If you weren't born in 1941 or before you probably shouldn't be trying to book a spot for a COVID vaccine right now, but here's a guide for those who qualify or are helping a loved one. First, a disclaimer: This is perhaps the most complex period of the vaccine rollout, with health officials scrambling to get limited quantities of vaccine into the arms of those deemed at highest risk of getting seriously ill. This article is the best picture CBC Toronto can provide of vaccine distribution in the Greater Toronto Area as of Friday, with the caveat that the current landscape will almost certainly look different by this time next week (it's unclear, for example, how the newly-approved AstraZeneca vaccine will fit into the rollout). Here are the key takeaways everyone should know: You should only be vaccinated in the city you live in. Remember, the overarching goal is still to limit the potential spread of COVID-19, which means staying close to home as much as possible. One more note: this guide is intended for the general public, and doesn't capture those who will be vaccinated by specialized teams — for example, mobile teams distributing vaccines in homeless shelters or other congregate settings. Now that that's clear, here's where you should go to book a vaccination spot if you qualify. Toronto Toronto Public Health will eventually run mass vaccination sites across the city but isn't at this time due to a lack of vaccine, according to its website. You can try to pre-register at some Toronto hospitals, including North York General, Michael Garron and Sunnybrook, but expect a broader rollout of vaccination clinics in the coming weeks. Peel Peel Public Health is directing residents to vaccination clinics in Brampton and Mississauga. You can book at Brampton's William Osler Health System, or Mississauga's Trillium Health Partners. York York Region is running five appointment-only vaccination clinics and its website features a handy tool to help you find the closest one to you. Note: You must book online. Durham Durham's vaccine plan will launch on March 8 with two clinics set to operate at recreation centres in Clarington and Pickering. In addition to those aged 80-plus and health-care workers, the region will offer vaccines to all Indigenous adults and adults who rely on home care. Halton Halton is running appointment-only vaccination clinics in Oakville, Burlington, Georgetown and Milton. You can book online here. The public health unit is also offering free transportation to its clinics, though that travel must be booked 48 hours in advance.
OTTAWA — A newly released email appears to support former military ombudsman Gary Walbourne's assertion that he told Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan about an allegation of sexual misconduct against then-defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance three years ago. The brief email was sent by Zita Astravas, who at the time was Sajjan’s chief of staff, to Walbourne on March 5, 2018. That was four days after Walbourne says he notified the defence minister of the allegation against the military’s top commander during a “hostile” meeting. Referring to a conversation between Walbourne and an official at the Privy Council Office, Astravas wrote: “I trust that you raised the allegations relating to the GIC appointment that you raised with the minister.” Governor-in-council appointments, or GICs, are senior appointments made by the federal cabinet. While Astravas did not include any other details about the nature of the allegation or whom it concerned, the chief of the defence staff is such an appointment. The email was obtained by The Canadian Press through access-to-information law. Asked Thursday whether the allegation in question was against Vance, or whether he raised allegations against any other GIC appointee to the minister, Walbourne would only say: “I believe this was covered in my testimony.” Walbourne testified to the House of Commons’ defence committee Wednesday about his closed-door meeting with Sajjan on March 1, 2018. The former ombudsman said he told Sajjan about an allegation that had been made against Vance. Walbourne told the committee Sajjan declined to look at supporting evidence and instead referred the matter to the Privy Council Office, the department that supports the prime minister and cabinet. The former ombudsman said Sajjan referred the issue to the PCO despite his request to the minister to keep the matter confidential. Walbourne refused to give the committee any details about the allegation he raised in the meeting, citing his duty to preserve confidences. But Global News has reported that it was about a sexually suggestive email Vance allegedly sent to a much more junior military member in 2012, before he became defence chief. Sajjan refused to confirm to the committee last month when he first became aware of potential misconduct by Vance, and said he was as surprised as anyone when Global first reported in February allegations against the former chief of defence staff. The civil servant with whom Astravas's 2018 email said Walbourne should raise the allegation testified immediately after Sajjan last month. Janine Sherman, deputy secretary to the cabinet, also declined to speak to the allegations and how they were handled. However, she did tell the committee that the PCO “did not have information at that time that would have allowed us to take any action.” The Global report alleges Vance had an ongoing relationship with a subordinate that started more than a decade ago and continued after he was named chief of the defence staff in 2015 — when he promised to root sexual misconduct from the Armed Forces. It has also reported on the allegations about Vance sending an email to a much younger female officer in 2012 suggesting they go to a clothing-optional vacation resort. Vance has not responded to repeated requests for comment from The Canadian Press, and the allegations against him have not been independently verified. Global has reported that Vance has denied any wrongdoing. Military police have launched an investigation. Sajjan has also promised a separate, independent investigation, but it has yet to begin. Sajjan’s spokesman Todd Lane declined to comment Thursday on Astravas’s email, and instead provided a written statement repeating the minister’s previous assertion that he “disagrees with parts of (Walbourne's) testimony that occurred in committee.” “He has always been truthful with committee while respecting the need to protect the privacy of any individuals involved,” Lane added. “Any allegations that were brought forward were quickly put forward to the proper authorities.” The official Opposition Conservatives are pushing to expand the defence committee’s probe into the Liberal government’s handling of alleged sexual misconduct by the military’s top brass. In a letter to the committee clerk on Thursday, Conservative committee members described Walbourne’s testimony as “troubling,” adding that it “contradicts that of previous witnesses, including the minister of national defence.” The Conservatives want the committee to reconvene to “discuss the matter of witnesses” and expand the committee’s study to include the government’s handling of allegations of misconduct against Vance’s successor, Admiral Art McDonald. McDonald temporarily stepped aside as chief of the defence staff late last month, only weeks after taking over the position from Vance. Sajjan’s office has said the minister did not know about the allegation against McDonald when he was tapped to succeed Vance. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
Even in 2019, amid her remarkable rise, Bianca Andreescu's availability was a constant question. That was the year she won the prestigious Indian Wells tournament, the Rogers Cup on home soil and became the first Canadian to ever win a singles major title at the U.S. Open. In between, she played just five matches. After the U.S. Open, a left knee injury knocked her out of the season-ending WTA Finals in November. It was over 500 days before Andreescu would play again. She was upset in the second round of the Australian Open last month and lost in the fourth round of a follow-up tournament. The 20-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., then announced she would miss the next three tournaments for health reasons. Here we go again? "Physically it showed that she had all those matches under her belt and quite a few were close and long three-setters ... but it's not a situation where her injuries resurfaced or new injury surfaced," said Andreescu's coach, Sylvain Bruneau. Andreescu's prolonged absence was not solely based on injury. Bruneau said in March the plan was for her to return for the Miami Open — until WTA play was suspended due to concerns over COVID-19. Even with her return on the horizon, Andreescu was stuck in a Melbourne hotel room for two weeks after Bruneau contracted the virus. Other players were allowed out of quarantine for training ahead of the Grand Slam. "The most important thing for me was that she was able to play those two matches at the Australian Open and then four more [in] the tournament right after and get the confirmation that the old injuries were behind us," Bruneau said. WATCH | Breaking down Andreescu's Aussie Open performance: Bruneau says those matches met his expectations for Andreescu. Her movement "was not perfect," but there was reason for hope. There were times she arrived at the ball on time and balanced, and other times Bruneau noticed she was reaching. "She couldn't have been full confidence because she obviously felt she was not at the top of her game, but just playing those matches after the Australian Open, winning those close matches, knowing you're not at the top of your game, but your fighting skills and dealing with them are still there," Bruneau said. "[That] should be a step in the right direction and in some ways a confidence booster for what's next." NBC tennis analyst Mary Carillo agreed with Bruneau's assessment of Andreescu's Australian run, saying she thought the Canadian looked "fit and eager." Patience is key Neither Bruneau nor Carillo expect Andreescu to immediately regain her dominance, instead stressing that it takes