More than a week after claims of workplace harassment at Rideau Hall surfaced, Gov. Gen. Julie Payette today told her staff in a memo that she's listening to their concerns and called on them to "stay united."CBC News has obtained a copy of an internal memo sent to all staff today. It's believed to be the first time Payette has commented on the harassment claims directly to employees."The past week has been a trying one for our office and like all of you, I am affected by what we hear," wrote Payette. "When faced with problems, it is imperative to stay united and work together to find solutions. I am listening and I remain fully committed to our team and our mission."Rideau Hall's workplace environment is under review by the Privy Council Office, which is finalizing the terms for hiring an external third party to conduct a "thorough, independent and impartial" probe that will include confidential interviews with current and former employees.The review follows a CBC News report last Tuesday that cited a dozen unnamed sources saying Payette has created a toxic work environment and a culture of fear at Rideau Hall — to the point where some staffers have been reduced to tears, have gone on leaves of absence or have left the office altogether."Rest assured that I take workplace harassment very seriously and fully support the review of our practices and the continuation of concrete actions to ensure a healthy and safe work environment for everyone, at all times and in all circumstances," Payette told staff in the memo.Claims staff humiliated, belittled Sixteen sources with direct knowledge of the alleged harassment have told CBC News that Payette has yelled at, belittled and publicly humiliated employees. They accuse her of throwing tantrums over the quality of staff work and accusing staffers of incompetence. Her longtime friend and second-in-command, Assunta Di Lorenzo, is also accused of bullying staff, yelling at them and calling them "lazy" and "incompetent."In one four-month period during Payette's mandate, roughly two dozen people reported abusive conduct by Payette or Di Lorenzo to management, according to government sources.The National Post reported Friday on claims that Payette's treatment of staff at the Montreal Science Centre foreshadowed what was to come at Rideau Hall.A government survey backs up the claims at Rideau Hall. As reported by Macleans, the 2019 survey said the office has the third highest harassment levels in the federal public service. Twenty-two per cent of respondents working for Rideau Hall claimed to have experienced harassment and 74 per cent of them attributed it to individuals with authority over them.The Privy Council Office said it's aware of the survey but hasn't received any formal complaints in writing. Sources told CBC News they have complained informally to the ombudsman and to human resources, but claim sufficient action wasn't taken. Payette assures staff they've done an 'extraordinary job'Payette's memo to staff assured staff that the news reports of the past week "in no way [reflect] the excellence of the work you have done." "You have done an extraordinary job over the past few months and I couldn't be more proud to be part of your team," wrote Payette. "You have demonstrated unparalleled agility and flexibility since we closed the office last March, you have quickly adapted to teleworking and you have redoubled your efforts."You have invested yourself, helped each other and used your creativity so that we could continue to fulfil our constitutional responsibilities and ensure the continuity of our tasks and services, while staying in touch with all Canadians. Thank you all!"This week, Brigitte Carbonneau, a former manager from Cirque du Soleil, joined Rideau Hall as its new chief of staff and special adviser to Payette.Ashley Burke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Earlier this week, French energy giant Total announced it would write off $9.3-billion worth of oilsands assets in Alberta and cancel its oil lobby membership in the Calgary-based Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.Writedowns would include $7.3-billion related to its ownership in the Fort Hills oilsands mine in northern Alberta, and a 50 per cent stake in the ConocoPhillips-operated Surmont thermal oilsands project.The moves reflect the Paris-based company's dissatisfaction with the performance of its assets over the last number of years, said Richard Masson, chair of the World Petroleum Council."I think about the Fort Hill project in particular … Total has been very unhappy with that asset's performance, [among others]," Masson said, citing capital cost overruns and curtailed oil production."So I think, as an international major, they look at the world and they say, 'What things are we going to do to try and align with climate change?'"The asset they had that wasn't giving them good performance is the one they were prepared to take a big hit to."'Stranded' oil reservesOn Wednesday, Total said it was leaving the Canadian oil lobby because of a "misalignment" between the company's climate ambition statement and CAPP's public positions, adding that it considered oil reserves with high production costs to be produced more than 20 years in the future to be "stranded."While Masson said he didn't feel that would be a dominant theme in the Canadian oilsands moving forward, Total didn't represent the first example of an international company shifting focus away from those assets.In 2017, Royal Dutch Shell struck a $12.74-billion deal with Canadian Natural Resources, stating at the time that the company did not have the scale or capability to remain in the oilsands long-term."What's happening, in my mind, in [both] of those instances, both of those companies are international majors with big retail presences. Shell has gas stations around the world, as does Total," Masson said."They do not want to see boycotts, they do not want to see anything that affects their brand in a negative way."Kevin Birn, a Calgary-based analyst with IHS Markit, said the oilsands emerged, in part, from a world in which oil was in short supply. Today, he said, the market has changed."Companies like Total that are big and integrated will shift their priorities from one resource to another, where they think they have a competitive advantage," Birn said."So you see a number of companies moving their portfolios away from the oilsands, but you also see Canadian companies doubling down on those assets because they feel they have a competitive advantage."With the Fort Hill project now a lower value on Total's books, Masson said he expected that someone would soon try to make a deal to buy those assets."It's easier for Total to say, okay, we're going to take, I don't know, 50 or 60 cents on the dollar for what we've paid for these things now that they've been written down so far," he said."It may be that we see these assets change hands, probably to a Canadian company. And overall, that could be a good thing for Canada."Earlier this week, IHS Markit released its latest forecast for oilsands production growth, continuing a decade-long trend of industry experts projecting a less optimistic outlook for the sector.
