• 'Millions of masks' expected as 3M faces pressure over equipment exports
    News
    CBC

    'Millions of masks' expected as 3M faces pressure over equipment exports

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada is due to receive a shipment of "millions of masks" in the coming days, as a major medical device manufacturer remains under continued pressure from the United States to cease its exports of similar protective equipment. "We're working around the clock to get Canada the resources we need," Trudeau said during his daily address to Canadians Saturday. "In the next 48 hours, we will be receiving a shipment of millions of masks by a chartered cargo flight. We are also working with provinces to transport their medical supplies when possible."A spokesperson for Procurement Minister Anita Anand confirmed to CBC News that the plane would be travelling from China bearing millions of surgical masks, as well as other supplies intended for Quebec-based companies. The news comes as Minnesota-based company 3M revealed Friday that because of the Trump administration's invocation of the Defence Production Act — which allows the president to boost industrial production of critically needed goods — the manufacturer is under orders not to send U.S.-made N95 masks to other countries, including Canada. In a statement, 3M said that halting such exports could adversely affect America's own supply if other countries choose to retaliate, prompting President Donald Trump to reveal that his administration was "not at all happy" with the company.Trudeau addressed the dispute during his Friday briefing, stating that failing to send supplies destined for Canada "could end up hurting Americans as much as it hurts anybody else." But the prime minister said Saturday that he wasn't seeking retaliatory measures against the U.S. — such as blocking Canadian nurses from Windsor, Ont., from travelling across the American border to work in Detroit."We are not looking at retaliatory measures or measures that are punitive. We know that it is in both of our interests to continue to work collaboratively and co-operatively," Trudeau said.He added that his government is "continuing to engage in constructive discussions with different levels within the [Trump] administration" to preserve the flow of goods and services across U.S.-Canada border.Watch: Trudeau says Canada won't retaliate against the U.S.Canada setting sights on domestic manufacturersOnly surgical masks — rather than the N95 masks at the centre of the 3M dispute — will be on board the plane from China, Anand's office said.The federal government said earlier this week it had already ordered 65 million N95 masks, which provide a higher degree of protection against COVID-19 than ones coming from China.The prime minister said that the federal government has now "leased a warehouse in China" to collect and distribute supplies more efficiently."We are also turning towards Canadian manufacturers [given] the tremendous effort that Canadian companies are putting in to develop made-in-Canada products, PPE and medical supplies," Trudeau said, mentioning that those supplies could also be sent to other countries who need them.Ontario Premier Doug Ford asked Health Canada Saturday to expedite the approval process that would allow local companies to start producing the necessary supplies."I can't stand relying on other countries or other leaders when we have the capabilities right here in Ontario," he said. "We just need to get these approvals going."Ford added that Canada's dispute with the U.S. over the export restrictions had soured his view of a country he greatly admires."It shouldn't come down to this. We have a thousand nurses leaving Ontario that we're in desperate need [of] going to help Americans."Dispute comes as stark provincial projections releasedConcerns over Canada's stock of medical goods and protective equipment come as projections of COVID-19's spread in the province of Ontario were revealed on Friday.Provincial health experts predict the virus could take the lives of 3,000 to 15,000 Ontarians over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, which could last for 18 months to two years."Had we done nothing, Ontario may have suffered 100,000 deaths," said Dr. Peter Donnelly, who leads Public Health Ontario. "Thankfully, that is not the position we are in."The projections also indicated that in Ontario, COVID-19 has a 16 per cent mortality rate for people over the age of 80 — just below global levels of around 20 per cent.Both Alberta and Quebec are expected to release their projections next week.Also included in Trudeau's Saturday briefing were additional details about the federal government's plan for vulnerable Canadians, including a previously-announced $40 million for women's shelters and sexual assault centres and $10 million for Indigenous women and children fleeing violence. The prime minister said that communities set to receive the funding had been identified and will now be receiving aid.

  • Trump suggests firing watchdog was payback for impeachment
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Trump suggests firing watchdog was payback for impeachment

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump suggested that he fired the inspector general for the intelligence community in retaliation for impeachment, saying the official was wrong to provide an anonymous whistleblower complaint to Congress as the law requires.Trump called Michael Atkinson a “disgrace” after informing Congress late Friday night that he intended to fire him. In letters to the House and Senate intelligence committees, Trump wrote that he had lost confidence in Atkinson but gave little detail.A day later, Trump was more blunt, telling reporters at the White House: “I thought he did a terrible job, absolutely terrible.” The president added: “He took a fake report and he took it to Congress with an emergency, OK? Not a big Trump fan, that I can tell you.”The whistleblower report was not fake, but a detailed complaint written by an anonymous intelligence official who described Trump's pressure on Ukraine to investigate Democrat Joe Biden and his son. Atkinson determined the complaint was urgent and credible and therefore was required by law to disclose it to Congress, but he was overruled for weeks by the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire.After a firestorm sparked by media reports of the complaint, it was turned over and made public. A congressional inquiry led to Trump's impeachment by the House in December. The GOP-led Senate acquitted Trump in February.On Saturday, Trump questioned why Atkinson didn’t speak to him about the complaint, though Atkinson’s role is to provide independent oversight.“Never came in to see me, never requested to see me,” Trump said. He added: “That man is a disgrace to IGs.”Atkinson’s removal is part of a larger shakeup of the intelligence community under Trump, who has always viewed intelligence professionals with skepticism. His ouster came under immediate fire from Democrats and a handful of Republicans.Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Iowa Republican who leads the Finance Committee, said that Congress has been “crystal clear” that written reasons must be given when inspectors general are removed for a lack of confidence.“More details are needed from the administration," Grassley said.Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a GOP member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she didn't find Trump's reasoning in his Friday letter to be persuasive, and said Atkinson's removal “was not warranted.” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., said an inspector general "must be allowed to conduct his or her work independent of internal or external pressure.”Trump's criticism Saturday came after Atkinson's peers had rushed to his defence. Michael Horowitz, the inspector general at the Justice Department, said Atkinson was known for his “integrity, professionalism, and commitment to the rule of law and independent oversight." He said that included Atkinson's actions in handling the Ukraine whistleblower complaint.Asked during his daily coronavirus briefing about firing Atkinson, Trump returned to his attacks on the Democratic-led impeachment investigation and trial and his defence that his phone call with Ukraine’s president was “perfect” but had been inaccurately described in the whistleblower’s account. In fact, the partial transcript later released by the president largely supported the whistleblower’s account.Atkinson is at least the seventh intelligence official to be fired, ousted or moved aside since last summer. In his letters to the intelligence committees informing them of the firing, which were obtained by The Associated Press, Trump said that it is “vital” that he has confidence in the appointees serving as inspectors general, and “that is no longer the case with regard to this inspector general.”Trump said Atkinson would be removed from office in 30 days, the required amount of time he must wait after informing Congress. He wrote that he would nominate an individual “who has my full confidence” at a later date.According to two congressional officials, Atkinson has been placed on administrative leave, meaning he will not serve out the 30 days. One of the officials said Atkinson was only informed of his removal on Friday night. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because Atkinson’s administrative leave had not been announced.Atkinson’s firing thrusts the president’s impeachment back into the spotlight as his administration deals with the deadly spread of the coronavirus. As Trump was removing Atkinson, the number of U.S. deaths due to the virus topped 7,000. By the time of his remarks Saturday, it was over 8,100.The top Democrat on the Senate intelligence panel, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, said it was unconscionable that Trump would fire Atkinson in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.“We should all be deeply disturbed by ongoing attempts to politicize the nation’s intelligence agencies,” Warner said.House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who led the House impeachment inquiry, said “the president’s dead of night decision puts our country and national security at even greater risk.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the firing “threatens to have a chilling effect against all willing to speak truth to power.” And Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Trump “fires people for telling the truth.”Tom Monheim, a career intelligence professional, will become the acting inspector general for the intelligence community, according to an intelligence official who was not authorized to discuss personnel changes and spoke only on condition of anonymity. Monheim is currently the general counsel of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.Atkinson had hinted of frustration on the job in a March letter to Schumer, in which he said “the past six months have been a searing time for whistleblowers.” Atkinson was responding to a letter Schumer had sent to agency inspectors general asking them to document and investigate any instances of retaliation after Trump had threatened the anonymous whistleblower.In the letter to Schumer, obtained by the AP, Atkinson said support for whistleblowers would be rendered meaningless if “whistleblowers actually come forward in good faith with information concerning an extraordinary matter and are allowed to be vilified, threatened, publicly ridiculed, or — perhaps even worse, utterly abandoned by fair weather whistleblower champions.”Late Saturday, Schumer tweeted that he had spoken to Atkinson and thanked him for his service. Schumer said he told Atkinson that "history will remember him as a hero and those who retaliated against him as scoundrels.”Mary Clare Jalonick, Kevin Freking And Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press

