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Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit now open for applications – CBC News

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The federal government announced today that the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (CWLB) is open for applications.

The benefit, which gives temporary income support to employed and self-employed people who cannot work due to a COVID-19 lockdown, pays $300 a week. It’s only available to those in a lockdown region who can’t work as a result of capacity restrictions.

In a news release, the Canada Revenue Agency said British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nunavut are designated as lockdown regions.

“This list will be updated as provincial or territorial governments introduce changes to public health restrictions,” the release reads.

Payments will be retroactive to December 19.

The benefit was created early this month but was not initially available to anyone as the federal government had not designated any regions as being in lockdown. The government later expanded eligibility so that COVID-19 public health orders restricting public access to businesses by at least 50 per cent would be included under the definition of a lockdown order.

Full eligibility criteria can be found on the CRA’s website. Applicants must have lost more than half of their income.

“Through Bill C-2 and the expansion of the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit, we are supporting Canadian workers through targeted income support as regions implement public health measures to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough said in the release.

National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier said the government would continue “monitoring the evolving situation closely.”

“These changes will ensure Canadians have the support they need to deal with the economic impacts of the Omicron variant, while also supporting a strong economic recovery,” Lebouthillier said.

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World Bank chief takes swipe at Microsoft’s $69 billion gaming deal as poor countries struggle

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World Bank President David Malpass on Wednesday criticized Microsoft’s $69 billion takeover of gaming developer Activision Blizzard as a questionable allocation of capital at a time when poor countries are struggling to restructure debts and fight COVID-19 and poverty.

Malpass said during a Peterson Institute for International Economics virtual event that more capital needed to flow into poor countries, but these flows have been disrupted by unusually easy monetary policies in developed countries.

He said he was struck by the scale of Microsoft’s acquisition deal for “Call of Duty” maker Activision Blizzard. This dwarfed the $23.5 billion in cash contributions agreed in December by wealthier donor countries to the International Development Association, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries — about $8 billion annually over three years, he said.

“You have to wonder: ‘Wait a minute, is this the best allocation of capital?'” Malpass said of the Microsoft deal. “This goes to the bond market. You know, a huge amount of (capital) flows are going to the bond market.”

A very small portion of the developing world has access to such bond financing, while too much capital remains bottled up in advanced countries, especially in central bank reserve assets used to back long-term bond purchases, he added.

A spokesperson for Microsoft did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on Malpass’ remarks.

His comments echoed a similar call last week for central banks to cut long term bond holdings to free up lending capital.

“That gets you into a situation where a huge amount of the capital is being allocated to already capital-intensive parts of the world — the advanced economies — building more and more on top of already heavily built infrastructure and real estate, for example,” Malpass said.

Meanwhile, a return to more normal global investment returns is needed to bring more financing capacity to small businesses in the developing world,” he said.

“In order to address the refugee flow, that malnutrition that’s going on, and so on, there has to be more money and growth flowing into the developing countries,” Malpass added.

 

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by David Gregorio and Sandra Maler)

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COVID-19 antiviral pill on its way across Canada, as some hospitalizations dip – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Alanna Smith, The Canadian Press


Published Wednesday, January 19, 2022 2:47PM EST


Last Updated Wednesday, January 19, 2022 5:07PM EST

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the first shipment of an oral COVID-19 pill is making its way across Canada but is no substitute for vaccination against the rapidly spreading virus.

The entire northern Quebec region of Nunavik is on “red alert” with more than half of its 14 Inuit communities struggling with high viral transmission.

Other provinces and territories are bracing for a peak in the pandemic’s fifth wave with hospitalizations beginning to level out.

The antiviral drug Paxlovid is meant to protect against hospitalization and death. Canada has purchased one million courses for delivery this year.

“It’s important to remember that this will be a powerful tool to continue to keep people from people getting extremely sick but it needs to be used right,” Trudeau said Wednesday.

