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Access for Information is not free

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Your family member was treated by someone in the hospital or passed away. Can you get information regarding their treatment, who treated them and the particulars needed for their treatment and ultimate death.?

Families whose parents resided in senior homes cannot get essential information such as how was their family members treated, who treated them.

Governments make decisions that influence and directly affect our lives every day. Who makes those decisions and why? What are the particulars that lead to these decisions?

Our Police make calls every day that affect our lives, yet there are no real ways to find out why, where and how police actions occur. Police rely upon a Blue Line that protects their fellow officers. Police authorities do not share information with the general public.

Individuals who attempt to find out about their financial situation, their histories and that of their families often receive little or no information from the public authorities or the corporations that manage their information and finances. Errors occur, yet try to find out who, why and when these happened? It seems that those who have acquired our information will do anything to hold onto it. Their privacy is protected and more important than ours.

Secrecy surrounds us. We are influenced and directly affected by the policies, decisions and desires of others and we cannot get the information necessary to point out why, how and by whom these decisions are made. The Access for Information Legislation that almost every nation on this globe has passed is often manipulated or ignored by the very authorities that passed it. Are we free enough to know secrets about ourselves, our governments and the corporations we offer our personal information to?

When you allow a doctor or Red Cross to take your blood for whatever reason, ask if your D.N.A. is safe and not to be shared. Seemingly since blood samples have been taken and studied, corporations have been able to hold onto our D.N.A. and even patent it as their own. Our personal freedoms and privacy has been taken advantage of since time memorial. If you do not ask the proper questions of your corporate and public associations you will be open to all sorts of secret, unannounced actions. High profits are found within the sphere of secrecy. Try to find out how much your leaders are worth financially. Yes, you’ll find out what they make annually, but not their true financial worth. It’s secret and their privacy is protected, while you not so much. It is who you are and what your worth is that counts.

If you attempt to find out what information the public authorities have on you, be prepared to spend a great deal of money and time, and be not surprised when you receive an information pack that has been redacted in many places. Information is power, and those whom we share our information with can shape our lives not as we would have it.

Society’s complement upon Access to information can seem like an illusion, presenting each of us with a supposed ability to find out, that which is not truly ours anymore.

Steven Kaszab
Bradford, Ontario
skaszab@yahoo.ca

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2 monkeypox cases confirmed in Quebec — the first in Canada – CBC.ca

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Two cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in Quebec, the first such cases in the country, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

The agency says it has alerted public health authorities around Canada to look for symptoms in patients, regardless of whether they’ve travelled.

“This is an evolving and ongoing investigation, both in Canada and around the world,” PHAC said in a statement on Thursday.

Earlier on Thursday, Montreal’s top public health official urged people not to panic as her department investigated 17 cases of suspected monkeypox in the greater Montreal region.

Dr. Mylène Drouin said there were 15 suspected cases on the island of Montreal, one on the South Shore and another north of Laval.

It’s not clear if the two cases confirmed by PHAC are among those 17.

“Most of our cases are not severe,” said Drouin. 

Until now, monkeypox outbreaks have been limited mostly to central and western Africa, but in recent weeks, suspected cases have been identified in the U.S., U.K., Portugal and Spain.

WATCH | How the virus is transmitted:

Montrealers ‘do not have to panic’ over monkeypox: public health

15 hours ago

Duration 3:35

Dr. Mylène Drouin, Montreal’s public health director, said there are 17 suspected cases in the region, but they’re not highly contagious.

Drouin said the first cases in Montreal were reported on May 12 by clinics specializing in sexually transmitted diseases. She said those cases are tied mostly to men aged 30 to 55 who have had sexual relations with other men.

The virus is not sexually transmitted, Drouin explained, but is mainly spread “by close contact and [respiratory] droplets.”

It is also spread by open sores, contact with bodily fluids, or by touching contaminated clothes or bedding. 

“It’s not something that you can acquire when you [do your groceries] or on public transportation,” she said.   

Drouin described those at risk of contracting the virus as “those in the same household and sexual partners.” She urged anyone with symptoms to consult a doctor.