  • News
    The Canadian Press

    B.C.'s health officer says decrease in COVID cases 'heartening'

    VICTORIA — British Columbia's medical health officer says the province seems to be holding its own against COVID-19, which is why officials are so cautious about people returning from other areas of the world.Dr. Bonnie Henry said Saturday that repatriation flights from India and others are in the works and health officials in B.C. are consulting with federal agencies to determine what will happen with those people."I think it's safe to say we were, we had some concerns that the strength of the response at all of the airports and land border crossings were not strong enough yet. So, we want to look at how we can support the federal agencies in making sure that everybody is aware of the requirements when they come back."Henry said people travelling may not be aware of the rapid changes that have taken place because of COVID-19 or that they need to be isolated for 14 days after travel.She said some B.C. residents who were on a cruise ship that arrived in Florida on Friday have been allowed to return to the province and are self-isolating in their homes.Three more people died of the virus since Friday for a total of 38. Henry said there were 29 new cases diagnosed in the same time period, bringing the number of cases to 1,203. Just over 700 people have fully recovered from the virus.Henry said the lower number of cases diagnosed indicates the curve may be flattening."But I am heartened that we are seeing that decrease in acceleration. If we had continued to see that 24, 25 per cent increase, we would have had many, many more cases and that's very concerning."If the numbers hold, that would allow the province to deliver health care for both COVID-19 patients and other ailments that are affecting people, she said.Henry said B.C. scientists and health experts are working with others around the world to understand the virus."There's some evidence that this coronavirus is behaving like other coronaviruses, which means that when we have increased UV light and warmer temperatures it tends to fade away."That would mean it could come back in the fall like many other respiratory viruses, even with all the measures being taken, Henry said."The one caveat to that is when a new virus is introduced into a human population, for which we have no immunity, it may not fade away in the ways we would see once it's been circulating for a while."It's still unclear how COVID-19 might spread in the months ahead, she said.COVID-19 has been diagnosed in another long-term care facility in the province, bringing the total to 23 care homes affected. Henry said in all but two of those facilities, the outbreak has been limited to one or two positive cases.This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 4, 2020. The Canadian Press

  • The inexact science involved in predicting the likely path of COVID-19
    News
    The Canadian Press

    The inexact science involved in predicting the likely path of COVID-19

    TORONTO — Data experts are cautioning already on-edge Canadians against taking Ontario's dire predictions about COVID-19 deaths literally, even as the revelation of stark data coincided with more physical distancing measures and impassioned pleas by government and health officials to stay home.In presenting the data Friday, the president and CEO of Public Health Ontario said staying home could be the difference between 6,000 deaths by April 30 or 1,600 deaths. Deaths could drop to 200 if further measures are brought in, said Dr. Peter Donnelly.Officials also offered a glimpse at what might happen over the length of the outbreak, which could stretch from 18 months to two years, but cautioned those scenarios become less certain the further into the future they are set.If Ontario had not enacted various interventions including school closures, up to 100,000 people would die from COVID-19, said Donnelly. But with various public health measures, deaths could number between 3,000 and 15,000, he said.Pandemic experts say such projections are not really meant to predict the future, but rather to provide a general guide for policy-makers and health-care systems grappling with a growing pandemic.Ideally, the information should also assure average citizens that their individual actions can make a difference, said University of Toronto epidemiology professor Ashleigh Tuite."That's really important feedback to share not just within government, but with the population at large because everybody has a really huge investment in this," says Tuite, who has created her own projections for the spread of COVID-19."The answer may be it's going to take longer than we thought. And although that's not the desired answer, it's a possible answer. Communicating that (is) going to be really critical, especially if we're looking at longer time horizons."Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Saturday he's seen a range of projections."We know the situation is serious," Trudeau said. "What actually happens, depends on the choices we make every single day. We can change the predictions."Provincial health officials have urged the public to "bear down hard" on isolation measures meant to break the chain of COVID-19 transmission, pointing to best- and worst-case scenarios they say largely depend on compliance.The data was quickly followed by news of more closures, making it clear why Ontario was suddenly pushing out the warning, says Tuite."We're in a situation where we need buy-in from everybody. And so I think treating people like adults and having these conversations and explaining what we know and what we don't know — and where we're learning and where we potentially failed — I don't think that that's a bad thing. As a society, we need to have that dialogue."Various assumptions were used to make Ontario's model, and Donnelly cautioned that "modelling and projecting is a very inexact science.""In the early days of an epidemic it's all about providing an important early steer to policy-makers, about what they should be doing. And that's what happened in Ontario," he said."Because as soon as command table saw the figures that suggested that there could be an overall mortality of between 90 and 100,000, they moved very quickly to shut the schools, which was the right thing to do."Modelling may be imperfect, but policy makers would basically be operating blind without them, says Dionne Aleman, an industrial engineering professor at the University of Toronto.She notes these educated guesses can help answer big questions dogging many hospitals: When will the surge of COVID-19 patients arrive? Do we have enough intensive care beds? How many patients will need ventilators? Are there enough nurses?Still, a model will only ever be as good as the data it's based on, and during a pandemic "it is essentially impossible to obtain real data," says Aleman, whose work has included building a simulation model of a hypothetical pandemic to explore how factors including transmission rates affect health-care demands."Real data wasn't really available for H1N1 which is just 10 years ago and it's not really available now," says Aleman, noting many holes in the COVID-19 statistics available for epidemiological study."A lot of it is just the date that the person became COVID-19 positive, how they contracted the disease, their age and their gender. But a lot of other information like comorbidities, such as (whether they had) asthma or diabetes, did they ultimately need hospitalization? Ventilators? A lot of that information is not really publicly available in the data sets.... It's not just that it's been stripped out, but it literally says: 'Not recorded' or 'Unknown,' which means that this information is just not known by the public health agencies."Even with good data, models pretty much just summarize what we know at a given point in time, says Tuite. As more information is gathered, their findings will change.Tuite cautions people against leaning on projections as fact. She also says people shouldn't discount them when their predictions don't pan out."The information that we get next week may change those projections. And that's OK," says Tuite."You've seen that in the U.K. where they're refining their estimates of expected mortality. They're not refining them because their models were wrong per se. They're refining them because they have additional information.... The ability to correct yourself or to adjust those estimates, is to me the sign of good science."This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 4, 2020.Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press

  • Spring cleaning? Hold off on trips to the landfill during COVID-19 pandemic, officials say
    News
    CBC

    Spring cleaning? Hold off on trips to the landfill during COVID-19 pandemic, officials say

