Ontario will start offering the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to those aged 40 and over starting on Tuesday, the province announced Sunday following days of mounting pressure to lower the minimum age. The province had previously stuck to the National Advisory Committee on Immunization's recommendation to only offer the AstraZeneca shot to those 55 and over due to a slightly elevated risk of an extremely rare blood clot disorder. But as hospitalizations surged to unprecedented levels in Ontario and AstraZeneca vaccines sat in pharmacy refrigerators, Health Minister Christine Elliott's office confirmed the plan to make the shots available to more residents. "Based on current supply, Ontario will begin offering the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to individuals aged 40 and over at pharmacy and primary care settings across the province effective Tuesday," Alexandra Hilkene said in an email on Sunday evening. Hours earlier, Elliott's federal counterpart told a news conference that such a move was well within the provinces' jurisdiction. "NACI provides advice to provinces and territories," Health Minister Patty Hajdu said. "They can adjust their use for AstraZeneca as per their desire and the advice from their own public health authorities and medical expertise." She noted that Health Canada has licensed the AstraZeneca shot for use in people over the age of 18. "NACI continues to review the advice on AstraZeneca use and will have updated guidance in the very near future," Hajdu added. Anthony Dale, president and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association, tweeted that there is "'surplus supply at risk of expiring." Many Ontario physicians took to social media to express their frustration with the province's lack of action on the issue. "Pharmacies, listen up. DO NOT WASTE A SINGLE DOSE OF THE AZ VACCINE. Explain the risk and obtain informed consent to administer to people under age 55," Dr. Brian Goldman said in a tweet Sunday. Dr. Irfan Dhalla, vice-president of Unity Health Toronto, agreed. "It’s hard to imagine the provincial government coming after pharmacies or family doctors for using AZ in people (under) 55," he tweeted. Later, he praised Elliott's decision to unlock some of the AstraZeneca vaccines, and urged the province to send even more to COVID-19 hot spots. Steven Del Duca, who heads up the Liberal party in the province, agreed. "Doug Ford must release the AstraZeneca vaccine from pharmacy freezers and get it into the arms of anyone over 18 in a hot spot," he tweeted Sunday. "(Patty Hajdu) was clear: there is nothing stopping him from getting shots into arms." The calls to lower the threshold for the AstraZeneca vaccine extended beyond Ontario's borders. "It sounds like Alberta is having trouble using its AstraZeneca. Lower the minimum age; Gen X can help!" Lisa Young, a political science professor at the University of Calgary, tweeted this week. An Alberta government spokeswoman said Sunday that the province's chief medical officer was working with NACI to decide whether to expand eligibility for the shot, but that they have yet to come up with a decision. Some have been hesitant to accept the AstraZeneca vaccine due to a very rare blood clotting condition, which has thus far affected two Canadians. More than 700,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered in this country. The global frequency of the blood clot disorder, known as vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia, or VITT, has been estimated at about one case in 100,000 to 250,000 doses. The risk of developing blood clots due to COVID-19 is much higher, and experts say people should accept the first vaccine they're offered. Meanwhile, the federal government announced Sunday that it was mobilizing its own resources and co-ordinating with lesser-hit provinces to send health-care workers and other support to help Ontario as it battles record-breaking COVID-19 numbers. It wasn't immediately clear how the Ontario government would respond to Ottawa's offer. Hospitalizations and admissions to intensive care units continued to reach record heights in the province, which reported 4,250 new COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours. Ontario announced a number of new restrictions to quell the skyrocketing numbers, but has faced pressure to roll back limits on outdoor activities, which critics have said will do little to stop the spread. Meanwhile, data released by Canada's chief public health officer indicated the average daily number of hospitalizations and deaths in the country jumped by more than 30 per cent between April 9 and 15 compared to the week before. The latest national figures showed an average of 3,428 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent seven-day reporting period, representing a 34 per cent increase over the week before. An average of 41 people died each day during the same stretch, which is 38 per cent higher than the previous week. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said cases, test positivity rates and intensive care admissions are all rising as Canada battles a wave of COVID-19 that is driven by more contagious virus variants. Quebec, meanwhile, reported more than 1,300 new infections in the past 24 hours. Nunavut counted three new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, for a total of 22 active cases. Prince Edward Island recorded three new cases, while Nova Scotia logged seven and New Brunswick added 10. Farther west, Manitoba recorded 170 new cases of the virus and one added death, while Saskatchewan counted 289 new cases and one death. Alberta, which is currently dealing with the highest rate of COVID-19 per capita in Canada, reported 1,516 new cases of the virus on Sunday and three more deaths. As of Sunday evening, Alberta's rate of active COVID-19 cases was 405.6 per 100,000, compared to 282.26 per 100,000 in Ontario. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 18, 2021. - with files from Morgan Lowrie in Montreal and Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton. Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
Montrealers gathered at Jeanne-Mance Park Sunday evening, calling for an end to the 8 p.m. curfew currently in place in most of the province. About 300 people — most of whom wore masks — showed up at the protest, marching through the streets of the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough and carrying signs with slogans denouncing the curfew and denouncing Montreal police. The protest started around 5:30 p.m. and was mostly over by the time curfew neared. Protest organizers said that while they support most public health measures in place, such as masking and the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, the curfew has a disproportionate impact on marginalized communities, including people without homes and those suffering from domestic violence. "The curfew isn't an answer, the curfew is the repressive measure of a state that uses its police more and more in a futile attempt to address much wider issues," Pas de solution policière à la crise sanitaire, one of the groups behind the protest, wrote on Facebook. "Real solutions exist to protect the most vulnerable from the pandemic: they involve directing resources to areas of real need and stopping the drive to save the economy at all costs." "It's a really repressive measure that really has a negative impact on vulnerable people, so it's a classist measure," added Chantal Montmorency, one of the protesters and general coordinator of l'Association Québécoise pour la promotion de la santé des personnes utilisatrices de drogues. "Drug users, among other people, will not have access to supervised injection sites and the services they need. " Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault has said that the curfew should not stop Quebecers from seeking help if they are in a situation of domestic violence. Dozens of police officers followed protesters closely Sunday, though police have not yet confirmed if tickets were handed out or if arrests were made. "I invite all protesters to express themselves peacefully. Thank you to the SPVM who will be monitoring the march," Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante wrote on Twitter as the protest began. A separate group, many of whom were not wearing masks, defied the 8 p.m. curfew for a protest last week, which resulted in damage to several businesses in the Old Port and saw more than 100 tickets issued.
