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Canadians not allowed off Coral Princess ship due to new CDC guidelines

Canadians not allowed off Coral Princess ship due to new CDC guidelines

Kyle Mack | posted Monday, Apr 6th, 2020

Canadians remained aboard the COVID-19-stricken Coral Princess cruise ship on Sunday, a full day after some passengers were allowed on dry land.

New guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control saying cruise passengers shouldn’t board commercial planes have limited who is allowed off the ship, Princess Cruises said in a statement, adding that only those with imminent chartered flights can disembark.

“This will unfortunately result in further delays in disembarkation and onward travel for many guests as we work through this complex, challenging and unfortunate situation,” the statement said.

Only those bound for Australia, the U.K. and California have been allowed to leave the ship.

North Vancouver resident Sanford Osler said he and his wife are more than ready to head home, and they hope the federal government will help speed up the process.

“Princess says they will try to a arrange a chartered flight for us, but we are calling on Canada to send a plane down for us,” Osler said in an email.

The couple is among 97 Canadian passengers aboard the ship, which left Santiago, Chile, on March 5 and docked in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Friday.

Osler said the last time he was on dry land was March 13, and passengers have been confined to their rooms for nearly a week.

“We’re still healthy but do want to get off this ship and get home,” said Osler, 70.

Two people aboard the ship have died, and 12 have tested positive for COVID-19, Princess Cruises has said. Still more are experiencing flu-like symptoms.

Global Affairs said Sunday that apart from the Coral Princess, it knows of 49 Canadian passengers and eight Canadian crew members on seven ships.

It said it isn’t aware of any of those people testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

Cruise ships have been a hotbed for the novel coronavirus beginning in February, when the largest outbreak outside mainland China was aboard the Diamond Princess ship, also operated by Princess Cruises.

The Diamond Princess was quarantined for two weeks in Yokohama, Japan, because of the virus. Ultimately, about 700 of the 3,700 people aboard became infected in what experts pronounced a public-health failure. They cite the close quarters and frequent socialization as contributing to the spread.

The federal government eventually evacuated 129 Canadians from the ill-fated ship and brought them to eastern Ontario for quarantine on Feb. 21, but 47 Canadians infected by the virus had to stay behind in Japan for treatment.

More recently, Canadians on the MS Zaandam and MS Rotterdam, arrived in Canada on a plane chartered by operator Holland America.

Gatherings restricted, schools closed: What’s being done to fight COVID-19

Kyle Mack | posted Monday, Apr 6th, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every province and territory. Medical officers of health and Canada’s chief public health officer are encouraging people to wash their hands, give each other space and wear a mask if they’re sick.

Ottawa has put money into health-care research and the economy. It has also put restrictions on international travel and is enforcing 14-day quarantines for travellers returning to Canada to try to limit spread of the novel coronavirus.

Classes are suspended or cancelled at schools throughout the country.

Each province and territory also has its own emergency measures to detect cases and prevent spread of the virus.

Here’s a look at some of the ways different jurisdictions are responding:

British Columbia

B.C. declared a provincial state of emergency on March 18, a day after announcing a public health emergency.

The measure gives the province authority to take any action necessary to protect people and communities, including charging people who ignore public health orders.

The province has also prohibited reselling essential supplies such as food and cleaning material.

All parking fees at B.C. hospitals starting April 1 will be cancelled to ensure safer access for patients and staff.

Officials have prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people in one place, including restaurants, schools, places of worship, theatres, casinos, sports arenas and outdoor venues.

Some provincial parks are closed.

Officials have also issued fire restrictions as the wildfire season begins.

Premier John Horgan says he is extending the state of emergency through the end of April 14.

Alberta

Alberta declared a public health emergency on March 17.

The province has given law enforcement agencies full authority to enforce orders and issue fines for violations.

There are restrictions on mass gatherings of more than 15 people, both indoors and outdoors at places of worship, weddings or funerals. Any gathering must allow people to keep the two-metre distance from others.

All non-essential businesses have been ordered closed, including personal service providers, clothing stores and furniture stores.

Albertans are prohibited from attending public or private recreational and entertainment facilities. Restaurants have been ordered closed, except for takeout or delivery. Casinos are closed.

Vehicle access to provincial parks and public lands is also prohibited to visitors.

Albertans who have been ordered to quarantine cannot leave their property for 14 days. That also bars people who live in apartments to use the elevators.

Saskatchewan

Premier Scott Moe declared a provincial state of emergency on March 18.

