Asli Farah caught COVID-19 from a co-worker she carpooled with to her job at an Edmonton warehouse.
When health authorities sent Farah to get tested, she had to take two city buses — her only means of transport.
Then came self-isolation — holed up in her room for two weeks and unable to get treatment for an infected tooth.
“I remember feeling like I was in jail in my own house,” Farah recalled in an interview with CBC News.
As a recent immigrant to Canada, she faced the additional challenge of a language barrier, making it even harder to access information or medical help.
“I was really sad,” Farah said. “I was in a lot of pain. I feel that people that go through self isolation should receive a lot of support.”
Farah’s experience reflects the findings of a groundbreaking new study that reveals COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting the health and finances of Black Canadians.
Black Canadians are more likely than other Canadians to seek treatment, experience layoffs due to the virus, and more likely to report feeling more at risk on their commute to work, the research reveals.
The study, a partnership between the Edmonton-based African-Canadian Civic Engagement Council and Innovative Research Group, looks at health and economic impacts of COVID-19 from the perspectives of Black Canadians and those in the broader Canadian population.
The study — its authors say it appears to be the first of its kind — comes after warnings from advocates, researchers and social agencies across Canada that a lack of race-based data is a barrier to ensuring those most impacted by the pandemic get the help they need.
Dunia Nur, president of the African-Canadian Civic Engagement Council, said the research tells a largely untold story about the lived experience of Black Canadians around COVID-19.
“Data will give communities the opportunity to apply for funding and say, ‘This is what it says in Alberta, this is what it says in Ontario, therefore we definitely need support here,'” Nur said.
“Anecdotally, we hear the story, but now the story is alive and is living through empirical research.”
The study’s findings show Black Canadians are more likely than other Canadians to be infected or hospitalized, and nearly three times more likely to know someone who has died from the virus.
The study shows that Black communities are experiencing layoffs, reduced hours and a reduction in household incomes at higher rates, with men over 45 being hardest hit.
Fifty-six per cent of Black respondents said their job, or the job of someone they knew, had been affected, compared to the national average of 46 per cent.
The study also reveals why Black Canadians may be more heavily impacted by the pandemic.
Findings revealed that while Black Canadians are confident about the precautions they are taking, they feel their daily routines put them at greater risk of catching COVID-19.
Black Canadians reported at higher rates that their jobs require them to work face-to-face with people and that, no matter how well they protect themselves, they feel their daily routine puts them at high risk of infection.
Among commuters, Black Canadians are twice as likely than the national average to feel their commute to work is unsafe, with Black commuters more likely to experience symptoms or seek medical treatment.
“It seems as though they’re just naturally in a higher risk situation given their socioeconomic and demographic circumstances,” said Jason Lockhart, Innovative’s vice president and a principal researcher on the project.
The survey was conducted online among a representative sample of 2,322 Canadians, including a representative sample of 400 Black Canadians, from June 17 through June 30.
Emphasizing that their research is based on a small sample size, Nur and Lockhart said it scratches the surface and they hope it encourages governments to collect more data in areas such as how the virus impacts children in more marginalized communities.
“The more we know about the impacts of COVID-19 in various communities, and perhaps the reasons why there’s a disproportionate impact on these communities, will help governments and help organizations like ACCEC develop policies and programs that are going to help alleviate the disproportionate impact,” Lockhart said.
If we don’t have this data, how can we make decisions?– Jason Lockhart, Innovative Research Group
“If we don’t have this data, how can we make decisions? How can we make public policy that’s going to serve communities?”
Nur said the data also shows why governments should invest more in Black-led community groups, largely responsible for creating awareness and helping newer immigrants navigate the pandemic’s many challenges.
“The community is doing a good job in terms of awareness,” Nur said, pointing to numbers that show high levels of taking precautions and seeking treatment.
“However, there needs to be a lot more support for all Black communities nationally across Canada who are actually doing the frontline work.”
A comparable margin of error for a probabilistic sample of this size would be about +/-3 percentage points for the general population, and about +/-5 for the sample of Black Canadians.
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
Leaked document reveals Ontario's plan to avoid another COVID-19 lockdown – CBC.ca
Ontario wants to avoid imposing lockdown-style measures to combat a second wave of COVID-19, but is prepared to take “targeted action” such as closing certain higher-risk businesses, CBC News has learned.
