U.S. political scientist Cal Jilson says up to 60% of total votes could be cast before election day on Nov. 3.
U.S. political scientist Cal Jilson says up to 60% of total votes could be cast before election day on Nov. 3.
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".
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
It's flu season, which means the glass-and-concrete warehouse on an industrial stretch of Pie-IX Blvd. in Montreal's north end is buzzing. Forklifts are trundling to and fro.It's the sort of secure building — owned by the medical distributor McKesson Canada — that comes in handy if you're preparing mass immunization for COVID-19.It's expected that campaign will begin at some point in early 2021, but what will it look like in Quebec?There are several clues: new federal guidelines suggest health-care workers and vulnerable elderly populations will probably be at the head of the line. In all likelihood, people will need to be injected twice, so an appointment system will be set up.Unlike the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, which provides a recent blueprint for mass inoculations, it seems unimaginable people will gather in, say, shopping malls to queue for a shot.The effort will likely involve CLSCs and family medicine clinics, as well as hospital installations. Might pharmacies be involved? Possibly, but those questions haven't been dealt with yet.Coincidentally, the province moved to a new distribution model for the flu vaccine this fall. It has involved the private sector to a greater degree than in years past and by all accounts it has worked smoothly, with only minimal hiccups."We've offered our help. We are in active exchanges with the various levels of government involved so we can be part of the solution," said Jean-Philippe Blouin, McKesson Canada's senior vice-president of pharmaceutical distribution and operations.As the province gears for a COVID-19 serum — which should arrive this winter if the front-running candidates from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca/Oxford University win speedy approval from Health Canada — there are still pivotal issues to sort out.'The main obstacle is not having any data'Several European countries and multiple U.S. states have already spelled out how they plan to vaccinate their populations — some as early as next month.If it seems like Quebec and the other Canadian provinces are lagging behind, there are solid reasons for that.For one thing, Quebec has a large territory to cover.For another, there are likely to be two, three or more simultaneous rollouts, aimed at different segments of the population."What's complicated is there are multiple things that need to happen at the same time," said Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh, a microbiology and infectious diseases professor at Université de Montréal and chair of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (or NACI), the external scientific body that advises the Public Health Agency of Canada."The first one is to see the data from the vaccines to see in which population we'll use which vaccine."The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use similar technologies, but Quach-Thanh said there is comparatively little data on their effect "in the most vulnerable populations, or even in the healthy population for that matter."It seems likely one or more of the vaccine candidates will prove more effective with some clienteles than others, she said.The most pressing need is to decide who comes first."If we decide we want to start with elderly people in long-term care facilities that's an entirely different strategy than if we want to start with health-care workers in hospitals and clinics," said Quach-Thanh.The scientists at NACI recently issued preliminary guidance on prioritization, but it will ultimately be up to Quebec public health authorities to decide."We don't know yet what's going to be the final distribution model," said McKesson's Blouin. "There are still a lot of unknowns. What we know, though, is that the front-runners ... are going to use frozen or ultra-frozen conditions on their products, which creates some challenges, obviously."In a white paper issued in September, the company warned "the overall public and private vaccine supply chains in Canada are not equipped to support frozen and/or ultra-frozen COVID-19 vaccines at scale."But that's changing. Health Minister Christian Dubé said recently the province has arranged for the purchase of 60 specialized refrigeration units. As of September, McKesson, one of the largest pharmaceutical distributors in the country, only had one.The Canadian government has also entered into agreements to buy 100 more, according to the federal procurement department.There is a low-intensity international scramble to acquire the equipment, which is key to preserving some of the vaccines.The AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine can be stored between 2 C and 8 C but Moderna's needs to be kept at -20 C and Pfizer's must be kept at the ultra-cold temperature of around -70 C."It has to be kept at a specific temperature, it's not just 'get a big freezer and put everything in the big freezer,'" said David Levine, a former junior health minister who managed the vaccine rollout for the H1N1 flu pandemic, as head of Montreal's regional health authority.It may also be that Pfizer and the other vaccine providers decide to deliver their product directly on a just-in-time basis rather than providing a stockpile that can be kept in facilities like McKesson's or the provincially-owned medical depots.But Quach-Thanh says it's not how the health-care system here is used to doing things."We don't necessarily have a good handle on who is going