With meteorologist Jaclyn Whittal
With meteorologist Jaclyn Whittal
India's foreign minister arrived in Bangladesh on Thursday ahead of a visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi amid efforts to resolve the fate of 81 Rohingya refugees who are on a boat adrift in international waters. Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar will hold talks with his Bangladeshi counterpart on water sharing, trade and border issues, said two Indian officials in New Delhi. "Of course, the Rohingya refugee issue will come up during the Indian minister's day-long visit but the prime agenda will remain around Modi's upcoming visit," said a senior foreign ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media.
BRUSSELS — An inquiry into claims that the European Union’s border and coast guard agency was involved in illegally pushing back migrants has cleared Frontex of links to most of the incidents but has been unable to establish what happened in five cases, according to the official report into the allegations. The report is by a special working group set up to investigate media allegations that staff, ships or aircraft working with Frontex took part in or were near more than a dozen pushback incidents in the sea between Greece and Turkey last year. Its findings will be the focus of an extraordinary meeting of the agency’s management board on Friday. Frontex, which is responsible for patrolling the external borders of the 27-nation EU, has rejected the pushback allegations and said that its own internal inquiry could find no evidence to substantiate the claims. Greece, which is in charge of operations involving co-ordinating Frontex on its territory, has also denied reports of pushbacks by its border officers. Pushbacks are forcibly preventing people from entering a country when they might want to apply for asylum. They are contrary to refugee protection agreements, which say people shouldn’t be returned to a country where their life and safety might be in danger due to their race, religion, nationality or political views. They also contravene EU law and policy. The working group cleared Frontex of any wrongdoing in 8 cases, but said in five cases “it has not been possible to completely resolve the incidents beyond any reasonable doubt,” according to part of the restricted report, dated March 1 and seen by The Associated Press. Investigators could not determine whether the people involved in the five incidents were picked up by Turkish authorities or made it safely onto Greek soil. “There is no indication of anybody injured, reported missing or having died in connection with the respective incidents,” the report said. The probe, by experts from seven European countries and the European Commission, was set up weeks after reports of collective migrant expulsions were revealed in an October joint investigation by media outlets Bellingcat, Lighthouse Reports, Der Spiegel, ARD and TV Asahi. ___ Follow AP’s global migration coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/migration Lorne Cook, The Associated Press
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Thursday, March 4, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 77,572 new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,091,700 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 5,519.103 per 100,000. There were 129,330 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 2,611,680 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 80.09 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 4,472 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 24,757 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 47.279 per 1,000. There were 1,800 new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 35,620 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 966 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 12,596 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 79.405 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 14,715 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 9.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 85.6 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 6,054 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 35,291 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 36.163 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 61,980 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 56.94 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 7,424 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 33,741 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 43.255 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 46,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 72.13 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 17,382 new vaccinations administered for a total of 472,710 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 55.245 per 1,000. There were 100,620 new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 638,445 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 74.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 27,398 new vaccinations administered for a total of 754,419 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 51.359 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 903,285 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 83.52 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 1,966 new vaccinations administered for a total of 80,171 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 58.221 per 1,000. There were 8,190 new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 116,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 8.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 68.73 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 1,361 new vaccinations administered for a total of 81,597 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 69.20 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 74,605 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 109.4 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 10,229 new vaccinations administered for a total of 255,283 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 57.992 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 274,965 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 92.84 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 6,627 new vaccinations administered for a total of 289,809 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 56.476 per 1,000. There were 18,720 new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 382,740 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 75.72 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 990 new vaccinations administered for a total of 18,158 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 435.12 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 18,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 45 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 96.07 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 19,775 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 438.285 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 19,100 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 42 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 103.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 5,327 new vaccinations administered for a total of 13,393 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 345.84 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 23,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 62 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 56.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
The probe will consider if Apple has a dominant position in the distribution of apps on its devices in the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said. Payment policies related to Apple's App Store have for long drawn complaints from app developers as it requires them to use its payment system, which charges commissions of between 15% and 30%.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Newfoundland and Labrador announced Wednesday it was extending the interval between the first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to four months. Public health officials said the change will help them vaccinate 40,000 more people with a single dose by the end of March. Liberal Leader and incumbent Premier Andrew Furey said the decision is a game changer for the province's vaccination prospects. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. Nova Scotia will get 13,000 doses of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine the week of March 8. Health officials said March 3 the upcoming shipment must be used by April 2 and therefore all 13,000 doses will be administered to residents across the province aged 50 to 64 years starting March 15. The vaccine will be given out at 26 locations in Nova Scotia on a first come, first served basis. --- Prince Edward Island Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario Ontario has given its first vaccines to people in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, some health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will include a service desk and online portal. It said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. Several regions in Ontario have moved ahead with their plans to vaccinate the general public using their own booking systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. The province has also said it will extend the interval between doses of COVID-19 vaccines to up to four months. Toronto began vaccinating police force members who respond to emergency calls on Monday and has also started offering vaccines to people experiencing homelessness. Solicitor General Sylvia Jones has said the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will go to residents between the ages of 60 and 64, but has not elaborated yet on how it will be distributed except to say it won't be through mass immunization sites. The province has said it will follow the advice of a national panel that has recommended against using the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot on people aged 65 and older. The health minister said the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot could be used in correctional facilities, but further details haven't been released. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. Like British Columbia, Manitoba has already indicated it would opt for a four-month interval between doses. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The province was also one of several Wednesday to say it would extend second doses of COVID-19 for up to four months, starting March 10. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
Starting Thursday, clients and staff at Ottawa's six homeless shelters will receive a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Shelters were initially part of the second phase of the city's vaccine rollout plan, but according to city officials, the Ontario government is looking to target facilities that have been subject to serious outbreaks. "COVID-19 has had a significant impact on Ottawa's shelter system," said Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches during a virtual media briefing Wednesday. Etches confirmed that all of the city's shelters have experienced an outbreak and that "one-quarter of the clients, about 220 people, having tested positive for the virus since mid-January." There are about 860 clients currently in the city's shelter system. People will be screened and will need to consult with a health-care provider before getting vaccinated. "With vaccination, it will mean that a lot fewer people will be able to get COVID and therefore a lot fewer people will be able to transmit COVID," said Wendy Muckle, CEO of Ottawa Inner City Health, who's also advocated for Ottawa's homeless to be vaccinated. Shelters can increase capacity Muckle said it's likely not everyone will be vaccinated in the first round, so there will still be some infection and transmission "but it will be on a much smaller scale" that before. She said it's likely that shelters will slowly be able to increase their capacities and support programs that were put on hold can resume. Ottawa Inner City Health will also be working on a flexible schedule with shelters to make sure everyone who's homeless can get the shot, Muckle said. The organization is aiming to have all first doses done over the next two weeks. Second doses will be given two weeks after that. Those not staying at a shelter are still eligible to be vaccinated through outreach centres.
NEW YORK — When will children be able to get COVID-19 vaccines? It depends on the child's age, but some teenagers could be rolling up their sleeves before too long. The Pfizer vaccine already is cleared for use starting at age 16. That means some high schoolers could get in line for those shots whenever they become eligible in their area, either because of a medical condition or once availability opens up. Pfizer and Moderna both have completed enrolment for studies of children ages 12 and older, and expect to release the data over the summer. If regulators clear the results, younger teens likewise could start getting vaccinated once supply allows. The Moderna vaccine is currently cleared for people 18 and older. Researchers started with older children because they tend to respond to vaccines most similarly to adults. Testing even younger groups is more complex, because they may require a different dose or have differing responses. “Children are not just small adults,” said pediatrician Dr. James Campbell of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “The younger you get, the higher the odds are that things could be different.” Children develop serious illness or die from COVID-19 at much lower rates than adults, but can still spread the virus. “There’s no question: we do want to immunize children,” said Drexel University pediatrics professor Dr. Sarah Long. Pfizer and Moderna expect to start studies in children 11 and younger later this year. “It’s unlikely we could get community protection without immunizing children,” Long added. “This is the lynchpin to getting everything back to some kind of normalcy.” __ The AP is answering your questions about the coronavirus in this series. Submit them at: FactCheck@AP.org. Read previous Viral Questions: How would COVID-19 vaccine makers adapt to variants? How do we know the COVID-19 vaccines are safe? How are experts tracking variants of the coronavirus? Marion Renault, The Associated Press
Jim Lowes had never thought about being an organ donor until he read a story about Logan Boulet nearly three years ago. Boulet was one of 16 people who died in April 2018 when a truck driver blew a stop sign and drove into the path of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team's bus in rural Saskatchewan. Thirteen players were injured. Boulet, 21, had signed up to be an organ donor on his birthday, five weeks before the crash. "He had already planned on giving his organs," said Lowes, who lives in Burlington, Ont. "That really struck me. "What a brilliant young man. Most kids at that age are not thinking about donating their organs." Six people across Canada benefited from Boulet's organs and the Logan Boulet Effect soon followed. Nearly 147,000 Canadians registered to be donors in the two months after learning the player had signed his donor card. It also led to Green Shirt Day every April 7, the anniversary of Boulet's death, to promote organ donor awareness and registration across Canada. Canadian Blood Services says more than a million people have registered a decision about organ donation in the years since Boulet's death. There are about 12 million Canadians on provincial registries. Lowes, 61, said he was inspired by Boulet to be a living donor. "I was too old to donate (part of) my liver ... but I checked into the kidney," he said. "I ended up donating one of my kidneys." Canadian Blood Services says the number of living donors increased in 2019 but dropped about 30 per cent to 427 in 2020. Deceased donors also dropped about 21 per cent to 654. Officials say the decline was due to COVID-19. "The impact we've seen has changed over the year," said Dr. Norman Kneteman, a transplant surgeon at University of Alberta Hospital and a member on an expert advisory committee with Canadian Blood Services. During the first wave of COVID-19 last spring, there was fear of the unknown, he said. "Donation really slowed down and very nearly stopped for awhile." Surgeries considered non-essential were delayed. There were fewer trauma patients who might become donors. And there was an early concern about transmission of the novel coronavirus between donor and patient, which he said is extremely rare and can be managed with careful testing. Kneteman, also a director for the division of transplantation at the U of A, said programs were almost back to normal by summer, and surgeons kept up with transplants during the pandemic's second wave. "We did see through the year — 2020 — that we had between 10 and 15 per cent reduction in activity in transplant for all organs," he said. "We have some catch-up to play there." Boulet's father said his family hopes an online campaign, which started this week, reminds people about organ donation. "We just want people to register their intent, what they want to do, whether they want to be an organ donor or don't want to be an organ donor," Toby Boulet said from Lethbridge, Alta. He said it's disappointing organs went unused in the early days of COVID-19. "We lost many, many chances in Canada to have transplants," he said. "There are chances to save lives. There are chances to make people's lives better and, even though COVID has enveloped and consumed all of us ... we can't forget about organ donation and transplantation." Canadian Blood Services said there were some bright spots in 2020. Newfoundland and Labrador brought in a new way last April for residents to register as organ donors. An online registry started in Saskatchewan last September. Nova Scotia recorded higher donation rates as awareness increased before a presumed consent law that requires people to opt out of organ donation. "The law came into effect in January, but we had been working on changing the system in preparation for the law for the past 18 months," said Dr. Stephen Beed, medical adviser for the Nova Scotia organ and tissue donation program. "We've ended up having by far the most successful donation year." Beed, who was working in an intensive care unit in Saskatoon the week of the Broncos crash, has a special connection to the Boulet family. "I was involved in taking care of Logan," he said. "It's quite remarkable to think I am living in Nova Scotia and doing a lot of donation-related work here, and then happened to be involved with one of the most tragic and significant donation-related circumstances we've had." Beed said the crash was noticed around the world. "To be able to find something positive in the middle of such a tragic circumstance — with Logan's gift — is something that really resonated and continues to resonate." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021 Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press
