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Coronavirus: Canada in talks with other G7 nations about prospect of vaccine passports to travel: Hajdu – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
As countries continue to vaccinate larger segments of their populations, federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu says that discussions about introducing some form of vaccine passport are “very live” among the G7 countries.

“We’re certainly working on the idea of vaccine passports with our G7 partners. I was on a call with my G7 health minister counterparts just a couple of weeks ago, and that is a very live issue,” Hajdu said in an interview on CTV’s Question Period.

While Hajdu wouldn’t say if it’s an idea Canada is pushing for—requiring some form of proof of vaccination to travel to Canada—she said other nations and industry groups are looking into the kind of evidence or documentation that could be requested in order to travel internationally.

“We’ll be coming back to Canadians as we understand more about the intentions of our counterparts internationally, and as we understand more about how that will unfold around the world,” she said.

Some European countries have begun to signal they’ll be requesting proof of immunization against COVID-19 to allow foreign travellers to enter, in a similar way to how nations like Canada are requiring non-essential visitors to show a pre-departure negative test.

Canada is currently not allowing people to show a proof of vaccination as a way to be permitted entry under the pandemic restrictions.

“At this time, proof of having a vaccine does not replace a valid test result,” reads the federal government’s international travel information page.

U.K.’s Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment Nadhim Zahawi told CTV’s Question Period in a separate interview that the British government is working on the logistics of these requirements so that its citizens will have the ability to resume travel for work or leisure abroad

Canadian health ethicists have cautioned against rushing to adopt forms of vaccine passports to permit citizens to attend large events or resume other pre-pandemic norms, but when it comes to travel it may become “almost inevitable,” as University of Toronto bio-ethicist Kerry Bowman recently said on CTV News Channel.

Hajdu said that Canada is concerned about equity and doesn’t want to see a two-tiered system given the limited number of people who are able to access COVID-19 vaccines so far, but noted “there are requirements to travel internationally around disease prevention already.”

The federal government continues to strongly advise against international travel, as the threat of variant spread continues to be a pressing concern.

Nearly a year into the global pandemic Canada’s border strategy continues to shift, including most recently the rocky and contentious introduction of mandatory quarantine in hotels.

As of late February the federal government has required all travellers who have returned to Canada from travel abroad to stay in a designated hotel for at least three days, at their own expense, while they await a PCR test taken upon arrival. The system’s faced criticisms from travellers raising issues with the service, as well as serious concerns over the safety of these sites.

In the interview, Hajdu said she “wasn’t exactly thrilled” in the early days with how the program unfolded, but isn’t heeding calls from the Conservatives to pull the plug on the facilities altogether.

She said the issues experienced by some travelers are being worked out and as the virus evolves, Canadians should expect border measures to as well. Vaccine or not, people should continue to avoid any non-essential travel outside of Canada, she said.

Asked whether the conversation around proof of vaccination could play a role when it comes to domestic travel, Hajdu said it hasn’t come up yet in talks she’s had with her provincial and territorial health counterparts.

“We know that different provinces and territories have taken different stances around domestic travel, and of course, while COVID-19 is raging in parts of the country, often we will hear the requests by different parts of the country to just stay put to resist the urge to travel even domestically. But what I can say is that the health ministers are always reviewing their own stances on interprovincial travel,” she said.

In a recent interview with CTVNews.ca, University of Toronto public health ethicist Alison Thompson spoke about the need to balance incentivizing people to get vaccinated while ensuring any requirements to prove vaccination before being able to travel or attend larger events doesn’t become coercive.

Thompson said that it’s a conversation the general public should be having and not just among policymakers because it will impact everyone.

“This is maybe one of those times because it has implications for people’s freedom of movement and for immigration and those types of things that I would hope that the federal government would want to lead that conversation and have an eye on the kinds of inequities across provinces that could arise,” she said.

With files from CTV News’ Sarah Turnbull

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Citigroup lawyer says another bank made bigger payment error than Revlon

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – A lawyer for Citigroup Inc told a U.S. judge on Friday he was aware of another large bank that recently made a bigger payment error than Citigroup made last August when it sent $894 million of its own money to Revlon Inc lenders.

