Dion Waiters apologetic, ready to return to Heat after suspension

Ben Weinrib
Yahoo Sports Contributor

Miami Heat shooting guard Dion Waiters has completed his 10-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team and is ready to return for his first action of the season.

The team didn’t make him available to the media but did release a statement in which he apologized for letting his teammates down. And in turn, nearly the entire roster spoke out at Saturday’s practice, via the Miami Herald, welcoming him back.

Waiters reportedly had a panic attack that required medical attention after taking a THC-infused gummy on a flight from Phoenix to Los Angeles. While marijuana is legal in some parts of the U.S., it is not allowed in the NBA.

“I would like to apologize to my teammates, coaches, basketball staff, the fans and the entire organization for the incident that happened on the team plane,” Waiters said in a statement. “I was wrong and take responsibility for what happened and am sorry for what it put everyone through.

“I am happy to be back with my teammates and am looking forward to getting back on the court playing basketball.”

Waiters had a rocky start to the season even outside of what the team described as a “scary incident.” He has only been active in two games but did not dress in either; Waiters reportedly got in a “disagreement” with head coach Erik Spoelstra in one of those games too.

What kind of impact the 27-year-old might have when he returns is another issue.

Heat guard Dion Waiters just completed his 10-game suspension. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

How will Waiters’ return affect the Heat?

Waiters has been one of the Heat's top scorers during his three previous seasons, but the team has found success without him.

The Heat are 2.5 games back of the Milwaukee Bucks for the top record in the East and are off to their best start at 13-5 since LeBron James’ last season in town in 2013-14. They have seven players averaging double-digit scoring, including five perimeter players.

Rookie shooting guards Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn have particularly picked up the slack in Waiters’ absence. The duo has a combined 31.5 points per game on 40.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc, and Waiters’ return could blunt their impact.

More scoring punch will always be appreciated, but Waiters will likely be eased back into action. The Miami Herald's Barry Jackson reported that Waiters has returned to practice and will travel to the team's upcoming three-game road trip, but there's no word yet on when he’ll play or even start.

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  • Victims' family asks for delay of federal inmate's execution
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Victims' family asks for delay of federal inmate's execution

    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Family members of the victims of an inmate scheduled to be put to death next week asked a federal judge to delay his execution Tuesday, saying the coronavirus pandemic puts them at risk if they travel to attend it.The family members of Daniel Lewis Lee's victims asked that Lee's execution be put off until a treatment or a vaccine is available for the virus. Lee, convicted of killing an Arkansas family as part of a plot to establish a whites-only nation in the Pacific Northwest, is scheduled to be executed on July 13.Lee is scheduled to be the first federal inmate executed in 17 years. Lee, 47, was convicted of the 1996 murders of gun dealer William Mueller, his wife, Nancy, and her 8-year-old daughter, Sarah Powell.The request to halt the trial was filed by Earlene Peterson, Nancy Mueller's mother and Sarah's grandmother; Kimma Gurel, who is Nancy Mueller's sister and Sarah's aunt; and Monica Veillette, who is Nancy Mueller's niece and Sarah's cousin. Peterson lives in Arkansas, while Gurel and Veillette live in Washington.The three have opposed Lee's execution, but have said they wish to exercise their right to witness it. In the filing, the three say the federal government is putting them in the untenable position of risking their lives by travelling to Indiana for the execution while coronavirus cases surge nationwide.“At each stage of these proceedings and their travel to participate in them, plaintiffs face grim risks of exposure to COVID-19, a disease which for these vulnerable plaintiffs, could prove lethal," the filing said.The three asked to join a lawsuit seeking to halt the execution of another inmate scheduled to be executed two days after Lee. A Zen Buddhist priest who is the spiritual adviser for that inmate has made similar arguments about the execution moving forward during the pandemic. A Roman Catholic priest and a spiritual adviser for a third inmate, scheduled to be executed July 17, also asked Tuesday to intervene in the case.Lee's attorneys last week filed a separate motion before a federal judge in Arkansas to delay his execution, also citing concerns about the virus.The Associated Press

  • News
    CBC

    2 B.C. teachers fired for having sex with recent high school graduates

    In the last eight days, B.C.'s regulator for educators has announced the firing of two teachers who admitted to having sex with former students just weeks after their graduation from high school.In both cases outlined on the website of the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation, the names of the teachers involved, the schools where they taught and even the school districts they worked for are not revealed.The regulator says this is "in order to protect the identity of students who were harmed, abused or exploited by the teacher."In the most recent case, posted online Tuesday, a teacher admitted to "an inappropriate sexual relationship" with a recent graduate.The teacher, whose gender is not specified, had taught the student in Grades 10, 11 and 12, and spent a "significant amount of time" with them during their senior year, both in and out of class, according to a summary of an agreement signed by the teacher.The student graduated in June and the teacher began having sex with them in September."The teacher engaged in boundary violations with other students at the school, such that students viewed the teacher more as a friend than a teacher," the summary says.The school district that employed the teacher fired him or her, and reported the teacher to the commissioner in December 2019.The teacher's licence has now been cancelled and they've agreed not to apply to teach again for the next 15 years.2nd teacher had sex with 2 former studentsThe same discipline was meted out to another unnamed teacher whose firing was announced on June 30.The male teacher admitted to having sex with two former students at the high school where he taught.One was an 18-year-old that he'd taught for two years before they graduated, and the second was a 17-year-old he gave alcohol to before initiating sex, just weeks after the student graduated, according to a summary of that case."The teacher was aware that at least one of the students was in a vulnerable state," the summary says.The regulator says the second teacher's misconduct happened "over an extended period of time."

  • News
    The Canadian Press

    Toronto police officer charged in London, Ont., killing of former warlord

    TORONTO — A Toronto police officer has been arrested in connection with the killing of a former Liberian warlord who was living in London, Ont.London police say Trevor Gregory was arrested Tuesday in Toronto in relation to the fatal shooting of Bill Horace on June 21.The 46-year-old was charged with breach of trust and released with a court date of Sept. 29.Toronto police say the officer is a detective constable with 21 years of service and has been suspended with pay in accordance with the Police Services Act.Gregory's son, 22-year-old Keiron Gregory, is wanted on a charge of second-degree murder in the June 21 shooting.Police say forces across the province are co-ordinating in their search for the younger man, and they're asking for anyone with information to come forward.London police Supt. Chris Newton declined to offer further details on the charge against Trevor Gregory."Unfortunately for me to comment on any details with the breach of trust, I would be discussing evidence, which I'm not prepared to do at this time," Newton said in an interview."We do have a significant contingent of police officers in the (Greater Toronto Area) actively investigating this crime and we are getting daily, almost hourly, physical evidence as well as intelligence from other police services in the area."This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 7, 2020. The Canadian Press

  • Canadians' COVID-19 fears are rising again — and the U.S. might be to blame
    Politics
    CBC

