China's embassy in the Philippines has denounced the United States for "creating chaos" in Asia, after a visiting White House envoy backed countries in disputes with China and accused Beijing of using military pressure to further its interests. During a trip to Manila on Monday, national security adviser Robert O'Brien underscored the U.S. commitment to Taiwan and told the Philippines and Vietnam, countries both locked in maritime rows with China, that "we've got your back". "It shows that his visit to this region is not to promote regional peace and stability, but to create chaos in the region in order to seek selfish interests of the U.S.," the embassy said in a statement issued late Monday.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Tuesday vowed to defend the democratic island's sovereignty with the construction of a new fleet of domestically-developed submarines, a key project supported by the United States to counter neighbouring China. Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory, has been for years working to revamp its submarine force, some of which date back to World War Two, and is no match for China's fleet, which includes vessels capable of launching nuclear weapons. At a ceremony to mark the start of construction of a new submarine fleet in the southern port city of Kaohsiung, Tsai called the move a "historic milestone" for Taiwan's defensive capabilities after overcoming "various challenges and doubts".
A new study has shed light on the extreme toll COVID-19 has had on Ontario's health-care workers.Last spring, researchers interviewed 10 workers throughout the province about their experiences on the frontline of the pandemic.They spoke of high levels of fear, anxiety and emotional distress, said Jim Brophy, an adjunct professor with the University of Windsor sociology department, who worked on the study. They also reported very high workloads, and felt they weren't supported in their roles."And then, of course, the tremendous fear that they would become infected or that they would infect other patients, that they would infect their families," said Brophy, one of four researchers behind the study."They would go home at night and cry all the way home, couldn't sleep."The study participants included nurses, cleaners, clerical workers and personal support workers (PSWs) — some at hospitals, others at long-term care facilities. They were quoted at length about the difficulties they faced on the job and how they grappled with the strain of the surging pandemic."My husband and I are in separate bedrooms. We even have separate bathrooms because I don't want to take the chance of bringing something home to him ... I haven't seen my grandchildren," one PSW was quoted as saying.Frustrations were also expressed about inadequate protection from infection, as well as the pandemic response from government.The research was conducted in partnership with the health-care workers' union, the Council of Hospital Unions-Canadian Union of Public Employees (OCHU-CUPE), which helped the researchers locate participants.It follows a March survey of 3,000 Ontario health-care workers conducted by OCHU-CUPE that found that 87 per cent didn't have enough personal protective equipment to stay safe and 91 per cent felt "abandoned" by the provincial government.The researchers argue the pandemic has illuminated longstanding shortcomings in Ontario's health-care system, including under-funding and under-staffing.According to the most recent provincial statistics, out of more than 105,000 people diagnosed with COVID-19 in Ontario as of Monday, nearly 8,900 were health care workers.Statistics also show eight workers from long-term care homes have lost their lives to the illness.Hope for better supportsBrophy is hopeful the study will spark stronger efforts to protect and support those on the frontlines."I'm hoping that all of this will contribute to a greater awareness that the public is not safe if our health care workers are not safe," he said.The Ontario government has established mental health resources specifically for health-care workers, including peer support groups and services at five hospitals.The province has earmarked an additional $3.3 billion to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and improve health care in 2020-2021.
Salt that crystallizes with sharp edges is the killer ingredient in the development of a reusable mask because any COVID-19 droplets that land on it would be quickly destroyed, says a researcher who is being recognized for her innovation. Ilaria Rubino, a recent PhD graduate from the department of chemical and materials engineering at the University of Alberta, said a mostly salt and water solution that coats the first or middle layer of the mask would dissolve droplets before they can penetrate the face covering. As the liquid from the droplets evaporates, the salt crystals grow back as spiky weapons, damaging the bacteria or virus within five minutes, Rubino said. "We know that after the pathogens are collected in the mask, they can survive. Our goal was to develop a technology that is able to inactivate the pathogens upon contact so that we can make the mask as effective as possible." Rubino, who collaborated with a researcher at Georgia State University in Atlanta to advance the project she started five years ago, was recognized Tuesday with an innovation award from Mitacs. The Canadian not-for-profit organization receives funding from the federal government, most provinces and Yukon to honour researchers from academic institutions. The reusable, non-washable mask is made of a type of polypropylene, a plastic used in surgical masks, and could be safely worn and handled multiple times without being decontaminated, Rubino said. The idea is to replace surgical masks often worn by health-care workers who must dispose of them in a few hours, she said, adding the technology could potentially be used for N-95 respirators. The salt-coated mask is expected to be available commercially next year after regulatory approval. It could also be used to stop the spread of other infectious illnesses, such as influenza, Rubino said. Dr. Catherine Clase, an epidemiologist and associate professor of medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, said the "exciting" technology would have multiple benefits. Clase, who is a member of the Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials in the engineering department at McMaster, said there wasn't much research in personal protective equipment when Rubino began her work. "It's going to decrease the footprint for making and distributing and then disposing of every mask," she said, adding that the mask could also address any supply issues. The Public Health Agency of Canada recently recommended homemade masks consist of at least three layers, with a middle, removable layer constructed from a non-woven, washable polypropylene fabric to improve filtration. Conor Ruzycki, an aerosol scientist in the University of Alberta's mechanical engineering department, said Rubino's innovation adds to more recent research on masks as COVID-19 cases rise and shortages of face coverings in the health-care system could again become a problem. Ruzycki, who works in a lab to evaluate infiltration efficiencies of different materials for masks and respirators, is also a member of a physician-led Alberta group Masks4Canada, which is calling for stricter pandemic measures, including a provincewide policy on mandatory masks. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020. Camille Bains, The Canadian Press
Scotland's High Court was told on Tuesday that the conviction of a Libyan man over the 1988 Lockerbie aircraft bombing, the deadliest militant attack in British history, rested on evidence that was badly flawed. The family of now deceased Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the only person convicted over the bombing that killed 270 people, have launched a posthumous appeal, supported by some victims' relatives who say the truth has yet to come out. Pam Am Flight 103 was blown up over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in December 1988 en route from London to New York, carrying mostly Americans on their way home for Christmas.
Iran's supreme leader dismissed the prospect of new negotiations with the West on Tuesday, even as the Tehran government spoke optimistically about the return of foreign companies in "the absence of Trump" and his sanctions. President-elect Joe Biden's victory has raised the possibility that the United States could rejoin a deal Iran reached with world powers in 2015, under which sanctions were lifted in return for curbs on Iran's nuclear programme. President Donald Trump abandoned the deal in 2018, and Tehran responded by scaling down its compliance.