time after such a long layoff. "She is clearly somebody who can win multiple majors, but the length of time she spent suffering from one injury after another reminded me of Juan Martin Del Potro," Carillo said. Del Potro won the U.S. Open in 2009 at 20 years old but injured his wrist the following year. That setback periodically flared up throughout the Argentine's career, and he never won another Grand Slam, despite a couple of lengthy runs. ESPN tennis analyst Brad Gilbert made the same comparison. "I think she's exciting and I think she's got a fun game to watch. And fingers crossed that that's all I say. It was the same for [Del Potro]. It was like, 'God, such a great game to watch.' But you don't want to be stopped by being injured," Gilbert said. WATCH | Andreescu stunned in 2nd round of return: Knee injuries can be debilitating for tennis players, but Andreescu's game doesn't solely rely on speed — it's her varied approach that makes her tough to handle. At her best, there are no weaknesses. "When she is playing, I tend to only watch her half of the court," Carillo said. "Almost every other woman is fairly predictable in how they're going to play strategically. With Andreescu, you don't know what the hell is going on in her brain. And all of a sudden there's this gorgeous lob or this sweet little dropshot or she'll break open the point with a heavy forehand." Gilbert was more cautionary about how a knee injury would specifically disrupt Andreescu's game. "In '19 at the Open, the way she was flying around the court, I thought she was the best mover — even better than [current world No. 3 Simona Halep]. … That's something crucial to her game because she's not six feet tall," he said. 'Great ambition, ridiculous talent' With the right dose of practice, load management and tournaments, Bruneau, Carillo and Gilbert would not be surprised to see Andreescu right back where she finished in 2019. "I am not sure that it's totally possible to try to get her to peak for the Olympics or for wherever, as we just need to go through a process and look for her game and everything to fall back into place," Bruneau said. Andreescu is just 20. The Del Potro path is the darkest timeline, but it is far from certain. "The best ability is availability. And if you don't have availability, you can't post results," Gilbert said. "I know there's great ambition and ridiculous talent. I think what we need here is some patience," Carillo added. Given the time off, Andreescu's middling results in Australia were a signal that her previous dominance won't just come back on its own. It takes real matches and consistent practice to get there. In one moment, she was one of eight women invited to the WTA Finals. In the next — 16 months later — Andreescu was upset by an unseeded player in the second round of the Australian Open. "When you feel that great with your game, with your confidence, with everything about your tennis and you're forced to take 16 months off, that's not where you want that to happen usually. When you're getting [to] the top of the mountain, you want to keep going," Bruneau said. Now, Andreescu faces another climb.
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Friday, March 5, 2021. There are 878,391 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 878,391 confirmed cases (29,903 active, 826,337 resolved, 22,151 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 2,832 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 78.68 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 20,063 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,866. There were 47 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 286 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 41. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.11 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 58.28 per 100,000 people. There have been 24,763,481 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 1,002 confirmed cases (125 active, 871 resolved, six deaths). There were five new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 23.94 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 30 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There were zero new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.03 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 200,101 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 138 confirmed cases (23 active, 115 resolved, zero deaths). There was one new case Thursday. The rate of active cases is 14.41 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 18 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 109,360 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,649 confirmed cases (29 active, 1,555 resolved, 65 deaths). There were three new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 2.96 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 25 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.64 per 100,000 people. There have been 350,135 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,443 confirmed cases (37 active, 1,378 resolved, 28 deaths). There were five new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 4.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 16 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There were zero new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.04 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 3.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 239,229 tests completed. _ Quebec: 290,377 confirmed cases (7,379 active, 272,553 resolved, 10,445 deaths). There were 707 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 86.06 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,047 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 721. There were 20 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 84 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.14 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 121.81 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,320,910 tests completed. _ Ontario: 304,757 confirmed cases (10,309 active, 287,424 resolved, 7,024 deaths). There were 994 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 69.97 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 7,446 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,064. There were 10 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 108 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 15. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.1 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 47.67 per 100,000 people. There have been 11,017,094 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 32,051 confirmed cases (1,143 active, 30,005 resolved, 903 deaths). There were 51 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 82.87 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 394 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 56. There were two new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 15 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.16 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 65.47 per 100,000 people. There have been 536,934 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 29,220 confirmed cases (1,422 active, 27,407 resolved, 391 deaths). There were 161 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 120.64 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,029 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 147. There were two new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 11 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.17 per 100,000 people. There have been 581,914 tests completed. _ Alberta: 134,785 confirmed cases (4,613 active, 128,261 resolved, 1,911 deaths). There were 331 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 104.32 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,353 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 336. There were nine new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 37 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 43.22 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,425,265 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 82,473 confirmed cases (4,808 active, 76,289 resolved, 1,376 deaths). There were 564 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 93.4 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,691 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 527. There were four new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 28 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.08 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 26.73 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,950,778 tests completed. _ Yukon: 72 confirmed cases (zero active, 71 resolved, one death). There were zero new cases Thursday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.38 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,187 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 42 confirmed cases (one active, 41 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 2.21 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 14,743 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 369 confirmed cases (14 active, 354 resolved, one death). There were 10 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 35.58 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 14 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,755 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 5, 2021. The Canadian Press
The Pope's three-day visit will include a meeting with Iraq's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.View on euronews
