Top tax-writing Republican says TPP trade deal not dead in Congress

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) (L) is seen at the Joint Economic Committee hearings in Washington May 22, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady on Tuesday said Republicans should defend free trade and the party should defend the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the new Congress.

"Republicans are going to continue to support the freedom to trade," the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee said.

When it comes to the controversial TPP, which president-elect Donald Trump has opposed, Brady said the plan was defensible.

"Don't withdraw, renegotiate," he told a panel of the Wall Street Journal CEO Council. "There is plenty that levels the playing field. Renegotiate. Fix the problems that exist today. Let's find a way to move forward."

(Reporting By Patrick Rucker and Howard Schneider)

  • Tech companies may leave Alberta over Kenney's devotion to oilpatch
    Business
    CBC

    Tech companies may leave Alberta over Kenney's devotion to oilpatch

    The Alberta government's decision to commit billions of dollars to support the Keystone XL oil pipeline came as a surprise when it was announced last week, despite the government working with TC Energy for about six months, according to officials.What was unsurprising about the announcement was the continued unabashed support by the government for the province's oilpatch, which some tech sector companies say is driving them to consider leaving Alberta.Premier Jason Kenney's campaign promises during last year's election included setting up a $30-million "war room" to attack those who criticize the industry on social media or elsewhere, urging oil companies to sue environmental groups like Greenpeace for defamation and, like U.S. President Donald Trump, pulling back regulations on oil and gas companies.> 'What is Alberta doing to become a successful player in the 21st century?' \- Trent JohnsenOnce in power, the UCP quickly made good on those promises, while also cutting property taxes for natural gas producers, providing a loan to clean up oil and gas wells and sending Kenney himself to London and New York to try and attract investment back into Alberta's energy industry.In recent weeks, with the oilpatch on its knees because of plummeting fuel demand during the pandemic and OPEC countries flooding the globe with oil, the Alberta government announced it's granting extensions for oil and gas leases for one year and paying the industry's regulatory levies.The Globe and Mail recently stated "A single talisman has defined Jason Kenney's time as premier of Alberta: oil."The deep devotion to the oil and gas sector is why some technology companies in the province are now looking to relocate elsewhere."It's frustrating as hell," said Trent Johnsen, who has been involved in Alberta's tech sector for about 30 years, including as the founder of Hookflash Inc. and president of Shift Networks Inc. He has also been involved with Innovate Calgary and the Creative Destruction Lab, and currently, he's the founder and chief executive of Liveweb.io, which provides live video messaging services for companies to interact on their web sites with customers."We're betting exclusively on oil and gas," he said. "What is Alberta doing to become a successful player in the 21st century of the new economy?"The billions of dollars of support for the Keystone XL project seems to be the last straw for Johnsen, who now wants to leave the province. In general, he said the majority of Albertans believe the quality of life and future of the province is predicated on fossil fuels."Not only am I actively looking to relocate my family and business, I am also going to publicly work with other technology companies in Alberta to help them move to more technology ecosystem, future-friendly cities," he said. "My customers are in the U.S. and Europe. It doesn't matter where we live and work. We can go anywhere."Johnsen said Alberta is moving backwards by cutting funding to organizations like Alberta Innovates and eliminating important tax credits.The UCP faced criticism by some in the tech sector last fall for its decision to eliminate the Alberta Investor Tax Credit, which was introduced by the previous NDP government and provided a 30 per cent tax credit to investors who put money into specific industries such as clean technology and digital animation. The Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit and the Capital Investment Tax Credit were also wiped out, among other programs.Those tax credits made a difference, he said, and are a better approach than choosing to support a single company, like a profitable pipeline developer."They shouldn't be investing a billion dollars directly in anything. They should be making policy, where there is a billion dollars for the market to find its highest way to return. That's the structure of an investor tax credit, where the government says 'we're not picking any winners,'" he said. 'Like swimming upstream'Trying to grow a tech company in Alberta can feel like swimming upstream because of the lack of provincial support, according to Anthea Sargeaunt, founder and chief executive of 2S Water, an Edmonton company developing technology that detects metals in water in real-time."We expect the Alberta government to support oil and gas. That's what they have done up until now," she said. "But, there is a lot of new industry coming up that could really make a massive difference to Alberta's economy. We don't have to be tied to this perpetual oil and gas chain."Growth of her business has slowed because of the elimination of the tax credits, she said."It's been a difficult slog. Those tax credits were a really important part of our offering for investors. Knowing the government was supporting them coming in, was helping them take the risk," she said.So far, Sargeaunt said she has received more financial support from the federal government than the provincial government. Relocating her startup elsewhere is a possibility."It's a conversation we've had and will continue to have. It's a tough decision to make and we don't want to necessarily make, but we want our business to succeed more than we want to stay in Alberta at this point. That is something we are pretty seriously looking at."The provincial government did form a working group to develop ways to support tech companies in the province. Economic Development Minister Tanya Fir is currently reviewing the group's report and recommendations.Fir was unavailable for an interview, but in an email, her spokesperson said the tech sector will be a key part of diversifying Alberta's economy.Ninety-two per cent of Albertans think the province should do more to encourage the development of the technology sector, according to a recent poll by CBC News. The survey of 1,200 Albertans was conducted between March 2 and March 18, 2020, with a margin of error of +/-2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The government has often pointed to its decision to cut the corporate tax rate as a move that will help reduce costs for all industries in the province and compensates for the loss of some tax credits.Some in the tech sector dispute that argument since many startups don't turn a profit for several years.There are differing viewpoints in the tech sector right now between those who want to relocate and those who want to keep the faith and stay in the province, according to Johnsen."There's a lot of smart people who are trying to remain believers [in Alberta], but when you have provincial political leadership, with a singular focus, on a legacy industry — I honestly feel like we're trying to keep coal mines," he said.He wants to see the oil and gas industry be successful, but said other industries in the province should receive the same support."We should be all-in on diversification and we'd be wildly successful," he said.

  • Celebrities reveal new sides during virus, but face backlash
    Celebrity
    The Canadian Press

    Celebrities reveal new sides during virus, but face backlash

    Portia de Rossi has been teaching herself how to cook during the coronavirus lockdown. It's been an eye-opening experience for the actress — and for her fans.She's cut herself and been burned, yes. She's also discovered she doesn't like some Indian flavours and that her longtime wife, talk show host Ellen Degeneres, isn't a fan of curry and garbanzo beans.“We’re learning a lot about each other in quarantine!” she admits on Instagram.We are indeed learning a lot about each other these days, and that's especially true with our celebrities. Social distancing has meant they have no army of publicists or glam squad. They're bored and unfiltered — and often incredibly relatable.Cardi B recently inexplicably ran headfirst into a massive Jenga tower and a daffy Madonna sang her hit “Vogue” into a hairbrush but changed the lyrics to include fried fish. Hillary Swank learned to crochet — and now has a new knit hat to prove it. Ariana Grande showed off her natural hair and Marlee Matlin put on her old Oscar-winning dress. “I’m losing my mind but what else is there to do?” she wrote.Stuck inside, Justin Bieber reverted to a childhood objective. Clad in a onesie and a winter hat, the singer attempted a round of “ The Floor Is Lava ” in his massive living room, leaping onto cushions, chairs, foot stools, two skateboard and a roller. The video has been seen over 9 million times.“I think now people need the human touch even more, and I think celebrities really understand that,” says Neal Schaffer, a social media strategy consultant whose new book is “ The Age of Influence.” "People want to relate to real things, real people.”While some influencers and stars continue to post a flood of flattering, carefully stage-managed images with every hair in place, others are indeed mirroring us — unshaven, unwashed and not ashamed.“When I drink, I get really, really brilliant ideas,” the singer Pink confessed recently. "And last night, I got an idea — I can cut hair.” She then reveals some choppy, shaved spots on her head.Celebrities, it turns out, really are just like us: They get drunk and do stupid stuff, too. And they're like us in another way, too: Pink later announced that she also had contracted the virus.The coronavirus has also unlocked places we never expected to go, like Selena Gomez's bathroom and inside Broadway star Adrienne Warren's bathtub. We've gotten to inspect Rosie O’Donnell's messy garage/art studio.Theater icon Patti LuPone was taking part in a livestreamed benefit led by O’Donnell when theatre fans grew enchanted by something they'd never seen before: Lupone's cool basement. They could see a colorful, light-up vintage jukebox and a wall rack stacked with cassette tapes.So LuPone leaned into the interest, later making little video tours on Twitter that include her subterranean one-armed bandit, a massage table, mementos, her desk and a pinball machine. “I have so much to show you,” she says.Yuval Ben-Itzhak, the CEO of Socialbakers, a social media marketing company, has noticed the trend and encourages it. He suspects fans will reward the more honest of celebrities at the other end of this crisis.“By giving their audience a glimpse into their lives — from showing their homes, their families or themselves looking casual, like people typically do at home — celebrities are likely to actually increase their engagement,” Ben-Itzhak says. “Users seem to really engage with natural, authentic-looking content, especially right now. It gives a feeling of 'We're all in this together.'”We may be all in this together, but we're not equal. After all, celebs may be just like us, except they're usually much richer. The new intimate view we have of the famous reveals a chasm: Bieber's living room is large enough to fit several regular living rooms. Not everyone can self-isolate on a yacht.A few weeks into the virus' onslaught in America, some commentators had soured on the shenanigans of celebrities. “I don't care what celebs are doing in their mansions,” one wrote on Instagram. Another posted a warning: “Funny how irrelevant they become when real problems curse us.”The first real sign that celebrity exposure was curdling was when “Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot led a sing-along of "Imagine" with such stars as James Marsden, Zoe Kravitz, Amy Adams and Mark Ruffalo. Pushback came quickly, with some commentators calling it “cringeworthy” and “out of touch.” They asked for donations, not songs.Akshaya Sreenivasan, a social media marketing expert at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School, says as the COVID-19 crisis drags on, celebrities are bound to face more online hate.“Even Oprah is not going to be immune,” she says. “The big guys in Hollywood are going to be shredded to pieces, especially if they continue to post on Instagram, ‘Oh my God, I’m so bored. I'm drinking martinis in my private pool.'”Sreenivasan anticipates some celebs will lose followers if they continue posting without sensitivity to the losses outside their mansions. And she thinks many will open their wallets to compensate for all the years of Instagram glam. “They need to do something to protect that brand,” she says.There's also danger if celebrities unartfully choose to profit off the virus. Social media experts warn that this may not be the time to be pushing products for gain.Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson walks toward that line when he relentlessly floods his Instagram account to highlight and hype the brand of tequila he owns."You really need to be sensitive to your audience, and you need to be very careful if you want to walk that line,” says Schaffer. “It is a dangerous subject. A celebrity is only as good as their community. It can work against them as quickly as it works for them.”Despite this new and unvarnished look at celebs and the pushback it has triggered, Sreenivasan is skeptical that anything will really change once normal life resumes.“We've had this conversation forever,” she says. “We're going to move on until the next problem comes, and we'll have this inequality conversation again.”——Follow AP Entertainment Writer Mark Kennedy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwitsMark Kennedy, The Associated Press

