Revenu Québec number connects callers to 'hottest chat line in town'

A toll-free help line number provided by Revenu Québec actually connects callers to a chat line for singles.

Jean-François Dorais, of Gatineau, Que., said his partner's February, March and April alimony statements from the provincial agency listed the number.

"I called [the toll-free number] and the answer I got is, 'Welcome, you're at the hottest chat line in town,'" Dorais said.

Dorias said he found it funny at first, but he worries the fake number will confuse vulnerable people seeking help from the government.

"There's a lot of fraud with old people," he said. 

'We are really sorry'

Stéphane Dion, director of public relations at Revenu Québec, said the number should never have appeared on the alimony statements as it was an old number that has since been reassigned to the company that owns the chat line.

"We are really sorry," Dion said. "It's a situation that we will investigate to be sure that this kind of case doesn't happen again."

Dorais said he'll now be checking his correspondence from the agency more carefully.

"I'm going to start checking everything that's on those papers. Can you imagine if they just mistype the file number ...  if you get $100 instead of $800 for you for your kids?"

Idil Mussa/CBC
  • More confusion over e-bikes in Vancouver after police issue warning to dealership
    News
    CBC

    More confusion over e-bikes in Vancouver after police issue warning to dealership

    The ongoing confusion surrounding e-bikes that look like scooters continues in Vancouver, where police recently told a dealer that some of the models he sells are now illegal because of a landmark ruling in B.C. Supreme Court.Steve Miloshev, owner of a company that imports Motorino e-bikes and runs a flagship store in Vancouver, says he has sold thousands of models the Vancouver Police now consider illegal. They're e-bikes that look like mopeds or motorcycles, but have limited speed and small pedals attached so they fit the province's legal definition of a motor-assisted cycle and therefore don't require a driver's licence or insurance."I feel that there is some kind of negative attitude towards these bicycles," Miloshev said.The Vancouver Police Department confirmed that a member of the Targeted Enforcement Team visited the Motorino store in Vancouver last week to advise staff about the change in legal status for some of its e-bikes.The VPD visit puts into question what will happen to the thousands of people in B.C. who currently ride e-scooters without a licence or insurance. Miloshev says some of his Vancouver customers have started to tell him they've been fined hundreds of dollars for doing so.The officer's visit to the store comes on the heels of a recent decision in B.C. Supreme Court, which upheld fines against a man riding a Motorino XMr e-bike in Surrey without a licence or insurance. Miloshev says the officer came to his store with copy of the decision in hand."He told us that we cannot sell the bikes that cannot be powered by pedaling," he said.The VPD didn't respond to questions about which specific models it now considers illegal, or if it has also advised other dealers and manufacturers of similar e-bike models of the change.Pedal powerIn the B.C. Supreme Court decision, the judge ruled the pedals have to be the bike's main source of power for it to qualify as a motor-assisted cycle.Referring to a 2012 decision in B.C. Supreme Court, Justice Robert W. Jenkins said the electric motor on the bike is supposed to "supplement, not supplant, human propulsion." Defendant Ali Ghadban testified that he had never used the pedals on his Motorino XMr. Ghadban says he intends to appeal the ruling. Miloshev says he intends to seek intervenor status for the appeal and he expects some of his customers will do the same.'Something has to be done'In Parksville, Motorino rider Luke Charie says he'll be hesitant to ride his XPi into Vancouver to visit friends and family until there's clarity on his bike's legal status."Something has to be done because this impasse is going to get worse," Charie said, referring to the ongoing confusion about the legality of e-bikes that look like motorcycles. Miloshev says he intends to continue selling his Motorinos as motor-assisted cycles because, as far as he's concerned, they fit within the province's legal requirements. He points out that even ICBC's website says e-bikes should be capable of being propelled by pedals, "but it is not necessary to always be pedalling."On its website, B.C.'s public auto insurer says some motor-assisted cycles, which have pedals, may look like mopeds and scooters. ICBC doesn't provide coverage for them. Legal landscape 'always shifting'The province has said it intends to review the Motor Vehicle Act in order to take new electronic modes of transportation into consideration. Meanwhile, RoadSafetyBC, the lead provincial government agency responsible for road safety in B.C., said in a written statement that "government continuously monitors court decisions to inform next steps, preserve the integrity of legislation, and help keep everyone on the road.""The technological and legal landscape around these modes of transportation is always shifting."RoadSafetyBC said ICBC can only sell insurance for cycles that meet provincial and federal classifications.Alternative to public transitMiloshev says the VPD's visit is particularly troubling given that COVID-19 has made his Motorinos more popular than ever now that people want to get around while maintaining a safe distance from others.Such is the case for Dave Leblanc, who says he recently spent nearly $3,000 on a Motorino XPb with some accoutrements so he could get to work without having to cram onto a busy bus. "I'm scared of getting on these buses," Leblanc said, adding that he has no intention of paying any fines, should officers issue him any."I'm trying to do my best. I'm doing something that's environmentally conscious. I'm not wasting gas. And I'm keeping my social distance."

  • Married for 68 years, this B.C. couple died 5 hours apart after testing positive for COVID-19
    News
    CBC

    Married for 68 years, this B.C. couple died 5 hours apart after testing positive for COVID-19

    Juanita and Howard Robinson's romance started with double dates and calls to "the dirt department" and ended over 65 years later as they held hands on their final day together.The Robinsons died after testing positive for the novel coronavirus in Amica Edgemont Village, a long-term care home in North Vancouver that has been the scene of an outbreak.Juanita, 91, died at 8 p.m. on April 6. Five hours later, Howard died. He was 94. The facility reported the deaths in April but now their family is telling their story."It just hasn't quite hit that they're not there," the couple's eldest daughter, Sharon Robinson, said last week. "We just had such a special, long time with them."Many of the British Columbians who have died of COVID-19 were residents of long-term and assisted-living facilities."It's so easy to say, 'Oh, those people were old, they would have died anyway,'" the couple's second daughter, Diana Coleman, said. "But they still added value to everyone's life around them, not to mention their own family."They still had a lot to give and that was taken away from them."The dirt departmentHoward Robinson was born in Vancouver on January 25, 1926 and grew up in the city.In 1942 he began a 44-year career with CanCar Pacific, a heavy machinery company. He started as a machinist but eventually became general manager of the company.At 17, he enlisted in the Canadian Army. He dealt with supplies and was deployed to the Netherlands and France late in the Second World War."It took its toll on him," Robinson said. "He suffered as did many, many other very young men."He met Juanita Jackson shortly after the war through a co-worker and his wife. The four of them went on double dates.Juanita was born in Vancouver on August 12, 1928 and also grew up in the city.She briefly worked as a secretary at the ministry of agriculture. Robinson and Coleman aren't sure if it was the federal or provincial ministry.In those days, Robinson said, several government departments could be reached with a single phone number.When Howard wanted to talk to Juanita, he would dial it and ask for "the dirt department.""That just drove her nuts," Robinson said. "She didn't want anyone to be thinking there was any disrespect for the department of agriculture."Howard and Juanita married in 1951 and moved to North Vancouver.Juanita became a homemaker and raised three children. She survived breast cancer in the 1960s. All her life she loved baking, gardening and making needlepoint art."She was a very clever, talented lady," Robinson said.In the summer of 2019, Howard and Juanita moved into Amica Edgemont Village.'Just like Leave It to Beaver'Both Coleman and Robinson described their parents as a team — they respected and complemented each other."It was just like Leave It to Beaver," Coleman said.Howard was diagnosed with Alzheimer's four years ago, Robinson said. He also survived a heart attack and prostate cancer.They saw their family regularly but in the last few weeks those visits were through the window or on the phone as the couple self-isolated and visits were restricted."That was the best we could do," Robinson said. "I just feel for everybody and anybody who's got people in these care homes."Coleman said seniors killed by the coronavirus, like her parents, aren't mere statistics."They were mom and dad and Howard and Juanita and grandma and grandpa and great-grandma and great-grandpa," Coleman said."We feel a void without their kindness, without their wisdom."If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca.

