That's why you keep the car doors locked at all times!
That's why you keep the car doors locked at all times!
Israel has dramatically expanded air strikes on suspected Iranian missile and weapons production centres in Syria to repel what it sees as a stealthy military encroachment by its regional arch-enemy, Western and regional intelligence sources say. Capitalising on a longtime alliance with Syria, Iran is moving parts of its advanced missile and arms industry into pre-existing underground compounds to develop a sophisticated arsenal within range of Israeli population centres, according to Israeli and Western intelligence sources and Syrian defectors. Israel tolerated the entry of thousands of Iranian militia fighters from Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan into Syria to fight alongside President Bashar al-Assad against insurgents seeking to topple his authoritarian family rule.
Don Jayasinghe stands near a search and rescue operation on Thursday afternoon in Flatrock, a day after his son Supul slipped on rocks near the water and fell in.(Terry Roberts/CBC) Supul Jayasinghe had just closed the books on his final exam at Memorial University. To celebrate, the 21-year-old biology student and his family strolled along the Flatrock coast Wednesday evening, soaking up the sun. "We simply looked around [at] the sea," Don Jayasinghe, Supul's father, told CBC News Thursday at the very place where a family outing took a tragic turn in just a matter of seconds. Don Jayasinghe said his son, running after the family dog Neo, slipped on the rocks and ended up in the water as his parents looked on. "No, don't go son, don't go there," Jayasinghe recalled shouting. His father said Supul, surprised by ending up in the water, initially took the fall lightly. "But when he was trying to come out ... whatever he touched, slipped," Jayasinghe said. His son tumbled in the waves as the current carried him further out from shore. This photo of Supul Jayasinghe, sent to CBC by his family, was taken minutes before the young man slipped and fell into the water.(Submitted by Don Jayasinghe) "I was following him, talking to him. And suddenly he understood it is difficult. He asked my help, 'Dad, help me,'" Jayasinghe said. His father tried to throw the dog's leash to Supul, and nearly fell into the water himself. His son seemed to float, treading water, as darkness fell. Ten minutes later, he vanished. 'He's gone' Supul's family expressed stoic acceptance of their loss Wednesday, speaking openly to CBC about the ordeal. "I am a Buddhist. So everything happens with a reason. So therefore I have the courage still to stand and talk to you," Jayasinghe said. "What has happened has happened … He's gone." Jayasinghe described his son as a "very beautiful soul," a well-rounded young man who excelled in sports and at school. He volunteered and had aspirations in medicine, and as a teenager even earned a private pilot's licence and a spot in the local Alberta paper, according to his tearful mother, Chandima. The search continues for a 21-year-old man who went into the ocean in Flatrock Wednesday night. (Ted Dillon/CBC) Supul dreamed one day about joining Doctors Without Borders, travelling the world to help the sick, his father said, even saying he'd give up his salary to locals who needed it more. "That's how he was ... all the time he was thinking [of] other people, not himself." The Jayasinghe family moved to Canada from Sri Lanka to encourage that dream. They spent years in Ontario, then Alberta, before settling in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2017. "So far," Jayasinghe said, "we don't have any idea what's next." The father, standing near the shore that took his son, implored others to stay vigilant near the icy water. "Young people, please listen to your parents ... don't ignore their advice," he said firmly. "Because if our son heard our words — 'come back, come back, don't go there, don't go there' — he would have been still alive today." As of Thursday afternoon, rescuers haven't yet deemed the operation a recovery mission. If that happens, and if a body is eventually found, the family says it won't change how they feel. "It doesn't return our son," Jayasinghe said. "Our son is gone forever." Search continues in air and at sea The sea and air search continues Thursday, as the young man's parents and friends remain at the scene. A spokesperson from the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary was expected to speak with reporters early Thursday afternoon. A helicopter from 103 Search and Rescue Squadron in Gander, a Canadian Coast Guard ship from St. John's as well as Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officers spent Wednesday night searching the area, after police were alerted to the missing person. Officers arrived in the Flatrock area around 8:15 p.m., according to an RNC report, with the Cormorant helicopter arriving shortly afterward. They scoured the coastline and waters, at times using flares to illuminate the area. A Canadian Coast Guard Zodiac was on scene Thursday morning as search parties organized to resume their efforts.(Jonny Hodder/CBC) Just after 2 a.m., police announced on Twitter they had scaled back their search efforts, focused on the water and shoreline, until daylight. By daybreak, both a Canadian Coast guard vessel and Zodiac were present at the scene, with a command centre from the Rovers Search and Rescue from Paradise also set up. Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
The province reported 19 new cases of COVID-19 in five zones Thursday, prompting calls from Premier Blaine Higgs and Dr. Jennifer Russell for people to step up vaccination appointments and strictly observe Public Health guidelines around travel and self-isolation. Nine of the new cases are at a care home in Grand Falls, in Zone 4, where an outbreak was declared Wednesday. An outbreak was also declared at Murray Street Lodge in Grand Bay-Westfield in the Saint John region Wednesday. On Thursday, Higgs noted that "only 59 per cent of long-term care workers have chosen to be vaccinated," compared with more than 90 per cent of residents and about 90 per cent of workers at regional health authorities. "It is essential that in the coming weeks, more long-term care workers get vaccinated," Higgs said at a live-streamed update. He also singled out truck drivers as a group that must step up vaccination efforts. Russell stressed the importance of following travel and self-isolation guidelines, particularly as new variants loom. "We are very, very, very concerned about the arrival of variant from India," which has already been identified in Quebec and other provinces, Russell said. "Family members should not pick you up from the airport," Russell said. "They should not handle your dishes from delivered meals. The risk is just too high." Union president doubts Higgs's numbers The president of the New Brunswick Council of Nursing Home Unions says she's skeptical of the numbers Premier Blaine Higgs provided at Thursday's update regarding the percentage of long-term care home workers who have been vaccinated. In detailing the growing outbreak at Pavillon Beau-Lieu care home in Grand Falls, Higgs said "only 59 per cent of long-term care workers have chosen to be vaccinated," compared with about 90 per cent of workers at regional health authorities. "It's a concern," Higgs said. "Fortunately, the residents are over 90 per cent vaccinated, so the residents are protected but we need to ensure the long-term care employees remain protected. We're encouraging them to protect themselves, because they are providing a service to a vulnerable population, and also they risk infecting others in the community." In an interview after the update, council president Sharon Teare questioned that figure. "How did they reach that number, how is that data collected to get to that number they arrived at? Because I have not heard the hesitancy that would match that number." Teare said the "inconsistent" planning of the rollout and clinics for care workers, as well as limited information provided about the vaccines, hurt the compliance rates initially. Of the 51 nursing homes that fall under the New Brunswick Council of Nursing Home Unions, "not one of the nursing homes have had an outbreak. Not one," she said. "It's a unionized facility, so when we're talking about workers in ... non-unionized facilities, what is lacking there? A big key is education." Stricter enforcement of isolation rules could be coming New, stricter enforcement measures, such as mandatory hotel stays for travellers arriving in New Brunswick, could soon be implemented to ensure isolation guidelines are being