  • Ontario confirms 379 new COVID-19 cases as testing declines, protective equipment shortage persists
    Health
    CBC

    Ontario confirms 379 new COVID-19 cases as testing declines, protective equipment shortage persists

    The province reported another 379 cases of COVID-19 Tuesday but saw a continued decline in testing since the start of the month, with a drop from 6,200 test results on April 1 to just 2,568 today.The province's total number of confirmed cases is now 4,726. The official tally includes 153 deaths, though CBC News has compiled data from local health units and counted at least 193 deaths throughout the province.Of those confirmed cases, 1,802 are considered resolved. More than 500 health-care workers in the province have tested positive, representing about 11 per cent of all of the confirmed cases in Ontario. Another 691 people are awaiting test results. The number of tests Ontario has completed daily has dropped steadily over the past week — a worrying trend, according to doctors who argue that widespread testing is the only way to get an accurate picture of the spread of COVID-19 and a crucial tool to make sure those who are infected don't transmit the virus further.The number of tests "is definitely not the curve we want to see flattening," tweeted Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, an associate professor of family medicine at the University of Ottawa.Province not trying to limit tests, health officials sayThe province's Ministry of Health had targeted conducting 5,000 tests per day by the end of March, increasing weekly to reach a goal peak of 19,000 tests per day by the third week of April.Ontario now has the lab capacity to run 13,000 tests per day but the province's COVID-19 assessment centres are only submitting about 3,500 tests daily, said Hayley Chazan, director of media relations for Health Minister Christine Elliott in an email."This surplus in capacity means that we can now look at testing more people, particularly priority populations, including health care staff, residents and staff in long-term care and retirement homes and Indigenous communities," wrote Chazan."We expect to have more to say about a new testing strategy that makes full use of this capacity shortly."Ontario has administered a total of 81,364 tests, more than any other province, said Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer of health. Williams said testing centres aren't at capacity, and urged anyone with symptoms, or who may have been exposed to someone with the virus, to get tested.  "We have been encouraging people with any of those [symptoms] to go forward and get assessed ... We aren't trying to limit that." 51 outbreaks at long-term care homes, 3 more at Ontario jails Of the 614 total current cases that have required hospitalization: * 233 are in intensive care units. * 187 are on a ventilator.There have been a total of 51 outbreaks at long-term care homes in Ontario. Meanwhile, the province confirmed that three Ontario jails experienced outbreaks between March 20 and March 27:  * One inmate tested positive at Monteith Correctional Complex. * Three inmates and one staff member testes positive at Toronto South Detention Centre. * One staff member tested positive at Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre. One outside contractor also tested positive at South West Detention Centre.Another five inmates at Grand Valley Institution for Women, Canada's largest prison for women, also tested positive for the virus last week.Cannabis stores to partially resume business Ontario passed an emergency order to temporarily allow legal cannabis retails to reopen, according to Jenessa Crognali, spokesperson for the province's attorney general Doug Downey. Last week, cannabis stores were forced to close after being taken off the province's list of essential businesses. Under the emergency order, the shops can now offer curbside delivery and pickup service. Maple Leaf Foods employees in Hamilton, Brampton test positive Workers at Maple Leaf Foods plants in Hamilton and Brampton have also tested positive for COVID-19, the company said in a news release on Tuesday. "We informed all of our employees the same day we learned of the positive test results," the release read. "These cases are the first two to occur among Maple Leaf Foods' 13,000 employees." The company said infected staff, one at each plant, are staying at home and anyone who was in contact with them has been directed to self-quarantine for two weeks.First Ontario-produced masks ready for use, Ford saysFord announced that the first made-in-Ontario face masks are ready, one day after he warned that the province would run out of personal protective equipment in one week.Ford was at Woodbridge's manufacturing facility in Vaughan Tuesday where the first 1,000 Level 3 masks have been produced.The company hopes to eventually produce one million a week and have them certified as N95 masks to be used in all health-care settings.Meanwhile, a shipment of badly needed medical masks is expected Tuesday.At a news conference Tuesday, Premier Doug Ford called the news from 3M about the deal it reached to continue supplying masks a welcome one, after U.S. President Donald Trump earlier tried to compel the company to halt distribution outside that country. But Ford also said, "There's still a lot of work to be done to secure enough PPE for the province of Ontario." Ford has said the province is still facing a major shortage of key supplies and could be out of masks in less than two weeks, even with the new shipment.The premier said Monday a shipment of about 500,000 masks had been held up at the Canada -U.S. border, but was expected in the province by the end of the day. For now, domestic supply is ramping-up and the first made-in-Ontario face masks are ready for use.Ford said Tuesday that Ontarians cannot solely rely on the global supply chain, adding "we need the federal government to come through" on its supply, at the same time underscoring the need for the province to produce its own supplies.Faulty masks recalled Meanwhile, the City of Toronto is recalling thousands of poorly-made surgical masks that were given to front-line workers.In a news release on Tuesday, the city said a recently-purchased order of 4,000 boxes containing 50 masks each — equivalent to more than $200,000 — do not meet "specifications the city requires for such masks." Some 62,600 masks had already been distributed to long-term care homes on March 28. The city is now investigating to determine how many employees were caring for patients while wearing the masks and whether there was possible exposure to COVID-19.Williams said all shipments of masks should be inspected to ensure they are up to par with the province's requirements. "We have to investigate to see how it got into the field," he said Tuesday.  New online portal matches skilled workers with employersFord also announced the launch of a new online portal to match skilled front-line workers with employers who need positions filled. The province says the Health Workforce Matching Portal will allow health-care providers with a range of experiences —including retired or non-active health-care professionals, internationally-educated health-care professionals, students, and volunteers with health care experience — to join in the province's fight against COVID-19. "The portal will match the availability and skill sets of frontline health care workers to the employers in need of assistance to perform a variety of public health functions, such as case and contact management," the province said in a news release.Asked to what extent the new measures will include internationally-trained professionals, Health Minister Christine Elliott said those people may or may not be called on specifically to practice medicine depending on their skills, but that the province needs "all hands on deck."The sort of experience gained during COVID-19 will be important in helping internationally-trained professionals obtain their Ontario credentials, Elliot said. But as for whether any long-term changes could be coming to the credentializing process, she said: "That's something we will have to take a look at once we're through this."Warnings for first respondersOntario's first responders will now be warned before they go to a site where they will come into contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19.Health Minister Elliott says the alerts will ensure the health of those working on the front lines.The information disclosed will be limited to the person's name, address, date of birth and whether the individual has had a positive test result.Layoffs at the ROMThe Royal Ontario Museum is temporarily laying off some employees, while others — including executives — are taking a 20 per cent pay cut amid the COVID-19 outbreak.In a memo sent to staff, ROM director and CEO Josh Basseches said that the institution will likely not reopen to the public until the end of June, or possibly later.The museum will continue to pay full and part-time staff through April 10.Donation bins overflowingWith donation bins overflowing and in some cases surrounded by illegally dumped garbage, Diabetes Canada has issued an open letter to community leaders and elected officials to help raise awareness about the issue.The association, which stopped donation pickups on March 23 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said the bin situation is "posing a serious health and safety issue."Meanwhile, Ford made what for many little Ontarians will be a highly anticipated add to the list of essential workers in the province: the Easter Bunny. The bunny will be expected to comply with all existing orders and while authorized to deliver chocolate, candy and other treats, cannot do so in parks, playgrounds or any other outdoor areas where Ontario has prohibited groups from gathering.

  • Group of First Nations want Supreme Court to hear appeal on Trans Mountain
    World
    The Canadian Press

    Group of First Nations want Supreme Court to hear appeal on Trans Mountain

    VANCOUVER — A group of British Columbia First Nations is seeking to challenge the federal government's second approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project in Canada's highest court.The Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Ts'elxweyeqw Tribes and Coldwater Indian Band say they have each filed applications with the Supreme Court of Canada.They are seeking leaves to appeal a Feb. 4 decision by the Federal Court of Appeal that found cabinet's approval of the pipeline project in June 2019 was reasonable under the law.While some court processes are paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, deadlines for leave to appeal applications at the Supreme Court remain in effect.The First Nations say they have fought and challenged the project through every federal court and now they want to take it to the next step.In a video news conference Tuesday, Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish leaders said they're challenging the adequacy of Indigenous consultation leading up to the second approval of the oil pipeline project.Tsleil-Waututh Chief Leah George-Wilson said the Appeal Court's decision represents a setback for reconciliation."If unchallenged, it could change the way consultation and consultation cases happen in Canada, making it less meaningful for protecting our inherent constitutionally protected Aboriginal rights," George-Wilson said.The decision relied on a finding that cabinet's determination of its own consultation process was adequate, and the First Nations argue the decision should have been made at an arm's length, she said."Cabinet is not an expert in consultation and as owners of the project, they were unable to objectively assess the adequacy of their own consultation," George-Wilson said.The Federal Court of Appeal overturned cabinet's first approval of the pipeline expansion in 2018, citing insufficient consultation with Indigenous Peoples and a failure to take into account the affect on marine animals. After another round of consultations and a second look at how marine life would be affected, cabinet gave the project a green light.Last month, the Supreme Court of Canada decided not to hear five challenges from environment and Indigenous groups from British Columbia, which included the Tsleil-Waututh and the Squamish First Nations.Some of those groups challenged a Federal Court of Appeal decision in February not to hear their request to consider whether there had been sufficient consultation.Squamish Coun. Khelsilem said the First Nations are under increased pressure during the pandemic but construction on the Trans Mountain pipeline is still proceeding.While community members are asked to stay inside and avoid contact with one another, major resources projects have been allowed to proceed."For the nations it's challenging that the governments are asking us to be on lockdown for weeks or months while at the same time pushing projects through our territories," said Khelsilem, who goes by a single name."It creates an uneven playing field where we are not able to respond to the scale and scope of the requests for comment and consultation because our offices are closed and our staff are dealing with a crisis situation."The Squamish Nation, which has about 4,100 members centred around the Burrard Inlet and Howe Sound, believe the seven-fold increase in tanker traffic from the Trans Mountain expansion poses too significant a risk to their traditional territory."We are very disappointed to have to go to court over this over and over again with this government but we are doing this in the best interest of our community and our nation," Khelsilem said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 7, 2020.The Canadian Press

