SoftBank nears deal to invest in Didi's self-driving unit: The Information

FILE PHOTO: The logo of SoftBank Group Corp is displayed at SoftBank World 2017 conference in Tokyo

(Reuters) - SoftBank Group Corp is close to finalizing a deal to lead a $300 million investment in the autonomous driving unit of Didi Chuxing, news website The Information reported on Monday, citing people with knowledge of the situation. (https://bit.ly/2WJkHFD)

Earlier on Monday, SoftBank said it plans to raise as much as $41 billion to buy back shares and reduce debt, in an unprecedented move to restore investor confidence as a financial market rout pummels its shares and its portfolio companies.


(Reporting by Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

  • COVID-19 in Canada: 'Do not estimate the severity of this disease'
    News
    Yahoo News Canada

    COVID-19 in Canada: 'Do not estimate the severity of this disease'

    As cases of COVID-19 continue to spread around the world, Canadians seem to be increasingly concerned about their health and safety.

  • News
    The Canadian Press

    Ontario NDP calls for financial support for renters and making evictions illegal

    NDP leader Andrea Horwath is calling on the Ontario government to help tenants who can't pay rent during the COVID-19 pandemic.Horwath says in a statement that her party wants Premier Doug Ford to provide direct financial support to households so they can make rent and make it illegal to evict a tenant during the public health crisis.There is currently an effective ban on evictions in Ontario as the Landlord and Tenant Board has suspended all hearings for the duration of the novel coronavirus outbreak.As rent comes due on April 1, landlord and tenant associations across Canada have been calling for some kind of relief package from provincial, territorial and federal governments.An unprecedented number of people have been laid off across the country as governments have forced non-essential businesses to close over the past week.In a news conference Thursday, Ford urged anyone who can pay rent to do so, while promising those who can't that they will not be evicted.This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 27, 2020.The Canadian Press

  • LCBO employee tests positive for COVID-19 as Ontario's tally climbs to 993
    News
    CBC

    LCBO employee tests positive for COVID-19 as Ontario's tally climbs to 993

    An LCBO employee has tested positive for COVID-19, it was announced late Friday, as Ontario confirmed 135 new cases, including three deaths linked to the illness.The new cases bring the provincial tally to 993, which include a Toronto police officer, a TTC employee and four people in the city's shelter system.So far, the province has seen 18 deaths, while eight cases considered resolved. One of the new deaths includes a woman in her 80s from York Region.On Friday night, the LCBO said an employee at its 1115 Lodestar Road location (at Allen Road and Rimrock Road in Toronto) tested positive for COVID-19 — marking the first confirmed case for the company."The last shift worked in the store by this employee was on Friday, March 20," LCBO said in a statement, adding that it's monitoring this situation very closely and putting systems in place to help support the affected worker."When we were informed of this news last night, we took action by closing the store, connecting with all employees, and connecting with Toronto Public Health," the statement reads.LCBO said the Lodestar Road location remains closed until further notice.   Some 41,032 people have been approved for testing province-wide.Chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams said the province has started to make progress on a backlog of pending test results. The number dropped for the first time Friday, from nearly 11,000 to just over 10,000.60 hospitalized, of which 32 on ventilatorsSome 10,074 people are awaiting test results, 891 fewer tests than were pending as of Thursday evening.Health officials said that with more lab testing sites opening and more reagent — the chemical substance needed for testing — on the way, they hope that number continues to drop. The hope is for Ontario to do 5,000 tests a day by the end of the weekend.The province briefly uploaded details about many of the new cases online, but quickly replaced it with a message saying that "information for all cases today is pending."No new cases were reported as of Friday 5:30 p.m. Sixty of the province's confirmed COVID-19 patients are hospitalized, said Ontario's associate chief medical officer of health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe at a news conference on Friday. Of those cases, 43 are in intensive care units, and of those 32 are on ventilators.Ontarians received emergency alerts on their cellphones, radios and TVs at 2 p.m. Friday, warning recent travellers to stay at home."TRAVELLERS RETURNING TO ONTARIO You are at high risk of spreading COVID-19," the alert will read. "You are required by law to self-isolate for 14 days. DO NOT visit stores, family or friends. Everyone should stay home to stop the spread," the alert read.'Please stay at home,' says premierPremier Doug Ford said the alert is meant to keep public informed, especially those who are returning to Canada and may not have had access to the news coming out of the country or province."When people are away they may not be able to hear the news. When they come home, we're telling them it's not business as usual. Please stay at home," Ford said at a news conference on Friday.The federal government recently passed an order requiring people arriving in Canada by land, air or sea, to self-isolate for 14 days, with penalties of up to $1 million or three years in prison.With so many Canadians returning home from abroad recently, Dr. Williams, said last week and this week are both a "critical" time for everyone to keep practising social distancing. "After a number of days some people would say, 'I guess it's not a big deal,'" Williams said of the self-isolation orders returning Canadians must undergo. "[The emergency alert was] a good way to remind the public to stay the course ... sometimes we all need those prompters."How have you been affected by the coronavirus? Let us know by emailing covid@cbc.ca, and include 'personal story' in your subject line.1st case of community spread in NiagaraOn Friday, Niagara region reported its first case of community spread: a man in his 30s with no travel history who tested positive for COVID-19."We believe this infection was due to community exposure within Ontario," said Dr. Mustafa Hirji, acting medical officer of health at Niagara Region Public Health and Emergency Services in a statement issued Friday.The man is a staff member at Saint Francis Catholic Secondary School who worked while he was infectious."Public Health has recommended that the school community monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms for the next 14 days," the statement continued, adding the man is now home in self-isolation.Staff and students at the school have been notified.Oshawa grocery store employee diesKeith Saunders, the employee at an Oshawa Real Canadian Superstore who tested positive for COVID-19, has died.The 48-year-old Bowmanville man is Durham region's third death connected to COVID-19, and the 39th in Canada. He died in hospital Wednesday.Saunders was in his late 40s and had not travelled outside the country.His wife, Katy Saunders, called Saunders her "soul mate and angel."In a Facebook post, she wrote that she's doing her "best to try and navigate this nightmare."The Gibb Street store's Facebook page reads Saunders was last in the store on March 16. Durham Public Health says the risk to customers is very low.LCBO installing barriers at check-out, union saysMeanwhile, the union that represents LCBO workers says the provincial alcohol retailer has agreed to install Plexiglass barriers at check-out counters to better protect staff during the COVID-19 outbreak. The Ontario Public Sector Employees Union (OPSEU) said in a statement that the LCBO will also committed to limiting the number of customers in any location at a given time and provide security guards to enforce the cap."If the LCBO is going to stay open, it must put in place any and all measures necessary to keep workers and the public safe," said OPSEU President Smokey Thomas."We respect the decision to stay open to help a vulnerable population, however we want to ensure all the necessary precautions are implemented to protect our workers and the public."The LCBO was deemed an essential business by the provincial government earlier this week and will keep its doors open as many other retailers in Ontario shut down for two weeks in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.2 more GTA grocery store employees test positiveThe Longo's grocery chain reported that one of its store employees, as well as a driver from its Grocery Gateway delivery division, have tested positive for COVID-19.The store employee worked at the company's Weston Road location in Woodbridge. The location has been closed until Saturday, March 28."It is slated to re-open in the morning after a full investigation of the situation and after the implementation of appropriate measures based on the advice and guidance of public health," said a spokesperson for Longo's in an email to CBC Toronto.Further, the company said it has sent an email to all customers who may have had contact with the Grocery Gateway driver in the last 14 days."Health authorities continue to advise us that the risk of grocery delivery remains low," Longo's said in a statement.At the news conference on Friday Premier Ford called grocery store employees "unsung heroes." "We need to thank the person at the cash register and the person stocking the shelves. I just want to thank them, thank them for their service," he said. NDP leader calls on Ford government to help tenantsNDP leader Andrea Horwath is calling on the Ontario government to help tenants who can't pay rent during the COVID-19 pandemic.Horwath says in a statement that her party wants Premier Doug Ford to provide direct financial support to households so they can make rent and make it illegal to evict a tenant during the public health crisis.There is currently an effective ban on evictions in Ontario as the Landlord and Tenant Board has suspended all hearings  for the duration of the novel coronavirus outbreak.As rent comes due on April 1, landlord and tenant associations across Canada have been calling for some kind of relief package from provincial, territorial and federal governments.An unprecedented number of people have been laid off across the country as governments have forced non-essential businesses to close over the past week.In a news conference Thursday, Ford urged anyone who can pay rent to do so, while promising those who can't that they will not be evicted.Toronto health-care worker makes tough choiceMarci Halls, a cardiac technologist at a Toronto hospital, spoke to CBC News Friday morning about her decision to send her young son to live with this grandparents in London, Ont., during the COVID-19 outbreak."Being a single mom and coming to work, it gets really hard to keep your child safe," she told News Network. "We run the risk, every time we leave for work, of bringing the virus back home."Halls documented her last day at home with her son in a series of Instagram posts."It was easily the hardest day of my life," she said. "It's just him and I so much. Not knowing when I'll get to physically touch him again was just devastating."Watch: Marci Halls explains why she sent her son away during the COVID-19 outbreakHalls said she hopes that her videos and posts will help the public understand the sacrifices that health-care workers are making, and encourage people to stay at home and take the outbreak seriously."There are so, so many major sacrifices being made every day by so many people on so many levels."Restaurant industry calls for helpCanadian restaurant owners and food service workers have started a campaign called OneTable in an effort to secure federal support.The group is calling for immediate financial relief, protection from being locked out of their locations by landlords and help to reopen and rehire employees once anti-coronavirus measures are eased.It has also posted guides for restaurant and franchise owners, as well as others in the industry, who may have questions about how to handle the unprecedented circumstances.Watch: Restaurants owners and chefs plea for federal financial supportMore long-term care home deathsThe Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit says two members of a long-term care home have died after developing symptoms following a COVID-19 outbreak.One resident died Tuesday and another on Wednesday at the Pinecrest Nursing Home.The two who died were not tested for COVID-19.The deaths came after three residents tested positive on March 20.Fourteen staff members were confirmed to have tested positive as of Thursday, while four have had negative results and 16 are still waiting.Thirty-three other people at the home have developed symptoms.Dr. Lynn Noseworthy, the medical officer of health for the unit, calls it the largest COVID-19 outbreak in the province."This outbreak of COVID-19 is currently the largest outbreak in the province and really brings home how devastating and deadly this virus can be for older people in our communities," Noseworthy said in a statement.Various procedures to try to stop the spread were implemented once the outbreak was confirmed, "but given the incubation period of the virus, many staff and residents were probably already infected," Noseworthy said.