TikTok owner ByteDance is working on a Clubhouse-like app for China, sources familiar with the matter said, as the global success of the U.S.-based audio chat service inspires a rush of copycats in the country. At least a dozen similar apps have been launched in the past month, with momentum picking up after Clubhouse was blocked in China in early February. Clubhouse had seen a surge in users who participated in discussions on sensitive topics such as Xinjiang detention camps and Hong Kong independence.
Chrystia Freeland seemed only too happy on Wednesday to mention some recent grumbling about the Liberal government's pandemic spending over last year. For most of 2020, the government was faced with questions about whether it was delivering financial supports fast enough and broadly enough. Now, some are wondering aloud whether the government spent too much. "I've been surprised to read some commentary suggesting that Canadians may be doing too well for their own good," the finance minister said. "Some have pointed to rising household disposable income in the first nine months of last year as evidence that our government acted too swiftly and too effectively to support Canadians." It will not surprise you to learn that Freeland disagrees with that take. And if Freeland is eager to note that criticism, surely it's because she and the government know how difficult it might be for any of their political opponents to campaign against any of the specific measures the Liberals took to support Canadian households over the past 12 months. But it remains to be seen how all that spending — and the historic deficit that resulted from it — will frame the political debate going forward. On Monday, Statistics Canada released estimates that suggest Canadian households ended up with more disposable income through the third quarter of 2020 because of the unprecedented sums the federal government transferred to individuals through various support programs. "Although households did experience notable declines both in wages and salaries and in self-employment income in the second quarter, the value of COVID-19 support measures provided by governments more than compensated for those losses," StatsCan said. The gains were highest in the second quarter and proportionally larger for those with the lowest amount of disposable income in 2019. Before April 2020 and June 2020, StatsCan estimates, the households that had less than $26,500 in disposable income for 2019 saw their disposable income increase by 33.6 per cent. For those households with more than $64,900 in disposable income in 2019, the increase in disposable income in the second quarter of 2020 is estimated at 7.1 per cent. A person walks through an almost deserted Yorkdale Shopping Centre as Toronto enters the first day of a renewed coronavirus lockdown on Nov. 23, 2020.(Carlos Osorio/Reuters) As of October 3, 2020, the federal government had paid out $81.6 billion through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which provided $2,000 per month to those who lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns. Beyond the CERB, the federal government also moved forward with a number of other supports, including a new student benefit (estimated to cost $3 billion) and a series of measures aimed at "vulnerable Canadians" (at an estimated cost of $14.9 billion). More analysis is needed to fully understand the distribution and impact of government spending last year, but the basic finding — that support exceeded income losses — has been put forward before. Tammy Schirle, a professor of economics at Wilfrid Laurier University, notes that some of those in the bottom quintile would not have been making money before the pandemic began — and so wouldn't have lost any income — but they still would have benefited from increases in the Canada Child Benefit and the GST credit, which could have helped with extra expenses. An 'acceptable compromise' Research conducted by Schirle and three co-authors also estimated that nearly half of the job losses that occurred between February and April 2020 were suffered by those in the lowest quarter of earners. "Generally, there was criticism at the time that some workers with the lowest earnings would have received more income than was lost," Schirle said in an email this week, referring to the CERB. "However, in the context that Canadians needed something rolled out quickly, and our current infrastructure for [employment insurance] would not suffice, this was an acceptable compromise in my view." In a global emergency, too much help is likely better than too little. But the federal government may have faced a choice between moving fast and moving with precision — between making sure that people who would need money got it quickly and making sure that people only got as much money as they absolutely needed. Social policy in a hurry "CERB payments were flat amounts because the government did not have the capacity [in information and technology] to income-test the benefit," said Jennifer Robson, a professor of political management at Carleton who has been consulted by the government on EI reform (full disclosure: Robson is a friend). "The choice was 'automatic' or 'income-tested.' But until and unless we build serious back-of-house capacity in our social programs, you can't have both for a crisis of this scale." Robson also suggested that if the CERB did end up overcompensating people, the question could be flipped around to ask whether that proves too many people in this country were being paid unreasonably low wages in the first place. The Liberal government has since transitioned away from the CERB and StatsCan's estimates show that the disposable income increases dropped off significantly in the third quarter. John Lester, a fellow at the University of Calgary's school of public policy and a former analyst at the Department of Finance, argued in December that the government should have been quicker to deal with the issue of "overcompensation." The threat of inflation In her fall economic statement, Freeland suggested that increased disposable income and savings could act as "preloaded stimulus" to spur economic growth once the Canadian economy reopens. Mikal Skuterud, a professor of economics at the University of Waterloo, said the risk is that excessive stimulus could trigger inflation, though he argues that the actual severity of that risk is a "million-dollar question that nobody knows the answer to." For now, the political criticism is muted. The Conservative Party has criticized the size of the deficit and Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole has noted that the Trudeau government spent more per capita than comparable countries. The Conservatives also have argued that the government should have moved faster to deliver a wage subsidy and have criticized the fact that some large, profitable companies were able to access the wage subsidy. But they do not seem eager to make the case that Canadians got more money than they deserved or truly needed — presumably because they know how well that would go over with those Canadians who received federal support. Ahead of a federal budget — and possibly a federal election — the larger question is how the spectre of a significant deficit will affect both fiscal policy and the political debate going forward. Canadians might be thankful for all the support that the federal government has provided, but will they come out of this pandemic with new worries about government debt? And if so, are Conservatives interested in trying to connect with that anxiety to build support for a much more fiscally restrained approach?
