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‘My only wish:’ Children asking pet charity to help their furry friends at Christmas

BILL GRAVELAND, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Dec 4th, 2020

One child asks for a coat for her dog in case her family gets evicted. Another girl hopes Santa can bring her pet medication he needs. Another wishes for enough dog food.

A charity that provides subsidized pet care, including food hampers and medical treatment, for low-income residents is receiving Christmas letters from children asking for help for their furry friends.

Parachutes for Pets in Calgary has delivered 2,000 pet food hampers since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March. But demand, especially during the second wave of the pandemic, is taking its toll on both the organization and those receiving help.

“Instead of Santa I wanted to write to you guys. My dog Badger is really cute and my best friend. He needs pills or he gets really, really sick. Could you bring me his pills for my Santa gift? I’ve been really good and so has he,” reads a letter signed Hanna and Badger.

The organization says it has received 14 letters from children in the last week that normally would have gone to Santa.

“My Christmas wish this year is a coat for my dog Max. Mom says we can’t pay rent after this month and I want Max to be warm if we have to stay in our car,” wrote Kaylee.

“I have a warm coat and I think one would be good for him to stay warm. Please tell Santa this is my only wish. Merry Christmas.”

Melissa David, who founded the charity, said the messages from the kids are heartbreaking.

“Instead of writing to Santa, they’ve written to us. Their Christmas wish is either for their dog to get medication and their dog to get food, so they don’t have to share their meal with them.”

David said the charity referred Kaylee’s mom, who was at risk of being evicted, with an agency to deal with her rent arrears.

She said the charity made it through the first wave of the pandemic, but the resurgence of COVID-19 in the last months has resulted in demands coming at a “fast and furious rate.”

“This second wave is going to cripple us. The amount of additional homeless with pets and domestic violence incidents involving pets is astronomical,” David said.

People are still donating food items, she said, but there’s also a need for cash, which is in short supply.

“This (pandemic) in addition to everyday challenges that are still here, such as cancer and illness, is really making it difficult for people to keep their pets at a time they can’t afford mentally to lose them.”

David said she is reaching out in desperation since there are limits on what help the charity can arrange.

“We were passed over for most COVID grants because animals were not considered essential.”

There are also messages asking for help from physically abused women who are afraid to leave their pets behind.

“They want to take their pet with them. They’re at the lowest of lows and they don’t leave with anything but the clothes on their back. And if that pet stays, statistics are 80 per cent that it will be tortured or killed or used as some sort of revenge by the abuser.”

The head of the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter said crisis calls between April and September were up nearly 65 per cent compared with the year before.

Shelter CEO Kim Ruse confirms many women stay where they are for fear of their pets being harmed.

“Not having a place for pets to go often stops women from leaving abusive and dangerous situations,” Ruse said. “Many are unaware that there are options for keeping pets safe while finding safety for themselves and their children.”

She said the agency does have pet-friendly rooms to accommodate small animals.

“Allowing pets in the shelter will help provide emotional and healing support for women and their children during their stay.”

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Friday, Dec. 4, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Dec 4th, 2020

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

There are 396,270 confirmed cases in Canada.

Canada: 396,270 confirmed cases (69,255 active, 314,608 resolved, 12,407 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 6,495 new cases Thursday from 86,875 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.5 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 43,173 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,168.

There were 82 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 608 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 87. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.01 per 100,000 people.

There have been 11,739,689 tests completed.

Newfoundland and Labrador: 340 confirmed cases (29 active, 307 resolved, four deaths).

There were zero new cases Thursday from 420 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 13 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.

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

There have been 63,583 tests completed.

Prince Edward Island: 73 confirmed cases (five active, 68 resolved, zero deaths).

There was one new case Thursday from 584 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.17 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been three new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

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

There have been 61,621 tests completed.

Nova Scotia: 1,343 confirmed cases (119 active, 1,159 resolved, 65 deaths).

There were 11 new cases Thursday from 1,300 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.85 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 86 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 12.

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

There have been 150,559 tests completed.

New Brunswick: 520 confirmed cases (111 active, 402 resolved, seven deaths).

There were six new cases Thursday from 1,179 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.51 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 55 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is eight.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people.

There have been 103,791 tests completed.

Quebec: 146,532 confirmed cases (13,198 active, 126,179 resolved, 7,155 deaths).

There were 1,470 new cases Thursday from 11,594 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,638 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,377.

There were 30 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 208 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 30. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.35 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 84.33 per 100,000 people.

There have been 2,215,810 tests completed.

Ontario: 121,746 confirmed cases (14,795 active, 103,239 resolved, 3,712 deaths).

There were 1,824 new cases Thursday from 51,144 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.6 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,385 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,769.

There were 14 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 137 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 20. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.48 per 100,000 people.

There have been 6,197,157 tests completed.

Manitoba: 17,751 confirmed cases (9,130 active, 8,268 resolved, 353 deaths).

There were 367 new cases Thursday from 2,804 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,463 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 352.

There were 11 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 87 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.91 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.78 per 100,000 people.

There have been 354,449 tests completed.

Saskatchewan: 9,244 confirmed cases (4,017 active, 5,173 resolved, 54 deaths).

There were 262 new cases Thursday from 1,696 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 15 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,882 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 269.

There was one new reported death Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 14 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.17 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 4.6 per 100,000 people.

There have been 265,300 tests completed.

Alberta: 63,023 confirmed cases (17,743 active, 44,705 resolved, 575 deaths).

There were 1,854 new cases Thursday from 8,049 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 23 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 11,145 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,592.

There were 14 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 65 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is nine. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.21 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 13.15 per 100,000 people.

There have been 1,495,622 tests completed.

British Columbia: 35,422 confirmed cases (10,013 active, 24,928 resolved, 481 deaths).

There were 694 new cases Thursday from 7,929 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 8.8 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,449 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 778.

There were 12 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 97 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 14. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.27 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 9.48 per 100,000 people.

There have been 815,367 tests completed.

Yukon: 50 confirmed cases (20 active, 29 resolved, one deaths).

There was one new case Thursday from 89 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.1 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been 11 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.

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

There have been 5,488 tests completed.

Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Thursday from 48 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

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

There have been 6,482 tests completed.

Nunavut: 198 confirmed cases (75 active, 123 resolved, zero deaths).

There were five new cases Thursday from 39 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 43 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is six.

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

There have been 4,384 tests completed.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 4, 2020.

The Canadian Press

What we do and don’t know about COVID-19 vaccines for Canadians

THE BIG STORY | posted Friday, Dec 4th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, we have more doses on order per capita than any other nation. But we also have no real domestic production capacity. If you ask the Liberals, we’re among the world leaders in terms of when Canadians can expect to be vaccinated. If you ask the Conservatives, we’re well behind our peer countries already.

Who is telling the truth? What are the facts on the COVID-19 vaccines Canada has ordered? What needs to happen next? And when will needles start going into arms on Canadian soil?

GUEST: Matt Gurney

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

St. Michael’s College sex assault trial to hear more of complainant’s police statement

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Dec 3rd, 2020

he trial of a teen boy accused of sexually assaulting two fellow students at a renowned Toronto high school is set to continue Thursday.

The teen has pleaded not guilty to two counts each of gang sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon and assault with a weapon in connection with two incidents at St. Michael’s College School in the fall of 2018.

Earlier this week, court viewed part of a video in which one of the complainants, also a teen boy, told police about an October 2018 incident in the school’s locker room.

In the video, the complainant recalled hearing a group of students laugh as they held back his arms and sexually assaulted him with a broom handle after football practice.

The role of the accused was not specified in the portion of the video played in court, and the complainant did not mention him by name in that part of the footage.

More of the video is expected to be shown in Thursday’s hearing, which is taking place in court and over videoconference.

Court has heard there were two sexual assaults on campus in 2018 when boys involved with a school football team pinned down two different victims and sexually assaulted them with a broom handle in a locker room.

Three teens have already pleaded guilty to sexual assault with a weapon and assault with a weapon for their roles in the incidents and have been sentenced to two years of probation.

One of them also pleaded guilty to making child pornography for recording one of the sex assaults in a video that was then shared within the school and beyond.

Another student received a two-year probationary sentence with no jail time after pleading guilty. The charges against two other students were dropped.

None of the teens involved in the case – including the accused, the complainants and some witnesses – can be identified under prov.isions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

The trial began in March but was on hold for several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A delicate balance between humans, bears and fish

THE BIG STORY | posted Thursday, Dec 3rd, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, it’s a cycle that repeats itself in many ecosystems where humans live: Harmony, profit, imbalance and then a desperate need to fix things. When wild salmon runs around Wuikinuxv, BC, dwindled to almost nothing, the local grizzly bears grew hungry — and dangerous to humans. Now the salmon are returning, but the community must find a way to manage both the fish and bear populations, and keep the forest healthy.

GUEST: Jimmy Thompson, Beside.media

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Dec 3rd, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Thursday Dec. 3, 2020.

There are 389,775 confirmed cases in Canada.

Canada: 389,775 confirmed cases (67,564 active, 309,886 resolved, 12,325 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 6,307 new cases Wednesday from 79,492 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.9 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 42,309 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,044.

There were 114 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 615 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 88. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 32.79 per 100,000 people.

There have been 11,652,814 tests completed.

Newfoundland and Labrador: 340 confirmed cases (30 active, 306 resolved, four deaths).

There was one new case Wednesday from 319 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.31 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been 16 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.

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

There have been 63,163 tests completed.

Prince Edward Island: 72 confirmed cases (four active, 68 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Wednesday from 354 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

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

There have been 61,037 tests completed.

Nova Scotia: 1,332 confirmed cases (127 active, 1,140 resolved, 65 deaths).

There were 17 new cases Wednesday from 2,340 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.73 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 89 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 13.

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

There have been 149,259 tests completed.

New Brunswick: 514 confirmed cases (119 active, 388 resolved, seven deaths).

There were six new cases Wednesday from 1,062 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.56 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 61 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is nine.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people.

There have been 102,612 tests completed.

Quebec: 145,062 confirmed cases (12,740 active, 125,197 resolved, 7,125 deaths).

There were 1,514 new cases Wednesday from 9,764 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 16 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,632 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,376.

There were 41 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 210 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 30. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.35 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 83.97 per 100,000 people.

There have been 2,204,216 tests completed.

Ontario: 119,922 confirmed cases (14,526 active, 101,698 resolved, 3,698 deaths).

There were 1,723 new cases Wednesday from 42,779 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,039 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,720.

There were 35 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 144 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 21. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.14 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.39 per 100,000 people.

There have been 6,146,013 tests completed.

Manitoba: 17,384 confirmed cases (8,970 active, 8,072 resolved, 342 deaths).

There were 277 new cases Wednesday from 2,336 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 12 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,477 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 354.

There were 14 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 86 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 24.97 per 100,000 people.

There have been 351,645 tests completed.

Saskatchewan: 8,982 confirmed cases (3,970 active, 4,959 resolved, 53 deaths).

There were 237 new cases Wednesday from 1,342 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 18 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,935 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 276.

There were two new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 16 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.19 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 4.51 per 100,000 people.

There have been 263,604 tests completed.

Alberta: 61,169 confirmed cases (17,144 active, 43,464 resolved, 561 deaths).

There were 1,685 new cases Wednesday from 13,989 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 12 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 10,368 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,481.

There were 10 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 61 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is nine. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.2 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 12.83 per 100,000 people.

There have been 1,487,573 tests completed.

British Columbia: 34,728 confirmed cases (9,835 active, 24,424 resolved, 469 deaths).

There were 834 new cases Wednesday from 5,062 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 16 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,642 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 806.

There were 12 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 98 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 14. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.28 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 9.25 per 100,000 people.

There have been 807,438 tests completed.

Yukon: 49 confirmed cases (19 active, 29 resolved, one deaths).

There were two new cases Wednesday from 63 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.2 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 10 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

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

There have been 5,399 tests completed.

Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Wednesday from 37 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

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

There have been 6,434 tests completed.

Nunavut: 193 confirmed cases (80 active, 113 resolved, zero deaths).

There were 11 new cases Wednesday from 45 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 24 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 38 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is five.

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

There have been 4,345 tests completed.

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

The Canadian Press

Trudeau suggests Canada-U.S. border restrictions will be in place for a long time

LUCAS CASALETTO | posted Wednesday, Dec 2nd, 2020

Canada’s prime minister says the government will not lift a ban on non-essential travel with the United States until the COVID-19 outbreak is under control not only here at home, but around the world.

“Until the virus is significantly more under control everywhere around the world, we’re not going to be releasing the restrictions at the border,” said Trudeau at his daily briefing on Tuesday.

Canada and the U.S. agreed to the ban in March and have continued to roll it out on a monthly basis ever since.

Visits such as vacations, day trips and cross-border shopping excursions have been forbidden in an effort to limit the spread of the virus.

The travel ban does not apply to those who must cross to ensure the continued flow of goods and essential services, including truckers and hospital staff.

This comes as almost 100,000 people remain hospitalized in the U.S. as states and cities search for answers and look to implement strict new health measures the curve the spread of the virus.

Recently, top public health expert in the U.S., Dr. Anthony Fauci, admitted the country was “not in a good place” following a spike in numbers that coincided with American Thanksgiving and excessive travel.

Trudeau, meanwhile, said the federal government has added certain exemptions to reunite extended family members.

“We are incredibly lucky that trade in essential goods, in agricultural products, in pharmaceuticals is flowing back and forth as it always has.”

Nunavut COVID-19 lockdown lifts today, Arviat still under restrictions

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Dec 2nd, 2020

Nunavut’s two-week lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19 is to end Wednesday as the territory continues to see a drop in new cases.

Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, said earlier this week that schools, businesses and workplaces could reopen.

Restrictions are to lift in all communities except Arviat, which has 76 active cases and will remain shut down for at least two more weeks.

Patterson says that’s because his team hasn’t determined if community transmission there is ongoing.

The Canadian Red Cross is on the ground in Arviat to help people self-isolate and to contact trace.

Rankin Inlet and Whale Cove, in the same region as Arviat along the west cost of Hudson Bay, still have active COVID-19 cases, but no evidence of community transmission.

Nunavut had 93 active infections and 89 recovered cases on Tuesday for a total of 182.

The territory had not had any cases at all until early November.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Dec 2nd, 2020

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

There are 383,468 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Canada: 383,468 confirmed cases (66,369 active, 304,888 resolved, 12,211 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 5,329 new cases Tuesday from 97,680 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.5 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 41,024 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 5,861.

There were 81 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 593 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 85. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 32.49 per 100,000 people.

There have been 11,573,322 tests completed.

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 339 confirmed cases (33 active, 302 resolved, four deaths).

There was one new case Tuesday from 324 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.31 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been 16 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.

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

There have been 62,844 tests completed.

_ Prince Edward Island: 72 confirmed cases (four active, 68 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Tuesday from 760 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of three new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

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

There have been 60,683 tests completed.

_ Nova Scotia: 1,315 confirmed cases (142 active, 1,108 resolved, 65 deaths).

There were 10 new cases Tuesday from 3,165 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.32 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 88 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 13.

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

There have been 146,919 tests completed.

_ New Brunswick: 508 confirmed cases (116 active, 385 resolved, seven deaths).

There were seven new cases Tuesday from 1,065 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.66 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 58 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is eight.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people.

There have been 101,550 tests completed.

_ Quebec: 143,548 confirmed cases (12,264 active, 124,200 resolved, 7,084 deaths).

There were 1,177 new cases Tuesday from 8,376 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 14 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,218 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,317.

There were 28 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 197 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 28. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.33 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 83.49 per 100,000 people.

There have been 2,194,452 tests completed.

_ Ontario: 118,199 confirmed cases (14,524 active, 100,012 resolved, 3,663 deaths).

There were 1,707 new cases Tuesday from 33,508 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.1 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 11,689 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,670.

There were seven new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 144 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 21. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.14 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.15 per 100,000 people.

There have been 6,103,234 tests completed.

_ Manitoba: 17,107 confirmed cases (9,066 active, 7,713 resolved, 328 deaths).

There were 282 new cases Tuesday from 2,201 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,549 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 364.

There were 16 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 80 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 11. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.83 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 23.95 per 100,000 people.

There have been 349,309 tests completed.

_ Saskatchewan: 8,745 confirmed cases (3,819 active, 4,875 resolved, 51 deaths).

There were 181 new cases Tuesday from 1,444 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,862 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 266.

There were four new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 14 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.17 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 4.34 per 100,000 people.

There have been 262,262 tests completed.

_ Alberta: 59,484 confirmed cases (16,628 active, 42,305 resolved, 551 deaths).

There were 1,307 new cases Tuesday from 27,600 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.7 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,948 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,421.

There were 10 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 59 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is eight. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.19 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 12.6 per 100,000 people.

There have been 1,473,584 tests completed.

_ British Columbia: 33,894 confirmed cases (9,663 active, 23,774 resolved, 457 deaths).

There were 656 new cases Tuesday from 18,967 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.5 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,546 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 792.

There were 16 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 99 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 14. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.28 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 9.01 per 100,000 people.

There have been 802,376 tests completed.

_ Yukon: 47 confirmed cases (17 active, 29 resolved, one deaths).

There were zero new cases Tuesday from 170 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of nine new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

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

There have been 5,336 tests completed.

_ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Tuesday from 42 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

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

There have been 6,397 tests completed.

_ Nunavut: 182 confirmed cases (93 active, 89 resolved, zero deaths).

There was one new case Tuesday from 58 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.7 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been 38 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is five.

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

There have been 4,300 tests completed.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 2, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Trial set to resume for teen accused in St. Michael’s College School sex assault case

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Dec 1st, 2020

The trial of a teen accused of sexually assaulting two students at a prestigious Toronto high school is set to resume today.

The former student of St. Michael’s College School has pleaded not guilty to two counts each of gang sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon and assault with a weapon.

The charges relate to incidents that occurred on campus in the fall of 2018. The trial began in March.

Court has previously heard there were two sexual assaults at the school in 2018 when boys involved with a school football team pinned down two different victims and sexually assaulted them with a broom handle in a locker room.

Three teens have already pleaded guilty to sexual assault with a weapon and assault with a weapon for their roles in the incidents and have been sentenced to two years of probation.

One of them also pleaded guilty to making child pornography for recording one of the sex assaults in a video that was then shared widely within and outside the school.

Another student received a two-year probationary sentence with no jail time after pleading guilty. The charges against two other students were dropped.

Neither the accused teen, the perpetrators or the victims can be identified under provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

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

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Dec. 1, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Dec 1st, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020.

There are 378,139 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Canada: 378,139 confirmed cases (66,037 active, 299,972 resolved, 12,130 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 6,103 new cases Monday from 63,070 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 9.7 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 40,584 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 5,798.

There were 66 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 609 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 87. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 32.27 per 100,000 people.

There have been 11,475,642 tests completed.

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 338 confirmed cases (36 active, 298 resolved, four deaths).

There was one new case Monday from 247 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.40 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been 17 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.

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

There have been 62,520 tests completed.

_ Prince Edward Island: 72 confirmed cases (four active, 68 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Monday from 846 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of three new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

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

There have been 59,923 tests completed.

_ Nova Scotia: 1,305 confirmed cases (138 active, 1,102 resolved, 65 deaths).

There were 15 new cases Monday from 2,564 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.59 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 115 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 16.

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

There have been 143,754 tests completed.

_ New Brunswick: 501 confirmed cases (120 active, 374 resolved, seven deaths).

There were six new cases Monday from 1,079 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.56 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 56 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is eight.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people.

There have been 100,485 tests completed.

_ Quebec: 142,371 confirmed cases (12,138 active, 123,177 resolved, 7,056 deaths).

There were 1,333 new cases Monday from 8,655 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 15 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,165 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,309.

There were 23 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 214 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 31. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.36 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 83.16 per 100,000 people.

There have been 2,186,076 tests completed.

_ Ontario: 116,492 confirmed cases (14,197 active, 98,639 resolved, 3,656 deaths).

There were 1,746 new cases Monday from 38,117 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.6 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 10,991 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,570.

There were eight new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 151 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 22. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.15 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.1 per 100,000 people.

There have been 6,069,726 tests completed.

_ Manitoba: 16,825 confirmed cases (9,260 active, 7,253 resolved, 312 deaths).

There were 342 new cases Monday from 9,003 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.8 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,738 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 391.

There were 11 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 76 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 11. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.79 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 22.78 per 100,000 people.

There have been 347,108 tests completed.

_ Saskatchewan: 8,564 confirmed cases (3,879 active, 4,638 resolved, 47 deaths).

There were 325 new cases Monday from 2,451 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,856 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 265.

There were two new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 10 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is one. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is four per 100,000 people.

There have been 260,818 tests completed.

_ Alberta: 58,177 confirmed cases (16,454 active, 41,182 resolved, 541 deaths).

There were 1,733 new cases Monday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,756 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,394.

There were eight new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 65 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is nine. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.21 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 12.38 per 100,000 people.

There have been 1,445,984 tests completed.

_ British Columbia: 33,238 confirmed cases (9,686 active, 23,111 resolved, 441 deaths).

There were 596 new cases Monday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,831 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 833.

There were 14 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 93 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 13. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.26 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 8.7 per 100,000 people.

There have been 783,409 tests completed.

_ Yukon: 47 confirmed cases (17 active, 29 resolved, one deaths).

There were two new cases Monday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of nine new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

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

There have been 5,166 tests completed.

_ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Monday from 53 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

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

There have been 6,355 tests completed.

_ Nunavut: 181 confirmed cases (108 active, 73 resolved, zero deaths).

There were four new cases Monday from 55 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.3 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 47 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is seven.

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

There have been 4,242 tests completed.