  • COVID-19 in Quebec: Legault points to stable intensive care numbers as positive sign
    World
    CBC

    COVID-19 in Quebec: Legault points to stable intensive care numbers as positive sign

    * Quebec has 9,340 cases and 150 deaths attributable to COVID-19. There are 583 people in hospital, including 164 in intensive care.A total of 150 people have now died from COVID-19 in Quebec, but Premier François Legault says the small increase in the number of hospitalizations, particularly in intensive care, is encouraging.In all, Quebec now has 9,340 confirmed cases. Of those, 583 people are in hospital, an increase of 50 cases, and there are 164 people in intensive care, the same as a day earlier. "It's the good news of the day," Legault said at Tuesday's briefing."This doesn't mean we can ease our efforts. We cannot spoil all that we've accomplished in the last few weeks."Legault acknowledged some caution is required when assessing the hospitalization numbers because not every sick person in a long-term care home (CHSLD) is being transferred to hospital.But even if that were the case, the rate would still be lower than the province anticipated, he said.  The main area of concern remains CHSLDs, many of which are struggling to contain the virus. Nearly 45 per cent of the people who have died were residents at a long-term care home.Health Minister Danielle McCann said doctors and nurses who aren't needed at their usual jobs, given the closures to certain clinics and services amid the outbreak, are being redeployed to CHSLDs."We're doing everything we can to protect the elderly," she said.On Tuesday, public health experts with the Quebec government released their projections, estimating that between 1,200 and 9,000 people could die of COVID-19 by the end of April.The province released two scenarios:The optimistic scenario projects 29,212 confirmed cases, with as many as 1,404 people in hospital at once and 1,263 deaths by April 30.A second scenario projects 59,845 confirmed cases, with as many as 3,208 people hospitalized at one time and 8,860 deaths.Arruda had been openly reluctant to unveil the data, but the province has been under pressure to follow in Ontario's footsteps.Modelling revealed by public health officials there last week showed they expect COVID-19 could kill 3,000 to 15,000 people over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, the ramifications of which could last up to two years.Earlier in the day, Legault warned the most dire scenarios could be alarming to the public. But he said if Quebecers continue to follow the social distancing guidelines those will be avoidable.Legault and Arruda were not at the briefing detailing the projections, which were presented by Deputy Health Minister Yvan Gendron and an epidemiologist and government consultant, Richard Massé. The premier said he wanted to ensure the projections are not viewed as political."I think the answers, the figures, the forecasts they have to be done by expert not by politicians," he said.Outbreaks continue to grow in long-term care homesHundreds of seniors' and long-term care homes have reported cases of COVID-19, and there are outbreaks at several locations. In Laval, the long-term care home CHSLD Sainte-Dorothée has reported 105 cases, nearly half of its resident population. Eight people have died. At Montreal's hospital specialized in geriatrics, Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal, there have been nine deaths attributable to the disease and 52 patients who have tested positive for the virus. Hospitalizations in Quebec, Ontario and B.C.Quebec has been hit harder by the pandemic, experts say, because of an earlier March break, with more travellers coming or returning to the province in late February and early March.CBC journalists compared the growth in the number of hospitalizations in the three major provinces the pandemic has spread widely: Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia. Quebec has seen the sharpest rise, while B.C.'s curve appears relatively flat.

  • Health
    CBC

    What you need to know about COVID-19 in B.C. on April 7, 2020

    THE LATEST: * A total of 1,291 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in B.C. * 805 of those cases have recovered from the illness. * As of Tuesday afternoon, 138 patients were hospitalized, including 66 in intensive care. * 43 people have died. * 23 long-term care homes now have cases. * The Vancouver Park Board is banning cars from Stanley Park and encouraging cyclists to stay off the seawall.Health officials are urging British Columbians to stick with physical distancing measures, as the evidence mounts suggesting B.C. is starting to flatten the COVID-19 curve.The number of patients hospitalized fell to 138 on Tuesday, down from 149 on Saturday. However, four new deaths have been recorded, bringing the province's total to 43.And the daily rate of new confirmed cases appears to have slowed. On Tuesday, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced 25 new cases, bringing the total number of confirmed patients to 1,291 to date, with 805 recovered.With several religious holidays approaching, including Easter, Passover, Ramadan and Vaisakhi, Henry once again urged British Columbians to observe their faiths through virtual celebrations."Please, now is the time to pay attention to our seniors and our elders," Henry said. "We protect them by connecting safely from a distance."On Tuesday morning the Vancouver Park Board announced it is banning cars from Stanley Park effective Wednesday. Cyclists are being asked to start using Stanley Park Drive, which will be entirely car-free, and avoid the seawall to put more space between themselves and pedestrians.More than 25 staff have been assigned to crowded areas of the park to remind people to stay two metres apart. Employees have issued 1,600 warnings to date, for people who aren't staying far enough away from others in public.Breaking the chains of transmissionHenry and Health Minister Adrian Dix have cautioned against easing up on strict physical distancing measures that have kept most British Columbians at home for the past few weeks."We have to continue to break these chains of transmission. We have to continue to work very hard as a community and a health system, especially in the weeks to come," Dix told CBC's The Early Edition on Tuesday."So, on one hand there's positive news ... on the other hand, we have 39 deaths and every day there's a death from this is a very, very sad day for everybody."The most recent death in B.C. was a man in his 40s who died outside of hospital, marking one of the province's youngest deaths and only the second in the community. The B.C. Coroners Service is investigating, as it investigates any sudden or unexpected death in the province."It's an extraordinarily sad case and difficult case. All of these, every single one of them, is reviewed — both for the implications for COVID-19 and the implications for health care," said Dix."In cases such as this, which is different than other cases, we need to learn. We need to see, if anything, what we could have done better in responding to the case. We owe that both to the family of the person who died and to the whole system."Dix said for privacy reasons he could not confirm whether the patient was in contact with health-care professionals before his death.On Monday, Henry said she also continues to be concerned about new community outbreaks popping up, including in places like long-term care homes and correctional facilities. She has confirmed that a new outbreak had been detected at Mission Institution."These hotspots are concerning. They can quickly challenge our response," Henry said. "We must be steadfast in holding the line."The Vancouver Park Board is announcing new measures Tuesday morning to encourage physical distancing at Stanley Park. The park is one of the city's biggest tourist attractions, drawing millions of visitors every year.800K applications for CERBThe Canada Revenue Agency its opening applications for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) on Tuesday to those born in April, May and June.The agency said roughly 800,000 people applied after applications opened for the first time on Monday.More than two million Canadians lost their jobs in the last half of March as businesses across the country were forced to close or reduce their operations to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.Top stories todayImportant reminders:Health officials widely agree the most important thing you can do to prevent coronavirus and other illnesses is to wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face. The World Health Organization said more than 80 per cent of COVID-19 infections are estimated to be mild.What's happening elsewhere in CanadaIn Canada, all provinces and territories except Nunavut have cases of COVID-19, with the total known case count surpassing 16,660. Quebec and Ontario have been hardest hit, followed by Alberta and British Columbia. Nova Scotia on Tuesday reported its first COVID-19-related death.The numbers, which are updated at least daily by the provinces and territories, are not a complete picture, as they don't account for people who haven't been tested, those being investigated as a potential case and people still waiting for test results. For a look at what's happening across the country and the world, check the CBC interactive case tracker.What are the symptoms of COVID-19?Common symptoms include: * Fever. * Cough. * Tiredness.But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia.What should I do if I feel sick?Stay home. Isolate yourself and call your local public health authority. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested.What can I do to protect myself? * Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean. * Keep at least two metres away from people who are sick. * When outside the home, keep two metres away from other people. * Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. * Masks won't fully protect you from infection, but can help prevent you from infecting others.More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca.

  • Application process opens for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit
    Politics
    Global News

    Application process opens for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit

    More than half a million Canadians applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, on the first day the program was opened. It's a $500 per week payment available to those who have lost their job due to the coronavirus crisis.

  • Gatherings restricted, schools closed: What's being done to fight COVID-19
    World
    The Canadian Press