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has faced political pressure and angry constituents over her state’s mask order during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the 76-year-old governor of the deeply red state has resisted calls to drop the requirement as Republican governors across the South either shunned mask mandates altogether or lifted them in late winter. “Maybe they don’t have access to the same information I have. We want to be abundantly clear and abundantly safe before we drop the mask mandate,” Ivey said when asked about fellow Republicans — including the Alabama Senate and the lieutenant governor — who urged her to end the order. Ivey issued Alabama’s mask order in July and announced on Thursday that she would extend it five more weeks until April 9. “We need to get past Easter and hopefully allow more Alabamians to get their first shot before we take a step some other states have taken to remove the mask order altogether and lift other restrictions. Folks, we are not there yet, but goodness knows we’re getting closer,” Ivey said at a Thursday news conference. GOP governors from Texas to South Carolina have resisted, or ended, statewide mask orders. Florida, South Carolina and Georgia never had a statewide order. Ivey’s announcement came days after Mississippi and Texas dropped their mandates, decisions President Joe Biden called “Neanderthal thinking.” Mississippi's governor took issue with the criticism. “Mississippians don’t need handlers. As numbers drop, they can assess their choices and listen to experts. I guess I just think we should trust Americans, not insult them,” Gov. Tate Reeves responded on Twitter. On social media, Ivey’s decision drew a mix of rage and gratitude. “Meemaw you gotta go.... I ain’t wearing it and whoever runs against you in 2022 has got my vote,” one person tweeted at Ivey using the phrase for a Southern grandmother. Another thanked her and wrote, “you are the only Southern governor doing the right thing.” A few questioned if a five-week extension was long enough. In extending the order, Ivey threaded a political needle — following medical advice while letting people know a firm end date is in sight. The governor said wearing a mask will be a personal responsibility after the order expires. “Let me be abundantly clear: After April 9, I will not keep the mask order in effect,” she said. Early in the pandemic, the governor closed dine-in restaurants, beaches and nonessential businesses — all orders that have been lifted. Alabama’s State Health Officer Scott Harris said he presented the governor with information and options, but she made the final decision. “I really appreciate her being willing to do that. I understand it’s a very difficult decision for her. I think the science on masks is very clear that they prevent disease,” Harris said. Dr. Michael Saag, an infectious disease specialist who contracted COVID-19 early in the pandemic and now treats patients with the illness, said Ivey deserves credit for standing up to calls to lift the order from fellow Republicans. “I think it was a bold step forward considering the pressure she was under,” he said. But rather than setting a firm deadline for the requirement to expire, Saag said, it would be better to see where both caseloads and vaccinations totals are next month and then make a decision. Comparing Alabama’s hospitalization trend with those from states that are lifting mask orders could be illuminating, he said. “My only plea at this point is to keep an open mind, to watch the data,” Saag said. “Keep an eye on where Alabama is as compared to where Mississippi and Texas are.” Ivey, known for her folksy demeanour, in December made a tongue-in-cheek quip about the heaping doses of criticism she has received from some over masks. “Y’all, I’m not trying to be Governor Mee-Maw as some on social media have called me. I’m just trying to urge you to use the common sense the good Lord gave each of us to be smart and considerate of others,” she said. Kim Chandler, The Associated Press
That change in the air isn't just the coming of spring: there's a shift happening in the political dynamic surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations. After weeks of the federal Liberal government taking heat for the slow arrival of vaccines in Canada, it's provincial premiers who must now answer to jittery, impatient voters hoping to be immunized as soon as possible. New Brunswick's Liberal opposition is now pushing Premier Blaine Higgs and his Progressive Conservative government for more details about the provincial vaccination plan — details they say other provinces have been providing to their citizens. "We're not trying to play politics with this, but there's certainly not a lot of information being given out to New Brunswickers, and New Brunswickers are asking questions to their MLAs," says Liberal Leader Roger Melanson. Opposition Liberal leader Roger Melanson (CBC News) In January, Higgs said many more New Brunswickers could be vaccinated each week, if only there were enough vaccine. Now those supplies are ramping up fast. New Brunswick received 11,760 doses last week and a similar number is expected this week. Melanson says those doses should be administered as quickly as they arrive. "We're seeing deliveries, much bigger deliveries than what we had been getting since January, so now the onus has shifted onto the provincial governments," says political scientist Stéphanie Chouinard of the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont. Deputy minister of Health Gérald Richard told the legislature's public accounts committee Feb. 24 that New Brunswick would be ready for what he called "a flood" of vaccines, including those from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. "We are very confident that we have a good plan in New Brunswick," Richard said. "It was approved by the COVID cabinet and ratified by cabinet a few months ago." Department of Health deputy minister Gérald Richard, left(Jacques Poitras/CBC) But the only detail the province provided during Monday's vaccine update was that 2,400 more long-term care residents would be done this week, accounting for about a quarter of the doses expected to arrive. And officials have given varying estimates of how many people can be vaccinated per week. In January, when deliveries to the province were still a trickle, Premier Blaine Higgs said 45,000 could be done, if only the province had enough vaccine. On Thursday he told reporters the province could do 40,000, then added it might be possible to double that to 80,000. Last Saturday, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard told CBC's The House that New Brunswick could vaccinate "up to 4,000 people a day," which works out to a maximum of 28,000 per week — below Higgs's estimate. Meanwhile, other provinces are moving faster, or at least providing more detail, on their rollouts. This week, Nova Scotia announced its plan for 13,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the third to be approved in Canada. A health worker holds up a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19. (Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press) The doses arrive next week and Nova Scotia doctors and pharmacists will administer the doses to people aged 50-64 in 26 locations around the province starting March 15. New Brunswick has provided no such detail on what it will do with the approximately 10,000 doses it will receive. Higgs says that will be discussed by the all-party COVID cabinet committee next Tuesday and spokesperson Shawn Berry said the province will probably use it for some of the groups identified for early vaccination. Berry said 3,200 people were scheduled to be vaccinated this week but some clinics were delayed because of winter weather. He said doses listed as "available" by the province — more than 13,000 as of Thursday — are earmarked for clinics. "To prevent the risk of disruption of clinics, we don't plan to use them the same week they are scheduled to arrive in case there is a delay," he said. As an example, he said the province received more than 11,000 doses last week and a similar amount will be used at First Nations clinics that started this week. Berry also said Higgs's figure of 80,000 vaccinations per week being possible is correct. Higgs said last Friday one reason for the lack of detail is the uncertainty of supply that plagued the provinces for the first two months of the year. "When we schedule appointments, we will have a vaccine to put with it," he said during last week's CBC political panel on Information Morning Fredericton. "I would like to see a map out over the next two or three or four months of a fixed quantity so that we can plan well." Not when, but how Melanson said he's satisfied with the "who" and "when" so far but wants to know about the "how" — how people will contact, or hear from, the province to arrange their shots. At the Feb. 24 public accounts committee meeting, Liberal MLA Jean-Claude d'Amours also pointed to a Brunswick News report that the province was "urgently" calling for help in long-term care homes from anyone qualified to administer vaccines — another sign of lack of preparedness, he said. Whether New Brunswick's plan is really behind other provinces remains to be seen. The fluctuations in vaccine deliveries to Canada caused short-term alarm and a lot of political finger-pointing but in the end did not endanger the overall vaccine delivery target for the first three months of 2021. Still, Chouinard points out that even those temporary delays probably led to more illness and deaths. D'Amours noted at the public accounts committee that the percentage of COVID-19 doses the province was administering was slipping. Liberal health critic Jean-Claude d'Amours(CBC) The week before the hearing, 21 per cent of all doses received in New Brunswick hadn't been used. It rose to 25 per cent last week and 28 per cent this week. "Supply is not the issue right now," Melanson says. "The issue is capacity to roll it out." The province has been holding back a lot of vaccine for second doses. But with the recent announcement that second doses will be delayed to maximize first doses, those hold-back numbers should now diminish. On Thursday the Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island governments said the delay to second doses will allow everyone in those provinces who wants to be vaccinated to get their first dose by June. Higgs told reporters that's his target as well. He said more details on how delayed second doses and new vaccine approvals will change the province's rollout plan should be coming next week. Berry said 7,503 of 11,000 long-term care residents have received at least one dose of vaccine and first-dose clinics for all long-term care facilities will be finished over the next two weeks.