to show up the next day," Quach-Thanh said. "Yes, you can book appointments but you have no-shows. It would be very regrettable to have vaccines go to waste."A logistical challengeOne person who will play a part in ironing out the logistics: Jérôme Gagnon, Quebec's assistant deputy minister of health.Dubé appointed the operations specialist on Oct. 19. Gagnon has spent the past two decades in the Public Security department. His background is in civil security and anti-terrorism.Quebec's Health Ministry declined to make Gagnon available for interviews, citing his busy schedule.On Tuesday, Dubé said the current flu vaccination campaign has managed to reach 200,000 people per week, and that his department is discussing options to scale that up quickly depending on the availability of COVID-19 vaccines."Are we going to go to the pharmacists, or other medical professionals ... we're in the middle of preparing for that. Those discussions have started. That means in the coming weeks not only will we be ready, I would tell you we already are," the health minister said.There are complex issues to manage in any vaccination effort, for example, the winter rollout will be complicated by the fact that most of the leading candidate vaccines will require two injections, with the second coming between two and four weeks after the first.Levine said the good news is Quebec's health-care system — despite the perennial staff shortage it faces — is well-equipped to organize a mass inoculation. Centralization, usually something to be feared and loathed by regional health administrators, is a good thing in this case, he said."I don't think the logistics today is a problem," he said.It also helps that another substantial piece of the puzzle, namely millions of needles and syringes, is already taken care of, courtesy of the federal government.Then, there's the issue of who wants the vaccine."Everyone is going to want the vaccine and they're going to want to get it as soon as possible," Levine said. "There might be parts of the population that say I'm going to wait and see that the vaccine works well. And those will be the main challenges."Though the health system doesn't have a surplus of nurses, Levine said the government showed this past spring that it's possible to temporarily re-allocate staff, if necessary.Lessons from the pastThe H1N1 episode is instructive, even though it was a far different situation, in that the pandemic never really took off. "We were lucky," Levine said.The government also learned the importance of clear communication."Throughout the whole process remain very transparent, very open. It'll be a moment of intense movement in the population when the vaccine is made available," Levine advised.In 2009, as today, there were multiple vaccines and one drug in particular, the antiviral Tamiflu, was in heavy international demand."Everybody was nervous: 'Are we going to get it? What about the hoarding? Who's stockpiling?'" The lesson, in Levine's view, was clear."You need to be careful that in that type of scenario there is an equal distribution of the vaccine, and it isn't related to social class, it isn't related to parts of the city rather than other parts of the city, parts of the country rather than other parts of the country," he said. Dividing up the dosesCanada has a contract for 20 million doses each of the AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and options to acquire 56 million more of the Pfizer and 36 million of the Moderna.In all, the federal government has agreements in place for 350 million total doses from seven manufacturers, including Quebec City-based Medicago.The blanket-tugging has already started.Last week, Ontario plainly stated that it expects to receive 1.6-million doses of Pfizer vaccine and 800,000 of Moderna in the first three months of 2021.Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott lifted the cover on how much Canada expects to receive as a whole between January and March: four million of the first and two million of the second.Her Alberta counterpart quickly staked a public claim to about 900,000 doses. Last week, Quebec's public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda stated plainly that Quebec will ensure no other province claws into its per capita share.There should be enough to go around, although the provincial Health Ministry indicated in an email that it expects limited quantities of serum at first.WATCH | One man's struggle with COVID-19 Quach-Thanh suggested the vaccination campaign needn't be mandatory, and pointed out children won't be vaccinated, at least not to start, because "there is no data whatsoever, they haven't been enrolled yet in phase three studies."Also, there may be a popular misconception about the benefits the vaccines will provide.Quach-Thanh said it's still not clear the vaccine has "any capacity to mitigate transmission."In other words, the vaccine can and does protect against symptomatic and acute illness from COVID-19, but it may not prevent a pre-symptomatic person from spreading the coronavirus.Thus, the key is to provide it to those people who face the greatest risks."To me, the overall goal of this vaccination program is not herd immunity, it's individual protection of those who are vulnerable and those who need to be protected," she said, later adding "you're going to vaccinate those whose working and living conditions put them at higher risk of infection, regardless of their risk of complication."
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."
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.
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
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
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."
