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A look at some of the Canadians who have lost their lives to COVID 19

A look at some of the Canadians who have lost their lives to COVID 19

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Apr 15th, 2020

COVID-19 has sickened thousands of Canadians from coast to coast and killed hundreds.

Here are the stories of some of those who have lost their lives:

Vicki Kap

SARNIA, Ont. — Vicki Kap was known for her love of family, which for her included former refugees she invited into her home for decades before she died from COVID-19.

Jody Brouwer, Kap’s daughter, remembers growing up with a Cambodian couple and their two children living in their basement.

Vicki and Frank Kap opened their hearts and their home to people from around the globe, including Nicaragua, El Salvador and Syria before her death at age 75.

“We’ve got a big extended family from all countries of the world,” Brouwer says.

The woman known for her big smile spent the last four years caring for Frank, who has stage-four bowel cancer and is waiting to go into hospice while grieving for his wife.

The couple would have celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary on March 26, when Kap was on a ventilator. She died three days later.

Family was the focus on her last day, too, as she lay in a medically induced coma.

Brouwer and her brother John Kap were at their mother’s bedside wearing head-to-toe personal protective equipment. Her children shared stories with Kap and videos of her grandchildren.

Martin Postma

STRATHROY, Ont. — Martin Postma’s wife considers the last month with her husband before his death a gift as they spent time enjoying the sights of Portugal.

Mieke Postma says her 74-year-old husband had diabetes but was in otherwise good health before he developed a cough, had the chills and quickly became increasingly weak.

At that point, he barely had enough energy to make it onto the stretcher when an ambulance arrived to take him to their local hospital in Strathroy before he was transferred the next day to University Hospital in nearby London.

Postma was surprised her husband even had the energy to phone her from the emergency department to say doctors were planning to put him on a ventilator.

But she says that last conversation, before his death on March 27 in the intensive care unit, was also a gift from the man she’d married 52 years earlier.

A retired nurse, Postma says she considered the quality-of-life her husband would have had if he had survived as his kidneys shut down on a ventilator and his other organs also began to fail.

Just before the family decided to discontinue treatment on the ventilator, Postma was told her husband’s survival rate would be about 10 per cent, and if he did survive, he would need lifelong care.

“That hit me between the eyes. I thought, ‘That’s not good.’ “

Noble (Butch) Gullacher

REGINA — Noble Gullacher was a family man who loved watching his sons play basketball and his grandchildren play soccer.

Gullacher, known by family and friends as Butch, was a diabetic who was waiting for a kidney transplant when he was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 19.

The 69-year-old died April 10 in a Regina hospital.

Gullacher was a husband, a father to two sons and a grandfather to their three children.

“He was a good dad, but he was a really wonderful grandfather,” said his wife, Kathleen Gullacher. “He loved his family.”

She said they are a close-knit family which regularly gathers for Sunday night dinners.

Gullacher also loved race cars and trap shooting.

“He liked to be active,” she said. “He loved to be out and doing things.”

Gullacher was retired after being a conductor with CP Rail for 35 years.

Deb Diemer

CALGARY — Mike and Deb Diemer were expecting 2020 to be the best year of their lives.

Then, on March 19 Deb Diemer was diagnosed with COVID-19. She died on March 30.

“My in-laws have lost a daughter, my sisters-in-law have lost a sister, I’ve lost a wife and my daughter has lost her mom,” Diemer said.

Doctors had always followed his wife’s health closely after she was diagnosed with primary pulmonary hypertension in 1986.

Diemer said she was able to keep the disease in check with medication until late 2001. She was able to get a double-lung transplant months later in 2002.

About six weeks before her death she got a kidney transplant with a donation from her older sister, Kathy Ziegler.

Diemer said his wife only experienced mild COVID-19 symptoms and her doctors recommended she stay home to recover, since she wasn’t having difficulty breathing and could speak in full sentences.

But she deteriorated quickly and went into medical distress at home, he said. Doctors later told him that she had died within hours of the virus attacking her heart.

“My wife is an Irish redhead and she never backed down from a fight,” Diemer said.

“Every time, she didn’t complain. She just faced whatever she had to face and kept going. We thought she was going to beat COVID-19, too.”

Wade Kidd

WINNIPEG — Wade Kidd had an absolute love for life.

His family said in a statement that Kidd started developing flu-like symptoms on March 18 and was admitted to hospital on March 27 where his condition deteriorated quickly.

