With the initial phase of reopening in some provinces underway, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is urging Canadians not to go out “unless you absolutely have to.” This comes as Canada’s top public health official is emphasizing that even though some aspects of life are rolling again, the habits and practices Canadians have adapted to during the last few months cannot be rolled back.
“I know the weather is getting nicer, but we still need to be extremely careful, and not just for our seniors, but for everyone around us. So don’t go out unless you absolutely have to. And if you do, keep two metres apart from each other,” Trudeau said Monday during his address to Canadians on the federal government’s latest COVID-19 efforts.
The prime minister continues to encourage Canadians to stay home and do their part to protect health-care and other front-line workers from further spread, while still reaching out and helping the vulnerable people in their lives, such as delivering groceries to an elderly neighbour
“With your actions, you are helping your community,” Trudeau said, adding that it is “extremely important” that physical distancing and other public health measures like frequent handwashing need to be kept up or the country could face a second wave of the virus that has shut down most of regular life in Canada for the last two months.
The prime minister said that the billions of dollars in federal aid already spent and earmarked to roll out in the coming days to help businesses and workers could still be extended or adjusted in the coming months if needed as more economic sectors get back up and running or have to stay closed, but “we’re not there yet.”
“We are on a positive trajectory, we are not out of the woods, however, and it requires us to continue to remain attentive and vigilant and following the instructions set out by our public health officials,” Trudeau said.
Staying home and isolating the moment you show any COVID-19 symptoms is among those public health instructions. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Monday such directives have been integral in getting the spread under control by buying the country time to build health-care capacity.
“No matter where we live, living with COVID-19 is something we all need to reconcile with,” Tam said.
“And although we’ll be getting out of our homes, more and more, it will be vitally important that at the slightest sign of symptoms, we stay home to save lives. Working while sick can no longer be a thing,” she said, adding that it will be a difficult habit to sever, but one that governments and employers need to support.
SOME BUSINESSESS, PUBLIC SPACES OPEN
Among the provinces taking gradual reopening steps into what’s being considered the country’s “new normal” are Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. In all of these provinces certain businesses can reopen on Monday, though they are still required to use personal protective equipment and maintain physical distancing.
New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Alberta have taken initial steps towards loosening public health measures like physical distancing and allowing certain public outdoor spaces to reopen.
Last week, Trudeau and the premiers released “a set of common principles for restarting the Canadian economy” that said the timing and efforts from one province to another will look different because the caseload is different in each region.
Among what all provinces and territories have agreed need to be in place: a stabilized number of cases; a health system that can handle new cases and track potential outbreaks; sufficient protective gear for businesses to keep their staff and patrons safe; and an agreement on co-ordinated travel guidance.
During a press conference on Parliament Hill, outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer credited the “decisive action” from provinces in seeing their caseloads get under control and called on Trudeau to do more to ensure there are enough tests and personal protective supplies to help facilitate the reopening plans.
Scheer also questioned whether the current federal assistance is acting as a disincentive for Canadians to go back to work when the time comes.
“As provinces reopen, Canadians will have a difficult decision to make. On the one hand, they will have an option, perhaps, to return to work, while hoping that there isn’t a second wave, even though that will jeopardize their emergency response benefits or on the other hand, they could wait. Stay on the benefit and wait until the uncertainty passes. It’s not difficult to understand the choice that many will be forced to make,” Scheer said.
“At a time when our economy needs stimulus, Justin Trudeau has given it a tranquilizer and risked creating labour shortages across the country. This failure must be reversed before it is too late. Canada’s economic recovery depends on it,” he said.
As of 2 p.m. EDT there were 60,616 COVID-19 cases in Canada, and 3,842 people have died.
Last week’s national modelling projected that while public health measures have been effective and the curve is flattening, Canada was on track to see between 53,196 cases and 66,835 cases and between 3,277 and 3,883 deaths by May 5.
Canada now has more than 95,000 coronavirus cases — more than 34K are active – Globalnews.ca
More than 720 new cases of the novel coronavirus were reported in Canada on Saturday — all but 41 of them from Ontario and Quebec.
As Canada surged past 95,000 cases of COVID-19, the two most populous provinces continued to account for the vast majority of new cases and deaths reported daily.
