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The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Aug. 27

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Aug 27th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. EDT on Aug. 27, 2020:

There are 126,417 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 61,945 confirmed (including 5,747 deaths, 54,922 resolved)

_ Ontario: 41,695 confirmed (including 2,802 deaths, 37,863 resolved)

_ Alberta: 13,210 confirmed (including 235 deaths, 11,799 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 5,304 confirmed (including 203 deaths, 4,199 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,604 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,520 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,081 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,011 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,043 confirmed (including 13 deaths, 622 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 268 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 265 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 190 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 178 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 44 confirmed (including 41 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 126,417 (0 presumptive, 126,417 confirmed including 9,094 deaths, 112,453 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

International students concerned about fee increases, future in Canada during coronavirus pandemic

DILSHAD BURMAN | posted Thursday, Aug 27th, 2020

With the fall semester just days away, international students enrolled in Canadian universities are raising concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on their studies, their wallets, and their futures.

A group of international students currently enrolled at the University of Toronto have created the International Student Advocacy Network (ISAN) to present their concerns and demands to university officials.

They say the toll COVID-19 is taking on them, like their fees, is disproportionately higher than domestic students.

“They have increased fees by an average of 5.4 per cent for the coming year and that decision was made after the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the global pandemic,” Anna BML Carneiro, coordinator at ISAN, says.

The group says the fee increase is not justified considering a majority of classes are being taught online and is demanding that the university roll back the hike.

“Losing the opportunity to network, to meet different people on campus, to use different resources … everything that makes the campus experience and the university experience so rich for us and makes it worth it coming here is no longer available,” Carneiro says.

ISAN has approached several University officials’ offices and are waiting to hear back as the deadline to register and pay fees approaches.

“We didn’t get a single response. The responses from the students have been very positive – we’ve got the support of various student groups and other campus bodies. The student union has been collaborating with us. But unfortunately we haven’t had a response from administration,” Carneiro explains.

The University of Toronto tells CityNews that incidental fees that cover on-campus experiences have been reduced.

“[They have] been adjusted accordingly to reflect that so much of university life will now be off-campus,” Joseph Wong, Vice-President, International at University of Toronto, says.

However, he says the international tuition fee increase is in line with their normal, annual fee increase. He adds that moving to online learning is not necessarily less expensive.

“We have had to invest significant amounts in terms of new education technology, academic divisions have been bringing in educational technology specialists, faculty instructors have been reworking their courses, in fact adding new elements to their courses that would likely not have occurred had the pandemic not occurred,” Wong says.

Wong also says classrooms are being fitted for a “dual delivery” system, with some students in class while others join online. They have had to be revamped with new equipment including hardware like mics and screens to accommodate both in-class and online learning.

“We want to create, as much as possible, an in-person like experience for all of the students and that requires huge investments. So you look at the renovated room — just the cost of hardware itself to make this happen and to continue to have a really high quality educational experience for our students requires resources,” he explains.

However, while all students, domestic and international, will benefit from the improvements, the only one’s facing a fee hike are international students, who already pay up to seven times the domestic tuition.

“Our domestic students, their fees or the expenses incurred to buy the same educational experience for them is subsidized by the government,” Wong says.

“Given the realities of where the levels of those subsidies are, they’re such that we’ve had to continue to increase our international student tuition — as we would normally. This is not an extraordinary increase, this is just part of our regular stepped increase.”

Along with a disruption in current studies, international students may also find their futures in limbo as some may not be able to fulfill the eligibility criteria for the Post Graduation Work Permit program (PGWP) thanks to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The length of a PGWP is dependent on the length of the program in which a student is enrolled.

In it’s latest update to eligibility criteria, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) says students enrolled in an eight or 12 month program, which starts between May and September 2020, can now complete their entire program online from outside Canada and still be eligible for a PGWP.

Those in longer programs can study online from abroad until April 30, 2021 and will have no time deducted from the length of a future post-graduation work permit — but they must still complete 50 per cent of their program while physically present in Canada.

For those currently outside the country, returning to Canada to fulfill that criteria might be tricky, as they have to prove their travel is “non-discretionary” or essential. With many universities offering courses online, proving it is essential for them to be physically present in Canada could be complicated.

Ziah Sumar, an immigration lawyer with Long Mangalji LLP, says some international students may be allowed to return based on other criteria — for example, if an international student moved to Canada and was already living here and went back home for a vacation.

“IRCC has said that the “non-discretionary” [criteria] includes people who are already living in Canada. Technically by IRCC’s definition they should be able to travel back to Canada,” she says.

“With that being said, the IRCC says they “may” be able to and in the end the final decision is up to the border services officer.”

The IRCC confirms on its website that “a border services officer will make the final decision on whether your reason for travelling to Canada is non-discretionary or non-optional.”

Both University of Toronto and Ryerson University say international students will be provided with documentation to prove their travel is essential should they wish to return.

CityNews reached out to the IRCC to confirm whether those documents would be sufficient proof to re-enter the country and they would only say that the criteria for entry for international students remain the same.