Following a serious COVID-19 outbreak at a French public school in Ottawa, some parents are threatening to keep their kids out of class unless they get assurances it's safe to return. Sixteen students and one teacher at École publique secondaire Omer-Deslauriers tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, forcing the shutdown of all grades 7 and 8 classrooms by Nov. 4, and three more classes in the upper grades by Nov. 10. > I'm feeling very sad because I'm jeopardizing my daughter's education, but I'd rather keep her safe than the danger of sending her to school. \- Idil OmarLast Wednesday evening, parents received notice the children could return the following day, however the Conseil des écoles publiques de l'Est de l'Ontario (CEPEO) confirms about 40 per cent of the students did not immediately return."It has been very dramatic to many, many families," said Youcef Fouzar, a parent representative on the school council.Fouzar said about half a dozen families have moved their children to another school in a different board. He said the council is demanding assurances from CEPEO that the school will be safe, as well as better communication with parents.Superintendent points to surrounding communityCEPEO superintendent of education Sylvie Tremblay said the outbreak at the school occurred because COVID-19 rates in the surrounding community are high."More often than not, when there are cases in any school, it's because of behaviours and practices that people have outside of the school," Tremblay said.CBC did ask to speak with the principal of the school, but was referred to Tremblay for comment. But parents at Omer-Deslauriers aren't buying that explanation. There have been no cases at the neighbouring English high school or middle school, and only two at the nearby French Catholic elementary school.Instead, they're pointing to overcrowding in two Grade 7 International Baccalaureate (IB) classrooms. On Oct. 21, the school eliminated one of three Grade 7 IB classes, creating two larger classes of 28 and 29 students.In Ontario, there are no cap sizes for classes in grades 4 through 8, only a maximum average of 24.5 across each board. Public health guidelines mandate large classes must be in rooms that can accommodate adequate physical distancing. Tremblay said an Ottawa Public Health investigator suggested only a few "tweaks" to the current class configuration following the outbreak, including Plexiglas dividers between desks. That change has been delayed because of supply problems, she said.Girl came home 'very anxious'Idil Omar said her 12-year-old daughter came home after the first day back at school "very anxious" over a lack of physical distancing. The girl told her mother she could reach out and touch her nearest classmate, and said there was no adult supervision at lunch. Omar's daughter is among the students who have not yet returned to the school. "I'm feeling very sad because I'm jeopardizing my daughter's education, but I'd rather keep her safe than the danger of sending her to school," Omar said.Tremblay said there has always been supervision at lunch.A source with L'Association des enseignantes et enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO), the union representing teachers at the school, confirmed it's heard health and safety complaints regarding COVID-19, but said it can't discuss the details while it's actively trying to resolve the issues.Several parents said members of their families have since contracted the virus, and school council members estimate some 100 households with links to the school have been under quarantine. The president of the school council, Yussuf Farah, said in one case both parents have been so ill they've had trouble caring for their children."I hope the community keeps these families in mind," Farah said in a French interview. Fouzar said he's interested in how the Toronto District School Board used its own funds to cap grades 4-8 at 20 students in neighbourhoods with higher COVID-19 transmission, and said he'd like to see the CEPEO take similar steps."This is like a huge anxiety," he said. "Every morning I have to talk to myself, am I doing the right thing? Am I protecting my kids?"
The year 2020 has been already been full of woe, but Dr. Joe Vipond fears the worst is yet to come in Alberta.The number of patients in hospital with COVID-19 has tripled in the past four weeks, but December, he believes, will bring new levels of suffering, as the current surge in COVID-19 cases translates into more people sick and more people dying."There's a deep, dark sense of foreboding," Vipond said of the mood at the Rockyview General Hospital in Calgary, where he works as an emergency room physician.At last count, Alberta had 13,166 active cases. That's more than any other province, including Quebec, which has twice the population, and Ontario, which has more than three times as many people as Alberta.Health-care workers who have been tracking the trajectory of the virus are beyond alarmed at the rate of exponential growth through October and into November, Vipond said.Many have been calling for weeks for a "circuit-breaker" lockdown — relatively short and severe — to slow the spread of the virus."The pandemic has begun a slow collapse of our health-care system and time is running out to reverse it," reads a letter signed by more than 300 physicians and sent to Premier Jason Kenney and other senior provincial leaders on Sunday."Health-care workers are a finite resource. We cannot continue providing adequate care at this pace."More hospitalizations on horizonRoughly 3.5 per cent of Albertans diagnosed with COVID-19 have wound up in hospital so far, Vipond noted, and roughly one per cent have ended up dying.Do the math on the 1,546 new cases announced Monday alone, he said, and you can expect 54 more hospitalizations and another 15 deaths in several weeks' time — just from a single day's worth of viral spread.Alberta's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, issued a similar warning when she announced the new cases on Monday."We know that hospitalizations typically lag behind the rise in cases by about a week to 10 days," she said."So we will, absolutely, expect to see a continuing rise in hospitalizations and ICU cases over the coming two to three weeks. That's something we would expect to see independent of any measures that are introduced."After delivering those comments, Hinshaw hurried off to meet with members of a cabinet committee to discuss what those new measures might look like. An update is expected Tuesday.Vipond is frustrated it has taken this long for the government to consider serious countermeasures, as the trajectory of the spread has been consistent — and predictable — for some time."We've seen [new-case] doubling times of two weeks for at least six weeks," he said. "You can see people's tweets where they actually calculated it out. And they are bang-on."Foreseeing deathMalgorzata Gasperowicz is one of those people. She is a developmental biologist and independent researcher who has been tracking Alberta's COVID-19 data closely.Gasperowicz correctly predicted in October that, given the trajectory in Alberta's COVID-19 spread at the time, the province would be seeing 1,000 new cases per day by mid-November.Even if Alberta were to be locked down overnight, she says, the province should still expect to see a surge of deaths in the coming weeks from the high number of existing infections.Compounding the problem is the fact that many of the recent cases have come among older adults, who are typically more vulnerable.Throughout the pandemic, the number of deaths among Albertans aged 70 and over has been roughly equal to the number of new cases per 100,000 people in this age group, with the deaths lagging about four weeks behind.The fact this relationship is nearly one-to-one, Gasperowicz said, is a bit of a mathematical coincidence that has to do with the size of Alberta's population. But it allows for data visualization that neatly illustrates the general relationship between daily new cases and daily deaths among older adults in particular.The animated chart below shows that relationship. The case rate among older adults is indicated by the red line and the number of deaths among this age group is indicated by the black line, which trails behind by four weeks. (The chart runs from March to November.)New cases vs. deaths among people 70 and olderThe way the red line shoots suddenly upward in the past few weeks, Gasperowicz said, is alarming. She sees no reason the lagging black line — indicating deaths — won't continue to follow."The more cases we have in this age group, the more deaths we will have, too," she said. "It's pretty scary."Health minister taking situation 'very seriously'Health Minister Tyler Shandro said Monday the government is "taking these rising numbers very seriously."He said senior cabinet ministers would be meeting late Monday and "reviewing that data and reviewing what options are available to us, as a government.""I am taking it very seriously. We all are, around that table," Shandro said. "We are going to be deliberating [on] the situation and we'll be listening to the advice of Dr. Deena Hinshaw."He also warned about a looming increase in demand on Alberta's health-care system."As we have transmissions rise, so will hospitalizations," he said."And that means one less hospital bed for somebody to have their important surgery. So I hope all Albertans listen to that and understand the importance of being able to take all measures and take COVID responsibility throughout the fall and throughout the winter, as we continue to protect ourselves and our health-care workers."
