Joe Biden says he doesn't blame President Donald Trump for "celebrating" another Supreme Court confirmation, but says the White House event planned Monday night after the Senate vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett is "not appropriate." (Oct. 26)
Joe Biden says he doesn't blame President Donald Trump for "celebrating" another Supreme Court confirmation, but says the White House event planned Monday night after the Senate vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett is "not appropriate." (Oct. 26)
Chatham-Kent Public Health has released a graphic to show the far-reaching impacts of a COVID-19 outbreak at a local church that led to nearly 500 people isolating. According to the graphic, 21 people who tested positive for the disease attended a place of worship, which is the Word of Life Church in Blenheim. Chatham-Kent Public Health declared an outbreak at the church late last month.This set off a chain of events that ended with 40 people testing positive for COVID-19 in 24 separate households, three of whom were hospitalized. The virus' spread was not contained to any one industry or area, and affected everything from the church itself to group living settings to households to a blood donor clinic. "We are sharing information about this outbreak now to show how easily COVID-19 can spread, and how we all need to work together to stop it," Chatham-Kent Public Health said in a news release.The graphic was based on data collected in October.Laura Zettler, an epidemiologist with Chatham-Kent Public Health, says the unit wanted the visual to serve as a reminder to the public."Really this visual was meant to show that what all of us do really matters, and it's truly a community effort to contain COVID-19," she said."Everyone that's part of the visual were all doing regular, everyday things ... going to church, going to work and doing things to help others, going to school, spending time with their family and friends. So many people were potentially exposed just doing everyday activities," she added. "Nothing extravagant, no big gatherings, and in settings where precautionary measures are in place. This is how easy this spreads ... and why our collective efforts are so important right now."Effects go beyond infectedZettler said the unit felt it was important to emphasize that the effects of the outbreak were not limited to those who tested positive. Nearly 500 people had to self-isolate, including members of the church, 170 people attending school and 180 people who attended blood donor clinics."If we just look at the people who tested positive, that's really not looking at all the other lives that were impacted by this outbreak," Zettler said. In a video accompanying the graphic, Chatham-Kent medical officer of health Dr. David Colby echoed that thought."We were lucky, with a lot of effort, we were able to keep our numbers down to only 40 positives with this outbreak, but look at all this trouble for people," he said while motioning to the graphic. "This is not a blame game. Everybody who's referred to here is a victim, not a cause. But we all have a role to play."And for the Word of Life Church itself, the recovery process has only just started.In a Facebook message to CBC News, a representative from the church declined to do an interview, but said that the outbreak is over and that the church would like to move on.According to the church's Facebook page, it has reopened its soup kitchen and food bank this week. "Well soup kitchen opened today for the first time in several weeks, it felt so good to be back doing what we love to do and what we know God has called us to do," a Wednesday post reads. "That was our biggest concern during our shut down, our friends on the streets of Blenheim. I can't tell you how much we missed seeing each one, it's not about just handing out food, it goes much deeper than that."
If the novel coronavirus was going to affect an industry in 2020, horse racing was a strong contender. Though it's a major money-maker in the province, generating $2.3 billion of Ontario's GDP, in the past it relied on people having a little extra money to spend, and coming together en masse on race day to place bets. At the beginning of the summer race season, things didn't look good, admits Lakeshore Mayor Tom Bain, who is on the executive of the horse racing association.But once the Lakeshore Horse Racing Association was allowed to have 100 people in the grandstand in Leamington, wagering ended up being as strong as ever."Certainly we were pleased with the comeback that we had and we were able to end up having a very positive season," said Bain. According to Bain, on any given Sunday this summer, the average total wagered was around $24,000. Key to that was online betting. "This year we did do all the simulcast wagering and we got out to a vast market. So maybe next year, hand in hand we'll bet yet again higher than ever," said Mark Williams, president of the association.Williams said people from as far away as Nova Scotia were betting on races in Leamington.This year's season went from early August to the end of October. The association is asking Ontario Racing to add two more race dates next year, but Williams is not optimistic that will happen. Meanwhile, those who depend on the local horse racing industry for their livelihoods are betting on a good year next year. Waverly Livingston is a stable hand at Woodslee Farms where she takes care of race horses and horses who are retired. She says without the local industry she would lose her job."I would have a very hard time finding another job, and there are only so many other farms ... in the area that take people," said Livingston.She is one of three employed at the stables owned by Don and Anita Leschied. Leschied says he spends between $500 and $1,000 a week keeping his horses."One of my first part time young ladies is now a veterinary technician who stayed in Essex County," said Leschied. "We are the second or third largest agricultural industry of the entire agricultural component in the province of Ontario," said Leschied.Leschied adds that the horse racing industry in Essex County, Chatham-Kent and Lambton county employs 10,000 people. More than 45,000 Ontarians owe their permanent jobs to the horse racing and breeding industry, according to research paid for by Ontario Racing.
Some gym and yoga studio owners in Newfoundland and Labrador have taken extra steps to keep people safe this week, knowing they could be among the first to close if the province moves back a level.Heather Murphy, owner of Islander Athletics, watched with approval Monday as Premier Andrew Furey withdrew the province from the Atlantic bubble.With cases on the rise in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, she decided to post a new rule for her gym in St. John's — anyone in contact with a person who has travelled within the Atlantic provinces is asked to stay away for two weeks."We've taken it an extra couple steps further and I know that's on us," Murphy said. "I've seen a lot of other studios doing the same kinds of things to really try and prevent a second closure from happening."Gyms and fitness studios were ordered closed in March, and remained shuttered for in-person sessions until late June.It was a devastating blow for many of the small gyms in the province, and Islander Athletics was no exception. They used the break to change locations, with hopes of reopening in a better place. What saved them was the family they'd built within their membership, she said.Murphy checked out all of Islander Athletics' equipment to the members and shifted to online classes. People went home with everything the gym owned. In exchange, she managed to keep much of the customer base throughout the downtime.Now, with small spikes in cases around the province, people like Heather Murphy are again watching the daily updates with anxious eyes.A pair of small towns are dealing with outbreaks, and as of Wednesday afternoon Newfoundland and Labrador had 25 active cases. The school district reopened an elementary school in Deer Lake on Wednesday, after a student tested positive earlier in the week.More than 30 kids in the child's class cohort tested negative.Moda Yoga owner Jill Holden said the actions business owners are taking to prevent the spread are not just about business — they're about doing the right thing."I think we all have a social responsibility to act from a place of kindness and compassion, but not just for ourselves," she said. "That's really what we're about in the yoga practice. We don't just act for ourselves, but for the greater good."Holden's studio has policies simliar to ones in place at Murphy's gym. They've tightened restrictions in recent days, after outbreaks in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick collapsed the Atlantic bubble.Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil announced Tuesday that all fitness and recreational facilities, libraries, museums and casinos would close for two weeks. Restaurants are open only for takeout.In Newfoundland and Labrador, Premier Andrew Furey says he wants to avoid that tangle."We don't want to have to close our businesses here. We want to protect the freedoms we've come to enjoy, while in line with public health measures of course. We want to avoid a full lockdown that we are seeing across the country," he said at Wednesday's briefing."We want to ensure that the local economies can continue to operate as much as possible."Measures put in place by the provincial and federal governments helped small businesses like gyms and fitness centres survive the last lockdown.Holden said she'll oblige any restrictions put in place but she doesn't want to have to rely on those subsidies again."It was difficult and thankfully we got through it," she said. "Having to go through it for a longer period of time again, I'm not sure that's really viable in the long run because these subsidies we've been taking advantage of have been really helping, but I know that won't last forever."Newfoundland and Labrador recorded only one new case on Wednesday, and both Holden and Murphy hope the spread is slowing and a second lockdown isn't in the cards."It's hopeful," Murphy said. "I'm optimistic we'll be able to avoid it."