With Matt Di Nicolantonio.
With Matt Di Nicolantonio.
With many Quebecers cooped up at home, some are channeling their energy by getting into the festive spirit a little early.Interest in natural Christmas trees has been rising steadily in the last few years and the Quebec Association of Christmas Tree Producers is predicting a record season."People are ready to buy local, support their neighbours and buy green," said Charles Vaillancourt, president of the association.Last weekend, dozens of families showed up at Sapinière Saint-Jean for the first day of the U-pick season. "The big advantage of U-pick is freshness as well as choice," said co-owner Michel Gravel.Like the boom for Quebec apple producers in the fall, some Christmas tree producers are expecting an influx of people looking for a festive outdoor activity.While some farms are offering U-pick services, others are adapting to try and serve shoppers from afar.Les Sapins de Clericy in Rouyn-Noranda is offering to deliver farm fresh Christmas tree to local clients who order online or by phone.Co-owner Mary-Lou de Denus said that they cancelled their U-pick season because it's impossible to maintain distancing between clients.She said that normally the farm welcomes visitors not just to buy but to gather, have a snack or a drink, and chat. This year, that tradition can't happen, so the farm is closed to the public."Of course, we are going to reduce our service a little bit because it's more complex to deliver. But we will try to respect as much as possible the customers' choice of height and width," she said.When it comes to artificial trees and other holiday decorations, some stores reported crowds of shoppers buying up their stock earlier than normal."People are buying Christmas decorations at a never-before-seen rate," said François Gendron, manager at a Canac hardware store in Quebec City.Gendron said he's never seen such a craze for Christmas decorations at the beginning of November."We have a lot of inventory, but it is starting to decrease," he said. "So, eventually we will run out of stock."He suggested that one reason for the increased demand is that everyone is stuck at home this year, including snowbirds and others who travel around the holidays."They have to equip themselves from A to Z because they have no tree and no decorations," he said.
Toronto and Peel Region have officially moved into "lockdown" as Ontario tries to curb the province's steep rise in COVID-19 cases. The shutdown will last a minimum of 28 days and could result in fines as high as $750 for people caught breaking public-health rules. Confused about what those rules are? This guide will help. Here's a list of what's open and closed under lockdown restrictions. What's open * Schools. * Pharmacies, doctor and dentist offices. * Grocery stores. * Essential services. * Drive-in cinemas. * Indoor and outdoor cleaning and maintenance services are permitted. * Film and television productions are permitted to stay open if they adhere to several conditions. * Real estate agencies. * Veterinary services.What's closed * Post-secondary institutions move to virtual instruction, with some exceptions, such as clinical training. * Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments. * Gyms. * Cinemas. * Horse racing. * Amusement parks and water parks. * Motorsports. * Zoos and aquariums. * Museums, art galleries, science centres. * Photography studios and services. * In-person driving instruction. * In-person personal services including personal shoppers and wedding planners aren't permitted. * Tour and guide services. What's limited * Indoor and outdoor dining at restaurants is prohibited. Instead, restaurants can only offer takeout, drive-thru and delivery. * Nightclubs and strip clubs can offer takeout, drive-thru or delivery if they also operate as a food and drink establishment. * Non-essential retail and malls are limited to curbside pickup or delivery only. * No new reservations for short-term rentals are permitted. This does not apply to hotels, motels, lodges, resorts, or student residences. * Libraries are open for curbside, delivery or pick-up. * Community centres and multi-purpose facilities are allowed to stay open for permitted activities such as child-care services. * Performing arts facilities are closed to spectators, but are open for rehearsal. * Campsites must be made available only for individuals who are in need of housing, or are permitted to be there by the terms of a full season contract. * Golf courses and driving ranges are permitted for outdoor operation only. Gatherings and events * No indoor gatherings will be allowed with anyone outside a person's household. * Individuals who live alone can have close contact with one other household. * Outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people. * Religious services, funerals and weddings are limited to 10 people indoors or outdoors. * Virtual and drive-in gatherings, events services, rites or ceremonies are permitted.WATCH | What you need to know about lockdown restrictions For a full list of what's open and closed during lockdown, click here. Other regions move into red, orange zonesMeanwhile, several other regions identified as hot spots have been moved into the red "control" zone and the orange "restrict" zone. The following regions are now in the red zone: * Durham. * Hamilton. * Halton. * Waterloo. * York.The following regions are now in the orange zone: * Brant County. * Huron Perth. * Niagara Region. * Ottawa. * Simcoe Muskoka. * Southwestern Public Health. * Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph. * Windsor-Essex.In the red zone, gatherings are confined to five people indoors and 25 people outdoors. Religious services, weddings and funerals are confined to 30 per cent capacity indoors and 100 people outdoors.The maximum number of patrons permitted to be seated at a bar or restaurant indoors is 10. Outdoor dining, take out, drive-thru and delivery are all permitted.Gyms and fitness studios are also permitted to be open with maximum of 10 people indoors. In the orange zone, gatherings are limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. The maximum number of patrons permitted to be seated at a bar or restaurant indoors is 50, with tables of up to four people allowed. To see Ontario's full list of rules for the five levels of public-health measures, click here.
Pope Francis says in a new book that he can relate to people in intensive care units who fear dying from coronavirus because of his own experience when part of his lung was removed 63 years ago. Italian newspapers published excerpts of the new book "Let Us Dream: The Path to A Better Future," on Monday ahead of publication next month. In the book, a conversation with one of his biographers, Briton Austen Ivereigh, Francis talks in some of the most personal terms to date about the time he was hovering between life and death.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday she offered President-elect Joe Biden assistance with tackling the rampant outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States. During the first talks between the two since Biden was elected as the next U.S. president, Ardern said she offered access to New Zealand's most senior health officials. “I offered to him and his team access to New Zealand health officials in order to share their experience on things we’ve learnt on our Covid-19 journey," Ardern told reporters in Wellington.
