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Turbulence in Canadian opinion on airlines COVID-19 response: poll

STEPHANIE LEVITZ, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jul 7th, 2020

A new poll suggests turbulence ahead for airlines seeking public support for their current COVID-19 plans.

Seventy-two per cent of Canadians surveyed by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies say they’re not comfortable flying since a decision by some airlines to relax their own in-flight physical distancing requirements.

As of July 1, Air Canada and WestJet both ended policies blocking the sale of adjacent seats.

The measure was seen to align with a guidance document for the aviation industry issued by Transport Canada in April to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

Among other things, the department had suggested passengers should be widely spaced when possible, though they did not make it mandatory.

Airlines, however, are required to make passengers and air crews wear masks.

Only 22 per cent of those surveyed said they’re comfortable getting aboard with no in-flight physical distancing and a requirement to wear masks.

There’s more to it to keep flights safe, WestJet said in a statement last week after critics attacked its plan.

“What makes an airplane, and the entire journey, safe is the layers of enhanced cleaning, the wearing of masks and the hospital-grade HEPA filters that remove 99.999 per cent of all airborne particles,” the airline said.

“The hygiene standards we have now are world-class and backed by industry experts.”

Critics have also previously pounced on the airlines for another move: refusing to fully refund tickets for flights cancelled due to the pandemic.

Thousands of people have beseeched Transport Minister Marc Garneau to compel airlines to issue refunds, but he has refused, arguing that mandating reimbursements from a sector that’s lost more than 90 per cent of its revenue would cripple the industry.

But 72 per cent of those polled say they totally oppose his decision.

In lieu of refunds, the airlines have offered vouchers but the poll suggests that it may take a while before people will rebook previously cancelled trips: 85 per cent of those surveyed told pollsters they have no plans to travel outside the country by the end of the year.

The survey polled 1,517 people and can’t be assigned a margin of error because online polls are not considered truly random.

Pollsters were in the field between July 3 and 5, a historically popular few days for Canadians and Americans to be on the move between the two countries, given the July 1 Canada Day holiday and the U.S.’s July 4 Independence Day.

But the border remains closed to non-essential traffic, and the majority of Canadians surveyed said they feel it needs to stay that way. The current mutual closure agreement is due to expire July 21.

Of Canadians polled, 86 per cent said they totally disagreed with re-opening the border at the end of July, allowing Americans back into the country.

Americans seem more eager both to head north and to welcome Canadians south; 50 per cent agreed the border should re-open and 36 per cent disagreed.

The potential for cross-border transmission of the virus has been a key factor in the decision to keep the border closed. Currently, rates of COVID-19 infection in the U.S. continue to climb, while in Canada the curve appears to be on a downward trajectory nearly everywhere.

Still, the survey suggests Canadians don’t feel they are out of the woods. Thirty-nine per cent believe the worst is yet to come, while 35 per cent believe the worst of the crisis has passed.

In the U.S., 42 per cent of those surveyed felt the darkest days are ahead, 25 per cent believe the U.S. is in the middle of the worst part now while 21 per cent think that’s already passed.

What’s the story behind the Liberals’ cancelled WE Charity deal?

THE BIG STORY | posted Tuesday, Jul 7th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, the organization was supposed to distribute more than $900 million in student grants, but the reaction when the deal was announced was immediate and intense. There’s now an ethics investigation and WE has walked away from the plan. What happened? Why did the Liberals agree to this, and what should they have known about the organization before announcing it would be handling nearly a billion dollars of taxpayer money?

GUEST: Jesse Brown, Canadaland

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Lac-Megantic to mark 7th anniversary of 2013 rail disaster with memorial site

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jul 6th, 2020

Lac-Megantic will mark the seventh anniversary of a tragic rail disaster that claimed 47 lives by inaugurating a long-planned memorial space.

On July 6, 2013, a runaway train hauling tanker cars loaded with volatile crude oil barrelled into the town of 6,000, derailed and exploded, destroying a large part of the Quebec town’s downtown area.

The memorial — which has taken three years to construct — will be set up at the site of the former Musi-Cafe in the heart of the city, where staff and patrons made up many of the victims.

The project, designed by architects Pierre Thibault and Jerome Lapierre, was created with the objective of everyone being able to remember, in their own way, the community-changing event, the city said in a statement.

Given the COVID-19 pandemic and physical distancing measures, the inauguration will be broadcast on Facebook, with several guests attending in person and residents invited to visit in the days and weeks to come.

As per tradition, the bells of Ste-Agnes Church will ring at noon in tribute to the victims.

The city says it has obtained written confirmation from Canadian Pacific Railway that no train will run in Lac-Megantic on July 6.

Mayor Juile Morin says it was the least that could be done out of respect for citizens who still have to watch trains passing through the heart of the city daily.

Morin says the city wants the authorization to be renewed in perpetuity, even after a railway bypass is built and the downtown rails are dismantled.

A look at how provinces plan to emerge from the COVID-19 shutdown

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jul 6th, 2020

Provinces and territories have been releasing plans for easing restrictions that were put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Here is what some of the provinces have announced so far:

Newfoundland and Labrador

On July 3, Newfoundland and Labrador joined the other Atlantic provinces in lifting travel restrictions within the region.

Residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island can now travel to any of the other three provinces without self-isolating for 14 days after arriving.

Visitors from provinces and territories outside the region are still required to self-isolate for 14 days and adhere to local entry requirements. However, once the self-isolation period has passed, those visitors will also be allowed to travel within the Atlantic region.

The premiers of Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick have also hinted restrictions could soon be lifted for visitors from the rest of Canada if all goes well.

The province has also said it would begin allowing provincial historic sites to reopen, starting July 4. All sites will have one-way flow patterns for visitors, with designated entrance and exit doors where possible.

The province entered “Alert Level 3” on June 8 in its five stage reopening plan. It means groups of up to 20 people are now permitted, as long as they observe physical distancing. Up to 19 people are allowed on public transit.

Private health clinics, such as optometrists and dentists, can open, as well as medium-risk businesses such as clothing stores and hair salons.

Eleven government service centres reopened to offer in-person services that can be booked by appointment, including written tests, driver exams and identification photos.

During Level 4, some businesses such as law firms and other professional services were allowed to reopen along with regulated child-care centres, with some restrictions.

Outdoor games of tennis were allowed to resume, though players must bring their own equipment and not share it.

At Level 2, businesses with performance spaces and gyms are to reopen, while Level 1 would represent “the new normal.”

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia and the other Atlantic provinces lifted travel restrictions within the region on July 3.

Residents of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island can now travel to any of the other three provinces without self-isolating for 14 days after arriving.

The province has also increased the limits on gatherings organized by recognized business or community organizations. That includes weddings, funerals, cultural events, concerts, festivals, dance recitals and faith-based gatherings, which, as of July 3, increased to 250 people if they’re outdoors and 200 — with maximum 50 per cent capacity — if they’re indoors. In either case, physical distancing is still required.

The province announced on June 26 that all bars and restaurants could resume operating at full capacity and serve customers until midnight. However, establishments must continue to adhere to physical distancing rules.

The province is also allowing private campgrounds to operate at 100 per cent capacity.  Provincial campgrounds reopened June 15 at reduced capacity to ensure a minimum of six metres between individual sites.

All public pools can now reopen with physical distancing for lane swimming and aquafit classes.

These events do not include family gatherings, which remain limited to a 50-person maximum with physical distancing.

The province earlier announced that Nova Scotians could start gathering in close social groups of up to 10 without physical distancing.

Licensed child-care centres and family daycare homes reopened across the province on June 15.

Nova Scotia has allowed summer day camps for children to open as long as they have a plan to follow public health measures.

Most businesses ordered shut in late March were allowed to reopen on June 5. The list of businesses includes bars and restaurant dining rooms, hair salons, barber shops, gyms and yoga studios, among others.

Some health providers were also able to reopen, including dentistry, optometry, chiropractic and physiotherapy offices.

The province has said there will be no return to school this year.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island and the other Atlantic provinces lifted travel restrictions within the region on July 3.

The province has now moved into Phase 4 of its reopening strategy.

Households can gather in groups of up to 15 indoors and up to 100 people can congregate in larger venues. People can also gather for religious services of up to 50, or up to 100 in larger churches.

More personal services are also available and casinos are reopening.

Under Phase 3, which began June 1, in-house dining at restaurants was allowed. Small groups were permitted to participate in recreational and some sporting activities and libraries got the green light to reopen. Gatherings of up to 15 people indoors and 20 people outdoors and the reopening of child-care centres were also allowed.

As well, family and friends could once again visit residents at long-term care homes, though the visits require an appointment and must take place outdoors.