    B.C. residents spending extra time at home are getting a head start on spring cleaning, but officials are asking everyone to consider hold off on clothing donations and trips to the landfill for now. In Metro Vancouver, officials are asking people to store at home any dry recyclables and other waste that can wait."To keep staff and the public as safe as possible, consider delaying your visit unless absolutely necessary," the regional district said on its website.Metro Vancouver solid waste facilities are also not accepting cash payment, and have several other restrictions on what they will take.In Prince George, April and May tend to be the busiest months at the landfill as people clean out junk drawers and tackle home renovation projects, said Laura Zapotichny, manager of the waste diversion program for the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George.Landfill and transfer stations remain open to the public with regular hours. Zapotichny says that access will depend somewhat on the public's cooperation to minimize strain on the service. What can wait?Residents should follow some ground rules for donations and dumping during the COVID-19 pandemic — and ask themselves whether it can wait, she added. "We want people to be using our landfills sparingly," Zapotichny said."Really ask yourself if it's something that needs immediate disposal, or can it be disposed of later?"This includes items like tires, or old fridges and freezers, she said. "Once we're through the COVID-19 situation we'll be able to accept and take a lot more of those products easier."In March, the district saw an average 120 non-commercial vehicles coming to the landfill each day.'Only come when necessary'Zapotichny said people should think of visits to the landfill like visits to the grocery store during the pandemic.That means reducing trips, distancing themselves from others and limiting cash transactions.Residents are asked to bring debit or credit cards instead, and are limited to one person per bin to ensure physical distancing. Zapotichny says residents should maximize their use of curbside collection for waste and recyclables this spring. Not all bottle depots in the province are open, she said, so it's also a good idea to call before you head out. Hygiene products like used tissues, sanitary wipes (including those labelled as compostable or flushable), face masks and gloves should be put in plastic bags before going into the garbage bin.B.C. residents have been "really, really good" at following provincial health orders, Zapotichny said. Those practices should be kept in mind for spring cleaning as well, she said. "If people continue to follow those rules, bag their garbage, stay away from each other when they're at the facilities, get the waste into the bins, don't linger, only come when necessary, I think all of those tings will contribute to our operations remaining open," she said.

  • The price of caring for a relative at home could be a private care bed
    News
    CBC

    The price of caring for a relative at home could be a private care bed

    A Nova Scotia woman is worried her mother won't be able to go back to her private room in continuing care after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.Cathy Cooper took her 78-year old mother, Lenora Crowley, out of the Alderwood rest home in Baddeck, N.S., on March 15, after finding out visitations would no longer be allowed in an effort to slow the spread of the virus."We've all been hearing so much about nursing homes and how they're hot spots [for the virus] and it's dangerous.... I'm better off bringing her home," Cooper said.The nurse was "reluctant" to let her go, Cooper said, but the direction at the time was about limiting visitors and said nothing of people leaving the facility.Now her mother runs the risk of losing her room to someone else.30-day holding policyUnder the province's facility placement policy, continuing-care service providers can only hold an empty bed for 30 days before releasing it."I do feel it's terrible that she has to make that trade: physical safety, mental well-being or ... my room," she said.Cooper said she knew about the policy, but reached out to the Department of Health and Wellness to ask for leniency.She was told her mother's room would not be saved, but that a room would be available for her at the home at some point. While it's not clear whether that means weeks, months, or even years, Cooper said the response gave her a "little bit of a relief."When Cooper called the facility to find out what would happen to her mother's furniture and belongings after 30 days, she was told they'd leave them outside for her to pick up."That's very disturbing to me," she said.Isolated in careCrowley suffers from dementia and has had a series of strokes, which affects her ability to socialize with others."She's sort of in isolation when she's at the home because everyone tries, but she's not able to have conversations much," Cooper said.The province announced last week it would be giving 800 iPads to seniors in long-term care homes to give them a way to connect virtually with their loved ones, but Cooper said using a device like that is outside of her mother's capacity.The mother-daughter duo is close. Cooper visited her mother in her care home seven days a week, and often took her out on day trips. She said it would be "very difficult" for both of them to be apart.Cooper is on disability leave and has been recovering from a stroke for the past nine months, so she said her home is already outfitted for a person with mobility issues.Resident removal 'not encouraged'Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, said in a press conference Friday that he would "not encourage" people to remove their relatives from long-term care facilities.When it comes to taking seniors out of homes, Strang said there are a few key factors to consider.Those include whether the family has the ability to provide the necessary care, and if the household can apply the same level of restrictions and cleaning procedures as a care home.Strang also said if the resident did get sick while in the family's home they would have to be transported to hospital, but if they got sick in the long-term care facility they would likely be cared for within the facility.A representative from Alderwood said in an email statement it is their understanding that the province will work with the resident and the family to find a solution."If families decided to make that choice, then we would work with them and the operator on what would be the appropriate transition," Premier Stephen McNeil said on Friday.Cooper said she understands the province's position, but she remains confident in her actions."I feel at peace with it. I made what I feel is the only decision I could make for myself and my mother," she said.MORE TOP STORIES

  • B.C. outdoor wear companies change gears, start making protective gowns for health-care workers
    News
    CBC

    B.C. outdoor wear companies change gears, start making protective gowns for health-care workers

    A B.C. company specializing in making life jackets and survival suits has jumped into the COVID-19 crisis to manufacture life-protecting hospital gowns for B.C.'s health workers. Mustang Survival of Burnaby, B.C., has partnered with a team of local apparel makers to deliver 90,000 gowns to Vancouver Coastal Health in the coming weeks. "As soon as we started to hear [about the gown] shortages ... we expected to jump in and start helping out," said Mark Anderson, head of engineering at Mustang Survival.Mustang Survival has retooled its production, dropping life jackets and survival suits for the time being to re-focus on making another kind of survival gear altogether: high quality hospital gowns. Mustang and other clothing makers worked with Vancouver Coastal Health for two weeks to figure out the right design for the gowns, known as isolation gowns.Vancouver Coastal Health 'progressive'Anderson credits Vancouver Coastal Health for having the foresight to approach the B.C. Apparel and Gear Association about two weeks ago — as isolation measures were ramping up — to see if its members might be able to help provide gowns and even masks. "Vancouver Coastal Health was very progressive," said Anderson, who is also chair of the association. Mustang Survival worked with fellow members, including Arc'teryx, Boardroom Clothing and KenDor Textiles to source fabric, design, manufacture, and sew the gowns, he said. Another company, K-Bro Linen Systems, which launders surgical linens and gowns for Vancouver Coastal Health, checked for washability.Like a rain jacketThe gowns had to be made to exact specifications, but because the material normally used for medical gowns is in short supply worldwide, a bit of creativity was required.So Anderson says his company "pivoted" and decided to use materials his company was already using in its waterproof jackets and dry suits. "It's a waterproof breathable membrane, so similar to what you'd have in a rain jacket or a ski jacket."The gowns are also washable and reusable. He says someone at the hospital joked  "some people are going to take these gowns home they're so nice."In a written statement to CBC, Vancouver Coastal Health said it's "grateful for the generous collaboration of community partners" and wants to work as much as possible with local businesses for solutions.Anderson did not say how much VCH is paying for the gowns, but that they are "below market rate." Arc'teryx starts this weekendArc'teryx, an outdoor wear company that was founded in B.C. but is now owned by a Chinese parent company, says it is gearing up its facility in New Westminster to start manufacturing hospital gowns this weekend.In an email, Shirley Chan, director of product quality at Arc'teryx, said the company worked quickly to "pattern, test prototypes and create specs" for the local apparel industry to produce the gowns. Anderson says his association is now getting calls from hospitals in places like Toronto and the United States that also want to purchase the gowns. His company intends to produce 5,000 gowns a week for the next two months. "It's a very special feeling for me to feel that you can actually help and try and do something," he said. CBC Vancouver's Impact Team investigates and reports on stories that impact people in their local community and strives to hold individuals, institutions and organizations to account. If you have a story for us, email impact@cbc.ca.