It directs all orders from the chief medical health officer be followed and gives police the authority to enforce them.

Public gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people.

Nightclubs, bars and lounges are closed, but they are allowed to provide takeout food or alcohol.

Recreational and entertainment facilities are closed. Personal service providers such as tattoists, hairdressers, estheticians and relaxation masseuses cannot operate.

Dental, optometrist, chiropractic and podiatry clinics are closed — except for emergencies.

Manitoba

The Manitoba government declared a provincewide state of emergency on March 20.

The province has limited public gatherings to no more than 10 people, down from an earlier limit of 50.

It includes any indoor or outdoor spot, places of worship or family events such as weddings and funerals.

Non-essential businesses have been ordered to close. Salons, spas, bars and other establishments will be closed starting Wednesday. Restaurants can remain open for takeout or delivery only.

The closures do not affect health-care facilities, government services and other institutions.

Bingo and gaming venues as well as wellness centres and gyms are closed.

The province is also letting people hurt by the COVID-19 economic fallout avoid penalties and interest on some utility payments and property taxes.

Ontario

Ontario declared a state of emergency on March 24.

All business except those deemed essential have been shut down.

All industrial construction except for essential projects, such as hospitals, has been halted.

All bars and restaurants, except for takeout and delivery, have been closed.

Also closed are recreational facilities, public libraries, private schools, licensed child-care centres, movie theatres and concert venues.

Any public events of more than 50 people, including parades, events and services at places of worship, are prohibited.

Provincial parks are closed.

The City of Toronto has also shut down playgrounds, sports fields, off-leash dog parks, skateboard parks and picnic areas. Parking lots attached to parks are closed.

Quebec

Quebec declared a public health emergency on March 13 and renewed it a week later.

The government has reduced non-priority services and prohibited indoor and outdoor gatherings.

On March 28, the Quebec government ordered police to set up checkpoints, severely curtailing access to eight remote regions. The restrictions have since been extended banning all non-essential travel to much of cottage country north of Montreal, and to Charlevoix, northeast of Quebec City.

Quebec has also prohibited non-essential visits to hospitals, residential and long-term care centres or between children in foster families and their biological families.

Designated clinics have been opened for anyone displaying symptoms.

To give retail employees a break, stores will be closing on Sundays in April, with only pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores and takeout restaurants remaining open on those days.

Montreal’s mayor has also declared a state of emergency to help authorities better manage the spread of COVID-19 among the city’s homeless.

New Brunswick

A state of emergency was declared in New Brunswick on March 19.

Businesses serving food and beverages have been restricted to takeout and delivery. Lounges and clubs are forbidden from allowing customers to enter.

Customers are not allowed to enter retail businesses, unless they serve food, medication, fuel or other essential supplies.

Many health services — such as chiropractors, dentists and optometrists — are prohibited from seeing patients in person unless absolutely necessary.

No gatherings larger than 10 people are allowed and residents are urged to stay home as much as possible.

Any unnecessary travel into New Brunswick is prohibited.

Nova Scotia

The province of Nova Scotia declared a state of emergency on March 22.

It set out specific rules for self-isolation and self-quarantine for people returning from outside Canada.

All schools and daycares are closed. Long-term care facilities and residential care facilities are closed to visitors.

Casinos have closed and no business is allowed to operate a video lottery terminal.

Restaurants are restricted to takeout and delivery service only. Drinking establishments are closed.

There are also restrictions on health professionals such as chiropractors and dentists.

Prince Edward Island

Premier Dennis King declared a public health emergency on March 16.

It included an order to Islanders to refrain from attending any public gatherings and a closure of libraries, child-care facilities, gyms and schools.

Measures announced a week later included fines for anyone who doesn’t comply with a direction to self-isolate.

The public health officer recommends people who are self-isolating stay on their own property when outside.

The government is working to open an out-patient clinic to allow for increased testing and to ease the load on hospitals.

Newfoundland and Labrador

The province declared a public health emergency on March 18.

It includes the closure of most businesses — with the exception of grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and other stores considered essential.

Gatherings of more than 10 people are not allowed. That includes funerals and weddings.

Anyone arriving from outside the province is required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Health officials have the authority to restrict the rights and freedoms of people in a time of crisis. People who violate orders face fines.

Yukon

Yukon declared a state of emergency on March 27.

Yukon residents flying into Canada with COVID-19 symptoms must quarantine at their arrival destination, and those without symptoms are ordered to self-isolate for 14 days when they get home.