  • Kirk 2.0: Capt. Pike of new ‘Star Trek’ a welcome new icon
    Entertainment
    The Canadian Press

    Kirk 2.0: Capt. Pike of new ‘Star Trek’ a welcome new icon

    In the beginning, in the "Star Trek” universe, there was only Captain Kirk. At least to the general public.When the Starship Enterprise first whooshed across American television screens on Sept. 8, 1966, William Shatner’s James T. Kirk was the smart leader sitting in the captain’s chair. He was stouthearted, eloquent, curious, fair. Kennedylike, even. He was a principled explorer committed to spreading New Frontier values to the 23rd-century stars.And yet: Kirk could also be something of an interstellar Don Draper — brooding, arrogant, a top-down manager who earned his privilege but also often presumed it. Despite being progressive for his era, he could be condescending to anyone but his top righthand men — and sometimes creepily appreciative of the women he encountered.But Kirk had actually been preceded as captain of the Enterprise by Christopher Pike — a stoic, vague figure played by Jeffrey Hunter in a rejected 1964 “Trek” pilot who made only a fleeting appearance in the original series, mainly so the pilot footage could be recycled. The character reappeared in two recent movie reboots, portrayed ably by Bruce Greenwood, but was never a foundational fixture of “Star Trek” lore.Until now.“Trek” aficionados were thrilled this month to learn that Pike (now played by Anson Mount), his first officer “Number One”(Rebecca Romijn) and the still-evolving, pre-Kirk version of Spock(Ethan Peck) would be following up their season-long stints on “Star Trek: Discovery” with a brand-new show. Called “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds,” it is set in the decade before Kirk takes command.And as played today by Mount, Captain Pike — now framed through a creative lens that has captured 54 years of captaining by Kirks, Picards, Siskos, Janeways and Archers — may be the finest, most intuitive leader that the “Star Trek” universe has ever produced.“Both within the show’s world and our own, Captain Pike is a breath of fresh air," Jessie Earl, whose Trek-focused “Jessie Gender” YouTube videos explore social and political issues, said in an episode about Pike last year.“Pike’s lack of ego makes him a perfect model of leadership worth aspiring to," Earl said. “Pike represents what `Star Trek' has always been about: showing us what we could be if we strove to actively pursue and cultivate the best parts of ourselves.”It's not accidental that Pike is the son of a father who taught science AND comparative religion — an embodiment of the empiricism-faith equation that “Star Trek” and its captains have always espoused. In many ways, in fact — even more so than Chris Pine in the movie reboots — Pike functions as James T. Kirk 2.0.Both are utterly principled and committed to their missions. But where Kirk could be arrogant, Pike is steadfast. Where Kirk was expansive and welcomed attention, Pike is wary of it — but seamlessly claims centre stage when needed. Most of all, where Kirk was deeply committed to his responsibility to ship and crew — crippled by it, even — Mount's Pike adds the view of himself as a humble servant-leader who derives his sense of command not only from the success of his mission but directly from the successes of his crew.This is very much in line with how the captains who came after Kirk evolved the notion of command in “Star Trek” through changing times.Jean-Luc Picard — in the 1987-94 “Next Generation” series and movies, and in this year's “Star Trek: Picard” — reframed the captaincy as both more cerebral and less dogmatic. Benjamin Sisko from “Deep Space Nine” was effectively sharing authority with an alien race in whose backyard his space station sat.The strong and intuitive Kathryn Janeway from “Voyager” was the first woman to lead both a starship and the series it populated. And Jonathan Archer, the captain of an earlier version of the Enterprise, was both authoritative and — as the most far-flung Starfleet explorer of his era — deeply self-doubting at times.Even on “Discovery,” putting aside the troubled Capt. Gabriel Lorca of the show's first season, the real leader of the show is Michael Burnham(Sonequa Martin-Green) — an amalgam of conflicts and setbacks and self-recriminations who emerges as the ship's biggest influencer because of her difficult road, not in spite of it.And let's not forget Kirk himself — the aging iteration from the 1980s movies that Shatner shepherded into someone who was more introspective, sometimes regretful and more willing to listen.All of these are ingredients that, in 55 years, led the character of Pike from its 1964 iteration ("I can't get used to having a woman on the bridge") to the current version ("Starfleet … is a promise. I give my life for you. You give your life for me. And nobody gets left behind.").Of the many “Star Trek” sequels and movies that have emerged over the decades, this will be the first live-action one to take place aboard the starship that started it all — that original Enterprise.And while television storytelling has come many light years since the original series’ era, to hear the producers and actors tell it, “Strange New Worlds’ will strive for the sensibility of the original — a spirit of exploration and optimism, and even nonserialized, single-episode arcs.“We’re going to get to work on a classic ‘Star Trek’ show that deals with optimism and the future,” Mount said from quarantine this month in a YouTube video revealing the show.They'll also be exploring the rich history of the original Enterprise itself, a ship so storied that a mail-in campaign by fans in the mid-1970s led NASA to rename the first space shuttle after it. Lovingly reconceived to appear in the second season of “Discovery,” it is sleek and moody and rich with the colours and layout that made it so compelling in the 1960s — updated for today's HD audiences but holding onto the soul of its low-budget predecessor.And smack in the middle, in a chair familiar to generations of fans, will sit Christopher Pike, charged with embodying everything in a half-century of “Trek” that made captains effective and memorable.James T. Kirk was a master class in leadership for the 1960s, just as Jean-Luc Picard was a thoughtful, more introspective model for the carpeted, richly paneled bridge of the late-1980s Enterprise-D.But yanking a thinly developed character from the beginning of “Star Trek” lore and offering him up as a model of leadership for the 2020s — well, that's not an easy task. “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds," expected in 2021, will be doing that every week.In first developing the character that would evolve into Captain Pike, “Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry described him this way: “He is a complex personality with a sensitivity and warmth which the responsibilities of command often forces him to hide.”That was 1964. Today, for this latest captain of the Enterprise, sensitivity and warmth are no longer hidden. They're right there front and centre, along with all the complexity. And “Star Trek”— which even in its darkest hours is about building a brighter future — is better off for it.___Ted Anthony, director of digital innovation for The Associated Press, has been writing about American culture since 1990 and watching “Star Trek” since his older sister plopped him down in front of her favourite show when he was 2. His younger son’s middle name is, not coincidentally, Kirk. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/anthonytedTed Anthony, The Associated Press

  • Premature victory lap? Meng Wanzhou poses ahead of momentous court decision
    News
    CBC

