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5 million Canadian shoppers' images collected at mall kiosks: privacy commissioner – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Without customers’ knowledge, more than five million images of Canadian shoppers’ were collected through facial recognition software used by Cadillac Fairview, a parent company of malls across the country, according to an investigation by privacy officials.

The federal privacy commissioner reported Thursday that Cadillac Fairview contravened federal and provincial privacy laws by embedding cameras inside digital information kiosks at 12 shopping malls across Canada, and captured users’ images without their consent.

The facial recognition software installed in Cadillac Fairview’s “wayfinding” directories was called “Anonymous Video Analytics (AVA) and through cameras installed behind protective glass, was used in Canadian malls for a brief testing period in 2017 and then was in-use between May and July of 2018.

The software took temporary digital images of the faces of any individual within the field of view of the camera inside the directory and converted the images into biometric numerical representations of each face and used that information to compile demographic information about mall visitors.

According to the report, the technology was used in directories at the following locations:

  • CF Market Mall in Alberta
  • CF Chinook Centre in Alberta
  • CF Richmond Centre in British Columbia
  • CF Pacific Centre in British Columbia
  • CF Polo Park in Manitoba
  • CF Toronto Eaton Centre in Ontario
  • CF Sherway Gardens in Ontario
  • CF Lime Ridge in Ontario
  • CF Fairview Mall in Ontario
  • CF Markville Mall in Ontario
  • CF Galeries d’Anjou in Quebec
  • CF Carrefour Laval in Quebec

According to a statement from Privacy Commissioner of Canada Daniel Therrien, the company said the goal of its cameras was to “analyze the age and gender of shoppers and not to identify individuals.”

The corporation said that it did not collect personal information because the images were briefly looked at and then deleted, however the information generated from the images was being stored by a third-party contractor called Mappedin, which Cadillac Fairview said it was unaware of.

“When asked the purpose for such collection, Mappedin was unable to provide a response, indicating that the person responsible for programming the code no longer worked for the company,” reads the report.

Therrien notes in his report that Cadillac Fairview not being aware of Mappedin’s storage of the information “compounded the risk of potential use by unauthorized parties or, in the case of a data breach, by malicious actors.”

Cadillac Fairview—one of the largest owners and operators of retail and other properties in North America—“expressly disagreed” with the investigation’s findings, telling the commissioners that there were decals placed on shopping mall entry doors noting their privacy policy.

These stickers directed visitors to visit guest services to obtain a copy of the company’s privacy policy, but when the investigators asked a guest services employee at the Eaton location in Toronto, the employee was “confused by the request” and so Therrien found the stickers to be an “insufficient” measure.

“Shoppers had no reason to expect their image was being collected by an inconspicuous camera, or that it would be used, with facial recognition technology, for analysis,” said Therrien in a statement. “The lack of meaningful consent was particularly concerning given the sensitivity of biometric data, which is a unique and permanent characteristic of our body and a key to our identity.”

The investigation was launched in 2018, following several media reports about information kiosks in malls being equipped with unmarked cameras to monitor visitor demographics. Their examination in this case included visiting Cadillac Fairview’s Toronto headquarters to interview key personnel, viewing the AVA technology inside the wayfinding directories in action, and extracting records from the directories for forensic analysis.

The existence of the software came to light after a user posted an image to Reddit of a display screen at the CF Chinook Centre in Calgary showing coding language including “FaceEncoder” and “FaceAnalyzer.”

Commissioner Therrien’s office worked with Alberta Information and Privacy Commissioner Jill Clayton as well as the Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia Michael McEvoy on the investigation.

“Not only must organizations be clear and up front when customers’ personal information is being collected, they must also have proper controls in place to know what their service providers are doing behind the scenes with that information,” Clayton said in a statement.

The trio of commissioners have expressed concern that the company hasn’t accepted their request to commit to ensuring meaningful and express consent is obtained from shoppers in the future should it choose to redeploy similar technology in the future.

In a statement provided to CTV News, Cadillac Fairview notes that the issue has been resolved, the data deleted, and the cameras have been deactivated. As well, the facial recognition software is no longer in use, but the company says it will not commit to its approach to “hypothetical future uses of similar technology.”

“The five million representations referenced in the OPC report are not faces. These are sequences of numbers the software uses to anonymously categorize the age range and gender of shoppers in the camera’s view,” the company said. “We thank the Privacy Commissioner for the report and recommendations on how to further strengthen our privacy practices and agree that the privacy of our visitors must always be a top priority.” 