followed. "This is under very active consideration," Premier Blaine Higgs said at Thursday's live COVID-19 update. "We're meeting now daily ... it may become a reality." Higgs said that as the province counts down the 10 weeks till everyone has been vaccinated, there is evidence that the existing rules aren't being followed. "We have seen cases" where travellers go home from the airport with family "and isolate with the family and then the family becomes infected," he said, noting a person can test negative upon arrival in New Brunswick and then become positive days later. "We're at the tipping point right now," Higgs said. "Rather than saying 'Oh, I'm fine I don't need to worry about this, I didn't have a problem.' Just assume you have a problem, and act accordingly … Let's just hang in there for the next 10 weeks, so we can get back to a summer in New Brunswick." Maine not sharing vaccines for now Premier Blaine Higgs said Thursday he has asked the governor of Maine to see if New Brunswick truckers can be vaccinated when they're in that state. This would be similar to the partnership between Manitobia and North Dakota announced Tuesday. Jackie Farwell, spokesperson for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, said Maine is keeping its vaccines for its residents for now because the state's allocation is based on its population. "Demand for the vaccine continues to outpace supply in the state," Farwell said, although she did not close the door on future sharing. "We expect to engage with our Canadian colleagues in the future to discuss cross-border collaboration with respect to vaccinations once supply for the vaccine increases." The municipal election will go ahead May 10 in all but the Edmundston-Haut Madawaska region, which is still under lockdown, Dr. Jennifer Russell said Thursday.(Government of New Brunswick) 19 new cases, in five zones Dr. Jennifer Russell announced 19 new cases Thursday, including nine at the Pavillon Beau-Lieu special care home in Grand Falls, where an outbreak of one case was declared Wednesday. Moncton region, Zone 1, two cases: an individual 30 to 39 an individual 60 to 69 Both cases are travel-related, including one temporary foreign worker. Saint John region, Zone 2, three cases: two people 20 to 29 an individual 30 to 39 All three cases are travel-related. Fredericton region, Zone 3, two cases: an individual 30 to 39 an individual 80 to 89 One case is travel-related and the other is under investigation. Edmundston region, Zone 4, 11 cases: an individual 19 or under an individual 40 to 49 an individual 70 to 79 six people 80 to 89 two people 90 or over All 11 cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases. Nine of the 11 cases are connected to the outbreak in Pavillon Beau-Lieu, a special care home in Grand Falls. It is not believed that these cases are related to the outbreak in the Edmundston area. Bathurst region, Zone 6, one case: an individual 50-59. This case is travel-related. The number of confirmed cases in New Brunswick is 1,823. Since Wednesday, 11 people have recovered for a total of 1,642 recoveries. There have been 34 deaths, and the number of active cases is 146. Fifteen patients are hospitalized, including five in an intensive care unit. A total of 280,010 tests have been conducted, including 1,299 since Wednesday's report. Elsewhere in Atlantic Canada There are currently 146 active cases in the province.(CBC News) Lockdown to be reassessed on Monday Public Health has recommended to cabinet that the Edmundston area remain in lockdown for now, with a reassessment on Monday. "We recognize that Zone 4 has been making progress and cases are slowly decreasing, but we need to wait a few more days to ensure this trend continues," Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, said Thursday. "There are still untraced cases in the Edmundston region that pose a risk, so for now the areas that are in lockdown and at the orange level will remain there." Dr. Jennifer Russell shared a graphic showing "why we remain concerned" about the outbreak in Edmundston region on Thursday. The graphic indicates the confirmed cases in the current outbreak, including three large clusters of cases with confirmed linkages, and a number of cases with no connection to any other known case. (Government of New Brunswick) Municipal elections to go ahead May 10, in most zones Municipal elections will be held across New Brunswick on May 10, Dr. Jennifer Russell said at Thursday's COVID-19 update. However, "like so much else in the past year, this election campaign will look and feel different from what we have experienced in the past," she said. Campaigning guidelines have been provided for candidates, including using social media or leaflet dropoffs to get their message out. In yellow and orange-phase zones, candidates can campaign door-to-door "but if you do, please ... wear a mask, maintain two metres of physical distance at all times, and do not go into voters' homes," Russell said. The election will not go ahead in Edmundston-Haut Madawaska region, which is still in lockdown, the province later clarified. Public Health to hold live Q&A session on Friday New Brunswickers will have a chance to ask the province's chief medical officer of health their questions about COVID-19, vaccines and the situation in the Edmundston region, Zone 4, on Friday. A Q&A session will be live-streamed at 1:30 p.m. on the Government of New Brunswick's Youtube channel, and residents are being asked to submit their questions now to be asked at the session. Dr. Jennifer Russell and Dr. John Tobin, head of the family medicine department in Zone 4 for the Vitalité Health Network, will both be participating in the Q&A session, according to posts on the gnb.ca Twitter account and Government of New Brunswick Facebook page. Residents can submit their questions on either of these platforms. Dozens of questions have already been posted, on topics ranging from self-isolation rules after vaccination to the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Potential exposure notifications Saint John: Holy Spirit Parish (Saint Matthews worship site), 45 Dollard Dr., Saint John, on Sunday, April 18 between 11 a.m. and noon. The church has closed for two weeks as a preventive measure, and St. Rose of Lima Church (part of Holy Spirit Parish) will also be closed for the next two weeks, until May 8-9. Service New Brunswick, 15 King Square North, on April 15 between 3 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. Rocky's Sports Bar, 7 Market Square, on April 15 between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Edmundston and region: E.& P. Sénéchal Center, Vitalité Health Network vaccination clinic, 60 Ouellette St., Grand Falls, on Monday, April 19 between1:15 p.m. and 7 p.m. Familiprix, 131 de l'Église St., on April 8, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Jean Coutu, 77 Victoria St., Edmundston on April 16, between 1: 30 p.m. and 2 p.m.; on April 14, between noon and 12:45 p.m.; and on April 12, between 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Public Health also identified a traveller who may have been infected while on the following flights on April 14 and 15: Air Canada Flight 8970 – from Ottawa to Montreal, departed at 6:28 a.m. on April 14. Air Canada Flight 8898 – from Montreal to Moncton, departed at 8:14 a.m. on April 14. Air Canada Flight 318 – from Calgary to Montreal, departed at 11:53 a.m. on April 15. Air Canada Flight 8906 – from Montreal to Moncton, departed at 7:08 p.m. on April 15. People who were at these areas are eligible to be tested for COVID-19, even if they are not experiencing symptoms. What to do if you have a symptom People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online. Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: Fever above 38 C. New cough or worsening chronic cough. Sore throat. Runny nose. Headache. New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell. Difficulty breathing. In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes. People with one of those symptoms should: Stay at home. Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor. Describe symptoms and travel history. Follow instructions.
The family of a former top Saudi intelligence official who is living in exile and locked in an international feud with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman say they have become pawns in the kingdom’s efforts to bring the spy chief home. Now, an attempt by the family to appeal the convictions has failed, according to Saudi authorities. The Jabri family alleges that Saudi authorities interfered in the legal process, including circumventing appeals proceedings, which Riyadh denies.
