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Coronavirus: What happened in Canada and around the world on April 18 – CBC.ca

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The latest:

Canadian officials acknowledged some regions of the country could be closer to reopening parts of the economy than others, but continued to stress a careful approach as the border closure with the hard-hit United States was extended for another 30 days during the COVID-19 crisis.

“Let us be very clear, while we want to be optimistic, we need to be absolutely cautious,” Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos said Saturday.

Despite continuing grim news, glimmers of hope emerged this week as provinces and cities reported slower growth of COVID-19 cases, and officials began discussing moves toward a “new normal.”

In British Columbia, officials suggested some restrictions could be eased in the coming weeks in light of numbers showing a flattening of the COVID-19 curve.

Medical workers walk at a secure mobile medical unit set up at the Abbotsford Regional Hospital to treat prisoners infected with COVID-19 from the Mission Institution correctional centre, in Abbotsford, B.C., on Saturday. (Jesse Winter/Reuters)

Prince Edward Island, where 23 of the province’s 26 confirmed COVID-19 cases have recovered, is also looking at easing restrictions on activities while maintaining self-isolation rules for those entering the province.

Toronto Mayor John Tory met with city officials Saturday to discuss when regular life can restart in the country’s biggest city, though he warned that the time has not come yet.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said his province’s approach will be based on health advice and will only move forward with reopening with medical officials’ green light. He added that there are various scenarios playing out across the province.

“What’s happening in a big urban centre like Toronto may not be happening in rural areas,” Ford said.

He said that loosening restrictions over time will have to be done in a careful and methodical way, and said it would be “twice as hard” as the current lockdown.

Passengers ride the subway with seats marked for social distancing in Toronto on Saturday. (Chris Helgren/Reuters)

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs also floated May 1 as a possible date for lifting some restrictions in the province — if new case numbers remain low and recovery rates stay high.

Across Canada, more than 507,000 people have been tested for COVID-19, with about six per cent confirmed positive, Duclos said. 

About 7.6 million applications for financial assistance under the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) have been processed, he said.

Funeral home workers remove a body from the Residence Yvon-Brunet long-term care home in Montreal on Saturday. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

As of Saturday evening, Canada had 33,383 presumptive and confirmed COVID-19 cases. The provinces and territories that provide data on recoveries listed 11,220 cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths linked to COVID-19 based on provincial reports, regional public health information and CBC reporting listed 1,529 deaths in Canada. There have also been two reported coronavirus-related deaths of Canadians abroad. 

For travellers, the federal government is rolling out new rules requiring that all air passengers wear face masks covering their noses and mouths while in transit.

Parliament mulls reconvening

The federal government on Saturday pledged $306 million to Indigenous businesses, for interest-free loans and non-repayable contributions.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s latest update comes as more than 2.3 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 158,691 have died, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

Trudeau also stressed he does not think it is a good idea for the House of Commons to resume business as usual on Monday — with all 338 MPs, along with their staff, clerks, interpreters, security and cleaners.

WATCH | Canada’s food supply will face challenges but not crisis, expert says:

Evan Fraser, director of the Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph, tells Canadians not to panic over food availability. 5:49

An agreement needs to be reached before then on scaled-back sittings if the plan is to change. Federal political parties are to continue negotiating Saturday about when and how Parliament should reconvene in the middle of the pandemic.

Trudeau’s Liberals are proposing one in-person sitting each week, with a small number of MPs and extended time for longer questions and more thorough answers than would normally be allowed during the daily question period. More sittings would be added as soon as the technical and logistical requirements for virtual meetings can be worked out.

All opposition parties appear satisfied with that proposal, except for the Conservatives.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is demanding up to four in-person sittings each week, with fewer than 50 MPs in the chamber, to hold the government to account for its response to the health crisis and the resulting economic fallout.

WATCH | Trudeau announces extension of U.S. border restrictions:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discusses extending restrictions imposed on the U.S.-Canada border, new funding for Indigenous businesses and the arrival of shipments of medical supplies during his daily COVID-19 briefing Saturday. 7:06

Except for two single-day sittings to pass emergency aid bills, Parliament has been adjourned since mid-March.