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada around the world on Wednesday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

Manitoba reported 16 additional deaths on Tuesday, a new daily high in a province that has been struggling with growing COVID-19 case numbers.

“This is a tragedy for all Manitobans,” Dr. Brent Roussin said Tuesday after reading a list with the ages and communities of those who died.

“We know that these are much more than numbers. These are people who are missed right now.”

Manitoba, which has seen a total of 328 deaths, reported 283 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday — the first time in more than a week that the new case number in the province dropped below 300.

Roussin said that while numbers aren’t “climbing rapidly,” they still aren’t where the province needs them to be.

“These numbers are still too high for us to sustain.”

The province’s health-care capacity is “being pushed” he said, noting that hospitals are reaching capacity and health-care workers are overwhelmed.

As of Tuesday, there were 338 people hospitalized, with 48 in intensive care.


What’s happening across Canada

As of 10:20 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 385,191, with 66,371 of those considered active cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 12,246.

British Columbia also reported 16 additional deaths on Tuesday, bringing the provincial death toll to 457. Health officials in the province reported 656 new cases of COVID-19 and said there were 336 people in hospital, including 76 in intensive care.

Faced with rising case numbers, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix reiterated their plea for people to follow rules put in place to try and slow the spread of the virus.

“Without exception, follow the provincial health officer’s orders in place,” the pair said in a statement. “Remember that events, which refer to anything that gathers people together — whether on a one-time, regular or irregular basis — are not allowed for now.”

WATCH | COVID-19 returns to B.C. nursing homes, death toll rises:

British Columbia has seen more COVID-19 deaths over the past two weeks than the preceding two months because the virus has found its way back into nursing homes. And with long-term care workers exhausted and families frustrated, it’s not clear what can be done. 1:54

In Alberta, health officials announced 10 additional deaths and 1,307 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. Hospitalizations stood at 479, with 97 people in intensive care. 

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said a decision around what sort of restrictions will be in place over the holidays is expected later in the month.

“However, in the past we have seen holiday gatherings lead to increases in cases and outbreaks as one case spreads to many,” Hinshaw said, pointing to the ongoing impact of Thanksgiving gatherings. 

“This is not going to be the year for in-person office parties,” she said. “This is not going to be the year for open houses, or large dinners with friends and extended family.”

In Saskatchewan, health officials reported 181 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths, bringing the provincial death toll to 51.

The province’s minister of corrections said she doesn’t know how COVID-19 arrived in the Saskatoon Correctional Centre, which is dealing with a growing outbreak that has led to well over 100 cases among inmates, as well as several infections among staff.

Ontario on Wednesday reported 1,723 new cases of COVID-19, with 500 cases in Peel Region and 410 in Toronto. Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a tweet that 44,200 tests had been completed.

Health officials also reported 35 additional deaths, bringing the provincial death toll to 3,698.

Hospitalization data had not yet been updated, but as of Tuesday the province had reported having 645 COVID-19 patients in hospital, with 185 people in intensive care units.

Quebec Premier François Legault warned Tuesday that the province’s plan to allow gatherings for four days around Christmas is at risk as the number of hospitalizations in the province reached their highest level since June.

“We’re not going in the right direction,” Legault said at a press conference in Quebec City. “If hospitalizations continue to increase, it will be difficult to take that risk.”

WATCH | What doctors are learning about COVID-19 ‘long-haulers’:

Researchers are learning more about why some people who get a mild case COVID-19 end up experiencing other symptoms for months. Doctors say these so-called known as long-haulers often have symptoms that resemble a common blood circulation disorder known as POTS. 4:10

According to public health authorities in Quebec, 719 people were in hospital due to the novel coronavirus on Tuesday, an increase of 26 from the previous day. Of those, 98 people were in intensive care, an increase of four.

In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported 10 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, New Brunswick reported seven cases and Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case. There were no new cases in Prince Edward Island. 

Across the North, there was one new case of COVID-19 reported in Nunavut, which is at the end of a two-week lockdown period that covered the entire territory.

There were no new cases reported in Yukon or the Northwest Territories.


What’s happening around the world

From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 9:55 a.m. ET

WATCH | COVID-19 vaccine rollout — What the experts say:

As of early Wednesday morning, there were nearly 64 million reported cases of COVID-19 worldwide with more than 41.1 million of those listed as recovered or resolved, according to a tracking tool maintained by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 1.4 million.

In Europe, British regulators insisted that “no corners have been cut” during the assessment of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by American drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, which was cleared for emergency use on Wednesday.