A Saskatchewan mother is relieved after hearing her children will be back to in-person learning on Monday. Brooklyn Karnes-Herbst is working full-time in Regina, her husband is working full-time as a subcontractor and four of their five children are doing remote learning in their community of Pangman, Sask. Pangman is about 90 kilometres south of Regina. It's a busy time for the blended family. Most of the children — who are aged three, eight, eight, 10 and 10 — are forced to learn on tablets because the family doesn't have the means to buy laptops for each of them. "It's tough because you want to be as positive as you can for them. But when you're also not really feeling the positivity and when the teachers are showing their frustrations, it's really hard," Karnes-Herbst said. Karnes-Herbst said it's important they take precautions and stay safe, but they need to balance that with the mental health and quality of learning for students. She said she's relieved the South East Cornerstone School Division is letting some classrooms return to in-person learning with precautions on April 26. Learning on tablets, iPhone, with slow Internet Karnes-Herbst currently works from home two days a week and her grandmother watches the children on the other days. Internet access and connectivity is tough in the small town. "Now, when you get everyone from that area, phone calls are dropping. People can't connect," she said. "The links for their Teams conversations don't come through." It's honestly making sure that they don't feel at fault because none of this is their fault. - Brooklyn Karnes-Herbst Karnes-Herbst said it's been incredibly tough on the teachers as well, because they're trying to organize tests or assignments yet children's internet connections cut out. She said she's working to help her children understand it's OK if technology fails. "It is what it is," she said. "It's honestly making sure that they don't feel at fault because none of this is their fault." No masks at home but less learning: Children "It's kind of just even more stressful than at school," Carter Karnes, aged 10, said of learning at home. When the school closed, Carter and his brother Nixon, also 10, were told to take their textbooks home but not much else. Karnes-Herbst said the boys weren't told there was a positive case within the school. "I was like, what? Why are we doing remote learning? Because everybody was here at school today. The kindergarten's, every single person in their classes were there," Nixon said. Nixon Karnes has to currently learn on a tablet in Brooklyn Karnes-Herbst bedroom so that he doesn't have many distractions around. (Google Meet) Nixon works on a laptop and Carter on a tablet, both in Brooklyn's bedroom. Blake, eight, is at the kitchen counter with an iPhone 6 and Parker, also eight, at the breakfast nook on a tablet. The two couldn't be close together due to feedback from being in the same meeting. "It's a little bit of both, easy and hard," Parker said. Meanwhile, Blake said he likes that he doesn't need to wear a mask when at home, but both he and Parker agreed they learn more in school. Carter, Parker and Blake all mentioned they miss their friends. Blake Herbst had to learn for some time on an iPhone because the family didn't have the means to buy a new laptop. (Google Meet) Karnes-Herbst said her older boys are feeling overwhelmed also because of the amount of homework that comes with remote learning. Karnes-Herbst said the average person doesn't know how tough this is. "We've never received anything from the school board asking us if we would be willing to have our children still attend," she said. "We understand that we're taking that risk simply because their mental status and their learning abilities are so much more in-person than on the Internet." Karnes-Herbst 's children school has about 60 students in Kindergarten to Grade 12. It has its first positive case in early April during the entire pandemic. "So to clump us in with Weyburn and Estevan is really unfortunate because as a small community, we've had very little cases within even the community," Karnes-Herbst said. "So now you've taken everything away from my kids, including school." Karnes-Herbst said the importance of schools shows how teachers need to be vaccinated sooner. On Tuesday, the provincial government announced teachers could start booking appointments to be vaccinated late next week. "Their education is huge and it's on the line right now and that's not fair to these kids."
Hope dwindled for Julie and Paul Devigne as a treatment-resistant tumour in their baby's belly swelled so large it restricted his ability to eat, sleep and breathe. Then, in a surgical feat, doctors at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children gave little Félix another shot at life, say the Winnipeg parents. During a roughly eight-hour-long procedure, a cross-disciplinary team of eight medical workers removed the 1.3 kilogram mass — nearly three pounds — from the infant's body, defying some experts' opinions that the tumour was inoperable. "It's very hard to put into words the gratitude that we have," said Paul Devigne. "(We want) to give anybody out there who's in a similar situation where they're running out of options a glimmer of hope." The Devignes had their first child on July 16, 2020. And aside from the peculiarities of raising a newborn during a pandemic, they said Félix seemed to be coming along just fine. But at around four months old, Félix became crankier than usual, said Julie Devigne. He wasn't sleeping well, and eventually, wouldn't let his parents put him down. She took him to the emergency room at Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre to see if he had a urinary tract infection. After a battery of tests, doctors told her Félix had a tumour in his abdomen. He was later diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of soft tissue cancer that mostly affects children. "It was like I was in a movie," Julie Devigne said. "This can't be happening to us." Félix spent months in hospital undergoing chemotherapy. But the tumour continued to grow until it filled most of his abdominal cavity, displacing several vital organs, including his kidneys, liver and bowel. The pressure from the mass also impeded his lungs. "We were starting to run out of options and hope," said Paul Devigne. "It was probably the worst time of our lives." The Winnipeg oncologists treating Félix started reaching out to medical facilities with the expertise needed to remove the tumour. When Félix's file found its way to Dr. Blayne Amir Sayed at SickKids, the surgeon was taken aback to see such a large tumour in such a small child. "We certainly don't see (tumours) like this very often in children Félix's age, at such a huge size and rapid growth," said Sayed, the hospital's surgical lead for pediatric liver transplantation. "This would be something you would read about in a case report in the medical literature every 10 to 20 years." Sayed said he consulted with peers across North America and some said they wouldn't attempt surgery. But Sayed said he and his colleagues at SickKids — experienced in complex pediatric cases — decided it was worth a shot. Sayed said he knew the surgical team was in for a challenge. The tumour was roughly 15 per cent of Félix's body weight. It would take painstaking precision to remove it without damaging any organs or veins, said Sayed. Doctors also suspected that the urinary tract, where the tumour arose, would require significant reconstruction. Sayed said the tumour had also given rise to an intricate "vascular web" that meant one wrong incision could result in major blood loss. The tumour was obstructing Félix's vena cava, a large vein that carries blood back to the heart. Sayed said this resulted in a circulatory "traffic jam," with blood be rerouted through small vessels that become increasingly engorged. Moreover, the tumour had "parasitized," which meant it was stealing blood supply from nearby tissues to support its rapid growth, he said. "This was really a kind of meticulous dissection," he said. "There are significant risks, and those include death." On the morning of Feb. 4, the Devignes sent six-month-old Félix into the operating room, and tried not to think about the worst outcomes. "It was very hard saying goodbye to him, because we weren't sure what was going to happen," Julie Devigne said. Hours later, a nurse called to say surgeons had remove the entire tumour. The Devignes cried "happy tears of joy." Sayed said he feels optimistic about the long-term prognosis. "For the amount of surgery that he went through, he did terrific," said Sayed, adding that doctors will have monitor for potential signs of recurrence. Now back home in Winnipeg, Paul Devigne said he's adjusting to a slower pace of life after spending so many months in "survival mode." Julie Devigne said Félix has some catching up to do in terms of development, but he's making gains by the day. Earlier this week, he rolled onto his stomach for the first time, and now he won't stop. The Devignes said they owe a debt of gratitude to all of the health-workers who never gave up on Félix. "It was pretty much giving him another chance of hopefully living a good life," said Julie Devigne. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2021. Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press
The Oscars are finally being handed out this weekend after being delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and public health restrictions against gathering and travel.