RED DEER, Alta. — Some employees of a pork processing plant in central Alberta that shut down after a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility are afraid to go back to work, the union president says. Olymel's facility in Red Deer was shut down Feb. 15 because of the COVID-19 outbreak that claimed three lives and infected 515 workers. The company announced late Wednesday it had been given approval to gradually reopen by Alberta Health. Slaughter operations are scheduled to resume today and cutting room operations on Friday. The plant processes about 10,000 hogs per day. UFCW 401 president Thomas Hesse said he received no word from the company that the plant was reopening. "Obviously the bottom line for Olymel is they're just putting pigs ahead of people," Hesse in an interview Wednesday. "What you've got is a frightened workforce. There's this enormous amount of fear and anxiety, and now a layer of grief on top of that, and they expect employees to jump to attention and parade back to work." The union represents about 1,800 workers at the plant. Hesse said the union interviewed between 600 and 700 workers who indicated they were afraid to return to work. He said that wasn't done by Olymel, Alberta Health Services or Occupational Health and Safety. Hesse said he expects some workers will take advantage of their right to refuse unsafe work. "I have no confidence in the safety of the workplace," he said. Olymel said the reopening will come with a number of strict measures. Alberta Health experts will be on site when operations resume and will offer rapid testing. The company said 1,370 employees at the plant have been tested since Jan. 1. The company says it has added more space to the facility to enhance physical distancing. Additional staff have been assigned to monitor and enforce the updated measures, Olymel said. Employee groups have been recalled to take part in training sessions covering all implemented health measures, adjustments and the action plan developed for reopening. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. — By Bill Graveland in Calgary The Canadian Press
Britain's Prince Philip, the 99-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth, underwent a successful procedure for a pre-existing heart condition on Wednesday, Buckingham Palace said in a statement on Thursday. Philip was admitted to hospital on Feb. 16 after he felt unwell, to receive treatment for an unspecified, but not COVID-19-related, infection. "The Duke of Edinburgh yesterday underwent a successful procedure for a pre-existing heart condition at St Bartholomew’s Hospital," the palace said, using Philip's formal title.
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Thursday, March 4, 2021. There are 875,559 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 875,559 confirmed cases (29,930 active, 823,524 resolved, 22,105 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 2,812 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 78.75 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 20,365 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,909. There were 60 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 299 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 43. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.11 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 58.16 per 100,000 people. There have been 24,676,396 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 997 confirmed cases (153 active, 838 resolved, six deaths). There were three new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 29.3 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 35 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is five. There were zero new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.03 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 199,347 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 137 confirmed cases (22 active, 115 resolved, zero deaths). There was one new case Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 13.78 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 20 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 107,377 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,646 confirmed cases (30 active, 1,551 resolved, 65 deaths). There were three new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 3.06 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 30 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.64 per 100,000 people. There have been 343,260 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,438 confirmed cases (38 active, 1,372 resolved, 28 deaths). There were three new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 4.86 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There were zero new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.04 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 3.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 238,399 tests completed. _ Quebec: 289,670 confirmed cases (7,336 active, 271,908 resolved, 10,426 deaths). There were 729 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 85.56 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,198 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 743. There were 19 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 81 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 121.59 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,320,910 tests completed. _ Ontario: 303,763 confirmed cases (10,397 active, 286,352 resolved, 7,014 deaths). There were 958 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 70.56 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 7,590 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,084. There were 17 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 121 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 17. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 47.6 per 100,000 people. There have been 10,964,481 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 32,000 confirmed cases (1,146 active, 29,953 resolved, 901 deaths). There were 50 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 83.09 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 413 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 59. There were three new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 14 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.15 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 65.32 per 100,000 people. There have been 535,163 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 29,059 confirmed cases (1,431 active, 27,239 resolved, 389 deaths). There were 121 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 121.41 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,079 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 154. There were two new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 10 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is one. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33 per 100,000 people. There have been 579,326 tests completed. _ Alberta: 134,454 confirmed cases (4,649 active, 127,903 resolved, 1,902 deaths). There were 402 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 105.14 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,421 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 346. There were 12 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 36 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 43.01 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,414,903 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 81,909 confirmed cases (4,718 active, 75,819 resolved, 1,372 deaths). There were 542 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 91.65 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,559 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 508. There were seven new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 34 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.09 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 26.65 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,941,589 tests completed. _ Yukon: 72 confirmed cases (zero active, 71 resolved, one death). There were zero new cases Wednesday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.38 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,183 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 42 confirmed cases (two active, 40 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 4.43 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 14,664 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 359 confirmed cases (eight active, 350 resolved, one death). There were zero new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 20.33 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of eight new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,718 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
If you ever wanted to cook bacon in the microwave but didn’t know how, here’s a method that works really well and doesn’t require any special cookware. The napkin over the top keeps the grease from splattering all over the inside of the microwave. Simple yet effective!