“It’s not a replacement for getting vaccinated, for wearing masks, for staying safe, for keeping your distance.”

The Omicron variant-fuelled fifth wave appears to be peaking in some provinces, while others warn the worst is yet to come.

Quebec reported its lowest daily increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations with a rise of eight, bringing the total to 3,425 people in hospital. It also saw a slight decline in intensive care patients.

In Nunavik, a curfew is in effect and all non-essential public places are closed with private indoor gatherings banned.

Meanwhile, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said there are “glimmers of hope” that COVID-19 cases will peak this month with hospitalization and intensive care admissions to follow.

The province recorded a small dip in the number of people with COVID-19 in hospital to 4,132 patients from 4,183, as intensive care patients rose by eight to 589. Fifty-nine new deaths were also reported.

Many types of Ontario businesses continue to be closed under public health restrictions, but Premier Doug Ford said to expect a “positive” announcement on measures later this week.

In British Columbia, some businesses are eligible for a financial boost from the province as they are forced to stay closed for at least another month to curb COVID-19 spread.

Places such as event venues, bars and nightclubs that don’t serve meals can now apply for grants of up to $20,000. Businesses that have been able to reopen can claim up to half that amount.

Manitoba’s top doctor said Wednesday the Omicron wave could peak soon, as the province logged a slight increase in hospitalizations and intensive care cases.

“Looking at other jurisdictions … it would be reasonable to expect that peak in the near future if we maintain the same trajectory,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, adding “it’s a little early to consider.”

Meanwhile, Saskatchewan is bracing for a tide ofCOVID-19 hospitalizations and absences among workers until mid-February,while more than 1,600 volunteers have answered a call from New Brunswick for pandemic assistance.

A surge of hospitalizations and a shortage of health-care staff led New Brunswick to ask people to help with clinical or non-clinical work, such as vaccine administration.

Almost 350 workers were isolating Wednesday after testing positive for COVID-19. New Brunswick has a record 123 people in hospital with COVID-19.

Prince Edward Island announced new restrictions this week to protect its health system. Nova Scotia, meanwhile, was the only Atlantic province to return to in-person learning at public schools this week.

Alberta is seeing hospitalization rates rising to levels not seen since mid-October. As case rates continue to climb, one of its largest school boards is asking the government to open vaccine clinics in schools.

Edmonton Public Schools said more than 5,000 of its students were absent Tuesday due to COVID-19 – about five per cent of its total student population.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2022.

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Airlines cancel some flights after reduced 5G rollout in U.S. – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Jon Gambrell And David Koenig, The Associated Press


Published Wednesday, January 19, 2022 11:20AM EST


Last Updated Wednesday, January 19, 2022 6:00PM EST

DALLAS (AP) – Some flights to and from the U.S. were canceled on Wednesday even after AT&T and Verizon scaled back the rollout of high-speed wireless service that could interfere with aircraft technology that measures altitude.

International carriers that rely heavily on the wide-body Boeing 777, and other Boeing aircraft, canceled flights or switched to different planes following warnings from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Chicago-based plane maker.

Airlines that fly only or mostly Airbus jets, including Air France and Ireland’s Aer Lingus, seemed relatively unaffected by the new 5G service.

Airlines had canceled more than 250 flights by midafternoon Wednesday, or 3% of the U.S. total, according to FlightAware. That was far less disruptive than during the Christmas and New Year’s travel season, when a peak of 3,200, or 13%, of flights were canceled on Jan. 3 due to winter storms and workers out sick with COVID-19.

A trade group for the industry, Airlines for America, said cancellations weren’t as bad as feared because telecom providers agreed to temporarily reduce the rollout of 5G near dozens of airports while industry and the government work out a longer-term solution.

At O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Sudeep Bhabad said his father-in-law’s flight to India was cancelled.

“They have to resolve this problem,” Bhabad said. “It would have been a lot better if they had resolved it way before and we knew this in advance, instead of, like, finding out when we are here at the airport.”