People wanting to travel to seasonal residences can apply to do so, and will be put through a risk assessment before approval. Seasonal residents will also to be tested for COVID-19 before completing two weeks in self-isolation after arriving in the province.

Under Phase 2, non-contact outdoor recreational activities were permitted, and retail businesses could reopen with physical distancing and select health-service providers.

Priority non-urgent surgeries resumed on May 1.

The P.E.I. legislature resumed May 26.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick and the other Atlantic provinces lifted travel restrictions within the region on July 3.

Its premier has also hinted restrictions could soon be lifted for visitors from the rest of Canada if all goes well.

The province moved to the yellow phase of its COVID-19 recovery plan on May 22, allowing barbers and hair stylists to reopen as well as churches and fitness facilities. Dental care, massage, chiropractors and other “close contact” businesses and services could also reopen.

But the Campbellton region, which extends from Whites Brook to the Belledune, had to take a step backwards to the “orange” level on May 27. Residents were told to once again avoid contacts outside their two-household bubble. Non-regulated health professionals and personal service businesses that opened May 22 also had to close again. And people should only be travelling in and out of Zone 5 for essential reasons.

Further restrictions were lifted on June 5. Outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people were allowed, as well as indoor religious services of up to 50 people, low-contact team sports and the opening of a long list of facilities including swimming pools, gyms, rinks, water parks, and yoga and dance studios.

Under New Brunswick’s latest recovery rules, Canadian residents can now visit family members or properties they own in the province, provided they self-isolate for 14 days — or the duration of their visit if it’s less than two weeks.

As well, New Brunswick residents no longer need to self-isolate when returning from work in another Canadian province or territory.

All organized sports can resume with appropriate physical distancing and sanitizing. Overnight camps can reopen and indoor visits can resume at long-term care facilities for one visitor at a time, or two if one of the visitors needs help.

The cap on the number of people who can gather in controlled venues — including churches, swimming pools and rinks — has been lifted, but crowd numbers will be limited by the ability to maintain physical distancing.

Masks in any building open to the general public are required except for children under the age of two, children in daycare and people who can’t wear face coverings for medical reasons.

Retail businesses, offices, restaurants, libraries, museums and seasonal campgrounds were earlier allowed to reopen providing they have clear plans for meeting public health guidelines.

The final phase, which officials have said will probably come only after a vaccine is available, is to include large gatherings.

Quebec

Premier Francois Legault says masks will be mandatory for all public transit users as of July 13.

Legault says following a two-week grace period ending July 27, anyone without a mask will not be permitted onto a public transit system anywhere in the province.

Quebec reopened several sectors and relaxed the rules for indoor gatherings on June 22, particularly impacting the Montreal area.

Restaurants can reopen in the greater Montreal and Joliette areas while indoor gatherings of up to 10 people from three households are now permitted in these regions, like elsewhere in Quebec.

Gyms, arenas, cinemas, concert venues and places of worship can reopen across the province with a maximum capacity of 50 people for indoor gatherings.

Day camps across the province have also reopened, with physical distancing. Sleep-away summer camps won’t be allowed to reopen until next year.

Residents of long term care homes that don’t have active COVID-19 cases were earlier allowed to receive visitors inside, meet people outdoors and participate in group activities.

They were also allowed to leave the facilities unaccompanied for more than 24 hours. Volunteers and hairdressers were also allowed inside the facilities.

On May 25, some retail businesses reopened in the greater Montreal area, while retail stores outside Montreal reopened on May 11.

Parks and pools have also been allowed to reopen across the province with certain restrictions.

Sports teams resumed outdoor practices on June 8, and matches can resume at the end of the month. That includes baseball, soccer and any other sports that can be played outdoors.

Quebec’s construction and manufacturing industries have resumed operations with limits on the number of employees who can work per shift. Elementary schools and daycares outside Montreal reopened on May 11, but high schools, junior colleges and universities will stay closed until September.

Elementary schools in the greater Montreal area are to remain closed until late August.

Courthouses across the province were permitted to reopen on June 1, with limited seating capacity and Plexiglas barriers protecting clerks and judges.

Camping is now allowed outside the Montreal and Joliette regions, as are cottage rentals.

Checkpoints set up to slow the spread of COVID-19 came down on May 18 in various parts of Quebec, including between Gatineau and Ottawa.

Ontario

Ontario’s courts will resume in-person proceedings today (July 6) after being shuttered for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry of the Attorney General has said courtrooms will reopen gradually, with the goal of having all courtrooms operational by November 1.

Torontonians riding public transit must now wear face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 — the new rule going into effect July 2.

Toronto city council voted to make wearing masks mandatory in public indoor settings, with the bylaw coming in to effect on July 7.

Mayor John Tory says the temporary bylaw will not affect social gatherings.

Mayors from the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area asked Premier Doug Ford to make masks mandatory across Ontario, but the premier rejected the idea.

Ferry service between Toronto and the Toronto Islands resumed on June 27 but at only 50 per cent capacity to allow for physical distancing.

The Toronto Zoo also reopened and the province said it was loosening some restrictions around indoor sports and fitness to enable amateur and professional athletes to train.

Ontario’s two most heavily populated regions had more businesses open their doors on June 24 as Toronto and Peel moved into Stage 2 of Ontario’s pandemic reopening framework.

All regions of the province except the southwestern communities of Leamington and Kingsville have now officially entered Stage 2.

Businesses given the green light to resume operations in Toronto and Peel include hair stylists, pools and tour guide services.

Restaurants are also allowed to reopen their patios for dine-in service, though no one is yet allowed to be served indoors.

Meanwhile, the limit on social gatherings increased from five to 10 provincewide. Restrictions on wedding and funeral ceremonies were also eased. The number of people allowed to attend an indoor ceremony is restricted to 30 per cent capacity of the venue, while outdoor events are limited to 50 people. However, the number of people allowed to attend all wedding and funeral receptions remains at 10.

Ontarians can resume visiting loved ones in long-term care homes, as long as they test negative for COVID-19.

All construction has resumed, with limits also lifted on maintenance, repair and property management services, such as cleaning, painting and pool maintenance.

Golf courses can reopen though clubhouses can only open for washrooms and take-out food. Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches can also open, as can private parks and campgrounds for trailers and RVs whose owners have a full season contract, and businesses that board animals.

Short-term rentals including lodges, cabins, cottages, homes and condominiums were allowed to resume operations on June 5.

The Ontario government says students will likely return to school in September with a mix of in-class and remote learning, though boards will develop various scenarios, depending on how COVID-19 is spreading at that point. Premier Doug Ford has said there won’t be a one-size-fits-all approach in schools, but parents provincewide will have the option of sending their children back to class or keeping them learning remotely.

This summer’s Honda Indy Toronto has been cancelled.

Manitoba

Several more restrictions were eased in Manitoba on June 21.

Restaurants and bars no longer have to operate at half capacity, however tables must be two metres apart or have a physical barrier in between them. Non-smoking bingo halls and video lottery terminal lounges can also reopen at 50 per cent capacity.

Child care centres and retail stores can return to normal capacity, and people arriving in Manitoba from the other western provinces, northern territories and northwestern Ontario no longer have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Larger public gatherings are also allowed.

Instead of a cap of 25 people indoors and 50 outdoors, people can fill up to 30 per cent of the capacity of any venue as long as they can be split into groups of 50 indoors or 100 outdoors. Each group must be able to enter and exit separately.

On June 1, the province eased a ban on people visiting loved ones in personal care homes. Homes can now offer outdoor visits with a maximum of two guests per resident. Visitors will be screened upon arrival and must practice physical distancing.

Amateur sports and recreation programs, as well as bowling alleys, have been allowed to resume operations.

Elementary and high schools will not reopen this school year.

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan’s top doctor says his advice on wearing masks to protect against COVID-19 could change in the coming months.

Wearing a mask in Saskatchewan isn’t mandatory now, but chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab says it may become a rule if there’s an uptick in transmission rates.

Saskatchewan is expanding its COVID-19 guidelines for visitors to long-term care homes. Starting July 7, health officials say residents of long-term care homes can have two family members or support persons for visits, with one person allowed in the facility at a time.

Patients in intensive care and those receiving palliative care can have two people present at the same time, as long as they keep physical distance.

Visitors are expected to follow health-care guidelines, such as wearing masks, to protect others against the spread of COVID-19.

Saskatchewan moved into the latest  phase of its reopening strategy on June 22.

Under Phase 4.1 camping in national parks can resume, but by reservation only.

Youth camps can reopen, but for day use only, and with guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19, including the constant disinfection of play structures and monitoring of children for coronavirus symptoms.

Outdoor sports like soccer, softball and flag football can resume, though full-contact sports remain prohibited, as does competitive play, tournaments and inter-provincial travel for games.

