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As U.S. presidential election enters final days, Canada braces for the fallout – CBC.ca

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The federal government is preparing for the weeks of uncertainty that might follow a U.S. presidential election day with no clear winner — by drawing up contingency plans for the border and other issues that might erupt between the Nov. 3 vote and inauguration day in January.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has signalled already that his government has been monitoring the election more closely in the final weeks of the campaign because of its potential impact on the Canadian economy.

“I think we’re certainly all hoping for a smooth transition or a clear result from the election like many people around the world,” Trudeau told a news conference earlier this month. “If it is less clear, there may be some disruptions and we need to be ready.”

The cabinet committee on global affairs and public security has been preparing for various scenarios: President Donald Trump’s reelection, a victory by Democrat Joe Biden, or a lengthy period of uncertainty coupled with multiple court challenges to decide the outcome.

We can’t rely on the good-neighbour, best-friend status anymore. And that remains regardless of a Trump or a Biden victory.– Sen. Peter Boehm

A government official (who asked not to be identified because the person is not authorized to speak publicly on the plans) said the cabinet committee is worried about security at the border, the prospect of even higher COVID infection rates in the U.S. and the possibility of Trump taking harder lines on international issues that could affect Canada.

Trump has refused on a number of occasions to say he will guarantee a smooth transition of power if he loses and has been pushing unsubstantiated claims about massive voter fraud during the pandemic as an unprecedented number of Americans mail in their ballots.

Sen. Peter Boehm is an experienced former Canadian diplomat who was posted to Washington during the disputed 2000 election result in Florida between George W. Bush and Al Gore. He said the Canadian government has worked hard since Trump’s election to develop contacts at all levels of the government in the United States.

A more ‘sophisticated’ approach to Washington

Boehm said those contacts, honed during the prolonged negotiations to renew NAFTA, should help Canada navigate any challenges that emerge after Nov. 3.

“What we’ve seen over the last four years is a greater utilization of the tools we have. What that means is not just discussions at the head-of-government level but with Congress, on Capital Hill and with state and local government,” he said.

“And what that tells us is that we have had to become more sophisticated in our approach, that there has to be consistent contact and a network, because we can’t rely on the good-neighbour, best-friend status anymore. And that remains regardless of a Trump or a Biden victory.”

The Trump presidency has proven to be an unpredictable dance partner for Ottawa. Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement and imposed national security tariffs on Canadian exports of steel and aluminum.

Trump called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “very dishonest and weak” in tweets following the troubled G7 summit hosted by Canada in 2018 — while on other occasions he’s declared that he likes the prime minister very much.

A protectionist tilt on both sides

Biden is less volatile and more in line with Canada on issues such as climate change. But he would cancel the Keystone XL pipeline project — which is still viewed by Alberta as a vital prop for the troubled oilpatch — and his platform emphasises the same sort of Buy American and protectionist procurement pledges championed by Trump.

Either way, Canadian officials will need to remain vigilant in protecting this country’s interests — particularly the bilateral trade relationship and the millions of jobs that depend on it, and especially if pressure mounts from the U.S. side to re-open the border for non-essential travel.

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden delivers remarks at a Voter Mobilization Event campaign stop at the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal in Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S., October 12, 2020. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

“The past four years created real frictions,” said Andrew McIntosh, a Canadian-born lawyer in Florida who heads the Canada-Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce.

“You can’t be a Canadian living in the States and not recognize that the relationship has been challenged, not just in business terms but as neighbours, the value we place on the relationship. I don’t think anyone can look at the Canada//U.S. relationship and not feel that there’s been a disregard for the history and close ties between the two countries.”

Donald Trump unbound

Scotty Greenwood is the CEO of the Canadian-American Business Council and a partner with Crestview Strategy in Washington. She said Canada will have to tread carefully if no clear winner emerges on Nov 3.

“Everyone is holding their breath to see if it’s four more years of Trump or a new administration,” she said.

Greenwood said that she believes Trump would be further emboldened by winning a second term.

“You would need to worry a lot about tariff wars. The expectation is that the United States would get into more and more of a transactional relationship,” she said. “Canada developed a playbook that was reasonably successful in dealing with the Trump administration during the NAFTA negotiations and they will need to keep that.”

Boehm said the Canada/U.S. relationship has to be built around more than personal connections to the person in the Oval Office.