The health authority in western Quebec has taken creative steps to address the region's hospital bed shortage by converting a Gatineau, Que., hotel into a medical facility for people with COVID-19 and other ailments.For the second time since the pandemic started, the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l'Outaouais (CISSSO) has made major changes to the Quality Inn on rue Bellehumeur, with 116 rooms currently housing around 30 patients. "We have nurses, nurses' aides, we have doctors that come in and work with our patients. We also have personal assistants," said Suzanne Denis, who works with seniors for CISSSO. "We also have access to all of the staff that's available to home care."Gatineau is currently deemed a "red zone" by the province of Quebec, which comes with the toughest COVID-19 restrictions. The health authority said it didn't want to be caught unprepared if a lot of people suddenly get sick. The hotel itself is now zoned into different areas: the cold zone (green), the warm zone (yellow) and the hot zone (red).The cold zone is for patients who don't have COVID-19 but need care or supervision on a daily basis, and includes people waiting to go into long-term care. The warm zone is for patients who have COVID-19 symptoms or who've come in contact with the virus. They're isolated or monitored for 14 days to see if they need to go into the red zone, which is for patients who've tested positive.Those patients stay in isolation at the hotel until they've recovered from COVID-19.Stéphane Pleau, CISSSO's director of technical services and logistics, said it took them three weeks to convert the hotel and make it safe for patients.Each zone has its own access to prevent cross-contamination, meaning patients and staff have to leave the building to go from one area to another."We had to zone it in different different categories for the warm, cold and hot zones so that we can have beds for different types of clientele," Pleau said.For now, patients' meals are still prepared off-site — but CISSSO says that should soon change as hospital staff are about to take over the hotel's kitchen."It'll allow the employees to have more time to spend with the residents while they're eating, while they're having activities," Denis said. "They won't be taking up, I'll say, clinical time [to prepare] their food."Creating a facility like this also increases the need for staff, already an issue for the region which has experienced multiple shortages of hospital workers.There are currently 15 people working at the hotel, and CISSSO is hoping that number will increase.
HONG KONG — Prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong and two other activists were taken into custody Monday after they pleaded guilty to charges related to a demonstration outside police headquarters during anti-government protests last year. Wong, together with fellow activists Ivan Lam and Agnes Chow, pleaded guilty to charges related to organizing, taking part in and inciting protesters to join an unauthorized protest outside police headquarters last June. The trio were members of the now-disbanded Demosisto political party. They were remanded in custody at a court hearing Monday, and the three are expected to be sentenced on Dec. 2. Those found guilty of taking part in an unlawful assembly could face as long as five years in prison depending on the severity of the offence. “I am persuaded that neither prison bars, nor election ban, nor any other arbitrary powers would stop us from activism,” Wong said, ahead of the court hearing. “What we are doing now is to explain the value of freedom to the world, through our compassion to whom we love, so much that we are willing to sacrifice the freedom of our own. I’m prepared for the thin chance of walking free.” Wong rose to prominence as a student leader during the 2014 Umbrella Movement pro-democracy protests and is among a growing number of activists being charged with relatively minor offences since Beijing in June imposed a sweeping national security law on the territory that has severely restricted political speech. Pro-democracy supporters have said the legal charges are part of a campaign to harass and intimidate them. Lam, who also spoke ahead of the court hearing, said he too was prepared to be jailed. Wong wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday that he and Lam had decided to plead guilty after consulting with their lawyers. The two previously pleaded not guilty to the charges. Chow had already pleaded guilty to charges of inciting others and taking part in the protest. “If I am sentenced to prison this time, it will be the first time in my life that I have been in jail,” Chow wrote on her Facebook page on Sunday. “Although I am mentally prepared, I still feel a little bit scared. However, compared to many friends, I have suffered very little. When I think of this, I will try my best to face it bravely,” she wrote. On June 21 last year, thousands rallied outside the police headquarters to protest what they said was excessive police force against demonstrators Zen Soo, The Associated Press
Health officials in Alberta have begun hunting around for specialized freezers, one of the first steps in preparing for the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines which could begin arriving within the next few months. Earlier this month, the province began the procurement process for freezers able to meet COVID-19 vaccine storage requirements. Initially, the government proposed the sole-source purchase of five freezers from Fisher Scientific, according to procurement documents, although Alberta Health said there is now an open competition between potential suppliers. Alberta is looking to purchase four ultra-low units needed for the Pfizer vaccine and two laboratory freezer units for the Moderna vaccine. The six units will have about 23 cubic feet of capacity, which would be about the same size as a large refrigerator. The storage units will be held at the provincial vaccine depot located in Fort Saskatchewan. Ultracold temperature freezers are in high demand and typically cost about $15,000. The Pfizer vaccine must be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius. The ultra-low temperature storage requirements have sent some health authorities and hospitals scrambling to find special freezers. "We don't know which vaccines we're going to get so the government is really preparing for every eventuality," said Shannon MacDonald, a registered nurse and a professor at the University of Alberta's School of Public Health. MacDonald and her team are currently researching who should be prioritized to receive the vaccine, which is part of a COVID-19 rapid response research project funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and is intended to guide public health officials in how they dole out the first rounds of immunizations when they become available in Canada. Alberta expects to receive 465,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 221,000 of the Moderna vaccine for a total of 686,000 doses, earlier in the new year. Being able to receive the doses and store them properly is just one part of the process to disburse the vaccines. "The process is not linear. [The government] has to do a whole bunch of things at once," said Dr. Margaret Russell, an associate professor and researcher at the University of Calgary's Cumming School of Medicine, who specializes in public health preventive medicine. WATCH | Why infectious disease experts are encouraged, cautious about Pfizer vaccine: Health officials will have to create a distribution plan and decide who will deliver the vaccine, where it will go in the province and how it will be stored, she said. At the same time, officials have to decide how many people will be needed to help at clinics where the vaccine will be administered. "They have to think about the human resources, the training and skills set. Of course, right now, during COVID, people have to self isolate, we're hearing a lot about health-care workers having to self isolate," Dr. Russell said. Vaccine recipients will need to be monitored for any adverse effects and to ensure they receive the second dose of the vaccination. Besides the logistical considerations, a communications plan will also be key, said MacDonald, with the University of Alberta. Health officials will have to preach patience, while also providing encouragement, she said. "We need to reassure people that all the usual processes have been followed [in developing the vaccines], but much more quickly through a massive injection of funds, so that people are reassured, so that when it's their turn and they are eligible for the vaccine, they're prepared to get the vaccine," said Macdonald. Pfizer has begun "rolling submissions" for the vaccine with regulators in Europe, the United Kingdom and Canada, the company said. The vaccine is among seven that Canada has pre-ordered.