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 8:30 p.m. ET on Sunday April 18, 2021. There are 1,121,498 confirmed cases in Canada. Canada: 1,121,498 confirmed cases (87,925 active, 1,009,950 resolved, 23,623 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 7,593 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 231.35 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 59,023 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 8,432. There were 32 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 294 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 42. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.11 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 62.16 per 100,000 people. There have been 29,907,670 tests completed. Newfoundland and Labrador: 1,043 confirmed cases (26 active, 1,011 resolved, six deaths). There was one new case Sunday. The rate of active cases is 4.98 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 14 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 1.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 234,141 tests completed. Prince Edward Island: 170 confirmed cases (10 active, 160 resolved, zero deaths). There were three new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 6.26 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of eight new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 134,704 tests completed. Nova Scotia: 1,807 confirmed cases (49 active, 1,691 resolved, 67 deaths). There were seven new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is five per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 39 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is six. There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.01 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 6.84 per 100,000 people. There have been 464,263 tests completed. New Brunswick: 1,788 confirmed cases (154 active, 1,601 resolved, 33 deaths). There were 10 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 19.71 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 66 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is nine. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 4.22 per 100,000 people. There have been 283,622 tests completed. Quebec: 336,952 confirmed cases (13,449 active, 312,701 resolved, 10,802 deaths). There were 1,344 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 156.85 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 10,569 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,510. There were nine new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 60 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is nine. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.1 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 125.98 per 100,000 people. There have been 7,813,292 tests completed. Ontario: 416,995 confirmed cases (41,588 active, 367,691 resolved, 7,716 deaths). There were 4,250 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 282.26 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 30,387 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 4,341. There were 18 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 164 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 23. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.16 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 52.37 per 100,000 people. There have been 13,328,247 tests completed. Manitoba: 36,159 confirmed cases (1,688 active, 33,512 resolved, 959 deaths). There were 170 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 122.38 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 946 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 135. There was one new reported death Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 10 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is one. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.1 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 69.53 per 100,000 people. There have been 626,901 tests completed. Saskatchewan: 38,160 confirmed cases (2,742 active, 34,953 resolved, 465 deaths). There were 289 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 232.63 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,856 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 265. There was one new reported death Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 11 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 39.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 723,594 tests completed. Alberta: 170,795 confirmed cases (17,935 active, 150,820 resolved, 2,040 deaths). There were 1,516 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 405.6 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,893 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,413. There were three new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 27 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.09 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 46.13 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,913,177 tests completed. British Columbia: 117,080 confirmed cases (10,259 active, 105,291 resolved, 1,530 deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 199.29 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,221 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 746. There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 21 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.06 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 29.72 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,349,763 tests completed. Yukon: 76 confirmed cases (two active, 73 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 4.76 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.38 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,740 tests completed. Northwest Territories: 43 confirmed cases (one active, 42 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 2.21 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 16,904 tests completed. Nunavut: 417 confirmed cases (22 active, 391 resolved, four deaths). There were three new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 55.9 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 22 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 10.16 per 100,000 people. There have been 10,246 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published April 18, 2021. The Canadian Press
Raising chickens in the woods is being touted as a way to help improve the food security of First Nation communities by providing an alternative to dwindling supplies of traditional foods such as moose and salmon. The Regenerative Poultry Project has already produced 1,500 chickens on a small farm about 150 kilometres northwest of Terrace, B.C., using techniques developed in Guatemala. The idea is that the chickens are allowed to roam the woods, roosting in trees and foraging for food, mimicking the behaviours of their wild ancestors. "Chickens actually evolved as a jungle species," said Kesia Nagata of the non-profit Skeena Watershed Coalition, which is helping run the project. "They feel happiest when covered with a canopy that they can range under. They like to forage for their food, they like to scratch under trees and they like to roost and explore with the protection of a canopy over them." The birds aren't completely on their own, though. They live on the property of Nathan Coombs, a Gitxsan farmer who runs Skeena Valley Farm and cares for the chickens. Coombs built a small coop for the chickens to use at night and lets them roam the land by day, rotating them to different parts of his property so they don't overgraze the land. Proponents of the 'tree-range' technique of raising chickens say the birds feel more comfortable when they can roost and forage among trees. (Jennifer Bulleid/Skeena Valley Watershed Coalition) "They have an acre and a half to run around and be chickens," said Coombs, who was taught how to farm by his grandfather. "Eat slugs and bugs and forage and eat the plants. It's different, for sure." The project is based on the work of Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin, a farmer working to reduce the environmental impacts of food production in the United States by popularizing what he calls the "tree-range" method of food production he learned growing up in Guatemala. Nagata visited one of Haslett-Marroquin's farms in Minnesota to learn how it worked before bringing her ideas back to B.C., where she is interested in improving food security for First Nations and other northern communities. She said she has spoken to elders who are concerned about the decline of other food sources, particularly salmon and moose, which were traditionally a reliable source of protein but are now at risk of being over-harvested. So far, it's a success. Over the summer of 2020, Coombs and Nagata raised 1,500 chickens that were quickly distributed throughout the community. This year, they hope to not only increase that number, but see their techniques picked up by other farms in the region and across the province. "We really want to show people, our local Indigenous peoples, that we can provide our own food systems," said Coombs. "We can grow our healthy, sustainable foods locally on our own reserve." Skeena Valley Farm raised 1,500 chickens using the tree-range technique in 2020 and hopes to eventually expand to more than 4,000 a year. (Jennifer Bulleid/Skeena Valley Watershed Coalition) Subscribe to Daybreak North on CBC Listen or your favourite podcast app, and connect with CBC Northern British Columbia on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Ontario may be hard pressed to get nurses from other parts of Canada to help it cope with the pandemic because some provinces and territories are experiencing their own shortages, says the head of a professional association that represents nurses across the country. Tim Guest, president of the Canadian Nurses Association, said New Brunswick, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, for example, have all struggled with vacancies. The only provinces with increases in nurses relative to their adult populations since 2016 are Alberta, P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador. "All the rest have dropped," he said. P.E.I., however, has a shortage of intensive care unit nurses. "We've been seeing increasing vacancies in nurses for a period of time. This isn't a new phenomenon that we're just seeing now within the pandemic," he said on Sunday. "There are certainly challenges across the country." Ontario made an appeal in a letter to other provincial and territorial governments on Friday to send their nurses to the province as it continues to grapple with a surge of COVID-19 cases. Before the pandemic, Guest said there were vacancies of nurses evident largely in specialty areas, such as operating rooms, intensive care units, emergency departments, long term care homes and rural and remote communities, he added. As well, a number of trends have contributed to vacancies, he said. Nurses have options, they are a mobile workforce, some have indicated they want to quit after the pandemic because of working conditions, baby boomers who were nurses have begun to retire and the U.S. likes to recruit Canadian nurses, he added. 'Ontario needs help' Guest acknowledged that the nursing shortage has become a "more urgent situation" in Ontario in recent months. "The reality of it is that Ontario is trying to increase its capacity," he said. But nurses are the predominant worker in ICUs, and without nurses, it is impossible to operate the physical space, he added. "Ontario needs help. They don't have enough ICU nurses in order to operate all that they believe they need to to increase their capacity to meet the surge they're seeing coming." Nurses wait for passengers to get off an international flight at Toronto’s Pearson airport on Feb. 1, 2021, the first day of mandatory COVID-19 testing for international travellers returning to Canada. (EVAN MITSUI) The Ontario government did not heed warnings from medical experts, he added. "There have been many experts interviewed on media for months that have provided recommendations and verbalized warnings that this was coming and there was a need to be prepared for it. I think the reality is certainly there and there is a need to act. And that's why the request has come out," he said. Guest suggested one solution is that Canada reduce elective surgeries across the country to free up critical care nurses, while another solution is the federal government could support Ontario with nurses from the Canadian Armed Forces. Province sent letter to all provinces, territories On Sunday, the Ontario health ministry repeated its appeal for nurses to come to Ontario to help the province care for patients with COVID-19. "As the province continues to add more critical care capacity, we are exploring every potential measure to bolster Ontario's health care workforce," Alex Hilkene, spokesperson for Health Minister Christine Elliott, said in an email. "This includes seeking support from our provincial and territorial partners for frontline health care staff to assist in staffing Ontario's critical care beds, in addition to ongoing provincial initiatives to bolster the workforce and ensure our trained health care professionals are deployed where they are needed most." In a letter to all provinces and territories sent on Friday, Ontario's Deputy Health Minister Helen Angus said the province needs thousands of nurses.(Evan Mitsui/CBC) In a letter to all provinces and territories sent on Friday, Ontario's Deputy Health Minister Helen Angus said the province needs thousands of nurses and she asked whether they had any available that could be deployed to the province. Hospital capacity, particularly in ICUs, has become strained due rising numbers of patients with COVID-19 in southern Ontario, Angus said. Ontario is expected to have a shortage of 4,145 nurses in the hospital sector over the next four months, Angus said. She asked her counterparts for 620 health professionals, including 500 nurses and 100 respiratory therapists. "We are projecting a need for this critical support for four months following the anticipated peak of the third wave," Angus wrote. The association represents registered nurses, nurse practitioners, licensed and registered practical nurses, registered psychiatric nurses and retired nurses across Canada.