    Premature victory lap? Meng Wanzhou poses ahead of momentous court decision

    With a momentous court ruling that could deliver her freedom days away, Meng Wanzhou appeared to take a premature victory lap on the weekend, posing for pictures and flashing a thumbs-up on the B.C. Supreme courthouse steps.The Huawei executive took part in a staged downtown Vancouver photo shoot as security guards stood watch Saturday evening. She jumped out of a black SUV to take centre stage once a group of family and friends had arranged themselves in front of a photographer.It was an unusual move for the 48-year-old chief financial officer of the telecommunications giant. And even more so for a defendant who will learn this week whether the court's associate chief justice believes Meng has committed an offence worthy of extradition to the United States."I can't say that I've seen that [before]," said Gary Botting, an expert on the Canadian extradition process."You can hardly blame her. This has gone on for nearly two years."Accused of fraudMeng was arrested on Dec. 1, 2018 at Vancouver's airport after arriving on a flight from Hong Kong on what was supposed to be a stopover en route to Mexico City and Argentina.The U.S. wants Meng extradited to New York to face fraud charges for allegedly lying to an HSBC executive at a meeting in Hong Kong about Huawei's relationship with a subsidiary accused of violating American sanctions against Iran.U.S. prosecutors claim banks in turn placed themselves at risk of running afoul of U.S. regulations by relying on Meng's alleged lies to continue handling Huawei's finances, risking prosecution and massive penalties in the process.B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes announced her plans last week to deliver a decision Wednesday on an issue that could end the extradition process: double criminality.If Holmes decides the offence Meng is accused of committing would not have been considered a crime had it occurred in Canada at the time the arrest warrant was issued, Meng could be free to return to China — barring further detention on appeal.Security guards kept watchSaturday's appearance on the courthouse steps marked a very different look from the one Meng first presented to the world in December 2018. At that point, she had spent a week in a women's prison in Maple Ridge, B.C., and emerged from the courthouse in a tracksuit to the glare of cameras, after being released on $10 million bail. Meng is the daughter of Huawei's billionaire founder, Ren Zhengfei. She currently lives under house arrest in one of two multi-million dollar homes she owns on Vancouver's west side. The terms of her release allow her movement around the city under the constant watch of a security detail.Her plain-clothes guards paced the sidewalk outside the courthouse for an hour before Meng arrived Saturday evening, their black SUV parked nearby.A CBC reporter and photographer watched unobserved, from a distance..At around 7 p.m. a photographer hauled a step ladder onto the sidewalk and another large black vehicle pulled up. A number of women and men dressed in suits began assembling on the stairs.Black gown and ankle braceletMeng has appeared in court in designer dresses and shoes worth thousands, her wardrobe becoming part of her publicity strategy. Once the group of 11 people who would join her in the photographs found their places, Meng emerged from the SUV in a sleeveless black dress that reached to her ankles.She pulled the hem of the dress up at one point to reveal the GPS ankle monitoring bracelet she must wear under the terms of her release.Huawei board member and head of global media Vincent Peng, a longtime friend, stood next to Meng as the group smiled, made peace signs and gave thumbs-up to the camera.After no more than about four minutes, Meng was back in the vehicle.'Is this criminal in Canada?'Meng has denied the charges and both she and her father have expressed confidence in the Canadian judicial system. Still, it's rare to see an accused appear to celebrate before a decision.Botting believes Meng has reason to be hopeful.During four days of hearings in January, Meng's lawyers argued the U.S. was trying to use Canada to enforce sanctions Canadians rejected by choosing to remain in a global treaty aimed at limiting Iran's nuclear ambitions that U.S. President Donald Trump decided to leave.The Crown, on the other hand, claims Meng's alleged offence is one of fraud: depriving a bank through a lie. And that's a crime in the U.S. and Canada."I think there's a good chance of success in the sense that when it boils down to the nitty-gritty, is this criminal in Canada? What she's alleged to have done, if instead of the United States, it was Canada who was bringing the prosecution, would we continue with the prosecution? Would we regard this as being criminal enough to carry it forward and bring it to trial?" Botting asked."I think the answer is fairly clearly, we wouldn't."'She'll go back to China'Botting says the strength of the case is undermined by the fact the alleged offence occurred in Hong Kong and the alleged victim is a U.K. bank. He calls Meng's detention arbitrary.If Holmes sides with the Crown, Meng's lawyers will have another chance to fight the extradition with arguments over what they claim was an abuse of her rights at the time of her arrest.But if Meng is successful, the Crown could appeal. Botting says she would not need to be in detention while the appeal is ongoing, but says U.S. prosecutors may well want to keep her in Canada."If she's smart, she'll go back to China," he says.The two MichaelsIn the meantime, Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor remain in custody in China, where they were detained just days after Meng's arrest. Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Spavor, an entrepreneur, have been accused of spying in what many observers believe is retaliation for Canada's decision to act on behalf of the U.S. in regards to Meng.The Canadian government has denounced China's treatment of the two men, who are being held behind bars and have been denied access to lawyers.Many have pointed out the disparity between Meng's gold-plated, self-funded home-arrest and Kovrig and Spavor's harsh treatment.And unlike Meng, neither man is appearing in any pictures.

  • Mourning family of Cargill COVID-19 death feel left behind by company
    News
    CBC

    Mourning family of Cargill COVID-19 death feel left behind by company

    Two weeks ago, the union that represents the workers at the Cargill slaughterhouse near High River, Alta., announced that a third death had been linked to the facility: a 51-year-old union shop steward named Benito Quesada.At the time, that outbreak represented the site of the largest coronavirus outbreak tied to a single location in Canada.Quesada was described by the union as a quiet, gentle, and humble man. His family sought their privacy in the wake of his death.But as the days went on, the family decided together that they wanted to tell Quesada's story — especially with the facility and the larger economy reopening."We've had many people, even just neighbours, asking us what happened," 16-year-old Ariana Quesada said in an interview Saturday. "We don't want to give those answers, because we feel that those answers are really personal."But we realize this issue is bigger for us and our dad's suffering shouldn't be in vain."Hard workerQuesada started working for Cargill in 2007, travelling to Alberta from Mexico City. His family stayed behind in Mexico while Quesada sent money home until they too were able to join him in Canada in 2012."He was really proud to work at Cargill. If anyone asked him where he worked, he always said Cargill with such pride," Ariana said. "It was the job that brought his family here."Even if he needed to work more hours — which he did, even working two additional part-time jobs at one time — Quesada did so with dedication, loving to spoil his family with gifts when he could.Even though he often came home from work exhausted, he would still make time for his family."My little sister, she's five. That's who he had the closest bond with. He would come home and they would hug and my mom would ask how his day was," Ariana said. "He was a really, really caring person and he loved us very much."The outbreakBut as the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread, Quesada would tell his wife, Mary, about what he was seeing at work."He would tell my mom that compared to schools and to stores and other places where they were taking the proper measures, Cargill was not doing the same thing," Ariana said. "He did not have the proper gear to make this less risky and he was disappointed that such a great company was not able to provide the necessary gear."He often came back from work saying there was no distance between the workers themselves at all."His family began to quarantine, with the kids not leaving the home to go to school and only one family member attending a grocery store at a time.They tuned in constantly to the advice of Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, and began wearing masks and frequently cleaning.Amidst the pandemic, Cargill began to offer its workers a bonus. Ariana said Quesada kept going into work to get that bonus."They were going to give them a $500 bonus if they didn't miss a day of work," she said. "Unfortunately, we're a family of six, and a $500 bonus is going to make a difference in bills and in our lives. That was his main motivation to go to work. He wouldn't have gone without that $500."Up until today, they haven't paid it to him."Becoming illMore than 900 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in workers at the plant, most of whom have now recovered. As of May 21, five active cases of COVID-19 remain connected to workers.One of the workers who became ill was Quesada. He grew sicker and sicker and was eventually admitted to the ICU.At the start, his family was told they were not allowed to visit him unless signs emerged that indicated he may soon pass away. One morning that call came."We got to say goodbye. But he didn't get that chance," Ariana said.WATCH | Ariana and Mary Quesada describe why they're sharing their father's story now:Ariana and Mary were permitted to enter the room where Quesada lay in the hospital bed.There were tubes coming out of his mouth and machines everywhere. It was immediately clear that Quesada had lost a lot of weight."You could see it in his face. His jawline was really, really prominent," Ariana said. "His cheekbones were really raised and he looked really bad."Ariana said she always told her father that he was very pale compared to her siblings and her mother. That wasn't the case that morning."He was orange. He wasn't even pale, he was orange," she said. "His fingers were really stiff. It was a really horrible sight to see."The image, even in its retelling, is devastating for Ariana to recall. She said she wanted to share that image — one that conflicts with the father who could do anything, the father who overcame any obstacle — because she worries about pervasive attitudes surrounding the virus as the economy reopens."To those people who think it's not that serious or it's just a regular cold, I would say this … look at us. We're left without a dad. My mom is left without a husband," Ariana said.A family left behindAs the main provider for the family, Quesada's death has left Mary and her four children with an ongoing struggle. Ariana, still 16, expects to have to begin working multiple part-time jobs to help support the family."When I said goodbye to my dad I told him not to worry. I told him if for some reason he felt the need to go, he knew we were going to be able to handle things," Ariana said. "But the financial pressure, it's really devastating."After Quesada's death a Cargill spokesperson said in a statement that the company had been in recent contact with the family and would honour Quesada at the plant, flying a flag at half-mast in memory of the two employees who had died.The family said they were never contacted by the company."Cargill themselves have not contacted us — coworkers and workers with my dad have, but Cargill themselves have not," Ariana said. "I read somewhere that they had emailed their condolences, but we didn't even get that."In a statement provided to CBC News on Sunday afternoon, a spokesperson for Cargill said they extended their "sincere, heartfelt condolences" to Quesada's family.The company said a health services manager was in contact with the family during Quesada's hospitalization, and senior members of the High River facility undertook "multiple efforts" to contact the family. "It is completely understandable why they would not be taking calls at that time. In the past weeks, the company has been successful in making direct contact with the family and has had several conversations regarding any support the company may be able to offer," the statement reads.Ariana said representatives with Cargill's human resources department have contacted the family to help with documentation, but others from the company have not yet been in touch to offer condolences.Ariana said Quesada was always proud to work at Cargill and even "gave his life" for the plant.For now, the family continues to grieve alone, feeling unheard about what they say was a lack of safety measures implemented at the facility. "They only saw the outcome. But they didn't live it with us. They didn't see how we were crying everyday, they didn't see the trauma," Ariana said. "They didn't see me and my mom saying our goodbyes to him. They didn't see him in that bed, lying lifeless. They didn't see any of this."So they probably don't feel the same remorse. But they need to."