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

The Canadian Press

Canadians not worried other countries will get COVID-19 vaccine first: poll

MAAN ALHMIDI, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Dec 1st, 2020

OTTAWA — A new poll suggests most Canadians aren’t currently worried that people in other countries might get a COVID-19 vaccine first.

Thirty-seven per cent of respondents to a survey conducted by Léger and the Association for Canadian Studies say they are very concerned that Canada may not receive doses of a new COVID vaccine as early as the United States.

“That’s not necessarily low, but I think most pundits would have expected this number to be much higher,” said Léger executive vice-president Christian Bourque.

Meanwhile, 48 per cent say they are not concerned about getting a vaccine first and 10 per cent say they don’t care at all or are not planning to get vaccinated anyway.

Getting a vaccine before other countries doesn’t seem to be “a major (issue for the Liberal government), which is contrary to what we might have thought … when the prime minister actually said that we would not be the first ones to get doses,” Bourque said.

The amount of concern regarding getting a COVID-19 vaccine first varies along party lines, with 45 per cent of self-identified Conservative supporters saying they are very concerned that Canada may not receive doses of a new COVID vaccine at the same time as other countries. Only 38 per cent of Liberal supporters say they are concerned.

“The Conservative voters have the highest rate of people who say they’re very concerned about not getting (a vaccine) first,” said Bourque. “It’s probably just because they tend to have a negative view or perspective on the Trudeau government, period.”

Furthermore, with the likelihood of multiple vaccines arriving over a period of time, just 28 per cent of respondents said they will take the first vaccine they can get, while 45 per cent said they will wait for other vaccines to become available.

Forty-one per cent of respondents say they want the vaccine to be mandatory for all Canadians and 55 per cent say it should be given on a voluntary basis.

But the poll suggests that the vast majority of Canadians want people entering Canada to be vaccinated against COVID-19, with 83 per cent of respondents saying vaccines should be required. Also, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said employers should be able to demand that workers be vaccinated.

The poll suggests that 65 per cent of Canadians intend to take a COVID-19 vaccine when it’s approved by Health Canada and available for free while 17 per cent say they don’t intend to.

“That proportion used to be a bit higher, closer to 70 per cent in the spring. Since then it’s gone down,” said Bourque. “Over the past three months, when we’ve actually asked the question again, it is fairly stable in the mid-60s.”

“It really seems that two thirds of us are kind of committed to this idea of getting the vaccine when it’s available.”

The poll of 1,516 adult Canadians in an online panel was conducted from Nov. 26 to Nov. 29 and cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random.

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

———

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press

Sometimes you have to talk about Fight Club

THE BIG STORY | posted Monday, Nov 30th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, it seemed like a prank posted to social media—but there are witnesses who confirmed that the advertised fight night between McGill University students actually happened. Nobody was hurt, and it might have been a harmless enough story, but it illustrates the challenges first-year students are facing this year in dorms that they joke have become their prisons.

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Wild winter, drastic swings in store for Canada this year: Weather Network

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Nov 30th, 2020

A prominent Canadian forecaster says the country’s residents could experience everything from winter wonderlands to spring-like spells in the months ahead.

The Weather Network says cooler Pacific Ocean temperatures off the coast of South America, also known as “La Niña,” will create a strong jet stream separating warm southern air masses from their colder northern counterparts.

Chief Meteorologist Chris Scott says this means most Canadians can brace for a wildly variable winter with major departures from seasonal norms.

In British Columbia and the Prairies, for instance, Scott says forecasters are calling for above-average snowfall levels and temperatures below seasonal norms.

He says major swings in both temperatures and precipitation levels are on tap for Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, with stretches of both extreme cold and unusually mild air forecast alongside a mix of storms and dry spells.

Scott says Newfoundland and Labrador and northern Canada are slated to buck the trend, with the eastern-most province set to experience a more typical winter while colder than average conditions are expected across all three territories.

But Scott said the long-term patterns may not be evident at first, since the December forecast is calling for conditions that defy the overall forecasts. In broad strokes, he predicted an overall milder month for western Canada with more wintry conditions likely in Ontario and points east.

“It’s going to be quite a winter,” Scott said in a telephone interview. “A lot of extremes within the given regions. And if you’re talking to your friends or family back east or out west, you’re probably going to have a very different experience from week to week as the weather changes across the country.”

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

The Canadian Press

Federal Liberals to deliver fall economic statement

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Nov 30th, 2020

OTTAWA – The federal Liberals will provide Canadians with a long-awaited update on the health of federal finances later today, and potentially unveil a suite of new spending.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will deliver the fall economic statement in the House of Commons this afternoon after markets close.

The economic statement should have a full accounting of pandemic spending so far, and the depth of this year’s deficit, which in July was forecast at a historic $343.2 billion amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Estimates vary of how deep a deficit the Liberals will unveil today, with a Scotiabank report Friday saying a range of $400 billion to $450 billion is possible.

The government is under pressure to help out industries like travel and restaurants that may take longer to recover from the pandemic.

Observers are keeping a close eye on how much spending space new promises take up, which could limit the government’s capacity to spend in next year’s budget before deficits become permanent.

The government is also expected to reveal a small step today towards a national child-care system.

Top officials weighed Canadian warship’s passage through sensitive strait near China

Talia Knezic | posted Friday, Nov 27th, 2020

Newly released documents have shed light on the secret government talks and debate that took place ahead of a Canadian warship’s passage through a sensitive waterway near China last year.

Those discussions included a private meeting between the top bureaucrats at the Department of National Defence and Global Affairs Canada, weeks before HMCS Ottawa sailed through the Taiwan Strait.

Defence officials were also told to keep quiet about the frigate’s trip in September 2019, three months after Chinese fighter jets buzzed two other Canadian ships making the same voyage.

And they were ordered to keep the Privy Council Office, the department that supports the prime minister, in the loop as the Ottawa was making its way through the waterway.

The unusual level of attention from the highest levels of government laid out in the documents, obtained by The Canadian Press through access to information, underscores the sensitivities surrounding the trip.

That is because while much of the world considers the 180-kilometre strait to be international waters, Beijing claims ownership of the strait separating mainland China from Taiwan.

Beijing, which regards the self-ruled island of Taiwan as a rogue province, has repeatedly condemned such passages by foreign warships from the U.S., Canada and elsewhere as illegal.

HMCS Ottawa ended up sailing through the Taiwan Strait twice in early September. Media reports at the time said the frigate was shadowed by the Chinese navy.

The heavily redacted memo to Global Affairs deputy minister Marta Morgan dated Aug. 7, 2019 starts by saying the Defence Department was looking for a risk assessment for the Ottawa’s planned transit.

Defence Department deputy minister Jody Thomas “has also requested a meeting with you on Aug. 12 to discuss this deployment,” the memo adds.

While HMCS Ottawa was in the region at the time helping enforce United Nations sanctions against North Korea, the memo noted that the frigate was due to make a port visit in Bangkok in mid-September.

Defence officials have publicly stated that the decision to have the Ottawa sail through the strait was because the route was the fastest way for the frigate to reach Bangkok from its position near North Korea.

The memo backs that assertion, noting that going around Taiwan would add one or two days to the trip each way.

Yet it also says the navy’s presence in the South China Sea, of which the Taiwan Strait is a part, “has demonstrated Canadian support for our closest partners and allies, regional security and the rules-based international order.”

Global Affairs ultimately agreed to the Ottawa’s sailing through the strait, but called on defence officials to keep the trip quiet, in large part because of fears the trip would coincide with the federal election campaign.

“Finally, GAC will ask DND to ensure that it keeps PCO informed as this naval deployment progresses,” the memo adds.

Former Canadian ambassador to China David Mulroney described the discussions leading up to the Ottawa’s transit of the Taiwan Strait as “an illustration of smart and effective consultation producing the right decision.”

“It is tremendously important that China sees that, in addition to the United States, other serious countries like Canada will not be intimidated into surrendering the Taiwan Strait and Taiwan itself to China’s complete control,” he said.

“The RCN, working closely with Global Affairs, is promoting the national interest and asserting our sovereignty from the far side of the world.”

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

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Black Friday shopping in a pandemic: COVID-19 closes some stores, sales move online

Talia Knezic | posted Friday, Nov 27th, 2020

Black Friday, the one-day shopping bonanza known for its big bargains and large crowds, has arrived.

While rising COVID-19 cases and weeks of staggered deals have muted the usual fanfare of the shopping event, retailers are banking on today’s sales to bolster their bottom line.

Retail analysts say some bargain hunters are still expected to shop in brick-and-mortar stores, where possible, in the hopes of snagging a doorbuster deal.

But they say the majority of this year’s Black Friday purchases are expected to be made online.

Eric Morris, head of retail at Google Canada, says e-commerce in Canada has doubled during the pandemic.

He says given ongoing lockdowns and in-store capacity limits, online sales are expected to be strong today and remain heightened over the holiday shopping season.

Indeed, big box stores, which often attract the largest lineups and crowds on Black Friday, have moved most promotions online.

Yet although Black Friday’s top sellers tend to be big-ticket electronics, some shoppers might be on the hunt for deals on more basic items.

Lisa Hutcheson, managing partner at consulting firm J.C. Williams Group, says some shoppers may take advantage of today’s sales to “stock up and hunker down for the winter.”

Black Friday, which started as a post-Thanksgiving sale in the United States, has gained in popularity in Canada in recent years.

It’s also become an increasingly important sales event for retailers, along with Cyber Monday, overshadowing Boxing Day.

Robin Sahota, managing director and Canadian retail lead for professional services firm Accenture, says retailers might be saving some special discounts for Cyber Monday.

“It’s going to be a day where retailers look to add some sweeteners to entice consumers, particularly with the pull forward of Black Friday,” he says. “I think folks will be seeking out something special on Cyber Monday.”

A COVID-19 Black Friday and stricter rules in Saskatchewan: In The News for Nov. 27

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Nov 27th, 2020

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Nov. 27 …

What we are watching in Canada …

Black Friday, the one-day shopping bonanza known for its big bargains and large crowds, has arrived.

While rising COVID-19 cases and weeks of staggered deals have muted the usual fanfare of the shopping event, retailers are banking on today’s sales to bolster their bottom line.

Retail analysts say some bargain hunters are still expected to shop in brick-and-mortar stores, where possible, in the hopes of snagging a doorbuster deal.

But they say the majority of this year’s Black Friday purchases are expected to be made online.

Eric Morris, head of retail at Google Canada, says e-commerce in Canada has doubled during the pandemic.

He says given ongoing lockdowns and in-store capacity limits, online sales are expected to be strong today and remain heightened over the holiday shopping season.

Indeed, big box stores, which often attract the largest lineups and crowds on Black Friday, have moved most promotions online.

Yet although Black Friday’s top sellers tend to be big-ticket electronics, some shoppers might be on the hunt for deals on more basic items.

Lisa Hutcheson, managing partner at consulting firm J.C. Williams Group, says some shoppers may take advantage of today’s sales to “stock up and hunker down for the winter.”

Also this …

REGINA — Group sports are suspended in Saskatchewan starting today and no more than 30 people are allowed to gather inside public venues as the province tries to contain its spread of COVID-19.

The cap applies to bingo halls, worship services, casinos, and receptions for weddings and funerals.

The Saskatchewan Party government announced added health measures on Wednesday after weeks of rising cases that have driven up hospitalizations.

Although formal competition is prohibited, athletes and dancers who are 18 years old and younger can still practise in groups of eight if they stay far enough apart and wear masks — now required in all indoor fitness facilities.

No more than four people can sit together at a bar or restaurant and tables must be three metres apart if they are not separated by a barrier.

Large retail stores have to cut their capacity by half.

The measures are to be in place until Dec. 17.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

Americans are marking the Thanksgiving holiday amid an unrelenting pandemic that has upended traditions at dinner tables all around the country.

Zoom and FaceTime calls are fixtures this year, and people who have lost family members to the virus are keeping an empty seat to honour their loved ones.

Far fewer volunteers will help at soup kitchens or community centres.

A Utah health department has been delivering boxes of food to residents who are infected with the virus and can’t go to the store.

A New York nursing home is offering drive-up visits for families of residents struggling with celebrating the holiday alone.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

SEOUL — South Korea’s spy agency has told lawmakers that North Korea executed at least two people, banned fishing at sea and locked down its capital as part of frantic anti-coronavirus steps.

The lawmakers cited the National Intelligence Service as saying that North Korea also ordered diplomats overseas to refrain from any acts that could provoke the United States because it is worried about president-elect Joe Biden’s expected new approach toward the North.

One lawmaker cited the agency as saying North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is displaying excessive anger and taking irrational measures over the pandemic and its economic impact.

On this day in 1998 …

Hells Angels kingpin Maurice (Mom) Boucher was acquitted of killing two Quebec prison guards.

ICYMI …

A Venezuelan woman who believes she was used as part of Jason Kenney’s argument not to lockdown restaurants in Alberta remembers her encounter with the premier as less dramatic than he suggested.

Carolina De La Torre says Kenney got her central feelings correct, but she said she did not break down into tears the way Kenney recalled.

“No crying,” the 57-year-old woman said with a laugh during a phone interview Thursday.

She also said it was Kenney who approached her Calgary food court booth called Arepas Ranch for lunch in October, not the other way around as the premier told it.

After weeks of mounting COVID-19 cases, as more than 1,000 new cases and 16 deaths were reported on Tuesday, Kenney announced new rules that included making indoor private social events illegal.

During the news conference, Kenney gave an example of how much a lockdown would hurt businesses by telling the story of a Venezuelan refugee he met.

“A couple of weeks ago, I was in my constituency, at a little food court thing and a new Albertan, a refugee from Venezuela socialism, came up to me,” Kenney said.

“She had just opened a little food kiosk, she recognized me, she came up to me, and she broke down in tears in front of me saying, ‘sir, I put my entire life savings as a refugee into this business, we’re struggling to pay the bills, if you shut me down, I’m going to lose it all, everything, and I’ll be in abject poverty.’”

“For some, perhaps, it is a little bit too easy to say just flick a switch. Shut them down,” Kenney said.

“I would ask people who have the certainty of a paycheque to think for a moment about those individuals whose entire life savings are tied up in businesses.”

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

The Canadian Press

COVID projections and ‘Schitt’s Creek’ motel for sale: In The News for Nov. 26

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Nov 26th, 2020

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Nov. 26 …

What we are watching in Canada …

TORONTO — Ontario health officials are expected to release new COVID-19 projections today.

It will be the first time they have released such data since sending the province’s two biggest virus hot spots — Toronto and Peel Region — into lockdown earlier this week.

Two weeks ago, the province unveiled modelling that showed Ontario could see as many as 6,500 new daily cases of COVID-19 by mid-December unless steps are taken to limit the spread of the virus.

It said the province would reach 2,500 new daily cases by that time if the growth rate was at three per cent, or 6,500 if the growth rate was at five per cent.

At the time, Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, one of the experts behind the projections, said a five per cent growth rate was “slightly optimistic.”

Premier Doug Ford announced he would lower thresholds for imposing stricter COVID-19 measures under the province’s colour-coded restrictions system the following day.

Also this …

Quebec’s highest court is scheduled to deliver its ruling today on appeals to the life sentence of Alexandre Bissonnette, who shot and killed six men in a Quebec City mosque in 2017.

Bissonnette was sentenced in February 2019 to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 40 years.

Both sides appealed the ruling: the defence said the killer should be allowed a parole hearing in 25 years while the Crown said 40 years wasn’t enough, and Bissonnette should not have the possibility to leave prison before 50 years.

And in Toronto, a psychiatrist is expected to testify for the defence in the murder trial for a man who drove a van down a crowded Toronto sidewalk, killing 10 people.

Alek Minassian has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder.

The defence argues the 28-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., should be found not criminally responsible for his actions on April 23, 2018, due to autism spectrum disorder.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

WASHINGTON — A big Biden family Thanksgiving is off the table for president-elect Joe Biden because of the pandemic.

In remarks billed as a Thanksgiving address to the nation, the Democrat urged Americans to “hang on” and not “surrender to the fatigue” after months of coping with the virus.

He noted that public health officials have asked Americans to give up many of the traditions that make Thanksgiving special, like big indoor family get-togethers.

Biden said he knows how hard it is to give up family traditions but that it’s very important this year given the spike in virus cases, averaging about 160,000 a day.

He urged everyone to wear masks, practice social distancing and limit the size of groups, calling it a “patriotic duty” until a vaccine is approved.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

SEOUL — The operator of an online chat room in South Korea was sentenced today to 40 years in prison for blackmailing dozens of women, including minors, into filming sexually explicit video and selling them to others.

The Seoul Central District Court convicted Cho Ju-bin, 24, of violating the laws on protecting minors and organizing a criminal ring, court spokesman Kim Yong Chan said.

The court ruled Cho “used various methods to lure and blackmail a large number of victims into making sexually abusive contents and distributed them to many people for an extended period,” Kim said. “

He particularly disclosed the identities of many victims and inflicted irreparable damages to them.”

Cho has maintained he only cheated victims into making such video but didn’t blackmail or coerce them, forcing some of the victims to testify in court.

Kim said the court decided to isolate Cho from society for a prolonged period in consideration of his attitude and the seriousness and evil influence of his crime.

Both Cho and prosecutors, who had requested a life sentence, have one week to appeal.

On this day in 1917 …

The National Hockey League was founded in Montreal with Frank Calder as president. The NHL replaced the National Hockey Association. Its first teams were the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Toronto Arenas, Ottawa Senators and Quebec Bulldogs.

In entertainment …

There’s a rose-coloured opportunity for would-be hoteliers looking to flaunt their wealth in small-town Canada.

A landmark location from the beloved CBC sitcom “Schitt’s Creek” hit the market Wednesday, offering buyers the chance to re-enact the show’s riches-to-rags saga for a listing price of $2 million.

The Hockley Motel in Mono, a town of about 8,000 people northwest of Toronto, served as the exterior set for the Rose family’s home on the Emmy Award-winning series.

The listing presents the 6.7-acre riverside property as a fixer-upper that would appeal to travellers seeking rural refuge from the commotion and contagion risk of city life in the COVID-19 era.

It’s a sales pitch that may sound familiar to “Schitt’s Creek” fans who have followed the Rose family as they refurbished their motel-turned-home in a town they once purchased as a joke, said property owner Jesse Tipping.

ICYMI …

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — A school superintendent in British Columbia is apologizing to an Indigenous mother whose daughter was given an assignment to find something good about the infamous residential school system.

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission detailed how the residential school system played a central role in perpetrating cultural genocide against Indigenous people.

Krista MacInnis says she was reduced to tears when her daughter asked for help on the Grade 6 assignment from William A. Fraser Middle School in Abbotsford.

MacInnis says she asked her daughter to erase the work she had done, which included the web address for a blog post entitled “Balancing the Biased ‘Genocide’ Story About Residential Schools.”

MacInnis says she’s since heard from the superintendent of the Abbotsford school district, Kevin Godden, who told her as a person of colour he was outraged by the assignment her daughter received.

MacInnis says she’s heard from the school’s principal, who told her he has spoken with the teacher responsible for the assignment and they would both like to apologize to the mother and her daughter.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2020

The Canadian Press

For posterity: George Pimentel project captures effects of COVID-19 on Canadian society

Talia Knezic | posted Thursday, Nov 26th, 2020

Across the world, people are living through a pandemic the likes of which has not been seen for over 100 years.

While there is little doubt that 2020 and the COVID-19 crisis will be remembered as a dark chapter, it is an extraordinary time in human history and one that is being documented extensively by almost everyone with a smartphone.

One of Canada’s most renowned photographers has taken it upon himself to curate thousands of such images submitted on social media by Canadians across the country, to capture how COVID-19 has altered every facet of their existence.

“It all started when I was looking at photos from the Spanish flu,” George Pimentel said.

With all events cancelled due to the pandemic, including the Toronto International Film Festival where Pimentel has snapped some of his most iconic images, he was left with time on his hands and a desire to do something meaningful with it.

“I thought it’s so important to document the historical value of this pandemic … to archive this for the future. I want to be able to look back at the photos one day and maybe get a sense of what time was like back then,” he explained.

Pimentel began by photographing life during the pandemic for himself — everything from gymnastics practice in a park to a physically distanced visit with his father. Hearing people’s stories as he photographed them has been both heart wrenching and eye opening, he said.

As he started creating a photo essay on his Instagram account, Pimentel began to feel that it was vital to see how others across the country were experiencing the pandemic and get a glimpse of it through their lenses.

To make his vision a reality, he decided to use social media as a hub to gather images from all walks – whether or not they were professional photographers. He began asking people to use #CanadaCOVIDPortrait to share their photos with him on Instagram in hopes of creating a country-wide archive.

“The power of social media — everyone started hash-tagging their photos. We had over 5,000 images come in. It was overwhelming,” he said.

Pimentel said the story of COVID in Canada has so many different chapters — frontline workers, businesses, families, and the elderly to name a few — and the photos he received told rich stories of their real life experiences.

“Each photo tells a story and has the diversity of Canada, from west coast to east coast, we wanted to show everything. There’s photos from Indigenous [people] and Black Lives Matter,” he said, adding that they are all strung together by the common thread of hope and resilience.

“We had over 5,000 images come in.”

Those photos are now part of the ‘Portraits in COVID Times: Documenting a Nation in Change’ exhibit at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto.

View some of the images from the exhibit below:
Photos provided by George Pimentel

Open Gallery10 items

 

The exhibit itself is one of the many things impacted by COVID-19. With indoor events and gatherings now prohibited, the outdoor format and large scale was a deliberate and necessary decision in order to make the exhibit accessible to as many people as possible.

“There’s no other exhibit like this,” Pimentel stated. “You can see the exhibit from the streetcar, while you’re riding your bike, while you’re walking down here.”