    Canadians' COVID-19 fears are rising again — and the U.S. might be to blame

    As the number of new cases of COVID-19 being reported daily in Canada has declined over time, Canadians' concerns about the spread of the disease have spiked.The uncontrolled outbreak south of the border might be the reason why.Since June 7, the daily tally of new cases in Canada has been 500 or less. It's been well under 400 per day for over a week. Just over a month ago, however, health officials were reporting between 1,000 and 2,000 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 in this country almost every day.The drop in cases doesn't mean that Canada is out of the woods just yet — localized outbreaks are still popping up and hundreds of new cases are being reported daily. But the country is in a much better place than it was just a few months ago.Nevertheless, Canadians are feeling more worried today, according to a recent poll.The survey, conducted by Léger for the Association for Canadian Studies between July 3 and 5, found that 58 per cent of respondents were personally afraid of contracting COVID-19. That figure has increased seven percentage points in two weeks and is now the highest it has been in Léger's weekly polling since mid-April.It's a notable shift in public opinion. Concern peaked in early April, when 64 per cent of Canadians reported being personally afraid of getting sick. At the time, Canada was reporting over 1,200 new cases every day.From that peak, fears consistently decreased over the seven weeks that followed before falling to a low of 51 per cent. Concerns hovered around that level, with little variation from week to week, between late May and late June.The epidemiology in Canada can't explain this step backwards in public opinion over the last two weeks. On May 25, 1,011 new cases were reported in Canada. June 8 saw only 429 newly confirmed cases. Between July 3 and 5, when Léger was in the field, Canada was averaging 294 new cases per day.So what explains this sudden flare-up in coronavirus fear?Fear of an open borderWhile Canada's COVID-19 trend line has been improving, the outbreak in the United States is getting worse.At the low point in Léger's polling on Canadians' fears of contracting the disease, there were about 20,000 new cases being reported every day in the United States — fewer than during the peak point for Canadians' COVID anxiety, when American health officials were reporting between 25,000 and 35,000 new cases daily.But over the three days when Léger was last in the field, the U.S. hit new records for COVID-19, peaking at 57,000 new cases on July 3 alone. The caseload in most states is now rising.It's clear that Canadians are watching the cautionary tale south of the border. Searches on Google Trends for "COVID" and "U.S.A." peaked at the end of March in Canada, but had dropped off to less than half of that by the first week of June. Since then, however, web searches related to the pandemic in America have nearly doubled, while searches related to the pandemic in Canada have held steady.Polls suggest Canadians are worried about the situation in the U.S. A Nanos Research survey for the Globe and Mail found that 81 per cent of Canadians polled want the border with the United States to stay closed for the "foreseeable future."Léger finds that 86 per cent of Canadians reject the idea of re-opening the border at the end of July, as is currently planned (although the border closures have been renewed and extended repeatedly in the past). Remarkably, 71 per cent of Canadians "strongly disagreed" with a re-opening of the border, suggesting a firmly held opinion.In mid-May, Léger reported that 21 per cent of Canadians wanted the border to open by the end of June or earlier. Now, just 11 per cent agree with opening the border by the end of July.Renewed pessimism about the futureThese darkening views on the pandemic can't be tied entirely to COVID-19's spread in the United States. The U.S. isn't the only country with an uncontrolled outbreak. Both Brazil and India are reporting over 20,000 new cases per day and countries as far apart as Russia, Mexico, Pakistan and South Africa are also detecting thousands of new cases on a daily basis.But the rising caseloads in the U.S. and elsewhere offer stark warnings about what could happen here if things go wrong. The periodic flare-ups on this side of the border also act as a reminder that the disease hasn't gone anywhere. Even Prince Edward Island, which went months without a new case, has experienced a recent uptick.Canadians are reporting more pessimism about the future, despite the apparently improving situation here. According to the Léger poll, 82 per cent of Canadians expect a second wave — that's up six points from early June.Just eight per cent of respondents want to see governments accelerate the pace of relaxing physical distancing and self-isolation measures, down five points since last month. The number who want to slow down the pace has increased by seven points to 28 per cent. The other 65 per cent want to maintain the current pace of re-opening.The poll suggests Canadians have lost some of their late-spring optimism. The number who reported thinking that the worst is behind us peaked at 42 per cent in mid-June. That has dropped by seven points to 35 per cent, while the number who think the worst is yet to come has increased nine points to 39 per cent — its highest level since the middle of April, when the first wave of the novel coronavirus was cresting in Canada.Polls routinely show little resistance to the imposition of mandatory mask laws and significant apprehension about attending large gatherings or embarking on international travel any time soon.The weather has improved, the patios are open and people can get a haircut again, so things have gotten brighter. But more and more Canadians appear to be coming to the realization that this is likely to be just a temporary reprieve — and not the new normal.

  • Peter MacKay takes heat for skipping Conservative leadership debates
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Peter MacKay takes heat for skipping Conservative leadership debates

    OTTAWA — Conservative leadership candidate Peter MacKay is taking heat for skipping a pair of virtual debates organized by grassroots party members.Riding associations in both the Greater Toronto Area and British Columbia banded together to organize their own events for all four candidates to present themselves to party members.Leslyn Lewis, Erin O'Toole and Derek Sloan all attended the Toronto debate and are expected at Wednesday's B.C. event.MacKay committed to attend the GTA one in principle, but then had a conflict with the June 24 date so didn't join.He turned down the invite to the B.C. event on Wednesday, a decision that the debate co-chair said "bummed" him out.The COVID-19 pandemic has meant few opportunities for would-be voters to compare the candidates side by side, said Angelo Isidorou, who said he's not made up his mind who he'll vote for in the contest.Though this event will be virtual — as was the one in Toronto — they are better than nothing, he said."Each candidate has released videos and stuff like that but it's different when they are in a room together, even if it is a virtual room," he said.Isidorou said the organizers worked to get the backing of all 42 area riding associations for the event to ensure candidates would feel it was worth their time. They also offered to be flexible on the date. So far, they have 2,500 people registered to watch. When asked late last week why MacKay wasn't attending Wednesday's event, his campaign said he is focusing on communicating directly with party members and getting out the vote."Any given provincial town hall he does gets thousands of individual contacts," spokesman Chisholm Pothier said in an email.On Tuesday Mackay's campaign claimed a scheduling conflict and promoted a town hall he was holding that evening with B.C. supporters.The only debates leadership contenders had to attend were two set up by the leadership organizing committee.Those were in mid-June and all four candidates were there.The party itself was forced to make it clear that the B.C. debate wasn't a mandatory event sanctioned by the leadership organizing committee, known as LEOC, after receiving numerous complaints.In a letter to party members, a copy of which was obtained by The Canadian Press, the party said it appreciated the initiative shown in B.C., but couldn't speak to how it was put together."This is not an official LEOC debate and therefore we're unable to answer your questions surrounding it. It also means the LEOC rules around debates do not apply."The June 24 event was staged by the Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Etobicoke Centre and Parkdale-High-Park riding associations.In a statement posted to the Etobicoke-Lakeshore riding association's Facebook page, organizers said 100 people watched candidates field specific regional questions including one on traffic congestion and another on how they would tackle homelessness.A similar approach is being taken to Wednesday's B.C. event.During the 2019 election campaign too many Conservatives were asked local questions at voters' doors the party had no answer for, said Isidorou.The point of Wednesday's event is to make sure the candidates do have answers now, and they've been given the questions in advance.The subjects include outreach to the East Asian community, what their approaches would be on money laundering and the future of the logging industry.The way the party elects a leader also makes regional events important, said Isidorou.The Conservatives use a point system. Each riding in Canada is allocated 100 points, and candidates are awarded the points based on their share of the votes.What that means is a riding with four party members is just as influential as a riding with 400.B.C.'s Lower Mainland is dotted with associations with small memberships, Isidorou said, and he has observed candidates taking pains to directly woo the few but mighty.He lives in Vancouver Centre, a riding Liberals have held since 1993.But the leadership candidates need support from Conservatives there as much as they do in traditional strongholds, he said.That means they must have positions on more than just bread-and-butter issues, which can then be useful come the next general election."I'm in the belly of the beast in Vancouver Centre, but that's the vote you have to win over at some point," said Isidorou."You can't just (say), 'Oh tell me more about how much you love guns.' We get it. What else?"Ballots are going in the mail in the coming days for the race and must be returned by Aug. 21. A winner is expected to be announced the following week.This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2020.Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

  • News
    The Canadian Press

    Former Alberta politician who gave seat up for Kenney gets Texas appointment

    A former Alberta legislature member who gave up his seat for Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has a new government job in Texas. Kenney has appointed Dave Rodney to the job of Alberta's agent general. Kenney says the role is aimed at driving energy business and investment to the province.