  • Sask. Health Authority CEO says he knows 'for a fact' staff involved in stealing masks, gloves from hospitals
    News
    CBC

    Sask. Health Authority CEO says he knows 'for a fact' staff involved in stealing masks, gloves from hospitals

    Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingstone said Friday he knows "for a fact" workers have been involved in thefts of surgical masks and other protective equipment from hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic."It could be patients, it could be physicians, it could be anybody who comes into our facilities … we [had] open carts and open cupboards with this type of equipment in it — we don't have that any longer and it's locked down," said health authority CEO Scott Livingstone. "But yeah, I am saying that people who work for the SHA have removed [personal protective equipment] from our facilities." Masks, gowns and gloves are among the items whose stocks have been depleted, Livingstone said.No staff have been disciplined as a result of the alleged thefts, he said. Members of the Service Employees' International Union (SEIU) West, which represents about 11,000 health-care professionals in the province, received a memo this week from the Saskatchewan Health Authority regarding stolen supplies."The vast majority of the people that work for SHA are coming to work each and every day to care for our patients and care about the safety of those they work with and themselves," Livingstone said Friday."We do know that [personal protective equipment] has disappeared from the SHA through our employees and other people who work in our facilities, and for those folks the memo was very clear ... if that PPE isn't available when people need it to properly care for COVID-19 patients, they're putting people's lives at risk and that's why that memo was sent out."Union president Barbara Cape said she wasn't pleased with the memo's tone and lack of detail, but that she's more concerned that protective equipment is going missing."If those supplies go missing, it is my members who are without supplies, who need them the most," said Cape.The memo did not specify where the thefts happened or who specifically was responsible, but said the authority was investigating."As inconceivable as it is, we have confirmed there are public, staff, physicians and/or volunteers removing these supplies from SHA facilities for personal use/gain," read Livingtone's memo."These actions could cost lives in future phases of COVID-19. These individuals have endangered their colleagues, themselves and our patients and families."Meanwhile, a speech language pathologist at the Saskatchewan Health Authority is trying to organize donations of critical equipment like N95 respirator masks to help with any shortages.Jennifer Cameron-Turley said the N95 masks seem to be in short supply and was told staff have now started locking them up after they began to disappear.As someone who regularly works near people's mouths, Cameron-Turley said it's very important that everyone has the correct gear to stay safe."If you don't have the proper equipment, you're putting yourself at risk or you're putting the patient at risk which is a terrible position to be in," said Cameron-Turley.Cape said there was a general shortage of protective equipment across the entire health care system, including extended care homes."They're being sort of rationed out in home care, in long-term care," she said."We're getting ready for the surge. At what point do we start behaving in a way that shows that we are taking this seriously?"On Tuesday, the health authority said it would accept donations of unopened, sealed boxes of non-latex gloves, disposable gowns and masks.It asked that donations not be made directly to health facilities, but at drop-off points, which would be announced in the next few days.Equipment issuesIn an emailed response, the authority is trying to get as much personal protective equipment as possible.The SHA has placed a $4.1 million order for masks and other equipment, but said it had to have contingency plans in place due to extremely high global demand.Other than donations, it's also asking for 3D printing of medical equipment "and any other viable measure."The authority also stressed the proper use of medical equipment, including using N95 respirators only during certain procedures.Donations of cloth masks and gowns would not be accepted.Two weeks ago, the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses spoke out about a general shortage of N95 respirators, which are believed to do a better job of blocking the COVID-19 virus than other masks.Full text of CEO Scott Livingstone's memo:All Saskatchewan Health Authority staff, physicians and volunteers,As the entire SHA works together to provide leadership and stewardship across all portfolios to contain, delay and mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical we take the actions necessary to save lives.The vast majority of health care providers are coming together to do just that. However, I regret to inform you of significant issues facing our efforts to protect ourselves, our patients and our families.Over the past two weeks, there has been a significant increase in the ordering of critical COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supplies (masks, gowns, shields etc.), unrelated to the current clinical demand for these supplies and their appropriate use.As inconceivable as it is, we have confirmed there are public, staff, physicians and/or volunteers removing these supplies from SHA facilities for personal use/gain. These actions could cost lives in future phases of COVID-19. These individuals have endangered their colleagues, themselves and our patients and families.The ability of the SHA to protect our teams and the citizens of this province is dependent on having the right supplies at the right place at the right time. Misuse or theft of supplies by anyone endangers lives.The ongoing central monitoring and triaging of all supply requests will continue and we will be investigating these losses to identify the specific areas and individuals involved.Despite these unfortunate incidents, we know the vast majority of our teams are putting our values into action and making sacrifices to serve Saskatchewan people during this challenging time. Please accept my sincerest gratitude for your efforts.Sincerely,Scott LivingstoneCEO, Saskatchewan Health Authority