A reassurance from the Bank of Canada that "interest rates will be low for a long time," as the bank's governor, Tiff Macklem, told us last year, appears to have been revised. New signs of a strong recovery — including the bank's prediction of a stunning global growth rate of nearly seven per cent this year — plus indications that the underlying foundation of the Canadian economy has not suffered serious damage from the COVID-19 pandemic, mean the central bank is scaling back on monetary stimulus. Not only did Macklem reveal that he is slowing the rate of bond purchases, but rock-bottom interest rates — what the bank calls "the effective lower bound" — are forecast to come to an end sooner than expected. "We remain committed to holding the policy interest rate at the effective lower bound until economic slack is absorbed so that the two per cent inflation target is sustainably achieved," the Bank of Canada said in its Wednesday statement. "Based on the bank's latest projection, this is now expected to happen some time in the second half of 2022. Ending low-rate commitment Scaling back bond purchases — this time from $4 billion to $3 billion a week — tends to affect longer-term rates, while a hike in the Bank of Canada's overnight rate affects variable mortgages and things like lines of credit. While the bank did not officially announce an increase in so many words, ending a commitment to hold rates down was seen by economists and financial reporters as exactly that. "Can someone please ask Governor Macklem if he means to expressly state they expect a 2022 rate hike with this statement?" tweeted Frances Donald, global chief economist at Manulife Investment Management, "because that's a reasonable interpretation, but I can't believe it's the intention." Asked by reporters more than once at Wednesday's news conference to clarify the statement, Macklem did not withdraw it, although he underlined the uncertainty and said the bank would be guided by a broad analysis of economic conditions, not by any predetermined date. While economists and borrowers may have been surprised by the possibility of a Bank of Canada rate hike as soon as 2022, clearly Macklem saw the prospect of reduced stimulus as a reason for celebration, not anxiety, because it was just one more indicator that the economy was on the mend. Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem is optimistic about the economy, projecting 6.75 per cent growth globally this year and 6.5 per cent in Canada. 'We're looking for a complete recovery,' he said at Wednesday's remote meeting with reporters.(Blair Gable/Reuters) "There are brighter days ahead," Macklem told reporters at Wednesday's news conference, projecting 6.75 per cent growth globally this year and 6.5 per cent in Canada. "Canadians and Canadian businesses have been impressively resilient to the pandemic." An economic growth rate of nearly seven per cent is seen as unusually high for an advanced economy and will reflect roaring consumer demand as restrictions lift this autumn, plus a new wave of fiscal stimulus from Ottawa, the provinces and from south of the border. Macklem said there remained many uncertainties as he and the bank's Governing Council, which advises him, struggle to understand a recession unlike any other they have seen. They have been fooled before. Last year, the central bank warned of a deep recession that would lead to "scarring" — in other words, long-term damage to the underlying economy. Growth despite lockdown But that's not the way things turned out, Macklem said. Instead, an expansion into the digital space — the growing use of computers and software in new areas of the economy — means economic growth continued, even as many traditional face-to-face businesses were in lockdown due to the pandemic. Following the 2008 recession, many government handouts and much stimulus went directly to business, but this time fiscal spending on things such as child care and further digital expansion will actually boost productivity, working its way up through the wider economy. Repeatedly asked about Canada's overheated real estate market, Macklem warned once again that buyers should not count on the idea that prices will continue to go up at current extraordinary rates. The central banker suggested that new higher stress tests imposed two weeks ago, as well as a new federal tax on vacant properties, will slow the market. Others have suggested that rising interest rates would have an even stronger impact on many Canadians who have taken on mortgages and other loans that are very high compared with their incomes. Jobs for low-wage workers are still well below pre-pandemic levels, while the job market for everyone else has recovered, and more.(Monetary Policy Report Apr 2021/Bank of Canada) One of the indicators Macklem said the central bank would use to finally decide whether to cut back on monetary stimulus was whether people at the lowest end of the income ladder had been able to find work in a divided, K-shaped, recovery. "There's a chart in the Monetary Policy Report that shows low-wage workers ... are about 20 per cent below their pre-pandemic levels," he said. The chart shows that higher-wage workers have already exceeded pre-pandemic employment. WATCH | Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem's forecast for Canada's economy: As with any forecast, there are many unknowns. Will the economy triumph over the third wave of the pandemic as well as it did over the second? Will vaccine take-up allow us to reach herd immunity? "We're looking for a complete recovery," Macklem said. "We're not going to count our chickens before they hatch." Follow Don Pittis on Twitter @don_pittis
As COVID-19 cases in India surge to extreme levels and a new variant of the virus first identified there has shown up in at least 39 cases in B.C., questions are being raised about whether flights from Delhi to Vancouver should be put on hold. The flights have been tied to numerous COVID-19 exposures. Since the beginning of January, 45 flights from Delhi to Vancouver have had an exposure, along with one in February going in the other direction. This month alone, there have been 17 flights from Delhi to Vancouver with exposures, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), along with seven from other cities, including Amsterdam, Mexico City, San Francisco, Seattle, Dallas and Tokyo. On Wednesday, BCCDC confirmed they had found 39 cases of the COVID-19 variant B1617 as of April 4. More recent data was not provided. The variant first identified in India has two mutations and is associated with a poorer antibody response, according to an immunologist with the Institut national de la recherche scientifique in Quebec. Dr. Navdeep Grewal, an emergency room physician in Delta and Vancouver and a member of the South Asian COVID-19 Task Force, has been watching the escalating situation in India closely. She has family in Punjab and Delhi. "It's certainly scary," said Grewal. "A lot of Canadians here that live in B.C. and across Canada have family in India, and they're certainly affected by this." Skyrocketing cases in India Late Wednesday, India reported 314,644 new COVID-19 cases over the previous 24 hours, according to Johns Hopkins University — the highest number of infections recorded in a single day in any country since the start of the pandemic. More than 2,100 deaths from COVID-19 were reported in that period, a record high for the country. More than a million new cases have been recorded in the past four days. "Obviously India has a very large population and they just don't have the ability there to catch up to the variants," said Grewal. Dr. Navdeep Grewal, a member of the South Asian COVID Task Force, says flights from India to Canada should be paused temporarily until more information about a new variant identified in India is known.(CBC) She's looking forward to learning more about how the B1617 variant is different in terms of how transmissible and lethal it is, as well as other factors like the incubation period and whether the current vaccines are effective against it. "I would certainly support, at least a temporary pause on flights while we learn more about this virus," Grewal said of the variant. "But in addition to pausing the flights, I think our quarantine regulations must be more strictly enforced." Adrian Dix, B.C.'s health minister, is also focusing on federal quarantine enforcement for international travellers in light of confirmation the new variant has been spreading in the province. 'Variant of interest' On Wednesday, health officials announced the B1617 variant is now considered a "variant of interest." B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix says officials in the province are pushing the federal government to increase quarantine enforcement.(Mike McArthur/CBC) "If this variant is not a variant of concern — and it has not been identified as such yet — it's concerning," said Dix. "That being said, all COVID-19, all cases of COVID-19 are of concern. They are in India and they are in Canada. "We do have some concerns with the implementation of the federal quarantine. We think that more can be done with respect to ensuring that not only is the quarantine enforced, but that people are supported in what can be a challenging quarantine," he said. Grewal also supports extending the quarantine period from three days to 10 or 14 days, as required by some other jurisdictions. "Our quarantining that we're currently doing, with three days in quarantine, may not catch all of the cases," she said. The BCCDC said on Wednesday that its Public Health Lab is reviewing genetic sequencing information and linking the variant to case details. The agency said it will be able to provide an update on the number and nature of these cases later this week. Do you have more to add to this story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org Follow Rafferty Baker on Twitter: @raffertybaker