  • Ontario premier makes public plea to 'go get tested' after province misses target 7th straight day
    Health
    CBC

    Ontario premier makes public plea to 'go get tested' after province misses target 7th straight day

    Ontario Premier Doug Ford made a public plea on Sunday, asking people to "please go get a test" — even if they are asymptomatic — after the province fell short of its testing target for the seventh day in a row. "I am here to ask for your help today," Ford said on Sunday.  "If you feel you need a test, you'll be able to get a test. So please don't wait." Ford touted the province's efforts to ramp up testing capacity at hospitals. He said Ontario has opened 129 COVID-19 assessment centres.The announcement marks the first time Ford has told people without symptoms that they can get tested. The premier said mass testing is the province's best defence against the virus, and said the only way for the province to reach testing capacity is for people to go to provincial assessment centres.The messaging is a marked change from earlier Ministry of Health guidelines for the general public, which said that only people displaying one or more symptoms of the novel coronavirus should be tested.WATCH | Ford stresses the importance of getting tested:"I'm asking the people of Ontario, if you are worried if you have COVID-19, or that you've been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, even if you're not showing symptoms, please go get a test," Ford said. "Go get tested ... you will not be turned away." The province processed 11,383 tests on Saturday out of a 16,000 daily benchmark.New testing regulations started Saturday, with asymptomatic front-line health-care workers being tested across the province.Ford says the province will release a new "detailed" testing strategy, which will target various sectors and COVID-19 hot spots across Ontario. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath issued a statement Sunday, criticizing the Ford government for a week of "abysmally low" COVID-19 testing numbers. "For weeks, Doug Ford's restrictive testing rules were turning people away from assessment centres," Horwath said in the statement."He blamed a lack of swabs. Then he blamed a lack of reagent. Then he blamed public health leaders. In all that time, he hasn't expanded testing, or taken it outside the existing assessment centres."Horwath is now calling for "systemic testing" of all asymptomatic people outside of assessment centres, saying the current method is "not enough.""Testing needs to be expanded far beyond those assessment centres. That's Ford's job, and he's been negligent in failing to do it."Province reports highest new case count since May 8 The announcement comes as Ontario confirmed 460 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, marking the highest new COVID-19 case count since May 8. The province now has a total of 25,500 cases, which includes 19,477 resolved cases and 2,073 deaths.However, a count by CBC News, compiled from regional public health units, puts the current toll at at least 2,164 deaths.The rise in cases represents a 1.8 per cent increase over Saturday's total, and the daily growth rate has hovered between 1.5 and 1.9 per cent over most of the last two weeks.The Ontario health ministry said 878 people remain in hospital with the virus, a decrease of 34 from Saturday.Some 148 people remain in intensive care, 104 of whom are on a ventilator.  Toronto officials condemn 'dangerous' behaviour in park Meanwhile, city officials in Toronto are condemning the "dangerous" behaviour of people who flooded a popular downtown park on Saturday, saying they could cause a surge in COVID-19 cases.A statement released by the city late Saturday night says thousands of people packed Trinity Bellwoods Park on one of the first warm days of the year despite physical distancing regulations."Images today of thousands of people gathered in Trinity Bellwoods Park were unacceptable," the city said in a statement issued late Saturday evening."Gatherings like this, where people aren't keeping their distance from others, run the risk of setting Toronto back significantly in its efforts to stop the transmission of COVID-19." Ford also condemned the behaviour on Sunday, saying images he saw of the park "looked like a rock concert.""We opened the parks so people could get out there and enjoy the weather," Ford told reporters. "But the images I saw — we just can't have that right now because there is still a deadly virus among us."Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto's chief medical officer of health, agrees. "Like many others, I was disappointed and, frankly, saddened by what I saw," she told CBC News Sunday. "Especially knowing the many sacrifices that have been made by Torontonians for the last several weeks and the progress we have made as a result of those sacrifices." De Villa said when there's congestion between people in one spot, the risk of transmission increases. "Here's the thing. We also know that increasingly there are people who don't have signs or symptoms or have very mild signs or symptoms and they may inadvertently pass the infection from themselves to other people," she said.  "We're not saying don't go out, we're just asking that people do it in a responsible way so that we can better control the virus and then get our city back."

  • New Zealand's Ardern stays cool as earthquake strikes during live interview
    News
    Reuters

    New Zealand's Ardern stays cool as earthquake strikes during live interview

    New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was unflustered by an earthquake that struck the capital Wellington on Monday while she was doing a live TV interview, and calmly continued with the programme. Ardern, who became prime minister in 2017, is hugely popular in New Zealand for her handling of several crises - a mass shooting in Christchurch last year, a volcanic eruption in December and the recent coronavirus pandemic. Wellington and nearby areas were shaken by a 5.8 magnitude earthquake with the epicentre 30 km (20 miles) northwest of Levin, a city close to the capital, and at a depth of 37 km, according to Geonet.

  • Senior missing for 9 days found dead in Delta
    News
    CBC

    Senior missing for 9 days found dead in Delta

    Police in Delta say the search for a missing senior has ended in tragedy.On May 15, 88-year-old Jarnail Sanghera of North Delta was reported missing. He was last seen leaving his family residence near Nordell Way and 116th Avenue in North Delta.Police said Sanghera had dementia and diabetes, which was treated through medication.Investigators were able to find video footage of Sanghera walking and received several tips from people about him.On May 19th, police and members of Sanghera's family held a news conference to review the extensive efforts made to find the missing man and to ask for more help in finding him.On Sunday Delta Police said in a tweet that officers were called to a wooded area off Swenson and Nordell Way where they found the body of Sanghera.Officers remain at the scene and say that Saghera's family has been notified of his death.Police did not say what the circumstances of Sanghera's death were but that more information would be available on Monday.