Nearly 53,000 people around the country are considered recovered.
Ontario saw 455 new cases — but only 387 of them were new since Friday — while Quebec reported 226 new infections. Quebec has more than 52,000 cases so far, while Ontario has seen more than 30,000.
Quebec has seen nearly 5,000 deaths so far, accounting for almost 64 per cent of the national death toll. Ontario has the second highest number of deaths, at just over 2,400.
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Out of 70 new deaths reported on Saturday, Ontario and Quebec both reported 35 fatalities each. Quebec saw hospitalizations go down, and only 22 of the 35 deaths were classified as new.
Alberta recorded 40 new cases and no new deaths, bringing its figures to more than 7,100 cases and 146 deaths. This was a sharp uptick from a day earlier, when the province reported just seven new cases. More than 6,600 people are deemed recovered.
Saskatchewan reported one new case, for a total of 650 cases. Eleven people have died so far, and more than 610 are considered recovered.
No new cases
For the second day in a row, all of the Atlantic provinces saw no new cases or deaths on Saturday. Nova Scotia has the most number of cases — 1,058, including 61 deaths. Most of New Brunswick’s 136 cases have recovered as it battles an outbreak in the Campbellton region — one person in the province has died.
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Newfoundland and Labrador has two active cases, and is set to allow travel within the province starting June 8 (Monday). Prince Edward Island has seen no new infections since all 27 of its cases have recovered.
The Northwest Territories and the Yukon remain COVID-19 free, with all their cases having recovered weeks ago. Nunavut remains the only region in Canada that hasn’t seen a case yet.
Manitoba also reported no new cases on Saturday, leaving it with nine active cases and more than 280 recoveries. Seven people have died in the province so far.
British Columbia had no new figures to report on Saturday. The province has seen more than 2,600 cases so far and 167 deaths.
The novel coronavirus has resulted in more than 6.8 million cases around the world and more than 398,000 deaths, according to data tracked by Johns Hopkins University.
— With files by The Canadian Press
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Anti-black racism protests, vigils planned across Canada – CBC.ca
Canadians continued to rally and demonstrate against anti-black racism and police brutality on Saturday, a day after thousands attended protests and vigils across the country.
The demonstrations follow days of protests across the U.S. over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis, Minn. A police officer kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
Many are calling for police reform and an end to systemic racism.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam on Friday urged demonstrators to “take care of themselves” and follow public health guidelines such as physical distancing as much as possible and using hand sanitizers.
Read on to see what’s happening around Canada.
Thousands demonstrated in two separate protests in Toronto against anti-black racism. The first protest began at Nathan Phillips Square, while the second began at Trinity Bellwoods Park.
Twanna Lewis, a Toronto resident at Trinity Bellwoods Park, said she was protesting for the first time on Saturday because she felt the need to take a stand for people who are voiceless. She has an 18-year-old black son, cousins, uncles and a brother.
“It’s 2020 and we need to be doing better,” Lewis told CBC Toronto. “It’s a shame that we have to be having this conversation in this day and age, when we think that we have gone so far.”
WATCH | Hand sanitizer, masks handed out at Toronto protest:
At Nathan Phillips Square, demonstrators chanted, held placards and posters, and listened to speakers. Then the protesters marched to the U.S. consulate and onward to Yonge-Dundas Square.
“I can’t breathe,” the crowd chanted at one point at Nathan Phillips Square, in a reference to some of Floyd’s last words before his death on May 25.
People held up signs that read “No Justice No Peace” and “Yes it’s here too Ford.” Ontario Premier Doug Ford had said Canada doesn’t have the “systemic, deep roots” of racism as the U.S.
WATCH | Protesters, police speak at Toronto demonstration:
Thousands of people kneeled on the lawn of Confederation Building in St. John’s during a rally in support of the Black Lives Matter.
The rally, organized by newly established Black Lives Matter NL, featured speeches and performances from members of the area’s black community sharing their own stories of racism.
Crowds were able to physically distance during the rally, spreading themselves across the lawn of Confederation Building. There was a small police presence, but no incidents were reported.
Zainab Jerrett, who came to Newfoundland in the 1990s and is a professor at Memorial University, was one of the speakers on stage and was overwhelmed by the public support.