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Few students have been in class in Deer Lake this week, as anxiety levels remain high over COVID-19 despite public health officials and the premier urging parents to stay calm.Elwood Elementary closed Monday and Tuesday after a student tested positive for COVID-19, the first case in Newfoundland and Labrador's school system. But barely anyone showed up to the two other schools in the town that remained open on those days.Only 10 of about 280 students at Xavier Junior High showed up for class on Tuesday, and only 10 out of 230 attended Elwood Regional High School the same day.Xavier Junior High student Kara Pinksen, 11 was among those who stayed home the first two days of the week. Pinksen said there were only four other students in her class on Wednesday, instead of the usual 24."It was really stressful because I didn't know what to think of it," Pinksen told CBC News on Wednesday, after finishing school for the day."I think everything is going well, and we're still having classes as normal."She said she has to be extra cautious now that COVID-19 is close to home, adding she knows two people in her community — a friend and the mother of the friend — who tested positive and are currently isolating."I feel like some people are a bit more cautious and are super careful. Some people are quarantined again and self-isolating to make sure that they didn't catch it. Then there's some other people that don't think much of it and they have to make sure they still wear their mask and everything," she said. "I have a feeling that it's all going to be fine, but I know that we still have to be careful and everything."On Wednesday, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said everybody in the affected cohort from Elwood Elementary has been tested and there have been no other positive cases found in that group. The school reopened Wednesday, with the one class affected remaining at home with virtual learning in place.'Take a deep breath'In the face of increased absenteeism, Premier Andrew Furey —who is also the MHA for district that includes Deer Lake — asked parents to remain calm, saying COVID-19 protocols in place for schools have proven to have worked over the last few days. "I think that people should be reassured that isolating cohorts within schools work, and it will allow a continued, orderly, calm approach to education and life with COVID-19," Furey said during Wednesday's COVID-19 briefing. Furey said he, too, would feel the same anxiety as the parents who are trying to navigate COVID-19 clusters in their communities while preparing their kids for school. Furey, who has three school-aged children, wants parents to take comfort in public health's protocols keeping people safe and being the "envy" of the rest of the country."They have the results to prove it," said Furey."Just be calm and public health officials will be in contact with you if they need to. If you don't hear from them then your contacts didn't need to be traced. But, if you're fearful, and you feel like your child is developing symptoms, always reach out to 811 to seek advice."Elsewhere in the province parents are also choosing to keep their kids home from school.At Fatima Academy in St. Bride's, a spokesperson from the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District confirmed there was "low" attendance on Wednesday but didn't provide specifics "due to the size of the school."Furey said he couldn't speak to specific families, but again reiterated COVID-19 protocols in schools have been working. "I think people not sending their children to school, they should pause and take a deep breath, and I understand their anxieties, but they should have every confidence in Dr. Fitzgerald and her public health team that have proven, that have earned their stripes, that they implemented these protocols with the safety of children as the number on priority," he said. Schools prepared for virtual learningNLESD CEO Tony Stack echoed the premier's comments.Stack told CBC News the NLESD has had great communication with public health and continues to follow the advice provided to them. Stack said Dr. Fitzgerald told the NLESD there would be "bumps in the road along the way" but the school district is confident with where things stand that it isn't necessary to alter school operations.Schools are ready to move to online learning if necessary, Stack said, and the affected class at Elwood Elementary has already shifted to virtual learning. "We get stronger and stronger every day in preparation. Our schools are prepared to pivot. We've practiced this, we've got professional learning behind it," he said. Stack said Chromebooks are beginning roll out to students. The laptops were ordered ahead of the start of the new school year in case classes shift online for students in Grade 7 to Grade 12. He said the school district is hopeful the laptops will be distributed before the Christmas break.Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Air Canada has offered concessions related to its proposed acquisition of Canadian tour operator Transat to address EU antitrust concerns, a European Commission filing showed on Thursday. The Commission, which oversees competition policy in the 27-nation European Union, said the commitments had been submitted on Nov. 25. The Commission opened an investigation in May on concerns that the deal could push up prices and reduce choice for flights between Europe and Canada.
Tony Passarelli was used to having a bit of breathing trouble.The 52-year-old's asthma often flares up in the spring, but this past March, something felt different. He started wheezing, and several rounds of antibiotics didn't solve whatever was ailing him.Later that month, his wife of more than 25 years, Linda, fell ill as well. Then she tested positive for the virus behind COVID-19. While she isolated in a room at the couple's Bolton, Ont., home, Tony took a turn for the worse, and his wheezing became a cough that just wouldn't quit. He headed to the nearest emergency department — Headwaters Health Care Centre in Orangeville — on March 29."They just said I had pneumonia," Tony said, "and that they were going to keep me."That's the last thing he remembers.What happened next, according to the soft-spoken father of three, was a weeks-long ordeal with COVID-19.After passing out in the hospital, he wound up intubated in an intensive care unit, was transferred to Etobicoke General Hospital in Toronto, suffered round after round of fevers and infections, then became so ill that doctors thought there was nothing more they could do to keep him alive."There's nothing else left," Linda recalled being told by one of the ICU physicians in early April.Then came a sliver of hope.Tony qualified for an ECMO treatment — or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation — which could be his last chance at survival.'High level' of demandRoughly 40 Canadian hospitals have access to at least one ECMO machine, representing just three per cent of all hospital sites across Canada — though it's unclear how many machines in total the country has access to.Offered at only a handful of Ontario hospital sites, with the bulk of the machines at Toronto General Hospital, it's a form of life support that uses a pump to circulate blood through a machine that replaces the work of someone's lungs and, in some cases, their heart.The machine removes carbon dioxide, then sends oxygen-filled blood back into the bloodstream, giving damaged lungs a chance to rest and recover.Patients who qualify for the treatment are usually under 65 and have few pre-existing health conditions, ensuring they have the best shot at surviving.Linda credits the device with saving her husband's life, and she's not alone. In the pandemic's first wave in Ontario, 34 COVID-19 patients were given this potentially life-saving treatment, and more than half survived.Now, as coronavirus infections are surging to record-breaking levels, there's concern that demand is quickly rising again for ECMO — this time as Toronto General juggles both COVID-19 cases and other patients requiring the last-resort approach that's in limited supply, including those hospitalized for lung transplants."It's a pretty high level," said Dr. Marcelo Cypel, surgical director for the University Health Network's extracorporeal life support program, which includes the ECMO treatment at the network's Toronto General site.In just the last two weeks, Cypel said, at least a dozen COVID-19 patients have been hooked up to ECMO machines. At the time of his interview with CBC News on Tuesday, nine of the hospital's 11 intensive care admissions were being given the treatment, using nearly a third of the hospital's 30 ECMO machines — a supply that was increased this year to brace for the earlier influx of COVID-19 patients."We are working at our full ICU capacity right now already," Cypel said. "And that's a concern, because we continue to receive referrals every day."ECMO team 'may have to slow down'While the first coronavirus wave saw the cancellation of thousands of elective surgeries and other procedures to make room for COVID-19 patients, Cypel said in the second wave, his team is handling another influx of the sickest of those patients, as well as anyone needing ECMO for other reasons.But he worries that may not be sustainable much longer.If recent provincial lockdowns for Toronto and Peel Region don't put a dent in case growth and ICU admissions, Cypel said, the ECMO team "may have to slow down," which could affect patients waiting for other crucial hospital services such as transplants.That's a situation Renee Alkass finds alarming, since she once had the treatment herself for a non-COVID medical issue.In 2017, long before the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Guelph student developed an ear infection that spiralled into acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). After struggling to breathe, Alkass was hospitalized, and doctors discovered that both of her lungs were filled with fluid.She wound up being sent to Toronto General and was on ECMO for 18 days during her stay."I can't even fathom to understand what everyone must be feeling," said the 21-year-old, who has since recovered from ARDS and was eventually diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder."And I do hope that there's a light at the end of all this and things start looking up from here, and there isn't such a stretch or this need."When asked if the province has any plans to address the recent demand for ECMO at Toronto General, provincial officials didn't outline any.Instead, a spokesperson told CBC News the decision to use it is a clinical one, with the Ministry of Health providing dedicated funding to the hospital for patients who require the treatment."The hospital can expense the ministry for costs related to treating patients with COVID-19 ... if it is above and beyond their funding allocation," the ministry said in a statement."So, it's not expected that the needs of patients with COVID-19 will impact the use of the therapy for other patients."1 in 10 ICU beds have COVID-19 patientsBut Anthony Dale, president and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association, said the pressure on the ECMO program is just one example of the impact from rising numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU admissions.Roughly one in every 10 intensive care beds in Ontario is now occupied by someone infected with the virus, he recently noted."What people simply have to appreciate is that critical care is the most complex care that you can access in an Ontario hospital, and it's located in only certain hospitals," Dale said. "And it's totally dependent on having access to the right kinds of health professionals with the right kind of technology."Both Dale and Cypel say the key to lowering demand for limited treatments like ECMO is simply reducing the amount of community spread of COVID-19."I don't want people to only see how serious this is when the province's hospitals are facing an even more destabilizing crisis," Dale said."Right now I know it's hidden from you. But I assure you that right now hospitals, especially in major urban centres, are bracing for serious impact over the next two to four weeks."'We're so blessed that he was picked'When Tony Passarelli finally woke up at Toronto General, months before the second surge of COVID-19 cases, he had no idea a machine had helped him get to that point."I just remember one of the nurses there saying, 'Do you know where you are? Do you know what day it is?' Groggily I said, 'I'm in the hospital, but day-wise, no,'" he recalled. "She said the date — which I don't remember — and she says, 'You've been here three weeks.'"Tony soon learned more alarming details: His entire family in Bolton, northwest of Toronto, including his three children and mother, all wound up having confirmed or likely infections of the virus.And he found out there was a long recovery ahead. Tony's motor skills weren't working, and he couldn't eat or drink on his own. He was transferred back to Etobicoke General and discharged in early May, and he now uses an oxygen machine to help him breathe.But he's alive, Linda said, and that's enough."Our family's a family right now because of the ECMO," she added.What scares the couple now? The realization that there's high demand for only a limited number of machines across the entire province."The fact that there are so few, and there's such a demand ... that is incredibly scary," Linda said."We're regular people; we're so blessed that he was picked and he's here today."