A woman who lost a sister and her family in last year's mass killing in Nova Scotia organized a walk in Cardiff, Alta. on Sunday to commemorate the tragedy. The five-kilometre walk, with participants attending in person or virtually, was done in partnership with the Nova Scotia Remembers Legacy Society, which is raising funds to establish a permanent memorial in Nova Scotia. A memorial race organized by the group was part of ceremonies on Sunday marking the one-year anniversary of the shooting rampage that claimed the lives of 22 people. "It was probably the longest, most excruciating day of my life," Crystal Mendiuk said of that day. She lost her sister Jolene Oliver, brother-in-law Aaron Tuck and niece Emily Tuck. Mendiuk organized Sunday's event to help honour their memory in the province where they spent so much of their lives. "My sister and my niece were born and raised in Alberta, my brother-in-law spent most of his life in Alberta," she said. "It is important for me that Albertans remember that even though this happened all the way in Nova Scotia, they were my family, they were Albertans. "And everybody in the country remembers, and I want for them to remember." Crystal Mendiuk (far left) was joined at the walk in Cardiff, Alta. by her mother Bonnie Oliver (centre-left), father John Oliver (centre-right), and sister Tammy Oliver-McCurdie (far right).(Manuel Carrillos Avalos/CBC) A year later, Mendiuk said she can now smile when she thinks of them. "The tears are a little less," she said. But there is still a long road ahead as many questions remain unanswered, Mendiuk added. "This didn't just affect me, my family. It didn't just affect all of the other families. It affected the country, it affected the world." The RCMP is under intense scrutiny over their handling of the case and why it took 13 hours for officers to stop the gunman. Bonnie Oliver, mother of Jolene Oliver and Mendiuk, said she hopes the public can get answers to ensure such a tragedy doesn't happen again. "A whole branch of our family tree went in one day, and we'll always remember them," she said. "But we'll never get them back." Bonnie Oliver said she would always remember her daughter Jolene as a "happy go lucky girl who loved life" and had a big heart. She said her 17-year-old granddaughter Emily Tuck was only just starting to bloom. "Three lives taken way too soon," she said. A memorial bench, plaque and tree have been set up by Sturgeon County in Cardiff Park.(Manuel Carrillos Avalos/CBC) Mendiuk said Sturgeon County obliged her request to plant a tree in Cardiff Park as a tribute to the lives lost. A bench and memorial plaque also mark the site. "There's a lot of people in this area that are from out east, there's a lot of people who knew somebody from out east," Mendiuk said. "So I wanted a place that everybody could come, everybody could see. You could sit on the bench, look out on the water and remember — remember them all."
Ontario will start offering the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine to people 40 years of age and over starting Tuesday. A spokesperson for Health Minister Christine Elliott said the shot will be offered at pharmacies and primary care settings. In a statement Sunday, Alexandra Hilkene said the province made the call based on "current supply" of the vaccine. Before the announcement, the vaccine was only available to people aged 55 and older in Ontario following recommendations from the National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI) earlier this spring. On Sunday, however, the federal government said Ontario was free to expand eligibility for the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to any adult over the age of 18 as some pharmacists warned they had doses sitting idle because of the age restrictions. "Provinces and territories are free to use AstraZeneca in any population over 18 per Health Canada's license for use in Canada," federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu told reporters. Ontario Premier Doug Ford received the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine at a pharmacy in Toronto on April 9.(Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press) Before Hadju's comments, Premier Doug Ford's office said it was waiting for a federal decision before expanding AstraZeneca-Oxford eligibility from its current 55 and older age restriction, even as it stressed the need for an urgent increase in vaccine supply. "While we wait for a federal decision on the lowering of the age limit for AstraZeneca, and in response to the latest cut in Moderna shipments, the premier has begun reaching out to consulates to try and secure more vaccine supply for Ontario from our international allies," Ivana Yelich, Ford's press secretary, said in a statement on Sunday. "Vaccines are our only way out of this pandemic and the premier will exhaust every avenue he has in order to get more needles into arms of Ontarians sooner." 'We don't want wastage' Ontario is currently grappling with a third wave of the pandemic. The province reported 4,250 new COVID-19 cases and 18 more deaths on Sunday. Earlier in the day, Ontario Pharmacists Association CEO Justin Bates urged the government to take action on AstraZeneca-Oxford eligibility. "Our view is it is a safe and effective vaccine and the benefits outweigh the risks," Bates said. "We think it's important to lift the age restriction, prioritize essential workers and get this out to as many people as possible. We don't want wastage." The association's call was echoed by doctors across Canada who said they also want the AstraZeneca age criteria to drop to 35 or 45 years of age. Both Quebec and Alberta said this past week they're considering this change. NACI recommended earlier this spring that AstraZeneca be limited to people aged 55 and older after a small number of younger people in Europe developed a serious blood-clotting condition. The odds of getting a blood clot are estimated to be between one in 100,000 and one in 250,000. NACI is now reviewing updated information from Health Canada. The health agency announced this week that it has determined AstraZeneca is safe and will not be restricting its use in any specific populations. People begging to be vaccinated, pharmacist says Toronto pharmacist Kyro Maseh told CBC News Sunday morning that he has 160 AstraZeneca-Oxford doses sitting in his pharmacy's fridge set to expire next month. He said he is running out of patients over the age of 55 to vaccinate and has had to turn away younger people desperate for a shot. "I've had several people who broke down and cried in my pharmacy and begged me to vaccinate them because they're fearful to go to work and I can't do anything about it," said Maseh said. "We're not helping anyone if we're giving some people two doses and then other people nothing." WATCH | Ontario pharmacist calls for expanded vaccine access:
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern): 7:05 p.m. Ontario is expanding the number of residents eligible to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. A spokeswoman for the province's health minister says those 40 and older can start receiving the shot as of Tuesday. The previous cut-off age was 55. Alexandra Hilkene says AstraZeneca shots will be available through pharmacies and primary care providers. --- 6 p.m. Alberta is reporting 1,516 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours. There have also been three additional virus-related deaths. The province's chief medical health officer says in a series of tweets that 800 of the new cases reported today are variants of concern. Dr. Deena Hinshaw says out of 15,343 tests completed in the past day, 9.8 per cent of them have been positive for COVID-19. --- 4:30 p.m. The federal government says it has reached out to numerous provinces to see whether they can provide health-care workers to help with the surge in new COVID-19 cases in Ontario. Yet it isn't clear whether the Ontario government has agreed to take the assistance, which was announced by four federal ministers during a news conference this afternoon. Ontario on Friday rejected an offer from Ottawa for mobile vaccination clinics, saying what it really needs is more vaccines, even as the province said it was short nurses. --- 3:50 p.m. Saskatchewan is reporting 289 new cases of COVID-19, as well as one additional death. The person who died was in their 50s and lived in the province's North Central zone. Health officials report there have been 11,063 new doses of vaccine administered in the past day, bringing the provincial total to 345,126. --- 3 p.m. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says federal health-care workers will be sent to Ontario to help manage the worsening COVID-19 crisis. Trudeau says in a video update that workers from departments such as National Defence and Immigration will be reassigned to help in the Greater Toronto Area in particular. He says he’s also working with provinces such as Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island to see what human resources and equipment they can spare. He says the federal government will also work with Ontario cities to deploy rapid tests to hard-hit locations and will cover the costs of relocating personnel and resources from other provinces. --- 2:30 p.m. British Columbia says ready to expand its vaccine effort to residents as young as 18. Authorities say those 18 and older will be invited to register for an immunization appointment over the course of the week. Registration will be open to those 40 and above starting Monday, with the lower age limit decreasing every following day. Those as young as 18 will be able to sign up by Friday. The government says those who register for a vaccine will be contacted about booking an actual appointment after they've signed up. --- 2:15 p.m. Nunavut is reporting three new COVID-19 cases, all of which are in Iqaluit where the territory's only current outbreak is located. Today's new cases in the capital raise the total number of active infections to 22. The city of approximately 8,000 went into lockdown Thursday when it identified its first case. Health authorities identified 12 additional cases on Friday and six more on Saturday. --- 1:50 p.m. Manitoba