(Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit) COVID-19 levels are declining from the devastating peaks of the second wave across much of Canada, but experts say the threat of more contagious coronavirus variants threatens to jeopardize our ability to prevent a third wave. Canada has close to 850 confirmed cases of the variants first identified in the U.K., South Africa and Brazil, with at least six provinces now reporting community transmission — meaning there's probably a lot more spreading beneath the surface than we know. But as variant cases increase, overall COVID-19 numbers have dropped steadily in Canada, with just over 31,000 active cases across the country, and an average of about 2,900 new cases and 54 deaths daily. "Overall, we're still doing well," Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said during a news conference on Tuesday. "But things could change rapidly." So, is Canada destined for a third wave? Or will we be able to adequately respond to the threat of variants spreading across the country to avoid one altogether? Parts of the country that have seen notable declines in cases have recently moved to reopen non-essential businesses and lift lockdowns in the face of fast-spreading variants, despite public health officials cautioning against doing so. WATCH | Federal modelling warns COVID-19 cases will rise with variants: Is a 3rd wave in Canada inevitable? Much like the first and second waves of the pandemic in Canada, the situation varies greatly across the country for a number of different reasons — ranging from geographic and demographic to political. But even provinces and territories that have had fewer COVID-19 cases are still at high risk of devastating outbreaks, overwhelmed health-care systems and severe outcomes for vulnerable populations if variants spread rapidly. Tam said Newfoundland and Labrador is a cautionary tale for the rest of Canada, where an outbreak of the variant first identified in the U.K., also known as B117, led to a spike in new cases in the community during a time when public health measures were "less stringent." "Provincial health authorities knew something was different when cases escalated over a matter of days, even before laboratory evidence confirmed the presence of the B117 variant," she said. Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease physician and scientist with Toronto General Hospital, said variants have made it hard for anyone to predict the likelihood of a bad third wave of the pandemic in Canada with any degree of confidence. "When you factor in variants of concern and you factor in not enough immunity in the population to protect ourselves, it's clear that a third wave is certainly a possibility," he said. "But I wouldn't say it's an inevitability." Storm clouds are pictured above a shipping vessel moored in English Bay in Vancouver on Jan. 25. Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease physician and scientist with Toronto General Hospital, says a third wave of the pandemic is possible but not inevitable. Bogoch said the likelihood of a third wave depends on how Canadians respond to the loosening of restrictions and the increase in opportunities to mingle together and get into situations where the virus can more easily be transmitted. "It also completely depends on how the provincial governments and the public health authorities choose to reopen their provinces and their ability to rapidly react to a rise in cases," said Bogoch, a member of Ontario's COVID-19 vaccine distribution task force. "It doesn't mean you have to stay locked down until everyone is vaccinated. It just means that as places reopen, they have to be extremely careful, proceed very slowly and be able to rapidly pivot if there's any indication that there are cases plateauing or rising." What is the likelihood of a 3rd wave in Canada? Raywat Deonandan, a global health epidemiologist and an associate professor at the University of Ottawa, says that based on what we know right now, a third wave is "mathematically inevitable" in Canada because of three key factors. The first is we know what third waves typically look like from previous pandemics, such as the 1918 Spanish Flu, which saw a brutal third wave during the winter and spring of 1919 — around the same point of the pandemic we're in now. Deonandan said societal behaviour is another factor that could lead to a more severe third wave if variants drive outbreaks as restrictions lift and Canadians don't strictly adhere to public health guidelines. And the third factor is variants, which Deonandan said could be the driving "mechanism" for a devastating third wave in Canada given the extent to which they've already spread in recent weeks. But he said the likelihood of a bad third wave could change with two major caveats. "The first is: It is avoidable with sufficient public health response and precautionary action, but our history shows us that most governments are unwilling to do the hard public health response, and most populations are unwilling to tolerate that level of action," he said. "The second caveat is of course vaccination." The good news is that vaccines have not only been shown to be effective in the real world in reducing severe outcomes from COVID-19 but also in potentially curbing virus transmission. A nurse prepares doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto on Dec. 22. Experts say we may not be able to vaccinate enough of the population fast enough in Canada to adequately slow the spread of variants in time before they take over. But the catch is we may not be able to vaccinate enough of the population fast enough in Canada to adequately slow the spread of variants in time before they take over. "It's a race against time. We want to get the vaccines out there now, before variants get in," said Dr. Anna Banerji, a physician and infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health. "I really believe that we can get on top of this if we get people vaccinated and then make modifications to the vaccines as we need to." Banerji said even if Canada has a third wave, it likely won't be as bad as previous waves because she feels Canadians have learned tough lessons in the pandemic — such as in December, when people gathered over the holidays and cases skyrocketed. WATCH | How vaccines can keep up with coronavirus variants: "People see that our individual actions have an impact on the outcome, and so I think while people may feel disempowered, they're realizing that their behaviour really does count," she said. "Once we get the vaccines out, things will change and we'll start opening things up. So I'm still optimistic for the future, even if there's a lot of fear out there." How bad could a 3rd wave be in Canada? Deonandan said that while Canada may not be able to completely "vaccinate our way out of a third wave," it could look completely different than waves we've seen in the past. "What might happen is that our third wave is very high in cases but not as high in deaths, because we have done a pretty good job in vaccinating our long-term care centres if nothing else, and that's where a large proportion of our deaths come from," he said. "But hospitalizations might be a different matter." Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease specialist at Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga, Ont., said once those at highest risk are vaccinated, including seniors living in the community and in long-term care, hospitalizations will likely decrease. "But people are going to worry if we open up, we're just going to get tons of cases," he said. "Yes — but they're not going to be severe." Chakrabarti said if Canada sees a smaller third wave, or "wavelet," the health-care system might be able to "absorb" the impact of COVID-19 better than previous waves and avoid becoming completely overwhelmed. A nurse tends to a patient suspected of having COVID-19 in the ICU of a Toronto hospital in May. Infectious disease specialist Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti says if Canada sees a smaller third wave, or 'wavelet,' the health-care system might be able to 'absorb' the impact of COVID-19 better than previous waves. South Africa recently saw a notable decline in COVID-19 cases despite the variant first identified there driving a spike in transmission, which could bode well for other countries hoping to control that variant from spreading. But experts caution that a decline in cases could be short lived, as evidenced by countries hit hard by B117, such as Portugal, Spain, Ireland and the U.K., that later saw an even greater spike in cases driven by the variant. If Canada is hit by a third wave, Bogoch said it's likely that community-dwelling seniors and racialized communities will be disproportionately harmed. "We know how to prevent this from happening. We have the tools that work, we know how to do this, we can prevent a third wave," he said. "There's no reason to have a third wave. There's no reason to have another lockdown. This is not related to the virus, and we have enough information about how this virus is transmitted. This is truly based on policy." Deonandan said while he agrees that a third wave could be prevented, he's all but convinced Canada is destined to face one because of a lack of political will from parts of the country that are already pushing to reopen. "It's highly likely. I think we could do heroic things to avoid it, but we won't," he said. "But what is uncertain is what the hospitalization and death toll of a third wave will be — it might not be as severe."
BANGKOK — Regional diplomatic efforts to resolve Myanmar's political crisis gathered pace Wednesday, while protests continued in Yangon and other cities calling for the country's coupmakers to stand down and Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government to be returned to power. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi visited the Thai capital, Bangkok, as part of her efforts to co-ordinate a regional response to the crisis triggered by Myanmar's Feb. 1 military coup. Also making the trip to neighbouring Thailand was the foreign minister appointed by Myanmar's new military government, retired army colonel Wunna Maung Lwin, said a Thai government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to release the information. Another Thai official said Wunna Maung Lwin met with Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai as well as Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, himself a former army chief who first took power in a military coup. That official also spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release the information. There was no immediate word whether Marsudi also met the Myanmar diplomat. Indonesia and fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are seeking to promote some concessions by Myanmar's military that could ease tensions before there is more violence. The regional grouping, to which Thailand and Myanmar also belong, believes dialogue with the generals is a more effective method of achieving concessions than more confrontational methods, such as sanctions, often advocated by Western nations. Opposition to the coup within Myanmar continued Wednesday, with a tense standoff taking place in the country's second-biggest city, Mandalay, where police holding riot shields and cradling rifles blocked the path of about 3,000 teachers and students. After about two hours, during which demonstrators played protest songs and listened to speeches condemning the coup, the crowd moved away. On Saturday, police and soldiers shot dead two people in Mandalay as they broke up a strike by dock workers. Earlier the same week they had violently dispersed a rally in front of a state bank branch, with batons and slingshots. Also Wednesday, about 150 people from a Christian group gathered in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, to call for restoration of democracy and the release of Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders held since the coup. International pressure against the takeover also continues, with more than 130 civil society groups issuing an open letter to United Nations Security Council calling for a global arms embargo on Myanmar. The letter released Wednesday cited concerns about Myanmar’s citizens being deprived of a democratically elected government and ongoing violations of human rights by a military with a history of major abuses. “Any sale or transfer of military-related equipment to Myanmar could provide the means to further repress the people of Myanmar in violation of international humanitarian and human rights law,” the letter said. In addition to a sweeping arms embargo, the letter said any Security Council measures should make sure there is “robust monitoring and enforcement mechanisms.” There have been past arms embargoes on Myanmar during periods of military rule but not on a global basis. China and Russia, both members of the security council, are among the top arms suppliers to Myanmar, and would almost certainly veto any effort by the U.N. at a co-ordinated arms embargo. How effective the regional efforts at resolving Myanmar's crisis could be remains unclear. If Indonesia's Marsudi met in Thailand with her Myanmar counterpart it would have allowed them to talk face-to-face while sidestepping possible controversy stemming from a visit to Myanmar by Marsudi. Critics of the coup, especially in Myanmar, charge that such a visit would be tantamount to recognizing the military regime as legitimate and its takeover as legal. There had been news reports that such a visit was imminent. Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said Wednesday that Marsudi left open an option to visit the Myanmar capital Naypyitaw, but had put off any plan for the time being. A statement from his office said that taking in account current developments and following consultations with other ASEAN countries, “this is not the ideal time to conduct a visit to Myanmar.” Demonstrations were held outside Indonesian embassies in Yangon and Bangkok on Tuesday in response to a news report that Jakarta was proposing to fellow ASEAN members that they offer qualified support for the junta’s plan for a new election next year. Faizasyah denied the report. Tassanee Vejpongsa, The Associated Press
STONY PLAIN, Alta. — A pastor of an Edmonton-area church that has been allegedly holding Sunday services in violation of COVID-19 rules is to appear in court today. James Coates with GraceLife Church in Spruce Grove was arrested last week. RCMP have said he was remanded in custody after refusing to agree to bail conditions. The church has been holding services that officials say break public health regulations on attendance, masking and distancing. Police fined the church $1,200 in December and a closure order was issued in January. Coates was twice charged in February with violating the Public Health Act and violating a promise to abide by rules of his release, which is a Criminal Code offence. Coates has addressed the province's health restrictions in his sermons, telling worshippers that governments exist as instruments of God and there should be unfettered freedom of worship. An associate pastor of the church, Jacob Spenst, conducted last Sunday's service and told the congregation that messages of support have been pouring in for the jailed pastor. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Brian Morris/CBC - image credit) Health officials are cautioning that Ottawa's COVID-19 case numbers could rise rapidly as businesses reopen and variants spread across the province — pushing the city ever closer to the red zone. Ottawa's key COVID-19 indicators are currently in the orange zone, although some sit on the verge of the red zone, according to the province's colour coded COVID-19 framework. Health officials say the city's numbers have ebbed and flowed since the start of the pandemic and the worry is they could flow once again — and quickly. "We're inching up, but we've got a few factors, major factors in play that haven't started influencing those cases yet," said Dr. Doug Manuel, a senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital. One of those factors is the new COVID-19 strains which can be more contagious that have crept their way into the country. "One thing we've learned over the last year is that the earlier the better [to implement restrictions]," he said. "The longer we wait to modify that course, the longer it will take to get [infections] back down." A couple pushing a pug in a stroller checks out the menu of a restaurant in downtown Ottawa. Scientists warn the city's COVID-19 numbers could easily increase if people aren't careful, especially with new variants making their way across the province. Manuel said the number of contacts of people who test positive for the illness are concerning. On Tuesday, that number was at 5.8 over a seven-day period that ended Feb. 14, two days before the stay-at-home order ended. "During lockdown and last summer, you know, we were around ... two people per case. So five is pretty high," he said. Ottawa's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches also urged people to be cautious just before the stay-at-home order ended. "We've seen what happens with socializing," she said. "It adds up to, you know, potentially a rapid rise in COVID again, and more things shut." Variants cause for concern Earl Brown, a professor emeritus of virology at the University of Ottawa, agrees the variants are a cause for concern that could rapidly push numbers upward. "It's nice to be as open as we can with our economy, but I'm somewhat pessimistic in the short term," he said. "The variants are going to make us ... pay more dearly for the time we buy." Brown said there's a balancing act between keeping businesses and schools shuttered and trying to control the spread of COVID-19. "You definitely want to control the pandemic, but it's always the question — at what cost?" Under the province's colour-coded framework, being in the red zone would mean people would be, once again, limited to only essential trips, such as going to the grocery store or the pharmacy, and going outside for physical activity. Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury is also urging people to remain cautious, even as businesses and facilities have reopened across the city, so that the city doesn't move up a step. "I know it's exciting," he said. "We have to support our local businesses, but we also have to be cognizant that the virus is within our community and we continue to be vulnerable."
Hyundai Motor Co will replace battery systems in some 82,000 electric vehicles globally due to fire risks - a costly $900 million recall that lays bare the thorny issue of how car and battery makers split the bill when problems arise. The recall is one of the first mass battery pack replacements conducted by a major automaker. The recall mostly concerns the Kona EV, Hyundai's biggest-selling electric car which was first recalled late last year for a software upgrade after a spate of fires.
