. 8 after the province pushed the date back from as early as Sept. 1

Groups: Groups of students and staff members assigned to them should stick together throughout the day and try not to mingle with other groups. Schools should aim to minimize the number of different instructors who interact with students throughout the day.

Physical distancing: Officials say maintaining physical distance is “less practical” for younger children, and the focus should be on limiting physical contact. Officials suggest limiting hugs and hand holding and suggest using alternative greetings such as air high fives. Schools are also to have dedicated quarantine areas where symptomatic students can go before they are picked up by parents.

Masks: The province says it’s up to school boards to decide whether to make masks mandatory for students and staff. The chief medical health officer advises Grade 4 to 12 students should wear them in busy areas such as hallways and on buses.

Transportation: Parents should take their kids to school when possible, and pickup and drop-offs should happen outside. Students using school transportation should be assigned seats, and a partition may be used to separate the driver.

New routines: Start times, recess, lunch and class transitions may be staggered to allow for more space for physical distancing. Schools should rearrange their classrooms to space out students. Students and staff are asked to bring hand sanitizer. In school public health visits for routine vaccinations will include COVID-19 testing, with parental consent.

MANITOBA

The Manitoba government says students are going back to the classroom on Sept. 8 with new guidelines.

Back to class: All students from kindergarten to Grade 8 are to have in-class instruction five days a week. High school students will also be in class full time, however, there may be some days of remote learning.

Groups: When physical distancing isn’t possible, students will have to be organized into cohorts of no more than 75, and minimize contact with others. In these cases, there must be at least one metre between their desks.

Physical distancing: The province says students are required to maintain a two-metre distance to “the greatest extent possible.” When it isn’t possible, physical barriers may be an option. Spaces should be arranged to encourage separation.

Masks: Masks are strongly recommended for students in Grades 5 to 12. They are required when taking the bus.

Transportation: Masks are required for students Grade 5 and up, as well as drivers, on buses. Parents are encouraged to transport their children to school if they can.

New routines: Lunch and recess are to be staggered to minimize congestion, and in many cases teachers will change classrooms instead of students.

ONTARIO

Ontario students will be back in class September, but their schedules and class sizes may vary depending on where they live.

Back to class: Elementary students and many high schoolers will be in school five days a week in standard class sizes. However, secondary students at two dozen boards that are higher risk will only attend class half the time, and will spend the rest of the week working on “curriculum-linked independent work.” Parents will also have the option to keep their kids out of class, and boards must provide options for remote learning.

Groups: For high schoolers in high-risk districts, class sizes will be capped at 15. Meanwhile, elementary students won’t be broken up into smaller groups, but will be grouped into cohorts and their exposure to different teachers will be limited.

Physical distancing: While Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the aim is to keep students one metre apart from each other, a guidance document says only that schools should promote “as much distancing as possible” rather than being strictly enforced.

Masks: Masks will be mandatory for students in Grades 4 through 12, and will be strongly encouraged for younger kids when they’re in indoor common areas. Staff will be expected to wear masks.

Transportation: Some school boards may have more than one student assigned to a seat. When physical distancing isn’t possible, masks will be mandatory for students in Grades 4 to 12, and younger students will be encouraged but not required to do the same.

New routines: Students in some districts will have to pre-register for in-person schooling. Some schools may limit or even ban visitors, including parents. Breaks will be scheduled to allow students to wash their hands.

QUEBEC

All elementary and high school students in Quebec will be required to attend class in September unless they have a doctor’s note indicating they’re at high risk of COVID-19 complications or they live with someone at risk. Those students will be allowed to study remotely.

Back to class: Class attendance is mandatory for elementary and high school students. For Grades 10 and 11, schools have the option of alternating schedules where students attend one day out of every two — as long as schools cannot maintain stable classroom bubbles. Grade 10 and 11 students are encouraged to attend classes as much as possible.

Groups: Each classroom will be its own bubble and students will not be required to maintain a two-metre distance between classmates.

Physical distancing: Students will need to keep a two-metre distance from all school staff, as well as all other students outside their classroom bubble. There are no physical distancing requirements for children or teachers in pre-school.

Masks: All students in Grade 5 and up — as well as all school staff — must wear a mask inside all common areas of the school except the classroom. Masks can also be removed when students are eating.

Transportation: No more than 48 students will be allowed on a school bus, with no more than two students sitting on the same bench. Preschool and elementary school students are strongly encouraged to wear masks, while older students are required to wear them.

New routines: When schools return in the fall, teachers will move from classroom to classroom, but students will stay put.

Backup plans: In the event of an outbreak in one class, the entire classroom bubble will be sent home to continue studies remotely. Authorities are also putting together an emergency protocol in the event of a second wave to ensure instruction continues online if entire schools are again forced to close. Ideas include quickly distributing tablets or laptops to students needing them and establishing a digital platform to continue courses and maintain communication.

NEW BRUNSWICK

The province has outlined a set of requirements schools must follow in developing their plans for the fall.

Back to class: Students in kindergarten to Grade 8 are to attend school full time, while those in Grades 9 to 12 are to be taught using a combination of in-class and remote instruction. At-home course work can include online learning, guided projects and experiential education.

Groups: For kindergarten through Grade 2, group sizes will be reduced to about 15, wherever possible. Group sizes should also be shrunk for Grades 3 to 5. Grades 6 to 8 will resume at regular class sizes. Students in Grades 9 to 12 will not be grouped because of their schedules and course options.

Physical distance: Grade 9 to 12 classrooms are required to maintain a one-metre distance, while a two-metre distance is recommended in common areas at all grade levels.

Masks: All students will be required to bring a mask to school, but masks will not be mandatory inside the classroom. Students in Grade 6-12 must wear masks on the school bus and in common areas of school buildings, while children in kindergarten to Grade 5 are encouraged to do so. Teachers for kindergarten to Grade 8 can choose whether they want to wear a mask or shield in the classroom while teachers for Grades 9-12 will be required to wear one when they cannot physically distance from students.

Transportation: Curtains will be installed inside school buses to separate drivers from students. If physical distancing is not possible, drivers will be required to wear a mask or face shield. Students must sit in the same seat every day. Students in kindergarten to Grade 5 will sit alone or with a member of their household. Students in Grades 6-12 wearing masks will sit two to a seat, and if they are sitting alone or with a member of their household, they do not have to wear a mask.

New routines: Arrivals, breaks and lunches are to be staggered. Public access to school buildings will be limited, and students, staff and visitors may also be subject to screening. High school students will be expected to have their own laptop or similar device, and some subsidies will be available. Drinking fountains will be replaced with water bottle-filling stations.

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

Schools on the Island are preparing to welcome all students back to class, while drafting backup plans for remote studies if required.

Back to class: Schools are to reopen for teachers and staff on Sept. 1 and for students on Sept. 8.

Groups: Students will be organized into cohorts when possible and limit their exposure to others.

Physical distancing: Students will be taught about the importance of physical distancing, and extra teaching and cleaning staff may be hired. Schools are also asked to reduce class sizes as much as possible, reconfigure classrooms and make use of spaces such as libraries and multipurpose rooms.

Masks: The province says all staff and students in Grades 7-12 are “strongly recommended” to wear masks when physical distancing cannot be maintained. Students from kindergarten through Grade 6 may wear masks when physical distancing is impossible. Staff interacting with children who have complex medical needs are strongly recommended to wear face shields and gloves.

Transportation: Parents are asked to take their kids to school whenever possible. To reduce the number of riders on buses, schools may add vehicles and routes or implement walk-to-school programs. It is strongly recommended that all students and drivers wear masks on the bus.

New routines: P.E.I. education authorities are revising curricula for this school year to make up for learning gaps caused by lockdown constraints. Schools will stagger schedules to minimize congestion. The provincial school food program will be expanded next year in keeping with public health precautions. Elementary school students will stay in their classrooms for lunch.

NOVA SCOTIA

Education Minister Zach Churchill says the province’s objective is for schools to return to 100 per cent capacity in the fall, but its plan includes measures to address the possible onset of a second wave of COVID-19.

Back to class: The province aims to have all elementary and high school students in classrooms by Sept. 8.

Groups: Students will be asked to keep to cohorts.

Physical distancing: Students and staff will be encouraged to maintain a two-metre distance whenever possible. Lecture rooms will be reorganized to increase space between desks.

Masks: Masks are not required in classrooms, but students and staff may choose to wear them. While it’s recommended that they bring their own, masks will be provided to those who don’t have one. Staff and students in Grades 10 to 12 must wear masks when physical distancing is difficult.

Transportation: Students who take the school bus will be required to wear non-medical masks.

New routines: Only students and staff will be permitted to enter school buildings. When possible, teachers will be asked to move their classes outdoors. Students will be asked to bring their own computers to school, and the province says it has acquired an additional 14,000 devices for those with limited access to technology.

Backup plans: If a COVID-19 outbreak occurs during the academic year, schools will move to a blended learning model with smaller class sizes and home learning for older students.

NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

The province’s back-to-school plan aims to maximize in-class attendance with the option of a return to remote learning if the COVID-19 risk increases.

Back to class: The province’s plan outlines three scenarios — in-class instruction, remote learning or a combination of both, depending on the COVID-19 risk in a particular community.

Groups: Cohorting by class is recommended when it’s feasible, but students’ schedules shouldn’t be disrupted to support smaller groupings.

Physical distancing: Schools should aim to create a two-metre distance between desks, or as much distance as possible. However, provincial authorities say these precautions should not interfere with the daily school routine, and strict physical distancing should not be “over-emphasized” to children, because it is not practical and can cause psychological harm.

Masks: The province does not recommend masks for children, but says their use should not be “stigmatized” for those that choose to wear them. Staff will not be required to wear masks if physical distancing is possible.

Transportation: It will be up to school districts to determine their transportation operations, considering precautions such as assigning seats and separating the driver with a physical divider.

New routines: All students must bring their own supplies in keeping with a “no sharing” policy. Parents will be allowed to accompany kindergarteners for their first day. It says suggestions will be provided to school administrators to accommodate parents.

Backup plans: In the event of moderate-to-widespread transmission of COVID-19, school districts will move to online learning. Classroom attendance should be limited to about 50 per cent when the COVID-19 risk in a community is considered low to moderate. Newfoundland and Labrador says it will spend $20 million to purchase laptops for teachers and students in Grades 7 through 12 to support remote learning.

YUKON

The territorial government says it’s making plans for the next school year that include flexibility around the number of students in classes if there’s a second wave of COVID-19 or increased risk of transmission. It says each school will determine how it will adjust its operations to meet those guidelines, and school principals and staff are expected to share that information prior to September.

Back to class: Preliminary plans indicate that in rural communities, all students will return to school full time. In Whitehorse, however, kids in kindergarten through Grade 9 will return to full-day in-school instruction, while Grades 10 to 12 will spend half their day in the classroom, and the rest learning remotely.

Groups: Class sizes may be smaller to meet safety restrictions.

Masks: Wearing masks is a personal choice.

Transportation: Bus school and schedules will be posted to the territory’s website.

New routines: Schedule shakeups may mean that some students won’t have their regular teacher or the same classmates. School meal programs may be adapted with new safety measures and pickup options.

Backup plans: The territory has outlined a spectrum of school options if the risk to the community increases, ranging from rotating schedules to suspension of face-to-face learning.

 

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES

All N.W.T. schools have submitted plans to reopen their doors this fall. The territory says education authorities are taking a flexible approach in their planning to account for a potential second wave of COVID-19 in the fall.

Back to class: While plans will vary from school to school, the territory will offer in-person instruction whenever possible, while ensuring alternative options are available.

Groups: Students in kindergarten through Grade 6 will be in classroom “bubbles,” and won’t have to practise physical distancing within these groups.

Physical distancing: For Grades 7 to 9, students are asked to maintain a one-metre distance from each other, and two-metre distance from staff. Grade 10 to 12 students are asked to allow for two metres of distance from their peers and instructors.

Masks: Students of all ages may be required to wear masks in situations where physical distance cannot be practised, such as moving through the hallways.

Transportation: There may be changes to bus schedules, and all riders will be required to wear masks.

New routines: More time will be spent learning outside. School hours and schedules may also look different. Students are asked to label personal items and not share.

Backup plans: The territory says schools are preparing to shift between in-person, distance and blended learning at short notice should there become active COVID-19 cases.

NUNAVUT

The territory has released a four-stage plan for reopening schools based on the risk of the novel coronavirus in a community.

Back to class: There are no reported COVID-19 cases in Nunavut, so all schools are set to reopen  this fall with enhanced cleaning and safety precautions.

Groups: It is recommended that schools cohort students by class and limit mixing as much as possible.

Physical distancing: Distance requirements will depend on what stage a community is in, and will primarily be achieved by limiting school attendance.

Masks: In most cases, the use of masks is not recommended for children. If there are exceptions, parents will be notified, and masks will be provided.

Transportation: As it stands, bus schedules are set to resume. Students older than 13 may be required to wear masks.

New routines: Group activities will be limited. Students won’t be allowed to share food in lunchrooms.

Backup plans: The territory says schools could go part-time if contact tracing were to identify a possible source of COVID-19. All schools would be closed if community transmission were to take place.

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

 

The Canadian Press

Tam urges caution as daily cases of COVID-19 rise 25 per cent in last week

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Sep 8th, 2020

Canada’s chief public health doctor says a slow but steady increase in the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 is a cause for concern.

Dr. Theresa Tam says today the average daily number of people testing positive over the last week is 545 — a 25 per cent increase over the previous week which saw a daily average of 435, and 390 a week before that.

That number increased every day over the last week prompting Tam to remind Canadians not to get complacent about their risk of contracting the novel coronavirus.

Overall, in the last week, 3,955 people tested positive across Canada, and 28 people died of COVID-19.
That compares to 3,044 positive tests and 44 deaths in the week prior.

Tam says most Canadians are following public health advice and that has allowed Canada to keep the COVID-19 pandemic “under manageable control” but says she is concerned about the uptick in positive cases.

“This is a concern and a reminder that we all need to maintain public health measures to keep COVID-19 on the slow-burn path that we need,” she said in a statement.

“As we enter the fall, Canadians will need to be even more vigilant about following public health guidance, particularly as the cold weather shifts activities indoors.”

She said people need to assess both their personal risk if they contract COVID-19, and the risk of severe illness in people in their household or their COVID-19 bubble.

Any event people want to attend should be assessed to determine what COVID-19 precautions are in place and if the event can allow for social distancing or the use of masks, she added.

As of today, 131,895 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Canada, and 9,145 people have died. Almost nine in 10 people diagnosed with COVID-19 have recovered.

O-m-G! Raptors defeat Celtics with buzzer-beating 3-pointer

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Sep 4th, 2020

OG Anunoby hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to give the Toronto Raptors new life in the NBA playoffs.

Kyle Lowry had 31 points and found Anunoby with a precision crosscourt pass with 0.5 seconds on the clock to lift the Raptors to a thrilling 104-103 victory over the Boston Celtics on Thursday.

The victory sliced the Celtics’ lead to 2-1 in their best-of-seven series.

Fred VanVleet had 25 points, Pascal Siakam, who’s struggled in the NBA restart, had 11 of his 16 points in the third quarter, and Anunoby, who missed all of Toronto’s historic post-season run last year after an appendectomy, finished with 12 points.

Kemba Walker poured in 29 points to top Boston, while Jaylen Brown had 19 and Jayson Tatum finished with 15.

The Raptors dodged a massive bullet, as no team has ever come back from being down three games to win a series.

Game 4 is Saturday.

Lowry played like he had no intention of leaving Disney World yet, carrying Toronto with little support through a first half that saw a seven-point lead evaporate into a 10-point deficit at halftime.

But the Raptors locked down on the defensive end after the break, and six consecutive stops sparked a 21-9 run, capped by a Siakam three-pointer, that finally had the Raptors back on top with 3:40 to play in the third.

The quarter closed on a controversial call when Brad Wanamaker kneed Lowry in the groin while driving to the hoop late in the third quarter, leaving Lowry curled on the court in pain. Both he and coach Nick Nurse were livid, but after the officials reviewed the play Lowry was called for a defensive foul, and Wanamaker’s basket and free throw put Boston up 80-76 with one quarter left.

The Raptors were finally moving the ball well in the fourth quarter, and when Norm Powell drilled a three with 6:29 to play, Toronto took a two-point lead.

A cutting dunk by Brown capped an 8-0 Celtics run for a four-point Boston lead with 3:02 left. Lowry muscled to the hoop to make it a one-possession game heading into the final two minutes. The Raptors’ six-time all-star answered a Brown dunk with another hard-fought lay-in with a minute left, then VanVleet drove to the hoop to tie it up, but Walker found a wide-open Daniel Theis under the hoop for an uncontested dunk with 0.5 on the clock.

It looked like game over until Anunoby took the pass from Lowry to score.

Only six per cent of teams had ever come back from 0-2 to win a series, including the Raptors last season. With Kawhi Leonard in the lineup, they lost their first two to Milwaukee in the conference finals but then won four straight to advance to the Finals.

The big difference in bubble basketball though is that Toronto would have played this game and Saturday’s on the parquet floor of Boston’s TD Garden having given up homecourt advantage. But in the NBA bubble, homecourt advantage means 300 virtual fans, and little else.

No matter which venue, Boston has had the answer for the NBA champions all season, losing just once in the previous six meetings, including three previous wins in the NBA bubble.

Lowry, who’d scored 30 points in Toronto’s lone win over Boston this season, pushed the pace from the tipoff, scoring 15 points in a first quarter that saw the Raptors lead by seven. Walker hit a three-pointer at the buzzer and the Celtics led 33-28 to end the quarter.

The woeful shooting that’s plagued the Raptors throughout this series continued in the second quarter. They shot 3-for-13 from distance, and trailed by as many as 10 points in the quarter, and Walker again hit a buzzer-beater to end the quarter and Boston went into the locker-room up 57-47.

The Celtics led wire to wire to easily win the series opener 112-94. Boston edged the Raptors 102-99 in Game 2.

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

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Sep 4th, 2020

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

There are 130,493 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 62,933 confirmed (including 5,767 deaths, 55,615 resolved)

_ Ontario: 42,686 confirmed (including 2,812 deaths, 38,625 resolved)

_ Alberta: 14,310 confirmed (including 242 deaths, 12,653 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 6,041 confirmed (including 210 deaths, 4,644 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,634 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,574 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,264 confirmed (including 16 deaths, 791 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,085 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,014 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 269 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 265 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 192 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 186 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 46 confirmed (including 44 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 130,493 (0 presumptive, 130,493 confirmed including 9,141 deaths, 115,444 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

Your guide to government benefits after the CERB

THE BIG STORY | posted Friday, Sep 4th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, it was a program created at unimaginable speed under incredible circumstances. And it has helped millions of Canadians. But six months later—two months longer than initially planned—the federal government is ending the Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit. So what’s next?

