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Canada investigates reports that Iran is harassing families trying to repatriate remains of crash victims –



Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne says Canada is looking into “disturbing” allegations that Iran is harassing family members of PS752 airline crash victims who are desperately trying to bring home their loved ones’ remains.

Responding to a video posted on Twitter of a woman pleading for Canada’s help in bringing home the body of her son, Champagne tweeted back that the government is looking into the matter. The video was posted by an Iranian journalist/activist who said Iranian authorities are telling families of crash victims not to speak to journalists.

Champagne’s office confirmed the minister is looking into allegations that families are being harassed.

Iranian leaders said Saturday that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard shot down the Boeing 737-800 using surface-to-air missiles, killing all 176 passengers and crew on board. Of those passengers, 138 were destined for Canada, but it’s not known how many were permanent residents or were travelling on visitor or student visas.

Champagne confirmed Friday that 57 of the victims were Canadian citizens.

The process to identify the remains will require DNA or dental records. Canadian officials, most likely including the RCMP, will assist in the operation on the ground.

Little is known at this point about how the repatriation process will play out. Iran does not recognize dual citizenship, something that’s been an issue in past consular cases; a government official said it’s too early to say what impact that factor could have in this case.

Repatriation a ‘complicated procedure’

Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada Andriy Shevchenko said the identification and repatriation process will be “quite a complicated procedure” — because of the technical nature of DNA collection and comparison and the legal complications arising from the fact that many of the victims held dual citizenship.

He said families could have to wait some time before their loved ones’ remains are returned to Canada.

“It’s a very difficult thing to speculate because it might be days and weeks, but it also might be months,” he told CBC’s Robyn Bresnahan, host of Ottawa Morning, in an interview Monday.

“It is a legal issue because we need to make sure Iran gives all the necessary permits to do this, and obviously it is up to the families to decide what should be done to the remains.”

Champagne said today the Standing Rapid Deployment Team (SRDT) — a group of staffers from Global Affairs Canada trained and ready to deploy in response to overseas emergencies — and a team from the Transportation Safety Board will be in place in Tehran by tonight. Two members of the SRDT will provide support from Ankara in Turkey, while other experts may be dispatched as needed, the minister said on Twitter.

Champagne also has scheduled an in-person meeting of the International Coordination and Response Group at Canada House in London, U.K. for Thursday. The Canada-led group, which includes participants from Ukraine, Sweden, Afghanistan and the U.K., was struck to ensure transparency and accountability in the wake of the crash.

Lawyers have told CBC that family members of those killed on Flight PS752 likely are entitled to monetary compensation through civil action, the International Court of Justice or international diplomacy.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Saturday that he expects Iran to take full responsibility for the downing of the jetliner and indicated that he would press Iran to provide compensation on behalf of those killed.

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Today’s coronavirus news: Canadian economy adds 953,000 jobs in June, unemployment rate falls as pandemic restrictions ease; WHO concedes airborne spread indoors is possible – Toronto Star



The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Friday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

8:40 a.m.: Statistics Canada says the economy added nearly one million jobs in June as businesses forced closed by the pandemic moved to reopen.

The agency says 953,000 jobs were added last month including 488,000 full-time and 465,000 part-time positions.

The unemployment rate fell to 12.3 per cent in June after hitting a record-high of 13.7 per cent in May.

The average economist estimate for June had been for an addition of 700,000 jobs and the unemployment rate to fall to 12.0 per cent, according to financial data firm Refinitiv

7:55 a.m.: Premier Doug Ford will make multiple public appearances at businesses today to thank Ontario workers for their service during the pandemic.

Ford’s day will start at a skylight manufacturing company in Woodbridge, Ont., where the premier is set to make an announcement alongside Vic Fedeli, minister of economic development.

He’ll then tour a Toronto-based textile company that retooled its facility to start producing face masks.

The premier will then visit a bakery in Toronto’s west end to serve customers through a take window built by the shop.

Ford’s last event is scheduled at 4 p.m. when he’ll tour a dairy and food plant that ramped up production to meet customer needs during the COVID-19 lockdown.

6:20 a.m.: The coronavirus storm has arrived in South Africa, but in the overflowing COVID-19 wards the sound is less of a roar than a rasp.

Oxygen is already low in hospitals at the new epicentre of the country’s outbreak, Gauteng province, home to the power centres of Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, visiting a hospital Friday, said authorities are working with industry to address the strained oxygen supply and divert more to health facilities.

Some of the hospital’s patients spilled into heated tents in the parking lot. They lay under thick blankets in the middle of winter in the Southern Hemisphere, with a cold front arriving this weekend and temperatures expected to dip below freezing.

South Africa overnight posted another record daily high of confirmed cases, 13,674, as Africa’s most developed country is a new global hot spot with 238,339 cases overall. More than a third are in Gauteng.