A string of violent carjackings, thefts, shootings and assaults over 2½-hours in western Saskatchewan Wednesday ended with a trio of people being charged with dozens of offences.In one case, a victim was shot and injured. In another, the would-be carjackers shot at a person as the victim tried to drive away.As police pursued them, the carjackers allegedly crashed into another vehicle and later, as they tried to make a getaway, drove the wrong way on a heavily travelled section of Highway 16.The investigation involving Alberta and Saskatchewan RCMP began around 5 p.m. CST on Wednesday, RCMP said in a news release on Friday.Police in Onion Lake, Sask., received a report that a male had been injured when a gun was used. The assailants fled in a vehicle. The victim was treated in hospital for serious but non-life threatening injuries.Police spotted the vehicle near the border city of Lloydminster, but called off their pursuit for safety reasons.More carjackings, highway chaseAround 6 p.m., police got a report the vehicle was involved in crash in Lloydminster. The suspects attempted another carjacking a few minutes later, firing two shots at the driver, who got away, police say. They then assaulted another person and stole their truck, which led to another police chase, east of Lloydminster. Police called off that chase when the truck veered into oncoming traffic on Highway 16.Just before 7 p.m., police in Maidstone got a report of another truck being stolen, which was later found back in Lloydminster. A 21-year-old woman was arrested in the area.Finally, around 7:30 p.m., RCMP received a report that a truck carrying two males had gotten stuck near Hillmond, Sask..The people in the truck fled, but were arrested nearby.2 men, 1 woman facing dozens of chargesTwo men — a 24-year-old from Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation in Saskatchewan and a 33-year-old from Lloydminster — were jointly charged with 14 offences. The 24-year-old faces 15 other charges, and the 33-year-old faces seven more.Among the charges faced by the two are: * Theft of truck. * Robbery using a firearm. * Discharge of a firearm. * Unauthorized possession of a firearm. * Assault. * Uttering threats. * Flight from police.The 21-year-old woman, who is from Makwa Sahgaiehcan, was charged with several offences, including possession of property obtained by crime, possession of a controlled substance, and two counts of failure to comply. She was also wanted by police at the time of her arrest.All three are set to appear in court next week.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Friday announced that there would be additional measures in place at restaurants and bars, including requiring people to remain seated at all times and keeping records of patrons for 30 days to allow for contact-tracing.
VICTORIA — Health officials in British Columbia are reporting 50 new COVID-19 cases and one death as the province heads into a summer holiday weekend.Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix say in a joint statement people should strive to socialize safely and in small groups this B.C. Day weekend.Henry and Dix say the long weekend is an opportunity to find the balance between making social connections with friends and family while staying safe.The Health Ministry says Friday's figure of 50 new COVID-19 cases is the highest number since April.The ministry says most of the new cases are connected to an ongoing outbreak at a berry packing plant in the Fraser Valley.Henry and Dix also reported one new death in the Vancouver area, bringing B.C.'s death total to 195 people.The statement says there are now 3,641 COVID-19 cases in B.C. and 3,168 people have recovered.There is also one new health-care facility outbreak at Dania Home in the Fraser Health region, the statement says.This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 31, 2020. The Canadian Press
A Canadian-American couple were devastated to discover that Canada won't recognize their marriage, performed with only the groom present at the wedding while the bride participated via FaceTime."It broke my heart," said Lauren Pickrell, 35, of Windsor, Ont. She has been separated from her American partner, Mark Maksymiuk, since early March due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. The couple had hoped that by getting married, they could reunite in Canada, which allows American spouses to enter the country."I had really high expectations because I felt in my heart that we did everything right," Pickrell said. She and Maksymiuk, 32, were legally married on July 6 and have a valid marriage licence from the state of Kansas. The catch is that only Maksymiuk was physically present at the official wedding ceremony in Kansas City, Kan. Pickrell later participated via FaceTime in an informal ceremony for the couple, held at a chapel in neighbouring Kansas City, Mo. Kansas City straddles the two states.U.S. immigration law will recognize marriages in which only the bride or groom was physically present at the ceremony — known as a proxy marriage — once the couple physically unite.Canada, however, is not on board. Maksymiuk said he discovered this when he tried to enter the country and explained the details of his proxy marriage when questioned by a border officer."His exact words were, 'You know, we don't view this type of marriage as valid,'" said Maksymiuk, who was denied entry to Canada. "I was crying. I broke down."Proxy marriages legal in KansasMaksymiuk lives in Royal Oak, Mich., about 26 kilometres from Pickrell's home in Windsor. Despite the short distance, the couple remain apart.To help stop the spread of COVID-19, Canada has banned foreigners from entering for non-essential travel. On top of that, the U.S. land border is closed to Canadian visitors. Canadians can still fly to the U.S., but Pickrell said she can't get enough time off work right now to travel and then self-isolate for two weeks upon her return. Canada recently loosened its travel restrictions to allow immediate family to enter, including spouses and common-law partners.Committed couples who don't meet the criteria have scrambled for solutions, including marriage — if they can get to the same location.Pickrell and Maksymiuk searched for a possible alternative and discovered a little known fact: Couples can legally marry in Kansas in a proxy ceremony. The two decided to give it a shot."If you really love someone, you do whatever it takes," Pickrell said.Henry Chang, a business immigration lawyer in Toronto, said Kansas wound up legalizing proxy marriages by neglecting to spell out in the law who must attend the wedding. "They just forgot to mention that both parties had to be present in order for the ceremony to be legal," said Chang, a partner with the law firm Dentons."Because of that, it's implied that you can get away with it."Groom denied entry into CanadaTo seal the deal, Maksymiuk flew to the state of Kansas, where he obtained a marriage licence and attended a proxy ceremony in Kansas City, Kan., set up by Your Magical Day wedding chapel, which specializes in proxy marriages. Your Magical Day then held an informal ceremony for the couple at a nearby chapel in Kansas City, Mo. "It's in a strip mall," Maksymiuk said. "It almost feels like you're walking into a doctor's office, but there's, like, ribbons and bows and stuff on the wall."Pickrell appeared via FaceTime on an iPad. At the time, she was at her job as a kitchen supervisor at a restaurant just outside Windsor. Her boss and co-workers joined her for the ceremony while her family tuned in from Montreal."It was perfect," Pickrell said. "I never wanted to have a big wedding."But things fell apart five days later at the Detroit-Windsor border when Maksymiuk tried to enter Canada and was denied entry."It was absolutely devastating," he said. In 2015, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) stopped recognizing proxy marriages unless the bride or groom is a member of the Canadian military.IRCC told CBC News that it made the change due to concerns that proxy marriages could involve an unwilling spouse who never consented. Maksymiuk said the government's position is frustrating, as he and Pickrell have been in a committed relationship for almost five years."It doesn't seem right or fair."What are the options?Chang, the Toronto lawyer, said Maksymiuk would likely be allowed to enter Canada if he and Pickrell redo their wedding ceremony in the U.S. — together. "Unfortunately, that's the only way to save it."Because that's currently not an option, the couple hopes the federal government will broaden its immediate family exemptions to allow more couples to reunite. "It's a difficult time to be alone, and they need to recognize that," Pickrell said. "Love is essential and love is not tourism."Ever since the government introduced its immediate family exemptions in June, it has faced pressure from separated families and couples who don't meet the criteria. The Public Health Agency of Canada told CBC News last week that it's reviewing its definition of immediate family while still keeping in mind the risks posed by international travel during the pandemic.Meanwhile, Pickrell and Maksymiuk say they have no regrets about their proxy marriage, which allowed them to celebrate their love — albeit remotely."It made me really happy," Pickrell said. "Mark is my husband. No one can tell me different."