Yukon has asked everyone arriving in the territory, including mine workers, to self-isolate for 14 days.

The government has closed bars and limited social gatherings to 10 people or less.

Recreation facilities, libraries, museums and visitor centres are closed. School classes are suspended until at least April 15.

Long-term care facilities are closed to visitors and volunteers, while all non-urgent or routine services, including lab tests, X-rays, physiotherapy and occupational therapy are suspended.

All dentists must also suspend non-urgent treatment until further notice.

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories declared a public health emergency on March 18, which has now been upgraded to a state of emergency.

It requires anyone who arrives in the territory from outside its boundary to self-isolate for 14 days.

Travel through all points of entry into the territory — both air and road — is prohibited.

The orders exclude essential service workers such as medical professionals or emergency services.

The territory has asked that all indoor and outdoor gatherings be cancelled — regardless of size or number.

Many businesses, including tour operators, gyms, museums and theatres, have been ordered to close.

The government said it will help Indigenous families who want to head out on the land as an alternative to physical distancing. It will administer a $2.6-million grant to help families buy the proper gear and supplies to head out to fishing and hunting camps.

Nunavut

Nunavut declared a public health emergency on March 20.

It has no known cases of COVID-19, but it has restrictions in place.

There is a mandatory 14-day self-isolation period at one of four locations in southern Canada for any resident that wants to return to Nunavut.

Critical employees who need to return to work must apply for an exemption.

All non-essential medical travel has been cancelled.

Public gatherings, including at playgrounds or parks and at religious, cultural or spiritual services is prohibited.

Sources: Provincial and territorial government websites

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

The Canadian Press

Application process for emergency benefits for workers begins Monday

Kyle Mack | posted Monday, Apr 6th, 2020

Applications open Monday for the new federal emergency aid benefit for Canadians who lost their income because of COVID-19.

The Canada Revenue Agency will open its application portals this morning to those born in the first three months of the year, with those born in other months able to apply later in the week.

The agency is trying to keep demand from overwhelming its online and telephone systems.

More than two million Canadians lost their jobs in the last half of March as businesses across the country were forced to close or reduce their operations to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Others are unable to work because they are required to self-isolate at home, or need to look after children whose schools and daycares are closed.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau anticipates the wage benefit will cost the government $24 billion.

People born in April, May and June can apply Tuesday, those born in July, August or September can apply Wednesday and applications are accepted Thursday from people born in October, November and December. Friday, Saturday and Sunday will be open to anyone.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Sunday Canadians who sign up for direct deposit could get their first payment before the end of the week. It’s anticipated direct deposit applicants will get money within three to five days, while those who opt for printed cheques will get money in 10 days.

“While we still have a lot of work to do, we’re making good progress on getting you the support you need as quickly as possible,” Trudeau said.

However, opposition parties say there are some glaring holes in the aid that is leaving some people in need out of the program completely.

Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said there are “serious design and delivery flaws” that should be fixed.

Poilievre said some small business owners who paid themselves with dividends don’t qualify because they won’t have $5,000 of employment income in 2019 as the benefit requires. Further, he said a worker who has lost most of their income but still has one contract or a handful of clients won’t qualify for any money because you can’t have any current income in order to be eligible.

“They are effectively banned from doing any amount of work that might help keep their business open,” he said.

Poilievre said there are some easy fixes, including adjusting the wage benefit down slightly if a worker earns some income, much like happens when someone is collecting employment insurance but manages to find work temporarily.

He also wants small business owners to be viewed as employees for the purposes of the emergency response benefit.

NDP MPs Peter Julian and Gord Johns wrote to Morneau Sunday also asking for changes, including to address the fact the benefit provides an incentive not to work at all.

They said workers who have lost most but not all of their shifts, or lost one part-time job but not the other, “are living on significantly reduced incomes” but won’t qualify for the benefit.

“The consequences are that they are now asking to be laid off or furloughed so that they can access the CERB,” they wrote. “This is causing significant disruptions to normal business, to essential services, and to community contributions on local economies.”

Opposition parties also want more clarity on the government’s biggest aid program, the $71 billion, emergency wage subsidy, that will cover up to 75 per cent of wages for businesses that choose to keep employees on the payroll rather than laying them off.

Poilievre said it is going to take too long for businesses to see any of that money, and some of them won’t survive that long.

The Conservatives and NDP both want the government to reconsider the requirement for businesses to show a 30 per cent drop in revenue in order to qualify.