Victoria Ryczak remembers being lonely as a 12-year-old in 1950. She lived near Amsterdam, Sask., about 322 kilometres east of Saskatoon, on an isolated farm. Then one day, her father brought home an issue of the Winnipeg Free Press that had an ad from an Alberta girl looking for a pen pal. Ryczak decided to give it a try. The two corresponded for a while, until the Alberta girl saw an ad for a pen pal she thought would be a better fit for Ryczak. She connected Ryczak with Kathleen Wallace, who lived in Ontario. Ryczak and Wallace shared a special connection. "We were born on June 2, 1938, the same day, the same age," said Ryczak, 82. "That's why I say we're twins. So maybe that had a lot to do with the way we connected." After 70 years of correspondence, Ryczak lost her friend last month. She hopes their story might inspire others to write letters across borders, as a way of combatting loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic. Kathleen, she was like a confidante. We talk about the trials and tribulations. - Victoria Ryczak When Ryczak started writing with Wallace, she couldn't believe how much the two had in common. They were both left-handed, lived on farms, and had the same ideas, family values and positive attitudes. They wrote about school and anything else that came to mind. "Kathleen, she was like a confidante. We talk about the trials and tribulations," Ryczak said. "What a wonderful person she was and how much she gave of herself to everybody." The letters became few and far between as the two grew older, were married and started their families, but they never lost touch. In 1967, Ryczak had the chance to take some local students to the Montreal Expo and stopped by Ottawa to meet Wallace in person. Ryczak holds a photograph of when she, pictured left, and Wallace first met in 1967, 17 years after their friendship started. (Heidi Atter/CBC) The years went by with the two calling and writing from their own homes. Ryczak's husband died and she started working as a caterer. Wallace's family continued to grow. At age 65, they decided it was time to see each other again. Wallace invited Ryczak to her daughter's wedding. "I jumped at the chance," Ryczak said. "I hadn't seen them for a long time. So I'm walking around the airport and I thought, 'Gee, will I be able to find them?' But then I heard Kathleen speak and I recognized her voice and I turned around. Here she was." Ryczak, left, and Wallace were so close that Wallace invited Ryczak to her daughter's wedding. The two are shown at the reception. (Submitted by Victoria Ryczak) Ryczak stayed for an entire month. She then went back again for Wallace's 50th wedding anniversary. Soon after that celebration, Wallace's husband had a stroke and died. Throughout the years, the two friends tried to arrange a visit to Saskatchewan for Wallace, but with her husband gone and a farm full of animals to tend to, it wasn't possible. "She always said she was going to come and visit me. That's my only regret, that she never came to see Saskatchewan," Ryczak said. 2021 starts off with difficult news During the pandemic, the friends talked more often than before. Then something changed in January. After not hearing from Wallace for 10 days, Ryczak got a call from Wallace's daughter. Wallace had suffered a stroke and was in palliative care. "I was really shocked. I couldn't stop crying. And that's one thing, I never cry," Ryczak said. "But when she got that stroke I couldn't stop crying." Over the years, Ryczak had a few opportunities to see Wallace in person, but Wallace never made it to Saskatchewan to visit.(Heidi Atter/CBC) Wallace died on Feb. 22, 2021. Ryczak said Wallace phoned her the Friday before that. "She said, 'I'm dying and I love you, Victoria.' I couldn't believe she said that, and I said, 'No, you're not. You still need to come to visit me.'" Ryczak said. "I really thought that she was going to get better." Ryczak said the past year has been tough. She lost other friends as well, but Wallace's death was incredibly difficult. "To me, it's going to be devastating," she said. "Every so often you pick up the phone and talk and there won't be anybody to talk to anymore." Ryczak, left, and Wallace at age 65. (Submitted by Victoria Ryczak) How letters can connect us Ryczak said that in these days of pandemic and isolation, more people should consider writing or talking to others, especially across provincial borders. "When you contact somebody, you should be yourself," Ryczak said. "You should be positive and you should understand other people's feelings, not only your own." Erica Dyck, a University of Saskatchewan history professor that has studied historic letter writing, said letters can be effective in combating isolation. "Letter writing requires a kind of attention. It's a bit formal, but it's also quite an intimate process," she said. Two of the six Canada Post postcard designs being sent out to Canadians across the country, which can be mailed for free.(Canada Post) Dyck said a recent Canada Post initiative to deliver Canadians 13 million postcards that can then be mailed for free is a wonderful opportunity to connect with others. Dyck said people should write about mundane details that they may not think are interested but might actually help others feel connected. "The more we can break down those barriers of isolation and remind people that we're thinking of them and connecting with them even when we can't physically be together, I think these are really important social coping mechanisms that will help us proceed beyond COVID." Ryczak said she can't believe where the time went with Wallace. What started as two 12-year-old girls wanting pen pals bloomed into a lifelong friendship. "Hopefully she's in peace," Ryczak said. "It was a privilege to be her friend." Wallace with two of her grandchildren. She died on Feb. 22, 2021. (Submitted by Victoria Ryczak)
Honda Motor Co Ltd on Thursday unveiled a partially self-driving Legend sedan in Japan, becoming the world's first carmaker to sell a vehicle equipped with new, certified level 3 automation technology. The launch gives Japan's No.2 automaker bragging rights for being the first to market, but lease sales of the level 3 flagship Legend would be limited to a batch of 100 in Japan, at a retail price of 11 million yen ($102,000). Still, the new automation technology is a big step towards eliminating human error-induced accidents, chief engineer Yoichi Sugimoto told reporters.
