Description: Hundreds of students moved into Brock University’s campus housing this week, as they try to adjust to campus life in a pandemic. The university normally accommodates around 2,400 students in residences, but this year only took 400.
OTTAWA — Former Liberal MP Raj Grewal was charged Friday with fraud and breach of trust over millions of dollars in loans the RCMP allege he used his political position to obtain and hid from the ethics commissioner.The RCMP further allege that Grewal used his taxpayer-funded constituency office budget for his own personal benefit."Mr. Grewal adamantly denies these allegations — as he has done steadfastly since 2018," said his lawyer, Nader Hasan, by email. "He looks forward to having his day in court and clearing his name."The charges cap off an investigation that began back in 2017, nearly two years into Grewal's first term as a member of Parliament.He left the Liberal caucus in 2018 for what he said were personal and health reasons. He stayed on as an Independent MP but didn't seek re-election last year.At the time, the Prime Minister's Office said Grewal was seeking treatment for a gambling addiction, and Grewal later posted a video detailing his problems.He said he began frequenting the Casino du Lac Leamy in Gatineau, Que., in early 2016, racking up debt in the millions of dollars playing high-stakes blackjack. He started to borrow money from family and friends to continue to gamble."On an average sitting, I would spend between 15 to 30 minutes at a table, and I either won a lot of money, which made me continue to chase wins, or I lost a significant amount of money, which threw me into complete despair," he said."I want to make it clear that every single personal loan made to me was by cheque. Everybody has been paid back, and every loan and repayment is transparent and traceable."The RCMP said their investigation was launched based on information forwarded in 2017 by the agency that tracks suspicious financial transactions in Canada.At the time of his resignation from the Liberal caucus, Grewal was also caught up in an ethics probe into whether he may have been in a conflict of interest when he invited a construction executive — who was paying Grewal for legal services at the time — to official events on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's trip to India that year.NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus, who had been one of the MPs who complained about that incident, said Friday that in his view, Grewal's troubles began there and just escalated. They fit a pattern within the Liberal government, Angus alleged, of MPs thinking the law doesn't apply to them."Today's charges should remind Trudeau that even though he does not like these rules, that doesn't put him or other Liberals above the law."Grewal is facing four counts of breach of trust and one of fraud. He is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 6.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 11, 2020.The Canadian Press
A Saskatoon parent says her back-to-school anxiety worsened after she found out her daughter would be in a bigger class than the one she was in last year, despite returning to school during the COVID-19 pandemic.Tamara Hinz saw the size of her daughter's class increase by three students. The Grade 2 student now has 25 classmates, compared to 22 last year."My heart kind of sank when I learned that," said Hinz, who says she and her family have been working hard to follow the province's COVID-19 guidelines."It just felt really counterintuitive and a bit anxiety-provoking, I guess, to go against all of those instincts that we've been practising the last several months," she said.Hinz says she's aware that concerns around class sizes in Saskatchewan were raised prior to the pandemic, and notes her school has been doing amazing work.But she feels the provincial government should be putting a greater emphasis on class size as more is learned about how COVID-19 is spread."It just really, I think, should be accelerating the conversation about reduced class sizes and making that more of a priority," she said. CBC Saskatoon requested an interview with Education Minister Gordon Wyant to discuss Hinz's concerns, but a statement was provided instead.School division enrolments and staffing figures have not yet been submitted to the ministry, the statement said."Enrolment counts will be submitted on Sept. 30, as they are each year, but we will be monitoring enrolment changes monthly," the ministry's statement said, noting it's working with school divisions to get "a sense of what education choices parents across the province are making." The ministry said school divisions are in the best position to determine staffing levels that reflect the need of their students, noting they have taken a variety of measures to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools. Meetings of the Committee on Class Size and Composition have also resumed and the ministry says it continues its work on the creation of a framework that will help guide school divisions on appropriate class size and composition within the province's classroom. The statement did not address questions about why the Ministry of Education did not include class-size requirements in its initial guidance to school divisions.Hundreds of new staff to be hired: ministerEarlier this week, Minister Wyant said that $51 million in funding has been approved to continue making schools safe during the pandemic, with 46 applications coming from the province's public schools."This significant investment will ensure that our school divisions have the resources they need to respond and plan for emergent items," said Wyant. The Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation, which represents 13,500 teachers in the province, has been critical of the provincial government's back-to-school plan since it was released in early August. The government has since amended the plan, pushing back the start of school and allocating $40 million from a government COVID-19 contingency fund worth roughly $200 million to support divisions as they return to school. However, federation