  • News
    CBC

    N.S. gas prices dip below 70 cents a litre

    Gas prices in Nova Scotia have dropped again, hitting their lowest point in more than 14 years.The province's gas regulator dropped prices by about seven cents Friday morning across Nova Scotia. This is the fifth big price drop in just three weeks. Before now, prices hadn't been so low since before 2006.In Halifax, the minimum price of regular self-serve gas fell to 64.1 cents a litre, dropping from 71.6 cents a litre, according to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.People in Lunenburg County, Kings County, and part of Annapolis County, can expect to pay 64.6 cents a litre, down from 72.2 cents a litre.Yarmouth County, Shelburne County, Digby County, Queens County and part of Annapolis County will now pay 65.1 cents a litre instead of  72.7 cents.Prices in Cumberland County, Guysborough County, Pictou County, Colchester County and Antigonish County dropped from 72.8 cents a litre to 65.2 cents.The new price in Cape Breton is 66 cents a litre, down from 73.6 cents a litre.Diesel rose slightly to 84 cents a litre in Halifax on Friday, up from 82.8 cents.Gas prices in Nova Scotia have dropped significantly in the last three weeks. Prices normally change first thing Friday, but on March 11 and March 17, the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board used an interrupter mechanism to change the prices. Prices dropped again last Friday.Oil prices have plummeted globally, triggered by an oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia and fears the spread of COVID-19 could lead to a global recession.  MORE TOP STORIES:

  • What N.W.T. businesses say they actually need — from rent deferral to local cash flow
    News
    CBC

    What N.W.T. businesses say they actually need — from rent deferral to local cash flow

    When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and territorial leaders separately announced millions of dollars in economic relief for businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, many in the North jumped at the help.In the Northwest Territories, the main relief came in the form of a new loan program from the Business Development and Investment Fund. Businesses could apply for low-interest loans meant to help them stay afloat and cover their costs after being forced to close their doors or significantly downgrade operations.While some say the loan programs are a start, they say they need much, much more to keep their businesses from going under.Many businesses have had to lay off the majority of their staff and say they don't know how they are going to pay the bills.CBC North spoke to people from 11 businesses and business interest groups from Yellowknife to Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T. — from restaurants, gyms, salons, retails stores to construction companies. Here's what they say they need.Rent deferralAlmost every small business owner CBC spoke to, who rents space, said being able to make rent is their number one concern. Most have had to close their doors, meaning they're bringing in no revenue for several weeks."That's the biggest thing for us, rent deferral. That's my biggest concern," said Krista Rusk, co-owner of North of 60 Massage, which rents space in a downtown Yellowknife building. If the people who are working start hoarding their cash, that will also create problems. \- Niels Konge, Konge Construction Ltd.Some of the small businesses CBC spoke to are facing monthly rents of more than $6,000 while bringing in no income. Being able to make those payments at a later date, once their doors are back open, is essential for many businesses to be able to keep afloat.But who would pay for the costs associated with rent deferral?Last week, the federal government announced that it's worked with Canada's largest banks to give homeowners the option to postpone mortgages for up to six months if they're affected by the COVID-19 crisis. The problem for many landlords is that the majority of the banks won't offer mortgage deferral if the property is not the landlord's primary residence. That means landlords are still on the hook for their April and May mortgage payments.The federal or territorial governments haven't announced any aid directly attached to rental units or renters.Some advocacy groups in southern Canada say the federal, provincial and territorial governments should be providing funding to landlords so they can pass that relief on to tenants.Investments in infrastructure and capital projectsLarger companies that work in construction or the resource development industry say it'll be crucial to be able to bid and work on infrastructure projects after the COVID-19 pandemic is over."What would really be good is if the feds or [territorial government] came up with some money to put infrastructure in," said Merven Gruben, vice-president and co-owner of E. Gruben's Transport Ltd."Get some projects going. Get the economy and people back up. That's the quickest they can get going right away."While Gruben said his company is managing, he works with subcontractors who have seen major jobs they rely on get shelved. Approving projects, so those companies could have work immediately after the crisis, would mean these companies could stay in business, Gruben said.Got a job? Spend your money locallyWhile N.W.T. businesses are anxious to see what other relief plans governments will be rolling out in the coming weeks, some say it's not just up to governments.If you still have work, you have a role, too, said Niels Konge, president of Konge Construction Ltd."The people whose jobs are not affected — government workers, health-care workers who are being worked to the bone right now — those people, through this and at the end of this, have an obligation to ensure that they are spending locally," Konge said. "Just like people are hoarding toilet paper, that creates problems. If the people who are working start hoarding their cash, that will also create problems."