The grandfather, father and husband died on April 2, about a month before his 55th birthday.

Kidd had some underlying health concerns, however, in general he was healthy and active, his family said.

He could fix anything and enjoyed camping. He was a loving husband and proud father to his two sons. His love for his two young grandchildren knew no bounds, his family said.

“His monster hugs made us feel safe and his easygoing manner kept us calm in stressful times,” his wife wrote.

Kidd was a private person, but the family wanted to share his story. His family said they hope it will convince everyone to stay home so further families don’t have endure what they are facing, mourning without the ability to have a funeral.

“He was a steady ship in a crazy storm, and now he is gone. Now that storm threatens to swallow us whole.”

Shawn Auger

HIGH PRAIRIE, Alta. — Shawn Auger, a father of three, died March 30 at the age of 34.

His wife, Jennifer Auger, says her husband started developing symptoms on March 13 and was diagnosed on March 16. He was hospitalized shortly after and died March 30.

She says he was particularly affected because by the disease he was asthmatic.

“He was also a big guy, like a teddy bear,” she says.

Shawn Auger was involved in youth hockey and worked at the Youth Assessment Centre in High Prairie, Alta., about 370 kilometres northwest of Edmonton. His wife says a position was created especially for him to help youth transition out of the facility.

“That job, he loved it,” she said. “He loved it because he got to meet new people, talk to the youth and mean something to them.”

She says her husband first went to school to become a police officer and served in various placements, including at the Edmonton Institution, before he decided to work with young people.

“He wanted to work with the youth … to make a difference, so they didn’t end up in jail or anything like that.”

She says she and her husband recently bought a house in the High Prairie area to renovate and turn into a group home.

It’s something she plans to continue in his memory.

“Through all this, we did not lose Shawn,” she says. “We gained a fighting, caring, wonderful angel … and he is still working from beyond.”

Alice Grove

NORTH BATTLEFORD, Sask. — Alice Grove was a 75-year-old widow who lived alone on a farm in west-central Saskatchewan.

Her sister Eleanor Widdowson says Grove, a former nurse’s aide at Saskatchewan Hospital, was having breathing difficulties and collapsed in her home on March 28. She died in hospital the next day.

The sisters last saw each other on March 13 when they met for coffee in nearby North Battleford.

Widdowson believes her sister contracted the virus on one of her many trips into the city.

“We had warned her and warned her and warned her to stay at home,” Widdowson told Saskatoon radio station CKOM. “But she’d get lonely. Anyone would, living out on a farm by themselves.”

Grove’s battle with COVID-19 was hampered by diabetes, says Widdowson. Grove had also survived a battle with cancer.

Ultimately, Widdowson says she made the decision to remove Grove from life support.

“You have to be sensible about it and not take treatment away from a possible 35-year-old that can get better, when you know the 75-year-old lady’s not going to get better.”

Dr. Denis Vincent

NORTH VANCOUVER, B.C. — Dr. Denis Vincent is being remembered as a dedicated dentist who made patient care and safety his top priority.

Vincent was 64 when he died on March 22 after attending the Pacific Dental Conference, which drew about 15,000 people.

Family lawyer Bettyanne Brownlee says Vincent was diligent in adhering to recommended practices for infection control throughout his more than 40-year career. He was quarantining himself when he died.

She says Vincent cared deeply about people, had a great sense of humour, and his two great loves were skiing and sailing with friends and family.

“He was enormously proud of his sons, who will keep their memories close as they come to terms with the absence of their father from their adult lives,” Brownlee says.

Mariette Tremblay

MONTREAL — Mariette Tremblay’s granddaughter says her 82-year-old grandmother was a caring woman who was loved by all.

In the Facebook post, Bibianne Lavallee says her grandmother had suffered from respiratory problems and, when the virus struck, she was vulnerable. Her death was reported by Quebec health authorities on March 18.

Lavallee says Tremblay took ill before Quebec began taking exceptional measures to combat the spread of the virus.

“Unfortunately, by the time all of the measures were announced and taken, it was too late to spare my grandmother,” Lavallee says. “When her diagnosis was announced, she was already doomed.”

Lavallee urges people to follow recommendations of public health officials.

“We didn’t have a chance to save Grandma. But you have the chance to make a difference now that we know; now that we know the damage caused by this pandemic,” she says.

“Everything must be done to prevent human tragedies like the one we are experiencing from continuing to multiply. We want the death of my grandmother, the first victim in Quebec of COVID-19, to help save lives.”

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

 

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Apr 15th, 2020

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

There are 27,063 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 14,248 confirmed (including 435 deaths, 2,146 resolved)

_ Ontario: 7,953 confirmed (including 334 deaths, 3,568 resolved)

_ Alberta: 1,870 confirmed (including 48 deaths, 914 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 1,517 confirmed (including 72 deaths, 942 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 517 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 124 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 301 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 187 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 229 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 99 resolved), 17 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 244 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 149 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 116 confirmed (including 75 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 25 confirmed (including 23 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed

_ Yukon: 8 confirmed (including 6 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 2 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 27,063 (17 presumptive, 27,046 confirmed including 903 deaths, 8,235 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

Second World War commemorations become casualty of COVID-19 pandemic

LEE BERTHIAUME, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Apr 14th, 2020

OTTAWA — Donald White was shaving when his friend ran in excitedly to tell his unit the news: The war was over.

The evening of May 8, 1945, White and his fellow Royal Canadian Dragoons were parked at a bivouac about 30 kilometres from the German port city of Wilhelmshaven. Canada had been at war with Nazi Germany for nearly six years. And now his friend was saying that the BBC was reporting on the wireless radio in their Staghound armoured car that the war was over?

“We thought he was just pulling our legs,” the now-95-year-old White recalls in an interview from his home in Oshawa, Ont. “I was shaving and I was going to drown him in the shaving water for being a smartass. It was maybe five minutes later the officer came in and informed us.”

White was supposed to have been in the Netherlands this week, a guest of honour in a commemoration of the Dragoons’ role in liberating the Dutch city of Leeuwarden exactly 75 years ago on April 15. The trip was to be first of two to the Netherlands, the second planned for early next month to mark Canada’s role in liberating the country.

Instead, White is home in suburban Toronto. Having already devastated lives and livelihoods around the world, COVID-19 is also affecting remembrance efforts by forcing the cancellations of key commemorative events such as the 75th anniversaries of the Liberation of the Netherlands and Victory in Europe Day, when Nazi Germany surrendered to the Allies.

“I feel disappointed like everybody,” White said. “We planned for it and looked forward to it and I think probably my biggest disappointment was not only the celebrations, but I’ve gotten to know people over there. It’s like going to meet old friends.”

The federal government was planning to send a large delegation of veterans, family members, current military members and students to the Netherlands for 10 days at the start of May for the two commemorations, but those have since been postponed indefinitely. Other commemorations such as for the Battle of the Atlantic have also been put on hold or cancelled for this year.

“The well-being of veterans and staff is of utmost importance,” Veterans Affairs Canada said in a recent statement. “In line with advice about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) from various health and safety authorities, the government of Canada will not be sending a delegation overseas and will not be hosting commemorative ceremonies in the Netherlands as planned.”

The Department of National Defence sent out its own message this month to active service personnel who were preparing to head to the Netherlands for the events to stand down and focus on preparing to respond to calls for help for COVID-19, a natural disaster or both at once.

The First Canadian Army was responsible for clearing the Netherlands of German forces in the final weeks of the war. The effort is largely overshadowed in Canada by D-Day and other major Second World War battles, but more than 1,300 Canadians were killed and 4,300 were wounded during weeks of grinding fighting as the Germans were pushed back.

In the process, the Canadians saved up to a million Dutch from starvation and sickness, says historian Mark Zuehlke, who wrote a book entitled “On to Victory: The Canadian Liberation of the Netherlands, March 23-May 5, 1945,” and the Canadians earned the Netherlands’ undying gratitude.

The European country has sent tulips — 1.1 million last year — to Canada each year since the war and hosted parades to honour the Canadians who were there. The country has also typically played host to Canada during V-E Day commemorations, which was followed by the surrender of Japan in August 1945, formally ending the Second World War. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was expected to attend this year’s event.

White has previously met Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Princess Margriet, who was born in Ottawa in 1943 where the Dutch royal family was staying in exile, at previous commemorations in the Netherlands. This year, his three children were planning to attend with him. Veterans Affairs is still planning to send a delegation of veterans to the Netherlands once the pandemic passes. But when that will be is anyone’s guess.

“How does anybody plan anything until we know when we’re going to be able to deal with this problem we have right now, this infection?” White said.