Managers at Veterans Affairs Canada expect their office buildings on P.E.I. will remain empty for some time to come, though there have been mixed emotions for staff mostly working from home since the pandemic began. "It's always been the health and safety of our employees first," said Sara Lantz, acting assistant deputy minister of corporate services for Veterans Affairs, which has about 1,500 employees on the Island. Most are working from home, though special permission is granted sometimes if a person needs to go into the office.She said the department cannot keep workers at a safe physical distance from each other in its P.E.I. premises, and Veterans Affairs Canada wants to maintain the status quo as long as services are still being provided to veterans. Lantz said a recent survey of home-based staff suggested the model seems to be working, so Veterans Affairs is not in a rush to move people back into offices."Most employees, somewhere between 80 and 90 per cent, were happy with the support from the department," she noted. Lantz said there is no date to reopen offices. Occupancy levels may be increased eventually as work spaces are reorganized and decluttered, but health and safety inspections will be needed before that happens. She expects many staff will continue to work from home for at least part of their work weeks even after the pandemic ends.> How do I entertain my toddler, plus go on this meeting? — Tanya Wilshire, Veterans Affairs Canada"There's a lot of people that feel they're much more productive at home, and want to stay at home part time into the future," she said.Lantz said COVID-19 may end up saving taxpayers money in the long run if flexibility over home-working results in "a more efficient use of space and employees' time." That's because large buildings are costly to run. 'Baptism by fire' for someTanya Wilshire works for online services with Veterans Affairs Canada, and has been working from home since March. "It was very much a baptism by fire," said Wilshire. "I was in denial for the first months, thinking we were going to go back." Wilshire has a four-year-old son, so when schools and daycares closed during the pandemic, she and her husband like so many other parents, had to juggle parenting and work responsibilities. "How do I entertain my toddler, plus go on this meeting?" was a constant question, she said. "When you have your personal life constantly around you at home, it's almost like you are living at work."The family is operating with more of a routine now and she's grateful to not be rushing out the door each morning to get to work. She said she misses human interaction but working online has helped her connect to more colleagues than she would have at the office. She said she feels employees working from home are more dedicated than ever because they want to help veterans cope with the pandemic. "If you would have asked me two years ago, 'Could all of Veterans Affairs work at home?' I would have been 'no, there's no way.'"And now we've proved it," she said. "I'm very confident the work is being done."Wilshire said ideally when the pandemic is over, she would like a hybrid agreement where she could work from home and the office. Union concerned about mental health The union that represents many Veterans Affairs employees said the work-from-home model can be "precarious" at times. Debi Buell, president of the Union of Veterans' Affairs Employees in Charlottetown, said employees' mental health is the main concern."How resilient certain people are with having to work from home and not being able to go into the workplace every day." Buell said she's heard from employees who are struggling as well as employees who have no issues with working from home. She said it's going as well as can be expected, but it's important that employees don't feel isolated. The union has also made a request through its national office to question the Treasury Board on compensation for things such as internet and heating costs for employees working from home — specifically, whether they'll be able to claim these costs as a small business would. "We should be compensated as far as we're concerned."More from CBC P.E.I.
For the second time this month, Canada has ordered a temporary fishery closure in the Roseway Basin off southern Nova Scotia after multiple detections of endangered North Atlantic right whales in the area.The latest order, issued Monday, closes several fisheries until further notice and could affect the lucrative commercial lobster fishery when the season opens next week."We intend to conduct an aerial survey of the area in the coming days to determine if there continues to be [right whale] presence," Barre Campbell, a spokesperson for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, said in a statement Monday night."Management measures will continue to be applied if right whales are detected."Acoustic sensors detect whalesSince Nov. 9, acoustic sensors on board a marine glider cruising the area made 11 separate right whale detections."It could be one animal calling over all of that period of time. It's more probable that it was multiple animals that happened to come through. But how many?" said Fred Whoriskey, executive director of the Ocean Tracking Network, which deployed the glider in collaboration with the Ocean Frontier Institute."We can't tell because all we're doing is picking up a call. Our algorithms on board the machine that is detecting the calls are saying that's a right whale."It's the first time DFO is acting on data from autonomous gliders to make the call to shut down a fishery, said Adam Burns, director general of fisheries resource management for the department."We've been doing acoustic monitoring now for a few years, but this is the first year that we've considered them to be a trusted source in terms of implementing dynamic closures," Burns told CBC News on Tuesday.The Roseway Basin — located approximately 20 nautical miles, or roughly 37 kilometres, south of Cape Sable Island — has been designated a critical habitat for the whales, which used to feed there in late summer.The glider that found the whales is scheduled to come out of the water Wednesday, and the aerial survey will take over.If no right whales are spotted during the aerial surveys, the area will reopen for the start of the lobster fishery, said Burns. Sightings stump scientistsSightings have become rarer in recent years as the critically endangered whales moved north into the Gulf of St. Lawrence with disastrous results.Since 2017, 20 have died in the gulf, caused in some cases by vessel strikes and gear entanglements. No deaths have been reported so far in 2020."What we do know is something massive has changed in the way the right whales are interacting with our ocean here right now. And so it's very hard to say what is normal anymore, and this is basically a part of that. They were in Roseway for many, many years, and suddenly disappeared a few years ago. Now suddenly we're picking up a few," said Whoriskey."We don't know whether at this particular point in time if these are transitory animals that are on their way south for the winter — they probably are — or whether there are some that have moved in and tried to occupy it for longer periods of times."The detection means fishing for multiple species is closed until further notice. That will apply to lobster and crab when those seasons open.Because of a forecast for bad weather, fishermen have been given until Thursday to remove gear from parts of the Roseway Basin where the whales were most recently detected.DFO had reopened some, but not all, parts of the Roseway Basin that were closed temporarily earlier this month.Unusually late in the seasonSean Brillant of the Canadian Wildlife Federation said detections in Canadian waters this late in the year are unusual, but DFO is doing the right thing."The fact that they're taking this new information and acting on it in a way to try and prevent entanglements is encouraging. This is the kind of adaptive and strong leadership we need to see. Nobody wants to be closing these fisheries," said Brillant. "But at the same time, these rules are important to try and prevent this accidental harm that can happen to these animals."Whales' behaviour not understoodThe implications for the lobster fishery are potentially dramatic.Lobster Fishing Areas 33 and 34 from Halifax to Digby are the most valuable in Canada. Combined landings in 2018-19 were valued at $490 million.Fishermen there have largely been spared the intrusive measures taken to protect the whales elsewhere in the region. It was always presumed the whales had migrated out of Canadian waters before the season opened in late November or early December."What we're trying to do is protect the whales, but we're also trying to protect Canadian fisheries. Obviously there's going to be a huge problem if we have mortalities caused by our fisheries and then buyers begin to boycott Canadian seafood products," said Whoriskey."For us, as scientists encountering this all of a sudden, it's very uncomfortable, and we don't really understand what the whales are doing or why they're doing it right now."I personally am hopeful that this is a migratory movement of the animals and they are heading south, and heading south fairly fast, so the fishery can reopen again fairly quickly and get these guys back out in the water."MORE TOP STORIES