Nova Scotia's tightening of border restrictions on Thursday to allow only essential trips and returning permanent residents of the province to enter is being met with mixed reactions. The new restrictions apply to everyone crossing into Nova Scotia from all other places except Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island. People attempting to cross the border — including air travel — will be required to fill in a digital check-in form and receive approval. The measures are designed to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Twenty-five new cases were reported in Nova Scotia on Wednesday. "We need to stop the flow of people coming into the province for non-essential reasons, including moving here," Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang said Tuesday. "Now is not the time." Amherst, N.S., Mayor Dave Kogon works as a doctor at the Moncton Hospital and lives in Nova Scotia. "I just want the provincial government to know people here are reaching their breaking point and they're not going to be able to cope with with the limitations and restrictions for a whole lot longer," he warned. David Kogon, the mayor of Amherst, N.S., says people are struggling with their mental health right now because of COVID-19 restrictions.(Patrick Callaghan/CBC) Kogon said many people who have a residence in one province and a summer cottage in the other will be looking to return to their vacation homes as the weather improves. "People complain they pay taxes in both provinces but can't access their own properties," Kogon said. New restrictions for entering Nova Scotia from outside of the province take effect on Thursday.(Patrick Callaghan/CBC) CBC News visited the New Brunswick-Nova Scotia border on Wednesday and found that while some people were resigned to the changes, others wanted an immediate reopening of the Atlantic bubble. Shannon Reid from Bedford, N.S., is a training instructor for Air Canada and has to drive across the border to conduct training exercises. Since her work only covers the Atlantic provinces, she doesn't expect too many problems. "I expect that I'll have to prove my identity and where I'm going and just declare my time and travel for each province," she said. "And that's been pretty routine since COVID started." Shannon Reid said she doesn't expect too experience too many problems with the border restriction changes.(Patrick Callaghan/CBC) John Magalong was driving into Nova Scotia to take an engineering exam. He was concerned the new restrictions would affect his ability to take his exam, so he emailed the province for clarification. He was told he had a valid reason to cross the border. "They let me in and they said I just need to follow the protocols that they've given me and I'm all good," Magalong said. Natalie and Scott Dixon are from Amherst, but have a farm in New Brunswick. They said they want the Atlantic bubble to return because the Atlantic provinces "need each other to thrive." Scott Dixon said the current restrictions make them feel like they are doing something illegal by simply crossing the border. John Magalong said the Nova Scotia government told him an engineering exam was a valid reason to cross the border.(Patrick Callaghan/CBC) "You just feel like you're a criminal when you're driving out of province," he said. "If I'm over here with the New Brunswick plate, I feel as if I'm going to get caught." He said he believes the tightened restrictions are going to lead people to smuggle family members across the border. Lloyd Shipley works for a car dealer and delivers cars to New Brunswick. He said he follows the rules and doesn't stop anywhere during his trips. He said he's in favour of restrictions because "we got to get rid of [COVID-19]." MORE TOP STORIES
A group of activists say they have no intention of ending their anti-logging blockades on Vancouver Island, despite a court injunction and opposition from the political leadership of the Pacheedaht First Nation. Since August, dozens of people have blocked access to roads in Fairy Creek to prevent Teal Cedar, a division of the Teal-Jones Group, from logging the old-growth forest within its 595-square-kilometre tenure. But a B.C. Supreme Court judge granted the company an injunction against the protesters earlier this spring, writing that police would be necessary to ensure the order is respected. When CBC News visited the area this week, activists, who call themselves forest defenders, said they and hundreds of supporters are ready to be arrested by the RCMP. "I think they thought we were just going to go away," protester Duncan Morrison said. "We are here for the long haul until Fairy Creek is protected." A series of camps have been set up in strategic locations to prevent logging trucks from moving in, with kitchens, outhouses and shelters for sleeping. A legal defence fund has also been established. Shawna Knight says she's ready to be arrested if the RCMP move in to clear the Fairy Creek blockades. (Dillon Hodgin/CBC) Protester Shawna Knight says she's prepared to be arrested in order to protect trees that have been growing there for hundreds of years. "The biodiversity they provide and the habitat they provide, there's nowhere else like it in the world … That's why they're so special," she said. The term "old growth" in B.C. refers to trees that are generally 250 years or older on the coast and 140 years or older in the Interior. Sierra Club B.C. estimates that more than 140,000 hectares of old-growth forest is logged each year in the province. Industry representatives say old-growth logging is vital to B.C.'s $12 billion-a-year forestry sector. "Old growth in certain areas is critical for the annual harvest," said Bob Brash, executive director of the Truck Loggers Association. "The less that everybody harvests, the less that they can support the sawmills, the less that they can support the value-added plants, the less revenue that comes to the province." Teal Cedar estimates the trees in its Fairy Creek tenure are worth about $10 million. The protest camps at Fairy Creek include kitchens, outhouses and shelters for sleeping.(Dillon Hodgin/CBC) The Fairy Creek operation sits on the traditional territory of the Pacheedaht First Nation, which has signed agreements with the company, and a revenue-sharing agreement with the province for all timber cut on their land. In a written statement earlier this month, Pacheedaht Hereditary Chief Frank Queesto Jones and Chief Coun. Jeff Jones asked outside protesters to stand down. "All parties need to respect that it is up to Pacheedaht people to determine how our forestry resources will be used," the statement said. But other community members have joined the protest. "Our political elite have been duped," Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones said. "You don't cut down the forest. You leave it up and you go there and pray and meditate." His niece Kati George-Jim, also known as xʷ is xʷ čaa, is also waiting for police to arrive. "It is really difficult as an Indigenous person and a person who has relationships to these territories to witness, because it pulls on family divides and pulls on how colonialism has impacted our people," she said. The RCMP have yet to say when they will act on the injunction and clear the roads for logging trucks. Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones says his First Nation's political leaders have been 'duped' by commercial interests. (Dillon Hodgin/CBC)
SASKATOON — Nazeem Muhajarine says he feels a sense of relief after receiving his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine last week at a centre in Saskatoon. "It was just so well-organized and run. I felt completely safe," Muhajarine said in an interview. The professor of community health and epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan said the province is making great strides quickly getting shots into arms, but he's concerned some people are being left behind. Premier Scott Moe touted during question period Wednesday that Saskatchewan is leading the country when it comes to administering first vaccinations. "Our way through this pandemic, everyone's plan to get through this pandemic, is to get everyone vaccinated as quickly as possible," Moe said. More than 365,000 doses of vaccine have been given in Saskatchewan. Health officials say 52 per cent of residents over the age of 40 have received their first shot. It puts Saskatchewan — with a population of just under 1.18 million — ahead of other provinces when it comes to doses delivered per capita. Data from a COVID-19 vaccination tracker, run by University of Saskatchewan students using federal and provincial data, suggests the province in outpacing Ontario and Quebec. Moe credits his Saskatchewan Party’s "robust vaccination plan," which he says will be augmented in the coming days. Eligibility for all vaccines is being lowered to 44 on Thursday, except for in the north where it will go down to 40. It’s expected to drop to 40 for the general population by Wednesday. Muhajarine said there's much to applaud about the vaccine rollout. The choice, initially, to use age-based eligibility meant it was easy to understand and targeted those who were more likely to experience severe outcomes if infected, he said. Drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinics have also been successful, said Muhajarine. One providing mass immunizations in Regina as the capital has became a hot spot for variants has expecially worked well. Muhajarine said his own experience shows that organization at larger mass vaccination sites is also commendable. However, the professor said now that vulnerable senior populations are immunized and there are highly contagious new strains, the province may be missing the mark. Getting the most vaccinations out fastest is just part of a good public health response, he said, but surging infections and hospitalizations mean the response should now be targeted to those most affected. "Workplace spreads and outbreaks have been quite prevalent," Muhajarine said. "That's been a huge contributor in Regina and has been a contributor in Saskatoon as well." There were 231 new cases in Saskatchewan on Wednesday and four more deaths, including a person in their 30s another in their 40s. The others were over 70. There were 185 people in hospital and 49 in intensive care. Provincial public health orders were tightened recently as officials warned the more transmissible variant strains were becoming dominant. Muhajarine said the recent deaths of influential Cree teacher Victor Thunderchild, 55, in Prince Albert and well-known chef Warren Montgomery, 42, in Regina are examples of people in high-risk work environments who weren’t able to get vaccinations under the age-eligibility plan. He said Saskatchewan should consider following Ontario and Manitoba, which are pivoting vaccination plans to target neighbourhoods where people have a higher risk of contracting the virus. It should also consider socio-economic factors, including how many residents are in a household and the type of jobs people have, he added. One example would be neighbourhoods with multi-generational households and where many people work service jobs facing the public. Congregate living facilities such as shelters and correctional centres would be another, he said. Muhajarine said teachers and other essential workers should also get priority. Every region in the country is seeing benefits to targeting areas and occupations where the pandemic's third wave has taken hold, he suggested "That is not something to be trivialized in this kind of complex and mass undertaking." This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 21, 2021. — By Kelly Geraldine Malone in Winnipeg The Canadian Press