is reporting 170 new COVID-19 cases today and one additional death. The province's daily pandemic update says three cases have been removed due to data correction, bringing Manitoba's total number of infections since the beginning of the pandemic to 36,159. The person who died was a man in his 70s from the Prairie Mountain Health Region in southwestern Manitoba. The province's five day test-positivity rate is 5.6 per cent. There are 132 people in hospital in Manitoba with COVID-19, with 33 of those in intensive care. --- 12:45 p.m. Prince Edward Island is reporting three new cases of COVID-19 today. Chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison says the new cases include a child under 10 years old who has been hospitalized, an individual in their 30s and a person in their 50s. All three cases are related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada. The Island currently has 10 active cases. --- 12:40 p.m. Nova Scotia is reporting seven new cases of COVID-19 today. Four of the cases are in the Halifax area, with two close contacts of previously reported cases, one related to international travel and the other under investigation. The three other infections are in the eastern health zone and are related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada. Nova Scotia has 49 active cases of COVID-19. --- 12:25 p.m. New Brunswick is reporting 10 new cases of COVID-19 today. Nine of the cases are in the Edmundston region with six confirmed as contacts of previously confirmed patients and the other three under investigation. The remaining case is in the Saint John area and is related to travel. The province has a total of 153 active infections. --- 11:10 a.m. Quebec is reporting 1,344 new cases of COVID-19 today, along with nine new deaths related to the virus. The province says two of the most recent deaths occurred in the past 24 hours, while the other seven took place between April 11 and 16. Hospitalizations in the province declined slightly, falling by nine to 683. The number of patients in intensive care units remained stable at 175. --- 11 a.m. Hospitalizations and admissions to intensive care units continue to reach record heights in Ontario. The province says 2,107 patients are currently in hospital, with 741 in an ICU and more than 500 on a ventilator. Provincial figures show hospital admissions are currently outpacing recoveries from COVID-19. Ontario is also reporting 4,250 new infections over the last 24 hour and 18 virus-related deaths. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 18, 2021. The Canadian Press
Provinces are free to offer the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to all adults, Canada's health minister said Sunday as calls mounted in at least one province hard hit by COVID-19 to lower the age restriction on the shot. While the National Advisory Committee on Immunization has yet to release updated recommendations on the vaccine, Patty Hajdu said provincial officials are not beholden to the group's current advice to only offer the shot to those 55 and older. "NACI provides advice to provinces and territories," Hajdu told a news conference Sunday. "They can adjust their use for AstraZeneca as per their desire and the advice from their own public health authorities and medical expertise."She noted that Health Canada has licensed the AstraZeneca shot for use in people over the age of 18. "NACI continues to review the advice on AstraZeneca use and will have updated guidance in the very near future," Hajdu added. Her comments come as some provinces -- particularly Ontario and Alberta -- grapple with devastating third waves of COVID-19. And while Ontario Premier Doug Ford points the finger at a lack of vaccine supply, the head of the association that represents the province's hospitals argued that AstraZeneca shots were sitting in pharmacy freezers. Anthony Dale, president and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association, tweeted that there is "'surplus supply at risk of expiring," and the government must act on it. Many Ontario physicians took to social media to express their frustration with the province's lack of action on the issue."Pharmacies, listen up. DO NOT WASTE A SINGLE DOSE OF THE AZ VACCINE. Explain the risk and obtain informed consent to administer to people under age 55," Dr. Brian Goldman said in a tweet Sunday.Steven Del Duca, who heads up the Liberal party in the province, agreed. "Doug Ford must release the AstraZeneca vaccine from pharmacy freezers and get it into the arms of anyone over 18 in a hot spot," he tweeted Sunday. "(Patty Hajdu) was clear: there is nothing stopping him from getting shots into arms."A spokeswoman for Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the matter, but the provincial government has previously said it will follow NACI's recommendations on the shot.The calls to lower the threshold for the AstraZeneca vaccine extended beyond Ontario's borders."It sounds like Alberta is having trouble using its AstraZeneca. Lower the minimum age; Gen X can help!" Lisa Young, a political science professor at the University of Calgary, tweeted this week.Some have been hesitant to accept the AstraZeneca vaccine due to a very rare blood clotting condition, which has thus far affected two Canadians. More than 700,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered in this country. The global frequency of the blood clot disorder, known as vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia, or VITT, has been estimated at about one case in 100,000 to 250,000 doses.The risk of developing blood clots due to COVID-19 is much higher, and experts say people should accept the first vaccine they're offered. Meanwhile, the federal government announced Sunday that it was mobilizing its own resources and co-ordinating with lesser-hit provinces to send health-care workers and other support to help Ontario as it battles record-breaking COVID-19 numbers.It wasn't immediately clear how the Ontario government would respond to Ottawa's offer.Hospitalizations and admissions to intensive care units continued to reach record heights in Ontario, which reported 4,250 new COVID-19 infections in the the last 24 hours.Ontario announced a number of new restrictions to quell the skyrocketing numbers, but has faced pressure to roll back limits on outdoor activities, which critics have said will do little to stop the spread.Meanwhile, data released by Canada's chief public health officer shows that the average daily number of hospitalizations and deaths in the country jumped by more than 30 per cent between April 9 and 15 compared to the week before.The latest national-level data found that an average of 3,428 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent seven-day reporting period, representing a 34 per cent increase over the week before.An average of 41 people died each day during the same period, which is 38 per cent higher than the previous week.Dr. Theresa Tam said cases, test positivity rates and intensive care admissions are all rising as Canada battles a wave of COVID-19 that is driven by more contagious variants.Quebec, meanwhile, reported more than 1,300 new infections in the past 24 hours.Prince Edward Island reported three new cases, while Nova Scotia logged seven and New Brunswick added 10. Farther west, Manitoba recorded 170 new cases of the virus and one added death, while Saskatchewan counted 289 new cases and one death. Alberta, which is currently dealing with the highest rate of COVID-19 per capita in Canada, reported 1,516 new cases of the virus on Sunday and three more deaths. As of Saturday night, Ontario's rate of active COVID-19 cases was 276 per 100,000, compared to 391 per 100,000 in Alberta. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 18, 2021 Nicole Thompson and Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
Alberta reported 1,516 new COVID-19 cases and three more deaths Sunday, as the province continues to combat sluggish uptake of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Sunday's new case count was slightly higher than Saturday's count of 1,486 new cases. The total number of active cases increased to 17,935 across the province, from 17,307 active cases of COVID-19 on Saturday. There were 800 new variant cases identified, bringing the percentage of active variant cases to 54.5 per cent of active cases. Provincial labs completed 15,343 tests for COVID-19 on Saturday, with a positivity rate of 9.8 per cent. Hospitalizations increased to 451, up from 445 on Saturday, including 103 people who are being treated for COVID-19 in intensive care units. Of the three reported deaths Sunday, two occurred in the South zone and one in the Edmonton zone. Since the outset of the pandemic, 2,040 people have died from COVID-19 in Alberta. Here is the breakdown of active cases by health zone: Calgary zone: 7,879 Edmonton zone: 4,788 Central zone: 1,849 South zone: 905 North zone:2,441 Unknown: 73 Low vaccine uptake As of Sunday, 1,147,048 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered across the province, an increase of 25,147 from the previous day. Of the 270,800 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine received by the province, 97,690 doses had been administered as of Friday, and 170,646 doses still remained, according to Alberta Health. After reports of sluggish uptake at mass vaccination sites in Edmonton and Calgary — tied to hesitancy around receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine — an Alberta Health spokesperson said Sunday that traffic is increasing at the rapid flow clinics. "We are continuing to raise awareness that AstraZeneca and other vaccines are safe and effective, and are our way out of the pandemic," said spokesperson Sherene Khaw. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, is working with her counterparts and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), to consider options to expand eligibility for the shots, Khaw added. Eligibility is still limited to those over 55. Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said Sunday that provinces are free to use AstraZeneca for any age above 18, as it's approved by Health Canada, and that nothing is stopping provinces from expanding eligibililty.