  • Ford to consider making air conditioning mandatory for care homes amid complaints of sweltering conditions
    News
    CBC

    Ford to consider making air conditioning mandatory for care homes amid complaints of sweltering conditions

    Premier Doug Ford says he's open to changing the legislation that governs the province's long-term care homes to mandate the installation of air conditioning after hearing about residents who are living in sweltering conditions. "I'd consider it," Ford said Tuesday, responding to a question from CBC Toronto. The premier, who was speaking to reporters during the province's COVID-19 update, also had strong words for the owners of the facilities. "I'd like to get these owners that don't put in air conditioners — I'd like to stick them in the room for 24 hours, 30 degree heat, see how they like it — or put their parents in there," said Ford, who was visibly worked up.'We've been through a lot'Ford's comments come as many families continue to find their loved ones struggling during a heat wave that has blanketed the Greater Toronto Area for several days.That's on top of all the restrictions in place due to the novel coronavirus, which has claimed the lives of hundreds of long-term care residents across the province.Nick Puopolo, whose 85-year-old mother Savirea lives at Woodbridge Vista Care Community in Vaughan, Ont., measured the temperature of her room over the weekend. It was 27 C with 40 per cent humidity, he says.WATCH: Premier Doug Ford said he would consider mandating air conditioning at long-term care homes"It's frustrating. We've been through a lot these last few months."Puopolo's mother was one of the more than 100 residents at the home to contract COVID-19. She survived the disease only to fall ill with a life-threatening urinary tract infection, according to her family. They say she has now recovered from that, too.Woodbridge Vista Care Community was one of five long-term care homes taken over by the province after the facility was overwhelmed by COVID-19. The William Osler Health System was appointed as interim manager and the Canadian Forces were also called in to battle the outbreak. A total of 24 residents died.Puopolo is frustrated that his mother and the other residents have to battle the heat, as well. "Now, they're being told to live in these facilities with no air conditioning, and according to [the owners], it meets the standards, which is ridiculous," he said. Long-term care homes actPuopolo points to Ontario's Long-Term Care Homes Act as part of the problem because it does not mandate air conditioning. The legislation states every licensee of a long-term care home shall "ensure a written hot weather related illness prevention and management plan for the home" and if central air conditioning is not available, the home has to have at least "one separate designated cooling area for every 40 residents." But due to COVID-19 and physical distancing rules, adhering to the regulations isn't realistic, according to the families of long-term care residents and the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly."It's really serious. We get complaints every summer," said Jane Meadus, staff lawyer with the centre, who agrees the legislation should be changed. Puopolo also puts the responsibility on the home itself. "If this company was true to taking care of family members ... they shouldn't be pushed to do this. It should be something they're doing on their own." 'These poor, elderly people'In a statement, Natalie Gokchenian, director of communications for Sienna Senior Living, which owns and operates Woodbridge Vista Care Community, told CBC Toronto COVID-19 protocols made it harder to cool the building with the air system in place. "In addition, fans that would normally be used to cool resident rooms are required by Public Health to be turned off to prevent spreading of the virus," she said. The company says it is installing 18 separate air conditioning units by Wednesday. Meanwhile, Ford has vowed to contact the home himself. "It's terrible. These poor, elderly people — they can't defend themselves. That's our job."

  • Why more great white sharks are showing up in Atlantic Canada
    Science
    CBC

    Why more great white sharks are showing up in Atlantic Canada

    Climate change, a supply of seals to eat and effective conservation in the United States are all possible explanations for the apparent increase in great white sharks in Atlantic Canada, according to a newly published paper in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.The peer-reviewed report, led by authors from the University of Windsor in Ontario, speculates on why more of the apex (top-of-the-food-chain) predators are being seen in the summer months, especially off Nova Scotia.One hypothesis is that the great white shark's range has shifted, bringing them into an area where they were rarely seen in the past."A northward range expansion could be related to multiple factors, including warming Canadian waters due to climate change, population recovery and/or increased regional prey abundance," the authors state.Or maybe they've been here all along and we didn't notice."A large, highly mobile, predatory shark may have been historically abundant in Canadian waters yet considered 'rare' simply due to our inability to observe them," the paper states.It documents records of 60 great white shark "observations" in Atlantic Canada between 1872 and 2016: There were 27 sightings; 26 caught in nets; and seven others inferred from teeth in gear and wounds on seals and porpoises.What the tagging showsThe report is based primarily on satellite tracking data from Florida-based Ocearch, an organization that collects and publishes ocean data, in part through tagging sharks and taking samples from them. The organization staged heavily promoted and highly publicized tagging events off Nova Scotia in 2018 and 2019.Over the two-year period, 17 great white sharks were captured — most at Ironbound Island near Lunenburg, N.S., and some near Scatarie Island off Cape Breton. Holes were drilled through their dorsal fins, and they were fitted with a satellite-transmitting tag.All six of great whites tagged in 2018 returned in 2019. Because the satellite tracking data is not precise, hot spots for occurrence were estimated based on modelling.The main hot spots occurred on the southeastern coast of Nova Scotia and the Bay of Fundy. A secondary hot spot occurred in waters off southern Newfoundland that include the Grand Banks.Since 2013, Ocearch has also tagged 18 great white sharks in U.S. waters. Half of them have since been seen in Atlantic Canada."The frequency of U.S.-tagged sharks entering Canadian waters, and the successful targeted capture and tagging of multiple white sharks off Nova Scotia over two consecutive years, indicate seasonal, inter-annual presence of white sharks in Canadian waters and higher regional frequency and abundance than previously thought," the report states.Water temperatureThe authors suggest great white sharks may move north in the summer months because ocean temperatures off the United States are getting too warm and Canadian waters are now just warm enough."An increase in Atlantic Canada white shark sightings in recent years may therefore be the result of white sharks seeking cooler northern waters during the warm summer months," the report states.They may also be attracted by more abundant prey as grey seal populations explode."It is therefore possible that with greater prey availability, white sharks are experiencing a similar increase in fecundity and survival rates. An increase in shark sightings in Atlantic Canada due to an increase in the local seal population would mirror that observed in Massachusetts," the report states.White shark populations have grown in the Massachusetts area in recent years as conservation measures to protect seals have resulted in their population rebounding in that area, as well, the report notes.DFO taggingCanada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) also tagged a great white shark, a young male, in Nova Scotia off Port Mouton in 2018.It was the first great white shark tagged in Canada.That shark and a female tagged off Cape Cod spent the summer of 2018 off Nova Scotia.The tracking device showed what appeared to be a search pattern to intercept grey seals moving from the huge colony on Sable Island to areas where seals come ashore in Nova Scotia and elsewhere on the eastern seaboard.It is part of a government effort to identify where the endangered predator lives — its "critical habitat" — when in Canada.DFO doubtsThe DFO scientist leading that project, Heather Bowlby, told CBC News in 2019 there are likely very few great white sharks coming north."We are talking low numbers," she said.To put the numbers in perspective, it took DFO three days to find the great white off Port Mouton and three hours to find 15 off Cape Cod.The DFO research was not affiliated with Ocearch, and the data it generated does not appear to have been used in the Fisheries Journal article.The corresponding author, Nigel Hussey, of the University of Windsor, did not immediately respond to an inquiry from CBC News.  MORE TOP STORIES

  • China challenges U.S. to cut nuclear arsenal to matching level
    News
    Reuters

    China challenges U.S. to cut nuclear arsenal to matching level

    China would "be happy to" participate in trilateral arms control negotiations with the United States and Russia, but only if the United States were willing to reduce its nuclear arsenal to China's level, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Wednesday. Washington has repeatedly called for China to join in trilateral negotiations to extend New START, a flagship nuclear arms treaty between the United States and Russia that is due to expire in February next year. Fu Cong, head of the arms control department of Chinese foreign ministry, reiterated to reporters in Beijing on Wednesday that China has no interest in joining the negotiation with former Cold War-era superpowers, given that the U.S. nuclear arsenal is about 20 times the size of China's.

  • Three patients dead: Edmonton hospital declares full COVID-19 outbreak
    Health
    The Canadian Press

    Three patients dead: Edmonton hospital declares full COVID-19 outbreak

    EDMONTON — A hospital in Edmonton is no longer admitting patients due to a full outbreak of COVID-19, including three deaths.The outbreak at the Misericordia Community Hospital was earlier declared by Alberta's chief medical health officer and restrictions have tightened as case numbers increased.Alberta Health Services announced Wednesday that 20 patients and 15 staff have tested positive.Three other patients have died from the infection."I know the public will think that this is difficult news and I want to assure everybody that we're taking this aggressive step to stop the transmission," Dr. David Zygun, medical direction with AHS Edmonton Zone, told a news conference Wednesday."This is an exceptional situation is what has been an excellent safety record in managing outbreaks."He said it was necessary to declare a full outbreak to protect remaining patients and staff.The 312-bed hospital, which is run by Catholic health provider Covenant Health, is not allowing visitors except in end-of-life situations and is postponing day procedures. Its emergency department is also closed.Alberta Health Services said people who were to come in for health services are being contacted and will be cared for at another city hospital.Current patients who have tested positive are being treated at two units in the Misericordia.Zygun added that the hospital has enough supplies and staff to deal with the outbreak and continue to treat those patients who are there.He said officials have reinforced with all 2,700 workers and physicians that it's important to make sure each day that they're fit for work, use appropriate personal protective equipment, wear masks and wash their hands.On Monday, the province announced 46 new infections across Alberta, for a total of 8,482 cases. So far, 7,716 people have recovered and 158 have died.This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2020The Canadian Press