A B.C. Supreme Court judge has rejected a bid by the Office of the Wet'suwet'en to kill an extension of the environmental assessment certificate that gave the green light to a northern B.C. pipeline that was at the centre of countrywide protests. In a decision released this week, Justice Barbara Norell said B.C.'s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) did not fail to consider harm the Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline might cause because no new assessment of the project was ordered following the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The Office of the Wet'suwet'en, a non-profit society governed by several hereditary chiefs, claimed the EAO had also failed to consider numerous instances of non-compliance with conditions attached to the original certificate when Coastal GasLink was given approval in 2014 to build the 670-kilometre natural gas pipeline. Norell disagreed, finding there was "ample evidence" in inspection reports considered by the EAO to support the conclusion that "non-compliances 'have been rectified, or are in the process of being rectified', and that CGL 'was prompt in responding to remediation orders.' " What the judicial review was 'not about' A spokesperson for the Office of the Wet'suwet'en said they plan to comment on the decision later Thursday or Friday. The EAO gave a five-year extension to the certificate for the pipeline's construction in October 2019 — a decision the hereditary chiefs claimed was unreasonable. Police take a protester into custody last year during potests related to the Coastal GasLink pipeline being built from Dawson Creek to Kitimat, B.C.(Chantelle Bellrichard/CBC) They asked the judge to quash the certificate and send it back to the executive director of the EAO for further consideration. The Coastal GasLink project has drawn national attention in recent years after several Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs opposed the pipeline's route through disputed land in northwestern B.C. The hereditary chiefs have opposed Coastal GasLink's project, while five elected Wet'suwet'en band councils signed agreements with the company approving construction on their territories. In her ruling, Norell stressed that it was important to identify what the judicial review is "not about." "This review is not about what the [Office of the We'suwet'en] did or did not do in the consultation process for the extension application, nor about its objection to the project generally," the judge wrote. "The [Office of the We'suwet'en's] actions are not in issue. Nor is this review about the undeniable importance of the inquiry report in further understanding the harms and systemic causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls and other vulnerable populations." 'No findings with respect to the project' The inquiry into murdered and missing women and girls released its report in June 2019, five months before the EAO extended the certificate. The report specifically noted the "correlation between resource extraction projects and violence" against Indigenous women and girls and other vulnerable populations. The report said an increase in violence is "largely the result of the migration into camps of mostly non-Indigenous young men with high salaries and little to no stake in the host Indigenous community." Protestors stand outside the Justice Canada building in Ottawa Feb. 11, 2020. The protesters were showing solidarity with Wet'suwet'en First Nation. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press) In her ruling, Norell said the EAO had considered the report as a potential "new or changed effect" but she noted that commissions of inquiry do not impose "binding legal obligations on government, regulators or industry." "There is no dispute that the inquiry report and its calls for justice are matters of significant importance to our governments and the people of Canada. The inquiry report has contributed to the understanding of the systemic causes of this serious problem. The inquiry made recommendations to help end the violence," Norell wrote. "The findings in the inquiry report are relevant, but there are no findings with respect to the project." The judge said that an evaluation report of the project shared with the hereditary chiefs in September 2019 concluded that the concerns raised in the inquiry report had been addressed in the original application and in the development of a "socio-economic effects management plan" intended to mitigate wider problems associated with the project. Norell concluded that the Office of the Wet'suwet'en had "not established that the outcome of the decision is unreasonable or that there were fundamental flaws in the reasoning process."
CHARLOTTETOWN — Prince Edward Island says it will receive double the number it expected of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines in May and June. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Heather Morrison says the extra 47,430 doses will mean more people will get their first doses sooner and others won't have to wait as long for booster shots. She says health officials expect to be able to offer everyone a booster shot no later than 12 weeks after their first dose. Starting next week, people in their 40s can begin booking vaccination appointments on the Island. Morrison is reporting one new case of COVID-19 today, involving a person who arrived in the province from outside Atlantic Canada. There are now 12 active reported cases in the province. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting three new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. (Patrick Butler/Radio-Canada) As Newfoundland and Labrador's neighbours find themselves battling a COVID-19 spike, the Health Department is reporting three new cases on Thursday. According to a media release from the department, one case is a man in his 60s in the Eastern Health region, related to travel within Canada. The two other cases are in the Western Health region: a woman between 20 and 39 years old and man under 20 years old. Both cases are close contacts to a previously known case. Contact tracing by public health is underway. Anyone considered a close contact has been advised to quarantine. Related to one of the new cases, public health is asking passengers who travelled on Air Canada Flight 8996 from Halifax to St. John's on Tuesday to arrange COVID-19 testing. Passengers can complete the online self-assessment tool or call 811. The department is also reporting four new recoveries: one in the Eastern Health region and three in Western Health. For the first time in more than two weeks, the province's caseload has dropped — by one, to 26. Nobody is in hospital due to the virus. To date, 130,909 people have been tested, including 468 since Wednesday's update. The Health Department says an investigation into a case reported April 8 in the Eastern Health region was unable to identify the source. "This is called a non-epidemiologically linked case and indicates that there is, or was, an unknown case of COVID-19," reads Thursday's media release. "This could happen for any number of reasons, including the individual may have been asymptomatic and recovered, the individual may have left the province or the individual did not seek testing." The Department of Health is also advising rotational workers of COVID-19 outbreaks at worksites in Alberta: Cenovus Foster Creek. Suncor Fort Hills. Syncrude Aurora. The department says it was notified about the outbreaks by the Public Health Agency of Canada as workers include people from Newfoundland and Labrador. Rotational workers with these projects who have returned to Newfoundland and Labrador in the last two weeks now must self-isolate and distance themselves from household members, call 811 to arrange testing and complete the full 14-day self-isolation period, regardless of test result. Phase 2 vaccinations Elsewhere, Nova Scotia added 38 cases overnight, its highest daily count since the early days of the pandemic. Premier Iain Rankin said Wednesday the province was seeing early signs of community spread, further endangering the prospect of a mid-May Atlantic bubble reopening date. On Wednesday, Newfoundland and Labrador Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said three of the province's four regional health authorities will deliver an open call Monday for workers — including air crew and truck drivers who travel outside the province — to book vaccine appointments. The fourth, Labrador-Grenfell Health, has already started vaccinating rotational workers. Health Minister John Haggie said he's looking at a mid-May wrap-up for Phase 2, when health regions will invite appointments from all Phase 2 groups. Haggie said 31 per cent of Newfoundland and Labrador's eligible population had been vaccinated with at least one dose as of Tuesday night, with deliveries expected to increase substantially in May and June. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
CBC's senior business correspondent, Peter Armstrong, talks with Tiff Macklem, governor of the Bank of Canada, about the bank's projections for Canada's economy in the coming months.