A 39-year-old Indigenous man and his mother say they went to an East Vancouver Walmart on Mother's Day in 2019 to buy some patio furniture and food to celebrate the holiday. Instead, they say they were racially profiled, arrested and, in the man's case, beaten by Vancouver police officers, after a security guard falsely accused them of shoplifting. The pair say they were later released without charges after presenting their receipt.The allegations are detailed in a B.C. Supreme Court lawsuit filed Wednesday by Shane Robertson and his mother, 61-year-old Margaret Deneault, against the Vancouver Police Department and Walmart Canada. None of the claims have been proven in court.The arrest left Robertson, who was on disability insurance from a traumatic brain injury, with broken ribs and a concussion, the lawsuit alleges. Deneault, 61, says she suffered an injury to her arm, along with trauma and humiliation. The allegations add to mounting stories of police violence against Indigenous people in Canada.Vancouver police defended their decision in January to handcuff an Indigenous man and his 12-year-old granddaughter after they tried to open an account at a Bank of Montreal. In June, police in Edmunston, N.B., shot and killed Chantel Moore, a 26-year-old Indigenous woman, during a wellness check. That same month, a Nunavut officer was filmed knocking over an Indigenous man with a moving car door while arresting him for public intoxication."This is a pattern that keeps repeating itself," Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said at the time.Arrested without warningRobertson and Deneault — who is a mental health addictions worker with custody of Robertson's eight-year-old son — went to the store on Grandview Highway on the afternoon of May 12, 2019, along with the boy and Deneault's niece.After shopping for 45 minutes, they paid and started to leave, with Robertson pushing their bagged items in a shopping cart, the lawsuit says.They say a security guard confronted them at the exit and accused them of shoplifting, but did not ask for a receipt.Robertson told the guard they had paid and walked out to their car, which was parked in a designated spot for people with disabilities, according to the lawsuit. At that point, police were called about a theft.Six VPD officers arrived in three separate cars as the son and mother unloaded bags in their car.Four officers allegedly tackled Robertson to the ground and restrained him by forcing their knees on the back of his head, neck and legs.They repeatedly punched and kneed the man in his back, head and legs, before handcuffing and arresting him, the lawsuit says. Robertson says he did not resist arrest. Officers then allegedly grabbed Deneault from the driver's seat, put her in handcuffs and arrested her.Both Robertson and Deneault say police never asked for a receipt or explained why they were under arrest.The Vancouver Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 'Resent and distrust police'Robertson and Deneault are now seeking damages over the incident. In addition to the VPD and Walmart, they are suing two unnamed police officers and the security guard. The lawsuit claims VPD officers wrongfully arrested the pair, and used "unlawful and excessive" force on Robertson.On top of his physical injuries, Robertson suffered trauma and humiliation that has led him to "resent and distrust police officers and security guards."The officers also violated the pair's charter rights by not citing the reason for their arrest, and the two officers who watched had a duty to stop the beating, the lawsuit says.Deneault took time off work due to trauma, and is at higher risk of losing custody of Robertson's son, the lawsuit says.The security guard had no reason to suspect theft, the lawsuit alleges, and was "ostensibly motivated to stop and harass Robertson because of his race and physical appearance."Felicia Fefer, a spokesperson for Walmart Canada, said the company doesn't comment on matters before the courts. "However, respect is a core value at Walmart Canada and we do not tolerate any behaviour which contradicts this value, including racism and discrimination," she wrote.
Patrons in Ontario looking to dine out at restaurants, bars and even boat tours will soon need to provide their names and contact information under a new law intended to improve COVID-19 contact tracing, raising some concerns with a privacy expert.The regulations come into effect next Friday and require everyone remain seated unless they're picking up food or going to the washroom. Their names and contact information will also have to be kept on file for 30 days."It seems every week we do get a whole new list of protocols that are put into place. Some of them reasonable, some of them not so reasonable, but we've been able to negotiate happy mediums for most of those protocols," said Bob Firestone, owner of the Blue Cactus Bar & Grill in the ByWard Market.Business has been picking up at his restaurant, with a packed — but physically distanced — patio most evenings. He plans to abide by the rules, likely by writing down the names and contact information of people as they're seated, and then transferring that information into a computer database the next day.End to anonymity, says expertThat raises some concerns for Teresa Scassa, Canada Research Chair in Information Law and Policy at the University of Ottawa.She understands why the government is introducing the regulations, after an uptick in cases linked primarily to bars, but believes it means the end to anonymous dining — at least for now."I think for many people that has implications both for their privacy and perhaps also for their freedom of association," she said.But she also points out it's a balance."Those are our fundamental rights that are important to us, but our rights under the [Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms] are always balanced against other competing public interests, and in this case the competing public interest is controlling the spread of COVID-19."Privacy laws dictate how to collect, destroy dataShe said these companies have to abide not only by the new rules, but existing privacy laws.That means ensuring employees are trained on how to collect people's information and dispose of it properly after the month is up."You can't just scribble the names down and leave the sheet of paper sitting at the front entrance way. You have to securely store the information," she said. "You don't toss lists in the garbage. If they're handwritten lists, you shred them, or if they're on a computer, you make sure the file is properly deleted."There's also what she terms "the human factor" – making sure employees or anyone else don't misuse the information for their own purposes.As of Friday, people could also download a new COVID Alert app that lets users know if they've been in close proximity with someone who has been infected with the novel coronavirus.Scassa points out the app and the collection of people's personal information are overlapping measures. If one fails — such as if someone doesn't bring their phone with them to the bar or doesn't have it turned on — the other should help health officials get in touch with those people.For Firestone, he hopes the weather remains good, business continues to pick up and people remain vigilant."Everybody's got to work collectively to follow the rules so we can all come to work on a daily basis and not feel nervous that we're going to get shut down."