    Gatherings restricted, schools closed: What's being done to fight COVID-19

    The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every province and territory. Canada's chief public health officer and her provincial counterparts are encouraging people to wash their hands, give each other space and wear a mask if they are sick or a homemade one if they believe they could have been exposed to the virus and are not showing any symptoms.Ottawa has put money into health-care research and the economy. It has also put restrictions on international travel and is mandating 14-day quarantines for travellers returning to Canada to try to limit spread of the novel coronavirus.Classes are suspended or cancelled at schools throughout the country.Each province and territory also has its own emergency measures to detect cases and prevent spread of the virus.Here's a look at some of the ways different jurisdictions are responding:British ColumbiaB.C. declared a provincial state of emergency on March 18, a day after announcing a public health emergency.The measure gives the province authority to take any action necessary to protect people and communities, including charging people who ignore public health orders.The province has also prohibited reselling essential supplies such as food and cleaning material.All parking fees at B.C. hospitals have been cancelled during the pandemic to ensure safer access for patients and staff.Officials have prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people in one place, including restaurants, schools, places of worship, theatres, casinos, sports arenas and outdoor venues.Some provincial parks are closed.Officials have also issued fire restrictions as the wildfire season begins.Premier John Horgan says he is extending the state of emergency through the end of April 14.\---AlbertaAlberta declared a public health emergency on March 17.The province has given law enforcement agencies full authority to enforce orders and issue fines for violations.There are restrictions on mass gatherings of more than 15 people, both indoors and outdoors at places of worship, weddings or funerals. Any gathering must allow people to keep the two-metre distance from others.All non-essential businesses have been ordered closed, including personal service providers, clothing stores and furniture stores.Albertans are prohibited from attending public or private recreational and entertainment facilities. Restaurants have been ordered closed, except for takeout or delivery. Casinos are closed.Vehicle access to provincial parks and public lands is prohibited to visitors.Albertans who have been ordered to quarantine cannot leave their property for 14 days. That also bars people who live in apartments to use the elevators.There's also a new restriction on visitors at nursing homes, long-term care facilities and hospitals — although exceptions could be made if a child is in hospital or a woman is about to give birth.\---SaskatchewanPremier Scott Moe declared a provincial state of emergency on March 18.It directs all orders from the chief medical health officer be followed and gives police the authority to enforce them.Public gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people.Nightclubs, bars and lounges are closed, but they are allowed to provide takeout food or alcohol.Recreational and entertainment facilities are closed. Personal service providers such as tattooists, hairdressers, estheticians and relaxation masseuses cannot operate.Dental, optometrist, chiropractic and podiatry clinics are closed — except for emergencies.All employees at long-term care facilities are having their temperatures checked and are being monitored for COVID-19.Health officials say there's no evidence that domestic livestock or pets can be infected with or transmit COVID-19, but it has not been ruled out. They suggest anyone with the virus avoid contact with animals, as well as people, until more information is available.\---ManitobaThe Manitoba government declared a provincewide state of emergency on March 20.The province has limited public gatherings to no more than 10 people, down from an earlier limit of 50.It includes any indoor or outdoor spot, places of worship or family events such as weddings and funerals.Non-essential businesses have been ordered to close. Salons, spas, bars and other establishments will be closed starting Wednesday. Restaurants can remain open for takeout or delivery only.The closures do not affect health-care facilities, government services and other institutions.Bingo and gaming venues as well as wellness centres and gyms are closed.The province is also letting people hurt by the COVID-19 economic fallout avoid penalties and interest on some utility payments and property taxes. There's also a freeze on all rent increases until at least May 31.No visitors are allowed in long-term care facilities and hospitals. There could be exceptions in hospitals for compassionate reasons.\---OntarioOntario declared a state of emergency on March 24.All business except those deemed essential have been shut down.All industrial construction except for essential projects, such as hospitals, has been halted.All bars and restaurants, except for takeout and delivery, have been closed.Also closed are recreational facilities, public libraries, private schools, licensed child-care centres, movie theatres and concert venues.Any public events of more than five people, including parades, events and services at places of worship, are prohibited.Provincial parks are closed.The City of Toronto has also shut down playgrounds, sports fields, off-leash dog parks, skateboard parks and picnic areas. Parking lots attached to parks are closed.Ontario has extended its declaration of a provincial emergency until at least April 14.\---QuebecQuebec declared a public health emergency on March 13 and renewed it a week later.The government has reduced non-priority services and prohibited indoor and outdoor gatherings.Officials have ordered police to set up checkpoints, severely curtailing access to eight remote regions. The restrictions have since been extended to ban all non-essential travel to much of cottage country north of Montreal, and to Charlevoix, northeast of Quebec City.Quebec has also prohibited non-essential visits to hospitals, residential and long-term care centres or between children in foster families and their biological families.Designated clinics have been opened for anyone displaying symptoms.To give retail employees a break, stores are closed on Sundays in April, with only pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores and takeout restaurants remaining open on those days.Montreal's mayor has also declared a state of emergency to help authorities better manage the spread of COVID-19 among the city's homeless.\---New BrunswickA state of emergency was declared in New Brunswick on March 19.Businesses serving food and beverages have been restricted to takeout and delivery. Lounges and clubs are forbidden from allowing customers to enter.Customers are not allowed to enter retail businesses, unless they serve food, medication, fuel or other essential supplies.Many health services — such as chiropractors, dentists and optometrists — are prohibited from seeing patients in person unless absolutely necessary.No gatherings larger than 10 people are allowed and residents are urged to stay home as much as possible. They are also asked to delay non-essential errands.Any unnecessary travel into New Brunswick is prohibited.All playgrounds in the province are closed, but some public parks and walking trails remain open as long as physical distancing measures are followed.\---Nova ScotiaThe province of Nova Scotia declared a state of emergency on March 22 and it has been extended to April 19.It set out a 14-day rule for self-isolation and self-quarantine for people returning from outside Canada.All schools and daycares are closed. Long-term care facilities and care homes are closed to visitors.Casinos have closed and no business is allowed to operate a video lottery terminal.Restaurants are restricted to takeout and delivery service only. Drinking establishments are closed.There are also restrictions on health professionals such as chiropractors and dentists.Two mobile assessment centres have been established to do community-based testing.\---Prince Edward IslandPremier Dennis King declared a public health emergency on March 16.It included an order to Islanders to refrain from attending any public gatherings and a closure of libraries, child-care facilities, gyms and schools.Hospitals have restricted visitors — although one visitor is allowed at a time to see patients in palliative care, intensive care, neonatal intensive care, obstetric and pediatric units.All long-term care facilities continue to fully restrict visitors.Measures also include fines for anyone who doesn't comply with a direction to self-isolate.The public health officer recommends people who are self-isolating stay on their own property when outside.The government is working to open an out-patient clinic to allow for increased testing and to ease the load on hospitals.Officials have also deferred provincial property tax and fee payments until the end of the year.\---Newfoundland and LabradorThe province declared a public health emergency on March 18.It includes the closure of most businesses — with the exception of grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and other stores considered essential.Gatherings of more than 10 people are not allowed. That includes funerals and weddings.Grocery stores and big box stores will be allowed to open this year on Good Friday, which is normally closed as a public holiday, to prevent them from becoming too busy as people shop for Easter weekend.Anyone arriving from outside the province is required to self-isolate for 14 days.Health officials have the authority to restrict the rights and freedoms of people in a time of crisis. People who violate orders face fines.\---YukonYukon declared a state of emergency on March 27.The government has placed enforcement officers at the Whitehorse airport and at its boundaries to get details of travellers' self-isolation plans, their contact information and to look for any symptoms of COVID-19.Yukon residents with COVID-19 symptoms must quarantine at their arrival destination, and those without symptoms are ordered to self-isolate for 14 days when they get home.Yukon has asked everyone arriving in the territory, including mine workers, to self-isolate for 14 days.The government has closed bars and limited social gatherings to 10 people or less.Recreation facilities, libraries, museums and visitor centres are closed. School classes are suspended until at least April 15.Long-term care facilities are closed to visitors and volunteers, while all non-urgent or routine services, including lab tests, X-rays, physiotherapy and occupational therapy are suspended.All dentists must also suspend non-urgent treatment until further notice.\---Northwest TerritoriesThe Northwest Territories declared a public health emergency on March 18, which has now been upgraded to a state of emergency.It requires anyone who arrives in the territory from outside its boundary to self-isolate for 14 days.Travel through all points of entry into the territory — both air and road — is prohibited.The orders exclude essential service workers such as medical professionals or emergency services.The territory has asked that all indoor and outdoor gatherings be cancelled — regardless of size or number.Many businesses, including tour operators, gyms, museums and theatres, have been ordered to close.The government has said it will help Indigenous families who want to head out on the land as an alternative to physical distancing. It will provide a $2.6-million grant to help families buy the proper gear and supplies to head out to fishing and hunting camps.\---NunavutNunavut declared a public health emergency on March 20, and it has been extended until April 16.It has no known cases of COVID-19, but it has restrictions in place.There is a mandatory 14-day self-isolation period at one of four locations in southern Canada for any resident that wants to return to Nunavut.Critical employees who need to return to work must apply for an exemption.All non-essential medical travel has been cancelled.Public gatherings, including at playgrounds or parks and at religious, cultural or spiritual services is prohibited.School staff in Iqaluit are working to ensure students in the capital of Nunavut don't go hungry because of closed classrooms. They're continuing to provide breakfasts to children in a way that follows physical distancing rules.\---Sources: Provincial and territorial government websitesThis report by The Canadian Press was first published April 7, 2020The Canadian Press

  • Ontario has enough health-care protective gear for one more week: Ford
    Health
    The Canadian Press

    Ontario has enough health-care protective gear for one more week: Ford

    TORONTO — Premier Doug Ford said late Monday he was pleased a U.S. manufacturer of medical equipment had reached a deal with the White House to continue sending desperately needed masks and respirators to Canada.Ford had warned earlier in the day that Ontario would run out of personal protective equipment for health-care workers in one week due to a combination of delays in global shipments, domestic manufacturing lag time and U.S. restrictions.President Donald Trump and his administration had ordered U.S. manufacturers of such equipment, including the Minnesota-based 3M, to prioritize domestic orders, leaving Canadian officials working to press for an exemption. A shipment of hundreds of thousands of Ontario-bound masks were held up over the weekend by U.S. officials, and Ford said earlier in the day he was in contact with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer."I want to thank 3M and officials on both sides of the border for their support to ensure Canada’s continued access to vital PPE. We are stronger together," Ford tweeted late Monday.But there are several factors leaving Ontario's supply of masks and other protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic "strained," Ford said earlier in the day."We're exhausting every avenue available to us, turning over every single stone, but the hard truth is our supplies in Ontario are getting very low and the more new cases we get the more demand is placed on our resources," the premier said."How fast this virus spreads is up to all of us," Ford said, urging people to stay at home except for essential trips such as groceries and medical appointments.Even if and when the delayed mask shipment arrives in Ontario, that only buys the province another week, Ford said.Various Ontario manufacturers are retooling to produce personal protective gear, but those supplies are weeks away from being ready, Ford said. Ontario is "desperately" counting on shipments the province has placed through the federal government's bulk purchasing program, he said. Ontario has codes for all of the types of protective equipment such as masks, surgical gowns and face shields, Ford said."Right now they're all red," he said.Ontario reported 309 new COVID-19 cases Monday, including 13 new deaths. There have now been a total of 4,347 cases in the province, including 132 deaths and 1,624 patients who have recovered. The total number of cases reported Monday represents a 7.7 per cent increase over the previous day's total — a lower percentage increase than in previous days. Ontario's chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, said he would like to be optimistic about that, but cautioned it is only one day of data."I'd like to be encouraged but...I would not be jumping to any conclusions at this stage," he said.There are outbreaks in at least 46 long-term care homes, including the Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon — a 65-bed facility that has reported 26 COVID-related deaths, including three on Sunday. Nearly 30 staff members have also tested positive.At least 451 health-care workers in Ontario have tested positive for COVID-19, representing about 10 per cent of all cases in the province. In Windsor-Essex, where some health-care staff also work in neighbouring Detroit, 44 per cent of local cases are in health-care workers.St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton declared a COVID-19 outbreak Monday after three of its health-care workers in the special care nursery tested positive.One had no direct contact with patients or families, while the other two had either limited contact or contact while wearing a protective mask and neither were symptomatic while caring for the babies or family, the health unit said in a statement."Contact tracing is underway to ensure all babies, family members and staff/physicians who had direct contact with the positive health-care workers are tested and appropriate measures will be taken to limit transmission," the statement said."No babies or parents in the unit are symptomatic. All are being monitored closely"The hospital has created a designated space for infants who may have been exposed, and the unit is being deep-cleaned, the health unit said.Ontario issued an emergency order Monday to allow police, firefighters and paramedics of obtain information on whether someone they are coming into contact with has tested positive for COVID-19."First responders put their lives on the line every day to protect Ontarians and they are at great risk of being directly exposed to COVID-19 as they fulfil their frontline duties," Solicitor General Sylvia Jones and Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a joint statement."We must do everything in our power to ensure the health and well-being of those working on the front lines and provide them with the tools they need to do their jobs and keep Ontarians safe."There are now 589 people in Ontario hospitalized with COVID-19, with 216 people in intensive care and 160 of them on ventilators.A backlog of pending tests that was once at nearly 11,000 now stands at just 329.The Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority said Monday that Eabametoong First Nation, also known as Fort Hope First Nation, is the first far north remote community with a case of COVID-19.This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 6, 2020.Allison Jones, The Canadian Press