Similar mobile networks have been deployed in more than three dozen countries, but there are key differences in how the U.S. networks are designed that raised concern of potential problems for airlines.

The Verizon and AT&T networks use a segment of the radio spectrum that is close to the one used by radio altimeters, devices that measure the height of aircraft above the ground to help pilots land in low visibility. The telecoms and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which set a buffer between the frequencies used by 5G and altimeters, said the wireless service posed no risk to aviation.

But FAA officials saw a potential problem, and the telecom companies agreed to delay their rollout near more than 80 airports while the agency assesses which aircraft are safe to fly in proximity of 5G, and which will need new altimeters.

At the moment, close to 40% of the U.S. airline fleet lacks FAA approval to land in low-visibility near 5G signals. The FAA said it recently cleared five more models of altimeters, including three on Wednesday.

“I assume whatever process they are using could be used to clear the rest,” said Randall Berry, a professor of electrical engineering at Northwestern University.

The Boeing 777 isn’t the only aircraft using altimeters awaiting approval from the FAA, and not all 777s have altimeters that are incompatible with 5G, according to the FAA.

The FAA says there are several reasons why the 5G rollout has been more of a challenge for airlines in the U.S. than in other countries: American cellular towers use a more powerful signal strength than those elsewhere; the 5G network operates on a frequency closer to the one many altimeters use, and cell tower antennae point up at a higher angle.

Some experts say poor coordination and cooperation among federal agencies is as much to blame as any technical issues.

“The fights around this from federal agencies have just gotten more and more intense,” said Harold Feld, an expert on telecom policy at the advocacy group Public Knowledge.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency said it wasn’t aware of any problems on the continent caused by 5G interference. To mitigate airline interference, French telecom providers reduce the strength of their high-speed networks near airports.

Boeing Co. said in a statement it would work with airlines, the FAA and others to ensure that all planes can fly safely as 5G is rolled out.

In the meantime, airlines scrambled to adjust to the new reality.

Emirates, which relies heavily on the 777, halted flights to several American cities on Wednesday, but maintained service to Los Angeles, New York and Washington.

“We are working closely with aircraft manufacturers and the relevant authorities to alleviate operational concerns, and we hope to resume our U.S. services as soon as possible,” the state-owned airline said.

Tim Clark, president of Emirates, pulled no punches when discussing the issue. He told CNN it was “one of the most delinquent, utterly irresponsible” situations he’d ever seen as it involved a failure by government, science and industry.

Japan’s All Nippon Airways canceled 20 flights to cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, while Japan Airlines said it will stop using the 777 in the continental U.S. for now. Eight of its flights were affected Wednesday.

Air India announced on Twitter it would cancel flights to Chicago, Newark, New York and San Francisco because of the 5G issue. But it also said it would try to use other aircraft on U.S. routes – a course several other airlines took.

Korean Air, Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific and Austrian Airlines said they substituted different planes for flights that were scheduled to use 777s. Germany’s Lufthansa swapped out one kind of 747 for another on some U.S.-bound flights.

Choi Jong-yun, a spokeswoman of Asiana Airlines, said the company hasn’t been affected so far because it uses Airbus planes for passenger flights to the U.S.

However, Choi said airlines have also been instructed by the FAA to avoid autopilot landings at affected U.S. airports during bad weather conditions, regardless of plane type. Asiana will redirect its planes to nearby airports during those conditions, she said.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement that the 5G “deployment can safely co-exist with aviation technologies in the United States, just as it does in other countries around the world.” However, she urged the FAA to conduct its safety checks with “both care and speed.”

Gambrell reported from Dubai. Associated Press video journalist Teresa Crawford in Chicago and AP writers Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul, South Korea, Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo, Ken Moritsugu in Beijing, David McHugh in Frankfurt, Germany, Frank Jordans in Berlin, Angela Charlton in Paris, Kelvin Chan in London and Isabel DeBre in Dubai contributed to this report.

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