The national chief of the Assembly of First Nations is demanding the federal government restart talks on the Mi'kmaq fishery in Nova Scotia after the Department of Fisheries (DFO) announced it will not issue fishing licences to First Nations in Atlantic Canada outside of the commercial season. In a letter sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday, National Chief Perry Bellegarde expressed outrage over DFO's recent decision, which sides with a key demand from the commercial fishing industry. "I urge you and the entire federal cabinet to reconsider this mandate and to return to good-faith negotiations," Bellegarde wrote in a letter obtained by CBC News. "It is only through continued peaceful negotiations that your government will reach agreements with First Nations on a nation-to-nation basis." On Wednesday, federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan released a plan outlining conditions for Indigenous lobster fishermen to participate in moderate livelihood fisheries during commercial seasons. Indigenous fishermen in Nova Scotia argue that a 1999 Supreme Court of Canada decision affirms the Mi'kmaq treaty right to fish for a so-called "moderate livelihood'' when and where they want — even outside the federally regulated commercial fishing season. A dispute over treaty rights-based fishing sparked violence last fall when the Sipekne'katik First Nation launched its own self-regulated 'moderate livelihood' lobster fishery in St. Mary's Bay, N.S., outside of the commercial season. The move sparked backlash from some fishermen, who called it unfair and bad for conservation. Several other First Nations in the East Coast followed Sipekne'katik by launching their own moderate fisheries citing the 1999 Supreme Court decision. These men are on opposite sides of the dispute over the Mi’kmaw lobster fishery. On the left, a commercial fisherman with an Acadian flag, on the right a supporter of Sipekne’katik’s new rights-based fishery, holding the Mi’kmaw flag(Taryn Grant/CBC) That ruling affirmed the right of the Mi'kmaq to earn a "moderate livelihood" from fishing, but did not define the term. The high court later said the federal government could regulate that fishery, but must justify any restrictions. Jordan cited that ruling to explain her authority. "The Supreme Court clearly stated 'treaty rights are subject to regulation provided such regulation is shown by the Crown to be justified on conservation or other grounds of public importance,'" Jordan wrote in a statement. Ottawa imposed policy, says chief Bellegarde said Jordan has "badly mismanaged'' the file and should formally withdraw her statement. "The heavy handedness by Minister Jordan was uncalled for," Bellegarde wrote. He accused the government of failing to meaningfully consult with the Mi'kmaq by imposing a policy on First Nations. And he described the DFO's statement that it would follow with increased federal enforcement on the water "overtly hostile actions." Bellegarde wrote the move was contrary to the government's public commitments to uphold the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which affirms the rights of Indigenous Peoples to self-determination and to their language, culture and traditional lands. The Liberal government has introduced legislation that will begin the process of bringing Canadian law into alignment with the declaration. Sen. Brian Francis of Prince Edward Island issued a statement on Thursday saying Jordan's decision would do little to heal and repair the relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples. "It will also not reduce the potential for hostility or even violence against the Mi'kmaq but rather increase the surveillance and policing of our fishers and communities," Francis wrote. "I am left deeply troubled and concerned that the Mi'kmaq and/or other First Nations will be forced to once again resort to the courts to ensure our rights are honoured. That, to me, is not how we achieve real reconciliation." WATCH | Ottawa says 'moderate livelihood' fishery must use commercial season: Francis also expressed disappointment that Jordan dismissed an attempt by him and two other Mi'kmaw parliamentarians — Sen. Dan Christmas and Liberal MP Jaime Battiste — to work together on a solution. Last fall, the parliamentarians recommended Jordan create an Atlantic First Nations Fishing Authority to advance and protect treaty rights, which Jordan indicated she was open to exploring. DFO offering pathway to sell lobster The federal government is still working with First Nations to develop moderate livelihood fishing plans. DFO is offering Indigenous fishermen in Nova Scotia a pathway to sell lobster harvested in a moderate livelihood fishery. Right now, that catch does not have DFO's stamp of approval. Without authorization, they can't legally sell their catch to licenced buyers, such as lobster pounds and processors. Communities that accept DFO's proposal will receive a moderate livelihood licence that will allow them to sell catch this season. Under provincial rules, only fish products harvested under federal commercial licences can be purchased by shore processors. The Sipekne'katik First Nation launched its own Mi'kmaw-regulated, rights-based lobster fishery last fall in St. Mary's Bay, about 250 kilometres west of Halifax, during the off season.(Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press) The federal government "will balance additional First Nations access through already available licences and a willing buyer-willing seller approach, protecting ... Stocks and preserving the industry for generations to come," Jordan's statement said. Ottawa has already spent half a billion dollars integrating Indigenous bands into the commercial fishery through licence buy-backs and training, but it never defined moderate livelihood. Sipekne'katik Chief Mike Sack urged Mi'kmaw bands in Atlantic Canada to reject Ottawa's position and said his community's fishery will continue to operate outside DFO seasons. "They're trying to divide and conquer and throw a carrot to a band or two and have them sign and just hurt everybody's case," Sack said. "I hope that no other communities do sign."
