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Canada’s total COVID-19 case count surpasses one million – Penticton Western News

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Canada soared past its one millionth diagnosis of COVID-19 on Saturday, reaching the grim milestone the same day it administered its six millionth dose of vaccine to protect against the virus.

British Columbia pushed the nation over the threshold on Saturday afternoon when it reported 2,090 infections over the course of two days, bringing the national number to roughly 1,001,650.

Canada has been recording about 100,000 new cases every three to four weeks, surging past the 900,000 mark on March 13.

The nation had also administered six million doses of vaccine as of Saturday evening, provincial data show. The federal government had set that number as the goal for how many vaccine doses should arrive in Canada by the end of the first quarter of 2021 — a target it met last week.

The two milestones are emblematic of where the nation stands with COVID-19, ramping up its vaccination drive as more contagious variants of the virus fuel the pandemic’s third wave.

Alberta, for instance, is investigating what the province’s chief medical officer of health described as a “significant” outbreak of the P. 1 variant of concern, which first emerged in Brazil.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw said in a tweet that the outbreak can be traced back to a returning traveller.

“Health officials are working hard to limit future spread and reaching out directly to those at risk of exposure,” she said. “AHS will ensure that anyone at risk is isolated, offered testing twice and connected with supports if needed.”

Hinshaw said officials will provide an update on the investigation on Monday.

That province logged an estimated 1,100 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday, roughly half of which are variants of concern.

Hinshaw said 35 per cent of the province’s active COVID-19 cases are due to those variants, which are more contagious and can cause more serious illness.

Some provinces have introduced stricter public health measures in a bid to contain the spread of such variants, with Ontario entering a “shutdown” on Saturday.

The new restrictions force gyms and personal care services across the province to close, but allow essential and non-essential retailers to remain open, with their capacities limited to 50 per cent and 25 per cent respectively.

Schools in the province will also remain open for in-person learning following the delayed spring break, which ends on April 9.

Classrooms were shuttered throughout the province after the winter break in January and gradually reopened based on the local prevalence of COVID-19. The boards in hardest-hit hot spots opened classrooms in mid-February.

But the province has said it doesn’t want to take that step again, calling it disastrous for children’s mental health.

Ontario recorded 3,009 new infections on Saturday and 3,089 a day earlier, when the government didn’t share data because of the Good Friday holiday.

Quebec, meanwhile, has seen daily cases back up over the 1,000 mark in the last few days after weeks of logging new infection rates in the triple digits, recording 1,282 cases on Saturday.

And B.C., whose high numbers tipped Canada over the edge of one million, broke its own record two days in a row, reporting 1,072 diagnoses on Saturday and 1,018 on Friday.

The province’s chief medical officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, and Health Minister Adrian Dix said people should stay in their own community or health authority while vacationing and consider limiting their travel to day trips or overnight stays in a local campground or hotel.

“We have seen too many cases of people travelling outside their health authority region and not using their layers of protection, leading to outbreaks and clusters in their home community,” they said in a written statement.

“These outbreaks are avoidable, and right now we must stay within our local region for the safety of your community and for others.”

Saskatchewan, meanwhile, counted 280 new cases on Saturday and Manitoba reported 181 over two days.

Farther east, New Brunswick recorded nine new cases and Nova Scotia counted four.

READ MORE: B.C. sets two new daily records with latest COVID-19 cases

Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press


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Canada’s manufacturers ask for federal help as Montreal dockworkers stage partial-strike

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MONTREAL (Reuters) – Canada‘s manufacturers on Monday asked the federal government to curb a brewing labor dispute after dockworkers at the country’s second largest port said they will work less this week.

Unionized dockworkers, who are in talks for a new contract since 2018, will hold a partial strike starting Tuesday, by refusing all overtime outside of their normal day shifts, along with weekend work, they said in a statement on Monday.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Quebec’s 1,125 longshore workers at the Port of Montreal rejected a March offer from the Maritime Employers Association.