Expanded EI qualifications, new programs for those who don’t qualify for EI and other efforts aimed at supporting workers still impacted by COVID-19. Who qualifies? For how much? How quickly and for how long? And what do you need to prepare to apply? We’ve got a guide to post-CERB Canadian government help.

GUEST: Rosa Saba, business reporter, Toronto Star

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Trudeau takes virtual cross-country tour to Atlantic provinces

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Sep 3rd, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues his virtual tour of Canada today, with electronic visits to the Atlantic provinces.

He conducted a virtual tour of British Columbia on Wednesday, meeting with  Premier John Horgan and consulting with business and environmental leaders about how to ensure a green economic recovery from the devastating impact of the pandemic.

Trudeau is planning to unveil what he promises will be a bold recovery plan in a throne speech re-opening Parliament on Sept. 23. The speech will be put to a confidence vote, which could potentially result in the defeat of Trudeau’s minority Liberal government.

With the possibility of a fall election in mind, today’s Atlantic tour appears to have a more political flavour. Trudeau is to be joined by local Liberal MPs as he visits businesses that have used various federal emergency aid programs to stay afloat during the health crisis.

He’ll be speaking with Newfoundland and Labrador’s Liberal premier, Andrew Furey, before moving on to the maritime provinces.

He is scheduled to speak to the owner and employees of Louisbourg Seafoods in Nova Scotia, which used the emergency wage subsidy to continue operations during the pandemic.

Next stop, Distillerie Fils du Roy in New Brunswick, an Acadian company that switched from producing spirits to hand sanitizer during the pandemic to supply governments and essential workers, with the help of a federal emergency loan program.

Trudeau will then conduct a virtual visit of Tronosjet Maintenance Inc., a Prince Edward Island aerospace company that has been producing disposable 3D printed protective caps for ear thermometers to address shortages at a local hospital and is hoping to develop additional testing equipment.

He is also scheduled to give interviews to several local radio shows.

Trudeau normally uses the summer to travel the country and engage in outreach with community leaders and voters outside the Ottawa bubble. But apart from the occasional forays to Toronto, Montreal and communities near Ottawa, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic this year has put a severe crimp in his usual cross-country travels.

Like other political leaders, Trudeau has been forced to find other ways to conduct regional outreach.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sept. 3

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Sep 3rd, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EDT on Sept. 3, 2020:

There are 129,923 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 62,746 confirmed (including 5,764 deaths, 55,515 resolved)

_ Ontario: 42,554 confirmed (including 2,812 deaths, 38,506 resolved)

_ Alberta: 14,180 confirmed (including 242 deaths, 12,535 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 5,952 confirmed (including 209 deaths, 4,605 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,624 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,571 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,244 confirmed (including 14 deaths, 776 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,085 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,014 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 269 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 265 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 192 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 186 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 44 confirmed (including 44 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 129,923 (0 presumptive, 129,923 confirmed including 9,135 deaths, 115,050 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

How police use private donations to buy big-ticket items

THE BIG STORY | posted Thursday, Sep 3rd, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, one of the goals of the movement to defund the police is to limit a police force’s ability to acquire expensive, military-style equipment. Even if that movement is successful, however, the police have other ways of funding their purchases. It doesn’t get much attention, but police foundations across Canada have in recent years used money given to them by corporate donors to help police purchase everything from a patrol boat to an armoured vehicle and a drone program.

None of those purchases needed the approval of city hall or the public. None of them was open and transparent. And none of them would have been stopped by defunding the police department. In fact, as defunding the police gains momentum, these foundations will become more attractive to police departments and more outrageous to people who worry about preferential treatment for donors.

GUEST: Martin Lukacs

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

From masks to cohorting, a guide to back-to-school rules across the country

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Sep 2nd, 2020

Plans are being made across the country for how to safely send students back to school in the fall as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Here is a look at what the various provinces have said about getting kids back to classes.

BRITISH COLUMBIA

British Columbia has laid out its plan for studies to resume in “learning groups” this fall. School districts are to post final back-to-school details online by Aug. 26.

Back to class: Schools were initially scheduled to welcome students back full time on Sept. 8, but the province announced it is pushing back the restart date by two days to Sept. 10.

Groups: Students will be sorted into learning groups to reduce the number of people they come in contact with. For elementary and middle school students, groups will be no larger than 60 people. Secondary school groups will be capped at 120.

Physical distancing: Students and staff don’t need to maintain physical distancing within their learning group, but contact should be minimized. Outside the group, physical distancing is required. Students should be more spaced out in classrooms.

Masks: Students and staff will not be required to wear masks in schools, but the province says it’s a “personal choice that will always be respected.” It says provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry recommends non-medical masks be worn by adults and older students when they are unable to physically distance like in hallways and on buses.

New routines: The province is urging schools to stagger recess, lunch and class transition times and take students outside whenever possible.

Transportation: Middle and high school students are asked to wear masks on buses. Students should be assigned seats, and a transparent barrier may be used to separate the driver.

ALBERTA

The province is planning to fully reopen schools from kindergarten to Grade 12 this fall. Measures will be tightened if an outbreak occurs and class sizes could be reduced to 20.

Back to class: School will be back in session with extra safety measures, but the province says there are programs to support remote and alternative learning.

Groups: Schools should sort students into cohorts by class when possible to minimize contact with others.

Physical distancing: Physical distancing is recommended when possible. Rooms should be rearranged to increase space between desks.

Masks: Masks will be mandatory for staff and many students in some school settings. Students in Grades 4 to 12 must wear masks in all common areas, such as hallways and on buses. Staff are required to wear masks whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained. Mask use will be optional for kids in kindergarten through Grade 3. The government says all students and staff will receive two reusable masks as part of the policy.

Transportation: Parents are asked to bring their children to school if they can. Students who take the bus will sit in the same seat every day.

New routines: Schools are advised to consider a “no sharing policy,” with each student bringing their own supplies. Class, lunch and recess schedules will be staggered.

SASKATCHEWAN

Saskatchewan first unveiled a set of back-to-school guidelines in June, but released more details and made some changes in August.

Back to class: Students will return to class on Sept. 8 after the province pushed the date back from as early as Sept. 1

Groups: Groups of students and staff members assigned to them should stick together throughout the day and try not to mingle with other groups. Schools should aim to minimize the number of different instructors who interact with students throughout the day.

Physical distancing: Officials say maintaining physical distance is “less practical” for younger children, and the focus should be on limiting physical contact. Officials suggest limiting hugs and hand holding and suggest using alternative greetings such as air high fives. Schools are also to have dedicated quarantine areas where symptomatic students can go before they are picked up by parents.

Masks: The province says it’s up to school boards to decide whether to make masks mandatory for students and staff. The chief medical health officer advises Grade 4 to 12 students should wear them in busy areas such as hallways and on buses.

Transportation: Parents should take their kids to school when possible, and pickup and drop-offs should happen outside. Students using school transportation should be assigned seats, and a partition may be used to separate the driver.

New routines: Start times, recess, lunch and class transitions may be staggered to allow for more space for physical distancing. Schools should rearrange their classrooms to space out students. Students and staff are asked to bring hand sanitizer. In school public health visits for routine vaccinations will include COVID-19 testing, with parental consent.

MANITOBA

The Manitoba government says students are going back to the classroom on Sept. 8 with new guidelines.

Back to class: All students from kindergarten to Grade 8 are to have in-class instruction five days a week. High school students will also be in class full time, however, there may be some days of remote learning.

Groups: When physical distancing isn’t possible, students will have to be organized into cohorts of no more than 75, and minimize contact with others. In these cases, there must be at least one metre between their desks.

Physical distancing: The province says students are required to maintain a two-metre distance to “the greatest extent possible.” When it isn’t possible, physical barriers may be an option. Spaces should be arranged to encourage separation.

Masks: Masks are strongly recommended for students in Grades 5 to 12. They are required when taking the bus.

Transportation: All students, drivers and any other passengers on school buses will be required to wear masks. Parents are encouraged to transport their children to school if they can.

New routines: Lunch and recess are to be staggered to minimize congestion, and in many cases teachers will change classrooms instead of students.

ONTARIO

Ontario students will be back in class September, but their schedules and class sizes may vary depending on where they live.

Back to class: Elementary students and many high schoolers will be in school five days a week in standard class sizes. However, secondary students at two dozen boards that are higher risk will only attend class half the time, and will spend the rest of the week working on “curriculum-linked independent work.” Parents will also have the option to keep their kids out of class, and boards must provide options for remote learning.

Groups: For high schoolers in high-risk districts, class sizes will be capped at 15. Meanwhile, elementary students won’t be broken up into smaller groups, but will be grouped into cohorts and their exposure to different teachers will be limited.

Physical distancing: While Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the aim is to keep students one metre apart from each other, a guidance document says only that schools should promote “as much distancing as possible” rather than being strictly enforced.

Masks: Masks will be mandatory for students in Grades 4 through 12, and will be strongly encouraged for younger kids when they’re in indoor common areas. Staff will be expected to wear masks.

Transportation: Some school boards may have more than one student assigned to a seat. When physical distancing isn’t possible, masks will be mandatory for students in Grades 4 to 12, and younger students will be encouraged but not required to do the same.

New routines: Students in some districts will have to pre-register for in-person schooling. Some schools may limit or even ban visitors, including parents. Breaks will be scheduled to allow students to wash their hands.

QUEBEC

All elementary and high school students in Quebec will be required to attend class in September unless they have a doctor’s note indicating they’re at high risk of COVID-19 complications or they live with someone at risk. Those students will be allowed to study remotely.

Back to class: Class attendance is mandatory for elementary and high school students. For Grades 10 and 11, schools have the option of alternating schedules where students attend one day out of every two — as long as schools cannot maintain stable classroom bubbles. Grade 10 and 11 students are encouraged to attend classes as much as possible.

Groups: Each classroom will be its own bubble and students will not be required to maintain a two-metre distance between classmates.

Physical distancing: Students will need to keep a two-metre distance from all school staff, as well as all other students outside their classroom bubble. There are no physical distancing requirements for children or teachers in pre-school.

Masks: All students in Grade 5 and up — as well as all school staff — must wear a mask inside all common areas of the school except the classroom. Masks can also be removed when students are eating.

Transportation: No more than 48 students will be allowed on a school bus, with no more than two students sitting on the same bench. Preschool and elementary school students are strongly encouraged to wear masks, while older students are required to wear them.

New routines: When schools return in the fall, teachers will move from classroom to classroom, but students will stay put.

Backup plans: In the event of an outbreak in one class, the entire classroom bubble will be sent home to continue studies remotely. Authorities are also putting together an emergency protocol in the event of a second wave to ensure instruction continues online if entire schools are again forced to close. Ideas include quickly distributing tablets or laptops to students needing them and establishing a digital platform to continue courses and maintain communication.

NEW BRUNSWICK

The province has outlined a set of requirements schools must follow in developing their plans for the fall.

Back to class: Students in kindergarten to Grade 8 are to attend school full time, while those in Grades 9 to 12 are to be taught using a combination of in-class and remote instruction. At-home course work can include online learning, guided projects and experiential education.

Groups: For kindergarten through Grade 2, group sizes will be reduced to about 15, wherever possible. Group sizes should also be shrunk for Grades 3 to 5. Grades 6 to 8 will resume at regular class sizes. Students in Grades 9 to 12 will not be grouped because of their schedules and course options. Students up to Grade 8 will also be kept in classroom bubbles to prevent COVID-19 transmission.

Physical distance: Grade 9 to 12 classrooms are required to maintain a one-metre distance, while a two-metre distance is recommended in common areas at all grade levels. Students up to Grade 8 will be allowed to interact within the classroom without physical distancing, but they will be required to keep a two-metre distance from anyone while outside their class bubble.

Masks: Mask-wearing will be required in common areas and on school buses for students in Grade 6 and up, and it will be encouraged for younger students. Masks won’t be required inside classrooms. Teachers for kindergarten to Grade 8 can choose whether they want to wear a mask or shield in the classroom, while teachers for Grades 9-12 will be required to wear one when they cannot physically distance from students.

Transportation: Curtains will be installed inside school buses to separate drivers from students. If physical distancing is not possible, drivers will be required to wear a mask or face shield. Students must sit in the same seat every day. Students in kindergarten to Grade 5 will sit alone or with a member of their household. Students in Grades 6-12 wearing masks will sit two to a seat, and if they are sitting alone or with a member of their household, they do not have to wear a mask.

New routines: Arrivals, breaks and lunches are to be staggered. Public access to school buildings will be limited, and students, staff and visitors may also be subject to screening. High school students will be expected to have their own laptop or similar device, and some subsidies will be available. Drinking fountains will be replaced with water bottle-filling stations. The government says singing and music classes will be allowed, but should take place outdoors as much as possible and students will be asked to sing softly. Children in kindergarten to Grade 8 will be allowed to share instruments, while students in Grades 9 to 12 must maintain physical distancing and can share instruments only if they’re disinfected between each use.

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

Schools on the Island are preparing to welcome all students back to class, while drafting backup plans for remote studies if required.

Back to class: Schools are to reopen for teachers and staff on Sept. 1 and for students on Sept. 8.

Groups: Students will be organized into cohorts when possible and limit their exposure to others.

Physical distancing: Students will be taught about the importance of physical distancing, and extra teaching and cleaning staff may be hired. Schools are also asked to reduce class sizes as much as possible, reconfigure classrooms and make use of spaces such as libraries and multipurpose rooms.

Masks: The province says all staff and students in Grades 7-12 are “strongly recommended” to wear masks when physical distancing cannot be maintained. Students from kindergarten through Grade 6 may wear masks when physical distancing is impossible. Staff interacting with children who have complex medical needs are strongly recommended to wear face shields and gloves.

Transportation: Parents are asked to take their kids to school whenever possible. To reduce the number of riders on buses, schools may add vehicles and routes or implement walk-to-school programs. It is strongly recommended that all students and drivers wear masks on the bus.

New routines: P.E.I. education authorities are revising curricula for this school year to make up for learning gaps caused by lockdown constraints. Schools will stagger schedules to minimize congestion. The provincial school food program will be expanded next year in keeping with public health precautions. Elementary school students will stay in their classrooms for lunch.

NOVA SCOTIA

Education Minister Zach Churchill says the province’s objective is for schools to return to 100 per cent capacity in the fall, but its plan includes measures to address the possible onset of a second wave of COVID-19.

Back to class: The province aims to have all elementary and high school students in classrooms by Sept. 8.

Groups: Students will be asked to keep to cohorts.

Physical distancing: Students and staff will be encouraged to maintain a two-metre distance whenever possible. Lecture rooms will be reorganized to increase space between desks.

Masks: Masks are not required in classrooms, but students and staff may choose to wear them. While it’s recommended that they bring their own, masks will be provided to those who don’t have one. Staff and students in Grades 10 to 12 must wear masks when physical distancing is difficult.

Transportation: Students who take the school bus will be required to wear non-medical masks.

New routines: Only students and staff will be permitted to enter school buildings. When possible, teachers will be asked to move their classes outdoors. Students will be asked to bring their own computers to school, and the province says it has acquired an additional 14,000 devices for those with limited access to technology.

Backup plans: If a COVID-19 outbreak occurs during the academic year, schools will move to a blended learning model with smaller class sizes and home learning for older students.

NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

The province’s back-to-school plan aims to maximize in-class attendance with the option of a return to remote learning if the COVID-19 risk increases.

Back to class: The province’s plan outlines three scenarios — in-class instruction, remote learning or a combination of both, depending on the COVID-19 risk in a particular community.

Groups: Cohorting by class is recommended when it’s feasible, but students’ schedules shouldn’t be disrupted to support smaller groupings.

Physical distancing: Schools should aim to create a two-metre distance between desks, or as much distance as possible. However, provincial authorities say these precautions should not interfere with the daily school routine, and strict physical distancing should not be “over-emphasized” to children, because it is not practical and can cause psychological harm.

Masks: The province does not recommend masks for children, but says their use should not be “stigmatized” for those that choose to wear them. Staff will not be required to wear masks if physical distancing is possible.

Transportation: It will be up to school districts to determine their transportation operations, considering precautions such as assigning seats and separating the driver with a physical divider.

New routines: All students must bring their own supplies in keeping with a “no sharing” policy. Parents will be allowed to accompany kindergartners for their first day. It says suggestions will be provided to school administrators to accommodate parents.

Backup plans: In the event of moderate-to-widespread transmission of COVID-19, school districts will move to online learning. Classroom attendance should be limited to about 50 per cent when the COVID-19 risk in a community is considered low to moderate. Newfoundland and Labrador says it will spend $20 million to purchase laptops for teachers and students in Grades 7 through 12 to support remote learning.

YUKON

The territorial government says it’s making plans for the next school year that include flexibility around the number of students in classes if there’s a second wave of COVID-19 or increased risk of transmission. It says each school will determine how it will adjust its operations to meet those guidelines, and school principals and staff are expected to share that information prior to September.

Back to class: Preliminary plans indicate that in rural communities, all students will return to school full time. In Whitehorse, however, kids in kindergarten through Grade 9 will return to full-day in-school instruction, while Grades 10 to 12 will spend half their day in the classroom, and the rest learning remotely.

Groups: Class sizes may be smaller to meet safety restrictions.

Masks: Wearing masks is a personal choice.

Transportation: Bus school and schedules will be posted to the territory’s website.

New routines: Schedule shakeups may mean that some students won’t have their regular teacher or the same classmates. School meal programs may be adapted with new safety measures and pickup options.

Backup plans: The territory has outlined a spectrum of school options if the risk to the community increases, ranging from rotating schedules to suspension of face-to-face learning.

 

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES

All N.W.T. schools have submitted plans to reopen their doors this fall. The territory says education authorities are taking a flexible approach in their planning to account for a potential second wave of COVID-19 in the fall.

Back to class: While plans will vary from school to school, the territory will offer in-person instruction whenever possible, while ensuring alternative options are available.

Groups: Students in kindergarten through Grade 6 will be in classroom “bubbles,” and won’t have to practise physical distancing within these groups.

Physical distancing: For Grades 7 to 9, students are asked to maintain a one-metre distance from each other, and two-metre distance from staff. Grade 10 to 12 students are asked to allow for two metres of distance from their peers and instructors.

Masks: Students of all ages may be required to wear masks in situations where physical distance cannot be practised, such as moving through the hallways.

Transportation: There may be changes to bus schedules, and all riders will be required to wear masks.