As the price of bitcoin soars, Chinese cryptocurrency asset managers are looking to expand in places such as Hong Kong and Singapore, skirting an intensified crackdown at home. Cryptocurrency-focused hedge funds have grown assets under management and registered hefty gains this year thanks to bitcoin's recent surge to over $18,000, close to its 2017 high. At the same time, Beijing has been tightening already strict scrutiny over cryptocurrencies as the People's Bank of China (PBOC) prepares to launch its own digital currency, partly a response to the threat from currencies like bitcoin, officials say.
WENCHANG, China — Chinese technicians were making final preparations Monday for a mission to bring back material from the moon's surface in what would be a major advance for the country’s space program. Chang’e 5 is China's most ambitious lunar mission yet and marks the first time in four decades that any country has sought to bring rocks and debris from the moon to Earth. That could boost human understanding of the moon, its age and resources, and of the solar system more generally. The four modules of the Chang’e 5 spacecraft are expected be sent into space Tuesday aboard a massive Long March-5 rocket from the Wenchang launch centre along the coast of the southern island province of Hainan, according to a NASA description of the mission. The secretive Chinese National Space Administration has only said that a launch is scheduled for late November. The mission's key task is to drill 2 metres (almost 7 feet) beneath the moon's surface and scoop up about 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of rocks and other debris to be brought back to Earth, according to NASA. That would the first opportunity scientists have had to study newly obtained lunar material since the American and Russian missions of the 1960s and 1970s. The mission is “indeed challenging," but China has already landed twice on the moon with its Chang'e 3 and Chang'e 4 missions, and showed with a 2014 Chang'e 5 test mission that it can navigate back to Earth, re-enter and land a capsule, said Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. All that's left is to show it can collect samples and take off again from the moon, McDowell said. “As a result of this, I’m pretty optimistic that China can pull this off," he said. Such experience is growing in value with more and more countries conducting asteroid sample returns and considering Mars sample returns, McDowell said. After making the three-day trip from Earth, the Chang’e 5 lander’s time on the moon is scheduled to be short and sweet. It can only stay one lunar daytime, or about 14 days, because it lacks the radioisotope heating units that China’s current lunar rover, the Chang’e 4, possesses to withstand the moon’s freezing nights. Launched as a single space craft, Chang'e 5 is actually composed of a lander, ascender, service module and return capsule. The lander will dig for materials with its drill and robotic arm and transfer them to the ascender, which will lift off from the moon and dock with the service capsule. The materials will then be moved to the return capsule for the trip home to earth. The technical complexity of Chang'e 5, with its four components, makes it “remarkable in many ways," said Joan Johnson-Freese, a space expert at the U.S. Naval War College. If successful, it could be a blueprint for a Mars sample return or even a crewed lunar mission, Johnson-Freese said. “China is showing itself capable of developing and successfully carrying out sustained high-tech programs, important for regional influence and potentially global partnerships," she said. The mission, named for the Chinese moon goddess Chang'e, is among China’s boldest since it first put a man in space in 2003, becoming only the third nation to do so after the U.S. and Russia. While many of China's crewed spaceflight achievements, including building an experimental space station and conducting a space walk, reproduce those of other countries from years past, the CNSA is now moving into new territory. Chang’e 4 —the first soft landing on the moon’s relatively unexplored far side — is providing full measurements of radiation exposure from the lunar surface, information vital for any country that plans to send astronauts to the moon. China in July became one of three countries to have launched a mission to Mars, in China's case an orbiter and a rover that will search for signs of water on the red planet. The CNSA says the spacecraft Tianwen 1 is on course to arrive at Mars around February. China has increasingly engaged with foreign countries on missions, and the European Space Agency will be providing important ground station information for Chang'e 5. U.S. law however still prevents most collaborations with NASA, excluding China from partnering with the International Space Station. That has prompted China to start work on its own space station and launch its own programs that have put it in a steady competition with Japan and India among Asian nations seeking to notch new achievements in space. China's space program has progressed cautiously, with relatively few setbacks in recent years. The Long March-5 rocket, nicknamed “Fat 5” because of its bulky shape, failed on a previous launch attempt, but has since performed without a glitch, including launching Chang'e 4. “China works very incrementally, developing building blocks for long-term use for a variety of missions," Freese-Johnson said. China's one-party authoritarian system also allows for “prolonged political will that is often difficult in democracies," she said. While the U.S. has followed China's successes closely, it's unlikely to engage China in space amid political suspicions, a sharpening military rivalry and accusations of Chinese theft of technology, experts say. “A change in U.S. policy regarding space co-operation is unlikely to get much government attention in the near future," Johnson-Freese said. Sam McNeil, The Associated Press
Recent developments:What's the latest?Ottawa has just 40 of Ontario's record 1,589 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases Monday.Western Quebec has 48 more cases Monday and is averaging more new cases a day than Ottawa, despite having about one-third the population. The region also has more patients being treated in hospital for COVID-19.Businesses struggling to pay the bills because of the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to start applying today for the long-awaited federal commercial rent relief program, the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy.The Ontario government is bringing in the former head of the Canadian Armed Forces, Rick Hillier, to oversee distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. The province also wants to extend the term of chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams until September.How many cases are there?As of Monday, 8,212 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in Ottawa. There are 347 known active cases, 7,498 cases now considered resolved and 367 people who have died of COVID-19.Public health officials have reported more than 13,200 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 11,800 resolved cases.Eighty-eight people have died of COVID-19 elsewhere in eastern Ontario, along with 71 in western Quebec. CBC Ottawa is profiling those who've died of COVID-19. If you'd like to share your loved one's story, please get in touch. What can I do?Both Ontario and Quebec are telling people to limit close contact only to those they live with, or one other home if people live alone, to slow the spread of the coronavirus.Travel from one region to another discouraged throughout the Outaouais. Ontario says people shouldn't travel to a lower-level region from a higher one and some lower-level health units want residents to stay put to curb the spread.Ottawa is currently in the orange zone of the provincial pandemic scale, which allows organized gatherings and restaurants, gyms and theatres to bring people inside.Ottawa's medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches has said Ottawa's situation is stable and people should focus on managing risks and taking precautions, such as seeing a few friends outside at a distance, to bring the spread down further.Communities in the Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) and Eastern Ontario health units have been moved to yellow. The rest of eastern Ontario remains in the province's green zone.In Gatineau and the surrounding area, which is one of Quebec's red zones, health officials are asking residents not to leave home unless it's essential.Indoor dining at restaurants remains