  • A tale of 2 leatherback sea turtles tagged off Nova Scotia
    Science
    CBC

    A tale of 2 leatherback sea turtles tagged off Nova Scotia

    Good luck, persistence and international co-operation has delivered a rare trove of data from two endangered leatherback turtles tagged off Nova Scotia last summer.The turtles, Ruby and Isabel, were carrying a tracking transmitter and a device that stored a huge cache of precise GPS locations accumulated during their 12,000-kilometre migration from Canada to Trinidad, off South America.This month, when the nesting leatherbacks crawled ashore on separate beaches, researchers and volunteers on the island managed to intercept them, retrieve their tags and 10 months of stored data."We're really excited," says Mike James, lead scientist with the sea turtle unit at Fisheries and Oceans Canada."In the case of Isabel's data, it downloaded yesterday and we had over 12,000 GPS positions that have been collected for that turtle since she was tagged last July."The data allows scientists to reconstruct the movements of the sea turtles throughout their migration, including where it's needed most — in and around Trinidad, the nesting destination for most of the declining northwest Atlantic population that are in Canadian waters."We know that there are a lot of threats to the turtles in those areas and there are a lot of interactions with local artisanal fisheries, and there are a lot of places where there happens to be a lot of human impact on the turtles. But we just don't have the data to understand that very well," James said.Recovering an archival tag, as it is known, is rare.Sometimes the tags fall off during mating or are otherwise lost on the journey.In the 20 years leatherbacks have been tagged in Atlantic Canada, archival tags have been recovered only four times: in Panama, French Guiana and twice in Colombia. The most recent case was seven years ago.Within a single week in May, two were recovered in Trinidad."I have never recovered this much data from leatherbacks at one time," James said.It took 10 hours to download the data Isabel was carrying.Ruby and Isabel were tagged two days apart in waters south of Halifax in July 2019.Ruby is one of the biggest leatherbacks ever captured in Atlantic Canada. She is the size of a pool table and weighs a tonne. A flipper tag told scientists she had previously nested in Trinidad.Isabel had no markings.In the summer and fall, leatherbacks feed on jellyfish in Atlantic Canada before migrating south to breed.Data shows Isabel travelled 12,252 km and Ruby 12,891 km after being tagged.The recovery operation was run out of Mike James's Halifax home, where he's been working since the pandemic.When it became clear where the turtles were headed, James got in touch with the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Fisheries, and conservation groups on the island.Finding the tagged turtles was not a sure thing.Female leatherbacks nest on 10-day cycles, spending 90 minutes laying eggs on shore at night before heading back to sea and returning again several more times to nest."Generally they return to the same stretch of coastline and if you're lucky to the same beach on that stretch of coastline. And in both cases, both these animals did that," James said. "We found out when and where they laid their initial nest. They were successfully intercepted … and their instruments were removed and new instruments were deployed on the turtles which is the next chapter."James gives credit to teams in Trinidad that spent nights waiting for the turtles.One of the researchers was Kyle Mitchell, of Nature Seekers, a conservation group that pays for itself by conducting ecotourism.He was in Nova Scotia on an exchange last summer and on board to help tag Ruby.Ten months later, he was on hand when Isabel first came ashore at Matura Beach.Unfortunately, there was not enough time to remove the tag, so he watched her crawl back into the ocean in the hopes of getting a second chance."We were a bit skeptical that we might find her back again because usually, to get that much luck twice in a row, is not something that happens that often," Mitchell said. "I was very fortunate to be a part of both sides. It was definitely overwhelming. Overwhelming and tiring, but definitely worth it."The Las Cuevas Turtle Group and Nature Seekers recovered Ruby on the north coast.With new satellite transmitters attached, scientists will be able to track the complete year-long migration loop when Isabel and Ruby return to Nova Scotia sometime in August.But that too was a close call.Normally, Canadian scientists with tracking tags would be in Trinidad for the nesting period.But this year, COVID-19 kept them, and their equipment, in Nova Scotia. When Ruby and Isabel showed up, tags were rushed by courier from Nova Scotia and from colleagues in Florida.They arrived in the nick of time."Both packages were received the week that they were needed. The one tag [from Florida] arrived the day that it was needed for the deployment on Isabel. So it was that tight," James said. "Our box arrived a day or two later, but we had about 48 hours of comfort zone in the end before that second instrument was needed for Ruby."But it was an Amazing Race-situation, tracking information on the various courier providers websites."With Fisheries and Oceans Canada shut down by the pandemic, it's not clear whether leatherback tagging will happen in Nova Scotia this summer.The program starts in July and no decision has been made.Ruby was named after the mother of noted Acadia University scientist, Sherman Bleakney, an academic who first proposed that leatherbacks were regular visitors to Atlantic Canada back in the 1960s. Bleakney died last October.Isabel was named by children attending an annual sea turtle summer camp in Halifax.MORE TOP STORIES

  • The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada
    News
    The Canadian Press

    The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

    The latest numbers of confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 5:41 p.m. on May 24, 2020:There are 84,699 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada._ Quebec: 47,411 confirmed (including 3,984 deaths, 14,331 resolved)_ Ontario: 25,500 confirmed (including 2,073 deaths, 19,477 resolved)_ Alberta: 6,860 confirmed (including 135 deaths, 5,924 resolved)_ British Columbia: 2,517 confirmed (including 157 deaths, 2,057 resolved)_ Nova Scotia: 1,050 confirmed (including 58 deaths, 973 resolved)_ Saskatchewan: 632 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 538 resolved)_ Manitoba: 281 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 268 resolved), 11 presumptive_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 260 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 254 resolved)_ New Brunswick: 121 confirmed (including 120 resolved)_ Prince Edward Island: 27 confirmed (including 27 resolved)_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases_ Total: 84,699 (11 presumptive, 84,688 confirmed including 6,424 deaths, 43,998 resolved)This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2020.The Canadian Press

  • Public returns to St. Peter's Square; pope calls for defense of environment
    News
    Reuters

    Public returns to St. Peter's Square; pope calls for defense of environment

    The public returned to St Peter's Square on Sunday to receive Pope Francis's blessing from his window for the first time in nearly three months as he convoked a year of reflection on the environment. Only a few dozen people went to the square, which was reopened on Monday along with St Peter's Basilica following coronavirus lockdowns. Francis delivered his message via the internet from his library, as those in the square watched on large screens, and then went to the window for the silent blessing.

  • Most Canadians Want The U.S. Border To Stay Closed Longer During Coronavirus Pandemic: Survey
    News
    HuffPost Canada

    Most Canadians Want The U.S. Border To Stay Closed Longer During Coronavirus Pandemic: Survey

    Even when the border reopens, many Canadians said they won’t travel to the U.S.

  • Tiny home village for veterans pitched for north Edmonton neighbourhood
    News
    CBC