Habourfront Chief Programming Officer Iris Nemani said Pimentel’s vision for the project was in perfect harmony with the centre’s own goals of engaging with the community and bringing them innovative, COVID-safe programming during a time when their extensive roster of events had to be cancelled.

“How could we use our 10 acres and really create a visual art canvas for the community to engage artists and to also have relevant conversations? What George brought to us was absolutely a current conversation that was so poignant,” she explained.

For the first time, the entire façade of the main Harbourfront building has been taken over for a single exhibit of black and white photographs.

“Our offices are closed, so it was a non-issue for the people working inside the building. This was a moment to do something that was really impactful and large scale, so we just said let’s take over all the windows,” Nemani said.

“There’s no events going on inside and we felt like the only way to do it is outdoors and the best way to do it is to bring it out to the community,” Pimental added. “We’re just so lucky that the Harbourfront has such a great space.”

But even with the entire building covered, there are still more stories to tell. A second site along the waterfront has been chosen for Part 2 of the exhibit, expected to be completed next week.

“When [people] come down, they’re going to see that maybe they can relate to this.”

It will run along Queens Quay near Rees Street on 200 feet of lineal hoarding that will display an additional 30 images in colour.

 

“This is for the community, both that live here and those who are coming down here, and a way to bring some reflection for what we are all going through together,” Nemani said.

Pimentel added that he hopes the images will help people find common ground during what has been an incredibly divisive and polarizing time for the country.

“When [people] come down, they’re going to see that maybe they can relate to this. The most important thing is maybe they can learn from this and just see how the other side live. And really be sensitive to the issues …and lets all be kinder, it’s COVID,” he said.

Person of interest identified but not arrested in billionaire murders: police

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Nov 26th, 2020

Toronto police say they have identified a person of interest in the high-profile 2017 homicides of a billionaire philanthropist couple.

However, the force says no arrest has been made related to the murders of Barry and Honey Sherman.

The founder of generic pharmaceutical company Apotex and his wife were killed inside their Toronto mansion in December 2017.

Autopsy results revealed the couple died by “ligature neck compression” and police have said there were no signs of forced entry.

The killings shocked the city and made international headlines.

The family offered up to $10 million for information that would help solve the case, and hired its own team of private investigators.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Test of emergency public alert system expected today across Canada, CRTC says

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Nov 25th, 2020

Most people across Canada can expect an interruption Wednesday by an emergency public alert that will be broadcast on television, radio and sent to mobile devices as part of a countrywide test of the system.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission says all provinces and territories, except Nunavut, will get the alerts, but people will not be required to take action.

The exact time of the test will vary depending on the province or territory.

The agency says testing the national public alerting system is aimed at checking performance and reliability “to ensure it operates as intended in the event of a life-threatening situation.”

For a wireless device to receive a test alert, the CRTC says it must be connected to an LTE wireless or a newer wireless network, it must be wireless public alerting compatible and equipped with a recent Canadian version of its operating software.

If a mobile device meets these conditions and does not receive the test, the CRTC encourages Canadians to contact their service provider.

Testing the system, which hasn’t always gone according to plan, started in 2018.

It was supposed to be fully operational under regulator orders by April 6, 2018. But that year in Quebec, it didn’t sound at all. Many wireless subscribers in Ontario also didn’t receive it.

“Since January 2019, hundreds of emergency alert messages were successfully transmitted by emergency management officials to warn Canadians of a potentially life-threatening situation,” the CRTC said in its statement Tuesday. “These alerts have been credited with saving lives.”

This summer, Ontario Provincial Police used the system to alert Lanark County residents that an armed man was at large after a body was found in a motel room.

That alert came about three months after a denturist went on a shooting rampage in Portapique, N.S., killing 22 people. The RCMP was criticized for not using the system.

Quebec City police also faced backlash last month for not using the system to warn the public about a sword-wielding individual roaming the streets, killing two people and injuring five others.

Alert Test Times Across Canada:

  • Alberta – 1:55 PM MST
  • British Columbia – 1:55 PM PST
  • Manitoba – 1:55 PM CST
  • New Brunswick – 10:55 AM AST
  • Newfoundland & Labrador – 10:55 AM NST
  • Northwest Territories – 9:55 AM MST
  • Nova Scotia – 1:55 PM AST
  • Nunavut – No test scheduled
  • Ontario – 12:55 PM EST
  • Prince Edward Island – 12:55 PM AST
  • Quebec – 1:55 PM EST
  • Saskatchewan – 1:55 PM CST
  • Yukon – 1:55 PM MST

Tougher COVID-19 restrictions and a major Grammy snub: In The News for Nov. 25

Talia Knezic | posted Wednesday, Nov 25th, 2020

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Nov. 25 …

What we are watching in Canada …

The Ontario government is expected to spell out its guidelines today for celebrating the upcoming winter holidays as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Toronto and Peel Region are currently under the grey or lockdown level in the province’s tiered COVID-19 alert system, with those restrictions to stay in place at least until the week of Christmas.

Public health measures under the lockdown level include a ban on indoor gatherings except with those in the same household, as well as closing down restaurants for all but takeout and delivery.

The province’s top doctor said earlier this week it seemed unlikely the situation would improve in those regions enough over 28 days to warrant moving them to the red alert level, which is one level lower.

In Alberta, tougher COVID-19 restrictions were announced Tuesday that included limits on social gatherings and less face-to-face class time for students.

Premier Jason Kenney said there are to be no indoor gatherings, but people who live alone can have up to two personal contacts.

He says students in grades 7 through 12 will transition next week to at-home learning and the school holiday break will be extended from Dec. 18 to Jan. 11.

Banquet halls, conference centres and concert venues must also close.

Kenney added that anyone who can work from home should do so and masks will be mandatory in workplaces in Edmonton, Calgary and surrounding areas. The measures will be in effect for three weeks and re-evaluated after that.

Also this …

A review of the Catholic archdiocese of Montreal’s handling of complaints against a pedophile priest is to be released today.

The archdiocese enlisted former Quebec Superior Court justice Pepita Capriolo to examine the church’s response to complaints against former priest Brian Boucher.

Archbishop Christian Lepine is expected to speak about the report, tabled in September, at a news conference today.

Lepine requested the review himself, saying he wanted to establish who knew what in relation to Boucher’s crimes.

Boucher was sentenced in March 2019 to eight years in prison for abusing two boys after being found guilty in one case and pleading guilty in the other.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

U.S. President Donald Trump says he is not giving up his fight to overturn the election results, even as agencies across the federal government begin to support president-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration.

Career federal officials are opening the doors of agencies to hundreds of transition aides ready to prepare for Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration.

And on Tuesday, Trump signed off on allowing Biden to receive the presidential daily brief, the highly classified briefing prepared by the nation’s intelligence community for the government’s most senior leaders.

An administration official said logistics on when and where Biden will first receive the briefing were still being worked out.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

The European Union has committed to be “creative” in the final stages of the Brexit trade negotiations but warned that whatever deal emerges, the United Kingdom will be reduced to “just a valued partner,” far removed from its former membership status.

EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said “genuine progress” has been made on several issues.

And she said that on the divisive issues of fisheries, governance of any deal and the standards the U.K. must meet to export into the EU, the bloc is “ready to be creative, but we are not ready to put into question the integrity of the single market.”

On this day in 2010 …

Steven Chand, 29, convicted of trying to raise funds for the so-called Toronto 18 terror plotters, was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He had been in jail since June 2006 but because of credit for time served, he only had to serve another seven months and 10 days.

In entertainment …

The Weeknd angrily slammed the Grammy Awards, calling them “corrupt” after the Canadian pop star walked away with zero nominations despite having multiple hits this year.

The three-time Grammy winner criticized the Recording Academy on Tuesday after he was severely snubbed, despite having one of the year’s biggest albums with “After Hours” and being tapped as the Super Bowl halftime headline performer. He also topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart with “Blinding Lights” and “Heartless.”

“The Grammys remain corrupt,” the singer said on Twitter. “You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency.”

The harsh words come less than a year after the Recording Academy’s ousted CEO accused the group that determines nominations in the top categories of having conflicts of interest and not engaging in a transparent selection process.

ICYMI …

A researcher from the University of Alberta is being recognized for her innovation that uses the sharp edges on salt crystals to destroy COVID-19 droplets on reusable masks.

Ilaria Rubino, a recent PhD graduate, says a solution of mostly salt and water is used to coat the first or middle layer of the mask.

As the liquid from the droplets evaporates, she says the salt crystals grow back as spiky weapons, which damage the bacteria or virus within five minutes.

Rubino collaborated with a researcher at Georgia State University in Atlanta to advance the project she started five years ago.

She is being recognized today with an innovation award from Mitacs, a not-for-profit organization that honours researchers from academic institutions.

The salt-coated mask is expected to be available commercially next year after regulatory approval.

Rubino says it could also be used to stop the spread of other infectious illnesses, such as influenza.

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

The Canadian Press

Canada-wide survey of women’s shelters shows abuse more severe during COVID-19

BRENNA OWEN, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Nov 25th, 2020

A new national survey by Women’s Shelters Canada offers a glimpse into the experiences of front-line workers and women fleeing violence during the COVID-19 pandemic, with reports of clients facing more violence that is also increasing in severity.

The Shelter Voices survey says 52 per cent of 266 participating shelters reported seeing clients who were experiencing either somewhat or much more severe violence, as public health measures aimed at fighting COVID-19 increase social isolation, while job losses fuel tension over financial insecurity in many households.

Violence “was also happening more frequently, or abusers who hadn’t used violence in the past were suddenly using violence,” said Krys Maki, the research and policy manager for Women’s Shelters Canada.

The survey also found 37 per cent of shelters reported changes in the type of violence clients faced, including increased physical attacks resulting in broken bones, strangulation and stabbings.

Shelters and transition houses that did not report changes in the rates or type of violence were often located in communities that had seen fewer cases of COVID-19, the report notes.

The data show public health restrictions have a “huge impact on women and children who are living with their abusers,” said Maki.

The survey says 59 per cent of shelters reported a decrease in calls for help between March and May, when people were asked to stay home, and businesses, workplaces and schools shut their doors.

From June to October, “as soon as things started up again, we see a huge increase in crisis calls and requests for admittance,” said Maki.

The survey includes responses from shelters and transition houses in rural and urban areas in every province and territory.

Just over half of the shelters in population centres with 1,000 to 29,999 residents reported increases in crisis calls between June and October, said Maki, compared with 70 per cent of shelters in urban centres with populations between 100,000 and just under a million.

Women in smaller communities may be more hesitant to reach out for help, said Maki, “because everybody knows everyone, and everyone knows where the shelter is, too.”

While the survey shows women are facing more severe violence at home, at the same time, 71 per cent of shelters reported reducing their capacity in order to maintain physical distancing and other public health measures aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19.

It was more common that shelters in large population centres had to cut their capacity.

To continue serving women remotely, 82 per cent of shelters and transition houses reported purchasing new technology, such as tablets, phones and laptops, although limited cell service and internet connectivity pose challenges in rural and remote areas.

For many shelters, financial difficulties increased throughout the pandemic, as 38 per cent reported raising significantly less money compared with last year.

The shelters were mostly appreciative of the federal government’s emergency funding in response to COVID-19, with some reporting it kept them open, while others said they had to lay off staff because the money didn’t go far enough.

The federal government announced last month it would double the initial amount it was providing to gender-based violence services in response to the pandemic for a total of $100 million, some of which has been distributed through Women’s Shelters Canada.

The survey found more than three quarters  of the shelters faced staffing challenges during the pandemic. That’s not surprising, the report notes, since women make up the majority of shelter workers and have been trying to balance paid work with childcare and other family responsibilities during lockdown periods.

The release of the survey results on Wednesday coincides with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

The Canadian Centre for Women’s Empowerment is also working to have Nov. 26 recognized each year to raise awareness about economic abuse.

So far, the cities of Ottawa, Brampton, Parry Sound and Kingston have signed on in Ontario, while Victoria and Comox, B.C., will also mark the day.

There is little data about economic abuse in Canada, said Meseret Haileyesus, who founded the centre, although the shelter survey showed clients were subject to increasing coercion and control tactics, including limited access to money.

A survivor’s debt load, credit rating, and their ability to access housing and educational opportunities may be affected for years, long after they’ve left an abusive relationship, Haileyesus said.

The centre is working with MP Anita Vandenbeld on a petition urging lawmakers to expand the strategy to end gender-based violence to include economic abuse. It also wants Statistics Canada to begin collecting data and studying economic abuse.

———

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Alberta researcher gets award for COVID-19 mask innovation

CAMILLE BAINS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Nov 24th, 2020

Salt that crystallizes with sharp edges is the killer ingredient in the development of a reusable mask because any COVID-19 droplets that land on it would be quickly destroyed, says a researcher who is being recognized for her innovation.

Ilaria Rubino, a recent PhD graduate from the department of chemical and materials engineering at the University of Alberta, said a mostly salt and water solution that coats the first or middle layer of the mask would dissolve droplets before they can penetrate the face covering.

As the liquid from the droplets evaporates, the salt crystals grow back as spiky weapons, damaging the bacteria or virus within five minutes, Rubino said.

“We know that after the pathogens are collected in the mask, they can survive. Our goal was to develop a technology that is able to inactivate the pathogens upon contact so that we can make the mask as effective as possible.”

Rubino, who collaborated with a researcher at Georgia State University in Atlanta to advance the project she started five years ago, was recognized Tuesday with an innovation award from Mitacs. The Canadian not-for-profit organization receives funding from the federal government, most provinces and Yukon to honour researchers from academic institutions.

The reusable, non-washable mask is made of a type of polypropylene, a plastic used in surgical masks, and could be safely worn and handled multiple times without being decontaminated, Rubino said.

The idea is to replace surgical masks often worn by health-care workers who must dispose of them in a few hours, she said, adding the technology could potentially be used for N-95 respirators.

The salt-coated mask is expected to be available commercially next year after regulatory approval. It could also be used to stop the spread of other infectious illnesses, such as influenza, Rubino said.

Dr. Catherine Clase, an epidemiologist and associate professor of medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, said the “exciting” technology would have multiple benefits.

Clase, who is a member of the Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials in the engineering department at McMaster, said there wasn’t much research in personal protective equipment when Rubino began her work.

“It’s going to decrease the footprint for making and distributing and then disposing of every mask,” she said, adding that the mask could also address any supply issues.

The Public Health Agency of Canada recently recommended homemade masks consist of at least three layers, with a middle, removable layer constructed from a non-woven, washable polypropylene fabric to improve filtration.

Conor Ruzycki, an aerosol scientist in the University of Alberta’s mechanical engineering department, said Rubino’s innovation adds to more recent research on masks as COVID-19 cases rise and shortages of face coverings in the health-care system could again become a problem.

Ruzycki, who works in a lab to evaluate infiltration efficiencies of different materials for masks and respirators, is also a member of a physician-led Alberta group Masks4Canada, which is calling for stricter pandemic measures, including a provincewide policy on mandatory masks.

New measures expected in Alberta and pandemic weight gain: In The News for Nov. 24

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Nov 24th, 2020

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Nov. 24 …

What we are watching in Canada …

EDMONTON — Alberta’s chief medical officer of health says COVID-19 has become like a snowball rolling down a hill, picking up size and speed, and threatening to overwhelm the health system.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw says immediate action is needed to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Premier Jason Kenney and select cabinet ministers were to meet with Hinshaw, and new measures are expected to be announced today.

Alberta, once a leader in how to prepare for and contain the virus, has in recent weeks become a national cautionary tale.

There have been well over 1,000 new cases a day for five straight days, and there are more than 300 patients in hospital and more than 60 in intensive care.

Kenney has said he wants targeted measures to control the virus while keeping businesses as open as possible.

Others, including some doctors, say the focus needs to be on a sharp clampdown, even for a short period.

Also this …

A new poll by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies suggests many Canadians are gaining weight because they’re eating more and exercising less during COVID-19 pandemic.

Thirty-two per cent of respondents said they have gained weight since March, while 15 per cent said they lost weight over that time.

Jack Jedwab, president of the Association for Canadian Studies, says this is one of the collateral effects of the pandemic, as the survey suggests there is a link between weight gain and fear of COVID-19.

Forty-six per cent of respondents who said they are very afraid of COVID-19 gained weight during the pandemic.

Forty-four cent of those who expressed that level of fear said they have been exercising less than they did before the pandemic and about 46 per cent said they were eating more than usual.

The online survey of 1,516 Canadians was conducted Oct. 29-31 and cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

The U.S. General Services Administration has ascertained that president-elect Joe Biden is the “apparent winner” of the Nov. 3 election.

President Donald Trump, who had refused to concede the election, said Monday that he is directing his team to co-operate on the transition but is vowing to keep up the fight.

The move clears the way for the start of the transition from Trump’s administration and allows Biden to co-ordinate with federal agencies on plans for taking over on Jan. 20.

An official said Administrator Emily Murphy made the determination after Trump efforts to subvert the vote failed across battleground states, most recently in Michigan, which certified Biden’s victory Monday.

And today, Biden is preparing to formally announce his national security team to the nation.

Those being introduced during an afternoon event are among Obama administration alumni whose roles in the upcoming administration signal Biden’s shift away from the Trump administration’s “America First” policies.

The picks include former Secretary of State John Kerry to take the lead on combating climate change. Outside the realm of national security and foreign policy, Biden is expected to choose former Fed chair Janet Yellen as the first woman to serve as treasury secretary.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

China’s latest trip to the moon is another milestone in the Asian powerhouse’s slow but steady ascent to the stars.

China became the third country to put a person into orbit a generation ago and the first to land on the far side of the moon in 2019.

The Chang’e 5 mission, launched today, will be the first to bring back moon rocks and debris since a Soviet mission in 1976.

Future ambitions include a permanent space station and putting people back on the moon more than 50 years after the U.S. did.

On this day in 2002 …

Quebec Premier Bernard Landry announced that the May 24th Quebec holiday, “La fete de Dollard,” would henceforth be known as “La Journee nationale des Patriotes.” The name was changed to honour the movement that contributed to the Rebellions of 1837-38 in Lower Canada and became an early symbol of French-Canadian nationalism.

In entertainment …

Anne Murray wasn’t sure her singing voice was still intact until a few months ago.

The famed Canadian crooner had left her most-cherished instrument largely unchecked while in retirement, aside from belting out a song here and there while doing household chores.

But last summer, she decided to dust off her guitar to see whether her trademark lush alto voice could still carry a tune.

Murray says she performed a few of her old songs “just for the fun of it,” and was pleased to learn her famous pipes are still humming.

The winner of 24 Junos and four Grammys swore off recording new music more than a decade ago, but she recently compiled several of her classic tracks for a new holiday album.

“The Ultimate Christmas Collection” brings together 22 songs pulled from Murray’s various Christmas albums, including “Joy to the World, “Blue Christmas” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” with Michael Buble.

ICYMI …

A Quebec municipality that had planned to cull about 15 white-tailed deer in the coming days relented late Monday amid pressure on officials to relocate the animals.

Longueuil Mayor Sylvie Parent said in a statement the threat of people intervening or attempting to thwart the cull has forced the city to consider other options.

Parent noted the plan to capture and slaughter the deer, approved by Quebec’s Forests, Wildlife and Parks Department, was supported by a “broad consensus within the scientific community.”

But given the circumstances, she’s asking the city’s top civil servant to come up with a plan to move the deer from Michel-Chartrand Park to a sanctuary authorized by provincial officials.

Parent’s announcement came hours after an animal rescue group and a lawyer who champions animal rights urged the Montreal-area city to reconsider its plan to kill half the white-tailed deer in the park and donate the meat to a food bank.

The organization, Sauvetage Animal Rescue, along with well-known Montreal lawyer Anne-France Goldwater, had urged Parent to consider its own plan to relocate the animals to a sanctuary, free of charge.

Ultimately, the city relented but Parent said the deer situation would need to be resolved quickly.

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

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Nov 24th, 2020

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

There are 337,555 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 133,206 confirmed (including 6,842 deaths, 115,367 resolved)

_ Ontario: 105,501 confirmed (including 3,505 deaths, 88,992 resolved)

_ Alberta: 48,421 confirmed (including 476 deaths, 34,779 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 27,407 confirmed (including 348 deaths, 19,069 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 14,087 confirmed (including 236 deaths, 5,353 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 6,708 confirmed (including 37 deaths, 3,807 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,190 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,074 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 445 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 349 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 321 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 294 resolved)

_ Nunavut: 134 confirmed (including 2 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 69 confirmed (including 64 resolved)

_ Yukon: 38 confirmed (including 1 death, 22 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed (including 10 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Total: 337,555 (0 presumptive, 337,555 confirmed including 11,521 deaths, 269,195 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

Rent relief for businesses and AMA love for The Weeknd: In The News for Nov. 23

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Nov 23rd, 2020

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Nov. 23 …

What we are watching in Canada …

OTTAWA — Businesses struggling to pay the bills because of the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to start applying today for a long-awaited new commercial rent-relief program offered by the federal government.

The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy replaces an earlier rent-support program for businesses introduced in the spring that saw little pickup because it relied on landlords to apply for help.

The new program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest on a sliding scale based on revenue declines, with an extra 25 per cent available to the hardest-hit firms.

Federal cabinet ministers will highlight the program during a news conference this morning in which they will also open two initiatives designed to help businesses owned by Black Canadians.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which represents thousands of small companies across the country, is welcoming the new rent program as long overdue for firms hard hit by COVID-19.

However, it is criticizing the government for not opening it to businesses that would have qualified for the previous rent-relief program, but could not access federal funds because their landlords chose not to apply.

Also this …

OTTAWA — N-D-P MP Laurel Collins is reviving a call for the environment commissioner to be a stand-alone officer of Parliament.