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. There are 852,269 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 852,269 confirmed cases (30,677 active, 799,830 resolved, 21,762 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 2,760 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 80.72 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 20,693 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,956. There were 40 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 367 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 52. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.14 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 57.26 per 100,000 people. There have been 23,880,652 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 955 confirmed cases (375 active, 576 resolved, four deaths). There were 15 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 71.82 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 244 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 35. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 183,360 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 115 confirmed cases (one active, 114 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 0.63 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of one 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 99,303 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,613 confirmed cases (20 active, 1,528 resolved, 65 deaths). There were three new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 2.04 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 have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.64 per 100,000 people. There have been 316,029 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,424 confirmed cases (76 active, 1,322 resolved, 26 deaths). There were zero new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 9.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 20 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There were zero new reported deaths Tuesday. 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 3.33 per 100,000 people. There have been 232,291 tests completed. _ Quebec: 283,666 confirmed cases (7,880 active, 265,456 resolved, 10,330 deaths). There were 739 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 91.9 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,479 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 783. There were 13 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 86 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 120.47 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,127,867 tests completed. _ Ontario: 295,119 confirmed cases (10,296 active, 277,939 resolved, 6,884 deaths). There were 975 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 69.88 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 7,383 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,055. There were 12 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 165 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 24. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.16 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 46.72 per 100,000 people. There have been 10,578,867 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 31,551 confirmed cases (1,212 active, 29,453 resolved, 886 deaths). There were 76 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 87.87 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 620 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 89. There were zero new reported deaths Tuesday. 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 0.11 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 64.24 per 100,000 people. There have been 521,439 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 27,923 confirmed cases (1,530 active, 26,017 resolved, 376 deaths). There were 126 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 129.81 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,094 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 156. There were four new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 19 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 31.9 per 100,000 people. There have been 560,268 tests completed. _ Alberta: 131,603 confirmed cases (4,516 active, 125,234 resolved, 1,853 deaths). There were 267 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 102.13 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,265 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 324. There were 10 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 62 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is nine. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.2 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 41.91 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,353,608 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 77,822 confirmed cases (4,733 active, 71,753 resolved, 1,336 deaths). There were 559 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 91.94 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,539 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 506. There was one new reported death Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 22 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.06 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.95 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,876,985 tests completed. _ Yukon: 72 confirmed cases (zero active, 71 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Tuesday. 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 8,071 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 42 confirmed cases (five active, 37 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 11.07 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of four new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 14,026 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 351 confirmed cases (33 active, 317 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 83.86 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 28 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 2.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,462 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
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(Radio-Canada - image credit) Parti Québécois Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government to make public all documents related to how his father handled the aftermath of the PQ's provincial election victory in 1976. In an interview with CBC News, St-Pierre Plamondon said his party will table a motion in Quebec's National Assembly calling for the documents to be turned over. "The demand we will make in the National Assembly through a motion will be specific to that event," he said. St-Pierre Plamondon's call comes after CBC News revealed the existence of once-secret U.S. State Department documents that shed new light on how Pierre Trudeau's government responded to the sovereignist PQ's rise to power in 1976. In a telegram dated Dec. 22, 1976, little more than a month after René Lévesque became premier, U.S. Ambassador Thomas Enders said Trudeau may be taking a more aggressive approach to dealing with the fledgling PQ government. Enders said Paul Desmarais, head of Power Corporation and one of Quebec's top business leaders, told him Trudeau had suggested that Desmarais "make it as tough as possible" for the PQ government by transferring jobs out of Quebec and increasing unemployment. Power Corporation says it didn't move jobs out of Quebec at the time. The State Department records were declassified several years ago and recently republished as part of the State Department's Foreign Relations of the United States series. Canadian federal cabinet minutes for the period have been made public — but it is not known how many other memos, letters, telegrams or other documents concerning that period remain behind closed doors. Pierre Trudeau turned over extensive records to Library and Archives Canada but much of that collection remains closed, with access granted only to researchers who have the permission of his estate. Assessments vary on how much weight to give the U.S. State Department documents. Jean-François Lisée, who