The PearTree Restaurant, a highly acclaimed culinary landmark in Burnaby, B.C., is shutting its doors after 23 years. While the onset of a pandemic paired with an already challenging Vancouver-area restaurant scene did not help matters, Scott Jaeger said the closure was months in the works.Jaegar is co-owner alongside his wife, Stephanie Jaeger. Together, they achieved success with their Burnaby Heights restaurant, each one of them individually inducted into the BCRFA restaurant Hall of Fame."It's been amazing," Stephanie said. "It's 23 years. People come for their first dates. You see them have their first baby. And now all of a sudden that baby is coming for dinner with a date."The high cost of rent posed problems for the pair even before the pandemic forced restaurants to temporarily close, Scott said. "The building has gotten older and changed and things become more expensive. Our rent increase is quite high ... and we're not really finding a solution," he said. "This hasn't happened overnight. It's been the last kind of year and a half has been building to this, negotiating and knowing that it wasn't going well."For now, the pair say they are hearing from staff, both past and present, reminiscing on the restaurant's history."A lot of cooks have called this home and they've trained here and learned here and you know, it's a special place," Scott said. "We've certainly had a lot of past staff reach out in the last few days as well just to say what this has meant to them," said Stephanie.The couple says they're not sure of their future plans, especially given the current conditions, but they won't be straying far from the culinary scene."We're still looking for that next location and project and transition into what we do," Scott said.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California health officials reported the state’s first coronavirus death of a child on Friday as the statewide tally of fatalities surpassed 9,000, saying the victim was a teenager who had other health conditions.The teenager's death occurred in the Central Valley, but officials at the state Department of Public Health released no other details, citing privacy rules. The Central Valley is the state’s major agricultural region and recently has become one of California’s hot spots for the virus.It’s extremely rare for children to die of the coronavirus. As of mid-July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 228 children had died of the disease in the U.S., less than 0.2% of the nation’s deaths at the time.In California, more than 9,000 people have now died from the virus, and three-quarters were 65 and older. Only about 9% of California’s nearly half-million confirmed virus cases are children, and very few have suffered conditions serious enough for hospitalization, according to state data.Scientists still aren’t certain why children don’t seem to be as seriously affected by the virus as adults.In March, Los Angeles County officials said a 17-year-old boy died of the virus. At the time it was believed to be the first death of a child, but days later local health officials walked back the initial finding, saying it was possible he died from something else. County health officials said the case would need to be evaluated by the Centers for Disease Control.Rex Parris, the mayor of Lancaster, said the boy from his city died from septic shock after being admitted to the hospital with respiratory issues.How likely children are to contract and spread the virus is a key question as leaders in California and elsewhere determine if and how to safely reopen schools this fall. Most California counties are now on a state monitoring list because of rising virus cases and and may not reopen schools for in-person instruction until they are off the list for 14 days.Statewide, 96 deaths were reported in the last day, according to figures released Friday. Cases are still increasing by the thousands each day, but the curve appears to be flattening. The average number of new cases per day over the past week was 8,322, compared to 9,881 in the previous week.The average percentage of people testing positive dropped to 6.5% over the past seven days, compared to 7.2% over 14 days.Gov. Gavin Newsom pledged more support for the Central Valley on Monday, including $52 million in federal money for eight counties to improve testing and find places for people to isolate or quarantine if they can’t do so at home. The eight counties, including Fresno and Kern, home to major cities, had positive test rates between 11% and 18% at the beginning of the week.For many people, the coronavirus causes no symptoms and for others only mild or moderate illness, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and be fatal.Kathleen Ronayne, The Associated Press
When the first COVID-19 vaccines become available, there won't be enough for everyone who wants it, both nationally and internationally.We'll take a closer look at the issue with global vaccine distribution and prioritization in another article.But for now, within Canada, who should get it first and how will that be decided?Why we can expect vaccine shortagesThere are more than 166 vaccines at various stages of preclinical and clinical (human) testing right now, the World Health Organization says. U.S. and European experts say under an optimistic scenario, the first of those vaccines could complete testing and get approval for distribution next year. But then, a factory would have to produce them under the safety and quality standards required for something that's going to be injected into human bodies — something it can only do at a limited rate, say experts such as Dr. Joel Lexchin. He's a professor emeritus at York University and an emergency physician in Toronto who has studied and written about pharmaceutical policy.Meanwhile, with a global pandemic that has wreaked havoc on countries' economies and people's lives around the world, there's a lot of demand for a vaccine from the global population of 7.8 billion people. "Not everyone will be able to get it," Lexchin said. "And therefore we'll have to prioritize."Because of that, it's expected, initially at least: * Some countries will get more access than others. * Some groups within those countries will get more access than others.We'll take a closer look at the international issues in another article, but here are some of the issues that leaders are dealing with in Canada.How countries will decide the highest priority groupsWhen supplies are limited, countries will need to find a way to get the "maximum benefit for whatever minimal supply we have," says Dr. Noni MacDonald, a professor of pediatrics and infectious diseases at Dalhousie University and IWK Hospital in Halifax who has studied ethical issues related to vaccines. "That's what you have to do."In Canada, that evaluation, based on evidence, is done by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, which it says is guided by the goals of Canada's pandemic response: * Minimize serious illness and overall deaths (including from causes other than COVID-19). * Minimize societal disruption, including reducing the burden of health-care