New routines: More time will be spent learning outside. School hours and schedules may also look different. Students are asked to label personal items and not share.

Backup plans: The territory says schools are preparing to shift between in-person, distance and blended learning at short notice should there become active COVID-19 cases.

NUNAVUT

The territory has released a four-stage plan for reopening schools based on the risk of the novel coronavirus in a community.

Back to class: There are no reported COVID-19 cases in Nunavut, so all schools are set to reopen  this fall with enhanced cleaning and safety precautions.

Groups: It is recommended that schools cohort students by class and limit mixing as much as possible.

Physical distancing: Distance requirements will depend on what stage a community is in, and will primarily be achieved by limiting school attendance.

Masks: In most cases, the use of masks is not recommended for children. If there are exceptions, parents will be notified, and masks will be provided.

Transportation: As it stands, bus schedules are set to resume. Students older than 13 may be required to wear masks.

New routines: Group activities will be limited. Students won’t be allowed to share food in lunchrooms.

Backup plans: The territory says schools could go part-time if contact tracing were to identify a possible source of COVID-19. All schools would be closed if community transmission were to take place.

This report was first published by The Canadian Press on Sept. 2, 2020.

 

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sept. 2

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Sep 2nd, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EDT on Sept. 2, 2020:

There are 129,425 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 62,614 confirmed (including 5,762 deaths, 55,438 resolved)

_ Ontario: 42,421 confirmed (including 2,812 deaths, 38,369 resolved)

_ Alberta: 14,066 confirmed (including 241 deaths, 12,427 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 5,848 confirmed (including 209 deaths, 4,505 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,622 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,567 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,232 confirmed (including 14 deaths, 759 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,085 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,014 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 269 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 265 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 191 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 186 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 44 confirmed (including 41 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 129,425 (0 presumptive, 129,425 confirmed including 9,132 deaths, 114,604 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 2, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Would you do jury duty in a pandemic?

THE BIG STORY | posted Wednesday, Sep 2nd, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, it’s already something some people try to avoid—and the thought of spending hours in a courtroom with others, masked or not, doesn’t make jury duty any more appealing. But jury trials are returning this month, and so jury questionnaires are already on the way to mailboxes.

But what’s being done to keep jurors safe? To make it worthwhile for them to serve? And to mitigate that added burden on any disruption to work or home life that comes with COVID-19? Should we be trying to make jury trials function well enough, or take this opportunity to rethink jury duty forever?

GUEST: Mark Farrant, CEO of the Canadian Juries Commission

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 Sept. 1

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Sep 1st, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 p.m. EDT on Sept. 1, 2020:

There are 128,948 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 62,492 confirmed (including 5,760 deaths, 55,353 resolved)

_ Ontario: 42,309 confirmed (including 2,811 deaths, 38,277 resolved)

_ Alberta: 13,902 confirmed (including 239 deaths, 12,293 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 5,790 confirmed (including 208 deaths, 4,406 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,619 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,561 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,214 confirmed (including 14 deaths, 731 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,085 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,013 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 269 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 265 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 191 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 185 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 44 confirmed (including 41 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 128,948 (0 presumptive, 128,948 confirmed including 9,126 deaths, 114,158 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 1, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Inside the Trudeau government’s own-goal on solitary confinement

THE BIG STORY | posted Tuesday, Sep 1st, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, the practice of solitary confinement in Canada had been found to violate inmates’ human rights. The government had been given a year to fix it, and last December, the year was almost up.

Since then, a lot has changed in the world. But it seems not a lot has changed in our prison system. And if anything had really changed, we likely wouldn’t know, because the government won’t tell us. It won’t even tell the panel it appointed to watch over its work. Why?

GUEST: Justin Ling

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Canadians don’t know much about Erin O’Toole but poll finds openness to him

JOAN BRYDEN THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Sep 1st, 2020

OTTAWA — Most Canadians know very little about new Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole but a new poll suggests his personal qualities and policy positions could eventually give his party a boost.

Fifty-two per cent of respondents said they didn’t know enough about O’Toole to say whether they have a positive or negative impression of the new leader, who took the helm of the Official Opposition one week ago.

But 21 per cent had a favourable impression while 18 per cent had an unfavourable impression.

Moreover, the poll, conducted Aug. 28 to 30 by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies, found there was no bump in support for the Conservatives following O’Toole’s leadership victory.

Support among decided voters for the Conservatives actually dropped one point to 29 per cent versus the previous week. Liberal support also dropped, by three points, to 35 per cent, with the NDP moving up three points to 21 per cent and the Greens down one point to five per cent.

The online survey of 1,521 Canadians cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples, but all those changes are small.

“We’re still at the Erin Who? stage.”

In Quebec, the poll found the Bloc Quebecois ahead with 34 per cent support to the Liberals’ 30 per cent, the NDP’s 18, the Conservatives’ 14 and the Greens’ two per cent.

“There’s no O’Toole effect on Conservative voting for now because, for the most part, we’re still at the Erin Who? stage,” said Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque.

Still, the poll asked respondents if they’d be more or less likely to consider voting Conservative based on various O’Toole attributes and policy positions. And those results suggest he could eventually become more of an asset to his party as he becomes better known, although he could face some regional challenges particularly with regard to his energy policies.

Forty-four per cent said they’d be more likely to consider voting Conservative once informed that O’Toole is personally in favour of a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion and supports same-sex marriage. Twelve per cent said they’d be less likely.

Respondents were not asked about O’Toole’s vow to allow socially conservative MPs to express their views, put forward private members’ bills and vote freely on matters of conscience.

A plurality (29 per cent nationally and 44 per cent in Quebec) were more likely to consider supporting the Conservatives when told that O’Toole was born in Montreal and is bilingual, although the fluency of his French has been questioned.

A plurality also were more likely to consider voting Conservative when told that O’Toole is a former member of the Canadian Armed Forces, advocates a harder line against China, supports building new pipelines and is opposed to a carbon tax.

However, a regional divide was apparent over his energy policies. His stance sat particularly well with respondents in Alberta and Manitoba/Saskatchewan but a strong plurality of respondents in Quebec said his support for pipelines made them less likely to consider voting Conservative while Quebecers were almost evenly split over his opposition to a tax on carbon (23 per cent more likely to vote Conservative versus 21 per cent less likely).

The fact that Alberta Premier Jason Kenney endorsed O’Toole in the leadership contest was the only overall negative, with 20 per cent nationally saying it made them less likely to vote Conservative and 15 per cent saying they’d be more likely. Even in Alberta, 34 per cent said Kenney’s support made them less likely to consider O’Toole’s party federally, to 26 per cent who said they’d be more likely.

“He’s clearly not ready yet.”

Bourque said the results suggest an openness towards O’Toole but he said the new leader’s ultimate success will depend on his ability to distance himself personally from the socially conservative wing of the Conservative party (whose support was a decisive factor in his leadership victory), and on his ability to sell his energy policies in vote-rich central Canada.

All told, Bourque said the poll suggests O’Toole needs time to make himself known to Canadians and would be wise not to try to defeat Justin Trudeau’s minority Liberal government this fall.

“He’s clearly not ready yet.”

Should there be an election this fall in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, 78 per cent of respondents said all Canadians should have the option of voting by mail.

B.C. rescuers, experts concerned about condition of three entangled humpbacks

Kyle Mack | posted Monday, Aug 31st, 2020

A humpback whale is seen just outside of Hartley Bay along the Great Bear Rainforest, B.C. Tuesday, Sept, 17, 2013. The head veterinarian at the Ocean Wise Marine Mammal Centre and the Vancouver Aquarium says if animals are unable to forage with gear restricting either the mouth or impairing ability to dive and swim, then they will starve to death. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

VANCOUVER — Marine mammal specialists and whale rescue groups say they’re not sure how much fishing gear three entangled humpback whales spotted off the coast of British Columbia are still carrying, leaving experts worried.

Paul Cottrell, the Pacific marine mammals co-ordinator for the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, says while rescuers managed to get some gear off one of the animals, they are not sure how the other two are faring.

He says the first whale, known as Checkmate, was spotted last week and has a trap and line running through its mouth. However, because someone had cut off a buoy attached to the gear, Cottrell says rescuers haven’t been able to attach a line to the animal and help it.

He says another yet-to-be-named whale has a fishing net over its head and was last seen more than three weeks ago.

Cottrell says rescuers managed to remove more than 60 metres of fishing line off a third whale named X-ray, but the animal was also last seen more than three weeks ago so they don’t know how it is faring.

Martin Haulena, head veterinarian at the Ocean Wise Marine Mammal Centre and the Vancouver Aquarium, says if animals are unable to forage because of gear either restricting their mouth or impairing their ability to dive and swim, they will likely starve to death.

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

 

The Canadian Press

Black Quebecers drive to Legault’s office to protest racial profiling

Kyle Mack | posted Monday, Aug 31st, 2020

People take part in a Driving While Black protest in Montreal, Sunday, Aug 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

MONTREAL — Djennie Dorvilier still remembers the excitement of getting a brand new car after graduating from college 20 years ago, using the money she saved from working night shifts at McDonald’s.

She also remembers being stopped nine times for random police checks within the first month and a half of owning her new car, a 2000 Mazda Protege.

“I was even told it’s because I didn’t look like someone who could afford such a car,” Dorvilier said at a protest in Montreal on Sunday.

Dorvilier was among a convoy of nearly 60 Black motorists who drove to Quebec Premier Francois Legault’s office in the suburb of L’Assomption, about an hour outside the city, to protest racial profiling.

The demonstration, titled “Driving While Black,” comes amid a widespread movement to bring attention to police treatment of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of colour) communities.

“Now people are listening, but we’ve been going through this for many years. It’s important to raise awareness about, when you’re racialized, how you’re treated by the police when stopped while driving your car,” Dorvilier said.

The demonstrators eventually made it to Legault’s office, where they read out their demands from a letter detailing 10 ways to stop Black people from being targeted by police while driving.

The proposals include a call to revise Quebec’s Guide to Police Practices to eliminate any act that allows officers to discriminate or racially profile anyone they come across.

The guide was in the news last week, when the province’s Ministry of Public Security unveiled guidelines to make sure that police stops aren’t racially motivated. But the move was met with criticism by some advocacy groups who said they weren’t consulted.

The province’s human rights commission ruled at the end of 2019 that the city of Montreal should stop police checks as they “disproportionately affect certain groups.”

Fo Niemi, executive director of the Centre for Research Against Race Relations, said Sunday he’s been receiving complaints from people across the province — including as far west as Gatineau — about police checks. He said there’s a growing number of them coming from suburban areas, where more and more Black people are moving.

“We have some people being stopped practically two, three times a months just because they drive a flashy car,” Niemi said. “To the point where one of our clients has to basically change his car.”

Vladimir Dorceus said he has lost track of the amount of times he has been pulled over for a random check by police in his Black BMW. Dorceus brought his nine-year old son to Sunday’s event to show him how Black people can come together to protest the issue.

“Even if he’s young, I think he has to be informed of the situation. Because he’s a young Black person who lives in Montreal and it could happen to him in the future,” Dorceus said.

Josue Corvil, who was elected as a city councillor for the Montreal borough of Saint-Michel in late 2018, said he remembers being stopped by police who were unaware of his work for the city last year.

He said he doesn’t believe all police officers are racist, but he feels some of their ways must be changed in order for better relations to be had between Black people and police.

“It’s very frustrating to be stopped,” Corvil said.

Legault’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

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

Julian McKenzie, The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia candidate’s withdrawal shrinks Green Party leadership field

Kyle Mack | posted Monday, Aug 31st, 2020

A supporter holds a sign for the Green Party of Canada as a group of candidates and supporters marched towards a discussion on climate with Green Party leader Elizabeth May in Toronto, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. The field of contenders vying to become leader of the federal Green Party just got a little smaller. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

OTTAWA — The field of contenders vying to become leader of the federal Green Party just got a little smaller.

Nova Scotia computer scientist and veteran Judy Green is withdrawing from the race and throwing her support behind fellow candidate David Merner of British Columbia.

Green’s withdrawal follows a battle just to get on the ballot after the party’s vetting committee rejected her candidacy in early June, before she successfully appealed the decision.

Green did not say in her Facebook post announcing her withdrawal on Sunday why she was stepping down from the race, which will see a new leader elected to replace Elizabeth May in October.

But party records released earlier this month showed that she was outside the top five in terms of fundraising among the party’s nine leadership hopefuls.

The records showed Toronto lawyer Annamie Paul was far and away the fundraising leader, as she had pulled in about one-third of all the money donated during the leadership race.

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

The Canadian Press

Trump accepts Republican party nomination in front of packed, largely maskless crowd

THE ASSOCIATE PRESS | posted Friday, Aug 28th, 2020

Facing a national moment fraught with racial turmoil and a deadly pandemic, President Donald Trump accepted his party’s renomination on a massive White House South Lawn stage Thursday night, boasting of helping African Americans and defying his own administration’s pandemic guidelines to address a tightly packed, largely maskless crowd.

As troubles churned outside the gates, Trump painted an optimistic vision of America’s future, including an eventual triumph over the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 175,000 people, left millions unemployed and rewritten the rules of society. But that brighter horizon can only be secured, Trump asserted, if he defeats Democrat Joe Biden.

Trailing Biden in opinion polls, he blistered the former vice president’s record and even questioned his love of America.

“We have spent the last four years reversing the damage Joe Biden inflicted over the last 47 years,” Trump said.

Presenting himself as the last barrier protecting an American way of life under siege from radical forces, Trump declared that “Joe Biden and his party repeatedly assailed America as a land of racial, economic, and social injustice.”″

“So tonight, I ask you a very simple question: How can the Democrat Party ask to lead our country when it spends so much time tearing down our country?” Trump said. “In the left’s backward view, they do not see America as the most free, just, and exceptional nation on earth. Instead, they see a wicked nation that must be punished for its sins.”

As his speech brought the scaled-back Republican National Convention to a close, Trump’s incendiary rhetoric risked inflaming a divided nation reeling from a series of calamities, including the pandemic, a major hurricane that slammed into the Gulf Coast and nights of racial unrest and violence after Jacob Blake, a Black man, was shot by a white Wisconsin police officer.

He was introduced by his daughter Ivanka, an influential White House adviser, who portrayed the famously bombastic Trump as someone who shaken up Washington with little record for norms or niceties.

“Dad, people attack you for being unconventional, but I love you for being real. And I respect you for being effective,” she said.

The president spoke from a setting that was both familiar and controversial. Despite tradition and regulation to not use the White House for purely political events,a huge stage was set up outside the executive mansion, dwarfing the trappings for some of the most important moments of past presidencies. The speaker’s stand was flanked by dozens of American flags and two big video screens.

Trying to run as an insurgent as well as incumbent, Trump rarely includes calls for unity, even in a time of national uncertainty. He has repeatedly, if not always effectively, tried to portray Biden — who is considered a moderate Democrat — as a tool of the radical left, fringe forces he has claimed don’t love their country.

The Republicans claim that the violence that has erupted in Kenosha and some other American cities is to be blamed on Democratic governors and mayors. Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday said that Americans wouldn’t be safe in “Joe Biden’s America.”

That drew a stern rebuke from his predecessor in the post.

“The problem we have right now is that we are in Donald Trump’s America,” said Biden on MSNBC. “He views this as a political benefit to him, he is rooting for more violence not less. He is pouring gasoline on the fire.”

Both parties are watching with uncertainty the developments in Wisconsin and cities across the nation with Republicans leaning hard on support for law and order — with no words offered for Black victims of police violence — while falsely claiming that Biden has not condemned the lawlessness. Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney and New York City’s former mayor, declared that Democrats’ “silence was so deafening that it reveals an acceptance of this violence because they will accept anything they hope will defeat President Donald Trump.”

Though some of the speakers, unlike on previous nights, offered notes of sympathy to the families of Black men killed by police, Giuliani also took aim at the Black Lives Matter movement, suggesting that it, along with ANTIFA, was part of the extremist voices pushing Biden to “execute their pro-criminal, anti-police policies” and had “hijacked the protests into vicious, brutal riots.”

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Aug. 28

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Aug 28th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. EDT on Aug. 28, 2020:

There are 126,848 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 62,056 confirmed (including 5,750 deaths, 55,008 resolved)

_ Ontario: 41,813 confirmed (including 2,803 deaths, 37,940 resolved)

_ Alberta: 13,318 confirmed (including 237 deaths, 11,923 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 5,372 confirmed (including 204 deaths, 4,253 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,609 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,527 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,081 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,011 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,064 confirmed (including 14 deaths, 643 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 268 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 265 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 190 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 181 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 44 confirmed (including 41 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 126,848 (0 presumptive, 126,848 confirmed including 9,102 deaths, 112,825 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

Authorities name officer who they say shot Jacob Blake

MIKE HOUSEHOLDER AND SCOTT BAUER, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Thursday, Aug 27th, 2020

The Wisconsin officer who shot a Black man, Jacob Blake seven times in the back has been identified as a seven-year veteran of the Kenosha Police Department, the state Department of Justice said Wednesday.

Officer Rusten Sheskey shot Blake, 29, while holding onto his shirt after officers first unsuccessfully used a taser and as Blake leaned into his vehicle during an incident Sunday evening, the agency’s news release said.

State agents later recovered a knife from the driver’s side floorboard of the vehicle, the release said. A search of the vehicle located no additional weapons.

No charges were announced and the state Department of Investigation was continuing to investigate.

The shooting set off three nights of unrest in the city midway between Milwaukee and Chicago. Two people were shot and killed during protests Tuesday night.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Aug. 27

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Aug 27th, 2020

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

There are 126,417 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 61,945 confirmed (including 5,747 deaths, 54,922 resolved)

_ Ontario: 41,695 confirmed (including 2,802 deaths, 37,863 resolved)

_ Alberta: 13,210 confirmed (including 235 deaths, 11,799 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 5,304 confirmed (including 203 deaths, 4,199 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,604 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,520 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,081 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,011 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,043 confirmed (including 13 deaths, 622 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 268 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 265 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 190 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 178 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 44 confirmed (including 41 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 126,417 (0 presumptive, 126,417 confirmed including 9,094 deaths, 112,453 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

International students concerned about fee increases, future in Canada during coronavirus pandemic

DILSHAD BURMAN | posted Thursday, Aug 27th, 2020

With the fall semester just days away, international students enrolled in Canadian universities are raising concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on their studies, their wallets, and their futures.

A group of international students currently enrolled at the University of Toronto have created the International Student Advocacy Network (ISAN) to present their concerns and demands to university officials.

They say the toll COVID-19 is taking on them, like their fees, is disproportionately higher than domestic students.