CBC News obtained a copy of Ontario’s fall pandemic preparedness plan, still in draft form even as Premier Doug Ford’s government is in the midst of announcing some of its elements.
The 21-page draft, provided by a government source this week, acknowledges the recent upsurge in new COVID-19 cases, and lays out three possible scenarios of what the second wave could look like: small, moderate or large.
Whichever scenario plays out, the plan favours responding with targeted restrictions, rather than widespread closures or a lockdown.
“If there is a resurgence of COVID-19, either locally or province-wide, targeted action may be taken to adjust or tighten public health measures,” says the document.
“The return to an earlier stage of provincial reopening, or even regional approaches to tightening would be avoided in favour of organization-specific or localized changes.”
CBC News asked Ford’s office on Wednesday evening for comment about the plan. A spokesperson said the document is an early draft, “which has since evolved considerably.
“It should not be considered complete,” said Ford’s director of communications, Travis Kann, in an email. “We look forward to continuing to release the full details of the final plan.”
Ontario is currently seeing a marked upswing in infections, with the daily numbers of new cases hitting levels not seen in four months. There have been on average 386 new confirmed cases reported daily over the past week, while that figure was 337 in the final week of May.
At that time, all regions were still in Stage 1 of the province’s reopening plan, with restaurants and bars shut. Case numbers were on a downward trend.
The draft plan says if cases start rising “a specific workplace or organization could be closed for a period of time or have additional public health measures or restrictions applied, or a certain type of higher-risk business in a local area might be closed until trends in public health indicators improve.”
The plan commits at least $2.2 billion to the pandemic response. The biggest single item is nearly $1.4 billion on a range of public health measures, including increased capacity in testing, labs, contact tracing, and efforts to prevent transmission of the novel coronavirus.
Other dollar figures in the plan include:
- $475 million to prepare the health system for a surge in COVID-19 cases.
- $284 million to reduce backlogs in surgeries and other hospital procedures.
- $30 million to identify, manage and prevent outbreaks in schools, long-term care and other settings.
- $28.5 million for the flu immunization campaign announced on Tuesday.
An additional $90 million is labelled “TBC” (to be confirmed) for a wage enhancement for personal support workers in home and community care.
So far, the government has released two elements of the plan: the upcoming flu vaccination campaign and the expansion of COVID-19 testing to some pharmacies. Ford is expected to reveal more on Thursday, but the full plan was not to be rolled out for several more days.
Parts of the plan that have not been revealed include expanding testing capacity to 50,000 tests per day, with the ability to ramp up to 100,000 tests per day as needed. The plan also says the province will adopt new testing technologies, including saliva tests and tests that can be processed at the point of care.
The document sets out some benchmarks for success in the public health response to COVID-19. The province wants the positive test rate running no higher than three per cent. It’s aiming for at least 80 per cent of all test results to be completed within 48 hours.
And it wants 90 per cent of all people who test positive for the virus to be contacted within 24 hours.
There is mixed success with some of these measures right now. The positive test rate province-wide has averaged 1.1 per cent over the past week. The turnaround target for lab tests is currently being met only 68 per cent of the time in Toronto.
The plan does not state any specific benchmarks to trigger tighter pandemic restrictions. The decision would be based on more than just the daily case count, says the document. The number and type of outbreaks, hospitalization data, and the input of local medical officers of health would also be factored in.
Private clinics to help clear surgery backlog
Private medical clinics would be paid to help clear the backlog of thousands of procedures that were postponed during the spring wave of the pandemic as hospitals tried to clear space.
The Ministry of Health will address the backlog in part “through innovative channels such as the use of independent health facilities that can deliver additional publicly funded surgical and diagnostic imaging services,” says the document.
It also promises unspecified funding for additional surgeries to take place during extended hours in hospital operating rooms.
The document says the health system is facing challenges that weren’t present during the initial spring wave of COVID-19.
Overcrowding at hospitals is one of them, as patient volumes are beginning to returning to pre-pandemic levels. Hospitals and long-term care homes now have less space for patients and residents as they have had to reduce the number of multi-bed rooms to ensure physical distancing.
There’s also a shortage of health-care workers, particularly in home and community care, according to the plan.
The draft document says the province will take action on what it calls “health behaviour surveillance” as part of its efforts to slow transmission of COVID-19.
There are no dollar figures attached to this, but the document says the aim is “to track adherence to public health measures across Ontario.”