prohibited and gyms, cinemas and performing arts venues are all closed.The rest of western Quebec is orange, which allows private gatherings of up to six people and organized ones up to 25 — with more in seated venues.Last week, Quebec announced what it will take to have a small holiday gathering next month. Rules won't be loosened until mid-January at the earliest.What about schools?There have been about 200 schools in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region with a confirmed case of COVID-19:Few have had outbreaks, which are declared by a health unit in Ontario when there's a reasonable chance someone who has tested positive caught COVID-19 during a school activity.Distancing and isolatingThe novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes or speaks onto someone or something. These droplets can hang in the air.People can be contagious without symptoms.This means people should take precautions such as staying home when sick, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean, socializing outdoors as much as possible and maintaining distance from anyone they don't live with — even with a mask on.Ontario has abandoned its concept of social circles.Masks are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec and should be worn outdoors when people can't distance from others. Three-layer non-medical masks with a filter are recommended.Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who've been ordered to do so by their local public health unit. The duration depends on the circumstances in both Ontario and Quebec.Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible. Anyone who has travelled recently outside Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days.What are the symptoms of COVID-19?COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and the loss of taste or smell. Less common symptoms include chills, headaches and pink eye. Children can develop a rash.If you have severe symptoms, call 911.Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic and resources are available to help.WATCH | Third major drug company gives late-stage vaccine trial update:Where to get testedIn eastern Ontario:Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, or if you've been told to by your health unit or the province.Anyone seeking a test should now book an appointment. Different sites in the area have different ways to book, including over the phone or going in person to get a time slot.People without symptoms, but who are part of the province's targeted testing strategy, can make an appointment at select pharmacies.Ottawa has eight permanent test sites, with additional mobile sites deployed wherever demand is particularly high. A test site should open at the McNabb Community Centre tomorrow.Kingston's test site is at the Beechgrove Complex. The area's other test site is in Napanee.The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Alexandria, Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Limoges, Rockland and Winchester.The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls and a mobile test site visiting smaller communities.People can arrange a test in Bancroft and Picton by calling the centre or Belleville and Trenton online.Renfrew County residents should call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 for a test or with questions, COVID-19-related or not. Test clinic locations are posted weekly.In western Quebec:Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms or who have been in contact with someone with symptoms.Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau seven days a week at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 avenue Buckingham.They can now check the approximate wait time for the Saint-Raymond site.There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Gracefield, Val-des-Monts and Fort-Coulonge.Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.First Nations, Inuit and Métis:Akwesasne has had its most known COVID-19 cases of the pandemic this month. Its council is asking residents to avoid unnecessary travel.Akwesasne schools are temporarily closed to in-person learning and its Tsi Snaihne Child Care Centre has also closed. It has a COVID-19 test site available by appointment only.Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte reported its first confirmed case this month.People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603.Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.For more information
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Two people died and multiple others were injured in a stabbing Sunday night at a church in California where homeless people had been brought to shelter from the cold weather, police said. The stabbing happened at Grace Baptist Church in San Jose, where police said on Twitter that no services were taking place. “Unhoused individuals were brought into the church to get them out of the cold,” the department tweeted. It was unclear exactly how many people were wounded, but some of the injuries were life-threatening, police said. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo initially tweeted that a suspect had been arrested, but police later said no arrest could be confirmed. KTVU-TV reported that a 22-year-old man was apprehended in the stabbing. Video shown by news outlets near the church showed several ambulances and police cars, and police tape and traffic cones cordoning off the road. The Associated Press
Chinese handset rivals of Huawei Technologies including Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo are making aggressive moves to seize market share from their giant rival, after stepped-up U.S. sanctions hobbled Huawei's supply chains, industry insiders say. Last week Huawei said it had sold its budget brand smartphone unit Honor for an undisclosed sum in a bid to safeguard the latter's supply chain from U.S. action, which has made it difficult to source essential components. In August a Huawei executive said the company will not be able to produce its flagship processors that power its high-end smartphones.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday became the latest world leader to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden on his election victory, saying she offered to share her nation's expertise on dealing with the coronavirus.Ardern said the tone of the 20-minute phone call was warm and that Biden spoke very favourably about how New Zealand was handling the pandemic.“What has been really at the centre of our response has been some fundamentals around testing, contact tracing, isolation,” Ardern said. “That’s over and above what we’ve done at our borders.”New Zealand has been largely successful in eliminating the virus after imposing a strict lockdown in March and closing its borders. Only 25 people in the nation of 5 million have died from COVID-19.Ardern said Biden wanted to pursue the discussion on New Zealand's response further. But she cautioned that the nation's model may not be able to be replicated everywhere.“While New Zealand has a number of natural advantages that have assisted us in managing the virus, I do absolutely believe that international co-operation continues to be key to getting the virus under control," Ardern said. "We are happy to work with any country to share our knowledge and data if its helpful.”Ardern said she and Biden also discussed trade issues and climate change, and talked about the president-elect's Irish heritage and his fond memories of visiting New Zealand a few years ago. She said she invited him to come visit again.In a statement, Biden praised Ardern's “extraordinary leadership” following a 2019 mass shooting at two Christchurch mosques, and as a working mother and role model.Nick Perry, The Associated Press
Using YouTube videos as a guide and seeds from store-bought produce, Sijo Zachariah and his father began a farm that helped feed twenty neighboring households in India while under lockdown. (Nov. 23)
A row over a Thai woman who held up a placard alleging sexual abuse in schools has put a spotlight on harassment in the education system even as she draws threats of legal action for misrepresentation and attacks for soiling Thailand's image. The issue is the latest on which discussion has become more vocal as an anti-government protest movement seeking reform of the monarchy also emboldens people in a society where conservatism has often constrained criticism of the powerful. "I hope my case will raise awareness for people in society, for students in schools, for adults who send children to schools, for teachers and for the Ministry of Education," Nalinrat Tuthubthim, 20, told Reuters.
Chief Billy Morin stands just off the seventh hole tee box of what used to be the Indian Lakes Golf Course in Enoch Cree Nation, just west of Edmonton. He talks about his late father, who worked the golf course, and how golf was his medicine. In generations before, the sweetgrass, sage and muskeg tea that grew adjacent to nearby Yekau Lake were his ancestors' medicines.But in the 1940s, this land served a much different purpose: it was a practice bombing range for Allied forces during World War II.Morin estimates up to 100,000 munitions were dropped between 1942 and 1944. The land, he said, was taken by the government despite not holding a referendum for Enoch band members.On Nov. 13, the nation and the federal government reached an agreement for $91 million to cover trauma endured by people who lived nearby, future cleanup of the land, and lost income from the golf course, which closed in 2014 for safety reasons.For Morin, it's impossible to put a price on trauma endured. But as one of the lead negotiators on the claim for the past five years, he's happy to close this chapter for his nation."It is historic to settle a land claim that's just about 80 years old," Morin said."No amount of money can ever put this land back to what it was … but hopefully the nation decides some good things to happen with this land going forward."In a statement, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett said the federal government will be available to Enoch Cree Nation should they need any special help in continued cleanup of the land.Land felt unsafeMorin has heard stories from elders who lived near the range in the 1940s as young people. They'd feel their houses shake — old enough to understand there was a war raging on but too young to understand their place in it.The federal government leased the land from Enoch, but Morin said leadership donated that money right back to the war efforts, something he is proud of. "I think it goes back to what we inherently wanted when we signed a treaty," he said."It was working together for the common good. And at that time, the more common good was banding together and defending this country."After the area was decommissioned as a bombing range, the Canadian government had no other use for the land.But nation members had to deal with the fallout. There were no fish in the lake; they couldn't use the grounds for hunting anymore because it was unsafe. For the first few years after the Second World War ended, Yekau Lake was the only water source for the Cree who lived there. If they wanted to go elsewhere, they'd have to get permission from the federal government, as per the Indian Act."They felt a lot of hurt," Morin said."And it was still a wound that at this time [is] still open."Gary Morin lived near Yekau Lake in the 1950s, and he remembers people being scared to go there."Fear took a lot of their freedom away," he said. But at some point, hunger forced the hand of people on the reserve. The 71-year-old remembers hunting near Yekau Lake when he was seven years old — when he'd retrieve ducks that the older hunters shot over the lake.Occasionally, he said, he'd come across what looked like a "big lead bullet." Gary Morin later became a steward of sorts over the land, tending to cattle there. He saw first-hand the effects the bombs had — wild horses would fall into the craters left by the bombs, and the lake seemed like it was losing vegetation possibly due to pollution from the munitions.A lot of the wildlife he used to see — cougars, lynx, rabbits — haven't returned, he said.Despite the drastic change to the land, Gary Morin helped build powwow grounds near the lake to help return it to an important part of maskêkosihk, which means land of the medicines in nehiyawewin (Cree). He also was part of the leadership that built the Indian Lakes Golf Course.'Felt like betrayal'Chief Billy Morin said they began using the lands as they'd been told that only practice rounds — smoke and flash bombs — had been used, munitions that aren't as much of a threat as their more explosive counterparts.In a statement to CBC News, the Department of National Defence said its has "found no evidence that any other munitions were used at the site."It said extensive searches in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2014 found only three unexploded practice rounds which were removed. It deems the land safe for use, but wants the public to be aware of what happened on the land before using it.But an independent surveyor contracted by Enoch found evidence of live, heavy-action explosives in 2011, and deemed the whole area unsafe.It was this mixed messaging that hurt the nation's trust in the then-Conservative government."It felt like betrayal," Billy Morin said."It kind of felt like the government's always hiding something or there was another agenda or they're just not in it to do the right thing by us and this land to make it whole again, to have a good, prosperous future on it."In 2015, when the federal Liberals took office, Billy Morin went from councillor to chief. They wiped the slate clean on negotiations and came to an agreement five years later.'It's safe out here'Billy Morin is talking about the richness of the land and the medicine it had before the bombing range when he spots a deer near the lake. Some medicines have returned.He hopes to reopen the golf course his dad loved so much. He wants buffalo to roam the area again one day, and he wants to create a space for nation members to enjoy the outdoors, hunt and pick medicine. Gary Morin wants to see the buffalo roam again, too. He said he sees some "strange-looking birds" these days, a sign that the land is returning to its natural state.It's still not perfect. The Department of National Defence has said the site was assessed as having a low unexploded-device risk in 2011, but admitted the site can never be declared completely hazard-free.But Chief Billy Morin said the settlement is a good path forward. "At the end of the day, the federal government and the negotiators don't have to live here. We do. And we have to find an acceptable way forward for our nation members," he said."I believe it's safe out here for people. I believe we're taking all the right steps to make it safe, otherwise we would have never signed the deal."
A Chinese woman with aspirations of becoming a permanent Canadian resident and opening a high-end gift shop in Yellowknife was awarded $185,000 in damages by a Northwest Territories judge on Friday.Supreme Court Justice Karan Shaner ordered Liang Chen, a Yellowknife businessman and immigration consultant, to pay Jie Qiao $130,000 in punitive damages, $50,000 in aggravated damages and $5,523.29 in damages for breach of contract after Qiao filed a lawsuit.Qiao claims she was forced to withdraw from the N.W.T.'s nominee program after Chen withdrew $160,000 without her permission from a joint bank account they shared in part to purchase a lodge near Yellowknife, which advertises luxurious lakeside rentals.Chen did not appear in court on Friday and did not file a statement of defence, so the court order was made without a trial. In an interview with CBC News last week, he refuted many of Qiao's claims but admitted to using the money to buy the lodge.Qiao, who speaks limited English, moved to Yellowknife from China in early 2019 to seek permanent residency. She hired Chen to help her immigrate and set up a business in Yellowknife.Chen owns C.L. Pacific Immigration Consulting Ltd., based in Burnaby, B.C., and is listed as an immigration consultant on the website of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council.Permanent residency was goalIn mid-January 2019, Qiao was accepted into the business stream of the territory's nominee program, which requires an investment of $300,000, which in turn leads to support for a permanent residency application.Chen helped to set up the business and found a rental unit in Centre Square Mall in Yellowknife. The two opened a joint bank account and she deposited $300,000, as required by the nominee program.At least two local companies were hired to carry out renovation work to the rental unit and, according to court documents, all seemed to be going fine until the summer of 2019. That's when Chen withdrew $50,000 from the bank account without Qiao's knowledge or consent, followed by $110,000 a few months later.Qiao claims that Chen told her he needed the money to get a personal bank loan approved. But in her lawsuit, she alleged he used the $110,000 on a down payment to purchase a property on Madeline Lake, now home to 7th Aurora Lodge Yellowknife.When reached by phone last week, Chen said he regrets using the money to purchase the lodge, but he promised to return the funds, and Qiao eventually got her money back.But according to court documents, Chen did not immediately pay her back, despite promising to do so.In turn, it caused a ripple effect — Qiao said she was no longer able to operate the company, which meant she was in breach of her agreement with the territory and therefore forced to withdraw from the nominee program. As a result, she may have to move back to China.Qiao hired a B.C.-based law firm, which sent letters to the federal and territorial governments outlining what Chen had done. When he found out, Qiao said, he intimidated and pressured her to withdraw them.She eventually fired her lawyer and sent an email to the territory, saying her previous letter did not reflect her intentions. Qiao also said she would withdraw from the nominee program and no longer wished to seek permanent residency because Chen had taken her money.She hired a Yellowknife law firm to demand payment from him. Chen then offered to settle the matter by purchasing the company from her for $160,000. She decided she would rather cut her losses in exchange for a quick resolution and take the deal — a move her lawyer, Christopher Buchanan, described on Friday over the phone in court as essentially Chen strong-arming her into a settlement for far less than what she initially invested.Parties enter agreementIn February, the two entered into a settlement agreement that required Chen to pay Qiao the $160,000 within seven days. But it wasn't until April 27 that he did so, and on Friday, Chen was ordered to pay her $5,523.29 in interest for breaching the agreement, on top of the damages.The judge also ordered that all of the company's liabilities be transferred to Chen as of Feb. 27, 2020. He was also ordered to indemnify Qiao for all amounts owed to the landlord as of Sept. 30, 2019. According to court documents, as far as Qiao knows, the company owes the landlord nearly $15,000 in rent arrears, but the figure may be much higher.Court documents prepared by Qiao's lawyer argue she was in a vulnerable position — she did not speak English and was completely dependent on Chen to deal with her immigration and business matters. The documents went on to say that his conduct had greatly affected her mental health and caused her to suffer from insomnia and severe anxiety.Qiao is also unable to recover a $75,000 deposit to the territory, as was required by the business stream of the nominee program.Her lawyer, Buchanan, said in an email she's asked for privacy and would not be available for an interview.Chen did not respond to a request for comment following Friday's judgment.In an interview with CBC News last Tuesday, Chen said the gift store was once a viable business, but because the pandemic virtually paused tourism in the territory since the spring, it can't survive."The business is probably going into insolvency," he said, adding he takes "full responsibility" for his actions."I think my motto has always been, you know, if you get it wrong, admit it and move forward."
Jeffrey Freedman is a COVID-19 "long-hauler" — one of many Canadians left with lingering health issues after getting sick from the virus. He says he now regrets going into work during the early days of the pandemic after falling ill in early April.Freedman worked at a tile company supplying Toronto's busy residential construction industry, which was deemed an essential service and remained open as other businesses were ordered to shut. He says he felt he had no choice but to report to work, despite risks of infection."I was in a bind. But because we needed the money and my feelings about my customers, I kept going and going and going and working my eight hours a day."CBC News reached out to provincial workers' compensation boards across the country and found that more than 26,000 claims have been filed by people who contracted COVID-19 at work. Freedman is one of more than 20,000 people whose claims have been approved.Thousands file claims across CanadaStatistics on workplace compensation claims are the first concrete indication of how many people are getting COVID-19 at work in Canada, but it's an incomplete picture.There is no standard accounting of how many people have fallen sick while at work due to a patchwork of provincial and federal tracking.What's more, the system does not capture COVID-19 cases among workers who are ineligible or simply don't submit claims.Freedman developed COVID-19 symptoms in April and went to the hospital, where he was told he was a presumptive case and had to go home and isolate. A few days later, he was struggling to breathe and was rushed to hospital by paramedics. He spent 44 days there, most of them on a ventilator as he fought off the infection."I have brain fog. I have permanent damage to my vocal cords from the ICU and tubing for 33 days. I have constant neck and bicep pains," he said.Freedman, now 65, said instead of enjoying his retirement and his dreams of travel, he'll never be able to drive again and still struggles to get through each day."I have a major, major pressure wound on my butt from being in the ICU that is recovered to the point where I can at least sit, but I cannot sleep properly except more than 10 minutes at a time. And I'm very weak and tired, usually by 3 o'clock every day."Ontario's Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) accepted Freedman's claim and has since helped him and his wife, Lori, by replacing Freedman's lost wages and helping to retrofit their bathroom to accommodate his injuries.WATCH | What it's like to be a COVID 'long-hauler':Claims by front-line workers rejectedIn Ontario and British Columbia, the data shows that most claims have come from workers in health-care facilities and agriculture. However, a quarter of workers in Ontario are not covered at all by the workers' compensation system, compared with B.C., where all workers have coverage.Ontario workers not covered include a large number in such industries as privately run care homes, social assistance services and the tech and banking sectors."It really highlights the absurdity of having a compensation system that just cuts out whole swaths of industries and says you're not entitled to coverage, and it's very difficult to track those people down because when they go to the hospital, their claim doesn't get billed through a WSIB number," said David Newberry, a community legal worker at the Injured Workers Community Legal Clinic in Toronto. About 1,425 claims have been disallowed in Ontario as of Nov. 13, including hundreds in front-line industries such as health care.Newberry said the disallowed claims — along with the fact that the WSIB pays only 85 per cent of a worker's full salary — don't fit with declarations that these workers are "heroes" keeping the economy running during a pandemic."While companies are spending millions of dollars putting up billboards and bus ads thanking our front-line workers to be heroes — when people are actually getting sick within these workplaces, whether stocking our shelves or looking after our grandparents — what they're getting is ... a 15 per cent pay cut."Jennifer Collins worked as a nurse at Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, Ont, the site of a major outbreak that killed 29 residents in the spring. She said she didn't have adequate access to personal protective equipment and got sick with COVID-19 in March, leaving her with lingering health problems.Collins was not hospitalized, and she said a lack of medical records chronicling her illness hurt her claim for workers' compensation."I got a phone call from [WSIB], and they said that they realized with COVID that it was a special case," she said, "but because they didn't have any medical data or documentation to back up what I was telling them that I wasn't eligible."Collins said she still suffers from exhaustion and can only walk about two blocks before her hips act up. "Everyday I try to push myself more, but it is difficult, and it's frustrating," she said.After being turned down, Collins instead applied for the Canada emergency response benefit and was approved.Even with approval, fight isn't always overIn Ontario, the WSIB has disallowed 302 claims from workers in nursing and residential care facilities.Ultimately, many people getting sick at work are those who don't have the option of working from home. Newberry, of the injured workers legal clinic, said these workers may not even know they can access workers' compensation — in particular new Canadians who may not be familiar with the language or workplace laws."Those who are most vulnerable are the ones who are generally least likely to know that these things are available," he said.But even for those whose claims are approved, the fight isn't always over.Jeffrey Freedman received notice on Friday that his employer is appealing his workers' compensation claim, insisting that it took all necessary precautions and there's no proof he got COVID-19 at work.As workers' compensation claim costs rise, so too do the premiums that employers have to pay. Newberry said that the system gives employers an incentive to appeal approved claims."Workers' compensation systems in Canada are set up in a model that is similar to private insurance," he said."Even if ... the injured worker is successful in proving their claim is valid, that process can take years, and it can be really stressful."
On a calm day off the shores of Folkestone, a port town in southeast England, the waves slowly lap against the pebble shore. But there is a false sense of peace because of the danger a drastically growing number of migrants are putting themselves in to get here.Nearly 8,000 people have arrived on Britain's shores this year, crossing the English Channel by boat from northern France — four times the number in 2019."I think the busiest day, 400 made the crossing," said Tony Smith, a former head of the U.K. Border Force, which carries out immigration and customs controls.A large number of the people arriving have travelled from conflict zones such as Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Some travel via Libya to Italy and then on to such countries as France or Germany, while others travel through Turkey to Greece and then on to France.For some, once they arrive in northern France, the final leg of their journey involves crossing the water that separates it from the United Kingdom.In previous years, the crossing was often made hiding in the back of trucks that were loaded onto ferries or in shipping containers, but Smith said that method is becoming difficult."We've introduced a lot more security in the ports. It's much harder now for illegal or irregular migrants to get on board vessels," he said, which is why they are using dinghies and kayaks organized by smugglers in France.The crossing by boat has been deadly this year. In late October, a Kurdish family of five, fleeing Iran, lost their lives when the boat they were in capsized two kilometres off the coast of France. In all, about 10 people died last year making the crossing.Following that tragedy, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed to crack down on smugglers.Earlier this year, the government even suggested stopping boats mid-crossing and returning them to France to limit the number of people making it to the U.K.Reaching Britain is a goal for a number of different reasons, including reuniting with family already there and the belief that the U.K. will offer them a better future. As well, it's not uncommon for migrants to have at least a basic grasp of the English language.WATCH | UN urges safe harbour for Banksy-funded migrant rescue boat, other vessels:Supporters call for compassion, better housingThe increased numbers have created issues for housing while the migrants wait for their asylum claims to be processed.Some are now being housed in former military barracks, including the Napier Barracks in Folkestone, a town of about 46,000 people. The barracks were home to Canadian troops during the First World War, where soldiers were staged before heading off to fight on the Western Front."We would like to see people moved to appropriate accommodation, and we would like to see claims processed really quick," said Bridget Chapman, who is with the advocacy group Kent Refugee Action Network. The barracks, she said, are not suitable accommodation, have been empty for years and were earmarked for demolition. Chapman said the situation for the migrants is made worse by tough talk from the government about cracking down on illegal migration. Instead, she would like to focus on providing safe ways for people to claim asylum."It adds to the hostile environment and a very unpleasant atmosphere for people, and I think it's shameful, frankly," Chapman said, pointing out that protesters regularly harass migrants in the community by videotaping their every move.To counter that reception, hundreds of people showed up outside the barracks on a Saturday afternoon in October to give the migrants a warm welcome.With the song We Are Family blaring, supporters waved and cheered at the men through the fence. A group gathered in the compound waved back.Folkestone resident Liberty Carre made a cardboard sign that read "Welcome" in Kurdish."I feel it's important to welcome people coming to this country, to make them feel safe," Carre said.That's what Peter Carroll says his community has been doing for generations, and he doesn't see why this current situation is any different."Folkestone is an area that is usually supportive of people who have come here in the past," he said. "Before the First World War, we welcomed 40 to 50 thousand Belgians. It has a long history of supporting refugees." Migrants bring out protestersBut not long after the friendly crowd left, a smaller group of protesters arrived outside the barracks.One man wearing a red "Make Britain Great Again" hat shouted "go home" at the men, while a woman in the crowd yelled to the media, "These barracks should be housing our homeless veterans, not illegal immigrants."When asked for comment, no one in the group would speak directly with CBC News.In town, that sentiment was echoed by some, though drastically toned down."I just feel like we should look after our own first," said pub owner Steve Barrett. It is a topic that comes up often with customers over a pint, he said, noting that while people feel sorry for the migrants, communities are struggling with COVID-19."I think they should be looked after — everyone deserves a home and somewhere to live — but the country is in a bit of a state at the moment.""We really need to have an open discussion and acknowledge people's concerns from both sides," refugee Ahmad al-Rashid said when asked about the tension over migrants in Folkestone.He left his wife and children in Syria when he came to Britain in 2015. He said the journey was difficult, and he relied on smugglers to get passage on boats and space to hide in the back of trucks.At multiple points, al-Rashid said, he feared for his life and was duped by smugglers, but staying in war-torn Syria wasn't an option for him.Al-Rashid, whose wife and daughters have now joined him in England, said part of the reason he chose the U.K. was because family reunification happens quickly once refugee status is granted."I wanted a place for my children to grow up where I don't have to worry about them being bombed or shelled or killed or kidnapped — or raped," he said, referring to his young daughters.