Collins is pushing a motion at the environment committee to pull the position out of the Office of the Auditor General and make it a separate entity.

The Victoria MP says the commissioner needs its own dedicated staff to ensure it can fulfil its mandate.

She says the commissioner used to perform up to five environmental audits annually but has just one underway this year and two planned for 2021.

The Liberal government of former prime minister Jean Chrétien created the position in 1995, but did not meet a campaign promise to make it an office independent from the auditor general.

The motion from Collins is nearly identical to one passed by the same committee 13 years ago but the request was never fulfilled.

ICYMI …

OTTAWA — Canada and Britain struck a new trade deal on Saturday, allowing the long-standing partners to trumpet a commercial triumph in the face of the economic devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The interim deal beat the looming Dec. 31 Brexit deadline, replacing Canada’s current agreement with Britain under the European Union that covers trade between the two countries.

Announced amid a virtual gathering of G-20 leaders, the interim pact is a placeholder that buys Canada and Britain another year to reach a more comprehensive agreement while also warding off a no-deal scenario that would have triggered new tariffs on a range of Canadian exports on Jan. 1

But few details were released about the new agreement. Breaking with past practice during trade negotiations, there were no pre-announcement briefings for journalists and no text was released.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U-S President Donald Trump’s campaign has filed plenty of lawsuits in six states as he tries to upend an election he lost to Democrat Joe Biden.

The strategy may have played well in front of TV cameras, but it’s proved a disaster in court, where judges uniformly have rejected claims of vote fraud.

The latest case ended Saturday, when a federal judge in Pennsylvania said Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani presented only “speculative accusations” and no proof of rampant corruption in the vote.

A law school professor says the suits threaten the future of elections because so many Americans believe the claims being made by Trump’s team.

Meanwhile, Biden is expected to nominate Antony Blinken as secretary of state, according to multiple people familiar with the Biden team’s planning.

If nominated and confirmed, Blinken would be a leading force in Biden’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which Trump questioned longtime alliances.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

LONDON — AstraZeneca says late stage trials of its COVID-19 vaccine developed with Oxford University were “highly effective’’ in preventing disease.

The results are based on interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of the vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca.

The drugmaker reported today that no hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in those receiving the vaccine.

“These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives. Excitingly that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90 per cent effective,’’ said Professor Andrew Pollard, the chief investigator for the trial.

Two other drugmakers, Pfizer and Moderna, last week reported preliminary results from late-stage trials showing that their COVID-19 vaccines were almost 95 per cent effective.

In entertainment …

LOS ANGELES — Taylor Swift won her third consecutive artist of the year prize at last night’s American Music Awards.

She beat out Canadians Justin Bieber and The Weeknd for the top award, while also winning favourite music video and favourite pop/rock female artist.

Though The Weeknd lost artist of the year, he still kicked off his all-star week as a big winner: Days before he’s expected to land multiple Grammy nominations, the pop star dominated the 2020 American Music Awards with multiple wins.

The Toronto native won favourite soul/R&B male artist, favourite soul/R&B album for “After Hours” and favourite soul/R&B song for “Heartless.

The Weeknd didn’t break character throughout last night’s three-hour show with his gauze-wrapped face, which matched the vibe of his recent album and music videos where he appears blooded and bruised.

He was one of several artists who appeared live at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles for the fan-voted awards show. Others taped performances because of the pandemic.

Bieber and fellow Canuck pop star Shawn Mendes opened the show with a performance of their new duet “Monster.”

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

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Monday, Nov. 23, 2020

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Nov 23rd, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. EST on Nov. 23, 2020:

There are 330,492 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 132,042 confirmed (including 6,829 deaths, 114,085 resolved)

_ Ontario: 103,912 confirmed (including 3,486 deaths, 87,508 resolved)

_ Alberta: 46,872 confirmed (including 471 deaths, 34,206 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 25,474 confirmed (including 331 deaths, 17,477 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 13,544 confirmed (including 229 deaths, 5,193 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 6,473 confirmed (including 33 deaths, 3,757 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,168 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,070 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 430 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 347 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 319 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 294 resolved)

_ Nunavut: 130 confirmed (including 2 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 68 confirmed (including 64 resolved)

_ Yukon: 32 confirmed (including 1 death, 22 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed (including 10 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Total: 330,492 (0 presumptive, 330,492 confirmed including 11,455 deaths, 264,048 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

Forensic psychiatrist to testify for defence at Toronto van attack trial

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Nov 23rd, 2020

A forensic psychiatrist is set to testify for the defence on Monday in the murder trial for the man who killed 10 people after driving a van down a crowded Toronto sidewalk.

Dr. John Bradford is set to provide his evaluation of Alek Minassian, who has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder.

CityNews reporter Adrian Ghobrial is covering the trial, follow his tweets below:

Minassian argues he should be found not criminally responsible due to autism spectrum disorder for his actions on April 23, 2018.

He has admitted to planning and carrying out the attack and his state of mind at the time is the sole issue at trial.

Another psychiatrist has testified that Minassian’s autism spectrum disorder left him fixated on mass killings and vulnerable to the ramblings of an American mass murderer.

Dr. Rebecca Chauhan assessed Minassian over three days in September 2018. She testified on Wednesday that his autism spectrum disorder left him struggling to understand emotions and vulnerable to the online writings of mass killer Elliot Rodger, who killed six people in a 2014 attack near the campus of the University of California.

She testified Thursday that Minassian told her he read Rodger’s manifesto almost daily between January and April, 2018.

After assessing him, she wrote in her report that Minassian started reading about mass murders and became interested in the subject in high school. “He would fanaticize about shooting people every three to four months,” she wrote.

Dr. Chauhan was brought on by Dr. Bradford because he wanted a second opinion on Minassian’s autism diagnosis.

The defence case rests on the argument that his autism spectrum disorder meant he couldn’t fully understand the consequences of his actions during the attack.

The court has heard that Minassian has told various doctors his motivation for the attacks ranged from notoriety to revenge against society for years of rejection by women to anxiety over starting a new job.

Trudeau to tout climate and trade as China, U.S. set to dominate Asia-Pacific summit

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Nov 20th, 2020

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will pitch the economic benefits of fighting climate change and doing business with Canada as he meets with counterparts from both sides of the Pacific during today’s Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation leaders’ summit.

Yet the degree to which the prime minister’s sales pitch will even be heard by APEC leaders remains unclear as Canada’s tensions with China and the much bigger dispute between Beijing and Washington threaten to overshadow the meeting.

Trudeau hinted at his planned approach to the summit during a speech on Thursday that was followed by a question-and-answer session in which Ottawa’s tense ties with Beijing and relationship with the White House figured prominently.

The summit, which is being hosted by Malaysia but held online because of COVID-19, is supposed to focus on the pandemic, particularly its economic impacts and what actions the members can take to mitigate those now and recover afterward.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump will be among the participants, with the latter likely marking one of his last such international gatherings following this month’s presidential election.

This year’s meeting also comes days after China joined nearly a dozen other Asian countries along with Australia and New Zealand in inking what is being billed as the world’s largest free-trade agreement, which excludes Canada and U.S.

Trudeau stopped short Thursday of saying Canada was interested in joining the new Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, but instead suggested Ottawa would be watching to see how Beijing behaves in the trade deal.

China “is an important player in the global economy that we need to try and include and get to play by better international rules,” the prime minister said during the question-and-answer session during the APEC CEO Dialogue on Thursday.

“So if the RCEP deal is able to actually start to create level playing fields, that’s going to be something very, very interesting. So we’re going to watch carefully.”

Trudeau during the same session defended the detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who is facing extradition to the U.S. to face fraud charges, and whose case has become a weeping sore in the relationship between Canada and China.

The prime minister also indicated that he planned to not only push back against growing protectionism around the world, particularly during the pandemic, but also call for more of the benefits of free trade and globalization reach everyday people.

Much of the attention, however, will be on Trump and Xi. The former has refused to concede this month’s U.S. presidential election to challenger Joe Biden, and has made a point in the past of calling out China on trade and security.

The Trump administration during the last APEC summit in 2018 refused to sign off on a final statement over those same issues.

The APEC meeting today will be followed this weekend by the G20 leaders’ summit, which is being hosted by Saudi Arabia and will also focus on responding to the economic damage wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the first G20 leaders’ summit held in 2008 was aimed to ensure a unified international response to the financial crisis that year, experts say the ensuring 12 years have seen growing polarization around the world along with more populism and instability.

“We’re in a geopolitically polarized environment that’s not getting any better,” said Fen Hampson, chancellor’s professor at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs.

“And unless there is a will on the part of the great powers to co-operate even at a minimum, you’re just not going to see a whole lot of action. So yes, you may get a communique. But it’s likely to be quite anodyne.”

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

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Ontario community grieving after shooting that killed officer, civilian

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Nov 20th, 2020

The mayor of a town on Ontario’s Manitoulin Island says the community is reeling after a shooting that left a police officer and a civilian dead Thursday.

Dan Osborne, mayor of Gore Bay, says news of the incident quickly spread through the small island community yesterday.

He says it’s the kind of place where everyone knows everyone, and the loss is “devastating.”

Ontario’s police watchdog said yesterday it is investigating the shooting, which took place after the officer was called to a property in Gore Bay.

The Special Investigations Unit said the call was related to an “unwanted man” on the property.

It said the officer, identified as Const. Marc Hovingh, was shot dead after he arrived, while the man on the property died in hospital.

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

 

COVID-19 projections and an Ontario community in mourning: In The News for Nov. 20

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Nov 20th, 2020

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Nov. 20 …

What we are watching in Canada …

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will amplify his plea for Canadians to stay home as much as possible after alarming new projections for the spread of COVID-19 in Canada are released today.

The updated projections are expected to forecast a dramatic rise in cases over the next few weeks — to as much as 60,000 new cases a day by the end of the year — if Canadians don’t strictly limit their contact with people outside their households.

Trudeau is to hold a news conference after the latest modelling is unveiled by chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam this morning.

To underscore the importance of minimizing contacts, Trudeau will conduct the news conference outside his home, Rideau Cottage — the site of his daily briefings during the first wave of the deadly pandemic last spring.

He ended that practice over the summer when the pandemic went into a bit of a lull and, throughout the fall until now, he has joined Tam and select ministers at news conferences on Parliament Hill once or twice a week.

Tam has already warned that Canada is on track to hit more than 10,000 cases per day by early December if Canadians maintain their current rate of contacts outside their household.

Also this …

TORONTO — Ontario is expected to release new public health measures today to fight the surging spread of COVID-19 in hot spot regions.

Premier Doug Ford said earlier this week that the restrictions will affect Toronto, Peel, and York Region where virus cases have been increasing in recent weeks.

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health has made recommendations to Ford’s cabinet which is expected to make a decision this morning ahead of the afternoon announcement.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe says keeping schools open remains a priority.

Ford has repeatedly said in recent days that he will take targeted action in the hot spot regions, but he would not hesitate to use full lockdowns if necessary.

And …

The mayor of a town on Ontario’s Manitoulin Island says the community is reeling after a shooting that left a police officer and a civilian dead Thursday.

Dan Osborne, mayor of Gore Bay, says news of the incident quickly spread through the small island community yesterday.

He says it’s the kind of place where everyone knows everyone, and the loss is “devastating.”

Ontario’s police watchdog said yesterday it is investigating the shooting, which took place after the officer was called to a property in Gore Bay.

The Special Investigations Unit said the call was related to an “unwanted man” on the property.

It said the officer, identified as Const. Marc Hovingh, was shot dead after he arrived, while the man on the property died in hospital.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

New York’s attorney general has sent a subpoena to the Trump Organization for records related to consulting fees paid to his daughter Ivanka Trump as part of an investigation into the president’s business dealings.

That’s according to a law enforcement official who spoke Thursday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The New York Times reported that a similar subpoena was sent to U.S. President Donald Trump’s company by the Manhattan district attorney, who is conducting a parallel probe.

Ivanka Trump tweeted that the subpoenas were “harassment pure and simple.”

The Times reported that the president reduced his company’s tax liability by deducting some consulting fees as a business expense.

On this day in 1877 …

Edmonton obtained its first telegraph service.

In entertainment …

Actor Richard Schiff, who appears on the Vancouver-filmed TV series “The Good Doctor,” has been released from hospital after being treated this week for COVID-19.

The 65-year-old American performer tweeted the update from his verified account Thursday, saying his wife and co-star on the medical drama, Sheila Kelly, was picking him up from the hospital.

Schiff said earlier this week on Twitter that he was being treated with the antiviral medication remdesivir, oxygen and steroids, three weeks after testing positive along with Kelly while filming the latest season of the series.

In an Instagram post last week, Kelly said they did not contract the virus on the set.

“The Good Doctor,” which airs on ABC and CTV, was continuing filming in Vancouver as of last week.

In business …

Postmedia has notified unionized employees in Vancouver that it wants to reduce salary expenses there by 15 per cent through a voluntary buyout program or layoffs.

Unifor Local 2000 represents Postmedia employees at the Vancouver Province and Vancouver Sun — separate daily newspapers in British Columbia’s biggest city.

The number of Postmedia employees involved with the downsizing wasn’t immediately available.

It’s the latest cost-cutting initiative this year at Canada’s largest newspaper group, which also owns the National Post, Toronto Sun and other digital and print publications.

Conventional media businesses across Canada saw a major drop in advertising revenue after the COVID-19 closures in the pandemic’s first wave.

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

Canada-Britain trade negotiation in final stages as Dec. 31 tariff deadline looms

MIKE BLANCHFIELD, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Nov 19th, 2020

Canada and Britain say they are in the final stages of negotiating a new trade deal before a Dec. 31 deadline.

That would prevent Canadian products from seafood to steaks and autos from being slapped with new tariffs when Britain leaves the European Union.

The spokeswoman for Trade Minister Mary Ng says Canada is hard at work on an interim agreement with Britain to replace the pact with the European Union that currently covers trade between the two countries.

“We understand that time is short. That’s why Canada is at the table, working hard to get a good agreement to ensure continuity, predictability and stability for Canadian businesses, exporters, and workers,” Youmy Han said in a statement to The Canadian Press.

“A deal is within reach and we continue to work with the U.K. to move this forward.”

Britain’s decision to leave the EU after its Brexit referendum means that the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA, will no longer apply to the country at the end of the year.

Han said Canada is seeking “a transitional agreement based on CETA as an interim measure once the Brexit period ends” but that government negotiators won’t finalize anything “that isn’t the best deal possible for Canadians.”

A spokesman for Britain’s international trade department said it is committed to “seeking to secure a continuity trade deal with Canada before the end of the (Brexit) transition period, and trade talks are at an advanced stage and progressing well.”

A deal would protect the $33-billion trading relationship between the two countries and “will provide stability for British exporters and act as a stepping-stone to a deeper trading relationship with Canada in the future,” said the British statement.

Trevor Kennedy, the policy director of the Business Council of Canada, said Britain remains a key European trading partner for Canada, and if a new deal isn’t reached Canadian firms will lose out on the market access they secured under CETA.

Japan and South Korea have already rolled over their old EU trade deals with Britain, while Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. are working on new agreements, Kennedy told the House of Commons trade committee this week.

“Some of these talks appear to be advanced and if (they) are in place without a transitional deal for Canada, it could result in Canadian firms losing their market share and first-mover advantage that we secured under CETA.”

Mark Agnew, the international policy director for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said that without a new bilateral deal tariffs of at least 10 per cent on Canadian exports such as lobster, beef and autos would kick in on Jan. 1, 2021.

“The short answer is that Brexit matters for Canadian businesses,” Agnew told the trade committee.

Canada’s trade negotiators have amassed vast experience meeting tight deadlines and overcoming late-breaking obstacles in landing trade deals other than CETA. Canada risked being frozen out of a new North American trade pact in 2019 after the U.S. and Mexico reached their own agreement, forcing Canada to scramble.

Canada also engaged in some tough 11th-hour talks with Japan and others in 2018 to finalize the 11-country Pacific Rim deal known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. That negotiation was thrown into flux after President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal in 2017, which left Canada and the 10 remaining countries to find a way to repair their pact without the world’s largest economy as a member.

Britain, meanwhile, has for decades deferred its trade negotiation work to EU officials in Brussels. The British have had to build a new trade department since the country voted in its June 2016 referendum to leave the EU.

Britain formally left at the end of January but the two parties have lived under an 11-month transition period, which for Canada has meant CETA continued to apply to its trade relations with Britain.

In the meantime, Britain has been forced to negotiate a series of new trade agreements with the EU and others, under the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Steve Verheul, Canada’s chief trade negotiator, told the Commons trade committee in early November that talks with Britain ramped up this past summer.

“We think we’re fairly close to the finish line, but we’re not quite there,” Verheul said. “As you can imagine, in any kind of trade negotiation, the most difficult parts are the ones you deal with at the very end.”

Canada’s approach was to import as much of the existing CETA pact as possible into a new bilateral agreement.

“A lot of the issues were very easy, but there are a handful of issues where we do have to have actual negotiations to reach a landing zone,” Verheul said.

Verheul said one sticking point was working out the specific levels of market access for various Canadian products. Another revolved around “issues related to temporary entry of business people for business purposes.”

What happens when we’re tempted by herd immunity in a dark winter

The Big Story | posted Thursday, Nov 19th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, the proposal is called the Great Barrington Declaration, and while it’s couched in lots of scientific language, herd immunity is what it boils down to. It has support from a group of scientists and is scoffed at by many, many more.

But during a time when Canada’s various COVID-19 regulations, thresholds, protocols and half-lockdowns can seem incredibly confusing, the Barrington approach offers a simple answer. Especially as a dark winter looms and it feels easier to just give up. What do we know about herd immunity? Why is it so attractive? And if it’s too dangerous to consider, what are our other options to get through the months ahead?

GUEST: Andre Picard, health reporter, The Globe and Mail

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Vaccines coming to Canada and tighter restrictions: In The News for Nov. 19

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Nov 19th, 2020

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Nov. 19 …

What we are watching in Canada …

Ontario’s health minister is suggesting Canada could start receiving millions of doses of COVID-19 as soon as January.

Christine Elliott said in question period that the country is set to get four million doses of the Pfizer vaccine between January and March as well as two million doses of Moderna’s vaccine.

She said that 1.6 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 800,000 of the Moderna vaccine are destined for Ontario.

When asked directly to confirm the dates and numbers, federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu would only say it was “really exciting” that Canada is well-positioned to receive millions of doses from both companies.

In Alberta, Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced on Twitter that the province is expecting its per capita share of 465,000 doses from Pfizer and 221,000 from Moderna, with the first shipments to arrive early in the new year.

The news comes as some provinces begin to impose restrictions to try to control spikes in COVID-19 cases.

As of today, no more than five people will be allowed to gather inside homes in Saskatchewan for the next four weeks.

There will be no visits with seniors and others living in long-term care and personal care homes except for compassionate reasons.

Mandatory mask use in public indoor areas has been expanded to the entire province instead of only in communities of more than 5,000.

Yukon’s premier says as of Friday, everyone entering the territory other than critical services workers will be required to self-isolate for two weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Premier Sandy Silver also says the government no longer recommends any non-essential travel outside the territory.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and B.C.’s health officer are expected impose further health restrictions this week.

Also this …

Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson will show Canadians his path to net-zero emissions today.

Wilkinson will be tabling climate legislation in the House of Commons to fulfil an election promise to be more aggressive in cutting greenhouse gases.

The legislation will include legally-binding five-year targets for reducing emissions.

Wilkinson promises that the new plan will cut more emissions by 2030 than Canada promised in the Paris accord.

And it will show a path to net zero by 2050, meaning any emissions still produced 30 years from now are absorbed, rather than left in the atmosphere to contribute to global warming.

Canada has set multiple goals for curbing emissions over the last three decades but to date has never met a single one of them.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

Georgia election officials expect to release a report today on a hand tally of the presidential race.

They have repeatedly said they expect it to affirm Democrat Joe Biden’s narrow lead over Republican President Donald Trump.

The secretary of state’s office expects to put out a report on the results by midday.

The hand recount of about five million votes stemmed from an audit required by a new state law and wasn’t in response to any suspected problems with the state’s results or an official recount request.

The state has until Friday to certify results that have been certified and submitted by the counties.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

Chinese President Xi Jinping is calling for closer international co-operation on making a vaccine for the coronavirus available.

Xi spoke today in an address delivered via video at an event at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. Xi said: “To beat the virus and promote the global recovery, the international community must close ranks and jointly respond to the crisis and meet the tests.”

He said co-operation would include closer co-ordination on policies for development and distribution of a vaccine.

Chinese companies Sinovac and Sinopharm are in the late stages of testing vaccines, putting them among nearly a dozen companies at or near that level of development.

On this day in 1954 …

The United States and Canada announced the construction of a radar warning system across northern Canada.

In entertainment …

CTV will air a two-hour nighttime Santa Claus parade special this year, featuring remote performances from an array of artists, including Dolly Parton.

The broadcaster says the “Original Santa Clause Parade” was pre-taped over three days on a closed route at Canada’s Wonderland, and without spectators, in order to adhere to local COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

CTV normally airs the parade live-to-tape.

Guest performers for the nationally televised special on Dec. 5 also include Kelly Clarkson and Brett Eldredge, as well as Meghan Trainor.

Reggae star Shaggy will perform with Markham, Ont.-born actress-turned-singer Aviva Mongillo, known by her stage name Carys.

Edmonton’s Ruth B. and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra will also be among the performers on the Christmas-themed broadcast, while Melissa Grelo of “The Social” and Kelsey McEwen of “Your Morning” will host.

ICYMI …

Use of the word “Micmac” on city signs, buildings and other municipal assets in Halifax is under review.