  • Theatrical actors and directors isolated by COVID-19 produce novel online plays
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Theatrical actors and directors isolated by COVID-19 produce novel online plays

    HALIFAX — The online theatrical piece starts in a faraway forest, moves across a parched desert, roiling seas and towering mountains before ending with a savage battle involving a furry beast.Not bad for a production that spans five minutes.The video, titled "The Big Little Adventures of Beebee and Russel," is one of 18 short plays recently adapted for small screens by theatrical writers, directors and actors from across Canada — all of them forced into isolation by the COVID-19 pandemic.The brief videos in the Isolate Nights series, produced over five days earlier this month, were released Saturday on the Villains Theatre website."We wanted to do it on a quick timeline because a lot of people had just lost their theatre contracts and were grappling with that first wave of: 'What do we do now?'" said Colleen MacIsaac, artistic producer of the Halifax-based non-profit theatre company."Across all of the art forms, people are trying to figure out ways to help each other .... Theatre is such a gig-based economy."Given the tight deadline and the fact that most of the 70 participating actors and directors were stuck in their homes, the resulting two-hour compilation of new work reflects remarkable ingenuity."The Big Little Adventures of Beebee and Russel," for example, features two stuffed animals — Beebee the bear and Russel the platypus — who begin their epic adventure in a forest made from stacked canned goods. The ocean is a blue blanket, the mountains are piles of books and the evil beast is Bjorne, a piebald house cat.After Bjorne is vanquished by the "spray gun of redemption," we see two of the four creators giving us the thumbs up before a final message appears: "Sending love from isolation.""It's very adorable," says MacIsaac, referring to the whimsical tale created by Kirsten Bruce, Christian Ludwig Hansen, Adriana Loewen and Ella MacDonald.Most of the pieces are full of fun and mischief, some are just bizarre — but they all share the same theme: connection."It really is indicative of a tendency toward hope and joy and finding humour in dark times," MacIsaac said. "That's something we all need right now."One of the works, "Perdita" by Brandon Lorimer, shows six characters in limbo on a Zoom video-conference call. Satan makes a cameo appearance."Stoop" by Dan Bray features actor Susan Coyne talking to her neighbour — with appropriate social distancing at the doorstep — about an insidious plot by another neighbour to smear nearby homes with dog poop."What kind of sick person would do that?" Coyne asks as her out-of-frame pooch silently defecates at her feet — twice.And then there's "The Virtual Remedy," by Jesse Harley, a video blog from a lonely man seeking a first date after growing up in a bunker that shielded him from a nuclear war. Despite the unsettling subject — and the obvious parallels to the COVID-19 crisis — the ending contains a hilarious twist."People have been really excited by the idea, and we've gotten a lot of feedback from those who were happy to see the plays, " says MacIsaac, adding that one of the plays was produced in Australia.To help artists who have lost work to the pandemic, the website includes a donate button, and all of the proceeds go to the participating artists."This is one way of many that will spring up over the coming months for artists who have been impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic to get together and create," the theatre company's website says."For those in live art forms that rely on people being able to be in the same room, the current state of the world has made it near-impossible to practise our art. So, we are finding new ways."This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 27, 2020.Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press

  • Clergy of St. John's Archdiocese no longer presiding at public funerals
    News
    CBC

    Clergy of St. John's Archdiocese no longer presiding at public funerals

    There are changes to how some Roman Catholic funeral services are now taking place, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic — clergy, for example, won't attend public funerals for the foreseeable future.Archbishop Peter Hundt sent a letter Monday to the Archdiocese of St. John's outlining the new directives, to take further precautions against the spread of the coronavirus.That archdiocese includes parishes in the greater St. John's area, the southern Avalon Peninsula, and the Burin Peninsula. "Until future notice, due to the severe threat presented by the COVID-19 virus, the clergy of the Archdiocese are not to preside at funeral liturgies in our churches or in funeral homes," the letter reads.    Hundt's letter states that clergy are, for the time being, allowed to preside at graveside prayer services with the immediate family members of the deceased, while keeping within government regulations of gathering size and social distancing.They are also encouraged to still be available by phone for grief and bereavement counselling, as well as to help mourners plan the celebrations of a person's life for a later date, when it's deemed safe."I realize that these are extraordinary measures, but given the present circumstances and concerns regarding the spreading of the coronavirus, they are measures that seem prudent and wise," Hundt wrote.'Trying to accommodate people'Father Paul Lundrigan is the parish priest of Holy Trinity, St. Agnes and St. Michael's churches, which covers the area of Pouch Cove to Torbay.He is currently in self-isolation, after presiding over a funeral service at Caul's Funeral Home in St. John's on March 16.He said the archbishop's letter was sent around the same time news broke that someone who was at the funeral home during that time had tested positive for coronavirus.The funeral home has since been linked to 44 cases of COVID-19.Lundrigan said funerals have become a difficult issue of public safety, since the province has placed a cap on gatherings of 10 people. "How can you say to a family, 'Choose the 10 closest people to this [deceased] person'?" he said."It's an awful thing to say to people. And even with 10 in the chapel … if everybody's huddled together in the front, it is still a dangerous situation for the spread of disease."Lundrigan said a couple of churches are looking into livestreams for funeral services."Family can be at home and watch a service with seven or eight immediate family in attendance, and then the rest can watch online, and then [they'll] have another celebration later," he explained.While clergy will attend graveside if there's an immediate burial, Lundrigan said there's an advantage to cremations — because it gives people more time to grieve."Some families like to bring the urn home with them to have the presence of that person with them. Others prefer to leave it at the funeral home and wait until they're all going to gather together. But they have the value of extra time to help them with that," he said."So we're hoping that we will be able to accommodate people and have true celebrations with all the family and all their friends when it's more conducive to good health to be able to do that."Lundrigan said the archbishop's directives were necessary to deal with the current reality."We're in unprecedented times, and everyone is sort of flying by the seat of their pants. And every day, not just our provincial government, but governments around the world are coming out with new suggestions, new rules, new guidelines, new laws to help us to get through this," he said. "This is just one of the ways that we're trying to help to accommodate people as best [as] we can."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Head of 811 says anyone referred for a COVID-19 assessment will be tested
    News
    CBC

    Head of 811 says anyone referred for a COVID-19 assessment will be tested

    The head of 811 in Nova Scotia says everyone who is referred to a COVID-19 assessment site will now be tested for the virus."Anyone who is sent by 811 will be screened regardless of the secondary screening," said Dr. Todd Howlett, medical director of 811 for Nova Scotia. "So we hope to correct the frustration that we're seeing in the media."Howlett said the 811 service is evolving rapidly to meet the challenges posed by the pandemic. Response to frustrationCBC News reported on a complaint from Toni Losey of Dartmouth, who broke her self-isolation after a referral by 811 to one of the province's COVID-19 testing sites. When she arrived, she was told she didn't qualify for a swab. Howlett said there are many explanations for the apparent contradiction. "One of the questions might be, 'Are you having a fever?' and the person might not have a thermometer at home. So they have a presumed fever, are sent to a site, and the site checks the temperature and says, 'You don't have a fever, so we're not going to swab you,' and then send them home." Howlett said he's sympathetic to how that must feel. "You can imagine how frustrating that is, right?"He said the new policy of swabbing everyone who is referred for a COVID-19 test will eliminate these issues. Nurses answer the callHowlett said 811 has doubled its staff and expanded its office space to handle a call volume four times higher than normal. "I can't say enough good things about the staff there," Howlett said."They've been working around the clock — some of the most tired people I've seen, and working heroically."  Howlett said he's been moved by how many nurses are volunteering to work under such difficult conditions. "One of the bright lights of this story is there's been a huge number of nurses that have reached out to 811 to offer their services and we're onboarding them very quickly," he said. Opportunity for medical studentsHowlett said third-year and fourth-year medical students are also being trained to screen patients calling 811. They'll also assess provincial health-care staff who report possible exposure to COVID-19. Michael Mackley, the co-president of third-year medical students at Dalhousie University, said his classmates responded immediately. "We had over 100 students reply within hours of the ask," he said. Mackley said it's good to be able to contribute after a week at home following the cancellations of classes. "I hate to call it exciting, because obviously it's quite tragic what the country is going through right now," he said. "But certainly we're very grateful that we get to be able to play a role in some way."He said medical students may eventually receive academic credit for their 811 experience, but that's not important right now. "I think people are looking forward to helping and also learning," he said. "This is a new experience for everyone."MORE TOP STORIES