  • Can mosquitoes spread the coronavirus? Your COVID-19 questions answered
    Health
    CBC

    Can mosquitoes spread the coronavirus? Your COVID-19 questions answered

    We're breaking down what you need to know about the pandemic by answering your questions. Send your questions to COVID@cbc.ca and we'll answer as many as we can. We'll publish a selection of answers every weekday online, and put some questions to the experts on The National and CBC News Network.  We've received thousands of emails from all corners of the country. Your questions have surprised us, stumped us and got us thinking, including a number of questions about mosquitoes and the physical distancing measures being taken at the CBC.Can mosquitoes spread the coronavirus? Has that been factored into the estimates?While there are some viruses that mosquitoes and other insects carry, the coronavirus doesn't seem to be one of them and therefore cannot be transmitted through mosquito bites, says the World Health Organization.Jason Kindrachuk, research chair of microbiology and infectious diseases at University of Manitoba, says mosquitoes aren't something we need to worry about."We haven't seen this with other coronaviruses, so it would be very off for something like this to take place," he says.I got a coronavirus test at the hospital and was told I would get a call in four or five days. It's been 10 days and I haven't heard anything. Am I supposed to presume I am negative?We are getting a lot of questions about testing, including from Jim Y. who is waiting for his results. Ontario was dealing with a test backlog in late March which meant about 11,000 people were waiting for their results. The backlog has since been reduced to 329. Ontario has also launched an online service where the public can get their test results. Other provinces including Alberta have also reported backlogs.If you're waiting for a test result, Dr. Alon Vaisman, infectious disease specialist at Toronto's University Health Network, says: "You shouldn't assume you're negative." You can find more information here about testing in each province.How is CBC protecting itself?We've received a number of questions about how CBC News is practising physical distancing during this pandemic, including this email from Nathan H.CBC newsrooms across the country are largely empty and journalists are working from home. That includes the majority of other staff as well. Much of our radio and TV programming, including The National and CBC News Network, is being created mainly from home, with only a core group of on-air and technical staff still in our buildings. Nearly all appearances by guests, panelists and interview subjects are done by video conference or telephone.For stories that do require news-gathering in the field, reporters and camera crews are following a rigorous process built around distancing our microphones and disinfecting gear. "We would never compare to front-line health-care services what we do at CBC," said Brodie Fenlon, editor-in-chief of CBC News in a recent blog post. "But we believe strongly that we … play a critical role in conveying trusted, credible information in this time of crisis while also holding authorities to account for the life-changing decisions they make." Learn more about how CBC journalists and technicians are covering the news during COVID-19 in Fenlon's Editor's Blog.I walk my dog where there are a ton of joggers who run past me at an unsafe distance, huffing and puffing. I wear a mask. Should I be concerned about danger from their breath?We continue to receive a lot of questions about masks and exercise, including this email from Judy L.First of all, Judy's decision to wear a mask outside is a good idea. Canada's top doctor, Dr. Theresa Tam now says non-medical masks can help stop the spread of COVID-19. But does she need to be concerned? Probably not, according to Dr. Matthew Oughton, director of the Royal College Training Program in infectious diseases. He says the risk of being exposed to the virus by a passing jogger is "very low.""Generally speaking, this virus, as with many respiratory infections, is much more difficult to transmit outdoors than indoors," he says. Oughton explains that constant air movement outside contributes to a faster dispersion of the respiratory droplets and particles exerted from a passing jogger or anyone else."A significant exposure is usually considered to be within six feet [or two metres] for several minutes," he says. Assuming that the jogger respects physical distancing, he says "I would not be concerned that this would pose a high risk of transmitting COVID-19 or other respiratory infections."The important thing is to practise physical distancing, by keeping two metres apart from others, as recommended by Health Canada.Are there any other preventative measures, such as contact tracing, the government is taking? One person with COVID-19 can spread the virus to others, and that's why it's important for public health officials to identify and locate people who may have come in contact with those who have tested positive. This is called contact tracing.Dr. Richelle Schindler of Alberta Health Services is working on the province's COVID-19 response, and says contact tracing is "one of the best ways to contain this virus." Countries including South Korea, Japan and Singapore have been able to contain the coronavirus through aggressive contact tracing, she says. China is using a phone app to track which of its citizens are at risk of COVID-19, but according to the New York Times, the app might also be sending personal information to the police. Canadian officials are looking into how technology could help control the outbreak while also protecting patient privacy.  Physical distancing measures alone aren't going to be enough to stop the spread of the virus, says Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist with Johns Hopkins University. The need for contact tracing is likely to continue to increase, even as overall COVID-19 cases eventually start to level off, she says.The federal government is calling for volunteers to help with case tracking and contact tracing. Here's where you can get more information, if you're interested in signing up.You can also read about the measures provinces like Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador and Alberta are taking to employ and train more people to help track coronavirus cases. We're also answering your questions every night on The National. Watch below:Monday we answered questions about reusing N95 masks, to how the virus affects infants. Read here. Keep your questions coming by emailing us at COVID@cbc.ca.

  • Mental health task force created to provide aid for Canadian athletes during stoppage
    Sports
    CBC

    Mental health task force created to provide aid for Canadian athletes during stoppage

    Not being able to train regularly can not only affect the physical conditioning of high-performance athletes, but also impact their mental health.Structure and routine were important components for athletes as they prepared for this summer's Olympics in Tokyo. With gyms shuttered, pools closed and training facilities dark due to COVID-19, their normal lives have been turned upside down.Not only has training been interrupted, so has social contact with fellow athletes and coaches. Having the Tokyo Games postponed a year added another layer of stress and confusion."In terms of motivation, in terms of isolation, in terms of anxiety . . . I think it has been a really challenging time for a lot of athletes, especially if they're not getting access to the support that they need," said Rosie MacLennan, a two-time Olympic gold medallist in trampoline."For a lot of us, something that is so significant in our daily life has been taken away. Also, that goal that was four months away is all of a sudden 16 months away. And while there's clarity and a date, there's not much clarity for a lot of athletes on how they'll qualify or when they'll be able to train normally again."To answer the questions and concerns of high-performance athletes, a mental health task force has been created involving several of Canada's major Olympic sport groups."The group has really been put together to asses the needs and do some strategy and planning around the different things that are required," said Dr. Karen MacNeill, a psychologist who has worked at Olympic Games as the lead mental health counsellor for the Canadian Olympic Committee.Groups involved in the task force include the COC, Canadian Paralympic Committee, Own the Podium, the various national sports organizations, the Canadian sports institutes spread across the country, and Game Plan, an athlete wellness program designed for national team athletes."One of the biggest things is consistency and alignment and communication," MacNeill said.WATCH | Kylie Masse more appreciative of her sport during stoppage:Frank van den Berg, a mental performance consultant with the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary, said there are mental repercussions from not being able to train regularly."Through exercise, endorphins are released into the bloodstream," van den Berg said. "It helps us feel better. It may also kind of ward off some anxious thoughts."It may have some positive effect on how we look at ourselves, our self-esteem or how we think about ourselves."'Getting those endorphins going again'Swimmer Brent Hayden retired after winning a bronze medal in the 100-metre freestyle at the 2012 London Games. He remembers the withdrawal he felt from a lack of training."My wife would tell you that my mood changed and I was not a pleasant person to be around for a while," said Hayden, who has come out of retirement and hopes to compete in Tokyo next year."How I combatted that was getting back into the gym on a regular schedule and just getting those endorphins going again, so my brain chemistry was back to what it used to be."Athletes dealing with closed facilities and social distancing must reset their expectations and goals, van den Berg said."It's like when an athlete is injured and is not able to do what (they're) normally doing," he said."The emphasis needs to be on maintenance of fitness and taking care of your body in good ways. The emphasis and focus should not be on getting stronger or peaking for competitions, because they're not there. Everyone needs to kind of tone it down but stay active and take care of their body in different ways."Mental fitnessMacNeill said one of the messages being impressed on athletes is "controlling the controllables.""Of course, you're feeling down," she said. "Of course, you're feeling sluggish. That's part of it."Athletes are being urged to train the best they can at home. They can find social contact by doing virtual workouts online with teammates.MacNeill even encourages athletes to treat the current situation as training for coping with problems they might face in competitions."There's no better training ground right now because there's uncertainly, because there's unpredictability, because there's stress, to build your resilience and mental fitness," she said.MacLennan said the program has been valuable."They're continually expanding what they have to offer. A lot of athletes are making use of the program and I think it's hugely critical."