resources.It says the vaccine is expected to play an important role in achieving that.Of course, worldwide, front-line health-care workers who care for COVID-19 patients are expected to get the highest priority for access to vaccines, as they are at high risk of being exposed to the virus and are crucial for minimizing harms such as serious illness and deaths.Beyond that, decisions get more complicated, but in general, countries are expected to target populations that are at very high or highest risk of severe disease and death, said Prof. Ruth Faden, founder of the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore."And those people will likely vary from country to country," she told CBC News. For example, in the U.S., she noted in an article in Futurity, obesity is having a major impact on the risk of severe disease.Prioritization starts at clinical trial stageFor now, NACI is recommending which groups be targeted for clinical trials.Faden said that's "critical," as vaccines might work differently in different groups and sometimes those groups may be left out: "There is a huge recognition and awareness of the importance of diversifying who will be involved in these Phase 3 trials."For early phase (Phase 1 and 2) clinical trials, NACI recommends prioritizing not just healthy adults, who are typically used to test for safety, but also: * Adults 60 years of age and older without underlying health conditions, because of their higher risk of getting severe disease. * Children and adolescents, immunocompromised adults and pregnant women "as soon as it is feasible" to add them.For late phase (Phase 3) clinical trials, when safety has already been established and the focus is on efficacy, NACI recommends prioritizing people: * With health conditions that are risk factors for severe COVID-19, such as asthma, diabetes, hypertension, chronic lung disease and cardiovascular disease. * Whose jobs make them more susceptible, such as other health-care workers, emergency workers, those who have a lot of social contact in their jobs or international business travellers. * Whose social conditions make them more susceptible, such as those living in long-term care or crowded or remote locations, people who are homeless and those with tobacco, alcohol or drug use disorders. It may also include certain races or ethnicities or some immigrants or refugees and international travellers.Who was prioritized for pandemic flu vaccinationThe groups that are most vulnerable to COVID-19, including older adults, are a little bit different than they were for flu pandemics such as H1N1 (where pregnant women, infants and young children were most at risk). But the federally recommended priority groups when that vaccine rolled out give a sense of what prioritization for COVID-19 vaccine might look like. When the first seven to 10 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine rolled out in 2009, here's who the government recommended vaccinating first: * People with chronic medical conditions under the age of 65. * Pregnant women. * Children under five years of age (but not infants less than six months old.) * People living in remote and isolated settings or communities. * Health-care workers involved in pandemic response or who deliver essential health services. * Household contacts and caregivers of individuals who are at high risk and who cannot be immunized (such as infants under six months of age or people with weakened immune systems).The government noted that the list was not in order of priority, it was up to provinces and territories to adapt the guidelines to their needs and it could be adjusted as more was learned about the virus.The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have an even more detailed priority list for different levels of flu pandemic severity (COVID-19 is considered equivalent to the highest severity). Why the groups for COVID-19 may be differentAs mentioned, COVID-19 tends to be severe in different age groups than pandemic flu. But it also may spread more easily and has a wider range of symptoms — including no symptoms — and there's evidence that it can spread asymptomatically.That's thought to be one of the factors behind severe outbreaks among groups such as migrant farm workers and workers at meat-packing plants.Lexchin suggests those are some of the groups he would prioritize for vaccination given the history of the pandemic in Canada so far, and it should be offered to everyone who works in a facility where they have close contact with multiple people."You have to assume that anybody in one of these vulnerable groups could be infected and therefore you have to [vaccinate] everybody."In the U.S., there's evidence that Latino and Black residents have a higher risk of dying from COVID-19 than their white or Asian counterparts, and there's some evidence that race may be a factor in Canada, too. For example, Toronto recently reported that Black people and other people of colour made up 83 per cent of COVID-19 cases in the city, even though they represent only 50 per cent of the population.Faden said, "There is an important conversation to be had about whether, as part of the much overdue racial reckoning in the U.S., we should consider putting people of colour high on the list for vaccine priority in the early days."While it might sound controversial, she thinks it should be seen simply as prioritizing people who are at elevated risk "whether they're at elevated risk directly because of age or a relevant comorbidity or for any reason they are part of a group that's at elevated risk."Which vaccine we end up with could affect prioritizationBeyond the differences in the course of the disease itself in different groups, the situation with COVID-19 is unique because of the huge number of vaccines under development, which are based on different strategies and technologies. That means they will likely differ in terms of how big a dose and how many doses are needed, how quickly they can be produced in large quantities and how easy they are to transport and distribute. Some may also be more suitable for some populations than others — for example, some may be better suited for older adults and others for younger people.MacDonald gave the example of a vaccine that works well in people aged 20 to 50 but hardly works in an 80-year-old. In that case, she said, "We're not going to get a very big effect by trying to immunize everyone in a long-term care facility … but we would do very well to give the health-care providers who look after them the vaccine so they're less likely to bring infection in."It's also possible that with some vaccines, certain people will require one dose and certain others, for example, older adults, will require two, MacDonald said. So twice as many people in the first group can be immunized with the same amount of vaccine. "How is that going to weigh in? We've never had those kinds of considerations to make in the same way in the past with new vaccines."MacDonald is among experts who hope that ultimately, multiple COVID-19 vaccines under development will make it to market and individuals will be able to access the one that's best for them.