  • Mexican president's poll ratings hit record low in coronavirus crisis
    News
    Reuters

    Mexican president's poll ratings hit record low in coronavirus crisis

    Support for Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has fallen below 50% for the first time, hit by criticism of his response to the coronavirus crisis, public security concerns and a struggling economy, a daily tracking poll showed on Friday. The survey, by polling firm Consulta Mitofsky for newspaper El Economista, showed that Lopez Obrador's approval rating had dropped to 49.6% from 50.1% a day earlier. Roy Campos, the head of Mitofsky, said the coronavirus pandemic was "seriously affecting" support for Lopez Obrador, as was concern over the economic outlook.

  • Food banks under pressure to meet demand during pandemic
    CBC

    Food banks under pressure to meet demand during pandemic

    Food banks and other parts of the charitable sector are appealing for help from Canadians and from governments as demand spikes during the coronavirus pandemic. 

  • News
    CBC

    'My whole life, my whole savings': Thieves make off with Plateau jewelry store's 2 safes

    A Montreal jewelry store owner is sounding the alarm after thieves made off with his two safes.The burglary happened overnight this week, and the owner believes the COVID-19 pandemic makes closed-down stores an easy target.When Edward Nunes checked the security camera feed of his jewelry store Monday night, everything seemed normal.But when he checked again the next morning, he knew something was wrong.The camera in the back of the store had been covered.When Nunes arrived at Bijouterie Rosas on St-Laurent Boulevard, he found a large hole in one of his walls and his two safes were gone."There was my diamonds, there was precious stones. There was my whole life, my whole savings. My everything," he said.Alarm system never went offHow the robbers got away with it is a mystery.The wall that was broken through connects to a restaurant next door, and Nunes says his alarm system never went off.And then there's the question of how the safes were swiped."Each weighs about a ton and a half. I don't understand how they were able to move that in three hours or so. You have to have major equipment? I don't know," Nunes said.With businesses shut down because of COVID-19, Nunes said he believes thieves may become more active and burglarize more properties.As police investigate, Nunes is warning other business owners with valuables in their stores to take extra precautions.Police ask for public's helpMontreal police spokesperson Insp. André Durocher said that since many businesses are closed, everybody should use caution — ensuring their properties and valuables are secure.He recommends asking friends or family that live nearby to keep an eye on the property. He said people should leave the lights on so people can see inside.Durocher said residents can also help by keeping an eye out for each other and nearby properties."It is not the full responsibility of the police department. At times like we are going through right now, it is the responsibility of each and every one of us," he said.Regardless, he said it is premature to assume the recent order to shut businesses for three weeks is going to lead to more criminal activity or less security.There have been five business break-ins on the "whole Island of Montreal" since non-essential businesses were ordered closed on Monday, he said.Neighbourhood stations are co-ordinating patrols as needed, he said, and the force's emphasis has been on putting officers out on the streets, working to keep the community safe.

  • McDonald's employee charged after faking COVID-19, forcing restaurant to close
    News
    The Canadian Press

    McDonald's employee charged after faking COVID-19, forcing restaurant to close

    Hamilton police say they've charged a teenage fast-food employee after she allegedly faked a doctor's note saying she had COVID-19.Police say the 18-year-old woman worked at a McDonald's, which was immediately forced to close on Monday and send all its employees home to self-isolate.Investigators say the restaurant was closed for several days and sanitized by a professional cleaning team.The restaurant notified police about the faked note and officers arrested the woman Thursday.She's facing multiple charges including mischief over $5000, fraud over $5000 and making and using a forged document.Police say the teen is scheduled to appear in court in May.This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 27, 2020The Canadian Press

  • News
    CBC

    'Incredible effort': Halifax Transit avoids anticipated bus service delays

    After asking bus passengers to find another way to get around on Friday due to expected delays, the municipality said it had avoided issues thanks to "incredible effort" from transit workers.Halifax Regional Municipality issued a release Thursday evening stating that transit's conventional bus service would be "significantly impacted" at the start of service Friday due to staff availability. "Riders should expect route delays and/or cancellations and are asked to make alternate plans if possible," the city said.Halifax Transit was expected to share route disruptions "as timely as possible" via their website and @hfxtransit on Twitter. However, just before 10 a.m., the city announced Friday's service had remained fully operational on a reduced schedule— "due to the incredible effort from Halifax Transit maintenance workers, operators, and the operations team."HRM spokesperson Maggie-Jane Spray said in an email that no service disruptions were anticipated for Friday afternoon, but the public would be notified if that changed.All ferry service continued as scheduled.Transit worker tested positive for COVID-19On Thursday, Halifax Transit confirmed one of its workers had tested positive for COVID-19. The employee worked at the Halifax Transit garage in the Burnside Industrial Park and the garage was closed for a period of time for thorough disinfection of the area.The director of Halifax Transit, Dave Reage, sent out a mass email Thursday saying public health officials indicated there is no risk to transit riders or the general public.In a statement, HRM said Public Health advised the garage could remain operational and staff who have not been contacted could report to work.  The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) has been expressing its concern for bus drivers during the outbreak of the virus and officials are trying to get more information on the positive test.Ken Wilson, ATU president, said Friday morning he had "no indication" that drivers were refusing to work.He suggested the more likely reason for the potential service disruptions was that buses at the Burnside garage hadn't yet been cleaned.MORE TOP STORIES

  • COVID confusion: B.C. lags behind other jurisdictions in setting post spring break education plans
    News
    CBC

    COVID confusion: B.C. lags behind other jurisdictions in setting post spring break education plans