Shared equipment must be disinfected frequently, while congratulatory gestures, such as high fives and handshakes, are not permitted.

Saskatchewan’s outdoor swimming pools and spray parks can reopen with physical distancing, maximum capacity, and stringent cleaning rules in effect.

Though they can now do so, some municipalities, including Regina and Saskatoon, have said they won’t be reopening their outdoor pools right away.

The province is also doubling the allowable size of indoor public and private gatherings to 30 people where space allows for two metres between participants.

The third phase of Saskatchewan’s reopening plan started June 8 with the province lifting a ban on non-essential travel in the north.

More businesses were also allowed to reopen, including places of worship and personal care services such as nail salons, tattoo parlours and gyms.

Up to 150 people or one-third the capacity of a building, whichever is less, can attend church services, including weddings and funerals.

Outdoor graduations can be held with a maximum 30 graduates per class and an overall attendance of 150 people. The previous limit was 15 people indoors and 30 people outdoors.

Restaurants and bars can open at half capacity, with physical distancing between tables, and child-care centres can open their doors to a maximum of 15 kids.

The second part of Phase 4 is expected to include reopening guidelines for indoor pools, rinks, libraries, museums, galleries, movie theatres, casinos and bingo halls. A date for Phase 4.2 has yet to be announced.

In Phase 5, the province will consider lifting restrictions on the size of public gatherings.

The Saskatchewan government says students will return to regular classes in September.

Alberta

In Alberta, everything from gyms and arenas to spas, movie theatres, libraries, pools and sports activities got the green light to reopen on June 12.

More people were also allowed to book campsites and sit in restaurants at the same time.

Fifty people can now gather indoors and up to 100 can congregate outside.

Among the other activities allowed to go ahead are casinos and bingo halls, community halls, instrumental concerts, massage, acupuncture and reflexology, artificial tanning and summer schools.

Major festivals and sporting events remain banned, as do nightclubs and amusement parks. Vocal concerts are not being allowed, given that singing carries a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Alberta aims to have students back in classrooms this September though Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says a final decision will be made by Aug. 1.

British Columbia

British Columbia announced on June 30 that it would allow visitors in to long-term care homes.

Government health restrictions were eased to permit one designated person to see a long-term care resident after being limited to virtual meetings or phone calls since March.

The province allowed hotels, motels, spas, resorts, hostels and RV parks to resume operating on June 24.

Premier John Horgan said the province has been successful at flattening the curve on COVID-19, which means it can ease more health restrictions and gradually move into the third phase of its reopening plan.

He said the province is able to open more industries, institutions and recreation areas, but gatherings must remain at 50 people or less.

The government allowed a partial reopening of the B.C. economy starting May 19.

The reopenings are contingent on organizations and businesses having plans that follow provincial guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19.

Parents in B.C. were given the choice of allowing their children to return to class on a part-time basis starting June 1. The government said its goal is for the return of full-time classes in September, if it’s safe.

Conventions, large concerts, international tourism and professional sports with a live audience will not be allowed to resume until either a vaccine is widely available, community immunity has been reached, or effective treatment can be provided for the disease.

Nunavut

Nunavut, which now has one presumptive case of COVID-19, implemented a wide range of public health measures to keep residents safe. But some have since been relaxed.

Gyms and pools are available for solo workouts and lap swims.

Dental, physiotherapy, massage and chiropractic clinics, as well as offices and stores can open with appropriate safety measures.

Individuals may visit galleries, museums and libraries, and daycares are open.

Outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people are permitted while indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people. Territorial parks are being reopened for outdoor activities only and municipal playgrounds have also reopened.

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories announced on May 12 a three-phase reopening plan.

The plan includes more gatherings and the possible reopening of some schools and businesses. However, the territory’s borders remain closed indefinitely to non-residents and non-essential workers.

There are several requirements that must be met before any measures are relaxed: there must be no evidence of community spread; travel entry points in the territory are strong and secure; risks are reduced from workers coming into the territory; and expanded community testing is available.

Yukon

New guidelines have been released for long-term care facilities that will allow for visits with one designated person at a pre-set location outdoors.

The territory also said bars with an approved health and safety plan could reopen at half capacity under certain other restrictions starting June 19.

Territorial parks and campgrounds have also reopened.

Two households of up to 10 people in total are currently able to interact with each other as part of a “household bubble.”

Travel restrictions between Yukon and B.C. were lifted July 1 under the second phase of the territory’s pandemic restart plan. Travellers between the province and territory are no longer required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Residents of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut can now enter Yukon without quarantining, as long as they travel directly from one of the territories or through B.C.

All residents of Canada who live outside Yukon, B.C., the Northwest Territories and Nunavut must self-isolate for 14 days in Whitehorse when they arrive in the territory.

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

The Canadian Press

Inside the month Canada lost to COVID-19

THE BIG STORY | posted Monday, Jul 6th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, warning bells were sounding. Some of the country’s leading scientists were writing urgent emails to politicians and public health units. There was an emergency coming. It was going to get bad. We should take action now.

Still, Canada waited to take steps such as closing borders, securing PPE and planning for a massive wave of COVID-19. Compared to our neighbours to the south, we’ve handled the crisis fairly well—but what could we have done with an extra month to plan? How many lives and millions of dollars could we have saved? Who sounded the warnings, and who listened? And who didn’t?

GUEST: Robyn Doolittle, 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.

Atlantic Canada prepares to lift travel restrictions as regional “bubble” opens

HOLLY MCKENZIE-SUTTER, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jul 3rd, 2020

Atlantic Canadians are closely eyeing travel requirements and coronavirus case numbers across the region as the four provinces prepare to open their borders to their neighbours Friday, an experiment that’s prompted excitement and anxiety among residents.

COVID-19 cases in the region have dwindled in recent weeks, and the four provinces have agreed to waive isolation requirements among the group to boost their economies and offer social support to residents.

While many tourism operators and those missing family and friends celebrated the news, others have criticized the bubble over fears that the virus will rebound.

An online petition asking Newfoundland and Labrador to keep its borders closed has generated nearly 15,000 signatures this week.

“Our province has been slowly healing and going back to normal, we want to keep it that way,” the petition reads. “This is not the time.”

Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, chief medical officer of health, addressed fears that the province is moving too fast in a news conference this week, pointing to low case numbers while encouraging residents to trust in science.

Her Nova Scotian counterpart, Dr. Robert Strang, also shared a message to anxious residents in a statement on Thursday encouraging them to continue following health guidelines.

“I know many people are still nervous about this virus. Our visitors may be, too,” Strang’s statement said. “We can make their visits a safe experience for everyone by being patient and kind, by practising good hand hygiene, distancing and by wearing a mask when you can’t stay six feet apart.”

Nova Scotia, the most populous province in the region, has reported three new COVID-19 cases this week, two related to travel to the U.S. and the third involving a temporary worker who arrived from outside Canada.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting Thursday, Premier Stephen McNeil addressed concerns about the bubble, telling Nova Scotians the economic opportunity won’t come at the expense of their health.

“Our tourism sector needs this, and we need to try to make it work, but I want to reassure all of you that if we see a spike of COVID, we will re-evaluate,” McNeil said.

St. John’s resident David Brake was in the process of planning a late-July trip to Prince Edward Island with his two children on the eve of the travel bubble’s opening.

While he would usually plan a vacation further afield, Brake decided to take advantage of the travel bubble this year and visit a new province, scheduling a flight to Halifax, with plans to stop in New Brunswick on the way to the Island.

He said he’s confident that the trip will be safe for his family given the low coronavirus case numbers at the moment.

But he’s pondering how his holiday might be perceived by neighbours upon his return, with many Newfoundlanders still skeptical about whether it’s safe to venture off the island that has so far beaten back the virus.

“If I’m not isolated because nobody asked me to, am I going to be a pariah for two weeks? Are my children going to be a pariah for two weeks?” he wondered.

For those planning trips to another province, some identification and preventive measures will be required.

Adults travelling to Nova Scotia must show proof of residency in one of the four provinces in order to enter without having to isolate for 14 days.

Prince Edward Island is asking visitors to fill out a form with details including proof of residence, health declarations and planned arrival and departure dates for each person.

Marine Atlantic, a Crown corporation running ferry services between Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia, said it’s seen a spike in bookings, with 3,000 reservations booked in the first six days following the Atlantic bubble announcement.

A statement said the bump “exhausted” capacity, which had been limited to allow for proper distancing and adherence to public health measures. The company will be slowly increasing passenger limits in coming weeks.

While tourism operators welcomed the news, some say the Atlantic bubble won’t bring in enough revenue for their businesses to survive.