Zuehlke was working with Veterans Affairs Canada to organize several tours of the Netherlands for Canadians during the commemorations before they were cancelled and said he expects the events to be postponed to next year. Some of the elderly veterans who had planned to go this year won’t be able to make it.

Still, despite his disappointment at not going, White could also see some similarities in how a crisis — whether a world war or a pandemic — can engender faith while bringing a country and society together to face it.

“It’s terrible what’s going on and we’re being inconvenienced and that, but I think we gotta do what we’re told we’re supposed to do, hoping for the best,” he said. “And that’s probably like we did during the war. We hoped for the best, right?”

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

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Canadians want serious progress on COVID 19 before returning to work: poll

LAURA OSMAN THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Apr 14th, 2020

OTTAWA — Most Canadians want to see significant progress in the fight against COVID-19 before they would feel comfortable with people being allowed to return to work, a new poll suggests.

The poll says 29 per cent of Canadians believe restrictions on workplace and leisure activities should only be lifted once the country is free of any new cases for at least two weeks.

One-quarter of respondents said they would want to see only sporadic cases being discovered before such restrictions are lifted, and assurance there is no pressure on the health system.

Just over 20 per cent think Canadians should continue to physically isolate and stay away from work until there is a vaccine to protect against the virus.

The poll, conducted by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies between April 9 and 12, surveyed 1,508 adult Canadians and 1,012 adult Americans randomly recruited from its online panel. The internet-based survey cannot be assigned a margin of error because online polls are not considered random samples.

“We wanted to look at that aspect because we’re now in that phase where people are starting to reconsider when are we going back to normal,” said Christian Bourque, executive vice-president of Leger.

“They seem to be favouring the mid- to long-term more than the short-term,” he said.

Recently released federal projections show that it could be mid-summer, or even late summer, before the first wave of Canada’s epidemic is over, and that is the best-case scenario.

As for a vaccine, that is likely still many months away.

Canadians seem highly dedicated to obeying the rules set out by public health, as 98 per cent of the poll respondents said they abide by social distancing.

Until current restrictions are lifted, 40 per cent say they would report someone whose is not obeying public health rules, with the largest number of would-be snitches in the Atlantic provinces, at 50 per cent, and Quebec, at 48 per cent.

“It’s as if Canadians are saying, not that we’re comfortable … but that we feel it’s the right thing for now and maybe a few weeks more” Bourque said.

Those results show a serious departure from Canada’s neighbours to the south, where 46 per cent say they would not report rule-breakers to the authorities.

The United States has become the new worldwide epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak, and has now reported more deaths than any other country.

But attitudes there about physical distancing and public health measures appear more lax than in Canada, according to the poll results.

Pollsters offered a list of public health measures, including staying two meters away from others, and only going out for necessities.

They found the rate of non-compliance with at least one of those measures in the U.S. was 46 per cent, compared to 26 per cent in Canada.

“It probably explains in part why we’re doing so much better than our southern neighbour,” Bourque said.

Sixty-five per cent of Canadians polled were fearful about the impact our southern neighbours could have on the pandemic here.

Americans are decidedly less worried about how the Canadian epidemic is playing out, with only 19 per cent concerned that it will impact their country.

People in the states also appear far less satisfied with measures put in place by President Donald Trump, with only 44 per cent in support. In Canada, the federal government is enjoying 76 per cent support for the measures it’s institutes to right the virus.

Bourque said Canadians’ trust in institutions appears to be helping in Canada.

On Monday, Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Canada’s epidemic curve is starting to show positive signs, as the growth of cases begins to slow down.

It is also helping Canada’s Liberal party, which is enjoying growing support for its response to the pandemic, he said.

The pollsters asked who respondents would vote for if an election was held today, compared to responses from January 22, before the COVID-19 crisis hit Canada.

Opposition parties have seen a slight decline in support among decided voters, whereas Liberal support has climbed to 39 per cent from 31 per cent earlier this year.

‘A lifeboat in the ocean:’ Nurses on life inside a downtown Vancouver hospital

AMY SMART, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Apr 14th, 2020

VANCOUVER — As a registered nurse in the emergency department at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, Zoe Manarangi Bake-Paterson wonders whether she’ll be the same after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

There’s palpable stress in the department, she says, as she and her colleagues prepare for a surge of cases that may or may not arrive.

“It feels like we’re in a lifeboat in the ocean waiting for the tsunami to arrive,” Manarangi Bake-Paterson says.