president Patrick Maze says he feels the government missed the mark by not including class-size requirements in any of the guidance it provided to the province's 27 school divisions.He said while the public and members of the business community are enforcing things like physical distancing and smaller indoor crowds, when it comes to schools, it appears government has decided "all bets are off."'Double standard' for school system: STF"That's been a big frustration for teachers right from the start,… Where is the social distancing?" said Maze."The big problem is it comes down to money. And clearly, government hasn't been willing to spend money on significantly reducing class size in order to keep students and teachers safe." Maze said he feels the government has created a "double standard" for the education system. "Some businesses are on actually the threshold of going under, or have gone under, in order to keep social distancing to the recommended level," he said. "Yet here in schools, you can have a classroom of 36 students."Indian Head Elementary School, in the Prairie Valley School Division, has already resorted to online learning for the start of the school year after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.The government of Saskatchewan has provided numerous pieces of information to school divisions in regards to what should be included in their return-to-school plan, but the divisions and schools will be responsible for implementing the plans on the front lines.Maze said what will happen in the coming weeks is "anybody's guess" but noted the STF is concerned about a looming shortage of substitute teachers, and potentially teachers in general, if staff and students need to start isolating in large numbers.Anxiety, but 'a lot of joy': teachers association headJohn McGettigan, president of the Saskatoon Teachers' Association — which represents more than 4,000 educators in the city and surrounding areas — said the start of the school year has lifted some spirits."In the last few days, there's been a lot of joy," he said. "These teachers missed their kids a lot. Obviously there's still an underlying anxiety that everybody in society is feeling, but I have to say, when the kids started walking through the doors, teachers got their purpose back."In recent days, health officials with the provincial government have recommended against interprovincial travel, with Premier Scott Moe saying one of the best ways to keep COVID-19 out of schools is to keep it out of the community as a whole. While the government of Saskatchewan is confident in its back-to-school plan, with Minister Wyant saying he has no regrets, the province's chief medical health officer has advised parents to expect disruptions throughout the year as potential cases are discovered and isolated.
Albertans will soon be able to see how much their doctor bills the provincial government, but some physicians argue the billing totals won't provide enough context.The province will make their gross fee-for-service payments to physicians public within the next 60 days.The data from the province's last three fiscal years, dating back to 2017–2018, will be published, according to Steve Buick, press secretary to the health minister. The move would effectively create a sunshine list, with doctor's names and pay to be posted online for the public to see, similar to lists already published for high-paid public service employees.B.C., Ontario, Manitoba, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland already disclose physician compensation.But Alberta's website on physician pay —which is already being developed— will have "the most comprehensive disclosure of physician payments in Canada," Buick said in an email to CBC News on Thursday.Alberta's sunshine list will include the gross payments to doctors but also "items such as the number of patients served," Buick wrote. The province may also disclose the location where the doctors performed the medical services and the total number of days during the fiscal year on which the physician provided the insured medical services, according to an order-in-council issued Thursday. Some physicians have raised concerns about public disclosure of their billings because they say the figures don't represent their take-home pay. Alberta Medical Association (AMA) officials want the province to include overhead costs in the sunshine list. Doctors pay for staff, clinics, liability insurance and equipment out of their fee-for-service billings, costs that are not accounted for in their billings. "It's very important that people understand what those numbers mean," said Dr. Christine Molnar, AMA president. "I think [doctors] are OK with that as long as Albertans, in general, understand that's not what [doctors] put in [their] pocket. Those dollars are a business revenue, they're not what [they] take home. That's really important."Buick said the province won't disclose physicians' overhead costs on the provincial website.He said the province recognizes that payments to physicians are not the same as take-home income and that the website will specify that the numbers are gross payments. Doctor pay has been a point of discussion for several months in the province. Health Minister Tyler Shandro first threatened to make pay disclosure mandatory in July following the release of a survey from the AMA suggesting 42 per cent of Alberta doctors are planning to leave the province due to changes in how they are paid.In response, Shandro denied that any doctor's exodus was imminent and told the AMA to "stop playing games." He had said Albertans should "know the facts" about how Alberta doctors are compensated compared to their Canadian counterparts. Some doctors will be able to apply for an exemption from the sunshine list, which could allow them to not have their name disclosed for safety reasons."It's one thing if you're one physician in a thousand in a major urban centre and you're identified," Molnar said. "It's quite another thing if you're a rural or remote physician and all of a sudden now, you're very visible and not anonymous at all and you may become the target of unwanted attention."