  • Parents of children with autism call on Quebec for more support during pandemic
    News
    CBC

    Parents of children with autism call on Quebec for more support during pandemic

    Before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the shutdown of all non-essential services in Quebec, mornings for Fiona Cavanaugh and her family of five looked much like any other family's: wake up, have breakfast, brush teeth, go to school. But for Cavanaugh's five-year-old son James — who is at the severe end of the autism spectrum — that routine is paramount."James is, in a lot of ways, a typical five year old, just one that has a lot more rigidity around routine, and some higher needs," Cavanaugh said. Cavanaugh wants to see the province ensure that all health and social services on which special needs children rely are classified as essential, otherwise she says her son is at risk of experiencing significant long-term consequences, and possibly years of regression. She told CBC's Quebec AM school closures have already had an adverse effect on James. "This change in routine is hard to explain to him, because he just doesn't understand what is going on," Cavanaugh said. "For him, this change in routine is sort of like us not having any air to breathe. He relies on this for him to understand the world." James has primary language disorder: he is mostly non-verbal, and does not understand the use of language or its purpose, so Cavanaugh said explaining the change in routine to him is virtually impossible. He typically attends kindergarten for about 2.5 hours a day before his appointments with specialists, including neuropsychologists, speech therapists, dieticians and nutritionists. He also sees someone from the Centre de réadaptation en déficience intellectuelle de Québec (CRDI), which provides various therapies and behavioural management for children. CRDI spokesperson Mireille Ouellet said the organization is considered essential, but that some services have had to be adapted, and emergency cases are being prioritized. Cavanaugh said the CRDI has been checking in on James regularly, but that he is not considered an emergency case, despite increasingly frequent meltdowns. For James, she said, meltdowns look like full crisis panic attacks, which can lead to animalistic and very aggressive behaviour. Whereas they typically happen a few times a day, since the shutdowns and James' change in routine, they're happening almost every hour. "As much as we try to continue his therapies, we are not licensed therapists, and the way a child is going to react to us is going to be different from how they react to a therapist," Cavanaugh said, explaining it is hard for a child with autism to understand when a parent tries to switch from parent to teacher.  The mom of three said she has already seen some regression in James: he is starting to lose skills, like now barely using a fork and spoon to eat. "I just wish there was more understanding that these therapies are not just to get to an end goal for these children, this is a therapy to help this child be independent one day," she said."We preach that early intervention is essential, until it's not essential." She said a few months of disruption in routine could spell years of delay for James and other children with autism. "Stopping services altogether for these children, they will regress quickly," Cavanaugh said. "Our main focus was how to make it work so he doesn't have a regression. We've just been on top of it as much as possible, doing as much as we can ourselves."Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge was not available for an interview, but a spokesperson for his office said the ministry is doing everything it can to help students during this time.

  • 'Park champions' to educate public on physical distancing in Vancouver parks, beaches
    News
    CBC

    'Park champions' to educate public on physical distancing in Vancouver parks, beaches

    The Vancouver Park Board is starting a new "park champion" program, where staff in bright green vests will remind the public the importance of physical distancing, or staying more than two metres apart to curb the spread of COVID-19.The program starts today, redeploying about 25 staff from recreation facilities to busy locations including Stanley Park, Kitsilano, Sunset Beach and English Bay, said park board general manager Malcolm Bromley."I'm asking everyone to please be respectful of their work, and please show your support," Bromley said during a news conference Saturday at English Bay.Two weeks ago, the park board closed all public outdoor recreation facilities within beaches and parks, as well as parking lots. Tennis courts and basketball rims have also been locked, and 166 playgrounds closed, he said.The park champions will be working to stop the remaining problem of people gathering outside."For now, the beaches and parks remain open, but if we continue to see people gather in groups, we will be forced to take other measures, even looking at closing further public spaces," he said.Education, not enforcementWhile Vancouver does have the ability to levy fines against individuals ignoring certain health orders, such as restaurant dining, Bromley said the park champions will be focused on education, not enforcement.He said so far, rangers have been doing that job, issuing more than 1,000 warnings, and the public has largely been cooperative."Typically it's people who aren't thinking, they're not being malicious, they're just following old habits," he said."We'll see evidence of people too close together, groups of unrelated people sitting on a log ... by and large people will say, 'Oh yeah, I forgot, thank you very much,' and they comply with that."That's why they decided to put "more boots on the ground" educating people, Bromley said.Bromley said the park board does not want to close parks and beaches — because access to outside space is important for mental and physical health at this stressful time — but people need to keep their distance.

  • Contagious singing as Corona Community Chorus unites voices
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Contagious singing as Corona Community Chorus unites voices

    NEW YORK — Casper ter Kuile lights a candle in front of his computer screen. And then the music begins.All around the world, linked by video, more than 100 people sing “Come, Come Whoever You Are,” lyrics adapted from a poem by Rumi, the 13th century Sufi mystic. Then, laughing together, “Kookaburra,” the Australian nursery rhyme. And then, in Hebrew, “Hinei Matov.”“How good and how pleasant it is that brothers dwell together” -- the words of King David from Psalm 133, a statement of optimism for a chorus that can only sing together virtually.This is the Corona Community Chorus. Each Sunday, it meets on Zoom to unite voices in isolation during the coronavirus outbreak.The chorus is hosted from the home of ter Kuile, a graduate of the Harvard Divinity School and the author of the upcoming book, “The Power of Ritual.” Using instruments like the traditional Indian accordion known as the shruti box, he leads the group through a multilingual repertoire.“I remember thinking, ‘You know, I’m not a doctor. I’m not a front-line person in any way,’” he says. “And knowing that the best advice right now is for folks to stay home, I thought maybe I can help by creating something that will make staying home a little bit more enjoyable.”The idea flourished in a Tweet: “If I hosted a Zoom singing circle tomorrow at 1pm ET, teaching a few simple songs/rounds, who would be into that?” he asked. “Reply if you’re game!”The response was surprising, he said. When he hosted the first meeting, dozens of faces from all over the U.S., Europe and Africa popped up in a grid on his screen.“I think for a lot of people, it was just a moment of really feeling connected,” ter Kuile says.“In this moment, of course we are having to physically isolate, but that doesn’t mean we have to socially disconnect.”In the chat, participants thank ter Kuile, or praise his husband Sean Lair, a former classical singer, for his “angelical” voice. “Thanks so much everybody for this magical music community,” says someone on Jacklyn’s Ipad. “My spirits are lifted.”In Scots Gaelic, the group sings the chorus to “The Boatman,” ter Kuile’s favourite song, and ends with a simple but powerful message in this time of uncertainty: “Done nobis pacem,” Latin for “grant us peace.”“You know, I think of these songs as medicine for my mind,” ter Kuile says.“That’s really what I wanted to share: That there’s so much skill in real medicine, in the hospital, but there are also ways in which we can care for ourselves and each other.”___While nonstop global news about the effects of the coronavirus have become commonplace, so, too, are the stories about the kindness of strangers and individuals who have sacrificed for others. “One Good Thing” is an AP continuing series reflecting these acts of kindness.___Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through the Religion News Foundation. The AP is solely responsible for this content.___Luis Andres Henao, The Associated Press

  • Coronavirus outbreak: Canada not considering retaliatory measures following Trump 3M order
    Global News

    Coronavirus outbreak: Canada not considering retaliatory measures following Trump 3M order

    Speaking to reporters during a daily briefing on the Canada’s COVID-19 response, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Saturday that his government is “not looking” at retaliatory or punitive measures following an order from U.S. President Donald Trump for the medical supply firm 3M to stop exporting N95 masks to Canada.

