GST credit payments to low-income earners to arrive one month earlier

OTTAWA — The federal government is speeding up financial help to low-income earners hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with payments through the GST credit a month sooner than planned as it prepares to deliver billions more on benefits beginning next week.

The government initially announced the money through the GST credit would be available in May, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that the money will be delivered this month.

Every qualifying adult will receive up to $300, plus $150 for each child. The parliamentary budget officer estimated in a report this week that the special GST credit payment will go to 13.2 million people and cost $5.67 billion.

More help is expected to arrive this month in the form of a new emergency benefit valued at $500 a week for up to 16 weeks.

An association representing Canada's banks said they will help clients enrol for direct deposit from the Canada Revenue Agency, or update their account information with the federal agency, to speed up payments of federal financial aid.

Similar requests have gone out to businesses to sign up for direct deposit for prompt payments of a promised 75-per-cent wage subsidy, saving the time it takes to issue and process cheques.

Speed has been a thread through the economic shock from COVID-19 — how fast economic activity slowed down, the race to set up federal assistance programs, and now a drive to get money into people's pockets quickly.

More than 2.1 million people have filed EI claims in the last two weeks, marking a dramatic shift in the labour force as economic activity is put on hold so people can avoid being in close contact to curb the spread of COVID-19.

A report Friday from RBC suggested the emergency benefit should fully replace or even exceed lost wages for hundreds of thousands low-income workers in the hard-hit retail, accommodation and food-services sectors.

Online applications for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) open April 6, and anyone already approved for employment insurance benefits is supposed to be automatically moved over to the new benefit with no need to reapply.

MPs on the House of Commons finance committee were told Thursday that many of those who are receiving EI will get a bump in payments when they are moved to the emergency benefit, on average about $200 more per week.

Receiving the emergency benefit won't affect EI eligibility, meaning the 16 weeks won't count against the time an eligible worker can receive EI benefits.

On Friday, the committee was warned about public confusion over CERB eligibility, which requires a total loss of income due to COVID-19. But someone who was already looking for a job and hasn't stopped working due to COVID-19 is ineligible.

"It's not very clear because most people are, in theory, in the labour market, they want to be in the labour market, but there are no jobs to be had," Sherri Torjman, former vice-president of the Caledon Institute of Social Policy, in her opening comments.

Similar issues were raised in a letter the Opposition Conservatives sent Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough. Party critic Dan Albas cited contradictory statements between Liberal cabinet ministers and the government's website on automatic enrolment for the CERB, as well the effect on students and seasonal workers, and on EI premiums in the future.

"During a crisis, government communications must be clear, consistent and transparent," Albas said in a release. "This has not been the case over the past few weeks."

The RBC report, written by senior economist Andrew Agopsowicz, said many students won't meet the requirement of having made at least $5,000 in the previous year needed to qualify for the CERB.

Speaking at a midday press conference, Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos said officials are smoothing out the rough edges of the program so that, for instance, volunteer firefighters or municipal politicians receiving honorarium payments aren't cut off from the CERB.

Asked about students, Duclos said the promised wage subsidy would help companies hire students who may have otherwise faced a difficult job market.

While the subsidy should help some of employers rehire laid off or furloughed workers, many may still find the program "won't be worth it" if it means they also have to pay the remaining 25 per cent, plus EI and Canada Pension Plan premiums, wrote CIBC chief economist Avery Shenfeld.

"An airline that isn't flying doesn't need flight attendants, a restaurant that's closed doesn't need waiters. For higher-paid workers, the subsidy covers even less of the cost," he wrote in a research note Friday.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau has hinted at more help above the $250-billion-plus in aid already announced — $105 billion of which is direct spending — and no cap on what the government might do. With an already projected deficit of $28.1 billion, it's possible the deficit this fiscal year could be as deep as $180 billion, said BMO chief economist Douglas Porter.

"What choice do we really have, given the mandated shutdown of the economy?" he wrote in an end-of-week report.

"It's much better that Ottawa shoulders the burden of almost all new spending than a hodge-podge effort by the provinces, especially in light of lower borrowing costs for the federal government."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 3, 2020.

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

  • Retaliation after Meng ruling and Trump on Twitter;  In The News for May 28
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Retaliation after Meng ruling and Trump on Twitter; In The News for May 28

    In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of May 28 ...\---COVID-19 in Canada ...The Team Canada spirit that has prevailed among first ministers during the COVID-19 crisis will be put to the test today as Justin Trudeau broaches with premiers two topics that fall squarely within provincial jurisdiction: the operation of long-term care homes and paid sick leave for workers.The prime minister has promised federal support in both areas but his offer has met with a mixed reaction from provincial and territorial leaders.He has also promised to raise the issues tonight, when he conducts his eleventh first ministers' conference call.So far, those calls have been notable for their collegial, collaborative spirit as prime minister and premiers all work as one to cushion the impact of the deadly pandemic on Canadians' health and the country's economy.But there are signs that team spirit may be starting to give way to the usual regional tensions and jurisdictional spats that have historically bedevilled federal-provincial relations in Canada.Quebec Premier Francois Legault, whose province has always jealously guarded its jurisdiction against perceived federal intrusions, is lukewarm about Trudeau's promise to ensure 10 days of paid sick leave for workers who fall ill with COVID-19 or are required to go into quarantine after exposure.\---Fallout from Meng Wanzhou case...The two Canadians imprisoned in China could face retaliation because Wednesday's court ruling in the Meng Wanzhou case didn't go the way the People's Republic would have liked, experts are warning.The Chinese embassy in Ottawa angrily denounced the decision by Justice Heather Holmes in the extradition case of the Huawei executive, who is wanted on fraud charges in the United States, as it once more called for her immediate release.Canada held firm, with Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne calling for the release of the two "arbitrarily detained" Canadian men.Michael Kovrig, an ex-diplomat working for the International Crisis Group, and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur who did business in North Korea, have been in Chinese prisons with no access to lawyers or their families since they were arrested nine days after Meng's arrest by the RCMP in December 2018.They are accused of violating China's national security interests, and they have been denied even the regular monthly visits by Canadian diplomats since January because of COVID-19 restrictions on Chinese prisons.But some analysts say their treatment could get a lot worse, especially based on recent Chinese government statements leading up to the ruling.\---COVID-19 in sports...Alberta Premier Jason Kenney wants the federal government to help clear the way for NHL players to come to Edmonton.His counterpart in British Columbia, John Horgan, says his province isn't interested in making any concessions.The two premiers had markedly different responses to the NHL's plan to resume the 2019-20 season, in which teams would play at two hub cities, one for each conference.Edmonton and Vancouver, as well as Toronto, are three of the 10 cities still in the running to be host cities, should the plan come to fruition. But the NHL said Tuesday the Canadian government's mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone entering the country would make markets north of the 49th parallel a non-starter during the COVID-19 pandemic.Kenney responded by sending a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in which he encouraged the federal government to deem professional athletes and team staff as essential workers — similar to what U.S. officials announced late last week.Horgan, however, said the government won't be making any concessions in a jurisdiction that has done well to minimize infections. \---Trump on Twitter...President Donald Trump, the historically prolific tweeter of political barbs and blasts, threatened social media companies with new regulation or even shuttering on Wednesday after Twitter added fact checks to two of his tweets. He turned to his Twitter account — where else? — to tweet his threats.The president can't unilaterally regulate or close the companies, and any effort would likely require action by Congress. His administration has shelved a proposed executive order empowering the Federal Communications Commission to regulate technology companies, citing concerns it wouldn't pass legal muster. But that didn't stop Trump from angrily issuing strong warnings.Tech giants "silence conservative voices," he claimed on Twitter early Wednesday. "We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen." Later, also on Twitter, he threatened, "Big Action to follow."Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that Trump would sign an executive order relating to social media companies but provided no further details. White House strategic communications director Alyssa Farah said Trump would sign it Thursday.In his tweet, he repeated his unsubstantiated claim — which sparked his latest showdown with Silicon Valley — that expanding mail-in voting "would be a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots."\---Helicopter remains, wreckage found...The Canadian Armed Forces has located the remains of some of the military members who died last month when the helicopter they were in crashed in the Mediterranean.A Canadian search and recovery team working with the United States Navy discovered the remains early Wednesday morning, not far from where they also located a large piece of the helicopter's fuselage, the military said in a written statement."This is encouraging news," said Lt.-Gen. Mike Rouleau, the commander of Canadian Joint Operations Command."We do not leave our fallen behind, and recovering Stalker 22's crew is of the utmost importance to all of us in the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence."The CH-148 Cyclone helicopter, known as Stalker 22, crashed in the Ionian Sea April 29, killing four members of the air force and two from the navy. The helicopter was returning to HMCS Fredericton after a training flight and crashed within full view of the ship, which was in the Mediterranean participating in a NATO mission.This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 28, 2020The Canadian Press

  • This Halifax man's family all got COVID-19. Here's what he wants people to know
    Health
    CBC