Banks and public policymakers need to do more to help Black-owned businesses overcome systemic obstacles to better grow the economy for all, a new report finds. That's the overarching takeaway of a new report published by the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce this week in one of the most exhaustive attempts thus far to get a handle on Canada's Black business community and its challenges. More than 1.2 million people of African Caribbean and Black descent call Canada home — a sizeable demographic cohort by any metric, and one that is being held back from reaching its full potential, according to the report. "Let's just level the playing field and give people a fair chance to succeed and to thrive," CBCC president Christelle Francois said in an interview. "It's good for the business, it's good for the people loaning the money, it's good for our whole economy." One of the biggest challenges facing the Black business community, Francois says, is a lack of data about the realities on the ground for Black business owners. That's why the report attempts to set a baseline to see where the Black business community is at today, so future research can help track and improve progress. Watch: Black Lives Matter activists in Canada say the time to act is now. Here's why: To get a sense of what Black business owners are facing, the Chamber set up a series of virtual town halls in every province and territory in both of Canada's official languages. Sessions took about an hour or two to complete, and participants responded to a series of 15 open-ended and 17 multiple-choice questions about their businesses and their challenges. All in all, 53 businesses across the country took part from a wide cross-section of industries. While that may initially seem like a small group, the results were illuminating because respondents had some troubling trends in common, regardless of what industry or part of Canada they were in. Ensuring equitable access to funding Broadly, the report presents a number of recommendations for how to foster Canada's Black business community. One of the major ones is to ensure equitable access to funding. The report found that almost three-quarters of Black business owners surveyed said they "bootstrapped" their businesses when they started — meaning they raised money from their community or funded it themselves — instead of trying to borrow money from a bank. Christelle Francois, an entrepreneur and president of the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce, said it's time to 'level the playing field and give people a fair chance to succeed and to thrive.' (CCBC) That's largely because many Black business owners have ingrained belief banks will deny their requests. "One of the reasons behind this lack of comfortability with speaking to financial institutions about funding is many respondents felt that they will be denied," the report found. "This sentiment was especially shared among immigrant entrepreneurs." Providing mentorship opportunities Another of the report's key findings is a recurring lack of mentorship opportunities for Black business owners that are readily available for other entrepreneurs. That problem speaks to the notion that not all the roadblocks are necessarily financial in nature. When one respondent was asked about non-financial needs, they said the biggest one was "believing we can do it." "A lot of my experience raising capital is not about the idea or projections," said one person quoted in the report. "Instead it's about, 'Have I seen someone do it who looks like me?'" Another replied that they "felt it was more of a 'whom you know' vs. a 'what you know' type of system." Wes Hall, the founder of investment advisory firm Kingsdale Advisors and founder of the BlackNorth Initiative, a group of 200 Canadian companies that have signed a public pledge to fight systemic racism, signed a letter in support of the CBCC report, saying "the road Black entrepreneurs have walked has always been a long, difficult one." "During these unparalleled times, it is more than evident that in order to be effective as leaders, we must take action to understand the needs of and grim realities faced by Black business owners in Canada," Hall said in the report Filling the financial literacy gap One of the major gaps the report highlighted is the financial literacy gap to make entrepreneurs aware of existing funding and support programs. The Business Development Bank of Canada, a Crown corporation, is designed to help fill that gap. Calling itself "the bank for Canadian entrepreneurs," BDC's mandate is to help businesses that may not be eligible for retail bank financing to obtain support and financing to get off the ground. Nahom Eyob, the owner of Red Seal Truck and Equipment Repair in Edmonton, has expanded his business to 11 employees and is planning to open a second location.(Nahom Eyob) Nahom Eyob, the owner and operator of Red Seal Truck and Equipment Repair in Edmonton, says he had never heard of the agency before his brother, an accountant, heard about his business plan and encouraged him to contact BDC. A truck mechanic with 10 years' experience, he launched his business in October of 2019. It was tough at first. Eyob estimates his two-man operation only took in about $2,000 in total revenue in its first few months. Then came the pandemic, which brought about a slew of new challenges. But through word of mouth and by growing his customer base one job at a time, he was able to stay open and grow. Today, he has 11 people on staff. He's planning to expand to a second location and estimates he's booked about $1.5 million in revenue during the pandemic. But Eyob says none of that would have happened had he not had the support of BDC at the beginning, when he needed it most — and not just with start-up capital. "They help us with a lot of information and mentorship," he said in an interview. His advice to others thinking of starting up a business is to run it how he runs his — "Fix it right the first time, that's how we operate" — but also to make sure you are aware of all the help that is available. Funding specficially for Black-owned businesses More help is on the way soon, thanks to a $221-million fund Ottawa set up last summer specifically for Black-owned businesses. That money includes a commitment of $128 million from chartered banks for new loans of up to $250,000 to Black-owned busisnesses. It's on top of whatever help they can acquire from BDC or anywhere else. Eyob has managed to thrive under during the pandemic because his business was deemed essential, but many others are not so lucky. The CCBC report found that 73 per cent of respondents reported revenue of less than $100,000 a year before the COVID-19 pandemic. If that is the case, they may not qualify for CEBA, as they must pay at least $20,000 in employment income or eligible non-deferrable expenses of at least $40,000, the report notes. Other programs such as the CEWS wage subsidy and the CERS rent subsidy have similar strings attached. Because of the way those relief programs are set up, they "implicitly exempt" Black-owned businesses, which is why the report suggests adjusting those programs to make them "specific to the needs of Black Canadian entrepreneurs." "You're facing the challenge of COVID and … you are also facing potential systemic racism at the bank that would maybe be able to help you," Francois said. "It's been kind of a … double challenge for Black entrepreneurs for sure." For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. (CBC)
Controversy in India over Amazon's political drama "Tandav" has put Bollywood and global video streaming giants on edge, prompting a closer scrutiny of scripts for possible offence to religious sentiments in a key growth market. Companies like Amazon's Prime Video and Netflix are inspecting planned shows and scripts, with some even deleting scenes that could be controversial, five Bollywood directors and producers, and two industry sources said. This comes as Amazon Prime Video has become embroiled in legal cases and police complaints alleging "Tandav" depicts Hindu gods and goddesses in a derogatory manner and offends religious beliefs.
Indian farmers who have been protesting for months against deregulation of produce markets plan to block a major expressway outside New Delhi on Saturday, the 100th day of their campaign, they said. Tens of thousands have been camped outside Delhi since December, demanding Prime Minister Narendra Modi repeal three farm laws that open up the country's agriculture markets to private companies, which the farmers say will make them vulnerable. Farmers from the northern states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh plan to stop all traffic on the six-lane Western Peripheral Expressway that forms a ring outside New Delhi for up to five hours, union leaders said on Friday.
Blockchain payments firm Ripple has not experienced any fallout in its Asia Pacific business after being sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the company's chief executive officer said on Friday. In late December, the SEC charged Ripple, which is associated with cryptocurrency XRP, with conducting a $1.3 billion unregistered securities offering. After that, the top U.S. cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase shut down trading in XRP, which is the world's seventh-largest cryptocurrency by market value.