“They have increased fees by an average of 5.4 per cent for the coming year and that decision was made after the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the global pandemic,” Anna BML Carneiro, coordinator at ISAN, says.

The group says the fee increase is not justified considering a majority of classes are being taught online and is demanding that the university roll back the hike.

“Losing the opportunity to network, to meet different people on campus, to use different resources … everything that makes the campus experience and the university experience so rich for us and makes it worth it coming here is no longer available,” Carneiro says.

ISAN has approached several University officials’ offices and are waiting to hear back as the deadline to register and pay fees approaches.

“We didn’t get a single response. The responses from the students have been very positive – we’ve got the support of various student groups and other campus bodies. The student union has been collaborating with us. But unfortunately we haven’t had a response from administration,” Carneiro explains.

The University of Toronto tells CityNews that incidental fees that cover on-campus experiences have been reduced.

“[They have] been adjusted accordingly to reflect that so much of university life will now be off-campus,” Joseph Wong, Vice-President, International at University of Toronto, says.

However, he says the international tuition fee increase is in line with their normal, annual fee increase. He adds that moving to online learning is not necessarily less expensive.

“We have had to invest significant amounts in terms of new education technology, academic divisions have been bringing in educational technology specialists, faculty instructors have been reworking their courses, in fact adding new elements to their courses that would likely not have occurred had the pandemic not occurred,” Wong says.

Wong also says classrooms are being fitted for a “dual delivery” system, with some students in class while others join online. They have had to be revamped with new equipment including hardware like mics and screens to accommodate both in-class and online learning.

“We want to create, as much as possible, an in-person like experience for all of the students and that requires huge investments. So you look at the renovated room — just the cost of hardware itself to make this happen and to continue to have a really high quality educational experience for our students requires resources,” he explains.

However, while all students, domestic and international, will benefit from the improvements, the only one’s facing a fee hike are international students, who already pay up to seven times the domestic tuition.

“Our domestic students, their fees or the expenses incurred to buy the same educational experience for them is subsidized by the government,” Wong says.

“Given the realities of where the levels of those subsidies are, they’re such that we’ve had to continue to increase our international student tuition — as we would normally. This is not an extraordinary increase, this is just part of our regular stepped increase.”

Along with a disruption in current studies, international students may also find their futures in limbo as some may not be able to fulfill the eligibility criteria for the Post Graduation Work Permit program (PGWP) thanks to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The length of a PGWP is dependent on the length of the program in which a student is enrolled.

In it’s latest update to eligibility criteria, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) says students enrolled in an eight or 12 month program, which starts between May and September 2020, can now complete their entire program online from outside Canada and still be eligible for a PGWP.

Those in longer programs can study online from abroad until April 30, 2021 and will have no time deducted from the length of a future post-graduation work permit — but they must still complete 50 per cent of their program while physically present in Canada.

For those currently outside the country, returning to Canada to fulfill that criteria might be tricky, as they have to prove their travel is “non-discretionary” or essential. With many universities offering courses online, proving it is essential for them to be physically present in Canada could be complicated.

Ziah Sumar, an immigration lawyer with Long Mangalji LLP, says some international students may be allowed to return based on other criteria — for example, if an international student moved to Canada and was already living here and went back home for a vacation.

“IRCC has said that the “non-discretionary” [criteria] includes people who are already living in Canada. Technically by IRCC’s definition they should be able to travel back to Canada,” she says.

“With that being said, the IRCC says they “may” be able to and in the end the final decision is up to the border services officer.”

The IRCC confirms on its website that “a border services officer will make the final decision on whether your reason for travelling to Canada is non-discretionary or non-optional.”

Both University of Toronto and Ryerson University say international students will be provided with documentation to prove their travel is essential should they wish to return.

CityNews reached out to the IRCC to confirm whether those documents would be sufficient proof to re-enter the country and they would only say that the criteria for entry for international students remain the same.

Bills anathema to social conservatives will test O’Toole’s leadership

JOAN BRYDEN, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Aug 26th, 2020

OTTAWA — Newly minted Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole’s ability to manage social conservatives in his caucus and party will be put to an early test this fall when the Liberal government reintroduces legislation on medical assistance in dying.

And it will be tested again when the government reintroduces a bill to ban conversion therapy, a discredited and traumatic practice aimed at repressing non-heterosexual  behaviours or to make a person’s gender identity match the sex assigned at birth.

Both bills are controversial among social conservatives, who proved to be a decisive factor in O’Toole’s victory early Monday in the Conservative leadership race.

And O’Toole himself has raised concerns about them, notwithstanding his declared position as a pro-choice Conservative and LGBTQ rights advocate.

O’Toole has promised to put an end to the ambiguity on issues like abortion and gay rights that bedevilled his predecessor, Andrew Scheer, while respecting the right of social conservatives to express their views.

He’ll get a chance to square that circle this fall as the government rushes to pass a bill to amend the law on assisted dying to conform with a court ruling last fall, which struck down a provision that allows only individuals already near death to end their lives with medical help.

The bill was first introduced in February but it was still in the initial stage of the legislative process when Parliament was adjourned in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It died on the order paper when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prorogued Parliament last week but the government intends to reintroduce it shortly after Parliament resumes on Sept. 23.

The court, which initially gave the government six months to change the law, has since granted two extensions. The government now has until Dec. 18 and Justice Minister David Lametti’s office says the government is determined to meet that deadline.

“Our government has every intention of meeting the court’s deadline,” said spokeswoman Rachel Rappaport.

O’Toole voted against the original bill that legalized assisted dying following a landmark Supreme Court ruling on the subject. In his leadership platform, he courted social conservatives by promising to protect “the conscience rights of all health care professionals whose beliefs, religious or otherwise, prevent them from carrying out or referring patients for services that violate their conscience.”

That promise flies in the face of a unanimous Ontario Court of Appeal ruling in May 2019, which said doctors who have moral objections to providing health services like abortion or assisted death must provide patients with an “effective referral” to another doctor.

Conservative MP Derek Sloan, an avowed social conservative who finished last in the four-person leadership contest, went a step further in his platform. He promised to claw back equalization payments from provinces that don’t guarantee the conscience rights of health care professionals.

Leslyn Lewis, another unabashed social conservative who finished a strong third in the race, promised to stop the expansion of assisted dying to “new categories” of Canadians.

Between them, Lewis and Sloan scooped up more than 40 per cent of the votes cast. When they were dropped off the ballot, thousands of their supporters moved to O’Toole, propelling him to a decisive third-ballot victory over Peter MacKay.

At his first news conference Tuesday since winning the leadership, O’Toole brushed off a Liberal dare to prove he’s not in the pocket of social conservatives by booting Sloan out of the Conservative caucus.

Liberals accused Sloan of having made anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ comments, among them that the bill to ban conversion therapy is tantamount to legalized “child abuse.”

That bill was introduced in March, one week before Parliament was adjourned for the pandemic. There is as yet no timetable for reintroducing it but Rappaport said, “we will absolutely be moving forward with that commitment.”

Some nine municipalities, including Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver, have passed bylaws banning conversion therapy. Ottawa city council is to vote on a motion today urging the federal government to quickly reintroduce the bill to ban the practice nationally.

Rappaport said the Liberal government hopes “all political parties will join us in defending the rights of LGBTQ2 Canadians and unequivocally support a ban on conversion therapy.”

But if O’Toole is true to his word to respect the views of Sloan and other social conservatives in his caucus, unequivocal Conservative support for the bill is unlikely.

O’Toole himself raised eyebrows during the leadership race when he appeared to suggest that the bill doesn’t respect the right of religious leaders to have conversations with “members of their flock” about sexual orientation or gender identity.

His campaign later clarified that O’Toole supports a ban on “coercive, degrading actions that seek to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity” but has concerns about the way the legislation was drafted.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 26, 2020.

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Aug. 26

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Aug 26th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Aug. 26, 2020:

There are 125,969 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 61,803 confirmed (including 5,746 deaths, 54,850 resolved)

_ Ontario: 41,607 confirmed (including 2,800 deaths, 37,748 resolved)

_ Alberta: 13,083 confirmed (including 235 deaths, 11,714 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 5,242 confirmed (including 203 deaths, 4,114 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,601 confirmed (including 23 deaths, 1,490 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,080 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,011 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,018 confirmed (including 13 deaths, 606 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 268 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 265 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 190 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 178 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 44 confirmed (including 41 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 125,969 (0 presumptive, 125,969 confirmed including 9,090 deaths, 112,050 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 26, 2020.

The Canadian Press

New Conservative leader Erin O’Toole to lay out his blueprint for party

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Aug 25th, 2020

OTTAWA — Newly elected Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole will speak to reporters today for the first time since his victory in the leadership race.

His plan for a news conference after the results were announced was scuttled after delays in vote counting pushed the reveal into the wee hours of Monday morning.

O’Toole spent his first day on the job meeting with senior members of the party, including former leader Andrew Scheer, as he strives to refresh the Opposition Leader’s Office and the party’s front benches.

A key strategy for the O’Toole campaign had been to focus on the fact that he had a seat in the House of Commons and was ready to start the work to defeat the Liberal government right away.

He and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did speak Monday, a call both sides said was cordial and touched on the rigours of a campaign as well as also the prorogation of Parliament.

It’s set to return on Sept. 23 with a throne speech laying out the minority Liberal government’s post-pandemic plan and will be followed by a confidence vote.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 25, 2020.

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Aug. 25

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Aug 25th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 3:00 a.m. on Aug. 25, 2020:

There are 125,647 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 61,741 confirmed (including 5,744 deaths, 54,761 resolved)

_ Ontario: 41,507 confirmed (including 2,798 deaths, 37,673 resolved)

_ Alberta: 13,006 confirmed (including 234 deaths, 11,600 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 5,184 confirmed (including 203 deaths, 4,068 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,602 confirmed (including 22 deaths, 1,482 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,080 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,008 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 993 confirmed (including 12 deaths, 586 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 268 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 265 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 189 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 178 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 44 confirmed (including 40 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 125,647 (0 presumptive, 125,647 confirmed including 9,083 deaths, 111,694 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

What it’s like to get cancer care during a pandemic

THE BIG STORY | posted Tuesday, Aug 25th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, it’s perhaps the worst news you can imagine getting—and the only way to make it worse is to get it via videoconference in the midst of a pandemic. COVID-19 has forced sudden changes to the medical system, and created a flood of new health questions for anyone at risk. But do we have the answers? How do we give patients the care they need for life-threatening illnesses, and the support they need to fight through them, when we’re still learning about a new virus?

GUEST: Anne Borden, writer, host of Noncompliant.

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Erin O’Toole faces new navigating challenge as Conservative leader

STEPHANIE LEVITZ, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Aug 24th, 2020

OTTAWA — Among Erin O’Toole’s jobs in the military was navigating a Sea King helicopter over the skies of Canada, and now he takes on the challenge of journeying through political terrain as the new leader of the federal Conservative party.

O’Toole, 47, grew up in a political home. His father was a longtime member of the Ontario legislature, but after leaving the military where he served in the Royal Canadian Air Force, the younger O’Toole built a career outside of politics before jumping into the fray himself in a 2012 byelection.

For the next five years, he steadily built up his political profile, including as veterans affairs minister. In the wake of the 2015 election that saw the Conservatives lose power, he decided to take a run at the top job when it became vacant after the resignation of Stephen Harper.

He finished third in the 2017 race, and it was his supporters who ultimately handed Andrew Scheer the victory that year.

Among the top finishers in that contest, O’Toole would go on to stand alone among those who remained close to Scheer going forward.

While Maxime Bernier, who placed second, quit and formed his own party, and fourth-place Brad Trost was forced to fight for a new nomination to run again as an MP, which he lost, O’Toole was rewarded with the plum post of foreign affairs critic.

He used it to keep building a brand, becoming a hawk on China policy and an early adopter of the right wing’s aversion to what became known as “cancel culture,” a movement that broadly refers to historical or contemporary figures being shunned for their actions or opinions.

Taking that road helped O’Toole build the connections in the party’s more right-wing camps and he would spend this leadership campaign leaning on them.

For the campaign, he adopted an aggressive posture, riffing off U.S. President Donald Trump’s call to “make America great again” by adopting a pledge to “take Canada back.”

While at one point he was expected to run away with the race in Alberta, an early stumble on energy policy that saw him promise to end fossil fuel subsidies, but then reverse his position, cost him some support.

But overall, his tone was a marked difference for a man who had been brought into cabinet in 2015 partially because he was known to be an affable and calm communicator who could smooth over strained relations with the veterans community.

He didn’t entirely eschew presenting a gentler side, showcasing his wife and children often in campaign videos. As COVID-19 forced so many operations to move digital, his daughter Mollie was trained up on how to work a video camera, while his son Jack helped him prepare for virtual meetings.

His children and his wife Rebecca, to whom he has been married for 20 years, joined him for the results.

In one of his last messages in the campaign, O’Toole described the party to a family of sorts, comparing the leadership race to a long Thanksgiving dinner where disparate views were aired but the contenders would come together in the end.

He vowed to lead that cause in his speech Monday morning.

“You put your faith in me to lead this historic party and I am honoured and humbled. I promise you, I will not let you down.”

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

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Aug. 24

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Aug 24th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. on Aug. 24, 2020:

There are 124,896 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 61,673 confirmed (including 5,740 deaths, 54,682 resolved)

_ Ontario: 41,402 confirmed (including 2,797 deaths, 37,595 resolved)

_ Alberta: 12,748 confirmed (including 230 deaths, 11,374 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 4,915 confirmed (including 202 deaths, 3,889 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,600 confirmed (including 22 deaths, 1,472 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,080 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,008 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 944 confirmed (including 12 deaths, 576 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 268 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 265 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 189 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 178 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 44 confirmed (including 40 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 124,896 (0 presumptive, 124,896 confirmed including 9,073 deaths, 111,112 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

Now we know how COVID-19 has changed the workday

THE BIG STORY | posted Monday, Aug 24th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, the past six months have featured a lot of speculation about what the pandemic has done to the average workday for those lucky enough to have a job that can be done at home. Now we have some real data on how the lives of millions of workers have changed.

Are we working more or less? Are our meetings getting longer? What are we missing about the office? How can companies adapt to what their workforce needs? And what strategies we’re learning now will stick around?

GUEST: Jeff Polzer, Professor of Human Resource Management, Harvard Business School

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

One of the wildfires of note in British Columbia is under control: official

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Aug 21st, 2020

PENTICTON, B.C. — An evacuation order for a fire in the southern interior of British Columbia has been rescinded while other areas are still seeing raging blazes.

Kim Wright, southeast fire centre information officer with the BC Wildfire Service, says the Solomon Mountain wildfire is under control.

The fire about four kilometres north of Beaverdell had prompted an evacuation alert by the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary.

However, the Doctor Creek fire near a village located at the southern end of Columbia Lake is now estimated to be 30 square kilometres in size.

Wright says the fire has been very aggressive partly because of the dryness of fuels in the area.

She says fighting the flames has been challenging for crews because of the steep and rocky terrain.

Wright says 40 firefighters, heavy equipment and helicopters have been working to contain the blaze.

The BC Wildfire Service says of the 543 fires recorded since April in the province, more than one-quarter have been sparked in the past seven days.

The service’s website shows many of the 154 fires this week were caused by lightning, and almost three dozen are listed as out of control.

The weather office called for a 60 per cent chance of showers with a risk of thunderstorms in the Penticton region Friday afternoon.

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

 

 

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Aug. 21

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Aug 21st, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 1 a.m. on Aug. 21, 2020:

There are 123,873 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 61,402 confirmed (including 5,730 deaths, 54,383 resolved)

_ Ontario: 41,048 confirmed (including 2,793 deaths, 37,291 resolved)

_ Alberta: 12,604 confirmed (including 228 deaths, 11,292 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 4,825 confirmed (including 200 deaths, 3,845 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,590 confirmed (including 22 deaths, 1,419 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,077 confirmed (including 64 deaths, 1,007 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 796 confirmed (including 12 deaths, 537 resolved)

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

_ New Brunswick: 186 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 172 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 44 confirmed (including 40 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 123,873 (0 presumptive, 123,873 confirmed including 9,054 deaths, 110,282 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

What ‘Anne With An E’ fans taught us about cultural politics

THE BIG STORY | posted Friday, Aug 21st, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, Anne With An E is a reimagining of Lucy Maude Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables tales. It ran for three seasons, and then got cancelled. And the fans took it personally.

This isn’t a conversation about Anne With An E, though, it’s a conversation about what happens when popular culture becomes a political identity.

GUEST: John Semley

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Third blaze added to list of notable wildfires in British Columbia

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Aug 20th, 2020

PENTICTON, B.C. — A third wildfire near a village at the southern end of Columbia Lake in British Columbia has been added to a list of wildfires of note and prompted an evacuation order on Wednesday.

The BC Wildfire Service says the Doctor Creek fire about 25 kilometres southwest of Canal Flats was estimated to be four square kilometres in size and was expected to grow.

The Regional District of East Kootenay issued an evacuation order for 10 properties in the Findlay Creek area affected by the fire.

The service says the fire was caused by lightning with 20 firefighters and a 20-person crew on the ground responding to it, adding that heavy equipment was en route.

The Christie Mountain fire near Penticton prompted the evacuation of 319 properties on Tuesday.

The blaze remained at 14 square kilometres after it was spotted a day earlier burning above Skaha Lake, not far from the city’s boundary.

Karla Kozakevich, chairwoman of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, said one home had burned in the wildfire.

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

The Canadian Press

 

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New guideline for minor drug offences and ‘Cronk is the drink’; In The News for Aug. 20

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Aug 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 Aug. 20 …

What we are watching in Canada … 

A third wildfire near a village at the southern end of Columbia Lake in British Columbia has been added to a list of wildfires of note and prompted an evacuation order on Wednesday.

The BC Wildfire Service says the Doctor Creek fire about 25 kilometres southwest of Canal Flats was estimated to be four square kilometres in size and was expected to grow.

The Regional District of East Kootenay issued an evacuation order for 10 properties in the Findlay Creek area affected by the fire.

The service says the fire was caused by lightning with 20 firefighters and a 20-person crew on the ground responding to it, adding that heavy equipment was en route.

The Christie Mountain fire near Penticton prompted the evacuation of 319 properties on Tuesday.

The blaze remained at 14 square kilometres after it was spotted a day earlier burning above Skaha Lake, not far from the city’s boundary.

Karla Kozakevich, chairwoman of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, said one home had burned in the wildfire.

Also this …

Federal prosecutors are being instructed to criminally prosecute only the most serious drug possession offences and to find alternatives outside the criminal justice system for the rest.