To be eligible for the emergency benefit, workers must have earned at least $5,000 in 2019, or in the 12 months before applying. The benefit is the same for everyone regardless of previous income, and is a less complicated application process than for employment insurance.

Emmy-winning musician Adam Schlesinger dies from coronavirus

Kyle Mack | posted Thursday, Apr 2nd, 2020

Emmy and Grammy-winning musician and songwriter Adam Schlesinger, known for his work with his band Fountains of Wayne and on the TV show “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” died Wednesday after contracting the coronavirus, his attorney said.

Schlesinger died at a hospital in upstate New York, his longtime lawyer Josh Grier told The Associated Press. It is not clear where or how Schelsinger, a 51-year-old father of two, contracted the virus. He had been sedated and on a ventilator for several days.

Schlesinger was nominated for 10 Emmys for writing comical songs across several television shows, winning three. He was nominated for an Academy Award for writing the title song to the 1997 Tom Hanks-directed movie “That Thing You Do.”

Raised in New York and Montclair, New Jersey, Schlesinger formed Fountains of Wayne, named for a lawn ornament store in Wayne, New Jersey, in 1995 with his classmate from Williams College Chris Collingwood.

With Schlesinger playing bass and singing backup and Collingwood playing guitar and singing lead, and the two men co-writing songs, the band known for its sunny harmonies and synthesis of pop, rock punk and comedy would have hits in 1996 with “Radiation Vibe” and 2003 with “Stacy’s Mom.” The latter was nominated for a Grammy.

Schlesinger would then drop behind the scenes and go on to be known for his writing.

He won the 2009 Grammy for best comedy album for writing the songs on “A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!” a companion to a TV Christmas special with songs performed by Stephen Colbert and Elvis Costello.

In recent years he was known along with the show’s star Rachel Bloom as one of the songwriters behind “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” the musical comedy series on the CW.

Last year, Schlesinger, Bloom and Jack Dolgen won an Emmy for the show’s song, “Antidepressants Are So Not A Big Deal.”

Schlesinger was divorced and had two daughters.

Andrew Dalton, The Associated Press

Super-spreading events and Wimbledon cancelled; In The News for April 2

Kyle Mack | posted Thursday, Apr 2nd, 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 April 2 …

 

COVID-19 in Canada …

One of Canada’s largest veterans’ organizations is urging the federal government to automatically approve the roughly 44,000 outstanding applications for disability benefits from injured veterans to help them better deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

The call from the National Council of Veteran Associations, which represents more than 60 veteran groups, comes amid fears about the financial and emotional toll the pandemic is taking on veterans struggling with mental and physical wounds.

Veterans Affairs Canada says staff are still processing claims as they work from home and that there are no immediate plans to automatically approve the backlog, which was already a source of frustration and anger for many veterans forced to wait years for support even before COVID-19.

But the COVID-19 crisis presents yet another barrier for veterans to get their applications approved, said council chairman Brian Forbes, who is also executive director of The War Amps Canada and a member of Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay’s policy advisory group.

“It was bad enough as far as the backlog and the delays and the number of new claims (before COVID-19),” Forbes said in an interview “And then when you put the coronavirus on top of it, you’ve got a perfect storm. Things are just not getting done.”

Also this …

Thousands of people smiled, laughed, shook hands and conversed at one of the largest dental conferences in North America last month unaware of a deadly virus circling among them.

More than 15,000 attendees, presenters or vendors were part of the Pacific Dental Conference at the Vancouver Convention Centre in early March. Six days later, public health officials sent out a warning: an attendee had tested positive for COVID-19.

More positive tests followed. A dentist from British Columbia, Dr. Denis Vincent, died two weeks after the convention.

In the days and weeks that followed, positive cases linked to the conference popped up across Canada: at least 32 in B.C., nine in Alberta and three in Saskatchewan.

It’s not known how many people were infected with the novel coronavirus at the convention because not all regions have provided that information.

COVID-19 in the U.S. …

President Donald Trump is resisting calls to issue a national stay-at-home order to stem the spread of the new coronavirus despite his administration’s projections that tens of thousands of Americans are likely to be killed by the disease. One by one, though, states are increasingly pushing shutdown orders of their own.

Trump said Wednesday he wants to give governors’ “flexibility” on whether a stay-at-home policy is the best option for their constituents, but acknowledged that he’s looking at limiting air and rail travel between hot spots within the United States. The president remains hesitant to press a unified policy even after the White House released “sobering” new projections on Tuesday that 100,000 to 240,000 Americans will likely succumb to the coronavirus even if current social distancing guidelines are maintained.

Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Wednesday the nation’s federalist system leaves much of the authority on how to properly respond to catastrophes to individual state governors and local officials.

“We trust the governors and the mayors to understand their people and understand whether or not they feel like they can trust the people in their states to make the right decisions,” Adams said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

On Wednesday alone, five more states — Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Nevada and Pennsylvania — added or expanded their stay-at-home orders.

COVID-19 around the world …

The Taliban said the group was ready to declare a cease-fire in areas of Afghanistan under its control if they are hit by a coronavirus outbreak.

The announcement follows a U.N. Security Council statement Tuesday urging Afghanistan’s warring parties to heed the U.N. secretary-general’s call for an immediate cease-fire to respond to the pandemic and ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid throughout the country.

“If, God forbid, the outbreak happens in an area where we control the situation then we will stop fighting in that area,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Muajhed told The Associated Press.

The Taliban have also said they would guarantee the security of health and aid workers travelling to their areas offering assistance to prevent the spread of the new virus.

It wasn’t clear how many cases would need to be confirmed in any given area for the insurgent group to announce a cease-fire and there was no immediate response from the government.

COVID-19 in sports

Wimbledon was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, the first time since World War II that the oldest Grand Slam tennis tournament won’t be played.

The All England Club announced after an emergency meeting that the event it refers to simply as The Championships is being scrapped for 2020.

Wimbledon was scheduled to be played on the club’s grass courts on the outskirts of London from June 29 to July 12.

Instead, the next edition of the tournament will be June 28 to July 11, 2021.

Also Wednesday, the ATP and WTA announced that the men’s and women’s professional tennis tours would be suspended until at least July 13. They already had been on hold through June 7.

Wimbledon first was held in 1877 and has been contested every year since, with the exception of two stretches: from 1915-18 because of World War I, and from 1940-45 because of World War II.

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

The Canadian Press

Tax collectors, auditors to help field ‘historic’ numbers of benefit-seeking callers

Kyle Mack | posted Thursday, Apr 2nd, 2020

OTTAWA — Canada Revenue Agency employees know a giant spotlight will be pointed at them come Monday.

That’s when they begin the monumental task of delivering on historic federal benefits meant to mitigate the disastrous economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Normally at tax time the agency has between 3,000 and 4,000 employees working the phones at call centres across the country. But this is no normal year.

More than 1,000 CRA employees have volunteered to bolster those numbers and take calls from an estimated 300,000 Canadians per day who are expected to inquire about the government’s $2,000-a-month Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

Those calls will be fielded from the kitchens, living rooms and home offices of the agency’s employees, who have like so many Canadians been forced to work from home as part of Canada-wide efforts to lessen the spreading of the novel coronavirus.

Marc Briere, national president of the Union of Taxation Employees, which represents most CRA workers, says it’s a historic challenge, and one that he hopes will show Canadians they are not just tax collectors.

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

The Canadian Press

Canadians on 2 stranded cruise ships will be heading home

Kyle Mack | posted Thursday, Apr 2nd, 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump says there are plans to remove nearly 250 Canadians from two cruise ships and get them back to Canada.

The U.S. Coast Guard has directed all cruise ships to remain at sea where they may be sequestered “indefinitely” during the coronavirus pandemic, but Trump said Canada is coming to get the Canadians from the MS Zaandam and its sister ship the Rotterdam.

“We’re taking the Canadians off and giving them to Canadian authorities. They’re going to bring them back home,” Trump said at his daily press briefing on Wednesday.

Trump said the same is true for citizens of the United Kingdom on the ships.

The president said states have been reluctant to take cruise guests, but he feels the U.S. is obligated to help. He said at a minimum, the U.S. will send medical teams on board.

“You have people that are sick on those ships and states don’t want to take them,” Trump said.

“They have enough problems right now and they don’t want to take them, but we have to from a humane standpoint. We don’t have a choice. I don’t want to do that, but we have to. People are dying.”

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, cruise ships must also be prepared to send any severely ill passengers to the countries where the vessels are registered.

The rules, which apply to any vessel carrying more than 50 people, were issued in a March 29 safety bulletin signed by Coast Guard Rear Admiral E.C. Jones, whose district includes Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Puerto Rico.

But Trump said Tuesday he was going to speak with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis about whether to allow the Zaandam and the Rotterdam, one of which has seen four people die and 200 passengers and crew report flu-like symptoms, to dock.