“That shows that this problem is effecting everybody, and everyone wants to chip in to bring a solution,” Jerrett said. “I almost got emotional because there’s so many people … young people of all cultures in Newfoundland.”
“This is an awakening. The people are interested in listening to the black community” she added. “[But] we are all the same. The more we come together as a human race, the better.”
“I am almost speechless. I am about to cry,” she says. “I feel like I am a Newfoundlander in spirit and soul.” <br><br>The audience yells back at her “you are!” <a href=”https://t.co/rZXj08NvIT”>pic.twitter.com/rZXj08NvIT</a>
A vigil is scheduled for 4 p.m. MT outside Calgary’s Olympic Plaza in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.
“We must all come together to speak against murders by police officers and the institutions defending them,” organizers said in a Facebook post.
They also encourage attendees to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines like wearing masks and physical distancing.
Thousands attended a similar demonstration in Calgary on Wednesday.
Fort McMurray, Alta.
Elsewhere in Alberta, a Black Lives Matter rally was held at Fort McMurray City Hall.
The rally comes as Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam says Wood Buffalo RCMP officers beat and arrested him in a Fort McMurray parking lot earlier this year.
In London, Ont., hundreds gathered at Victoria Park for an anti-racism rally.
Mayor Ed Holder said he supports the purpose behind the rally but declined to attend in person to comply with physical distancing rules recommended by health authorities in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Hundreds of Londoners are here at Victoria Park for an anti-black racism protest <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/LdnOnt?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#LdnOnt</a> <a href=”https://t.co/PVevHrYQGV”>pic.twitter.com/PVevHrYQGV</a>
Rally is so big it fits down Queens Street, around the block in both directions. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/LdnOnt?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#LdnOnt</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/BLM?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#BLM</a> <a href=”https://t.co/3a6bzJFVwy”>pic.twitter.com/3a6bzJFVwy</a>
Volunteers handed out bottles of water and squirts of hand sanitizer to marchers in Guelph, Ont., as thousands of demonstrators descended upon city hall. Organizer took COVID-19 precautions after health officials urged protesters to adhere to public health protocols.
A similar demonstration in Kitchener on Wednesday saw thousands of people walk through the downtown core holding signs.
‘They’re targeting us’: Why some advocates want to defund Canadian police – Global News
In recent days, protests against anti-Black racism and police brutality have erupted across the U.S. and Canada in response to the deaths of Black Americans George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.
Now, some advocates are calling for police forces to be defunded and taxpayer money to be redirected — a conversation that is also happening in Canada, stemming from the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old Black and Indigenous woman who fell from her Toronto apartment balcony after police entered the unit.
Police claim they were responding to a reported assault, but the family has questioned the role of the police in her death. The Special Investigations Unit, Ontario’s police watchdog, is currently investigating.
Defunding the police means redirecting the budget for Canada’s police forces to other services that focus on social supports, mental health and even spaces like transit, said Sandy Hudson, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter Toronto and a law student at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“There’s no reason why we can’t start a service that is another emergency response service where people can call a number and have someone who is trained in de-escalation,” Hudson said.
Now, with more incidents of police brutality in the news, calls for defunding the police both in the U.S. and Canada are louder than ever.
The history of police in Canada
This is hardly the first time defunding the police has been talked about in Canada, experts told Global News.
Examining the way police uphold and participate in anti-Black racism and violence towards Black and Indigenous communities in Canada has been a discussion for decades, said Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto Mississauga.
“Part of it is discrimination within policing — both implicit and explicit — but then the other parts of it are how the police operate and what we’re asking police to do,” he said.
Regis Korchinski-Paquet death: Toronto protesters march in memoriam, against anti-Black violence
The origins of policing in the southern United States were based on preserving the slavery system, as Time magazine reports, and police were primarily tasked with being “slave patrols” to prevent Black slaves from escaping. After the Civil War ended, these patrols still existed to uphold segregation and discrimination towards Black people.
Police in Canada were historically also tasked with “clearing the land” to steal the property of Indigenous Peoples, said Hudson.
“Those two focuses of the police, Indigenous and Black people, controlling us … there’s a through line to today and how the police interact with our communities,” she said.