    This Halifax man's family all got COVID-19. Here's what he wants people to know

    Shawn Selfridge doesn't want to keep the fact that his family contracted COVID-19 a secret. "I want people to know and see that you can get it and survive and that's not to diminish the fact that people have suffered greatly from the virus, but I wanted to also destigmatize perhaps in some way having had it," the Halifax osteopath and father of two told CBC's Information Morning.Selfridge, his wife and their kids were infected while visiting family in Maine in mid-March. They've all since recovered, but Selfridge said it's not a "get out of jail free card," and he still has questions about his family's safety. "There seems to be conflicting evidence whether or not recovered COVID patients have immunity and then we also don't know about different strains or mutations that could result in the future," he said.Medical researchers who study the virus are still trying to determine whether people are protected from getting it again, and for how long that immunity might last.To date, 1,053 people in Nova Scotia have tested positive for COVID-19 — 975 people have recovered and 59 people have died. How they got the virusSelfridge and his family travelled to Sandy River, Maine, in March for a family reunion like they do most years. But what they didn't know was that a relative who was there had recently been to New York.The relative, who's in his 80s, had a cough but not a fever, so at first Selfridge didn't think it could be COVID-19."I was kind of reassured because at that time one of the main symptoms that was being reported was fever. So I said, 'Well OK, he has no fever, so he seems OK,'" Selfridge said. But just 36 hours after the family arrived in Maine, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was telling Canadians to return home, so the Selfridges quickly left and drove back to Halifax through New Brunswick."We tried to have minimal contact, you know, and exercised all the other recommendations, which were handwashing, avoiding contact, those sorts of things," he said. When the family got back home, Selfridge said they self-isolated and soon got word that their relative had tested positive for COVID-19.So he immediately contacted public health so they could get tested too.A total of nine family members contracted the virus from the relative in Maine, Selfridge said.Kids were 'completely asymptomatic'Selfridge's symptoms lasted about two days. He'd wake up in the morning with "very routine body aches and cold chills. I had no fever, no cough."On the third morning, he woke up with a splitting headache that lasted all day, but after that felt fine. For him, having COVID-19 didn't feel much different from having the flu, although he's quick to point out that everyone experiences the virus differently. The only symptom his wife developed was a reduced sense of smell, which can be one of the symptoms of COVID-19."My kids were completely asymptomatic, so you wouldn't even have known that they had COVID," Selfridge said. "My daughter, I think, is still the only child under 10 who tested positive in Nova Scotia."Selfridge checked their temperatures and watched for symptoms every day, while also trying to put them at ease. "I asked them about it. They weren't concerned about it. They weren't afraid and I didn't want them to be afraid because I knew that they're going to be OK based on what I could observe in their normal behaviour," Selfridge said.Even though they've all had COVID-19, Selfridge said he and family are still following the same rules as everybody else. They wash their hands often, practise physical distancing and spend a lot of time at home. To pass the time, Selfridge built a halfpipe in his backyard for his son who is learning to skateboard.MORE TOP STORIES

  • After her toaster oven caught fire, Ontario woman was told by Whirlpool to take it up with a company in China
    Business
    CBC

    After her toaster oven caught fire, Ontario woman was told by Whirlpool to take it up with a company in China

    When Valerie Hammond's countertop oven burst into flames, causing hundreds of dollars in damage to her kitchen, she figured the cost would be covered since the KitchenAid appliance was from a big company she trusted.Whirlpool, which owns KitchenAid, replaced the oven, as required by the warranty.But things got complicated when she asked for $600 to cover the smoke and fire damage. Whirlpool refused, telling Hammond she'd have to go after a third-party company she'd never heard of — located in China — that owns the factory that manufactured the appliance."I was absolutely shocked. I said, 'I don't understand … it doesn't say Elec-Tech [International] on it, it said KitchenAid … You're telling me you can wash your hands of it?'" the Kitchener, Ont., woman told Go Public.Hammond's problems started in October 2018 when her compact oven went up in flames while she was cooking a small roast."I went upstairs to the linen cupboard to get a couple of tea towels and smelled what wasn't meat. It smelled like metal," she said."Seconds later, the smoke alarms went off and I came running downstairs. The kitchen was full of thick, dense smoke and there were flames shooting out of the control panel of the oven."The 68-year-old called and emailed Whirlpool dozens of times over more than six months but got nowhere on her claim for the damage.Her oven was "not a Whirlpool product," a company representative told her via email, so Whirlpool wasn't liable for the damage. She was referred to Elec-Tech International. Hammond says she tried contacting the company in China using the phone number Whirlpool provided. Her calls would ring through but no one would ever pick up. Her emails also went unanswered."I was so frustrated with Whirlpool and didn't know what else to do … This was a David-and-Goliath fight because they weren't going to listen to me," she said. She says she won't use the replacement after the company wouldn't tell her what caused the fire."Basically it's a paperweight," she said.No recalls have been issued for that oven's make and model.After hearing from Go Public, Whirlpool apologized, calling Hammond's experience "unacceptable" and saying it would be "appropriately addressed." It eventually paid Hammond $5,000 for the damage and her trouble. LISTEN | Valerie Hammond tries to find out from Whirlpool what went wrong with her toaster oven:Nowhere to turn But consumer advocates say that a lot of Canadians are having similar problems — left on their own to deal with sometimes unco-operative companies when something goes wrong after finding government agencies set up to protect consumers are often difficult to access or ineffective.Hammond is one of many frustrated Canadians who don't know where to turn for help or have little faith in the federal, provincial or private agencies set up to protect consumers when companies refuse to take responsibility for damage caused by goods, says Ken Whitehurst, executive director of the Consumers Council of Canada, a non-profit organization that advocates for consumer rights."It really pays to really consider who you're buying from. Don't just be dazzled by brand names," he said.There is provincial consumer protection legislation that is intended to protect consumers like Hammond, but most consumer protection agencies don't offer help enforcing those laws in cases where damage was done by appliances, leaving consumers to take on big companies in court on their own if they want compensation, Whitehurst says. "There are some retailers and some manufacturers who are prepared to play a game with it, to see what they can get away with."In Hammond's case, the Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services told Go Public, the "legal responsibility when a product causes damage to property is not one that the ministry can address. It is suggested that the consumer consider seeking legal advice about this matter."Many provinces say the same thing. For example, consumer protection agencies under the governments in B.C. and Alberta say they don't deal with compensation for damage done by appliances, and that those kinds of disputes often end up in court.But Robert Hawkes, a lawyer specializing in commercial litigation, says those who do go to court need to know they are protected beyond what's in the warranties that come with appliances. He says while consumer laws differ slightly across the country, they all include an implied warranty that goes beyond the one that's issued by the manufacturer or retailer. "So there is the warranty from the company but then there is how that interacts with the consumer protection acts … She's [Hammond] not just limited to getting the new toaster oven. If there was damage to her house that was caused when the toaster oven exploded, then she can claim that against KitchenAid."No faith in the systemA recent survey found about 68 per cent of the 2,000 respondents said it was difficult to find the appropriate government or self-regulatory agency to file complaints about goods and services they felt were misrepresented, unhealthy or unsafe.The survey — conducted by Environics Research for the Consumers Council of Canada — also found that consumers see government complaint handlers as, "only marginally effective" and have low confidence they can effectively deal with complaints. What's needed, Whitehurst says, is a better way to protect consumers: a single, national organization that goes to bat for people fighting big companies, and would track recurring problems so they can be identified and addressed — like the "super-complaints" system established in the U.K. in 2002.Public funding for that organization, he says, would also mean consumers could get support in resolving complaints.In their most recent campaign platform, the Liberals admitted the current consumer protection systems are "confusing" and have "disjointed rules, making it difficult to resolve" problems.The party promised to put a consumer advocate in place: an independent, single point of contact for consumers with complaints related to banking, telecom or transportation — but not appliances.Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada is the department in charge of making that happen. In a statement, the department said it's working with the federal departments for those three areas to figure out the "mandate and scope of responsibilities" for the advocate.Asked if the advocate's scope will be expanded to cover other areas, the department said it recognizes the "opportunity exists."'Do the right thing'  Hammond says she contacted Go Public out of frustration — with the appliance company and with the government agencies set up to protect consumers.After hearing from Go Public, Whirlpool Canada negotiated compensation with Hammond. In the end, it paid her $5,000, more than eight times what she asked before going public.She says she played hardball with them, because she wanted to make a point that the company would have had to pay less if it had taken her concerns seriously in the first place."If they had been nicer, it would only have been $600." The company says it paid that amount because it wanted to "do the right thing" after not meeting Hammond's expectations.In its statement to Go Public, the company said customer safety is a top priority and its "appliances, like this countertop oven, are designed and tested to leading industry standards."The company wouldn't say what caused the fire but says, after an initial investigation, it believes it was an isolated event, and has reported the incident to Health Canada as required by law.Hammond says she's happy with the company's response and the compensation it offered, adding that she donated $1,000 of Whirlpool's money to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

  • Legendary Mexican beach resort Acapulco upended by coronavirus
    News
    Reuters

    Legendary Mexican beach resort Acapulco upended by coronavirus

    Intensive care units in the Mexican beach resort of Acapulco are close to capacity as the coronavirus threatens to overwhelm hospitals and leaves local authorities scrambling to dig more graves. Best known for its beaches, sunshine, and cliff divers, Acapulco is fast becoming a hotspot for Mexico's escalating COVID-19 outbreak. Public hospital beds equipped to care for critically ill COVID-19 patients are nearly full, according to local authorities.