The uncertainty caused by the labour dispute has led to an 11% drop in March container volume at the Montreal port on an annual basis, even as other eastern ports in North America made gains, the Maritime Employers Association said.

The move will cause delays in a 24-hour industry, the association said.

“Some manufacturers have had to redirect their containers to the Port of Halifax, incurring millions in additional costs every week,” said Dennis Darby, chief executive of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME).

While the government strongly believes a negotiated agreement is the best option for all parties, “we are actively examining all options as the situation evolves,” a spokesman for Federal Labor Minister Filomena Tassi said.

Last summer’s stoppage of work cost wholesalers C$600 million ($478 million) in sales over a two-month period, Statistics Canada estimates.

($1 = 1.2563 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting By Allison Lampert in Montreal. Additional reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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Canada scraps export permits for drone technology to Turkey, complains to Ankara

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OTTAWA (Reuters) –Canada on Monday scrapped export permits for drone technology to Turkey after concluding that the equipment had been used by Azeri forces fighting Armenia in the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, Foreign Minister Marc Garneau said.

Turkey, which like Canada is a member of NATO, is a key ally of Azerbaijan, whose forces gained territory in the enclave after six weeks of fighting.

“This use was not consistent with Canadian foreign policy, nor end-use assurances given by Turkey,” Garneau said in a statement, adding he had raised his concerns with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier in the day.

Ottawa suspended the permits last October so it could review allegations that Azeri drones used in the conflict had been equipped with imaging and targeting systems made by L3Harris Wescam, the Canada-based unit of L3Harris Technologies Inc.

In a statement, the Turkish Embassy in Ottawa said: “We expect our NATO allies to avoid unconstructive steps that will negatively affect our bilateral relations and undermine alliance solidarity.”

Earlier on Monday, Turkey said Cavusoglu had urged Canada to review the defense industry restrictions.

The parts under embargo include camera systems for Baykar armed drones. Export licenses were suspended in 2019 during Turkish military activities in Syria. Restrictions were then eased, but reimposed during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Turkey’s military exports to Azerbaijan jumped sixfold last year. Sales of drones and other military equipment rose to $77 million in September alone before fighting broke out in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, data showed.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Tuvan Gumrukcu in Ankara; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Gareth Jones and Peter Cooney)

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Investigation finds Suncor’s Colorado refinery meets environmental permits

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By Liz Hampton

DENVER (Reuters) – A Colorado refinery owned by Canadian firm Suncor Energy Inc meets required environmental permits and is adequately funded, according to an investigation released on Monday into a series of emissions violations at the facility between 2017 and 2019.

The 98,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) refinery in the Denver suburb of Commerce City, Colorado, reached a $9-million settlement with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) March 2020 to resolve air pollution violations that occurred since 2017. That settlement also addressed an incident in December 2019 that released refinery materials onto a nearby school.

As part of the settlement, Suncor was required to use a third party to conduct an independent investigation into the violations and spend up to $5 million to implement recommendations from the investigation.

Consulting firm Kearney’s investigation found the facility met environmental permit requirements, but also pinpointed areas for improvement, including personnel training and systems upgrades, some of which was already underway.

“We need to improve our performance and improve the trust people have in us,” Donald Austin, vice president of the Commerce City refinery said in an interview, adding that the refinery had already undertaken some of the recommendations from the investigation.

In mid-April, Suncor will begin a turnaround at the facility that includes an upgrade to a gasoline-producing fluid catalytic cracking unit (FCCU) at Plant 1 of the facility. That turnaround is anticipated to be complete in June 2021.

Suncor last year completed a similar upgrade of an automatic shutdown system for the FCCU at the refinery’s Plant 2.

By 2023, the company will also install an additional control unit, upgraded instrumentation, automated shutdown valves and new hydraulic pressure units in Plant 2.

Together, those upgrades will cost approximately $12 million, of which roughly $10 million is dedicated to Plant 2 upgrades, Suncor said on Monday.

 

(Reporting by Liz Hampton; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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