scoured thousands of U.S government documents for his book In the Eye of the Eagle — and who went on to lead the PQ — said the documents are a bombshell that reveal how far Pierre Trudeau was prepared to go to counter the sovereignist government. Former Trudeau cabinet minister Marc Lalonde, meanwhile, said the ambassador's account of his conversation with Desmarais didn't agree with what the government was telling business leaders at the time, or with his own conversations with Desmarais. The U.S. State Department documents say Paul Desmarais told the U.S. ambassador Pierre Trudeau had suggested he make things tough for the new PQ government in 1976. Ted Johnson, a former Trudeau aide who went on to become an executive with Power Corporation, said he doesn't believe Trudeau would have suggested that Desmarais move jobs out of Quebec. "The idea that Pierre would have been suggesting that people engage in that kind of subterfuge — keep your framework but move things out — I can't imagine him ever suggesting that," said Johnson, who serves as vice-chair of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation. St-Pierre Plamondon, however, said he believes the telegram sent by Enders is an accurate account of what Desmarais said. "The human brain, the memory is not designed to have accurate memories of facts that happened 40 years ago," said the PQ leader. "That's why documents are more useful." Plamondon said the documents also cite specific unemployment figures. "That doesn't look like something that has been cited out of context — especially when it comes to American diplomacy, because Americans had no interest in the promotion in the independence of Quebec," he said. "They had no interest in inventing information." While some dismiss the documents as old history, St-Pierre Plamondon said they are typical of a political attitude toward Quebec that persists — a willingness to weaken Quebec's economy in the name of national unity. "Fear was a determinant factor in how the (federalists) won the two referendums and that fear is induced by measures like moving jobs away from Quebec (or), threatening to do so," he said. Bloc Québécois MP Stéphane Bergeron, who raised the issue in the House of Commons Tuesday, said he was "a bit scandalized but not really surprised" when he read the State Department documents. "For a number of years we have had indicators that the federal government deliberately doesn't favour — even goes so far as to disadvantage Quebec's economy," he said, adding the documents offer proof. Bergeron said the federal government's economic discrimination against Quebec has continued over the years in everything from shipbuilding to textiles, and in what he called Ottawa's failure to stand up strongly for the supply management system. Elizabeth Thompson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(WAHA Communications - image credit) The number of cases of COVID-19 in First Nations communities reached a grim new milestone over the weekend, surpassing 20,000 cases since the pandemic arrived in Canada over a year ago. According to the latest data from Indigenous Services Canada, the number of active cases on-reserve has been on the decline. There were 1,481 active cases as of Feb. 22. But new infections persist. Outbreaks have occurred primarily in the Prairies, the most reported in Alberta with 348 new cases on-reserve in the last week. Members of the Canadian Armed Forces will be deployed to Pimicikamak after visiting the First Nation in Manitoba last weekend to assess the COVID-19 outbreak there. Members of the Armed Forces are also assisting with outbreaks and vaccine distribution for Pauingassi First Nation in Manitoba, Fort Nelson First Nation in British Columbia, Hatchet Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan and Muskrat Dam Lake in Ontario according to a Feb. 17 update from Indigenous Services Canada. Since the pandemic began, there have been a total of 20,227 cases on-reserve. Fourteen people have died from the virus since last week, bringing the toll to 218. The total number of hospitalizations rose to 925. The number of First Nations people who have recovered from the disease is now at 18,528. Total cases in First Nations communities per region reported as of Feb. 22: British Columbia: 2,184 Alberta: 5,918 Saskatchewan: 5,477 Manitoba: 5,225 Ontario: 853 Quebec: 560 Atlantic: 10 Vaccinations As of Feb. 18, Indigenous Services Canada reported 433 First Nations and Inuit communities have vaccination plans underway. A total of 91,927 doses have been administered, representing a vaccination rate six times higher than Canada's general population. What are the symptoms of COVID-19? New or worsening cough. Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Temperature equal to or over 38 C. Feeling feverish. Chills. Fatigue or weakness. Muscle or body aches. New loss of smell or taste. Headache. Gastrointestinal symptoms (abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting). Feeling very unwell. If you think you may have COVID-19, please consult your local health department to book an appointment at a screening clinic. CBC Indigenous is looking to hear from First Nations, Métis, and Inuit who have contracted or lost a loved one to COVID-19. If you would like to share your story, please email us at email@example.com.
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 48,362 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,602,365 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 4,227.957 per 100,000. There were 152,100 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 2,003,810 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 79.97 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 1,771 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 16,458 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 31.431 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 24,460 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.7 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 67.29 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,020 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 11,630 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 73.316 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 13,045 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 8.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 89.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 4,826 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 27,966 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 28.657 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 47,280 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 59.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 5,135 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 26,317 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 33.738 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 35,015 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 75.16 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 12,084 new vaccinations administered for a total of 365,978 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 42.771 per 1,000. There were 107,640 new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 509,325 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 71.86 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 16,252 new vaccinations administered for a total of 585,707 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 39.874 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 683,255 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.7 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 85.72 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 1,605 new vaccinations administered for a total of 63,970 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 46.456 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 84,810 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 75.43 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 612 new vaccinations administered for a total of 62,342 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 52.87 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 59,395 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 105 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 7,216 new vaccinations administered for a total of 180,755 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 41.062 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 205,875 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.7 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 87.8 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 5,628 new vaccinations administered for a total of 224,354 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 43.72 per 1,000. There were 44,460 new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 287,950 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.6 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 77.91 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 1,250 new vaccinations administered for a total of 13,423 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 321.655 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 71.02 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting 2,297 new vaccinations administered for a total of 16,454 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 364.68 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 86.