  • Why the WHO won't say the coronavirus is airborne and driving the pandemic
    Health
    CBC

    Why the WHO won't say the coronavirus is airborne and driving the pandemic

    The World Health Organization has refused to cave to pressure from more than 200 experts calling for it to update its messaging on the threat of the spread of the coronavirus through the air, citing a lack of "definitive" evidence. In an open letter first covered by The New York Times on Saturday, 239 scientists from 32 countries called on the United Nations agency to acknowledge that airborne transmission of the coronavirus is a potential driver of the pandemic. But the WHO stopped short of revising its messaging Tuesday. "These are fields of research that are really growing and for which there is some evidence emerging but is not definitive," Dr. Benedetta Allegranzi, WHO's technical lead for infection prevention and control, said during a briefing in Geneva Tuesday. "The possibility of airborne transmission in public settings — especially in very specific conditions: crowded, closed, poorly ventilated settings that have been described — cannot be ruled out. However, the evidence needs to be gathered and interpreted." How big of a threat is the coronavirus through the air? It's widely accepted that COVID-19 spreads from both symptomatic and asymptomatic carriers through respiratory droplets, although the WHO previously backtracked on its messaging around the significance of those without symptoms. What the group of international scientists is drawing attention to is the role that smaller, microscopic droplets could play in spreading virus particles when people are talking, singing or breathing. Studies of so-called superspreading events or locations, such as a choir practice in Washington state, a call centre in South Korea and a restaurant in China have supported the conclusion that some degree of transmission is occurring through the air, and experts say it should not be discounted."The risk of ignoring airborne transmission is that the disease will continue spreading rapidly as we've seen," said Linsey Marr, an expert in the transmission of viruses by aerosol at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, known as Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, Va., and a signatory of the letter. But the exact extent to which it plays a role in the spread of COVID-19 is still unclear. "We just don't know," Marr told CBC News. "It seems clear that all of these routes could be happening, and given the scale of the pandemic, I think it's wise for us to do as much as we can to slow down or interrupt all of these different routes." She said people need to place more emphasis on the public health measures we're already taking in order to stop the potential spread of airborne transmission.That includes adhering to physical distancing, wearing a mask when necessary, increasing ventilation indoors and moving activities outdoors whenever possible in order to prevent airborne particles from building up.Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO's technical lead on the pandemic, said the agency would be releasing a scientific brief in the coming days that will outline its position on all different modes of transmission — including airborne, droplets, surfaces and fecal-to-oral.WATCH | WHO experts on airborne transmission:"We have been talking about the possibility of airborne transmission and aerosol transmission as one of the modes of transmission of COVID-19," she said during the press conference Tuesday.The WHO's guidelines on airborne transmission are primarily focused on hospitals, she said."But we're also looking at the possible role of airborne transmission in other settings, particularly close settings where you have poor ventilation." That statement doesn't go far enough for the experts behind the letter, who went public because, they say, they felt there is enough evidence for the WHO to change its messaging to better inform the public about the potential threat of the virus through the air."We were frustrated that they were very dismissive of the evidence," said Jose Jimenez, a professor of chemistry at the University of Colorado specializing in aerosol science who also signed the letter. "They don't really have really certain evidence about any of the modes of transmission, whether it goes through contacts, through objects or through droplets — there is no more evidence for those sources of transmission than there is for aerosol." 'No new data' to make conclusive decisionBut that level of uncertainty over how big a role airborne transmission plays has also led some infectious disease experts to question the push to label it a significant threat before all the research is in, backing up the WHO's current position."It's creating a false sense of alarm, and it doesn't contribute to our understanding or the management of this infection," said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease physician at Toronto General Hospital."Now, could there be some airborne transmission? Maybe a little bit, but I think it's pretty safe to say that the vast majority of transmission falls toward the droplet end of the spectrum." Bogoch said the letter and subsequent article in the New York Times fractured the scientific community and caused a stir with the public over concerns whether enough was being done to address the threat of airborne transmission — but in reality, it's nothing new. "This concept keeps coming up. This issue has arisen in January, and it sort of rears its head from time to time," he said.No new research has arisen that should lead to a definitive answer one way or the other, he said."There's no new data. There's no new information. There's just a letter and some angry headlines." B.C.'s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said the controversy has been overblown."I actually think it's a little bit of a tempest in a teapot in that we all agree on the extremes and we're fussing a little bit about how much we need to focus on the bits in the middle," she said in her COVID-19 briefing Monday."It is important to continue to look at the data, to look at where we're seeing transmission events and adapt if we need to and put in additional measures." Epidemiologist Ashleigh Tuite, an assistant professor in the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health, said if the coronavirus spread significantly through the air, we'd know it. "If this was primarily aerosol based, we would have had a much harder time controlling this," she said. "Given the success that we've had with controlling it, it really does seem like we don't need to be overly worried about the role of aerosols in terms of spread." WATCH | Respirologist on risk of airborne transmission of COVID-19Jimenez acknowledged that the threat of airborne transmission isn't on par with a disease like measles, which is highly contagious through the air but said the WHO should go beyond their current messaging. "They're in a very difficult position, right? I mean, they are a very important organization, and they are being asked to do a huge job with limited resources," he said. "The important thing is, we're trying to nudge them to change. If we didn't think they were very important and their opinion matters and their guidance was valuable, we wouldn't be bothering with trying to convince them."

  • Calgary hailstorm that caused $1.2B in damage ranks as Canada's 4th costliest natural disaster
    News
    CBC

    Calgary hailstorm that caused $1.2B in damage ranks as Canada's 4th costliest natural disaster

    The hailstorm that hit Calgary on June 13 cost at least $1.2 billion in insured damages, making it the fourth costliest natural disaster in Canada's history, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada."We're looking at the most expensive hailstorm, and I think the residents on the ground are probably not surprised as they're going through the rebuild on this," Celyeste Power, western vice-president of the bureau, told CBC News Wednesday.The storm hit northeast Calgary, Airdrie and Rocky View County hardest.It damaged at least 70,000 homes and vehicles, and destroyed entire crops, as hailstones the size of tennis balls fell at 80 to 100 km/h.The $1.2 billion is just a preliminary estimate and could rise, Power said, as total costs are finalized in the coming months.The provincial government announced financial support for residents who experienced overland flooding, as overland flooding insurance is often not available in flood-prone areas.But residents in northeast Calgary have said that's not enough, and have called on the province to declare the storm a natural disaster, which would allow them to access relief funds. Many residents in that quadrant of the city are immigrants to Canada, and many were already facing financial hardships tied to the pandemic and oil price crash.6 of Canada's 10 costliest disasters have hit AlbertaSix of the 10 costliest natural disasters in Canada's history have hit Alberta, Power said. The most expensive on record was the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire, which cost nearly $4 billion. The next highest was the 2013 flooding that put downtown Calgary and much of southern Alberta under water, at a cost of $3.5 billion.Power said while no single storm will cause insurance premiums to increase, June's hailstorm is part of a pattern."It's hard to ignore the fact Canada has been hit hard with natural disasters over the last decade, we're seeing much more frequent severe weather.… We are working with all levels of government to try and reduce risk and build as resilient of communities as possible, investing in infrastructure, getting people out of floodplains," she said.The Insurance Bureau of Canada said it has deployed its mobile assistance unit to help people in the region access insurance information.