Terri Tomsky and her husband were already debating pulling their two kids out of school when word came on Tuesday afternoon: older students in Edmonton schools were moving to online classes — again. The move, prompted by a rising number of students and staff in isolation and a shortage of substitute teachers, is the latest plunge on the pandemic roller coaster of this on-again, off-again school year. Although Tomsky can work flexible hours from home, she says she's frustrated because the chaos in education could have been avoided. "I just feel like the schools have been thrown into this crisis, and that crisis is the government's making, because anyone could predict this," she said. Students in Grades 7 to 12 in public and Catholic schools in Edmonton, Calgary and Fort McMurray are all moving to online classes for at least two weeks as variants of concern drive a third wave of COVID-19 in Alberta. All junior and senior high students across the province were also learning online for about a month before the holiday break, and almost all Alberta students learned remotely for a week in January. Thousands more students who were exposed to COVID-19 at school hopped rapidly to online learning while in isolation. Although the education minister has insisted the pandemic hasn't interfered with most students' learning, Sofia Calderon sees it differently. At an NDP news conference Wednesday, the Grade 12 Ross Sheppard student said the quality of online experiences can't compare to being in the classroom. "A lot of [student], they just lose motivation," she said. "When your workstation is your bed, it's a little harder to sit down and commit yourself to two and a half hours of class." After more than a year of shunting back and forth, Calderon is questioning how prepared she is for her first year of university. Salvaging the school year At the news conference, NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman said there is still time to make schools safer for the last two months of the school year. She called on the UCP government to use $30 million from its COVID-19 contingency fund and hire 2,000 newly trained teachers to split students into smaller classes. Later, in the legislature, Premier Jason Kenney said the Alberta government has taken extraordinary measures to ensure schools run safely. He dismissed the NDP's idea and said the Opposition was sowing fear that schools are unsafe. "The NDP's deeply socialist conviction is that we can even make a pandemic go away by spending money," Kenney said. "Signing cheques does not stop viral spread." However, upgrading school ventilation systems and capping class sizes would help, Tomsky said, pointing to other countries that took those steps and were able to keep students more consistently in school. "We're not doing that here," she said. "They are reactionary instead of anticipatory. They're always a couple of steps behind. I don't see them prioritizing schools." Edmonton parent Greta Gerstner is frustrated by what she sees as half-measures to combat the of COVID-19. She says it makes no sense that she can go to a store and buy a pair of shoes, but some schools are now closed to in-person classes. She's baffled about why her son in Grade 6 can return to a crowded classroom, where kids eat lunch together without masks, yet her daughter in Grade 8 needs to be at home. Earlier in the pandemic, Gertsner had to switch jobs so she had more flexibility to work from home where she could supervise her kids. "I don't think the decisions that are being made are in the best interests of all students," she said. "I think a lot of it is just politically motivated."
Windsor Regional Hospital will be accepting a total of 40 patients from hospitals in the Greater Toronto Area, the hospital said in a memo released Thursday. Starting Sunday, Essex Windsor EMS, along with EMS in Chatham-Kent and Sarnia-Lambton, will work together to transfer five patients from the GTA over the following eight days. In an email to CBC News, Windsor Regional said the patients will "most likely" be ones with COVID-19. The hospital said it expects the patients will be brought to Windsor to be treated in a ward or medical unit, though patients may need ICU care during their stay. Patients will be divided between 4N at the hospital's Met Campus and CTU at the Ouellette Campus. Earlier this week, the hospital said a report that there was a plan to bring a large number of patients to the region from the GTA was "inaccurate." CBC reported Monday on a memo from London Middlesex Primary Care Alliance that said 60 patients were headed to the region. The hospital said the 60 number was incorrect, stating that it anticipated that combined, hospitals in Sarnia, Chatham and Windsor areas to accept a total of 14 patients over the next week, plus any additional ICU admissions. The following day, the London Middlesex Primary Care Alliance said the original memo was incorrect and noted that 40 patients would be coming to the broader London and Windsor regions. In Thursday's announcement, sent on behalf of Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj, chief nursing executive Karen Riddell and chief of staff Dr. Wassim Saad, it acknowledges the previous information that was shared and says, "we also indicated that this could change as this Wave 3 evolves." It said the situation had changed in recent days, prompting conversations among hospitals and health ministry officials and "there has been a move to "partner" a hospital facing capacity issues with a receiving hospital with available capacity." For WRH that hospital is Trillium Health Partners. At this time, Windsor Regional Hospital said it is still being determined whether other patients are headed to other hospitals in the region. More to come.