  • P.E.I. residents struggle to apply for EI as COVID-19 claims swamp phone lines
    World
    CBC

    P.E.I. residents struggle to apply for EI as COVID-19 claims swamp phone lines

    Priscilla Handrahan says for the past month she has been trying repeatedly to get through to Service Canada to file for employment insurance. Handrahan, a resident care worker at Maplewood Manor in Alberton, is applying for sick benefits. She can't file her claim online, as she has to speak with an agent, but she can't get through on the phone, and the COVID-19 pandemic has closed her local Service Canada office."I've been trying since March 7. Like I said my phone is my lifeline. It's there just ringing and ringing and after probably an hour it will say connection failed," said Handrahan.  "So, I call again and it's the same thing. I set my alarm and get up in the middle of the night just in case someone is working and I let it ring and let it ring.… I have absolutely no idea what to do next because I need to get a doctor's note to the EI."Handrahan said fear is setting in. She has to live on her Canada Pension, which is $318 a month. Her bills are piling up, including rent, electricity and internet. CBC News contacted Service Canada on Wednesday, April 1 to ask about the wait times and whether additional staff had been allocated to answer the calls. In an email, the government office said it is "currently receiving a high volume of requests" from the media but would respond as soon as possible. To date, CBC News has not received a response.In one week last month, half a million Canadians applied for employment insurance, compared to just 27,000 for the same week last year, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Many more are expected to make claims this week.'Virtually impossible to reach out'Egmont MP Bobby Morrissey said Handrahan is not alone. His office is fielding dozens of calls daily. Morrissey said he'd like Service Canada to have local agents answer the calls, to reduce the backlog of calls going to the national call centre."It's virtually impossible to reach out to Service Canada at a time when Service Canada is really needed," said Morrissey. "I know the problems my staff are facing. We're facing the same in trying to reach out to Service Canada on behalf of constituents to get their issues resolved."  Morrissey said he has contacted his federal Liberal counterparts in hopes of coming up with a solution. He said the problems Islanders are having getting through to Service Canada are leading to frustration and hardship.  'This is simply wrong' "I've had constituents who were dependent on a sick EI claim and that requires validation and documentation, and they have not received a payment from EI in a couple of months. This is simply wrong."  Pam Corcoran of Woodstock is also trying to reach out to Service Canada. She also has a sick claim, so she too needs to speak to an agent. Corcoran works at a call centre. She said she's immune compromised so her family doctor put her off work because of COVID-19.Her stress level, she said, is going through the roof. "We tried and we tried and we tried and we tried pretty well all day," said Corcoran."We were on hold so long that the handset went dead." 'I need my EI'Alfred Culleton of Elmsdale said he's been trying for three weeks to reach Service Canada without any luck."I have two phones going at the same time. I've been trying. My wife's been trying," said Culleton, adding that he gets in the queue but then the call gets cut off.Culleton said it's having an impact on his finances."I got to rely a lot on my family for the time being to borrow money from them until everything gets set up," he said. "I'm sure they don't have a lot of money either but we just have to get by. Fortunately, my wife she's still on EI right now, but that will be running out soon." Handrahan doesn't know what the solution is, but she said the federal government needs to be able to find a way to get these calls answered.  "I know they are swamped and I know they have their work cut out for them and I do feel bad for them, but where does it leave the small people?" she said."I don't know. I don't know how we are going to fix this. I need my EI."COVID-19: What you need to knowWhat are the symptoms of COVID-19?Common symptoms include: * Fever. * Cough. * Tiredness.But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.Health Canada has built a self-assessment tool.What should I do if I feel sick?Isolate yourself and call 811. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested. A health professional at 811 will give you advice and instructions.How can I protect myself? * Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. * Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. * Clean regularly touched surfaces regularly.More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.More COVID-19 stories from CBC P.E.I.

  • 'She just started sobbing': Parents struggle to help kids cope with COVID-19 anxiety
    Lifestyle
    CBC

    'She just started sobbing': Parents struggle to help kids cope with COVID-19 anxiety

    Carmen Orosanu says the outbursts are sudden and heartbreaking. Like the time her three-and-a-half-year-old daughter Emma broke down at bedtime. Orosanu's voice begins to waver as she recounts it."She just started sobbing and saying, 'I don't want to go to heaven.'"The mother of three, with a baby on the way, Orosanu is like many parents struggling to calm their childrens' sudden fears and anxieties around the COVID-19 outbreak. The Hamilton mother says it's a challenge, because she doesn't have all the answers either. "It's sad. This is a very new situation for everybody, so I wasn't really sure how to cope with it. I think I get more emotional than my husband. So he came in and, you know, we just hugged her."Orosanu says she and her husband try to limit conversations about the coronavirus in front of their children, other than to remind them of the importance of washing their hands.Still, the children are absorbing snippets of news and conversations. Her five-year-old son Nicholas, she says, doesn't want her to have the baby, afraid that when she goes to the hospital she won't come back.It's a new, scary world, and for many children and young people across the country it has led to soaring levels of anxiety.Katherine Hay is the president and CEO of Kids Help Phone, a 24/7 free online and telephone counselling service for youth across Canada. Hay says traffic on the Kids Help Phone website is at an unprecedented high.Calls for help are doubling every week, climbing to nearly 2,000 a day. They come in the form of texts, phone calls and some live chat. Children as young as five are reaching out."We hear fear — fear not only in how they're speaking, but the actual words, their fear for their friends. They're worried about their mom and dad. They're worried about their sister, brother."The percentage of acute cases is also rising with the added volume of calls, Hay says.About 20 per cent of the young people Kids Help Phone responds to are contemplating suicide. On a recent Sunday afternoon alone, Kay says counsellors were involved in 12 active rescues of young people attempting to end their lives.A recent $7.5 million federal funding boost is helping manage the need, Hay says. So are hundreds of new volunteers. "The silver lining — and there are silver linings everywhere — is that someone was on the other side of that phone call or that text and helping that young person through whatever it was that they needed some help with at that moment."Kids Help Line is also receiving calls from adults and parents and other caregivers looking for help and looking for advice wherever they can find it.Leanne Matlow is a cognitive behavioural counsellor who specializes in child and adolescent anxiety. In the past few weeks, she's given several virtual talks to community groups in the Toronto area.Matlow says many of her clients are rattled by a loss of control and not knowing what will come next. Or when.Even though parents don't have the answers, Matlow says listening is key. And Matlow advises parents to avoid calling these unsettling times "the new normal.""For many people, just saying this is the new normal is very anxiety-provoking, because it makes it sound like it's a state of permanence. That we're never going to get out of it. I like the phrase 'for now.'  It's more of thinking about putting a pause button."Matlow says parents can help empower their children to come up with strategies to cope. "It's OK to be angry, frustrated, scared, nervous, worried," Matlow says."So the question is, what can I do for myself when I'm feeling that way? What can we do for each other in this house when one of us is feeling that way?"Back in Hamilton, Orosanu is trying to stay positive, too. With a new baby just weeks away, she encourages her children to imagine playing with their new sibling or to think of all the fun activities they can do when the pandemic is over. The future is uncertain, but the promise of a better one is comforting, Orosanu says."Every day is a different strategy, and the fact that we talk about what we can do afterwards, it seems to help."Leanne Matlow offers these suggestions for families dealing with anxiety and stress: 1. Parents should keep their own anxieties in check and do their best to model coping strategies. 2. Parents should watch their "safety language" and avoid catastrophic statements such as "this will never end" or "you don't want to be one of the millions who die." These raise the level of anxiety. 3. Parents should keep discussions about employment and money to themselves, and not involve or discuss them in front of the children. 4. Limit media consumption (news feeds, radio and TV) to once or twice a day. 5. Everyone should ask for help when they need it — it's a sign of strength, not of weakness, no matter what your age. 6. Keep as close as possible to a schedule for waking, sleeping and mealtimes. Involve the kids in the menu planning and meal preparation. 7. Chores are good for everyone to do. 8. Answer your child's questions with age-appropriate information. Let them know you are there to listen if they have questions or want to talk, but take the lead from them. 9. Focus on the NOW. "Today we will …" 10. Find joy and gratitude in the small moments: board games, planting a garden, baking cookies, and so on.

  • 'So lovely': 10,000 Easter flowers showed up on doorsteps of Hamilton area homes
    Lifestyle
    CBC

    'So lovely': 10,000 Easter flowers showed up on doorsteps of Hamilton area homes

    Laurie Brady returned home from walking her dog on Saturday to find a large pot of magenta flowers on her doorstep — a gesture that put a smile on her face. "What a nice thing for people to do," Brady said. "It's so nice to see the kindness of strangers and generosity."Brady, 47, said she and other residents in the Kirkendall neighbourhood came upon the potted surprises on Saturday afternoon. A friend of hers in East Hamilton said she also got a delivery. The flowers, which included hydrangeas and chrysanthemums, came with a note from the Ravensbergen family. They operate Ravensbergen Greenhouses in Smithville, Ont. "We have plants that currently don't have a home and we would like to spread some cheer to you and your family," reads part of the note. 'Smiles and warmth'Many people took to the organization's Facebook page to express their thanks and share photos of the flowers. "It's heartwarming," said the greenhouse's general manager William Ravensbergen of the Facebook posts they received from locals. "(We) couldn't operate as a normal store, (there was) no place for our product anymore and we felt we had to get these plants into homes, otherwise they would be thrown into a compost pile," Ravensbergen said. Half the donation was sponsored by a Stoney Creek-based company that wanted to remain anonymous, and the rest were donated by the Ravensbergens. The deliveries were handed across lower Hamilton and Dundas by volunteers from Blessings Christian Church, Grace Valley Church and Mercy Christian Church. In total, 10,000 plants were distributed across Hamilton, Beamsville and Smithville. Lia Hess, who used to be in the greenhouse industry and also received a bundle of flowers, said she instantly thought of how much the greenhouse industry must be struggling in these times. "This coronavirus could not have happened at a worse time for these people because they've been working all winter," Hess said."This is your only time. This is the only time you have to make money and you will never get these sales back. So my heart just goes out to them," she added. On the plus side, Hess said this sort of "goodwill gesture" will definitely attract new business their way in the future. "For them to do an advertising ploy like this, I think, is creative, innovative, (it) puts their name out there and yeah, makes people happy too."

  • How one library's 3D printer is helping doctors prepare for COVID-19 patients
    Health
    CBC

    How one library's 3D printer is helping doctors prepare for COVID-19 patients

    An ER doctor and a library on Nova Scotia's South Shore have teamed up to create a special training tool as doctors across the province prepare to treat more sick COVID-19 patients who may need mechanical ventilators to breathe.The Lunenburg branch of the South Shore Public Libraries has used its 3D printer to make three hard plastic models of a human airway for a doctor who works in town at Fishermen's Memorial Hospital."Emergency physicians around the world are in the same boat, which is trying to be as prepared as possible for whatever comes," said Dr. Thomas Dietz.Dietz was recently researching ways to brush up his skills at intubating a patient who needs a ventilator. Intubation is often done through the mouth and down the throat, but sometimes that is not possible. In those cases, doctors must cut into the area below the Adam's apple to insert a breathing tube. According to Dietz, doctors may have only "one, maybe two" chances at getting the procedure correct with the sickest patients."This is a procedure emergency room physicians are trained to do, but don't do frequently. And I think the informal statistics are once in your career," he said.Dietz said he has not performed the procedure for roughly eight or 10 years, so he was anxious to practise. During research, he found a design for a 3D-printed model of a human airway on a website for emergency room doctors, and reached out to his local library for help."We've printed all sorts of things over the years that we've had a 3D printer, but this ranks right up there," said Christina Pottie, the South Shore Public Libraries' community engagement co-ordinator. Dietz sent Pottie the publicly available file of the airway and she got to work printing it off. The South Shore library branches are closed to the public, but a skeleton staff are still working to fulfil requests from the public and Pottie was able to drop the model off to Dietz the same evening."It feels remarkably similar to a real human neck in terms of trying to find the landmarks, the lumps and bumps that guide you to where you need to make your incision," Dietz said.The model is tube shaped and has a hole at the correct insertion point. During practice, the doctor wraps the model in gauze to represent soft tissue, then wraps the whole thing in a plastic bag. The doctor can use a scalpel to cut into the right spot. Dietz took the model to Fishermen's Memorial, where he left it at the ER doctors' station for his colleagues to practise on. He dropped off another to South Shore Regional Hospital in nearby Bridgewater."The general consensus seems to be that it's a really cool thing," he said. "It's really easy to use, it's really easy to visualize what you're doing after you've looked at this model." Dietz said he thinks often about the risk to himself, his colleagues, and his family, but being able to practise made him feel more prepared for what is coming. "The first time I used this model, it just helped a great deal with the stress of, what if I have to do this," he said.Pottie is willing to print more models if other doctors want them, and she's proud the library was able to help. "It was really exciting, just to know that in some little way we could help. And to know that right here, locally in Lunenburg on the South Shore," Pottie said. "You didn't have to go to a university, to an engineering department to ask, 'Hey, could you print this for us?' Just right here in our public library we could do this for him."MORE TOP STORIES