  • News
    The Canadian Press

    Navy admiral submits results of probe on virus-infected ship

    The Navy's top admiral on Wednesday received the results of an internal investigation into the spread of the coronavirus aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt and the firing of the aircraft carrier's skipper in April. The report is not expected to be made public until decisions are made about potentially restoring Capt. Brett Crozier to command of the Roosevelt or disciplining other officers. It was submitted Wednesday to Adm. Mike Gilday, the chief of naval operations.

  • Ontario's police watchdog investigating death of woman who fell from west-end balcony
    News
    CBC

    Ontario's police watchdog investigating death of woman who fell from west-end balcony

    Ontario's police watchdog is investigating after a woman fell to her death from an apartment balcony in the west end on Wednesday while Toronto police officers were dealing with a domestic incident in the building. According to a news release from the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), officers responded to a call at the building on High Park Avenue near Glenlake Avenue at about 5:15 p.m.While officers were inside an apartment unit on the 24th floor, they "observed a woman on the balcony," the SIU says.A short time later, the release says, "the woman fell from the balcony to the ground below."She was pronounced dead at the scene, the SIU says.The release says the woman was 29 years old, but beyond that there is no information on her identity, why she was on the balcony, or what part the officers might have played in the incident. The SIU says two investigators and two forensic investigators have been assigned to the case and it is urging anyone who may have information to contact the lead investigator at 1-800-787-8529."The unit is also urging anyone who may have any video evidence related to this incident to upload that video through the SIU website," the release says.The SIU is called in to investigate incidents involving the police and civilians that have resulted in serious injury, death or allegations of sexual assault.

  • PHOTOS: Swarms of locusts threaten India's crops
    News
    Yahoo News Canada

    PHOTOS: Swarms of locusts threaten India's crops

    Desert locusts have invaded India’s Rajasthan region, threatening summer crops. Millions of locusts have been descending on the region since April, and have begun entering neighbouring states.An estimated 50,000 hectares have been engulfed by the locusts so far, a devastating amount of destruction in conjunction with the economic impact of COVID-19 on farming regions. Higher than normal temperatures have helped the locusts breed and spread at a faster rate than normal. This year’s infestation is the worst the country has seen since 1993.Local authorities have been using vehicle-mounted sprayers, pesticides and drones to combat the threat of the locusts on crops.

  • P.E.I.'s COVID-19 response 'heavy-handed,' says man moving to Magdalen Islands
    News
    CBC

    P.E.I.'s COVID-19 response 'heavy-handed,' says man moving to Magdalen Islands

    A man who moved from Ontario to the Magdalen Islands says when the COVID-19 pandemic is over, Prince Edward Island won't be at the top of his list of places to visit because of the experience he had driving through the province.Kevin Penhorwood said he felt "vilified" after a photo of his U-Haul began circulating on social media and someone called police when he tried to collect a curbside pickup at a Charlottetown grocery store. Penhorwood and his wife purchased a new home in the Magdalen Islands before the pandemic hit."We thought it was going to be a fairly simple move, even though it was a fair distance, and then COVID happened," he said. "That threw a whole other wrench into the system."Penhorwood was living in Ontario and had to pass that province, Quebec, New Brunswick and P.E.I. to get to the Magdalen Islands. He said he contacted each province he would have to travel through to make sure he had proper documentation and permission.That included written permission to travel through Quebec, which he obtained from that province's public health office, and documentation proving he had purchased his new home and had a job as an essential worker in the Magdalen Islands."I had to speak with the RCMP to get permission to cross from Quebec into New Brunswick, which I did and I had some paperwork for that," he said."I called P.E.I. I guess more like a month ago and they said what I had from the government of Quebec and New Brunswick was enough for them," he said.According to P.E.I.'s Department of Justice and Public Safety, essential travel within the province includes residents of Quebec travelling to the Magdalen Islands, which are part of that province.When Penhorwood started his trip, P.E.I. required travellers to give 36 hours' notice that they were coming to the province. Penhorwood said he gave the province 72 hours' notice, sending an email on May 17  — but he said he did not get a response back.In an email to CBC, provincial officials said they cannot comment on individual cases but know there are many reasons why people want to come to the province."Given the unexpectedly higher than anticipated volume, there has been a time delay in responding to applicants. The expected response time has recently been changed to 72 hours due to the volume of requests," the email said.Smooth sailingPenhorwood said he and his wife had a smooth trip from Ontario to New Brunswick. They stayed in a motel for a night in Quebec and provided documentation at the checkpoints along the way."We showed them the paperwork and we did our due diligence. We had a mask on while we were speaking," he said.Throughout the trip Penhorwood said he and his wife followed isolation recommendations. He said they only paid for gas at the pump, wore gloves, and used hand sanitizer and masks."It worked well until we got across the Confederation Bridge onto P.E.I. and that's where some problems began," he said.Penhorwood said he provided the person at the checkpoint with his documents. When he handed over confirmation for a Charlottetown hotel room,  he was told he couldn't stay there."We were told from that border checkpoint we were to drive directly to Souris, P.E.I., to the ferry terminal," he said.Penhorwood said the couple was told not to fill up with gas, not to use public washrooms and not to eat at restaurants if possible.Reported to policePenhorwood said he needed to set up a curbside pickup at a grocery store so he and his wife would have enough food to complete 14-days of quarantine on the Magdalen Islands.He said he parked his U-Haul at the back of the lot because it couldn't fit into a delivery parking space."A gentleman came up to me in his vehicle and asked me what I thought I was doing," he said.Penhorwood said he had no intention of going into the store and was trying to get close enough to see the number for curbside pickup so he could call the store and tell them where he parked.He said he had no issue with the person asking him what he was doing, but he was upset to see a picture of his U-Haul uploaded to Facebook."I felt kind of vilified on social media and in fact also he had actually called the police on me," he said, adding people shouldn't jump to conclusions when they see an out-of-province plate.Police confirmed to CBC no charges or fines were laid.Penhorwood and his wife slept in their car with their three dogs at the Souris terminal overnight."It was a chilly two degrees by the water that night," he said. "It wasn't a very comfortable sleep."We understood we couldn't fight city hall so to speak. So we did what we were told to do. We felt it was a bit heavy-handed."He said he had no issue getting on the ferry this past Saturday afternoon.Isolating in QuebecPenhorwood and his wife are now at their new home in the Magdalen Islands and he said things are lot different there compared to P.E.I."No phone calls here on the Magdalens. Nobody stopping by, whether it be police or community health."Penhorwood said the rules and recommendations don't seem to be uniform across the country."I really think people just need to use some common sense and I mean if they see something overtly, you know, dangerous … somebody coughing on elevator buttons, things of that nature should absolutely be reported," he said.However, if travellers are showing they're being careful, he thinks "it should be left up to them to do their thing."The rules have changed for travel again since he made his trip. Quebecers who want to drive to the Magdalen Islands in the coming weeks will have to fill out a mandatory form to be able to travel through Atlantic provinces."It is important to note that an application does not guarantee or imply approval. Travellers are strongly encouraged to get confirmation from government officials before finalizing their travel arrangements," said an email from the P.E.I. government.More from CBC P.E.I.

  • Legal experts weigh in on Meng Wanzhou decision from B.C. Supreme Court
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Legal experts weigh in on Meng Wanzhou decision from B.C. Supreme Court

