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Billionaire Trump backer who got August quarantine exemption in Canada tests positive for COVID-19 – CBC.ca

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A U.S. billionaire who was granted a special exemption from Canada’s 14-day pandemic quarantine, despite her public criticism of COVID-19 restrictions, has now contracted the disease.

Liz Uihlein, the 75-year-old president and CEO of Wisconsin-based shipping supply firm Uline Inc., sent a memo to employees on Nov. 11 informing them that she and her husband, Dick Uihlein, had tested positive and were isolating at home.

“After all these long months, I thought we’d never get it. Well, Trump got it…” reads the company-wide email, a copy of which was obtained by CBC News. “If we had not been around people with COVID-19, we would not have been tested. We would have been at Uline.”

The memo says the pair, who started the company in their basement in 1980 and grew it to an almost $6 billion US a year business, intend to return to the office on Nov. 19.

In September, a CBC News Investigation revealed that Liz Uihlein and two other company executives flew to Toronto on a private jet in late August for a three-day visit to Uline’s facility in Milton, Ont., and were granted an exemption from Canada’s mandatory 14-day COVID quarantine.

Halton Regional Police were called to the building to investigate claims that the U.S. visitors were holding large group meetings without masks, but it’s not clear if any action was taken.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair subsequently said that the trip “should not have been permitted,” blaming the mistake on front-line Canada Border Services Agency officers and vowing to tighten entry policies.

CBC News has since uncovered other special exemptions that were granted to U.S.-based executives by CBSA agents, and even government ministers.

Denials about attendance at White House event

Liz Uihlein’s reference to Trump in her memo to employees, and the timing of the couple’s COVID diagnosis — just a week after the U.S. election — has fuelled speculation that the pair might have contracted the coronavirus at a White House “victory” celebration on Nov. 3 that has been linked to at least a half-dozen infections among the president’s inner circle.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks on election night in the East Room of the White House as First Lady Melania Trump, Vice-President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, look on. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel initially reported that the Uihleins had attended the event, which saw some 150, mostly maskless people packed into the White House’s East Room. The paper later updated their story to include a denial from a Uline spokesperson

But flight tracking data obtained by CBC News shows that the Uihleins’ private Dassault Falcon 2000EX jet — the same plane used for the August trip to Toronto — took off from Waukegan International Airport, near the company headquarters and the Uihlein’s Illinois home, on the afternoon of Nov. 3, landing at Dulles airport near Washington, D.C., an hour and a half later.

The jet returned to Waukegan early on the morning of Nov. 4.

An image of the flight path that Liz and Dick Uihlein’s private jet took on Nov. 3. The Dassault Falcon 2000EX travelled from Waukegan, Ill., to Dulles airport, just outside Washington, D.C. (FlightRadar24.com)

A Uline spokeswoman confirmed the couple’s COVID diagnosis, telling CBC News that Liz Uihlein contracted the illness “from a friend,” having been exposed earlier in the month. The spokeswoman said the couple did not attend the White House event, but she declined to answer questions about why their jet flew to Washington that day.

Top Republican donors

Liz and Dick Uihlein rank among the top Republican Party donors, having given $65.5 million over the 2020 election cycle, second only to Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam.

Liz Uihlein, who has served as an economic advisor to President Donald Trump, has echoed some of the White House’s concerns about coronavirus restrictions and the economy, complaining that government-mandated shutdowns have been costly and disruptive for business.

“It’s overhyped,” she told the Guardian newspaper in April. “And I don’t wish anybody ill will. You know I don’t wish that, but I think it hurts certain ages in certain places and largely in a lot of parts of the world. In the country it’s not as rampant as the press would have you make it.”

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The cost of down payments in Canadian cities skyrocketed in 2021, new data shows – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Skyrocketing housing prices in 2021 are driving up how long it would take for homebuyers to save for a down payment, new data shows.

The National Bank of Canada (NBC)’s latest report found that during the second quarter of 2021, housing affordability has worsened by the widest margin in 27 years. The report examined housing and mortgage trends in 10 cities across the country.

To save up enough for a down payment for an average home in Canada, it would take just short of six years – or 69 months – if you saved at a rate of 10 per cent of their median pre-tax household income.

This marked a notable jump compared to the 57 months of saving at that same rate this time last year.

And, if you live in Vancouver, Victoria and Toronto, it could take decades – assuming you put away 10 per cent of your before-tax household income.

Here’s a breakdown of how much time it would take to save up for a down payment for an average home or condo, if you saved a tenth of your pre-tax income:

Vancouver

  • Standing head and shoulders above the other cities, it would take a staggering 34 years – or 411 months – of saving to be able to afford a home here.
  • The average home here costs $1.47 million.
  • It would take just under five years – 57 months — to save up enough for a down payment on an average condo in Vancouver.