    With the end of spring break looming on Monday, B.C. still hasn't revealed how students will continue their education as they and their parents struggle to deal with COVID-19 school shutdowns.On March 17, the B.C. government announced the suspension of in-class instruction in a bid to halt the spread of the virus. It's asking parents to check its website for updates on how public education will continue next week.The designated "frequently asked questions" page on the site says school districts have been asked to put learning opportunities in place for students "as soon as practically possible, no later than mid-April."And "principal updates" being sent to some parents state that while home learning plans continue to be developed, teachers will be contacting children by "April 3 or sooner."In contrast, Alberta and Washington state are far ahead of B.C.— each announcing clear educational plans and guidelines on March 20 and 23 respectively.Concerned B.C. parents say our province could take a lesson from our neighbours."I worry about parents panicking with little information to go on," said Krista Sigurdson of Vancouver.Sigurdson, 40, has two young boys — a six-year-old in Grade 1, a 10-year-old in Grade 5."And I worry about what a slow roll-out is going to mean," she says. "Any mention of a date in April ... is very late."'Taking a measured approach'B.C.'s Ministry of Education says, in effect, it's working on it.And it says plans have yet to be finalized because school districts have been on spring break."(They) will be engaged in planning as soon as they return from their scheduled breaks — though many school districts have already begun," the ministry wrote in an email to CBC News.The Vancouver School Board says it's "taking a measured approach" and "working hard to plan for students' needs," noting "we have taken the time necessary to be thoughtful in our decisions,"— and it asks for patience.A message sent to school-based staff on Wednesday stated principals and vice-principals would have an online meeting Thursday to continue planning for March 30, with a staff update to be sent out Friday.Krista Sigurdson says that's not good enough."This sort of idea that there's been people on vacation is not entirely genuine because people could see what's happening," she says, "so to be honest that explanation is hard to wrap my head around."Alberta ahead of the gameCompare B.C.'s approach to that of our provincial neighbour.In Alberta, the education ministry clearly set out a game plan 10 days before most students there were set to resume their education.It spelled out specific goals: Teachers will be required to assign a set number of hours of work per student each week.Kindergarten to Grade 6 students will be given an average of five hours each week and teachers "must work with students and parents to deliver these materials."Grades 7 to 9 will be assigned 10 hours of work per week and Grades 10 to 12 will receive approximately 18 hours of work."Learning continues to be teacher-directed", said Colin Aitchinson, a spokesperson for Alberta's minister of education. "This can include the development of paper course packages, telephone check-ins or online learning."Washington's 'flexible instruction'Washington state has issued similar guidelines.Teachers there have been told they must "set goals using knowledge of each student, deliver "flexible instruction," including printed materials, phone contacts, email, technology-based virtual instruction or a combination" to meet diverse student needs.And teachers must also "engage families" and provide translations as necessary, since parents are considered "critical partners."Washington state was one of the initial COVID-19 hotspots in North America, with a rash of deaths in a Puget Sound care home.As a result, the state took the lead on how to provide schooling during the pandemic crisis.'Guardrails' set-up for U.S. educatorsThe strategy was co-authored by Dr. Michaela Miller, the state's deputy superintendent of public instruction.Miller says "guardrails" were needed so Washington school districts knew early on how to proceed.She's careful not to criticize B.C.'s slower response."My hat's off to everybody that is really grappling with these issues at a state level right now or a provincial level," she said.'Sense of distrust'Krista Sigurdson is a little less forgiving.While Alberta and Washington have clearly put the onus on teachers to contact students and formulate remote education plans, she says B.C. has been keeping parents in the dark."I'm concerned about my family having to accomplish some sort of home schooling ... that isn't tailored to their particular needs," she said.And that uncertainty has eroded her confidence in B.C. school officials."This sort of sense of distrust with powers that be, it's is very very, very unfortunate," she said. CBC Vancouver's Impact Team investigates and reports on stories that impact people in their local community and strives to hold individuals, institutions and organizations to account. If you have a story for us, email impact@cbc.ca.

  • China gives chilly response to request for U.S. journalists to remain in country
    News
    Reuters

    China gives chilly response to request for U.S. journalists to remain in country

    China hit out at what it called "biased" reporting on Friday in a frosty response to a request by three major U.S. newspapers to reverse the expulsion of several of their China-based journalists. China announced on March 18 it was revoking the press accreditations of all American journalists in the China bureaus of the New York Times (NYT.N), Wall Street Journal (NWSA.O) and Washington Post, which were due to expire at the end of 2020. In an open letter published earlier this week, the three publishers urged China to reconsider the move, saying it was "uniquely damaging and reckless" at a time when the world is sharing the burden of fighting the coronavirus.

  • News
    CBC

    Vets practicing 'curbside veterinary medicine' for animals during the COVID-19 outbreak

    Veterinarians are considered essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic but they still need to ensure they're staying safe and not getting sick."A lot of veterinarians are certainly choosing to kind of scale back the services they're providing right now," said Kent Weir, president of the Saskatchewan Veterinary Medical Association.Another way vets are protecting themselves is by doing "curbside veterinary medicine," where they'll chat with owners on the phone about the problem and then go outside to get the pet from the owner's car.This curbside approach helps them minimize interaction and lower the number of people in the clinic.Many vets are also limiting the types of procedures they do that require protective gear."The personal protective equipment — masks, gloves, those kinds of things — are really, really in short supply right now nationwide and globally even," Weir told The Afternoon Edition.He said vets are still making calls to farms, though."In those situations, I'm typically interacting with one other person, maybe two other people. There's nobody else around for literally miles and miles and miles."Can viruses be passed on through pets?There's no research to suggest that pets can get sick from the COVID-19 virus but Weir said they might be able to carry it in their fur.He says pets might act like fomites — objects that can carry an infection, like doorknobs, telephones or debit machines."If I were to be infected with COVID-19, sneeze on my dog and then you start nuzzling up to my dog and kissing it all that sort of thing, you are definitely at risk of contracting the virus," he said.

  • News
    CBC

    Flooding possible in Newfoundland, while Labrador grapples with more snow

    Heavy rainfall and high winds could bring flooding and damage to much of the island on Friday, while as much as 45 cm of snow could fall in parts of Labrador.Everywhere along the southern part of the island — from Port aux Basques to St. John's — can expect up to 25 mm of rain along with wind gusts topping 100 km/hr.The bulk of the province is under some type of weather warning from Environment Canada."It's everywhere," said meteorologist Wanda Batten. "We've got warnings out from Nain to Goose Bay and across the entire island."The heavy rain along with an easterly wind could cause a significant amount of snow to melt, which Environment Canada warns could cause flooding in low-lying areas."It's going to be a wet and windy one," Batten said.The precipitation will be a little fluffier from Buchans to the eastern side of the Northern Peninsula, where 15-20 cm of snow is forecast.Central Labrador will see a significant snowfall, with amounts predicted between 25 and 40 cm. The south coast will see a little less snow, while the north coast is under a blizzard warning and could receive as much as 45 cm.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Calgary to reduce lanes on some roads to help walkers, cyclists keep their distance during COVID-19 pandemic
    News
    CBC

    Calgary to reduce lanes on some roads to help walkers, cyclists keep their distance during COVID-19 pandemic