Ever wonder why so many babies in old paintings bear a striking resemblance to Winston Churchill?The National Gallery of Canada is exploring why Renaissance babies were depicted to look more like little old men than the ideal Gerber cutie-pie.In the early 1300s, art commissioned by the church often featured Baby Jesus or other holy figures in their infancy. According to art historians, painters were loathe to project these revered subjects as vulnerable or weak. Instead, they tried to paint the babies to look wise and powerful. As the Renaissance progressed through the 1400s and 1500s, artists began to represent human anatomy more accurately.Gallery interpreter Laurence Vézina Laprise has researched this phenomenon, and will take visitors on a "lighthearted" virtual tour of the museum's curious Renaissance babies on Saturday, Sept. 12, at 11 a.m. ET.First, Laprise spoke with CBC's Ottawa Morning. How would you describe the way Renaissance babies look? It ranges from a tiny old man to a really muscular baby. Sometimes they are more on the ugly side than on the pretty side. They often have large heads.Can you help us understand what the artists' intentions were?Paintings at the time were commissioned mostly by churches. So when they painted a baby they painted Jesus. So they didn't want necessarily to paint a "baby" baby. They wanted to paint a Baby Jesus. Was it different for the way that they painted baby boys to baby girls? That's a good question, and the answer is no. We talk about the infant Virgin Mary in one of our paintings and we talk about Jesus as a baby as well. And both of them look like tiny adults.When did that start to change? When did babies start looking more like babies? At the beginning of the Renaissance there was still some medieval influence. So a little later in the Renaissance, when they were using more live models, it started to change. They started to see the body differently. They were allowed to paint something other than Baby Jesus. So we see the babies become a bit chubbier and a bit cuter.Laurence, would you share with us one of your favourite depictions of a baby?It's a painting by Vincenzo Catena, and it's called The Rest on the Flight over Egypt (c. 1525), and this baby is just gorgeous. He has a really big head and a really small face. I always make a ton of jokes about that baby. The funny part though is that this baby is actually portrayed as more of a baby. So at first glance, he's pretty weird looking, but then if you look carefully, you can see that it's actually really close to what an actual baby could look like, except the head that's oversized. The virtual tour, Babies in Renaissance Art with National Gallery interpreter Laurence Vézina Laprise begins online today at 11 a.m. You can reach it through the gallery's Instagram account.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspected reconstruction work in a flood-hit area, state media KCNA reported on Saturday, following a series of typhoons and the wettest monsoon that battered several parts of the country. Kim said the North Korean economy "has faced trouble and distress at the great damage caused by the recent series of heavy rain and typhoons," according to KCNA. Kim expressed satisfaction on the progress of the reconstruction in Taechong-ri, a village in North Hwanghae province, the report said.
The second week of school is already underway, but there are still outstanding stresses and questions for parents either sending their kids to classes or helping them navigate online learning at home. Not least of which is a constant stream of reports of new cases popping up among students returning to classes. CBC News is following four families as they navigate the return to classes amidst a pandemic, and in this, the second instalment, the parents are no less concerned about the welfare of their children and all the pitfalls and benefits tied to their individual choices. From Keltie Bilkoski, whose two children attend a private school with strictly enforced protocols, to Adora Nwofor, who says she's still largely in the dark regarding details of hub learning for her two daughters, the stress of the parents varies, but all have found some measure of peace in their decisions. Virginia WongVirginia Wong wasn't sure until the last minute what to do about her daughter's schooling, mulling over a dizzying array of factors in order to make her decision. Finally settling on in-class learning, she was almost immediately confronted with news that a student had tested positive in her daughter's high school. That was quickly followed by at least one more after she spoke with CBC News. Wong says she was hoping they'd at least get through a couple of weeks without infections popping up in the school. "No decision is the right decision, but we didn't make the decision lightly," she said Wednesday morning. "And we weighed a lot of options. And we went into this journey with significance, anxiety and a degree of hope."Wong's situation is complicated by the fact that there are family members in her home who are severely immunocompromised. However, she says she's at peace with the decision, citing the positives of in-class learning and experience and the fact her daughter is well-versed in keeping infections away from her family members. Her daughter is also happy to be back in class.Still, Wong wishes the government and school boards had looked more at a staggered re-entry plan that allowed more testing of protocols before going all-in, and she hopes there will be more consideration about how to involve older kids in decisions."I really feel strongly that messaging for young adults in high school or post-secondary students needs to be different than what you're telling the elementary or junior high students, because … you're telling them what to do. You're dictating," she said. "But here for young adults and high school students, you need to encourage, persuade and have them buy into your pitch."Anna GeorgeAnna George says she was surprised at how normal everything seemed for her two boys returning to their Catholic school. "They, you know, have their lunch outside and they went in special doors, you know, the proper protocols were in place, but it worked out really well for them," she said."I think we have just a really amazing staff and administration at our school and they made them feel really, really safe there."George says both of her boys were excited to return to classes, and while they didn't like some of the protocols like eating their lunch separated, she was surprised at their lack of fear — something she was prepared for and concerned about. A self-described involved parent who chairs the school's council, George was well informed about the specific plans for dealing with the pandemic for her children, but she was caught off guard by the fact there could be 30 or more kids in one of her sons' classes. "Because I have such open communication with the principal, I did talk to him last week and said, 'Look, you know, my son had this many kids in this class, like, is that for real?'" she said. "He said, you know, that's the way it is, and until Wednesday, we won't even really know our confirmed numbers because, of course, there's still a chance that some parents could pull out to do online or that they could choose to come into the classroom."George says she's sympathetic to the teachers and administrators going through the