  • 'Dangerous' COVID-19 claims and bogus cures continue to spread in B.C.
    News
    CBC

    'Dangerous' COVID-19 claims and bogus cures continue to spread in B.C.

    Since the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to the normal way of life in B.C., Maple Ridge Coun. Kiersten Duncan has received a steady stream of misleading, false and dangerous claims on her Facebook page.Her constituents have sent her videos, audio recordings and memes, most of which contain a mix of true and false information about the novel coronavirus. That includes false claims that taking sips of warm water every 20 minutes will prevent infection and that high doses of zinc and vitamin C are effective treatments."They're sharing this information in the hope of helping other people and protecting them from the virus — not knowing that this information can actually be dangerous," Duncan told CBC."Even if it doesn't harm you, the problem is that people will believe in this and they stop washing their hands as frequently or touch their face more often or spend less time social distancing from others because they feel that they are safe or protected."False information about the novel coronavirus is flourishing on social media, shared by everyone from Duncan's Maple Ridge neighbours to the president of the United States.It's not all well-intentioned misunderstandings, either. Even though there are no proven treatments for the virus, there are also people and companies using the crisis to sell products and services they falsely claim can cure or prevent COVID-19.As of March 31, Health Canada says it has received more than 60 complaints about misleading marketing related to the outbreak."These reports include a wide range of products ... including some masks, colloidal silver, some disinfectants, plant-based elixirs and formulas, hand sanitizers, Chaga mushroom blends, ultraviolet lamps, and oregano oil," the federal body said in a safety alert last week.'Your greatest friend in the battle against SARS-CoV2'The complaints include one filed this week about an unlicensed product known as Immun-Tamin, produced by a Vancouver company called Meon Supplements.Until recently, the company's website stated that "Your greatest friend in the battle against SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes Covid-19, is your own immune system," and called Immun-Tamin the "next level of immune system boosters."A Health Canada spokesperson said the federal government hasn't received an application to license this supplement, and is looking into whether it violates Canadian law.The company's website was first registered on March 13, just two days after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.Personal trainer and Meon Supplements founder Ondrej Leipert told CBC in an email that he has never claimed Immun-Tamin can cure COVID-19, and he plans to include a disclaimer on his website stating as much when he receives a licence to sell it."What I have been promoting is that a healthy immune system is an excellent defence against a wide range of health-related concerns," Leipert said.He said he developed the supplement after he found himself spending more time at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, calling it "a product that I have been mentally building for many years."After CBC reached out to Liepert for comment, the listing for Immun-Tamin was removed from the Meon Supplements website.Doctors, nurses and pharmacists warnedIt's not just businesses selling questionable products that are facing scrutiny during this public health emergency. Medical professionals have been cautioned as well about the consequences of pushing dubious remedies.Last week, the B.C. colleges of pharmacists, nursing professionals and physicians and surgeons issued a joint statement warning professionals not to prescribe or dispense unproven treatments for COVID-19 outside of the context of a clinical trial.That includes hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, medications that U.S. President Donald Trump has touted as "game changers" for COVID-19, despite a lack of solid evidence of their effectiveness.Some of these drugs were already in short supply, according to the colleges."Due to these recent COVID-19 claims involving Hydroxychloroquine in particular, there has been a growth in demand and even more acute shortages. This brings serious potential consequences for patients who need this medication for other conditions including Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis," the joint statement says.The colleges of chiropractors and naturopathic physicians both issued warnings last month against misleading claims of "boosting immunity" or treating and preventing COVID-19. They face investigation and possible discipline if their marketing crosses the line.As for the unsubstantiated information being shared by Kiersten Duncan's constituents, she'd just prefer that they practise a bit more critical thinking."People need to be so cautious about what information they're taking in and trusting. If you don't know if something is reputable and you don't know if you can trust it — don't. It's as simple as that," she said.

  • Temporary foreign workers allowed, but farmers wonder when they'll arrive
    News
    CBC

    Temporary foreign workers allowed, but farmers wonder when they'll arrive

    Vernon River vegetable farmer Dale Hickox says he's counting on 70 temporary foreign workers from Mexico to help with this season's crop of cauliflower, broccoli and brussels sprouts.But the first group of workers is already overdue, and if they aren't able to make it this season, Hickox doesn't have much of a backup plan."I've got a Plan B, and that would be, there'll be nothing planted," he said. "I need 70 men, workers, to harvest my crop, and I won't bother to put it in the ground if it doesn't look like we're going to have the workers."Facing an outbreak of COVID-19, the federal government announced March 16 it would restrict non-residents from entering the country. Americans were briefly exempted.Then on March 27 — the day Hickox's first seven workers were supposed to arrive to help plant seedlings in his greenhouses — the government officially lifted the restriction to allow temporary foreign workers to come.Those workers are still required to be isolated for 14 days upon entering the country, just as they would be if they were Canadians returning home from abroad.Under the terms of the seasonal agricultural worker program, they're also required to obtain a clean bill of health before leaving their home country.Tens of thousands of temporary farm workers come to Canada each year from countries like Mexico and Jamaica, including 300-400 who come to P.E.I. each season.But just lifting the entry restriction isn't all that's required to get the workers to Canada when so many borders are closed, and commercial air travel has been disrupted because of the coronavirus pandemic.Already more than a month behindHickox said the agency that co-ordinates travel for his workers is planning to charter planes to bring them to Canada.His hope is to have the first group of workers here — and ready to work following their 14-day self-isolation — by the beginning of May, five weeks behind schedule.Robert Godfrey, executive director with the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture, said timing is "very crucial.""We have a tight window to grow things in this part of the world, so COVID-19 or not, the calendar moves forward, and we need to be positioned to go to the field, plant our crops, and service them and harvest them within that time period."Godfrey said the federation is part of regional discussions in the Maritimes around the logistics of getting the workers where they need to be once they arrive in Canada.Incoming international flights are restricted to four airports across the country, meaning workers for this region would arrive in either Toronto or Montreal. There are questions around how they will then get to farms in the Maritimes, and at what point they will be required to go into isolation.Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has provided some direction on how workers must be housed given the need to self-isolate. Godfrey said the industry is awaiting further guidelines."We have to be respectful of the people of Prince Edward Island and make sure that everybody is safe," he said.  "Not only just to protect general Islanders but to protect the local labour they also have in their workforce, giving them the reassurance that these temporary foreign workers that work alongside them ... are not carrying COVID-19."Appeal to laid-off workersGodfrey said temporary foreign workers make up eight per cent of P.E.I.'s farm labour supply. There are talks underway with the provincial Department of Agriculture on what to do if the workers arrive late, or in insufficient numbers."We've talked about the fact that there's a significant amount of people that have been unfortunately laid off given what's been going on. Is there a way to tap into that … bring people into the sector that haven't traditionally worked on a farm?"But Hickox said he advertised his jobs locally this year, as he does every year as one of the requirements for bringing in temporary foreign workers."My jobs were out there for three months and there [were] no takers," he said. He said he wouldn't want to bring in workers who had been laid off from other jobs."What happens to me if things return to somewhat normal in July or August and these people go back to their own jobs?"For now he said he's relying on family members to help get his greenhouses planted while waiting for his Mexican workers to arrive."If we don't get it done at this stage then there's no future. We have to start all our vegetables in the greenhouses and they have to go in now."COVID-19: What you need to knowWhat are the symptoms of COVID-19?Common symptoms include: * Fever. * Cough. * Tiredness.But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.Health Canada has built a self-assessment tool.What should I do if I feel sick?Isolate yourself and call 811. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested. A health professional at 811 will give you advice and instructions.How can I protect myself? * Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. * Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. * Clean regularly touched surfaces regularly.More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.More COVID-19 stories from CBC P.E.I.