There's mixed messaging emerging from the debate over methylmercury contamination in Labrador, with a U.S. researcher again raising the alarm about the toxic organic compound, while a contractor monitoring the effects of Muskrat Falls — backed up by the Department of Environment — says there's no need to worry.Ryan Calder co-authored a 2015 study by researchers at Harvard University saying hundreds of Labrador Inuit will be exposed to dangerous levels of methylmercury once the Muskrat Falls reservoir is fully flooded.The report was rejected at the time by Nalcor Energy, the government-owned corporation building the controversial hydroelectric generating station and dam on the Lower Churchill River.Calder has since moved on to research university Virginia Tech, but has continued to follow the findings of an ongoing monitoring program on the river and in Lake Melville.He said recent data showing an increase in the toxin is cause for concern."There's a small number of people that eat enough fish and marine mammals for it to be a concern," Calder said during a phone interview. "Probably in the hundreds of people among the Labrador Inuit that would be pushed beyond the Health Canada and EPA [United States Environmental Protection Agency] reference sources for mercury exposure."But Jim McCarthy — a senior biologist with Wood Environmental Infrastructure Solutions, which has been contracted by Nalcor to lead a methylmercury monitoring program in central Labrador — disagrees.It's now been a full year since the Muskrat Falls reservoir was filled to capacity, and McCarthy said methylmercury levels in the Muskrat reservoir has average 0.06 nanograms (one billionth of a gram) of methylmercury per litre of water. And as expected, McCarthy said levels increased in the summer, reaching as high as 0.2 nanograms per litre in one sample, with the 2020 summer average at 0.07 nanograms per litre.The natural levels prior to reservoir flooding was 0.017 nanograms per litre, said McCarthy.So is McCarty alarmed by those numbers? "That's not high at all," he said. "To put it in terms of drinking water quality, there'd be an advisory on if the water quality had 1,000 nanograms per litre of methylmercury."The main concern for area residents is their wild food supply becoming contaminated with unsafe levels of methylmercuy, and so far there is no evidence of this, said McCarthy, who has been studying the water and fish in the Churchill River for two decades.Fish samples collected in 2019 did not show any changes in methylmercury levels from previous years.McCarthy is awaiting laboratory results from fish samples collected in September and October, but is not expecting any significant change again this year.McCarthy said it can take anywhere from three to five years for higher concentrations of methylmercury to appear in fish, and, he said, "I don't expect it to be much."When asked if he envisioned a scenario where area residents might be advised against consuming fish or mammals, McCarthy said, "I"m not a human health person, I'm a fish person. But I don't believe so, based on the data that I've seen, I don't think there'll be advisories."The Environment Department said methylmercury levels are below the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment's guidelines."To date, monitoring data confirms that the actual methylmercury levels are far below predicted levels by CCME guidelines for aquatic life," a department spokesperson wrote in an email to CBC News.A statement from Nalcor says, "The Muskrat Falls reservoir is reacting in a similar way to other reservoirs following the first year of flooding."In fact, Nalcor says average methylmercury concentrations in the reservoir are slightly lower than predicted for the past year, at 0.058 nanograms per litre. The concentrations decrease further downstream, said Nalcor."We've noticed that there is an increase, but not a very large increase," said McCarthy.McCarthy said it's common for concentrations to increase in the first three years after reservoir flooding, and eventually return to natural levels.He said he could easily find a pond dammed by a beaver anywhere in the province and find higher concentrations of methylmercury.He stressed that the consumption of fish and mammals should not be avoided."I think they're safe to eat, yes," he said.Ballooning project costs and long delays have dogged the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project for years, but human health concerns have also been at the forefront, especially for those who eat fish and other mammals in the region.The threat of methylmercury contaminating the wild food supply resulted in protests four years ago, and a prolonged impasse was resolved after the provincial government agreed to establish an independent expert advisory committee.An enhanced monitoring program was also launched, with weekly testing at more than a dozen sites upstream of the Muskat Falls reservoir, downstream into Lake Melville, as far as Rigolet.The issue flared again last year after the provincial government failed to deliver on a promise to clear some vegetation — a process known as wetland capping — from the reservoir prior to full flooding, with then premier Dwight Ball calling it an unintentional oversight.Nalcor responded by allocating $30 million in compensation for three Indigenous groups in Labrador.Meanwhile, Ryan Calder says the data emerging from river monitoring is supporting his early concerns about methylmercury."The first data that's rolling out is consistent with our predictions, and is exactly what Nalcor refused to believe five years ago," said Calder."Immediately the levels are going way beyond the Nalcor projected peak, and are now well within the range of what we had predicted. And they're still rising. The fact that we're in late November now and the levels are still rising quite sharply, when they usually are falling, is a concern. And it suggests they'll probably continue to rise next spring and summer."When asked why Calder's tone is so different from his own, McCarthy replied, "Well, there's two conflicting models too, I guess."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