Regional council has unanimously endorsed a motion by councillor Sam Austin requiring city staff to review how the word is used and to produce a report. Micmac is an anglicized version of the Indigenous word for the Mi’kmaq First Nation.

Austin, who represents Dartmouth Centre, says the term is outdated, adding that his motion was based on recommendations from the city’s Cornwallis task force.

The task force was created in 2018 to propose changes to the way Halifax remembers its founder, Edward Cornwallis, the British officer accused of practising genocide against Indigenous people in the 18th century.

“It’s been a simmering issue as to whether or not it’s an appropriate use of the word,” Austin says. “With the Cornwallis task force it seemed like the right time to take a look at this.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 19, 2020

The Canadian Press

How will restaurants survive the winter?

NEWS STAFF | posted Wednesday, Nov 18th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, at least in the spring, there was a summer to come and some sort of certainty — restaurants would stay closed until COVID-19 was under control. This Fall, in most places in Canada, neither of those things are true. Opening plans and case thresholds are constantly shifting, while cities and provinces have different opinions about what should be open and when.

Beyond all that, of course, there are climbing COVID case counts, which means that even open restaurants are far from guaranteed enough business to survive. So…will they? How many will make it? And what can we (and governments at all levels) do to help them get through?

GUEST: John Sinopoli, restaurateur, co-founder of savehospitality.ca

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Donald Trump on Elections Canada’s disavowal of voting machines: ‘THIS SAYS IT ALL’

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Nov 18th, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A tweet seeking to distance Elections Canada from the use of electronic voting equipment has earned a like from the president of the United States.

Despite a lack of evidence, Donald Trump is accusing a Canadian maker of vote-counting machines of conspiring against him in the Nov. 3  presidential election.

He’s now dragged Canada’s independent elections administrator into the fray.

Elections Canada tweeted Monday that it has never used tabulation equipment made by Dominion Voting Systems or anyone else in its 100-year history.

Trump retweeted the agency today in an effort to further cast doubt on the company, which was founded by Canadian partners and has offices in Toronto and Denver.

Dominion officials have categorically denied the president’s claims.

“THIS SAYS IT ALL,” Trump tweeted Tuesday after Elections Canada pointed out that it only uses paper ballots that are counted by hand.

“Elections Canada does not use Dominion Voting Systems,” the agency’s Monday tweet read. “We do not use machines to count ballots.”

Elections Canada issued another tweet Tuesday pointing out that Monday’s posting was only intended to note they don’t use vote-counting machines “and should not be construed as anything other than that.”

Dominion, founded in Toronto in the aftermath of the voting debacle that followed the 2000 U.S. election, has been pushing back hard against spiralling conspiracy theories fuelled by the president, his supporters and Trump-friendly media outlets.

“Dominion Voting Systems categorically denies false assertions about vote-switching issues with our voting systems,” the company declares in an all-caps headline on its website.

“An unsubstantiated claim about the deletion of 2.7 million pro-Trump votes that was posted on the internet and spread on social media has been taken down and debunked by independent fact-checkers.”

The website also cites last week’s declaration by the cybersecurity wing of the Department of Homeland Security that the 2020 election was “the most secure in American history.”

Despite failing to win the necessary number of electoral votes and falling more than five million votes short of Democratic challenger Joe Biden, Trump has steadfastly refused to concede the election.

Biden, for his part, has called Trump’s intransigence “embarrassing” and warned Monday that the current administration’s refusal to co-operate with his transition team could worsen the death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Wednesday Nov. 18, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Nov 18th, 2020

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

There are 306,468 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 126,054 confirmed (including 6,675 deaths, 107,326 resolved)

_ Ontario: 96,745 confirmed (including 3,383 deaths, 80,430 resolved)

_ Alberta: 40,962 confirmed (including 432 deaths, 30,462 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 23,661 confirmed (including 310 deaths, 16,469 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 11,608 confirmed (including 179 deaths, 4,324 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 5,422 confirmed (including 31 deaths, 3,336 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,151 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,062 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 379 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 341 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 305 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 292 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 68 confirmed (including 64 resolved)

_ Nunavut: 60 confirmed

_ Yukon: 25 confirmed (including 1 death, 22 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed (including 10 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Total: 306,468 (0 presumptive, 306,468 confirmed including 11,086 deaths, 244,151 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Nov 17th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. EST on Nov. 17, 2020:

There are 302,234 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 125,072 confirmed (including 6,651 deaths, 105,998 resolved)

_ Ontario: 95,496 confirmed (including 3,371 deaths, 79,295 resolved)

_ Alberta: 40,189 confirmed (including 427 deaths, 29,731 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 22,994 confirmed (including 299 deaths, 16,087 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 11,339 confirmed (including 172 deaths, 4,156 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 5,182 confirmed (including 31 deaths, 3,223 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,146 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,058 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 367 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 339 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 303 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 289 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 68 confirmed (including 64 resolved)

_ Nunavut: 26 confirmed

_ Yukon: 24 confirmed (including 1 death, 22 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed (including 10 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Total: 302,234 (0 presumptive, 302,234 confirmed including 11,027 deaths, 240,285 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

Growing number of Canadians plan to get vaccinated for COVID-19

CHRISTOPHER REYNOLDS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Nov 17th, 2020

A new poll suggests the proportion of Canadians planning to get vaccinated for COVID-19 is on the rise after encouraging initial results from Pfizer’s vaccine trial.

Sixty-nine per cent of respondents said they plan to get inoculated against the novel coronavirus once Health Canada approves a vaccine that is broadly available and free, according to a survey by Léger and the Association for Canadian Studies.

The number is a jump from the 63 per cent who said they would take up such an offer one month ago, and a return to levels of vaccine enthusiasm reported in a similar poll in July.

Nonetheless, 22 per cent of respondents said they did not intend to receive doses of the Pfizer vaccine in particular if it were ready in the spring, despite early results that suggest a 90 per cent efficacy rate. Another 22 per cent said they did not know.

Léger executive vice-president Christian Bourque attributed the apprehension to lack of familiarity with the pharmaceutical giant rather than a wave of anti-vaccination fever.

“It worries me that if the vaccine or vaccines were available, we might have 20 per cent of Canadians who would reject it,” he said in an interview.

“I think the public authorities will need a concerted communications effort to convince Canadians to jump on the bandwagon.”

Nonetheless, only nine per cent of respondents said they think vaccines are dangerous and should not be taken or given. Meanwhile, 79 per cent said they do not hold such a belief.

The proportion of Canadians who expect anti-pandemic measures to remain in place even after a vaccine becomes widely available is also notably high, Bourque said.

Nearly two-thirds said they anticipated that requirements such as physical distancing, limited social gatherings and face masks in public spaces would continue after vaccination becomes widespread, while one in four weren’t sure.

“It’s not like it’s going to be that great night where everybody parties all night long. People will still want themselves and their neighbours to be disciplined about this,” Bourque said.

The proportion of Canadians opposed to mandatory vaccination remains higher than earlier this year, with only 42 per cent in favour — roughly in line with figures from last month but down from the nearly 60 per cent who supported the idea in May.

Conducted Nov. 13 to 15, the online poll surveyed 1,522 Canadians. It cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

How Nunavut’s bubble finally popped

THE BIG STORY | posted Tuesday, Nov 17th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, the province went more than seven months as the last COVID-19-free spot in North America, but the past weeks have seen one case turn into a couple of dozen. Why did the bubble work so well for so long? What are the unique dangers the virus poses to Northern communities? How will officials try to reign in spread now that the virus is here? And what can we learn from how long the bubble kept Nunavut safe?

GUEST: Kent Driscoll, APTN National News

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

The latest numbers on COVID 19 in Canada for Monday, Nov. 16, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Nov 16th, 2020

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

There are 295,987 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 123,854 confirmed (including 6,626 deaths, 104,848 resolved)

_ Ontario: 94,009 confirmed (including 3,361 deaths, 78,303 resolved)

_ Alberta: 39,329 confirmed (including 407 deaths, 28,321 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 20,895 confirmed (including 290 deaths, 14,901 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 10,947 confirmed (including 162 deaths, 4,070 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 5,001 confirmed (including 31 deaths, 3,163 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,144 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,058 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 367 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 339 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 303 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 289 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 68 confirmed (including 64 resolved)

_ Yukon: 24 confirmed (including 1 death, 22 resolved)

_ Nunavut: 18 confirmed

_ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed (including 10 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Total: 295,987 (0 presumptive, 295,987 confirmed including 10,953 deaths, 235,401 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

How conspiracy became our new religion

THE BIG STORY | posted Monday, Nov 16th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, almost two weeks after the American election, leading social media platforms are inundated with false claims about the results. Claims that are supported and amplified by Donald Trump and key members of his administration. After talking tough regarding disinformation in the months leading up to the election, and even slapping warnings on the president’s posts, have Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok lived up to their promises?

And the big question: Will Twitter ever ban Donald Trump? Where would their business be without him?

GUEST: Jesse Hirsh, researcher and futurist, metaviews.ca

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Moderna says its COVID-19 vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective

LAURAN NEERGAARD, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Monday, Nov 16th, 2020

For the second time this month, there’s promising news from a COVID-19 vaccine candidate: Moderna said Monday its shots provide strong protection, a dash of hope against the grim backdrop of coronavirus surges in the U.S. and around the world.

Moderna said its vaccine appears to be 94.5 per cent effective, according to preliminary data from the company’s still ongoing study. A week ago, competitor Pfizer Inc. announced its own COVID-19 vaccine appeared similarly effective — news that puts both companies on track to seek permission within weeks for emergency use in the U.S.

Dr. Stephen Hoge, Moderna’s president, welcomed the “really important milestone” but said having similar results from two different companies is what’s most reassuring.

“That should give us all hope that actually a vaccine is going to be able to stop this pandemic and hopefully get us back to our lives,” Hoge told The Associated Press.

“It won’t be Moderna alone that solves this problem. It’s going to require many vaccines” to meet the global demand, he added.

A vaccine can’t come fast enough, as virus cases topped 11 million in the U.S. over the weekend — 1 million of them recorded in just the past week. The pandemic has killed more than 1.3 million people worldwide, more than 245,000 of them in the U.S.

Still, if the Food and Drug Administration allows emergency use of Moderna’s or Pfizer’s candidates, there will be limited, rationed supplies before the end of the year. Both require people to get two shots, several weeks apart. Moderna expects to have about 20 million doses, earmarked for the U.S., by the end of 2020. Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech expect to have about 50 million doses globally by year’s end.

Moderna’s vaccine, created with the National Institutes of Health, is being studied in 30,000 volunteers who received either the real vaccination or a dummy shot. On Sunday, an independent monitoring board broke the code to examine 95 infections that were recorded starting two weeks after volunteers’ second dose — and discovered all but five illnesses occurred in participants who got the placebo.

The study is continuing, and Moderna acknowledged the protection rate might change as more COVID-19 infections are detected and added to the calculations. Also, it’s too soon to know how long protection lasts. Both cautions apply to Pfizer’s vaccine as well.

But Moderna’s independent monitors reported some additional, promising tidbits: All 11 severe COVID-19 cases were among placebo recipients, and there were no significant safety concerns.

The main side effects were fatigue, muscle aches and injection-site pain after the vaccine’s second dose, at rates that Hoge characterized as more common than with flu shots but on par with others such as shingles vaccine.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts, company’s vaccine is among 11 candidates in late-stage testing around the world, four of them in huge studies in the U.S.

Both Moderna’s shots and the Pfizer-BioNTech candidate are so-called mRNA vaccines, a brand-new technology. They aren’t made with the coronavirus itself, meaning there’s no chance anyone could catch it from the shots. Instead, the vaccine contains a piece of genetic code that trains the immune system to recognize the spiked protein on the surface of the virus.

The strong results were a surprise. Scientists have warned for months that any COVID-19 shot may be only as good as flu vaccines, which are about 50 per cent effective.

Another steep challenge: distributing doses that must be kept very cold. Both the Moderna and Pfizer shots are frozen but at different temperatures. Moderna announced Monday that once thawed, its doses can last longer in a refrigerator than initially thought, up to 30 days. Pfizer’s shots require long-term storage at ultra-cold temperatures.

Bill to ban conversion therapy being turned into political fundraising tool

STEPHANIE LEVITZ, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Nov 13th, 2020

OTTAWA — A proposed bill banning forcing someone into therapy to alter their sexual orientation is turning into a political fundraising tool.

Conservative MP and failed leadership candidate Derek Sloan is asking his supporters to help him raise $25,000 for his re-election bid on the strength of his effort to fight the bill, currently before the House of Commons.

Sloan has long been opposed to the legislation, and used it during his leadership campaign to rally supporters in the social-conservative wing of the party by suggesting it amounted to child abuse.

He alleges, among other things, that bill would criminalize private conversations, which the Liberals say it will not do.

Sloan was among seven Tory MPs who refused to back the bill in the Commons, a fact the Liberals noted in their own recent fundraising pitch.

Their email warned that Sloan and his colleagues — and by extension Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole — aren’t willing to stand up for the rights of all Canadians.

The Liberals say forcing people into so-called conversion therapy causes immense harm and the practice must be banned.

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

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

N.L. public health has COVID advice for the holiday mummering tradition

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Nov 13th, 2020

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador public health officials have issued advice for those looking to stay COVID-safe while marauding around town with underwear on the outside of their clothes.

At a news conference Thursday, the province’s chief medical officer of health asked residents to stick to their households of close contacts while mummering this holiday season.

Mummering is a popular Christmas tradition in Newfoundland and Labrador in which revellers go door to door, completely disguised, often with underwear over their clothes.

It’s common for mummers to pad their behinds and wear pillowcases or doilies over their faces with the eyes cut out.

Mummers first ask if they’re allowed in and then burst into homes to dance, sing and drink while the host tries to guess who they are.

Health authorities in the province are also advising that people will have to maintain six feet between themselves and Santa Claus this year, meaning children will not be able to sit on his knee.

Shane Mills, a St. John’s-based film director, jokes that when it comes to mummers, this year he’ll be following the protocols he learned from years of watching horror movies.

“If you’re wearing a pillow case and banging on my door, I’m not letting you in,” he said in a Facebook message.

Mills said he has always been fascinated by the terrifying, macabre idea of strangers showing up unannounced, staring out through dark holes cut out of old cloth.

His film crew Grind Mind is working on their second horror film inspired by the Newfoundland tradition, “Mummering Legends,” and they’re due to start filming in January.

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

The Canadian Press

COVID-19 testing down as positive case numbers soar in most provinces

MIA RABSON, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Nov 13th, 2020

Two months after the City of Ottawa scrambled to expand its COVID-19 testing options to deal with a massive spike in demand, it is now set to cut back on hours at testing sites this weekend because far fewer people are showing up for a swab.

The decline mirrors what is happening in much of the rest of the country, with average daily testing numbers down more than 25 per cent compared to a month ago, even as positive cases soar.

On Oct. 15, the Public Health Agency of Canada reported an average of 77,000 COVID-19 tests had been completed each day over the previous week, the highest it had ever been. That fell to an average daily count of 61,000 a week ago, and to below 55,000 this week.

In mid-October, Canada had about 2,300 new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed each day. This week, that number grew to above 4,000.

Ontario, which on Thursday recorded its fifth record case total in the last six days, was aiming to have 68,000 tests daily by the middle of November. It hasn’t hit 40,000 tests once in those six days, and twice dropped below 30,000 tests per day.

The province averaged 38,273 tests per day in October, and this month so far the daily average is 33,870.

British Columbia averaged 9,369 tests last month. So far in November the average daily test number is 8,553.

In many provinces the testing numbers bounce around dramatically. In Quebec, the province tested 30,919 people on Nov. 5. Three days later, the dropped below 19,000. By Nov. 10, it was back up over 30,000.

Dr. Howard Njoo, the deputy chief public health officer, said last week the decline could be because local health authorities were offering testing to almost anyone who asked for it earlier this fall, regardless of whether they had symptoms or possible exposure to an infected person.

“I think people are now recognizing that the best approach could or should be more focused that it may not be the best use of resources and it may actually sort of slow down the testing for those who actually need it,” he said Nov. 6.

Ontario’s testing system was unruly in September, forcing the province to massively expand hours and locations of testing sites, make an appointment booking process, and changed the criteria so people without symptoms didn’t clog the lines.

In Ottawa, the testing task force that in September was begging people not to get tested unless they had symptoms began last week to beg people to go get a test. Today, the weekend hours at one of the city’s main testing sites are being cut from 11 hours a day to eight because so many appointments were going unfilled.

Ottawa public health chief Dr. Vera Etches said weekends have become particularly slow. She said the overall numbers have come back a bit from earlier in November and didn’t express alarm that not enough people are being tested, saying it could be due to Ottawa’s declining infection rate.

Ottawa has mostly bucked Ontario’s trend of rising cases, with the infection rate falling from 70 per 100,000 people in mid-October to 38 this week. Toronto’s grew from 57 to almost 100 over that time.

“You know, if the virus level is dropping, there may be more people without symptoms or fewer people with symptoms presenting to be tested,” Etches said.

But she said she still wants people to know if they have symptoms, even very mild ones, getting a test is the responsible thing to do because “we have to detect as much COVID as possible.”

“And so it is one of the things we’re watching and we continue to work with our partners that run the testing system to try to explore more,” she said.

“Why are people coming? Why are they not coming? You know, these are these are things that’s worth exploring for sure.”

It starts with a trout, and ends up a growing disaster

THE BIG STORY | posted Thursday, Nov 12th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, this is part four of a five-part series in collaboration with The Narwhal. There are no viable solutions to stop the tide of selenium leaching into Canadian and U.S. water from a 100-kilometre stretch of coal mines near Elk Valley, B.C., which are owned and operated by mining giant Teck Resources. Deformed fish, a potential fish population collapse and contaminated drinking water signal more trouble to come…

GUEST: Carol Linnitt, Managing Editor

You can learn more at thenarwhal.ca.

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Manitoba hunkering down for 2nd time to fight spread of COVID-19

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Nov 12th, 2020

Today is the day Manitoba goes into a self-imposed economic and social hibernation to try to bring surging COVID-19 numbers back under control.

The province has been struggling to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus since it started spiking in recent weeks after a summer lull.

Gatherings are limited to five people, but the restriction does not apply to those who live in the same household.

Churches can’t hold in-person services and non-essential stores and restaurants are limited to curbside pickup and delivery.

Bars, museums and theatres are closed and recreational activities suspended, although schools remain open.

The province reported 5,676 active cases on Wednesday, the deadliest day of the pandemic for Manitoba, with nine new deaths for a total of 123.

It’s the largest per-capita caseload of active infections in the country.

Tighter public health orders had already been brought in for some areas, notably Winnipeg, but chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said earlier this week that the targeted approach was not working.

The sharp rise in cases and, with it, a record number of hospitalizations has put the health-care system under strain. Intensive care beds, including those occupied by non-COVID-patients, are running close to capacity.

There have been outbreaks in long-term care homes and hospitals, and widespread community transmission.

“We need to flatten our COVID curve and we need to do that now,” Premier Brian Pallister said Tuesday as he announced the widespread slowdown which is to last as long as four weeks.

Alek Minassian’s murder trial for carrying out Toronto van attack resumes

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Nov 12th, 2020

The trial for the man who killed 10 people and hurt 16 others in a van attack in Toronto resumes Thursday.

Alek Minassian has pleaded not guilty and has raised a defence of being not criminally responsible for his actions.

He faces 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder.

Minassian’s state of mind at the time of the attack will be the sole issue at trial.

The defence has not yet stated what mental disorder Minassian will argue he suffered from.

Minassian has admitted in court he planned and carried out the attack.

He told a detective the attack was retribution against society because he was a lonely virgin who believed women wouldn’t have sex with him.

Former coach arrested on sex charges involving teen boys in Edmonton decades ago

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Nov 11th, 2020

EDMONTON, Australia — A former track coach and official from Ottawa has been arrested on sex crime charges involving five teenage boys who were with the Edmonton Olympic Track and Field Club decades ago.

The Edmonton Police Service says Kenneth Porter, who is 72, was a coach in Edmonton at the time of the allegations between 1976 and 1980.

Porter has been charged with five counts of indecent assault and five counts of gross indecency based on the Criminal Code at the time.

Police say the charges are linked to track meets that were held in Calgary and Edmonton.

Porter has been released from custody and is to appear in Edmonton court on Dec. 7.

Edmonton police say they started the investigation in April 2019, the same month the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club announced the expulsion of Porter from the organization.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2020.

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID 19 in Canada for Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Nov 11th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. EST on Nov. 11, 2020:

There are 273,037 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 117,151 confirmed (including 6,493 deaths, 99,721 resolved)

_ Ontario: 86,783 confirmed (including 3,260 deaths, 73,417 resolved)

_ Alberta: 34,873 confirmed (including 369 deaths, 26,407 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 19,239 confirmed (including 284 deaths, 13,704 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 8,878 confirmed (including 114 deaths, 3,374 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 4,214 confirmed (including 28 deaths, 2,880 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,132 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,049 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 355 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 332 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 297 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 286 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 67 confirmed (including 64 resolved)

_ Yukon: 23 confirmed (including 1 death, 20 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 10 confirmed (including 10 resolved)

_ Nunavut: 2 confirmed

_ Total: 273,037 (0 presumptive, 273,037 confirmed including 10,624 deaths, 221,277 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

Scaled-down ceremonies mark Remembrance Day across Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Nov 11th, 2020

OTTAWA — Canadians are being encouraged to stay home this morning while they mark the service and sacrifice of those who have given their lives to defend the country.

The solemnity of Remembrance Day is butting up against the threat posed by COVID-19.