first week of school without any clear indications on what class sizes will look like.Adora NwoforAdora Nwofor says she has very little information on what the school year will look like for her two daughters after signing them up for hub learning through the Calgary Board of Education."So we got information that says you should sign up by Aug. 24. We did. Then no information. Like, zero information," said Nwofor on Wednesday. She says she has been getting information about students going back for in-class instruction.Nwofor stands out from the other parents in that her kids haven't started classes yet, with the only guidance so far being that they should engage in self-directed learning until hub classes are up and running. She says that should start on Sept. 14, but could be as late as Sept. 18, according to an email she received. She's not sure if her kids will be with other students and teachers from their designated school or whether it will be spread out among schools. Despite that paucity of information, however, Nwofor says she is happy with her decision to keep her two daughters home. "No matter what happens, I'd be happy with this decision," she said. Her kids are torn. One is happy with the decision, while the other would rather be surrounded by others in class. And even though she feels she made the right call based on her concerns about the virus and infections, she does worry about the long-term implications of learning at home in front of a screen versus being in person — for her children's success and their mental well-being. "I am a little bit anxious about this, not just for illness, but for navigating the education system in the next two, three, five, 10 years," said Nwofor. "Because the Grade 7, you know, everybody says we're not going to count it, but we know they're going to count it somewhere. And then also, hub learning, are they going to suggest that hub learning is not as impactful?"Nwofor says there are also questions of oppression and marginalization that can exacerbate the situation.Keltie BilkoskiKeltie Bilkoski doesn't have any real concerns over the way her private school has handled the return to classes. But she did experience her first hiccup right out of the gate. Her younger school-age daughter caught a cold and had to miss the first week of school while waiting for test results to come back.Bilkoski says her school has been strict in enforcing the rules and has the ability to spread the students out and sanitize them and take their temperatures as they come through the doors in the morning. "It's not going to work when it's minus 20 degrees, so I don't know how the school is going to fix that in the wintertime," she said. "But right now, with the warm weather and, you know, the sunshine, the no rain, it works really, really well."Bilkoski says her oldest daughter has been enjoying the modified gym class that includes games of tag with pool noodles, but isn't a fan of all the changes."She doesn't like recess because all the Grade 2 classes go out for recess together, but they have to sort of stay in this box with their class. So she can see friends from other classes, but you're not allowed to play with them," she said. The strict enforcement of rules at the school doesn't just apply to the kids, either. "We have to do this sort of checklist before they even are allowed in the school," said Bilkoski. "And I mean, I forgot to do the checklist this morning because it was just a crazy morning. And they're like, well go to your car, get on your phone, do the checklist before you can come in."She says she was sort of delusional, not thinking about the fact that cases in schools are likely to pop up, but says the school seems to be preparing online tools to deal with a possible infection. In addition, she says due to the small class sizes and ample space, the school has the ability to shut down a classroom in the case of a positive infection."They'll go above and beyond what AHS tells them to do," she said.
CALGARY — The Alberta government plans to expand the use of privately run day-surgery clinics as part of a plan to boost procedures by up to 150 per cent.Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro says the province will expand the 43 chartered surgical facilities that are already contract with Alberta Health Services. The call is going out for new proposals as well, in order to ensure surgeries are performed within a "clinically acceptable time" by 2023."That's what the system is supposed to do, but it's never been done in Alberta or any other province," Shandro said at a Friday news conference."Beginning in the new year, hospitals and publicly funded chartered surgical facilities will keep on increasing the volumes in the province to more than 100 per cent of pre-COVID levels to continue to reduce the wait times here in Alberta."The system will ramp up to at least 125 per cent of pre-pandemic volumes over the first quarter of 2021. We'll be prepared to increase volumes to 150 per cent if needed."Shandro said the shutdown of surgeries in mid-March due to COVID-19 led to a backlog of 25,000 cases.So far, 88 per cent of that backlog has been eliminated, he said, thanks in part to hospitals expanding surgical hours into nights and weekends.Shandro said the privately run facilities now account for about 15 per cent of 285,000 surgeries performed annually in the province. The clinics are under contract to provide ophthalmological and dermatological surgeries, ear, nose and throat surgeries, oral and maxillofacial surgeries, some gynecological surgeries and reconstructive plastic surgeries. He said there will likely be six applications for a new Indigenous grant program from First Nations communities, which are eligible for $50,000 to help with developing proposals. But he said it's hard to say how much interest there will be when the call for submissions goes out this fall."We don't know. Quite frankly, that's why we're going for a request for proposals, because we're going to see who the proponents are who are going to make these decisions."Shandro was jointed at the announcement by Chief Roy Whitney of the Tsuut'ina Nation near Calgary and Chief Ouray Crowfoot from Siksika Nation east of the city."We live in a province where health equity is a priority. However, in the case of Indigenous people here in Alberta, there is much work that needs to be done to improve health outcomes," said Crowfoot.Whitney said there is interest in his community, especially in light of the impact of the pandemic."We've had a number of interested parties that want to negotiate and develop a chartered facility, a health-care facility within our reserve."The province committed $100 million in March to renovate, equip and open new operating rooms in urban and rural public hospitals across Alberta so they can provide more surgeries to Albertans.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 11, 2020Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday urged a peaceful way out of conflicts with China over the South China Sea and said international law must be followed, amid increased regional friction over military activities by Beijing and Washington. Duterte made the remarks in a meeting with visiting Chinese defence minister, Wei Fenghe, whose tour of four Southeast Asian countries coincides with some rhetorical sparring between the United States and China over the disputed waterway.