    VANCOUVER — A loss in court for Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou has prompted another round of legal arguments in her attempt to avoid extradition to the United States on fraud charges.Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes of the B.C. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday the charges Meng faces in America could also be a crime in Canada and the case should proceed, a decision that one legal expert says puts the rule of law above political pressures."If you turn a blind eye in the favour of political outcomes, you're sacrificing the rule of law and then you do become subject to China's allegation or criticism that this is all political," said Robert Adamson, who teaches business law at the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University.Meng's arrest by the RCMP at the Vancouver airport in December 2018 placed Canada in the middle of rising tensions between the U.S. and China, and two Canadians, ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor, were detained in China nine days later. They remain in custody.Meng is accused of misrepresenting Huawei's relationship with Skycom Tech Co. and making false statements to HSBC, putting the bank at risk of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.Her lawyers argued that Meng's conduct could not constitute fraud in Canada because it related to American sanctions that Canada doesn't apply, while the Attorney General of Canada told the court the fraud allegations could be argued without reference to the U.S. sanctions.Justice Holmes found the U.S. sanctions are relevant to the issue of double criminality, but it wasn't enough to dismiss the case."The essence of the alleged wrongful conduct in this case is the making of intentionally false statements in the banker-client relationship that put HSBC at risk. The U.S. sanctions are part of the state of affairs necessary to explain how HSBC was at risk, but they are not themselves an intrinsic part of the conduct," she wrote in her decision."For this reason, I cannot agree with Ms. Meng that to refer to U.S. sanctions in order to understand the risk to HSBC is to allow the essence of the conduct to be defined by foreign law. Canada's laws determine whether the alleged conduct, in its essence, amounts to fraud."A broad definition of double criminality helps avoid unforeseen consequences, said Adamson, a member of the Canadian Bar Association.He said a narrower definition of double criminality could stop extradition hearings at preliminary junctures and limit Canada's ability to extradite as well as ask for someone to be extradited here.Vancouver extradition lawyer Gary Botting took a different view, saying Justice Holmes's ruling creates a "hybrid" way of looking at double criminality by importing some, but not all of the context of the U.S. sanctions.The Supreme Court of Canada has made plain that they prefer to say, "fraud is fraud, theft is theft," said Botting, adding that's "more or less what Holmes has followed."However, by importing some, but not all of the context of the sanctions, Botting said Justice Holmes "made a mistake of the law.""It can't be both ways. In other words, this is an appealable judgment, in my view."In the next phase of the proceedings, the court will hear arguments about whether Meng's arrest was unlawful.Her lawyers have alleged the Canada Border Services Agency, the RCMP and the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted a "covert criminal investigation" at the airport and violated Meng's charter rights.Border officers seized Meng's cellphones, tablet and other devices and wrote down her passcodes, which were then handed to the RCMP.The Crown has told the court that when the border agency learned of its mistake it told the RCMP that the codes couldn't be used or shared because they were obtained during the agency's examination.It said officials followed the law and there's no proof that Meng was illegally arrested.Botting said he believes Meng's rights were violated."Whether that amounts to a stay of proceedings or not is entirely, again, up to the judge."Adamson disagreed, saying he hasn't seen "any strong evidence" of her rights being violated, and from what he understands, that argument from her defence team isn't as strong as the double-criminality argument was."That is, if Ms. Meng and her defence team had a better chance of this case coming to a conclusion it was more likely to be on the double-criminality issue and not on this abuse of process," he said.Canada's Justice Minister David Lametti will still have the final say on whether Meng should be extradited to the U.S.This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 28, 2020.Brenna Owen , The Canadian Press

  • Sports
    The Canadian Press

    Calgary Flames have a lot of time to think about the Winnipeg Jets

    The Calgary Flames' first opponent if and when the NHL resumes is a team they saw once this season outside. The Winnipeg Jets edged the Flames 2-1 in overtime Oct. 26 in the Heritage Classic outdoor game in Regina. The NHL halting the regular season March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic meant the Jets didn't travel to Calgary two days later and again March 31.

  • 'Bummed out': SpaceX launch scrubbed because of bad weather
    Science
    The Canadian Press

    'Bummed out': SpaceX launch scrubbed because of bad weather

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The launch of a SpaceX rocket ship with two NASA astronauts on a history-making flight into orbit was called off with less than 17 minutes to go in the countdown Wednesday because of thunderclouds and the risk of lightning.Liftoff was rescheduled for Saturday afternoon.The spacecraft — designed, built and owned by SpaceX — was set to blast off in the afternoon for the International Space Station, opening a new era in commercial spaceflight. It would have also marked the first time in nearly a decade that the U.S. launched astronauts into orbit from American soil.But thunderstorms for much of the day threatened to force a postponement, and the word finally came down that the atmosphere was so electrically charged that the spacecraft was in danger of getting hit by lightning.NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the agency and SpaceX worked together to “make the right decision” and put safety first at a time when some were wondering whether the public attention surrounding the flight would create undue pressure to launch.Veteran space shuttle astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken were supposed to ride into orbit aboard SpaceX's sleek, white-and-black, bullet-shaped Dragon capsule on top of a Falcon 9 rocket, taking off from the same launch pad used during the Apollo moon missions a half-century ago.Both President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence had arrived to watch. Trump, who before the postponement marveled at the "magnificent" rocket on the pad, later tweeted that he will return to Florida for the next try, and the vice-president did the same.“Thank you to @NASA and @SpaceX for their hard work and leadership. Look forward to being back with you on Saturday!" Trump said.The flight — the long-held dream of SpaceX founder Elon Musk — would have marked the first time a private company sent humans into orbit.It would have also ended a launch drought for NASA. Ever since the space shuttle was retired in 2011, NASA has relied on Russian spaceships launched from Kazakhstan to take U.S. astronauts to and from the space station.During the day, the rumble of thunder could be heard as the astronauts made their way to the pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, and a tornado warning was issued moments after they climbed into their capsule.“We could see some raindrops on the windows and just figured that whatever it was, was too close to the launch pad at the time we needed it not to be,” Hurley, the spacecraft commander, said after the flight was scrubbed. “Understand that everybody’s probably a little bit bummed out. That’s just part of the deal. ... We'll do it again, I think, on Saturday.”“Appreciate your resilience sitting there in the vehicle,” a controller replied.Behnken responded: “Nothing better than being prime crew on a new spaceship.”The astronauts had to remain strapped in their seats until all the fuel in their rocket was unloaded and the emergency escape system was disarmed.The launch preparations took place in the shadow of the coronavirus outbreak that has killed an estimated 100,000 Americans.With this mission, “everybody can look up and say, ’Look, the future is so much brighter than the present.' And I really hope that this is an inspiration to the world," Bridenstine said.The flight would put Musk and SpaceX in the same league as only three spacefaring countries — Russia, the U.S. and China, all of which have sent astronauts into orbit.“What today is about is reigniting the dream of space and getting people fired up about the future,” Musk said in a NASA interview before the postponement.A solemn-sounding Musk said he felt his responsibilities most heavily when he saw the astronauts’ wives and young sons just before the launch attempt. He said he told them: “We’ve done everything we can to make sure your dads come back OK.”NASA pushed ahead with the preparations despite the viral outbreak but kept the guest list at Kennedy extremely limited and asked spectators to stay at home. Still, thousands jammed area bridges and beaches to watch, many of them not wearing masks or observing the 6-foot social distancing rules.The space agency also estimated 1.7 million people were watching the launch preparations online.Among the spectators was Erin Gatz, who came prepared for both rain and pandemic. Accompanied by her 14-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son, she brought face masks and a small tent.She said the children had faint memories of watching in person one of the last shuttle launches almost a decade ago when they were preschoolers.“I wanted them to see the flip side and get to see the next era of space travel,” said Gatz, who lives in Deltona, Florida. “It’s exciting and hopeful.”NASA hired SpaceX and Boeing in 2014 to design and build spaceships to carry astronauts to the space station in a new kind of public-private partnership aimed at bringing down costs and spurring innovation. Boeing's capsule, Starliner, is not expected to fly astronauts into space until early 2021.Ultimately, NASA hopes to rely, in part, on its commercial partners as it works to send astronauts back to the moon in the next few years, and on to Mars in the 2030s.“We’re doing it differently than we’ve ever done it before," Bridenstine said. "We’re transforming how we do spaceflight in the future.”___The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press