The Royal Canadian Legion is explicitly discouraging Canadians from attending Remembrance Day ceremonies in person this year and instead asking people to watch on TV or online.

The legion is promising to include many of the traditional elements of the ceremonies, such as the playing of the Last Post, the singing of In Flanders Fields, and flybys of military aircraft.

There will also be a special emphasis on the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War after many commemorations planned for earlier this year in Europe and elsewhere were cancelled because of the pandemic.

But most observances of Canada’s wartime sacrifices are expected to be extremely small, including in Ottawa, where the legion is planning to have only 100 people in place of the 30,000 who normally turn out for the national ceremony.

Many other legion branches across the country have also prepared stripped-down ceremonies, with parades by veterans and serving military personnel cancelled and wreaths laid before the events.

Private ceremonies are also being planned by long-term care facilities that are home to some of Canada’s oldest surviving veterans, many of whom might normally attend a local commemoration but who are at particularly high risk due to COVID-19.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday encouraged Canadians to mark Remembrance Day despite the pandemic.

“Even though we can’t gather as we usually do, we can always show our support for our veterans by wearing a poppy and watching the ceremonies online on Remembrance Day,” he said in French.

“Thinking of Remembrance Day, let’s pay homage to our veterans who have given us so much and to those who continue to serve today.”

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

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID 19 in Canada for Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Nov 10th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. EST on Nov. 10, 2020:

There are 268,723 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 115,989 confirmed (including 6,455 deaths, 98,740 resolved)

_ Ontario: 85,395 confirmed (including 3,245 deaths, 72,636 resolved)

_ Alberta: 34,148 confirmed (including 369 deaths, 25,826 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 18,714 confirmed (including 281 deaths, 13,425 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 8,495 confirmed (including 109 deaths, 3,234 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 4,087 confirmed (including 28 deaths, 2,769 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,129 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,048 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 355 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 328 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 297 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 286 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 66 confirmed (including 64 resolved)

_ Yukon: 23 confirmed (including 1 death, 20 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 10 confirmed (including 10 resolved)

_ Nunavut: 2 confirmed

_ Total: 268,723 (0 presumptive, 268,723 confirmed including 10,563 deaths, 218,399 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Fewer people plan to attend virtual or in-person Remembrance Day ceremonies: poll

NICOLE THOMPSON, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Nov 10th, 2020

Fewer people plan to participate in Remembrance Day ceremonies or wear poppies this year, according to a poll from Historica Canada that also suggests knowledge of Canadian military history is dwindling.

The poll found that roughly 71 per cent of respondents will wear a poppy, down from 85 per cent last year; and 28 per cent of people will attend ceremonies either online or in person, down from 41 per cent last year.

Anthony Wilson-Smith of Historica Canada says those  findings are understandable, given global pandemic, but the bigger issue, not attributable to COVID-19, is the declining knowledge of military history.

The poll conducted by Ipsos found that four in ten Canadians feel they know more about American military history than that of Canada — climbing from one-third of Canadians last year.

Meanwhile 16 per cent of Canadians never learned about Canada’s key conflicts in school — including the First World War, Second World War, Korean War and October Crisis.

It also found that 45 per cent of respondents think they know about the history of Black, Indigenous, and racialized groups in Canadian military service, but only 14 per cent could correctly identify the country’s only all-Black battalion – the No. 2 Construction Battalion.

Wilson-Smith says this year is a particularly good opportunity to brush up on Canadian military history, in part because of COVID-19.

“The pandemic, which calls for a greater sense of unity, which puts people under unprecedented conditions no one’s ever really lived through before, I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s like a wartime condition, but it calls on some of the same qualities,” he said.

“Remembrance Day has always been a time for both reflecting on loss and also, frankly, on our good fortune. And this year is a year of remembering that we have lived through difficult times before — in fact more difficult during 1939 to 45 than we’re living through today.”

It’s also a poignant Remembrance Day given the toll the pandemic has taken on veterans.

It’s difficult for many veterans to apply for federal support this year because they can’t see doctors. And those who have applied face long wait times to find out if they qualify for assistance as the government slowly works its way through a backlog of claims.

Veterans’ organizations such as the Royal Canadian Legion are also struggling financially, closing branches across the country while waiting for federal assistance.

Wilson-Smith said those looking to brush up on their Canadian military history can check out resources from Historica, or those provided by Heritage Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2020.

Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press

B.C.’s looming extinction crisis

THE BIG STORY | posted Tuesday, Nov 10th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, this is part two of a five-part series in collaboration with The Narwhal. Canada’s westernmost province markets itself as ‘Super, Natural, B.C.,’ but more than 2,000 species of animals and plants are at risk of disappearing — and unlike six other provinces, British Columbia still has no endangered species law, despite the NDP’s election promise to introduce one

GUEST: Sarah Cox, environmental reporter

You can learn more at thenarwhal.ca.

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Monday, Nov. 9, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Nov 9th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. EST on Nov. 9, 2020:

There are 264,113 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 114,820 confirmed (including 6,440 deaths, 97,789 resolved)

_ Ontario: 84,153 confirmed (including 3,233 deaths, 71,815 resolved)

_ Alberta: 33,504 confirmed (including 363 deaths, 24,684 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 17,716 confirmed (including 276 deaths, 13,035 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 8,130 confirmed (including 106 deaths, 3,175 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 3,897 confirmed (including 28 deaths, 2,747 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,128 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,043 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 354 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 324 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 297 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 286 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 66 confirmed (including 64 resolved)

_ Yukon: 23 confirmed (including 1 death, 20 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 10 confirmed (including 10 resolved)

_ Nunavut: 2 confirmed

_ Total: 264,113 (0 presumptive, 264,113 confirmed including 10,522 deaths, 215,005 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

Concerns raised about military vets struggling with effects of COVID-19

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Nov 9th, 2020

OTTAWA — As Canadians are set to mark Remembrance Day this week, concerns are being voiced about military veterans struggling with the effects of COVID-19.

Oliver Thorne, executive director of the Vancouver-based Veterans Transition Network, says the pandemic is taking a financial, emotional and physical toll on those suffering from service-related injuries.

Worries about disabled Canadian veterans first emerged in the spring as the country went into lockdown due to the pandemic.

Some of that eased as summer saw many of those restrictions lifted, but the second wave and looming winter have resurrected those fears.

The concerns run the gamut from injured veterans not being able to get the physiotherapy or rehabilitation they need, to those with post-traumatic stress disorder missing out on in-person therapy and support.

For years, veterans suffering from PTSD have been told not to isolate themselves, but instead get out of their homes and connect with support programs.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole — a veteran himself — is urging anyone struggling because of the pandemic to reach out to family, friends or support networks.

Pfizer says early data signals COVID-19 vaccine is effective

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Monday, Nov 9th, 2020

Pfizer says an early peek at its vaccine data suggests the shots may be 90% effective at preventing COVID-19, indicating the company is on track later this month to file an emergency use application with U.S. regulators.

Monday’s announcement doesn’t mean a vaccine is imminent: This interim analysis, from an independent data monitoring board, looked at 94 infections recorded so far in a study that has enrolled nearly 44,000 people in the U.S. and five other countries.

Pfizer Inc. did not provide any more details about those cases, and cautioned the initial protection rate might change by the time the study ends. Even revealing such early data is highly unusual.

“We’re in a position potentially to be able to offer some hope,” Dr. Bill Gruber, Pfizer’s senior vice president of clinical development, told The Associated Press. “We’re very encouraged.”

Authorities have stressed it’s unlikely any vaccine will arrive much before the end of the year, and limited initial supplies will be rationed.

The shots made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech are among 10 possible vaccine candidates in late-stage testing around the world — four of them so far in huge studies in the U.S. Another U.S. company, Moderna Inc., also has said it hopes to be able to file an application with the Food and Drug Administration later this month.

Volunteers in the final-stage studies, and the researchers, don’t know who received the real vaccine or a dummy shot. But a week after their second required dose, Pfizer’s study began counting the number who developed COVID-19 symptoms and were confirmed to have the coronavirus.

Because the study hasn’t ended, Gruber couldn’t say how many in each group had infections. Doing the math, that would mean almost all the infections counted so far had to have occurred in people who got the dummy shots.

Pfizer doesn’t plan to stop its study until it records 164 infections among all the volunteers, a number that the FDA has agreed is enough to tell how well the vaccine is working. The agency has made clear that any vaccine must be at least 50% effective.

No participant so far has become severely ill, Gruber said. Nor could he provide a breakdown of how many of the infections had occurred in older people, who are at highest risk from COVID-19.

Participants were tested only if they developed symptoms, leaving unanswered whether vaccinated people could get infected but show no symptoms and unknowingly spread the virus.

FDA has required that U.S. vaccine candidates be studied in at least 30,000 people. In addition to adequate numbers of older adults, those studies must also include other groups at high risk, including minorities and people with chronic health problems.

And it told companies they must track half their participants for side effects for at least two months, the time period when problems typically crop up. Pfizer expects to reach that milestone later this month, but said Monday no serious safety concerns have been reported.

Because the pandemic is still raging, manufacturers hope to seek permission from governments around the world for emergency use of their vaccines while additional testing continues — allowing them to get to market faster than normal but raising concerns about how much scientists will know about the shots.

The FDA’s scientific advisers last month said they worry that allowing emergency use of a COVID-19 vaccine could damage confidence in the shots and make it harder to ever find out how well they really work. Those advisers said it’s critical these massive studies are allowed to run to completion.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Friday, Nov. 6, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Nov 6th, 2020

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

There are 251,334 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 111,056 confirmed (including 6,378 deaths, 94,884 resolved)

_ Ontario: 80,690 confirmed (including 3,195 deaths, 69,137 resolved)

_ Alberta: 30,447 confirmed (including 343 deaths, 23,874 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 16,560 confirmed (including 273 deaths, 12,806 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 7,177 confirmed (including 91 deaths, 2,920 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 3,536 confirmed (including 25 deaths, 2,634 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,119 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,036 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 347 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 313 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 292 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 285 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 64 confirmed (including 64 resolved)

_ Yukon: 23 confirmed (including 1 death, 20 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 10 confirmed (including 10 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 251,334 (0 presumptive, 251,334 confirmed including 10,381 deaths, 207,996 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

A tsunami of disinformation is coming from the White House

THE BIG STORY | posted Friday, Nov 6th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, almost everything the President of the United States has been saying since election day is false. His family and supporters are following suit. How is the internet handling a flood of misleading claims and outright lies? What makes the post-election disinfo so hard to debunk? How did we end up so far down this rabbit hole and is it even possible to climb back out?

GUEST: Jane Lytvynenko, Disinformation Reporter, BuzzFeed News

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Statistics Canada says economy added 84,000 jobs in October

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Nov 6th, 2020

Statistics Canada says the pace of job growth slowed in October as the economy added 84,000 jobs in the month compared with 378,000 in September.

The unemployment rate was 8.9 per cent compared with 9.0 per cent in September.

The average economist estimate was for a gain of 100,000 jobs in October and an unemployment rate of 8.8 per cent, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.

More to come

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Nov 5th, 2020

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

There are 248,218 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 109,918 confirmed (including 6,350 deaths, 94,101 resolved)

_ Ontario: 79,692 confirmed (including 3,182 deaths, 68,189 resolved)

_ Alberta: 30,447 confirmed (including 343 deaths, 23,874 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 16,135 confirmed (including 273 deaths, 12,659 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 6,751 confirmed (including 87 deaths, 2,892 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 3,408 confirmed (including 25 deaths, 2,584 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,118 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,034 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 347 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 313 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 292 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 285 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 64 confirmed (including 64 resolved)

_ Yukon: 23 confirmed (including 1 death, 20 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 10 confirmed (including 9 resolved)

_ Nunavut:  No confirmed cases

_ Total: 248,218 (0 presumptive, 248,218 confirmed including 10,336 deaths, 206,037 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

President, supporters defiant, combative in face of escalating election dispute

JAMES MCCARTEN, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Nov 5th, 2020

FAIRFAX, Va. — With his room to manoeuvre rapidly dwindling, U.S. President Donald Trump is lashing out with threats of legal action as Joe Biden closes in on the Oval Office.

The Trump campaign is mobilizing supporters and lawyers alike in battleground states where the process of counting votes plodded late into the night Wednesday.

After claiming the 26 electoral votes in Wisconsin and Michigan, Biden was well within striking distance of the 270 electors needed to claim the presidency.

That prompted a flurry of Republican lawsuits in those two states as well as all-important Pennsylvania, where Trump supporters were expected to stage protests today.

Tense protests erupted at various locations where election officials were counting votes Wednesday, including Detroit and Philadelphia.

Media reports suggest the Trump team is also considering legal action in Nevada and Arizona, two other critical pieces of the electoral puzzle.

Biden was nursing a lead of fewer than 8,000 votes in Nevada, and a three-point lead in Arizona, a significant prize that landed under Trump’s name in 2016.

As the midnight hour approached Wednesday night, Trump was still leading narrowly in Pennsylvania, Georgia and North Carolina.

Both campaigns seamlessly transitioned their fundraising efforts from pre-election solicitations to asking for money to help bankroll the coming court fights.

Trump’s Twitter feed was laden Wednesday with complaints that the protracted process of counting mail-in ballots amounted to an effort to stack the deck in Biden’s favour.

Many of the president’s missives were flagged by Twitter as containing disputed or outright misleading election information.

Tuesday’s vote was held against an unprecedented backdrop: a pandemic that has killed more than 232,000 Americans and triggered a debilitating economic crisis in a year also marked by fierce public outrage over the country’s racial divide.

Record-setting mail-in voting, which Trump has been railing against for months, made for an especially unpredictable election night. Biden has been leading the mail-in ballot count by a ratio of roughly three to one.

Anxiety about Trump’s next moves lured protesters and activists to the streets outside the White House for a second straight night, fearful that the incumbent president might try to claim an unjust victory.

“It’s a basic rule of elections that people should get to vote when they are eligible to vote, and that those votes should be counted,” said Jessica Mason, a public policy analyst in Washington, D.C.

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

James McCarten, The Canadian Press

While America counts, the world waits to exhale

THE BIG STORY | posted Thursday, Nov 5th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, as of Wednesday night, things looked relatively positive for Joe Biden’s bid for the presidency. But Donald Trump’s team is filing lawsuits, demanding recounts, or halted counts, and looks like it plans to scrap tooth and nail to win the election in the courts no matter the results on the ground. How successful that attempt will be depends on the judges themselves—but either way it outs the leaders of democracies around the world, including Canada, in a tough position until someone concedes.

How would a protracted court battle for the American presidency impact Canada? What changes if Biden wins cleanly? What will Trump’s mark on America’s international reputation be if he is a one-term president? And what if he actually manages to find his way to a victory?

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.

Morning in America: nail-biter of a presidential election remains undecided

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Nov 4th, 2020

It’s morning in America, but not the calm one once showcased in a famous U.S. presidential ad.

Americans are waking up to uncertainty about their political leadership as the outcome of the bitterly contested 2020 presidential election remains unclear.

The final results were likely in the hands of a few key states as the counting of millions of mail-in or early ballots complicated what is normally a relatively swift process of election night vote tallies.

In a speech just before 1 a.m. ET, Democratic challenger Joe Biden told supporters he was feeling good about where his campaign was: “on track to win this election.”

President Donald Trump, the Republican incumbent, moved quickly on Twitter to knock Biden down, saying his campaign was up “big.”

As polls closed Tuesday, Trump was handed unsurprising wins in solidly Republican districts, with Biden scooping up comfortably Democratic states as well.

Trump also picked up the battleground states of Texas, Florida, Iowa and Ohio, while Biden carried New Hampshire and Minnesota.

But as of 2 a.m., several states remained too close to call, including Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

The election took place against the backdrop of a historic crises: the COVID-19 pandemic that killed more than 232,000 Americans and decimated the economy.

Both men had sought to paint the other as unfit to govern through those challenges and their aftermath.

Deep divisions exposed by the election, along with efforts by Trump’s campaign to cast doubt on the mail-in process, had raised fears of protests or clashes marring election day.

But few problems were reported as Americans waited hours to cast their votes in person, though court challenges by both campaigns remained underway.

Trump, however, cast further doubt when on social media early this morning he suggested his rivals were “trying to steal the election.”

Twitter hid the post, warning its content could be misleading.

In a speech not long after that, Trump essentially declared himself the winner and vowed to take his fight to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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

The Canadian Press

Are we living in a simulation?

THE BIG STORY | posted Wednesday, Nov 4th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, no, the US election is not what spawned this question. New research in a field called ‘simulation theory’ pegs the odds that we’re just AI creations in somebody’s supercomputer at about 50-50. Really? How can we possibly determine this? What does simulation theory propose? What evidence do we have? Will we ever really find out? And could humanity one day create a simulation of our own?

GUEST: Anil Ananthaswamy, Scientific American, author of Through Two Doors At Once

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Certain Miss Vickie’s potato chip brands recalled due to glass in bags

NEWS STAFF | posted Wednesday, Nov 4th, 2020

Miss Vickie’s Canada is voluntarily recalling a number of brands and bag sizes of its Kettle Cooked Potato Chips after pieces of glass were found in the bags.

The affected potato chips were sold in Ontario, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and internet sales.

The bags were sold through food vending machines and retail locations such as grocery stores and Costco. The package sizes range from multipacks of 24 grams all the way up to 500 grams

“A small number of consumer concerns related to this matter have been reported to date. One minor dental injury has been reported to-date,” Miss Vickie’s said in a statement. ” Our organization is working closely with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to coordinate the recall.

A complete list of the products, sizes and UPC codes can be found on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website.

Consumers are urged to either dispose the affected product or return it to the point of purchase for a full refund.

What to expect when American democracy is at stake

THE BIG STORY | posted Tuesday, Nov 3rd, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, is Democracy on the ballot in the American election tonight? How real is the threat of violence at the polls? What happens if Donald Trump squeaks out a reelection victory? What happens if Joe Biden blows him out but Trump refuses to concede? What could the courts do with a close election? And what does America’s election mean for democracies around the world, like Canada’s, where millions will be watching and waiting to see what happens to their ally?

GUEST: David Moscrop, political scientists, author of Too Dumb For Democracy

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Nov 3rd, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 am. EST on Nov. 3, 2020:

There are 240,263 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 108,018 confirmed (including 6,283 deaths, 92,396 resolved)

_ Ontario: 77,655 confirmed (including 3,152 deaths, 66,407 resolved)

_ Alberta: 27,664 confirmed (including 323 deaths, 22,169 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 15,501 confirmed (including 269 deaths, 11,670 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 6,275 confirmed (including 80 deaths, 2,740 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 3,292 confirmed (including 25 deaths, 2,409 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,113 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,033 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 344 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 299 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 291 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 284 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 64 confirmed (including 64 resolved)

_ Yukon: 23 confirmed (including 1 death, 17 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 10 confirmed (including 8 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 240,263 (0 presumptive, 240,263 confirmed including 10,208 deaths, 199,509 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

Canadians gather to watch U.S. election results both in-person and virtually

COLIN PERKEL, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Nov 3rd, 2020

People across Canada will be gathering Tuesday night to watch the results of the divisive U.S. presidential election.

Watching particularly closely will be Americans living here.

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, most get-togethers will be virtual but some in-person events are planned.

A spokeswoman for Democrats Abroad says the organization is holding a Canada-wide Zoom watch party.

She says more than 400 people have said they will attend with others expected to join as well.

Several pubs and restaurants across the Prairies are hosting some form of election-night party.

It’s unlikely, however, that even those hanging in all night will know whether Republican President Donald Trump keeps the White House or loses it to Democrat former vice-president Joe Biden. Most experts believe it will still take days if not months to get the final results of the vote.

People are excited and anxious, not just about the election, but also when the results will be known, said Jennifer Phillips with the Vancouver chapter of Democrats Abroad.

“We are accustomed to knowing who won the election on election night,” Phillips said. “We usually see an unofficial media projection.”

The good thing about virtual gathering, she said, was that it allows people to connect from across Canada.

The election comes at a time when Canadians’ view of the United States has distinctly soured. One recent poll found more than three in five Canadians have an unfavourable view of the U.S.  Polls have also suggested about two-thirds of Canadians were hoping to see Biden win.

Democrats Abroad have been especially busy in recent months urging the estimated 620,000 expatriates in Canada to get out and vote. Especially in border swing states such as Michigan, Americans living in Canada could have tipped the scales of the presidential vote.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has expressed hope for a “smooth transition or a clear result” from the election.

“If it is less clear, there may be some disruptions and we need to be ready,” Trudeau said.

In an unforgettable year, Americans brace for impact as a seismic election day looms

JAMES MCCARTEN, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Nov 2nd, 2020

WASHINGTON, Wash. — George Washington’s “last great experiment” faces an existential litmus test beginning Tuesday as the bristling polarities of an energized, outraged and well-armed body politic finish weighing in on who should be the next American president.

Theirs may not be the final word.

Be it because of Donald Trump, COVID-19 or Black Lives Matter, Americans seem all in, for once, on the 2020 vote: more than 92 million ballots have already been cast, two-thirds of the total turnout from four years ago.

Thanks to the pandemic, mail-in voting has shattered records. But it takes time to count those votes, and Trump — who sows baseless fears of electoral fraud at every turn — has repeatedly signalled he’ll take his battle with Joe Biden from the campaign trail to the courtroom.

The Texas Supreme Court on Sunday rejected a two-pronged GOP effort to get 127,000 drive-thru votes thrown out in largely Democratic Harris County, a challenge that has also been filed in federal court.

Republicans also tried unsuccessfully last week to convince the Supreme Court to fast-track a decision on Philadelphia’s three-day extension for counting absentee ballots.

It all points to a president with no plans to concede defeat Tuesday, regardless of outcome. Indeed, Axios reported Sunday that Trump wants to declare victory on election night, even before such a result is clear.