Neal Katyal, the lawyer, made the disclosure at a hearing in Manhattan federal court, where Citigroup urged U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman to extend a freeze on $504 million that it has been unable to recoup from the Revlon lenders.

Katyal did not identify the bank, the size of the payment error, or whether the error was fixed.

Citigroup is appealing Furman’s Feb. 16 decision that 10 asset managers, whose clients include Revlon lenders, could keep its mistaken payments.

Furman accepted the asset managers’ argument that Citigroup, as Revlon’s loan agent, paid what they were owed, and they had no reason to think a sophisticated bank would blunder so badly.

Citigroup has said the lenders received a “windfall,” and Furman’s decision could steer banks away from doing wire transfers in a “finders, keepers” marketplace.

Katyal is a partner at Hogan Lovells and former Acting U.S. Solicitor General. Citigroup hired him for its appeal.

 

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Diane Craft)

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Canada aims to raise safety along notorious “Highway of Tears” with cell phone service

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By Moira Warburton

VANCOUVER (Reuters) – Canadian authorities will help fund mobile phone service to increase safety along a remote stretch of highway in British Columbia known as the “Highway of Tears” for the number of women who have gone missing on the route, most of them indigenous.

Indigenous groups recommended the move in 2006 in a report on disappearances and murders of women along the highway between the cities of Prince Rupert and Prince George, roughly 800 km (500 miles) north of Vancouver.

The recommendation was endorsed by a provincial government-mandated commission several years later.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are investigating 13 cases of murdered women and five who disappeared on or near the Highway of Tears, although no new cases have been added since 2007. Advocates believe the number of homicides and missing is significantly higher.

Lisa Beare, British Columbia’s minister of citizens’ services, called the project “a critical milestone in helping prevent future tragedies along this route.”

Cell phone plans in Canada are among the most expensive in the world, according to government data, and the cost and lack of coverage in rural areas was a top issue in the last election.

The provincial and federal governments will contribute C$4.5 million towards the C$11.6 million ($9.24 million) cost for Rogers Communications to install 12 cell phone towers, the British Columbia government said on Wednesday.

Lorraine Whitman, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, applauded the plan but said it was only one step in making the area safer for indigenous women.

“This truly is a blessing for the women,” she said. “But not all women have a phone. These towers are being put up, but it makes no use to the person that has no cell phone.”

($1 = 1.2558 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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Canadian fertilizer producer Nutrien to cut greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2030

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By Rod Nickel and Rithika Krishna

(Reuters) –Canada‘s Nutrien Ltd, the world’s largest fertilizer producer by capacity, said on Thursday it aimed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30% by 2030, in a plan costing the company up to $700 million.

Agricultural companies, including Mosaic and Corteva, have set carbon emissions targets as climate-conscious investors push firms to become more environmentally friendly.

Nutrien plans to spend $500 million to $700 million to meet the carbon emissions target, which includes cutting emissions from nitrogen production by 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent annually by the end of 2023.

“We’re in a really unique spot to address two big societal challenges – food security, and in a way that reduces our environmental footprint,” said Mark Thompson, Nutrien’s chief corporate development and strategy officer, in an interview.

Synthetic fertilizers account for 12% of global emissions from agriculture, according to a 2016 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report.

Nutrien’s target includes Scope 1 and 2 emissions, which reflect direct operations and electricity use. Nutrien is addressing Scope 3 emissions – those related to on-farm activity – with a program that encourages growers to adopt sustainable practices that generate monetary credits.

The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based company plans to deploy wind and solar energy at four potash plants by the end of 2025, replacing electricity generated by coal and natural gas.

It also plans to expand its sequestration of carbon emissions from nitrogen fertilizer production and to invest in technology to capture nitrous oxide gas from its facilities.

Nutrien estimates that its carbon credit program could directly amount to $10 to $20 per acre for farmers, and it expects to benefit financially itself as well.

“If we can provide agronomic value and the value of the carbon credit over time, we’ll have customer loyalty – we anticipate that we’ll be a preferred supplier,” Thompson said.

(Reporting by Rithika Krishna in Bengaluru and Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Steve Orlofsky)

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