A section of skin tissue, harvested from a lesion on the skin of a monkey, that had been infected with monkeypox virus, is seen at 50X magnification on day four of rash development in 1968. (Handout/Reuters)

The news conference came after Quebec’s Health Ministry said late Wednesday it had been notified of a person with a confirmed case of monkeypox who had travelled to the province. 

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health confirmed a single case of monkeypox on Wednesday in a man who had recently travelled to Canada. Drouin said several of the cases in Montreal have been linked to the traveller who came from Boston.

Cautious optimism

Likened to a milder form of smallpox, monkeypox is a rare viral illness that typically begins with symptoms such as fever, headache, backache and fatigue — similar to symptoms of COVID-19 or the flu. But doctors say the most noticeable symptom is a rash or lesions on the skin.

“They’re very specific: they look like mini-volcanoes,” said Dr. Robert Pilarski, a family physician at Clinique Médicale La Licorne in Montreal, who has treated several recent suspected monkeypox patients.

Pilarski said the four patients he’s seen have presented with lesions around their genitals. He recommends anyone with flu-like symptoms and “eruptions on the skin” to isolate immediately. 

The incubation period for monkeypox is between seven to 14 days, according to the doctor, but it can be as short as five days and as long as 21. A person is likely to be contagious one day before symptoms appear, he said. 

Symptoms of one of the first known human cases of the monkeypox virus are shown on a patient’s hand in 2003. (CDC/Getty Images)

According to the World Health Organization, there are two distinct clades, or strains, of the monkeypox virus — the Central African (Congo Basin) strain and the West African strain. 

Pilarski said he’s seeing what appears to be a less-contagious strain of the virus, which is giving him hope that it will not be widespread.

“We [likely] have the western virus, which is less contagious. So I’m pretty much sure this is going to be a milder course of disease,” said Pilarski. “But we cannot eliminate the possibility of serious complications.” 

While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says infections with the Congo Basin strain can be fatal in as many as one in 10 people, infections with the West African strain can be fatal in about one in 100 people. Rates can be higher in people who have weakened immune systems.

Smallpox vaccine a potential option

Montreal public health officials don’t believe the virus will circulate in the community, since it’s not highly infectious, Drouin said.

She said all people with suspected cases are in isolation and have been asked to cover their skin lesions with bandages.

Asked about potential treatments for the illness, Drouin said there are no specific remedies available in Canada, “so it is painful, but mainly, the forms that we have right now are not severe forms of the illness.”

Dr. Geneviève Bergeron, Montreal’s medical officer responsible for health emergencies and infectious diseases, said there’s reason to believe people who received the smallpox vaccine as children may have a better chance at fighting off monkeypox. 

However, routine immunization programs against smallpox ended in Canada in the early 1970s.

In the U.K., some health-care workers and people who have been in contact with cases have been offered a smallpox vaccine as protection.

Montreal health authorities said they don’t yet know how many people in the city received the smallpox vaccine as children, and a similar course of action to the U.K. won’t be taken just yet. 

“First, we have to see if we have access to a vaccine, so it’s going to be a decision that is made at the provincial and federal level,” said Drouin. 

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Canada bans Chinese tech giant Huawei from 5G network – CBC News

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The federal government has banned Huawei from working on Canada’s fifth-generation networks over security concerns — a decision critics say was long overdue.

The move puts Canada in line with key intelligence allies like the United States, which have expressed concerns about the national security implications of giving the Chinese tech giant access to key infrastructure.

The government is also banning ZTE, another Chinese state-backed telecommunications firm. A government policy statement posted online says companies will have until June 28, 2024, to remove or terminate 5G equipment from Huawei and ZTE.

They’ll also have to remove or terminate any existing 4G equipment provided by the companies by Dec. 31, 2027. The policy statement says the government expects companies to stop purchasing new 4G or 5G equipment from the companies by September of this year.

“This is the right decision and we are pleased to announce it today because it will secure our network for generations to come,” Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne told a news conference Thursday.

WATCH Canada bans Huawei from access to 5G network:

Canada bans Huawei from access to 5G network

10 hours ago

Duration 1:09

Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne says banning the Chinese telecom company will help keep Canadians safe.