Against this backdrop, meanwhile, Americans have been engaged in another time-honoured tradition of U.S. democracy: buying guns.

Demand for virtually everything in stock has been off the charts since the onset of the pandemic in March, said Dan Aldridge, the owner of Maxon Shooter’s Supplies and Indoor Range in Des Plaines, Ill.

That includes handguns, long guns and ammunition — in particular the hollow-tipped rounds that are specifically designed for self-defence, as well as Maxon’s three-a-day firearms training classes.

“In the past, buying surges were driven by fears of anti-gun legislative changes — ‘They’re going to ban this, they’re going to ban that, I better load up.’ It’s different this time,” Aldridge said.

“It’s people that are truly concerned about personal safety.”

The first nine months of the year saw 28.8 million background checks — a necessary step to obtain a handgun in 22 states and D.C. — initiated in the U.S., FBI data show, a record total that has already surpassed 2019’s full-year tally of 28.4 million.

The Trace, a U.S. media website dedicated to analyzing gun issues, estimates 1.92 million guns were purchased in September, the sixth-highest month on record and a 67 per cent increase over the same period last year.

That could mean a polarized, angry and heat-packing electorate suddenly being confronted with an inconclusive or even disputed election outcome after months of COVID-induced cabin fever — a period that’s already been marked by dramatic displays of civil unrest over the country’s deep-seated racial divide.

“I think you have a fear among a good percentage of Americans that something bad could be coming,” said Ryan Williams, a criminal justice professor at the University of Illinois Springfield.

“And they don’t know what that is. They don’t know what that looks like.”

Walmart briefly pulled guns and ammunition from store shelves Thursday, citing a risk of “isolated civil unrest” — a decision that may have been linked to recent racial tensions in Philadelphia.

But the U.S. retail giant quickly reversed itself Friday on the grounds that recent incidents “have remained geographically isolated.”

In downtown Washington, D.C., businesses that endured a raucous summer of social-justice protests marred by looting and vandalism were again protecting storefronts over the weekend, hoisting sheets of plywood in front of plate glass windows as if bracing for a looming hurricane.

The candidates, meanwhile, were in barnstorming mode over the weekend.

Trump hosted nine rallies over the two days, four of them alone in Pennsylvania, the blue-collar battleground that’s worth 20 electoral votes and is widely expected to play a pivotal role in determining the final outcome.

So too will Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Iowa and North Carolina, the five states Trump visited Sunday. All five landed under his name in 2016, and all five are in play this time around.

On Monday, the president returns to Pennsylvania and North Carolina, with a stop in Wisconsin before one final event in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Joe Biden, meanwhile, has been setting a more modest pace — partly to keep safety concerns to a minimum, but also to take advantage of a tactic that has been a cornerstone of the Democratic campaign: let Trump be Trump.

The former vice-president visited Michigan on Saturday with his old boss, Barack Obama, before moving on to Ohio and Pennsylvania, where he’ll be on Monday.

Ironically, a steady decline of public faith in institutions like the federal government has exacerbated the instability that risks undermining the election, the Canadian-born Williams said.

And for millions of Americans, particularly those living near the poverty line, the pandemic has only served to deepen that distrust.

In Canada, “there’s basic agreement on what the government’s there for and why we need them. I haven’t seen that here,” Williams said.

The deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and countless others at the hands of police  — Walter Wallace Jr. became the latest victim last week in Philadelphia — have also served to undermine that faith, he added.

“That really breaks away and wears down people’s idea that somebody is there to protect me, protect my life, protect my property,” he said.

“When that is gone, Americans will go protect themselves.”

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

James McCarten, The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sunday Nov. 2, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Nov 2nd, 2020

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

There are 236,766 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 106,981 confirmed (including 6,272 deaths, 90,576 resolved)

_ Ontario: 76,707 confirmed (including 3,145 deaths, 65,581 resolved)

_ Alberta: 27,664 confirmed (including 323 deaths, 22,169 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 14,381 confirmed (including 263 deaths, 11,670 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 6,034 confirmed (including 75 deaths, 2,704 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 3,144 confirmed (including 25 deaths, 2,380 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,111 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,033 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 344 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 299 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 291 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 284 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 64 confirmed (including 64 resolved)

_ Yukon: 23 confirmed (including 1 death, 17 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 9 confirmed (including 8 resolved)

_ Nunavut:  No confirmed cases

_ Total: 236,766 (0 presumptive, 236,766 confirmed including 10,179 deaths, 196,798 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

Inside Canada’s most notorious heists

THE BIG STORY | posted Monday, Nov 2nd, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, why don’t more Canadians know about the criminal masterminds behind some of Canada’s most legendary capers? A new audiobook, True North Heists, tells the tales of some of the most outlandish capers ever committed on Canadian soil. Actor Colm Feore (Bon Cop Bad Cop, Trudeau) dramatically weaves together “in the moment” storytelling with interviews with those with deep knowledge of the heists themselves, including law enforcement officers, writers and the criminals themselves. You might know the stories of some legendary American thefts, but you might not know these ones. And yes, there’s maple syrup involved.

GUEST: Geoff Siskind, executive producer, True North Heists.

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Twenty-five years ago, Quebec nearly divorced Canada

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Oct 30th, 2020

OTTAWA — Twenty-five years ago today, Quebec came within a small margin of separating from Canada.

The referendum on Oct. 30, 1995, saw 4.7 million Quebecers vote on whether the province should “become sovereign,” yielding a razor-thin victory for the “No” side that garnered less than 51 per cent of the ballots.

The question pitted premier Jacques Parizeau and Bloc Québécois leader Lucien Bouchard against prime minister Jean Chrétien and provincial Liberal leader Daniel Johnson, culminating in a “unity rally” hastily arranged by the “No” side in Montreal three days before the vote in an attempt to turn the tide.

The vote was the second referendum in 15 years and considered the high-water mark of the separatist movement, coming on the heels of two failed constitutional accords and nearly two decades after the Parti Québécois first swept to power.

Today the PQ is at one of the lowest points in its history, ranking fourth out of four parties in the Quebec national assembly, where it holds only nine out of 125 seats.

But the Bloc, which also stands for a sovereign Quebec, remains broadly popular as questions around Quebecers’ distinct identity continue to simmer, and holds 32 seats in the House of Commons.

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

The Canadian Press

How long can Hollywood stay in limbo?

The Big Story | posted Friday, Oct 30th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, in a normal year, the start of November would mark the beginning of the prestige movie push, with award hopefuls, franchise films and feel-good family flocks crowding theatres. This year though, there’s almost nothing left on the calendar and the top-grossing box office list features rereleases of films from the 1990s.

Hollywood has been hoarding its blockbusters in preparation for a vaccine and a return to normal life in 2021…but what if that doesn’t happen quickly enough? How long can studios sit on their biggest films in hopes of a return? Why is the system built to rely so much on a handful of megamovies that need to earn billions in order to be worth making at all? And when will our host finally get to see Duneand Black Widow?

GUEST: Norm Wilner, senior film writer at NOW Magazine, host of Someone Else’s Movie

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

COVID-19’s effect on Halloween and the time change: In The News for Friday, Oct. 30

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Oct 30th, 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 XXX. X …

What we are watching in Canada …

As spooky season reaches its climax in a particularly frightening year, some historians argue the COVID-19 pandemic offers an opportunity to explore a different side of Halloween.

The holiday has no fixed meaning and has been celebrated differently over the centuries, so there’s a deep well of traditions to draw from — including some that honour the dead, said Nick Rogers, a professor at York University who wrote the book on the history of Halloween.

The holiday is linked to Mexico’s Day of the Dead, which has some of Halloween’s celebratory spirit but is also a day to remember loved ones who have died.

“Halloween is about everything you want to avoid in a pandemic. It’s about scaring us. It’s about risk-taking. It’s about inversion,” he said. “…In a way, Day of the Dead is a much better holiday for addressing these things.”

Officials across the country have said that those who want to celebrate Halloween will need to make sacrifices — of varying degrees, depending on location — in order to keep their loved ones safe.

Those in some COVID-19 hot spots have been urged to forego trick-or-treating altogether, while others in regions with few cases are being told to keep their parties small.

For instance, in Quebec — Canada’s COVID-19 epicentre — children will be permitted to trick-or-treat with members of their own household, but adults can’t celebrate in groups.

British Columbia’s top doctor has also ruled out massive Halloween bashes, saying families need to keep gatherings to their immediate households and their “safe six,” though trick-or-treating is still a go.

Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador have given trick-or-treating the green light as well, so long as people keep a physical distance from those not in their household.

Meanwhile, Ontario and New Brunswick are taking a regional approach to holiday regulations, barring trick-or-treating in hot spots.

“COVID sucks. What can I say, it’s terrible,” Premier Doug Ford said earlier this month, as he announced the rules. “We need to work together this Halloween to protect Christmas.”

Also this …

Much of Canada is set to turn back the clocks at 2 a.m.  Sunday, giving people an extra hour of sleep in exchange for darker evenings as winter sets in.

But experts say the end of daylight time may feel a little different this year as the COVID-19 pandemic has upended our usual schedules.

Some professors predict the time-warping nature of the crisis could ease the autumnal adjustment, while a critic says the one-hour shift may compound the discombobulation of life under lockdown.

While the seasonal tradition continues to be a source of fervid contention, University of Toronto medical professor Donald Redelmeier says we have much bigger worries this year.

Redelmeier says the supposed negative side-effects of clock switching will be eclipsed, if not alleviated, by the global upheaval of the pandemic.

But Wendy Hall, a professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia’s school of nursing, says the switch to standard time will only exacerbate sleep disruptions linked to the COVID-19 crisis.

Psychology professor Steve Joordens says the change in light patterns could provide a natural sense of structure by making people feel more energized in the morning and ready for bed at an earlier hour.

Yukon moved to permanent daylight time in March, and lawmakers in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario are considering measures to do away with the twice-yearly time change.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

When Joe Biden was last in Iowa, his campaign was on the verge of collapse and he was soundly trounced in the caucuses.

He returns today as the Democratic nominee, believing he’s just days away from becoming president-elect.

Iowa is among the clutch of GOP-leaning states that Biden is trying to bring back into the Democratic column.

He’ll also swing through Wisconsin today while his running mate, Kamala Harris, courts voters in Texas.

Trump, meanwhile, is playing defence in Michigan and Wisconsin. The president and Biden will both be in Minnesota, a longtime Democratic state that Trump is trying to flip.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

HANOI — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has wrapped up a five-nation anti-China tour of Asia in Vietnam as the fierce American presidential election race enters its final stretch.

With just four days left in the campaign in which China has been a central theme, Pompeo visited Hanoi today ostensibly to celebrate 25 years of U.S.-Vietnam relations.

But as he has at his previous stops in India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia, Pompeo’s main aim was to shore up support for pushing back on China.

The Trump administration has made confronting China, its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, human rights record and aggressiveness towards its smaller neighbours one of its main foreign policy priorities.

On this day in 2001 …

After 63 years of selling music to Canadians, the Sam the Record Man retail chain declared bankruptcy. But Sam Sniderman’s sons Jason and Bob bought the company’s assets from a bankruptcy trustee and re-opened the Toronto flagship store in 2002, but it closed in June 2007.

In sports …

TORONTO — Ontario’s minister of sport is expected to have updates today on bids to host FIFA World Cup games and the Commonwealth Games in the province.

Lisa MacLeod will be speaking at the Empire Club of Canada in downtown Toronto this afternoon.

She said earlier this month that the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries would be making announcements about those international sporting events by the end of October.

Canada is co-hosting the 2026 World Cup along with Mexico and the United States but the venues for the men’s soccer tournament have yet to be named.

A committee has also been formed to put together a bid for Hamilton to host the Commonwealth Games in 2026.

The quadrennial Commonwealth Games features 6,500 elite athletes and coaches from 71 countries competing in summer sport.

ICYMI …

VANCOUVER — The maker of Canada Dry ginger ale has agreed to pay more than $200,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who alleged he was misled by marketing suggesting the soda had medicinal benefits.

A B.C. Supreme Court decision on costs released Monday shows Victor Cardoso claimed he bought Canada Dry on the basis it was “made from real ginger,” but the marketing was false and it contained none.

The decision says Cardoso later conceded that the soda contains small amounts of ginger derivatives, but he continued to allege that the company’s representations of its product were false.

The soda’s maker, Canada Dry Mott’s Inc., denied the allegations and any liability.

Under the settlement agreement, the company is not required to change its labelling or advertising for products marketed in Canada.

The class-action followed similar lawsuits in the United States, which saw the company drop the “made from real ginger” line from its products sold there.

COVID-19 death rates higher in neighbourhoods with more visible minorities: StatCan

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Oct 29th, 2020

OTTAWA — A new Statistics Canada report says communities with the most visible minorities had the highest mortality rates during the first wave of COVID-19.

The report’s authors say it is more evidence that the pandemic is disproportionately affecting visible minorities, who are more likely to live in overcrowded housing and work in jobs that put them more at risk of exposure to COVID-19.

In the four biggest provinces — which account for 99 per cent of the deaths from COVID-19 between March and July — death rates from COVID-19 were twice as high in communities where more than one in four people identify as a visible minority, compared with communities where less than one per cent of residents did.

In Ontario and Quebec, the rates were 3.5 times as high in communities where more than one-fourth of residents identify as visible minorities.

Nearly 8,800 people died in the first wave of the pandemic in Canada, 94 per cent of them in Quebec and Ontario.

Canadian and provincial public health agencies did not collect much data on race of patients with COVID-19 at first, so Statistics Canada used the national database on deaths and census data on visible minorities and neighbourhoods to compile the report.

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

The Canadian Press

A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

MIA RABSON, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Oct 29th, 2020

OTTAWA — The day after Americans go to the polls to choose their next president, the United States will become the first and only country in the world to withdraw from the Paris climate change pact.

Whether that withdrawal becomes permanent will depend on who wins that election — Donald Trump, who is behind the withdrawal, or Joe Biden, who has promised to put the U.S. back into the agreement as soon as possible.

For Canada, having the U.S. back in the Paris pact, and the resulting domestic U.S. policies on the environment that will follow, could both open markets for Canadian clean energy technology, and level the playing field for Canadian companies competing against Americans with fewer environmental regulations and taxes.

Experts and observers say even a U.S. outside the Paris agreement may ultimately end up in the same place, with state governments going it on their own, renewable energy prices becoming more attractive, and global investors increasingly viewing carbon footprints as a critical element in their investment decisions.

“It all depends on what the policies are that you put in place,” said Gary Mar, president of the Canada West Foundation.

“Canadian companies are already paying carbon taxes. And so if their competition in the United States was compelled to do the same thing then it would make it a more level playing field for Canadians to enter into the marketplace.”

In the last four years, Canada has in some places slowed or amended its own environment policies to reflect concerns American companies not regulated in the same way might hurt Canada’s competitiveness.

That includes methane regulations — which Canada delayed by three years when Trump paused similar targets in the U.S. — and limiting the carbon pricing on industries that face heavy competition from U.S. firms that don’t pay the same kind of tax.

If Trump stays in office, Canada will continue to measure its environmental regulations against competition in the U.S. facing less regulation. If Biden wins, he hasn’t just promised to rejoin Paris, he has pledged to use the power of the United States to influence, or even name and shame, countries that aren’t doing their part to slow climate change.

Gerald Butts, vice-chairman at the political-risk consultancy Eurasia Group and former principal secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, said Biden’s climate policies are the most aggressive any American presidential candidate has ever proposed.

That includes eliminating fossil fuels from the U.S. power grid by 2050, and using the power of the federal procurement system to spur growth in electric vehicles.

Butts said Biden’s plan would not only put pressure on the world, including Canada, to up its climate game, it opens a “big opportunity to grow the Canadian clean energy and clean-tech footprint in the United States.”

“It tilts the scales toward renewable energy and decarbonization in the United States in a way that no potential president has ever attempted to put his or her thumb on the scale,” said Butts.

“We’ve got a lot of hydro power, we’ve got a lot of nuclear power, we’ve got a lot of low- to zero-emissions electricity here. And that’s a real opportunity.”

Canadian mining could also benefit. Canada produces 14 of the 19 metals and minerals needed for solar panels and Quebec is home to one of the 10 biggest lithium mines in the world.

Butts said a Biden presidency might have negative effects Canada’s fossil-fuel sector. Biden has promised to halt the Keystone XL pipeline between Alberta and Nebraska, for instance.

That project, which was killed by Barack Obama when Biden was his vice-president, was revived by Trump and is supported by the Trudeau Liberals. Lack of pipeline space to ship more oil has left Canadian producers to accept significant discounts for their product, and limited growth.

Earlier this year, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney threw his province’s fiscal weight behind Keystone, with a $1.5-billion equity investment and a $6-billion loan guarantee.

Even under Trump, the pipeline has hit snags in the courts over its environmental impact, and construction on the U.S. portion has been halted.

Christopher Sands, director of the Canada Institute at the Wilson Center political think tank in Washington, D.C., said the pipeline has taken on an outsized role in the U.S. climate fight, as it was something environment groups could seize on.

But he said it’s possible that if Biden starts moving aggressively on other climate fronts, the pipeline may fall in importance.

Mar says that Biden may ultimately see the pipeline as a good thing for a transition period. The U.S. has sanctions against Venezuela, including oil imports, and he said it is cheaper for the U.S. to get oil from Canada through a pipeline than it is to seek other sources in the Middle East.

Sands is also careful to point out that Trump’s anti-climate rhetoric may be overshadowed by the economic opportunities of clean energy that a pro-development president cannot resist.

And even when and where he doesn’t, state governments and the private sector are moving on climate policies without him, said Mar.

“They might happen more quickly with the Biden administration, but I think again, because of the importance of states, even under Trump, I think that trend line will still continue,” Mar said.

Trump halted regulations to insist automakers produce more fuel-efficient vehicles, but a number of states and several automakers are sticking to the plan without him.

Trump has also done everything he can to “bring back king coal”, rolling back environmental regulations that made coal less palatable.

But cheaper natural gas and renewable sources of energy are crowding coal out of the market, and since Trump took office coal production has fallen almost 20 per cent, and coal’s share of the U.S. power grid fell from about one-third to less than one-quarter.

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

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Oct 29th, 2020

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

There are 225,586 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 102,814 confirmed (including 6,189 deaths, 87,638 resolved)

_ Ontario: 72,885 confirmed (including 3,108 deaths, 62,303 resolved)

_ Alberta: 26,565 confirmed (including 313 deaths, 21,459 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 13,875 confirmed (including 261 deaths, 11,244 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 4,701 confirmed (including 61 deaths, 2,306 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 2,908 confirmed (including 25 deaths, 2,217 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,102 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,032 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 337 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 284 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 291 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 282 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 64 confirmed (including 63 resolved)

_ Yukon: 22 confirmed (including 17 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 9 confirmed (including 8 resolved)

_ Nunavut:  No confirmed cases

_ Total: 225,586 (0 presumptive, 225,586 confirmed including 10,032 deaths, 188,866 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

Canada surpasses 10,000 deaths from COVID-19

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Oct 28th, 2020

More than 10,000 Canadians have died due to COVID-19, a grim milestone reached by a pandemic that is far from over.

Twenty-eight new deaths reported in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta pushed the death toll to 1,001 on Tuesday.

Canada crossed the threshold of 5,000 deaths on May 12, a little over two months after the first death was reported.

COVID-19 case counts slowed across the country through the summer, but have taken a big jump in many areas this fall, with new daily highs reached regularly in Central and Western Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the pandemic a “horrific national tragedy,” and warned that Canadians should brace for more.

“Families have lost loved ones, been devastated by these tragedies, and we need to know that there are more tragedies to come,” he told a briefing in Ottawa.

The death toll has climbed much more slowly since April and May, when outbreaks in long-term care homes and a lack of medical knowledge about the novel coronavirus resulted in a higher proportion of fatal infections.

However, the pandemic has grown deadlier over the past month. More than 600 COVID-19-related fatalities have been reported in October so far compared with 165 COVID-19 in September, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Ontario reported 827 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, and four new deaths due to the virus.

Quebec, where residents in its biggest cities will have to live with partial lockdowns for at least another four weeks, reported 963 new cases of COVID-19 and 19 more deaths.

Manitoba tallied its highest daily number of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, with health officials reporting 184 new infections on Tuesday and three more deaths.

Alberta reported another two deaths from COVID-19.

The pandemic’s second wave could jeopardize large gatherings with friends and family over Christmas after a reined-in Thanksgiving.

“It’s frustrating knowing that unless we’re really, really careful, there may not be the kinds of family gatherings we want to have at Christmas,” Trudeau said.

He sought to spur hope ahead of a “tough winter.”

“We will get through this. Vaccines are on the horizon. Spring and summer will come and they will be better than this winter,” he said.

But the current situation he summed up with a single verb.

“This sucks. It really, really does.”

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities, despite frustrations over conflicting information on Halloween as well as varying COVID-19 testing requirements for students.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, has suggested hockey sticks as a tool to hand out Halloween treats, while others are resorting to candy chutes or self-serve stations. But the Ontario government has recommended against trick-or-treating in parts of the province that have been hardest hit by the resurgence of the novel coronavirus.

Meanwhile, school reopening plans sowed confusion about what symptoms in students demanded COVID-19 tests, triggering massive lineups at assessment centres and overwhelming laboratories where the tests are processed.

And Quebec Premier Francois Legault had his own ideas Tuesday about the prospects for a festive holiday in December.

“I really hope and I’m confident that in 28 days we’ll be able to maybe not have big parties, for Christmas, but to be able to see our families,” he said in his own briefing.