Tammy Oliver-McCurdie lost her younger sister, Jolene Oliver, in last April's mass shooting in Portapique, N.S., and her worst fear remains that the 39-year-old woman, her husband, Aaron Tuck, 45, and their 17-year-old daughter, Emily, lay injured for hours.The family of three were among the 13 people killed on April 18 in their tiny subdivision in rural Nova Scotia, about 130 kilometres north of Halifax. A gunman went on to kill nine more people the following morning in what became one of the worst mass killings in Canadian history.A police officer shot and killed the man responsible at a gas station in Enfield, N.S., on Sunday, April 19 at 11:26 a.m., after the gunman travelled about 195 kilometres.During a teleconference on July 3 with the Oliver family, who live in Alberta, the RCMP said they didn't discover the couple and their daughter until 5 p.m. on April 19 — 19 hours after investigators believe they were killed.By that point, family members had been frantically calling and looking for information for hours, pleading with the RCMP to send an officer to check on their loved ones.Police assured the Oliver family they did not suffer, though the final reports from the Nova Scotia medical examiner about how exactly they died are still not complete."Always what goes through your mind is how long did they lay there for alive?" Oliver-McCurdie said in an interview with CBC News. "The best story is yes, they went fast. But what if they didn't?"CBC's The Fifth Estate investigated and found that while the RCMP did tell some residents to leave their homes late on April 18, they left others in the community to sleep through the night, unaware a neighbour had gone on a shooting spree.Families have questions about delaysThe Oliver family is among several that lost loved ones in the rampage who have raised questions about how the RCMP responded and why it took so long to confirm the deaths.Oliver-McCurdie said she still doesn't understand the delay, given that the subdivision is small and police arrived Saturday night. The Oliver-Tuck home was located about two kilometres from the entrance to the community."I would hope that police would check the house to see if everyone was OK, especially if they're missing the shooter. So a lot of questions and a lot of anger coming out of that piece for me and my family," she said."I'm upset over it. It makes no sense when it comes to a public safety standpoint, it makes no sense."At the July 3 meeting, RCMP investigators said officers in Portapique were still in the process of clearing homes on the Sunday afternoon, which is why it took so long to get to Oliver and Tuck's house. They also said at the meeting that on the day after the shooting, they were concerned about properly identifying victims and not releasing incorrect information.WATCH | Thirteen Deadly Hours: The Nova Scotia Shooting:The Oliver family, calling from Red Deer, Alta., on the Sunday, became frantic after Jolene didn't pick up her mother's daily phone call while they have their morning coffee. Aaron and Emily Tuck also didn't respond to calls, texts or Facebook messages.Before noon Nova Scotia time, the family had heard there was a situation in Portapique and had begun calling the RCMP and hospitals. Twelve hours later — five hours after police say they discovered the family — an RCMP officer finally contacted them to pass on the horrific news.Oliver-McCurdie said that by then, she, her other sister and parents assumed the worst but had still wondered if somehow the family of three had managed to escape."It's one thing to find out that your family is dead and have the confirmation, and it's another excruciating piece to wait in limbo for confirmation," she said."You have all these officers, you're supposed to have all these resources. There's no reason why someone couldn't have just driven down there [and checked the house].... After a dozen or more phone calls my family made during the day, it doesn't make sense."By Sunday night, the police were dealing with 16 crime scenes in several communities. Investigators told the Oliver family that the medical examiner couldn't move the bodies from the home until Tuesday afternoon — a further delay that Oliver-McCurdie said caused them grief and anxiety.Mass shooting subject of public inquiryThe RCMP declined to answer any questions from CBC News about the case, citing an ongoing public inquiry into the mass shooting called by the provincial and federal governments."The RCMP recognizes the need to provide the factual account of what transpired this past April. With the public inquiry now ongoing, the most appropriate and unbiased opportunity to do so is with our full participation in the inquiry," Cpl. Lisa Croteau said in an emailed statement.The inquiry's final report isn't expected for two more years.In the meantime, Oliver-McCurdie said, her family decided to speak out about the details of the deaths of her sister, brother-in-law and niece — and the questions that remain — to promote discussion about how policing in rural areas could be improved and how April's tragedy might have been prevented.She said she would also like police forces to tighten the rules and limit access to their own logos and equipment. The shooter — Gabriel Wortman, 51, a denturist with a clinic in Dartmouth — purchased decommissioned police cars and gear online and used them to masquerade as a Mountie. Information on the specifications for the graphics on RMCP cruisers remains publicly available."If a positive piece is better public policy, better safety, for those living in Canada ... that makes their deaths ... a little bit easier if we can do better as a society and do better with protecting people in Canada. That needs to be the aim," Oliver-McCurdie said.'They did everything, just the three of them'Jolene Oliver, who grew up in Alberta, moved east with her husband and daughter seven years ago to be closer to Tuck's parents. But she left behind a miniature Christmas village she loved, and Oliver-McCurdie said she has been trying to find a way to display her sister's collection.Oliver worked as a restaurant server because she loved interacting with people — being there to listen to them, support them and make sure they got home safely, her sister said."She made the best of everything she ever had. A really unique outlook on life, a very positive outlook on life."In Portapique, Oliver-McCurdie said, Jolene loved walking along the shore of Cobequid Bay and would insist on taking a proper picnic basket for the family's snacks."They did everything, just the three of them," she said.The family moved into a home that didn't have electricity, and they spent months working on it together. When they needed a washing machine, Aaron Tuck was industrious enough to find a solution, Oliver-McCurdie said."He just had that knack, that creative art with welding and wood and things and just understanding them. He had a very great mechanical mind that he could come up with an invention for almost anything," she said.Emily Tuck spent time in the garage with her father, learning about motors and welding. Like Aaron, Emily also had a creative side and loved playing her fiddle.WATCH | Emily Tuck plays the violin:"She made a lot of art and a wrote a lot of poems," Oliver-McCurdie said. "She's a really unique kid and a really unique outlook. She's was a lot of fun."For now, as the Oliver family wait for answers, they continue to grieve. In Alberta, they planted three oak trees from Nova Scotia's Colchester County in memory of the branch of their family they've lost.