The directive is contained in a new guideline issued by the director of public prosecutions, Kathleen Roussel.

“The approach set out in this guideline directs prosecutors to focus upon the most serious cases raising public safety concerns for prosecution and to otherwise pursue suitable alternative measures and diversion from the criminal justice system for simple possession cases,” it states.

In all instances, the guideline says alternatives to prosecution should be considered if the possession offence involves a person enrolled in a drug treatment court program or an addiction treatment program supervised by a health professional.

The same applies in cases that involve a violation of bail conditions and can be addressed adequately by a judicial referral hearing, as well as cases where the offender’s conduct can be dealt with by an approved alternative measure, including Indigenous and non-Indigenous “restorative justice” responses.

The guideline says criminal prosecution for possession of a controlled substance “should generally be reserved for the most serious manifestations of the offence.” It says cases would be considered serious if a person caught in possession of an illegal drug was engaged in conduct that could endanger the health or safety of others.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

Former President Barack Obama warned that American democracy could falter if President Donald Trump is reelected, a stunning rebuke of his successor that was echoed by Kamala Harris at the Democratic Convention Wednesday night as she embraced her historic role as the first Black woman on a national political ticket.

Obama, himself a barrier breaker as the nation’s first Black president, pleaded with voters to “embrace your own responsibility as citizens – to make sure that the basic tenets of our democracy endure. Because that’s what is at stake right now. Our democracy.”

Throughout their convention, the Democrats have summoned a collective urgency about the dangers of Trump as president. In 2016, they dismissed and sometimes trivialized him. Now they are casting him as an existential threat to the country. The tone signals anew that the fall campaign between Trump and Joe Biden, already expected to be among the most negative of the past half century, will be filled with rancour and recrimination.

Yet on the third night of the Democrats’ four-day convention, party leaders also sought to put forward a cohesive vision of their values and policy priorities, highlighting efforts to combat climate change and tighten gun laws. They drew a sharp contrast with Trump, portraying him as cruel in his treatment of immigrants, disinterested in the nation’s climate crisis and over his head on virtually all of the nation’s most pressing challenges.

Democrats also demonstrated a hope that Biden, a 77-year-old white man, can revive the coalition that helped put Obama into office, with minorities, younger voters and college-educated women blunting Trump’s lock on many white and rural voters.

The evening marked a celebration of the party’s leading women, including remarks from Hillary Clinton, the first woman to become a major ticket presidential nominee; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who challenged Biden during the primary and is now supporting his campaign.

Harris, a 55-year-old California senator and the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, addressed race and equality in a personal way Biden cannot when he formally accepts his party’s presidential nomination on Thursday.

What we are watching in the world …

Hundreds of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday rallied against the U.S.-brokered deal to normalize ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Protesters burned Israeli and American flags, trampled on posters of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump, and chanted “normalization is betrayal to Jerusalem and Palestine.”

Unlike Palestinian protesters last Friday near the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City who also burned posters of the Emirati crown prince, the Gaza demonstrators stopped short of burning symbols of the UAE — apparently not to antagonize the Gulf Arab country, where tens of thousands of Palestinians work and live.

The demonstrators in Gaza City also voiced support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for his rejection of President Donald Trump’s Mideast plan, which the Palestinians say unfairly favours Israel.

The protest was organized by the militant Hamas group, which rules the Gaza Strip, and other factions.

Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official, denounced the Israeli-Emirati deal.

On this day in 2016 …

Iconic Canadian rockers The Tragically Hip played their final show to a sold-out crowd at the K-Rock Centre in the band’s hometown of Kingston, Ont. It was broadcast live by the CBC and more than 400 public screenings were held across the country. In late 2015, frontman Gord Downie was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and died Oct. 17, 2017.

In entertainment news …

“Schitt’s Creek” star and co-creator Daniel Levy is taking a free University of Alberta course called Indigenous Canada — and he wants others to join him.

The Toronto-raised actor, writer and showrunner promoted the online course in a video on his social media.

Levy says he recently signed up for the course, which has 12 lessons that explore Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada.

The university’s website says the course is told from an Indigenous perspective and highlights national and local Indigenous-settler relations.

Levy said he plans to host weekly discussions with the course professors, starting this Sunday afternoon.

“I thought if I am going to sign up and learn, maybe some other people would want to join me and we could do this as a group,” Levy says in his social media video.

Wierd and wild …

A mysterious beverage advertised in a newspaper from the 1800’s is available for sipping once again.

Paul Fairie, a community health research at the University of Calgary, regularly peruses old digitized newspapers and posts on Twitter the oddities he comes across.

In June, he found an 1883 edition of the Calgary Herald with the phrases “buy Cronk,” “Cronk is the drink” and — simply — “Cronk” interspersed between news articles.

Social media users began posting photos of antique Cronk bottles and someone unearthed a recipe for Dr. Cronk’s Sarsaparilla Beer.

Cold Garden Beverage Company decided to try brewing the drink, and 1,800, 375-millilitre bottles went on sale Wednesday.

There was a lineup soon after the brewery opened.

Brewer Trevor Cox says it took two tries to get the taste right, because the wrong kind of molasses was used the first time.

Cox says Cronk tastes like an herbal liqueur that’s diluted and fizzy.

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

The Canadian Press

 

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What just happened in Ottawa?

THE BIG STORY | posted Thursday, Aug 20th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, the nation’s federal government has seen a high-profile resignation, a historic appointment, a prorogation of parliament in the middle of a pandemic, the release of 5,000 pages of documents concerning the government’s latest scandal, the promise of a reset and the threat of a fall election. Just another lazy August weekend in Ottawa.

So why did the Liberals prorogue parliament? What will happen when it returns? Did Bill Morneau resign or was he fired? And what will Chrystia Freeland include in what is expected to be an ambitious plan for economic recovery?

 

For more Breakfast Television, check us out on YouTube! Click the link below to watch.

The Raptors are back, and ready to repeat. Here’s why this team is unique.

THE BIG STORY | posted Friday, Aug 14th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, what the Toronto Raptors are attempting has never been done before— they’re trying to shed a superstar and get even better. When the reigning champs begin the NBA Playoffs Monday against Brooklyn, they’ll do so with a better winning percentage than they managed with Kawhi Leonard shutting down opponents and filling the bucket.

What makes this group so special? How do they go about winning games against teams that feature Hall of Famers at the top of their rosters? What will they have to do to thrive in a star-driven playoff series? What’s their biggest weakness? And can they really, actually win another NBA title?

GUEST: Michael Grange, Sportsnet

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

Complaints filed against Edmundston officers in fatal shooting of Chantel Moore

Kyle Mack | posted Thursday, Aug 13th, 2020

A man holds a picture of Chantel Moore during a healing gathering at the B.C. Legislature in Victoria on June 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

FREDERICTON — A law firm representing the estate of Chantel Moore has filed a pair of complaints with the New Brunswick Police Commission in connection with her death.

One complaint targets the Edmundston police officer directly involved in the shooting of 26-year-old Moore, an Indigenous woman killed during a wellness check June 4. The other is against a senior Edmundston police officer regarding comments made on live television in the hours following the shooting.

Lawyer T.J. Burke said Wednesday he filed the complaints under the provincial Police Act at the direction of his clients.

Moore was fatally shot after she allegedly lunged at an officer with a knife. Quebec’s independent police watchdog is investigating because New Brunswick does not have its own police oversight agency.

“We wanted to bring these up right away because we don’t trust (that) the New Brunswick Police Commission is going to file a complaint … and we don’t think the chief of police in Edmundston will do it,” Burke said in an interview. “As civilians, lawyers, we did it on behalf of the estate of Chantel Moore.”

The commission is an independent board of citizens that oversees complaints involving seven municipal police services and two regional police forces in the province. New Brunswick’s Police Act generally provides one year for complaints to be filed.

“New Brunswick police officers are subjected to civil proceedings where they can be disciplined by an oversight commission,” Burke said.

In the case of the police officer directly involved in the shooting, Burke said the complaint requests he be sanctioned and removed from his job. If criminal charges result from the watchdog’s probe into Moore’s killing, however, the case would delay any hearing into the complaint.

Moore’s family wants the complaint against a high-ranking Edmundston police officer pursued immediately, Burke said.

That officer offered a public apology for laughing when asked a question during a CTV News interview in the aftermath of Moore’s shooting. Burke said that considering no criminal charges will result from that incident, the complaint should be pursued by the commission right now.

“We believe the laughter was injurious to not only to the family, to New Brunswickers, but to Canadians all alike and believe that it falls well below the standards a high-ranking officer should hold in office,” Burke said, adding the family didn’t accept the apology.

Edmundston Police Chief Alain Lang said in an email Wednesday, “The entire matter is presently under investigation and we have no further comments to make.”

Moore’s killing was the first of two deaths involving Indigenous people in the span of about one week in the province. Rodney Levi, 48, was killed by the RCMP near the Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq Nation, on June 12.

The Mounties have said a suspect carrying knives was jolted with a stun gun, but that failed to subdue him. He was shot when he charged at officers, police said. Levi’s death is also under investigation by the Quebec watchdog.

New Brunswick has announced a coroner will hold separate inquests into both deaths.

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

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Aug. 13

Kyle Mack | posted Thursday, Aug 13th, 2020

A man wears a face mask as he sits in a park in Montreal, Sunday, August 9, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. on Aug. 13, 2020:

There are 120,844 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 60,813 confirmed (including 5,709 deaths, 53,270 resolved)

_ Ontario: 40,289 confirmed (including 2,787 deaths, 36,590 resolved)

_ Alberta: 11,893 confirmed (including 217 deaths, 10,632 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 4,196 confirmed (including 196 deaths, 3,469 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,484 confirmed (including 20 deaths, 1,314 resolved)

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

_ Manitoba: 563 confirmed (including 8 deaths, 368 resolved), 15 presumptive

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

_ New Brunswick: 178 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 168 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 41 confirmed (including 36 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 120,844 (15 presumptive, 120,829 confirmed including 9,006 deaths, 107,148 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 13, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Quebec farms facing lost profits and rotting harvests due to migrant worker shortage

Kyle Mack | posted Thursday, Aug 13th, 2020

Farm owners Francois Daoust and Melina Plante, left, are seen in their greenhouse with summer employee Florence Lachapelle in Havelock, Que., on Thursday, April 23, 2020. Nineteen-year-old Florence Lachapelle was among hundreds of Quebecers who tried their hand at planting seeds and harvesting produce this summer, replacing migrant workers who were unable to leave their countries because of the COVID-19 pandemic. And while Lachapelle spent long days working the fields on Francois D’Aoust’s farm in Havelock, Que., too few other Quebecers took up the call to help the province’s struggling agricultural industry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

MONTREAL — Nineteen-year-old Florence Lachapelle was among hundreds of Quebecers who tried their hand at planting seeds and harvesting produce this summer, replacing migrant workers who were unable to leave their countries because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And while Lachapelle spent long days working the fields on Francois D’Aoust’s farm in Havelock, Que., too few other Quebecers took up the call to help the province’s struggling agricultural industry.

Despite a recruiting drive by the provincial government in April, the lack of labour this season has forced farmers to cut production or leave food rotting in the fields.

Unfortunately for Lachapelle, she fell ill with mononucleosis after two months and returned home to Montreal. She said the work was very demanding with so few migrant workers available.

“They’re professionals and we’re simply not,” Lachapelle said in a recent interview.

D’Aoust said he hired a handful of people to work alongside Lachapelle, who were out of work in other sectors such as communications, film and the restaurant industry. But once their opportunities returned, he said, they left for their better-paying jobs.

“Not a lot of people are used to (physical) work all day,” D’Aoust said in a recent interview. “It’s just not the kind of work that we do. It’s rare that people are in shape and can (work) all day in the field.

“People that are farmers, themselves, in their country, surely they are at an advantage.”

D’Aoust and his wife, Melina Plante, have hired the same four Guatemalan seasonal workers year after year. But this year the farmhands were stuck at home at the beginning of Quebec’s farming season due to travel restrictions their country imposed to limit the spread of COVID-19.

He said it takes inexperienced Quebecers up to three times as long to do farm work compared to a migrant worker. That meant he had to pay locals to do less work, eating into his profits.

D’Aoust slashed production at his farm, Les Bontes de la Vallee, by 60 per cent this year because he and his wife figured they would only have migrant workers later in the harvest season.

Two Guatemalan workers eventually made it on D’Aoust and Plante’s farm — but the financial damage to the business was done. “What we hope is to pass through this difficult period without too much loss and start again next year,” he said. “We just want to stay alive.”

For Michel Ricard, who owns 60 hectares of farmland in Saint-Alexis-de-Montcalm, about 60 kilometres north of Montreal, he said he’s going to lose a lot money and food this year because migrant workers from Mexico and Guatemala haven’t been able to arrive.

By the end of August, Ricard said he expects to lose approximately $100,000 dollars worth of cucumbers because he has no one to pick them.

Experienced foreign workers are “essential for the future, for me, and for the majority of growers of vegetables,” he said in a recent interview.

“The people from Guatemala are able to work from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. It’s not a problem. Sometimes I need to stop them because they want to continue, but sometimes I say ‘that’s enough for today.’”

Local workers haven’t been much help to him, he said. Ricard had his daughter post a message on Facebook to reach out to prospective farmhands, but he said only eight came through for him.

“It was impossible,” Ricard said.

The Union des producteurs agricoles, which represents about 42,000 Quebec farmers, says there are close to 2,000 fewer migrant workers on Quebec farms than usual. Despite the UPA’s efforts to lure Quebec workers through a recruiting drive, just under 1,400 were assigned to Quebec farms this year.

“It didn’t replace, really, the foreign workers,” UPA President Marcel Groleau said in a recent interview. “It helped on some issues … but those workers are not trained and can’t really replace the foreign workers that are trained and have experience on farms.”

Farmers such as D’Aoust and Ricard say migrant farmhands are willing to work longer hours, even for minimal pay.

Groleau said the federal government’s emergency response benefit, which offers up to $2,000 a month to many people who have lost jobs, has encouraged Quebecers to stay away from the gruelling field work.

“When you can get two thousand dollars a month sitting at home,” Groleau said, “it’s not really interesting to go on a farm and work a little bit for minimum wage.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 13, 2020.

Julian McKenzie, The Canadian Press

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

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

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

There are 120,421 confirmed cases in Canada.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

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

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

The Canadian Press

Travel do’s and don’ts during a pandemic

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

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

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

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are 120,132 confirmed cases in Canada.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

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

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

The Canadian Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

Air Canada to launch revamped Aeroplan program in November

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kyle Mack | posted Monday, Aug 10th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kyle Mack | posted Monday, Aug 10th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Canadian Press

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

Kyle Mack | posted Friday, Aug 7th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Canadian Press

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

Kyle Mack | posted Friday, Aug 7th, 2020

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

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

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

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

No winner has yet been announced.

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

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

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

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

The Canadian Press

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

Kyle Mack | posted Friday, Aug 7th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Union leaders were enraged.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press

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

Kyle Mack | posted Friday, Aug 7th, 2020

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

There are 118,561 confirmed cases in Canada.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Yukon: 14 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

– Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

– Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

– Nunavut: No confirmed cases

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

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

The Canadian Press

Canadian citizen sentenced to death in China on drug charge

Kyle Mack | posted Thursday, Aug 6th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Canada to provide $5M in humanitarian aid to Lebanon

Kyle Mack | posted Thursday, Aug 6th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kyle Mack | posted Wednesday, Aug 5th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Canadian Press

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

Kyle Mack | posted Wednesday, Aug 5th, 2020

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Aug. 5.

What we are watching in Canada …

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also this …

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trials in humans are expensive and usually time-consuming.

ICYMI (in case you missed it) …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What we are watching in the U.S. …

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

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

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

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

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

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also this…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Canadian Press

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

Kyle Mack | posted Wednesday, Aug 5th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trials in humans are expensive and usually time-consuming.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First cancer diagnosed in dinosaur fossil hints at communal life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ekhiari said the dinosaur was very sick.

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

Ekhiari found himself feeling for his ancient patient.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Follow @row1960 on Twitter

 

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

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

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

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

There are 117,031 confirmed cases in Canada.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_ Yukon: 14 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

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

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

The Canadian Press

More corporate meetings to go virtual after success during pandemic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“So there’s a real benefit there.”

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

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

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

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

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

Technology itself was a barrier at times, Kimball said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Canadian Press

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

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

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

There are 115,799 confirmed cases in Canada.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_ Yukon: 14 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

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

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

The Canadian Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

The Canadian Press

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

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

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

There are 115,470 confirmed cases in Canada.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_ Yukon: 14 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

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

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

The Canadian Press

Is this the end of the Safe Third Country Agreement?

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

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

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

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

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

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

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

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

There are 114,994 confirmed cases in Canada.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_ Yukon: 14 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

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

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

The Canadian Press

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

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

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

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

GUEST: Holly Moore, Investigative Producer, APTN

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She gave her daughter the bear in December 2017.

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

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

She says the bear is in perfect condition.

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

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

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

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

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

There are 114,597 confirmed cases in Canada.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_ Yukon: 14 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

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

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

The Canadian Press

Parents divided over sending kids back to school: Poll

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amusement parks welcome back fewer guests with new pandemic precautions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are 113,913 confirmed cases in Canada.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_ Yukon: 14 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 2 presumptive

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

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

The Canadian Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Canadian Press

Disabled Canadians struggle to be paired with service animals amid pandemic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Court appearance for Calgary man facing terrorism charges

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

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

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

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

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

Borhot has been ordered held in custody.

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

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

 

The Canadian Press

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

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

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

There are 112,672 confirmed cases in Canada.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 2 presumptive

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

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

The Canadian Press

What investigators revealed about deaths of girls, father in Quebec

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Canadian Press

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

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

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

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

The suspect allegedly fled on foot.

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

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

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

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

The Canadian Press

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

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

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

There are 112,240 confirmed cases in Canada.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 2 presumptive

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

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

The Canadian Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“This is unacceptable.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Canadian Press

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

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

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

There are 111,697 confirmed cases in Canada.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 2 presumptive

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

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

The Canadian Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are 111,124 confirmed cases in Canada.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 2 presumptive

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

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

The Canadian Press

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

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jul 21st, 2020

British Columbia’s provincial health officer says a higher number of COVID-19 cases over the last three days means the province could experience a rapid rebound of infections after successfully “bending the curve.”

Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday that B.C. recorded 102 cases of the virus since Friday because people have increased their contacts to 20 or 30 people in some cases, from a low of three to four, so it’s time to “pay attention now.”

Henry said she’s concerned the province is at a “tipping point” and it’s more challenging for public health workers to do contact tracing when an infected person has socialized with a high number of people.