Canada ‘on the brink’ of coronavirus surge, second wave underway in some regions: Trudeau – Global News
Canada is “on the brink” of a coronavirus surge as many parts of the country enter a second wave.
And it’s likely Thanksgiving gatherings will be out of the question as cases spike across the country following the recent lifting of many social restrictions.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is urging Canadians to stick to their social bubbles, wear a mask, wash their hands frequently and keep their distance from other people as the country faces down a looming second wave of the virus that has already claimed 9,238 lives.
In a speech to the nation on all major broadcasters Wednesday evening, Trudeau warned the daily case counts are already much higher than they were when the country first locked down in March.
In Canada’s four biggest provinces, the second wave isn’t just starting, it’s already underway.
“The numbers are clear — back on March 13th when we went into lockdown there were 47 new cases of COVID-19. Yesterday alone, we had well over 1,000,” Trudeau said.
“We’re on the brink of a fall that could be much worse than the spring.”
Coronavirus: Trudeau says 2nd wave of COVID-19 infections ‘already underway’ in 4 biggest provinces
“I know this isn’t the news that any of us wanted to hear. And we can’t change today’s numbers or even tomorrow’s — those were already decided by what we did, or didn’t do, two weeks ago,” he continued.
“But what we can change is where we are in October, and into the winter. It’s all too likely we won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving, but we still have a shot at Christmas.
“Together, we have the power to get this second wave under control.”
Coronavirus: Trudeau says Canada can ‘bend the curve’ together again
The televised address pre-empted regularly scheduled programming on all major networks in a rare move that was billed by the Prime Minister’s Office as an opportunity to “address Canadians directly on the urgency of fighting COVID-19 as we face down the prospect of a second wave of the virus.”
But the address — both from Trudeau and from the opposition leaders who also spoke — took on an openly political tone and touting political agenda items in the government’s throne speech.
Trudeau doubled down on a pledge to keep spending even as more than half of Canadians report concern about the size of the federal deficit, currently at $343 billion from emergency spending.
He also pointed to government commitments to build towards a national pharmacare program and highlighting the government’s pledge to go further with climate change action.
Coronavirus: Trudeau says government will keep investing to ‘shoulder debt’ over Canadians
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole also took a highly partisan approach in his speech, which was recorded from the driveway of his home where O’Toole and his wife are in isolation after contracting the virus.
“The situation facing my family shows that we must remain extremely vigilant in our battle against the spread of COVID-19. Please be mindful of that in the weeks ahead,” O’Toole said before criticizing the government.
“We must also be very vigilant for the future of our country. After four years of Mr. Trudeau, our country is more divided, less prosperous and less respected on the world stage,” he continued.
“Across this country, millions of Canadians have lost their jobs. Many fear losing their homes, and too many have lost hope. Mr. Trudeau says we’re all in this together but Canada has never been more divided.”
Coronavirus: Conservative leader Erin O’Toole calls for vigilance against COVID-19, criticizes Trudeau for response
Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, who has also tested positive for coronavirus and is in isolation, also recorded an address.
Blanchet spoke in French and stressed his party will not support the government’s throne speech because it does not do enough to support Quebec.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also spoke and said he understands that many Canadians are feeling worried about the impact the pandemic is having on their lives and their futures.
“I know that you’re worried,” he said. “And, I know you’re seeing the numbers rising and you’re worried about a second wave. I want you to know, like we’ve done throughout this pandemic, we see you, we hear you and we’re going to keep fighting for you.”
Coronavirus: NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says COVID-19 exposed problems, says action needed
He said the party plans to push the government to make concrete policy changes including creating a national sick leave and making sure those transitioning off the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to a new model of Employment Insurance can maintain the same level of benefit payment.
Singh has not yet said whether he will support the throne speech.
The Trudeau Liberals need the support of at least one other party to remain in power when they put the throne speech to a vote and both the Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois have ruled out voting in favour.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said he was “disappointed” by the speech.
“Alberta is disappointed that instead of listening to Canada’s provinces, the federal government doubled down on policies that will kill jobs, make Canada poorer and weaken national unity,” he said in a statement Wednesday evening.
-With a file from Global News’ Hannah Jackson
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Canada adds 1,085 new coronavirus cases as Trudeau warns of second wave – Global News
Canada added 1,085 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, marking the fifth day in a row the country has seen a daily increase of more than 1,000.