    Tiny home village for veterans pitched for north Edmonton neighbourhood

    A village of tiny homes may house 20 of Edmonton's homeless veterans in a north-end neighbourhood if city council likes a proposal pitched by a Calgary-based non-profit. Homes for Heroes proposes to build the village, with structures measuring 300 square feet, on a one-acre plot of land in Evansdale, just south of 153rd Avenue and north of 94th Street. David Howard, president and co-founder of H4H, said they've designed the project to give veterans a home for about two years with access to programming to help deal with PTSD."I believe that we can end this issue in an eight to ten year time period," Howard said in an interview Friday. "This is solvable."Howard said there are close to 200 homeless veterans in the Edmonton area. His organization has consulted more than 100 homeless veterans, done research, consulted social service agencies and worked with Veterans Affairs Canada to come up with a holistic program for the vets to help them transition into their own homes.Why tiny homes?Howard said some people coming off the streets and placed in larger apartments tend to hoard to fill up the space. "What comes with that? Shame," he said. "You get the shame, then they're shutting themselves off from society.  When they do that when that guilt comes in, that can lead to drugs and alcohol."The tiny homes have a full set up just as a larger home — kitchen, bedroom, living area — but in a one-level compact form."This is what our veterans have said is that they want: a community of peers working together." The village includes a resource centre with an on-site counsellor's office staffed Monday to Friday and an outdoor amenity area. Coun. Jon Dziadyk, city councillor for Ward 3, said it's a unique plan for Edmonton. "It pushes the boundaries of different housing forms that we can have," Dziadyk said in a video interview Friday. "It serves our veteran community because it's specifically for homeless veterans and it's a shame that we do have homeless veterans to begin with." City planners support the idea: the report detailing the plan will head to a public hearing June 9, where residents can give their feedback. It would require council's approval so the city can rezone the land from the current agriculture use to a development use. Homes for Heroes has had feedback during drop-in meetings and from written submissions. Some residents expressed concern that mature trees would be chopped down, so H4H said it reduced the number of units from the original 27 to retain the majority of trees onsite. Others wondered whether the Griesbach area would be a more appropriate location — with former military housing already a theme of that neighbourhood — but H4H said Canada Lands told them there's no available land in Griesbach. A city-led engagement gathered other comments, including concerns that property values in the area would go down and that homelessness in the north end is already an issue. Many support the project, citing proximity to services, transit, amenities and a strong connection between the north side and the veteran community. Dziadyk said he also believes the proximity to the Canadian Forces Base Edmonton just north of the site, makes it a suitable location for the veterans. "Likely they served at the base in north Edmonton, and it's likely they have some familiarity with the area, being in north Edmonton is probably appropriate."There's also a Veteran Services office nearby on 97th Street, Dziadyk noted. He said he'll take concerns from residents seriously before voting in favour of the proposal after the public hearing. True passionThe $4-million project, which includes preparing the land and building the homes, relies almost solely on corporate and individual support, Howard said."The Edmonton community has been absolutely incredible," Howard said. "Edmonton has a true passion for those that served and those that continue to serve." He said H4H established a tiny home village in Calgary last November, funded 90 per cent through private sponsors. Despite some opposition, Howard is optimistic the project in Edmonton will get support from council and the majority of residents. "You have somebody that stood on guard for Canada, I think you should be thrilled that they're going to stand on guard for the community." @natashariebe

  • Germany tries to trace people who attended church service at which COVID-19 spread
    News
    Reuters

    Germany tries to trace people who attended church service at which COVID-19 spread

    German authorities are trying to trace everyone who attended a church service in Frankfurt this month after more than 107 people tested positive for the coronavirus. Churches in the state of Hesse, where Frankfurt is located, have been able to hold services since May 1 following the easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions, provided they adhere to official social distancing and hygiene rules. It was not immediately clear whether all the 107 with the coronavirus attended the service, or whether the tally includes people who were infected by those who did.

  • As province opens COVID-19 testing to all, health unit warns people not to have false sense of security
    Health
    CBC

    As province opens COVID-19 testing to all, health unit warns people not to have false sense of security

    Health officials in Windsor-Essex are looking to increase testing for COVID-19 after Premier Doug Ford's announcement that even asymptomatic people can get a test if they want one."The fact that he's basically saying that anyone that shows up to the assessment centre would be tested makes it a lot easier for the clinical staff," said David Musyj, CEO of Windsor Regional Hospital. Previous statements from the Premier only allowed for people displaying one or more symptoms of COVID-19 to be tested. On Sunday, he said mass testing was the province's best defence against the virus. As of Saturday, the province was still nearly 5,000 tests short of its daily goal of 16,000 tests a day.WATCH | David Musyj, President and CEO of Windsor Regional Hospital, talks about the relaxation of rules surrounding COVID-19 testing.Musyj said until now, a little more than 90 per cent of people who would come in would get swabbed. "Right now, they're basically saying, you come in, you're going to get swabbed, so it will be 100 per cent." Musyj said anyone coming in to the hospital's assessment centre, which is in a white tent directly beside the Ouellette emergency department, would be swabbed and tested for COVID-19."It's a very quick in and out," he said, adding that anyone who wants to see a primary care physician for another medical issue would be able to do so there as well.> Having a test only means that today, on the day of testing, you are not infected. \- Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health"Instead of going to your primary care physician and or a clinic or possibly the emergency department you can get that looked at."The assessment centre is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Musyj said they're seeing about 80 to 100 people daily, but hours could be expanded."We could go 24/7 if we need to," he said.Negative test result doesn't mean you're not at risk, warns WECHUDr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health for the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU), said there has been about 400 tests being conducted in the region daily between the assessment centres in Leamington and Windsor.Allowing asymptomatic people to get tested will serve as a way of better understanding the community spread of the virus, Ahmed added. But he fears it may lure people into a false sense of security.WATCH | Ahmed warns that increased testing is not a reason to relax when it comes to physical distancing:"We want to make sure that if it's available, then yeah, people should go and get it," Ahmed said. "But they shouldn't go with a false expectation or a false understanding of what this test means."He said the test doesn't differentiate whether you are at risk of contracting COVID-19 or not, adding it's a diagnostic test — not a screening tool. "We don't want to give that message that if you come back negative, you are not at risk ... Having a test only means that today, on the day of testing, you are not infected."At Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, the hospital will discuss the possibility of offering testing for its staff, physicians and patients onsite, according to president and CEO Janice Kaffer.Up until now, those who were tested at the hospital had to have symptoms and any staff who wanted to or needed testing had to go to an assessment centre.

  • Coronavirus outbreak: Ford "absolutely shocked" by images of crowds in Trinity-Bellwoods park
    News
    Global News

    Coronavirus outbreak: Ford "absolutely shocked" by images of crowds in Trinity-Bellwoods park

    During brief remarks to the media on Sunday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford condemned the large gathering that took place in popular Toronto park on Saturday, Trinity Bellwoods, where thousands gathered during warm sunny weather. Ford implored people to get tested for COVID-19 and continue to practice social distancing in order to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

  • Muslims keep Ramadan spirit after facing a 'different' year
    Lifestyle
    CBC

    Muslims keep Ramadan spirit after facing a 'different' year

    New clothes, delicious food and cheerful decorations are still a part of Kamrul Islam and his family's Eid al-Fitr celebrations this year but the most important part is missing — friends and family.On what is usually one of the most social days of the year for Muslims, the family would usually have about 100 people over to their house to celebrate as a month of fasting ends, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made for a more isolated Eid this year."We are trying to do our best at home," said Naushaba Sheikh, Islam's wife, who spent Saturday cooking to be able to make deliveries to family and friends."If you are eating together when you break your fast, you feel good so we are missing that this year.… At least we are healthy and can fast and have food in our house," she said.> "If anything, it has given us more time to reflect on things that are necessary during Ramadan while we are at home." \- Kamrul IslamThis year's Ramadan, Islam's holiest month, is being considered one of the most challenging, as nightly communal tarawih prayers held at mosques were not allowed and large iftar dinners with family and friends could not happen.Muslims across the world had to rely on the internet to pray and socialize with their family and friends, and for Islam, Sheikh and their children, it was no different.Online prayersDuring Ramadan in years past, Islam said there often would be about 200 people who visited the mosque nightly, but this year they're participating in live streamed prayers."We have learned to adapt," said Islam. "We need to do this, not for the sake for our community, but the sake of the society as a whole."Islam said the City of St. John's also granted them permission to broadcast the Islamic call to prayer from the mosque, like other municipalities across Canada. "It felt jubilant in a way that, yes we are allowed to do this, and our diversity is valued in this city," said Islam. Fasting through a pandemicFor Islam's 10-year-old daughter, it will be a Ramadan she won't forget, not just because she fasted through a global pandemic but it also happened to be her first time."It [was] a little boring because I can't go to school and talk to my friends and keep my mind off food, but it's better because I am not in school where everyone is eating lunch," said Amreen Islam.She told CBC News at the beginning of Ramadan that she was nervous about making it all the way through the month, but is proud that she did."It went really good," she said, also mentioning she's looking forward to next year when things might not be so different.Her thoughts were echoed by her 17-year-old brother, Ayman Islam who also was missing a daily routine to take his mind off his stomach. "If I am at school or out with my friends, I am not really thinking about what is in my fridge at home," he chuckled.Ramadan spirit stands up to COVID-19Islam's family will be celebrating with their double bubble Sunday and are preparing for greetings to be called out from friends standing a distance away on the sidewalk.There also will be lots of food, gift exchanges and plenty of memories made."It was different but it was good," said Sheikh, reflecting on the past month.Although it was a "different" year, Islam said COVID-19 did not change the essence of Ramadan as a time for self-reflection and self-discipline, along with giving and thinking about others."Spiritually it hasn't changed," he said."If anything, it has given us more time to reflect on things that are necessary during Ramadan while we are at home."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Bolsonaro joins protesters as Brazil political scandal heats up amid pandemic
    News
    Reuters