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 34 new vaccinations administered for a total of 7,011 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 181.041 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 15,400 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 40 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 45.53 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 Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
Filming a polar bear just inches from its nose, close enough to see its breath fog up the lens, was a career highlight for Jeff Thrasher. The CBC producer is part of the team behind Arctic Vets, a new show that follows the day-to-day operations at Assiniboine Park Conservancy in Winnipeg. "It was breathing warm air onto the lens. I was thinking, 'Wow, there's nothing between me and this polar bear,"' Thrasher said, who filmed the shot using a GoPro camera up in Churchill, Man. The show is also the first time cameras have been allowed in the Winnipeg facility, which houses Arctic animals like seals, polar bears and muskox. "I've filmed many, many things in my career and that's right up there," Thrasher said. There are 10 half-hour episodes in the new series that features expeditions to Manitoba's subarctic, emergency animal rescues and daily life at the conservancy. The first episode follows veterinarian Chris Enright to Churchill just as polar bears are starting to migrate up the coast of Hudson Bay. When a bear wanders too close to town, Enright works with the local Polar Bear Alert Team to catch it and lift it by helicopter to a safe distance away. In the same episode, back in Winnipeg, the team trims the hooves of resident 800-pound muskox, Chloe. Although being around Arctic animals is part of Enright's daily life, he hopes the show will help bring southern Canadians a little closer to the North. "This is our norm. But it's not the norm for a lot of people, so the show is a good opportunity to tell these stories," he said. "We have herds of caribou that rival migrating animals on the Serengeti, but people in the South don't necessarily know about that. And that's really unfortunate, because there's some incredible wildlife in the North." Enright also hopes the show will urge Canadians to think about protecting the country's Arctic ecosystems, which face the critical threat of climate change. "There's a lot of concern with the effects of climate change and over the next 50, 100 years what's going to happen. As southerners, there are things we can do to protect and conserve those ecosystems," he said. The COVID-19 pandemic also hit in the middle of filming, which Enright said prevented the team from travelling into Nunavut. Jackie Enberg, an animal care supervisor and Heather Penner, an animal care professional, are also featured in the show for their work with polar bears. "It's not just animal care or vet care, or conservation and research. It's all of it. We all have a great passion to educate and share and help inspire other people to make a difference, whether it's to make changes in your lives or just talk about," Penner said. Enberg said the bears featured in the show were rescued when they were a few years old. "They're here because they could not survive in the wild," Enberg said. "We just ultimately hope people will fall in love with polar bears as much as we have," Penner said. Arctic Vets airs Friday. Feb. 26 at 8 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem. By Emma Tranter in Iqaluit, Nunavut This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. --- This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship The Canadian Press
(Jean Delise/CBC - image credit) There are growing concerns in some parts of Ottawa hit hardest by COVID-19 that mistrust and vaccine hesitancy could make the situation worse. The South-East Ottawa Community Health Centre is aiming to bust myths about COVID-19 and vaccines during a townhall-style virtual meeting for on Wednesday evening. A panel of health experts will answer questions and share "honest information" about vaccines in this diverse community, organizers say. Soraya Allibhai, the health centre's COVID-19 coordinator, said with illness, isolation and lost jobs, some residents are struggling. "There is a predominance of COVID cases in Ottawa South, and so we want to provide education ... when it comes to vaccinations and building confidence around that as well," said Allibhai. "People are struggling financially, emotionally. There's a challenge with the school closures and lockdowns. Each and every day is harder." Soraya Allibhai is the South-East Ottawa Community Health Centre's COVID-19 coordinator. Sudesh Gurung, who came to Canada from Nepal several years ago and now works as a resident leader with the South-East Ottawa Community Health Centre, said building trust with the community is important during the pandemic. A lot of people in the community are essential workers, and some have been exposed the virus in the workplace, said Gurung. He spends time going door to door, providing information to residents in multiple languages including English, Nepali, Hindi, Urdu, Spanish and sign language. "There are a lot of myths circulating in our community, because the community is reluctant to trust the people," said Gurung. "So we want to try to engage them and share information about COVID vaccines." Concerns include the speed at which the vaccines have been developed, and Gurung said often misinformation is being spread through social media. Given the language barrier, he said, correct public health information can be drowned out by the myths. Sudesh Gurung came to Canada from Nepal several years ago and now works as a resident leader with the South-East Ottawa Community Health Centre. He says building trust with the community is important during the pandemic. "The myths are circulating through their circles," said Gurung. "They're not sure what other things are in the vaccine. Is it halal [Arabic for "permissible under Islamic law"]?" While Wednesday night's session will be in English, the team is working on handouts in other languages, as well as other outreach events in a variety of languages including Arabic and Somali. "People can feel comfortable in their language to actually ask questions," said Allibhai. She said the centre also wants its neighbours to know support is available, including food, baby supplies and technology. Wednesday's event will be broadcast live at 7 p.m. on the South-East Ottawa Community Health Centre's Facebook page.
U.S. President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed to work toward achieving net zero emissions by 2050. "We're launching a high-level, climate-ambition ministerial and to align our policies and our goals to achieve net zero emissions by 2050," Biden said in a speech following a bilateral meeting with the Canadian leader. U.S. Special Climate Change Envoy John Kerry and his Canadian counterpart, Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, will host the ministerial.