Forecasters are closely monitoring a low pressure system that has the potential to bring wet snow to much of Ontario mid-week.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will deliver the Liberal government's first budget in two years on Monday, laying out more than $2 billion for a national child-care program while keeping the federal deficit for the past year under the $400 billion mark, CBC News has learned. A senior government source that spoke to CBC News Sunday — on the condition they not be named because they are not permitted to speak on the subject — said unlike the way some programs have been announced in past budgets, the forthcoming child-care announcement will not be about striking expert panels, undertaking further study or be entirely subject to negotiations with the provinces. The initial investment will be in excess of the $2 billion a report by the federal finance committee recently said should be the starting point of any national child-care program, and will be enough to lay the foundations of a full-scale national system that puts both affordability and quality at its start. The source said the program will be the centrepiece of the budget and will be crafted to help women quickly, which means Canadians should expect to see something tangible in the next year to 18 months. The child-care investment plays into the federal government's three key budget components, which include introducing measures that address critical needs in the short, medium and long term. To deal with immediate concerns, the source said, the federal budget will acknowledge that pandemic financial supports are still needed and will not be cut off as the crisis drags on with the worsening third wave. That information is roughly in line with reporting by the Toronto Star earlier Sunday that said Freeland will roll out a $12 billion extension to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) as well as the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and lockdown support — key programs that have helped keep small businesses afloat over the last year. The Star also said that all of the "main pandemic support programs" will be extended until the fall. Targeted supports coming, source says The second component of the budget, the senior government source said, will include efforts targeted at supporting women, low-wage workers, students and those in essential jobs as the economy comes back. Child care will be a big part of that, the source said, as will assistance targeted at small businesses. As federal pandemic-related financial supports eventually begin winding down, they will be transitioned into something that is more targeted, the source told CBC News. That information dovetails with reporting from The Toronto Star, which said Sunday the federal government intends to introduce a new program called the Canada Recovery Hiring Program. It's important for us to invest in rebuilding an economy that's still 300,000 jobs short of where we were before the pandemic. - Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson Under the program, the Star reported, companies that have relied on the CEWS would instead be able to access up to $1,100 for each four-week period of a new employee's term. The third component of the budget will be focused on longer-term efforts that help reduce the deficit and set the stage for a sustainable recovery that addresses both climate change and the social inequalities laid bare by the pandemic. "We want to give people the confidence that they can make decisions now so that they're ready when the economy comes back," the government source said. The size of the deficit The $70 to $100 billion the federal government said it will use to help stimulate the economy will not all be allocated in Monday's budget but general direction of where that money is going will be included. The federal government has faced criticism for the stimulus program it outlined in the fall economic update unveiled in November as being unnecessary in the face of what many expect to be a strong economic rebound as pent-up Canadians prepare to splash out once the pandemic peters away. "While temporary stimulus of this magnitude would likely provide a significant boost to the Canadian economy, it would result in materially larger budgetary deficits and higher federal debt in the medium term," a recent report by the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) said. That opinion was also expressed by the shadow budget put out by the C.D. Howe Institute, which said "fiscal stability" would be "jeopardized" by spending up to $100 billion on stimulus. Despite that criticism, Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson told CBC chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton on Sunday that financial supports rolled out in 2008-09 were rolled back too quickly and that organizations such as the International Monetary Fund have warned Canada not to move away from investing in jobs and growth if it wants to get the economy fully firing again. "Our view is aligned with our European colleagues which is; it's important for us to invest in rebuilding an economy that's still 300,000 jobs short of where we were before the pandemic," he said on Rosemary Barton Live. "Our intention is to move forward, to invest for jobs and growth, to rebuild this economy and ensure that Canada will be strong and prosperous as we move forward." The senior government source also said that the expected deficit for the past year will not exceed $400 billion and may be slightly lower than expected but refused to provide an exact figure. The PBO estimated the deficit for the 2020-21 fiscal year stands at $363.4 billion, without including any of the stimulus spending. The C.D. Howe Institute, which also does not include stimulus spending, puts that number at $388.7 billion. The fall economic statement put the deficit for the preceding year at $381.6 billion. Regardless of the exact spending totals for the past year, bringing the federal government's books back into balance will take time, and the source said Canadians should not expect to see major changes to the tax code — including the introduction of a wealth tax — geared toward paying that money back just yet. Tax tweaks Reuters reported late Sunday that there will, however, be some tax news in the budget — including the imposition of a sales tax for online platforms and e-commerce warehouses starting from July and a digital services tax on big web companies starting from Jan. 1, 2022. Online platforms include foreign-based vendors with no physical presence in Canada that sell products such as mobile apps and online video gaming. Both measures were originally promised last year. Reuters also reported that the budget will contain a tax on new cars and private aircraft valued at more than $100,000 and boats worth over $250,000. RVs and snowmobiles would be exempt. The government is also planning to tax vacant residential property owned by non-resident, non-Canadian owners from Jan. 1, 2022, sources told Reuters. You can watch full episodes of Rosemary Barton Live on CBC Gem, the CBC's streaming service.
TRURO, N.S. — A lone bagpiper played slow airs outside a church Sunday as relatives of 22 people slain during a killer's rampage in rural Nova Scotia gathered for an emotional ceremony to honour the victims one year later. The sombre event at First United Church in Truro, N.S., which was livestreamed in lieu of being open to the public, began with a provincewide moment of silence. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shared remarks through a pre-recorded statement, saying he wished he could have attended the service. "Even a year later, I know there is no comfort for the anguish of having an adored parent or precious child torn away," he said, standing in front of a row of Canadian flags. "So all I can say is this: You are not alone. All Canadians stand with you and grieve with you." The prime minister described one of the worst mass shootings in Canadian history as an act of evil that should not define the memories of those lost on April 18 and 19, 2020. "It will not define the communities that still grieve them," he said. "Instead, we will remember the kindness and joy of each person taken from us." At the front of the church was a blue platform, upon which painted rocks displayed a single rose and the first name of each victim. At one point, relatives placed flowers next to each stone as each victim's name was read aloud. Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin told the 60-member congregation it was important for those experiencing great loss to come together and seek strength from their community. "As you and our communities continue on the journey of healing, my hope is that you'll be strengthened by the continued outpouring of support from Nova Scotians and people throughout the world," he said. The hour-long service was organized by a committee of the Nova Scotia Remembers Legacy Society, led by Jenny Kierstead, the sister of Lisa McCully — a neighbour of the gunman who was among the first killed on the night of April 18. "We have all suffered so much this year that it is our intention to bring some light and beauty to our lives on this dark day," she said in a pre-recorded statement. "What we know is that a trauma such as the one that we've endured can shatter a person's life. I know it has mine. May this ceremony help you hear the whisper of your own heart, calling you back home to the love, peace and the wholeness that resides within." Earlier in the day, hundreds of people took part in a series of memorial walks and runs in and around Truro. The atmosphere in Victoria Park, where the races ended, was one of both sad reflection and optimism, as the crowd cheered and clapped for the runners crossing the finish line -- many with reddened eyes. Money raised from those events will help pay for a permanent memorial, the plans for which are still in the early stages. Organizer Denise Burgess said the events were aimed at healing and remembrance. "We want to turn the lens away from what happened to who these people were," she said in an interview Sunday. "It gives us a chance to reflect on their lives — that they were full, beautiful lives and they were wonderful, giving people who contributed to our community." A large art installation in the park pays tribute to the victims. Crafted by welder Wayne Smith, the statue features hearts with the name of each victim, including an unborn child. "There's a bit of healing that takes place when we can make this for people," said Burgess, a teacher in Truro whose students once included Emily Tuck, a 17-year-old Grade 12 student who was killed with her parents in Portapique on April 18. Willa Kray, who travelled to Truro from Pictou County, said the memorial walk helped her grapple with the anniversary of the mass shooting. "It was just so horrific," she said. "I wanted to come here to pay my respects and it did give me a sense of closure." The anniversary was also marked by a peaceful march to the RCMP detachment in nearby Bible Hill, where some protesters expressed their dismay with the Mounties' response to one of the worst mass killings in Canadian history. Tara Long, the sister of Aaron Tuck, one of the victims, said she’s still struggling to understand how someone could go on a shooting spree for 13 hours. “Our province and our country is sad because this shouldn't be able to happen here,” she said before the march began under darkening skies. Sarah Jollimore, whose family was close with one of the victims, said she attended the march to remember the lives lost and to call for transparency from the police. “There’s still so many unanswered questions that we all deserve to know,” she said. “We need to work better and do better and just be better.” Nova Scotia RCMP Assistant Commissioner Lee Bergerman said the police force would observe a moment of silence at 2 p.m. on Monday. "We understand people have questions and want to know as much as possible about the incidents," Bergerman said in a statement on Sunday, adding that a federal-provincial public inquiry will provide some answers. "It is our hope that the Mass Casualty Commission will provide a full accounting of what happened for the families of the victims and the public." The Mounties have confirmed that on the night of April 18, 2020, the killer assaulted his common-law spouse, set fire to several homes and proceeded to kill 13 people in Portapique, N.S., a rural community on the north shore of the Bay of Fundy. Dressed as a Mountie and driving a car he modified to look exactly like an RCMP cruiser, the killer evaded police by driving through a field shortly after officers arrived at the chaotic scene some time after 10 p.m. Having spent the night hiding at the rear of a welding shop in Debert, N.S., the killer resumed murdering people he knew and others at random early the next day. He was fatally shot by two Mounties at a gas station about 35 kilometres north of Halifax. The Enfield Big Stop had its jumbo Canadian flag lowered to half-mast Sunday, a reminder of the gruesome events that unfolded there a year ago. Speculation about the killer's motives has included evidence he was paranoid about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying at one point in an email he was glad he was well-armed because the pandemic would make people desperate "once the money runs out." As well, the RCMP have said a behavioural analysis revealed he was likely an "injustice collector," whose grudges built up over time and eventually exploded in horrific violence. The killer's propensity for violence was well known among some of his neighbours in Portapique, who have said he had a long history of abusing his common-law spouse. She survived the mayhem in Portapique. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 18, 2021. — With files from Michael MacDonald in Halifax Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press
Ottawa police say they will have officers stationed at all five interprovincial bridges and two ferries linking the Outaouais and Ottawa. It's all in response to a provincial order restricting only essential travel into Ontario from neighbouring provinces. The measures come into effect at 12:01 a.m. Monday, and restrict travel to those who live or work in Ontario, are entering the province for health-care reasons, Indigenous Treaty Rights, child care or custody matters, transporting goods, or are travelling through the province to go somewhere else. Officers will be stationed 24/7 on the Ontario side of the Champlain, Portage, Chaudière and Macdonald-Cartier bridges as well as the docks for the Quyon and the Bourbonnais ferries, the Ottawa Police Service wrote in a release Sunday afternoon. Officers will also be stationed at the Alexandra Bridge, as the provincial order also applies to pedestrians and cyclists, according to the statement. We have to trust that people are going to be honest. - Inspector Michel Marin Police said officers will only stop private passenger vehicles and not commercial ones, which are exempt from the provincial order. "We're going to ask for a reason why you're going into Ontario and then you'll be sent on your way," said Inspector Michel Marin. "If we're asking [drivers] to turn around for whatever reasons, we'll be keeping tabs on that." No written documentation needed He said officers don't have plans to issue fines to people who may re-offend. "Most people we're dealing with have the good commonsense approach to why we're doing this and the general public generally tends to be very co-operative and we're not anticipating any major issues on those bridges," said Marin. He said officers won't require written documentation to show someone has an essential reason for entering Ontario. "We have to trust that people are going to be honest," he said. "There are quite a number of people that live on the Gatineau, Que., side that come to Ottawa every day to work and a lot of those folks are essential workers ... We'll simply allow them through." Ontario Provincial Police will also have officers stationed on interprovincial roadways, including highways 401, 417, and 17, and the interprovincial bridge at John Street in Hawkesbury, Ont.