    Bolsonaro joins protesters as Brazil political scandal heats up amid pandemic

    Surrounded by security guards wearing masks, but not wearing one himself, Bolsonaro was shown in a live streaming video on his Facebook page greeting protesters waving Brazilian flags and calling him a "Legend," days after Brazil topped Russia to become the world's No. 2 virus hot spot after the United States. The rally, one of several such demonstrations Bolsonaro has encouraged in recent weeks, came as the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, a close ally of the far-right Bolsonaro, mulls a ban on travel from Brazil because of the worsening outbreak there.

  • What's Coming And Going From Netflix Canada In June 2020
    Entertainment
    HuffPost Canada

    What's Coming And Going From Netflix Canada In June 2020

    We all really need a new season of "Queer Eye" at a time like this.

  • Premier says anyone who wants a COVID-19 test will be able to get one
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Premier says anyone who wants a COVID-19 test will be able to get one

    TORONTO — Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced Sunday that anyone in the province can get tested for COVID-19, regardless of whether they have symptoms, as cases continued to mount and officials criticized thousands of people who gathered in a Toronto park a day earier.The premier said mass testing is the province's best defence against the virus, adding that the only way for the province to reach its testing capacity of nearly 25,000 is for people to show up to provincial assessment centres. Currenly, daily testing rates hover around 11,000."If you are worried you have COVID-19, or that you've been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, even if you're not showing symptoms, please go get a test," Ford said during a televised speech on Sunday."You will not be turned away, you don't need an appointment, just show up."A spokeswoman for the Minister of Health later said in an email that the province doesn't anticipate demand for tests outpacing supply, even with this directive.The messaging is a marked change from earlier guidelines for the general public, which said that only people displaying one or more symptoms of the novel coronavirus should be tested.Ford also said a new detailed testing strategy targeting specific sectors will be unveiled next week.The announcement comes as cases continue to mount in Ontario, with 460 confirmed cases reported on Sunday along with 25 deaths related to the virus.The new cases account for a 1.8 per cent increase over the previous day.The province now has 25,500 confirmed cases, which includes 19,477 that are marked as resolved and 2,073 where patients have died.The Ministry of Health said it completed 11,383 tests over the previous 24 hours.Meanwhile, the premier criticized Torontonians who flocked to a popular downtown park on Saturday after city officials said thousands of people at Trinity Bellwoods Park were flouting physical distancing rules."I thought it was a rock concert in the beginning when I went out there, I was in shock," Ford said."I get it, it's a beautiful day out, everyone wants to get out and have a great time ... but the images I saw, we just can't have that right now, it's just too many people too close."On Sunday, far fewer people were at the park, Toronto police said, noting that there were more cops and bylaw officers present to issue $1,000 tickets to those violating the rules.This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2020.Salmaan Farooqui, The Canadian Press

  • Minds behind pandemic predicting algorithm already thinking about future beyond COVID-19
    Health
    The Canadian Press

    Minds behind pandemic predicting algorithm already thinking about future beyond COVID-19

    OTTAWA — The Canadian researcher who was among the first to predict the deadly spread of COVID-19 says the world needs to change the way it monitors for and reacts to disease outbreaks.Dr. Kamran Khan set out to make a "smoke alarm" that would detect disease outbreaks around the world when he created his pandemic-predicting software BlueDot.Khan and his team of about 50 experts used big data and artificial intelligence to warn the world of a potentially serious viral outbreak three days before the World Health Organization, though they picked up on the signs even earlier.Waiting for outbreaks to be declared typically takes too long, the University of Toronto professor of medicine and public health says, and the information often takes a long time to make it into the hands of the medical community and the public.The world is changing, he says, and diseases are emerging with greater frequency and having bigger impacts.Big data and artificial intelligence can provide a bird's-eye view of diseases around the globe in real time, letting people move faster to quash new outbreaks.It's time we start using them, for the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, Khan says.By this point, BlueDot's story is famous around the world.The software scours hundreds of thousands of sources of information in 65 languages around the world all day, every day, to look for signs of trouble.Khan received the first indication something was amiss in Wuhan, China, on New Year's Eve. The algorithm picked up a blog post in Chinese describing a pneumonia outbreak involving about 20 people.Within seconds, the program was able to sift through anonymized international flight itineraries to predict 20 places the outbreak might spread.The outbreak the algorithm described bore serious similarities to the 2003 SARS outbreak. Khan and his team submitted their findings in a peer-reviewed scientific journal on Jan. 6.By the time the virus showed up in Bangkok, Thailand, on Jan. 13, the smoke alarm was ringing."If you see a case show up outside of Wuhan in another country, it's telling you that the outbreak is much bigger than a couple dozen cases. Maybe hundreds, maybe thousands," Khan says."That's the moment we were quite concerned."Of the 20 places BlueDot predicted the virus could spread, 12 were among the first destinations to report outbreaks of the novel coronavirus.The embers landed in Canada, and the house has caught fire.While Canada's health-care system has struggled even to count the number of manually confirmed cases across the country due to archaic data gathering systems, Khan's team in Toronto have used their technology to measure how well people have been sticking to public health advice.Using anonymized cell phone data, they've been tracking how much people have been moving about as health officials urge them to stay home.Khan refers to this as the "fire extinguisher" function of big data during a pandemic, allowing public health authorities to target their efforts where they're needed most."When there's only so many people, your human resources in the public health sector are finite, you can't be everywhere," he says.As Canada gets farther from the crest of the first wave of the pandemic, and people begin moving around the country and around the world again, the smoke alarm is going to be important, Khan says."We're going to be thinking about introductions from other parts of the globe and trying to make sure that those embers are kind of snuffed out as quickly as possible," he says.This time, he hopes governments, institutions and individuals will be able to take smarter steps more quickly."We need to be using the latest in data and digital technologies to our advantage to do that," he says.What we do with the information also needs to change, he says.Typically when a new outbreak is reported, public-health officials find out first. They share the information with governments, which then share it with the medical community and eventually the public and industry become aware.That cascade of information means delayed reactions."If we are going to be able to be successful, we are going to have to empower the whole of society," Khan says.And if COVID-19 has taught us anything, it's that everyone needs to work to extinguish the fire together, he says.This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2020.Laura Osman, The Canadian Press

  • Mississauga mosque celebrates socially distant Eid with drive-thru gift handouts
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Mississauga mosque celebrates socially distant Eid with drive-thru gift handouts

    MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — A Toronto-area mosque says it was still able to celebrate Eid on Sunday with a physically distant drive-thru celebration with thousands of congregants.The Islamic Society of North America says roughly 2,000 cars with multiple people inside were able to take part in Mississauga, Ont., where mosque staff handed out gift bags for families. Eid al-Fitr is an Islamic holiday that celebrates the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, in which people go without food or drink from sunrise to sunset.Chihab Kaab, chair of ISNA's board, said they had planned to start the event at 10 a.m., but cars had already started lining up an hour early.He said spirits were high and people were able to enjoy Eid despite the global pandemic."It was truly the spirit of Eid and it was the celebration that people needed," said Kaab."There were big smiles from everybody even though there were long lineups in the street."Kaab said people had brought cards to show appreciation for the team of people putting on the event.The mosque also prepared an online video which showed kids how to interact with some of the gifts they were given, such as decorative henna.There was also a prepared sermon, and then a video explaining how families can do the Eid prayer at home, rather than in a congregational setting.Mosques around the country had planned other ways to celebrate the holiday while remaining physically distant, including some that planned to livestream the prayer and sermon.This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2020. Salmaan Farooqui, The Canadian Press