Responding to a question about the risk of retaliation from the Chinese government, Champagne didn’t indicate that was a factor in the government’s decision.

“Let me be clear, this is about Canada, this is about our national security, this is about our telecom infrastructure,” he said.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said the decision marks “a new era in safeguarding our telecommunications industry.” He said the decision came after a “thorough government examination [of] 5G and wireless technologies.”

“Canada is a country where people can innovate and start new businesses and leverage new technologies in 5G and beyond, but we also need to safeguard against the risks which can be exploited within those networks,” he said.

Mendicino said new legislation is coming to protect 5G networks. The legislation will “establish a framework to better protect the systems vital to our national security and give the government a new tool to respond to emerging cyber threats,” Mendicino said.

The minister said the legislation also will help protect infrastructure in the finance, energy and transport sectors.

China condemned the move against one of its national champions as a form of “political manipulation” carried out in co-ordination with the U.S., which was aimed at “suppressing” Chinese companies in violation of free market principles. 

“China will comprehensively and seriously evaluate this incident and take all necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies,” the Chinese Embassy in Canada said in a statement posted on its website. 

China commonly employs such language in commercial disputes, which often does not lead to a firm response from Beijing.

The Canadian government’s decision has been a long time coming. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government launched a review of the companies that would be permitted to service 5G networks during its first mandate.

Then-public safety minister Ralph Goodale promised to release a decision on Huawei before the 2019 federal election.

WATCH Canada bans Huawei from telecom networks after years of delay

Canada bans Huawei from telecom networks after years of delay

8 hours ago

Duration 7:44

“This has never been about a race,” says Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne when pressed on why it took the Canadian government years to reach a decision to ban Huawei from telecommunication networks. “This is about Canada. This is about our national security.”

Opposition parties blast government, say decision comes too late

But opposition parties say the government waited far too long to make up its mind.

In a media statement, Conservative public safety critic Raquel Dancho and Gerard Deltell, the party’s critic for innovation, science and industry, said the government should have banned Huawei sooner.

“Conservatives repeatedly called on the Trudeau government to do the right thing and listen to security experts and the calls from our allies — but they refused,” they said in a statement. 

They also raised concerns about the cost companies will have to bear to remove existing equipment.

“In the years of delay, Canadian telecommunications companies purchased hundreds of millions of dollars of Huawei equipment which will now need to be removed from their networks at enormous expense,” they said.

In a tweet, Conservative foreign affairs critic Michael Chong also faulted the government.

“It shouldn’t have taken more than three years for the Trudeau government to ban Huawei,” Chong said.

“David Vigneault, director of CSIS (the Canadian Security Intelligence Service), publicly warned the government about the threat from Huawei in early December 2018.”

NDP critic for innovation, science and industry Brian Masse also criticized the government’s timing.

“It has taken the Liberal government three years to make this decision while the other Five Eyes countries made their positions known much sooner,” he said in a media statement.

“This delay only worked to raise serious questions at home and among our allies about the Liberal government’s national security commitments and hampered the domestic telecommunications market.”

Masse also said the government put Canadians’ security and privacy at risk by delaying the decision.

The development of 5G networks promises to give people speedier online connections and provide the greater data capacity required to allow more people, and things, to connect online.

While the federal government’s review of its 5G policy has taken a broad look at which companies can service the new, faster online networks, most of the attention has focused on whether Huawei would be allowed in — and the possible national security implications of giving it access.

Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne and Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino hold a press conference to announce that Huawei Technologies will be banned from Canada’s 5G networks in Ottawa on Thursday, May 19, 2022. (David Kawai/The Canadian Press)

The government went largely silent on the review’s progress after China imprisoned Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor nearly three years ago — an apparent act of retaliation for the RCMP’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition warrant.

The two Canadians returned home last fall, hours after Meng reached a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. government.

Critics have warned that Huawei’s participation in Canada’s 5G networks could give the company an inside look at how, when and where Canadians use internet-connected devices — and that the Chinese government could force the company to hand over that personal information.