In Prince Edward Island, chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison had unwelcome news for residents hoping to reunite with family from outside the Atlantic bubble over the December holidays.

“While we are always evaluating our decisions and guidance using the best available evidence, I do not expect right now that we will be reducing the 14-day self-isolation requirement prior to the Christmas holiday season,” she told a briefing in Charlottetown.

Under their bubble arrangement, the Atlantic provinces limit who can enter and require people who do come in from outside the region to quarantine for two weeks.

Mixed messaging threatens to chip away at trust in public health advice, said Tim Sly, an epidemiologist and professor emeritus at Ryerson University’s School of Public Health.

Dance studios in Ontario’s “hot zones” have been allowed to stay open, while gyms have been forced to shutter along with cinemas, casinos and performing arts venues, he noted.

“Quite honestly I don’t know why a distinction is made between those two,” Sly said.

Trudeau said circumstances have changed since the spring, when little was known about the novel coronavirus and there was one main message: “Everyone stay home.”

“We can be a little more targeted (now). But yeah, that means a little more complicated in our messages,” he said Tuesday.

Epidemiologists across the country have stressed the need for massive testing in order to stop the spread of the virus.

Sly pointed to Germany as a model, despite a recent spike in case numbers. Authorities there have made both rapid testing and “open public testing,” which lets asymptomatic people access tests, crucial weapons in the war against viral resurgence.

“Testing is absolutely key and, at the other end after the fact, contact tracing. And we’ve been not prepared for these things – behind the 8-ball,” Sly said.A proximity interaction occurs when one device is within 50 metres of another device for more than five minutes in a given hour, she said.

While McGahan praised Canadians, she also said the worrisome side of the study is that this may be the best we can do.

The proximity data is already really low, she said, considering that the average family household in Canada has 2.9 people.

“In many parts of Canada, and certainly on average, proximity is still low,” McGahan said.

“It doesn’t look like by shutting down everything again, having broad restrictions on our mobility, that we’re going to be able to get much more reduction in social interactions.”

She said the researchers are now planning to incorporate medical and economic data in an effort to tease out any associations.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Oct 28th, 2020

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

There are 222,886 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 101,885 confirmed (including 6,172 deaths, 86,786 resolved)

_ Ontario: 72,051 confirmed (including 3,103 deaths, 61,530 resolved)

_ Alberta: 26,155 confirmed (including 309 deaths, 21,108 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 13,588 confirmed (including 259 deaths, 10,954 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 4,532 confirmed (including 58 deaths, 2,236 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 2,841 confirmed (including 25 deaths, 2,164 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,102 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,031 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 334 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 273 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 291 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 282 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 64 confirmed (including 63 resolved)

_ Yukon: 22 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved), 3 presumptive

_ Nunavut:  No confirmed cases

_ Total: 222,886 (3 presumptive, 222,883 confirmed including 10,001 deaths, 186,460 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

Where is Ontario’s real gun violence epidemic?

THE BIG STORY | posted Wednesday, Oct 28th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, you might think that it’s gang-related shootings in Toronto that drive gun-violence statistics in the province. You’d wind up surprised. A new study examined in detail firearms-related injuries and deaths in Ontario for 15 years, from 2002-2016. What the authors found was that while urban gun violence drives headlines, a larger part of the problem happens outside of the spotlight, outside of the cities, in quiet, lonely places…

GUEST: Dr. Natasha Saunders, co-author of Firearm-related injuries and deaths in Ontario, Canada, 2002–2016: a population-based study

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Oct 27th, 2020

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

There are 220,212 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 100,922 confirmed (including 6,153 deaths, 85,822 resolved)

_ Ontario: 71,224 confirmed (including 3,099 deaths, 60,839 resolved)

_ Alberta: 25,733 confirmed (including 307 deaths, 20,949 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 13,371 confirmed (including 259 deaths, 10,734 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 4,349 confirmed (including 55 deaths, 2,177 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 2,783 confirmed (including 25 deaths, 2,108 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,101 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,031 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 331 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 265 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 291 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 282 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 64 confirmed (including 63 resolved)

_ Yukon: 22 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved), 3 presumptive

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 220,212 (3 presumptive, 220,209 confirmed including 9,973 deaths, 184,303 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

Testimony to continue today in extradition case of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Oct 27th, 2020

VANCOUVER — Testimony will continue today in the Meng Wanzhou court case in Vancouver.

The lawyers for the Huawei executive are trying to show her arrest two years ago was unlawful and she should not be extradited to the U.S. for alleged fraud.

An RCMP officer who arrested Meng testified Monday, saying a plan for police to board her plane and arrest her immediately upon landing in Vancouver was merely a suggestion.

Const. Winston Yep says it was an idea shared by text message from another officer — and one that Yep didn’t believe was wise because it could compromise public safety.

Instead, he agreed in a meeting with Canada Border Services Agency officials that Meng should go through customs and screening before the arrest.

The witnesses called to testify in court this week have been requested by Meng’s defence, but a lawyer for the Attorney General of Canada was the first to question Yep.

About 10 witnesses are expected to testify this week.

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

The Canadian Press

Should Canada worry about a huge deficit?

THE BIG STORY | posted Tuesday, Oct 27th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, our government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars supporting Canadians through this pandemic. They’re deep in debt — but how worried should they be? Traditional economic policy would have the Liberals reign in spending and make some cuts as soon as they can to try to mitigate the damage. Otherwise we might find ourselves hit by massive inflation. A newer economic theory, however, would urge the government to spend as much as needed as long as Canadians are struggling and simply print money as necessary to pay for it.

OK, that’s a simplification of modern monetary theory, but it gets at the basic point. Maybe we don’t need to worry about how much debt we rack up?

GUEST: Max Fawcett, The Walrus

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Monday, Oct. 26, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Oct 26th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. EDT on Oct. 26, 2020:

There are 216,103 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 100,114 confirmed (including 6,143 deaths, 84,828 resolved)

_ Ontario: 70,373 confirmed (including 3,093 deaths, 60,160 resolved)

_ Alberta: 24,261 confirmed (including 300 deaths, 20,310 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 12,554 confirmed (including 256 deaths, 10,247 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 4,249 confirmed (including 54 deaths, 2,142 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 2,729 confirmed (including 25 deaths, 2,085 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,100 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,029 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 328 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 257 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 290 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 275 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 64 confirmed (including 63 resolved)

_ Yukon: 20 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved), 3 presumptive

_ Nunavut:  No confirmed cases

_ Total: 216,103 (3 presumptive, 216,100 confirmed including 9,946 deaths, 181,429 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 26, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Meet the new leader of Canada’s Green Party

THE BIG STORY | posted Monday, Oct 26th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, Annamie Paul made history earlier this month when she became the first Black woman to lead a Canadian party when she became the successor to Elizabeth May. Now that the party is hers though, where is she going to take it? How can she bring the Green Party’s branding beyond “the environment”? How will her party hold the Liberals to account without forcing an election Canada doesn’t need? And how does she hope to snap Canadian voters out of their Liberal-versus-Conservative approach?

GUEST: Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party of Canada

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Ontario dog first to test positive for COVID-19 in Canada

MICHELLE MORTON | posted Monday, Oct 26th, 2020

A Niagara-area dog has been identified as the first in Canada to test positive for COVID-19.

But experts say this doesn’t mean pet owners should panic.

A veterinary internal medicine specialist with the University of Guelph told the Toronto Star, the dog belongs to a household where four out of six members tested positive for the coronavirus.

Scott Weese adds the dog had no symptoms and had a low viral load, suggesting dogs remain at a relatively low risk of becoming ill or passing the virus onto others.

Weese has tested 45 dogs since the start of the pandemic.

Last week, the province’s office of the Chief Veterinarian said people with COVID-19 symptoms should try to ‘exercise the same infection control precautions’ with their pets as they would people.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Friday, Oct. 23, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Oct 23rd, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. EDT on Oct. 23, 2020:

There are 209,144 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 97,321 confirmed (including 6,094 deaths, 82,033 resolved)

_ Ontario: 67,527 confirmed (including 3,071 deaths, 58,066 resolved)

_ Alberta: 23,829 confirmed (including 296 deaths, 20,014 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 12,331 confirmed (including 256 deaths, 10,114 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 3,773 confirmed (including 47 deaths, 1,920 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 2,558 confirmed (including 25 deaths, 2,024 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,097 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,027 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 319 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 223 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 287 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 274 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 64 confirmed (including 61 resolved)

_ Yukon: 17 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved), 3 presumptive

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 209,144 (3 presumptive, 209,141 confirmed including 9,862 deaths, 175,789 resolved)

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

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

The Canadian Press

A trip to a beautiful little deadly beach

THE BIG STORY | posted Friday, Oct 23rd, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, it’s called Six Mile Beach, and it sits in a remote part of British Columbia. It’s not on any of the tourism brochures. You need to know how to find it to get there, but once you do, it’s stunningly beautiful. You can stand well out from shore and a sand bar makes it feel like you’re walking on top of the water. It’s a secret spot worth savouring.

And every so often, someone dies. And no level of government wants to be responsible for those deaths.

GUEST: Tyler Harper, Nelson Star

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Le Chateau files for bankruptcy, plans to close its doors

THE CANADIAN PRESS AND NEWS STAFF | posted Friday, Oct 23rd, 2020

Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors to allow it to shut down and liquidate its assets.

Le Chateau’s application under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act will be heard Friday by a Quebec court.

The clothing retailer says it can no longer continue its operations as a going concern.

It says circumstances leave the company with no option other than to start the liquidation process.

The move will affect 500 head office employees and 900 retail store employees at its 123 locations across Canada.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Oct 22nd, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. EDT on Oct. 22, 2020:

There are 206,360 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 96,288 confirmed (including 6,074 deaths, 81,267 resolved)

_ Ontario: 66,686 confirmed (including 3,062 deaths, 57,325 resolved)

_ Alberta: 23,402 confirmed (including 296 deaths, 19,734 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 12,057 confirmed (including 256 deaths, 9,993 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 3,626 confirmed (including 43 deaths, 1,809 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 2,496 confirmed (including 25 deaths, 2,002 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,097 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,027 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 319 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 223 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 287 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 274 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 64 confirmed (including 61 resolved)

_ Yukon: 17 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved), 3 presumptive

_ Nunavut:  No confirmed cases

_ Total: 206,360 (3 presumptive, 206,357 confirmed including 9,829 deaths, 173,748 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

Trump, Biden prepare for presidential debate rematch

JAMES MCCARTEN, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Oct 22nd, 2020

Television viewers across the United States and Canada might well wonder tonight why living room couches don’t come with seat belts.

After last month’s interruptive, insult-riddled debate performance against Joe Biden, Donald Trump has a chance to redeem himself — though observers don’t expect him to try.

Instead, they’re bracing for another show of vintage Trump, one in which he’ll seek to be heard even in spite of his muted microphone.

The Commission on Presidential Debates will be cutting off the opposing mic during two-minute opening statements before each 15-minute segment.

Tonight’s debate, hosted by Belmont University in Tennessee, will be moderated by NBC News correspondent Kristen Welker.

Topics will include American families, race relations, climate change, national security and leadership.

Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien called the decision to cut off microphones an attempt by the commission “to provide advantage to their favoured candidate.”

In fact, the commission said in a statement this week, it’s designed to level the playing field for the two candidates.

“One may think they go too far, and one may think they do not go far enough,” the statement said.

“We are comfortable these actions strike the right balance, and that they are in the best interest of the American people, for whom these debates are held.”

During last month’s clash in Ohio, Trump interrupted, antagonized and irritated his Democratic rival from the outset, vexing moderator Chris Wallace and eliciting an exasperated plea for order from Biden himself: “Will you shut up, man?”

And that was only the first 15 minutes.

It was hardly the most cutting insult of the night — Biden called Trump a “clown” and America’s worst-ever president, while Trump branded his rival a drug-addled socialist and the Biden family a criminal enterprise.

But the “shut up” line emerged as the sound bite of the night, a fact that experts say offers clues into Biden’s best strategy.

“My advice to Biden would be to do exactly that — have a few pithy one-liners. But they also have to be presidential,” said Will Stewart, a former Progressive Conservative operative who’s now a senior vice-president with Hill+Knowlton Strategies in Toronto.

“I think ‘Shut up, man’ was the wrong approach. I think it was tone-deaf; it sank to Donald Trump’s level. It’s also not presidential. And I don’t care if you don’t like Donald Trump, you respect the office of president.”

This time, Biden would do well to ignore the president’s “buzz saw” approach, or at least find a way to short-circuit it, said Stewart, who is no stranger to the rituals of debate prep.

As for Trump, the mission — should he choose to accept it — is a relatively easy and simple one, say veterans of debate strategy: stop being such a jerk.

Performing better than the public expects, which is Job 1 in a political debate, ought to be easy when the expectations of Trump likely couldn’t sink lower.

On that, the experts agree. Also on this: don’t hold your breath.

“I expect to see Trump very aggressive, fighting like someone who is behind in the polls and knows he needs to make up ground,” said Gerald Butts, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s former principal secretary.

Study shows novel coronavirus can live on skin for 9 hours, but what does that mean?

MELISSA COUTO ZUBER | posted Thursday, Oct 22nd, 2020

A recent study suggests the novel coronavirus can live on human skin for up to nine hours, but experts say those findings aren’t as alarming as they sound.

The study by Japanese researchers, published earlier this month in the science journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, looked at how long viruses can survive on human skin based on samples collected from cadavers about a day after death.

The findings suggest that the virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, can remain active for 9.04 hours – nearly five times longer than the survival time of the pathogen that causes the flu.

The study also showed that an 80 per cent ethanol-based sanitizer can kill the novel coronavirus in a matter of 15 seconds.

Cynthia Carr, an epidemiologist in Winnipeg, says that’s her main take-away from the study.

“It’s an important public health message to remind people that even though the virus can last basically a full workday in a lab setting, you can quickly get rid of it if you just wash your hands,” she said.

“It’s not about panicking and having a full-body shower every time you get home. It’s about remembering that if the virus is on your hand and you wipe your nose or put your fingers in your mouth, that’s where the opportunity is to get infected.”

Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, says people are less likely to contract COVID-19 from touching a surface than from having close contact with an infected person.

He suspects the reason for that has to do with the viral dose on surfaces versus that in droplets or aerosols. Coming into contact with small viral load on a surface likely won’t result in a severe infection, he says, adding that our bodies may fight off a very mild case without us even realizing we have it.

“I don’t think (this study) is anything we need to be too concerned about,” Furness said. “If it were, clinically we would be seeing that touch matters a lot more. And we’re not.”

Furness says public health strategies over the last few months have emphasized mask-wearing and avoiding gatherings “because they matter more.”

However, even someone who’s asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic can transmit the virus, so Furness says it’s still important to wash your hands on a regular basis.

“I don’t want anyone thinking that touch doesn’t matter at all. You can still pick up the virus from touch,” Furness said. “And you can pick up a different virus during COVID that weakens your body, and then if you do get COVID you can have a worse outcome.”

The experts say it’s also important to remember that studies done in lab settings, under perfectly controlled conditions, don’t necessarily translate to the outside world.

Carr said the study in Japan was done in warm, humid conditions, which the virus is known to thrive in.

Using skin samples from immobile cadavers could also play a role in how long the virus remained on that surface, she added.

“My understanding is that the virus is relatively fragile,” Carr said. “So I don’t know how long it would be detectable on your hand in a real-life situation where you’re moving around.”

Plenty of lab studies have been conducted since the pandemic began showing how long the novel coronavirus can survive on different surfaces. Another recent one found the virus could live on banknotes for up to 28 days.

But Furness says to take that with a grain of salt.

“It’s almost like a little perverse competition to see who can keep COVID alive the longest, and I don’t think that’s fair,” he said. “Saying it can survive on a banknote for several days – OK, when the banknote is in the dark not being disturbed, and with perfect humidity and so on and so forth. That’s when it becomes a bit dodgy.”

And detecting the virus on a surface isn’t the same as determining whether it’s strong enough to infect someone, Carr warned.

“That’s where we have a lack of knowledge,” she said. “It could be (detectable) for nine hours, six hours, 12 hours, but again the main take-away for me is how quickly it can be eradicated if you just wash your hands.”

For Furness, the interesting part of the Japan study was its comparison to the regular flu virus, which lasted on average slightly less than two hours on skin surfaces.

He says that may provide a potential clue as to why the novel coronavirus is so transmissible.

“It sheds a little bit of light on the fact that this is a tough customer, that this is a relatively hardy virus compared to flu,” he said. “And it would help explain why this is so much more contagious than something like the flu.”

How Halloween highlights the COVID-19 communication paradox

THE BIG STORY | posted Wednesday, Oct 21st, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, Trick or Treating is cancelled in some Ontario hotspots, and it’s easy to be upset on behalf of the kids and wonder why. After all, we’ve been told the safest things are done outside, wearing masks. This seems like something that kids—who are also in closed school rooms all week—should be allowed to do. And this is the problem of communication during this pandemic—when numbers in Ontario and elsewhere have been climbing for a month but death rates and hospitalizations haven’t kept pace with the spike.

The more we learn about COVID-19, the more our understanding of risk and recommended best practices evolve. But the more you change the messaging, the less people can follow it. So when we’re in the middle of a spike and we’re hearing we should all be extra cautious, holding off on Halloween may be more of a communications problem than a safety issue.

GUEST: David Fisman, epidemiologist, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Oct 21st, 2020

The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):

8:07 a.m.

Another hospital in downtown Toronto has declared an outbreak of COVID-19 among its staff.

Unity Health says there are five active coronavirus cases among emergency room staff at St. Michael’s Hospital.

The hospital is one of four in Toronto that have declared COVID-19 outbreaks in recent days.

The others are St. Joseph’s Health Centre, Toronto Western Hospital and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

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

The Canadian Press

Here’s a list of September inflation rates for selected Canadian cities

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Oct 21st, 2020

OTTAWA — Canada’s national annual inflation rate was 0.5 per cent in September, Statistics Canada says. The agency also released rates for major cities, but cautioned that figures may have fluctuated widely because they are based on small statistical samples (previous month in brackets):

— St. John’s, N.L.: 0.7 per cent (-0.4)

— Charlottetown-Summerside: 0.1 per cent (-0.3)

— Halifax: -0.5 per cent (-0.4)

— Saint John, N.B.: 0.1 per cent (-0.3)

— Quebec City: 0.5 per cent (0.6)

— Montreal: 0.2 per cent (0.4)

— Ottawa: 1.2 per cent (0.9)

— Toronto: 0.2 per cent (-0.4)

— Thunder Bay, Ont.: 0.5 per cent (-0.5)

— Winnipeg: 0.3 per cent (0.0)

— Regina: 0.9 per cent (0.5)

— Saskatoon: 1.0 per cent (0.6)

— Edmonton: 1.2 per cent (0.6)

— Calgary: 1.4 per cent (0.6)

— Vancouver: 0.1 per cent (-0.2)

— Victoria: 1.1 per cent (0.1)

— Whitehorse: 0.3 per cent (-0.9)

— Yellowknife: -0.8 per cent (-1.3)

— Iqaluit: -0.7 per cent (-2.3)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2020, and was generated automatically.

The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia restaurants boycott lobster in support of Mi’kmaq self regulated fishery

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Oct 20th, 2020

Restaurants in Nova Scotia are cutting lobster from their menu in support of Mi’kmaq fishers, who have been targeted with violence in a dispute with commercial harvesters.

Matt Boyle, co-owner of Dear Friend bar in Dartmouth, N.S., said today he removed the lobster roll from his menu as a way to raise awareness to the conflict between Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishers.

Boyle says he received some backlash on social media but says his patrons and colleagues in the local bar community have been supportive.

Kourosh Rad, owner of Garden Food Bar in Halifax, says his restaurant will keep the crustacean off the menu until he can buy the product from Indigenous fishers.

Commercial fishers are angry the Mi’kmaq have started a self-regulated lobster fishery that harvests the animals outside the federally regulated fishing season.

The RCMP is investigating a fire over the weekend that destroyed a lobster pound in Middle West Pubnico containing the lobster catch of Mi’kmaq fishers.

B.C. officials assessing risk of tsunami after 7.4-magnitude quake off Alaska

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Oct 20th, 2020

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government says it’s assessing whether there’s any tsunami risk to the province after a 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of the Alaska Peninsula today.

Emergency Information B.C. says in a tweet its threat assessment is in progress.

The National Tsunami Warning Center in the United States issued tsunami warnings for a swath of communities following the quake off Sand Point, Alaska.

It says the quake was centred 92 kilometres southeast of Sand Point at a depth of 40 kilometres.

The Alaska Earthquake Center said the quake was widely felt in communities along the southern coast, including Sand Point, Chignik, Unalaska and the Kenai Peninsula.

It said a magnitude 5.2 aftershock was reported 11 minutes later, centred roughly in the same area.

Public safety officials in King Cove sent out an alert urging residents in the coastal area to move inland to higher ground.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 19, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Quebec town of Asbestos votes to change name to Val des Sources

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Oct 20th, 2020

The Quebec town synonymous with the cancer-causing fibre asbestos has voted for a new name: Val-des-Sources.

Mayor Hugues Grimard said Monday night during a live-streamed council meeting that Val-des-Sources won with 51.5 per cent of the vote after three rounds.

Asbestos residents over the age of 14 and local property owners were eligible to cast their votes for the new name of the town, located about 130 km east of Montreal.

The name Val-des-Sources was officially adopted by council and Grimard said it will be proposed to the provincial government for approval.

Asbestos helped make Canada one the world’s leaders in asbestos exports. The Jeffrey mine, once Canada’s largest, closed in 2012.

The town of over 7,000 residents has been looking to shed its association with the toxic mineral due to its negative impact on people’s health.

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