Canada and the U.S. are extending the closure of the border to non-essential travel for another 30 days, Trudeau said Saturday.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced a package of new measures Friday that also will require people flying in Canada to wear masks at all Canadian screening checkpoints whenever maintaining two metres separation from others is not possible.

Here’s a look at what’s happening in the provinces and territories

British Columbia’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said Saturday three more people died of the virus, all from long-term care facilities. The announcement came a day after Henry and other health officials released modelling data showing B.C. is flattening the COVID-19 curve to the point where plans are underway to loosen some provincial restrictions. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.

Alberta reported one new death and 165 new cases on Saturday. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw partially attributed the recent rise in cases to a spike in testing. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.

A gas station employee wears full protective equipment as they fill up cars in Edmonton on Saturday. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

Saskatchewan reported no new deaths in a Saturday briefing. The province now has care homes in two communities where more than one person is infected with COVID-19, health officials said Friday, after there had been no coronavirus cases in the province’s intensive care beds for several days in a row. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.

Manitoba reported three new cases on Saturday. The new number comes a day after the province announced its number of recovered cases surpassed its active cases for the first time. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba, including an analysis of how the provincial government is handling the outbreak.

In Ontario, Toronto Mayor John Tory met with city officials Saturday to discuss how and when businesses and municipal services can reopen. No clear timeline was announced. Ontario’s current set of emergency measures last until May 11. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario, where 485 new cases were reported Saturday, bringing the provincial total to 10,010.

In Quebec, Canadian Armed Forces members with medical training are arriving to help in the province’s long-term care homes. About 125 nursing officers, medical technicians and support personnel have been sent to help after Quebec asked Ottawa for assistance earlier this week.

Meanwhile, Premier Legault said he took “full responsibility” for the “deteriorating” situation in the province’s long-term care homes. Such facilities are struggling with staffing as a number of workers have fallen ill, while the senior residents of those homes have been dying at an alarming rate. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec.

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces seen at Residence Yvon-Brunet, a long-term care home in Montreal, on Saturday. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs has floated May 1 as a possible date for lifting some restrictions in the province  if new case numbers remain low and recovery rates stay high. The province reported one new case of COVID-19 on Saturday in the Fredericton area. Eighty-seven people from New Brunswick have recovered from the virus. The province has 118 confirmed cases. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.

Nova Scotia is reporting three more deaths, along with 43 new positive tests. A government news release says the three recent deaths occurred at the Northwood long-term care home in Halifax on Friday. Premier Stephen McNeil says the government is working with the home on an emergency plan to protect residents from the outbreak. Read more about what’s happening in N.S.

Prince Edward Island for the second weekend in a row is offering free care packages containing potatoes and dairy products at drive-thru locations set up by the government, Amalgamated Dairies Ltd. and the P.E.I. Potato Board. The province, which is in its second day under a state of emergency, reported no new cases on Saturday. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I.

Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new COVID-19 case on Saturday. Read more about what’s happening in N.L., including the story of a hotel offering free isolation rooms.

The Northwest Territories isn’t saying who is on its COVID-19 enforcement task forceand Yukon reported one new case on Friday. Read more about what’s happening across Canada’s North, including the efforts at a micro-manufacturing centre in Inuvik to create items essential workers need.

Here’s a look at what’s happening in the U.S.

From The Associated Press, updated at 6:45 p.m. ET

U.S. governors, eager to rescue their economies and feeling heat from demonstrators and President Donald Trump, are moving to ease restrictions meant to control the spread of the coronavirus, even as new hotspots emerge and experts warn that moving too fast could prove disastrous.

Stores in Texas can soon begin selling merchandise with curbside service, and hospitals can resume non-essential surgeries. In Florida, people are returning to beaches and parks. And protesters are clamouring for more.

Protests against stay-at-home orders organized by small government groups and Trump supporters were planned for Saturday in several cities after the president urged supporters to “liberate” three states led by Democratic governors.