    Getting outside is good, but getting too close — bad.Calgary's pathways and walks are filling up as people are desperate to go outside to relax and get exercise during the COVID-19 pandemic.At some pinch points, it's tough to give people space. So, the city is working on a plan to help free up more space for walking and cycling — but it's a tough balance to strike.During a press briefing Monday, Tom Sampson, chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, said seeing people outside is a positive — but folks fell flat on their ability to be socially distant on pathways and popular outdoor destinations."We need to be better than we are," Sampson said. "I saw large groups of people walking in tight bundles. And I know that it feels good because you're in the outdoors, but it's not … it shouldn't take me or it shouldn't take the premier, or the prime minister to tell you that."Mayor Naheed Nenshi echoed concerns. He said driving somewhere to take a walk is a no-no."That way we can avoid the overcrowding and some of our more popular places, or you get a chance to discover your neighbourhood a little bit more," Nenshi said on Monday.With that in mind, Calgary's roads department, in coordination with CEMA, have identified roads where lanes will be reduced with the hope this can give walkers, bikers and other modes more space to be outside, while maintaining social distance.Sections of Elbow Drive and Crowchild Trail will be part of this measure, among other popular walking spots in Calgary. However, this doesn't mean these spots should be considered good walking destinations. Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra said this is a tough balance to strike."We're making sure that we're not sending mixed messages and declaring, you know, like another Bow River Flow Festival … because that's exactly what we're trying to avoid."Danny Haines is one of the people advocating for this kind of move. He said it's hard to walk to a grocery store and maintain a comfortable distance from others using the city's sidewalks. "It's super important for us to be able to get out of our houses and enjoy the weather and also get to places like grocery stores," Haines said. "If you want to do that you've got to walk on the sidewalk and walking on the sidewalk is kind of tough when you need to stay two metres apart from other people that are out there."With the warmer weather approaching, Sean Carter, owner of Bike Bike in Inglewood, said he's seen roads empty out while pathways fill up."I've been hearing reports and seeing stuff on Twitter from customers as well that are saying they don't want to ride out in those areas because there's just too many people already," Carter said. "And it's not even warm out yet." Carra said places like New York have already shut down parks, and here in Calgary playgrounds have been taped off. So, this latest measure comes with its own caveat."If you don't use it properly, we're going to lose it because we have to make sure that we minimize social interactions and not contribute to this virus," Carra said.

  • Montreal declares local state of emergency over fears of COVID-19 outbreak among city's homeless
    News
    CBC

    Montreal declares local state of emergency over fears of COVID-19 outbreak among city's homeless

    * Quebec currently has 2,021 confirmed cases and 18 deaths attributable to COVID-19. * Five Montreal firefighters have tested positive for COVID-19 and are in self-isolation. * Catholic churches in Montreal will ring their bells for 10 minutes on Sundays until Easter to show support for front-line health care workers and to comfort the public.  * Bus company Orléans Express is temporarily halting intercity service, as of midnight Saturday.The City of Montreal has been empowered by the province to declare a local state of emergency in an effort to contain the further spread of COVID-19 among people living on the streets.That local state of emergency went into effect at 4 p.m.Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said Friday that the city is not under quarantine, but a local state of emergency had to be declared in order to respond to the looming crisis in the homeless community."Our homeless people need resources, and they need them now," she said."This sanitary crisis must not become a humanitarian one. That is why we are getting the necessary powers to act," said Plante."We have to make an effort to limit the spread within the community."The declaration of a local state of emergency gives the city the power to act quickly to take any measures it deems necessary.Under Section 42 of the provincial Civil Protection Act, a municipality may declare a local state of emergency, in all or part of its territory, when a major disaster, real or imminent, requires extraordinary measures to protect human life.It empowers local authorities to take "immediate action" that they normally would be unable to take "within the scope of its normal operating rules or of any applicable emergency preparedness plan," the act states.Plante stressed that this does not mean that all citizens are under quarantine."The city is not under lockdown, nor is it under quarantine. Not today. Not tomorrow," she said. "If it happens it will be done in a coherent and orderly way. We are not at that point at all."Plante said the city now has the power to take over private properties to shelter people and to order needed supplies or food quickly, as needed.Timing of March break played into crisis: LegaultA total of 18 Quebecers diagnosed with COVID-19 have died, Premier François Legault said earlier Friday in his daily briefing.The province is reporting 2,021 confirmed cases, with 141 people in hospital, including 50 people in intensive care.In Montreal, a total of 971 cases have been confirmed to date.Legault acknowledged Quebec has more cases than other provinces, explaining that schools in the province went on March break at "the worst possible time.""Right before we told people to stop travelling, we had many people who went on vacation," he said.Help on the way for low-wage essential workersThe premier also promised that no one who is working now and earning minimum wage will take home less than $2,000 monthly.He said Quebec will top up those wage earners' incomes, so that they won't be left in a position where they would get more money simply staying home, through other government initiatives announced to help those confined to their homes to help prevent the further spread of the virus.The details still have to be worked out, but Legault committed to getting it done."Don't worry," he said. "We will take care of you."In her announcement of the local state of emergency, Montreal's mayor said the city is planning new, temporary homeless shelters in the coming days, as well as more outdoor day centres to provide food and other essential services.Montreal's regional public health director, Dr. Mylène Drouin, said the former Royal Victoria Hospital is still being set up to be a safe place for the city's homeless to be housed if they are infected or suspect they are infected.She said it is no longer possible to have groups of people sleeping in one room, as is traditionally done in shelters. People need to be separated and fed, she said, and more details on how the city plans to do that will be released this weekend.Drouin said 46 per cent of the positive COVID-19 cases on the island of Montreal are related to travelling, but the coronavirus is spreading in the community, more in certain neighbourhoods than in others.She said spread of COVID-19 will continue to rise rapidly on the island in the coming days, stressing that people must continue isolating themselves."It's not just one neighbourhood. It is the entire island of Montreal that has to firmly apply these measures," said Drouin.Most people are respecting the stay-at-home orders, and most non-essential businesses are closed, she said. But some are not, and the city can no longer allow that to continue. "Our wish is not to have Montreal police to give tickets left, right and centre," said Drouin, but she said she is not ruling out mandating police to take stronger action. Stores selling non-essential items that remain open and people hosting gatherings in their homes could face fines.Don't come to your chalet this weekend: Laurentian mayorsThe mayors of Mont-Tremblant and nearby municipalities are asking people to stay home so that they don't see the same level of activity in the Laurentians that they witnessed last weekend.They are asking Montrealers feeling city-bound and people from neighbouring provinces to stay home. For those with a chalet in the area, local officials are asking them to choose one residence to live in for the duration of the outbreak.That's in line with the public health directive to all Quebecers to avoid travelling"This is not a good time for you to visit us. The orders from the government have been clear, namely, to avoid travel between regions or provinces. For the sake of everyone's health, please stay home," said Mont-Tremblant Mayor Luc Brisebois in a statement.Regional bus service cancelledAs of midnight Saturday, bus company Orléans Express will temporarily suspend its long-distance bus service throughout its network in an effort to curb travel between regions and slow the spread of the virus.Its parent company, Keolis Canada, says it's seen a huge drop in ridership because of COVID-19.The company says it realizes its services are essential for some Quebecers, especially in some regions, and it's in discussions with partners to try and reduce any negative impact.All tickets that have already been purchased can be changed or reimbursed.Intercar, which serves Quebec's North Shore region, has also cancelled many of its normal routes, maintaining one departure a day between Saguenay and Quebec City, when possible.Hydro-Québec warns against scamsHydro-Québec says some clients are being sent fraudulent text messages that claim to be from the utility. The text messages contain a link which users should not click on, offering them a rebate on hydro-electricity bills.On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Canadians about a similar scam attempting to defraud those hoping to get money from the government's emergency relief program.