Islanders in long-term care are exploring the world without leaving their bedrooms.Health PEI is the first government agency to bring Rendever's virtual reality platform to residents in long-term care homes.Rendever is a Boston-cased company that offers virtual reality (VR) technology designed for older adults and seniors."What we've built is a platform that allows residents to put on these VR headsets and they can go pretty much anywhere in the world," said Kyle Rand, CEO and co-founder of Rendever."They can go back to their childhood home, they can go check off a bucket list item. They can go skydiving. They can go on a hot-air balloon ride. We can even bring them to the International Space Station. But most importantly, they can do all these things together."Ten pairs of the headsets are now in use in West Prince, in O'Leary and Alberton."Wow! Now that was fun," said Eva Rogerson, chair of the hospital foundation in O'Leary, after she tried it out Wednesday.Rogerson sat in an upholstered chair, with the goggles held in place by wide, comfortable head straps. Inside the headset, she was looking at a field of wild mule deer, somewhere in the western United States. She could hear the sound of hooves as the shy animals approached. She reached out to try to touch one."Takes you right into the real-life experience, in the midst of it," said Rogerson.In these days of pandemic isolation and loneliness for some seniors, health-care providers in West Prince see more than just pretty pictures in the new technology.The goal was fighting social isolation, said Paul Young, Community Hospital West administrator. "The feedback from patients and residents has been overwhelmingly positive." Staff use a tablet to monitor sessions and encourage participants to speak with one another about what they are feeling and experiencing.The technology lets seniors "take a walk" down any street, anywhere in the world. So some West Prince seniors are using the technology to drop by the rural farmhouses where they once lived.> We could really improve the quality of life for our people. — Eva Rogerson, O'Leary Community Health Foundation"We ask them where they'd like to go today and off they go," said Pam Corrigan, recreation manager of the Margaret Stewart Ellis Home in O'Leary. "We use it pretty near daily, depending on what we're doing."Staff in West Prince are now talking to the Rendever team in Boston about creating more virtual tours based in Prince County, perhaps offering strolls along local fishing wharfs and trips to potato fields at harvest time."Where people have dementia, their world is so small," said Rogerson."If I was a fisherman or a farmer, to be able to take me back in time where I could see myself hopping on a fishing boat or working at a potato field, we could really improve the quality of life for our people."VR easy for seniors to useWhen Rand started Rendever about four and a half years ago, the belief was that older people might not take to technology like this. Not so, he said."All they have to do is put the headset on and everything is controlled by a tablet. So staff members in the community, or family member or a volunteer — they control the entire experience," he said."You put on the headset, physical space doesn't matter, you can be socially together."Health PEI has run more than 2,400 sessions with participants spending 59 hours in VR, according to Rand.O'Leary Community Health Foundation purchased the technology with assistance from the federal and provincial governments.More from CBC P.E.I.
News reports that many snowbirds are heading south this winter — despite the COVID-19 pandemic — have angered some fellow Canadians who feel they shouldn't be allowed to go. "I think this should be absolutely, 100 per cent stopped," said Barry Tate of Sidney, B.C. "This is a pandemic. This is life and death."Tate and his wife, Patti Locke-Lewkowich, usually travel to Mexico for two months each winter. But this year, they're staying home because of fears of falling ill with COVID-19 while abroad. "We feel safer at home in the confines of our little home here," said Locke-Lewkowich.However, some snowbirds argue they'll be just as safe down south, because they plan to take all necessary COVID-19-related precautions.The federal government sides with Locke-Lewkowich, advising Canadians to avoid non-essential travel abroad during the pandemic.But it's only an advisory, which means Canadians can still freely leave and return to Canada — a decision that's rooted in Canadians' constitutional rights."It's always a balance between allowing people to kind of live their lives and the government attempting to keep health crises under control," said Kerri Froc, a constitutional law expert.Please don't goIn March, the federal government issued its advisory not to travel abroad in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19.After the cold weather hit in the fall and some snowbirds started packing their bags, the government doubled down on its messaging.Last month, it posted an alert on its website, warning seniors to stay home, because their age makes them more vulnerable to falling seriously ill with COVID-19. This month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland each made a public plea. "This is not the time for non-essential travel. It's not a good idea," said Freeland in French at a news conference on Monday. Watch: Canada's chief public officer talks about COVID-19's futureHowever, Freeland added that the government won't bar people from leaving. "We will not stop them," she said in French.As a result, Canadians are free to travel to countries that have open borders, including the United States, which, despite a closed land border, still allows Canadians to fly to the country. Meanwhile, some other Western nations — such as Australia, France and parts of the United Kingdom — prevent their citizens from travelling abroad for non-essential travel as part of current lockdown measures to help curb infection rates. "Going on holiday, including abroad, is not a reasonable excuse to leave," the Scottish government — which bars those who live in designated COVID-19 hotspots from travelling abroad — states on its website.Why doesn't Canada have a travel ban?During a government committee meeting on Wednesday, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said that the government doesn't have the authority to prevent Canadians from travelling abroad."And they have, under the Constitution, a right of return," he said. Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that Canadians have the right to enter and leave the country. Froc, an associate law professor at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, said the government could only limit that right for justifiable reasons and that justifying a travel ban would likely be an uphill battle. "The court takes a really dim view of absolute bans," she said. "I'm totally in favour of government taking the COVID crisis seriously, making policy to restrict travel, but they have to do so in a way that pays sufficient respect to people's constitutional rights."What are the risks?Locke-Lewkowich, who's staying home this winter, said she accepts that Canadians have the right to travel abroad but hopes those who do so won't get government aid if they run into trouble."Is Canada going to bail them out with our money?" she said. When COVID-19 began its global spread in the spring and flights were cancelled, Global Affairs Canada worked with airlines to fly stranded Canadians home.But now, the government department warns it may not assist Canadian travellers a second time round. "The government of Canada is not planning any further facilitated flights to repatriate Canadians and may have limited capacity to offer consular services," said Global Affairs spokesperson Christelle Chartrand in an email. Chartrand advised that, before leaving the country, Canadians verify if their medical insurance covers COVID-19-related illnesses and a possible extended stay abroad. Travel insurance broker Martin Firestone said if travellers fail to purchase adequate insurance and fall ill, they will be on the hook for the bill — and that includes any medevac charges. "You aren't getting medevaced home unless you give them a credit card first and they put it through and then it reads approved," said Firestone with Travel Secure in Toronto. "To the best of my knowledge, I don't see it falling back on the taxpayer."Despite the risks, many snowbirds still plan on heading south; Firestone said that around 40 per cent of his 1,000 snowbird clients have already booked their trips."That's with me telling them not to go," said Firestone, who advises his clients not to travel during the pandemic. "Even as good as you protect yourself, you still can't protect yourself against [the] total unknown."Canadian travellers returning home must quarantine for 14 days. Freeland said that the rule will continue to be "very strictly enforced."
The man who killed six people in a Quebec City mosque in 2017 received a "cruel and unusual" punishment when he was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 40 years, Quebec's Court of Appeal ruled on Thursday.In a unanimous decision, the court reduced Alexandre Bissonnette's life sentence to 25 years without parole while at the same time invalidating sections of the Criminal Code that allow judges to hand out consecutive life sentences for murder.A spokesperson for the mosque where the attack took place said he was dismayed by the decision to lighten Bissonnette's sentence."We would have liked a definitive sentence to prevent other attacks from taking place," said Boufeldja Benabdallah, a founder of the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre. "We're not thinking of only ourselves but of all Quebec society."The court's decision to invalidate the consecutive sentencing provisions in the Criminal Code applies only in Quebec.But if appealed, it opens the door to a possible Supreme Court of Canada ruling on the sentencing provisions that Stephen Harper's Conservative government introduced in 2011.Since then, several convicted murderers have been given consecutive life sentences, including Justin Bourque, who is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for 75 years for killing three RCMP officers in Moncton, N.B., in 2014.The lawyer who represented Bourque at trial said he intended to inform him about the ruling in Quebec. "I would say that this is a situation of national importance. I would assume that the Supreme Court has to rule on it," David Lutz said.Quebec's prosecution service said Thursday it was taking time to review the ruling and hadn't yet decided whether to appeal. The federal government also declined to say whether it intended to appeal."I know that today's decision is going to rekindle a great deal of hurt and anger among those who were affected by this terrible crime: the victims, their families and friends, people in Quebec and across the country," federal Justice Minister David Lametti said in a statement."There are important questions raised by this judgment and we will take the necessary time to fully examine it."Sentencing provisions 'absurd'Bissonnette was sentenced in 2019 after he pleaded guilty to six counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder. It was the longest sentence ever handed down in Quebec.In issuing the original sentence, Superior Court Justice François Huot made it clear he was uncomfortable with consecutive sentences.Crown prosecutors were asking for a life sentence of 150 years without parole eligibility. Huot settled on a sentence of 40 years without parole, composed of five concurrent 25-year life sentences and an unusual 15-year term for the sixth count, to be served consecutively. The Court of Appeal justices said that hybrid sentence was the wrong way to address concerns about the constitutionality of consecutive sentences.Often using strong wording to criticize the provisions introduced by the Conservatives, the justices wrote that it was unconstitutional to force a prisoner to wait longer than 25 years for parole eligibility.Doing so, they said, violates two sections of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms: Section 12, which protects against cruel and unusual treatment and punishment, and Section 7, which guarantees the right to life, liberty and security of the person.The justices noted the "absurdity" of handing out life sentences that only allow a prisoner to apply for parole after they are likely to have died. They added that a fundamental concept of Canadian criminal law is the right of rehabilitated prisoners to be paroled."In Canada, even the worst criminal having committed the most heinous of crimes benefits at all times from the rights guaranteed under the charter," the justices wrote. Aimed at childrenBut they also stressed that eligibility for parole in the context of a life sentence must not be mistaken for likelihood of ever being paroled. "In other words, there is no guarantee that the Parole Board will grant parole in 25 years," the decision states.Bissonnette, who was 27 when he attacked the mosque, will now be eligible for parole when he turns 54.WATCH: Quebec's appeal court reduces sentence of Alexandre Bissonnette:During the appeal hearing, his lawyers had tried to argue for a more lenient sentence by producing security camera footage from the night of the shooting that they said proved Bissonnette took care not to harm young children.The Appeal Court ultimately rejected Bissonnette's request to have the evidence admitted, but the justices nevertheless commented on what the footage showed.They said Bissonnette can be seen shooting at a section of the mosque where two children were hiding and a "little girl is standing ... completely frozen." A man later helped her take shelter behind a column."The evidence as a whole [shows] that the appellant attempted to kill young victims and that he was certainly not 'careful about the children,' as he stated to the police officers," the justices said.