The NATO principle of one-for-all and all-for-one was the reason it — and by extension Canada — went into Afghanistan, but that assumption is being sorely tested by a U.S. administration that is in a hurry to wind things up.Hurry might be a relative term, though, considering Washington's military involvement in the country is approaching the two-decade mark.The Trump administration's deadline to draw down U.S. forces to 2,500 troops by mid-January — paving the way for a full withdrawal — has been greeted with nervousness by NATO allies.There is an old saying, from early in the war, that the Taliban were fond of repeating: you have the watches, we have the time.The implication was that militants could simply wait out foreign forces and wear them down in a steady drip of casualties and spectacular setbacks.It seems time is still on the Taliban's side.Witness the steady rise in attacks across at least 50 districts in the country, according to Afghanistan's Interior Ministry, in figures that were recently reported in the local media.Key parts of Kandahar province, which have remained relatively peaceful since the Canadian withdrawal from there almost a decade ago, have become contested. Afghan forces, with the help of punishing U.S. airstrikes, were forced to retake the Arghandab district from the Taliban recently in a level of fighting that matched the darkest days of Canada's involvement in the restive province.With their refusal to agree to an outright ceasefire, the Taliban are putting pressure on both the Afghan government and the U.S. as a deadline for the complete withdrawal of international forces looms next spring.A hard decisionThe Taliban are playing for time as peace talks grind on in Doha, Qatar, leaving bewildered NATO allies warning that the last two decades may end up being for naught should the Taliban succeed in their resurgent campaign of violence. "We strongly support the peace talks that are taking place between the Taliban and the government," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a pre-recorded interview at last weekend's Halifax International Security Forum."And part of the agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban is that all international troops would be out by the first [of] May next year. So, clearly we have to make a very hard decision and that is whether to leave and risk to lose the gains we've made … or whether we stay and continue to be involved in a very challenging and demanding operation in Afghanistan."Stoltenberg staked his ground on the possibly quaint notion that the alliance is free to make its own collective decision about whether to follow the U.S. out the door next spring."My message is that we must assess whether the conditions for leaving are met together," he said. "We need to make these decisions together, and as we have said many times at NATO, we went into Afghanistan together, we should make decisions about adjustments to our presence together, and when the time is right we should leave together in a co-ordinated and orderly way."The reality is, without U.S. logistical and air support, a standalone NATO mission would have a short shelf life.Abdullah Abdullah, the chair of Afghanistan's High Council for National Reconciliation and the man leading the government's negotiating team, told Agence France-Presse a few days ago that the two sides are "very close" to breaking a deadlock in peace talks.Those negotiations started on Sept. 12, but bogged down over agenda disagreements, the basic framework of the discussions and religious interpretations, according to the news agency."We haven't moved towards discussion of the main substance of negotiations, the main agenda," said Abdullah, who was interviewed in Turkey."We are close. We are very close. Hopefully we pass this phase and get to the substantial issues" including security.The assessment coincided with a separate statement from the Taliban to AFP that said "sufficient progress" had been made on key sticking points.At the same time, the group has consistently refused to take part in a ceasefire, with frequent attacks against Afghan security forces.They show no signs of being in a hurry. As ever, the Taliban don't need watches.
NAV Canada, hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, is considering cutting air traffic controller jobs at seven towers across Canada in an effort to save money as the global health crisis continues to drag down air traffic.But some aviation experts and airlines warn that reducing the number of people who control air traffic and ensure aircraft keep their distance in the sky and on the ground would amount to removing a layer of protection."It would degrade the level of safety at Whitehorse," said Joe Sparling, president of Whitehorse-based airline Air North. "We would encourage Nav Canada to look for other cost reduction measures."CBC News obtained an internal memo from Nav Canada president and CEO Neil Wilson informing staff that the not-for-profit company — which operates Canada's civil air navigation system — is conducting studies of air traffic control towers in Whitehorse, Regina, Fort McMurray in Alberta, Prince George in B.C., and Sault Ste. Marie and Windsor in Ontario which "will result in workforce adjustments."The company also is looking into closing a control tower in St. Jean, Quebec. These locations were identified as having low air traffic levels, even prior to the pandemic, the memo said."We are working closely with our bargaining agents to safely streamline our operations in an ongoing effort to align with traffic levels," wrote Wilson on Nov. 14, adding his commitment to safety is unwavering.Nav Canada manages millions of kilometres of airspace over Canada and used to provide air navigation services for more than 3 million flights a year. It's funded through service fees paid by air carriers.COVID-19 has dramatically decreased the number of flights across the country since March. In September, there was a 63 per cent drop in air traffic compared to the same month in 2019, according to Nav Canada numbers.In response, the company announced in September it was cutting more than 720 jobs, or 14 per cent of its workforce. The CEO also warned more layoffs remain possible.Transitioning to flight service stationsNav Canada is studying the possibility of closing the St. Jean tower in Quebec. The company is also looking into transitioning the other six towers to "Flight Service Stations," which would involve cutting air traffic controller jobs.Flight service specialists — who cost less to employ than air traffic controllers — would replace those workers. They do not have the power to control air traffic and keep planes separated while in flight or on the ground. Instead, they provide advisory services and information about weather, runway conditions and air traffic, leaving it up to pilots to keep a safe distance from other planes.Sparling said Whitehorse doesn't have radar, so the tower can't see air traffic on its screens. He said cutting the number of air