6:17 a.m.: Australia’s Victoria state on Friday reported the new daily record of 288 coronavirus cases, which also reflects a record number of tests exceeding 37,500.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the number of citizens and permanent residents allowed to return to Australia each week will be reduced by more than 4,000 from next week.

Sydney, Australia’s largest city, has been carrying a disproportionate burden of hotel quarantine that is currently paid for by the New South Wales state government.

Victoria, to the south, has banned international arrivals after breaches of hotel quarantine in Melbourne were blamed for Australia’s only widespread transmission of COVID-19.

Victoria’s Chief Helath Officer Breet Sutton said “certainly, 288 new cases today is a pretty ugly number.”

6:16 a.m.: Two World Health Organization experts were heading to the Chinese capital on Friday to lay the groundwork for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

An animal health expert and an epidemiologist will meet Chinese counterparts in Beijing to work out logistics, places to visit and the participants for a WHO-led international mission, the UN organization said.

A major issue will be to “look at whether or not it jumped from species to human, and what species it jumped from,” WHO spokesperson Dr. Margaret Harris said at a briefing in Geneva.

Scientists believe the virus may have originated in bats and was transmitted to another mammal such as a civet cat or an armadillo-like pangolin before being passed on to people.

6:15 a.m.: Statistics Canada is set this morning to give a snapshot of the job market as it was last month as pandemic-related restrictions eased and reopenings widened.

Economists expect the report will show a bump in employment as a result, further recouping some of the approximately three million jobs lost over March and April.

Financial data firm Refinitiv says the average economist estimate for June is for employment to increase by 700,000 jobs and the unemployment rate to fall to 12.0 per cent.

The unemployment rate in May was a record-high 13.7 per cent, a far turn from the record low of 5.5 per cent recorded in January.

The Bank of Canada and federal government say the worst of the economic pain from the pandemic is behind the country, but Canada will face high unemployment and low growth until 2021.

The economic outlook released by the Liberal government Wednesday forecasted the unemployment rate to be 9.8 per cent for the calendar year, dropping to 7.8 per cent next year based on forecasts by 13 private sector economists.

4 a.m.: The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on July 10, 2020:

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There are 106,805 confirmed cases in Canada.

-Quebec: 56,216 confirmed (including 5,609 deaths, 25,616 resolved)

-Ontario: 36,348 confirmed (including 2,703 deaths, 31,977 resolved)

-Alberta: 8,519 confirmed (including 161 deaths, 7,774 resolved)

-British Columbia: 3,028 confirmed (including 186 deaths, 2,667 resolved)

-Nova Scotia: 1,066 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 999 resolved)

-Saskatchewan: 813 confirmed (including 15 deaths, 750 resolved)

-Manitoba: 314 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 314 resolved), 11 presumptive

-Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)

-New Brunswick: 166 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 163 resolved)

-Prince Edward Island: 33 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

-Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

-Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

-Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

-Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 1 presumptive

Total: 106,805 (12 presumptive, 106,793 confirmed including 8,749 deaths, 70,574 resolved)

Thursday 3 p.m.: The World Health Organization is acknowledging the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions — after more than 200 scientists urged the agency to do so.

In an open letter published this week in a journal, two scientists from Australia and the U.S. wrote that studies have shown “beyond any reasonable doubt that viruses are released during exhalation, talking and coughing in microdroplets small enough to remain aloft in the air.”

The researchers, along with more than 200 others, appealed for national and international authorities, including WHO, to adopt more stringent protective measures.

WHO has long dismissed the possibility that the coronavirus is spread in the air except for certain risky medical procedures, such as when patients are first put on breathing machines.

In a change to its previous thinking, WHO noted on Thursday that studies evaluating COVID-19 outbreaks in restaurants, choir practices and fitness classes suggested the virus might have been spread in the air.

Airborne spread “particularly in specific indoor locations, such as crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces over a prolonged period of time with infected persons cannot be ruled out,” WHO said.

More coverage from Thursday.

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Canada not ready for second wave of COVID-19, Senate committee says –



Canada is ill-prepared for a second wave of COVID-19, says a Senate committee, calling on the federal Liberals to deliver a plan by Labour Day to help people and communities hit hardest by the pandemic. 

Seniors, in particular, are a focus of the report from the Senate’s social affairs committee, from those in long-term care homes to those with low incomes. 

Just this week, the Liberals rolled out one-time special payments of $300 to the more than six million people who receive old-age security, and $200 more for the 2.2 million who also receive the guaranteed income supplement. 

The income supports are meant to help seniors facing increased costs as a result of the pandemic, such as more frequent prescription fees and delivery charges for groceries.  Senators on the committee wrote of evidence of “financial insecurity and increased vulnerability” for low-income seniors as a result of the first wave of the novel coronavirus. 

A potential second wave, which could coincide with the annual flu season that starts in the fall, would make the situation even worse for these seniors “without concrete and timely government action,” the report says. 

Senators say the Liberals should deliver a plan to help low-income seniors, among other populations vulnerable to economic shocks like new immigrants, no later than the end of August, and contain short- and long-term options. 