  • Alberta physicians express alarm over proposed health-care bill
    Health
    CBC

    Alberta physicians express alarm over proposed health-care bill

    Alberta doctors are speaking out against a new health-care bill introduced by the provincial government.Bill 30, the Health Statutes Amendment Act, proposes to cut approval times for private surgical facilities, allow the ministry to contract directly with doctors and allow private companies to take over the administrative functions of physician clinics. The changes affecting physicians' pay come after the government terminated the master agreement with the Alberta Medical Association in February.At the time, the health minister said ending the agreement was a necessary move because the province was at an impasse with doctors over how to reduce costs and improve service in the $20.6-billion health system. If passed, Bill 30 would allow doctors who so desire to move away from the fee-for-service model, where they bill for each patient visit, and instead sign contracts and be paid salaries.In a letter to members dated July 7, AMA president Dr. Christine Molnar said it's concerning the association was not consulted about Bill 30, but there are some positive aspects among its many provisions."Most notable is the increased opportunity for Albertans to participate in their health-care system. There is an increased focus on patient-centred care," she said in the letter.Molnar said the AMA's board of directors would hold a special meeting Wednesday evening to go over the legislation."We will also consider the findings of last week's member survey, which points to clear distress in the profession," she said. Dr. Christopher Ewing, an Edmonton pediatrician,  says he has been scouring Bill 30 and is worried about what it contains."First reaction from me is that this is the start of further privatization of the health-care system, which we've been advocating against for many months now," he said.The bill would make it easier for private surgery facilities to set up shop as well as allow the ministry to contract directly with private companies to run medical clinics.Dr. Kerri Johannson, a lung specialist with the University of Calgary, says the bill seems to be the UCP's tool for privatizing health-care services in Alberta."And what we as the medical and health-care community are concerned about is that this will compromise the care of patients in Alberta," she said. "Anytime you bring privatized services in, it places the emphasis on profit rather than patient care."Johannson says privatization of health care will lead to multiple tiers in the quality of care available to patients."This is not a pathway that we as Canadians value or one that we want to go down," she said.Lorian Hardcastle, an assistant professor at the University of Calgary who specializes in health law and policy, also says the shift toward increasing private delivery options is concerning. "Wait times in the public system can tend to get longer because, of course, there's a finite number of doctors and a finite number of hours that they have in a day," she said."The concern is that these patients with less complex medical needs will be seen quickly in private facilities. Whereas, others will end up waiting longer in the public system."The bill also proposes to make it easier for physicians to negotiate individual contracts — called ARPs — directly with the government.These agreements move doctors away from fee for service to a salary model. But Bill 30 would see physicians negotiate without the Alberta Medical Association.Johannson says the problem is the provincial government lost the trust of doctors when it tore up their agreement with the AMA."Nobody is going to sign that directly with the UCP government at this point without going through the Alberta Medical Association, because we don't trust them."Johannson and others are calling on the province to resume negotiations with the AMA. Calgary family physician Dr. Brendan Vaughan also says trust has been broken between physicians and the provincial government. And he says this bill fails to address that."The way that they've proceeded to terminate the master agreement really failed to even address the fact that physicians are quite concerned about that, and then ultimately have made signing a contract directly with the government — bypassing the AMA — easier, when in fact that is precisely the thing that physicians are less confident than ever to do," he said.

  • Metro Vancouver cat survives coyote attack as experts remind pet owners to be cautious
    Entertainment
    CBC

    Metro Vancouver cat survives coyote attack as experts remind pet owners to be cautious

    Marc Verheil's son's two-year-old cat Luna is down at least one life but recovering after nearly being eaten by a coyote late last month.A wildlife expert says the Metro Vancouver house cat's close call illustrates the importance of keeping pets safe around coyotes that prowl the region."It's been a miracle actually," Verheil said of Luna's survival."I don't think it's too often a cat gets snatched by a coyote and lives to talk about it. Or meow about it."Verheil witnessed a coyote attacking his son's pet in the early morning hours of June 29. He and his wife were taking care of Luna while their son's apartment was being renovated.Verheil was able to scare the animal away but not before Luna sustained a fractured skull, fractured vertebrae, a dislocated jaw and severe shock.He brought Luna to Canada West Veterinary Specialists, in what the animal hospital described as a "semi-comatose" state."If I was a few seconds later I think it would have ripped her head off," Verheil said.Luna has now returned home and is recovering but animal experts say Lower Mainland coyotes are active these days and pet owners need to be cautious.Breeding seasonDannie Piezas, coordinator of the Stanley Park Ecological Society's co-existing with coyotes program, told On The Coast host Gloria Macarenko, that pandemic-related restrictions could have people sticking to closer to home where they're noticing coyotes more often.February to August, she said, is coyote breeding season."We have all of these people in different spaces during the days and in spaces where coyotes may always have been present," Piezas said.Piezas said coyotes don't prefer pets as prey, favouring mostly rats and mice, but they are intelligent and opportunistic."If there are cats and dogs that are out and about and especially if they're unsupervised there is a risk there for sure," she said.If you see a coyote, Piezas said it's best to be "big, brave and loud:" make noise, make yourself appear larger and don't run away.'Fact of life'Murray Smith, Lower Mainland inspector with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service, said coyote predation of pets happens year-round."This is just a fact of life living in the Lower Mainland that we're going to have conflicts with our pets and coyotes," Smith said.Problems arise, he said, when coyotes become too accustomed to being around people. When they stop running away from people, for instance, or keep hanging around human-occupied areas.A person walking with a small pet or small child should pick them up and hold them above their heads if they see a coyote.Keep pets leashed, he added, and bring them inside overnight.

  • Does the Trudeau government have a plan to end the pandemic economy?
    News
    CBC

    Does the Trudeau government have a plan to end the pandemic economy?

    In a normal year, the federal government tables a budget in the spring and then an economic statement or fiscal update in the fall.But this is not a normal year. The budget that was supposed to be presented in March was pushed back and then completely swamped by the first wave of COVID-19, the economic shutdown that resulted and the federal aid that soon followed.Some opposition MPs and economists subsequently pushed for a fiscal update. The Liberal government contended, with some justification, that making long-term projections in a time of such incredible uncertainty would be — to use Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's words — "an exercise in invention and imagination."What's being released this afternoon is being described instead as a fiscal "snapshot" — a status report on where things stand after four months of the pandemic.It should provide some insight into what the last four months have meant for the federal government's balance sheet and Canada's economy. Ideally, it also would offer some sense of what the future might look like — at least the near future.The deficit is going to be alarmingFinance Minister Bill Morneau's presentation is not expected to offer new policy announcements, but it could further quantify both the economic disruption and the government's response to that shock. That undoubtedly will include the projection of a large deficit for the current fiscal year.The exact number might be new, but it's already clear that the deficit likely will be in excess of $250 billion.Last fall, months before the first cases of COVID-19 were detected in China, Morneau projected that the deficit for 2020-2021 would be $28.1 billion. Since then, a lot has changed.This spring's pause in economic activity and employment meant a drop in the revenue the government receives from taxes. Meanwhile, more money has been going out in the form of government support measures to help individuals and businesses get through the shutdown.Since April, the Liberal government has provided bi-weekly updates on its relief spending to the finance committee of the House of Commons. The most recent tally, provided on June 25, showed $174.1 billion in direct support for individuals and businesses and $19.4 billion in federal funding for health and safety measures.The office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer also has provided a regularly updated "scenario analysis" that projects the broad economic and fiscal implications. In its most recent analysis, released on June 18, the PBO projected a deficit of $256 billion for 2020-2021.Sticker shockAs a percentage of Canada's GDP, a deficit of that size would be the largest for the federal government since the Second World War.There has been little to no debate about the need to spend the money on emergency relief; if anything, the Liberals have been under political pressure to spend more and faster. Recent analysis by Scotiabank found that failing to provide that relief would have led to much worse economic results and an only slightly lower level of federal debt.Watch: Scheer presses Trudeau for economic recovery plan in fiscal updateBut after any deficit-related sticker shock wears off, the next question will be how well the government is positioned to manage that accumulated debt.Governments are not like households — a government can effectively carry debt in perpetuity — so their primary goal is to manage that debt rather than pay it off outright. Most of the fiscal analysis of government debt focuses on its size in comparison to the national economy.The PBO estimated that the federal debt-to-GDP ratio will reach 44.4 per cent, while Scotiabank projects that the ratio will be closer to 48 per cent.It's bad — but it's been worseEither number would be a significant increase over what Morneau projected last fall, when the Liberals forecast a debt-to-GDP ratio of 31 per cent in 2020-2021, declining annually thereafter.But something around 45 per cent also would still be well below Canada's historic peak of 66.6 per cent back in 1995-1996. That debt ratio, coupled with high interest rates and nervous international markets, led Jean Chrétien's government to make drastic cuts to balance the budget and get the national debt under better control.If the federal debt-to-GDP does increase to 45 per cent, it will be back to where it was in 2001.But the fiscal story of COVID-19 will be only partly about what has happened over the last four months. It also will be about what happens over the next few months — and then several years after that.Where do we go from here?It's not clear how far into the future the Liberal government is willing to look, but there are a number of questions it could start trying to answer.What are the potential pathways for economic recovery? How much longer might the temporary relief measures be needed? How much more new spending might be necessary? And how does Morneau see the recovery and the debt being managed?"There will be significant unemployment across Canada for the duration of the recovery," Rebekah Young, director of fiscal and provincial economics at Scotiabank, told CBC's Power & Politics on Tuesday."The [employment insurance system] was not and is not sufficient to cover all Canadians that will be out of work, but the [Canadian Emergency Response Benefit] clearly is too expensive for that duration. So I think … we would like to see some signals that they have a plan for the next 18 months in terms of addressing his persistent shock that the economy will be facing."In an email, Young said she thinks Wednesday's "snapshot" could set up a fall budget that lays out longer-term plans."In addition to an updated statement of transactions, the country needs a fiscal plan from the federal government," said Kevin Page, the former parliamentary budget officer who is now president of the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy at the University of Ottawa. "We need a fiscal plan to understand what role federal fiscal policy will play to support the recovery."A proper plan, Page said, would boost consumer confidence and investor confidence and mitigate the possibility of further downgrades to Canada's credit rating.Finance officials might be quick to note the unprecedented amount of uncertainty at the moment, but Page said a plan could be debated and adjusted."A 'snapshot' that is only backward-looking would be a major missed opportunity," he said.In the midst of managing a national response to a pandemic, it's important to not get ahead of yourself — to focus on the crisis in the here and now.But sooner or later, the federal government will need to confront the future.