OTTAWA — The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery amid the pandemic's escalating third wave. Yet despite the high stakes and expectations leading up to Ottawa’s first full spending plan in more than two years, the likelihood of the budget being forcefully opposed — or even outright rejected, triggering a snap federal election — seem remote at best.“All budgets are political documents,” said Greg MacEachern, a former Liberal political aide and current senior vice-president of Proof Strategies. “But the politics around this one is probably going to be the lack of politics.”Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will rise in the House of Commons on Monday afternoon to present the budget, which the government has portrayed as its vision for shaping Canada’s economy for a post-pandemic world.The Liberals have promised to lay out a plan to green the economy, create a national child-care system and help displaced workers improve their skills, while provinces, small businesses and others will be looking for aid with the pandemic and beyond.Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget.Conservative finance critic Ed Fast wrote Freeland last week reiterating his party’s demands the government present a plan for reopening the economy that includes supporting small businesses while keeping spending under control and not raising taxes.“We will be analyzing your budget for a plan that restores hope and confidence in every region of the country and delivers a road map to re-opening our economy and restoring our prosperity,” Fast wrote.The NDP, Bloc Quebecois and Greens have also laid out their own demands for the budget, including in phone conversations that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held with each party leader last week ahead of the spending plan.With a minority of seats in the House of Commons, the Liberals need at least one opposition party to support the budget to avoid a snap election.Yet the potential for real political drama appears to have been snuffed out already thanks to NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s assertion last week that his party will not vote against the budget.NDP finance critic Peter Julian reiterated that position in an interview on Sunday, saying: “Jagmeet has been very clear: We are not going to vote non-confidence in the midst of this third wave.”That doesn’t mean the NDP will refrain from criticizing the budget if it does not meet the party's demands, Julian said, including the need for a national child-care system and universal pharmacare as well as taxes on the wealthy.“We have taken, I think, the responsible route, which is where Canadians are as well,” he said. “There's not a single Canadian I've met or spoken to or talked to online that believes it would be in Canada's interest to have an election right now.”Recent opinion polls, including one conducted by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies for The Canadian Press, back up Julian's assertion. Only 14 per cent of respondents to the Leger poll conducted between April 9 and 11 supported a spring election, while 29 per cent want one in the fall. Forty-three per cent said they hoped to see one later, while 14 per cent did not know.The online survey of 1,504 Canadians cannot be assigned a margin of error because online panels are not considered random samples.Yet while that would appear to give the Liberals’ carte blanche to roll out whatever measures and promises they want, MacEachern suggested the government should be careful about how far it pushes the envelope.“Canadians are showing that they really do not have a lot of appetite for partisanship right now, and the government has to show that they're listening to Canadians,” he said.And while the Liberals have previously talked about the need for preparing for a post-pandemic world, MacEachern suggested the government needs to be mindful that Canadians are nervous and worried about the third wave of COVID-19. “Politically, if I was being asked for my advice, I would be careful of large aspirational language and programs right now,” he said.Trudeau has repeatedly said he does not want an election, but declined to swear off triggering one before the passage of Bill C-19. The bill would amend voting laws to allow for a safe election during a pandemic.The Liberals could decide to pull the plug themselves, and party insiders suggest that may happen over the summer provided the vaccine rollout continues apace and the pandemic, currently spreading like wildfire once again, is sufficiently doused.This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 18, 2021. Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
The Department of Health announced four new cases of COVID-19 this weekend — all in the Eastern Health region — as Newfoundland and Labrador's total case count crept up to 22. Three of the cases were confirmed on Saturday, the department said in a news release on Sunday. The first is a man between 20 and 39 years old, while the second case is a man in his 40s; both are related to international travel. The third case is a woman in her 40s who was a close contact of a previous case. On Sunday, a man between 20 and 39 was diagnosed with the virus. Public health says his case is related to travel within Canada. Health officials say contact tracing is under way and anyone who is a close contact has been advised to quarantine. The province also issued a flight advisory, asking anyone who travelled on Air Canada Flight 8996 from Halifax to St. John's on Wednesday, April 14 to arrange for COVID-19 testing. More than 700 people have been tested for the virus since the province last released COVID-19 data on Friday, with total testing numbers topping 129,000. Meanwhile,13 of the province's 22 active cases are located in the Eastern Health region of the province, while the remaining nine cases are located in the Western Health region. Earlier, Premier Andrew Furey promised to help with medical staff, equipment and supplies Ontario as it battles a third wave of COVID-19 cases, with more than 2000 people in hospital and hundreds admitted to intensive care units and on ventilators. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Members of Listuguj First Nation hope a new fisheries agreement with the federal government will result in greater local control and economic growth. The Mi'kmaw community in Quebec, just across the river from Campbellton, N.B., has agreed to a five-year rights reconciliation agreement with the Minister of Fisheries and the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations. It could open the door for additional fisheries access through licences and modified quotas, including the possible establishment of a moderate livelihood fishery. Listuguj Chief Darcy Gray said the framework is a "huge step forward" after holding talks with the federal government over the past 4½ years. "For us, the agreement sets the table that we can have those discussions in a collaborative way, and not perhaps continue on in a way that may create mistrust or animosity as we've seen in the past," he said. The deal aims to improve relations between the government and the First Nation, and includes a commitment to upholding the treaty right to harvest and sell fish in pursuit of a livelihood. It also includes plans for collaborative discussion tables on fisheries management. Darcy Gray is chief of Listuguj First Nation in Quebec.(Isabelle Larose/Radio-Canada) Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan said the agreement will bring greater opportunity and prosperity to the Listuguj people and fishing communities in Quebec and New Brunswick. "It demonstrates true partnership between our nations, achieved through the spirit of reconciliation," she said in a statement. Members of Listuguj have been managing the Restigouche River for close to 30 years, fishing for salmon, lobster, snow crab, rock crab and shrimp. Gray said discussions with Ottawa could include sustainability and access to fisheries for food and livelihood. For the past two seasons, Listuguj has had its own lobster management plan in place to guide the fishery, with a focus on conservation. Quotas and licence conditions are developed by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the community has been required to draft its own plans within those rules up until this point. Gray said he hopes the commitment to collaborate will allow for more flexibility in quotas, such as fishing to sell some of the catch. "Where this agreement is a little different is we have an opportunity to speak directly with Canada about those licence conditions and how they could be different and how we could implement them in a good way," he said. "It's not the end by any means, but just the start of something that could be very significant for us as a community."