A Toronto pharmacist says demand for the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine is "through the roof" after the Ontario government lowered the minimum age limit for the shot from 55 to 40. Kyro Maseh, owner and manager of Lawlor Pharmasave, said demand has been extremely high since the change took effect on Tuesday. On that day, public health units in Ontario administered a new single-day high of 136,695 doses of vaccines, according to the provincial health ministry. "In addition to the age being lowered, I feel that people are a bit more educated on the risks involved and they understand that it's really minute and insignificant. Yes, very, very high demand," Maseh said on Wednesday. Other provinces, namely B.C., Alberta and Manitoba, have also lowered their age limits to 40- plus after the federal government said Sunday eligibility for the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine could be expanded to any adult over the age of 18. Maseh was worried that his doses were going to expire on the weekend because the 55-plus age group was not making appointments, but everything changed after the age was lowered. On Tuesday, he allowed front-line workers to get their first dose without an appointment, vaccinating about 84 essential workers who walked in that day. He said his vaccine supply will be depleted by the end of Wednesday after he will have vaccinated about 60 people. He doesn't know when he will get more supply. "The majority have been under 55," Maseh said. Lawlor Pharmasave has made a video to mark its 1,000th dose. Maseh said the pharmacy felt it was a cause for celebration that 1,000 people will not end up in intensive care units due to COVID-19. Pharmacist Kyro Maseh prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at his pharmacy in Toronto on Tuesday. Toronto pharmacies began administering the vaccine to people born in 1981 and up on Tuesday.(Evan Mitsui/CBC) "We've been getting a lot of phone calls. We've been getting a lot of emails, Twitter messages, carrier pigeons, you name it. But we're using our booking systems," he added. "And some people are angry at the fact that we only have 50 or 60 doses in stock today. But just be patient, be patient, we will get to you as soon as we can." 'No hesitancy here, that's for sure' The uptick in the number of vaccinations is being marked across social media, under the hashtag #GenXZeneca, as 40 to 55 year olds embrace the opportunity to get their first dose. According to Twitter posts, lots of people in this age group seem to be heeding the call to get vaccinated, despite concerns about the possibility of rare blood clots. WATCH | CBC's Angelina King reports on why Generation X is embracing AstraZeneca: Betsy Hilton, 42, a consultant in Toronto, said her friends immediately texted each other when they learned they were eligible. She said she thinks people in her generation were willing to wait their turn if they weren't essential workers or in any high-risk categories. "And then suddenly it just was our turn. And that was really exciting," she said. "No hesitancy here, that's for sure." Hilton said there has been "this incredible mobilization of people in our generation so excited to get vaccinated and to do their part. And I think we're all here for it and we're all coming together." She said it's been a busy and stressful year for 40-somethings and the vaccine is a way to get back to life before the pandemic. "We're at a really interesting stage of life and a challenging stage of life. Many of us have kids, many of us have aging parents. And it's been a really worrying time for us," she said. "The opportunity to get vaccinated, the opportunity to get back to being together again and get back to some semblance of normal life and mostly to get back to a place where we're not worried all the time, I think has been a huge sort of rallying point for this generation." 'We know what risk is and this is not it' Hilton said getting the AstraZeneca vaccine is an acceptable risk. "This is safe. Science is good," she said. "We know what risk looks like and this is not it." She said being comfortable around technology has helped 40-somethings book their spots. "If you've ever tried to register for swimming lessons in through the city, we know how to get online and try to get those spots. Everyone jumped on board." Stephanie Bolton, 44, posted this photo of herself on Twitter after she got the first dose of AstraZeneca on April 20. She said in a tweet: 'Got my AZ vaccine yesterday. So glad to be part of a cohort that is fearless and doing the right thing for the country. I took AZ so someone who's hesitant can pick a vaccine. We got your backs, Boomers!'(Submitted by Stephanie Bolton) Stephanie Bolton, 44, a teacher in York Region, agreed, saying it's a matter of weighing the risk versus reward. People aged 40 to 55 are enthusiastic about getting vaccinated and have embraced AstraZeneca, she said. "It's been kind of held up in the 55 plus age category, where they were more nervous. They were kind of hoping for Moderna or Pfizer. But we were just like: 'Give us a vaccine!'" Association says vaccine hesitancy declining steadily Jack Jedwab, president of the Association for Canadian Studies, a non-profit organization that has been tracking the pandemic's social and economic impacts, said the percentage of people who are vaccine hesitant in Canada has been steadily declining across all age groups. There was a higher rate of hesitation a few months ago, he said. Part of the decline is due to a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, which has increased collective anxiety, he added. That in turn has increased a sense of urgency to get vaccinated. Ontario, B.C., Alberta and Manitoba have lowered their age limits for the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine to 40 plus after the federal government said on Sunday that the provinces and territories were free to expand eligibility for it to any adult over the age of 18.(Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images) A survey done by the association last week shows that about 80 per cent of Canadians, a record number, are willing to get vaccinated. People in the upper age groups, 55 and older, are the least hesitant, while people in the lower age groups, 35 and younger, are the most hesitant. About 12 per cent say no to the vaccine, while about eight per cent say they don't know if they will get vaccinated. As for people in the 40 to 55 age group, he said: "As we get closer to bringing that age group into the proverbial mix with respect to their eligibility for vaccination, the hesitation seems to decline even further, because there's been a bit of a snowball effect. "As more and more people have gotten vaccinated, more and more people have been put at ease about their concerns with respect to either side effects or long-term effects of vaccination."
Rob Kinston was fired from his job as a marketing manager at Kawartha Credit Union in Peterborough, Ont., last October. His employment insurance benefits run out in September.(Submitted by Rob Kingston) After struggling for months with debilitating symptoms typical of COVID-19 "long-haulers," Rob Kingston was called into a meeting in October and told by his employer that his services were no longer required. "I was devastated," said Kingston, 49, a former marketing manager at Kawartha Credit Union in Peterborough, Ont. Now, in a case that's drawing the attention of other long-haulers, Kingston has complained to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, claiming discrimination on the basis of a disability. He's demanding his job back, plus lost income and $50,000 in compensation "for mental distress and for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect." A statement from Kingston's former employer did not comment specifically on the case, saying only that "Kawartha Credit Union values all of their employees and adheres to all applicable legislation and best practices." Symptoms persisted According to his complaint, Kingston first fell ill with COVID-19-like symptoms in March 2020, and by the following month he had a sustained body temperature above 38 C, requiring him to take a week and a half off work. After he returned, he began having long-haul COVID-19 symptoms including brain fog, debilitating fatigue, loss of smell, a racing heartbeat and tremors. Kingston tested negative for COVID-19 in early April 2020. An antibody test in December also came back negative, however neither test indicates conclusively that he didn't contract the virus. They have a legal obligation to support and accommodate employees like Rob who are going through a very difficult medical journey. - Gregory Ko, Rob Kingston's lawyer Kingston said he reported his worsening condition to his supervisor, and in late August his doctor issued a note ordering him to take several more weeks off work. On Oct. 1, 10 days after his second return, he was fired. According to his complaint, Kingston lost his job just months after receiving a glowing performance review that said he'd "exceeded expectations." "Rob went from being a superstar in the workplace ... and then six months later [they] let him go," said Gregory Ko, Kingston's lawyer. "They have a legal obligation to support and accommodate employees like Rob who are going through a very difficult medical journey." According to Kingston's claim, rather than offer disability benefits, his former employer required him to use up his vacation time to cover some of his leave. Along with the compensation, Kingston's complaint also asks that Kawartha Credit Union undergo human rights training. "We want to send this message that employees in Ontario have the right to be free from discrimination, and they shouldn't be losing their jobs because of this medical condition," said Ko. Suzie Goulding is a founder of COVID Long-Haulers Support Group Canada.(CBC) Case attracting attention The case is attracting the attention of other long-haulers including Suzie Goulding, one of the founders of COVID Long-Haulers Support Group Canada. Goulding said she hopes Kingston's human rights complaint will shed more light on the double tragedy of people in their situation, who not only suffer through the illness, but also risk financial ruin as a result. "The people who have long-haul have been forgotten," said Goulding. "This needs to be a recognition that people are suffering, they're losing their jobs, and something really needs to be done." Goulding's group is pushing for federal guidelines for diagnosis and treatment, as in the United Kingdom. She believes that formal recognition of the illness will help ensure fairer treatment of sufferers by their employers. Goulding also believes there should be benefits set aside for long-haulers who lose their jobs and don't know when they'll be able to re-enter the workforce. Kingston's employment insurance benefits run out in September. "I try not to think about that," said Kingston, who shares custody of one daughter. "That's terrifying for me to think that I'm still going to be in that situation."