GLASGOW, Scotland — Neil Lennon resigned as manager of Scottish club Celtic on Wednesday with the team a distant second behind Glasgow rival Rangers. Celtic was in pursuit of a 10th consecutive league title but is 18 points behind Rangers in a turbulent season punctuated by a 1-0 loss to struggling Ross County on Sunday. "We have experienced a difficult season due to so many factors and, of course, it is very frustrating and disappointing that we have not been able to hit the same heights as we did previously," Lennon said in a statement. “I have worked as hard as ever to try and turn things around, but unfortunately we have not managed to get the kind of run going that we have needed.” Lennon began his second stint as Celtic manager in February 2019 after Brendan Rodgers left to take over at Leicester and led the team to two league titles. Assistant coach John Kennedy was named to take over on an interim basis. “I would like to pay tribute to Neil for all he has done for the club in his second spell, delivering our eighth and ninth successive league titles, the quadruple treble and winning the last five available domestic trophies,” Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell said. “Neil has always been and will always be a true Celtic man and someone I will always hold in the highest regard.” Lawwell said it is a “sad day” to see Lennon leave. “Neil is a man of quality and decency," he said, "he is someone who will always be part of the fabric of Celtic and someone who will always be welcomed at Celtic Park.” ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
(Spencer Platt/Getty Images - image credit) As Ottawa's network of shelters, respite centres and physical distancing centres reach capacity, outbreaks within the system continue to grow and support systems are left playing "catch up," trying to get them under control. According to Ottawa Public Health's (OPH) COVID-19 dashboard, there are four active outbreaks at shelters across the city. While OPH does not list the names of shelters on its dashboard, cases at one in particular have continued to grow. Two weeks ago it reported 70 positive cases. There are now 108. OPH also declared an outbreak at the physical distancing centre on Nicholas Street on Tuesday, with a number of workers and clients testing positive. In a memo to the city, OPH added that there have also been cases at the Dempsey Community Centre and Tom Brown Respite Centre. Wendy Muckle, CEO of Ottawa Inner City Health, said it's unclear exactly why cases in the city's homeless shelters rise, but winter has brought "a different set of challenges." With the colder weather, shelters have become more crowded and many staff are staying home because they're sick, Muckle said. 'We try as much as possible to distance people, although it's very tough in an overcrowded situation with this outbreak,' says Wendy Muckle, CEO of Ottawa Inner City Health. "It's been very difficult to catch up once you have an outbreak that's that significant," Muckle said. As for emergency overflow physical distancing centres, Muckle said those too are getting full. "They were set up at a time when we thought that they would have lots of extra capacity but the number of people entering the shelter system has really increased quite rapidly," she said. "We're in that proverbial rock and a hard place at this point in time." Testing within shelters Ottawa Inner City Health and OPH are conducting tests at different locations throughout the week and are testing different groups within those locations to help curb the spread. "The transient nature of the population and the ability of positive clients to self-isolate away from others will also contribute to the prolonged outbreaks," wrote OPH in a statement to CBC. OPH says it's working closely with facilities experiencing outbreaks to implement disease control measures including enhanced cleaning, self-isolation for those who have tested positive and surveillance testing "to identify the extent of the outbreak."
TORONTO — Advocates say migrant and undocumented workers should have access to COVID-19 vaccines.The Migrant Rights Network is calling on all levels of governments to guarantee that access.The group is expected to make the call in a news conference today along with doctors and labour leaders .They say they are concerned that thousands of migrant and undocumented workers will not get the vaccine because of their immigration status.The group says government vaccination plans do not include measures that would guarantee safe access to the shot for the workers.The Ontario government has not said if temporary foreign workers employed on the province's farms would have access to the COVID-19 vaccine.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — A civil liberties lawyer says a decision by the City of Toronto to bill a restaurant owner nearly $200,000 to cover the cost of enforcing lockdown regulations raises concerns about people's constitutionally protected right to protest. Adam Skelly, the owner of Adamson Barbecue, opened his restaurant for indoor dining in November in violation of COVID-19 public health regulations, drawing dozens of anti-lockdown protesters. On the weekend, Skelly posted on social media that he had received an invoice from the city for $187,030.56, with the cost of the police response accounting for $165,188.73 of the total. Cara Zwibel, the director of the fundamental freedoms program with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said the idea that individuals should have to pay for the opportunity to exercise their freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly is concerning. There are significant costs to policing a wide variety of matters, she said, but criminals don't pay the policing costs associated with those crimes. "There is a concern that the city is not treating this as part of their normal operations," Zwibel said. "But this is what police do, they enforce the law and keep the peace, that's the cost of doing business as a municipality." A spokesman for the city said businesses that have violated the law and have been ordered to close have remained closed, making Adamson Barbecue an exception. "There was a significant amount of time that the police and city incurred in dealing with this issue in terms of his opening the establishment and our need to close it under public health orders," Brad Ross said in an interview. The invoice was sent to Skelly in December but has not yet been paid, he said, adding that the city is considering launching a civil suit to recoup the money. Ross said this is the first time the city sends an invoice to someone during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, he said a business or resident was billed for not clearing a sidewalk of snow, leaving the city to do the work - but those cases were not common. Zwibel said there is already a system in place to deal with people who break the law: the justice system. The "pay-to-protest" issue has come up in the past, she said, especially on university campuses. If a topic of a planned protest is a hot-button issue and the event is expected to attract a large crowd, universities have tried to have organizers pay for security. "The universities will sometimes say 'well, there's going to be a big reaction to that and so we're going to need security, and so you're going to have to pay for it," Zwibel said. "I would say it's not appropriate to have to pay to exercise your constitutionally protected right to protest." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
A German court sentenced a former member of President Bashar al-Assad's security services to 4-1/2 years in prison on Wednesday for abetting the torture of civilians, the first such verdict for crimes against humanity in the 10-year-old Syrian civil war. The higher regional court in the western city of Koblenz said Eyad A. had arrested at least 30 anti-government protesters at the start of the conflict in 2011 and sent them to an intelligence facility where he knew detainees were tortured. The verdict gives hope to the 800,000 Syrians in Germany who say they were tortured in government facilities after attempts to establish an international tribunal for Syria failed.