Global Affairs Canada said in a statement that there are 97 Canadian passengers on the Zaandam and 150 Canadians on the Rotterdam. At this time, no COVID-19 cases have been confirmed among Canadian passengers.

“We continue to engage with the passengers and Holland America to co-ordinate travel for Canadian citizens back to Canada upon disembarkation,” Global Affairs said.

The Zaandam, which set sail in early March on a South American cruise, is carrying sick passengers and crew, while passengers not showing symptoms were transferred to the Rotterdam, which was sent to the region to help. Both ships have cleared the Panama Canal and are sailing toward Florida. Two of four deaths on the Zaandam have been blamed on COVID-19 and nine people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the company said.

Catherine McLeod, an Ottawa resident who was recently transferred to the Rotterdam from the Zaandam, said the captain came on the internal television system last night and “proposed a toast to world health and our safe return home.”

Champagne and sweets were left outside each passenger’s doors.

The Rotterdam captain “is a class act, so was the captain of the Zaandam,” McLeod said in an email. “This guy has made some excellent speeches regarding his and the crew’s devotion to getting us out of here healthy.”

The ship was off the northwest coast of Cuba by late Wednesday morning. McLeod said passengers have been told they’ll reach Florida by Thursday morning.

“We were told that Holland America would arrange for our transportation home, and received a call yesterday from guest services asking our destination,” McLeod said.

They remain hopeful they won’t be stranded at sea.

DeSantis said he expected a resolution Wednesday after speaking with Trump, but port authorities later said discussions between the company and officials over the terms of docking were ongoing and they did not expect to update Broward County commissioners on Wednesday as it was foreseen at the Tuesday meeting.

DeSantis maintained Florida’s health care system is stretched too thin to take on the ships’ coronavirus caseload, but he said he would accept the 49 Florida residents on board.

“My concern is simply that we have worked so hard to make sure we have adequate hospital beds,” he said.

Holland America said in a statement Wednesday night that it is awaiting confirmation to disembark guests from both ships in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The company said both ships are scheduled to arrive at the boundary of U.S. waters early Thursday and will remain there while waiting for clearance.

The ships are on the Port Everglades docking schedule for Thursday afternoon at 1 and 1:30 p.m. ET.

Holland America also said guests fit to travel would transfer straight from ships to flights so they can return home. The approximately 45 guests who still have mild illness would continue to isolate on board. For the estimated less than 10 people needing critical care, Holland America says it has secured approval from a local health system partner that will accept them for treatment.

More than two dozen cruise ships are either lined up at Port Miami and Port Everglades or waiting offshore, the Miami Herald reported. Most have only crew aboard, but several still carry passengers and are steaming toward ports in southern Florida. Carnival notified the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday that it has more than 6,000 passengers still at sea.

Under normal conditions, when a passenger or crew member become too ill for the ship’s medical team to care for, they call the Coast Guard to provide a medical evacuation to an onshore hospital. Under the new rules, sick passengers would be sequestered indefinitely on board.

“This is necessary as shore-side medical facilities may reach full capacity and lose the ability to accept and effectively treat additional critically ill patients,” the Coast Guard memo said.

The document requires all ships in U.S. waters to report their numbers of sick and dead on board each day or face civil penalties or criminal prosecution.

Cruise ships with sick passengers must consult with the Coast Guard, which may now recommend keeping the sick person on board. The Coast Guard will decide if a transfer is absolutely necessary, but the cruise line would be responsible for arranging on-shore transportation and hospital beds.

With files from Liam Casey in Toronto and The Associated Press

Four tips to self-isolation from Chris Hadfield!

Kyle Mack | posted Thursday, Mar 26th, 2020

Today we chatted with Colonel Chris Hadfield to shed some light on how to cope with self-isolation.

– Understand the actual risk – not just being afraid of things
– Choose goals – what is your mission for right now? What do you want to get done?
– Constraints – look at what you’ve been told not to do, financial restraints
– Take action – start doing things. Not necessarily what you did before.
Had field notes – there’s never been a better time to self-isolate – the internet is a wide place for knowledge and learning.
-Tell us about what you’ve been up to during self-isolation (he’s with granddaughter Eleanor and his pug Albert)
– One activity they’ve done is: one person starts a drawing, the other finishes it.