The annual P.E.I. Women's Institute roadside cleanup is going ahead this spring after a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19. Last year was the first time since the cleanup began in 1973 that the provincewide campaign didn't happen, though some members did their part individually. This year's cleanup is scheduled for May 8. Helen Nicholson, who is on the women's institute board, said she expects to see a lot of discarded masks. "I live in Charlottetown and I have seen discarded masks everywhere. And it's not a nice thing to see." Nicholson said everyone must wear gloves as they gather the garbage they find along the side of the road or in ditches. Poster shows prizes of $100 up for grabs.(Island Waster Management) The traditional yellow W-I bags are available through Island Waste Management and select Access P.E.I. sites starting April 26. People can also use clear bags from home. Collections can be left at the roadside for transportation crews to pick up. All COVID-19 health protocols will be followed. More from CBC P.E.I.
The Parti Québécois will push for the province's language laws to be applied to the CEGEP network, meaning it wants to force francophone and allophone Quebecers to do their collegial studies in French. At an online meeting Sunday, party members voted overwhelmingly (94 per cent) to back a motion put forward by the PQ's youth wing to extend the application of Bill 101 to CEGEPs. "We see it every day: our national language is losing ground. Taking strong measures is no longer an option; it is a necessity," the party said in a statement on social media. It is a notable policy shift for a number of reasons. Current party leader, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, opposed the measure during his leadership campaign. The previous PQ leader, Jean-François Lisée, also left it out of the party's 2018 provincial election platform. In the past, many in the party had been uneasy at the idea of dictating the language of instruction of Quebecers older than 18. But concerns about the health of the French language have been running high in recent months. And the PQ's main rival on French-language issues is the governing Coalition Avenir Québec. The government has promised to present plans this spring to beef up Bill 101, but it has ruled out expanding the scope of the law to CEGEPs. "We're a democratic party. Either I don't give members and MNAs the right to vote freely, or this right is exercised freely and offers up a democratic result," Plamondon said following the vote. He added the PQ would only support the CAQ's Bill 101 reforms if they include an expansion to CEGEPs. Bill 101, also known as the Charter of the French Language, was passed by the first PQ government in 1977. Party members will have to meet again in the fall to vote on whether to include the proposition in the platform for the next provincial election, scheduled to take place in October of 2022.
After a delay for processing reassigned and unassigned cases, Saskatchewan reported 289 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, and one more death due to illness linked to the novel coronavirus. As of Saturday, 4,664 of the more transmissible variants of the coronavirus have been identified in Saskatchewan — over half of which have been in the Regina area. However, the central east, south west, south central and southeast zones, as well as Saskatoon, have all seen over 100 variant cases as well. Of the 38,160 known COVID-19 cases to date in the province, 2,742 are considered active. The seven-day average of daily new cases in Saskatchewan is 261 — 21.3 new cases per 100,000 population. 189 people in Saskatchewan are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, of which 45 are in the ICU.(Government of Saskatchewan) The new cases Sunday are in the following provincial zones: Far northwest: nine. Far northeast: two. Northwest: 21. North central: 12. Northeast: two. Saskatoon: 32. Central west: seven. Central east: 26. Regina: 106. Southwest: six. South central: 15. Southeast: 41. Ten new cases have pending residence information. There are currently 189 people in hospital in the province due to COVID-19, including 45 in intensive care. 30 people are in intensive care in Regina. The province also reported 205 new recoveries. There have been 34,953 known recoveries in total as of Sunday. To date, 728,491 COVID-19 tests have been processed in Saskatchewan, 3,623 of which were processed on Saturday. Upcoming vaccine shipment reduced 11,063 doses of COVID-19 vaccine were administered in the province on Saturday. The total number of vaccines given in the province has now reached 345,126, and nearly half of Saskatchewan residents over the age of 40 have received their first dose. Those 48 and older can now book their vaccine appointment online or over the phone. Drive-thru and walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinics are now open to people aged 48-54. However, Regina's drive-thru clinic has used up its supply of vaccine for now, and is temporarily closed. The government does not expect it to reopen until May 2. The Ministry of Health has also said that a shipment of Moderna vaccines — expected to arrive on April 26 — has been reduced by 47 per cent. The Ministry says it is working with the Saskatchewan Health Authority and Indigenous Services Canada to mitigate the impact of this reduction on booked appointments and other vaccination availability.
The federal government says Ontario is free to expand eligibility for the AstraZeneca vaccine to any adult over the age of 18 as pharmacists warn they have doses sitting idle because of the age restrictions. "Provinces and territories are free to use AstraZeneca in any population over 18 per Health Canada's license for use in Canada," federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu told reporters on Sunday. "There's nothing stopping the province of Ontario from changing their advice for use within Ontario." Before Hadju's comments, Premier Doug Ford's office said it was waiting for a federal decision before expanding AstraZeneca eligibility from its current 55 and older age restriction, even as it stressed the need for an urgent increase in vaccine supply. Ontario Premier Doug Ford receives the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 at a pharmacy in Toronto on April 9. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press) "While we wait for a federal decision on the lowering of the age limit for AstraZeneca, and in response to the latest cut in Moderna shipments, the Premier has begun reaching out to consulates to try and secure more vaccine supply for Ontario from our international allies," said Ford's press secretary Ivana Yelich. "Vaccines are our only way out of this pandemic and the Premier will exhaust every avenue he has in order to get more needles into arms of Ontarians sooner." Each province has the power to change the age range for eligibility at any time regarding vaccines. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) only makes recommendations. As Ontario battles the growing third wave of the pandemic, — with 4,250 new COVID-19 cases and 18 more deaths on Sunday — Ontario Pharmacists Association CEO Justin Bates urged the government to act now. "Our view is it is a safe and effective vaccine and the benefits outweigh the risks," said Bates. "We think it's important to lift the age restriction, prioritize essential workers and get this out to as many people as possible. We don't want wastage." The association's call is echoed by doctors across Canada who say they also want the AstraZeneca age criteria to drop to 35 or 45 years of age. Both Quebec and Alberta said this past week they're considering this change. NACI recommended earlier this spring that AstraZeneca be limited to people aged 55 and older after a small number of younger people in Europe developed a serious blood-clotting condition. The odds of getting a blood clot are estimated to be between one in 100,000 and one in 250,000. NACI is now reviewing updated information from Health Canada. The health agency announced this week that it has determined AstraZeneca is safe and will not be restricting its use in any specific populations. People begging to be vaccinated, pharmacist says Toronto pharmacist Kyro Maseh has 160 AstraZeneca doses sitting in his pharmacy's fridge set to expire next month, he told CBC News Sunday morning. He said he is running out of patients over the age of 55 to vaccinate but under the province's current rules, he must continue to turn away younger people desperate for a shot. "I've had several people who broke down and cried in my pharmacy and begged me to vaccinate them because they're fearful to go to work and I can't do anything about it," said Maseh. "We're not helping anyone if we're giving some people two doses and then other people nothing." People 55 and under are usually working and therefore vulnerable to contracting COVID-19, Maseh said. He added that those under 50 have limited options to get vaccinated: they must live in a hotspot and be able to attend a mobile or pop-up clinic. When these vulnerable people come to his pharmacy hoping to get vaccinated, Maseh said he has to turn them away. "I tell them to hold on and wait and hopefully the rules change," he said. "There's nothing more that I can do. Leadership needs to come from the ministry." Maseh said the ideal scenario is that vaccines are made available to all adults and that pharmacies are allowed to administer Pfizer and Moderna shots as well. "We have the capacity to do so," Maseh said. It also makes the most sense, he said.