Walt Disney Co's live-action war epic "Mulan" opened to a lukewarm reception in China on Friday as it battled with mixed reviews, COVID-19 curbs on cinemas and a government ban on major media coverage amid international calls for a boycott. The film, based on a Chinese folk story, had taken in 46 million yuan ($6.73 million) at the box office by 8 p.m. local time (1200 GMT), according to online ticketing platform Maoyan - a slow start compared with other blockbusters. "Mulan" has provoked a backlash on overseas social media over its star's support of Hong Kong police and for being partly filmed in the Xinjiang region, where China's clamp-down on ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims has been criticised by some governments and rights groups.
The former president of the Harbourview Condominium Association on Boblo Island is frustrated with Amherstburg's bylaw enforcement division.Peter Dunn said a bylaw enforcement officer told him there was little he could do about a teen who refused to wear a face mask in the lobby of the condo, something mandatory under the town's face covering bylaw."When I talked to him, he said, 'Well, here's what'll happen. We'll have to call him and we'll ask him if he was wearing a mask. If he says he was, then there's nothing we can do,'" Dunn said."I said, then why do we pass a bylaw? We might as well tear down all the signs that we've got. He said, 'If you do you will get a fine,'" said Dunn, who says the condo has had to put up signs requiring face masks in common areas as per the bylaw.Dunn said the bylaw officer told him if the person has health issues — which they don't have to prove — they don't have to wear a mask."That's wrong. How many people need to die in a nursing home down here for this to happen," said Dunn.The alleged incident happened last Saturday and the bylaw officer didn't come to investigate until Tuesday. Dunn said they have video proof of the incident but the bylaw officer refused to see it.Dunn is frustrated because he says there are four people with cancer, including himself, who have compromised immune systems and live in the building. Dunn said two residents have already died of COVID-19 so protecting the residents is paramount."When you see people die firsthand, this isn't a game anymore," he said. Dunn has taken the issue up with town councillor Michael Prue who lives on the island. He is vowing to bring the issue of enforcement up at Monday's council meeting."I'm disappointed because we were assured that the bylaw would would have some teeth and that the staff would go out and enforce it, and this is the first case that I know of where enforcement was requested and declined," Prue said.Nicole Rubli, the manager of Licensing and Enforcement for the town says the bylaw enforcement officer spoke to the youth and was assured he would wear his mask in the building from now on.She said this was the first complaint under the new bylaw passed Aug. 28. She stands behind the bylaw, even though it stipulates no business can demand proof of a medical condition exempting someone from wearing a mask."It is in conformity with much of the other bylaws that you find in the province as well as the health unit orders," Rubli said. "We have to be careful with any charter implications that could arise."She said if a person is given a warning first and is then found to not be in compliance, they could be issued a $300 fine.
British Columbia recorded its second highest number of new cases of COVID-19 in a single day Friday, as health officials announced 132 more people had tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.Along with the increase in cases, there was an increase in hospitalizations. Forty-nine people are in hospital, the highest number since May 16 and an increase of 17 since Tuesday.Ten people are in intensive care, according to a written statement from Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix.The new cases have brought the number of total cases of active infection to yet another record high of 1,461. There have now been 6,962 confirmed cases of the virus, since the pandemic began."In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, our strength — as a province, as communities and as individual people — has been in all of us working together as one," Henry and Dix said."We know COVID-19 has not been without challenge and loss. But we are working each day to find the balance of keeping new cases low and slow to protect those who are most vulnerable, while keeping our communities going."No new deaths have been recorded, leaving B.C.'s total at 213 since the beginning of the pandemic. To date, 5,273 people have recovered from their illness.A total of 3,198 people are currently being monitored by public health workers because of potential exposure to COVID-19.Friday's update includes one new outbreak at the Evergreen Hamlets long-term care facility in Surrey. There are now 14 active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living facilities, and three in acute care units of hospitals.'Stick to six'Also on Friday, Interior Health is warning people who attended a private party at Kelowna's Hotel Zed in the early hours of Sept. 7 that they may have been exposed to the coronavirus. Hotel management says there were a number of people gathered in a common area and balcony during that time. They may not all have been registered guests.Anyone who might be affected is asked to monitor themselves for symptoms.Recent weeks have seen a steady rise in new cases of COVID-19 and a growing caseload of patients with active infections — including those who have had to be hospitalized.Dix and Henry have pleaded with British Columbians to keep their social bubbles small, keep a physical distance when out in public and wear a mask when that isn't possible.Dix's latest message is to "stick to six" — choose a group of six people to socialize with and make it a consistent group.On Friday, Henry and Dix offered thanks to those who are doing their part to prevent transmission of the disease."There are thousands upon thousands of people across British Columbia who are doing their part to protect our province. We thank you for all that you have done and all that you continue to do," they said."We have demonstrated kindness and compassion in the face of adversity and challenge, and this resilience will give us the strength for what lies ahead. Let's continue to stand strong against our common foe that is COVID-19."