“What this relationship comes down to is not whether you like the chief executive but what’s in your own nation’s best interests,” he said.

“That’s how the U.S. works and that’s how Canada has to work.”

That means Canadian political leaders need to refrain from making any comments or endorsing either Trump or Biden — especially if the process of counting mail-in ballots, or deciding on court challenges launched over the results, leaves the outcome uncertain for days or weeks.

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Ontario reports 1,822 new COVID-19 cases, 29 more deaths – CBC.ca

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Ontario reported another 1,822 cases of COVID-19 and 29 more deaths linked to the illness on Saturday.

The new cases include 566 in Toronto, 516 in Peel Region and 145 in York Region. Hamilton and Waterloo saw 105 and 102 additional cases, respectively.

Other public health units that saw double-digit increases were:

  • Halton: 68.
  • Windsor-Essex: 57.
  • Durham Region: 48.
  • Ottawa: 46.
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 25.
  • Niagara Region: 21.
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 21.
  • Middlesex-London: 20.
  • Eastern Ontario: 13.
  • Huron Perth: 11.
  • Grey Bruce: 10.
  • Thunder Bay: 10.

(Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ontario health ministry’s COVID-19 dashboard or in its daily epidemiologic summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit because local units report figures at different times.)

The newly confirmed infections push the seven-day average up to 1,523, the highest it has been since the outbreak began in late January. The numbers come after the province set a single-day record for new cases on Friday.

There are currently 13,538 confirmed, active cases of COVID-19 provincewide, a number that is also a new record high. 

Meanwhile, Ontario’s network of labs processed 55,086 test samples for the novel coronavirus and reported a test positivity rate of 3.4 per cent. More than 56,000 tests were added to the queue to be completed. Public health officials said recently that they hope to build capacity in the system for up to 100,000 tests daily.

The number of people in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of the illness jumped 54, up to 595 — nearly double the number one month ago. Those being treated in intensive care increased by four to 155, while those on ventilators dropped slightly to 99.

The additional deaths in Saturday’s update push the official toll to 3,624. So far this month, 479 people with COVID-19 have died in the province.

5 regions moving into more restrictive zones

The provincial government announced yesterday that five more regions will move into more restrictive zones starting at 12:01 a.m. Monday:

  • Red-Control
    • Windsor-Essex County Health Unit
  • Orange-Restrict
    • Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
  • Yellow-Protect
    • Hastings Prince Edward Public Health
    • Lambton Public Health
    • Northwestern Health Unit

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

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The latest:

  • Ontario reports 1,822 new COVID-19 cases, 29 more deaths.
  • Officials say majority of Canadians could be vaccinated by next September.
  • Federal government to enlist the military to help with vaccine distribution.
  • Manitoba hospital ICUs operating over capacity due to rise in COVID-19 cases.
  • Nearly 100 cases of infection reported at Saskatoon Provincial Correctional Centre.
  • Alberta again breaks records for hospitalizations, ICU patients.
  • Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email us at COVID@cbc.ca

Ontario added another 1,822 cases of COVID-19 to its total on Saturday, a day after recording its highest single-day count of 1,855. 

The province also reported 29 new deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus after recording 20 deaths on Friday, when health officials said they had completed just over 58,000 tests — the most the province has ever conducted in one day.

Despite the growing number of cases, a majority of Canadians could be inoculated against COVID-19 by September 2021 “if all goes according to plan,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday. It’s important the vaccine reaches all Canadians “no matter where they live,” he said.

Trudeau said as Canada prepares for “the biggest immunization exercise in the country,” it will enlist the help of a former NATO commander to lead the distribution effort.

WATCH | Ottawa outlines its COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan:

Federal government officials say three million Canadians could be vaccinated in early 2021, but warn any timelines are uncertain and emphasize that no vaccine has been approved for use in Canada. 2:31

Trudeau named Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin to lead the military’s role in co-ordinating logistics, which include cold storage requirements, data sharing and reaching Indigenous communities.

The prime minister said the federal government has already purchased freezers capable of storing vaccine doses at -70 C.

WATCH | Senior military commander to lead vaccine distribution:

The Canadian Forces general in charge of planning and logistics for Canada’s vaccine rollout was announced Friday. But it raises questions about why military officers are needed at all. 2:09

Deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo said as many as six million doses could be deployed in the first three months of 2021. Each patient will need two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, which Health Canada says could win approval next month because its review is in the most advanced stage out of the three leading candidates.