But protests were planned in Republican-led states, too, including at the Texas Capitol. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott already has said that restrictions would begin easing next week.

Protesters armed with rifles attend a demonstration against the COVID-19 lockdown at the State House in Concord, N.H., on Saturday. (Michael Dwyer/Associated Press)

Meanwhile, infections kept surging in the northeast.

Rhode Island, sandwiched between the hotspots of Massachusetts and New York, has seen a steady daily increase in the number of infections and deaths, with nursing home residents accounting for more than 90 of the state’s 118 fatalities. The state’s death rate of around 10 people per 100,000 population is among the highest per capita in the nation, according to data compiled by the COVID Tracking Project.

Massachusetts had its highest number of deaths in a single day on Friday with 159. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker said it would be premature for states to begin lifting restrictions when deaths are still climbing.

A health-care worker swabs a person for coronavirus at a mobile testing location in Kimball, Tenn., on Saturday. (Troy Stolt /Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)

Trump, whose administration waited months to bolster stockpiles of key medical supplies and equipment, appeared to back protesters taking to the streets in several U.S. states to vent their anger with the economy-strangling restrictions.

Trump is pushing to relax the U.S. lockdown by May 1, a plan that hinges partly on more testing.

Public health officials said the ability to test enough people and trace contacts of those who are infected is crucial before easing up on restrictions, and that infections could surge anew unless people continue to take precautions.

Food bank volunteers place a box of food onto the back of a car at the driver’s request in order to maintain social distancing in San Rafael, Calif., on Saturday. (Jeff Chiu/Associated Press)

In hard-hit New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned the state isn’t ready to ease up on shutdowns of schools, businesses and gatherings despite seeing a declining number of new deaths.

The daily increase in deaths in New York has dropped under 550 for the first time in over two weeks as hospitalizations continue to decline, Cuomo said Saturday.

But the crisis is far from over: Hospitals are still reporting nearly 2,000 new COVID-19 patients per day, and nursing homes remain a “feeding frenzy for this virus,” he said.

People wait for a distribution of masks and food in New York City on Saturday. (Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press)

Nearly 13,000 New Yorkers in all have died since the state’s first coronavirus case was reported March 1, the governor said. The state total doesn’t include more than 4,000 New York City deaths that were blamed on the virus on death certificates but weren’t confirmed by a lab test.

The U.S. on Saturday had more than 700,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 37,086 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The U.S. leads the world in number of deaths and cases.

Here’s a look at what’s happening around the world

From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 9 p.m. ET

Italy’s commissioner for the coronavirus, Domenico Arcuri, is cautioning against pitting health concerns versus economic worries when deciding to ease lockdown rules, saying, “without health, the [economic] revival will disappear in the batting of an eyelash.”

Health experts say easing must be gradual. Italy has nearly 23,000 deaths, the most in Europe, and more than 172,000 known cases.

Authorities in Lombardy and other northern regions, but also Sicily in the south, have been pressing the central government to quickly ease restrictions on factories and many other businesses. The government decree that shut down non-essential industries and businesses runs through May 3.

Medical staffers hold samples after performing swabs for coronavirus in the Santa Cecilia nurse home in Civitavecchia, near Rome, on Saturday. (Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse via AP)

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says the government will seek to extend the country’s state of emergency by two weeks to fight the coronavirus outbreak but will start easing the total confinement of children. Sanchez says children will be allowed “to get out of their houses for a period on a daily basis,” but the specifics need to be ironed out with experts. He says rolling back the national lockdown will only come when the country’s embattled health system is ready for possible rebounds. The state of emergency extension until May 9 needs to be approved by parliament.

The country on Saturday reached 20,000 deaths — with 565 deaths reported in the last 24 hours — and total infections increased to more than 190,000. Only the United States and Italy have more deaths.

People wearing face masks keeps social distancing while waiting to enter a supermarket in Madrid on Saturday. (Susana Vera/Reuters)

France registered 642 more deaths from coronavirus infections on Saturday, bringing the total to 19,323, the fourth-highest tally in the world, although the number of people in hospital declined for a fourth day running.