Gatherings should be limited to six people, mostly outdoors, and people should know who they’re connecting with as well as have a “contact keeper” in case someone in a group becomes ill, she said.

“There are hundreds of people exposed over the last few weeks,” she said of events mostly involving young people at private parties in Kelowna, where more than 60 cases have now been connected.

“We know the more people get ill the more chances, even young people, will have severe illness (and) will end up in hospital and unfortunately some people will die,” Henry said, adding it could include members of the community who work in hospitals and long-term care facilities to whom the virus is transmitted.

B.C. has recorded a total of 3,300 cases of COVID-19 and 189 deaths.

A survey of over 394,000 British Columbians indicates younger people between the ages of 18 to 29 are experiencing more mental health and financial concerns, Henry said.

Many are not working due to the pandemic in jobs including arts and entertainment, accommodation, food services and retail.

Overall, 62 per cent of respondents indicated they’re concerned about the health of a vulnerable family member.

The survey also suggests only 67 per cent of people stay home from work when they’re sick, and Henry said there’s a need to address the reasons behind that.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the 102 cases over three days, representing an average of 34 cases a day, may not be a lot compared with other jurisdictions in Canada but they’re enough to cause discomfort in a province that could reverse its positive trend on the pandemic.

“It is, I think, a sobering reminder of how fleeting success can be when we turn our backs on COVID-19,” he said, adding British Columbians need to recommit to measures such as physical distancing.

“There’s a place for common sense but right now there’s a need for COVID sense and to use it.”

By Camille Bains in Vancouver

Tour company already investigating glacier bus crash that killed three

BILL GRAVELAND, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jul 20th, 2020

COLUMBIA ICEFIELD, Alta. — The president of the company that runs the bus tours at the Columbia Icefield between Banff and Jasper said changes will be made, if necessary, after a rollover on the glacier killed three people and sent two dozen to hospital.

The cause of the accident hasn’t been determined. The off-road bus rolled off the road to the glacier Saturday afternoon and came to rest on a rocky slope, its six huge tires pointed up at the sky.

The RCMP, Occupational Health and Safety and the Transportation Safety Board spent Sunday milling about the vehicle, which slid about 50 metres down a steep embankment coming to rest near the glacier.

It’s unclear how soon it will be removed from its current location but an internal investigation is underway as well.

“We started right away to review what happened, what is our process with our protocol at every step and so we’re doing that internally but we are also working with the external teams to ensure that gets a fulsome review,” said Dave McKenna, the president of the Banff Jasper Collection by Pursuit, which operates the tours and its fleet of 22 vehicles.

The RCMP said the cause of the accident still isn’t known and the snow coach, called an Ice Explorer, will receive a full mechanical inspection.

The red and white big-wheeled buses regularly take tourists up a rough rocky road onto the Athabasca Glacier in Jasper National Park.

In all, 27 people were aboard when it crashed.

Alberta Heath Services said, of the 24 survivors, 14 had life-threatening head or pelvis injuries. Five others were in serious condition with broken bones and the remaining five suffered minor injuries.

McKenna said the Ice Explorers are offroad vehicles and seatbelts are not required. They aren’t allowed on highways and have a top speed of 40 kilometres an hour.

He said once the investigation is complete, Pursuit will implement any changes that might be part of recommendations for things like seatbelts.

“We will wait until the investigation is over and we will listen to all the recommendations and anything we’re required to do.”

Tours have been offered on the glacier since 1969 and the current type of Ice Explorers have been used since the early 1980s but are constantly upgraded.

“We average about 480,000 visitors a year and we’ve been operating these vehicles since the early 80s. We’ve had over 16 million passengers safely taken out on to the ice over all these years. No major incidents,” McKenna said.

“Over 39 years of course there’s a few bumps but nothing serious with fatalities or critical injuries.”

Angela Bye was on one of the coaches just before Saturday’s accident. She said she never worried about her safety.

“We were in the exact same vehicle, hours before. It’s like being in a school bus with really tall seats. The seats are way more padded than a school bus. They explained how it ran. How the wheels work,” she said.

“I felt very safe.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 20, 2020.

Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

 

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Monday, July 20

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jul 20th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. on July 20, 2020:

There are 110,338 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 57,466 confirmed (including 5,655 deaths, 50,050 resolved)

_ Ontario: 37,604 confirmed (including 2,751 deaths, 33,407 resolved)

_ Alberta: 9,219 confirmed (including 167 deaths, 8,193 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 3,198 confirmed (including 189 deaths, 2,802 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,067 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 1,002 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 943 confirmed (including 15 deaths, 799 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 332 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 318 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 262 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 259 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 169 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 163 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 36 confirmed (including 29 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 2 presumptive

_ Total: 110,338 (13 presumptive, 110,325 confirmed including 8,852 deaths, 97,051 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 20, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Walmart Canada investing $3.5B over 5 years, notably on technology

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jul 20th, 2020

Walmart Canada plans to invest $3.5 billion over the next five years to improve service in stores and on the web, renovate 150 stores and build two new distribution centres.

The retail giant says the investment will create hundreds of construction jobs in Canada and forge partnerships with Canadian high-tech companies.

Future technology initiatives include the use of payment on mobile devices so that customers can pay for purchases anywhere in the store.

The company also aims to soon offer a complete merchandise pick-up service at about 270 branches, or 70 per cent of its locations in Canada.

Renovations to more than one-third of its stores will be completed over three years.

Walmart is also planning to spend $1.1 billion to speed up the flow of products by building two new distribution centres, in Vaughan, Ont. and Surrey, B.C., as well as renovating an existing centre in Cornwall, Ont.

“Today’s significant investment will position us for future growth and make Walmart Canada even better for our associates and our customers,” says Horacio Barbeito, president and CEO.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Friday, July 17

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jul 17th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. on July 17, 2020:

There are 109,155 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 57,001 confirmed (including 5,646 deaths, 26,097 resolved)

_ Ontario: 37,052 confirmed (including 2,732 deaths, 32,920 resolved)

_ Alberta: 9,114 confirmed (including 165 deaths, 8,142 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 3,170 confirmed (including 189 deaths, 2,789 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,067 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 1,002 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 923 confirmed (including 15 deaths, 794 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 320 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 318 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 262 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 168 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 163 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 36 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 2 presumptive

_ Total: 109,155 (13 presumptive, 109,142 confirmed including 8,822 deaths, 72,539 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 17, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Missing Quebec father may be desperate and looking for materials, police say

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jul 17th, 2020

ST-APOLLINAIRE, Que. — Quebec provincial police continue to search for the father of two young girls found dead last weekend in a rural area southwest of Quebec City.

Police say 44-year-old Martin Carpentier may be desperate and looking for materials to ensure his survival.

They say they have found evidence Carpentier was in a trailer in the area where police have focused their search since the bodies of Norah and Romy Carpentier, aged 11 and six, were discovered last Saturday.

They’re asking residents of Lotbiniere, Que., and surrounding areas west of Quebec City to check their cottages, trailers or buildings for signs of a break-in, such as missing or moved clothing, food or equipment.

Police are also suggesting citizens search in pairs or with a police escort and to call 911 if they see any signs of the missing man.

Investigators have said the girls and their father were believed to have been in a serious car crash on Highway 20 in St-Apollinaire, Que., last Wednesday, but there was nobody inside the vehicle when they arrived on scene.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 17, 2020

The Canadian Press

Coronavirus convalescent plasma trials underway at Mt. Sinai Hospital

DILSHAD BURMAN | posted Friday, Jul 17th, 2020

Since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers have been looking at convalescent plasma as a way to battle the virus.

Clinical plasma trails are now underway through the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute (LTRI), located at Mount Sinai hospital in Toronto.

What is convalescent plasma?

Blood is essentially made up of three components – red blood cells, white blood cells and plasma.

When a person gets infected with a virus, their immune system launches a response and antibodies are created to fight off the virus. Convalescent plasma refers to plasma obtained from the blood of such a person, which contains those antibodies after they’ve recovered.

How is the clinical trial conducted?

The LTRI clinical trial is called “Conquer” and began just over a month ago – approximately five months after COVID-19 first made it’s appearance. Usually, clinical trials take several years to develop.

The trial is conducted on patients who have been admitted to hospital with a severe case of COVID-19 and require oxygen.

Patients are approached by a research coordinator to determine if they are eligible for the trial. They then explain the trial, its benefits, and risks.

“The majority of people that come into hospital really want to be part of the clinical trial,” said Dr. Michael Fralick, a clinician scientist working on the Conquer trial.

Once enrolled, patients are then randomized to receive either convalescent plasma or standard of care – which refers to the regular course of hospital treatment for COVID-19, without convalescent plasma.

“If an individual is diagnosed with COVID-19, their immune system will mount a response and their immune system will generate these antibodies. The goal with giving them plasma is to give them that … extra boost of antibodies to help them fight the infection,” Fralick explained.

So far, about 40 patients have been enrolled in the clinical trial across different hospitals in Toronto and the province.

Is it working?

Fralick said preliminary data is encouraging and suggested there might be a benefit to administering convalescent plasma to COVID-19 patients — citing a study in China that had to be cut short because they simply ran out of patients to enroll.

Convalescent plasma is known to be safe, but the current trials are aiming to find out whether it’s actually effective in the fight against COVID-19.

As the study is still in the early stages, it’s still wait and watch.

“In order for us to know – is this curative or not – we need results from the clinical trial,” Fralick said. “Is it life saving? The only way we’ll know that is by completing the clinical trial Mt. Sinai is involved with as well as other clinical trials of this treatment.”

Fralick said they have to resist the temptation to look at the data too early — more patients need to be recruited into the study to get a definitive answer.

“There’s risks with everything in medicine. So we want to make sure that this has clear benefits before we roll it out to anyone who gets COVID-19 and is hospitalized.”

How can you donate plasma?

In order to donate plasma to be used in the clinical trials, there are some basic criteria that need to be met:

  • You must be under the age of 67
  • You must be completely recovered from COVID-19
  • A month has passed since your recovery

Convalescent plasma is collected by Canadian Blood Services.

For more information on eligibility criteria and how to donate click here: Convalescent plasma donation

If I donate plasma, can they tell me if I had COVID-19?

Convalescent plasma donations are accepted from people who have recovered from COVID-19.

Testing for antibodies is able to detect residual traces of COVID-19, but currently, this type of testing is not aimed at determining whether or not a person had the virus. Tests to detect only whether a person had the virus in the past are currently not available.

Dr. Anne-Claude Gingras, Senior Investigator of serology testing at LTRI, said there’s not much the average person can do with that information.

“You don’t know what that means in terms of – will it protect you from further infection?” she said.

She said the serology testing currently underway at LTRI is working to determine among other things:

  • A better way to measure whether a person had the virus in order to track population health
  • What type and how much of the antibodies were generated, when and how fast they were generated and how long they stay in the system and whether all those values relate to good vs. bad outcomes
  • Whether those antibodies will prove to be protective if the person were to get infected again and how long would they last
  • How this knowledge will further inform how to respond if one is infected again

Antibody testing is also being conducted to determine how prevalent the virus is in the Canadian population. Dr. Gingras said the LTRI study is associated with a government pilot program that is testing about 100,000 samples acquired through blood donations.

While each individual will not be called back with results, the findings of the study “should indicate whether they think that the prevalence rate is higher or lower than people have been guessing,” Dr. Gingras explained.

The results of that study are expected within a few weeks.

WE Charity restructuring operations after being centre of sole-sourced contract

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jul 16th, 2020

WE Charity is restructuring its operations weeks after its sole-sourced contract with the government shone a spotlight on the organization at the centre of an ethics investigation of the prime minister.

The charity says it will return to its roots by prioritizing international development work focused on children and their families.

But after 25 years of rapid growth, WE Charity says its structure is too complicated and needs to be more transparent.

A formal review will be conducted by experts Korn Ferry to streamline its operations and clearly separate the social enterprise from the charitable entities. The firm will also review the board of directors for diversity, inclusion and independence.

A chief risk and compliance officer independent from management will be hired to oversee all risk management, regulatory and governance compliance.

Avis Glaze, an international leader in the field of education, and McCarthy Tetrault LLP will conduct a workplace review.

David Onley, the former lieutenant governor of Ontario, will join become an executive adviser to provide advice on the transformation and implement Korn Ferry’s recommendations.

“By making these changes within our organization, WE can move forward to the next 25 years of impact focused on what matters most: the communities and youth we serve,” it said in a news release.

Federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion is investigating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for a potential conflict of interest after he failed to recuse himself from a decision to award a $900-million student-aid program to WE even though his mother, brother and wife received a combined $283,400 for a number of appearances at the organization’s events.

‘They haven’t even apologized,’ says mother of man killed by police after calling 911

LIAM CASEY, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jul 16th, 2020

TORONTO — The silence inside the Campbells’ home west of Toronto has grown like a cancer in the weeks since April 6.

That’s when D’Andre Campbell, one of six siblings who live in the Brampton, Ont., home with their parents, called 911 on himself and was later shot dead by police.

Before that night, laughter filled the house, along with the sounds of D’Andre Campbell’s footsteps. He was the only one who wore shoes inside the house, his mother recalls, and the sound telegraphed his movements at all hours of the day.

“I miss those footsteps,” says Yvonne Campbell, as tears fall into her face mask.

D’Andre Campbell’s family still does not know why he called 911 that night. The province’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit, says officers from Peel Regional Police were dispatched to a “domestic situation,” but the family says the 26-year-old was no threat to anyone that day.

Two officers fired stun guns at Campbell before another officer fired his gun multiple times, according to the SIU, which has taken over the investigation. The SIU says a knife was recovered at the scene.

The Campbells, who are Black,  say several of them witnessed D’Andre’s death in the kitchen of their home, where he used to eat some of his favourite foods: spaghetti, lasagna and ice cream.

“My brother bled out there instantly and he didn’t do anything wrong,” says Campbell’s sister, Michelle.

Three months later, the family says they have yet to hear from both the SIU and Peel police.

“I need justice for my son, I need answers,” Yvonne Campbell says in a recent interview at the office of the family’s lawyers — Jeremy Solomon and Mary DeRose — who are contemplating litigation.

The family did not want to discuss details of D’Andre Campbell’s death due to the possibility of a civil action. But they want the public to know about his life.

Nearly 10 years ago, when D’Andre Campbell was 17, doctors diagnosed him with schizophrenia. The family noticed he became quiet and withdrawn.

“He got very paranoid, so I knew something was off,” Yvonne Campbell says.

Doctors prescribed him medication, she says, and he lived the vast majority of his life symptom-free — smiling, laughing and listening to music.

He worked for four years at a company’s shipping and receiving department and was doing well for a time, Yvonne Campbell says, but at some point he “got a little edgy” and was given some time off.

He returned briefly to work, then stopped.

“I didn’t really pressure him to work because I know his situation,” his mother says. “I’d rather he be home.”

The young man became a homebody, only leaving to go to the store, buy lottery tickets or to celebrate his birthday in mid-December at his favourite restaurant, Mandarin.

He felt safe in his home, the family says, and often did not go on vacation with them.

The family says they called 911 on several occasions in the past when D’Andre Campbell hit a “peak,” which usually indicated his medication was no longer working.

“He’d be back and forth, wouldn’t sit down and always thought there was something there,” Michelle Campbell says.

Calling 911 was “the only way we can get him to see a doctor, he willingly won’t want to go, so we have to call police and then he’ll go,” Michelle Campbell says. He’d spend a few days in hospital and then be fine.

The family say they want answers, but the SIU investigation into the young man’s death could take up to a year to conclude.

“The system is screwed up,” Michelle Campbell says. “Three months later and we still don’t know anything. It’s not fair and I don’t have any faith in the investigation.”

The family wants to know the contents of the 911 call along with the name of the officer who killed D’Andre Campbell. They also want that officer to talk to the SIU and provide his notes, which the watchdog agency says he has not done.

The SIU says they’ve interviewed four officers who witnessed the killing, but legally cannot compel the officer who shot D’Andre Campbell to be interviewed or give over his notes due to a regulation in the provincial Police Services Act.

Spokeswoman Monica Hudon says the agency only recently received results from the Centre of Forensic Science for items of evidence and received the post-mortem results last week.

“While the SIU recognizes it is important to resolve cases in a timely manner, the thoroughness of the investigation must take precedence over the length of time it takes to finish an investigation,” Hudon says.

The Campbells also want to see changes to the way police respond to calls involving people who struggle with mental illness.

“They definitely shouldn’t be going with guns,” says Michelle Campbell, adding officers should be wearing body cameras.

Yvonne Campbell wants police to say they’re sorry for her son’s death.

“The police have torn my family apart,” she says. “They haven’t even apologized, or offered condolences.”

Peel police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The youngest Campbell sibling, 10-year-old Claudius Jr., is struggling to cope with the sudden death of his brother, who would often offer him late-night snacks. Now the boy often cries alone in his room.

“Sometimes he doesn’t want to sleep by himself so he comes into my room and I put on the TV till he falls asleep,” says Michelle Campbell, the eldest of the siblings at 29, as she wipes tears from her face.

Dajour Campbell, wearing a shirt with his late brother’s image on it, says time has lost its meaning.

“It’s been the same day on repeat. I don’t feel like getting out of my bed,” the 22-year-old says. “It doesn’t feel like the same house.”

Yvonne Campbell says she tries to fill the silence with music to keep thoughts of what happened to her son at bay.

“It’s very hard,” she says. “Every day we get up looking for answers and there are no answers.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 16, 2020.

Liam Casey, The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Thursday, July 16

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jul 16th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on July 16, 2020:

There are 108,829 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 56,859 confirmed (including 5,636 deaths, 26,097 resolved)

_ Ontario: 37,052 confirmed (including 2,732 deaths, 32,920 resolved)

_ Alberta: 8,994 confirmed (including 163 deaths, 8,127 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 3,149 confirmed (including 189 deaths, 2,753 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,067 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 1,002 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 881 confirmed (including 15 deaths, 791 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 319 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 318 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 262 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 168 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 163 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 36 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 2 presumptive

_ Total: 108,829 (13 presumptive, 108,816 confirmed including 8,810 deaths, 72,485 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 16, 2020.

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Tuesday, July 14

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jul 14th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on July 14, 2020:

There are 108,155 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 56,621 confirmed (including 5,628 deaths, 25,911 resolved)

_ Ontario: 36,839 confirmed (including 2,722 deaths, 32,663 resolved)

_ Alberta: 8,826 confirmed (including 161 deaths, 7,989 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 3,115 confirmed (including 189 deaths, 2,718 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,066 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 1,000 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 871 confirmed (including 15 deaths, 766 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 314 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 317 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 262 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 166 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 163 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 35 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 108,155 (11 presumptive, 108,144 confirmed including 8,790 deaths, 71,841 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 14, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Health-care workers to announce political action in response to emergency orders

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jul 14th, 2020

HAMILTON — A union representing Ontario health-care workers says it will announce “political action” this morning in response to the province potentially extending its emergency powers.