  • Our dismal relationship with China just got a whole lot worse
    News
    CBC

    Our dismal relationship with China just got a whole lot worse

    Meng Wanzhou lost the first round in her bid to avoid extradition to the United States on Wednesday. But it's clear the B.C. court ruling doesn't help the Trudeau government much either.Relations between Canada and China are arguably at their lowest point since the prime minister's father was prime minister and established diplomatic ties back in the early 1970s. The ruling already has led to warnings about blowback from Beijing — especially for detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.Both are accused of violating China's national security. Unlike Meng, they aren't free to move about — as she did this week while posing with a bevy of friends and colleagues on the courthouse steps in Vancouver for a photographer.Kovrig and Spavor remain in solitary confinement. Neither man has been seen, in person or virtually, by Canadian consular officials since January.Bad news for Kovrig and SpavorFormer Canadian ambassador to Beijing David Mulroney said he expects their plight to get even worse."My takeaway is that this (decision) is not good news for the two Michaels," he said Wednesday. "That's human and personal. It affects two Canadians who are victims in this, who are being held hostage, and we can never forget that."The two men are caught in the middle of a diplomatic dispute not of their making. They're the human faces of a tug-of-war between two superpowers that continues to stretch Canada to its diplomatic limits.The Chinese government has loudly demanded the release of Huawei's chief financial officer, and has warned just as loudly that its relations with Canada will not improve until she's free.The reaction Wednesday from the Chinese embassy in Ottawa didn't stray from those themes. In a statement, the embassy accused Canada of assisting the Trump administration by "arbitrarily taking forceful measures" against Meng in a bold attempt to prevent her telecommunications company from making inroads into new markets."The purpose of the United States is to bring down Huawei and other Chinese high-tech companies, and Canada has been acting in the process as an accomplice of the United States," the statement read."The whole case is entirely a grave political incident."From the U.S. Justice Department came the briefest of acknowledgements that anything had happened at all in the Meng case.Our pandemic PPE lifeline"The United States thanks the Government of Canada for its continued assistance pursuant to the U.S.-Canada Extradition Treaty in this ongoing matter."As important as the fate of the two Michaels is for Canada's diplomatic efforts, it's not the only problem the court decision could aggravate.Canada now depends on China for much of the personal protective equipment needed by front-line health care workers in the battle to contain COVID-19. Access to that equipment is not guaranteed.China is a major export destination. Renewed trade sanctions on Canadian food and agricultural products amount to another potential threat.Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne insists Canada continues to take principled stands on China despite the Meng case — by supporting Australia's call for an independent investigation into the origins of the pandemic and by joining other western countries in condemning China's proposed national security law, which will allow its state police to deal harshly with pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong.Sanctions coming?U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Congress on Wednesday that the administration no longer considers the city to be autonomous — a decision that opens the door to U.S. sanctions on the Chinese officials working to eliminate the last vestiges of Hong Kong's independence.The Canadian Senate is considering its own bill to impose sanctions under the Magnitsky Act against the Chinese officials violating human rights. The bill, sponsored by senators Leo Housakos and Thanh Hai Ngo, sparked a furious response from China's ambassador, who warned of severe counter-measures if it goes ahead.And then there's that pending decision on whether to allow Huawei to take part in Canada's 5G network — a decision that's been moving through government channels slower than the processors in those early laptop computers.If there's anything positive to take away from China's growing assertiveness on the world stage and its denial of human rights, it's that Canada isn't alone in pushing back, said Sen. Peter Boehm, a senior diplomat before his appointment to the upper chamber in 2018."As we move forward, we have to do it in solidarity with like-minded countries who have similar concerns ... on Hong Kong, the threats to Taiwan, the claims to the South China Seas and  the suppression of human rights," he said.A distracted superpowerDavid Mulroney offered another glimmer of light. China, he said, is picking a lot of fights these days — including its increasingly tense border standoff with India in the Himalayas and its handling of the pandemic."Their ability to focus on any one irritant is limited," he said.Mulroney's advice to the Trudeau government is to not overreact to Wednesday's ruling, to allow the judgment to speak for itself.More than anything else, he said, that would underscore the independence of Canada's judiciary from the kind of political direction Chinese authorities take for granted.

  • Nurse left homeless by COVID-19 anxiety now working the front lines of the pandemic
    Business
    CBC

    Nurse left homeless by COVID-19 anxiety now working the front lines of the pandemic

    Seven weeks ago, Kathrine Slinski was kicked out of the room she was renting because the landlord feared the 48-year-old nurse might bring the pandemic home with her.Now, Slinski has taken a drastic step to both find a place to live and stabilize her finances. She took a break from her job as a community care nurse in Ottawa and moved nearly 400 kilometres away to work at a long-term care facility fighting a COVID-19 outbreak."At the time I still hadn't found myself a permanent home. So I thought this would be something I could do to help and also ... give me a little bit of relief financially," she said.As a community care nurse, Slinski's take-home pay was modest and she wasn't getting full-time hours. Canadians are starting to come to terms with the fact that the people doing "essential" work — the kind that saves lives and keeps vital services running — are often paid little to do it."We deserve to have employment that's secure," Slinski said. "The biggest challenge for us as workers is that it's virtually impossible to find a permanent, full-time position that pays us a living wage."'Everything is part-time'Slinski said registered practical nurses in hospitals can make eight to 10 dollars more an hour than she did as a community care nurse. Many health care workers take on multiple jobs to make ends meet."Everything is part-time and everything is about finding more than one job to survive," said Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions.Slinski's temporary move to Sutton, ON, about four hours west of Ottawa, promises the financial relief she's sought. It also promises to be dangerous.Working in the middle of a COVID-19 outbreak offers her full-time hours at one facility — something she said is virtually unheard of for a private sector registered practical nurse like herself. She's also being put up in a hotel and is getting a meal allowance, she said.But the work is extremely tough. Roughly half of the 119 residents of River Glen Haven have been infected. So have 30 staff members. Twenty-three people have died at the facility since the start of the outbreak.In her first two weeks on the job, she said, six residents died on her ward, although she's not sure if all of them had COVID-19.No time to mournSlinksi describes working 12-hour shifts, often drenched in sweat because the plastic gowns staff are given don't breathe. She said staff members are regularly cleaning and changing personal protective equipment while dealing with patients whose conditions sometimes decline rapidly."The staffing is very skeletal right now so there really isn't that much time to mourn," she said. "We kind of deal with what needs to be done and we move on. I think the time for mourning is going to come after."'The problems at the River Glen Haven facility are proving to be particularly difficult to manage. After Slinski spoke to CBC News, Ontario's Ministry of Long-Term Care announced it was one of two facilities that would be operated by a local hospital for at least the next 90 days.The ministry said in a statement that, despite the hospital support, River Glen Haven has been unable to contain the spread of COVID-19.Slinski said she's hoping at least one good thing comes out of this catastrophe: a societal reckoning over the value Canada places on the work of private sector nurses and personal support workers.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took up the issue on May 7 when he announced a $4 billion deal with the provinces and territories to top up the pay of some low-wage essential workers.That pay bump is only intended to last for a few months. Trudeau suggested a deeper change is needed."I think one of the things that we're seeing through this pandemic is that there are people who are tremendously economically vulnerable, and vulnerable in other ways ... who are extremely important to the functioning of our society," he said."In months and years to come, we're also going to have reflections about how we manage and how we maintain our long-term care facilities, how we support essential workers who are very low paid, how we move forward as a society to make sure that our vulnerable are properly taken care of and properly rewarded for the important work they do."Hope and doubtSo when this crisis finally ends, will politicians and taxpayers remember the risks essential workers took to keep the wheels turning through the pandemic? One economist says he's hopeful — and skeptical."This reminds me a lot of gun control debates in the United States" in the wake of a mass shooting, said Mike Moffatt, an assistant professor at Western University's Ivey Business School."There's a discussion about, 'OK, we need to reform the system. This can't go on.' And then 48 hours later it's completely forgotten about."Moffat, who has advised the government on economic matters in the past, said he doesn't doubt the sincerity of politicians like Trudeau when they call for change, because the current crisis has made it impossible to ignore the inequities in Canadian society. But they have to follow through with "tangible policy," he said."Like in the gun control debate, thoughts and prayers only get you so far."Much of that work may fall to the provinces, he said, because many workers now deemed "essential", such as grocery store employees, aren't employed by federally-regulated workplaces. As for health care facilities, he said, he'd like to see governments start to think seriously about which jobs shouldn't be outsourced to the private sector.Silas said she'll believe Trudeau's words about lifting up the "economically vulnerable" if and when they're translated into action."That's your typical politician response," she said. "How many reports have been written about health care? How many reports have been written about long-term care, about the health care workforce?"Taking the profit out of long-term careThe best way to ensure that health care workers earn better wages and receive benefits, she said, is to purge for-profit operations from areas such as home care and long-term care."We've been asking for deleting the for-profit in health care for as long as I've been a nurse, and that's many moons ago," she said.She points to a recent report by the Canadian Labour Congress that calls on Ottawa and the provinces to bring the long-term care system fully into the public system under the Canada Health Act.Slinksi has less than two weeks left at her current posting. Her boss in Ottawa wants her back, she said, but she'd like to see if her help is needed elsewhere on the front lines of the outbreak.Despite the stress, the danger and the long days that leave her exhausted, she said she's feeling a bit more optimistic about her future these days."This position here is going to give me a good financial boost ... maybe I'll be able to finally settle myself somewhere."

  • Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister has lowest approval rating among premiers, poll suggests
    News
    CBC

    Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister has lowest approval rating among premiers, poll suggests

    Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister has the lowest approval rating of any premier in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic, with just 47 per cent of Manitobans giving his leadership a positive review, a new poll suggests.Only two premiers had approval ratings below 50 per cent during the previous quarter in the Angus Reid Institute poll, which was conducted online from May 19 to 24 and released Thursday: Pallister and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who had a 48 per cent rating.They are followed by Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball, who had an approval rating of 57 per cent.When asked about the poll at a news conference on Thursday morning, Pallister said Manitoba has one of the lowest rates of COVID-19 cases in the country."I don't care about being popular, I care about getting results, and that's the same thing I've said since I got into politics, and I'm not likely going to change," he said."So if I have to choose between being popular or not and beating COVID, I'll choose beating COVID."New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs had the highest rating in the poll, with 80 per cent approval. Quebec Premier François Legault followed with 77 per cent approval and British Columbia Premier John Horgan with 71 per cent approval.Ontario Premier Doug Ford had an approval rating of 69 per cent, while Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe had an approval rating of 65 per cent and Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil had 63 per cent approval, the poll suggests.Data on Prince Edward Island was not released because "its small population precludes drawing discrete samples over multiple waves," the poll information said.The poll was commissioned and paid for by the Angus Reid Institute. It included a representative randomized sample of 5,001 Canadian adults who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. A comparable margin of error for a probability sample of this size would yield a margin of error of +/- 1.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, the pollster said. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.Shachi Kurl, the Angus Reid Institute's executive director, said it's unusual to see the high approval ratings many premiers had during this period, and the jumps are likely due to how each premier is perceived to be handling the pandemic."Many Canadians, with the exception of some provinces, are looking to their premiers as beacons of leadership at this time," she said.The poll is significant because it's the first time the institute has gauged Canadians' approval of their premiers since the pandemic was declared, Kurl said.Pallister's approval rating this quarter is still four percentage points higher than it was in the previous Angus Reid Insititue poll, conducted in February. That's the second-lowest increase in premiers' approval ratings since last quarter, after Kenney's increase of one percentage point. Saskatchewan's Moe saw an increase of seven percentage points.Kurl said normally, an approval rating approaching 50 per cent is seen as relatively high. Pallister's low rating compared to other premiers could be partially due to the fact that Manitoba has had fewer COVID-19 cases than many other provinces."Because the COVID pandemic has not been as severe in Manitoba, Premier Pallister's response to it perhaps plays less of a role or a factor in how Manitobans are assessing his performance over the last three months," she said."In essence, I think leaders who have played a role that's been very front-and-centre, who've taken on a role that's been very both reassuring and directive to their people …. we see that Canadians and their constituents in their own provinces have responded to that."The premiers who saw the biggest jumps in approval ratings during this period were Ontario's Ford (38 percentage points), Nova Scotia's McNeil (35 percentage points), New Brunswick's Higgs (32 percentage points) and Newfoundland and Labrador's Ball (31 percentage points). Quebec's Legault saw a jump in approval of 19 percentage points during this period. The online survey's comparable margins of error are larger when looking at individual provinces. The margin in Manitoba is plus or minus 4.4 per cent, 19 times out of 20, the pollster said.In other provinces, it varies from plus or minus three per cent (in Ontario) to plus or minus 6.4 per cent (in New Brunswick).It's 3.4 per cent in Quebec, 3.9 per cent in Alberta, four per cent in British Columbia, 4.4 per cent in Saskatchewan, 5.7 per cent in Nova Scotia and 6.1 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador.

  • News
    Canadian Press Videos

    Pelosi describes George Floyd's death as 'murder'

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described the death of a black man in police custody in Minneapolis as "murder." "We saw it on TV, him being murdered on TV," Pelosi said, pledging Congressional action "so that this stops." (May 28)

  • Newlyweds deal with double diagnosis of rare cancer
    Health
    CBC

    Newlyweds deal with double diagnosis of rare cancer

    The newlywed couple can only describe it as "the worst luck ever."Luke and Lindsey Belding are coming to terms with each receiving a rare leukemia diagnosis, completely unrelated to each other."Next to impossible," said Lindsey Belding, describing the odds from her hospital bed in Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre."We've had friends try to run numbers, the doctors have tried to put it into words, but there's really no way to put a number to it just because it's so rare that two people would wind up with the same exact cancer." Luke Belding was born and raised in Sussex, southern New Brunswick. After moving stateside for university he met Lindsey, who is from Massachusetts, in 2013.The two dated for several years, eventually making plans to move to Winnipeg. Luke would pursue his PhD studying climate change effects on sturgeon. Lindsey would start her career as a pharmacist. Then came Luke's cancer diagnosis. "In January 2018, he was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia," said Lindsey. WATCH | Newlyweds deal with double diagnosis of rare cancer:Luke was 27 when he received the news.Disease more common in children, older people"It's the type of leukemia that messes with the immune cells in your body. It makes it so your body can't effectively fight off the disease," said Luke. The couple said the cancer diagnosis was a shock, given that it normally presents in children under 15 or adults over 65. "The doctors were all pretty vocal about that point," said Luke. "They said, 'It was pretty rare for someone like you to get this.'"A stem cell donation from Luke's brother gave him a fighting chance, and enough strength to tie the knot."We actually got married at the sanctuary here in the hospital after he had his first transplant, while he was recovering," said Lindsey. But Luke relapsed, and a second stem cell treatment from a separate donor was needed. Luckily, one was found. Luke recovered and was set to be discharged from the hospital on May 7, his 29th birthday. That didn't happen."Lindsey started to feel unwell," said Luke. 'It's a freak chance'Fever and a sore throat were enough of a concern that doctors decided to thoroughly examine her out of fear an illness could compromise Luke's weakened immune system.On May 13, Lindsey was diagnosed with the same B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia as her husband. The two spent 24 hours together in the hospital before Luke was sent home and Lindsey was kept in the hospital to start her cancer treatments at 28 years old."We've had the worst luck ever," said Lindsey.Because of the pandemic, they haven't been allowed to see each other since that day. "It's a freak chance," said Lindsey, who says chalking the situation up to awful odds is really the only way to process it. She started her chemotherapy earlier this week."Overall, I feel pretty good," said Lindsey. "Some side-effects here and there, but all things considered I feel pretty fortunate that I'm not worse off." Both husband and wife admit that some days are tougher than others. Being unable to see family members from New Brunswick, or the U.S., given border restrictions because of COVID-19, has been extremely difficult. But they do take comfort in Luke's previous experience with treatments. Fundraiser for health-care bills raised more than $40KDespite not seeing each other, the two keep in contact "constantly" with text messages "all day every day," and the occasional video chat. "It's a lot of emotional support and that's what you need with this sort of thing. Just someone to be there with you even if it's just sending smiley faces back and forth," said Lindsey. Since neither of them can work, Luke's brother started fundraising online to help pay the bills, raising more than $40,000 over the last five days. "It's been a huge upswell of support for us," said Luke. Lindsey said she was humbled by the support."It puts a lot of our faith back in humanity, especially during a time when things are so uncertain for everyone," she said.With two more treatments to go for Lindsey, Luke said the best-case scenario is the two can be reunited in about a month. They are counting down the days when it may be possible to see each other.  "We're taking it day by day," said Lindsey. "One step at a time."

  • Former MP among more northern Sask. residents denied medical services in south
    News
    CBC

    Former MP among more northern Sask. residents denied medical services in south

    More stories have emerged from northern Saskatchewan residents, including former MP Georgina Jolibois, who say they have been denied medical appointments in the southern part of the province after an outbreak of COVID-19 cases in the far north region.Northern residents starting raising concerns last week, saying they were denied appointments for optometry and physiotherapy because they were from the north. Some said they were also turned away from hotel rooms. La Loche resident Georgina Jolibois, a former MP for the federal riding of Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River and former Mayor of La Loche, said she was denied an optometrist appointment Wednesday morning. "It is a humiliating experience, especially when I've followed the rules, I followed the protocol, I'm helping to flatten the curve, practicing social distancing," she said, adding that she has been a customer of the business for about 20 years. "It's just a very uncomfortable situation to be in." Jolibois said she was told by the optometry business that she could not get an appointment until travel restrictions between the north and the south of the province are lifted.Travel restrictions do apply to the northwest, where there are currently 55 active cases, but residents are allowed to travel south for medical appointments — including those that are non-urgent.Sheila Spence, executive director of Saskatchewan Association of Optometrists, said last week she understood that northerners could only travel south for urgent medical care.She said at the time the association doesn't condone turning away patients based only on the fact that they are from the north. She said it's likely optometrists are dealing with a lot of backlog.Access should be provided: SHA officialSusan Shaw, the chief medical health officer for the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), clarified the authority's stance at a news conference Wednesday.She said she is aware of some medical services turning away northern residents, but none that are part of the SHA.  "People should be able to access services regardless of location as long as they are asymptomatic and the risks are managed," Shaw said.  "Absolutely in an emergency or urgent care situation then we wouldn't want any barriers to exist for anybody."Jolibois said northern residents are being treated unfairly and discriminated against. "Many, many people are being denied … and my worry is that people that need to get to their appointments should be allowed to go and get the help they need."She said Premier Scott Moe could help "tremendously" by addressing the issue both behind the scenes and by addressing it publicly.La Loche resident says she was treated like 'walking disease'La Loche resident Georgina Park-Janvier said she started calling dental clinics down south after her son started experiencing severe pain from wisdom teeth. She said the first clinic she called was willing to take her appointment until she declared where she was from. Then then the answer became no. "The way she said it was like we are all [a] walking disease," said Park-Janvier. "The next few places I called my first question was 'do you guys take in anybody from the north, especially La Loche,' and the response was no." Park-Janvier said she tried clinics in Prince Albert, Meadow Lake, North Battleford and Saskatoon and was told multiple times her son's case would not be taken."Just because we're from the north and we have COVID cases doesn't mean everybody is affected," said Park-Janvier. "There's people in town who are being cautious ... this is a town where we are a big family but there's a few that make us look bad."She said she eventually gave up calling, having concluded no clinic would take her son's case. Park-Janvier is now worried her daughter, who is pregnant with a due date in one month, could be affected. "How long are we going to be denied?" said Park-Janvier. "Is she going to be denied medical services? Is she going to be denied rooms?"