Carol Alderdice, president of the Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick, said visitors from within the region won’t be enough to help struggling businesses through the difficult year.

She said Atlantic Canadians typically account for just over 30 per cent of tourism visits in the province, and most operators are eager to see restrictions on entry eased for visitors from elsewhere in Canada, especially Ontario and Quebec.

“It’s definitely not enough to make up for the season, absolutely not,” Alderdice said from Fredericton.

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

Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press

Provincial watchdog probes often don’t lead to charges against police

AMY SMART, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jul 3rd, 2020

An analysis of data from civilian police watchdogs in Canada shows that most of their investigations do not result in charges against officers.

Charges were laid or forwarded to Crown prosecutors for consideration in three to nine per cent of the cases opened by the provincial agencies, a review by The Canadian Press of their most recent annual reports largely covering 2018 and 2019 found.

Seven provinces have independent police oversight agencies that probe cases of death and serious injury that could be the result of police action or inaction, however, the data was incomplete for some units.

Erick Laming, a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto who studies police use of force and its impacts on Indigenous and Black communities, said the numbers can be interpreted in two ways.

They may be taken to mean that watchdogs cast wide nets in their investigations and officers in most cases were justified in their use of force. But they can also be seen as evidence that the agencies are toothless against a legal system that makes it difficult to prosecute officers, he said.

Under the Criminal Code, a police officer is justified in using force in a lawful arrest as long as the officer acts on “reasonable and probable grounds and uses only as much force as reasonably necessary in the circumstances.”

If they fear for their life or someone else’s and that fear is deemed reasonable, they are typically cleared, he said.

“They have a very long rope when you think about it,” Laming said.

Civilian oversight agencies are relatively new. Apart from 30-year-old Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit, which closed 416 cases and charged officers in 15 of them in 2018, most have been introduced in the past decade.

They’re a welcome addition to police oversight, given that the alternative sees police or watchdogs from outside jurisdictions conduct investigations, Laming said.

“When you have another police service going in to investigate that has no connection to that area, it’s problematic,” he said.

But the agencies aren’t perfect, Laming said. They typically have a high threshold for defining “serious injury” so anything that doesn’t end in hospitalization is excluded from an investigation, he said.

The use of former police officers as investigators is also seen by some as a built-in bias, while Laming said they should strive to include more Indigenous, Black and other investigators of colour.

A Canadian Press review found that of the 167 members involved in these units, 111 are former police officers.

And only some of the agencies are empowered to lay charges themselves, while others can only share the results of their investigations with the Crown, Laming said.

Felix Cacchione, director of Nova Scotia’s Serious Incident Response Team, said officers are expected to use a “continuum of force” when responding to a call.

“The first part of that continuum is trying to reason with the person, calm them down, diffuse the situation verbally and then it progresses from there,” he said.

Cacchione’s team recorded the highest rate of charges among the provincial units, with four charges laid in 44 cases opened in 2018-19. The charges represent nine per cent of all cases opened that year — although charges were laid in 22 per cent of the cases that resulted in investigations.

“If a peace officer or a person assisting a peace officer is in a situation that poses a threat of grievous bodily harm, then that peace officer or person assisting can use as much force as necessary to prevent the threat from being a reality,” he said.

If an officer enters an empty church and there’s a person 12 metres away “ranting and raving” with a knife, that’s not enough to justify the use of force, said Cacchione. If the person is two metres away with a butcher’s knife, that’s considered a real threat, he said.

Cacchione worked as a criminal defence lawyer for decades before taking the job at the civilian agency in 2018. He said he was shocked to learn police training involves aiming for the centre body mass of someone posing a threat.

“Whenever I would hear someone being shot six, seven, eight, nine times by a police officer, I would think, well what’s going on, this is excessive. Why didn’t they shoot the person in the knee or the arm?”

He said he learned officers are trained that way because they’re likely to miss an arm or a leg. Cacchione recalled watching an instructor with a timer order an officer to shoot the centre body mass three times, then the head twice on the count of three.

“That takes just 2.4 seconds,” he said.

Based on what he’s learned, Cacchione said he believes there should be a greater involvement of mental health workers where possible, although there’s not always time in dynamic situations.

Adam Palmer, president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, said there are many levels of oversight in Canada, ranging from police boards for municipal forces to complaint commissioners and other bodies.

He would welcome the introduction of civilian oversight bodies for incidents of death or serious harm in jurisdictions that don’t have them yet, he said.

“I’m definitely in favour of it,” said Palmer, who is also chief constable of the Vancouver Police Department.

Data from the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. shows Palmer’s police department was investigated 30 times last year, a large number relative to other forces in B.C. The next highest source of complaints was the RCMP’s Surrey and Prince George detachments, with six investigations each.

Although Vancouver with a population of 630,000 is marginally larger than Surrey at 520,000, Palmer attributed the high number of incidents to Vancouver’s role as a hub city that is a destination for people from across the region, rather than training or officer conduct.

In the vast majority of cases, officers were not charged and Palmer said that shows they operated legally.

Nobody wants to see anyone injured during an interaction with police, but it’s unrealistic to expect that’s entirely avoidable, he said.

“Sometimes to get in there and save somebody’s life or assist someone in need you will need to use physical force,” he said. “Not every case will be de-escalated.”

Harsha Walia, executive director of the BC Civil Liberties Association, said oversight of the police wouldn’t need to be reviewed if there was a broader shift to reduce the scope and scale of the departments, including the removal of mental-health calls from their mandate.

“It’s clear we need other solutions,” she added.

When officers are involved in a violent incident, they should be held to a higher standard than other citizens, said Walia.

“There have to be different standards in place based on the power dynamic,” she said.

A look at how provinces plan to emerge from the COVID-19 shutdown

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jul 3rd, 2020

Provinces and territories have been releasing plans for easing restrictions that were put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Here is what some of the provinces have announced so far:

Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador is joining the other Atlantic provinces in lifting travel restrictions within the region today, with an agreement that’s causing a mix of anxiety and excitement among people in the region.

Residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island can now travel to any of the other three provinces without self-isolating for 14 days after arriving.

The premiers of Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick have hinted restrictions could soon be lifted for visitors from the rest of Canada if all goes well.

The province said Tuesday that it will begin allowing provincial historic sites to reopen, starting July 4.

All sites will have one-way flow patterns for visitors, with designated entrance and exit doors where possible.

The province entered “Alert Level 3” on June 8 in its five stage reopening plan. It means groups of up to 20 people are now permitted, as long as they observe physical distancing. Up to 19 people are allowed on public transit.

Private health clinics, such as optometrists and dentists, can open, as well as medium-risk businesses such as clothing stores and hair salons.

Eleven government service centres reopened to offer in-person services that can be booked by appointment, including written tests, driver exams and identification photos.

During Level 4, some businesses such as law firms and other professional services were allowed to reopen along with regulated child-care centres, with some restrictions.

Outdoor games of tennis were allowed to resume, though players must bring their own equipment and not share it.

At Level 2, businesses with performance spaces and gyms are to reopen, while Level 1 would represent “the new normal.”

The four Atlantic provinces have also announced plans to ease interprovincial travel restrictions, creating a so-called “bubble” as the region has reported relatively few new COVID-19 infections in recent weeks.

As of July 3, residents of Atlantic Canada will be allowed to travel within the region without having to self-isolate for two weeks when arriving in another province.

Visitors from provinces and territories outside the region will still be required to self-isolate for 14 days and adhere to local entry requirements. However, once the self-isolation period has passed, those visitors will also be allowed to travel within the Atlantic region.

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia and the other Atlantic provinces are lifting travel restrictions within the region today, causing a mix of anxiety and excitement among people in the region.

Residents of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island can now travel to any of the other three provinces without self-isolating for 14 days after arriving.

The province is also increasing the limits on gatherings organized by recognized business or community organizations today. That includes weddings, funerals, cultural events, concerts, festivals, dance recitals and faith-based gatherings, which will increase to 250 people if they’re outdoors and 200 — with maximum 50 per cent capacity — if they’re indoors. In either case, physical distancing is still required.

The province announced on June 26 that all bars and restaurants could resume operating at full capacity and serve customers until midnight. However, establishments must continue to adhere to physical distancing rules.

The province is also allowing private campgrounds to operate at 100 per cent capacity.  Provincial campgrounds reopened June 15 at reduced capacity to ensure a minimum of six metres between individual sites.

All public pools can now reopen with physical distancing for lane swimming and aquafit classes.

These events do not include family gatherings, which remain limited to a 50-person maximum with physical distancing.

The province earlier announced that Nova Scotians could start gathering in close social groups of up to 10 without physical distancing.

Licensed child-care centres and family daycare homes reopened across the province on June 15.