“I just wonder how this will change me or change my co-workers in our practice or in our personal lives, because I think it’s a lot that’s going to come our way. I just wonder, when we come through the other side, how different will we be?”

St. Paul’s has long been at the forefront of treating Vancouver’s most vulnerable.

In the 1980s, it was one of the few treatment centres for HIV-positive patients in British Columbia.  Today, many of its patients are residents of the Downtown Eastside, which has been the epicentre of an overdose crisis.

More than a dozen health workers at the hospital agreed to be interviewed by The Canadian Press and described how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting them and their work.

They shared feelings of uncertainty, fear, hopefulness and solidarity.

Even if B.C. is successful at slowing COVID-19’s spread, several nurses say they are bracing for a possible outbreak in the Downtown Eastside where so many are homeless and physical distancing is a challenge.

The hospital is closed to anyone except patients and staff now.

Beds have been vacated and triage has been overhauled so that patients with respiratory symptoms can be isolated immediately.

Staff receive updated directions — sometimes hourly — as new evidence about the outbreak emerges. They rehearse urgent intubations after their shifts and adjust to working in zero pressure rooms.

Potential COVID-19 cases appear in the emergency department in many different ways.

“It kind of looks like pneumonia. They’re short of breath, usually pretty high fevers and they tend to deteriorate pretty quickly, the people who are really not doing well,” says registered nurse Duncan McTavish.

Other patients seem OK, so it’s hard to tell, he says.

In some ways, the novel coronavirus is like a phantom in the emergency department.

Staff don’t typically find out if a patient has COVID-19 after taking swabs. Patients may be sent home with instructions to manage their symptoms or be in intensive care by the time the test results come in.

The spectre that anyone could carry the virus has changed the way nurses think about everything they do.

“Every single action I take I have to think about,” McTavish says. “What kind of mask I need and if I enter the room, swab this person, leave again — I have to make sure I’ve changed my gloves and washed my hands between every single step.

“We do that all the time, but certainly the awareness of that right now is really heightened.”

Nurses wear goggles, suffocating surgical masks and other gear all through their shifts.

“People have been joking about how their skin is already feeling abrasions because of this constant friction with the masks,” says Manarangi Bake-Paterson.

Registered nurse Rachel Mrdeza says she had never really thought about the gear she wears as protection, but now she’s keenly aware that it’s her shield.

Feelings in the hospital swing like a pendulum, she says.

On one side, staff are worried for patients and loved ones. On the other, they’re uplifted by the roaring cheers for health workers that ripple through the city at the same time every night and by the donations of food and other supplies that have been dropped off.

“At those times it feels so incredibly joyous to experience that,” Mrdeza says.

There’s also a feeling of unity among staff.

“Even in the masks where you can’t see people’s smiles and glasses are fogged up and … there is this physical disconnect, it feels like we’re in this together,” Manarangi Bake-Paterson says.

Many have had to make personal sacrifices or have had tough conversations with their families about what would happen if they got sick.

Registered nurse Leah Ventura says she waved hello outside her parents’ window the other day because she couldn’t go in.

Amanda Hickey, a clinical nurse leader, says her mother recently moved to a care home and Hickey hasn’t been able to see her in more than a month.

“That’s been really tough.”

Registered nurse Maria Alonzo says her heart sank when she woke up one day with a body ache, fever and dry throat. One of the physicians she works with contracted the coronavirus and she’s in contact with potential cases every day.

As a single mom who lives with her 73-year-old mother, Alonzo had trouble expressing the relief she felt when she tested negative.

“I actually cried when I got my result,” she says. “Every time I go to work my fear is 200 per cent, because I always think of my son, my mom who lives with me. What would happen if I got sick?”

Still, Alonzo says she’ll continue to work every day alongside thousands of other health workers.

In many ways, the emergency department nurses’ jobs haven’t changed at all. They are still responsible for providing the best care they can and they have a system in place to do so.

Registered nurse Erica Wong urges everyone to keep following public health protocols that will give nurses the best chance at success.

“So far we’re doing OK, but that can change any second. Just continue to be cautiously optimistic. We are all in this together,” she said.

“We just need to keep going.”

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

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

Julia Grieve’s DIY Egg Dyeing + Butter Tart Recipes

Julia Grieve | posted Friday, Apr 10th, 2020

No-Waste Eggs:

You can dye these hardboiled eggs, and they’ll keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. If you’re using them as decorations, don’t leave them out of the fridge longer than 2 hours.