In a briefing after the U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency became the first regulator worldwide to approve the vaccine, its chair, Dr. June Raine, said the public can be “absolutely confident” that its standards are equivalent to those anywhere around the world.

Regulators also revealed the order by which the vaccine will be rolled out across the country over the coming weeks and months, beginning next week. The U.K. has ordered around 40 million doses of the vaccine, which can potentially immunize 20 million people as two doses are required.

Residents in nursing homes and their care givers will be offered the vaccine first, followed by those 80 and over and front-line health- and social- care workers. From there, the priority plan largely follows age groups.

According to Munir Pirmohamed, chair of a medicines panel, immunity begins seven days after the second dose.

British lawmakers approved new coronavirus restrictions in England that take effect Wednesday but many Conservative lawmakers are unhappy about the economic consequences.

Russia and Germany both reported record numbers of daily coronavirus deaths, with 580 deaths reported in Russia and 487 in Germany.

With more than 2.3 million infections, Russia has the fourth-largest number of COVID-19 cases in the world behind the United States, India and Brazil. 

President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian authorities on Wednesday to begin mass voluntary vaccinations against COVID-19 next week as Russia recorded 589 new daily deaths from the coronavirus. Russia will have produced two million vaccine doses within the next few days, Putin said.

In the Asia-Pacific region, South Korean officials are urging people to remain at home if possible and cancel gatherings large and small as around half a million students prepared for a crucial national college exam.

Vice Education Minister Park Baeg-beom says the 490,000 applicants so far include 35 virus carriers who will take exams Thursday at hospitals or treatment shelters. Education authorities have also prepared separate venues for some 400 applicants currently under self-quarantine.

Applicants will be required to wear masks and maintain distance from each other. They will be screened for fever and take exams separately if they have symptoms.

Workers clean plastic sheeting placed on a desk in a classroom on Tuesday to prevent the spread of COVID-19, ahead of the college scholastic ability test at a YoungSang high school on Tuesday in Seoul, South Korea. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Pakistan reported 75 new COVID-19 deaths Wednesday, one of the highest fatalities from coronavirus in recent months, prompting government to launch a week-long campaign beginning Saturday to urge people to wear masks.

The government, however, has ruled out re-imposing a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the virus, which has killed 8,166 people and infected 403,311 in Pakistan.

Pakistan flattened the curve in August but currently it is facing a lethal new surge of infections.

In the Americas, U.S. health officials are pleading with Americans to follow their recommendations.

In Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis joined the nation’s top infectious disease expert Tuesday and urged people to wear masks and physically distance to help prevent stay-at-home orders and overwhelmed hospitals as cases of the coronavirus surge during the holidays.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, warned during a virtual news conference that Colorado is not alone in seeing a spike in cases and pleaded with people not to travel or gather in large groups.

“If you look across the United States, we are really in a public health crisis right now because we are having a surge the likes of which is worse than the surges that we all saw in the late winter, early spring,” Fauci said.

He noted that “we are likely going to see a surge upon a surge” of cases, based on the number of people who travelled and gathered for Thanksgiving and on those who are expected to shop and attend holiday parties before celebrating Christmas and New Year’s in large groups.

Colorado has been hit with a substantial spike in COVID-19 cases, with one in 41 residents believed to be contagious.

Indigenous people, health workers and those aged 75 years and older will be at the front of the line to be vaccinated, Brazil’s Health Ministry said as it unveiled a four-stage preliminary plan for national immunization.

In Mexico, the government was expected to sign a contract on Wednesday with pharmaceutical company Pfizer for the delivery of its vaccine.

A nurse takes a blood sample from a person to perform a COVID-19 serological test in Escobedo, state of Nuevo Leon, Mexico on Tuesday. (Julio Cesar Aguilar/AFP/Getty Images)

In Africa, South Africa’s reported COVID-19 case numbers stood at more than 792,000 on Wednesday. The country, which has seen more reported cases than any other nation in Africa, has seen more than 21,000 deaths.

Iran, the hardest-hit nation in the Middle East, was approaching 990,000 cases of COVID-19 and 49,000 deaths.

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These are the most-stolen vehicles in Canada in 2020 – CTV News

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TORONTO —
While Ford pickup trucks usually top the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s annual ranking of the most-stolen vehicles in Canada, this year high-end SUVs have become the most desirable targets for thieves.

According to the IBC, which works with law enforcement agencies and the Canada Border Services Agency to identify stolen vehicles, the 2018 Honda CR-V SUV is the most stolen vehicle in Canada thus far in 2020.