A whistleblower's complaint and a tight timeline are making it increasingly unlikely that the Senate will confirm Chad Wolf as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security before the election. President Donald Trump formally sent the nomination late Thursday to the Senate after announcing his intention to appoint Wolf in a tweet last month. The Senate’s Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, headed by Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, may still pursue a hearing to consider Wolf’s nomination in the weeks ahead.
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government began preparing for a possible pandemic as soon as it received the first alert about a mysterious cluster of pneumonia cases in China on New Year's Eve.Trudeau is defending his government against accusations it didn't act fast enough to warn Canadians about the danger COVID-19 posed to their health and the economy.This comes as U.S. President Donald Trump is accused of downplaying the danger of the novel coronavirus while privately telling journalist Bob Woodward in early February, during an interview for his book, he knew it was much worse than the flu."Every step of the way, we were informed by our experts as to how to keep Canadians safe — what needed to be done, what measures would be helpful in continuing to support Canadians as we were aware of this potential," Trudeau said Friday during a news conference in Gogama, Ont."But as people know, we were very much learning on the way as we responded."A briefing note prepared in May for federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu says Canada got its first warning of a potential new virus on Dec. 31, 2019. That was when the Global Public Health Intelligence Network alerted the Public Health Agency of Canada of a mystifying cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China that appeared to be linked to a new virus.Dr. Theresa Tam, the chief public health officer, met with her provincial counterparts two days later to update them and begin forming a Canadian response plan. Canada's first case — a man who had been in Wuhan —came Jan. 25. On Jan. 30, Canada warned against travel to China. Travellers coming from China were asked to isolate for two weeks after arriving.Similar warnings were added for Iran and Italy in early March as the pandemic surged in those countries.But Hajdu and Tam continued to tell Canadians the risk of getting COVID-19 in Canada was low until at least March 10. The border remained open until March 16, when all non-essential travellers except Americans were barred entry. The Canada-U.S. border restrictions were added March 21.Until March 24, the majority of new COVID-19 cases in Canada were in people who had travelled outside the country.Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel Garner said Friday that Hajdu should be fired for not doing more earlier. As of Friday, Canada has had 134,924 positive COVID-19 cases and 9,163 deaths."If action had been taken three months earlier, would things be different," said Rempel Garner. "Minister Hajdu has demonstrated dangerous incompetence. So why is she still in charge of Canadians' health and safety?"Tam said the decisions were made as the information warranted. On March 10, when the message to Canadians was that the virus was not spreading in Canadian communities yet, about 80 people had tested positive, almost all of them people who had travelled. Six provinces had yet to confirm a single case.Two weeks later, the number of domestic cases exceeded travel cases and every province had started to see them.Tam said the information about the virus was changing rapidly, but the work in Canada was constant."Ever since we got information about the cluster of pneumonia in Wuhan, domestic preparedness already began to escalate," she said. Lab testing was one of the first priorities, to ensure Canadian labs could actually test people for COVID-19. In February, she said, provinces and territories were warned "the window for preparedness was closing," Tam said.But she said within Canada, the risk of local transmission was still very low and that was why that advice continued to be given until mid-March."As we've seen with this pandemic things change very rapidly, so very soon after (March 10) lots of public health measures evolved and escalated at every level of public health in Canada," she said.On travel advice, Tam said the initial warnings pertained to countries with significant outbreaks but noted when the worldwide travel ban came March 16, it was the first time it had ever been done and before many nations had any cases."That was quite a significant move," she said. "We were not waiting for a country that hasn't announced any cases to provide that advice."Tam and Trudeau also warned this week that it's up to Canadians whether there is a significant second wave of the virus, after cases continued to creep up.The daily average case number over the previous week is now 618, up from 545 on Monday, and 435 on Aug. 31.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 11, 2020.Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
A truck with Texas licence plates was badly vandalized and spray-painted with "Trump" sometime Wednesday night in Victoria.Jonathon Vindalin posted on Twitter that the truck — which belongs to his father — also had its windshield smashed and licence plates stolen."[My father] has been here for almost three months visiting family and helping us out," wrote Vindalin. "My wife and I just had a baby — his first grandchild and we just moved. He did his two week quarantine. He is Canadian and can't even vote for or against Trump."Victoria police say other vehicles with out-of-province plates have also been vandalized, but nothing as extreme."It's shameful that this happened," said Const. Cam MacIntyre. "Earlier in the pandemic, we saw vehicles victimized … but this is certainly a step up."MacIntyre said there are legitimate reasons for people with out-of-province or out-of-country plates to be in the city."We should treat them with a level of understanding and a level of empathy because we do not know everyone's story and why they are here," he said.Vindalin tweeted that his father's insurance would cover the damage, minus a $1,000 deductible.