Nova Scotia has allowed summer day camps for children to open as long as they have a plan to follow public health measures.

Most businesses ordered shut in late March were allowed to reopen on June 5. The list of businesses includes bars and restaurant dining rooms, hair salons, barber shops, gyms and yoga studios, among others.

Some health providers were also able to reopen, including dentistry, optometry, chiropractic and physiotherapy offices.

The province has said there will be no return to school this year.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island and the other Atlantic provinces are lifting travel restrictions within the region today.

The province moved into Phase 4 of its reopening strategy over the weekend.

Households can now gather in groups of up to 15 indoors and up to 100 people can congregate in larger venues. People can also gather for religious services of up to 50, or up to 100 in larger churches.

More personal services are also available and casinos are reopening.

Under Phase 3, which began June 1, in-house dining at restaurants was allowed. Small groups were permitted to participate in recreational and some sporting activities and libraries got the green light to reopen. Gatherings of up to 15 people indoors and 20 people outdoors and the reopening of child-care centres were also allowed.

As well, family and friends could once again visit residents at long-term care homes, though the visits require an appointment and must take place outdoors.

People wanting to travel to seasonal residences can apply to do so, and will be put through a risk assessment before approval. Seasonal residents will also to be tested for COVID-19 before completing two weeks in self-isolation after arriving in the province.

Under Phase 2, non-contact outdoor recreational activities were permitted, and retail businesses could reopen with physical distancing and select health-service providers.

Priority non-urgent surgeries resumed on May 1.

The P.E.I. legislature resumed May 26.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick and the other Atlantic provinces are lifting travel restrictions within the region today, causing a mix of anxiety and excitement among people in the region.

Its premier has also hinted restrictions could soon be lifted for visitors from the rest of Canada if all goes well.

New Brunswick marked one week since it last saw a positive case on Tuesday.

The province moved to the yellow phase of its COVID-19 recovery plan back on May 22, allowing barbers and hair stylists to reopen as well as churches and fitness facilities. Dental care, massage, chiropractors and other “close contact” businesses and services could also reopen.

But the Campbellton region, which extends from Whites Brook to the Belledune, had to take a step backwards to the “orange” level on May 27. Residents were told to once again avoid contacts outside their two-household bubble. Non-regulated health professionals and personal service businesses that opened May 22 also had to close again. And people should only be travelling in and out of Zone 5 for essential reasons.

Further restrictions were lifted on June 5. Outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people were allowed, as well as indoor religious services of up to 50 people, low-contact team sports and the opening of a long list of facilities including swimming pools, gyms, rinks, water parks, and yoga and dance studios.

Under New Brunswick’s latest recovery rules, Canadian residents can now visit family members or properties they own in the province, provided they self-isolate for 14 days — or the duration of their visit if it’s less than two weeks.

As well, New Brunswick residents no longer need to self-isolate when returning from work in another Canadian province or territory.

All organized sports can resume with appropriate physical distancing and sanitizing. Overnight camps can reopen and indoor visits can resume at long-term care facilities for one visitor at a time, or two if one of the visitors needs help.

The cap on the number of people who can gather in controlled venues — including churches, swimming pools and rinks — has been lifted, but crowd numbers will be limited by the ability to maintain physical distancing.

Masks in any building open to the general public are required except for children under the age of two, children in daycare and people who can’t wear face coverings for medical reasons.

Retail businesses, offices, restaurants, libraries, museums and seasonal campgrounds were earlier allowed to reopen providing they have clear plans for meeting public health guidelines.

The final phase, which officials have said will probably come only after a vaccine is available, is to include large gatherings.

Quebec

Premier Francois Legault says masks will be mandatory for all public transit users as of July 13.

The premier says following a two-week grace period ending July 27, anyone without a mask will not be permitted onto a public transit system anywhere in the province.

Quebec reopened several sectors and relaxed the rules for indoor gatherings on June 22, particularly impacting the Montreal area.

Restaurants can reopen in the greater Montreal and Joliette areas while indoor gatherings of up to 10 people from three households are now permitted in these regions, like elsewhere in Quebec.

Gyms, arenas, cinemas, concert venues and places of worship can reopen across the province with a maximum capacity of 50 people for indoor gatherings.

Day camps across the province have also reopened, with physical distancing. Sleep-away summer camps won’t be allowed to reopen until next year.

Residents of long term care homes that don’t have active COVID-19 cases were earlier allowed to receive visitors inside, meet people outdoors and participate in group activities.

They were also allowed to leave the facilities unaccompanied for more than 24 hours. Volunteers and hairdressers were also allowed inside the facilities.

On May 25, some retail businesses reopened in the greater Montreal area, while retail stores outside Montreal reopened on May 11.

Parks and pools have also been allowed to reopen across the province with certain restrictions.

Sports teams resumed outdoor practices on June 8, and matches can resume at the end of the month. That includes baseball, soccer and any other sports that can be played outdoors.

Quebec’s construction and manufacturing industries have resumed operations with limits on the number of employees who can work per shift. Elementary schools and daycares outside Montreal reopened on May 11, but high schools, junior colleges and universities will stay closed until September.

Elementary schools in the greater Montreal area are to remain closed until late August.

Courthouses across the province were permitted to reopen on June 1, with limited seating capacity and Plexiglas barriers protecting clerks and judges.

Camping is now allowed outside the Montreal and Joliette regions, as are cottage rentals.

Checkpoints set up to slow the spread of COVID-19 came down on May 18 in various parts of Quebec, including between Gatineau and Ottawa.

Ontario

Torontonians riding public transit must wear face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as of Thursday.

The Toronto Transit Commission made the rule last month, but it’s only now coming into effect.

Toronto city council voted to make wearing masks mandatory in public indoor settings, with the bylaw coming in to effect on July 7.

Mayor John Tory says the temporary bylaw will not affect social gatherings.

Mayors from the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area asked Premier Doug Ford on Monday to make masks mandatory across Ontario, but the premier rejected the idea.

Ferry service between Toronto and the Toronto Islands resumed on June 27 but at only 50 per cent capacity to allow for physical distancing.

The Toronto Zoo also reopened and the province said it’s loosening some restrictions around indoor sports and fitness to enable amateur and professional athletes to train.

Ontario’s two most heavily populated regions had more businesses open their doors on June 24 as Toronto and Peel moved into the next stage of the province’s COVID-19 recovery plan.

The two regions officially entered Stage 2 of the pandemic reopening framework, joining nearly all the rest of the province that began ramping up activities on June 19. All regions of the province except the southwestern communities of Leamington and Kingsville have officially entered Stage 2.

Businesses given the green light to resume operations in Toronto and Peel include hair stylists, pools and tour guide services.

Restaurants are also allowed to reopen their patios for dine-in service, though no one is yet allowed to be served indoors.

Meanwhile, the limit on social gatherings increased from five to 10 provincewide. Restrictions on wedding and funeral ceremonies were also eased. The number of people allowed to attend an indoor ceremony is restricted to 30 per cent capacity of the venue, while outdoor events are limited to 50 people. However, the number of people allowed to attend all wedding and funeral receptions remains at 10.

Ontarians can resume visiting loved ones in long-term care homes, as long as they test negative for COVID-19.

All construction has resumed, with limits also lifted on maintenance, repair and property management services, such as cleaning, painting and pool maintenance.

Golf courses can reopen though clubhouses can only open for washrooms and take-out food. Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches can also open, as can private parks and campgrounds for trailers and RVs whose owners have a full season contract, and businesses that board animals.

Short-term rentals including lodges, cabins, cottages, homes and condominiums were allowed to resume operations on June 5.

The Ontario government says students will likely return to school in September with a mix of in-class and remote learning, though boards will develop various scenarios, depending on how COVID-19 is spreading at that point. Premier Doug Ford has said there won’t be a one-size-fits-all approach in schools, but parents provincewide will have the option of sending their children back to class or keeping them learning remotely.

This summer’s Honda Indy Toronto has been cancelled.

Manitoba

Several more restrictions were eased in Manitoba on June 21.

Restaurants and bars no longer have to operate at half capacity, however tables must be two metres apart or have a physical barrier in between them. Non-smoking bingo halls and video lottery terminal lounges can also reopen at 50 per cent capacity.

Child care centres and retail stores can return to normal capacity, and people arriving in Manitoba from the other western provinces, northern territories and northwestern Ontario no longer have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Larger public gatherings are also allowed.

Instead of a cap of 25 people indoors and 50 outdoors, people can fill up to 30 per cent of the capacity of any venue as long as they can be split into groups of 50 indoors or 100 outdoors. Each group must be able to enter and exit separately.

On June 1, the province eased a ban on people visiting loved ones in personal care homes. Homes can now offer outdoor visits with a maximum of two guests per resident. Visitors will be screened upon arrival and must practice physical distancing.