Conservation authorities in the Ottawa area say the weather's not co-operating for people who want to leave their ice fishing huts out until the March 15 deadline. Ice fishers have until a certain date in Ontario to get their huts off the ice or face a fine: locally, it's March 1 along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, March 15 for most of eastern Ontario and March 31 in Renfrew County and Algonquin Park. People who monitor ice and water conditions around Ottawa advise getting gear off sooner rather than later. "The recent fluctuations in weather have not made for good, safe ice over an extended period," said Ryan Robson, a resource technician with South Nation Conservation, in a news release. The authority covering part of Ottawa and communities to the east said last week it was measuring ice just 15 centimetres thick near some huts around Casselman, Ont., which is considered barely safe for walking. Ice thickness around Petrie Island in east Ottawa ranged from 15 to 51 centimetres in the local association's latest report last weekend and the ice is off-limits to larger vehicles. Do you want this to be your hut? Didn't think so.(Giacomo Panico/CBC) The Rideau Valley Conservation Authority, west of South Nation's area, echoed its neighbour's message, saying huts, gear and waste will pollute the waters people fish if they're left. You also can't just burn your hut down, added South Nation Conservation: it's both illegal and polluting. Ottawa's forecast calls for sunny daytime highs of between 5 C and 8 C to start next week. If you're new or just want a reminder, Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has safety advice and lists of which fish are in season.
As vaccine rollouts accelerate in Ontario, those in disability communities are still wondering why they have not been prioritized. Windsor disability advocate Kevin McShan says prioritizing disabled people for vaccination is important due to many having more vulnerabliities to COVID-19. "Certainly for people with disabilities they're in a higher risk group, so we would hope that it [vaccination] would be faster than it's been." Currently there is no vaccination timeline by the province for those with disabilities outside congregate settings. McShan has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy which some studies have shown put people with the disability at higher risk for respiratory complications from COVID-19. Over one in five Canadians live with a disability, yet questions remain as to why those with disabilities are still waiting to get vaccinated and waiting to learn where they fit on the priority list. Kevin McShan is a disability advocate and podcast host in Windsor. (CBC News) On Tuesday, Theresa Marentette, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit's CEO and chief nursing officer was asked about a potential vaccination timeline for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She said that the supply and delivery of vaccines is an important factor and that the unit is waiting and hoping for more direction. Across the border In Detroit, the vaccination roll-out has garnered the attention of disability groups who are lauding the city's wide eligibility for people with certain disabilities. Dessa Cosma is the executive director of Detroit Disability Power, an organization that led a letter-writing campaign pushing for the city to include people with disabilities in vaccination, which it has as of February 11th. "We started organizing almost a year ago now, to protect our community," says Cosma, describing how she and others in disability communities knew they would have to advocate early on in the pandemic to get better supports. Dessa Cosma is the Executive Director of Detroit Disability Power. (CBC News) When it was announced that Detroit would open vaccination for residents over the age of 18 with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Cosma says it was a relief. "Organizers with disabilities like myself are extremely proud to have had this major win." In some respects, Detroit is leading the U.S. with equitable vaccination which includes disabilities like cerebral palsy, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and types of visual and hearing impairments. Dessa Cosma is a Detroit advocate who has been fighting for wider vaccination eligibility for disabled communities. On February 17th, she got her first shot of the Moderna vaccine. (Dessa Cosma ) Phase 2 in Ontario Phase 2 of Ontario's vaccination roll-out is expected to run between April and June. But the prioritization has been received with confusion over who among disabled communities can get vaccinated. In a statement to CBC News, the Ministry of Health was not able to provide a timeline for those with disabilities. The province added it is using an approach that will ensure that the vaccine gets to the "most vulnerable first, who have higher risk outcomes from contracting the virus and are at a higher risk of spreading the virus." When further asked if the ministry would begin gathering data related to COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations and recoveries of those with disabilities, it responded that data collection has grown throughout the pandemic. But it did not specify whether this data would involve COVID-19 statistics related to the general population of people with disabilities. What is in a definition? Tova Perlmutter is a dual Canadian-U.S.citizen and currently lives in Windsor. With the border closed, she has been unable to cross into Detroit to even have the opportunity to get vaccinated. However, from Windsor, Perlmutter has been contributing heavily as a disability activist to push for Detroit to widen its vaccination roll-out. After seeing some success in the U.S. city, Perlmutter says she still is unsure why Ontario's vaccine roll-out has been sluggish in addition to being confusing. Tova Perlmutter is a Canadian-U.S. dual citizen and disability activist who currently lives in Windsor. (CBC News) "It looks like they're talking about serving a bunch of different groups but it doesn't say what those conditions are or how they would apply — a definition should include people with a wide range of disabilities, developmental, intellectual and others." The