It was followed by the 2017 Lexus RX350, the 2017 Honda CR-V, and the 2018 Lexus RX350. Rounding out the top five was Ford’s 2018 F150 pickup truck.

Bryan Gast, the national director of investigative services at IBC, said high-end SUVs have surpassed older model Ford pickup trucks as the most targeted vehicles because thieves have developed new ways to get around their security systems and gain access to them.

“As technology advances, these vehicles, especially the SUVs, are really well sought after,” he told CTVNews.ca during a telephone interview on Tuesday. “Overseas organized crime groups are targeting these vehicles and they’re finding ways to bypass the security systems.”

For example, Gast said thieves have been able to capture radio signals from a key fob and replicate it in order to gain electronic access to a vehicle.

“There are devices that are able to trigger that device to capture the signal and clone it and start your vehicle without ever touching that original key,” he explained.

And while there are many motives for vehicle theft, Gast said the findings by the IBC show a distinct increase in thefts related to organized crime and street racing.

According to the IBC, many high-end SUVs are stolen by organized crime groups to be sold to unsuspecting consumers in Canada or abroad to be stripped down for parts.

In many of these cases, Gast said the stolen vehicle’s vehicle identification number is changed before it’s sold.

In addition to organized crime operations, the IBC said street racing also led to an increase in certain vehicle thefts.

“There’s a growing trend, especially during the pandemic, in dangerous activities such as street racing and illegal gatherings for drifting events, providing a market for stolen small, speedy vehicles,” the IBC said in a press release.

Gast said these street racing events are “very concerning” to law enforcement, the insurance industry, and for the greater population because they can put public safety at risk.

“These are staged events. They’re very serious. These vehicles are being modified in significant ways,” he said. “Our concern is that there are stolen vehicles, stolen parts contributing to these events.”

THE TOP 10 MOST STOLEN VEHICLES IN CANADA IN 2020

  • 2018 Honda CR-V 4DR AWD SUV
  • 2017 Lexus RX350/RX450H 4DR AWD SUV
  • 2017 Honda CR-V 4DR AWD SUV
  • 2018 Lexus RX350/RX350L/RX450H/RX450HL 4DR AWD SUV
  • 2018 Ford F150 4WD PU
  • 2019 Honda CR-V 4DR AWD SUV
  • 2018 Toyota Highlander 4DR 4WD SUV
  • 2017 Toyota Highlander 4DR 4WD SUV
  • 2019 Lexus RX350/RX350L/RX450H/RX450HL 4DR AWD SUV
  • 2017 Dodge Ram 1500 4WD PU

Although high-end SUVs were the most desirable targets for thieves overall, Gast said the IBC did take note of some regional variations across the country.

For example, pickup trucks were still the most popular type of vehicles to steal out West. In Alberta, the IBC said, Ford F-series and Dodge Ram trucks were the most stolen vehicles in the province.

“These trucks are attractive to thieves, and oil and gas companies have used them almost exclusively, which has brought a disproportionately high amount of them to the province,” the IBC said.

Gast added that pre-2008 models of these pickup trucks are particularly attractive to thieves because they aren’t equipped with ignition immobilizers, which are devices that can prevent people from hot-wiring them.

“This list is different from region to region,” he said. “Those large pickup trucks are still a very hot commodity.”

In Ontario, the IBC found that Lexus and Honda vehicles were stolen most often, with many of them headed for export by organized crime groups or used in street racing rings.

In the police operation “Project Seagull” in Hamilton, for example, the IBC said high-end vehicles were being stolen and chopped for parts that were then sold on the black market.

Finally, in Atlantic Canada, the IBC found the Chevrolet Silverado was the most stolen vehicle in the region.

TIPS TO PREVENT VEHICLE THEFT

While Canadians who own one of the vehicles on the IBC’s annual list should take extra care to protect it from being stolen, Gast said all owners should be aware of the precautions they can take to avoid being the victims of theft.

“I think it’s really important to understand the different ways to protect the consumer,” he said. “Some of those can be as simple as just common sense.”

Here are some tips from the IBC to protect your vehicle.