Federal officials warned that any timelines are uncertain and emphasized that no vaccine has been approved for use in Canada.

WATCH | Ontario prepares vaccine plan amid record-high new cases:

Ontario reported a record-high 1,855 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. The head of the province’s vaccine task force says he aims to be ready for vaccine distribution by the end of the year, though the vaccine may not yet have arrived. 5:04

Quebec reported 1,269 new COVID-19 infections and 38 more deaths linked to the virus on Friday, including nine that occurred in the past 24 hours.

Federal data showed that as of Friday, Alberta had the highest seven-day infection rate in Canada with 209 cases per 100,000 people.

Friday was the last day of in-school classes for junior and senior high school students across Alberta. Students in grades 7 to 12 are all being shifted to remote learning until Jan. 11, in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The province’s new measures also ban indoor social gatherings, limit outdoor gatherings to 10 people, restrict access to some businesses and make masks mandatory at indoor workplaces in Edmonton and Calgary.

Kaycee Madu, Alberta’s minister of justice and solicitor general, said Friday that the province is empowering 700 more peace officers to help enforce COVID-19 public health orders.

Fines for breaking the rules can range from $1,000 to $100,000 in extreme cases that end up in court, Madu said.

What’s happening across Canada

As of 10:15 a.m. ET on Saturday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 360,889, with 60,954 of those considered active cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 11,923.

Manitoba announced 349 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and 14 more deaths, the province’s second-deadliest day of the pandemic to date. Intensive care units across the province are operating at 152 per cent of their pre-COVID-19 capacity. A record high 322 people are in hospital with the illness, including 45 patients in ICUs.

WATCH | Manitoba’s top health official on recent COVID-19 deaths:

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, says COVID-19 deaths in the province have skyrocketed since last month. 0:42

Officials overseeing the pandemic response on Manitoba’s First Nations say 630 new cases were identified over the last week alone. Nine new deaths were reported, bringing the total to 36.

The province announced stricter COVID-19 measures last week that prohibit businesses from selling non-essential items in stores and further restricted capacity at large retailers.

The new public health orders also prohibit people from having anyone inside their home who doesn’t live there, with few exceptions.

British Columbia announced a single-day record on Friday with 911 cases of COVID-19.

The latest update also includes a new record of 301 patients in hospital with COVID-19, including 69 in critical care.

Earlier Friday, the Vancouver International Airport announced a pilot project in which volunteer travellers are enlisted to take COVID-19 rapid tests before departing on their domestic flights.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, appealed for people to respect store and restaurant employees as she referred to recent confrontations by aggressive customers who refused to wear masks at indoor public places.

“If you are opposed to wearing a mask, then I ask you to shop online, order takeout or stay outside or stay home and not put other people at risk,” she said.

Eleven more people have died in B.C., bringing the number of fatalities to 395, while a record 301 patients are in hospital.

WATCH | New mask mandate in B.C. a point of contention for some:

B.C.’s new mask mandate has become a pressure point in the province, as some people flout the rules or confront people for enforcing them. 2:08

In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick reported 12 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, while Newfoundland and Labrador reported four new cases and Nova Scotia reported nine new cases

Prince Edward Island did not reported any new cases on Friday. Starting Monday, masks will be mandatory for staff and students in Grades 10-12 at all times inside a school building, including while sitting at their desks, with exemptions made for situations such as eating or drinking.

Nunavut reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. The territory, which saw its first confirmed case earlier this month, has now seen a total of 159 cases.

The Nunavut government said it plans to spend $1 million toward community food programming, including extra funding for communities affected by the pandemic.

The Northwest Territories reported no new cases on Friday. There have been 15 confirmed cases in the territory since the start of the pandemic, all since recovered.

Yukon reported three new cases late Friday for a total of 45 since the pandemic began.

WATCH | Mental health biggest concern in Nunavut lockdown, community food centre exec says:

With Nunavut in the second week of a lockdown due to COVID-19, Wade Thorhaug of the Qajuqturvik Community Food Centre says the situation exacerbates the many long-standing issues in the territory, such as food insecurity and overcrowded housing. 7:15

Saskatchewan reported 329 new cases and four deaths on Friday. Along with 208 recoveries, that brought the number of active cases to 3,263.

The Saskatoon Provincial Correctional Centre now has 99 cases of COVID-19  — 80 offenders and 19 staff.