Meanwhile, the country’s lower house of parliament approved an emergency budget overnight that takes into account the government’s €110-billion ($167-billion Cdn) plan to save the economy from virus-related collapse. The budget includes bonuses for medical staff, funds to help struggling workers and families, and aid to businesses including strategic industries like aviation and car manufacturing. The bill goes to the Senate on Tuesday. 

Customers make their purchases amid a lockdown in Saint-Andéol-le-Château, France, on Saturday. (Jean-Philippe Ksiazek/AFP via Getty Images)

British authorities reported 888 more coronavirus-related hospital deaths on Saturday, bringing the total to 15,464. The latest daily figure from the health department is higher than the previous day’s 847 deaths by 41. Britain posted a record high daily death toll of 980 a week ago.

Ahead of her birthday, Queen Elizabeth says she doesn’t want a gun salute because she doesn’t think it’s appropriate during the coronavirus pandemic. The monarch, who turns 94 on Tuesday, decided not to publicly mark the occasion in any special way, including the artillery salute traditionally performed on her birthday.

A message from Queen Elizabeth about the COVID-19 pandemic is seen on a giant billboard in a nearly-empty Piccadilly Square in London on Saturday. (Glyn Kirk/AFP via Getty Images)

China on Saturday reported a nearly 40 per cent increase in its death toll to 4,632 victims, reflecting a major upward revision made the previous day by authorities in Wuhan, the nation’s hardest-hit city. City officials on Friday attributed the initial undercount to how overwhelmed the health system was coping with thousands of sick patients. 

Officials confirmed 20 new cases in a northeastern border province of Heilongjiang — including 13 Chinese nationals who had recently returned from Russia. The province’s land border with Russia has been closed.

The latest confirmed cases brought the total cases to 82,719, of which 77,029 have recovered and discharged, the National Health Commission said.

A worker checks the temperature of a customer before they enter a shopping mall in Wuhan on Saturday. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)

Sweden has reported 111 new COVID-19 deaths, with total deaths now at 1,511, and health officials say 13,822 people have confirmed infections. Most of the infections and deaths have been recorded in Stockholm, which has 897 fatalities.

On Friday, the Swedish government defended its approach of pursuing relatively liberal policies to fight the coronavirus pandemic, saying it shared the “same goals” as other nations fighting COVID-19. The government has advised the public to practise social distancing, but schools, bars and restaurants remain open. Only gatherings of more than 50 people have been banned.

People are seen at Raslambshovsparken Park in Stockholm on Saturday. (Fredrik Sandberg/TT via AP)

Africa’s cases have surpassed 20,000, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of deaths across the continent surpassed 1,000 on Saturday.

Fifty-two of Africa’s 54 countries have confirmed cases of the virus, and the World Health Organization has expressed concern that local spread is increasing.

WATCH | Challenges of fighting COVID-19 in Kenya:

Kennedy Odede is the founder and CEO of the non-profit SHOFCO. He addresses some of the obstacles ahead as COVID-19 testing expands in Kenya. 9:30

In Myanmar’s biggest city, authorities have ordered a six-hour curfew in a bid to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The Yangon Region Government announced the 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew will start Saturday night. Several of the city’s neighbourhoods were put under lockdown, with all people required to stay at home except for essential workers, and only one person per household allowed to buy necessary supplies. Myanmar announced Thursday a ban on gatherings of more than five people.

Public health authorities confirmed Saturday six new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 94 and five deaths. Myanmar was among the last countries in Southeast Asia to confirm any COVID-19 cases, likely because of lack of testing. The public health infrastructure is considered one of the weakest in Asia.

Police personnel patrol amid a curfew in Yangon, Myanmar, on Saturday. (Ye Aung Thu/AFP via Getty Images)

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei said a large number of migrants on a deportation flight to Guatemala from the U.S. this week were infected with the coronavirus, adding that U.S. authorities had confirmed a dozen cases.