  • Ringo Starr supports BLM movement on 80th birthday
    News
    Canadian Press Videos

    Ringo Starr supports BLM movement on 80th birthday

    Ringo Starr celebrated his 80th birthday with an appearance in Santa Monica, California and support for the Black Lives Matter movement. (July 7)

  • Mom calls for action after infant daughter finds bag of suspected fentanyl on park playground
    News
    CBC

    Mom calls for action after infant daughter finds bag of suspected fentanyl on park playground

    A Kamloops mother who says her young daughter picked up a baggie of suspected fentanyl at a local playground is calling for more support for people with addictions in order to help reduce the proliferation of drugs.Stefanie Elliott said her 11-month-old daughter picked up a bag containing a purple powder while playing with her three-year-old sister on Sunday morning at McDonald Park.Elliott said she knew the bag likely contained fentanyl because she is a mental health and addictions nurse. She said she and her colleagues warn clients of "purple heroin," a potent narcotic consisting of fentanyl or carfentanil."I realized her life was in infinite, infinite danger," Elliott told Daybreak Kamloops host Shelley Joyce. "Even trace amounts of that, especially exposed to small bodies like my children, could have been fatal."Elliott said she normally looks the playground over before her children play, but she forgot to this time.  She lifted her youngest daughter onto the playground equipment when she sat down and picked up something that looked like a leaf. Elliott asked her three-year-old to grab the object from her sister. That's when Elliott said she saw that it wasn't a leaf, but a pot leaf-patterned baggie filled with a purple powder.Finding the baggie at a park she described as practically her backyard, where she takes her kids and dogs multiple times a day, has Elliott calling for more to be done to address B.C.'s overdose crisis.Purple fentanyl common in KamloopsElliott and her kids washed their hands after handling the suspected fentanyl. She then called police and an officer took the baggie.Kamloops RCMP confirmed officers were called about the suspected drugs and said Elliott's story illustrates why parents need to be careful when taking their kids to playgrounds."It serves as a good reminder to speak with your kids about the reality of hazards that could be found in any public spaces," Staff Sgt. Simon Pillay, a spokesperson for the RCMP, said in an emailed statement.In a separate email to CBC News, Pillay said the substance could only be called "suspected" fentanyl because it has not been tested.He said police don't plan to test the contents of the baggie because it is not likely to be part of a criminal investigation or overdose but local drug experts are confident it is fentanyl.Pillay added purple fentanyl is the most common colour of the drug in Kamloops.Safe supply options reduce public drug use, researcher saysElliott wants to see an expansion of a "safe supply" of illicit drugs for people with addictions, more supervised consumption sites and better housing for homeless people with addictions.Kora DeBeck, a research scientist with the B.C. Centre for Substance Use and an assistant professor of public policy at Simon Fraser University, said a large body of research has shown that more supervised consumption sites lead to less public disorder, such as drug paraphernalia being found."People who use drugs in public spaces are very willing to relocate if they have other options," DeBeck said. "Really, what we see is that so many people don't have options."Safe supply options lead to a less toxic drug supply, DeBeck said, and when people who use drugs have better housing, they are also less likely to use in public places.City says park users must be vigilantElliott also wants to see the City of Kamloops step up inspections of playgrounds."I shouldn't put my 11-month-old on a playground for 30 seconds and risk her life. It shouldn't happen," Elliott said.Byron McCorkell, director of community and protective services with the City of Kamloops, said the situation was unfortunate and he's never heard of a bag of fentanyl being found at a playground before.He said city staff check playground equipment for safety at least once a week and public washrooms more regularly, but he doesn't know of many municipalities that check playground equipment for drug paraphernalia on a daily basis.Users of city facilities need to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings, he added. "We never want to see that happen, but it happened," McCorkell said. "The city can only do so much."

  • 'Enough is enough': Calgary businesses struggle, some close for good
    Business
    CBC

    'Enough is enough': Calgary businesses struggle, some close for good

    It's been her life for decades, and like so many retailers, 2020 has been an epic struggle.Susan Copley tears up before she explains why she's decided to close her business for good. She wipes away the tears and apologizes for getting emotional.Copley, who started as an employee at Galleria Inglewood 39 years ago, says the decision to close was difficult, but at the same time it was easy. "It just comes to the point where you have to say 'enough is enough,'" said Copley.Copley started working at the gallery in 1982 when it was still located in Kensington. She and her husband purchased the business in 2005 and relocated to Inglewood. Galleria Inglewood is essentially a consignment store for artists selling pottery, paintings, wood carvings, quilts, jewlery and thousands of other items.In September, Copley will close the doors for good. Business started to slow five years ago and it hasn't recovered. She thought COVID-19 would be the ultimate blow, but part of the showroom was flooded after a devastating storm rolled through Calgary on June 13."I felt that COVID was the final straw and then Mother Nature said 'no, I got one more for you.'"Retailers across the province have been hit hard this year. Sales have plunged by a staggering $2 billion since March —that's roughly 30 per cent. While sales at some businesses are slowly picking up as the economy reopens, it's going to be a long road filled with uncertainty.Will customers return? How long will the recovery take? If e-commerce is the future, can businesses pivot quickly enough to survive? What programs or policies will help? Will empty storefronts find new tenants?The Business Council of Alberta says there is too much uncertainty to answer those questions."I think that it's inevitable that we'll see some pretty significant losses over the next few months," said Mike Holden, the council's chief economist and vice-president of policy.He recently returned to his downtown office and saw the pandemic's collateral damage on full display nearby."A lot of the smaller shops and stores and storefronts are all shut down and closed. It's not a pretty sight. It's depressing to walk around," he said."The real issue here, too, is that we don't know what the final impact of all of this is going to be."It's the same situation along Calgary's 17th Avenue S.W. The retail and restaurant strip has numerous storefronts that have been emptied out and the windows papered over. It's a mix of local and national chain stores that have closed.The Retail Council of Canada predicts at least 15 per cent of bricks-and-mortar stores will not survive the pandemic, but the number in Alberta could actually be higher."Alberta retailers and restaurants face a much greater challenge," said Diane Brisebois, the council's president and chief executive officer. She says retailers in Alberta were already hurting because of the recession and declining oil prices. Brisebois says it's going to be very difficult for retailers with either a weak or non-existent e-commerce presence to survive."Unless, obviously, things change very quickly for the better," she said.She says businesses must quickly develop a seamless shopping experience, through either in-store, online or both."That means that you have to have a very robust website with good assortment that's user friendly, and you need to have a new exciting store. Stores will now be very experiential."The Retail Council of Canada is also calling on the federal government to improve its rent relief program for small businesses affected by the pandemic. She says the current program (Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance) doesn't work because it relies on landlords to apply for a program that sees their rent slashed by 25 per cent. She says it needs to be changed so retailers can benefit."If that does not happen very quickly, we believe that the number of bankruptcies will increase substantially over the next three to six months."The Business Council of Alberta says it's a factor that's hurting retailers."I think that it's for that reason that we're not seeing as many landlords take up this program as you might expect," said Holden.Susan Copley knows that all too well. She doesn't believe her landlord has applied for the program that could have reduced her rent by 75 per cent. "So rent is still due. But if you've been closed for three months, I don't know where they expect the money to come from," she said.It's not certain whether the rent relief program could have staved off her decision to close, but it didn't help.She's going to turn 70 this year and she says she no longer has the passion or drive to continue — even as an online only retailer."People like to pick up a mug, they like to feel a quilt, they like to see things and, you know, stand back and look at them and handle them. And you can't do that on Amazon."  The store features work from 750 artists from across Canada, and Copley says it's going to be difficult to see those business relationships come to an end."I have a personal relationship with every single person that supplies this store. I know them all by name. I've known them for years. And I'm going to miss them," Copley said while holding back tears.One of those artists is Marilyn Settles, who's been a potter in Calgary for 45 years. Her work is sold at two locations in Calgary, including Galleria Inglewood. She's devastated the store will soon close and she'll lose one of her sales venues."It's crushing, it's gut-wrenching," she said. "The store has allowed me to have my own home, raise two children and educate them well, and I don't know what I would have done without it," said Settles.Copley says she has started to mark down some of the pieces in her vast collection and will stay open for a few more months before she closes the store for good in September.Bryan Labby is an enterprise reporter with CBC Calgary. If you have a good story idea or tip, you can reach him at bryan.labby@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @CBCBryan.