Victoria

  • An estimated 28 years, or 338 months, of saving to make a down payment for a non-condo home, with the total price of a representative home set at $1.03M.
  • It would take 47 months of saving to afford a condo down payment.

Toronto,

Toronto

  • To save enough for a down payment for a home here would take 26.5 years – or 318 months.
  • The average home here costs approximately $1.2 million.
  • To afford a condo down payment here would take just under five years, or 56 months.

Hamilton

  • At a 10-per-cent saving rate, you’re looking at 6.5 years of saving up to afford a down payment for a home — and around four years to afford a condo in this city.

Ottawa/Gatineau

  • Trying to save up a home down payment in Canada’s capital could take a little over four years.

Montreal

Montreal

  • Saving up a tenth of your pre-tax earnings for 3.5 years would mean you could afford a down payment on a representative home in Montreal
  • The total price tag of a non-condo home sits at $492,777.
  • Trying to afford a condo here could take you just a little more than two and a half years of saving.

Calgary

  • You’d need to save up for just under three years – or 34 months – to afford a home here, or about half that time to afford a condo.

Edmonton

  • Potential homebuyers were looking at 2.5 years – or 30 months – of saving if you’re looking to make a down payment on a non-condo home.
  • The average total cost of a non-condo home was $428,600.

Winnipeg

Winnipeg

  • Affording a down payment on a $370,000 home could take homebuyers about 2.3 years worth of saving.
  • Home buyers needed 18 months to save up a down payment on a condo.

Quebec City

  • The price of a representative home in Quebec’s capital is $330 742 and it would take the average Canadian household just over two years – or 28 months — to save up a down payment.

Researchers also found mortgage payments now make up 45 per cent of the income for a representative household, slightly above the average amount (43 per cent of income) needed in 1980.

NBC noted that during most of the past two years, income growth and lower interest rates have been conducive to improving affordability.

But 2021 has been a stark contrast, the bank said, with home price increases outpacing income growth and mortgage interest rates also rising.

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Countries making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory

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A sharp upturn in new coronavirus infections due to the highly contagious Delta variant and a slowdown in vaccination rates have pushed governments to make COVID-19 shots mandatory for health workers and other high-risk groups.

A growing number of countries also stipulate that a shot, or a negative test, will be needed for dining out, among other activities.

Here are some countries’ vaccine mandates:

AUSTRALIA

Australia decided in late June to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for high-risk aged-care workers and employees in quarantine hotels.

It has also made vaccinations obligatory for Paralympic athletes heading to Tokyo because unvaccinated members on the team could pose a health risk.

BRITAIN

It will be mandatory for care home workers in England to have coronavirus vaccinations from October.

English nightclubs and other venues with large crowds will require patrons to present proof of full vaccination from the end of September.

CANADA

Canada‘s Treasury Board Secretariat said on July 20 it was considering whether COVID-19 vaccines should be required for certain roles and positions in the federal government, according to CBC News.

FRANCE

The French parliament on Aug. 2 approved a bill which will make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for health workers as well as require a bolstered health pass in many social venues.

The government said on July 19 that the planned 45,000 euro ($53,456) fine for businesses that do not check that clients have a health pass will be much lower, starting at up to 1,500 euros and increasing progressively for repeat offenders. Fines will not be imposed immediately.

GREECE

Greece on July 12 made vaccinations mandatory for nursing home staff with immediate effect and healthcare workers from September. As part of new measures, only vaccinated customers are allowed indoors in bars, cinemas, theatres and other closed spaces.

INDONESIA

Indonesia made COVID-19 inoculations mandatory in February, with the capital Jakarta threatening fines of up to 5 million rupiah ($357) for refusing.

ITALY

A decree approved by the Italian government in March mandates that health workers, including pharmacists, get vaccinated. Those who refuse could be suspended without pay for the rest of the year.

HUNGARY

Hungary’s government has decided to make vaccinations mandatory for healthcare workers, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told public radio on July 23.

KAZAKHSTAN

Kazakhstan will introduce mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing for people working in groups of more than 20, the health ministry said on June 23.

LEBANON

Lebanon is to limit entry to restaurants, cafes, pubs and beaches to people holding vaccine certificates or those who have taken antibodies tests, the tourism ministry said on July 30. Non-vaccinated employees of these establishments would be required to conduct a PCR test every 72 hours.

MALTA

Malta banned visitors from entering the country from July 14 unless they are fully vaccinated.

POLAND

Poland could make vaccinations obligatory for some people at high risk from COVID-19 from August.

RUSSIA

The Russian capital has unveiled a plan https://bit.ly/2TWsroN requiring 60% of all service sector workers to be fully vaccinated by Aug. 15, according to the Moscow Times.