TORONTO — As rent cheques come due, some are warning that Ontarians should prepare for a wave of evictions now that protections put in place earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic have been lifted.The Opposition New Democrats say that because the provincial state of emergency has ended, evictions can start back up again today.The NDP also says newly passed legislation, Bill 184, makes it easier for landlords to evict tenants who fall behind on a repayment plan.The governing Progressive Conservatives have said the bill will help, not harm, tenants. A spokeswoman for the premier says the bill "reinforces to landlords the necessity of exploring repayment agreements and maintaining tenancies – rather than resorting to evictions."Ivana Yelich says eviction orders going out now are mostly ones that were pending before the pandemic began.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 1, 2020. The Canadian Press
Joedie Muise shed a few tears this week.When CBC News first shared her story Monday, she was five days away from losing her apartment and was expecting to end up homeless. Her voice cracked and her eyes welled up when she described her fear and worry.But by Friday, her circumstances had changed. She had a new apartment lined up, a mover scheduled, and a feeling of relief.When a property manager from Killam Apartment REIT called her mid-week offering an apartment, she said she cried tears of joy. "[I] thought maybe I could finally sleep for the first time in a few months."How she got hereMuise's landlord notified her of a rent increase of $150 in March and Muise, who is on income assistance, knew she wouldn't be able to afford it. She brings in $1,000 a month and the new rent, which takes effect Aug. 1, will be $1,049.She searched for a new apartment, unsuccessfully, for months. She was facing a rental market with one per cent vacancy and a system of government and non-profit housing support that is struggling to provide help to all those who need it. More than 400 people are known to be homeless right now in Nova Scotia, and more than 5,000 people, including Muise, are on the waitlist for public housing.After CBC shared her story, she heard from dozens of people who offered to help, including a few offers of new apartments. Two fell through, but all she needed was one to stick. By Friday afternoon, she had her signed lease in hand.Housing minister weighs inChuck Porter, the minister of municipal affairs and housing, said that while he couldn't comment on the specifics of Muise's situation, he was pleased to hear she had found a new place."We would like the rents to be what people consider fair and affordable, mostly because we have a number of people looking," Porter said in an interview Friday.But when it comes to rent control, Porter was lukewarm."We're not in the business of telling businesses how much they can charge for something," he said.Porter said there's "plenty of data" that shows rent control doesn't work, although he couldn't provide specific information."It's not my department or my specialty," he said, deferring to his cabinet colleague Patricia Arab, who's portfolio includes the Residential Tenancies Act. Porter said her department has done jurisdictional scans of rent control and concluded it doesn't work.Porter said his department would rather work directly with landlords to keep rents affordable.New infrastructurePorter said his department is "heavily involved" in discussions right now about how to shrink the waitlist for public housing, which has grown almost 30 per cent in the past two years. The solution, he said, could include building more infrastructure, but not necessarily public housing infrastructure.Porter said he was interested in partnerships with the private and non-profit sectors to build and manage more affordable housing, and the use of inclusionary zoning policies at the municipal level to put affordable housing quotas on new developments.What's next for MuiseMuise said her new $820 apartment will cost her $500 per month. The rest will be covered by a rent subsidy that the provincial housing authority offered to her this week. She said she heard from the housing authority a few hours after her story was published.She also heard from dozens of people this week who wanted to help her financially, and she's received enough to cover her first month's rent and damage deposit, with some left over to go into savings.Muise signed the lease for her new apartment sight unseen, but had high hopes for the space. She was excited to have a balcony after living in a basement apartment with no outdoor space for the past 16 years.She has a mover booked for Saturday who's willing to work for a $200 moving allowance provided by social assistance.She said she'd be happy to stay in her new apartment for the rest of her life."I'm not a person who likes to move. I just want somewhere where I can just stay and stay and stay."MORE TOP STORIES
Tara McCallum nearly lost her youngest daughter on her late mother's birthday, as the girl was pulled from a swimming pool unresponsive two weeks ago.The five-year-old girl had jumped into the pool at the Prince Albert Inn on July 14 while her older brother, who was watching over her, stepped away for three minutes to use the restroom, the mother recalled.Traylynn McCallum, who just celebrated her fifth birthday in June, saw other children going into the water so she wanted to join them, according to the girl's mother, who was in their motel room at the time. McCallum said the child does not know how to swim."I freaked out. I didn't know what to do," McCallum said of the moments after her 12-year-old son said the girl had drowned."I was just crying. I didn't know what to think."McCallum said another parent pulled the girl from the water. When McCallum arrived at the pool, someone had performed CPR on the child and she was breathing again."I broke down crying when I [saw] her. I didn't know if she was going to be OK," she recalled.Weeks later, Traylynn has recovered and isn't afraid of the water, McCallum said Friday. Traylynn has told her mother she still wants to go swimming.McCallum said she is thankful for the bystanders and the paramedics who arrived on scene. Parkland Ambulance held a presentation in Prince Albert on Friday for rescuer awards and certificates of commendation.Two of the rescuers were not in attendance at Friday's presentation, but McCallum said she would still like to extend her gratitude.Parkland Ambulance said when they got the call around 8:30 that evening about a child not breathing after being found in a pool, ""the caller was frantic.""Our medical communications team took charge to calm the caller and start CPR," a news release said.Parkland Ambulance thanked the bystanders for being at the right place at the right time and pulling the "little lifeless child" from the water.The organization said the employee who took the call, Danielle Henry, remained calm. Henry said the quicker CPR is started on a drowning victim, the better chance of them recovering. A news release from Parkland Ambulance said the girl had been experiencing cardiac arrest."It was quite uplifting when we found out when [paramedics] arrived on scene that she was waking up," Henry said. "It was a really good day because we don't get a lot of those when somebody isn't breathing."The release warned about letting children near water edges, and that taking an eye off of them could lead to tragedy.McCallum offers similar advice for kids and parents."Always go with an adult wherever you go, because it takes not even a minute to drown," she said. "You have to take care of your kids every second when they go swimming."