Canada has turned away at least 4,400 asylum seekers at the U.S. border since 2016 — including some who were hoping to find refuge here at the height of the global pandemic — according to newly released government figures.Nearly half of those trying to enter Canada over that five-year period made the attempt in the year after U.S. President Donald Trump took office, according to figures released in response to a parliamentary request from NDP MP Jenny Kwan.Under the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), which has been in effect since 2004, Canada and the U.S. consider each other to be "safe countries" for refugees and require them to make their claims in the country they arrive in first.The agreement has long faced criticism and legal challenges from refugee advocacy groups, who say the agreement is an inhumane way to limit the number of people Canada accepts as refugees. They say the U.S. is not a safe country for all refugees and that the dangers they face have increased under the Trump administration.The federal government is appealing a Federal Court ruling earlier this year that found the STCA infringed Charter rights.The figures provided to Kwan show there was a spike in the number of asylum seekers turned back at the border after Trump was elected in 2016 and took office in 2017.In 2016 there were 742 people turned back at the border. That figure jumped to 1,992 in 2017. There were 744 denied entry in 2018 and 663 in 2019.Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 23 this year — a period which captures the height of the first wave of COVID-19 — 259 people were turned back at the border.'Even more precarious'Kwan called that "really disturbing.""In the face of a pandemic, things are even more precarious for people who need to get to safety and Canada actually did not hesitate to turn people back," she said.Kwan said the Trump administration imposed detention and deportation policies that violated international human rights and provoked widespread fear among refugees. By turning away asylum seekers, Canada is "complicit" in the violation of their rights, she said.Kwan said Canada should immediately suspend the STCA and work to negotiate a new agreement with U.S. president-elect Joe Biden that addresses human rights issues. But she said the "aggressive and intense" detention policies could linger."I think even with the Biden administration, that policy may still continue to exist, and even if the Biden administration wants to make changes, it's not going to happen overnight," she said.Mary-Liz Power, a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, said the government appealed the Federal Court ruling because it believes there were errors in key findings of fact and law.She said the decision mistakenly suggests that all asylum claimants who are ineligible under the STCA and turned back to the U.S. are automatically detained as a penalty. She also noted that the U.S. remains a party to the UN Refugee Convention.Refugee pact 'fair, compassionate': Blair spokesperson"The STCA, which has served Canada well for 16 years, ensures that those whose lives are in danger are able to claim asylum at the very first opportunity in a safe country," she said. "We are in continuous discussions with the U.S. government on issues related to our shared border. We believe that the STCA remains a comprehensive vehicle for the fair, compassionate and orderly handling of asylum claims in our two countries."As for the spike in numbers in 2017, Power said that 2017-2018 recorded the highest number of globally displaced individuals since the Second World War.Justin Mohammed, human rights law and policy campaigner for Amnesty International Canada, said a number of factors could have driven that sharp increase, including global patterns and Trump's policies.He said Canada should be fulfilling its international obligations under international refugee law at all times — even during a pandemic, when safety concerns are heightened.Mohammed pointed to exemptions made for students, family reunification and other immigration classes that allow people to arrive in Canada despite travel restrictions."Why are refugees being excluded from that? They're able to quarantine or be required to have a quarantine plan just like anyone else ... so why is there not the ability to be able to provide protection?" he said.Partial pictureJanet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, said the 2020 figures represent only a partial picture of the people turned back to the U.S. because of added restrictions after the border closed March 20.At that time, refugee claimants were denied entry on public health grounds whether they arrived at an official point of entry or at another crossing — such as Roxham Road in Quebec — where the STCA does not normally apply.Despite assurances the Canadian government says it received from the U.S. that refugee claimants directed back would not be subject to enforcement such as detention or removal, Dench said refugee advocates in Canada know of at least two people who were detained in the U.S. after being directed back.Conservative immigration critic Raquel Dancho said the Liberal record on administering the refugee and asylum system was one of "mismanagement, years-long backlogs and failure," even before the pandemic."Conservatives have long been calling on the government to close illegal border crossings and work with their American counterparts to close the longstanding loopholes in the Safe Third Country Agreement so that refugee and asylum seekers have a fair, compassionate and effective pathway to come to Canada," she said in a statement.
There are barely a dozen homes at Cape Spencer on the Bay of Fundy coast. But people here are not surprised when strangers quietly appear in their community about 25 minutes from downtown Saint John.The arrivals are often preceded by an upward trend in gold prices."We've always had people looking for gold out here," said Kimberly Burry, whose home sits atop a hill looking out toward the ocean.The latest newcomers, a small crew of geologists, caused barely a ripple this fall when they took up residence in a rented house and began their daily trips into the woods to explore the many rock outcrops and other geological features.If they find what they're looking for, they'll want to take care to reassure neighbours a new mine will not be like the old mine, which left a legacy of environmental ruin when it closed more than thirty years ago. Gold prices have climbed steadily since September, 2018 and, as of last week, sat at $2400 an ounce, close to a nine year high.'The region's becoming hot'These particular newcomers work for Magna Terra Minerals, a junior mining company based in Toronto whose stock was trading at 24 cents on Friday.That doesn't diminish the optimism of company president, Lewis Lawrick."The region's becoming hot," said Lawrick, who claims there is evidence of gold throughout a fault known as the Avalon Terrane that extends from Newfoundland, through northern Nova Scotia, southern New Brunswick and on down the New England coast."It's probably one of the most unloved and under explored and misunderstood mineralized gold belts in North America," he said. "And it's starting to gain a lot of interest within the geological community." Magna Terra has obtained mineral rights for more than 5000 hectares extending almost ten kilometres along the Fundy coast and inland two to four kilometres.Included is the site of the former Gordex Minerals gold mine that closed in 1988 leaving a legacy of lost investments and environmental desecration.Clean-up & restoration attempts 'feeble'Gordex opened with much fanfare in 1986, 30 years after its founder, Morton Gordon, a young hobbyist prospector, discovered gold while exploring with a simple rock pick.He later staked claims and raised more than a million dollars to mine the low-grade ore using a then new method, called heap leaching to draw out the gold.Heap leaching involved spraying a diluted calcium cyanide over the crushed rock. The solution leaches down, melting the gold from the rock as it passes through.It worked fairly well as a method for extracting gold, but set off alarms when it came to the environment.When Environment Canada learned runoff from the site was making its way into a nearby stream just a few hundred meters from the ocean, they ran a water quality test.All the rainbow trout used in the test died within 60 hours.Changes were made and later tests showed the water to be clean, but contaminated barrels remained onsite for years after the mine closed. And three decades later, a beautiful coastal landscape remains badly scarred.Neighbour Stephen Mitchell, whose family now owns part of the mine site, said large areas were cleared and excavated for the mine, roads were built with little regard for property owners. He describes the cleanup and restoration effort mandated by the province afterward as 'feeble.' "It will take nature hundreds of years to correct it," said Mitchell.Lawrick said he's very much aware neighbours will be apprehensive about talk of a new mine."It left a pretty sour taste in people's mouths," he said. "And that's certainly not something we're intending to repeat."Lawrick said his company is most interested in a formation dubbed 'Emilio's Zone', about three kilometres to the northeast of the Gordex mine site, and roughly the same distance from the nearest homes.He's hoping to find higher grade gold that can be extracted by far more efficient means than were employed by Gordex Minerals.> Going back 150 years or so 'til now, there's never been a profitable gold mine \- David Thompson, former Fundy Baykeeper"I wouldn't anticipate that we would ever, in my wildest dreams, be looking at any sort of a bulk tonnage, heap leach operation in this part of the world."Lawrick said it is too early to determine whether an open pit or underground mine would be used or whether there's enough gold in the area to justify any mining.Even then, he said with permitting and other hurdles, it takes 10 to 15 years from the time a significant gold deposit is discovered to the opening of a mine.Longtime environmentalist and former Fundy Baykeeper David Thompson was active in the fight to have the Gordex mine site cleaned up by the province in the early 1990's following the collapse of the venture. He doubts heap leaching would be attempted here a second time, and he's skeptical a significant gold deposit will ever be found. "Going back 150 years or so 'til now, there's never been a profitable gold mine," said Thompson. "I mean anywhere in southern New Brunswick or along the Fundy coast here."Still a business case for goldPrior to entering politics, former Saint John MP Paul Zed was Gordex Minerals' secretary treasurer and spokesperson.He said millions of dollars worth of gold was poured at Cape Spencer. And at today's prices he believes there's still a business case for some kind of gold extraction in the Cape Spencer area. Looking back, he said a lot of emphasis was placed on creating jobs rather than on creating an 'appropriate balance' when it came to the environment.He said the operation had cleaned up its practices by the time it was forced out of business by falling gold prices.Nonetheless the concerns raised by the facility's neighbours can be justified."I think they were valid," said Zed. "You know, to tear up a beautiful coastline without proper standards becomes, I think, a critical factor in any operation."