N.S. woman in appeals court to prevent husband from receiving medical aid in dying

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Aug 26th, 2020

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s appeals court is scheduled to hear a case today involving a woman who is trying to stop her husband from receiving medical assistance in dying.

The woman is appealing a lower court decision that rejected her request for an interlocutory injunction against her husband until the full case can be heard on its merits.

In his Aug. 7 decision, Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Peter Rosinski concluded the man would suffer irreparable harm if such an injunction were granted.

The man’s request for medical aid in dying was approved and scheduled for July.

According to court documents, the man says he is near the end of his life due to advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but his wife maintains his wish to die is based on anxiety and delusions.

The couple are in their 80s and have been married 48 years.

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

The Canadian Press

Bills anathema to social conservatives will test O’Toole’s leadership

JOAN BRYDEN, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Aug 26th, 2020

OTTAWA — Newly minted Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole’s ability to manage social conservatives in his caucus and party will be put to an early test this fall when the Liberal government reintroduces legislation on medical assistance in dying.

And it will be tested again when the government reintroduces a bill to ban conversion therapy, a discredited and traumatic practice aimed at repressing non-heterosexual  behaviours or to make a person’s gender identity match the sex assigned at birth.

Both bills are controversial among social conservatives, who proved to be a decisive factor in O’Toole’s victory early Monday in the Conservative leadership race.

And O’Toole himself has raised concerns about them, notwithstanding his declared position as a pro-choice Conservative and LGBTQ rights advocate.

O’Toole has promised to put an end to the ambiguity on issues like abortion and gay rights that bedevilled his predecessor, Andrew Scheer, while respecting the right of social conservatives to express their views.

He’ll get a chance to square that circle this fall as the government rushes to pass a bill to amend the law on assisted dying to conform with a court ruling last fall, which struck down a provision that allows only individuals already near death to end their lives with medical help.

The bill was first introduced in February but it was still in the initial stage of the legislative process when Parliament was adjourned in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It died on the order paper when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prorogued Parliament last week but the government intends to reintroduce it shortly after Parliament resumes on Sept. 23.

The court, which initially gave the government six months to change the law, has since granted two extensions. The government now has until Dec. 18 and Justice Minister David Lametti’s office says the government is determined to meet that deadline.

“Our government has every intention of meeting the court’s deadline,” said spokeswoman Rachel Rappaport.

O’Toole voted against the original bill that legalized assisted dying following a landmark Supreme Court ruling on the subject. In his leadership platform, he courted social conservatives by promising to protect “the conscience rights of all health care professionals whose beliefs, religious or otherwise, prevent them from carrying out or referring patients for services that violate their conscience.”

That promise flies in the face of a unanimous Ontario Court of Appeal ruling in May 2019, which said doctors who have moral objections to providing health services like abortion or assisted death must provide patients with an “effective referral” to another doctor.

Conservative MP Derek Sloan, an avowed social conservative who finished last in the four-person leadership contest, went a step further in his platform. He promised to claw back equalization payments from provinces that don’t guarantee the conscience rights of health care professionals.

Leslyn Lewis, another unabashed social conservative who finished a strong third in the race, promised to stop the expansion of assisted dying to “new categories” of Canadians.

Between them, Lewis and Sloan scooped up more than 40 per cent of the votes cast. When they were dropped off the ballot, thousands of their supporters moved to O’Toole, propelling him to a decisive third-ballot victory over Peter MacKay.

At his first news conference Tuesday since winning the leadership, O’Toole brushed off a Liberal dare to prove he’s not in the pocket of social conservatives by booting Sloan out of the Conservative caucus.

Liberals accused Sloan of having made anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ comments, among them that the bill to ban conversion therapy is tantamount to legalized “child abuse.”

That bill was introduced in March, one week before Parliament was adjourned for the pandemic. There is as yet no timetable for reintroducing it but Rappaport said, “we will absolutely be moving forward with that commitment.”

Some nine municipalities, including Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver, have passed bylaws banning conversion therapy. Ottawa city council is to vote on a motion today urging the federal government to quickly reintroduce the bill to ban the practice nationally.

Rappaport said the Liberal government hopes “all political parties will join us in defending the rights of LGBTQ2 Canadians and unequivocally support a ban on conversion therapy.”

But if O’Toole is true to his word to respect the views of Sloan and other social conservatives in his caucus, unequivocal Conservative support for the bill is unlikely.

O’Toole himself raised eyebrows during the leadership race when he appeared to suggest that the bill doesn’t respect the right of religious leaders to have conversations with “members of their flock” about sexual orientation or gender identity.

His campaign later clarified that O’Toole supports a ban on “coercive, degrading actions that seek to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity” but has concerns about the way the legislation was drafted.