Giammattei said 12 randomly selected people on the deportation flight tested positive for coronavirus when examined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

He suggested more on the flight had tested positive as well.

A migrant who arrived on a U.S. deportation flight is seen in an ambulance at a temporary shelter in Guatemala City on Saturday. (Luis Echeverria/Reuters)

Turkey’s confirmed coronavirus cases have risen to 82,329, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Saturday, overtaking neighbouring Iran for the first time to register the highest total in the Middle East.

An increase of 3,783 cases in the last 24 hours also pushed Turkey’s confirmed tally within a few hundred of China, where the novel coronavirus first emerged.

The Interior Ministry also said it was extending restrictions on travel between 31 cities for a further 15 days starting at midnight on Saturday.

A deserted Taksim Square, one of the city’s landmarks, is seen in Istanbul on Saturday. (Mehmet Guzel/Associated Press)

In Brazil, hundreds of people denouncing pandemic lockdown measures opposed by President Jair Bolsonaro snarled traffic in major cities on Saturday. Protesters in trucks, cars and on motorcycles honked horns on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and the capital of Brasilia, calling for governors to resign over measures that have forced most businesses to close for weeks.

Bolsonaro has been a fierce critic of the states’ stay-at-home measures, arguing that the economic harm could be more damaging than the illness. The protests took place a day after Bolsonaro fired his health minister, who had been promoting isolation measures.

Brazil has more coronavirus cases than any other country in Latin America. On Saturday, the health ministry said the number of confirmed cases rose by 2,917 to 36,599. Deaths rose by 206 to 2,347, the ministry said.

Supporters of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro take part in a motorcade to protest against quarantine and social distancing measures in Sao Paulo on Saturday. (Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images)

Japan, alarmed by rising deaths and the spectre of the collapse of the medical system, is scrambling to expand testing with drive-thru facilities and general practitioners helping to collect samples.

Japan conducted about 52,000 polymerase chain reaction tests in March, or just 16 per cent of the number carried out in South Korea, according to data from Oxford University.

While the measures marked a shift in policy, it remains to be seen how effective they will be, experts say, as Japan struggles with red tape, staff shortages and the absence of centralized decision-making with no single agency co-ordinating the response to the disease. Japan’s total infections stand at more than 9,800, with 207 deaths, according to a tally by public broadcaster NHK.

(CBC)

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Anti-black racism protests, vigils planned across Canada – CBC.ca

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Canadians continued to rally and demonstrate against anti-black racism and police brutality on Saturday, a day after thousands attended protests and vigils across the country.

The demonstrations follow days of protests across the U.S. over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis, Minn. A police officer kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. 

Many are calling for police reform and an end to systemic racism.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam on Friday urged demonstrators to “take care of themselves” and follow public health guidelines such as physical distancing as much as possible and using hand sanitizers.

Read on to see what’s happening around Canada.

Toronto

Thousands demonstrated in two separate protests in Toronto against anti-black racism. The first protest began at Nathan Phillips Square, while the second began at Trinity Bellwoods Park.

Twanna Lewis, a Toronto resident at Trinity Bellwoods Park, said she was protesting for the first time on Saturday because she felt the need to take a stand for people who are voiceless. She has an 18-year-old black son, cousins, uncles and a brother.

“It’s 2020 and we need to be doing better,” Lewis told CBC Toronto. “It’s a shame that we have to be having this conversation in this day and age, when we think that we have gone so far.”

WATCH | Hand sanitizer, masks handed out at Toronto protest:

CBC’s Lorenda Reddekopp reports from inside a peaceful protest march Saturday where hand sanitizer and masks were being handed out 3:09

At Nathan Phillips Square, demonstrators chanted, held placards and posters, and listened to speakers. Then the protesters marched to the U.S. consulate and onward to Yonge-Dundas Square.

“I can’t breathe,” the crowd chanted at one point at Nathan Phillips Square, in a reference to some of Floyd’s last words before his death on May 25.