Up to 2,000 GTA families will soon be able to get free dental care at new clinic. At the same time, they'll also be participating in research aimed at making sure every Canadian has access to dental coverage, and that such charity is no longer necessary in the future.The clinic is the centrepiece of what's being billed as the largest-ever dental public health service and research program, opening Tuesday at the University of Toronto.Funded by a $6.15-million donation from Green Shield Canada, the clinic and research program will be run by the U of T Faculty of Dentistry. Along with providing cost-free dental services, the clinic will allow researchers to investigate the long-term impacts of having access to quality care."We know that there's a clear connection between having poor oral health and having worse systemic health conditions," Dr. Carlos Quiñonez, a dental public health specialist, associate professor and program director at U of T's Faculty of Dentistry, said in an interview.Health disorders linked to teethAccording to Quiñonez, there are links between oral health and illnesses such as diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease.Unhealthy teeth and gums can have an impact on an individual's mental health, self-esteem and quality of life as well."Just imagine having repeated toothaches and what that might do that to your ability to function well on a daily basis, or even work," Quiñonez said.The federal government estimates that roughly a third of Canadians have no access to dental coverage. "There's a group here that has fallen through the cracks," said David Willows, the executive vice president of innovation for Green Shield Canada, in an interview.Willows says this group is often described as "working poor." Because of the nature of their jobs, they don't have access to dental benefits through work, but also fail to qualify for government assistance.By serving these individuals and their families, researchers at the clinic will be able to learn more about how having regular dental care benefits their health and overall livelihood."We'll be doing the research project around these patients and trying to track their trajectory in terms of their total health and see whether this service really makes a difference more broadly that just in their mouth," Willows said.Universal dental coverageGreen Shield Canada's donation will fund the clinic and the research for at least five years. The goal of the research is to work towards an eventual permanent solution for the millions of Canadians without access to dental coverage.In public debate, that solution often takes the form of a national dental care program. As recently as the 2019 federal election campaign, the NDP proposed an $860-million dental coverage program for uninsured Canadians.Willows says that may not be the best direction, and the research will study any number of possibilities."It may not be the grand national program," he said. "Let's be a little more precise. Let's find out who this population is and how we can get them access."While Quiñonez believes there should be universal dental care coverage, he says it may not take the form of a single-payer system."I think starting off with baby steps to help us understand what we might be able to do is better than just throwing out this idea that it's going to be part of medicare. I think it's far more complex than that."
Though nobody knew exactly what was going on between them, witnesses say something was not right in Selena Lomen and Danny Klondike's relationship in the time leading up to Klondike's violent death.Lomen, 23, is accused of murdering Klondike, her common-law spouse, in their community of Fort Liard on Oct. 28, 2018. She is currently on trial for the homicide in N.W.T. Supreme Court in Yellowknife.Dustin Hope was among the roughly 20 people, including Lomen and Klondike, at a Halloween party that Saturday night leading to Klondike's death.'He appeared to be crying,' says witnessHe told the court that Klondike appeared very intoxicated that night. At one point he saw Klondike sitting in an armchair appearing about to pass out. But Hope said that later, he saw the 34-year-old walking around and socializing again.Around midnight, he saw Klondike walking into the house."He appeared to be crying," recalled Hope. As Klondike passed by, he said, "Selena is mad at me."Hope said at the time he was not sure how much the alcohol had contributed to Klondike's emotional state. He said a few moments later, Lomen walked in. Hope said she was wearing a teal-coloured hoodie and was no longer in the Halloween costume other witnesses said she wore when the couple first arrived. Hope said Lomen stood beside Klondike for a short while then turned and left."She flipped the hoodie over her head and she walked out of the party," Hope testified.He said he saw Lomen again as he was leaving the party with his girlfriend shortly after everyone had gathered outside to watch some fireworks. He said Lomen was standing near the water treatment plant alone. He said he saw a woman approach her in the darkness and ask what was wrong.Victim confided his relationship troublesThe party was hosted by Manny Vital and his partner, Janna Deneron, with help from Deneron's sister, Hillary Deneron. Almost all of the people at the party grew up in the small Dehcho community and have known each other their whole lives.Vital testified that Klondike and Lomen arrived at the party together. He said they left together before midnight, but Klondike returned soon after, alone. Vital said Lomen phoned him about 30 minutes later and asked him to tell Klondike to give her a call. He said he saw Klondike stagger away from the party with two other men shortly before 1 a.m.Janna Deneron testified that Lomen returned to the party to try to find Klondike."I didn't get a vibe off her that she was upset," said Deneron. "She just asked if he was still there and I said 'no.'"Vital said Lomen had texted him several times during the summer, when he was supervising Klondike and others on a forest fire crew outside of the community. He said she asked whether Klondike was there.Vital said Klondike confided in him about troubles in his relationship."He said his common-law flips out all the time and he tries to calm her down."The nurse who arrived to try to help Klondike the morning he died testified that by the time she got there, it was too late. He said she found him lying face down in a pool of blood. He had no pulse and was not breathing.Lomen has already admitted she stabbed Klondike. She told police she has no memory of what happened before or after the stabbing. At the start of the trial, she tried to plead guilty to manslaughter but the prosecutor did not accept her plea.The trial continues Tuesday afternoon.