WATCH | Some First Nations in Alberta now experiencing 1st wave of COVID-19:

Dr. James Makokis, a family physician in Kehewin First Nation, says historical traumas make lockdowns difficult for Indigenous people and pandemic fatigue is playing a part in the spike in cases. 4:09


What’s happening around the world

As of Saturday morning, there were more than 61.7 million cases of COVID-19 recorded worldwide, with more than 39.5 million of those considered recovered or resolved, according to a coronavirus tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The global death toll stood at more than 1.4 million.

South Korea reported more than 500 new coronavirus cases for the third-straight day on Saturday, the fastest spread of infections the country has seen since the early days of the pandemic.

The recent spike in infections came after the government eased physical-distancing restrictions to the lowest levels in October to support a weak economy, allowing high-risk venues such as nightclubs and karaoke bars to reopen and spectators to return to sports.

Officials reimposed some of the restrictions this week and could be forced to clamp down on economic activities further if transmissions don’t slow.

India‘s coronavirus infections dipped further with 41,322 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, and there were no signs of a resurgence as a result of a major festival two weeks ago.

The high point of new infections this week was 44,739 on Wednesday. Single-day cases have remained below the 50,000-mark for three weeks.

In the United Kingdom, the government is warning lawmakers who oppose strict coronavirus restrictions that the measures are the only way to avoid a surge that will overwhelm the health system.

A four-week national lockdown in England is due to end Wednesday and will be replaced by three-tier regional measures that restrict business activity, travel and socializing. The vast majority of the country is being put into the upper two tiers.

Police officers take away a protester ahead of an anti-lockdown demonstration against government restrictions designed to control the spread of COVID-19 at Kings Cross station in London on Saturday. (Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces opposition from dozens of his own Conservative Party’s legislators, who say the economic damage outweighs the public health benefits. Some say they will vote against the measures in Parliament on Tuesday.

Cabinet minister Michael Gove said the measures were “grimly” necessary. Writing in the Times of London, he said there are currently 16,000 coronavirus patients in British hospitals, not far below the April peak of 20,000. Gove said a rise in infections would mean coronavirus patients would “displace all but emergency cases. And then even those.”

Britain has had Europe’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreak, with more than 57,000 coronavirus-related deaths.

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What Canadians need to know about COVID-19 before gathering over the holidays – CBC.ca

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This is an excerpt from Second Opinion, a weekly roundup of health and medical science news emailed to subscribers every Saturday morning. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do that by clicking here.


Canadians considering gathering with loved ones over the holidays this year need to come to terms with some harsh realities. 

The country faces a perfect storm: record rates of COVID-19 amid a growing sense of pandemic fatigue at a time when we typically travel to see loved ones and spend time together indoors.

But COVID-19 is insidious, an unwanted guest that can slip in unnoticed and wreak havoc despite our best efforts to control it. 

“We have to ask ourselves honestly, must we socialize? And the answer is probably no,” said Raywat Deonandan, a global health epidemiologist and associate professor at the University of Ottawa.

“There is no way to eliminate risk except not to do it in the first place.”

But we’ve learned a lot more about how COVID-19 spreads since it first emerged at the beginning of this year, which can help inform us on where we’re most at risk. 

Confusion over holiday guidelines

There’s understandably a lot of confusion about what sorts of holiday gathering might be reasonable to consider this year, especially since depending on where you live in this country the rules and recommendations differ.  

The official advice from Canada’s chief public health officer is to avoid large gatherings, non-essential travel and to keep things as small as possible within your household. 

Certain provinces, like Ontario, recommend skipping extended family gatherings altogether and taking precautions like self-isolating for 10 to 14 days for those travelling home from away, including colleges and universities.

While others, like Quebec, have put a lot of faith in their population by allowing gatherings of up to 10 people for four days over the holidays after a seven day period of self-imposed quarantine.

But Deonandan says we can’t necessarily rely on people to completely self-isolate on their own — that requires not leaving home for groceries, essential items or even to walk the dog. 

WATCH | Dr. Theresa Tam advises no large gatherings or non-essential travel

Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, says it’s clear that Christmas this year is not going to be like other years. She recommends against any gatherings but has some advice if people choose to forgo the public health guidelines. 0:48

“You’re also going to have outliers who have infectious periods longer than two weeks,” he said.