traffic controllers from the airport could affect pilots by making it harder for them to keep track of everything in the air."It removes the level of safety afforded to air operators," he said. "During peak season, during heavy traffic periods, it is a safer environment if you're in a tower environment ..."The worst instance would be a collision or something like that."Mid-air collision in 1999David McNair, a former aviation safety investigator with the Transportation Safety Board, said airports "with air traffic controllers tend to have a safer management of traffic."He pointed to a fatal mid-air collision over Penticton, B.C. in 1999 that killed five people and involved flight service specialists. One plane had just taken off from the airport when it collided with a descending plane. One aircraft smashed into the parking lot of the Okanagan University College, the other into the yard of a business. The crash raised concerns about the lack of air traffic controllers at the airport at the time — positions that were eliminated years earlier in a cost-cutting move by Transport Canada, according to a CBC report in 1999."Likely, neither pilot was aware of where the other aircraft was or what exactly it would be doing," said McNair. "A tower controller would have controlled as required to provide separation."Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens also raised concerns last week about the impact on Windsor's airport, arguing that removing "Nav Canada controllers at YQG will really cut us off at the knees ... it will have a detrimental impact." City officials plan to fight the move by arguing it could cause delays and operational challenges.'Safety is always our number one priority,' said Nav CanadaIn a statement, Nav Canada said that its studies are "rigorous" and follow a process set by Transport Canada that includes public consultation."Safety is always our number one priority — and we would never do anything to jeopardize that," said Nav Canada spokesperson Rebecca Hickey in a statement to CBC News."When making decisions, we always take a long-term view to preserve the sustainability of the company and the integrity of the air navigation system of behalf of all Canadians."Transport Minister Marc Garneau's office said that before Nav Canada moves forward with any staff reductions or terminations, it must ensure it will maintain "rigorous aviation safety standards." "Transport Canada will work closely with Nav Canada to ensure the safety of air transportation in Canada," said department spokesperson Amy Butcher in a statement to CBC News.Under Canadian aviation regulations, Garneau also has the power to direct Nav Canada to maintain levels of service if he believes there is an unacceptable risk to aviation safety.
A class-action lawsuit launched against a Catholic religious order in 2018 has grown from the initial 30 Innu claimants on Quebec's Lower North Shore to 190 Indigenous and non-Indigenous people from across Quebec.Allegations of sexual abuse by priests with the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate initially surfaced during the federal inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG). Those allegations have now multiplied across several First Nations, where the clergy tried to "silence repeated sexual assaults it was well aware of," according to court documents submitted to Quebec Superior Court, in the request for authorization for the class action.The inquiry's stop in Mani-Utenam in November 2017, an Innu community near Sept-Îles, on Quebec's North Shore, revealed decades of alleged abuse against Innu children and women living in Unamen Shipu and Pakua Shipu, on the province's Lower North Shore.Alexis Joveneau, a Belgian priest who arrived in the region in the 1950s, held a tight grip on the Innu communities where he worked, until his death in 1992.Noëlla Mark, who is the main claimant in the class-action suit, said during the MMIWG hearings, that she never talked about the abuse because Joveneau "was considered to be the chief of the village, the head." That public image of a "god-like" figure has since been torn down, says lawyer Alain Arsenault.Fifty Innu women and eight Innu men from Unaman Shipu and Pakua Shipu have since come forward with complaints of sexual abuse by Joveneau. And other members of the congregation have been named in the class action, which hasn't yet been authorized by Quebec Superior Court.Alleged abuse in several First NationsThirty-one people, mainly from the Innu First Nation of Uashat mak Mani-Utenam, have made similar allegations against father Omer Provencher. None of those allegations have been proven in court, at this time.Other priests included in the class action have already been found guilty of acts of a sexual nature.Father Raynald Couture was sentenced in 2004 to 15 months for sexual assault against Atikamekw children. Nine alleged victims from Wemotaci and Opitciwan are naming him as their alleged abuser, in the class-action request.Thirty-three Anishnabe people also came forward with allegations against Father Edmond Brouillard, who was sentenced in 1996 to five years in prison for sexual abuse.Seven Atikamekw people from Manawan claimed to be victims of Édouard Meilleur. And 34 other Indigenous people, as well as 17 non-Indigenous claimants, have come forward regarding allegations of sexual abuse by other members of the order.Out-of-court settlement not yet reachedArsenault says he is not surprised that the number of cases has grown since the case was first presented. There would have been many more, he said, if the COVID-19 pandemic hadn't prevented visits to other communities in northern Quebec."It's the tip of the iceberg," Arsenault told CBC. Initially, the Oblates stated they wanted to settle out of court to spare the victims further trauma. The congregation also set up a confidential hotline, in English and French, to offer counselling to victims of sexual abuse.But the initial negotiations never led to an agreement, Arsenault said, leaving few options other than pursuing the matter in court.The hotline has since been taken down, according to the lawyer representing the congregation, Charles Gibson. Gibson told CBC the Oblates are still hoping to settle the matter out of court and continue to be open to negotiations.Arsenault said that hasn't been possible because the proposals made so far have been "disproportionate" to the harm caused in the various communities where the Oblates were based.The request for the class action covers alleged abuse that would have happened between January 1, 1950, and December 31, 2018.