  • Boris Johnson Tests Positive For COVID-19
    News
    HuffPost Canada

    Boris Johnson Tests Positive For COVID-19

    The British prime minister says he's self-isolating with mild symptoms.

  • Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario government to issue emergency alert on COVID-19
    Global News

    Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario government to issue emergency alert on COVID-19

    Ontarians will get emergency alerts sent to their cellphones, radios and TVs at 2 p.m. today, warning recent travellers to stay at home. The alert will tell travellers returning to Ontario that they are required by law to self-isolate for 14 days as they are at high risk of spreading COVID-19.

  • News
    CBC

    In face of COVID-19 pandemic, Indian River Festival cancels entire 2020 season

    The Indian River Festival, a summer music concert series on P.E.I., will not go ahead in 2020.The festival's executive director Kate Gracey-Stewart told CBC Radio: Island Morning that given the current public health restrictions on gatherings, and the uncertainty of when those might end, the board of directors decided the best plan was to simply cancel."It was pretty heartbreaking. It was a very emotional meeting. There were some tears shed," said Gracey-Stewart."The health and safety of our community was certainly our number one priority. We just felt for everyone's benefit we needed to make a very clear and concise decision."This was to be the festival's 25th anniversary.The festival lineup was going to include large ensembles and artists from across Canada and around the world, requiring a lot of lead time to plan. Given the current uncertainty, it did not make sense to go ahead, said Gracey-Stewart.Some events could still go aheadCancelling the festival will cost in terms of ticket sales and corporate sponsorships, but also save most of the festival's costs such as staffing and booking acts. Trying to run a season in 2020 could have threatened the long-term stability of the organization, a written news release from the organization said.If the situation changes, said Gracey-Stewart, it is possible some events could still go ahead at the historic St. Mary's church that is the venue for the festival."Our hope is that as soon as it's safe to do so we can do more programming at historic St. Mary's," she said."If we find out in two months that we can use that space or gather as any kind of a group we'll absolutely be doing whatever program we can that makes sense at the time."But for now, she said, the festival is focused on preparing for the 2021 season.More from CBC P.E.I.

  • 'On My Block' cast seeks truth in playing inner-city teens
    News
    The Canadian Press

    'On My Block' cast seeks truth in playing inner-city teens

    WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Cast members of Netflix’s “On My Block” say they feel honoured to be able to represent teenagers who've long seen themselves portrayed as stereotypes.The show in its third season tells the story of a group of black and Latino teens navigating high school and the realities of growing up in inner-city Los Angeles.Critics have praised the comedy-drama for its nuance and care in depicting the four bright, street-savvy friends.In a recent interview, the stars of the show said they feel a level of responsibility in the truth of their portrayals. That responsibility can be “terrifying,” said actress Jessica Marie Garcia, who plays an annoying but lovable busy-body who just wants to be part of the cool kids.“We want to make sure that we do it right and that we don't let them down,” Garcia said. “It's so rare that you get to see a cast like us in the same show that it's like, we just want to do it right and make them proud."Her co-star Bret Gray, who plays a super nerd, said he thinks they’re doing a pretty good job because their fans wouldn’t hold back if they weren't.“They are not afraid to tell us,” he said. “They would let us know, like, ‘You guys are not doing this,’” he said. “Since we know that, you know, they care so much that it's an honest feedback and the feedback is positive and that we are doing them justice. So it feels good."The cast also hopes the show reaches more than just teens who can identify with the show's story lines.“There's huge parts of the country that don't know how we grow up and what our lives are like,” Garcia said. "So I think it's really important to humanize what you may have seen stereotypes of in the past. I think that's huge."For actor Diego Tinoco, who plays a reticent gang initiate, he hopes the show teaches the importance of resilience.“Push through the difficult times,” he said. “(Don't) let your circumstances define who you are as a person. I think it's a universal message not only on our show, but just with everybody in their own life. Each and every single one of us are going through our own dilemma, our own problems and stuff, and it's just never get to give up."The third season of “On My Block” came out on Netflix last week.Amanda Lee Myers, The Associated Press

  • Union threatens to file grievance over Ekati Diamond Mine suspension
    News
    CBC

    Union threatens to file grievance over Ekati Diamond Mine suspension

    A union representing workers at the Ekati Diamond Mine in the Northwest Territories is threatening to file a grievance after the mine's owner suspended operations last week to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.Dominion Diamond Mines (DDM) made the decision to pause operations at the mine, citing its remote location along with the high frequency of air travel required for employees.The N.W.T. government has restricted travel into the territory, though it has made some exemptions, including for transient workers in the mineral and petroleum resources industry.In a statement, Todd Parsons, the president of the Union of Northern Workers (UNW), recognized the unprecedented situation posed by the global pandemic."However, unusual circumstances do not give employers free reign to discard collective agreements and make unilateral decisions that affect the employment of unionized workers," he wrote.  Unusual circumstances do not give employers free reign to discard collective agreements and make unilateral decisions that affect the employment of unionized workers. \- Todd Parsons, Union of Northern Workers president "DDM is claiming that the COVID-19 outbreak has created a scenario that their collective agreement does not contemplate, and that they are therefore not required to consider it in their planning. The UNW disagrees."The UNW believes that the collective agreement between DDM and its workers provides a sufficient framework for implementing emergency measures to protect workers and N.W.T. communities."We are prepared to use the agreement's grievance mechanism to hold DDM accountable for the decisions they make regarding unionized workers."The grievance has yet to be filed.When reached for comment, Dominion defended its decision to suspend operations."Although none of Dominion's employees have tested positive for the coronavirus to date, suspending operations was determined to be a necessary step to protect both our staff and the people of the North," the company stated in an email to CBC News."At Dominion, we know this has been a challenging time for all of our employees, both unionized and non-unionized, and we continue to do our best to ensure that our employees are supported."We look forward to recommencing operations when it is safe to do so, and assisting our employees to return to their jobs with Dominion."