Tanya Hayles is not an anti-vaxxer. The Torontonian has made sure her eight-year-old son Jackson is up to date with the standard vaccines, and she, too, has been inoculated."There are diseases that we were able to eradicate as a result of vaccines," she said.The event planner, whose business has suffered as a result of the pandemic, would like nothing more than to see the end of COVID-19 as well. Given the choice, though, she said she wouldn't be "first in line" for a COVID-19 vaccination.She points out that side effects of the immunizations she and her son have received in the past are well-known to doctors. "They can say, 'Oh, look for a rash around the needle point,' et cetera."However, Hayles has concerns about whether such clarity will be available with a coronavirus vaccine that has been developed so quickly."Something this big, something this major, something this rushed — I would want to know more information before I put it in my body," she said.Health authorities say the benefits of approved vaccines far outweigh any risks. But international research shows that while most people anxiously await the availability of pandemic-crushing immunizations, a sizeable minority are unsure whether they'd get the vaccine, at least in the early days after one is approved.As Canada readies itself to evaluate and eventually distribute COVID-19 vaccines, this vaccine hesitancy is becoming a key focus of the country's top officials.According to Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, 65 to 78 per cent of Canadians have indicated they would get a COVID-19 vaccine. Tam said in an interview with CBC that it's "critical" for public health to bring what she calls the "moveable middle," or undecided Canadians, onside."I think that's why it is a very key pillar of our approach in the days and weeks and months ahead, to be able to get that group of people the information that they need to get vaccinated," she said."It is really important that as many people get vaccinated as possible to protect themselves," Tam added, "but also others who are at higher risk."Alongside Health Canada's commitment to study the data about the vaccines themselves, Tam said the government is preparing a multipronged campaign to inform the public about it. That includes working with social media companies, such as Facebook and Twitter, and even gaming platforms.Canada's public health team has learned that people who get their information via social media are less likely to get vaccinated than those who follow traditional media, Tam said. "So, we'll be collaborating with similar platforms to get the message out to Canadians about the safety of the vaccine, and how the trials are going, and what happens in terms of the programmatic implementation as well."Battling misinformationResearch shows that such messaging will have to contend with a lot of misinformation that is already spreading about the COVID-19 vaccines on some of those same platforms."Vaccine hesitancy is a real and persistent problem in Canada, and it does appear to be growing somewhat," said Aengus Bridgman with the Media Ecosystem Observatory in Montreal. He is studying perceptions about the coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccines on social media.Beyond the more staunch anti-vax posts, Bridgman has seen concerns about safety and effectiveness of the vaccines, as well as questions about the necessity of getting immunized against this virus. What differentiates it from anti-vax sentiment, he said, is that although "it can contain misinformation and often does," much of it isn't "anti-science or anti-intellectual."The danger, though, is that those who are simply hesitant can be swayed by information that plants "the seed of doubt," he said."We know from previous work that we have done, and that other academics have done, that repeat exposure to misinformation [or] to misleading content can change opinions," Bridgman said."This is certainly going to be a major, major public health challenge over the coming year."Global issueIt's not just a concern in Canada. Some in the scientific community have already begun to tackle this issue. Using the hashtag TeamHalo, scientists working on COVID-19 vaccine development around the world have been using platforms like Tiktok to debunk false claims and answer questions that average people may have about the process.In 2019, before the pandemic hit, the World Health Organization (WHO) listed vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 global health threats. Now, the fear is that those who hold off getting the eventual COVID-19 vaccine pose a risk to herd immunity.With no other health measures in place, around 70 per cent of Canadians would likely need to be vaccinated to stop the virus from spreading, according to Dr. Scott Halperin with the Canadian Immunization Research Network in Halifax.Halperin is working with public health officials to identify and address Canadians' top vaccine concerns. He said the speed of vaccine development keeps coming up as a persistent worry among members of the public."When somebody says, 'Well, it takes 10 to 15 years to develop a vaccine,' that's correct," he said. But he added that, "the rapidity of the development of these vaccines was built on the shoulders of a lot of work that went before."Research on similar coronaviruses, like SARS and MERS, meant "we had three or four years head-start already in terms of the basic science," he said. What's more, he said the usual administrative red tape of waiting for research funding and queueing for approvals was eliminated with the global prioritization of COVID-19."And that in itself cuts off three to five years," Halperin said.Dr. Tam said that this is the message she most wants to send to Canadians about the vaccine. "Just because of the incredible speed with which vaccines are being developed does not mean that we cut any corners on safety of these vaccines," she said.Tam points out that Health Canada "is one of the most stringent regulatory authorities in the world." In order for vaccines to get approved in this country, she said, "they have to be safe, effective and high quality."For her part, Tanya Hayles said she will listen to the advice of Canada's public health teams and is open to hearing more about the potential side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines in development.In the end, she said, "I will do what is necessary, of course, for my health and the health of my son and the people around me."