Policing has been used to enforce the dominant narrative in Canada, which is colonization, said Alicia Boatswain-Kyte, a social work professor at McGill University whose research examines systemic oppression.
“These institutions are a product of (colonialism); they stem from that,” she said. “Right now we’re seeing what it looks like at this stage … and it gets manifested in the form of police brutality.”
Mental health, homelessness and other social issues
Experts are concerned that police in Canada are tasked with issues related to poverty, mental health and homelessness, and they are “ill-equipped and an inappropriate resource to be addressing those issues,” Owusu-Bempah said.
A 2018 report on racial profiling by the Ontario Human Rights Commission found that a Black person was 20 times more likely than a white person to be involved in a fating shooting by Toronto police. The report was the result of an inquiry launched after Andrew Loku, a father of five who was experiencing mental health issues, died after being shot by police.
A coroner’s inquest ruled that Loku’s death was the result of a homicide and recommended that police are better trained if they are to deal with mental health calls.
“The violence we see inflicted by the police are often happening with people who are having a mental health crisis,” said Hudson.
Shifting the money to fund organizations that understand the nuances of mental health issues and the challenges faced by racialized communities would be a better use of taxpayers’ money, she said.
How racism affects Black mental health
Out of the nearly one million calls the force responds to, Toronto police respond to about 30,000 mental health calls every year, spokeswoman Meaghan Gray told the Canadian Press.
The force’s mobile crisis intervention teams — which include a trained officer and a mental health nurse — attend only 6,000 of those calls each year because they do not go to calls where a weapon may be involved.
Annual training for the force includes courses on communication and deescalation techniques, said Gray.
“The Toronto Police Service believes that mental health is a complex issue that requires the involvement of multiple entities, including but not limited to community support, public health, and all levels of government, to render any meaningful change,” she said.
It would be better if a mental health nurse or some other trained expert was always present, Boatswain-Kyte said.
“Are they (police) really the ones that are best suited?” she said.
“Social workers, for instance, go to school to understand how to form relationships, to understand how people are excluded and what factors contribute to their exclusion.”
By making police the body available to provide help in these situations, Boatswain-Kyte said, it sends a message that people with those health issues aren’t welcome in our society.
“Regardless of the amount of training … the implicit bias as a result of what (police) have been socialized to believe and understand about the ‘dangers’ of Black and brown bodies is going to influence them at the time when they have to make a decision.”
Boatswain-Kyte points to a study published in May from Columbia University that found there is “no evidence that enhanced police training focused on mental health crises” can reduce fatal shootings towards those having a mental health crisis, or racialized people in general.
By the numbers
In Toronto, the largest portion of a resident’s property tax bill — around $700 out of an average bill of $3,020 — goes to the Toronto Police Service. The lowest portion of property taxes goes to children’s services, Toronto employment and social services and economic development and culture.
The situation is similar elsewhere in the country, as the Vancouver police budget has grown by more than $100 million in the last decade, representing about one-fifth of the city’s $1.6-billion 2020 operating budget.
Backlash mounting over Premier Doug Ford’s comments on racism in Canada
A 2014 report published by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute found that policing budgets in Canada had doubled compared to the GDP since 2004, even though the public calls to police have “remained stable.”
“Police associations have been happy to stoke public fears about safety, but the correlation between numbers of officers, crime rates and response times has long been shown to be spurious,” the report said, authored by Christian Leuprecht, a political science professor at Queen’s University and Royal Military College.
Police work that is essentially unrelated to policing could be done by other groups, Leuprecht explains.
Owusu-Bempah is calling on city mayors like Toronto Mayor John Tory to review which roles and functions we want the police to provide and which should be provided by other agencies.
“Then we need a lot of (the) funding currently spent on police … given to other organizations” that are better equipped to help with issues like homelessness and mental illness, he said.
Given the recent incidents of anti-Black racism and brutality perpetuated by police, Hudson says defunding the police would also give agency and safety to Black communities.
“How could the body that is ostensibly meant to provide safety for our communities … be one of the the the the reasons we keep getting hurt?” Hudson said.
“Most people don’t have to interact with police at all … but for our communities, they’re targeting us.
“We just want to live like everybody else.”
— With files from the Canadian Press
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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