Moh Ahmed narrowly missed the Olympic podium in 2016 and three years later earned world bronze after leading late in the race, yet some of his fiercest battles haven't been waged on a running track.There were many days spent as a young teen playing basketball at a park with younger twin brothers Ibrahim and Kadar, about two kilometres from home in St. Catharines, Ont., while their parents worked."They were feisty and competitive," Ahmed said in a phone interview with CBC Sports. "They wouldn't go home until they gave me the best effort they could. They were my brothers but also my best friends."Ibrahim and Kadar have watched the 5,000-metre runner become a five-time Canadian champion, national record-holder and now a serious medal contender for the Tokyo Olympics next summer.On July 10, Ahmed ran the 10th fastest 5,000 in history, bettering his own Canadian record by 10 seconds in 12 minutes 47.20 seconds. Two weeks later, he ran a 1,500 in 3:34.89, the fifth-fastest time ever by a Canadian.'They inspired me'All that time spent battling his brothers looks to be paying off."It's a competitive milieu I grew up in that really helped me. They inspired me," Ahmed said of his brothers, who also played soccer and basketball. "They were always good, making teams and brought that competitiveness home."In Grade 7 and 8 I was still immature, in terms of my body. I went to a school with some incredible athletes so I couldn't make any of the teams."WATCH | Mo Ahmed: From humble beginnings … to Olympic podium?:Ahmed started running track at age 13 and was further inspired seeing track athletes on television at the 2004 Athens Olympics, as well as Canadian sprint kayaker Adam van Koeverden, who won gold and bronze medals at those Games."Watching all those races," he said, "I had goosebumps. I remember running around the basement after each of those races for 15 to 20 minutes. In my Grade 8 yearbook I wrote 'Olympian' as my future occupation. I didn't know what that meant but it's the fact I was inspired and held on to that [dream]."Ahmed, now 29, realized his Olympic dream in 2012 in London, where he finished 18th in the 10,000. Four years later, he doubled up in Rio, placing 32nd and fourth, respectively, in the 10,000 and 5,000.Ahmed's breakout moment came three months earlier at the Diamond League's Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore., according to Jerry Schumacher, his coach at the Portland-based Bowerman Track Club since 2014. The former University of Wisconsin-Madison standout took the lead with a lap to go in the 5,000 and hung on for a third-place finish in 13 minutes 1.74 seconds."I remember thinking he was just scratching the surface and there was better coming," Schumacher told CBC Sports.Ahmed went on to earn Commonwealth Games silver in 2018 and last September clocked 13:01.11 for bronze at the world championships in Doha, Qatar. If there's a sign the Somalia-born runner is ready for Tokyo, he said his record 5,000 run in July at an instrasquad meet in Portland "felt fairly easy.WATCH | Ahmed shatters his 5,000m Canadian record:"Physically I was ready for it, and mentally and emotionally as well," said Ahmed, who enjoys writing and poetry away from the track. "I was very much in tune with my body, on top of my stride, controlling my body and emotions, and was able to observe and read the race well."> He's kind of like that quiet assassin. ... He's got this quiet confidence but when he comes out [on the track] he packs a big punch. — Bowerman Track Club coach Jerry Schumacher on AhmedHis brother Ibrahim was able to attend, which gave him extra motivation."Every scream, every yell and every shout from [Ibrahim] and [my coach and teammates] had pure encouragement," Ahmed said. "It was pushing me, propelling me. There's a deep connection with those individuals and I know how bad they want it for me."Better at handling nerves, pressure"He's kind of like that quiet assassin," Schumacher said of Ahmed, laughing. "You don't expect it [because] he's a very unassuming guy and humble. He's got this quiet confidence but when he comes out [on the track] he packs a big punch."Ahmed admitted to feeling more confident in his abilities and more experienced in handling the nerves, anxiousness and pressures of racing. He also considers himself among those in the hunt for an Olympic medal next summer in Tokyo.Only Joshua Cheptegei, who set a world record of 12:35.36 on Aug. 14, has run faster than Ahmed since Jan. 1, while Cheptegei's Ugandan teammate Jacob Kiplimo (12:48.63) and Ethiopia's Selemon Barega (12:49.08) are the others to have run under 12:51.This is the company Ahmed now keeps and wanted, Schumacher said, when he arrived at Bowerman with big dreams but lacking the skills, confidence and development to immediately reach an elite level."That's what he's always been driving for," the renowned Schumacher said. "Moh's competitiveness or competitive instincts have been the same since [Day 1]. But medalling at that level, with those guys, is always hard."Ahmed hopes he put enough fear in his competitors in the world final after taking the lead with about 500 metres to the finish, dropping to fifth and working his way back to third on the straightaway at Khalifa International Stadium.WATCH | Ahmed claims 5,000m bronze at 2019 worlds:Health will be paramount in the eight months leading up to Tokyo, Ahmed noted."My dad once told me, 'Only a healthy man can go out and seek their destiny.' If you are healthy and can pile up the mileage week after week, you'll be prepared," he said.American runner Evan Jager remembers Ahmed having "a lot of room to grow" when he joined Bowerman, watching him make big gains the first two years and reset the bar soon after the 2016 Rio Olympics."He wasn't going to be satisfied with anything less than standing on the podium at global championships," said Jager, a silver medallist in the 3,000 steeplechase at Rio. "Every part of his life was centred around running and people are starting to see his hard work and dedication pay off."I was not shocked and shocked at the same time [at his running 12:47] because of how easy he made it look," said Jager, who was in the race but wasn't able to hold Ahmed's pace and didn't finish."Tough, fun and super frustrating" is how Jager describes battling his longtime teammate at practice these days."He's definitely more confident over the past two years," Jager said. "Keeping up with him is a tall, tall task. Everyone on the team looks up to him and it just sets the bar even higher."I would not bet against Moh to medal [in Tokyo] but championship races are so hard and competitive. Everyone brings their A-plus-plus game to an Olympic final and I have no doubt he'll do the required thinking and planning to get there."