How are you coping with isolation? Email us at feedback@breakfasttelevision.ca

Not even $100 to spare: renters worry as months’ end nears

Kyle Mack | posted Wednesday, Mar 25th, 2020

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Nearly half of Canadian households report a loss in wages or work as the coronavirus continues to ravage the global economy, according to a new Angus Reid poll.

So far a number of announcements about support have been made but little relief has actually made it into people’s pockets, as renters wait to hear what the province will offer Wednesday.

The new survey found people who have been hit the hardest by layoffs and mass shutdowns because of the pandemic will also be the least likely to absorb the financial losses.

(Courtesy the Angus Reid Institute)

Claire Lomas is a self-employed dog walker who rents a condo in Vancouver’s West End. She is uncertain what the federal benefits package promised for April will bring, as she doesn’t qualify for regular employment insurance.

“I would like to hear blanket policies that are going to cover everybody, at least in the short term, so that people know they’re not going to lose their home, we can self-isolate and we can get this under control,” she says.

Even if she does get some relief from the feds, Lomas, who is also an active housing advocate at City Hall, says those relying on EI to get by are going to struggle.

John Horgan

@jjhorgan

No one should lose their job for prioritizing their health & safety.

We’ve made a significant change to the law to protect workers – so anyone who cannot work because of COVID-19 can take leave without risking their job.

This is retroactive to Jan. 27.https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020LBR0012-000551 

Protecting jobs during difficult times

The Province has made two significant changes to the Employment Standards Act to better support workers both during the COVID-19 public health emergency and in the long term.

news.gov.bc.ca

239 people are talking about this

“Especially for here in Vancouver, they’re not going to be sufficient; they cap out at $1,800 a month. If you look at most people’s rents in the city that’s gonna take most of the money there.”

Ash ‘I work from home now’ Kelly

@AshDKelly

A lot of people are wondering if landlords get a break on mortgage payments – will they in goodwill pass it on to tenants? Jeniffer Roebuck already has her answer: “It doesn’t matter what my situation is, doesn’t matter what his situation is, he’s not budging at all.”@NEWS1130

Randy@ranmann82

I’ve spoken with my tenants and told them if they need to defer rent, or pay a portion that is fine by me, I can always go to the bank and ask them to defer my mortgage payment but there needs to be more information ie: will interest be accrued or deferred as well

See Randy’s other Tweets

The Angus Reid poll also found about 44 per cent of people have lost work as a result of the virus and at one-third are worried about paying their rent or bills in a few days. Some can’t bear an increase of even $100.

(Courtesy the Angus Reid Institute)

 

Those who are younger are at a greater risk of losing work, and many will face difficult decisions and trade-offs when it comes to bills, according to the poll.

More than one million people have applied for EI already, according to the federal government and those who don’t fit the regular or sickness EI requirements will be able to apply for a new emergency benefit coming in April.

Lomas says renters deserve to know they have a secure place to isolate so all of Canada can get COVID-19 under control in these critical weeks.

“I know that this is very new in what’s going on but when we’re looking at mortgages we also need to be looking at rent relief in a city where 53 per cent of the population rents,” she explains.

“If 30 per cent of that $1,800 was going towards housing that would be ‘affordable’ but this is just going to affect so many people,” she says.

ACORN Canada@ACORNCanada

We want urgent moratorium on ALL evictions in British Columbia. Ontario, Nova Scotia and Quebec have shown the way. BC MUST follow. Tell your elected officials, we also need a RENT BREAK: https://acorncanada.org/take-action/urgent-action-rent-freeze-suspension-of-rent-end-nsf-fees-internet-all @BC_ACORN

Finance Minister Carole James says don’t expect that in your pocket until may

Government gets unanimous consent to quickly pass legislation for COVID-19 help

Kyle Mack | posted Wednesday, Mar 25th, 2020

The government received unanimous consent to quickly pass emergency legislation to free up $82 billion to help Canadians weather the COVID-19 crisis.

After a day of tense negotiations, MPs began debating the bill in the wee hours of morning, with a vote planned within a couple of hours.

The motion sent to the Speaker stated the House would resolve itself into a committee for no more than an hour to consider the matter with members getting up to five minutes for a question, and will be adjourned until April 20 after the third reading.

Starting the week of March 30, the finance minister will give a biweekly report on all actions undertaken to the pandemic, and will be discussed on April 20.

The Standing Committee on Finance will begin a review of the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act within six months of the day on which the it receives royal assent and will report its findings to the House no later than March 31, next year.

The motion also said that unless the Speaker received a notice from the House leaders of all four recognized parties it would remain adjourned until a future date.