  • Launching into space during COVID-19: Two Americans prepare for liftoff from Cape Canaveral
    Science
    CBC

    Launching into space during COVID-19: Two Americans prepare for liftoff from Cape Canaveral

    Cape Canaveral is readying to launch the first Americans aboard a space vehicle from the United States in nine years —and the first time astronauts will fly on a commercial rocket made by SpaceX.NASA has continued launches and work at labs and space centres around the country throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. But in a sign of the times, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstone discouraged people from coming to Florida to watch the historic launch in person on Wednesday at 4:33 p.m. ET."We're asking people ... to watch online or watch on your television at home," to minimize crowds and enable social distancing, he said.NASA has designed a "virtual launch experience" to bring people closer to the event from home. Two American astronauts will be on board: Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.All eyes are on Wednesday's launch, said NASA's Kirk Shireman, program manager for the International Space Station."July 8, 2011, was the last time humans left the planet here [from the] Kennedy Space Center and went to the International Space Station," he said. "[We are] very much looking forward to next week having Bob and Doug on orbit continuing the human presence on the International Space Station, learning and exploring."Astronauts well prepared for quarantineThe astronauts said COVID-19 has allowed the general public to get an idea of what they experience. "We've seen the rest of the world have to take on the same sort of precautions that we do leading up to launch," said Behnken.The pair will be in a Crew Dragon capsule atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to go to the International Space Station.The astronauts been tested at least twice so far for COVID-19, and they may be tested once more before liftoff.Both astronauts are fathersQuarantine is a standard procedure for astronauts heading into space, but it's usually two weeks."We've been in for all intents and purposes a quarantine since about March 15th is my recollection," Hurley said. "We have been in quarantine probably longer than any other space crew has ever been in the history of the space program."There has been an up side to that for the astronauts, who are both fathers."It has allowed us to spend some time with our young children, who would have been below the age of access, if you will, for a quarantine if they weren't home from school," Behnken said.As they do their final launch preparations, NASA, SpaceX and other support staff wear masks, and social distance wherever possible.The visitor complex at the Kennedy Space Center, which is usually a prime spot for watching launches, has been closed since March 16. It is set to reopen later this month after the Crew Dragon's scheduled liftoff. It will require mandatory temperature screenings, face coverings and increasing disinfection.NASA and SpaceX ask members of the public to stay homeTony Taliancich, the director and general manager of United Launch Alliance Launch operations, was in charge of an Atlas V liftoff earlier this month. He said COVID-19 restrictions have meant a reduction of about 30 per cent of staff on site, with training being done remotely.Most visitors are banned, with 100 to 150 fewer people present than would normally witness a launch.Press numbers and procedures have changed too, said Joe Marino, a photographer for United Press international who has been covering space launches since 1984."They're reducing the number of people allowed into the space centre," he said. "They would like for us to wear masks while we're out there and remain separate from each other. So they've asked us for 10- to 15-foot clearance between individuals who are out there setting up their cameras."At least one NASA employee at the Langley Research Center, which was made famous as the setting for the award-winning film Hidden Figures, died in April after testing positive for COVID-19."We have taken the coronavirus pandemic very seriously. We've had a number of people infected by it," Bridenstine said.But the space program is considered essential and missions are going forward. After the liftoff of the manned launch, called Demo-2, two SpaceX Falcon 9 missions are scheduled next week. They will carry satellites into low orbit, joining more than 400 already in space as part of SpaceX's Starlink program.Starlink will offer high-speed internet to places where it was previously unavailable, unreliable or too expensive. The company plans to begin service in Canada and the northern U.S. later this year. In July, NASA is scheduled to launch a Mars rover on a ULA rocket.NASA and SpaceX officials have urged people to stay at home for the launch, earlier this month the sheriff of Brevard County, where Cape Canaveral is located, encouraged people to come out to watch.Space shuttle launches usually attract tens of thousands of people, bringing tourist dollars to what is known as Florida's Space Coast.U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence are scheduled be there.Florida has been gradually reopening, allowing stores, restaurants and beaches to operate, with social distancing rules in place, but they are unevenly enforced.Universal Studios plans to open its Florida theme parks on June 5. Its website carries the warning: "Exposure to COVID-19 is an inherent risk in any public location where people are present; we cannot guarantee you will not be exposed during your visit."Walt Disney World is expected to submit its plan for reopening next week.

  • 'It's awful': Calgary homeless sleeping outdoors over fears of catching COVID-19
    News
    The Canadian Press

    'It's awful': Calgary homeless sleeping outdoors over fears of catching COVID-19

    CALGARY — Gordon Kelter has something to fear more than not having a bed to sleep in at night — catching COVID-19."Worried about catching it? Are you kidding me?" said Kelter as he searched behind some dumpsters for his backpack on a recent night in Calgary's downtown East Village neighbourhood.Kelter, who has been homeless for years, said he has started to sleep on a friend's couch until the pandemic blows over.He has slept in some awful places, including concrete parkades, he said. But the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus has him avoiding shelters."It's not like I like to sleep on the streets. It's awful," he said."I won't go near the Drop-In Centre. The COVID really freaked me out."In the drizzling rain one night last week, clusters of people were hunkered under bridges, behind restaurants, in doorways and across from the locked gates of the city's Drop-In Centre.Chaz Smith, founder of the not-for-profit Be The Change YYC homeless outreach team, was out walking with volunteers Chris Macnab and Jake Tremblay.They were wheeling a wagon full of bag lunches, including meal replacements, vitamin powder and granola. They also handed out socks, emergency blankets, tarps and tents."The tents and tarps are running bare. We've handed out about 50 tents the past little bit," Smith said, who was himself homeless for five years.Those out on the streets now are scared, he said."We used to have a small amount of rough sleepers who are sleeping outside overnight. And now the majority of all the people you see are actually sleeping outside," he said."When we ask why aren't you staying in shelters, they'll just say either they can't get in or they're afraid to catch COVID."Across from the Drop-In Centre, wooden pallets piled with bedding lay under blue, white and green tarps tied to a chain-link fence. Bicycles and overflowing shopping carts were locked to the fence. Loud rap music was blaring.One man, with blood flowing from a gash on his head, struggled to his feet and hobbled away while holding up his pants. A woman under the tarps screamed at the outreach workers and threw bag lunches back at them."What's going on tonight?" wondered Smith. "Everyone's so negative."There have been a total of 24 cases of COVID-19 at Calgary shelters since the pandemic began: 12 at the Drop-In Centre, 10 at Alpha House and two at the Salvation Army shelter. Ten people have recovered and 14 infections remain active.Trisha Bearspaw was standing on a loading dock behind a shuttered restaurant. The 35-year-old was homeless for 10 years and now lives in a group home, but continues to hang out downtown with her boyfriend, who is still on the streets.She tested positive for COVID-19 and spent a week in hospital in early April, but says she is fully recovered."It was crushing, like I couldn't breath. It felt like someone was sitting on my chest. That's how bad it was."She knows there's a chance she could catch the virus again, she said."I know it's a risk, but I know that I have the antibodies," she said. "If I get it again, I'll beat it again."This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2020— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

  • People Overcrowd Toronto Park Despite Social Distancing Rules
    News
    HuffPost Canada Video

    People Overcrowd Toronto Park Despite Social Distancing Rules

    Thousands of people packed into Trinty Bellwoods Park in Toronto on May 23, 2020.