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."
A timeline of Alireza Onghaei, Toronto currency trader accused by CSIS of helping Iran circumvent sanctions.
A northern Saskatchewan First Nation dealing with a spate of COVID-19 cases in the area is threatening members who hold house parties with eviction and the loss of their utilities.Chief Francis Iron of Canoe Lake Cree First Nation said the punishments are already spelled out in local housing policies, but that the band is underscoring them again to stave off parties that go over the current private gathering limit of five people. "It's tough and cruel, but, you know, we see elders getting sick and possibly passing away and then that's something we go on to live with," Iron said Monday. "We want to do everything that's necessary to keep our community safe."Canoe Lake Cree First Nation is located about 333 kilometres northwest of Prince Albert and has just under 1,000 residents, according to the 2016 census.Memo warns of stripping utilitiesOn Sunday, the First Nation's housing director circulated a memo on social media in light of "the spike of COVID-19 cases in our community and surrounding communities" — 13 cases in total, according to Iron. The memo went on to state that "there will be NO house parties allowed on the reserve. Anyone hosting a house party will be served with a warning of an eviction notice and utilities will be shut off. "If it happens again, an immediate eviction notice will be served."Iron said that with winter setting in, "we don't want the spread to go any further than it is."Learning from other First Nations and anywhere else, a lot of this originates from a house party where outbreaks are happening. We just want our people to be as serious as we are," he said. No one has had to be evicted or stripped of their utilities, Iron added."As of today and last night, there haven't been any house parties, which shows us that the people are taking it very seriously," he said. 'They do have their own autonomy'The Canoe Lake reserve is part of the Far North West region reported on by the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority (NITHA). As of Sunday, the region had 66 active cases of COVID-19.Dr. Nnamdi Ndubuka, NITHA's medical health officer for the Prince Albert area, said the "stern" measures outlined by the band has the support of his office."We do recognize they they do have their own autonomy and they have their own ability to develop local measures to enforce the public health order," Ndubuka said. Asked if evicting people might not create more problems, he said there are mental health teams, and alternate shelter arrangements, in place."I wouldn't imagine that people who are struggling with addictions would be left isolated," he said.
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Nov. 24 ... What we are watching in Canada ... EDMONTON — Alberta’s chief medical officer of health says COVID-19 has become like a snowball rolling down a hill, picking up size and speed, and threatening to overwhelm the health system. Dr. Deena Hinshaw says immediate action is needed to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. Premier Jason Kenney and select cabinet ministers were to meet with Hinshaw, and new measures are expected to be announced today. Alberta, once a leader in how to prepare for and contain the virus, has in recent weeks become a national cautionary tale. There have been well over 1,000 new cases a day for five straight days, and there are more than 300 patients in hospital and more than 60 in intensive care. Kenney has said he wants targeted measures to control the virus while keeping businesses as open as possible. Others, including some doctors, say the focus needs to be on a sharp clampdown, even for a short period. --- Also this ... A new poll by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies suggests many Canadians are gaining weight because they're eating more and exercising less during COVID-19 pandemic. Thirty-two per cent of respondents said they have gained weight since March, while 15 per cent said they lost weight over that time. Jack Jedwab, president of the Association for Canadian Studies, says this is one of the collateral effects of the pandemic, as the survey suggests there is a link between weight gain and fear of COVID-19. Forty-six per cent of respondents who said they are very afraid of COVID-19 gained weight during the pandemic. Forty-four cent of those who expressed that level of fear said they have been exercising less than they did before the pandemic and about 46 per cent said they were eating more than usual. The online survey of 1,516 Canadians was conducted Oct. 29-31 and cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples. --- What we are watching in the U.S. ... The U.S. General Services Administration has ascertained that president-elect Joe Biden is the “apparent winner” of the Nov. 3 election. President Donald Trump, who had refused to concede the election, said Monday that he is directing his team to co-operate on the transition but is vowing to keep up the fight. The move clears the way for the start of the transition from Trump’s administration and allows Biden to co-ordinate with federal agencies on plans for taking over on Jan. 20. An official said Administrator Emily Murphy made the determination after Trump efforts to subvert the vote failed across battleground states, most recently in Michigan, which certified Biden’s victory Monday. And today, Biden is preparing to formally announce his national security team to the nation. Those being introduced during an afternoon event are among Obama administration alumni whose roles in the upcoming administration signal Biden's shift away from the Trump administration’s “America First” policies. The picks include former Secretary of State John Kerry to take the lead on combating climate change. Outside the realm of national security and foreign policy, Biden