The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, a division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, will be making the announcement at Hamilton General Hospital.

A spokeswoman for the union confirms that 98 per cent of its membership voted in favour of some form of political action over the weekend.

The Progressive Conservative government introduced a bill last week that would allow it to keep some emergency measures in place in the months ahead.

Health-care workers, including nurses, say the orders suspend their collective bargaining agreement with the province.

Union president Michael Hurley says while that was acceptable in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s now a detriment to health-care workers.

Hurley says a suspended agreement means hospital staff may have their shifts changed, be moved from site to site, or have vacation requests denied.

He suggested last week that the union’s action could take many forms, including wearing stickers to work, organizing a rally or even an interruption of work.

“No one wants to turn their attention from providing patient care to having to defend some basic workplace rights,” said Hurley on Friday. “That’s the last thing anyone wants to do, so we’re hoping that the government reconsiders its position.”

Human clinical trials begin for Quebec-made COVID-19 vaccine candidate

CASSANDRA SZKLARSKI, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jul 14th, 2020

Canadian trials have just begun for a prospective COVID-19 vaccine but its Quebec-based manufacturer is already downplaying its potential impact.

Dr. Bruce Clark, president and CEO of the biopharmaceutical company Medicago, cautions observers against holding unrealistic expectations that his product — or any of the numerous vaccines in development globally — will bring the pandemic to a screeching halt.

“Whatever vaccine we get in this first round — unless it’s a miracle — it’s not going to be perfect,” says Clark, whose company began trials for its proposed vaccine Monday in Quebec City.

“It’s going to have to undergo development, it’s going to take probably years to come up with an understanding of the right vaccine, the right approach. It’s not the panacea.

“To assume that we can have, in 18 months, the solution to a pandemic that comes around once in a generation, is naive.”

So much is still unknown about COVID-19, notes Clark, including how it may manifest during the flu season later this year.

He suspects a more likely scenario is that a vaccine will offer only part of the solution, along with new therapeutics and ongoing public health interventions.

Medicago’s first phase of clinical trials will test a plant-based product on 180 healthy men and women, aged 18 to 55.

The randomized, partially blinded study uses technology that does not involve animal products or live viruses like traditional methods.

Clark notes that vaccine developers typically use chicken eggs to propagate a virus, but Medicago uses recombinant technology involving the genetic sequence of a virus, with living plants as the host.

The resulting virus-like particles mimic the shape and dimensions of a virus, which allows the body to recognize them and spark an immune response.

Clark says the plant-based approach is significantly faster and offers more consistent results than egg-based or cell-based methods.

While it takes five to six months to propagate a virus in eggs, the plant-based technique requires just five to six weeks, he says.

“In a pandemic, something like COVID, if you’re able to cut that much time off development, you have a substantial impact on public health.”

Meanwhile, Clark says viruses are prone to mutations as they adapt and grow in an egg, which could result in a vaccine that doesn’t exactly match the circulating virus. In contrast, “a plant is a plant,” and that makes production easily scalable.

“One plant behaves like 100,000 plants,” he says.

The trial will evaluate three different dosages alone, or with one of two adjuvants provided by GlaxoSmithKline and Dynavax. An adjuvant can boost the effectiveness of a vaccine for a better immunological response, thereby reducing the required dose, Clark adds.

He hopes to know the effectiveness of the adjuvants and dosing by October, and then kick off a second, more targeted trial phase involving about 1,000 participants.

Clark says the third phase would involve about 15,000 to 20,000 subjects, and may be a global study, depending on circumstances of the pandemic.

If the vaccine is successful, Clark points to another uncertainty.

Because the company’s commercial plant is across the border in Durham, N.C., he says there’s no guarantee of a Canadian supply.

“‘Guarantee’ is a strong word,” says Clark. “Strange things happen to borders in the context of a pandemic.”

Such border complications were made clear to Canadians in April when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau complained about problems with incomplete or non-existent deliveries of critical COVID-19 supplies. At the time, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered U.S. producers to prioritize the domestic market.

Clark suggested similar hurdles could impact vaccine distribution, putting immediate pressure on Medicago to complete construction of a large-scale manufacturing facility in its home base of Quebec City.

“Certainly, we need a facility in Canada,” Clark says.

“There’s no guarantee on the easy flow of materials back and forth across the border should we have a successful vaccine. We have to keep the focus on completing the Canadian facility so that we have domestic capacity. I think this is what most countries are concerned about.”

By the end of 2023, the Quebec City plant is expected to be able to produce up to one billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine annually.

Until then, Medicago says it expects to be able to make approximately 100 million doses by the end of 2021, assuming its trials are successful.

Clark says countries must temper any nationalist agendas that might emerge with a viable vaccine and acknowledge that the fight against COVID-19 is global.

Meeting that demand would require multiple manufacturers, multiple distribution routes, and lots of co-operation, he says, possibly through the World Health Organization.

“There has to be some ability to share those around and distribute, whether that’s through an entity like the WHO, or something equivalent.”

Northern schools face additional challenges for reopening — and staying closed

NICOLE THOMPSON AND MICHELLE MCQUIGGE, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jul 13th, 2020

Teachers in Ontario’s northern school boards are sounding the alarm about back-to-school plans, saying the region’s vast geography and sparse population present challenges not considered in southern parts of the province.

School boards provincewide are still in the process of developing contingency plans for September, and while the teachers say reopening will be hard for everyone, they note that the general guidelines developed by the Ministry of Education don’t take into account the lack of resources in the Far North.

“We want to be in the schools. We want to be delivering quality education,” said Kim Douglas, president of the local elementary teachers’ union for the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board. “(But) I don’t think they have enough equipment, enough cleaning, enough help to even allay the fears that people are feeling, going back into the school.”

The Dryden, Ont.-based union representative, who spent three decades as a teacher, said schools in her board are few and far between, and have scant staff.

In one school, she said, there’s one full-time teacher, a part-time teacher and an education assistant. There’s no administrator, which raises a new host of problems during a pandemic.

“When there’s no administrator on site, and a kid gets sick, what do you do?” Douglas said. “Who’s gonna be responsible for that child?”

But the barriers to remote learning are also greater up north, she said.

“A lot of us don’t have Wi-Fi abilities at our homes,” Douglas said. “We pay an exorbitant amount of money to get Wi-Fi. And for us to do online learning, it’s been a challenge for many members. I’ve had members who have paid upwards of $700 for their Wi-Fi, just to do the distance learning.”

And while she noted that the risk of contracting COVID-19 in her region is relatively low, many people live along the Trans-Canada Highway and could be coming into contact with truckers and other travellers who have recently been in coronavirus hotspots.

Louis Clausi, a representative for the northeastern unit of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association who was a high school teacher for 20 years, said the geography in his board is also an issue.

“For me to even drive from one end of my board to the other, to go from Kapuskasing to Cobalt, is a six-hour drive,” he said. “It’s hard for the board to organize such a large area and to deal with all these specific issues.”

He listed daycare and busing as two areas of particular concern.

And he said in his region, it’s even more important to come up with a plan quickly — some schools are due to resume in late August because they take a break in October for the hunt.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce has said boards are expected to prepare plans for three scenarios come September: regular in-class instruction with physical-distancing measures in place, full-time remote learning, and a hybrid model blending both approaches.

Lecce later said he expects all students to start the 2020-21 school year with the blended model, which will see no more than 15 students in class attending on alternating days or weeks.

But more recently, he’s expressed a preference for fully in-class learning and said it’s looking increasingly likely that it will be possible.

“That data’s fluid, but it’s moving in the right direction,” Lecce said late last week. “It gives us promise about our reopening plan to get to where those boards, a lot of parents and every member of our caucus wants to go — which is day-to-day learning. Our kids need it.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 13, 2020.

Nicole Thompson and Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Monday, July 13

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jul 13th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on July 13, 2020:

There are 107,589 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 56,521 confirmed (including 5,627 deaths, 25,862 resolved)

_ Ontario: 36,723 confirmed (including 2,719 deaths, 32,534 resolved)

_ Alberta: 8,596 confirmed (including 160 deaths, 7,844 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 3,053 confirmed (including 187 deaths, 2,679 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,066 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 1,000 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 815 confirmed (including 15 deaths, 757 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 314 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 314 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 262 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 166 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 163 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 33 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 107,589 (11 presumptive, 107,578 confirmed including 8,783 deaths, 71,467 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 13, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Quebec police still looking for father, two days after missing girls found dead

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jul 13th, 2020

ST-APOLLINAIRE, Que. — Quebec provincial police continued to search through the night for the father of two girls whose bodies were found Saturday in a small town southwest of Quebec City.

The bodies of Norah and Romy Carpentier, aged 11 and 6, were located in a wooded area in the community of St-Apollinaire, Que.

The girls had last been seen on Wednesday and became the subject of an Amber Alert the next day.

On Sunday, the manhunt for their father, Martin Carpentier, 44, had authorities tightening the search in a thickly wooded area near where the young sisters from Levis, Que. were found.THE CANADIAN PRESS

Residents had helped with the searches until Saturday, but police asked people to stay away from the area Sunday to let officers work.

The attention of the entire province has been on the case, especially in the town of just over 6,000 people where it’s playing out.

Police have said the girls and their father were believed to have been in a car crash on Highway 20 in St-Apollinaire on Wednesday evening.

Investigators said the car was heading east when it skidded into the median, flipped over and landed on the shoulder on the opposite side of the highway.

But police did not find any occupants inside the car when they arrived.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 13, 2020.

Three found dead after downtown motel fire in Prince George, B.C.

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jul 9th, 2020

PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. — The RCMP say the bodies of three people have been found at the scene of a motel fire in downtown Prince George, B.C.

Cpl. Craig Douglass says emergency services were called to the Econo Lodge City Centre Inn on Victoria Street around 9 a.m. Wednesday.

He says fire crews tackled the blaze, which engulfed a portion of the building, while police assisted with staff and guests who evacuated the structure.

At about 12:30 p.m., Douglass says personnel clearing the building found the three bodies, but he did not have details about their identities.

Douglass says an investigation is underway and determining the cause of the fire will take some time.

The RCMP are also working to determine if anyone is missing, but Douglass says with so many people fleeing the area and others gathering to observe the blaze, that has been difficult.

“You can imagine a scene like this is chaos,” he says.

The BC Coroners Services says it has begun a fact-finding investigation, but it is in its early stages and no other information can be released at this time.

“We are investigating to determine who died, and to investigate how, where, when and by what means,” spokesman Andy Watson says.

— By Amy Smart in Vancouver.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2020.

 

The Canadian Press

Raptors VanVleet knows hardship small businesses face during pandemic

Lindsay Dunn | posted Thursday, Jul 9th, 2020

The Toronto Raptors are on their way to Orlando Thursday but fan-favorite Fred VanVleet has Canada in his heart and on his mind. He ventured into the small business world a few years ago as he is one of many of the Raptors who have their own clothing line. Even though he isn’t in Toronto he is encouraging people to support small businesses in their community during the pandemic.

“I own my own small business so it definitely hits home for me,” VanVleet told CityNews from Florida. “I know what it takes to run a small business. I know the challenges that come with that, the hustle and drive that you have to have to keep up. It’s so important for me to spend, and to shop small. It’s something that I just live every day, it’s is something I believe in.”

VanVleet recently teamed up with American Express for their Shop Small campaign and even though he hasn’t been in Toronto in a few months, he wants to make sure the city is taking care of each other.

“That’s one of the things I love about Toronto’s is the small businesses and you know, it just gives the city a culture and a vibe. Because of the year that we’ve had 2020 hasn’t been kind to anybody. I’ve seen personally, how Canada and especially Toronto, come together, we saw last year when we won.”

“One of the most incredible moments of my life was that parade. And just the people celebrating so if I can try to get some of that energy going with the people and encourage people to shop small and to spend the money with businesses that they love. They can recirculate those funds and get the economy going and help people that are in need and these business owners, you know, have probably taken a big hit this year.”

There is one place, in particular, he has been missing in Toronto.

“I really miss my barber right now,” VanVleet said with a laugh. “Shout out to my barber Brian at Throne Barbershop, I’ve been missing him since I haven’t been able to be in Toronto for almost four months now.”

Before flying to Florida, the 26-year-old was in self-quarantine with his girlfriend and their two kids. He admits it was the longest he has ever been at home since he was a kid.

“It was nice. I was able to be there all day every day, every second. I got to help with the baths and the lunches and putting them to bed. We got a lot closer over that time which made it even hard to leave.”

The Raptors were in the Fort-Meyers – Naples, Florida area for the last two weeks before immersing themselves in the NBA Bubble in Orlando, where they hope to defend their title. During that time his teammate Kyle Lowry didn’t speak to the media and no photos were taken of the veteran NBA All-Star.

“No comment, no comment, I can’t comment on his whereabouts,” VanVleet joked. “He’s here, no worries. Raptors fans will be happy when they see him lace-up with us.”

The Raptors will host the Los Angeles Lakers when their season resumes in Orlando on August 1st.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Thursday, July 9

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jul 9th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 p.m. ET on July 9, 2020:

There are 106,434 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 56,079 confirmed (including 5,603 deaths, 25,534 resolved)

_ Ontario: 36,178 confirmed (including 2,700 deaths, 31,805 resolved)

_ Alberta: 8,482 confirmed (including 158 deaths, 7,716 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 3,008 confirmed (including 186 deaths, 2,645 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,066 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 998 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 808 confirmed (including 15 deaths, 746 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 314 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 312 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 165 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 162 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 32 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 1 presumptive

_ Total: 106,434 (12 presumptive, 106,422 confirmed including 8,737 deaths, 70,232 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 9, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Montreal police to announce street checks policy after systemic bias report

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Jul 8th, 2020

Montreal police are to announce a new policy on street checks today, months after a damning independent report found evidence of systemic bias linked to race in who they decide to stop.

Last October, Police chief Sylvain Caron said he was humbled and alarmed by the numbers but stressed that it was a reflection of a lack of policy.

The authors crunched three years worth of police data to come up with their conclusions, which they stopped short of conclusively describing as racial profiling.

Street checks involve officers stopping a person and recording their information regardless of whether an offence has been committed.

The report last fall suggested that people from certain racialized groups were much more likely than others to be stopped by police.

It found that Indigenous women were 11 times more likely to be questioned than their white counterparts; that Black and Indigenous Montrealers were between four and five times more likely to be subjected to stops while those of Arab descent were twice as likely to be stopped.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 8, 2020.

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Wednesday, July 8

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jul 8th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on July 8, 2020:

There are 106,167 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 55,997 confirmed (including 5,590 deaths, 25,458 resolved)

_ Ontario: 36,060 confirmed (including 2,691 deaths, 31,603 resolved)

_ Alberta: 8,436 confirmed (including 157 deaths, 7,659 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 2,990 confirmed (including 183 deaths, 2,645 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,065 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 998 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 806 confirmed (including 15 deaths, 737 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 314 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 307 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 165 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 162 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 32 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 1 presumptive

_ Total: 106,167 (12 presumptive, 106,155 confirmed including 8,711 deaths, 69,883 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Ban federal use of facial-recognition tools, groups urge Trudeau government

JIM BRONSKILL , THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jul 8th, 2020

OTTAWA — Dozens of groups and individuals working to protect privacy, human rights and civil liberties want the Trudeau government to ban the use of facial-recognition surveillance by federal law-enforcement and intelligence agencies.

In an open letter to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, they call the technology “highly problematic,” given its lack of accuracy and invasive nature, and say it poses a threat to Canadians’ fundamental rights.

They tell the minister that in the absence of meaningful policy or regulation governing facial recognition, it cannot be considered safe for use in Canada.

The letter is signed by Tim McSorley, national co-ordinator of the Ottawa-based International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, and Laura Tribe, executive director of Open Media, who are spearheading the campaign.

It is endorsed by 29 other prominent groups including Amnesty International Canada, the Canadian Federation of Students, the Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association and Privacy International, as well as 46 academics, researchers, lawyers and other civil society members.

The letter also calls on the government to initiate a meaningful, public consultation on all aspects of facial-recognition technology in Canada and to establish clear, transparent policies and laws regulating its use, including reforms to federal privacy law.

The letter comes as concerns mount over police killing and mistreatment of Black and Indigenous people, prompting widespread discussion about curbing the powers and resources of law-enforcement agencies.

“At a time like this, the public should be certain of the fact that their rights and freedoms are protected,” the letter says.

The federal privacy commissioner said this week that U.S. firm Clearview AI will stop offering its facial-recognition services in Canada in response to an investigation by the commissioner and three provincial counterparts.

Clearview AI’s technology worries many privacy advocates because it apparently allows for the collection of huge numbers of images from various sources with the aim of helping police forces, financial institutions and other clients identify individuals.

Clearview’s retreat includes an indefinite suspension of the company’s contract with the RCMP, its last remaining client in Canada.

Federal officials have also used photo-matching technology to pinpoint people — all wanted on immigration warrants — who used false identities to apply for travel documents.

But the letter to Blair says inadequate regulation of facial recognition and a lack of information means it is impossible to know which police forces and intelligence agencies are using the tool, and to what ends, including during protests.

It cites studies that have found the technology to be inaccurate and especially prone to misidentifying the faces of women and people with darker skin.

“These errors can lead already marginalized communities to be even more likely to face profiling, harassment and violations of their fundamental rights,” the letter says.

This is particularly concerning given the technology’s use in situations where biases are common, including when individuals are travelling and crossing borders as well as in the context of criminal investigations, and national security and anti-terrorism operations, it says.

“If, as federal officials have said, the Canadian government is serious about ending racial disparities in policing, banning facial recognition surveillance is a clear first step.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2020.

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Tuesday, July 7

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jul 7th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on July 7, 2020:

There are 105,935 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 55,937 confirmed (including 5,577 deaths, 25,378 resolved)

_ Ontario: 35,948 confirmed (including 2,689 deaths, 31,426 resolved)THE CANADIAN PRESS

_ Alberta: 8,389 confirmed (including 155 deaths, 7,627 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 2,978 confirmed (including 183 deaths, 2,629 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,065 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 998 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 805 confirmed (including 14 deaths, 732 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 314 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 304 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 165 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 162 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 32 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 1 presumptive

_ Total: 105,935 (12 presumptive, 105,923 confirmed including 8,693 deaths, 69,570 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 7, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Turbulence in Canadian opinion on airlines COVID-19 response: poll

STEPHANIE LEVITZ, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jul 7th, 2020

A new poll suggests turbulence ahead for airlines seeking public support for their current COVID-19 plans.