France's interior minister called the images of police forcefully removing migrants from the Place de la République "shocking".View on euronews
This column is an opinion by Alfred Burgesson, a member of the Prime Minister's Youth Council, curator of collectiveaction.ca, and co-host of the New Action Podcast. For more information about CBC's opinion section, please see the FAQ.This year has afforded all of us more time to pay attention to the needs of people in our communities, especially the most marginalized, vulnerable and oppressed.This past summer I expressed how we can turn the momentum of Black Lives Matter into real change.Over the past several months, I decided to learn about Africville, so I engaged with former residents and the community's descendants. The so-called "settlement" was home to hundreds of individuals and families, and together they built a thriving, resilient and close‐knit community, until it was expropriated by Halifax city council in the 1960s.From the early 1800s to 1970, Africville was home to many Black families, a school and a church. However, the community was denied access to clean drinking water, paved roads and sewage treatment.Africville was also home to the first people who came to help during the 1917 Halifax Explosion, and to heroes of the world wars.Eddie Carvery has been protesting for 50 years, demanding justice and reparations for the past residents of Africville. Thanks to Eddie and his family, I've learned a great deal about Africville, the people of Africville, and the harm caused by our governments back in the 1960s.We have formed a special relationship over several months together. I cannot write this piece without giving thanks to a living legend.A mother's wise adviceMy first time visiting Eddie Carvery was spontaneous, and I quickly realized that this man is not as crazy as some members of the public made him out to be. I have enjoyed spending time with him and his family, and hearing their stories. When I visited Eddie on my birthday, I was greeted by the family and was given a birthday card with a gift.My favourite story about Eddie is that he tried to orchestrate a plan to destroy city hall with a bomb after the community that raised him, Africville, was demolished. This plan never succeeded due to sage advice from his mother, Daisy Gehue Carvery.Eddie is peaceful, thoughtful, and he is still fighting for justice for Africville.Fifty years later, the Africville protest is gaining more momentum — this time with some support from young people in Halifax and across the country.Eddie's grandson, Eddie Carvery III, is determined to bring the community together, determined to create a plan, and committed to giving Africville back to the former residents and descendants.Next generation takes up the causeEddie Carvery III has been working on a solution. Right now, the plan is to get as many people in Canada to take action by petitioning the federal, provincial, municipal governments and human rights commission while at the same time engaging the community in a plan to redevelop Africville.On Saturday Nov. 21 at City Hall, over 100 people showed up to support the cause. Coun. Lindell Smith, member of Parliament Andy Fillmore and Leader of NDP Party of Nova Scotia, Gary Burrill, all made remarks to protesters at the rally.The following call to action can be sent to your local MP, MLA, the mayor of Halifax, the premier of Nova Scotia, the prime minister, the Human Rights Commission of Canada and Human Rights Commission of Nova Scotia:"We, the citizens, demand reparations now! * WHEREAS in the year 2020, the Halifax Regional Municipality, in collaboration with the Province of Nova Scotia, Government of Canada, and the Human Rights Commission, in the interest of restoring justice, launches a reparations process. * WHEREAS monetary contributions to ensure social and economic development, quality of life and prosperity, land, education, business and employment will be considered reparations. * WHEREAS the government will grant ownership of the land and management of the district of Africville will be returned to the residents and descendants of Africville. * WHEREAS the government will return all of the buildings and land formerly occupied by Africville residents, families and descendants of Africville, and redevelopment of Africville shall occur. * NOW, THEREFORE, a new community entity led by former residents and the descendants of Africville, Africville Legacy and Development Association, will form a community working group to discuss and define the terms and conditions of said reparations with government bodies."If you believe this is reasonable and is a decent way forward, join the people demanding reparations for Africville now.In 2016, the United Nations' Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, on the conclusion of its official visit to Canada made a statement. I would highly recommend you read it if you haven't already. Among several other recommendations, the statement by the working group recommended that governments "issue an apology and consider reparations for enslavement and historical injustices."'We're not giving up'I'm not convinced that former Halifax mayor Peter Kelly's apology and the joint investment of $5 million from all three levels of government in 2010 qualifies as reparations. The funds were used to build a replica church of the Seaview Baptist Church, now a museum managed by the Africville Heritage Trust. A nice gesture; however, it does not meaningfully address the generational trauma, misfortune and lost opportunities for Africville residents and descendants.I'm convinced there is a better way forward.I hope you take 30 seconds of your time to respond to the above call to action, demanding reparations for Africville. I will end this piece with this quote:"There will be a protest until the Africville people have been dealt with fairly. If not me, it will be my children, if not them, their children. It's not going to go away. We're not quitting, we're not giving up." — Eddie Carvery, CBC Radio, Sept. 8, 2020MORE TOP STORIES
One of two people who murdered a young Inuk woman nearly seven years ago in Halifax has been granted eight escorted temporary absences from prison. Victoria Lea Henneberry pleaded guilty in 2015 to second-degree murder in the death of Loretta Saunders. Henneberry, 35, received an automatic life sentence with no chance of full parole for 10 years. Earlier this month, the Parole Board of Canada granted Henneberry passes to attend programs that are not offered in the prison where she is incarcerated. Each of the eight trips will be for an hour and a half, plus an additional 2½ hours for travel time. Saunders, a 26-year-old woman from Labrador, was subletting her Halifax apartment to Henneberry and Henneberry's then-boyfriend, Blake Leggette, at the time of her death in February 2014.She was killed after showing up at the apartment to collect late rent payments. Her body was discovered in the median of the Trans-Canada Highway west of Salisbury, N.B., a couple of weeks later. Police caught up to Henneberry and Leggette in southern Ontario, where they also discovered Saunders's car and some of her personal belongings. The couple was arrested and returned to Halifax.Previously granted 5-hour passLeggette, now 31, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, which also carries an automatic life sentence. He must serve 25 years before being eligible for parole.At the time of her death, Saunders was studying at Saint Mary's University and writing a thesis on missing and murdered Indigenous women. She was also pregnant.Henneberry has identified as American Cherokee on her mother's side, but the parole board noted in a decision she was not raised in the culture and has no knowledge of her history."A number of victim and community submissions were presented that opposed your claim to Indigenous heritage and your access to related resources and supports," the board said in its decision.Henneberry was granted a five-hour pass last February to attend a session with the Healing of Seven Generations, an Ontario-based organization offering various programs for Indigenous people.However, amid public outcry, Henneberry lost community support for attending the session and was banned from accessing services for the remainder of her sentence. Being held in minimum-security facilityWhile she has been granted new escorted absences, COVID-19 restrictions mean that programs outside the prison are not currently available.Overall, the parole board said Henneberry's behaviour in prison has shown steady improvement, to the point where she is now being held in a minimum-security facility. It did not disclose where.However, it also noted Henneberry does not believe she should be serving a life sentence."Your Case Management Team (CMT) report you continue to demonstrate an unrealistic sense of entitlement at times, as you state that you should not be serving a life sentence and should not be incarcerated as there is nothing left for you to learn in prison and you should be released at your earliest eligibility date," it said. The board said Henneberry plans to apply for day parole in February of next year.While the board does not disclose where any inmate is being held for security reasons, its latest decision on Henneberry was released from Ontario.MORE TOP STORIES