is expected to choose former Fed chair Janet Yellen as the first woman to serve as treasury secretary. --- What we are watching in the rest of the world ... China’s latest trip to the moon is another milestone in the Asian powerhouse’s slow but steady ascent to the stars. China became the third country to put a person into orbit a generation ago and the first to land on the far side of the moon in 2019. The Chang’e 5 mission, launched today, will be the first to bring back moon rocks and debris since a Soviet mission in 1976. Future ambitions include a permanent space station and putting people back on the moon more than 50 years after the U.S. did. --- On this day in 2002 ... Quebec Premier Bernard Landry announced that the May 24th Quebec holiday, ``La fete de Dollard,'' would henceforth be known as ``La Journee nationale des Patriotes.'' The name was changed to honour the movement that contributed to the Rebellions of 1837-38 in Lower Canada and became an early symbol of French-Canadian nationalism. --- In entertainment ... Anne Murray wasn’t sure her singing voice was still intact until a few months ago. The famed Canadian crooner had left her most-cherished instrument largely unchecked while in retirement, aside from belting out a song here and there while doing household chores. But last summer, she decided to dust off her guitar to see whether her trademark lush alto voice could still carry a tune. Murray says she performed a few of her old songs “just for the fun of it,” and was pleased to learn her famous pipes are still humming. The winner of 24 Junos and four Grammys swore off recording new music more than a decade ago, but she recently compiled several of her classic tracks for a new holiday album. “The Ultimate Christmas Collection” brings together 22 songs pulled from Murray's various Christmas albums, including “Joy to the World, “Blue Christmas” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” with Michael Buble. --- ICYMI ... A Quebec municipality that had planned to cull about 15 white-tailed deer in the coming days relented late Monday amid pressure on officials to relocate the animals. Longueuil Mayor Sylvie Parent said in a statement the threat of people intervening or attempting to thwart the cull has forced the city to consider other options. Parent noted the plan to capture and slaughter the deer, approved by Quebec's Forests, Wildlife and Parks Department, was supported by a "broad consensus within the scientific community." But given the circumstances, she's asking the city's top civil servant to come up with a plan to move the deer from Michel-Chartrand Park to a sanctuary authorized by provincial officials. Parent's announcement came hours after an animal rescue group and a lawyer who champions animal rights urged the Montreal-area city to reconsider its plan to kill half the white-tailed deer in the park and donate the meat to a food bank. The organization, Sauvetage Animal Rescue, along with well-known Montreal lawyer Anne-France Goldwater, had urged Parent to consider its own plan to relocate the animals to a sanctuary, free of charge. Ultimately, the city relented but Parent said the deer situation would need to be resolved quickly. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020 The Canadian Press
As the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador stared down the barrel of the camera Monday and offered a stern warning to rotational workers, some of those workers sat in isolation or at faraway work camps and worried about how much pressure they'd face at home.As of Monday, the province had seen 52 new cases of COVID-19 since September. Those cases, though minuscule in comparison with many other provinces in Canada, came after months of calm and streaks of weeks without any cases at all.In total, 18 infected people came directly from Alberta, and 16 of those were from workers returning to the province. Other workers returned from places like Ontario and Manitoba with the virus.Rotational workers have been blamed for two recent outbreaks — one in Deer Lake and one in Grand Bank — when the virus spread to family members and close contacts.One worker, who spoke to CBC News on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal at home, said the cumulative effect of working in a hot spot and coming home to people being afraid of him has been crushing."Morale is very low," said the man as he sat in his room at one of six outbreak sites in the northern Alberta oilsands. "It feels like a jail."The camp has 800 workers in it, and 39 have tested positive for the virus. There hasn't been a positive case in more than a week, but the camp remains locked down with no new workers coming in from outside for two weeks.If a person from Newfoundland and Labrador is identified as a close contact of an infected worker, they could spend 14 days alone in their room before being allowed to go home.More than the virus or the isolation, it's the going home part that has him worried."The only part that actually gives me any anxiety is reading how the general population feels about rotational workers by reading nasty comments online, as well as the government's refusal to entertain point-of-entry testing."This worker, like many others, has been calling on the provincial government to test workers as soon as they get home.On Monday, Premier Andrew Furey said there is no science to back up the idea. In some cases, workers have tested negative after five days at home and then tested positive later.With that in mind, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, announced the province was changing its testing regimen for rotational workers to add two more days of isolation before testing.A worker must now receive a negative test after seven days of isolation, instead of five, effective Wednesday, Nov. 25, she said.Furey spoke directly to rotational workers and had a serious message."Let me be very clear, rotational workers must