  • Nathan Law's escape from Hong Kong shows the pain of political exile: Don Murray
    News
    CBC

    Nathan Law's escape from Hong Kong shows the pain of political exile: Don Murray

    In dark times, exile can be a choice for an individual. It can also be a weapon for a repressive regime."As a global-facing activist, the choices I have are stark: to stay silent from now on or to keep engaging in private diplomacy so I can warn the world of the threat of Chinese authoritarian expansion."Those are the words of Nathan Law, a 26-year-old Hong Kong activist. He posted them on his Facebook page on July 2 as he announced he was going into exile to an undisclosed location.The trigger for his decision was the new security law passed by the Chinese National Congress, which sweeps Hong Kong under Beijing's iron umbrella.Already, the law is having an effect, with hundreds arrested after protests against it. One of those arrested was a 16-year-old girl. She had been waving a Hong Kong independence flag.The draconian law makes subversion, collusion with foreign forces and preaching secession punishable with sentences up to life in prison.WATCH | Hong Kong activist Nathan Law goes into exile:For activists like Law, that points to a bleak future. Thus, the choice of exile and "private diplomacy."The decision to 'remake your life'It was a choice that hundreds of thousands were forced to make in the 20th century. Jews and many others fled Hitler's Germany in the 1930s. Hungarians in 1956 and Czechs and Slovaks in 1968 fled their countries as the Soviet Union crushed attempts at revolt and reform.Almost 38,000 Hungarians and 12,000 Czechs and Slovaks were received as official immigrants to Canada in the wake of those events.The Soviet empire started to fall apart 21 years after the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia, but only a small number of those who went into exile in 1968 returned.My wife is Czech, and over the years, I have met many Czechs who left in '68 and never returned."It's very hard in exile to remake your life once," said one, who preferred for me not to include his name. "But to do it twice in middle age or older, even returning to your own country, was just too much."Exile can also be a weapon, one with a long history.In the fifth century B.C., the city-state of Athens imposed 10-year sentences of exile ― called ostraka, or ostracism ― by a vote of its citizens on people considered dangerous to its democracy.One of ancient Rome's greatest poets, Ovid, was sent into exile to a town on the shores of the Black Sea in modern-day Romania by the emperor Augustus. His crime is unknown.Ovid only referred to it as "carmen et error" – poetry and error. He begged to return, but his poetry and his unexplained error were such that the emperor never forgave him. He died in exile.No choice but to leaveModern totalitarian regimes regularly have recourse to use exile as a weapon. The Soviet Union forced two future dissident Nobel Prize winners for literature into exile ― Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Joseph Brodsky.Many others received the same treatment, including Marina Voikhanskaya, who is a friend.She is 85 and lives in Cambridge, England. Forty-five years ago, she was working as a psychiatrist in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia. The KGB, then Russia's security police, pressured her to sign forms assessing a poet she knew as insane.He held dissident views. If she signed the forms, he would be confined to an asylum and drugged. It was a punishment used frequently."You can't imagine how scared I was when I wrote my opinion," she said. "I cried for two hours before I refused to sign, because I knew my life would go to pieces."It did. She was harassed, dismissed from her post and forced into exile. But the Soviet regime held her young son in the U.S.S.R. It took a four-year public campaign in Britain to pressure Moscow to allow him to join his mother in 1979."At the time, I didn't think I would miss my country," Voikhanskaya said recently. "But for five years, there wasn't a day when I didn't think of it, and miss it."Although the Soviet regime collapsed, she has never gone back, and says she never will. "Now, I don't see myself as an exile but as a Russian living in England."The Chinese approachChina has also used exile as a weapon, most notably against the artist Ai Weiwei. Many of his art installations were critical of the regime in Beijing.In 2011, he was arrested and held in a small cell for 81 days, watched by video cameras with the lights on 24 hours a day. After his release, he was charged with tax evasion. Finally, in 2015, his passport was returned to him and he was sent into exile. He now lives in Europe and continues to do work critical of Beijing.One famous dissident turned the tables on the Chinese regime, by refusing exile.Liu Xiaobo was studying abroad when the massive student demonstrations against the Chinese communist government broke out in 1989. He flew back and became a leader of the revolt. But when it was crushed by the People's Liberation Army, he stayed, unlike many other student leaders.Liu became a public critic from within — for his pains, he was arrested, sent to prison and frequently put under house arrest. I met Liu in 2008, just before the Beijing Olympics. It was a week before the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, which left an estimated 3,000 dead. As in previous years, Liu was under house arrest but he demanded to see his lawyer. He was driven to his lawyer's office by the security police.I was interviewing his lawyer, Mo Shaoping, when Liu walked in.Liu described his position with sardonic humour, comparing the regime's changed approach. "When I was arrested in 1996, they ransacked my house and left it in a mess. In 2004, they came and searched again. But this time, they all wore white gloves, and they put everything back. And they chauffeur me to my appointments," Liu said."You can't win a trial in the end, but the legal process is much improved since the 1990s. Still, you can't call it 'the rule of law.' The rule of law we have now is only better than the rule of law in Mao Zedong's time, when we had no rule, no law."No end in sightHis words were prophetic. Six months after our meeting, Liu was arrested again, just before he was about to release a "charter of human rights and democracy.""We should end the practice of viewing words as crimes," the charter said. The regime disagreed.A year later, Liu was convicted of "inciting subversion of the state's power" and sentenced to 11 years in prison. In 2010, he won the Nobel Peace Prize.Liu died of cancer in July 2017. His request to receive treatment in exile was rejected.Indeed, Beijing now seems to prefer not to use exile as a weapon but rather to keep its opponents at home and under arrest.The latest person to suffer this treatment is Xu Shangrun, a Beijing professor and outspoken critic of the regime. On July 6, he was arrested and accused of consorting with prostitutes. "It's just the kind of vile slander that they use against someone they want to silence," Geng Xiaonan, a friend of Xu's, told the New York Times.The 20th century regimes that forced so many to flee into exile are no more. Nazi Germany was destroyed by war. The Soviet Union succumbed to economic collapse. The agitation and ideas of exiles played a role in the deaths of these regimes ― but a secondary one.At the moment, China doesn't seem vulnerable to those menaces. The life of Nathan Law and others in exile may be long and frustrating.