defining of disabilities matters given that Perlmutter has general anxiety disorder and ADHD. She sees them as "invisible disabilities" and does not know in what capacity they would ever be considered in vaccination priority. Had Perlmutter been in Detroit, she would have fallen under the eligibility for a vaccine, which clearly includes ADHD as a qualifier. Where is the data and why does it matter? There is little information about the number of people in the province who have disabilities and have contracted or died from COVID-19. In a statement to CBC News, the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services said that since the start of the pandemic, there have been 699 cases and 23 deaths of adults with developmental disabilities diagnosed with COVID-19 at ministry-funded residential settings. The ministry said it is working with a research institute to look at infection trends among those with disabilities. But the lack of information is troubling for experts like Dr.Yona Lunsky who is a senior scientist with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). Dr.Yona Lunsky is a senior scientist with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and she focuses on developmental disabilities. (camh.ca) Lunsky's expertise is in developmental disabilities where she directs a research partnership that aims to improve the health of people living with developmental disabilities. "If we don't have the data, because we haven't collected it, then we don't have that science right to inform our decision making," One study that has shown how stark the disparity is between disabled and non-disabled people during the pandemic, comes out of the U.K. from the Office for National Statistics. The independent institution found that from January 2020 to November 2020, six in ten COVID-19 deaths were people with disabilities. Putting that into further perspective, over 30,000 disabled people lost their lives to the virus. Yet they only made up 17 per cent of the population. This is a page from the Health Care Access Research and Developmental Disabilities vaccine infographic. The infographic aims to help answer questions people with disabilities might have surrounding the pandemic and vaccination. (hcarddcovid.com) Dr. Zain Chagla an infectious diseases specialist at St. Joseph's Hospital in Hamilton says that disabilities are incredibly nuanced but there are some common risks to be aware of. "Often their disability does give them comorbidities, if people have neurological disabilities, they often have cardiac or respiratory complications from them." Chagla also notes the catch-22 in trying to maintain public health guidelines but still needing outside help to accomplish necessary tasks. "It makes it very difficult for people to follow a stay at home order and unfortunately have to expose themselves for the sake of their own health care maintenance." Deciding vaccination priority can be tricky when the severity and types of disabilities start becoming compared, as Chagla notes, since there will be varied levels of risk of dying from COVID-19. Looking to the future In Canada, certain provinces like B.C. and Saskatchewan have started including specific underlying health conditions or opening vaccination for "adults with very significant developmental disabilities that increase risk."
When Michael Cnudde, who has autism, learned that lawyers for the man accused of Toronto's deadly van attack in 2018 would be using the disorder as a defence for their client, his immediate reaction was: "How dare they?" Yet despite the rejection of that argument on Wednesday by Ontario Superior Court Justice Anne Molloy, who found Alek Minassian guilty on all 10 counts of first-degree murder, there is still concern that the trial itself further stigmatized the autistic community. "There's a lot of damage that's been done already," said Cnudde, who dismissed the defence's arguments as "junk science." Minassian, who was also found guilty of 16 counts of attempted murder, had pleaded not guilty to all charges. His lawyers argued that he was not criminally responsible for the deaths and violence he wrought because his autism spectrum disorder (ASD) left him incapable of determining that his actions were morally wrong. Autism activists expressed outrage at the unsubstantiated defence. During the trial both Autism Ontario and Autism Canada released statements denouncing the defence's attribution of their client's actions to his "autistic way of thinking." WATCH | Defence misunderstands autistic people, PhD student says: While Malloy dismissed the defence's argument, she did determine ASD qualifies as a "mental disorder" under Section 16 of the Criminal Code. That section allows a defendant to claim they were not criminally responsible for a crime committed "while suffering from a mental disorder that rendered the person incapable of appreciating the nature and quality of the act or omission or of knowing that it was wrong." But Malloy's ruling that ASD should be a consideration under Section 16 is in itself troubling, says Cnudde. "Even raising that possibility is concerning. It just further raises the issue of one day, this happening all over again," said Cnudde, who is communications and resource development specialist at Autism Ontario but was speaking on behalf of himself. Doris Barkley of Stratford, Ont., whose 23-year-old son Ryan has autism, says she believes a lot of people who heard ASD used as a defence will now have a faulty opinion of people with autism, that "they can be evil like this and want to kill others. "And I think that's where a lot of damage has been done," she said. WATCH | Remembering the victims: Pandora's box In a statement, Autism Ontario said while it was relieved by the verdict, it was also concerned about the damage already inflicted on the community. The organization said the case has forced it to push back against the stigma it thought it had made progress on removing over the past few decades. "We are concerned about the potential ramifications of this defence being used in future cases and the difficulties it will cause for autistic people and their families," Margaret Spoelstra, executive director of Autism Ontario, told CBC News in an interview. She fears that "the