Amateur sports and recreation programs, as well as bowling alleys, have been allowed to resume operations.

Elementary and high schools will not reopen this school year.

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan’s top doctor says his advice on wearing masks to protect against COVID-19 could change in the coming months.

Wearing a mask in Saskatchewan isn’t mandatory now, but chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab says it may become a rule if there’s an uptick in transmission rates.

Saskatchewan moved into the next phase of its reopening strategy on June 22.

Under Phase 4.1 camping in national parks can resume, but by reservation only.

Youth camps can reopen, but for day use only, and with guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19, including the constant disinfection of play structures and monitoring of children for coronavirus symptoms.

Outdoor sports like soccer, softball and flag football can resume, though full-contact sports remain prohibited, as does competitive play, tournaments and inter-provincial travel for games.

Shared equipment must be disinfected frequently, while congratulatory gestures, such as high fives and handshakes, are not permitted.

Saskatchewan’s outdoor swimming pools and spray parks can reopen with physical distancing, maximum capacity, and stringent cleaning rules in effect.

Though they can now do so, some municipalities, including Regina and Saskatoon, have said they won’t be reopening their outdoor pools right away.

The province is also doubling the allowable size of indoor public and private gatherings to 30 people where space allows for two metres between participants

The third phase of Saskatchewan’s reopening plan started June 8 with the province lifting a ban on non-essential travel in the north.

More businesses were also allowed to reopen, including places of worship and personal care services such as nail salons, tattoo parlours and gyms.

Up to 150 people or one-third the capacity of a building, whichever is less, can attend church services, including weddings and funerals.

Outdoor graduations can be held with a maximum 30 graduates per class and an overall attendance of 150 people. The previous limit was 15 people indoors and 30 people outdoors.

Restaurants and bars can open at half capacity, with physical distancing between tables, and child-care centres can open their doors to a maximum of 15 kids.

The second part of Phase 4 is expected to include reopening guidelines for indoor pools, rinks, libraries, museums, galleries, movie theatres, casinos and bingo halls. A date for Phase 4.2 has yet to be announced.

In Phase 5, the province will consider lifting restrictions on the size of public gatherings.

The Saskatchewan government says students will return to regular classes in September.

Alberta

In Alberta, everything from gyms and arenas to spas, movie theatres, libraries, pools and sports activities got the green light to reopen on June 12.

More people were also allowed to book campsites and sit in restaurants at the same time.

Fifty people can now gather indoors and up to 100 can congregate outside.

Among the other activities allowed to go ahead are casinos and bingo halls, community halls, instrumental concerts, massage, acupuncture and reflexology, artificial tanning and summer schools.

Major festivals and sporting events remain banned, as do nightclubs and amusement parks. Vocal concerts are not being allowed, given that singing carries a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Alberta aims to have students back in classrooms this September though Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says a final decision will be made by Aug. 1.

British Columbia

British Columbia announced on Tuesday that it would allow visitors in to long-term care homes. Provincial long-term care homes had been restricting visitors since March.

Isobel Mackenzie, B.C.’s advocate for seniors, said people were in tears after hearing government health restrictions will be eased to permit one designated person to see a long-term care resident after being limited to virtual meetings or phone calls since March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The province allowed hotels, motels, spas, resorts, hostels and RV parks to resume operating on June 24.

Premier John Horgan said the province has been successful at flattening the curve on COVID-19, which means it can ease more health restrictions and gradually move into the third phase of its reopening plan.

He said the province is able to open more industries, institutions and recreation areas, but gatherings must remain at 50 people or less.

The government allowed a partial reopening of the B.C. economy starting May 19.

The reopenings are contingent on organizations and businesses having plans that follow provincial guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19.

Parents in B.C. were given the choice of allowing their children to return to class on a part-time basis starting June 1. The government said its goal is for the return of full-time classes in September, if it’s safe.

Conventions, large concerts, international tourism and professional sports with a live audience will not be allowed to resume until either a vaccine is widely available, community immunity has been reached, or effective treatment can be provided for the disease.

Nunavut

Although Nunavut still has no confirmed cases of COVID-19, the territory did implement a wide range of public health measures to keep residents safe.

Some have since been relaxed.

Gyms and pools are available for solo workouts and lap swims.

Dental, physiotherapy, massage and chiropractic clinics, as well as offices and stores can open with appropriate safety measures.

Individuals may visit galleries, museums and libraries, and daycares are open.

Outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people are permitted while indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people. Territorial parks are being reopened for outdoor activities only and municipal playgrounds will be reopened, the government of Nunavut said in a statement on Monday.

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories announced on May 12 a three-phase reopening plan.

The plan includes more gatherings and the possible reopening of some schools and businesses. However, the territory’s borders remain closed indefinitely to non-residents and non-essential workers.

There are several requirements that must be met before any measures are relaxed: there must be no evidence of community spread; travel entry points in the territory are strong and secure; risks are reduced from workers coming into the territory; and expanded community testing is available.

Yukon

New guidelines have been released for long-term care facilities that will allow for visits with one designated person at a pre-set location outdoors.

The territory also said bars with an approved health and safety plan could reopen at half capacity under certain other restrictions starting June 19.

Travel restrictions will be lifted between Yukon and B.C. after July 1 under the second phase of the territory’s pandemic restart plan. After that date, travellers between the province and territory will no longer be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Residents of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut will be also allowed to enter Yukon without quarantining, as long as they travel directly from one of the territories or through B.C.

Territorial parks and campgrounds have also reopened.

Two households of up to 10 people in total are currently able to interact with each other as part of a “household bubble.”

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

The Canadian Press

Studies show no consistent evidence body cameras reduce police violence

KELLY GERALDINE MALONE, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jul 2nd, 2020

A Calgary police officer loudly tells an Indigenous man to put his hands on the roof of his car and, within seconds, the situation escalates to yelling. Body-worn camera video from the officer’s chest then shows the man’s head pushed into his vehicle.

Herbert Daniels, 67, made a freedom of information request to get the video of his arrest, saying it demonstrates excessive force.

Using the arrest of Daniels as an example, many politicians have been calling for wider use of police body cameras in the wake of global protests calling to defund police, claiming the technology increases accountability.

There is, however, no consistent evidence that the cameras reduce police violence.

A study in the Criminology & Public Policy journal published last year looked at 70 other studies into body-worn cameras and found the technology had statistically insignificant impacts on police and citizen behaviour.

“(Cameras) will not be an easy panacea for improving police performance, accountability, and relationships with citizens,” the study said.

A trial published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America in 2019 also found the cameras “did not meaningfully affect” police behaviour on outcomes that include complaints and use of force.

A six-month study by Western Australia Police Force in 2016 actually found a small increase in use-of-force incidents when officers wore the cameras.

Minneapolis police officers involved in the May arrest of George Floyd were wearing body cameras as one of them knelt on the Black man’s neck for several minutes and he died.

Data is still emerging in Canada about the efficacy of the cameras. Since 2010, many police forces have implemented pilot projects but most abandoned them later, saying they didn’t provide value for what they cost to both purchase the devices and store the data. Calgary is the only large police force to so far adopt the technology for front-line officers.

A final report into an Edmonton pilot project, which ran from 2011 to 2014, said the cameras had a potential for positive outcomes. But it found concerns about policy and no quantitative evidence that the cameras had an impact on complaints against officers.

“Body-worn cameras not only create concerns about the public’s privacy rights but can also affect how officers relate to people in the community, the community’s perception of the police, and expectations about how police agencies should share information,” the report said.

There have also been pilot projects in Toronto, Thunder Bay and Montreal. Montreal found the cameras had little impact on police interventions and there were significant logistical and financial challenges.

Some smaller forces have cameras for a few officers. Fredericton police have six and the force in Medicine Hat, Alta., has 10.

Recently, many communities have changed their positions on cameras. Toronto Mayor John Tory said he expects to have cameras on officers by the fall and Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said the technology will be adopted as soon as possible. The RCMP has also committed to outfitting some officers with cameras.

Nunavut is pushing forward with a pilot project for cameras after a bystander recorded footage of police using a car door to knock a man over during an arrest.

Erick Laming is a Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation PhD candidate in criminology at the University of Toronto. He also researches police use of force and oversight.

He said he’s concerned the technology is being rushed by politics and not empirical data.

“We have to look at how police respond to (situations),” he said. “It’s not really the body camera.”

Laming said there isn’t transparency about police force policies on cameras, such as ensuring public privacy, who gets access to the video or when officers are required to turn them on.

Sgt. Travis Baker leads the body camera project for the Calgary police, which has equipped about 1,150 officers with cameras.