MIX: Litre of water + 2 tablespoons of white vinegar

Dye with Beets (pink)

boil a litre of water with 2 table spoons of white vinegar

4 cups chopped beets

Let simmer for 30 mins, then strain, let mixture cool and place eggs in mixture for 30 mins, or longer for deeper tones

Dye with Cabbage (light blue)

Boil litre of water with 2 tablespoons of white vinegar

Add 3 cups of purple or red cabbage and simmer for 30 mins, let mixture cool and add eggs

Allow eggs to soak overnight (in the fridge) for the brightest blue

Dye with Tumeric (yellow)

Boil litre of water with 2 tablespoons of white vinegar

Add 3 tablespoons of turmeric, let simmer for 30 minutes. Let mixture cool and add eggs. Let it soak until the desired colour is reached.

Julia and Mimi’s Plant-Based Butter Tarts:

Plant-based meets patriotic with this Canadian classic. Rich, flaky, perfectly sweet – a dozen may not be enough.

12 tarts

Prep Time: 20 minutes Chill Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Stand Time: 2 minutes

375 mL 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 mL 1/4 tsp. salt

125 mL 4 oz plus 2 Tbsp. Becel® unsalted plant-based bricks, divided

45 mL 3 Tbsp. iced water

10 mL 2 tsp. white vinegar, divided

125 mL 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

60 mL 1/4 cup corn syrup

30 mL 2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

1 egg

5 mL 1 tsp. vanilla extract

125 mL 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C). Grease 12 nonstick muffin cups; set aside. Combine flour with salt in medium bowl.

Cut in Becel® with pastry blender or fingertips, just until large crumbs begin to form.

Whisk water with 1 tsp. (5 mL) vinegar. Add just enough water mixture to flour mixture to form dough, while stirring flour mixture with fork.

Shape into a ball, then cover with plastic wrap; flatten dough into a disc.

Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Whisk brown sugar, corn syrup, maple syrup, egg, remaining 2 Tbsp. (30 mL) melted Becel, vanilla and remaining tsp (5 mL) vinegar.

Roll dough on lightly floured surface about 0.5 cm thick. Cut out 12 (4-in/10 cm) circles, using a lightly floured glass or circle cutter. Press circles into prepared muffin cups.

Fill cups evenly with pecans, then brown sugar mixture. Bake 10 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 375°F (190°C). Bake an additional 10 minutes or until deep golden.

Let stand in pan 2 minutes, then remove to wire rack and cool completely.

People needing addiction services feeling ‘abandoned’ during pandemic

CAMILLE BAINS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Apr 9th, 2020

VANCOUVER — British Columbia’s former provincial health officer says he has “grave concerns” about reduced services because of COVID-19 for people struggling with drug addiction, while the manager of a supervised consumption site in Toronto says people are feeling abandoned.

Dr. Perry Kendall declared an ongoing public health emergency in B.C. four years ago as the province led the country with a record number of overdose deaths fuelled by the opioid fentanyl.

Services were ramped up through more overdose prevention and supervised consumption sites in B.C. as was distribution of take-home kits of naloxone, a medication used to reverse overdoses.

“We were making steps and strides in addressing stigma and creating access to a continuum of care, from harm reduction to medication assistance or to recovery, if that was your goal,” said Kendall, who is co-interim executive director of the BC Centre on Substance Use.

He said widespread job losses and more homelessness due to physical distancing at shelters have created even greater challenges for those battling substance use.

“Hopefully we’ll have the courage and the political will and the money to try and address it when we come through the other side of this. There are very, very, very vulnerable people out there and stigma is still raging.”

Kendall said recent amendments to the federal Controlled Drugs and Substances Act were a positive move for illicit drug users as doctors can now prescribe a broader range of safer substances, such as stimulants, benzodiazepines and hydromorphone, for those with an addiction to opioids.

However, there aren’t enough prescribers despite a BC Centre on Substance Use program that has offered online training since 2017 in addiction medicine, nor adequate linkages to care, he said.

The province is trying to increase access to addiction care through a phone line of experts, including doctors, nurses and pharmacists.

“We’re working now to set that up as quickly as we can because of this double challenge of the COVID pandemic on top of the opioid overdose epidemic,” said Kendall, who recently returned from retirement to serve on a COVID-19 advisory committee to the  provincial health officer.