  • Don’t leave a keyless entry fob inside of a vehicle or unprotected at the front entrance of your home.
  • Put a keyless fob in a protective box or bag that will block the radio frequency identification signal.
  • Never leave a vehicle running while it’s unattended.
  • Park your vehicle in well-lit areas.
  • Lock all of the doors and windows when it’s parked.
  • Use a visible or audible device to alert thieves that the vehicle is protected.
  • Install a tracking device that emits a signal to police or a monitoring station if it’s stolen.
  • If it doesn’t have one already, install an immobilizing device in your vehicle to prevent thieves from hot-wiring it. These can include devices that require wireless ignition authentication or starter, ignition, and fuel pump disablers.
  • Consider using a steering-wheel or brake-pedal lock to ward off would-be thieves.
  • Don’t leave personal information, such as insurance or ownership details, in the glove box when the vehicle is parked.

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The latest on the coronavirus outbreak for Dec. 1 – CBC.ca

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People shop in Milan after the region of Lombardy was downgraded from a red to an orange zone, which have loosened COVID-19 restrictions to allow non-essential shops to open again ahead of Christmas in Italy. (Flavio Lo Scalzo/Reuters)

Trudeau touts stimulus, but ‘long winter’ looms

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that supports for individual Canadians and businesses will continue to flow into 2021 as things gradually return to normal in the second year of the pandemic, but told CBC’s The Current that there are tough times immediately ahead.

“Even as vaccines begin to arrive, we know that we have to reach a significant percentage of the population before we can start releasing and reducing measures across the country, so it’s going to be a long winter,” he told The Current host Matt Galloway. “We’re going to have to continue to do the things that will keep us safe, but that’s why the economic anxiety that people are feeling is something that we’re there to counter.”

During a news conference outside his residence at Rideau Cottage later in the day, Trudeau called the Liberal government’s recently announced $100 billion stimulus, which represents three to four per cent of GDP, “historic and appropriate.”

“This will be a significant investment to get our economy back on track. And it’s an investment that will make sure no one gets left behind,” he said.

Trudeau touted supports such as rent and wage subsidies, which will continue to “make it a little bit easier.”

Difficult conversations are likely to come next week as Trudeau is set to meet with premiers to discuss health-care transfers and the vaccine rollout. Premiers have been calling for a $28-billion top-up to federal health transfers, but Trudeau was noncommittal on Tuesday as to any specific increases.

Click below to watch more from The National

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland speaks with Rosemary Barton, CBC’s chief political correspondent, about the federal fiscal update and how the government will continue to provide financial support through the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. 3:30

IN BRIEF

Manitoba sees its highest single-day death toll

Manitoba released its latest COVID-19 figures on Tuesday, which included 16 new deaths due to the coronavirus, the single-highest total in a daily report during the pandemic.

November was by far the worst month of the pandemic so far in Manitoba, with record numbers of deaths, hospitalizations and new cases. However, the province saw fewer than 300 new cases in a single day for the first time since Nov. 22, at 283.

The death toll announced Tuesday, which brings the total in the province to 328 in total, included casualties from at least six long-term care facilities, with three residents from one care home in Winnipeg.

An earlier outbreak at a Winnipeg facility that claimed the lives of eight people in under 48 hours will not result in a criminal inquiry, police said on Tuesday.

Winnipeg police officers in personal protective suits were seen entering the Maples Long Term Care Home run by Revera on Nov. 7, the day after multiple paramedics were called to the home to assess a dozen patients in a single night.

Manitoba Health Minister Cameron Friesen had previously called an independent investigation into Maples Long Term Care Home and Parkview Place, another Winnipeg care home run by Revera, a for-profit company.

Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba

Ontario school program seeking out asymptomatic cases using PCR tests

Testing of asymptomatic students and staff is occurring at designated schools in Toronto, Peel and York regions and Ottawa — four Ontario regions with a high number of active COVID-19 cases.

The goal of the pilot project is to improve tracking of the coronavirus and prevent transmission within schools, as well as to inform future public health decisions, writes CBC’s Jessica Wong.

A testing blitz in recent days at one Toronto District School Board (TDSB) location in the eastern part of the city saw 14 classes sent home for two weeks. However, the rest of the school will remain open, according to direction from Toronto Public Health.

“What can we do? This is going on everywhere in the world,” said Yaser Nadaf, whose children attend the school. “They try their best, but at the same time they cannot prevent it completely.”

TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird said the results weren’t a shock.

“While this information is concerning, it really is the information that our public health officials need to know, because it gives them a better snapshot of how many of those asymptomatic people are positive cases of COVID,” said Bird.

Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious diseases physician and assistant professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, said a targeted program is a useful tool in the fight against the virus, but added that it’s possible there will be more heightened concern for families and schools.