Seventy-two per cent of Canadians surveyed by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies say they’re not comfortable flying since a decision by some airlines to relax their own in-flight physical distancing requirements.

As of July 1, Air Canada and WestJet both ended policies blocking the sale of adjacent seats.

The measure was seen to align with a guidance document for the aviation industry issued by Transport Canada in April to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

Among other things, the department had suggested passengers should be widely spaced when possible, though they did not make it mandatory.

Airlines, however, are required to make passengers and air crews wear masks.

Only 22 per cent of those surveyed said they’re comfortable getting aboard with no in-flight physical distancing and a requirement to wear masks.

There’s more to it to keep flights safe, WestJet said in a statement last week after critics attacked its plan.

“What makes an airplane, and the entire journey, safe is the layers of enhanced cleaning, the wearing of masks and the hospital-grade HEPA filters that remove 99.999 per cent of all airborne particles,” the airline said.

“The hygiene standards we have now are world-class and backed by industry experts.”

Critics have also previously pounced on the airlines for another move: refusing to fully refund tickets for flights cancelled due to the pandemic.

Thousands of people have beseeched Transport Minister Marc Garneau to compel airlines to issue refunds, but he has refused, arguing that mandating reimbursements from a sector that’s lost more than 90 per cent of its revenue would cripple the industry.

But 72 per cent of those polled say they totally oppose his decision.

In lieu of refunds, the airlines have offered vouchers but the poll suggests that it may take a while before people will rebook previously cancelled trips: 85 per cent of those surveyed told pollsters they have no plans to travel outside the country by the end of the year.

The survey polled 1,517 people and can’t be assigned a margin of error because online polls are not considered truly random.

Pollsters were in the field between July 3 and 5, a historically popular few days for Canadians and Americans to be on the move between the two countries, given the July 1 Canada Day holiday and the U.S.’s July 4 Independence Day.

But the border remains closed to non-essential traffic, and the majority of Canadians surveyed said they feel it needs to stay that way. The current mutual closure agreement is due to expire July 21.

Of Canadians polled, 86 per cent said they totally disagreed with re-opening the border at the end of July, allowing Americans back into the country.

Americans seem more eager both to head north and to welcome Canadians south; 50 per cent agreed the border should re-open and 36 per cent disagreed.

The potential for cross-border transmission of the virus has been a key factor in the decision to keep the border closed. Currently, rates of COVID-19 infection in the U.S. continue to climb, while in Canada the curve appears to be on a downward trajectory nearly everywhere.

Still, the survey suggests Canadians don’t feel they are out of the woods. Thirty-nine per cent believe the worst is yet to come, while 35 per cent believe the worst of the crisis has passed.

In the U.S., 42 per cent of those surveyed felt the darkest days are ahead, 25 per cent believe the U.S. is in the middle of the worst part now while 21 per cent think that’s already passed.

What’s the story behind the Liberals’ cancelled WE Charity deal?

THE BIG STORY | posted Tuesday, Jul 7th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, the organization was supposed to distribute more than $900 million in student grants, but the reaction when the deal was announced was immediate and intense. There’s now an ethics investigation and WE has walked away from the plan. What happened? Why did the Liberals agree to this, and what should they have known about the organization before announcing it would be handling nearly a billion dollars of taxpayer money?

GUEST: Jesse Brown, Canadaland

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Lac-Megantic to mark 7th anniversary of 2013 rail disaster with memorial site

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jul 6th, 2020

Lac-Megantic will mark the seventh anniversary of a tragic rail disaster that claimed 47 lives by inaugurating a long-planned memorial space.

On July 6, 2013, a runaway train hauling tanker cars loaded with volatile crude oil barrelled into the town of 6,000, derailed and exploded, destroying a large part of the Quebec town’s downtown area.

The memorial — which has taken three years to construct — will be set up at the site of the former Musi-Cafe in the heart of the city, where staff and patrons made up many of the victims.

The project, designed by architects Pierre Thibault and Jerome Lapierre, was created with the objective of everyone being able to remember, in their own way, the community-changing event, the city said in a statement.

Given the COVID-19 pandemic and physical distancing measures, the inauguration will be broadcast on Facebook, with several guests attending in person and residents invited to visit in the days and weeks to come.

As per tradition, the bells of Ste-Agnes Church will ring at noon in tribute to the victims.

The city says it has obtained written confirmation from Canadian Pacific Railway that no train will run in Lac-Megantic on July 6.

Mayor Juile Morin says it was the least that could be done out of respect for citizens who still have to watch trains passing through the heart of the city daily.

Morin says the city wants the authorization to be renewed in perpetuity, even after a railway bypass is built and the downtown rails are dismantled.

A look at how provinces plan to emerge from the COVID-19 shutdown

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jul 6th, 2020

Provinces and territories have been releasing plans for easing restrictions that were put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Here is what some of the provinces have announced so far:

Newfoundland and Labrador

On July 3, Newfoundland and Labrador joined the other Atlantic provinces in lifting travel restrictions within the region.

Residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island can now travel to any of the other three provinces without self-isolating for 14 days after arriving.

Visitors from provinces and territories outside the region are still required to self-isolate for 14 days and adhere to local entry requirements. However, once the self-isolation period has passed, those visitors will also be allowed to travel within the Atlantic region.

The premiers of Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick have also hinted restrictions could soon be lifted for visitors from the rest of Canada if all goes well.

The province has also said it would begin allowing provincial historic sites to reopen, starting July 4. All sites will have one-way flow patterns for visitors, with designated entrance and exit doors where possible.

The province entered “Alert Level 3” on June 8 in its five stage reopening plan. It means groups of up to 20 people are now permitted, as long as they observe physical distancing. Up to 19 people are allowed on public transit.

Private health clinics, such as optometrists and dentists, can open, as well as medium-risk businesses such as clothing stores and hair salons.

Eleven government service centres reopened to offer in-person services that can be booked by appointment, including written tests, driver exams and identification photos.

During Level 4, some businesses such as law firms and other professional services were allowed to reopen along with regulated child-care centres, with some restrictions.

Outdoor games of tennis were allowed to resume, though players must bring their own equipment and not share it.

At Level 2, businesses with performance spaces and gyms are to reopen, while Level 1 would represent “the new normal.”

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia and the other Atlantic provinces lifted travel restrictions within the region on July 3.

Residents of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island can now travel to any of the other three provinces without self-isolating for 14 days after arriving.

The province has also increased the limits on gatherings organized by recognized business or community organizations. That includes weddings, funerals, cultural events, concerts, festivals, dance recitals and faith-based gatherings, which, as of July 3, increased to 250 people if they’re outdoors and 200 — with maximum 50 per cent capacity — if they’re indoors. In either case, physical distancing is still required.

The province announced on June 26 that all bars and restaurants could resume operating at full capacity and serve customers until midnight. However, establishments must continue to adhere to physical distancing rules.

The province is also allowing private campgrounds to operate at 100 per cent capacity.  Provincial campgrounds reopened June 15 at reduced capacity to ensure a minimum of six metres between individual sites.

All public pools can now reopen with physical distancing for lane swimming and aquafit classes.

These events do not include family gatherings, which remain limited to a 50-person maximum with physical distancing.

The province earlier announced that Nova Scotians could start gathering in close social groups of up to 10 without physical distancing.

Licensed child-care centres and family daycare homes reopened across the province on June 15.

Nova Scotia has allowed summer day camps for children to open as long as they have a plan to follow public health measures.

Most businesses ordered shut in late March were allowed to reopen on June 5. The list of businesses includes bars and restaurant dining rooms, hair salons, barber shops, gyms and yoga studios, among others.

Some health providers were also able to reopen, including dentistry, optometry, chiropractic and physiotherapy offices.

The province has said there will be no return to school this year.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island and the other Atlantic provinces lifted travel restrictions within the region on July 3.

The province has now moved into Phase 4 of its reopening strategy.

Households can gather in groups of up to 15 indoors and up to 100 people can congregate in larger venues. People can also gather for religious services of up to 50, or up to 100 in larger churches.

More personal services are also available and casinos are reopening.

Under Phase 3, which began June 1, in-house dining at restaurants was allowed. Small groups were permitted to participate in recreational and some sporting activities and libraries got the green light to reopen. Gatherings of up to 15 people indoors and 20 people outdoors and the reopening of child-care centres were also allowed.

As well, family and friends could once again visit residents at long-term care homes, though the visits require an appointment and must take place outdoors.

People wanting to travel to seasonal residences can apply to do so, and will be put through a risk assessment before approval. Seasonal residents will also to be tested for COVID-19 before completing two weeks in self-isolation after arriving in the province.

Under Phase 2, non-contact outdoor recreational activities were permitted, and retail businesses could reopen with physical distancing and select health-service providers.

Priority non-urgent surgeries resumed on May 1.

The P.E.I. legislature resumed May 26.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick and the other Atlantic provinces lifted travel restrictions within the region on July 3.

Its premier has also hinted restrictions could soon be lifted for visitors from the rest of Canada if all goes well.

The province moved to the yellow phase of its COVID-19 recovery plan on May 22, allowing barbers and hair stylists to reopen as well as churches and fitness facilities. Dental care, massage, chiropractors and other “close contact” businesses and services could also reopen.

But the Campbellton region, which extends from Whites Brook to the Belledune, had to take a step backwards to the “orange” level on May 27. Residents were told to once again avoid contacts outside their two-household bubble. Non-regulated health professionals and personal service businesses that opened May 22 also had to close again. And people should only be travelling in and out of Zone 5 for essential reasons.

Further restrictions were lifted on June 5. Outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people were allowed, as well as indoor religious services of up to 50 people, low-contact team sports and the opening of a long list of facilities including swimming pools, gyms, rinks, water parks, and yoga and dance studios.

Under New Brunswick’s latest recovery rules, Canadian residents can now visit family members or properties they own in the province, provided they self-isolate for 14 days — or the duration of their visit if it’s less than two weeks.

As well, New Brunswick residents no longer need to self-isolate when returning from work in another Canadian province or territory.

All organized sports can resume with appropriate physical distancing and sanitizing. Overnight camps can reopen and indoor visits can resume at long-term care facilities for one visitor at a time, or two if one of the visitors needs help.

The cap on the number of people who can gather in controlled venues — including churches, swimming pools and rinks — has been lifted, but crowd numbers will be limited by the ability to maintain physical distancing.

Masks in any building open to the general public are required except for children under the age of two, children in daycare and people who can’t wear face coverings for medical reasons.

Retail businesses, offices, restaurants, libraries, museums and seasonal campgrounds were earlier allowed to reopen providing they have clear plans for meeting public health guidelines.

The final phase, which officials have said will probably come only after a vaccine is available, is to include large gatherings.

Quebec

Premier Francois Legault says masks will be mandatory for all public transit users as of July 13.

Legault says following a two-week grace period ending July 27, anyone without a mask will not be permitted onto a public transit system anywhere in the province.

Quebec reopened several sectors and relaxed the rules for indoor gatherings on June 22, particularly impacting the Montreal area.

Restaurants can reopen in the greater Montreal and Joliette areas while indoor gatherings of up to 10 people from three households are now permitted in these regions, like elsewhere in Quebec.

Gyms, arenas, cinemas, concert venues and places of worship can reopen across the province with a maximum capacity of 50 people for indoor gatherings.

Day camps across the province have also reopened, with physical distancing. Sleep-away summer camps won’t be allowed to reopen until next year.

Residents of long term care homes that don’t have active COVID-19 cases were earlier allowed to receive visitors inside, meet people outdoors and participate in group activities.

They were also allowed to leave the facilities unaccompanied for more than 24 hours. Volunteers and hairdressers were also allowed inside the facilities.

On May 25, some retail businesses reopened in the greater Montreal area, while retail stores outside Montreal reopened on May 11.

Parks and pools have also been allowed to reopen across the province with certain restrictions.

Sports teams resumed outdoor practices on June 8, and matches can resume at the end of the month. That includes baseball, soccer and any other sports that can be played outdoors.

Quebec’s construction and manufacturing industries have resumed operations with limits on the number of employees who can work per shift. Elementary schools and daycares outside Montreal reopened on May 11, but high schools, junior colleges and universities will stay closed until September.

Elementary schools in the greater Montreal area are to remain closed until late August.

Courthouses across the province were permitted to reopen on June 1, with limited seating capacity and Plexiglas barriers protecting clerks and judges.

Camping is now allowed outside the Montreal and Joliette regions, as are cottage rentals.

Checkpoints set up to slow the spread of COVID-19 came down on May 18 in various parts of Quebec, including between Gatineau and Ottawa.

Ontario

Ontario’s courts will resume in-person proceedings today (July 6) after being shuttered for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry of the Attorney General has said courtrooms will reopen gradually, with the goal of having all courtrooms operational by November 1.

Torontonians riding public transit must now wear face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 — the new rule going into effect July 2.

Toronto city council voted to make wearing masks mandatory in public indoor settings, with the bylaw coming in to effect on July 7.

Mayor John Tory says the temporary bylaw will not affect social gatherings.

Mayors from the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area asked Premier Doug Ford to make masks mandatory across Ontario, but the premier rejected the idea.

Ferry service between Toronto and the Toronto Islands resumed on June 27 but at only 50 per cent capacity to allow for physical distancing.

The Toronto Zoo also reopened and the province said it was loosening some restrictions around indoor sports and fitness to enable amateur and professional athletes to train.

Ontario’s two most heavily populated regions had more businesses open their doors on June 24 as Toronto and Peel moved into Stage 2 of Ontario’s pandemic reopening framework.

All regions of the province except the southwestern communities of Leamington and Kingsville have now officially entered Stage 2.

Businesses given the green light to resume operations in Toronto and Peel include hair stylists, pools and tour guide services.

Restaurants are also allowed to reopen their patios for dine-in service, though no one is yet allowed to be served indoors.

Meanwhile, the limit on social gatherings increased from five to 10 provincewide. Restrictions on wedding and funeral ceremonies were also eased. The number of people allowed to attend an indoor ceremony is restricted to 30 per cent capacity of the venue, while outdoor events are limited to 50 people. However, the number of people allowed to attend all wedding and funeral receptions remains at 10.

Ontarians can resume visiting loved ones in long-term care homes, as long as they test negative for COVID-19.

All construction has resumed, with limits also lifted on maintenance, repair and property management services, such as cleaning, painting and pool maintenance.

Golf courses can reopen though clubhouses can only open for washrooms and take-out food. Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches can also open, as can private parks and campgrounds for trailers and RVs whose owners have a full season contract, and businesses that board animals.

Short-term rentals including lodges, cabins, cottages, homes and condominiums were allowed to resume operations on June 5.

The Ontario government says students will likely return to school in September with a mix of in-class and remote learning, though boards will develop various scenarios, depending on how COVID-19 is spreading at that point. Premier Doug Ford has said there won’t be a one-size-fits-all approach in schools, but parents provincewide will have the option of sending their children back to class or keeping them learning remotely.

This summer’s Honda Indy Toronto has been cancelled.

Manitoba

Several more restrictions were eased in Manitoba on June 21.

Restaurants and bars no longer have to operate at half capacity, however tables must be two metres apart or have a physical barrier in between them. Non-smoking bingo halls and video lottery terminal lounges can also reopen at 50 per cent capacity.

Child care centres and retail stores can return to normal capacity, and people arriving in Manitoba from the other western provinces, northern territories and northwestern Ontario no longer have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Larger public gatherings are also allowed.

Instead of a cap of 25 people indoors and 50 outdoors, people can fill up to 30 per cent of the capacity of any venue as long as they can be split into groups of 50 indoors or 100 outdoors. Each group must be able to enter and exit separately.

On June 1, the province eased a ban on people visiting loved ones in personal care homes. Homes can now offer outdoor visits with a maximum of two guests per resident. Visitors will be screened upon arrival and must practice physical distancing.

Amateur sports and recreation programs, as well as bowling alleys, have been allowed to resume operations.

Elementary and high schools will not reopen this school year.

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan’s top doctor says his advice on wearing masks to protect against COVID-19 could change in the coming months.

Wearing a mask in Saskatchewan isn’t mandatory now, but chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab says it may become a rule if there’s an uptick in transmission rates.

Saskatchewan is expanding its COVID-19 guidelines for visitors to long-term care homes. Starting July 7, health officials say residents of long-term care homes can have two family members or support persons for visits, with one person allowed in the facility at a time.

Patients in intensive care and those receiving palliative care can have two people present at the same time, as long as they keep physical distance.

Visitors are expected to follow health-care guidelines, such as wearing masks, to protect others against the spread of COVID-19.

Saskatchewan moved into the latest  phase of its reopening strategy on June 22.

Under Phase 4.1 camping in national parks can resume, but by reservation only.

Youth camps can reopen, but for day use only, and with guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19, including the constant disinfection of play structures and monitoring of children for coronavirus symptoms.

Outdoor sports like soccer, softball and flag football can resume, though full-contact sports remain prohibited, as does competitive play, tournaments and inter-provincial travel for games.

Shared equipment must be disinfected frequently, while congratulatory gestures, such as high fives and handshakes, are not permitted.

Saskatchewan’s outdoor swimming pools and spray parks can reopen with physical distancing, maximum capacity, and stringent cleaning rules in effect.

Though they can now do so, some municipalities, including Regina and Saskatoon, have said they won’t be reopening their outdoor pools right away.

The province is also doubling the allowable size of indoor public and private gatherings to 30 people where space allows for two metres between participants.

The third phase of Saskatchewan’s reopening plan started June 8 with the province lifting a ban on non-essential travel in the north.

More businesses were also allowed to reopen, including places of worship and personal care services such as nail salons, tattoo parlours and gyms.

Up to 150 people or one-third the capacity of a building, whichever is less, can attend church services, including weddings and funerals.

Outdoor graduations can be held with a maximum 30 graduates per class and an overall attendance of 150 people. The previous limit was 15 people indoors and 30 people outdoors.

Restaurants and bars can open at half capacity, with physical distancing between tables, and child-care centres can open their doors to a maximum of 15 kids.

The second part of Phase 4 is expected to include reopening guidelines for indoor pools, rinks, libraries, museums, galleries, movie theatres, casinos and bingo halls. A date for Phase 4.2 has yet to be announced.

In Phase 5, the province will consider lifting restrictions on the size of public gatherings.

The Saskatchewan government says students will return to regular classes in September.

Alberta

In Alberta, everything from gyms and arenas to spas, movie theatre