“If enough people do this, you’re going to get a sufficient number of people who do not fall under that umbrella who are indeed infectious and who start outbreaks.” 

Silent spread a ‘key driver’ of outbreaks

While we weigh whether it’s even possible to gather safely with friends and family in a pandemic, it’s important to keep in mind the unseen dangers we could be inviting in — even in parts of the country that have low rates of COVID-19.

“The problem with this virus is that it’s like many other viruses,” said Dr. Allison McGeer, a medical microbiologist and infectious disease specialist at Toronto’s Mount Sinai hospital who worked on the front lines of the SARS epidemic in 2003. “You shed virus before you get sick and some people who get infected don’t develop symptoms.” 

“That’s why what has worked is everybody wearing masks and everybody maintaining social distance, because you can’t tell who the next infected person is going to be.”

McGeer says viruses like influenza, chickenpox and measles typically present symptoms in the body before people are infectious — but the virus behind COVID-19 is different. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released updated scientific guidance this week that acknowledged asymptomatic or presymptomatic individuals account for more than half of all COVID-19 transmissions. 

“Silent transmission is one of the key drivers of outbreaks,” said Seyed Moghadas, a professor of applied mathematics and computational epidemiology at Toronto’s York University. 

“There is an incorrect notion in the general population that if someone feels fine then they are not infected. A person can certainly be infected, infectious, and feel completely fine.” 

Seyed Moghadas at York University says because of high rates of asymptomatic COVID-19 infections, silent transmission is one of the ‘key drivers’ of outbreaks. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Moghadas, the lead author of a study published in the journal PNAS on the silent spread of COVID-19 that was cited in the CDC guidelines, says this underscores how difficult the virus is to control, a challenge “magnified” in close quarters.

In Nova Scotia, which has successfully contained the spread of COVID-19 throughout the pandemic despite the bursting of the Atlantic bubble this week, catching those silent spreaders before they unknowingly infect others is key. 

Dr. Lisa Barrett, an infectious disease specialist at Dalhousie University, has partnered with public health authorities in a pilot project to use rapid COVID-19 tests on people without symptoms in high-traffic areas of Halifax. 

It’s only been a few days, but what they’ve found was surprising. 

On the first day they tested 147 people and found one asymptomatic case, the second day they tested 604 more and found another one, and on the third day they did 804 tests and found five more. 

“We recognized that there are a lot of people out there, even if they’re doing the right thing, that don’t know they’re infected, don’t know they’re infectious and could be spreading to other people,” said Barrett.

“When there’s community spread of a virus that has a long period of time when you can be infectious without symptoms, you have to test broadly in the community or you have no idea what’s going on.” 

‘A negative test is not a license to socialize’

One novel approach to avoid meeting with loved ones while unknowingly infectious that has emerged is to get a COVID-19 test beforehand to pre-emptively detect it. 

But the timing of that test is incredibly important and there’s a lot of room for error, so it may be a less effective strategy than it first appears.

A new study in the journal Science looked at 1,178 people infected with COVID-19 and more than 15,000 of their close contacts to determine when people were most infectious. 

It found most of the transition — 87 per cent — happened in a fairly wide window of time, up to five days before or after symptoms appeared, while 53 per cent was in the pre-symptomatic phase.

“It’s possible to be early in the disease cycle such that you won’t detect any viral presence. But in two days suddenly you’re infectious and now we’re screwed,” said Deonandan, at the University of Ottawa.

“So a negative test is not a license to socialize.”

Still, Deonandan says there will be people who are going to socialize anyway, so it’s better they do so with precautions in place like testing and self-isolating than nothing — even if those precautions aren’t perfect.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or the winter solstice, Canadians are being told to consider meeting virtually, avoid risky indoor gatherings without masks and instead find ways to connect while still physical distancing.

“I think the pitch to people is that yes, we’re used to having time off school and we’re used to seeing everybody,” said McGeer. “But this is the year to delay.” 

WATCH | Tam on the holiday season and how the pandemic won’t go on forever

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam talks to The National’s Andrew Chang about the holiday season and getting to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. 6:31

“The best advice this year is maybe not to go too far from home,” said Barrett. “Is it worth it to lose control of the virus?”

“We’re hanging on by a thread here. Please don’t let that thread break.” 


To read the entire Second Opinion newsletter every Saturday morning, subscribe by clicking here.

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