The woman who shot a video of a violent arrest by a private security guard at a Saskatoon FreschCo. earlier this week says she was frozen in fear as she watched the incident unfold before her. Now, after taking some time to reflect and steady herself, she says she's glad she recorded the video, but wishes she had stepped in. Jade Acikahte watched the entire arrest unfold, saying the Indigenous woman complied with the security guard fully before she was arrested. Acikahte says the security guard stopped the woman as she was leaving the store on 33rd Street West in the city's Mayfair Neighbourhood, and said he suspected her of theft. She says that when asked, the woman followed instructions from the man fully, emptying the contents of her purse as requested. However, when that didn't satisfy the guard, the man told the woman to follow him back to the store, at which time she said she didn't want to. "As she was putting her stuff back in her purse, she said 'No, I don't want to go with you. I'm not going with you,'" Acikahte said. The guard was blocking the woman's path, according to Acikahte, when the woman tried to walk away. Acikahte said the security guard grabbed the woman by her wrist and tried to force her into handcuffs. When she fought back, the man threw her to the ground. "With her hands still behind her back, so she wasn't able to brace for that fall," she said, and at that point, that's when she took out her phone and started to record. The incident has spurred calls for the security guard in the video to be fired and has already resulted in the termination of the contract between the FreshCo. store and the security firm that employs him. The woman, a 30-year-old, has been charged with theft under $5,000 and assault as a result of the incident. Calls for guard to be fired, charged The security guard has not been charged, but many — including Indigenous leaders with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and the Saskatoon Tribal Council — want that to change. They also want all charges against the woman dropped. As for Acikahte, she says she had never seen anything like the arrest before, noting she agrees the guard should be fired and charged. "I felt really confused and scared for her," she said. "All I know is that I had to record." A photo of Jade Acikahte, an Indigenous woman in Saskatoon who recorded a violent arrest in a Saskatoon parking lot by a private security guard on April 14,2021. (Supplied by Jade Acikahte ) The company that employs the guard, Emergency Security Management Solutions, has told CBC News previously that every company has its policies and procedures around their employees and says they will be followed. Acikahte says the recording has been shared with police, as she does not feel the guard's behaviour was appropriate. It's also circulated widely online, with the original post being shared almost 2,000 times. WATCH | Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations calls for security guard to be fired following violent arrest at Saskatoon store: Acikahte, who saw photos of the arrests aftermath, says the woman in the video suffered numerous injuries as a result. "It was literally her entire body," she said. Acikahte, who is also Indigenous, says the fact the woman was charged as a result of the incident is "absolutely outrageous." "Just witnessing it from beginning to end, the force he used at the very beginning was just not necessary," she said. "I feel like she acted out of self-defence. Completely." However, Acikahte says while the video was shocking, it wasn't surprising, as it's a sign of a larger problem. "This is normal life for Indigenous people. I really hope that this situation can be an example and it's rectified in a positive way," she said. "It's upsetting. It's really, really upsetting to watch this unfold." Mayor addresses racism, profiling Saskatoon's Mayor Charlie Clark has also publicly stated the video has left him feeling angry, and this type of violence "needs to stop. "We can't ignore as a community that not everyone would have been treated this way. Our city has been coming to terms with the reality of our history and ongoing impacts of violence against women, and violence against Indigenous women," said Clark in the statement. "We have also been coming face to face with the reality that systemic racism, and profiling of people in stores and institutions in our community, carries on in large and small ways," he said. "The video of this arrest highlighted this. I hear too often from people who are Indigenous, Black, and people of colour that they regularly face discrimination, profiling and violence." In the statement, Clark says this type of violence has a real impact on a person's life and those who do not experience need to "listen and hear directly from people who do. "We have work to do to address the training and accountability of security guards, the racial profiling of people in stores and institutions, to address the hard truths of the impacts of a colonial relationship, and to build a way forward where we see each other as relatives and where everyone has opportunity here." Clark says he's committed to the work necessary to bring an end to this type of injustice and has already had communication with Saskatoon Tribal Chief Mark Arcand on steps forward. "I will keep working with leaders throughout the community towards these goals," he said in the statement. "We can only be successful by doing it together as a community." The woman has been offered support by both the FSIN and the STC, and Acikahte says she too will do all she can to help. She's spoken to the woman about why she didn't get involved, as she was afraid of charges, and for her safety and said the conversation was important. "I apologized profusely for not stepping in for not being more help," she said. "She was not upset with me. She was not angry with any of us bystanders, she was glad it was recorded." On Friday morning, the Saskatoon Police Service confirmed its investigation into the matter is ongoing, but did not have any updates. "As with any call for service, we respond with the information we have at the time," the statement said. "I can add that if we need to seek an opinion from the Crown following the investigation, we will."
RCMP have identified and located a person allegedly involved with mischief and obstruction last weekend at the GraceLife Church west of Edmonton. The individual was arrested without incident for Mischief under $5,000 and Obstruction in relation to a perimeter fence around the church, according to an RCMP news release. The person was released with conditions not to attend the church property, and to make a court appearance at Stony Plain Provincial Court on June 30. Charges have not been laid before the court. Police are still working to identify and locate other people involved in criminal activities on April 11. Hundreds showed up last Sunday to protest the Parkland County church's closure by Alberta Health Services following repeated violations of public health restrictions. At one point, a group splintered from the crowd and tore down part of a perimeter fence before it was restored by RCMP officers and others from the crowd. The Enoch Cree Nation, which shares a border with Parkland County, released a statement that said demonstrators had trespassed on its land and vandalized a Nation member's vehicle. GraceLife church said in a statement its congregants were not present for the event.
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey spoke with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Saturday about providing assistance to Ontario, as that province tackles its third wave of COVID-19. "We have offered to the Prime Minister, as we did to Premier Ford last week, any support Newfoundland and Labrador could give in terms of personnel, equipment, supplies. Within our own capacity, of course," Furey said Sunday on CBC's Rosemary Barton Live. "Newfoundland and Labrador is a small province, but we recognize the significant impact this is having on Canadians living in Ontario. And we want to be able to help." Ontario reported 4,250 new COVID-19 cases and 18 new deaths on Sunday, while more than 2000 people are in hospital, nearly 750 in intensive care units with COVID-related illness and about 500 people are on ventilators, as modelling predicts their caseloads will remain high throughout the summer. Furey says sending a group of organized medical professionals to help in COVID-19 units and critical care units would be "an incredible asset for the people of Ontario." "And that's what we're trying to organize right now here on the ground," he said. Support won't include vaccine supply However, when asked about Ford's management of the pandemic and criticism about not putting public health measures in place sooner, Furey didn't lay blame at Ford's feet. "I don't see COVID-19 as recognizing any provincial barriers," Furey said. "This is the benefit of the federation, when you can call on your neighbours to help in tough times. And Newfoundland and Labrador have always stepped up in tough times of crisis... and we intend to help here and now." He said support from Newfoundland and Labrador would likely come in the form of relief for Ontario's medical personnel working through the pandemic. The support from Newfoundland and Labrador will not include the redeployment of vaccines, according to Furey.(Evan Mitsui/CBC) But Furey said the province will not forego its share of vaccine supply to meet demand in hotspots across the country because he says the provincial government is still operating under a per capita calculation. "It's now a forest fire. You need firefighters. You don't need the fire prevention unit," Furey said of Ontario's COVID-19 case counts. "Even if [they] had all the vaccine right now at this particular moment to take, there's a 10 to 14 day immunity uptake before you're able to have an impact." Meanwhile Furey is also relying on his experience as a surgeon and the founder of Team Broken Earth, a medical non-profit, which provided medical assistance to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. "I've seen how a small province can give back on an international stage. Sometimes it's the medical relief that comes in small packages that makes a big impact in local communities," he said. "We'd love to be able to provide some personnel, even if it's in a relief capacity. I imagine [Ontario's] healthcare professionals are working just tirelessly, which is one of the lessons we learned after the earthquake in Port au Prince." Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey, left, has spoken with Ontario Premier Doug Ford several times offering relief and support to medical personnel in Ontario.(CBC) Ford spoke publicly of Furey's outreach during Ontario's Friday COVID-19 briefing, saying he hopes to visit the Atlantic provinces when the pandemic ends. "A small place like Newfoundland, they wear their heart on their sleeves out there," Ford said Friday. "I'm so, so grateful. Very grateful. Andrew, thank you." N.L. watching Monday budget release Furey was also asked about Monday's upcoming federal budget, saying he will be watching for spending on child care programs and green infrastructure. "We have an ability to to really be the green battery that can drive the east coast of Canada. And we're interested to see where that goes," he said. On childcare, Furey is interested to see federal funding and partnerships, noting that he implemented $25-a-day daycare at regulated facilities in this province in his first six months in office. "And I'm interested in moving that number down," he said of child care costs. Monday's budget will be the first budget released since 2019. The 2020 budget was not released due to COVID-19. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador