Cases of COVID-19 will likely continue to climb in Canada's most populous provinces for a while even if people start to hunker down, experts say, because of the nature of the infection.Epidemiologists look at the effective reproductive number of COVID-19, which describes how many other people an infected person will pass the coronavirus onto on average.Public health experts like to see the value significantly below one so cases don't snowball and spread out of control.The effective reproductive number of COVID-19 in Canada continues to hover at 1.4, the Public Health Agency of Canada reported on Friday. That means for every 10 people who test positive for COVID-19, they'll likely infect 14 others who then pass it on to 20 others and so on.Christopher Labos, a physician in Montreal with an epidemiology degree, said the effective reproductive number also varies depending on the population in which a virus is spreading."If nothing changes, certainly it'll keep rising and may even surpass a number of cases we had before," Labos said. The doubling time depends on how contagious someone is, the likelihood they'll contact and infect another susceptible person and the frequency of contact.But Labos said there's another important factor: individual changes in behaviour.WATCH | Flattening Canada's COVID-19 curve again: "We probably will see rising case numbers in the next few days, maybe in the next few weeks. But if we take action now and control stuff, we might see this virus plateau before the end of the year. And that's really what we're trying to hope for."To that end, Quebec's premier announced on Monday partial shutdowns in areas with high case counts, namely Montreal, Quebec City and Chaudière-Appalaches, south of the provincial capital."We see that our hospitals are in a fragile situation," Premier François Legault said.As of Thursday for 28 days, visiting those in other households won't be allowed (with exceptions), restaurants will be serving delivery and takeout only and other gathering places such as bars, concert halls, cinemas, museums and libraries in the affected regions will close, he saidTo explain why, Legault said protecting people in school communities, hospitals and long-term care homes is a priority.Sacrifices required to change course"None of this is a given. We can change the outcome," Labos said. "It simply requires us to sacrifice a little bit."Nicola Lacetera, a behavioural economist at the University of Toronto, first studied compliance with physical distancing during the start of the pandemic in Italy. He found that the more frequently governments extended lockdown dates, the more disappointed the public tended to get, which could lessen co-operation."People say, 'Well, I don't know anybody who has COVID,'" Lacetera said. "From a statistical point of view, it makes no sense. But people tend to over-weigh what's closer to them, like having known someone who got COVID."When the public can't see the health consequences of COVID-19 directly in their daily lives then Lacetera said making hygiene, distancing and wearing masks more of a habit, alongside consistent messaging from different levels of government and communicating the science, could help.'Targeted' measuresOntario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, suggested "targeted" measures are under consideration. His Toronto counterpart, Dr. Eileen de Villa, called for new limits in restaurants on Monday, such as reducing the number of patrons from 100 to 75 and requiring establishments to collect contact information from those attending.De Villa also said the extent of spread of the infection in the city means the concept of the bubble or a social circle "no longer reflects the circumstances in which we live." Jacob Wharton-Shukster said his Toronto restaurant would stay open until 2 a.m. before the pandemic. He voluntarily chose to close at 11 p.m. after watching what can happen elsewhere in the world late at night when people have been drinking alcohol."The numbers are doubling from last week, and this is all reasonably foreseeable," he said. " We would have had to have taken a mitigation strategy a month ago to see any result now."Epidemiologists agree, saying the effects of measures only become apparent two weeks down the road because of the lag when someone is newly infected, develops symptoms, gets tested and receives the result.
A York region man who has consistently rallied against health measures meant to keep people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic broke his federally-imposed travel quarantine this weekend to speak at an anti-lockdown rally in downtown Toronto.Social media posts show that Chris Saccoccia, who has also identified himself as "Chris Sky" both in interviews and online, spoke at an anti-lockdown rally in Ireland on Sept. 12.The 37-year-old then spoke to a crowd at an anti-mask/anti-lockdown rally in downtown Toronto last Saturday. A post on Saccoccia's Facebook page indicated he landed back in Canada on Sept. 20.Saturday's protest, which Saccoccia promoted heavily on his social media accounts, came as COVID-19 cases continued to surge in Ontario. The province saw a single-day record of 700 new cases Monday, something Premier Doug Ford called "deeply concerning."Saccoccia did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CBC News.The federal government has mandated that anyone travelling to Canada from outside the country must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, as well as provide contact information to authorities and monitor themselves for symptoms."Those in violation may face transfer to a quarantine facility as well as fines and/or imprisonment," according to the government's website.When asked about Saccoccia, Toronto police spokesperson Connie Osborne told CBC News a 37-year-old man was issued a ticket for $1,000 under the Quarantine Act on Saturday — but in the end, he was still able to speak at the protest at Yonge-Dundas Square in downtown Toronto.Osborne said that failing to comply with the act can result in a range of penalties, from fines to jail time. The maximum penalties include a fine of up to $750,000 and/or six months imprisonment, she said.Video shows police speaking with SaccocciaSaccoccia's own Facebook posts provide a glimpse into his dealings with police.In a post dated Sept. 25, Saccoccia posted a video of himself speaking with a police officer. "They sent the police to my house to 'check up on me.' All they accomplished was another police service member supporting our cause! United non compliance!" he wrote alongside the video.Then on Sept. 26, the day of the anti-lockdown protest in downtown Toronto, Saccoccia wrote that police were "waiting for me to break my quarantine."They wanted everybody to see me 'get a fine' in reality they intentionally mis-spelled my first and last name on the ticket to make sure I wont fight it in court [because] I would win," he wrote.Another video posted on his Facebook page from Sept. 27 shows Saccoccia speaking with three Toronto police officers at Yonge-Dundas Square.In it, one officer asks Saccoccia if he is supposed to be under quarantine right now. Saccoccia responds that he isn't, and the officer responds that he has information that indicates he is supposed to be."You need to be at your residence," the officer says in the video."Are you giving me a fine?" Saccoccia then asks."I'm not giving you a fine; I'm letting you know you need to be at your residence," the officer responds.Saccoccia then walks away, as the officer says, "I'm letting you know you're not supposed to be here, okay?"The City of Toronto and Mayor John Tory's office deferred questions about the protest and Saccoccia's involvement to Toronto police.Osborne, the Toronto police spokesperson, said that no arrests were made at the protest, and no tickets were issued."Everyone has the lawful right to peacefully protest and officers were in attendance to ensure the safety of everyone," she said in an email.Tory tweeted about the protest on Saturday."People are always free to protest in a democracy but the people organizing these protests are trying to spread ridiculous and inaccurate information that, if believed, puts people's lives at risk," he wrote. "I trust our public health officials."And I trust the people of Toronto will make the right choice between advice offered by our best medical experts as opposed to baseless propaganda put forward by an eccentric collection of protesters."Saccoccia has consistently shown contempt for public health measures over the last several months, and rallied people to not follow them. His social media posts are rife with conspiracy theories and misinformation.He helped organize a protest against mandatory mask wearing on the TTC back in July, as well as weekly demonstrations against COVID-19 restrictions outside Queen's Park. Saccoccia also helped distribute "exemption cards" in an attempt to get around emergency bylaws Toronto has enacted requiring face coverings in indoor public spaces.He has also hosted outdoor parties at Cherry Beach that flout physical distancing rules. Toronto police said its professional standards unit was investigating after a police-branded Instagram account posted a photo of two cops with Saccoccia in August. Osborne said Monday that investigation is ongoing.The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) told CBC News earlier this month that from March 25 to Sept. 3, a total of 42 contravention tickets and one summons have been reported to PHAC as being issued by police forces across the country."There have not been any arrests reported to PHAC stemming from a PHAC request for a physical verification check," the agency said in an email. Two fines of $275, five fines of $500, and 35 fines of $1,000 have been reported.
Residents of B.C.'s South Coast have been treated to unusually warm weather and clear skies so far this week. But that could soon change.Wildfires continue to rage across much of California, producing large amounts of smoke that could roll into B.C. as soon as Wednesday.CBC Meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe says the smoke is currently moving out onto the Pacific Ocean, but by mid-week, winds are expected to pull some of it toward B.C."The high pressure that we have in place now will help lock some of those fine particulate matter in," said Wagstaffe."It's hard to say how long it will stick around, but be prepared for hazy skies for the second half of our week."B.C. is expected to see warm weather records for this time of year, with temperatures five to 15 degrees above normal, but Wagstaffe says that if we get enough smoke, it could keep those temperatures down.The province has already experienced a very heavy smoke season due to to wildfires along the U.S. West Coast.Wildfires in CaliforniaNorthern California's wine country was on fire again Monday as strong winds fanned flames in the already scorched region, destroying homes and prompting evacuation orders for nearly 70,000 people.So far in this year's historic U.S. fire season, more than 8,100 California wildfires have killed 29 people, scorched 14,970 square kilometres, and destroyed more than 7,000 buildings. Most of the losses occurred after a frenzy of dry lightning strikes in mid-August.
A man was found dead and another man was arrested after RCMP were called for a welfare check in Stanley Mission, Sask. RCMP say officers were called to do a welfare check on a man on the Stanley Mission First Nation on Sept. 26 at about 4:30 p.m. CST.RCMP and health workers from the community went to a home to check on 45-year-old Jamie Leroy Roberts. When they arrived, they instead spoke to another man at the door. When RCMP were about to enter the home, they heard the sound of a gun being loaded. The health workers and RCMP quickly retreated to a safe location and surrounded the perimeter of the home. The Sask. RCMP Emergency Response Team and Crisis Negotiators were called to help in the standoff. About 12 hours later, at 5:15 a.m. CST, the man in the home surrendered to police and was arrested. Officers found and seized one gun inside the home. Officers also found the body of Roberts inside the home. Officers confirmed he was the subject of the welfare check and determined his death a homicide. RCMP say the homicide occurred prior to police being called. The Saskatchewan RCMP Major Crimes Unit North was called to help and an autopsy is scheduled to be in Saskatoon on Sept. 28. Kane Lenard Roberts, 26, has been charged with second-degree murder and indignity to a dead body. He was remanded in custody and had his first court appearance on these charges on Monday. His next court appearance is scheduled to be in La Ronge Provincial Court on Oct. 26 at 9:30 a.m. CST. RCMP Major Crime Unit North, along with officers from Prince Albert, Saskatoon and Stanley Mission continue to investigate along with the Saskatchewan Coroner's Service.
Yukon's three fast-charging stations for electric cars haven't exactly been busy since their launch last November, but that could change with the territorial government aiming to put thousands of electric vehicles on the road over the next decade.Drivers have plugged into the three stations—two in Whitehorse, one in Carcross—just under 550 times in 10 months, according to figures released by the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources.The busiest station is at the NorthLight Innovation Hub in downtown Whitehorse, where drivers charged up 288 times. The least busy station is a few blocks away at the city's visitor information centre, which saw just 39 plug-ins over 11 months, including zero in April.The station at the Carcross/Tagish First Nation Learning Centre was used 220 times. The three stations counted 24 unique users, who charged their batteries an average of 24 per cent at the visitors centre, 33 per cent at Northlight and 38 per cent in Carcross.'Starting the conversation around electric vehicles'The fast-charging stations cost $345,000, nearly two-thirds of which was covered by the federal government. The Yukon government also operates three lower-power charging stations in Whitehorse and Mount Lorne. Matthew Ooms, the government's manager of energy programs, said there was no target for use of the stations."I think we were more curious than anything to see what the uptake would be," he said."Deploying this infrastructure was as much about starting the conversation around electric vehicles and beginning that transition as it was about getting that the charge counts up."Ooms said most electric vehicle (EV) drivers tend to keep their cars plugged in at home overnight and use the fast-charging stations to top up. In that, he said, they're more like cell phones than gas- or diesel-powered vehicles, which tend to get filled up every few days.YG aims for thousands of EVs by 2030The Yukon government's climate change plan has set a goal of 4,800 electric vehicles on Yukon roads by 2030. Eric Labrecque, who studies energy issues for the Yukon Conservation Society, said the government will need to rapidly expand the charging network if it wants to hit that goal."If you want to have enough people using electric vehicles you need to have the infrastructure in place," he said. "But if your stats are saying that people aren't using the electric vehicle charging stations, then you may not want to install more, but without installing more, you're not going to be able to get that uptake that you need."Ooms said new fast-charging stations will open in Haines Junction and Marsh Lake soon. And he said eventually there may be private sector stations, although that would require regulatory changes to allow businesses to sell electricity directly to consumers. Labrecque said he's optimistic that government subsidies will spur greater demand for EVs. Both the federal and Yukon governments are offering up to $5,000 each toward the purchase of electric vehicles.The B.C. and Yukon governments have also announced plans to build a network of fast-charging stations along the Alaska Highway.
Amid a surge of coronavirus transmission in Ontario, some physicians warn the province's plan to ramp up efforts to prevent new infections will fall short unless further measures are taken to clamp down on community spread.Ontario on Monday reported 700 new confirmed cases, marking the highest one-day total since the pandemic began. The ongoing increase throughout September comes as Premier Doug Ford's government rolls out a plan to boost testing capacity to 50,000 daily tests, while bringing on 1,000 more staff to manage cases and trace their contacts."We had an opportunity in the summer when case counts were low to really fine-tune our system around test, trace and isolate," said Dr. Tara Kiran, a Toronto-based researcher and family physician."I think the recent spike in numbers shows we weren't ready."In Toronto, the epicentre of Ontario's second surge of cases, testing and contact-tracing efforts are already lagging behind on several fronts.On average, more than half of people getting tested don't see their result for two days or more, while close to half who do wind up testing positive aren't being reached by contact tracers within 24 hours, the latest Toronto Public Health data shows.Given the challenges, various physician leaders, including the Ontario Hospital Association, are pushing the province to return to Stage 2 restrictions on indoor bars and restaurants, gyms, places of worship, movie theatres and other non-essential businesses.While Ontario officials are striving to avoid widespread closures or a lockdown in favour of targeted restrictions, Kiran said a broader "pause" is crucial to reduce the virus' spread, giving the testing and tracing system a chance to catch up."We need to do something to reduce the number of social contacts now, before it gets to a level that's unmanageable for even a larger number of contact tracers," she said."I worry we're getting to that territory with the explosive rise in rates of transmission."Hours-long lineupsOne epidemiologist warns Ontario has already hit that tipping point. Dr. David Fisman, a professor with at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, stressed with current case counts and turnaround times, it's likely people infected by someone who's currently being contact-traced are already infecting a third round of contacts."When we're up above 500 cases a day," he said, "you can't meaningfully contact-trace."Provincial officials, however, maintain they're meeting the rising demand.The province plans to bring on 500 Statistics Canada staff to help with contact management while hiring an extra 500 contact tracers, eventually bringing the total staff count from 2,750 to 3,750."Additional capacity will ensure that cases and contacts continue to be reached quickly," said Ministry of Health spokesperson Miriam Mohamadi in a statement.Reaching that point in the process is already proving time-consuming, given the struggles many Ontarians are facing getting tested in the first place — with reports of hours-long lineups at various assessment centres in recent weeks.To combat that bottleneck, the Ford government is offering testing at pharmacies, has largely cracked down on the practice of getting tested without symptoms or risk factors, and announced three Ontario hospitals are conducting saliva collection, with more assessment centres offering this option in the coming weeks.WATCH | 'We're in the second wave,' Ford says:But the capacity to process those tests remains limited. While laboratories are now completing upwards of 40,000 tests a day, with provincial plans aiming to hit 10,000 more, there's also a backlog of nearly 50,000 tests in the queue."It doesn't seem like they have quite enough capacity to stay ahead of the spread," said Dr. Irfan Dhalla, vice-president at Unity Health Toronto and a professor at the University of Toronto.That means Ontarians could see increasingly longer turnaround times for their results, Kiran warned."It's going to take longer for us to know who is positive, and contact them, then contact their contacts," she said. "It's a chain of events."Red-alert itemsOn average, only 20 per cent of new COVID-19 tests in Toronto currently have a turnaround time of 24 hours, according to data from Toronto Public Health, while around 44 per cent have a 48-hour turnaround, leaving more than half of people tested waiting even longer for their results.Both metrics have been deemed red-alert items on the city's COVID-19 dashboard for falling well below targets.Public health officials are also struggling to contact those confirmed cases in a timely manner.The latest numbers show only 55 per cent of people who've recently tested positive for the virus are being reached within 24 hours, leaving 45 per cent waiting longer — another metric that's lagging behind."Sometimes, we are unable to reach a client despite numerous attempts," said Toronto's associate medical officer of health, Dr. Vinita Dubey, in a statement."This can be because they may not have voice mail set up on their phone, or their number is no longer in service. These factors, combined with a case's living, work and social situations, as well as the volume of cases, can impact [our] ability to reach newly reported cases within 24 hours."When it comes to tracing all the contacts of those newly-confirmed cases, that's the one metric in good shape, with 96 per cent of contacts successfully reached within a day — but it comes only after all the previous delays.WATCH | Ontario pledges $1B for testing, contract tracing:Given those kinds of challenges faced by certain public health units, McMaster University infectious disease specialist Dr. Dominik Mertz said the province needs to deploy resources accordingly."We have hot spots currently — Toronto and Ottawa in particular — where there is certainly much more people needed to do the contact tracing than in other regions where case counts are already low."Mohamadi, speaking for the Ministry of Health, noted the centralized pool of contact tracers "can be accessed by any public health unit."But despite those recent efforts to beef up testing and tracing, Fisman maintains it's "too late."Returning to broader stage two restrictions is now crucial for reducing transmission, he said."The numbers are too high," Fisman said. "So contact tracing is not a lever you can realistically use to bring these numbers down."Still have questions about COVID-19? These CBC News stories will help.Is another lockdown coming in Ontario? What do we know about the Ford government's fall plan?CBC Queen's Park reporter Mike Crawley obtained a draft copy of the planWhat's the latest on where I should get tested?It's confusing, but here's an explainer complete with a flow chartWhat's the most recent guidance on mask use?Reporter Lauren Pelley took a look at what the experts are advisingWhat should I do about my COVID-19 bubble?With cases going up, even small gatherings are getting riskierWho is getting COVID-19?CBC News crunched the data from across Canada to get the clearest picture possible
Sadie Vipond has tried to keep a pretty low profile to this point, keeping her name out of the press, fearing the onslaught of attacks that would inevitably find their way into the 14-year-old's social media channels once she was labelled as a climate change activist.Yes, she's spoken before Calgary city council. Yes, she's regularly participated in the Fridays for Future climate strikes. And yes, she and her family happen to have hosted international climate youth activist Greta Thunberg when she visited Alberta. But she's been tight lipped about it — until today, that is. Vipond is breaking her silence, hoping that people in Alberta might heed the concern she has for her future and that of her entire generation; the fear, anger and sadness she carries with her as she watches the first substantial impacts of climate change materializing around the world.She's not only taking her plea to the people, though. She's also one of 15 young people suing the federal government for failing to protect their future. Vipond is the sole representative from Alberta."As a youth, I can't vote or make a huge (political) difference," Vipond told CBC Calgary. "I don't get to tell our leaders what I think. So, a lawsuit seemed like a good way to get my opinion out there."The case against OttawaThe lawsuit was filed to the federal court in Vancouver on Oct. 25, 2019, with the statement of claim accusing the federal government of failing to protect the plaintiffs' rights to life, liberty, safety and equality. An excerpt from the statement of claim reads, "Canada is one of (the) 10 highest (greenhouse gas) emitters in the world in terms of total national emissions. Despite knowing for decades that GHG emissions cause climate change and disproportionately harm children, the defendants continue to cause, contribute to and allow GHG emissions that are incompatible with a stable climate capable of sustaining human life and liberties."CBC News has previously reported that the federal government urged a judge to throw out the case, but to no avail. The hearings are scheduled to take place this week, beginning Wednesday, in Vancouver.In its statement of defence, the federal government acknowledged the real and urgent threat climate change poses to Canadians. But also insisted that the federal government shouldn't be singled out in the placing of blame, stating, "Addressing climate change is the shared responsibility of a multitude of different actors."The statement of defence goes on to state that it is not the court's role to make judgments on policies passed."Only the executive and legislative branches of government may make policy, pass laws and authorize the allocation of public funds."For Vipond, the government's logic doesn't hold up. "Canada does have a plan for the climate, it's just not sufficient to actually reach the Paris Agreement (emissions-reduction targets). So, I think they need to have a better plan. That's what the lawsuit is asking for — a science-based climate recovery plan," she said over video chat from her home in Calgary.Vipond is far from being a stranger to climate change activism. Her father, Joe Vipond, is the president of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment as well as a co-founder of the Calgary Climate Hub. He was one of the key campaigners behind the push for Canada to outlaw the use of coal-fired electricity, which is being phased out now by 2030.Since Sadie is still underage, Joe had to endorse his daughter's participation in the federal court proceedings, which he did proudly. But the fear of his child becoming a public face of the fight certainly gave him pause."There's 15 kids in the litigation, and all of the other kids have done media (interviews) to this point, and when we went into this in October, we requested that Sadie not do any media, and that was because we were cognisant of the bullying that goes along with climate denial. Especially for women. I think it's quite obvious even with our female politicians that they've been receiving the majority of the comments."And then as things rolled out, we heard stories that the Saskatchewan litigants — who had been doing quite a bit of media — were quite impacted by some of the comments they would see (in comment sections)," Joe said."But Sadie kept asking to do this. So she's ready to be brave and she says she's ready to take on whatever the world can throw at her, and we hope we can support her and protect her through that."Sadie was inspired like many teens around the world to take more action on climate change after watching Greta Thunberg's first viral speech before the United Nations climate change conference in 2018. That admiration for a fellow teenager being able to make waves that way entrenched her motivation to have tough conversations about the impacts of climate change, and actions that can be taken here in Alberta to mitigate the effects.Meeting GretaThat resolve was only deepened when Sadie got the chance to meet Thunberg last October, just days before their court case was filed.Joe, through his connections with Montreal's Climate Reality Project, had been calling about an unrelated issue just before Thunberg was set to land in Alberta. Through the grapevine, he was then connected with other climate activists in Belgium who were looking for a place for the Swedish activist to stay while she was in Calgary. No plans were cemented until the day of her arrival."We basically had about two hours' notice to prep for this celebrity," Joe recalls.Riding up to her house on her bike after school, Sadie didn't know she would be walking in to find one of her own personal heroes."It was quite a surprise when I came home to basically this celebrity in my house," Sadie said. "Just seeing her made me even more inspired to get on with the lawsuit and try to make a difference in our country."The encounter was surreal for the Calgary teen, as Thunberg congratulated Sadie for engaging with city council on climate issues, and for being willing to put her name forward as one of the defendants in the case against the federal government."She said anyone who was doing anything, she thought was really cool. And I was just like, 'But you got the whole globe caring about this problem.' But it felt pretty good," Sadie said.Thunberg, wanting to see more of Calgary than just the Viponds' living room, asked them to show her around and they took her to the Eau Claire area and strolled down the banks of the Bow River. The next morning she rode the CTrain and got a tour around the new public library.The bright blue coat Thunberg donned on the steps of the Alberta legislature just days later was Sadie's. The whole experience was otherworldly for the family.Even before Sadie met Thunberg, or before Thunberg's speech to the UN went viral, Sadie was working to inspire Calgarians to act on climate change.At 12, she stood before Calgary city council and told the politicians how denial of climate change was no different from the scenario presented in the Harry Potter series, where the magical government refused to acknowledge the darkest wizard had returned to power after being thought to have died. "Just shoving it away and pretending it doesn't exist doesn't make the whole idea just disappear," she told council.Sadie doesn't come at her mission from a place of anger or desperation — though she knows policy action on climate change is desperately needed. She comes at it from a place of hope, hoping that governments of all levels are paying attention and are prepared to make policy decisions that take her generation's future, and the next, into consideration.If not, governments, beginning with the federal government, are being put on notice: inaction will not be taken lying down."I am hopeful that we will make a difference," Vipond said. "Of course I hope we win, because that would make a change on a legal scale. But if we don't win, (maybe) we'll make enough noise to have more people aware of the climate crisis."
On the streets of Afghanistan in 2012, Canadian soldier Brian McKenna was training international teams to search vehicles for explosives. As his trainees searched, they would find scared children being trafficked against their will to parts unknown — and McKenna was powerless to stop it. His team was ordered to search for bombs and the components to make explosives, nothing more. So with mounting frustration, his teams would let the cars go, carrying the children away to an unknown fate. McKenna and his teams had no authority to arrest the perpetrators, as they weren't police officers and had no legal right to detain the people transporting the children. "You're just forced to see and admit that something really, really wrong is allowed to flourish. You can have a gun in your hand and feel unarmed. And that's a really odd situation for a soldier," he said.DND spending millions to study moral injuriesMcKenna has been diagnosed with a moral injury, a form of emotional and psychological damage that occurs when someone goes through a difficult experience that upsets their moral beliefs. And it's something the Department of National Defence is spending millions of dollars to research. DND wants to better understand how to diagnose moral injuries, prevent them, treat them, and learn what situations are likely to cause them.McKenna did his duty, he followed orders, but his conscience still paid the price. "I'm disappointed that I couldn't do anything. I'm embarrassed. It's a feeling of futility, like we're here working on helping build a dam while we're watching this other absolute crime happen," said McKenna, a retired warrant officer who is now a senior adviser for veterans at the Canadian Centre of Excellence on PTSD. There are concerns that as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, more military personnel, health-care workers, and other front-line staff will suffer moral injuries, said Eric Fournier, the director general of innovation with DND. "We know a lot about post traumatic stress disorder, but moral injury, we know a lot less," he said. "That's why we decided to push forward with this challenge as many people have been encountering this type of situation in this crisis." Dealing with difficult situationsHe said members of the military may have already been exposed to moral injury when hundreds of them went into long-term care facilities in Ontario and Quebec to help staff deal with outbreaks of COVID-19. "[They] spent weeks, in some cases months, working in those facilities, and they were part of that response working with first responders, hospital workers, long-term care facilities workers," said Fournier.Many of those military personnel dealt with stressful and uncomfortable situations. Moral injuries can occur when someone doesn't act when they feel they should, when they witness others acting in a way they believe is morally wrong, or when a person feels betrayed in a high-stakes situation. A moral injury can cause a person to question who they are and if their lives have meaning, leading them to become depressed, have trouble sleeping, have difficulty thinking clearly, and have strong feelings of guilt and shame, according to Dr. Patrick Smith, president and CEO of the Canadian Centre of Excellence on PTSD at the Royal Ottawa Hospital. The centre has been studying moral injuries, which he said are different from PTSD. "It's not exposure to traumatic events that causes fear and anxiety, it's more the existential questioning," said Smith. During the pandemic, there are many ways health-care workers and soldiers could find themselves in situations that could result in a moral injury. For example, said Smith, some hospital workers may have had to hold the phone for COVID-19 patients as they die, so they can say goodbye to their families. "For some people that's going to haunt them, that's going to potentially be something that's going to stay with them." He said there hasn't been enough research done on moral injuries and he's glad to hear DND is looking into it. The Department of National Defence has sent out a call for proposals to research moral injuries under the Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security program. The program pays for research by outside organizations, typically businesses and universities. Fournier said about $3.7 million could be on the table for innovators who can help answer the military's questions surrounding moral injuries. So far about 60 proposals have been submitted. Near the end of this month, contracts will be awarded to the successful applicants. Fourier expects to have some results from applicants in about six months, at which time DND will decide if those researchers will get more money to continue their work.The results from the research will be shared with DND personnel, health-care workers, first responders and anyone at the front lines of the pandemic, said Fournier. McKenna is also happy about the new research, but said more needs to be done. "I think we need to get to a place where we realize when we send people to tough spots, moral injuries are part of what's going to happen." MORE TOP STORIES
In the wake of a large outbreak of COVID-19 in northwestern Saskatchewan — the most serious of any Indigenous community in Canada — health officials and local leaders are relying on what they learned during the three-month ordeal to plan for potential outbreaks in other remote, rural areas."When it first hit us, we were basically clueless of how to contain this," said Chief Teddy Clark of the Clearwater River Dene Nation (CRDN), 600 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon.But now, given what he's learned, Clark said he feels "a little bit at ease" that he'd be ready for a surge in cases. Despite dire predictions early in the pandemic, the on-reserve infection rate among First Nations people in Canada is four times lower than the rest of the population, according to the federal government, with a total of 639 confirmed cases as of Sept. 25. The on-reserve First Nations population in Canada is about 329,000, as of the 2016 census.> I think it's a success story of how things can be handled. \- Carrie Bourassa, Institute of Indigenous Peoples' HealthIn mid-April, the first case of COVID-19 in northwestern Saskatchewan was traced to travel from an oilsands camp near Fort McMurray, Alta. The virus spread to a long-term care home in the village of La Loche and then moved quickly through overcrowded homes in the community and its neighbour, the Clearwater River Dene Nation.The two Dene communities have a combined population of 3,800, and people frequently move back and forth between the village and reserve.From the beginning of the outbreak, Indigenous leaders warned public health officials that any response needed to be led by the community and elders, with their culture in mind. They also warned that people in their communities were particularly vulnerable."Our people suffer from extremely high rates of co-morbid conditions, with issues like diabetes, respiratory, HIV, heart conditions and trauma-induced addictions, that put them at high risk of death from COVID-19," Rick Laliberte, the commander of the North West Communities Incident Command Centre, said in a letter to Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer.Over the next three months, 282 people in the village and First Nation would test positive for the disease — about seven per cent of the population — and five people died.Still, many applaud the efforts that eventually contained the outbreak and say there are lessons to be learned."I think it's a success story of how things can be handled," said Carrie Bourassa, the scientific director at the federal Institute of Indigenous Peoples' Health."They have an excellent model that I think can be scaled up in other rural, remote northern communities."CBC News interviewed several local leaders, health officials and residents to determine the five things they deemed most effective in containing the outbreak in these Indigenous communities.Collaboration and communicationWhen the outbreak began, local leaders came up with their own pandemic response plan.Chief Clark of the CRDN joined forces with the mayor of La Loche and the northern Métis representative to set up a joint emergency operations centre at the high school in La Loche that would serve people both on and off reserve."I said, 'Look, guys, we need to join up here and make an alliance here and start looking at things so we don't duplicate and we don't confuse things,'" Clark said.Randy Herman, deputy mayor of La Loche, knew that one of the main challenges would be getting local residents to trust government and health officials, given the history of colonization and strained relationships."Governments roll into town and promise everything but the moon, and then they don't deliver, so that's where the mistrust is from [for] years and years and years," said Herman, who is also a schoolteacher.But faced with a pandemic, all levels of government worked together like never before, he said.Herman translated messages into Dene for health officials during regular radio briefings that featured updates from local leaders, the Saskatchewan Health Authority and the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority, an organization that supports 33 First Nations.Herman knew elders would listen to local leaders, particularly in Dene, in a way they wouldn't listen to outsiders."They know us, we know them. They trust us," he said.And since there was a real risk the virus would spread to surrounding communities, a group of 24 Indigenous communities along Highway 155 to La Loche, called the "155 Collective," set up a command centre to co-ordinate check stops and communicate with residents and the government.It had daily phone calls with the health authority.But there were hiccups.Three weeks into the outbreak, the group wrote a sternly worded letter to the province's chief medical health officer demanding more consultation and respect for local culture and expertise."We ask you to learn from us, and with us," the letter said.Dr. Rim Zayed, the Saskatchewan Health Authority's northern medical health officer, called the relationship-building during the outbreak "the silver lining of the crisis.""We have more understanding, communication, engagement, solidarity," she told CBC News.Jurisdictional snafus between the province and Indigenous Services Canada had to be quickly smoothed out.WATCH | When will Canadians have a rapid test for coronavirus? Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam provide an update:Travel restrictionsLocal leaders took it upon themselves to set up check stops at the edges of their communities to share information and monitor the movements of residents.The village of La Loche and CRDN also imposed a curfew and hired security to police the streets at night.As the outbreak worsened, the province introduced an unprecedented travel ban that outlawed all non-essential travel into and out of the northern half of the province. It required northern residents to remain in their local communities, except for grocery runs and medical appointments, and to maintain physical distancing.The province began staffing highway checkpoints with employees from the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency.Eventually those travel restrictions and roadblocks triggered backlash among many northern residents who felt they were being discriminated against and treated like "caged animals." The 155 Collective said employing more Indigenous people and traditional language speakers at the roadblocks would have reduced confusion and smoothed tensions.Still, most northern leaders said the lockdown was effective.Remote testingThe Saskatchewan Health Authority deployed more than 50 health-care workers to the northern community to launch an aggressive testing and contact-tracing campaign. Mobile testing teams went door-to-door to swab people in 813 households. Each team included a local outreach worker to interview people and translate.Dr. Moliehi Khaketla, who leads the Northern Population Health Unit, said that "local knowledge was invaluable."Initially, test swabs had to be shipped south to the provincial lab, delaying results. The province then sent a portable GeneXpert testing machine to the region to do on-site testing, delivering test results within an hour. It had limited capacity, so the province also used a government plane to ship tests south.To prepare for more outbreaks, the province has stationed a GeneXpert testing unit in more than 20 locations in the province, including the north, and arranged for more testing supplies to increase capacity to 1,200 tests a week, rather than 200.Temporary housingA chronic housing shortage and lack of hotels in La Loche and CRDN made it difficult for people in the remote region to self-isolate.Creative solutions included setting up a makeshift homeless shelter in mobile trailers to house transient couch-surfers, as well as hauling in RV campers to serve as isolation units for people who tested positive for COVID-19 but couldn't isolate at home."There's a lot of logistics behind this," said Leonard Montgrand, a northern representative with the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan. "We just don't throw a person into a trailer and say, 'Here, you're isolated, see you in 14 days.' No, we have to do daily monitoring, we have to provide sustenance."The La Loche Friendship Centre cooked and delivered hot meals twice a day to people isolated in their homes, RV campers and the homeless shelter.As temperatures drop, local leaders are arranging for winterized trailers and other isolation centres to prepare for another surge.Programs to help those with chronic issuesFrom the outset, local leaders and health officials were concerned about caring for people living in poverty, as well as those with multiple chronic health issues, such as diabetes, respiratory problems and mental health challenges.The emergency operations centre arranged deliveries of food hampers, cleaning supplies and masks to families. The First Nation sent out fishermen to catch fish for elders.Leaders were blunt that people dealing with addictions were gathering to drink, frequently flouting physical-distancing restrictions and isolation orders, thus fuelling infections.La Loche Mayor Robert St. Pierre and the council asked the province to cut off alcohol sales in the community. That prompted fears that people with serious addictions would suffer life-threatening withdrawals and overwhelm the local health centre.So, the health authority quickly launched a managed alcohol program (MAP) that gave daily allotments of alcohol to people."We have all these pieces of the puzzle," Montgrand said.The community leaders all agreed that it was a steep learning curve, with some hard lessons along the way.Chief Teddy Clark said he can summarize his advice in just two words: "Be ready."Asked if he was proud of what the community had accomplished, St. Pierre said: "How do you be proud of something when five people died? We still had loss of life. There's still a sense of sadness and loss ... but yes, what we accomplished was phenomenal and our people proved how resilient they are."
The Canadian Museum of History has been hit by recent complaints of workplace harassment involving its CEO Mark O'Neill, and is facing questions over the handling of past allegations into his behaviour brought forward by other employees, sources say.According to information obtained by Radio-Canada, the complaint that led to the launch of a formal investigation into O'Neill in July was filed directly with the Office of Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault. Other complaints have since been filed against O'Neill, who was appointed to lead the institution in 2011.Sources said that in recent years, other employees had raised questions about O'Neill's behaviour and management style with the museum's board of trustees and its human resources branch. These employees subsequently told colleagues that they were displeased with the way their grievances were handled, sources said.O'Neill, whose mandate at the museum expires next year, is on leave until Nov. 2. He said on Monday morning that like other museum employees, he is not allowed to speak to the media on this matter.> It wears you down. It is an accumulation of incidents. \- Former employeeRadio-Canada has spoken with current and former employees of the museum, as well as other government officials, to obtain a clear picture of the current crisis facing the institution.Many of the sources called for a broad overhaul to get rid of a toxic workplace culture, adding the institution needs a plan to deal with the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.Unpredictable, ill-tempered, extremely angry: sourcesAccording to these sources, the complaints are related to O'Neill's behaviour with his employees, as well as his management style and his temperament.Former employees who worked with him directly alleged that O'Neill was unpredictable, ill-tempered and became extremely angry at times — akin to a volcano that could erupt at any moment. The sources said he has undeniable qualities that explain his rise to the top of the organization, but that he kept staff constantly on their toes. The sources said there was a high turnover rate in upper management, which they blamed in part on O'Neill. The sources added O'Neill frequently contacted them outside regular business hours."He is brilliant and has done exceptional things," said a former employee. "But you never knew what was awaiting you: the person who is pragmatic, strategic, intelligent, or the person who is spiralling out of control."Another former employee added: "It wears you down. It is an accumulation of incidents."According to Guilbeault's office, the investigation by outside lawyer Michelle Flaherty will have all the necessary leeway to get to the bottom of the matter. According to her mandate, she will also be expected to review the museum's handling of questions over O'Neill's conduct over the years.'Zero-tolerance policy' on harassment: museumSources also said the federal government is set to replace the chair of the board of trustees, Jim Fleck, by fellow board member Jean Giguère on an interim basis. Fleck's mandate expired last year.News of the investigation into O'Neill was first revealed by Le Droit on Sept. 17.The Canadian Museum of History joins other organizations facing turmoil over workplace issues, including the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Sources said a major problem facing the Canadian Museum of History is resuming operations after many projects, including long-term planning on exhibitions, were put on ice during the pandemic.Reached by phone, Fleck refused to comment on the situation.The museum has issued a statement saying that "the government of Canada and the board of trustees have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to workplace harassment."
CALGARY — A Calgary hospital was postponing surgeries and restricting visitors Monday as the number of people infected in multiple COVID-19 outbreaks climbed. Alberta Health Services said 26 patients and 27 workers at the Foothills Medical Centre had contracted the novel coronavirus. Four patients had died. Hospital medical director Dr. Peter Jamieson said outbreaks were affecting five areas. It's believed cases in cardiac and cardiac intensive care units are linked, but Jamieson said it's not clear whether infections in surgical, transition and general medicine areas happened independently. "We're working hard to sort it out," he said. As of Friday, 136 workers were in isolation.Visitors to the hospital are only allowed in end-of-life situations or if they have been approved as essential. Jamieson said he hopes it only needs to be a short-term measure. "Family members and visitors are an important part of looking after a patient and helping them get well, so we don't take this step lightly." Jamieson added the hospital hasn't noticed a downturn in the number of people coming to the emergency department, which remains open. However, he knows that was an issue at the beginning of the pandemic, when patients put off getting necessary medical care because they were nervous about going to a hospital. "I would want people to know that if they need the emergency department, they should come and we're here for you," Jamieson said.Alberta Health Services has postponed 39 surgeries that were scheduled for Monday due to staff restrictions and a reduced number of in-patient beds at Foothills. It said the procedures are being rescheduled as quickly as possible, most within the next week. Foothills is the main southern Alberta centre for trauma, high-risk obstetrics and strokes, so Jamieson said there are no plans to stop patient intakes at this time. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer, said aggressive contact tracing is underway and it's likely more cases will be identified. "While of course the numbers are concerning, the information that I've received indicates to me that there is a very capable outbreak team who's doing a tremendous amount of work to prevent there from being any onward spread."Hinshaw said she's also concerned about an outbreak at the Millwoods Shepherd's Care Centre in Edmonton, where there have been 19 cases and two deaths. The United Nurses of Alberta's labour relations director wrote to the CEO of Alberta Health Services last week urging more support for workers forced to isolate due to workplace COVID-19 outbreaks. Among other things, David Harrigan suggests in his letter to Dr. Verna Yiu that special paid pandemic leave, which was cancelled in July, be reinstated. “Regular employees are running through their sick leave banks and casual nurses don’t have access to sick leave, so they are losing income," Harrigan said in a statement last Thursday.He also said nurses are feeling "extremely misused and disrespected," and he's concerned that they will feel pressure to report for work even if they are ill. Alberta reported 1,549 active cases in its Monday update, which is an increase of 52 from Friday. There have also been four more deaths since then, bringing the total to 265.Sixty-three people are in hospital, including 15 in intensive care. Hinshaw delivered her update Monday from home, where she is recovering from a sore throat. She tested negative for COVID-19 over the weekend, but said she will stay home until her symptoms resolve. "I know that staying home is not easy and that many Albertans face difficult financial or other choices," she said. "Most of us have worked with sore throats or runny noses many, many times. However, during COVID, that's not a risk that I or anyone else should take."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2020Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 11:32 a.m. EDT on Sept. 29, 2020:There are 156,660 confirmed cases in Canada._ Quebec: 73,450 confirmed (including 5,833 deaths, 62,095 resolved)_ Ontario: 51,085 confirmed (including 2,844 deaths, 43,450 resolved)_ Alberta: 17,749 confirmed (including 265 deaths, 15,935 resolved)_ British Columbia: 8,908 confirmed (including 233 deaths, 7,346 resolved)_ Manitoba: 1,919 confirmed (including 20 deaths, 1,281 resolved)_ Saskatchewan: 1,892 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,719 resolved)_ Nova Scotia: 1,087 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,021 resolved)_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 272 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 267 resolved)_ New Brunswick: 200 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 191 resolved)_ Prince Edward Island: 58 confirmed (including 57 resolved)_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 7 presumptive_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)_ Total: 156,660 (7 presumptive, 156,653 confirmed including 9,289 deaths, 133,395 resolved)This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2020.The Canadian Press
Interior Health has confirmed an outbreak at Calvary Chapel, a non-denominational church in Kelowna, where five cases of COVID-19 have been identified.The outbreak was first linked to church services on Sept. 13.Interior Health said in a release that attendees were asked to self-isolate or self-monitor depending on which room they had been in.Now, anyone who attended services during a second exposure event on Sept. 20 is also being told to self-isolate until Oct. 4.Calvary Chapel holds services at Kelowna Christian School. Interior Health says there are no ongoing exposure or contact risks to the school community."People are understandably concerned, but they're mostly concerned about the well-being of the people who are sick ... and now, we, of course, have many people in self-isolation," said Brad MacBeth, an elder at the chapel.He says there were fewer than 50 people at each of the gatherings where the exposures took place.The church moved services online at the onset of the pandemic and reopened for in-person Sunday services at the end of June, with strict policies in place.All attendees must call the church to book a service and a seat in the hall, much like going to a ticketed event, he said. They are then sent a COVID-19 screening questionnaire. On the day of the service, they must check in, provide their contact info, again answer the questionnaire and are then directed to their seats."We're working very closely with Interior Health … and we will be reviewing our protocols," said MacBeth.In-person services are once again cancelled, he says, until they get the go-ahead from public health.
Asked whether the novel coronavirus may be mutating to become less deadly, Ontario’s chief medical officer Dr. David Williams said there are ongoing conversations, but there has not been “definitive evidence” that mutations have had a significant effect on the virus to date.
Waiting for the public to develop "herd immunity" to COVID-19 is not a practical strategy to fight the pandemic, would put many lives at risk and possibly overload the health-care system, Alberta's top doctor says. Herd immunity, when a certain percentage of the public develops resistance to an illness, has been touted in some circles, including by a top adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, as a possible solution to the pandemic.For COVID-19, estimates of that percentage range from 50 to 70 per cent of the population, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said Monday at a news conference. Studies in Canada, she said, have estimated that only about one per cent or less of the population has been infected.Hinshaw said she has heard suggestions that, because younger people are generally at low risk of severe outcomes, Alberta should protect older people but otherwise let the virus spread as quickly as possible to build up a collective immunity."The suggestion, however, does not take into account the drawbacks of this approach," Hinshaw said."It is important to remember that COVID-19 is able to spread rapidly, and we are all interconnected. Adopting a herd immunity approach would have a serious and deadly impact on many people in the population."While it's true that COVID-19 rarely kills young people, in Alberta the illness has been fatal for about 18 per cent of those over the age of 70, and for about 30 per cent of those over the age of 80 who are residents of long-term care centres, she said.Even if perfect protections were in place for those who live in nursing homes and seniors centres, letting the virus spread freely through the rest of the population would put many lives at risk, Hinshaw said."The more community transmission that we see, the greater the risk of it spreading to older and at-risk Albertans. The lives of people with chronic conditions, and our elders, are very important. Adopting an approach focused on herd immunity would place many older Albertans, or those with underlying medical conditions, at risk, and lead to many more deaths across our province."Hinshaw said the public should remember that while death is the worst outcome, it is not the only severe outcome. Over the past seven months, one in 67 people aged 20 and 39 who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 have needed hospital care. That rises to one in 18 people for those aged 40 to 69, and one in four for those aged 70 and over."If we let the virus spread freely, our health system could be overloaded in caring for COVID patients, which would challenge our ability to provide all the other health services that we need."Babies are still being born, car crashes are still occurring and our health system still must support Albertans in countless other ways. We have seen this overload happen in other countries. We do not want it to happen here."Long-lasting immunity uncertainIt's also important to remember that physicians and experts don't yet know if being infected with the coronavirus leads to long-lasting immunity. That could mean that the extra costs of widespread transmission, including many more deaths and risks to so many people's health, could be for nothing, she said. "We would put our elders and those with chronic conditions at risk, increase the burden on our acute-care system, and still may not get the collective protection that this approach was designed to achieve," Hinshaw said."Given that, what is our best path forward? First, we must rely on science. A great deal of research around the world is underway to find effective treatments and a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19."Second, as we wait for treatments and vaccines to be discovered, we need to find a balance between preventing the harms of COVID-19 and preventing the harms that strict restrictions can have on the rest of our health. This balance is delicate and dynamic."Collectively following public health guidelines about mask wearing and distancing are still the keys to protecting the population, Hinshaw said, both from the virus and from a return to the stricter rules people lived under a few months ago.
OTTAWA — The Liberal government is asking Parliament to fast-track its latest COVID-19 economic recovery package, prompting a torrent of opposition outrage that government forced this issue by proroguing Parliament this summer.Government House leader Pablo Rodriguez proposed Monday to limit debate on the legislation, which sets up three new benefits to help workers weather the COVID-19 pandemic, on top of a new, more generous and flexible employment insurance regime.The minority Liberal government secured NDP support for the legislation last week by hiking the amount of those benefits by $100 to $500 per week — ensuring no one will get less than they were receiving under the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which came to an end on the weekend.They also agreed to an NDP demand to expand the eligibility criteria for the new sick leave benefit beyond simply those workers who contract COVID-19. Under the newly rewritten legislation, which is now known as Bill C-4, workers who have underlying conditions or are undergoing treatments or have contracted other illnesses that make them more susceptible to COVID-19 are also eligible. So are those who isolate themselves on the advice of their employer, medical practitioner or public health authority for COVID-19-related reasons.NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said that means workers who catch the flu or a common cold will now be entitled to collect the sick leave benefit."If someone gets sick they need … to quickly be able to take time off so they don’t risk infecting their colleagues,” he said Monday.“What we’re proposing is something that is going to make the response better, make sure more workers are able to stay home if they’re sick.”In addition to the sick leave benefit, the bill also creates a new Canada Recovery Benefit for self-employed and gig workers who won't qualify for the more robust EI regime, as well as a caregiver benefit for workers who have to stay home to care for a dependant for reasons having to do with COVID-19.Because CERB expired over the weekend, the new bill will need to pass quickly in order for Canadians to begin applying for the new benefits. Applications for the recovery benefit are to open Oct. 11 and, for the other two benefits, on Oct. 4.Rodriguez said Canadians are watching to see if political parties will work together to pass the aid package quickly."Canadians need our help now and this is exactly what the motion is attempting to accomplish," he said Monday as he introduced a motion to fast-track the bill. "Quick action."The motion proposes to limit debate on the bill to just 4.5 hours — bypassing the normal lengthy legislative process, including committee hearings — and allow it to be put to a quick vote, likely on Tuesday.Conservative House leader Gerard Deltell called that a "joke.""What we have today is a government who wants 4.5 hours of debate for $50 billion in taxpayer dollars," said Deltell.The Liberals prorogued Parliament in August, which prevented any debate or committee work until it resumed last week. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government needed to prorogue in order to bring in a throne speech and get Parliament's approval for the COVID-19 recovery plan.But he also did it amid multiple investigations by House of Commons committees about the Liberals' decision to award a contract to WE Charity to administer a massive student grant program, when many Liberals, including Trudeau, had clear ties to the organization.Deltell wants to amend the motion to add a committee hearing where the ministers of finance, employment and children all take questions from MPs for 95 minutes each. NDP House leader Peter Julian said his party will back the motion but only begrudgingly because people need the help. He said the Liberals' actions mean millions of Canadians are suffering and anxious about getting support."Why did they take millions of Canadians right to the precipice before acting?" Julian asked.The debate came as the House resumed Monday morning for the first full week of operations for the pandemic Parliament, and as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in the country's two biggest provinces.Debate on the government's throne speech will also continue this week, with speeches expected by both Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet and Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole, both of whom have been quarantined after testing positive for COVID-19.Blanchet was out of his quarantine on Monday, speaking publicly about the Bloc's proposals for an economic recovery plan, while O'Toole is expected to be out of his quarantine later in the week.His response to the speech from the throne will be his first statement in the Commons since becoming party leader just over a month ago. O'Toole's remarks in the Commons will draw on his experiences waiting to be tested for — and ultimately diagnosed with — COVID-19. But he'll also use the opportunity to set a tone for how he'll seek to lead the official Opposition in the coming months and win the country in the eventual next election. "We're going to oppose, and we're going to challenge and hold the government to account," O'Toole said in an interview last week with The Canadian Press. "But we're also going to offer some contrasting vision."The eventual vote on the throne speech will be test of confidence in Trudeau's minority government, which it will survive with the support of the NDP.O'Toole's Tories came out fast against the throne speech last week, arguing it didn't go far enough to offer support to Canadians impacted by the pandemic. The Bloc Québécois said absent a federal government plan to transfer billions more for health care to the provinces, they aren't sure they can support it either.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2020.Joan Bryden, Mia Rabson and Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian PressNote to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version referred to the proposed COVID-19 aid legislation as Bill C-2. The bill, which has been rewritten, is now known as C-4.
A little over a month ago, Health Minister Christian Dubé congratulated Quebecers for their hard work at containing the spread of the coronavirus.It was a Tuesday, Aug. 25, and the province had registered just 94 new cases of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. "We have really succeeded at controlling the transmission of COVID," Dubé said at a news conference in Montreal. It was a statement of fact, but the ground had already started to shift. In the weeks that followed, transmission increased. At first it grew slowly, then exponentially. On Monday, the government implicitly acknowledged it has again lost control of the virus. The province is reimposing lockdown measures on Quebec's two biggest cities, starting Oct. 1. Until Oct. 28, Quebecers won't be able to entertain friends or families at home. Bars, restaurant dining rooms, theatres and cinemas will also be closed. "The situation has become critical," Premier François Legault said Monday evening. "If we don't want our hospitals to be submerged, if we want to limit the number of deaths, we must take strong action."The new measures will bring abrupt changes to the lives of millions of Quebecers. They will also prompt questions about how the public health situation could have deteriorated so quickly.This story tries to trace how Quebec again lost control of the spread of COVID-19.At first, a stern warningAs Dubé addressed reporters on that Tuesday in late August, public health officials in Quebec City were busy trying to track down patrons of Bar Kirouac, a watering hole in the working-class Saint-Sauveur neighbourhood.A karaoke night at the bar ultimately led to 72 cases and the activity being banned in the province.There were also numerous reports by then of young people holding massive house parties and flouting physical distancing recommendations. One of them, in Laval, led to a small outbreak.WATCH | Legault explains why harsh measures are necessary:On Aug. 31, as Quebec's daily average of new cases neared 152 cases, Legault delivered a stern warning. "There has been a general slackening in Quebec," Legault said. "It's important to exercise more discipline."Legault and his health minister threatened stiffer punishments for those who disobeyed public-health rules, but stopped short of imposing new restrictions.Private gatherings identified as the culpritIn late August, public health officials were attributing the rise in infections to Quebecers returning home from vacations around the province, as opposed to the start of school. Though Quebec's back-to-school plan wasn't met with widespread criticism, some experts expressed concern about the large class sizes and the lack of physical distancing guidelines for students. The government also ignored advice that it should make masks mandatory inside the classroom.But the first weeks of the school year went relatively smoothly. By the start of Labour Day weekend, only 46 out of the province's 3,100 schools had reported a case of COVID-19. Importantly, there were no major outbreaks.The problem was elsewhere. Outside schools, in the community at large, cases continued to rise. On Sept. 8, the province was averaging 228 cases per day.By now public health officials had identified private gatherings as the main culprit behind the increase.Montreal's regional director of public health, Dr. Mylène Drouin, was among those who urged more caution when hanging out with friends and family. "Yes, we can have social activities, but we have to reduce contacts to be able to reduce secondary transmission," Drouin said on Sept. 9.Warning signsIn an effort to spell out the consequences of the increase in cases, the Quebec government unveiled a series of colour-coded alert levels. Areas coded green would see few restrictions; yellow zones would see more enforcement of existing rules; orange zones would be the target of added restrictions; and red zones would see more widespread closures of non-essential activities.When the scheme was announced on Sept. 8, Quebec City was classified yellow. Montreal was classified green.At this point, though, health experts were already concerned that more was needed to curb the spread of the virus."It is important to intensify these measures," Dr. Cécile Tremblay, an infectious disease specialist with the Université de Montréal hospital network, said after the alert levels were announced.The warning signs were starting to multiply.Officials in Montreal were investigating 20 outbreaks at workplaces on Sept. 9; a week later that number had risen to 30. Long lines were also forming outside testing centres, filled with anxious parents and their children.And more stories were circulating of private gatherings where the 10-person limit was ignored, angering the health minister.He told reporters about a dinner with 17 people at a restaurant in Montérégie, which led to 31 cases. A corn roast in the Lower St. Lawrence, he said, resulted in 30 cases."To me, that's unacceptable," Dubé said on Sept. 15. "If people won't understand from these examples then, I'm sorry, but they'll never understand."He moved Montreal, and four other regions, into the yellow zones and banned bars from serving food after midnight. The province was averaging 338 new cases per day.WATCH | Infectious disease specialist explains why Quebec is so hard hit:Second wave arrivesThe warnings from the government did not curb the spread of the virus. By mid-September, authorities were reporting more cases in closed settings.On Sept. 17, Herzliah High School in Montreal became the first school in the province to say it was shutting down for two weeks to deal with an outbreak. At least 400 other schools were also dealing with active cases of COVID-19. Cases accumulated too in private seniors homes (known as RPAs), a major source of concern for public officials given the vulnerability of the residents to COVID-19. There were only 39 cases in RPAs at the start of the month, and 157 by Sept. 20.On that day the government announced it was moving Montreal, Quebec City and the Chaudière-Appalaches region into the orange zone, the second-highest alert level. Private gatherings were capped at six people.The province was by then averaging 501 new cases per day. The second wave had begun, according Quebec's public health director, Horacio Arruda. Red zoneOver the last week, Quebec's health system has shown signs of strain as authorities race to contain the spread of the virus. Drouin, the Montreal public health director, admitted on Sept. 21 that her contact-tracing teams were swamped by the demand.Until now, the increase in cases had not been accompanied by a corresponding surge in hospitalizations. Most of the new cases were concentrated in younger people.But the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Quebec has increased by 45 per cent in the last seven days. Hospital staff are starting to get stretched. Several thousand health-care workers are in preventive isolation. "We're feeling the second wave," Dr François Marquis, the head of intensive care at Montreal's Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital. "We were apprehensive about it, but now it's a reality."On Monday, Quebec reported 750 new cases of COVID-19. Montreal and Quebec City were classified as red zones later that evening.