  • Quebec woman warns visitors to avoid New Brunswick after threats
    News
    CBC

    Quebec woman warns visitors to avoid New Brunswick after threats

    A Quebec woman who visited her mother in New Brunswick says she was threatened and is now warning others from her province to stay away.Sarah Sweet-Fortin said that on her second day in Beresford she was harassed by an unknown neighbour who aggressively yelled at her to go back to her home city.The Sherbrooke, Que., resident said the incident occurred while she walked with her mother, dog and son on an empty stretch of beach at night on June 27. An unknown neighbour at a distant property, at least 50 feet (15 metres) away, began yelling from his yard. "He was like 'You should go return into Quebec, you're not welcome here. Don't you dare come near my property,'" she said.After the incident, the 36-year-old said, she felt uncomfortable on the walk home."He was very threatening in the way he was talking and I was scared with my son," she said. "I was scared of him, I didn't like the situation at all. I didn't feel welcome and I didn't feel at my place there."Half an hour after the walk, police arrived at her house and said they received a complaint about her walking on the beach."The policeman seemed embarrassed about the situation," she said. "He was saying 'this is all new to everybody.'"Sweet-Fortin said the officer told her he would make calls to Public Health to learn more.  Confusion on isolation rulesNew Brunswick loosened its restrictions on June 19 to allow Canadians who have immediate family or own property in the province to enter, provided they self-isolate for 14 days.When crossing the provincial border, Sweet-Fortin said she was told by officials she would be allowed to walk her dog on the road if she didn't come into contact with other people.The officer who stopped at her cottage called to say the information she was given at the border was incorrect. She could leave the house but had to stay on her mother's property.Sweet-Fortin works in health care in Sherbrooke and said she understands the safety measures the government has put in place. But she thinks stopping her from walking her dog on an empty stretch of beach goes too far."For me it was beyond nonsense not to be able to walk," she said. "There wasn't a soul on the beach around the road when I went to walk."'The rules are there'Beresford Mayor Jean-Guy Grant said he first heard of the situation when reached by CBC News.The small community of about 4,200 is near Bathurst on the province's north shore, across Chaleur Bay from Quebec. "They are welcome but they have to stay isolated for 14 days," Grant said. "That's the same thing for everybody."Grant said there are many summer cottages in the community, some owned by Quebecers. The mayor said he has heard few concerns about visitors. But he received a call from a concerned resident Monday night who spotted Quebec licence plates at cottages in her neighbourhood and suspected they weren't self-isolating.He said he has heard people crossing into New Brunswick are being told different rules on the self-isolation requirements."The rules are there and people have to follow the rules, and if somebody sees them they can call the cops and the cops will take care of it," Grant said.A safety spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety did not respond to a question asking what the province is doing to ensure rules are consistent and clearly communicated with travellers. Warning Quebecers to stay homeSweet-Fortin said she has come to the province every year since she was a child, and her mom has owned a cottage in Beresford for more than 20 years. "To me it's like my second home, but this year I didn't feel like it was," she said. "It was disappointing."After the incident, she hid her car in the garage in fear of having people spot her Quebec license plates and attempt to vandalize her vehicle.Sweet-Fortin said she was closely following news on the borders, waiting for an opening for family members to allow her to visit her mother."I knew there was the fear of the virus — but I did not expect at all to live that kind of situation," she said.She was planning on staying two weeks —  which required her to isolate the entire stay — but left on July 5 after only nine days. Even if they open the borders for unrestricted travel, Sweet-Fortin thinks the fear and tension will continue. She recommends other Quebecers avoid New Brunswick for the near future. "After what I experienced this summer for sure I would not recommend it at all to any friends right now."

  • Canada handled the coronavirus outbreak better than United States, PM Trudeau says
    News
    Reuters

    Canada handled the coronavirus outbreak better than United States, PM Trudeau says

    Canada handled the novel coronavirus outbreak better than many of its allies, including the United States, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday, in a rare public comment on the faltering U.S. effort. Canada - with a population one-tenth the size of the United States - has so far recorded 8,711 deaths and 106,167 cases and Trudeau said the situation was stabilizing, although some hot spots remained. In contrast, the United States has recorded more than 3 million cases and 131,336 deaths.

  • Japan supercomputer suggests changes to travel, work amid airborne virus threat
    News
    Reuters

    Japan supercomputer suggests changes to travel, work amid airborne virus threat

    Supercomputer-driven models simulated in Japan suggested that operating commuter trains with windows open and limiting the number of passengers may help reduce the risk of coronavirus infections, as scientists warn of airborne spread of the virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledged 'evidence emerging' of airborne transmission, but said it was not definitive. How concentrated the virus is in the air may also decide contagion risks, said Kyoto University professor Yuki Furuse.

  • Delays, confusion and little work as Alberta government disburses $1B to clean up old wells
    Business
    CBC

    Delays, confusion and little work as Alberta government disburses $1B to clean up old wells

    A wildly popular government stimulus program aimed at providing work for thousands of oil and gas workers — and keeping oilfield service companies afloat — is being criticized for not approving funds fast enough, being too confusing, and having the unintended consequence of halting cleanup activity in the interim.The federal government announced the $1.7 billion program in April and handed over responsibility of disbursing the funds to the British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan governments. There are tens of thousands of inactive oil and gas wells across western Canada and the stimulus spending should help reduce the environmental risk associated with having so many wells sitting idle.The Alberta government received the bulk of the money and has initially offered to fund the full amount to clean up a well, up to $30,000. With government money up for grabs while oilpatch spending has been sparse, industry reaction to the program has been substantial. When the first phase of Alberta's program launched on May 1, Scott Darling said he had seven people working on submitting applications, including himself."It was confusing and frustrating at putting stuff in but, you just say, this is people's livelihoods, we got to keep at it," said Darling, president of Calgary-based Performance Energy Services and Production, about the application process."So we stayed up all night and put them in, and then right through the weekend and then through the next week as well."In total, he's submitted about 2,800 applications and, to this point, only received four approvals and 126 rejections.Reduced spending from companiesAs industry players compete for the government funding, oil and gas producers aren't spending any of their own money to clean up wells. As a result, reclamation work has dried up completely, which is the opposite of what the stimulus program was meant to achieve."It froze the industry, especially the abandonment industry. You can't blame [oil and gas producers] when they want to wait and see if they can get maybe even just a piece of this," said Darling. "So it just put a stop, a complete end to it."Darling cut his staff from about 100 employees down to about 60. On any given day, roughly 20 are actually working in the field."It's been incredible, especially the layoffs again. You know you're laying off really good people now and you're hoping that they'll still be around at the end of this, when we do start getting back to work," he said.So far, the Alberta government said it has approved about $64 million in applications for its $1 billion well clean up program.Slow process"It's been a little slow getting from application to award," said Kevin Neveu, CEO of Precision Drilling, during an investor conference event earlier this week.The government has been overwhelmed by the response from industry, said Neveu, as everyone from surface remediation businesses, service rig companies, and fencing suppliers are trying to access the program."I think they expected this to be big, but had no idea how many applications would come in. And that seems to be bogging down the award process," he said.Precision Drilling has only received a few approvals so far, said Neveu, although he is confident the company will eventually get its share of the funding — and he still thinks the programs in western Canada will have a meaningful financial impact on the industry.Alberta's program may not provide an immediate boost in activity for the oilfield service sector because when an application is approved, the company has until the end of 2022 to complete the work. In addition, those in the industry say there are delays when different applications for the same well are processed at different times. For instance, a company will receive approval to clean up the wellhead and the land, but the well must first be remediated below the surface. If the subsurface application has been approved, the other work has to wait.'Delays and challenges'"Government contracts are very different than how industry does contracts and so there have been a lot of delays and challenges," said Elizabeth Aquin, the interim CEO of the Petroleum Services Association of Canada."Companies actually are frustrated because they are only now beginning to get the contracts."Industry officials want Alberta to increase the speed of awarding funding and better communication with companies about the program.WATCH | First Nations call for share of orphan well clean-up funds:For instance, there are questions about who pays for cost overruns above the $30,000 limit and whether companies who are not approved for the first and second phase of Alberta's program need to resubmit applications for subsequent phases.Sonya Savage, Alberta's energy minister, was not available for an interview. However, her spokesperson said improvements to the program are being made."Phase 1 of the program was intended on delivering grant funding to some of the most simple and straightforward applications," Kavi Bal said via email. "Decisions on future rounds are currently being finalized based on industry and stakeholder feedback. Alberta Energy is looking at different ways to maximize the flow of grant funding through a fair process."Bal said any cost overruns on a cleanup project are the responsibility of the oil and gas producer, not the government.

  • First On-Screen Kiss: Stanley Tucci
    Entertainment
    Canadian Press Videos

    First On-Screen Kiss: Stanley Tucci

    Stanley Tucci recalls "the kiss of horror" in a George Romero movie. (July 8)

  • News
    Canadian Press Videos

    Desperation science slows hunt for virus drugs

    Six months after COVID-19 started spreading around the globe, desperation rather than information is still driving many decisions about how to treat the disease. (July 8)