TORONTO — It's getting harder and harder for Rachel Huot to keep the tone positive when she talks to her children about going back to school.The Toronto-based mother of three — including two school-aged children — said she's always tried to keep the mood upbeat, but the province's newly released plan for returning to class in September has led to trepidation for her, and confusion for her kids."They want to be in school, but they've spent months hearing about safety risks and practising physical distancing, and walking down the street carefully and going into stores wearing masks. So it's a big deal for kids," she said.Huot is among the multitude of parents now grappling with whether to send their children back to school in September or keep them at home for another attempt at remote learning.And while some say they're thrilled with the government's plans, others are nervous.Huot, an organizer with the advocacy group Ontario Parent Action Network, said her biggest issue is that the province's plan doesn't mandate physical distancing, nor does it reduce class sizes for elementary students.Both measures were high on the list of recommendations in a report from Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children on how back-to-school should be handled."I think that we can't just pick and choose what strategies are going to keep our kids safe," she said, adding that she's waiting to hear from her school board about how it will implement the province's guidelines before deciding whether to send her two older kids — aged nine and 12 — back to the classroom.Teachers are also waiting for those more specific, board-level instructions, said Vickita Bhatt, a Grade 7 teacher in Peel Region.But she said she's not sure what the board could do to make her feel safe returning to the classroom."I'm afraid for my students, I'm afraid for their families, and I'm afraid for my colleagues and myself," she said. "Schools are supposed to be a safe place for children, but this plan really doesn't adequately address the safety concerns of students or staff. I mean, restaurants, grocery stores and gyms have more safety restrictions in place than elementary schools."Bhatt said she expects that her class this year will have 25 students, and she doesn't think it will be possible to keep them distanced.Nor does she know how she'll manage the prospect of teaching in class and providing online learning materials to students kept home by wary parents."We haven't been told how this plan is actually going to be coming into fruition, so we have no idea what is expected of us," she said.Even so, Bhatt said she and her colleagues know how important it is to return to the classroom."We know the mental health of our students is at stake," she said. "We want to be in school, we just want to do it safely."Joanna Cabral, whose two sons attend school in Peel Region, said she's pleased with the government's plans, in large part because her children's mental health has suffered during the pandemic.Cabral said her kids, aged eight and 16, struggled with online learning. A return to class is welcome news for her family."They need that structure back," she said. "And honestly, I don't think the government would send our kids back to school if they didn't feel like they were safe."Cabral's eldest son, who will be in Grade 11, will only be in school half the time because Peel is one of two dozen boards where high schoolers will attend class part-time, in cohorts of 15.She said that prospect is better than nothing. She works from home, so they'll figure something out for the times when he isn't in class.Her one concern is about the province's new masking requirement, which states students in Grade 4 and up need to wear face coverings while attending class or spending time in common spaces.She said she's not sure how it will be enforced, particularly for younger children."I don't know how it's gonna be for the kids," she said. "That's very hard to wear a mask." This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 31, 2020.Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
If Canada has John A. MacDonald and the United States has George Washington, then British Columbia has James Douglas."I think almost every historian in British Columbia believes if there had been no James Douglas, there would be no British Columbia," said historian Jean Barman, author of the pre-eminent book on general B.C. history, West Beyond The West. Douglas, a career Hudson's Bay Company man, founded Fort Victoria in 1843, was governor of Vancouver Island when the 1858 Gold Rush happened, and subsequently was appointed the first governor of the new colony of British Columbia by Britain.It's why there are streets and schools and parks named for him across the province, an obelisk at the legislature, and a statue at Government House — nobody remotely looms as large in the creation of B.C. as a political entity. "It's just 25 years between when the first non-Indigenous people — apart from some people in the fur trade — came into this territory, and British Columbia became a province," Barman said."If he wasn't here, I honestly think there would have been no British Columbia because he pulls the strings."At least, that's one part of the story. Founder and colonizer The other part of the story is the decades of displacement, discrimination and depopulation of Indigenous people that happened after Douglas effectively colonized this province."He was part of the colonial overrule that was being forced onto the Indigenous communities of the time, and my community [was] essentially colony one," said Brandon Gabriel, a Kwantlen artist and former historical researcher for the Kwanten First Nation. The Kwantlen people resided along the Fraser River long before Douglas was sworn in as B.C.'s first governor at Fort Langley in 1858 — and long before it was known as the Fraser River.Gabriel argues Douglas didn't do anything to put Indigenous people on equal footing, and left them out of most discussions when it came to the political formation of the province. "Their presence as a colonizing force wasn't met on agreeable terms, to put it nicely … I see him as kind of a beachhead," he said.And he says that part of the story was ignored for far too long."The telling of the story of the making of this province and this country is largely developed by the colonizing forces … there's a pervasive overrepresentation of that narrative that we contend with. And it creates a difficult situation for Indigenous scholars." Barman agrees that Douglas' record, ultimately, is mixed."Douglas was not a racist as such," she wrote."He made participatory — as opposed to wholly imposed — land treaties in 1850 on Vancouver Island and sought to do much the same in the Interior in the wake of the 1858 Gold Rush during which he attempted, with not a great deal of success, to address the concerns of Indigenous people who had often gotten to the diggings first."Douglas doing all of this does not cancel out, however, his preference for Englishmen as being respectable and suitably in charge."Who lives, who dies, who tells your storyIn the middle of this debate — and in an era where statues for colonizing figures around the world are being taken down — a City of Langley councillor wants to put up a plaque. "I really want people to understand the complex history of this province and to celebrate the positive attributes and also acknowledge the horrific things that happened as well. And I think we can do both," Nathan Pachal said.He passed a council motion that will see the city consult with the Kwantlen and other nearby First Nations, along with the B.C. Black History Awareness Society, in creating a plaque in Langley's Douglas Park.Douglas was mixed race, born to a Creole mother in Guyana. Pachal's mother immigrated from Liberia, and he wants the plaque to mention the hundreds of Black immigrants from San Francisco that Douglas invited to settle in Victoria. "When you don't see yourself in history you don't feel like you're connected to this place as much as other people and you can even start to question your legitimacy," he said.Pachal says the plaque won't go ahead without support from local First Nations. Gabriel says he hopes engagement with them isn't "tokenistic.""I hope their intention is to create something that is very lasting, very visible, and not a mere plaque … I don't think it will work if there's not a buy-in, and I think there needs to be some honest discussion."Whether the totality of Douglas' legacy can be agreed on by all sides — and fit on a single plaque — remains to be seen.But plaques are symbols, symbolizing who matters in this province, and why.You cannot tell the story of British Columbia without James Douglas, but how you tell his story matters a great deal."I hope it will help spark interest in people about [our] past history," Pachal said. "We have a rich history, and a rich history means that there's ups and downs, but we can … acknowledge our past and hopefully help us make better decisions in the future."