  • COVID-19 on P.E.I.: What's happening Tuesday, April 7
    Health
    CBC

    COVID-19 on P.E.I.: What's happening Tuesday, April 7

    No new cases of COVID-19 have been identified Tuesday, making it the fifth day in a row the province hasn't seen an increase in its case numbers. The number of COVID-19 cases remains at 22.P.E.I. Premier Dennis King said the province continues to wait on test results to return from the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.With no new cases announced over the last several days and more than 450 test results yet to return, King expressed concern."We feel that this may be luring Islanders into a false sense of belief that we have flattened the curve so to speak. And we haven't."As the fishing season approaches, Minister of Fisheries and Communities Jamie Fox said his office continues to receive calls from fishermen, producers, processors and growers.King said that while he doesn't yet know what it will look like, the province is currently operating under "the optimism that there will be a spring fishing season." Some Prince Edward Islanders are finding it impossible to get through to Service Canada to apply for employment insurance.Egmont MP Bobby Morrissey wants to see local Service Canada staff on the phones to ease the strain on national lines.A local dairy believes milk production will have to be cut due to a 30 per cent drop in demand caused by the closure of food service businesses.The P.E.I. Humane Society has just one animal left for adoption.P.E.I.-based Veseys Seeds, which sells gardening supplies internationally, is selling four to five times more vegetable seeds than normal, and other P.E.I. garden shops are seeing similar demand. People want to grow their own vegetables in the pandemic, they say.P.E.I.'s aerospace industry is busier than ever, but long-term concerns about the future of the aerospace industry remain.Health PEI will begin offering virtual care appointments this week.Recent storiesFurther resourcesCOVID-19: What you need to knowWhat are the symptoms of COVID-19?Common symptoms include: * Fever. * Cough. * Tiredness.But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.Health Canada has built a self-assessment tool.What should I do if I feel sick?Isolate yourself and call 811. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested. A health professional at 811 will give you advice and instructions.How can I protect myself? * Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. * Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. * Clean regularly touched surfaces regularly.More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.More COVID-19 stories from CBC P.E.I.

  • 'It needs to be done:' Staff keep Iqaluit school breakfast program going
    Lifestyle
    The Canadian Press

    'It needs to be done:' Staff keep Iqaluit school breakfast program going

    IQALUIT, Nunavut — School staff in Iqaluit have banded together to ensure that students in the capital of Nunavut don't go hungry because of closed classrooms.In a territory with some of the highest rates of food insecurity in the country, they're continuing to provide breakfasts to school children."Some kids really rely on it," said Jason Rochon, a Grade 3-4 student support worker at Joamie Ilinniarvik School. "Every day, it's getting bigger and bigger."Rochon has been helping run a breakfast program and food bank at the school for a few years. When the decision was made March 16 to shut down classes over the COVID-19 pandemic, his first thought was to start packing bags of food for kids to take home with them."I could just tell by the amount of food they were taking that they really wanted to have it," he said. "I thought, 'Well, it's not going to last them forever.'"Nobody was doing anything about the lack of a breakfast program. I just talked to my friends and we decided to do something."What they arrived at was breakfast-in-a-bag — a simple meal of cereal, milk, cheese, yogurt and a piece of fruit tucked in a paper bag to minimize the need for contact.The first morning, they served about 180 kids. The next day, it was 200. On Monday, it was 412 — their biggest day yet.The operation has grown large enough to require its own warehouse. It serves people from two sites.The breakfast program serves a real need in Iqaluit. Poverty, limited employment opportunities and the high price of food that has to be transported from the south keep families hungry.A 2014 study found 60 per cent of children in Nunavut lived in food-insecure households. Three-quarters of children in severely insecure homes regularly skipped meals.Food programs are a feature of all Iqaluit schools, open to all students so none are singled out for needing them.All the breakfast program workers are volunteers. Rochon said each bag costs about five dollars.The money comes from wherever he can find it. Friends have donated, as have people in town. The Nunavut land-claims organization has promised $25,000.They even received $6,000 from people in Greenland who had sent the money to help with food security issues when Iqaluit's biggest grocery store burned down last year. Right now, Rochon said, there's enough money to keep the program going until April 20."If the school closures are extended, I'm going to need to look for funds. If I've got funds, I'm happy to feed people because it needs to be done."The food comes from the south, ordered through a local grocery store.As yet, Nunavut has no confirmed COVID-19 cases. Still, workers at the breakfast program are careful. Everyone wears gloves, people line up two metres apart and only one member from each family can attend.The protocol has been approved by health officials, Rochon said."People have been very respectful. We don't want to get shut down." The need is great, he said. On Monday, crews handed out 200 bags of food in the first 20 minutes."As soon as 9 o'clock hits, we're just swamped," he said. "It's just go, go, go."I think everybody in town knows that the little kids need food and they rely on our breakfast programs."This report from The Canadian Press was first published April 7, 2020— Follow Bob Weber on Twitter at @row1960Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

  • World
    CBC

    COVID-19 prompts ban on at-sea observers from Canadian fishing vessels

    The federal government has temporarily set aside its requirement for at-sea observers in Canadian commercial fisheries because of COVID-19.The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) says the at-sea monitoring program poses a public health risk for both observers and crews on board.An order immediately suspending at-sea observer coverage was signed by federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bernadette Jordan on April 2 and will remain in effect for 45 days.Some inshore fisheries in Canada do not require at-sea observers, but they are now routinely present on larger vessels as a licensing condition in many Canadian fisheries.Fishing companies pick up the cost of the observers, who collect scientific data and monitor fishing activity and compliance with the rules.Observer coverage is also seen as a litmus test for eco-certifications, which tell consumers a fishery is environmentally sustainable."As of today, we're still trying to understand what the full impact of this is going to be," said Albert Moore, general manager of Javitech Atlantic. "The impact is huge, but it's really hard to gauge how huge it will be."The Nova Scotia company employs 50 at-sea observers who monitor multiple, high-value fisheries throughout Atlantic Canada, including lobster, snow crab, scallop, shrimp, tuna and swordfish.Moore said the order caught his company and others in the industry off guard.Moore said on smaller vessels, observers and fishing crews operate largely on trust that no one had travelled or was exposed to the coronavirus.'We felt quite safe'On bigger boats, he said there is far more screening."The companies were on top of this right from the start," Moore said. "There was prescreening set up in the various ports."Everybody going aboard was checked. There's daily checks that are done on everybody. There's rooms for quarantine set up on board. We felt quite safe going on there in all honesty."Similar step taken around the worldThe decision is no surprise to Jay Lugar, head of fisheries and outreach for the Marine Stewardship Council, the London-based non-profit that's one of the world's best known eco-certifiers."Many fishery management agencies around the world, including DFO in Canada, have waived or altered their requirements for at-sea observers," Lugar said in an email to CBC News.Last week, MSC pressed pause on all audits and certifications for six months in light of COVID-19.That means Canadian fisheries with the MSC label will keep their endorsement, even with the at-sea observer program on hold.'We support the government's decision,' says environmental groupA Canadian environmental group says Ottawa made the right call.For now, DFO will have to rely on log books and landings data, said Shannon Arnold of the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax."Observers are a really important part of our fishing system," she said. "They provide all sorts of science and research that needs to be done to make sure that we can assess what fishing is happening and whether fishing is happening sustainably out there."We hope that as soon as it's safe, the government will make it a priority to make sure they budget for that and support fleets be able to have them again. But right now, you know, health is paramount and we support the government's decision here."MORE TOP STORIES

  • Fear of COVID-19 is growing, suggests new poll of Canadians
    World
    The Canadian Press

    Fear of COVID-19 is growing, suggests new poll of Canadians

    OTTAWA — A new poll suggests a growing number of Canadians are frightened of the prospect of contracting the novel coronavirus.Sixty-four per cent of Canadians said they were personally afraid of becoming ill with COVID-19, compared to 57 per cent two weeks ago.They appear even more concerned for their loved ones, with 76 per cent of respondents saying they were afraid someone in their immediate family would become infected.Those fears are a little less pronounced in Quebec, despite being the province with the highest number of cases — 57 per cent responded they were afraid for themselves and 69 per cent said they were afraid for family.The poll, conducted by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies between April 3 and 5, surveyed 1,512 adult Canadians and 1,000 adult Americans randomly recruited from its online panel.Leger's internet-based survey cannot be assigned a margin of error because online polls are not considered random samples.The poll suggests that as more people feel alarmed about the virus, the issue is also becoming more personal.While no one polled lived with someone who had contracted the virus, 11 per cent said they had a friend, family member or acquaintance who received a COVID-19 diagnosis — up from four per cent two weeks ago.Meanwhile the vast majority, 94 per cent, said they have not personally experienced any symptoms, which the poll listed as a cough, sore throat, fever or difficulty breathing.Their trepidation doesn't stop at their family's health.Ninety-three per cent of Canadian respondents also considered COVID-19 a threat to the country's economy.Seventy-nine per cent said it is a threat to the health of the Canadian population as a whole, with the same number saying it threatens day-to-day life in their community. Just over half of respondents deemed the pandemic a threat to their personal finances.Still, the poll suggests Canadians are largely and increasingly satisfied with the measures being taken by governments to fight the disease.That's particularly true at the provincial level, with 82 per cent approval. The federal government has seen an increase in approval, with 72 per cent satisfied, up from 65 per cent two weeks ago.Fewer Canadians now believe that the pandemic has been blown out of proportion, with 83 believing COVID-19 is a real threat compared to 77 per cent two weeks ago.The last few weeks have seen serious moves by all levels of government to bring in stringent physical distancing measures to limit the spread of the virus, as well as the introduction of several relief programs by the federal government to ease the financial burden of the virus for individuals and businesses.That stands in contrast to the United States, where there are 330,891 confirmed cases of the virus according to figures provided by the Centers for Disease Control on Monday.There, 26 per cent say that the disease has been blown out of proportion while only 13 per cent in Canada believe the same.What hasn't changed is the fact that most people in Canada — 67 per cent — still believe the worst the virus has to offer is still ahead.This report by The Canadian Press was first published on April 7, 2020.Laura Osman, The Canadian Press

  • Demand for Luckin app surges as Chinese rush to drink up after admission of fraud
    Business
    Reuters

    Demand for Luckin app surges as Chinese rush to drink up after admission of fraud

    Luckin Coffee's app has rocketed to become the second most popular in China as consumers rushed to claim a free drink that it has long offered for downloading, worried the chain might collapse after it said much of its sales last year were fabricated. "I heard that if you download the app, you will get free coffee," said Beijing-based Gan Lin, 35, who downloaded the app on Friday. The coffee chain's app usually ranks between the 70th and 100th most popular free app downloads for users of Apple's iOS operating system in China, according to app performance tracker App Annie.