  • News
    CBC

    2 treated for burns after Lowertown apartment fire

    Two people are being treated for burns after flames were seen on the second floor of a high-rise building near Lowertown."Upon arrival, firefighters confirmed smoke and flames visible and declared a working fire. Crews remain on scene to ventilate and check neighbouring units," a press release from the Ottawa Fire Services reads.The apartment building is located at 161 Augusta St., near Rideau Road.Two treated for burns According to the media release, firefighters responded to the call at approximately 8 a.m., alongside police and the Ottawa Paramedic Service.  Paramedics treated and transported two patients in critical condition to the burn centre at the Ottawa Hospital's General Campus. Fire under control by 8:30 a.m.A woman with severe burns and a man with possible burns in his airways are being treated."Firefighters rescued multiple occupants from inside the structure," the media release reads.The fire was declared to be out at 8:30 a.m.Fire crews remained on scene earlier this morning to ventilate and check nearby units.The cause of the fire is not yet known.

  • State of emergency in Ontario: What police can and can't do with expanded powers
    News
    Yahoo News Canada

    State of emergency in Ontario: What police can and can't do with expanded powers

    Police Officers in Ontario will now have the right to stop and have the public identify themselves or face hefty fines for violating their orders, according to a new power granted by the province of Ontario using the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA). 

  • 5G coronavirus conspiracy theory is dangerous fake nonsense, UK says
    News
    Reuters

    5G coronavirus conspiracy theory is dangerous fake nonsense, UK says

    A conspiracy theory that links 5G mobile telecommunications masts to the spread of the novel coronavirus is dangerous fake news and completely false, Britain said on Saturday after masts in several parts of the country were torched. When asked by a reporter about the so called "theory" that 5G telecommunications masts could play a role in the spread of the disease, British Cabinet Officer Minister Michael Gove said: "That is just nonsense, dangerous nonsense as well." Mobile phone masts have in recent days been vandalised and telecoms staff abused in Birmingham in central England and Merseyside in northern England, damaging connectivity at a time when people are relying on it more than ever.

  • So you've taken up jogging to fend off fat during the pandemic? Here are some tips
    News
    CBC

    So you've taken up jogging to fend off fat during the pandemic? Here are some tips

    With the gyms closed and so many people now working from home, many are turning to jogging as a way to stay fit during the COVID-19 crisis.Plenty of rookie runners have hit the city streets and green spaces, but running isn't as simple as strapping on a pair of sneakers and pounding the pavement.Going it about it the wrong way can be discouraging or can easily lead to injury.If you're one of those newbies, Montreal running coach Malcom Balk has a few tips to get the most out of your new pastime. If you can't have a conversation, you're running too hardBalk said that one of the biggest mistakes that a rookie jogger will make is that they go too hard, too fast. People who live an active lifestyle but don't run regularly are the most at risk, he said."They're feeling a bit fit and a bit frisky, and their running muscles — the connective tissue in the lower legs — are not ready to deal with running." Balk said this can lead to calf problems and shin problems which could ruin the experience and put the rookie runner back on the couch. A good benchmark is a good conversation. Balk said if it's possible to run with someone — two metres away, of course — and keep a conversation going. As long as you can do that, you are running at a good pace. If you can't talk, you're probably going too hard.  "It's probably best to back off and walk a little bit," he said."If you're out there just for an easy run, that's the criteria."Balk said that you don't need to suffer in order to get something out of the activity. The key is the time spent on your feet, moving forward — not how fast you go. Don't skip the warm-upGetting a proper warm-up in before running is key to staying injury-free.Too often new runners will be anxious to get to what they consider "the real workout," he said.Starting your run with a brisk walk for 10 minutes can get the blood flowing, he said. "If you've been sitting for awhile, it takes about 10 minutes for the brain to orient blood to the working muscles," Balk said."This is why most people feel terrible for the first 10 minutes because they're not giving their bodies a chance to make the changeover." Balk said this is not just advice for rookie joggers — experienced runners often make this same mistake. Running doesn't have to be boring One of the biggest complaints Balk hears from new runners is that it's too boring an activity to keep them engaged."One of the ways to get the mind to not be bored is to push it a little bit," Balk said. That's where intervals come in. Once you have warmed up, try running faster between every second set of hydro poles along your route.This way, he said, the mind is actively thinking about when the next sprint is coming up — and when the next break is coming.He concedes that these days, few runners, new or old, are complaining about boredom. "I think for most people, just getting out of the house right now would be considered a bit of fun — even if they have to run."Malcolm Balk, author of The Art of Running, holds the Quebec indoor track record for masters' 400-metre, 800-metre, 1,500-metre and 3,000-metre events in the 65- to 69-year-old age group.

  • N.W.T. premier, health officials defend policies in light of latest COVID-19 cases
    News
    CBC

    N.W.T. premier, health officials defend policies in light of latest COVID-19 cases

    The N.W.T.'s premier and top health officials doubled down on a government policy to not identify small communities with cases of COVID-19 in a press conference Saturday, just a day after local leadership in Fort Resolution, N.W.T., contradicted the policy to identify the location of the territory's first COVID-19 case in a small community."I know that people are concerned for their health, especially the people in small communities. I also know that people want to know if COVID-19 is in their community," Cochrane said in a statement Saturday morning. "I hear that concern and respect it."But "knowing what community COVID-19 is in will not make you safer," she said. "What will make you safer is respecting the orders of the chief public health officer."Health Minister Diane Thom, appearing remotely from Inuvik, echoed the premier's statements."If we're acting differently simply because the virus is in a particular community, we're not doing our job," said Thom. "The only way we can get ahead of it is by acting like we have it, and changing our behaviours 100 per cent of the time."Cochrane appeared alongside Thom, chief public health officer Dr. Kami Kandola, the territory's medical director Dr. Sarah Cook, and Ivan Russell, director of public safety.As of Saturday morning, the territory had four confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one recovery. That includes two new cases identified Thursday evening, including the territory's first outside Yellowknife or Inuvik.A release sent Thursday night said an individual had violated public health orders to self-isolate in designated centres and continued on to their home in an unspecified "small community."The territorial government does not identify the location of confirmed cases when they appear in small communities, to protect patient privacy. But on Friday, MLA for Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh Steve Norn confirmed online posts made by Deninu Kue First Nation that the individual was in Fort Resolution and had since been medevacked to Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife.Watch the full press conference here:Health authorities 'still investigating' penalties for COVID-19 patientKandola said the territory was "still investigating" whether the individual who travelled to Fort Resolution in violation of public health orders could face penalties.She brushed off criticism from local leadership in Fort Resolution that they were left in the dark after a case was identified in their community.Which communities are impacted "should make no difference in our response," she said."The virus is here. It will spread," she said. "It doesn't matter where you are."Kandola said she is "bound by oath" to protect patient confidentiality, and protecting those who test positive for COVID-19 is "one of our big concerns."When patients' identities are made public, she said, "they are abused, shunned, and threatened, and sometimes their families.""We've seen it for decades with tuberculosis," she said, "[and] we've seen it today" with COVID-19.Kandola said anyone found to be making a threat to persons or property due to COVID-19 "will be met with enforcement."But she also said her office would continue to identify individuals who, by violating public health orders, put people at risk."If a person is not following the rules, and there's evidence they have become a danger to the community, that will be shared publicly," she said.On March 28, Kandola publicly shamed a reality TV star, "Pike" Mike Harrison, who had travelled to a remote homestead in the N.W.T. in violation of travel restrictions and gave interviews to local media about the experience.Community leadership urges tighter restrictionsYet some leaders say the territory's restrictions have not yet gone far enough.Jackie Jacobson, the MLA representing the territory's northernmost and most isolated communities, argued that the government should prohibit all non-essential travel "into and between communities" in a release sent Friday night."There are no respirators in the communities and no additional health care staff have been hired for small communities," a quote attributed to Jacobson reads."Any residents returning to their home communities at this point in time should be required to produce written medical clearance. No one else should be allowed in. Period."Those restrictions, if put in place, would mirror "lockdowns" imposed in the Nunavik region of northern Quebec last week, restricting all travel between communities."We cannot afford to allow the spread of this virus into the communities," Jacobson is quoted as saying. "If this happens, lives will be lost."Premier Cochrane suggested several times in the past week that tougher enforcement and tighter restrictions were on the way, but failed to provide specifics in Saturday's press conference.Sales of liquor and cannabis have also proven a flashpoint between the territorial and community governments.In a video Friday evening, MLA Norn said he would be aggressively lobbying the territorial government for new restrictions on liquor sales to curb partying in his community.That was echoed by Dene National Chief Norman Yakeleya, who said the premier was considering a motion from his organization to restrict liquor and cannabis sales.Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek, who oversees the territory's liquor and cannabis commission, told Cabin Radio she was entertaining taking a case-by-case approach to closing or restricting sales at the territory's six liquor stores.