Patricia Edwards of Toronto wanted to help her two adult daughters when they fell behind on bill payments at the rented townhouse they share. She has few assets and a poor credit history, but she was employed at the time, so she went to a payday lender — not for a payday loan, but for an ongoing line of credit. "I was like, OK, let's see if I qualify for the loan because I'm working." Edwards, 53, was able to borrow $1,500 early in 2019 from Cash Money. But then she lost her job, and in 2020 came the pandemic. She's had to refinance the loan twice, and went to another lender, Money Mart, for an instalment loan that could be repaid over two years. Now she's close to $5,000 in debt, all in, paying nearly 47 per cent interest on both loans. WATCH | Ottawa under pressure to cap high-interest money lenders: Her predicament, and that of many other Canadians like her, has a chorus of voices calling for industry reform. Activist groups, elected officials and even some smaller lending companies say financially vulnerable people are too often lured by payday lenders' low bi-monthly payments on longer-term loans without realizing how the costs will add up. Only option "I'd love to get a bank loan," said Edwards. "But I don't have a car, I don't have a home, I don't have any assets. I don't qualify." Payday lenders argue that's exactly why their services are essential. They provide money to people in need who otherwise would be unable to borrow. In a statement to CBC News, the Canadian Consumer Finance Association, which represents close to 1,000 high-interest lenders across the country, said unsecured loans are expensive to provide, and that its members' interest rates are government-approved. "Our members are highly regulated and licensed under provincial legislation across Canada," the statement says. It also notes that "for reasons of risk, the lower the borrower's credit score the higher the interest rate." Patrick Mohan runs Money Direct, a payday lending firm with nine locations in Ontario and Nova Scotia, but he is critical of the larger chains. He started a different organization in 2008 to represent operators closer to his company's size, the Independent Payday Loan Association of Canada. He said the group is made up of 50 small "mom and pop" lenders who don't offer long-term loans or lines of credit. Patricia Edwards of Toronto reviews her loan agreement. The mother of two is close to $5,000 in debt to two payday lenders.(CBC News) The member companies cash cheques and sell Western Union money transfers, but in terms of lending, only provide short-term payday loans, which are meant to give a consumer the funds necessary to make ends meet just until their next paycheque arrives. Borrowers pay $15 every two weeks for each $100 borrowed, and he says most pay off their loans promptly. "The payday loan product is one pay period," he said. "Say you need $400. You come in, you get the money, then pay back $460 under the current rates, and that's it." Mohan said larger chains such as Money Mart, easyfinancial, Cash 4 You and Cash Money started to offer a wider range of financial products, including long-term, high-interest loans and lines of credit, after several Canadian provinces began to crack down on payday lending in 2016, limiting the fees charged. Alberta lowered the fee from $23 to $15 every two weeks, while Ontario cut it from $21 to $15. "They saw what was coming, then they started pushing the lines of credit and instalment loans," he said. "They figured, 'Keep it under 60 per cent and then we don't have to worry about feds coming after us.'" An interest rate of 60 per cent is the threshold specified in Canada's Criminal Code as illegal. Pushing for change Acorn Canada, a national organization that advocates for low-income people, has taken aim at large payday lenders, organizing protests across the country and calling on the federal government to take action. Donna Borden, vice-chair of Acorn's East York chapter in Toronto, said the pandemic has forced more Canadians to turn to high-interest lenders. "A lot of people are using or taking these loans to buy food, to pay their rent," she said. "And especially now with COVID, it's even worse." Instalment loans, where regular repayments are scheduled over a number of years, were the fastest growing segment of lending among payday companies, according to the results of a limited online survey conducted by Acorn in February. It found that the number of survey respondents who reported taking instalment loans had jumped from 11 per cent in 2016 to 45 per cent in 2020. "People are losing their jobs, so they're desperate for money," said Borden. Acorn Canada, a group that advocates for low-income people, organized protests against what it calls 'predatory lending' in nine Canadian cities on Feb. 17, 2021.(Acorn Canada) The Canadian Consumer Finance Association disputes that their loan portfolios are growing. "There has been a significant and sustained drop in the number of loans taken out by Canadians," the CCFA said in its statement to CBC News. It pointed to government support programs and a "lack of spending during the lockdowns" as the causes. Patrick Mohan of the Independent Payday Loan Association of Canada said he's noticed a similar trend. "We're still down 35 to 40 per cent," he said, referring to the level of demand he sees. "Things are coming back a little bit, but people aren't spending as much and they don't need to borrow." 'A gold mine' Independent Sen. Pierrette Ringuette of New Brunswick has sponsored two bills to have the Criminal Code amended to lower the maximum interest rate that lenders can legally charge from 60 to 20 per cent plus the overnight bank rate. Neither bill moved forward due to prorogations and election calls, but Ringuette said she intends to sponsor another one. "Canada is like a gold mine to these institutions because of the current state of legislation we have in place," she said. She said a number of American states have put a lower cap on interest rates charged by payday lenders, yet they continue to be profitable. "If they can serve in the U.S. states where, on average, you would have a 10, 12 or 15 per cent capped interest rate, they can serve Canadians at 20 per cent very well," she said. A page from Patricia Edwards's loan agreement shows her interest rate of 46.9 per cent.(CBC News) But Ringuette said it can take years to get bills through the Senate and then more time to have them passed into law. She said the Trudeau government could take action much more quickly, perhaps even announcing a crackdown in the upcoming federal budget expected in April. "It can be done within three months, and it has to be done within three months," she said. "I hope for everyone that it is in the budget." Trying to escape the debt trap Patricia Edwards said she worries she may never escape her debt trap. She is left searching for a solution. For example, though it's not an option in her case, she has even thought about how credit card borrowing could help solve her 47 per cent interest rate problem. "If I could get a $10,000 Visa card for 19 per cent, I would get the Visa card to go pay them all off," said Edwards, "and then I'll only owe 19 per cent on the Visa card." Many consumers complain credit card rates are far too high, but compared to what payday lenders charge on some of their products, those rates could look like a bargain.