The report also says the federal government needs to pay urgent attention to seniors in long-term care homes where outbreaks and deaths in the pandemic have been concentrated. 

The document made public Thursday morning is the committee’s first set of observations on the government’s response to the pandemic, with a final report expected later this year. 

Before then, the Liberals are planning to provide another economic update like the one delivered Wednesday, or possibly a full budget. 

Healthcare and pharmacare

The government shelved plans to deliver one at the end of March when the House of Commons went on extended hiatus due to the pandemic. 

The long-awaited economic “snapshot,” as the Liberals styled it, said federal spending is closing in on $600 billion this fiscal year. That means a deficit of $343 billion, fuelled by emergency pandemic aid that the government budgets at over $230 billion. 

The Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada said the spending figures demand a “full and transparent assessment” to see what worked, what didn’t and what needs to change for an economic recovery. 

Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, said the Liberals should take back up their promise to create a national pharmacare system as the government considers its next steps. 

A federal advisory council last year calculated the cost of a program at over $15 billion annually, depending on its design. 

“The last thing we want to have is Canadians in frail health as we’re dealing with this pandemic and I think the government really needs to think of that,” Yussuff said in an interview Wednesday. 

“Had it not been for the health care system we have right now,” he added later, “think of how this country would have fared in this pandemic.” 

The Senate committee’s report also notes the national emergency stockpile of personal protective gear like masks, gowns and gloves wasn’t managed well over the years, nor sufficiently stocked when the pandemic struck. 

Committee members added concerns that military members could be deployed without sufficient personal protective equipment because of “inconsistencies from international procurement.”

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Coronavirus: Canada adds 370 new cases, 12 deaths Thursday – Global News



Canada’s total coronavirus case count went up by 370 Thursday and its deaths by 12.

The country now has 106,783 cases total with 27,460 of them active, and 8,749 deaths total.

Quebec, the hardest-hit province in Canada, reported 137 new COVID-19 cases, bringing its total to 56,216.

Read more:
Quebec bans bars from selling alcohol after midnight to limit coronavirus outbreaks

Six new deaths were also reported, though four of them occurred before July 1. There have now been 5,609 deaths due to the virus in the province.

There are currently 308 people hospitalized in the province, down 23 from Wednesday, and 27 are in intensive care.

Ontario reported 170 new cases on Thursday, with 86 of them originating in the Windsor-Essex region as the province targets temporary farmworkers for testing.

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Coronavirus: Federal health officials say ‘limit or no transmission’ of COVID-19 in most parts of Canada

Coronavirus: Federal health officials say ‘limit or no transmission’ of COVID-19 in most parts of Canada

The province now has 36,348 cases total with 31,977 of them recovered, or 88 per cent. Overall, the new daily infection numbers have been on the decline over the past several weeks.

There are currently 123 patients hospitalized, with 31 of them in intensive care (down by four the previous day) and 23 patients on a ventilator (down by three).

Ontario has seen 2,703 deaths after three more were reported Thursday.

Read more:
Ontario reports 170 new coronavirus cases, 86 from Windsor-Essex; total cases at 36,348

In Alberta, meanwhile, three new deaths were announced Thursday, all linked to a coronavirus outbreak at Edmonton’s Misericordia Hospital.

The deaths bring the total number of COVID-19 fatalities in the province to 161, while 37 new COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the province over the past 24 hours. Currently, there are 584 active cases in Alberta.

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Of the total 8,519 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 7,774 have recovered.

Canada’s greatest coronavirus threat comes from U.S.

Canada’s greatest coronavirus threat comes from U.S.

British Columbia reported 20 new cases Thursday, bringing its total to 3,028, nine of which were not tested but are considered epidemiologically-linked.

More than 88 per cent of those patients have fully recovered, while 175 cases remain active.

Seventeen of those cases are in hospital, four of them in critical care.

Read more:
20 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., no new deaths

In Saskatchewan, five new cases were added to bring its total to 813, while 750 of them have recovered, up by four from yesterday.

There have been 15 COVID-19-related deaths in the province.

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There are currently 48 active cases in the province, health officials said. Active cases are total cases less recoveries and deaths.

For the ninth straight day, no new COVID-19 cases were reported in Manitoba, keeping its total cases to 325 — 11 of which are presumptive cases — with four active cases. Seven Manitobans have died.

Read more:
Manitoba sees 9 straight days with no new coronavirus cases reported

New Brunswick reported one new case of the coronavirus on Thursday in the Fredericton region, and said it was a travel-related case and the individual is self-isolating.

The province said the number of confirmed cases in New Brunswick is 166 and 163 people have recovered. There have been two deaths, and there is one active case.

No new cases or deaths were announced in the rest of the Atlantic or Canada’s territories.

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— With files from Gabby Rodrigues, Phil Heidenreich, Thomas Piller, Shane Gibson, Kalina Laframboise, Aya Al-Hakim and Simon Little

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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