Recent developments: * Ottawa has 19 more people with COVID-19. * An update on the impact of COVID-19 on Ottawa's diverse communities is underway.What's the latest?Ottawa has 19 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases today.Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is among the groups holding a 1 p.m. ET news conference about the impact of the pandemic on the city's diverse communities.How many cases are there?As of Tuesday, 8,231 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in Ottawa. There are 323 known active cases, 7,540 cases now considered resolved and 368 people who have died of COVID-19.Public health officials have reported more than 13,300 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 11,900 resolved cases.Eighty-eight people have died of COVID-19 elsewhere in eastern Ontario, along with 76 in western Quebec. CBC Ottawa is profiling those who've died of COVID-19. If you'd like to share your loved one's story, please get in touch. What can I do?Both Ontario and Quebec are telling people to limit close contact only to those they live with, or one other home if people live alone, to slow the spread of the coronavirus.Travel from one region to another discouraged throughout the Outaouais. Ontario says people shouldn't travel to a lower-level region from a higher one and some lower-level health units want residents to stay put to curb the spread.WATCH | No large gatherings for the holidays, says Dr. Tam:Ottawa is currently in the orange zone of the provincial pandemic scale, which allows organized gatherings and restaurants, gyms and theatres to bring people inside.Ottawa's medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches has said Ottawa's situation is stable and people should focus on managing risks and taking precautions, such as seeing a few friends outside at a distance, to bring the spread down further.Communities in the Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) and Eastern Ontario health units have been moved to yellow.That means restaurant hours, capacity and table limits and other rules between orange Ottawa and the rest of eastern Ontario, which is green.In Gatineau and the surrounding area, which is one of Quebec's red zones, health officials are asking residents not to leave home unless it's essential.Indoor dining at restaurants remains prohibited and gyms, cinemas and performing arts venues are all closed.The rest of western Quebec is orange, which allows private gatherings of up to six people and organized ones up to 25 — with more in seated venues.Last week, Quebec announced what it will take to have a small holiday gathering next month. Rules won't be loosened until mid-January at the earliest.What about schools?There have been about 200 schools in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region with a confirmed case of COVID-19:Few have had outbreaks, which are declared by a health unit in Ontario when there's a reasonable chance someone who has tested positive caught COVID-19 during a school activity.WATCH | Concerns about safety at École secondaire publique Omer-Deslauriers:Distancing and isolatingThe novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes or speaks onto someone or something. These droplets can hang in the air.People can be contagious without symptoms.This means people should take precautions such as staying home when sick, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean, socializing outdoors as much as possible and maintaining distance from anyone they don't live with — even with a mask on.Ontario has abandoned its concept of social circles.Masks are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec and should be worn outdoors when people can't distance from others. Three-layer non-medical masks with a filter are recommended.Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who've been ordered to do so by their local public health unit. The duration depends on the circumstances in both Ontario and Quebec.Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible. Anyone who has travelled recently outside Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days.What are the symptoms of COVID-19?COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and the loss of taste or smell. Less common symptoms include chills, headaches and pink eye. Children can develop a rash.If you have severe symptoms, call 911.Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic and resources are available to help.Where to get testedIn eastern Ontario:Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, or if you've been told to by your health unit or the province.Anyone seeking a test should now book an appointment. Different sites in the area have different ways to book, including over the phone or going in person to get a time slot.People without symptoms, but who are part of the province's targeted testing strategy, can make an appointment at select pharmacies.Ottawa has nine permanent test sites, with additional mobile sites deployed wherever demand is particularly high. A test site opens at the McNabb Community Centre today.Kingston's test site is at the Beechgrove Complex. The area's other test site is in Napanee.The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Alexandria, Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Limoges, Rockland and Winchester.The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls and a mobile test site visiting smaller communities.People can arrange a test in Bancroft and Picton by calling the centre or Belleville and Trenton online.Renfrew County residents should call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 for a test or with questions, COVID-19-related or not. Test clinic locations are posted weekly.In western Quebec:Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms or who have been in contact with someone with symptoms.Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau seven days a week at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 avenue Buckingham.They can now check the approximate wait time for the Saint-Raymond site.There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Gracefield, Val-des-Monts and Fort-Coulonge.Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.First Nations, Inuit and Métis:Akwesasne has had its most known COVID-19 cases of the pandemic this month, with 22 and counting in its Ontario portion and more on the American side of the border. Its council is asking residents to avoid unnecessary travel.Akwesasne schools are temporarily closed to in-person learning and its Tsi Snaihne Child Care Centre has also closed. It has a COVID-19 test site available by appointment only.Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte reported its first confirmed case this month.People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603.Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.For more information
Saskatchewan health policy consultant Steven Lewis has watched from the relative safety of Melbourne, Australia, as COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths have spiked back in his home province.The southern Australian city of five million people, where Lewis is currently living, is now COVID-free and in the process of lifting restrictions.Lewis, who has advised governments in several provinces and countries, agreed to share his thoughts on Saskatchewan's rapidly deteriorating COVID-19 situation — which saw nearly 3,000 active cases and more than 100 people in hospital as of Monday.On Monday, the province announced four more people with the virus had died and that Premier Scott Moe is in isolation after a recent potential exposure in the Prince Albert area.Lewis said the three-month lockdown in Australia was difficult, but that residents generally agreed it was necessary. Those tempted to flout the rules were slapped with large fines. Lewis said he isn't recommending an Australia-style lockdown, but that one thing is clear: the Saskatchewan government's "half-assed" approach will simply prolong the pandemic's devastating effects on people's health and the economy.The following comments by Lewis have been condensed and edited.On 'high-risk venues'Lewis: It's crazy to allow bars and restaurants and gyms to stay open. They are known worldwide to be three sites where infections take off. Alcohol is a disinhibitor. Loud music makes people lean in and talk louder to be heard over it, expelling more droplets. People exercising strenuously breathe more heavily, sweat, expel. On gatheringsAll mass gatherings, including church services, weddings, funerals, should be locked down, and [there should be] very strong prohibition of socializing at home with non-family members.On mandatory masksAt least [Saskatchewan] has mandatory mask wearing indoors in public spaces. But responding too late can't be undone. It may be useful prospectively but the numbers got bigger than they had to.On enforcing the rulesI don't have strong enough evidence to suggest cause and effect, but enforcement appears to matter.Here in Victoria [Australia], population 6.5 million, since March the police have issued about 25,000 tickets for COVID non-adherence violations, at an average of about $1,200, which is pretty steep. I do think this, combined with the 8 p.m. curfew that was in place for weeks, was a deterrent for young people.What we've learned is that even if messaging is well-done and broadly effective, a small number of non-adherers can spark a new cluster that quickly expands. When 95 per cent adherence isn't good enough, you cannot rely on moral suasion or appeals to civility.On contact tracingOnce numbers get beyond double-digits per day, contact tracing becomes virtually useless. It's just too labour-intensive, people may not have good recall, and there is still stigma and suspicion of authority, so people may not disclose their contacts.On testingCanada is still terrible at testing.Slovakia tested just about the entire adult population in a weekend and then repeated a weekend later. They found about a 1 per cent positive rate the first weekend and directed the infected to isolate. The positive rate the second weekend was a lot lower, no doubt because the first one removed the positives and kept them out of the population.My understanding is that it is still hard for asymptomatic people (in Canada) to get a publicly provided test and the results take days rather than hours.On the Saskatchewan government's 'slowdown' plan[Health professionals] have I think justifiably hammered the government for it's half-assed and complicated approach.It is increasingly clear that you can't slow-walk the pandemic with a fine-tuned balancing act that keeps the economy humming while keeping daily case rates at a predictable and low level. It's too volatile, there are too many asymptomatic transmissions, and there's too big a time-lag between when you are infected and when you know you are.So you have to come down hard and fast and universally to flatten the curve quickly. If you have to stop and start and stop and start, it's just as disruptive for businesses and the pain is prolonged. Bottom line: Saskatchewan has been tested by the second wave and largely failed. It was stupid to differentiate between urban and rural Saskatchewan [on mandatory masks] and it's really stupid to keep known high-risk venues open. The virus doesn't care if you're going to a bar or to church. It's going to bite people in both places if you keep them open.