  • China parliament advances Hong Kong security law as U.S. tensions rise
    News
    Reuters

    China parliament advances Hong Kong security law as U.S. tensions rise

    China's parliament approved a decision on Thursday to go forward with national security legislation for Hong Kong that democracy activists in the city and Western countries fear could erode its freedoms and jeopardise its role as a global financial hub. China says the new legislation will aim to tackle secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in the city but the plan, unveiled in Beijing last week, triggered the first big protests in Hong Kong for months. U.S. President Donald Trump's economic adviser said Hong Kong may now need to be treated like China when it comes to trade and other financial matters.

  • News
    The Canadian Press

    Princeton's first black valedictorian says his 'heart still lies' in Canada

    When taking advanced-level courses at Princeton University, Canadian Nicholas Johnson says he was often one of the only black students in the classroom. It was a strange feeling, Johnson says, one that's familiar to many people of colour working to overcome systemic barriers at elite academic institutions. The Montreal-raised student says he was fortunate to find mentors who pushed him to pursue his studies in operations research and financial engineering.

  • There's been an increase in loud banging noises near the Downtown Eastside, but police don't know why
    News
    CBC

    There's been an increase in loud banging noises near the Downtown Eastside, but police don't know why

    If you think there's been an increase in explosion-like sounds around downtown Vancouver lately, you're not alone. Vancouver Coun. Pete Fry has asked the city to look into the rise of the sound, which most believe are bear bangers — a noisy flare used in the wilderness to scare off bears. Fry has lived in and around the Strathcona neighbourhood for three decades and says he's never heard them more often than in the past few weeks. "Bear bangers actually do have the potential to cause harm depending on the type of model," he said."If they're being indiscriminately used throughout the city, not only is it jarring and upsetting for folks, but somebody might actually get hurt."  All across downtownWhile the noises appear to be concentrated near Strathcona and the Downtown Eastside, they've also been heard in Chinatown, Crosstown and as far as the West End at all hours of the day, causing plenty of angst in several communities."We're all hearing it and it's interrupting our sleep. You never know when it's going to go off" said Heather Donily, a Strathcona co-op resident."Is that a bear banger, a firework, a gunshot? There's a sense of panic when you first hear it."Donily said members of her co-op have let police know about the noises, and that it is bringing extra worry during a time where crime in the area has increased.But she also understands it's not the easiest problem to solve.     "I'm really not sure how the police are supposed to be dealing with it. By the time they would get out there, they wouldn't be able to do anything about it anyways."Police say call 311 Vancouver Police Department Sgt. Aaron Roed said despite social media comments, they haven't received more complaints about bear bangers than usual."But this is something we're taking very seriously, because we don't want people misinterpreting this for shots fired," he said. While Fry said he's heard speculation the bangers are used to help arrange drug deals, Roed said, the police don't know why they're being used.However, both say people should call Vancouver's 311 phone line, saying that more complaints will lead to better data — and hopefully, enough clues over who is behind the noises. In the meantime, Donily says she'll continue to sleep on edge. "It's really anxiety inducing," she said, "hearing things that could be gunshots going off in your neighbourhood."

  • Gym goers pumped for exercise spots to reopen — but will have to wait another week
    Health
    CBC

    Gym goers pumped for exercise spots to reopen — but will have to wait another week

    Instead of relying on free weights at the gym, Cathy Jeffrey has kept up her fitness routine by playing Frisbee with her kids, going for runs on the trail and relying on tree branches to get in her 15 sets of five pull-ups.  Gym goers have been trying to find ways to get in a workout after COVID-19 made its first appearance in New Brunswick in March, forcing all gyms to close."I miss the gym terribly and I can't wait to get back," said the 47-year-old. "However, I am a little nervous. I want to make sure it is safe to go back. I don't know what that means in the environment of the gym."Gyms, yoga and dance studios were expected to reopen this coming Friday, after the province moved into the yellow phase of its COVID-19 recovery plan last week. Following a cluster of six active cases in the Campbellton region this week, Premier Blaine Higgs announced Thursday that the reopening of gyms will be pushed back until next Friday. "This will allow for the time required to determine the extent of the current outbreak," Higgs said.Other activities that will be put on hold until next Friday include: * Outdoor public gatherings of 50 people or fewer. * Indoor religious services, including weddings and funerals, of 50 people or fewer. * Low-contact team sports. * Swimming pools, saunas and waterparks * Yoga and dance studios * Rinks and indoor recreational facilities * Pool halls and bowling alleysJeffrey exercises at least six times a week and has had up to four gym memberships in Fredericton at one time: Synergy Training Center, where she soon plans to take her two kids, Sweat Club Inc., Goodlife Fitness and Fit4Less."Sports are just a big part of our life. And going to the gym is just an aspect of that." The local athlete started playing tennis at the age of eight and has been working out at gyms since she attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute as a student.Getting gyms up and running Although the gyms might look a bit different once they reopen, Jeffrey intends to continue supporting local Fredericton gyms, especially after they've been closed for so long. "We want these guys to succeed. We are just so lucky to have them here. And to have access to that kind of quality gym here," she said. "We need to get them up and running again."Gyms were forced to close after Premier Blaine Higgs declared a state of emergency in March, giving the province broad powers to enforce business closures and physical distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. "The hardest part was not knowing … is 2020 going to be a writeoff?" said Omar Ali, owner and founder of Formula 4 Fitness Fredericton."Are we even going to open again?"The future of physical fitness Ali is getting his staff together this week to go over the proper safety precautions before reopening and contacting clients about coming back.He plans to reopen the local gym on June 1. He said it will be interesting to see how many of his 500 clients return.Clients have already been sending emails and messages on Facebook to the local gym , saying they won't be returning because they don't feel it's safe to come back."We've dealt with people who are so eager to come in and we've had some people, not so much."Each day Formula 4 Fitness Fredericton will be scheduling three bookings per hour, which will include three personal trainers at one time.And physical distancing will still be required."That is going to be a challenge because we're going to have to dial that back for the time being," he said. Clients will be required to sanitize their hands before and after they come into the gym. Equipment will also be cleaned after being used."At the end of the day everybody's safety comes first," he said. "It takes it one notch further." Gyms 'in survival mode'Smaller gyms and fitness studios are some of the final businesses that will be allowed to reopen in New Brunswick.Cara Hazelton, owner of Precision Pilates, said government needs to do more to help businesses like hers reopen earlier if a second wave of COVID-19 were to hit."In the first phase of yellow, spas and salons are open," she said. "So I can go get my bikini line waxed and I can go get a tattoo. But my clients can't come take a pilates class." Many of her clients are recommended to her from physiotherapists, psychologists and physicians because they have back issues, are cancer survivors or recovering from surgeries. She said many of her clients are also over the age of 60."I would consider myself pretty critical to the patients of those physiotherapists who are relying on me to help them with their physical rehab," she said.  She's hoping government will allow businesses like hers to reopen in the earlier orange phase, which was slightly more restrictive than yellow but still allowed businesses to open."When you look at a province like New Brunswick that's the least healthy province in the country, it needs all the help it can get." Hazelton said the closure of her studio has been challenging but she's been trying to find ways to follow Public Health guidelines and keep her clients safe.She plans to reopen next week. Studio group classes will be 45 minutes long to accommodate physical distancing, as well as proper cleaning of equipment and common spaces.She's asking clients to come dressed for class if possible and leave unnecessary belongings inside their vehicles or at home. She will also be offering online and in studio classes."I'm in survival mode." Gym closure was 'scary, sad'Laura Clendenning, owner of Sweat Club Inc. in downtown Fredericton celebrated her business's first birthday by learning her boutique-style gym could reopen."It was scary, it was sad, it was frustrating. It was all of the emotions."Since Clendenning's gym closed in March, clients relied heavily on online classes and training. "My goal was to create a community and support people just to have a place to hang out online and give them workouts," she said.She's hoping to reopen her business on Monday. But before that can happen, staff have been either shifting or removing equipment to create more space to work out.She has also taped the floors of her gym, to indicate the correct distance clients must maintain."They will have their own little bubble area that they're allowed to work in," she said. "There will be no moving around the gym."Every taped station will also have its own hand sanitizer.And trainers will be monitoring the small group of people for symptoms before coming in. People will only be allowed to take part in classes or one-on-one sessions if they have appointments.But she's hopeful the Fredericton gym will come back stronger than ever. "I would have never anticipated something like this happening in our first year of business."