Things could look different in the annual meeting season starting next month, when companies are set to face the most investor resolutions tied to climate change in years. Those votes are likely to win more support than in previous years from large asset managers seeking clarity on how executives plan to adapt and prosper in a low-carbon world, according to Reuters interviews with more than a dozen activist investors and fund managers. In the United States, shareholders have filed 79 climate-related resolutions so far, compared with 72 for all of last year and 67 in 2019, according to data compiled by the Sustainable Investments Institute and shared with Reuters.
(Chuks Focus - image credit) Over the course of Black History Month, we are hoping to learn more about the rich dynamics of the Black experience in Regina through the stories of people from different backgrounds and professions. Read other pieces in the series: With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to threaten the livelihood of entrepreneurs across Canada, Lucky and Ediri Okurame knew they were taking a risk when they started their hair and beauty studio in Regina. But they also knew they had found a niche that was not being catered to enough in the city: Black hair. "There is a style lacking here," said Lucky. "The educational system here teaches a different way of cutting hair than is needed for the texture of our [Black] hair. We don't have a lot of professionals who know how to do Afro hair because they are not being taught at school here in Saskatchewan." Although they knew they were taking a risk, especially during these pandemic times, the couple opened Lucky Hair & Beauty Studio late last year, becoming one of only a few businesses in Regina to offer expertise in Black hairstyles. "Our business specializes in a number of services that cater to all people, especially Black people, such as haircuts, split-end trims, beard trims, dreadlocks, hairline lineups, makeup, wig repair, hair replacements, weave and frontal installation, eyelashes, extensions, hair tattoos, custom hair colour, cornrows, box braids, and the list goes on," said Ediri. Working through challenges Along with the business opportunity came the challenge of adapting to COVID-19 regulations, which the couple met by making the studio "COVID ready," Lucky said. To do that, they put limits on how many people could be in the studio and made sure work stations were properly spaced out to meet social distancing requirements, he said. The Okurames provide everything from box braids to wig repairs and hair tattoos. COVID-19-related challenges are not the only hoops the Okurames have had to jump through. Ediri said starting the business was especially difficult for her, being a mom to two young kids: Gabriella, 3, and Lucky, 2. "Thankfully, we were able to find them a babysitter and a good daycare," she said. "Balancing motherhood, being a wife and work is tough, but I am so grateful to have such a supportive husband." 'Managing two toddlers is definitely not easy, but it's even harder when you're also managing a new business,' Ediri said of parenting Gabriella, 3, and Lucky, 2, while getting a new salon up and running. The couple came to Canada a few years ago from Nigeria, where Lucky had been cutting hair. In Saskatchewan, he started cutting hair in his basement before eventually co-owning a barber supply store in Regina. He and Ediri say that so far, the experience of running their own shop together has been a dream come true and has made their union stronger. "I love working with my husband. We were best friends before we got married so every day of this journey has been nothing but fun as we figure out what's next for the business," Ediri said. While the official business launch of Lucky Hair & Beauty Studio is scheduled for March 20, the salon opened up to customers three months ago and has been received warmly by the community. "We've had a lot of people reaching out to work with us," Lucky said. "It has actually been overwhelming. The people of Regina have been supportive so far." 'We were best friends before we got married so every day of this journey has been nothing but fun,' Ediri said. More inclusive businesses The Okurames say they would like to see more businesses like theirs that cater to unique hair needs for a diversity of people. About three per cent of Regina's population is Black, according to the 2016 census. "Saskatchewan is a diverse community filled with people from different parts of the world. It would be nice to see different hair-making techniques from these different parts," Lucky said. Lucky hopes to play a part in educating hair stylists and beauticians all over the country, he said. "We are trying to make our business a franchise venture all over Canada. Our goal is to build a global brand," Lucky said. "We are hoping to have a setup in Toronto and Calgary. Once we have more opportunities to expand as much as we can, we will definitely do that." LISTEN | Lucky and Ediri Okurame tell CBC Saskatchewan's Morning Edition why they opened a salon in a pandemic: 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. You can read more stories here.