continue to adhere to the measures put in place by [Chief Medical Officer of Health] Dr. [Janice] Fitzgerald and her team at public health," he said. "This is of the utmost importance to our many dedicated rotational workers. To this group, I say I know travel during the pandemic has been stressful enough for you and your families, but please, please, I implore you to follow the provincial guidelines. We have shown that when we do, it works and it only takes one. We all need to work together and support each other."The premier called on companies in places like Alberta to consider changing shifts to 30 days on, 30 days off. That would allow workers more time with their families when they return home.The worker who spoke with CBC News doesn't expect his request will get much consideration from companies who use rotational workers.Much of the workforce consists of people who live in Western Canada and won't want to work for a month straight without commuting the relatively short distance home. Companies also have structured schedules with cohorts of workers sticking together for shifts to reduce the number of contacts for each person. If accommodations were made only for workers from Newfoundland and Labrador, it would throw off that balance, he said.N.L. has long history of rotational workAnother worker speaking with CBC News said people need to consider the sheer number of workers who travel to and from places like Alberta, and then look at the number of cases.While current data was unavailable as of publishing time, a 2016 study undertaken by Memorial University pegged Newfoundland and Labrador's workforce in Alberta alone at more than 8,000 people on average per year from 2002 to 2016.That number peaked in 2008, with more than 25,000 people calling Canada's most eastern province home while working elsewhere.Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have occasionally faced criticism in Alberta for making large wages and spending the money at home. Now they're facing scrutiny from their neighbours for working away.Six cases broke out in Grand Bank, including two in a long-term-care home. Tensions are high in the small town, and fingers were being pointed at a rotational worker and his family.In an interview on Monday, Grand Bank Mayor Rex Matthews urged people to remain calm."People on rotational work, they do sacrifice," he said. "They travel to other provinces of this country for employment, they leave their families, they leave their home, they leave their community, and it helps our economy. So under normal circumstances there's no issues, but these are extraordinary times."The situation has some rotational workers considering a new career, said another man who spoke with CBC News.He works short contracts across numerous sites in Alberta. In each place, he works mostly in isolation, and spends downtime in isolation. Even outdoors away from other people, he said, he can be fired for not wearing a mask."I don't think people realize the rules we have to follow. That's what I think people are missing," he said.When he comes home, he isolates away from his family until a test comes back negative. That means his children are a wall away, and he can't hug them.He said he's not alone in his reservations about continuing with this career. There's no end to the pandemic in sight, and for some workers, that could mean living longer in isolation than out of it for another six months, a year, or more."I'm definitely starting to think about staying home a little bit more," he said. "I don't know when we're going to be back to normalcy again."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison is urging Islanders not to travel during the upcoming Christmas holidays. Premier Dennis King announced this week that those arriving on the Island from the other Atlantic provinces will now have to self-isolate for 14 days.Many Islanders reacted to news by echoing King's sentiments — it's unfortunate but necessary.As Island businesses gear up for the holidays, news of the Atlantic bubble closing has left some hoping it will be a chance to attract and retain more local customers. Hockey leagues across the Island have had to rejig their schedules. Health PEI says it's preparing for a potential rise in cases. The province is looking for additional health-care workers and isolation accommodations in case of a COVID-19 outbreak.The Chief Public Health Office is warning about possible coronavirus exposure involving a New Glasgow, P.E.I., funeral home. One new case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the province on Monday. Dr. Heather Morrison said the new case is a woman in her 40s that travelled outside Atlantic Canada. On Twitter, the Government of P.E.I. issued a new directive advising anyone who has travelled to Halifax, Moncton or Saint John between last week and 12:01 am Tuesday to: * Closely monitor for symptoms * Wear a mask at all times, including outdoors * Limit contacts * Hand wash regularly * Physically distance when possible * Download the COVID Alert AppIn other COVID-19 developments, a one-day COVID-19 testing clinic was held at Lennox Island Friday out of precaution. There are no known cases of COVID-19 on Lennox Island, said Chief Darlene Bernard.A P.E.I. teen has turned his science fair project into a business building and selling bat houses after the pandemic cancelled the provincial science fair.There is one active COVID-19 case in the province. P.E.I. has seen a total of 69 cases, with no deaths and no hospitalizations.Nova Scotia reported 37 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday — the fifth highest single-day increase in cases since the start of the pandemic — as officials announced new restrictions to stem the spread of the coronavirus.New Brunswick announced five new cases, bringing its number of active cases to 93.Also in the newsFurther resourcesMore from CBC P.E.I.
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.