Justin Smith has been hit with a one-two punch of bad luck. First, the Toronto man was duped by a job scam that made off with $3,000. Then his longtime bank, Tangerine, helped itself to money Smith had in his tax-free savings account to recoup what it had lost in the scam."You keep your money in the bank because you think it's safe," he said. "And they treat the money like it's theirs, and they just move it around to protect themselves. That's not fair."Tangerine is an online subsidiary of Scotiabank that offers no-fee savings and chequing accounts.Here's how the double episode of misfortune unfolded: Smith, who works as a delivery person, had applied to work from home as a data entry clerk for the grocery chain Sobeys. He was offered the job, and was excited to receive an employment contract along with a cheque from his new employer for $3,495 to purchase a laptop, phone system, headphones and various other office equipment."It all looked totally authentic and real," he said. Smith had checked out the names of the people who handled his hiring, and reviewed their profiles on LinkedIn to confirm they worked at Sobeys. So when he received an invoice from a firm called Tech Insight Services for the office equipment, and was instructed by the Sobeys hiring manager to make a $3,000 payment right away, he promptly sent an e-transfer."I only had $800 or so in my chequing account at the time, but after depositing the Sobeys cheque, I had over $4,000," he said. What Smith didn't know was that the entire process was a sophisticated scam. The website where he'd applied, the supposed hiring managers, the cheque — all were fakes. His job application hadn't been sent to Sobeys at all. He had fallen into a snare set to swindle eager job seekers. The cheque even fooled Tangerine; the bank instantly deposited it to Smith's account.Alarm bells didn't start ringing until the next day, when Smith's supposedly new employer told him he should send another $3,500 for a new desk. "At this point, I became suspicious because no one spends that kind of money on a desk," he said. "I called up Tangerine and I said 'OK, I deposited a cheque yesterday, you guys let me send the money. I'm concerned that this cheque is going to bounce.'" WATCH | Bank raids fraud victim's account:Deep in the fine printSmith learned quickly that the scammers had already accepted his e-transfer, and a Tangerine representative said that meant it was too late to cancel it. "He asked 'Do you have money in your other accounts to make up for that?' and I told him I didn't want the bank to take money from those other accounts."Because his tax-fee savings account was registered with the federal government, Smith believed the money in it was untouchable. He was wrong. Deep in the fine print of the agreements many customers receive when they open a bank account is a clause known as the "right of setoff," also sometimes referred to as the right of "offset." It states that the bank has the legal power to seize funds from a debtor or guarantor of a debt. Although that right may vary depending on the product or plan, it's in most agreements; RRSPs and registered retirement income funds are typically exempt. This means if the bank accepts a cheque or another type of deposit that doesn't go through as expected, and a customer withdraws or transfers the funds, the bank has effectively made a bad loan. It then has the right to access money in other accounts it holds for that customer, in order to recover its loss. There is no need to get authorization, or even alert the customer beforehand.Shortly after the fake Sobeys cheque bounced, Tangerine took just over $3,000 from Smith's account. Smith sent two letters of complaint to the bank, asking to be compensated, but was told each time that the bank is not liable for his loss, and that he should report the scam to police. Job scams have become common during the pandemic, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. CBC News reported on a similar scam that involved Sobeys in June. In that case, the victim's bank, the Bank of Montreal, spotted the fraud and didn't send the payment.Sobeys is aware of the fake websites bearing its name, and said it is monitoring the web 24/7 to try to have them shut down. In a statement the company said anyone "looking to join the team or confirm the legitimacy of a job posting," should check jobs.sobeyscareers.com.Some good newsAfter being contacted by CBC's Go Public team, Tangerine said it will refund the $3,000 to Smith, and also pay $250 for a credit monitoring service for him.In an email sent to Smith that was shared with CBC News, the head of the bank's client response group, Emery Sziraky, said: "We have conducted a comprehensive review of your recent experience with Tangerine and we deeply regret that we did not meet your expectations."The bank also emailed a statement to Go Public, saying it was "pleased" to have resolved the matter to Smith's satisfaction. The statement included a warning about fraud, and said Tangerine "work[s] closely with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, the Canadian Bankers Association, law enforcement, and counterparts at other financial institutions," to ensure clients are protected.But Doug Hoyes, an insolvency trustee in Kitchener, Ont., said all Canadians should be aware how common it is for banks to access customer accounts to recover their own losses. "It blindsides people," Hoyes said. "I've seen it happen thousands of times."Hoyes said banks typically put a hold on large cheques deposited to the accounts of new customers; they are unable to access the funds until the cheque clears. But for longstanding, trusted customers, banks will often extend a form of credit and make funds available immediately. Hoyes said that most customers appreciate the ability to access deposits right away. "In most cases what the bank did is very helpful; 'Hey, you put the money in, you can use it.' But in this case, it backfired," he said. A five- or even three-day hold on the cheque Smith had received would have stymied the scammers, but he was a longtime Tangerine client. He opened an account in the late '90s when the bank was still called ING Direct, prior to a rebranding. So he was given instant access to funds.Hoyes added that he often tells his own clients, all of whom have money problems, to set up bank accounts at two different financial institutions. "It is wise to have your assets at a different bank than your debts, if it's possible," he said. That way if a payment goes wrong in any way, the bank isn't able to dip into other accounts on file, he explained.As for Smith, he's still eager to find a new job, and is grateful that Tangerine decided to do "the right thing.""I don't want to make myself out to be a victim here," Smith said. "I'm just trying to help other people not become a victim of these scammers or, quite frankly, become the victim of their bank."