  • Windsor Regional Hospital CEO says community is 'at the start of the storm' when it comes to COVID-19
    News
    CBC

    Windsor Regional Hospital CEO says community is 'at the start of the storm' when it comes to COVID-19

    The head of Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH) says he expects to start seeing hundreds of people admitted with COVID-19 symptoms, as the global pandemic continues to rage on.Speaking with CBC Windsor News at 6pm host Chris Ensing on Friday, hospital president and CEO David Musyj said the region is "definitely at the start of the storm.""What we've seen over the last three days out of our assessment centre is increased volumes, but also increased swabbing rates," he said, adding that 90 per cent of people who visit the COVID-19 testing centre at WRH qualify for swabbing — compared to 50 per cent just days ago. "We are definitely entering the storm and we have to be ready for the community."Watch Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj discuss COVID-19 with CBC Windsor News host Chris Ensing:Musyj also addressed concerns about a potential shortage of personal protective equipment raised by the Ontario Nurses Association in a letter obtained by CBC News, saying that he wasn't sure "where that's coming from.""We have prepared since SARS with respect to pandemic planning and have always had a pandemic stock," he said. "To raise those types of issues at this moment is not appropriate, in my opinion, and it's not based in fact."Still, Musyj acknowledged that his organization is "actively working on a day-to-day basis on replenishing our PPE and also looking at a bigger plan." Protect yourself, protect your family, protect your community.  \- David Musyj, President and CEO, Windsor Regional HospitalThanks to the efforts of Liberal Windsor-Tecumseh MP Irek Kusmierczyk, Musyj said he's been in contact with a number of officials who "are working very hard to help facilitate that for us."Musyj reiterated calls to remain indoors and self-isolate in order to protect all members of the community from spreading and contracting COVID-19."Make sure you have proper hygiene," he said. "Protect yourself, protect your family, protect your community."

  • 'It became a nightmare': 2 people dead on Princess cruise ship docked in Miami with 99 Canadians aboard
    News
    CBC

    'It became a nightmare': 2 people dead on Princess cruise ship docked in Miami with 99 Canadians aboard

    Two passengers have died on the coronavirus-stricken cruise ship Coral Princess, which docked Saturday morning in Miami.There are 1,020 passengers and 878 crew members aboard the ship, which set sail on March 5 for a South American cruise. Ninety-seven of the passengers and two of the crew members are Canadian. "All of us at Princess Cruises are deeply saddened to report that two guests passed away on Coral Princess," said the cruise line in a statement. "Our hearts go out to their family, friends and all who are impacted by this loss."Princess Cruises didn't reveal how the two passengers died, but said they weren't Canadian. On Thursday, the cruise line announced that, out of 13 people tested for COVID-19 on board, seven passengers and five crew members tested positive. In late March, Holland America Line's Zaandam cruise ship also had a coronavirus outbreak on board and four people died. At least two of the deaths were related to the virus. Coral Princess passenger Frank Béchamp, 71, said the ship's captain delivered the news about the two deaths early Saturday morning."My wife and I, we just were dumbfounded. We didn't know what to think," said Béchamp, of Nepean, Ont., who's travelling with his wife, Céline Charette."Our hearts went out to the poor families that are stricken. It must be terrible for them."Béchamp said the captain reported that the two individuals died overnight. He said passengers were told to pack their bags because the ship would dock on Saturday. Passengers remain on ship According to a memo sent to passengers Saturday morning, they must undergo a health screening and go through customs at Port Miami and then return to the Coral Princess. Princess Cruises said in a statement that disembarkation of passengers could take several days and those requiring medical treatment will be let off first. It also said that ill passengers not in need of urgent care will remain on the ship until they're cleared for travel. The cruise line said that passengers fit to travel will eventually be taken to the airport for arranged flights home. "Our concern remains getting direct flights home, avoiding transiting in U.S. airports," said passenger Gary Lyon, 64, of Toronto who's travelling with his wife, Sue."Sue and l were profoundly sad to hear the news," said Lyon in an email. "We wonder if they had been able to get off the ship earlier, would things have turned out differently?"The Coral Princess cut its cruise short in mid-March amid the growing COVID-19 pandemic. But the ship struggled to find a port to let passengers disembark and return home after countries close by, such as Argentina and Brazil, shut their borders to foreigners.Many passengers — including some Canadians — were able to disembark on March 19 in Buenos Aires to catch a flight home. But other passengers who had a flight departing the following day stayed on the ship — and then were stuck there after Argentina decided to close its borders to foreigners at midnight."After that, it became a nightmare," said Béchamp about the cruise. "Nobody wanted to have us."Ship must have a planAfter failing to secure access to a South American port, the Coral Princess set course for Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.On Wednesday, the U.S. Coast Guard issued an order temporarily blocking the ship from entering U.S. waters due to the COVID-19 cases on board. "Based on the hazardous conditions on board your vessel, I have determined your vessel poses an unacceptable risk," said the Coast Guard in a statement. Before Coral Princess could disembark passengers at a U.S. port, the ship would have to come up with a plan that ensured ill passengers are safely treated without imposing any risks, stated the Coast Guard. The ship was set to dock at Port Everglades on Saturday, but changed its plans on Friday to head to Miami instead. Earlier this week, Holland American's Zaandam cruise ship was also set to dock and disembark passengers at Port Everglades, but faced opposition from local officials, because there were still many passengers on board sick with COVID-19. After U.S. President Donald Trump intervened by making a case on compassionate grounds, the Zaandam was allowed to dock at Port Everglades on Thursday. Both Princess Cruises and Holland America are owned by Carnival Corporation.Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the Zaandam and four Princess cruise ships — the Diamond Princess, the Grand Princess, the Ruby Princess and the Coral Princess — have had coronavirus outbreaks.As a result of those outbreaks, at least 13 people have died and more than 900 passengers have contracted COVID-19.