That’s because Ontario is using PCR testing for the program, which detects the genetic material of a virus. Although considered the gold standard in terms of accuracy, the PCR tests are also so sensitive it would “pick up kids who are infectious, as well as kids who were infectious two, four, six weeks ago,” Chagla says.

Read more about the pilot program 

Alberta government tweet reveals that COVID-19 ethnicity data is being collected, though not disseminated

A tweet from Premier Jason Kenney’s issues manager appears to have to put Alberta Health on the defensive over the collection of COVID-19 data based on racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Human rights advocates, anti-racism groups, researchers and social agencies have called for such data to be collected and shared publicly during the pandemic in a number of provinces, including Alberta. But the Opposition took Matt Wolf to task for releasing a snippet of such data in service of what appeared to be a partisan point.

Wolf, Kenney’s aide, tweeted: “Albertans of South & East Asian descent account for just under 20 per cent of COVID-19 cases, but represent only 11 per cent of the population.” Wolf was responding to comments Kenney took some criticism for regarding high caseloads in northeast Calgary, where many immigrants live.

CBC News asked the province last week for specific data after Kenney said on Red FM radio that “we are seeing a very high level of spread in the South Asian community.” Alberta Health provided a written statement saying the information is being collected but is not yet being published, but that the agency “may revisit this in the future when it’s feasible.”

Asked Monday about Wolf’s tweet, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the numbers he cited were “preliminary.”

While Wolf allowed in the same tweet that many factors were likely at play for the high case rates, including type of employment or living in a multigenerational household, Dr. Hakique Virani, a clinical associate professor of public health with the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Alberta, said he believes that kind of data should be shared with the public in its entirety.

“We need less confusion and more transparency. And this doesn’t serve either of those purposes,” said Virani.

Read more about the situation in Alberta

Stay informed with the latest COVID-19 data.

THE SCIENCE

Janssen seeks Health Canada approval for its COVID-19 vaccine

Janssen Inc., a pharmaceutical subsidiary of U.S.-based multinational Johnson & Johnson, has put forward its vaccine for approval in what Health Minister Patty Hajdu called “a promising development for Canadians.”

It means Health Canada will now have four vaccine candidates overall to evaluate as part of a “rolling review process” that allows companies to submit data from clinical trials even as those trials are still underway. The regulator must approve a vaccine as safe and effective before it can be administered to Canadians.

At a technical briefing with reporters last week, Health Canada’s chief medical adviser said approval of the first COVID-19 vaccine in Canada could come within weeks. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and The European Medicines Agency have scheduled meetings this month that could lead to authorization, and Canadian officials have promised that decisions on approval won’t lag greatly compared to other Western nations.

Ottawa announced a deal with Janssen on Aug. 31 to secure up to 38 million doses of the vaccine — which requires only one dose to provide immunity instead of the two that would be necessary for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

AND FINALLY…

The home arena of the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is seen on Oct. 7. After a number of fits and starts due to the pandemic, the league is on pause until at least Jan. 3. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League postpones games until 2021

The only one of the three Canadian major junior leagues to open play so far in the 2020-21 campaign is shutting down, at least for a few weeks. The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League says it will not hold any games until Jan. 3 because of COVID-19 issues.

The 18-team league has been forced to postpone games regularly in Quebec and the Maritimes since starting the season in early October because of COVID-19 restrictions in the four provinces where it operates.

“The current situation with the pandemic in the regions in which we operate makes it extremely difficult to play games,” QMJHL commissioner Gilles Courteau said in a statement on Monday. “With the holidays just around the corner, the provinces in the Maritimes have restricted access and travel, while red zone restrictions in Quebec do not permit us to play.”

Several teams in Quebec relocated to Quebec City for multiple games because of restrictions earlier in November, while the temporary disruption to the Atlantic Canada travel bubble announced last week also prevented games from being played in the six-team Maritimes Division. In addition, teams from Sherbrooke and Blainville-Boisbriand dealt with virus outbreaks internally.

Elsewhere in Canada, the Western Hockey League has said it plans to start the season in January, while the Ontario Hockey League has targeted a February opener.

Read the latest sports-related pandemic news here

Find out more about COVID-19

Still looking for more information on the pandemic? Read more about COVID-19’s impact on life in Canada, or reach out to us at covid@cbc.ca if you have any questions.

If you have symptoms of the illness caused by the coronavirus, here’s what to do in your part of the country.

For full coverage of how your province or territory is responding to COVID-19, visit your local CBC News site.

To get this newsletter daily as an email, subscribe here

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