The new infections bring the country’s total case count to 147,612.
Health authorities also said 10 more people have died after contracting the virus.
Since the pandemic began, the virus has claimed 9,244 lives in Canada.
The new cases come as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said some regions in Canada are already experiencing a second wave of the virus.
“In our four biggest provinces, the second wave isn’t just starting, it’s already underway,” he said.
Trudeau made the comments during a rare evening address.
He urged Canadians to continue abiding by the public health measures including sticking to social bubbles, wearing a mask, washing hands frequently and continuing practicing social distancing.
“Together, we have the power to get this second wave under control,” he said.
Woman waits for 7 hours to get coronavirus test at Toronto hospital
The prime minister said it is “likely” Canadians will not be able to gather for Thanksgiving, but said “we still have a shot at Christmas.”
Ontario reported 335 new cases of the virus on Wednesday, and health officials there said three more people had died.
The new infections bring the province’s total caseload to 48,087.
Since the pandemic began Ontario has tested 3,649,980 people for COVID-19, and 41,600 have recovered after falling ill.
In Quebec, 471 new infections were detected, and health officials said one more person had died.
Health authorities said three more deaths which occurred between Sept. 16 and Sept. 21, bring the provincial death toll to 5,809.
However, 59,686 people have recovered from the virus in Quebec, and health officials have conducted 2,136,088 tests to date.
New Brunswick added one new case of COVID-19 on Wednesday, but officials said no one else had died.
The province has seen two deaths related to the virus so far.
A total of 191 people have recovered after contracting the respiratory illness, and 71,585 tests have been administered in New Brunswick.
Nova Scotia health officials said no new cases or deaths associated with COVID-19 had occurred.
So far 1,021 people have recovered after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, and 90,124 people have been tested.
Prince Edward Island saw one new case of COVID-19, marking the province’s first new infection since Sept. 16.
The new case brings Prince Edward Island’s total caseload to 58, however, 57 of those people have recovered.
Provincial health authorities have administered 33,196 tests for the virus.
Coronavirus: Researchers identify the origins of COVID-19 infections in Quebec
No new cases of COVID-19 were detected in Newfoundland on Wednesday, and provincial health authorities said the death toll remained at three.
Newfoundland has not recorded a new case of the virus since Sept. 18.
So far, 268 people have recovered from COVID-19 in the province, and 38,960 tests have been conducted.
Forty-two new infections were reported in Manitoba, and health authorities said one more person had died after testing positive for the virus.
To date, 1,238 people have recovered from COVID-19 in the province, and 170,045 people have been tested.
Saskatchewan reported six new cases, but health officials said the death toll in the province remained at 24.
Thus far, 176,912 people have been tested for COVID-19 and 1,673 have recovered after becoming ill.
Alberta recorded 143 new infections, bringing the province’s total case count to 17,032.
Health officials there said two more people had died, pushing Alberta’s death toll to 260.
However, since the pandemic began, 15,252 people have recovered from the virus.
A total of 1,242,263 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Alberta.
Further west in British Columbia, 86 new infections were reported, but no new deaths have occurred.
Health authorities also reported five epidemiologically-linked, meaning they have not been confirmed by a laboratory.
So far, 6,769 people who contracted COVID-19 have recovered in B.C., and 483,979 tests have been administered.
No new cases in the territories
None of Canada’s territories reported a new case of COVID-19 on Wednesday, and health officials confirmed no one else had died.
In the Northwest Territories, all five confirmed cases of the virus are considered resolved.
The territory has administered 1,673 tests for COVID-19.
Throne speech: Payette touts coronavirus job creation, wage subsidy extension
Meanwhile, Nunavut has seen three cases of the virus to date, however, each have been tied to workers from other parts of the country.
The territory says the infections will be counted in the totals for the workers’ home jurisdictions, meaning Nunavut still considers itself free of COVID-19 cases.
The territory has tested 2,812 for the virus to date.
All 15 confirmed cases of the virus in the Yukon are considered to be recovered.
Since the pandemic began, health officials have administered 59,686 tests.
Global cases approach 32 million
As of 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday, the virus had claimed 973,904 lives worldwide.
The United States remained the epicentre of the virus on Wednesday, with over 6.9 million confirmed cases.
So far 201,861 Americans have died after contracting COVID-19.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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