  • UBC graduate student advocates for summer tuition waiver
    News
    CBC

    UBC graduate student advocates for summer tuition waiver

    A PhD student at the University of British Columbia Okanagan is asking for summer tuition to be waived for graduate students due to the COVID-19 pandemic.Like many universities across the country, UBC announced in mid-March it would be moving classes online for the rest of the semester and non-essential research would be curtailed until the end of April.Rina Garcia Chua, an international student from the Phillippines, says the move has disrupted research and project timelines for many graduate students, as well as on-campus employment and child care. She says the last few weeks have been stressful."And it's not just me. All my colleagues," Chua told host Sarah Penton on CBC's Radio West."They have been really affected by this mentally, physically and emotionally, just thinking about where to find that money."Chua says graduate students have no access to the study spaces and facilities — or even library books — they would normally have in order to complete their projects.Financially, many rely on off-campus and on-campus employment — like research assistant positions — to help cover costs during the year.Chua usually teaches at a summer camp but says "obviously, I don't think that's going to happen now."Although the province announced on Thursday a one-time, $3.5-million investment in emergency financial help for post-secondary students struggling due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it is only available to domestic students. As an international student, Chua doesn't qualify. She is also extremely worried about the situation back home in the Phillippines. She has been checking in with her family every day and has been trying to secure them supplies. President Rodrigo Duterte's recent threats to shoot anyone who violates lockdown orders have done nothing to calm her fears. "I couldn't sleep last night just thinking about those strong words and all my colleagues there who are facing this kind of threat," she said."We're going through such complex situations right now, financial worries should be the least of our problems." In response, Matt Ramsay, director of university affairs at UBC, said the university acknowledges "these are not ideal circumstances for our graduate students but these are exceptional times that require exceptional responses to keep the community safe."He said the university is working with faculty supervisors and students to support alternative means for them to continue their scholarly development, as well as looking into potential supports for affected graduate students. He added any student experiencing financial need can contact an enrolment services advisor for information on UBC assistance programs.If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca.

  • Walking only feet away from extremely rare white rhinos
    Rumble

    Walking only feet away from extremely rare white rhinos

    This woman had the chance to walk only meters away from white rhinos, an endangered species!

  • Contractors facing tough choice after province limits construction activity
    News
    CBC

    Contractors facing tough choice after province limits construction activity

    With new rules limiting construction projects set to kick in at midnight Saturday, Ottawa contractors are faced with the choice of whether or not to stay open.Steve Barkhouse, owner of Amsted Design-Build, said his company continued working on its 19 home renovation projects over the past few weeks, as cases of COVID-19 rose across the region.As of Sunday, however, that's all changing."We've tried to fight the good fight," said Barkhouse. "[But] Premier Ford made it pretty clear that he wants people at home, and that we're going to step it up another notch. And we're taking that to heart."The province is limiting the types of construction projects that can remain in operation — even with physical distancing measures in place — after public health officials released projections Friday showing previous actions taken by the Ontario government had dramatically reduced the number of deaths and confirmed cases of COVID-19.Only construction related to health care and critical infrastructure, residential projects with permits, and home renovations already in progress can continue after midnight.Physical distancing measures took tollBarkhouse said he plans to speak to his clients and start winding down operations in the coming days.While his business qualifies as essential, he said it's become difficult to manage projects as physical distancing measures took their toll on the industry."Small companies that we work with, subcontractors and cabinet makers and things like that, were slowly shutting down because they weren't able to get materials, or their staff weren't comfortable crossing the border or travelling," said Barkhouse.In addition, Quebec's shutdown of the construction industry two weeks ago led to disruptions in the supply chains Amsted relies on for windows, cabinets and other building materials.Halting half-finished projects 'very problematic'Fares Elsabbagh, president of Ottawa General Contractors, said workers at his company will continue working.His company currently has over 40 projects on the go. "That could be very problematic to just stop a project right in the middle of construction," said Elsabbagh."Somebody in that home might need their kitchen finished or their secondary dwelling where an elderly parent or the child … are supposed to move into."When asked why the government continued to sanction home construction and renovation, Premier Doug Ford said 45,000 Ontario families were weeks or months away from moving into a new home."Nothing would be more dangerous than having a whole bunch of families on top of each other, living in the same house because their house isn't ready," said Ford. "We're trying to minimize construction to the best of our abilities."Elsabbagh said he's also trying to his best to balance the needs of his business with his responsibility to keep his workers safe."We've put safety protocols in place to try to mitigate the risk with with regards with what's going on," he said."Ultimately, we want to get through this as fast as possible, because this uncertainty makes it really difficult to navigate a business like ours where there's a lot of moving parts."

  • Tom Jackson launching online benefit variety show for musicians affected by COVID-19
    News
    CBC

    Tom Jackson launching online benefit variety show for musicians affected by COVID-19

    Like so many people right now, well-known actor, singer and philanthropist Tom Jackson said he feels overwhelmed by the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic."We're all very much feeling the weight of this crisis … and it's very depressing," Jackson said on the Homestretch.Jackson jokes that in a glum moment he considered putting his Christmas tree back up to awaken some joy, but "that was a little more work than I actually wanted."Despite this, Jackson did what he's always been able to do — get out of those moments and focus his energy on a way to help.The question he and his wife, Alison, put their minds to answering is, "How do we create health versus managing disease?"After noticing how many of their connections in the music industry were struggling due to things like cancelled tours, they finally landed on the idea of hosting concerts.The series of benefit concerts featuring Canadian musicians will aim to support those in the industry negatively affected by COVID-19.From his home base in Calgary, Jackson called connections like Jeffrey Remedios, the president of Universal Music Canada and Paul Dornian, the president and CEO of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, to help bring the project to life.The resulting product, the digital variety series Almighty Voices, will launch the first of 12 episodes on April 5 at 10 a.m.Each hour-long episode will be pre-recorded and released periodically until June 21."The messages that we're delivering, along with the music and the entertainment and the laughs, [is] this show is infused with creating health and making people happy," Jackson said.Canadian artists such as Whitehorse, Susan Aglukark, Chantal Kreviazuk, Myles Goodwyn and Terra Lightfoot are already on board for the project, and Jackson said the list is growing. Canadian actress Cythia Dale is also confirmed.All the artists taking part have been contributing from their home studios."Our community here in Canada is showing some solidarity in helping themselves help others," Jackson said.It has taken 14 to 16 hours a day of work to put together Almighty Voices, Jackson said — perhaps more effort than putting up a Christmas tree — but said, "There is not a moment that is not filled with joy."Asked whether he will be hosting the event, Jackson replied with trademark humour. "I was trying to work myself out of being the host, but it's not as easy as I thought," he said."My world is really stories and songs and tomfoolery, and I'm more than happy to share that."Donations generated by Almighty Voices will go toward the Unison Benevolent Fund, which offers counselling and emergency relief services to Canadian musicians.That fund is part of the Spotify COVID-19 Music Relief project, and donations made through it will be matched by Spotify up to the collective amount of $10-million.Artists participating in episodes will be compensated through Jackson's non-profit.The first episode of the series can be viewed directly on the website and through YouTube.

  • Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival goes online as COVID-19 forces people indoors
    News
    CBC

    Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival goes online as COVID-19 forces people indoors

    The pale pink cherry blossoms that bloom across Vancouver in the spring usually draw flocks of people outside, but this year, it's a little different. Public health officials are asking British Columbians to stay inside to minimize the spread of COVID-19. That's forced organizers of the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival to get creative in finding a way to move an outdoor festival indoors. "We've had to take a lot of the programming online," festival founder Linda Poole told CBC's The Early Edition.Instead of organized walks through blooming neighbourhoods, the festival has created "virtual walks" through the trees that anyone can follow online. Winnipeg poet Sally Ito would have led one of these walks through the Marpole neighbourhood. Instead, website visitors can browse through photos of the cherry blossom trees accompanied by Ito's haikus.The Cherry Jam concert has been cancelled, but the festival promises to bring the performances online. Later this month, the festival will share maps for self-guided tours that people can do themselves — while maintaining physical distancing outside, of course.Poole says keeping the spirit of the festival alive by moving it online was important as Vancouverites spend more time inside. "That's what everybody's telling me, that it's the cherry blossoms that are getting them through this right now," she said."And we still have many more to come until early May. We're very fortunate COVID-19 hasn't affected the cherry trees."The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival runs online until April 26.