  • Fearful of COVID-19, this Ottawa woman has told her caregivers to stay away
    U.S.
    CBC

    Fearful of COVID-19, this Ottawa woman has told her caregivers to stay away

    Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Kristen Williams relied on personal support workers for help with such basic tasks as getting out of bed, eating and going to the bathroom.But since March 14, Williams, who has cerebral palsy, has refused the visits to protect herself and her caregivers."If and when one of us does contract the virus — whether attendant or client — we all get it. And as people with disabilities, because we have those underlying conditions, we are all likely going to need hospitalization," she said.Williams lives in a supportive housing unit in an Ottawa apartment building that's home to others with disabilities. The non-profit VHA Health & Home Support rents one unit as a 24/7 base for its attendants.Williams siid when the pandemic hit, she lost confidence in VHA's ability to protect people like her who are at an elevated risk of complications from COVID-19.'I have been struggling'The last three weeks have taken their toll on Williams, who has been unable to shower. Instead, a friend has been helping her wash her hair in the sink."I have been struggling quite a lot. I get tired easily and quickly. I had that care for a reason. Now that I don't have it, life has gotten a lot harder," Williams said.As hard as it is, she knows some of her neighbours in supportive housing — those who are quadriplegic or have spinal muscular atrophy, for example — simply don't have a choice when it comes to the visits from caregivers.VHA executive director Valerie Bishop de Young said while she understands some clients might be fearful, the agency has implemented new protective measures and has notified clients about them. The precautions include screening of attendants for recent travel or symptoms, and limiting their contact with multiple clients.Facts, not fears"I understand that people are anxious — we all are. But part of staying healthy is focusing on facts and not fears. We at VHA have put effective actions in place, and other actions are always being considered and implemented," Bishop de Young said.She said 27 of VHA's approximately 400 attendants have stopped coming to work since the pandemic began, either because of child-care issues or because they fear becoming infected.VHA is giving those who remain on the job an additional weekly stipend of $150, and says it has enough staff to cover the needs of its clients."We're keeping up with clinical expertise. Our workers are educated and informed. We're adamant that our people know what they're doing, and we're confident that our staff are doing the right thing," Bishop de Young said.

  • U.S.
    CBC

    Plan to designate future Cogswell energy system a utility faces opposition

    There's opposition to the plan by Halifax Water to have a district energy system for part of the Cogswell redevelopment in the city's downtown be considered a public utility.Halifax Water wants to use heat from its sewage treatment plant to supply thermal energy to six developments that are planned nearby and could house up to 7,500 people.The municipality has drafted a bylaw that would require the developments, which will replace the current interchange, to use the district energy system.In an application to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, Halifax Water said treating the system as a public utility is "in the public interest" and would protect its current customers from subsidizing it.Halifax Water also argues the status as a public utility would ensure that costs are "appropriately allocated and within acceptable limits."Heritage Gas, Nova Scotia Power oppose planBoth Heritage Gas and Nova Scotia Power oppose the move. They both argue Halifax Water has not provided enough information or analysis.Heritage Gas also states in its submission that allowing the district energy system to be a public utility would eliminate the choices of individuals and businesses."Regardless of cost, environmental concerns, changing technology or individual preference, every customer in the development would be required to use Halifax Water's energy," Heritage Gas wrote in its submission.According to Nova Scotia Power, it is not clear Halifax Water would own and operate the system or if it would be operated by an affiliate.The group Affordable Energy Coalition supports the application by Halifax Water, as does the province's consumer advocate, who said the description of the Cogswell district energy system "on balance fulfills the guidelines" of the Public Utilities Act. But the consumer advocate also warned that "care must be taken to avoid any cross-subsidization."Halifax Water has until April 16 to respond to the submissions.MORE TOP STORIES

  • How technology is allowing real estate agents to keep doing business during a pandemic
    Business
    CBC

    How technology is allowing real estate agents to keep doing business during a pandemic

    Not long ago, the strict physical distancing rules that have caused so much disruption in society would have forced the closure of the real estate industry.There was a time when potential buyers would need to feel the carpet beneath their feet or walk into a kitchen to determine whether they felt a connection to a home, and face-to-face interactions with a real estate agent would be necessary in order to finalize documentation.But that was before this era of virtual tours, digital documents and remote conferencing.So with nearly every sector of society in the pinch of a pandemic, real estate agents in Newfoundland and Labrador are still doing business, said Bill Stirling, chief executive officer of the N.L. Association of Realtors."Our industry has not ground to a halt at all," Stirling said Monday.And the numbers — though lower than past years — prove it.Last week, said Stirling, 63 real estate transactions were concluded in the province. These were homes that sold in January or February, with the money changing hands last week after all the legal work was completed at the height of a public health emergency.Stirling said another 54 new sales were recorded last week, meaning buyers have been approved for their financing, had inspections completed, and are now working with their lawyers to finalize a mortgage."You can still buy and sell. But there will be some delays," said lawyer Chris Peddigrew, a partner with St. John's firm Wadden, Peddigrew and Hogan.The way real estate agents interact with their clients has been evolving for years as technology improves, and agents welcome these changes into their daily workflow.Virtual tours are proving to be very useful, as those in the market for a new home can visit a listing without ever physically venturing onto the property, so people are only going to look at a house after they've seen it online and are really serious, said Stirling."Anybody who is just a tire kicker or they've got some discretion as to whether or not now is the time to buy or sell, those people are being encouraged to stay home and wait."The real estate industry has been deemed essential because even in a pandemic, life situations continue to present themselves.There are still deaths, divorces and job changes, and these factors are largely responsible for the limited amount of activity."Our job is to be there for all our clients, but to do it properly, with safety first and foremost," said St. John's real estate agent and NLAR board member Keith Soper.But with public health experts implementing strict measures to limit physical interation and contain the spread of the coronavirus, agents and others in the business have been forced to adapt.Open houses have been stopped, with viewings limited to vacant homes, and only under careful distancing and cleaning protocols.When a viewing is necessary, both the agent and the client sign a document, affirming that they have not travelled, do not have COVID-19 symptoms, and have not come in contact with anyone with the disease.> On top of everything else that's going on globally, the Newfoundland and Labrador economy is nothing to be writing home about these days. \- Keith Soper"If any of that criteria is not met, then it doesn't happen," said Soper.While home inspections are continuing, face-to-face interaction is practically non-existent, with technology relied upon to deliver a final report to the buyer.But those insisting on buying during these trying times will have to be patient. It typically takes 30 days for a real estate transaction to close, but that process could now take double, or three times as long, Soper said.With so many people working remotely, and offices reduced to essential workers, critical steps in the process, including title searches, tax information and banking documents, are taking longer to complete.And with the court system closed, a transaction that involves changes to an estate may not even be possible, said Peddigrew.Meanwhile, one area where a face-to-face meeting is still required is the signing of a mortgage, and like every other step in the process, this is done with care and caution, said Peddigrew."Right now there's no ability for electronic signatures for lawyers to witness these mortgages. We are required to meet with clients in person," he said.But business-as-usual seems like a distant memory, and agents are worried about what the COVID-19 pandemic will do to the housing market in the long term."On top of everything else that's going on globally, the Newfoundland and Labrador economy is nothing to be writing home about these days," said Soper. "I don't think that's going to improve any time soon."The average price for a home in St. John's and area prior to the pandemic was roughly $290,000, said Soper.It's too early to say how the economic shock being delivered by the coronavirus will affect the market, but Soper believes the stage is set for an erosion of prices.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Business
    CBC

    Marine Atlantic job cuts gone too far, ferry workers' union says

    Work aboard the Marine Atlantic ferries that run between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador has become tougher amid restrictions imposed because of COVID-19.The vessels normally carry up to 1,000 passengers each, but are now only allowed a maximum of 100 each.Brian Jobes, president of Unifor Local 4285 representing about 700 ferry workers, said staff cuts are understandable, but public health requirements have imposed extra duties on employees and the company has gone too far."We are at our lowest staffing levels that I've seen in the 20 years that I've been here, so with the extra work that needs to be done, we don't feel that we have enough people on board to do it, and people are overextending themselves," he said.Cleaning cabins takes three times longer and staff are expected to enforce physical distancing and self-isolation rules among passengers, Jobes said.Marine Atlantic's Darrell Mercer said there's a fine balance between having enough staff to do the work and not having too many that would put others at risk.Schedules continuously adjustedThere are more stringent cleaning protocols, but there are also fewer cabins to clean, he said, and the company has eliminated the restaurant, bar and gift shop.Management is continuously adjusting schedules, Mercer said, because although the ferries are limited to 100 people, they are usually only carrying 70 to 80 passengers at a time."It's simply unfortunate that right now there's so much uncertainty as to what's going to happen in the weeks ahead, so we're trying to make a best-guess judgment of what our employee requirements will be," he said.The company is doing its best to protect employees, said Mercer."We're at a place right now where we think that we're balancing the needs of our customers while protecting the health of our employees, while maintaining our essential ferry service, because ultimately that's what we're all trying to do right now is make sure that this essential ferry service can operate, and we can't do that without healthy employees."MORE TOP STORIES

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