China’s National Intelligence Law says Chinese organizations and citizens must support, assist and co-operate with state intelligence work.

Huawei insists it is a fiercely independent company that does not engage in espionage for anyone, including Beijing.

Huawei executive not surprised by ban

In an interview with CBC’s Power & Politics, Alykhan Velshi, vice-president of corporate affairs for Huawei in Canada, said he’s not surprised by the decision but is still disappointed.

The government hasn’t provided evidence that Huawei is a national security threat, he said. He also questioned what the government will do about scheduled software upgrades for Huawei equipment already installed — something the company is talking to the government about right now, he added.

“I find it hard to believe the government is going to want to suspend those discussions,” he told host Vassy Kapelos.

WATCH ‘This is a political decision’: Huawei VP on Canadian ban

‘This is a political decision’: Huawei VP on Canadian ban

8 hours ago

Duration 8:38

“This is a political decision,” said Huawei VP Alykhan Velshi of the Canadian government’s intention to ban Huawei from telecommunication networks. “It’s for the government to provide evidence that Huawei is a national security threat as they claim. They have not done so.”

“Our position is we’re going to continue supporting Huawei equipment in the network, and that will require a level of ongoing co-operation at the technical level between Huawei and the federal government — not just in the days and weeks ahead but, frankly, in the years ahead for as long as this equipment is part of Canada’s telecommunications network.”

Velshi said the company has about 1,500 employees in Canada and that most of them work in research and development. They’re not affected by the decision, he said.

He added that the company’s consumer products, such as phones and watches, aren’t affected by this decision. He said the company has focused on R&D and consumer products since 2018 in anticipation of the ban announced today.

“The reality is that Huawei will form part of Canada’s telecommunications sector for the foreseeable future,” he said

How might this affect the Canada-China relationship?

Various European nations and Canada’s allies in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing group — including the U.S., U.K. and Australia — have made aggressive moves against Huawei, either by barring it from their networks or by restricting their use of Huawei equipment.

Late last year, China’s foreign ministry warned that Beijing’s relations with Canada stood “at a crossroads.”

Earlier in December, China’s ambassador to Canada signalled that keeping Huawei out would send a “very wrong signal.”

The government largely went silent on the 5G review’s progress after China imprisoned Michael Kovrig, right, and Michael Spavor, left, nearly three years ago. (Colin Hall/CBC, Chris Helgren/Reuters)

Huawei already supplies some Canadian telecommunications firms with 4G equipment.

As Global News has reported, telecommunication companies spent hundreds of millions of dollars on Huawei equipment while the federal government’s review of 5G was ongoing — although that number has waned over the years.

The government also risks a lawsuit under the terms of a foreign investor protection agreement signed by the government of Stephen Harper with China.

Under that agreement, Huawei Canada — as an existing investor with assets — could bring a claim against Canada.

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Abortion accessibility in Canada: The Catholic hospital conflict – CTV News

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A leaked draft showing that the U.S Supreme Court justices are preparing to overturn the Roe v. Wade abortion-rights ruling has sparked debate in Canada, including whether Catholic hospitals can impede your access to abortion.

While geography, knowledge and equity play important roles in limiting access, one woman from Estevan, Sask., told CTV News that she experienced barriers at a Catholic hospital.

The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, went to St. Joseph’s Hospital, the only hospital in her city, to get an abortion in 2013. The now mother-of-two said she was referred to another hospital in Regina, which was 200 kilometres away and an approximate two-hour drive. 

“The reason why I was getting an abortion was because the baby wasn’t viable,” she told CTV News in a phone interview. 

“I was going through one of the hardest things in my life. Then, you’re just shipped off to another city, and I just felt that judgment. It’s not that I was denied an abortion exactly, but they sure don’t make it easy.

“I was lucky that I had the means and support to travel to get an abortion. But what about the women in my city who can’t?” she added.

The hospital, which is a member of the Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan (CHASSK), confirmed to CTV News that they currently do not perform abortions or stock emergency contraceptives on-site. 

They are one of many health-care providers in the country that does not provide some services due to faith-based exemptions. 