  • Leaving out long-term care was medicare's original sin — and we're paying for it now
    Politics
    CBC

    Leaving out long-term care was medicare's original sin — and we're paying for it now

    In 1983, as the federal and provincial governments were negotiating what would become the Canada Health Act, the Canadian Medical Association created a task force to study "the allocation of health care resources."Included in the task force's final report, released in 1984, were comments on the state of Canada's "nursing homes" — observations that now sound depressingly familiar."The standard of care provided in many nursing homes is grossly inadequate," the task force wrote. "They provide a life of immobility and tedium, and lack any guarantee of adequate basic care."Thirty-six years later, COVID-19 has exposed the deadly vulnerabilities in Canada's long-term care system. Members of the Canadian Forces, called in to deal with a crisis, have become witnesses to the dismal state of care in some facilities.The voices of those soldiers might be too hard to ignore — which means it's down to Justin Trudeau's government and its provincial counterparts to address a problem that has been too easy to avoid for far too long.'Largely invisible'"Long-term residential care is largely invisible in Canadian policy debates," wrote the authors of a report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives entitled, "They Deserve Better" — in 2009.When the Canada Health Act was drafted, long-term care was not fully incorporated into it as an "insured service." At the time, the federal government's primary concern was to limit the spread of user fees.But the general neglect of long-term care might be traced back at least as far as the creation of medicare in Canada.Gregory Marchildon, a former senior civil servant in Saskatchewan and executive director of the Royal Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada, said that nursing homes and long-term care were not a point of emphasis when the public medicare system was being designed in the 1960s.Back then, most senior citizens were cared for by their extended families, Marchildon said. They also didn't receive the same level of care they do now, added Pat Armstrong, the scholar who co-authored the CCPA's report. Dementia was also less of a problem at the time because fewer people were living long enough to develop cognitive issues.Sleepwalking into a catastropheIn the decades since, care for the elderly has remained a peripheral issue in our politics. In the absence of federal leadership, long-term care in Canada became a patchwork of provincial systems that mix public and private options."Other things always come up ... that squeeze long-term care," said Marchildon, citing prescription drugs and dental care as examples. "We've been kind of sleepwalking, for decades."For several years, beginning in the 1970s, the federal government provided provincial governments with funding for "extended" health care services, including long-term care homes. But there were no strings attached to that funding and eventually it was rolled into the overall health transfer.Through the 1980s and 1990s, the trend across governments was fiscal restraint and privatization, as noted in "They Deserve Better," and the federal government's share of national spending on health care fell just below 15 per cent. The royal commission in 2001, chaired by former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow, proposed a dedicated federal transfer for home care — but Paul Martin's Liberal government didn't apply conditions when it made a ten-year deal to boost transfers to the provinces in 2004.Political prioritiesIt might be too easy to blame this failure entirely on governments, however. Political leaders are motivated by public concern, so it stands to reason that if governments have failed to act, it's at least in part because the public hasn't seen caring for the elderly as a priority."I think part of it is that we try not to think about old age," said Armstrong, who is engaged in a ten-year study of long-term care.Armstrong said the "sexy stuff" in health care involves fixing and curing people, while long-term care is less focused on such things. Most of the residents and staff members in long-term care facilities are female, she said, suggesting that gender also plays a role. While child care is often framed as an investment in a future labour force, long-term care has no such selling point.There's a broader cultural issue at play here that goes beyond Canada. A royal commission on care for the elderly in Australia, for instance, issued an interim report last fall with a one-word title: 'Neglect'But fixing the problems will still depend ultimately on the regulations, laws and resources that governments control.Studied to deathThe Trudeau government's attention is primarily focused on the short and medium term — reopening the economy and preparing for the possibility of a second wave of infections. But Health Minister Patty Hajdu already has expressed an interest in tackling the larger problem of long-term care."I think there should be a long-term national project to examine long-term care homes and how we can better support [them] at every level of government, to make sure people who are living there are protected and ... can live their lives in dignity and in safety," she said at a news conference in April.After this week's revelations, Trudeau himself said that "everything is on the table." And there's no shortage of research to draw on.The weaknesses in long-term care the pandemic exposed were identified in a report issued last fall by the National Institute on Ageing. Among other things, the report pointed out that staff in long-term care facilities are underpaid and overworked. Many long-term care workers have to hold down jobs at multiple facilities to make a living — something that likely contributed to the spread of COVID-19."I think that you have to start by focusing on the labour force ... the conditions of work are the conditions of care," Armstrong said.The delivery of health services falls under provincial jurisdiction — but the federal government can provide funding and make that funding conditional on the provinces agreeing to certain standards.The need for 'meaningful standards'Back in 1984, the CMA's task force recommended "the implementation of strict regulations enforcing meaningful standards" and a transition away from the use of for-profit institutions. Those proposals were broadly echoed last month in a new set of recommendations issued by Armstrong and her fellow researchers, which included a call for a halt to privatization.Amending the Canada Health Act to include long-term care and establish standards of care, staffing and employment is one option — although Armstrong points out that opening up the act for renegotiation could lead to more demands for funding in other areas. Alternatively, the federal government could just draft new legislation dedicated to long-term care.Either way, Marchildon and Armstrong said, standards will have to be enforced, with genuine oversight.Some amount of federal funding would have to follow. The Trudeau government also could provide more funding for home care; in 2017, the Liberals agreed to give the provinces $6 billion over ten years to fund such services. Infrastructure funding could be used to increase capacity.At some point, however, the Liberals might have to make difficult choices about priorities. Before the pandemic hit, the Liberals were loudly committed to tackling pharmacare. Hajdu's mandate letter also charged her with improving access to family doctors and setting national standards for mental health services. National dental care was supposed to at least get its own study.It remains to be seen whether, in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic, there will be time and money enough to fix long-term care and do all of those other things.But it will be hard to argue against the idea that the time has come to fix long-term care in this country — because it's clear that work is long overdue.

  • Contract to clear B.C.'s Big Bar landslide balloons to $52.5M as crews race to allow for salmon migration
    News
    CBC

    Contract to clear B.C.'s Big Bar landslide balloons to $52.5M as crews race to allow for salmon migration

    The cost of the federal contract for clearing out the Big Bar landslide has tripled to $52.5 million as crews try to meet the "very, very difficult" goal of allowing salmon to migrate naturally along the Fraser River in B.C.'s southern Interior.Peter Kiewit Sons' contract with the federal government has now been amended 17 times since it was awarded to the construction giant on Dec. 31 at an original value of $17.6 million.On a call with reporters earlier this week, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) project leader Gwil Roberts said Kiewit has fulfilled the terms of the original contract, but it became obvious early on that more work would be necessary."We knew from the start that this is a very difficult place to work and there's a mass amount of material that has landed in this river. We're talking about 75,000 cubic metres of rock," Roberts said."To remove enough of that to restore natural fish passage … it was a very, very difficult objective and that's the challenge that is still facing us."In the meantime, with the annual salmon runs fast approaching, "what we realized in a pretty timely fashion here was that we needed other measures for fish to move over the slide site," Roberts said.That includes building a concrete fish ladder and installing a pneumatic tube system to help salmon move past the rock fall.The Big Bar landslide happened in a remote area north of Lillooet some time in November or December 2018, but it was not reported to Fisheries and Oceans Canada until June 2019.The landslide completely blocked migration routes for several salmon runs, and prompted officials at multiple levels of government to organize a rescue mission that saw thousands of salmon lifted by helicopter across the rocks that blocked their migration route.But a large number of those salmon died before reaching their spawning grounds, and federal scientists have warned some chinook and sockeye populations face a "meaningful chance of extinction" as a result.2019 federal contracts worth $5MLast year, DFO signed contracts worth more than $5 million with other companies for work related to the landslide, according to federal government documents obtained through an Access to Information request.But none of the rocks or debris that had fallen into the Fraser had been cleared away before Kiewit crews began work on the site this year, a spokesperson for Fisheries and Oceans Canada said this week."Much of the work in 2019 focused on manipulating existing rocks through the use of hydraulics and small bursts to create resting pools to restore immediate fish passage," Kavitha Palanisamy wrote in an email to CBC.So far, DFO has spent $28.6 million on the project, Palanisamy said. That total doesn't include spending by other government agencies, including the provincial forests ministry, which has awarded contracts for everything from portable toilets to heavy equipment rentals.Kiewit has made some notable progress on the slide this year, including blasting work that removed portions of the obstruction from the river.Meanwhile, there was an unexpected rock fall earlier this month on the project site, bringing down a bit less than two cubic metres of rock. WorkSafeBC is investigating, and Kiewit has now installed mesh curtains to protect workers from further incidents, according to the latest DFO update.Kiewit is currently awaiting trial on a charge of criminal negligence causing the death of Sam Fitzpatrick, who was killed by a falling rock in 2009 on another Kiewit worksite near Toba Inlet on B.C.'s Sunshine Coast.

  • Canadian man finally receives Canada Post package after 8 years
    Lifestyle
    Yahoo News Canada

    Canadian man finally receives Canada Post package after 8 years

    Good things come to those who wait, but eight years is absurd even in these times.

  • COVID-19 in Canada: Ontario looking for a particular number to reopen more widely
    Health
    Yahoo News Canada

    COVID-19 in Canada: Ontario looking for a particular number to reopen more widely

    As cases of COVID-19 continue to spread around the world, Canadians are concerned about their health and safety.