After a long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Alessandro Costantini is thrilled to be back on stage. The artistic director will star alongside Jake Deeth in YES Theatre’s production of Mark Crawford’s play “Bed & Breakfast,” which will be performed at The Sudbury Theatre Centre from Nov. 27 to Dec. 13. “It’s this really beautiful story about this couple who inherit a home in this small town and decide to move out there and open a bed and breakfast,” said Costantini. “It’s about them figuring out how to be who they are in this community where people like them aren’t really front and center.” The narrative follows Brett and Drew, a gay couple who have just lost their seventh bidding war on a house in Toronto. When Brett learns that he has inherited the family home, they decide to try their hand elsewhere. But when they start to experience some friction in their new community, they discover that the simple life is more complicated than they thought. The hilarious and heartwarming comedy explores what it means to be “out” in the country, skeletons in the closet, and finding a place to call home. It also features more than 20 different characters – all played by two actors, Costantini and Deeth. “We play 11 characters each. It’s written for two actors because the protagonists are telling the story of how they got to be there,” said Costantini. “It’s a little bit like theatre Olympics. It’s a very athletic play. There are no costume changes, and we never leave the stage. Every time we switch into another character, it’s all physicality and our voice that delineates who we are.” That’s why Costantini said that having Janie Pinard on board as the director of the performance has been such a boon. “Janie, Jake and I have been very close collaborators for over a decade now, and we knew this would be the perfect opportunity to work with her again. She is a very skilled physical theatre artist who trained in Montreal and California,” he said. “She is the perfect artist to be leading us in this production because it is such a physical piece.” Although YES Theatre normally puts on larger productions, this time Costantini was on the hunt for something smaller. The reason is that he had the safety of both the audience and the artists involved in mind during the COVID-19 pandemic. But he was also drawn to the narrative of “Bed & Breakfast” because it’s about community. “Even though this is just two people, it’s really about a community and about all the different perspectives that exist in that community,” he said. “It’s a beautiful story to help create empathy. It is a gay couple, and they have to navigate being out in this town. Like every place, there are people who are more open and accepting to it, and there are others who are a little behind the beat. This play really does both – it offers the audience a lot of laughs and packs a punch in terms of being a piece of thought-provoking piece of theatre.” Costantini added that all COVID-19 regulations will be followed during the live performance. Ticket sales are limited to 50 tickets per performance, and all patrons will be seated according to social distancing guidelines. The Sudbury Theatre Centre is also offering contactless ticket services. Ticketholders will be able to gain entry to the theatre by simply providing their name at the entrance. Hand sanitizer will be readily available, and there will be volunteers stationed at the washrooms to ensure social distancing guidelines are followed. Tickets for Bed & Breakfast are available online at www.yestheatre.com and through The Sudbury Theatre Centre box office. The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government. firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @SudburyStar Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star
A national financial rescue package for Canadian municipalities hurt by the pandemic has been rushed out to most communities in the country – but not in New Brunswick. The province is hanging on to the federal cash until local governments detail their losses."To access this ... funding, local governments are required to submit a resolution of council which clearly outlines the net impact of COVID-19 in 2020," said a letter sent to mayors earlier this month by local government minister Daniel Allain."Payments will be processed once resolutions of council have been received and reviewed for compliance," the letter states. "The deadline to submit information is December 31, 2020."New Brunswick was allotted $41.1 million by Ottawa to give to local governments as its share of a $2-billion national rescue package announced in July. Ottawa provided the relief money on a per-capita basis and most provinces opted to distribute it without waiting on the detailed accounting New Brunswick is requiring.Canada's largest cities, including Toronto and Vancouver, have been already told what they're getting, as have thousands of medium, small and even tiny communities from one end of the country to the other. Every New Brunswick municipality in the darkTilt Cove in Newfoundland and Labrador, Greig Lake in Saskatchewan and Betula Beach in Alberta, each of them home to fewer than 20 people, have all been notified of their federal relief amounts.Meanwhile, every New Brunswick municipality remains in the dark.Edmundston Mayor Cyrille Simard said he has no idea how much his community is getting, or when it's getting it."I really don't know ... at this stage," Simard said in a message Wednesday.In Alberta, more than 300 eligible communities were told 10 weeks ago that the province's entire $233.2-million share of the federal funding would be paid out in roughly equal amounts of $54 per person per community. For Grand Prairie, which is slightly larger than Saint John and slightly smaller than Moncton, that meant $3.7 million in federal relief money. Cold Lake, which has a population halfway between that of Bathurst's and Edmundston's, is receiving $818,000. The Alberta government is also adding to those amounts with matching provincial funding. As in New Brunswick, paperwork accounting for COVID-19 losses has to be completed by communities in Alberta, but not until next year and only to a minimal standard"We will not require detailed proof of expenses incurred or revenue lost," state the Alberta rules that govern the funding."No applications are required. Our goal is to ensure municipalities are able to use funding to offset fiscal challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, without necessary red tape. We recognize that not all municipalities had the resources and capacity to accurately track pandemic-related fiscal impacts as they were occurring." Next door in Saskatchewan, 700 cities, towns, villages, hamlets and other community structures were informed on Sept. 9 of their individual shares of the $62.3 million given to that province for federal municipal relief.All received identical amounts of just over $59 per person per community.Other communities minimized paperwork, expedited reliefLori Carr, Saskatchewan's government relations minister at the time, said it was important for communities to get the money as soon as possible to deal with problems the pandemic was causing."Quickly and efficiently, the amounts will start to be distributed immediately so municipal leaders can funnel dollars to areas of highest local priority," Carr said during the Sept. 9 announcement.British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario have also announced amounts going to municipalities in those provinces, while in eastern Canada, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador have also divided up the federal money and disclosed amounts to every local government.In St. John's, the municipalities minister Derek Bennett said the province is minimizing paperwork for its nearly 300 communities and adopting the same per-person method of distributing federal municipal relief used in western Canada."We know municipalities ... have been eagerly anticipating the amount of funding that each municipality will receive," said Bennett in a statement."No applications are required." Each community in Newfoundland and Labrador is receiving the same $59 per person as Saskatchewan communities, including $6.4 million for St. John's, $1.2 million for Corner Brook and $833,000 for Grand Falls Windsor.New Brunswick's 104 eligible communities are unlikely to be treated in a similar, predictable and equal way.Allain has indicated there will be an individual decision made by the province for each community, with some getting more and some less than a per-capita distribution would deliver.He instructed mayors to provide a detailed accounting of their increased COVID-19 costs and to combine that with their decreased revenues. They are also required to list "operational savings" achieved as they tried to rescue their budgets and deduct that amount from the first two to come up with a "net COVID-19 impact." That raises the possibility that municipalities who cut the most services to save money during the pandemic could show lower net budget impacts from COVID and receive reduced amounts of relief.That happened last month when the province took $1.6 million out of the federal municipal relief money to apply it to transit relief. 'We shouldn't be penalized' for being prudent: DarlingSaint John cut more of its transit service during the early days of the pandemic than Moncton and Fredericton did, and on paper showed a lower "net" financial deficit from COVID, even though its service was harmed the most.. As a result, the province awarded Saint John the least amount of transit relief – $400,000, compared to $500,000 for Moncton and $670,000 for Fredericton Saint John finance officials have been working for the last three weeks on the larger application for federal municipal relief money and Mayor Don Darling does not want to see communities who took dramatic action to contain their deficits get the least relief."We should not be penalized for being fiscally prudent," said Darling in a message to CBC News on Tuesday.Allain's office did not respond to a request for an interview about his department's handling of federal assistance meant for municipalities or whether the "net impact" measurement being used to disperse money will penalize some communities.Department spokesman Jean Bertin said in an email that communities will know how much of the federal money they are getting when they fill out their paperwork and have it inspected by department officials."The sooner local governments get their resolutions of council into the department, the sooner they will be reimbursed," he wrote.
Nearly three dozen engineers and doctors in Ontario are calling on the Health Ministry to better inform the public about the risks of airborne transmission of COVID-19, and improve ventilation standards across the province.In a letter, 21 doctors and 12 engineers and other scientists call on Ontario to update the province's COVID-19 guidelines, regulations and communication to reflect the Public Health Agency of Canada's acknowledgement earlier this month that COVID-19 can indeed spread in microscopic droplets, or aerosols, that can travel beyond two metres.> We need our public health leaders and scientists to be explaining this. \- Dr. Sarah Addleman"I think the public generally believes that if you are inside, as long as you are separated more than two metres from other people, you don't need to have a mask on and you'd be pretty safe," said Dr. Jennifer McDonald, a rehabilitation doctor at The Ottawa Hospital, and one of the doctors who co-signed Tuesday's letter."When in reality, especially if you have multiple people in that house or in that room, depending on the ventilation of that room, it could get very dangerous."McDonald conducted her own experiment at home with a carbon dioxide monitor, which can indicate how fresh the air is — generally, the lower the carbon dioxide level, the better the air quality.Outdoor air normally has 400-500 parts per million of carbon dioxide. McDonald found the air inside her home had 1,100 and 1,300 parts per million. A school can be as high as 2,000, she said."The public is not aware of that, that you're literally stewing in stale air that could be building up these virus particles," she said.By simply turning on the exhaust fan over her stove or opening a window, McDonald found she was able to improve her home's air quality within minutes.Knowledge is power, says doctorMcDonald and the other signatories want to see better guidance for high-risk businesses like gyms and bars, and want the province to mandate and fund ventilation assessments at places like schools and long-term care homes, as well as promote the use of HEPA air filters.They'd also like to see practical advice offered to the public about simple ways people can improve air quality at home, like replacing furnace filters and maintaining bathroom exhaust fans. On Thursday, the Ministry of Health said in a statement to CBC that it provides resources for workplaces to protect against the spread of COVID-19 including guidance on installing Plexiglas barriers and improving (HVAC) systems to increase air flow."The most important advice is to wear a mask when physical distancing is a challenge or when it is required," the statement said. "The vast majority of transmission of COVID-19 is by droplet spread between person-to-person. Transmission by small particles (aerosols) has been shown to possibly occur in closed crowded spaces with poor ventilation. There is no evidence at this time that the virus is able to transmit over long distances through the air e.g. through air ducts."Dr. Sarah Addleman, an Ottawa emergency room physician who also signed the letter, said information about COVID-19 airborne transmission shouldn't be frightening, it should be empowering. While handwashing and physical distancing are important, proper ventilation can provide an added layer of protection indoors, she said."People just deserve to know the facts because then they can make decisions for themselves, whether they're comfortable having other people inside their home [or] going to indoor bars or restaurants," Addleman said.Should people chose to host a small gathering indoors, they may decide to crack open a window, buy an air purifier or turn on a humidifier. Studies have shown COVID-19 prefers dry, cool air, she said."I never knew anything about ventilation until I started reading about it," said Addleman. "We need our public health leaders and scientists to be explaining this."