Kerri Froc still believes the government had no authority to remove tents that were part of a citizen's protest at the New Brunswick Legislature on Friday. But the associate law professor at the University of New Brunswick said the debate only diverts attention from the real issue — the lack of government funding for abortions performed at Fredericton's Clinic 554. While seizing the tents was a "distraction," Froc said the move is "connected" to the larger issue."You have a government that thinks that they can ride roughshod over our private property rights, over our constitutional rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, and also thumb their nose at women's constitutional rights."She said it's the same issue that women have been battling in New Brunswick for decades. "We just keep on having to fight this fight over and over again. And here we are in New Brunswick in the year 2020 ... having to fight fights that women had to fight in the 1970s."On Monday morning, Premier Blaine Higgs said he wasn't opposed to more hospitals offering abortions. "If it really is access, then there's an avenue to deal with that," he said during a press conference. But the request should come from health officials, not politicians, said Higgs. Froc said Higgs' willingness to provide abortions at more hospitals is "somewhat of a development," but she said health officials have already made it clear that they'd like to see better access. Horizon Health has already joined reproductive right activists in calling for funding private-clinic abortions. The authority passed a resolution to that effect earlier this year."Every excuse they've thrown up has been thoroughly debunked," said Froc. "So what's left?"As for the complaints from protestors about having their tents removed from the grounds of the New Brunswick Legislature on Friday night, Higgs said the decision wasn't his, it was the speaker of the Legislature. "But it's my understanding that the protesters themselves were never removed. It was only the structures that were a concern."Participants were protesting the lack of funding of abortions outside hospitals. Currently, Medicare only covers abortions performed at three hospitals in the province, two in Moncton and one in Bathurst.The only other place providing surgical abortion services is Clinic 554. > "...it is a slippery slope. And if you do it for one service, where does it stop?" -Blaine HiggsOn Friday evening, protestors were presented with a notice from the sergeant-at-arms. It said that no structures, including tents, could be erected on the property and camping was not permitted.Froc, who was part of the protest, said there was no legal basis for removing the tents. She said she spent hours looking for legal justification and couldn't find any. Speaker Daniel Guitard told CBC on the weekend that he made the decision with the staff and advisory team after being told it was a longstanding practice not to permit tents on the property for security reasons. Dominic Cardy, who criticized the speaker in a tweet Saturday, refused to discuss the issue with reporters Monday. He would not say whether he agrees the speaker had the authority to remove the tents.On Monday, the newly named interim Liberal leader sided solidly with the protestors. "The protest should not have happened," said Roger Melanson. "Because if the current premier would fund Clinic 554, there wouldn't have been anybody here on the weekend. And individual rights and women's rights would have been respected."Melanson said his party supports funding Clinic 554."We have said that during the campaign and we still support that," he said on Monday. "It's a human right, it's an individual right, and the premier should realize that the services that are offered there are important and essential."Clinic 554Clinic 554 is a family medical practice that, in its words, "is committed to sex-positive, gender-celebratory care, anti-racist and feminist practices, and full-scope reproductive care, including abortions."It serves about 3,000 patients as a family practice, and every service it provides — other than abortion — is covered by Medicare, said Dr. Adrian Edgar, who runs the clinic.Edgar, who specializes in LGBTQ care, said the clinic subsidizes the cost of abortions for patients. He said that just isn't viable and he plans to close the facility. On Monday, Higgs maintained his position that the province is not violating the Canada Health Act by not funding abortions outside hospitals. He said abortions are already funded at three hospitals and if the question is about access, "then the next suggestion should be, 'Well, then is there another hospital that should be performing the service?'"Higgs said he's concerned that funding abortions in private clinics would set a precedent. "So if we're going to suggest ... that it's more cost effective to offer services in a private clinic, then where does that stop? Does that mean that we should continue to offer more and more services in private clinics and less and less services in public institutions?" Higgs said it's "a slippery slope. And if you do it for one service, where does it stop?"
Despite thousands of complaints of people not following COVID-19 restrictions, RCMP and Edmonton police have only handed out 40 tickets since the spring.Alberta Health Services said it received 5,100 reports of a "concern about a business or public place that is not following restrictions," between May 23 and Sept. 22. Kerry Williamson, AHS spokesperson, said concerns are related to COVID-19 public health orders, including the two-metre physical distancing requirement and self-isolation. RCMP Cpl. Deanna Fontaine, a media relations officer, said officers issued 20 tickets for violations under the Alberta Public Health Act or the Federal Quarantine Act between mid-May and end of September.Those fines were related to U.S. travellers contravening border control orders; residents not complying with foreign travel quarantine orders and others not adhering to physical distancing requirements.The tickets were handed out in Banff, Lake Louise, Waterton, Two Hills, Fort McMurray, Milk River, Bassano, Leduc and Cardson.In Edmonton, police issued 20 tickets over the past four months: 14 tickets between May 14 and June 12, Edmonton Police Service spokesperson Carolin Maran said. "These tickets were issued for failing to adhere to physical distancing," Maran said in an email. Edmonton police did not give out any more tickets in July and August, she added. In the past two weeks, Edmonton police issued five more COVID-19 related tickets but did not provide the specific reason. EPS spokesperson Scott Pattison said along with the City of Edmonton, police are focused on education and awareness to encourage people to comply with the rules.Tickets for failing to adhere to a public health order are $1,000 to $1,200, Pattison noted.Williamson said AHS works with business/landlords first to ensure they're following orders. They can also issue a closure order.That happened a handful of times in the early days of the pandemic when some gyms — ordered to close — remained open. Of the 45 COVID-19 related orders issued in the spring, 36 of those have been rescinded, AHS said. Health orders being followed downtownIn Edmonton's main shopping and dining districts, several people said restaurants and bars were doing a good job of ensuring physical distancing measures are followed. Doug Greenwood, who lives in the 104th Street area downtown, said he feels it's important to support local businesses and get the economy back on track. "Restaurants have been fantastic at implementing it and I think the guidance has been very clear," Greenwood said in an interview last week.Greenwood carries a mask with him and wears it when appropriate. He said following health guidance is the best way to stop the spread of the virus. "Whatever gets this over, I will happily do," he said. "You tell me what I need to do to make this end and I'll just do exactly that thing so I can have my life back." Melissa Johnson, who works downtown, said she's observed good practices as well. "I think the precautions are being taken, Johnson told CBC News. "Everyone's wearing a mask, taking it off when you're seated." Johnson said she thinks police should ticket if they find businesses or other organizations violating the public health orders. Situational awareness As winter approaches, businesses and organizations planning to have gatherings should take a fresh look at how they're set up to manage physical distancing requirements. Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease specialist with the University of Alberta, said she's noticed a varying degree of compliance to public health orders. "I think it's very easy for people to kind of fall into old patterns in a familiar environment without necessarily being mindful of those distances," she said. "It's almost like it's a permissive environment for people to pretend that we're not in a pandemic anymore and that could be a concern." Saxinger suggested offices, stores, gyms and restaurants hit reset and refresh their surroundings. "Arranging the space, changing the physical environment and visual cues for distancing are all things that probably could be brushed up at this point, I think it's becoming more important."@natashariebe
The Canadian Emergency Recovery Benefit (CERB) came to an end over the weekend. The majority of people who were on the federal income assistance program will transition to Employment Insurance. Emanuela Campanella breaks down what that means.