TORONTO — Ontario's Liberals say they have paid off their $10-million debt from the 2018 provincial election in which they suffered the worst defeat in the party's history. Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca says the party was able to eliminate the debt by tightening internal spending and growing its membership and donor base. Del Duca says that by eliminating membership fees the party has been able to grow its ranks to more than 75,000 members, which in turn has increased contributions. The Liberals went into the last election holding a majority, but lost their official party status when they won only seven seats. The devastating loss prompted the resignation of Kathleen Wynne as party leader. Del Duca, who was elected leader last March, says eliminating the debt will allow the party to continue to prepare for the next election, which is scheduled for June 2022. "It just gives us a tremendous amount of freedom and flexibility to focus on the task at hand, which is to be the most compelling competitor or alternative to (Premier) Doug Ford," he said. Work on the party's platform is underway, Del Duca said, and virtual candidate nomination meetings continue. He said the party expects to have 30 candidates in place by the weekend. Del Duca acknowledged that the work to rebuild the party and pay down the debt has not been easy, and the pandemic has added to the challenges. "It was a pretty big number ... when you take into account how badly we were beaten and how small the team was coming out of 2018," he said. "It was a daunting challenge but I ran for the leadership of the party with my eyes wide open." The Liberal party had governed Ontario for 16 years before losing to the Progressive Conservatives in 2018. The party currently has eight elected caucus members - former Progressive Conservative legislator Amanda Simard crossed the floor and joined Liberals after the Tories cut funding for French language services. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March. 5, 2021. Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press
Thursday's Games NHL N.Y. Islanders 5 Buffalo 2 Winnipeg 4 Montreal 3 (OT) Philadelphia 4 Pittsburgh 3 N.Y. Rangers 6 New Jersey 1 Carolina 5 Detroit 2 Tampa Bay 3 Chicago 2 (OT) Florida 5 Nashville 4 Columbus 3 Dallas 2 Calgary 7 Ottawa 3 Vancouver 3 Toronto 1 --- AHL Providence 4 Bridgeport 1 --- NBA Boston 132 Toronto 125 Washington 119 L.A. Clippers 117 New York 114 Detroit 104 Denver 113 Indiana 103 Milwaukee 112 Memphis 111 Miami 103 New Orleans 93 Oklahoma City 107 San Antonio 102 Phoenix 120 Golden State 98 Portland 123 Sacramento 119 --- MLB Spring Training Baltimore 6 Boston 3 Detroit 8 Toronto 2 Tampa Bay 5 Minnesota 2 Pittsburgh 6 Atlanta 1 Philadelphia 15 N.Y. Yankees 0 N.Y. Mets 8 Washington 4 Texas 5 San Diego 3 San Francisco 3 Chicago White Sox 1 Colorado 9 Seattle 9 Cleveland 5 Milwaukee 1 Arizona 9 L.A. Angels 2 Houston 14 St. Louis 0 Kansas City 5 Cincinnati 3 Chicago Cubs 7 L.A. Dodgers 0 --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
The month of September was a brief window of reprieve for Toronto tour operator Sash Munjal in what was otherwise a devastating year. "We got tours going from Aug. 29 until Oct. 6, when the premier made his announcement that we were going back into restrictions," Munjal, who owns ShortTrips.ca, told CBC Toronto. "The entire tourism sector pretty much got a bit of a bloodbath" due to COVID-19, he said. As for his own business, "we're just hanging on by our fingernails." A new analysis by industry association Destination Toronto looks at the impact on the city's tourism industry, following a year of on-and-off pandemic lockdowns. It found the city lost out on more than $8 billion in economic activity through visitor spending — a number that balloons to more than $14 billion when you look at the Greater Toronto Area. "The tourism and hospitality industry was really hit first and probably hardest, and looks like it will be the last to recover," said Destination Toronto vice-president Andrew Weir. Though there's a long road ahead, Weir says his team is working hard on plans to entice visitors back when it's safe for them to return — and hoping to lure back businesses for meetings and events. Destination Toronto tracked 463 conferences and events that were cancelled or postponed since the pandemic began, amounting to $833 million in losses. Conventions and meetings are "foundational to the [tourism] business in Toronto, and often get booked a couple of years in advance." Drawing in visitors could start with you One of the first steps in Destination Toronto's recovery strategy: getting residents and their social media feeds to help spread the word that the city is a welcoming place for tourists again. "The more we get out and engage with the city ... have meals on patios, go to some outdoor events when they start up again… That's going to be the catalyst," said Weir. "When people see the photos we share, then people outside the city start to see Toronto coming back." The Destination Toronto analysis found attractions and entertainment lost $707 million due to the pandemic. (Sam Nar/CBC) Weir envisages a multi-stage comeback, in which Ontarians, then Canadians, then international travellers can gradually begin visiting again. Jim Byers, editor-in-chief at canadiantravelnews.ca and author of a book about Ontario destinations, says promoting safety should be another key part of the city's pitch to visitors. "I think most cities that can will be trying to talk about their open spaces," he said. "Toronto is blessed with a lot of pretty wonderful nature." What can we learn from SARS? Destination Toronto can also look back to 2003, when a group of tourism organizations, attractions and different levels of government worked together to boost the city's tarnished image during the SARS outbreak. Called Toront03, they raised money and then spent it on promoting the city in the northern United States. The goal was to show the city was "open, alive, and well,'" said Kevin Shea, who served as president of the group. Shea says they also worked on attractions, bringing the Conan O'Brien show to the city, creating theatre and hotel packages, and promoting a free Rolling Stones concert. Both Shea and Weir from Destination Toronto say they believe pent-up demand for in-person experiences will lead to big spending in Toronto when it is finally green-lit. "There's many Canadians that now have more money in the bank because there's nowhere to spend it … I think it's going to be the roaring 20s all over again," said Shea. Full recovery could take 5 years Despite that optimism, industry predictions suggest it could be years before Canada returns to its pre-pandemic tourism spending levels. According to Destination Canada, if the borders stay closed until Oct. 2021 — it will take until 2026 for the country to return to 2019 levels of activity. Industry associations continue to call on government support to get businesses through the difficult times ahead. The Tourism Industry Association of Canada put out a five-point 2021 recovery plan, calling on the federal government to extend the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and create a recovery stimulus fund, among other things. "The big concern is making sure businesses are still there," said Weir.
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Friday, March 5, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 76,438 new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,168,138 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 5,720.79 per 100,000. There were 2,340 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 2,614,020 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 82.94 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 4,472 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 24,757 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 47.279 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 35,620 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,105 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 13,281 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 83.724 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 14,715 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 9.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 90.25 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 6,842 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 37,590 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 38.518 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 61,980 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 60.65 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 7,424 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 33,741 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 43.255 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 46,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 72.13 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 17,794 new vaccinations administered for a total of 490,504 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 57.324 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 638,445 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 76.83 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 30,409 new vaccinations administered for a total of 784,828 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 53.429 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 903,285 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 86.89 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 2,408 new vaccinations administered for a total of 82,579 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 59.97 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 116,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 8.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 70.79 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 2,493 new vaccinations administered for a total of 84,090 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 71.314 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 74,605 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 112.7 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 10,948 new vaccinations administered for a total of 266,231 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 60.479 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 274,965 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 96.82 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 9,042 new vaccinations administered for a total of 298,851 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 58.238 per 1,000. There were 2,340 new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 385,080 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 77.61 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 18,158 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 435.12 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 18,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 45 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 96.07 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 19,775 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 438.285 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 19,100 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 42 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 103.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 360 new vaccinations administered for a total of 13,753 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 355.136 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 23,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 62 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 57.54 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 5, 2021. The Canadian Press
Britain's financial regulators on Friday called a formal halt to nearly all Libor rates from the end of this year, as expected, piling pressure on markets to speed the switch in interest rates used in $260 trillion of contracts around the world. Libor, or London Interbank Offered Rate, is being replaced with rates compiled by central banks after lenders were fined billions of dollars for trying to rig what was once dubbed the world's most important number, used for pricing a wide range of debt from home and company loans to credit cards. "Today’s announcements mark the final chapter in the process that began in 2017, to remove reliance on unsustainable Libor rates and build a more robust foundation for the financial system," Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said in a statement.