A residential school survivor in Manitoba who received his high school diploma last week says he hopes to inspire others to believe in their education goals."Now I can prove that an elder like me could graduate. If anybody like me can do it, they can do it," 61-year-old Glenn Courchene said.Courchene is Anishinaabe from Sagkeeng First Nation, located 100 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.He received his high school diploma from the Empower Adult Education Centre, in the neighbouring community of Pine Falls, Man., on Nov. 18.Courchene made the commitment in February 2019 to obtain his high school diploma."I wanted to go back to school and I wanted to complete my education, so what I did was I encouraged myself to believe in myself," he said.As a child, he attended the Fort Alexander Indian Residential School in Manitoba for eight years starting in the 1960s. He also attended the day school in the community for three and half years.At the residential school, he had only gone up to Grade 6, and he blamed the schools for him not being able to speak Anishinaabemowin, the Ojibway language, and for hurting his confidence."My education in the residential school, it was kind of hard for me," Courchene said."We couldn't learn because of what happened to us. We were abused, physical and all that. We were there to learn, not to get hurt."Arriving early before staffCourchene said he wouldn't have been able to finish school without the support of his friends and the staff at the Empower Adult Education Centre.Among the staff members he gives credit to is Karen Legall, the school's work counsellor. She helps students upgrade their skills so they can take the courses that are required for graduation.Legall said Courchene tried to give school a chance back in 2012 but didn't follow through with it at the time.When he returned in 2019, she said, he was there at the school every day.Every morning, Courchene walked the roughly seven kilometres to the centre from Sagkeeng to Pine Falls — often getting picked up along the way and given a ride.Legall said he would often arrive at the school before the staff, waiting for the doors to open."Last year he just took off," she said, adding he really enjoyed his math studies."He just started coming in every day. And then we thought, you know what, let's get your Grade 12. And he was so excited and he did it."Legall described Courchene as funny and caring and said he has shared many stories with the staff since he started at the school. She said he made individual dreamcatchers, as well as a big heart-shaped dreamcatcher for the staff at Empower."He really likes to share all his knowledge over the years. And we appreciate him doing that. We've learned a lot from him," Legall said.Courchene said he plans to go to university to obtain a bachelor's degree."I've gone through a lot of hurt, and I respect myself for going to school. And I will never give up school because I want to keep learning."
As western Quebec experiences its deadliest month so far during the COVID-19 pandemic, the region's top health official says it's imperative to limit outbreaks at retirement homes.In November alone, 33 people in Outaouais have died from COVID-19 — 43 died from the start of the pandemic until Oct. 31.As of Wednesday, Outaouais reported 947 new cases of COVID-19 in November, compared to 946 confirmed cases for the same period in Ottawa, a jurisdiction with more than double the population.Dr. Brigitte Pinard, director of the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l'Outaouais, said Wednesday that 10 retirement homes are currently experiencing outbreaks."We know a part of the increase [in cases and deaths] is associated with those outbreaks, yet those outbreaks don't explain the entire situation," said Pinard.Red zone designation until at least Jan. 11Of the total 76 deaths since the start of the pandemic, 29 have been of residents in retirement homes.Pinard said retirement homes in Outaouais managed, for the most part, to avoid outbreaks during the first wave of the pandemic, but a combination of community transmission and possible fatigue with COVID-19 prevention measures explain the outbreaks during this second wave."It's possible that as the retirement homes were less affected during the first wave, that there was still some need to increase vigilance," she said.Outaouais was upgraded to red status, the maximum level on Quebec's COVID-19 alert scale, in October. The earliest the provincial government said it might lower the threat level is Jan. 11, 2021.Pinard said it's imperative to stabilize the rate of infection before the holidays to keep numbers from getting out of control. "It's a situation we consider to be quite fragile," she said. "People everywhere need to apply measures so we decrease the transmission and we also decrease the risk of having our most vulnerable population contract the disease."Protecting hospitals is keyMeanwhile, hospitals in western Quebec are currently caring for 40 patients with COVID-19, including one in intensive care. Sixty-six hospital staff are infected with the virus, something that is especially concerning to Dr. Denis Marcheterre, president of the health care advocacy group Action Santé Outaouais."If we have more outbreaks it won't look pretty in the hospitals," he said. "We have a pretty fragile health-care system and we've got to protect it."Marcheterre said he supports the red zone designation for Outaouais through the holidays."There is a significant lack of nurses and support staff in hospitals and elderly care homes," he said. "We have to stay in the red zone to protect our hospitals."
Although the Italian government says it won't make a COVID-19 vaccine compulsory - there is growing hesitation among Italians over its safety.View on euronews
New COVID-19 directives from the Ontario government about how people should celebrate the holidays have some changing their plans, while others are forging ahead.On Wednesday, Premier Doug Ford urged people to celebrate with only those people in their households, adding that those who live alone can join one other household. The announcement came as the province saw another 1,373 cases of COVID-19 and 35 more deaths.The news meant a hard decision for Ottawa area resident Kevin Farrell, who usually celebrates with his adult children at a restaurant each year. But he said since those children live in two different households he can't see them together, and couldn't pick only one to visit."I'm extremely disappointed," Farrell said. The decision was made even harder by some good news he received this year. "On November 11, I became a grandfather for the first time. I haven't been able to hold my grandson yet and I was really looking forward to that … It looks like that's not going to happen."Coming home despite warningsOttawa's medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches urged residents Wednesday to keep travel to a minimum and avoid going from areas with higher case numbers to places with lower. But that warning doesn't sit well with Carlos Verde, who's still planning to come home to Ottawa from Toronto for the holidays."It's kind of hard to stomach this idea that it's been fine to go home the last eight months," he said. "At a time when mental health is nosediving, as we go into winter and stuff — when people really need to kind of have some family face time ... now you're telling us that all of a sudden we can't go home."Verde said he has been following the rules throughout the pandemic by keeping his bubble to just his roommate, working in an isolated office away from co-workers and he plans to quarantine before returning home.He said his family will be isolating before too in order to ensure their visit is safe.