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

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Aug. 26

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Aug 26th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Aug. 26, 2020:

There are 125,969 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 61,803 confirmed (including 5,746 deaths, 54,850 resolved)

_ Ontario: 41,607 confirmed (including 2,800 deaths, 37,748 resolved)

_ Alberta: 13,083 confirmed (including 235 deaths, 11,714 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 5,242 confirmed (including 203 deaths, 4,114 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,601 confirmed (including 23 deaths, 1,490 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,080 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,011 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,018 confirmed (including 13 deaths, 606 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 268 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 265 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 190 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 178 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 44 confirmed (including 41 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 125,969 (0 presumptive, 125,969 confirmed including 9,090 deaths, 112,050 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

New Conservative leader Erin O’Toole to lay out his blueprint for party

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Aug 25th, 2020

OTTAWA — Newly elected Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole will speak to reporters today for the first time since his victory in the leadership race.

His plan for a news conference after the results were announced was scuttled after delays in vote counting pushed the reveal into the wee hours of Monday morning.

O’Toole spent his first day on the job meeting with senior members of the party, including former leader Andrew Scheer, as he strives to refresh the Opposition Leader’s Office and the party’s front benches.

A key strategy for the O’Toole campaign had been to focus on the fact that he had a seat in the House of Commons and was ready to start the work to defeat the Liberal government right away.

He and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did speak Monday, a call both sides said was cordial and touched on the rigours of a campaign as well as also the prorogation of Parliament.

It’s set to return on Sept. 23 with a throne speech laying out the minority Liberal government’s post-pandemic plan and will be followed by a confidence vote.

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

The Canadian Press

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

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Aug 25th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 3:00 a.m. on Aug. 25, 2020:

There are 125,647 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 61,741 confirmed (including 5,744 deaths, 54,761 resolved)

_ Ontario: 41,507 confirmed (including 2,798 deaths, 37,673 resolved)

_ Alberta: 13,006 confirmed (including 234 deaths, 11,600 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 5,184 confirmed (including 203 deaths, 4,068 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,602 confirmed (including 22 deaths, 1,482 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,080 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,008 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 993 confirmed (including 12 deaths, 586 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 268 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 265 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 189 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 178 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 44 confirmed (including 40 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 125,647 (0 presumptive, 125,647 confirmed including 9,083 deaths, 111,694 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

What it’s like to get cancer care during a pandemic

THE BIG STORY | posted Tuesday, Aug 25th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, it’s perhaps the worst news you can imagine getting—and the only way to make it worse is to get it via videoconference in the midst of a pandemic. COVID-19 has forced sudden changes to the medical system, and created a flood of new health questions for anyone at risk. But do we have the answers? How do we give patients the care they need for life-threatening illnesses, and the support they need to fight through them, when we’re still learning about a new virus?

GUEST: Anne Borden, writer, host of Noncompliant.

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Erin O’Toole faces new navigating challenge as Conservative leader

STEPHANIE LEVITZ, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Aug 24th, 2020

OTTAWA — Among Erin O’Toole’s jobs in the military was navigating a Sea King helicopter over the skies of Canada, and now he takes on the challenge of journeying through political terrain as the new leader of the federal Conservative party.

O’Toole, 47, grew up in a political home. His father was a longtime member of the Ontario legislature, but after leaving the military where he served in the Royal Canadian Air Force, the younger O’Toole built a career outside of politics before jumping into the fray himself in a 2012 byelection.

For the next five years, he steadily built up his political profile, including as veterans affairs minister. In the wake of the 2015 election that saw the Conservatives lose power, he decided to take a run at the top job when it became vacant after the resignation of Stephen Harper.

He finished third in the 2017 race, and it was his supporters who ultimately handed Andrew Scheer the victory that year.

Among the top finishers in that contest, O’Toole would go on to stand alone among those who remained close to Scheer going forward.

While Maxime Bernier, who placed second, quit and formed his own party, and fourth-place Brad Trost was forced to fight for a new nomination to run again as an MP, which he lost, O’Toole was rewarded with the plum post of foreign affairs critic.

He used it to keep building a brand, becoming a hawk on China policy and an early adopter of the right wing’s aversion to what became known as “cancel culture,” a movement that broadly refers to historical or contemporary figures being shunned for their actions or opinions.

Taking that road helped O’Toole build the connections in the party’s more right-wing camps and he would spend this leadership campaign leaning on them.

For the campaign, he adopted an aggressive posture, riffing off U.S. President Donald Trump’s call to “make America great again” by adopting a pledge to “take Canada back.”

While at one point he was expected to run away with the race in Alberta, an early stumble on energy policy that saw him promise to end fossil fuel subsidies, but then reverse his position, cost him some support.

But overall, his tone was a marked difference for a man who had been brought into cabinet in 2015 partially because he was known to be an affable and calm communicator who could smooth over strained relations with the veterans community.

He didn’t entirely eschew presenting a gentler side, showcasing his wife and children often in campaign videos. As COVID-19 forced so many operations to move digital, his daughter Mollie was trained up on how to work a video camera, while his son Jack helped him prepare for virtual meetings.

His children and his wife Rebecca, to whom he has been married for 20 years, joined him for the results.

In one of his last messages in the campaign, O’Toole described the party to a family of sorts, comparing the leadership race to a long Thanksgiving dinner where disparate views were aired but the contenders would come together in the end.

He vowed to lead that cause in his speech Monday morning.

“You put your faith in me to lead this historic party and I am honoured and humbled. I promise you, I will not let you down.”

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

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

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