Time zones and dodgy internet connections are making university classes even trickier this year for international students who have opted not to return to Canada when the fall semester started.When Mahek Seth, a University of Alberta student in the second year of her business degree, logs into a lecture, it is already 11-and-a-half hours later in Lucknow, India.The time difference means she studies all night, sleeps during the day, and then wakes up to do it again."It's four months, I'll have to be working like this, staying up all night," Seth told CBC Radio's Edmonton AM. "My social life is at a standstill. Being international students, we know less people in the university. It's really hard for me to network with new people, virtually. It's been challenging."Almost all U of A classes were moved online this fall, meaning more than 9,000 international students had to make the difficult decision to remain home for the fall semester or make a costly and fraught trip to Canada during a pandemic.Gurbani Baweja, a U of A student and vice-president of the International Students Association, told Edmonton AM that she is hearing from students from all around the world who remained in their home countries and are struggling.One of the main complaints Baweja gets is about technology."The internet connection and the speed is not similar in comparison to Canada," said Baweja.International students who remained in their home country must also deal with the social isolation that comes with being so far away from their classmates and, often, working in incongruent time zones.Many made the choice to remain in their home country in order to save money, she said.Tuition paid by international students at the University of Alberta is about three times higher than for domestic students. For a full-time undergraduate international student, that's more than $12,000 per semester in tuition alone.The challenges of completing coursework abroad are so great that some international students have moved back to Edmonton, even if they aren't attending in-person classes.Divij Dhingra, a second-year computer science student, returned to his home in Delhi in March, at the beginning of the pandemic. He'd been planning to return at the end of semester anyway, so thought he'd do so before travel was restricted.However, taking online classes from Delhi was a huge challenge, he said. He came back to Edmonton this fall and rented a house with two other students."India has a time difference and all the classes run in the night, which was really difficult for me to manage," Dhingra said. "And there are some bandwidth limitations in Delhi." The internet was slow or would cut out, said Dhingra. In the winter semester, he even missed an exam because of a poor connection. And that was in Delhi, a major city, he pointed out."People in the rural parts of India, that would be very difficult for them to manage," Dhingra said.Despite the litany of challenges, Baweja said delaying studies is not an option for international students, who need to study to keep their visas."No international student I have heard of has dropped out, because we are on a fixed study permit timeline," Baweja said. "That's usually four years, for every student, so you have to finish on time."With files from Ariel Fournier
A lot has changed in the four years since Michelle Jansen tragically lost her son, Brandon, to a fentanyl overdose.There have been government awareness campaigns, increased funding for treatment centres and a swath of new overdose prevention sites across the province.Those are changes that might have given her hope in the past. But with overdose deaths reaching record highs in B.C., she fears the crisis is spiralling out of control."Even though people are having the conversation, they're not in my opinion dealing with the overdose crisis with the urgency that's required," Jansen told CBC News outside her Coquitlam home. "We're losing five or six people a day."An Insights West survey suggests the overdose crisis has a greater impact on British Columbians than the COVID-19 pandemic when it comes to the health of loved ones.Nearly one-third of people polled have friends or loved ones that grapple with addictions or have died from overdose. Just 10 per cent of respondents know someone who has had COVID-19 or died from it.The researchers behind the poll say they aren't trying to downplay the coronavirus pandemic, but rather to show that the opioid crisis should be addressed with the same level of urgency as the coronavirus."The goal of the poll is to really put it into perspective, that we have two major crises and let's not forget about either of them," said Steve Mossop, president of Insights West.Parallel health crisesB.C. recorded 911 overdose deaths between January and July of 2020. Over that same period of time, 195 people died of COVID-19.While more British Columbians who were surveyed are concerned about COVID-19 than the overdose crisis (91 per cent compared to 81 per cent), the poll found more people felt the opioid crisis has an "extremely negative" impact on their community."[The overdose crisis] affects every aspect of society. It's not just Metro Vancouver, it's throughout the province, it's through every age range, old and young, male and female," said Mossop.B.C. has had three consecutive months where more than 170 have died from overdose, with health officials pointing to an increasingly toxic drug supply."Border supply chains shut down, the drugs have become increasingly more toxic day by day, contaminated with benzos," said Guy Felicella, a peer clinical adviser at the B.C. Centre for Substance Use.Moving forwardFelicella has been sober for eight years after struggling with drugs for decades in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Watching the overdose numbers climb, he finds it difficult not to compare the two health emergencies."The difference between COVID and the overdose crisis is that some lives matter more than others, and if drug users' lives mattered, then we wouldn't be where we're at today," he said.The Insights West poll suggests a large majority of British Columbians are in favour of more awareness campaigns, more treatment and rehabilitation centres and more funding for addiction counsellors and support workers.Mossop says the public could also be encouraged to be proactive — similar to what's been done throughout the pandemic."There probably is a series of everyday steps we can all do," he said. "Reaching out to a friend who's in need or in trouble, contributing money, pressuring politicians — there are number of ways we can bring this to the forefront, much the same way we've tackled COVID."In a statement, B.C.'s Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions said it's committed to tackling the crisis with the same urgency the province has put on the pandemic."Our ministry is doing the same for the overdose emergency and we need all British Columbians to join us," said a spokesperson.Those that have lost, like Jansen, say the recent surge in deaths should be a call to action to reduce stigma and flatten another curve."COVID is a very real pandemic that's taking lives — and so is the opioid crisis," she said.