George Bilodeau and Doug Ford have something in common. When it comes to reliable broadband internet access, especially in rural, remote and Northern communities, the mayor of the Municipality of Huron Shores and the premier of Ontario are like a dog with a bone. According to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, more than 1.4 million people in Ontario do not have broadband or cellular access, and about 12 per cent of households in the province are underserved or unserved from a broadband perspective. As more services move online because of the COVID-19 pandemic, poor internet service has left many individuals, businesses, and health0care organizations at a distinct disadvantage. In an effort to close some of those gaps, the Ford government has pledged an additional $680 million on top of a previous $315 million to support Ontario’s Broadband Cellular Action Plan, which hopes to provide 220,000 households and businesses with greater access. This nearly $1 billion investment over a six-year period will be used for shovel-ready projects that will connect unserviced and underserviced communities during COVID-19. Bilodeau hopes that with a big dose of community enterprise, Huron Shores will be able to leverage some of that funding to solve some of the internet connectivity issues in his region. “I’ve done a lot of lobbying, presentations, and cold calls over the last few months, and I always say that the system we have right now is like a two-lane highway, and we are trying to put the traffic of a six-lane highway onto two lanes,” he said. “That’s what we have now. We need a new backbone, which will mean a whole new line. Up-to-date fibre that will be able to take on six-lane traffic with no difficulties whatsoever. Our technology right now is maybe 25 years behind.” Bilodeau is spearheading a $150-million regional broadband network infrastructure project titled Huron & Manitoulin Community-Owned Fibre Infrastructure. If successful, it would provide high-speed internet services to thousands of residents along a corridor that runs from Echo Bay to Nairn Centre, including Manitoulin Island. “The problem is that all the major companies in this area are not really interested in giving us proper broadband services. Right now, we get minimum service, and the promise to bring us into the 21st century is just not there,” explained Bilodeau. “They do Band-Aid solutions here and there, but nothing is up to the capacity that is needed for economic development, industry, and health services.” Huron Shores decided to take matters into its own hands. Bilodeau is endeavoring to build a community-owned system where the municipalities involved would form a corporation and administer the broadband network. “What we’re looking at is a wholesale point of view. We don’t want to take business away from the internet service providers that are in the region. What we would do is supply a better product to these internet service providers, so they can sell a better product to households,” he said. “It would be easy to do a 50/10 and even a gig if a household wants a gig (gigabite). For hospitals and schools, we’re looking at 10 gigs.” The project has already garnered support from more than 30 communities and First Nations along the corridor, including Whitefish River First Nation, Elliot Lake, and Espanola. In fact, almost 90 per cent of the communities along the corridor have sent letters of support with resolutions to Huron Shores. Much of the “legwork” for the project is almost completed, added Bilodeau, including details like how they are going to bring the fibre into the area, and where it’s going to come from. Now, all they need is financial support from the provincial and federal governments. By partnering with ROCK Networks, an Ottawa-based communications systems company, Huron Shores and Whitefish River First Nation were able to put together an application for the provincial government’s Improving Connectivity in Ontario (ICON) program. At the end of September, they received a “positive nod” from the government indicating that their project has been asked to advance to stage 2 of the application process. “Stage 2 is the financing. We need to secure a grant from the provincial government to cover 25 per cent of the cost of the project, which would equal about $37.5 million,” said Bilodeau. “If we are successful in doing that, then the next step would be to see if we could get matching funding from the federal government.” The $1 billion investment from the provincial government doubled the funding for Ontario’s ICON program, bringing the total to $300 million. The program now has the potential to leverage more than $900 million in total partner funding to improve connectivity in areas of need across Ontario. ICON is just one of several provincial initiatives underway to improve connectivity across northern, eastern, and southwestern Ontario. The federal government also recently expanded and enhanced the Universal Broadband Fund to support high-speed internet projects across the country. Originally designed as a $1 billion, the government increased funding for the UBF to $1.75 billion to help connect more Canadians and better prepare for the future. Recognizing the need to accelerate this progress, Nickel Belt MP Marc Serre announced the launch of the Rapid Response Stream of the UBF, an accelerated application process that will allow shovel-ready projects to get started right away. The stream will benefit local telecom companies in Northern Ontario and further contribute to the region’s economic recovery. The application period is now open and community partners and stakeholders are encouraged to apply. “Our communities’ economic development and ability to overcome the challenges of this pandemic greatly depends on having access to quality and affordable internet and cellular coverage for all,” said Serre. “Working closely with municipal governments, the private sector and stakeholders, I will continue to advocate to ensure this important funding will benefit Nickel Belt-Greater Sudbury.” Achieving greater internet connectivity is something that isimportant for Bilodeau, and the communities that he is working with, and he hopes that this project will open up opportunities for the region. “Just as an example, (the other day) I was supposed to have a Zoom meeting with Greg Rickford, the minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines. We were not able to do the Zoom conference,” said Bilodeau. “I had to go on the landline, and I was holding my laptop looking at a slide deck. Minister Rickford was initially on his cellphone, but then he had connectivity issues, so we were both on landlines, with our laptops in front of us. We had to use two old technologies while I was trying to sell my idea.” His region, he added, is really like a “second Muskoka.” “In the last 15 years, Elliot Lake has seen more than 400 new cottages built north of the city. We all need broadband services,” he said. “This will open up opportunities in the region. People won’t need to be down in Toronto working in a tower. They will be able to come up here, build a home, and be able to work from home if we are able to get this project up and running.” The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government. email@example.com Twitter: @SudburyStar Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star
Mexico's ambassador to Canada apparently watches question period — and it seems he did not like what he saw and heard on Tuesday."Mexico has worked hard to ensure equitable access to vaccines for all," Juan José Gómez Camacho tweeted on Tuesday night. "We believe a pandemic is a time to promote solidarity, rather than showing selfishness, which could endanger us all."The ambassador tagged Conservative leader Erin O'Toole and Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel at the end of his message. During question period on Tuesday, Rempel dwelled upon reports suggesting that Mexico's first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine might arrive before Canada's first vaccinations.Mexico was really just an unlucky bystander caught up in an outbreak of vaccine nationalism in Ottawa this week. The hope offered by glowing reports on the leading vaccine candidates has given way to questions about when exactly Canada will receive its first shipment of a vaccine, and how close to the front of the line Canada might be among the 195 countries of the world.Those questions represent significant risks for the Liberal government — even if Canadians ultimately have to accept that they can't necessarily expect to go first.The impetus for the Official Opposition's questions on Tuesday was the prime minister's acknowledgement that other countries will be able to start vaccinating their citizens before Canada."The very first vaccines that roll off an assembly line in a given country are likely to be given to citizens of that particular country," Justin Trudeau told a morning news conference. "But shortly afterwards, they will start honouring and delivering on the contracts that they signed with other countries, including with Canada."WATCH: Federal government can't guarantee vaccination timelineSpecifically, Trudeau suggested that the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany might get the first vaccines. In each of those countries, it has been suggested that vaccinations could start in December.On Wednesday, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc told CBC's Power & Politics that Canada should "start to receive" vaccine doses in January. That might not immediately amount to a huge difference — but this week's debate offers just a hint of how the international rollout of a vaccine might be used to keep score between nations.It's not clear yet whether the Trudeau government could have done something over the past eleven months to change Canada's place in the pecking order, or whether Canada will even receive vaccines markedly later than most other countries.Trudeau said that "Canada no longer has any domestic production capacity for vaccines" — but that's not quite right. This country does have vaccine manufacturing facilities — GlaxoSmithKline has one near Montreal and Sanofi Pasteur operates in Toronto. What Canada doesn't have is a production facility connected to any of the current leading candidates for a COVID-19 vaccine.'Horrendously complex'Those major manufacturers are also producing other vaccines. And even if they had excess capacity, setting up a new facility to deliver a new vaccine would be a complicated, time-consuming endeavour."Manufacturing vaccines is horrendously complex," said Robert Van Exan, a former executive with Sanofi Pasteur in Toronto and now a consultant on immunization policy. "And you don't just take it from one facility to another."Trudeau's government has spent federal money to boost research and manufacturing capacity at facilities in Saskatchewan and Quebec, which could lead to vaccine production next year. In the meantime, the government has signed contracts with a number of international suppliers.During question period on Wednesday, Trudeau pointed to what he called the "most diverse portfolio of vaccines anywhere in the world" (a claim recently supported by the Economist) and insisted that his government's approach was informed by experts in the field (the Liberals have established a vaccine task force).Rempel asked whether the government had attempted to negotiate the right to produce those vaccines in Canada. Trudeau said the government "looked at different ways of ensuring domestic production as much as we were able to," but it was not something it could "move forward on."WATCH: Opposition leaders push for vaccine rollout planAnyone looking for errors or oversights in this aspect of Canada's pandemic response might have to look a little deeper into the past."I think what it shows, if anything, is a lack of foresight in our pandemic planning," Van Exan said. He suggested the federal government could have invested years ago in reserving manufacturing capacity at a domestic facility — one that would be needed only in the event of a pandemic.In any pandemic, Van Exan said, the country where the vaccine is being manufactured will insist on getting the first doses."The problem is you can't make enough in the first months to do the whole world," he said. "It's going to take years to make enough vaccine to do the whole world. So there's going to be a rollout of this and there will be some who get it sooner and some get it later."Politicians might be worrying now that Canada might not get the vaccine as fast as other countries — but just three weeks ago, some observers were warning that wealthy countries like Canada were buying up too many doses and pushing developing countries to the back of the queue.Mexico's government has suggested it might have the vaccine in December. But a lot about international vaccination efforts is still up in the air — when the first doses will arrive, how much individual countries will get in their first shipments, how quickly each country can vaccinate its entire population.The number of viable vaccines might increase and supplies might progressively expand. But Van Exan contributed to a study by the Center for Global Development that estimated in October it could take until 2023 for every person in the world to be vaccinated. Various factors could push that into 2024.It is easy to see the opposition heaping scorn upon the Trudeau government if there's a significant vaccine gap between Canada and a large number of other countries. Envious eyes will no doubt be cast at the first doses deployed in the United States, if Americans do see a vaccine before we do. But in that respect, Canadians might be like citizens in many other countries.The whole world is living and dying with the same pandemic. This week's debate might have alerted Canadians to the fact that they are not necessarily entitled to first crack at what will be — at least initially — a limited supply of a life-saving vaccine, and that there's no particular reason Canada should get to go ahead of Mexico.But Trudeau will still be judged by what his government did to ensure Canadians got their share as fast as possible. And the further Canada is from the front of the line, the easier it will be to criticize.