City council originally approved $5 million to get the cameras and to fund an eight-year contract with Axon, an American company that supplies the gear and stores the data. All video is uploaded into a cloud-based storage system based in Ontario and only officers involved in an investigation get access to the video related to it, Baker said.

Before the cameras were rolled out, the Calgary force conducted a privacy impact assessment, Baker said. Broadly speaking, the policy says officers are required to record any interaction they have with the public.

An evaluation of the project is underway, with information about use-of-force and complaints to be released later this year. Baker, however, said all officers have embraced the technology.

He said the cameras hold police and the public accountable.

“We truly see it as a tool,” Baker said. “It gathers evidence at a level that is unprecedented. It keeps absolutely everybody engaged and honest in the interaction.”

A look at how provinces plan to emerge from COVID-19 shutdown

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jul 2nd, 2020

Provinces and territories have been releasing plans for easing restrictions that were put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Here is what some of the provinces have announced so far:

Newfoundland and Labrador

The province said Tuesday that it will begin allowing provincial historic sites to reopen, starting July 4.

All sites will have one-way flow patterns for visitors, with designated entrance and exit doors where possible.

The province entered “Alert Level 3” on June 8 in its five stage reopening plan. It means groups of up to 20 people are now permitted, as long as they observe physical distancing. Up to 19 people are allowed on public transit.

Private health clinics, such as optometrists and dentists, can open, as well as medium-risk businesses such as clothing stores and hair salons.

Eleven government service centres reopened to offer in-person services that can be booked by appointment, including written tests, driver exams and identification photos.

During Level 4, some businesses such as law firms and other professional services were allowed to reopen along with regulated child-care centres, with some restrictions.

Outdoor games of tennis were allowed to resume, though players must bring their own equipment and not share it.

At Level 2, businesses with performance spaces and gyms are to reopen, while Level 1 would represent “the new normal.”

The four Atlantic provinces have also announced plans to ease interprovincial travel restrictions, creating a so-called “bubble” as the region has reported relatively few new COVID-19 infections in recent weeks.

As of July 3, residents of Atlantic Canada will be allowed to travel within the region without having to self-isolate for two weeks when arriving in another province.

Visitors from provinces and territories outside the region will still be required to self-isolate for 14 days and adhere to local entry requirements. However, once the self-isolation period has passed, those visitors will also be allowed to travel within the Atlantic region.

Nova Scotia

The province announced on June 26 that all bars and restaurants could resume operating at full capacity and serve customers until midnight. However, establishments must continue to adhere to physical distancing rules.

The province is also allowing private campgrounds to operate at 100 per cent capacity.  Provincial campgrounds reopened June 15 at reduced capacity to ensure a minimum of six metres between individual sites.

All public pools can now reopen with physical distancing for lane swimming and aquafit classes.

On Friday (July 3), Nova Scotia will increase the limits on gatherings organized by recognized business or community organizations. That includes weddings, funerals, cultural events, concerts, festivals, dance recitals and faith-based gatherings, which will increase to 250 people if they’re outdoors and 200 — with maximum 50 per cent capacity — if they’re indoors. In either case, physical distancing is still required.

These events do not include family gatherings, which remain limited to a 50-person maximum with physical distancing.

The province earlier announced that Nova Scotians could start gathering in close social groups of up to 10 without physical distancing.

Licensed child-care centres and family daycare homes reopened across the province on June 15.

Nova Scotia has allowed summer day camps for children to open as long as they have a plan to follow public health measures.

Most businesses ordered shut in late March were allowed to reopen on June 5. The list of businesses includes bars and restaurant dining rooms, hair salons, barber shops, gyms and yoga studios, among others.

Some health providers were also able to reopen, including dentistry, optometry, chiropractic and physiotherapy offices.

The province has said there will be no return to school this year.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island moved into Phase 4 of its reopening strategy over the weekend.

Households can now gather in groups of up to 15 indoors and up to 100 people can congregate in larger venues. People can also gather for religious services of up to 50, or up to 100 in larger churches.

More personal services are also available and casinos are reopening.

Under Phase 3, which began June 1, in-house dining at restaurants was allowed. Small groups were permitted to participate in recreational and some sporting activities and libraries got the green light to reopen. Gatherings of up to 15 people indoors and 20 people outdoors and the reopening of child-care centres were also allowed.

As well, family and friends could once again visit residents at long-term care homes, though the visits require an appointment and must take place outdoors.

People wanting to travel to seasonal residences can apply to do so, and will be put through a risk assessment before approval. Seasonal residents will also to be tested for COVID-19 before completing two weeks in self-isolation after arriving in the province.

Under Phase 2, non-contact outdoor recreational activities were permitted, and retail businesses could reopen with physical distancing and select health-service providers.

Priority non-urgent surgeries resumed on May 1.

The P.E.I. legislature resumed May 26.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick marked one week since it last saw a positive case on Tuesday.

The province moved to the yellow phase of its COVID-19 recovery plan back on May 22, allowing barbers and hair stylists to reopen as well as churches and fitness facilities. Dental care, massage, chiropractors and other “close contact” businesses and services could also reopen.

But the Campbellton region, which extends from Whites Brook to the Belledune, had to take a step backwards to the “orange” level on May 27. Residents were told to once again avoid contacts outside their two-household bubble. Non-regulated health professionals and personal service businesses that opened May 22 also had to close again. And people should only be travelling in and out of Zone 5 for essential reasons.

Further restrictions were lifted on June 5. Outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people were allowed, as well as indoor religious services of up to 50 people, low-contact team sports and the opening of a long list of facilities including swimming pools, gyms, rinks, water parks, and yoga and dance studios.

Under New Brunswick’s latest recovery rules, Canadian residents can now visit family members or properties they own in the province, provided they self-isolate for 14 days — or the duration of their visit if it’s less than two weeks.

As well, New Brunswick residents no longer need to self-isolate when returning from work in another Canadian province or territory.

All organized sports can resume with appropriate physical distancing and sanitizing. Overnight camps can reopen and indoor visits can resume at long-term care facilities for one visitor at a time, or two if one of the visitors needs help.

The cap on the number of people who can gather in controlled venues — including churches, swimming pools and rinks — has been lifted, but crowd numbers will be limited by the ability to maintain physical distancing.

Masks in any building open to the general public are required except for children under the age of two, children in daycare and people who can’t wear face coverings for medical reasons.

Retail businesses, offices, restaurants, libraries, museums and seasonal campgrounds were earlier allowed to reopen providing they have clear plans for meeting public health guidelines.

The final phase, which officials have said will probably come only after a vaccine is available, is to include large gatherings.

Quebec

Premier Francois Legault says masks will be mandatory for all public transit users as of July 13.

The premier says following a two-week grace period ending July 27, anyone without a mask will not be permitted onto a public transit system anywhere in the province.

Quebec reopened several sectors and relaxed the rules for indoor gatherings on June 22, particularly impacting the Montreal area.

Restaurants can reopen in the greater Montreal and Joliette areas while indoor gatherings of up to 10 people from three households are now permitted in these regions, like elsewhere in Quebec.

Gyms, arenas, cinemas, concert venues and places of worship can reopen across the province with a maximum capacity of 50 people for indoor gatherings.

Day camps across the province have also reopened, with physical distancing. Sleep-away summer camps won’t be allowed to reopen until next year.

Residents of long term care homes that don’t have active COVID-19 cases were earlier allowed to receive visitors inside, meet people outdoors and participate in group activities.

They were also allowed to leave the facilities unaccompanied for more than 24 hours. Volunteers and hairdressers were also allowed inside the facilities.

On May 25, some retail businesses reopened in the greater Montreal area, while retail stores outside Montreal reopened on May 11.

Parks and pools have also been allowed to reopen across the province with certain restrictions.

Sports teams resumed outdoor practices on June 8, and matches can resume at the end of the month. That includes baseball, soccer and any other sports that can be played outdoors.

Quebec’s construction and manufacturing industries have resumed operations with limits on the number of employees who can work per shift. Elementary schools and daycares outside Montreal reopened on May 11, but high schools, junior colleges and universities will stay closed until September.

Elementary schools in the greater Montreal area are to remain closed until late August.

Courthouses across the province were permitted to reopen on June 1, with limited seating capacity and Plexiglas barriers protecting clerks and judges.

Camping is now allowed outside the Montreal and Joliette regions, as are cottage rentals.

Checkpoints set up to slow the spread of COVID-19 came down on May 18 in various parts of Quebec, including between Gatineau and Ottawa.

Ontario

Starting today, Torontonians riding public transit must wear face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Toronto Transit Commission made the rule last month, but it’s only now coming into effect.