NEW DELHI — The Indian and Chinese foreign ministers agreed that their troops should disengage from a tense border standoff, maintain proper distance and ease tensions in the Ladakh region where the two countries in June had their deadliest clash in decades.India’s S. Jaishankar and China’s Wang Yi met in the Russian capital on Thursday night and concurred that "the current situation in the border areas is not in the interest of either side,” according to a joint statement issued Friday.Since last week, the Asian giants have accused each other of sending soldiers into rival territory and firing warning shots for the first time in 45 years, threatening a full-scale military conflict.The foreign ministers did not set any timeline for the disengagement of tens of thousands of troops who have been locked in a standoff since May, but agreed that "both sides shall abide by all the existing agreements and protocol on China-India boundary affairs, maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas and avoid any action that could escalate matters.”The disputed 3,500-kilometre (2,175-mile) border separates Chinese and Indian-held territories from Ladakh in the west to India’s eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims in its entirety.The current standoff is over portions of a pristine landscape that boasts the world’s highest landing strip and a glacier that feeds one of the largest irrigation systems in the world.Both sides accuse the other of provocative behaviour including crossing into each other’s territory, and both have vowed to protect their territorial integrity.Earlier this week, Jaishankar described the situation along their shared boundary, known as the Line of Actual Control, as “very serious” and said the state of the border cannot be separated from the state of the bilateral relationship.On Thursday, the two countries agreed that as the situation eases, they should expedite work to conclude "new confidence-building measures to maintain and enhance peace and tranquility in the border areas."In a separate statement, Wang said “China-India relations have once again come to a crossroads."That statement said Wang “outlined China's stern position on the situation in the border areas, emphasizing that the imperative is to immediately stop provocations such as firing and other dangerous actions that violate the commitments made by the two sides."“It is also important to move back all personnel and equipment that have trespassed. The frontier troops must quickly disengage so that the situation may de-escalate," it quoted Wang as saying.India did not release a statement of its own, but an official with the External Affairs Ministry said Jaishankar told Wang that India expected full adherence to all agreements on management of border areas and would not support any attempt to change the status quo unilaterally.The official said Jaishankar said the immediate task is to ensure a comprehensive disengagement of troops at all flash points to prevent any incidents, with details of how that is to be done worked out by military commanders. The official was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.The two ministers met in Moscow on the sidelines of a gathering of the foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The group comprises China, India, Pakistan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Krgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.On Friday, Wang held talks with Russia's foreign minister in Moscow and later told reporters that India had expressed a wish to ease tensions through diplomatic and political channels.Wang said the top priority now is to not break past agreements, including one not to open fire at the border.“Also, we should withdraw the personnel and equipment completely from the front line. In this way, we can implement the consensus and restore peace and stability along the border,” he said.Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he was very pleased that the Moscow venue enabled the foreign ministers of China and India to have a substantive meeting on deescalating their border tensions.In India, Vinod Bhatia, a retired Indian army general, said resolving the ongoing impasse will be a long process.“Disengagement is the first and the most important step that will guide the de-escalation process. The two armies will work out a mutually acceptable methodology for de-escalation,” Bhatia said.He said “there is a political will and direction now to resolve the crisis.”The two nations fought a border war in 1962 that spilled into Ladakh and ended in an uneasy truce. Since then, troops have guarded the undefined border area, occasionally brawling. They have agreed not to attack each other with firearms.Rival soldiers brawled in May and June with clubs, stones and their fists. A clash on a high ridge on June 15 left 20 Indian soldiers dead. China reported no casualties.After that clash, both sides disengaged from the site in Galwan valley and at least two other places, but the crisis continued.——-Associated Press journalists Aijaz Hussain in Srinagar, India, and Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.Ashok Sharma, The Associated Press
Toronto will be opening a centre for those with COVID-19 who cannot self-isolate at home. Speaking to reporters on Friday, Canada’s Minister of Health Patty Hajdu says the federal government is open to helping other cities launch similar sites if needed.