Moscow residents no longer have to present a QR code demonstrating they have been vaccinated or have immunity in order to sit in cafes, restaurants and bars from July 19.

SAUDI ARABIA

In May, Saudi Arabia mandated all public and private sector workers wishing to attend a workplace get vaccinated, without specifying when this would be implemented.

Vaccination will also be required to enter any governmental, private, or educational establishments and to use public transportation as of Aug. 1.

Saudi citizens will need two vaccine doses before they can travel outside the kingdom from Aug. 9, state news agency SPA reported on July 19, citing the ministry of interior.

TURKMENISTAN

Turkmenistan’s healthcare ministry said on July 7 it was making vaccination mandatory for all residents aged 18 and over.

UNITED STATES

U.S. President Joe Biden announced on July 29 that all civilian federal workers will need to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or face regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements and travel limits, a source familiar with the matter said.

New York City will become the first major U.S. city to require, from Sept. 13, proof of vaccination for customers and staff at restaurants, gyms and other indoor businesses as the country enters a new phase of battling the Delta variant.

New York will require state employees to be vaccinated or get tested weekly, a mandate that will go into effect on Sept. 6, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will require their workers to get the vaccine or get tested weekly, Cuomo said on Aug. 2.

New Jersey state health care workers and employees who work in jails must by vaccinated by Sept. 7 or face testing twice a week.

California Governor Gavin Newsom said that all state employees would be ordered to get vaccinated starting Aug. 2 or undergo COVID-19 testing at least once a week.

Denver municipal employees and people working in high-risk settings in the city will be required to get vaccinated, Mayor Michael Hancock said on Aug. 2.

($1 = 0.8418 euros)

 

(Compiled by Paulina Cwikowska, Dagmarah Mackos and Oben Mumcuoglu; editing by Milla Nissi, Steve Orlofsky, Joe Bavier and Nick Macfie)

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U.S. to outfit border agents with body cameras in major oversight move

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The United States will require thousands of border agents to wear body cameras, according to three officials and government documents, a major operational change that could increase oversight of agents and also help capture criminal activity.

The cameras are expected to be rolled out in parts of Texas and New Mexico during the summer and expanded in the fall and winter to Arizona, California, and Texas’ busy Rio Grande Valley, which all border Mexico, according to a recent government assessment of how the devices could impact privacy. Agents in Vermont along the U.S. border with Canada will also be equipped with cameras, the assessment said.

U.S. border authorities plan to deploy a total of 7,500 body-worn cameras, with 6,000 in the field by the end of the year, a border agency official told Reuters.

Pro-immigrant activists will likely welcome the increased oversight that cameras could bring to an agency some have criticized for excessive use of force and institutional racism. But a union for border patrol agents also supports cameras, saying they could assist criminal investigations and help show that agents act professionally.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups have called on border patrol agents to use the cameras to improve accountability in the wake of several high-profile fatal shootings by law enforcement over the past decade.

Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, stressed that agents should have access to the footage, including when an agent is accused of wrongdoing.

Border Patrol’s parent agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), is the largest law enforcement agency in the United States, which presents a unique challenge for video footage collection and storage.

Recordings of illegal activity, use of force or agent misconduct could be used as evidence in investigations or prosecutions, the privacy assessment said.

The cameras could offer new insight into the policing of the southern border, where migrant arrests have risen to 20-year highs in recent months and encounters sometimes take place in remote areas.

In cases where footage could be used as evidence in a criminal case, it could be retained for up to 75 years, according to the privacy assessment. Footage that does not have value as evidence would be destroyed within 180 days.

After a bipartisan group of lawmakers spearheaded efforts to secure funding for bodycams, CBP awarded a total of about $21 million to Axon Enterprises Inc [AXON.O] for body cameras and to connect the cameras to a cloud-based storage system, according to the agency official.

The devices are the size of a deck of playing cards and will be affixed to the front of agents’ uniforms, the official said.

Axon declined to comment on the rollout.

CBP conducted a small pilot of body cameras in 2015, but ultimately opted not to deploy them then.

An agency assessment at the time said the cameras would likely reduce the use of physical force on the job, but cited a number of reasons not to adopt the devices, including cost and agent morale.

Gil Kerlikowske, who was CBP commissioner at the time, said another consideration was that the cameras “did not hold up particularly well” in the field, where they could be knocked off in the brush or mucked up with dust and dirt.

Body cameras have become more commonplace since the 2015 effort. The U.S. Department of Justice said in June that its agents would be required to wear cameras when serving search and arrest warrants.

Kerlikowske said many law enforcement officers support the idea, too.

“There are now police officers who won’t go on the street without their body camera,” he said. “They want that video image.”

(Reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington, editing by Ross Colvin, Aurora Ellis, Mica Rosenberg and Diane Craft)

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