Toronto city council voted to make wearing masks mandatory in public indoor settings, with the bylaw coming in to effect on July 7.

Mayor John Tory says the temporary bylaw will not affect social gatherings.

Mayors from the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area asked Premier Doug Ford on Monday to make masks mandatory across Ontario, but the premier rejected the idea.

Ferry service between Toronto and the Toronto Islands resumed on June 27 but at only 50 per cent capacity to allow for physical distancing.

The Toronto Zoo also reopened and the province said it’s loosening some restrictions around indoor sports and fitness to enable amateur and professional athletes to train.

Ontario’s two most heavily populated regions had more businesses open their doors on June 24 as Toronto and Peel moved into the next stage of the province’s COVID-19 recovery plan.

The two regions officially entered Stage 2 of the pandemic reopening framework, joining nearly all the rest of the province that began ramping up activities on June 19. All regions of the province except the southwestern communities of Leamington and Kingsville have officially entered Stage 2.

Businesses given the green light to resume operations in Toronto and Peel include hair stylists, pools and tour guide services.

Restaurants are also allowed to reopen their patios for dine-in service, though no one is yet allowed to be served indoors.

Meanwhile, the limit on social gatherings increased from five to 10 provincewide. Restrictions on wedding and funeral ceremonies were also eased. The number of people allowed to attend an indoor ceremony is restricted to 30 per cent capacity of the venue, while outdoor events are limited to 50 people. However, the number of people allowed to attend all wedding and funeral receptions remains at 10.

Ontarians can resume visiting loved ones in long-term care homes, as long as they test negative for COVID-19.

All construction has resumed, with limits also lifted on maintenance, repair and property management services, such as cleaning, painting and pool maintenance.

Golf courses can reopen though clubhouses can only open for washrooms and take-out food. Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches can also open, as can private parks and campgrounds for trailers and RVs whose owners have a full season contract, and businesses that board animals.

Short-term rentals including lodges, cabins, cottages, homes and condominiums were allowed to resume operations on June 5.

The Ontario government says students will likely return to school in September with a mix of in-class and remote learning, though boards will develop various scenarios, depending on how COVID-19 is spreading at that point. Premier Doug Ford has said there won’t be a one-size-fits-all approach in schools, but parents provincewide will have the option of sending their children back to class or keeping them learning remotely.

This summer’s Honda Indy Toronto has been cancelled.

Manitoba

Several more restrictions were eased in Manitoba on June 21.

Restaurants and bars no longer have to operate at half capacity, however tables must be two metres apart or have a physical barrier in between them. Non-smoking bingo halls and video lottery terminal lounges can also reopen at 50 per cent capacity.

Child care centres and retail stores can return to normal capacity, and people arriving in Manitoba from the other western provinces, northern territories and northwestern Ontario no longer have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Larger public gatherings are also allowed.

Instead of a cap of 25 people indoors and 50 outdoors, people can fill up to 30 per cent of the capacity of any venue as long as they can be split into groups of 50 indoors or 100 outdoors. Each group must be able to enter and exit separately.

On June 1, the province eased a ban on people visiting loved ones in personal care homes. Homes can now offer outdoor visits with a maximum of two guests per resident. Visitors will be screened upon arrival and must practice physical distancing.

Amateur sports and recreation programs, as well as bowling alleys, have been allowed to resume operations.

Elementary and high schools will not reopen this school year.

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan’s top doctor says his advice on wearing masks to protect against COVID-19 could change in the coming months.

Wearing a mask in Saskatchewan isn’t mandatory now, but chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab says it may become a rule if there’s an uptick in transmission rates.

Saskatchewan moved into the next phase of its reopening strategy on June 22.

Under Phase 4.1 camping in national parks can resume, but by reservation only.

Youth camps can reopen, but for day use only, and with guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19, including the constant disinfection of play structures and monitoring of children for coronavirus symptoms.

Outdoor sports like soccer, softball and flag football can resume, though full-contact sports remain prohibited, as does competitive play, tournaments and inter-provincial travel for games.

Shared equipment must be disinfected frequently, while congratulatory gestures, such as high fives and handshakes, are not permitted.

Saskatchewan’s outdoor swimming pools and spray parks can reopen with physical distancing, maximum capacity, and stringent cleaning rules in effect.

Though they can now do so, some municipalities, including Regina and Saskatoon, have said they won’t be reopening their outdoor pools right away.

The province is also doubling the allowable size of indoor public and private gatherings to 30 people where space allows for two metres between participants

The third phase of Saskatchewan’s reopening plan started June 8 with the province lifting a ban on non-essential travel in the north.

More businesses were also allowed to reopen, including places of worship and personal care services such as nail salons, tattoo parlours and gyms.

Up to 150 people or one-third the capacity of a building, whichever is less, can attend church services, including weddings and funerals.

Outdoor graduations can be held with a maximum 30 graduates per class and an overall attendance of 150 people. The previous limit was 15 people indoors and 30 people outdoors.

Restaurants and bars can open at half capacity, with physical distancing between tables, and child-care centres can open their doors to a maximum of 15 kids.

The second part of Phase 4 is expected to include reopening guidelines for indoor pools, rinks, libraries, museums, galleries, movie theatres, casinos and bingo halls. A date for Phase 4.2 has yet to be announced.

In Phase 5, the province will consider lifting restrictions on the size of public gatherings.

The Saskatchewan government says students will return to regular classes in September.

Alberta

In Alberta, everything from gyms and arenas to spas, movie theatres, libraries, pools and sports activities got the green light to reopen on June 12.

More people were also allowed to book campsites and sit in restaurants at the same time.

Fifty people can now gather indoors and up to 100 can congregate outside.

Among the other activities allowed to go ahead are casinos and bingo halls, community halls, instrumental concerts, massage, acupuncture and reflexology, artificial tanning and summer schools.

Major festivals and sporting events remain banned, as do nightclubs and amusement parks. Vocal concerts are not being allowed, given that singing carries a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Alberta aims to have students back in classrooms this September though Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says a final decision will be made by Aug. 1.

British Columbia

British Columbia announced on Tuesday that it would allow visitors in to long-term care homes. Provincial long-term care homes had been restricting visitors since March.

Isobel Mackenzie, B.C.’s advocate for seniors, said people were in tears after hearing government health restrictions will be eased to permit one designated person to see a long-term care resident after being limited to virtual meetings or phone calls since March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The province allowed hotels, motels, spas, resorts, hostels and RV parks to resume operating on June 24.

Premier John Horgan said the province has been successful at flattening the curve on COVID-19, which means it can ease more health restrictions and gradually move into the third phase of its reopening plan.

He said the province is able to open more industries, institutions and recreation areas, but gatherings must remain at 50 people or less.

The government allowed a partial reopening of the B.C. economy starting May 19.

The reopenings are contingent on organizations and businesses having plans that follow provincial guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19.

Parents in B.C. were given the choice of allowing their children to return to class on a part-time basis starting June 1. The government said its goal is for the return of full-time classes in September, if it’s safe.

Conventions, large concerts, international tourism and professional sports with a live audience will not be allowed to resume until either a vaccine is widely available, community immunity has been reached, or effective treatment can be provided for the disease.

Nunavut

Although Nunavut still has no confirmed cases of COVID-19, the territory did implement a wide range of public health measures to keep residents safe.

Some have since been relaxed.

Gyms and pools are available for solo workouts and lap swims.

Dental, physiotherapy, massage and chiropractic clinics, as well as offices and stores can open with appropriate safety measures.

Individuals may visit galleries, museums and libraries, and daycares are open.

Outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people are permitted while indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people. Territorial parks are being reopened for outdoor activities only and municipal playgrounds will be reopened, the government of Nunavut said in a statement on Monday.

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories announced on May 12 a three-phase reopening plan.

The plan includes more gatherings and the possible reopening of some schools and businesses. However, the territory’s borders remain closed indefinitely to non-residents and non-essential workers.

There are several requirements that must be met before any measures are relaxed: there must be no evidence of community spread; travel entry points in the territory are strong and secure; risks are reduced from workers coming into the territory; and expanded community testing is available.

Yukon

New guidelines have been released for long-term care facilities that will allow for visits with one designated person at a pre-set location outdoors.

The territory also said bars with an approved health and safety plan could reopen at half capacity under certain other restrictions starting June 19.

Travel restrictions will be lifted between Yukon and B.C. after July 1 under the second phase of the territory’s pandemic restart plan. After that date, travellers between the province and territory will no longer be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Residents of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut will be also allowed to enter Yukon without quarantining, as long as they travel directly from one of the territories or through B.C.

Territorial parks and campgrounds have also reopened.

Two households of up to 10 people in total are currently able to interact with each other as part of a “household bubble.”

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

The Canadian Press

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