OTTAWA — Canada's municipalities are asking the federal government to include $7 billion in its upcoming budget for cities and housing providers to buy disused properties and quickly turn them into affordable housing. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) estimates the money could create up to 24,000 permanent affordable housing units in urban and rural communities. The request is for seven times the amount the Liberals put into a rapid-housing program launched last year, when the government dedicated $1 billion over a six-month stretch. The Liberals estimated the money could create up to 3,000 units by this spring by helping cities buy and quickly convert rental buildings, motels and hotels into affordable units. FCM president Garth Frizzell says the Liberals should build on what has been a success thus far. "It's a proven tool. It's working," said Frizzell, a city councillor in Prince George, B.C. "We want to find tools like this that have the evidence behind them that they are demonstrably successful, find the ones that are working like this and scale them up. This is an opportune time to do it." He may get his wish. Sources say the Liberals have been consulting on a rebooted rapid-housing program for weeks, and sending signals that the budget will include dollars for it. The two sources with knowledge of the meetings and the government's thinking spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen's most recent marching orders from the prime minister included expanding the rapid-housing initiative unveiled in September. The Liberals spent months leading up to the announcement figuring out all the details of the property acquisition program, seeing it as a way to keep people from falling into homelessness heading into the winter, with temporary shelter measures for the COVID-19 pandemic set to expire. Some cities have been renting hotel rooms to accommodate people while shelter capacity is reduced to allow for physical spacing, but they were badly stretched financially. The Liberals split the money into two streams: One with dedicated funding for over a dozen big cities, the other with money put for grabs for projects that will have to be completed within 12 months of federal officials giving the green light for funding. The project-based stream has been flooded with applications, so much so that the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., which oversees the program, has had to reject far more applications than it has approved because demand has outstripped supply. "There is definite demand for this," Frizzell said. FCM is hoping to get most of the money over the next two to three years, the period the Liberals have eyed as a timeline for stimulus spending to spur an economic recovery from the pandemic. Cities hope whatever is left can be spread over the remaining years of the national housing strategy, which has seven years left in the decade-long plan. Hussen, the minister in charge of affordable housing, has spent time trying to get a read on what needs to change in the program. Cities would like to keep direct allocations to major centres, while stakeholders have suggested a program solely based on project applications. He has also heard concerns about the timelines to file applications, and easing rules to allow, for instance, applicants to have purchase agreements for land rather than having to fully secure property first. The Liberals are also being pushed to provide subsidies for housing providers to cover costs for operations and services once people are housed. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
Stanley Sepchuk was just a baby when the so-called Spanish flu killed tens of thousands of Canadians, but he got through it just fine. In his teens, he sold the brand-new bicycle his father got for him so he could buy his first trumpet. He did it, his daughter says, because he was fascinated by music and wanted to give it a try. That budding passion quickly turned into a way of life, starting with local gigs when he was about 17. He then went on to play alongside some of the greats, including Frank Sinatra. The 103-year-old resident of Hudson, Que., has seen much in his long life, but lately he's been seeing nothing but the inside of his home so as to avoid catching COVID-19. On Wednesday, he finally ventured outdoors with his daughter, Melody, to get inoculated against the coronavirus at a makeshift vaccine site at Decarie Square in Côte Saint-Luc, Que., on the Island of Montreal. A joker with a broad smile, Sepchuk said he was looking forward to the vaccine "more or less. Mostly more." A recent fall has him in a wheelchair for now, but his spirits were high, even with safety goggles and a mask on his face as he was administered the potentially life-saving vaccine. Even before he got the shot, Sepchuk was ready to cap off the long day with some wine. WATCH: One of Quebec's oldest veterans get vaccinated Stanley Sepchuk got a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Decarie Square site in Montreal on Wednesday, cracking jokes from start to finish.(Chloë Ranaldi/CBC) Music and 'looking for girls' Sepchuk is no stranger to enjoying a drink after a long day. He used to play clubs across Montreal at a time when the city's nightlife was hopping with live music, dancing and plenty of booze. In his 20s, during World War II, he served as a trumpeter for the Royal Canadian Air Force Band. He went on to become a popular jazz musician, playing his trumpet, trombone, singing and, he said, "looking for girls." Sepchuk, who went by the stage name of Stan Martin, was the music director of the McGill University's production of Red and White Revue in 1949. He also played at the first Montreal Jazz Festival in 1980. Sepchuk, centre, named his daughter Melody in recognition of his passion for music. He performed in the very first Montreal Jazz Festival in 1980.(Submitted by Melody Sepchuk) As well as Sinatra, Sepchuk accompanied plenty of big-name musicians such as Chubby Checker, Oscar Peterson, Dean Martin and Louis Armstrong. While Peterson was local, many others came from afar to play Montreal. They chose Sepchuk and his band, Stan Martin and his Orchestra, to take the stage with them, as he was considered the best in town. Sinatra became a regular, and Sepchuk got to know him well. "We had a little tiff now and again, but he was OK," Sepchuck remembered. "Nice fellow." Veteran of WW II Sepchuk, a father of four, is now considered Quebec's oldest veteran of WW II, his daughter says. He lived most of his life in Montreal but moved west to Hudson in his 80s as he slowly began retiring from the music scene. At the Hudson Legion Branch #115, he is known as Stan the Man. Sepchuk says he is 104, noting this is his 104th year. For his 100th birthday in November 2017, the local newspaper, The Journal, asked him if he still played the trumpet and he is quoted as saying: "Hey, I'm just glad to be breathing!" He cracked a similar joke with CBC Montreal when asked the same question on Wednesday. "Oh my God," he said. "I'm lucky to be alive." After getting the shot, he gave a thumbs up and waved to health-care staff on his way out. He said getting the vaccine was "OK" and he feels "like I felt yesterday." He said it was time to go home, get some sleep and do some drinking.