MONTREAL — Quebec's public health director has filed a complaint with provincial police after personal information, including an address, was shared on social media.Dr. Horacio Arruda submitted information to the police, who will investigate the situation, Quebec's Health Department said in an email on Friday.The department did not elaborate on the content of the offending social media message but said it deplores such publications, regardless of who they are about.Quebec provincial police did not confirm or deny that a complaint had been received.Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, some social media users have insulted Arruda online when they disagree with measures taken by the Quebec government to stop the potential spread of the novel coronavirus.In particular, Arruda has been targeted this month over a directive mandating mask-wearing in indoor public spaces across the province.Hundreds of Quebecers have protested in Quebec City and Montreal, among other places, against that new rule.This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 31, 2020.The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia reported its first new cases of COVID-19 in over two weeks Friday as a requirement to wear masks in most indoor public spaces came into effect.Health officials said the cases — the first since July 15 — involved people who had travelled together outside Canada and were now in self-isolation.The cases were identified in the central zone of the province, which includes Halifax."This is a strong reminder that COVID is still here, and without taking proper precautions, the number of cases can quickly spike," Premier Stephen McNeil told reporters.The Nova Scotia Health Authority issued an advisory aimed at anyone who had travelled on Air Canada flight 626 on July 19 from Toronto to Halifax. The flight departed Toronto at approximately 10 p.m. and landed in Halifax at approximately 1 a.m.It said while anyone could have been exposed, passengers in rows 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, seats C, D and F were more likely to have had close contact. The health authority said anyone exposed to the virus on the flight could develop symptoms up to and including Aug. 3.Meanwhile, a mandatory mask policy announced one week ago took effect in most indoor public spaces in the province, including retail businesses, shopping centres, hair salons and places of worship. People entering restaurants or bars also have to wear a mask until they begin eating or drinking.Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer of health, said the measure is necessary to minimize any potential second wave of COVID-19. He said he expects it will take time for mask wearing to become a habit."So we need to start making masks a habit now," he said.Strang reiterated that the province would not take a "heavy-handed approach" to mask enforcement and would leave the responsibility for wearing them to members of the public, at least initially.However, he said there are general enforcement measures under a public health order, including a $1,000 fine.The Atlantic provinces remain in talks about opening up to the rest of Canada and Strang said the mask measure was also partly done with risks associated with that in mind."We need to have things in place, both in the next few weeks and into the next few months, that give us the maximum ability to minimize the spread of COVID-19," said Strang.But exactly when the region will welcome visitors from the rest of Canada is still an open question according to the premier.McNeil said while there still isn't agreement on a specific date among the premiers, there are other factors at play."Part of it is we need to continue to make sure we can control the virus ... and we've heard from citizens who have a level of anxiety, and we need to work with that."Nova Scotia has reported a total of 1,069 positive COVID-19 cases and 64 deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus.Nobody is currently in hospital being treated for the disease.This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 31, 2020.Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press
Toronto city council has waded into the debate over the province's controversial Bill 184 — a new law that critics say makes it too easy for landlords to evict tenants who've fallen behind in their rent.Council voted Thursday to launch a legal challenge against the bill. They say its provisions will impede the right of tenants to a full and fair hearing at the Landlord and Tenant Board, a provincial tribunal that hears disputes between renters and landlords. That, combined with the lifting of a provincial moratorium on evictions, will lead to overwhelming homelessness, according to Coun. Gord Perks, who authored the motion calling for a court challenge."That problem — that horrible problem, which we can see on our streets in the form of encampments and people sleeping rough on sidewalks — will balloon out of any proportion that we have ever experienced in the city of Toronto," he said.Perk's motion passed by a vote of 22 to 2.Councillors maintained that more than 3,000 pending evictions were paused by the province's moratorium. Geordie Dent, executive director of the Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations, warned Bill 184 will handcuff the most vulnerable tenants who've fallen behind in their rent payments, and who are often unsure of their legal rights."I can't imagine that, during a global pandemic, what you try to do is throw grandma and grandpa into the streets as fast as possible," he said. "It doesn't make any sense from either a moral or public health standpoint."Dent and other tenants' advocates maintain that, while currently all disputes over evictions and rent in arrears must be heard by the Landlord and Tenant Board — some of which result in rent repayment plans — the bill would allow landlords to bypass the board, offer tenants their own repayment plan and in many cases speed up the eviction process.However, the government of Premier Doug ford says the legislation will "strengthen protections for tenants and make it easier to resolve landlord and tenant disputes."An official with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has previously explained in an email to CBC News that if an agreement is reached between the landlord and tenant, it must still be submitted to the board for approval, and if approved, the board would then issue a consent order. The official explained that after a consent order is issued, a tenant has 30 days to appeal the order if they feel they were pressured into the agreement. And if a tenant is offered a repayment plan, they still have a right to a hearing.Coun. Stephen Holyday, who voted against Perks's motion, argued that during an acute housing shortage, the city should not be discouraging people from becoming landlords."Who wants to get into the business of landlords? I think the city could do a lot to help small landlords come forward and solve some of the housing issues in this city," he said."And one of those major pieces is getting a reasonable, fair, equitable, efficient regulatory framework that both protects tenants and protects landlords."He also questioned the expense involved in the challenge: "This is another example of using taxpayers money to fight taxpayers money," he said. "I wish we would just pay attention to the immediate needs of the city, rather than taking on larger political fights." Mayor John Tory voted in favour of the challenge, despite his belief that it's by no means a slam dunk that the city will win."It's an uphill struggle because the law, the Constitution, the way those legal and constitutional responsibilities are divided up, it argues strongly against us," he said."But you can't win if you don't try."
Washington State has trapped its first Asian Giant Hornet. The hornet was found in a U.S. Department of Agriculture bottle trap near Birch Bay on July 14.