Pandora's box is open on this," and that there could be "long-term implications." "I think that is an additional barrier to inclusion," Spoelstra said. "Having this story attached to autism adds another barrier to people finding opportunities and acceptance in their community." WATCH | Family members, victim and Crown attorney react to judge's decision: Backlash from the case Dermot Cleary, board chair of Autism Canada, said he believes the trial and the autism defence has certainly made life more difficult for those with the disorder. "Once the charges are laid and once the defence is articulated through the media, there's a perception on the part of some viewers that it's true, that there's some basis in truth, otherwise it wouldn't have been uttered," he said. He said his organization has received an inordinate number of anecdotes and experiences of those with ASD who say they have been dealing with a backlash from the case. In her ruling, Malloy said there was no other Canadian case dealing directly with whether ASD is a "mental disorder." But Cleary said her decision to characterize it as such motivates his organization to see what can be done to take a closer look at her description and whether "it can be made to more accurately reflect those on the spectrum." "The last thing we want to see is this exploited again, as it was done here. Because, you know, in balancing the benefit to the defence of one individual at the cost of the stigma to half a million Canadians, to me, that just does not seem like a good way to proceed." Criminal defence lawyer Karen McArthur, who was not involved in the case, said she doesn't believe, however, courts will now be besieged with ASD defences. But she said the autism community should be prepared for heightened scrutiny of the disorder itself, and the extent to which those with autism may have a diminished understanding of their acts. That this defence was raised "will send ripples across changing seas, as to whether or not autism diminishes one's understanding of their acts or their ability to control same," she said. "This may cause hardship for the autism community in the immediate future." Voula Marinos, an associate professor in the department of Child and Youth Studies at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont., says she doesn't believe this case "will open the floodgates," but that ASD could be used in sentencing of lesser crimes. "This is what you're most likely to see that someone being found guilty of an offence and at sentencing they introduce ASD as a mitigating factor," she said.
Health officials will hold a pop-up COVID-19 testing centre Friday for the patrons of a popular restaurant in Carleton Place, Ont., that's been identified as one place where the coronavirus may have spread freely in late February. But The Thirsty Moose Pub and Eatery isn't to blame for the origin of the outbreak, which has been connected to 20 cases as of Wednesday morning, those officials say. According to the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit, the source of the outbreak was a residential gathering last month where people didn't wear masks or take any precautions against spreading the illness. "There's a false sense of reassurance," said Dr. Paula Stewart, the medical officer of health for the region, currently in the green zone with the least amount of provincial restrictions. "It's so easy to assume because I know someone, 'Oh, they would never have COVID,'" she said. "But you don't know where they've been in the last 14 days." People infected at that party have since spread the illness to not only The Thirsty Moose but also child-care services, recreational sports teams and other businesses. Stewart said the health unit would rely on education, rather than fines, to correct the behaviour. Authorities have traced COVID-19 cases connected to The Thirsty Moose, a restaurant in Carleton Place, Ont., back to an earlier residential gathering. The restaurant is now closed.(Francis Ferland/CBC) 4 dates of concern The health unit said customers of The Thirsty Moose may have been exposed between the hours of 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Feb. 21, Feb. 23, Feb. 25 and Feb. 26. Just three days before the first of those dates, the restaurant used its Facebook page to explain to customers that walk-ins were welcome but that only groups six and smaller could be accommodated. The restaurant, which is now closed, declined an interview request Wednesday. "My experience, whenever I go there, [is that] they've been following the protocol," said Thomas Sabela, who described himself as a regular customer of the Thirsty Moose. "They seem to have been very conscientious about how they were dealing with the outbreak." Sam Maalouf, who owns a pizza place next door, said it was "a shame" the pub was now closed. "It could happen to anybody," Maalouf said. Petra Graber decided to voluntarily remove indoor seating from her nearby bistro when it became clear that customers from different households were dining together.(Francis Ferland/CBC) 'Our downtown is still safe' Stewart suggested that the virus may have spread because people misinterpreted symptoms like headache, sore throat, congestion, fatigue and especially diarrhea. The outbreak, however, was highly localized rather than widely spread through the region, Steward said. She said she hoped it wouldn't trigger the province to move the region from green pandemic restrictions to yellow. The health unit also announced Wednesday that a resident had tested positive for a COVID-19 variant of concern, the first such case in the region. Petra Graber, the owner of The Good Food Company, a bistro not far from The Thirsty Moose, told CBC she decided to remove her indoor seating for the winter season when she noticed people from different "bubbles" gathering. "This isn't what should be happening," she said, referring to unmasked friends from different households sitting at small tables across from each other. Kate Murray, the coordinator of the business improvement area for downtown Carleton Place, called the restaurant a "staple of the community," one that many locals had grown up with. "Our downtown is still safe," Murray said. "And we hope that people will continue to come down."