Jen Ko, program manager of the South Riverdale Community Health Centre in Toronto, said some of the nine overdose prevention and supervised consumption sites in the city have seen their hours cut, including one run by Toronto Public Health after an outbreak of COVID-19 among staff in late March.

“Folks are really isolated, really abandoned,” Ko said, adding that drop-in and meal programs have been suspended for the most vulnerable people, who can no longer make their usual social connection with employees wearing personal protective equipment.

“A lot of the things that people come to the service for are the human services, the connection to the staff, the conversation and support but being in PPE (means) nobody can tell who is who.”

Dr. Rita Shahin, associate medical health officer for Toronto Public Health, said one supervised injection site was closed temporarily on March 18 because of lineups and large groups gathered outside the building.

She said in an email the number of booths where drug users inject their own substances has also been reduced to two from six to maintain physical distancing.

There have also been cases of COVID-19 among staff, including those at the site, Shahin said.

Toronto had its highest number of overdose fatalities in a year last month, when 19 people died, she said.

“We want to encourage people not to use drugs alone, have a naloxone kit on hand and use a supervised consumption service if possible.”

Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, deputy chief medical health officer for the Vancouver Coastal Health authority, said some overdose prevention sites were temporarily closed due to concerns over physical distancing. But others, including the supervised injection facility Insite, continued operating as essential services that don’t require such measures.

Lysyshyn is concerned that visits to the sites have dropped by half in recent weeks.

“Some of this was because we had those temporary closures but it could also be that people are afraid to come to them because they’re worried that they will be exposed to COVID, so the alternative is to use drugs alone, which we know is a super dangerous activity.”

Two weeks ago, police in Vancouver responded to eight suspected overdose deaths, the highest number since August after a decline in fatalities over the past year, the city said.

Lysyshyn said access to illicit drugs has been more difficult for users with the Canada-U.S. border closed to non-essential travel, but the new prescribing guidelines have been positive.

“We may see that has helped people and that will move ahead the safe supply programs that were being proposed before the pandemic.”

Kirsten Duncan, a social worker in addiction medicine in acute care at Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria, said the resources discharged patients were referred to have mostly shut down though some have been offering online support.

“But the population we quite often deal with is street entrenched and quite often doesn’t have access to telephones and doesn’t have access to computers,” she said.

“These groups that have huge histories with trauma already, let alone the trauma of the fentanyl crisis, I can’t imagine what another crisis on top of things will do.”

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

Camille Bains, The Canadian Press

Researchers to study whether plasma of recovered patients can treat COVID-19

JEAN-BENOIT LEGAULT, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Apr 9th, 2020

MONTREAL — Researchers from across Canada will collaborate on a vast clinical trial to study whether the plasma of recovered patients can be used to treat COVID-19.

The study, the largest to date ever done on the subject, will include about 50 Canadian institutions, including 15 in Quebec.

“It’s a therapy to treat the illness,” said one of the lead researchers, Dr. Philippe Begin of Montreal’s CHU Ste-Justine hospital.

“We’re talking about passive immunizations, while with a vaccine we’re talking about active immunization.”

Passive immunization consists of transfusing plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 — called convalescent plasma — to patients in the early stages of the illness in order to provide protective antibodies and hopefully limit the severity of symptoms.

Plasma is the liquid portion of the blood that contains the antibodies that protect against illness.

Begin cited the proverb, “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.” Teaching someone to fish, he said, would be the equivalent of a vaccine that prompts the body to make its own antibodies.

But with no vaccine available, convalescent plasma is the best alternative.

“But now we don’t have time, because we don’t yet know how to fish, so we can’t really teach it,” he said. “So the idea is that we just give the antibodies created by someone else.”

The approach was used before the development of vaccines to combat epidemics, and it’s not the first time the idea of using convalescent plasma has been raised in the fight against COVID-19. But thus far, the evidence in favour remains largely anecdotal and of poor scientific quality.

The study will include researchers from the Universite de Montreal, the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, Hema-Quebec, McMaster University, and Sunnybrook and SickKids hospitals in Toronto, among others.

Begin admitted researchers are running “a little blind” when it comes to the use of plasma.

“We don’t have a ton of studies that tell us, it takes this kind of antibody, or this amount of plasma,” he said.

The best way to get answers is to assemble as much data as possible, as quickly as possible, he said.

“We want to go fast, and the best way to go fast is have several of us following the same protocol to put all the data together,” he said.

“We have colleagues in other countries who are interested and with whom we share our protocols.”