Earlier on Tuesday, Conservatives raised objections to what they dubbed a Liberal “power grab,” which led to a late-night discussion and early hours of Wednesday.

An emergency sitting of the House of Commons was suspended moments after it began as Conservatives balked at provisions that would give the government sweeping powers to unilaterally spend, borrow and change taxation levels without Parliament’s approval for the next 21 months.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said early in the day that his party would support emergency efforts to get money to Canadians struggling with the COVID-19 crisis, but would oppose any attempts by the Liberal government to expand its power.

His warning came before a small group of 32 MPs gathered in the Commons to debate and vote on legislation to deliver $82 billion in financial aid and tax deferrals to individuals and businesses, as proposed last week by the government to deal with COVID-19 and its ensuing economic havoc.

They convened as scheduled. However, the sitting had only just begun when government House leader Pablo Rodriguez asked that it be suspended so that the government could continue negotiating details of the legislation with opposition parties.

“Canadians need support to get through this. Fast,” Rodriguez tweeted shortly after the sitting was suspended. He said talks were ongoing and he expected MPs to reconvene later Tuesday.

But almost six hours later, Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet angrily denounced the delay. If the government can’t get the unanimous consent needed to pass the legislation in one day, as hoped, Blanchet called on the government to put the bill through the normal, lengthy legislative process necessary to get the money flowing as quickly as possible.

He guaranteed Bloc support to approve the legislation.

The Commons eventually returned briefly Tuesday evening to extend the day’s sitting. Negotiations with the Conservatives were to continue and it remained possible that the Commons could yet approve the legislation by the end of the day.

If it does get through the Commons, the plan was for the Senate to approve it Wednesday, followed immediately by royal assent.

At a morning news conference, Scheer said the Conservatives had no issue with the relief package promised by Trudeau last week. But they wouldn’t agree to give the government a blank cheque to spend and tax as it pleases for almost two years, as initially proposed in a draft of the bill shared with opposition parties on Monday.

“Any conversation about new government powers should not get in the way of passing this much-needed assistance,” he said. “Canadians are counting on us.”

Even as Scheer was speaking, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that the legislation would be tabled “without clause 2,” suggesting the bill would not contain the offending elements.

At his own news conference outside his residence, where he remains in self-isolation after his wife contracted COVID-19, Trudeau said the government is trying to balance the need to act quickly to help Canadians with the need to remain accountable to Parliament.

“It is an exceptional situation that requires extreme flexibility and rapidity of response by governments to be able to help Canadians and react to a situation that we’ve seen is moving quickly every single day,” he said.

“So saying, we have a Parliament that works, we have an Opposition that is doing its job of making sure that we are taking the right steps the right way.”

Trudeau arrived late for his news conference because he was on the phone with opposition leaders.

He said the government was negotiating “up until the last minute” to find a way to give it the flexibility it needs to get the money into Canadians’ hands quickly while maintaining “our democratic institutions and the values that are so important to us all.”

Blanchet said the Bloc agrees the government needs some flexibility to quickly get financial relief to Canadians and businesses without having to recall Parliament each time — but that extraordinary power need not last longer than September.

Scheer, meanwhile, sidestepped questions about whether the Tories are prepared to vote against the emergency-aid bill if it’s not changed to their satisfaction. Defeat of the bill would be a vote of no confidence for the minority Liberal government and possibly trigger an election.

The bill only needs one party’s support to pass the Commons eventually but it needs the support of every MP present to be put through on the one-day schedule the Liberals want.

“Our hope is that (the government) will stay focused on providing to Canadians, not focused on a power grab. Not focused on giving themselves unprecedented new powers,” Scheer said.

The Conservative position on the bill was complicated by one of its own MPs, Scott Reid, who threatened on his website Tuesday to show up in the Commons, despite not being one of the designated 11 Tories who were supposed to be present, and deny the unanimous consent needed to expedite the bill’s passage.

He later amended his post to say he has no objection to same-day passage of the relief measures provided MPs have enough time to read and understand the bill.

Parliament adjourned on March 13 until at least April 20 as part of a countrywide effort to curb the spread of the virus. It was recalled Tuesday to deal with the emergency aid package but with only about one in every 10 MPs present in the Commons, seated at least two metres apart.

After agreeing to extend the sitting beyond 7 p.m., Scheer began to cross the aisle to speak privately with Rodriguez. The two men pulled up short and spoke to each other at a safe distance.

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