Under section two of The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Catholic hospitals are allowed to deny certain services to patients under their right to religious freedom – but, unlike those who choose to attend Catholic schools, patients frequently turn up in a Catholic health-care facility simply because it is the closest one. 

All Catholic hospitals and health-care providers are part of the official universal health-care system. Tax dollars fund them, but they have their own policies that govern treatment plans for services that include abortion, birth control prescriptions, IUD insertions, emergency contraceptives, and dilation and curettage (D&C) procedures.  

There are 129 Catholic health-care facilities across the country, according to the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada (CHAC). In certain regions of Canada, such as Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, the sole hospitals in towns and cities are affiliated with a Catholic health-care association and adhere to Catholic ideals.

The largest Catholic health-care provider in Canada is in Toronto. Unity Health’s network includes three major hospitals, St. Michael’s, St. Joseph’s and Providence Hospital. According to Unity Health’s spokesperson, abortions are not performed in their hospitals, but emergency contraception and hormonal therapies are stocked on-site. 

Catholic establishments in Alberta presently account for 12 per cent of acute-care beds and 27 per cent of palliative-care beds, according to The Walrus. Catholic institutions also control around 15 per cent of health services in Ontario, according to the CHAC. 

Federal government’s response to improving access 

The Government of Canada announced more than $3.5 million in funding for projects by Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights (Action Canada) and by the National Abortion Federation Canada on May 11 to improve access to abortion services and offer accurate reproductive health information to Canadians. 

The primary goal of the funding was to improve access for women in rural areas, Marie-France Proulx, the Press Secretary for Health Canada, told CTV News. 

However, Frederique Chabot, the director of domestic health promotion at Action Canada, worries that the funding won’t offer a long-term solution, especially for women who only have access to a single hospital in their vicinity. 

“Every single case can take up to a week of really intense work …, especially with cases that have complex circumstances that we need to support them with,” she said.

“When you start to add up things like plane tickets, hotels, food, taxis … it can cost $1000 plus per case and so, we’re already worried if this incredible influx of resources is going to help real people in real-time.” 

Access to abortions isn’t dependent on Catholic hospitals when they only make up less than 5 per cent of hospitals in the country, Moira McQueen, the Executive Director of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute, says. 

“There are multiple questions that are problematic in health care … when it comes to abortion services, it is problematic that there is only one hospital available (in many cities), and you can’t blame that on the Catholic Church,” she said. 

What does the law say?

According to Kathleen Mahoney, a law professor at The University of Calgary, the law has always been clear that individuals can refuse to do certain procedures based on their religious beliefs. 

“But an institution has never been given that right. It’s likely that if a hospital were challenged on ethical guidelines or requirements for their employees to do or not do certain things … then those considerations would likely be struck down,” she said. 

However, Mahoney says that patients often don’t want the hassle of issuing a legal challenge or complaint and go to private clinics to receive services; and that has become Catholic Hospitals’ greatest strength. 

“They have a legal standing to deny services unless it’s challenged. Unless there’s no law out there that says you can’t do that,” she said.

“If there’s no law that says you can’t jaywalk, then people will jaywalk. So it’s legal unless there’s a law that says you can’t. And that’s what you know; civil liberties are all about.” 

Questions around Catholic health institutions’ right to refuse procedures against their faith have come up before but remained unresolved, including Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID).

MAID became legal in Canada in June 2016 but has caused discontent in the medical community, Gilbert says. Patients have had to be transferred out of Catholic-run long-term care homes, hospices, and hospitals and put into ambulances to receive the assisted death they desire. 

“MAID has led to what is called forced transfers. So, patients get forced out of the hospital to transfer to somewhere else if they want to get MAID because Catholic institutions will not provide it on-site,” said Daphne Gilbert, a law professor at the University of Ottawa specializing in Advanced Sexual Assault law. 

“This has been happening for years for decades with abortion, but it never reached the sort of public imagination as much as it has with MAID because we’ve at least had the option of clinic abortions.” 

“The problem is we don’t have a protective constitutional right to health care. We do have a publicly funded system, and it has to be administered equally,” said Gilbert.

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