Plasma will be collected about a month after a patient recovers, when antibody levels are at their highest. COVID-19 was first reported in Quebec in late February, and the number of potential donors in the province remains low, although it’s growing.

Therefore, the researchers have decided the convalescent plasma will be reserved for those who are suffering from the illness, although it’s not out of the question that it could be offered later to at-risk groups, such as health-care workers, as a preventive measure.

The study is expected to last about three months and involve more than 1,000 patients.

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

Jean-Benoit Legault, The Canadian Press

WestJet to re-hire more than 6,000 employees

NEWS STAFF | posted Thursday, Apr 9th, 2020

WestJet is going to tap into the federal government’s emergency wage subsidy program to re-hire more than 6,000 workers.

The Calgary-based airline announced last month that it was reducing its staff by 50 per cent with all its international flights grounded and its domestic schedule cut back drastically.

But the company can put those people back on the payroll with Ottawa offering to cover 75 per cent of wages under the federal government’s stimulus efforts.

WestJet CEO Ed Sims made the announcement over social media on Wednesday night.

“We are pleased to announce that, after substantial discussions with the federal government, that we’ll be bringing almost 6,400 employees back on the WestJet payroll once the government has approved the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy program.”

However, Sims noted that it the move doesn’t mean people will be back on the job right away.

“This does not automatically mean that they will be coming back to work, as there may simply not be enough work there for them, but it will help them make ends meet.”

Sims added that he was grateful for the work by the Canadian government for implementing tools that will keep businesses running “through these most challenging of times.”

The announcement by WestJet comes after Air Canada announced it was also bringing more than 16,000 workers using the same program.

Canadians urged to include pets in their COVID-19 emergency plans

BILL GRAVELAND, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Apr 8th, 2020

CALGARY — Melissa David has seen the toll pandemic-related financial and physical strain can have on pet owners.

She runs a charity called Parachutes for Pets, which provides subsidized pet care including food hampers and medical care, for low-income residents.

“We put out 200 hampers the last two weeks of March. Normally we do about 25 a month to older people,” Bond said.

“People were literally sending us pictures of their last cup of food in their dog bag. We’re like okay we’re going to have to pool our resources and try to do what is absolutely urgent for the next month or so or however long this goes on.”

David feels strongly about making sure pets are taken care of during the COVID-19 outbreak. After all, she relies on her three dogs for support.

“They’re absolutely my lifeline. Just having their companionship and their support. My husband’s a truck driver so he’s not always home so having them is huge.”

Humane Canada, which represents humane societies and SPCAs across the country, is urging Canadians to consider their pets as part of their emergency preparedness.

“First of all, I’ve got to have enough in the house if I have to be quarantined then I need a couple of weeks of medicine and a couple of weeks of litter; a couple of weeks of food for my animals,” said Barbara Cartwright, the CEO of Humane Canada in Ottawa.

“What happens if I get sick and I get incapacitated or hospitalized? What’s the plan for my pet? Who will take care of them?” she asked.

“We’re recommending that people have at least three contacts that they can call upon to take care of their animals should they end up being hospitalized or they can no longer care for their own animals.”

Cartwright said the current pandemic has reinforced how important pets are in people’s lives. She said people also have to make sure that their furry friends observe social distancing from other animals and humans because in rare cases the animal can become infected as well.

“There’s no evidence that they can transmit to us but there is growing concern that we have to protect our pets from either getting it from other animals or getting it from other humans,” she said.

“If we’re sick we need to stay away from our animals.”

Jeanette Simeonid of Calgary spends nearly every waking moment with her two French bulldogs. One is a year old, the other is three-and-a-half months.

“I think I would go nuts if I didn’t have them because at least I can take a break and go for a walk if I need to just to get some fresh air and they totally keep you company. There’s always someone to talk to, to laugh with,” she said.

“I don’t know what I would do without them. You’re never alone. Even if you’re quarantined you’re never alone.”

Joanne Ginter, a senior psychologist with Sundancer Psychological Services in Calgary, said one of the best ways to deal with anxiety or depression during the pandemic is to have a routine, and that’s something pets require from their owners.

“The pets give you a schedule, which I think is very important for people because schedules help with anxiety, schedules help with depression. It gives us something to do during the day,” she said.

“The pets give you connection to another living being,” Ginter said.

“Any time that you feel out of control it helps if you have someone else to care about and pets give you that.”

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

Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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