People held up signs that read “No Justice No Peace” and “Yes it’s here too Ford.” Ontario Premier Doug Ford had said Canada doesn’t have the “systemic, deep roots” of racism as the U.S.

WATCH | Protesters, police speak at Toronto demonstration:

Action for injustice group behind march through downtown: CBC’s Natalie Nanowski reports from the scene at Nathan Phillips Square 4:01

St. John’s 

Thousands of people kneeled on the lawn of Confederation Building in St. John’s during a rally in support of the Black Lives Matter.

The rally, organized by newly established Black Lives Matter NL, featured speeches and performances from members of the area’s black community sharing their own stories of racism.

Crowds were able to physically distance during the rally, spreading themselves across the lawn of Confederation Building. There was a small police presence, but no incidents were reported.

A demonstrator holds up a sign during a Black Lives Matter rally at the Confederation Building in St. John’s on Saturday. (Marie Isabelle Rochon/Radio-Canada)

Zainab Jerrett, who came to Newfoundland in the 1990s and is a professor at Memorial University, was one of the speakers on stage and was overwhelmed by the public support.

“That shows that this problem is effecting everybody, and everyone wants to chip in to bring a solution,” Jerrett said. “I almost got emotional because there’s so many people … young people of all cultures in Newfoundland.”

“This is an awakening. The people are interested in listening to the black community” she added. “[But] we are all the same. The more we come together as a human race, the better.”

Calgary

A vigil is scheduled for 4 p.m. MT outside Calgary’s Olympic Plaza in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.

“We must all come together to speak against murders by police officers and the institutions defending them,” organizers said in a Facebook post.

They also encourage attendees to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines like wearing masks and physical distancing.

Thousands attended a similar demonstration in Calgary on Wednesday.

Fort McMurray, Alta.

Elsewhere in Alberta, a Black Lives Matter rally was held at Fort McMurray City Hall.

The rally comes as Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam says Wood Buffalo RCMP officers beat and arrested him in a Fort McMurray parking lot earlier this year. 

People gather outside city hall for a Black Lives Matter Rally in Fort McMurray, Alta., on Saturday. (Jamie Malbeuf/CBC)

London, Ont.

In London, Ont., hundreds gathered at Victoria Park for an anti-racism rally.

Mayor Ed Holder said he supports the purpose behind the rally but declined to attend in person to comply with physical distancing rules recommended by health authorities in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Guelph, Ont.

Volunteers handed out bottles of water and squirts of hand sanitizer to marchers in Guelph, Ont., as thousands of demonstrators descended upon city hall. Organizer took COVID-19 precautions after health officials urged protesters to adhere to public health protocols.

A similar demonstration in Kitchener on Wednesday saw thousands of people walk through the downtown core holding signs. 

Volunteers handed out bottles of water and squirts of hand sanitizer to marchers in Guelph. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

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‘They’re targeting us’: Why some advocates want to defund Canadian police – Global News

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In recent days, protests against anti-Black racism and police brutality have erupted across the U.S. and Canada in response to the deaths of Black Americans George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.

Now, some advocates are calling for police forces to be defunded and taxpayer money to be redirected — a conversation that is also happening in Canada, stemming from the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old Black and Indigenous woman who fell from her Toronto apartment balcony after police entered the unit.

Police claim they were responding to a reported assault, but the family has questioned the role of the police in her death. The Special Investigations Unit, Ontario’s police watchdog, is currently investigating.

READ MORE: Advocates call plan to boost Black history B.C. school curriculum ‘long overdue’

Defunding the police means redirecting the budget for Canada’s police forces to other services that focus on social supports, mental health and even spaces like transit, said Sandy Hudson, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter Toronto and a law student at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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“There’s no reason why we can’t start a service that is another emergency response service where people can call a number and have someone who is trained in de-escalation,” Hudson said.

Now, with more incidents of police brutality in the news, calls for defunding the police both in the U.S. and Canada are louder than ever.

The history of police in Canada

This is hardly the first time defunding the police has been talked about in Canada, experts told Global News.

Examining the way police uphold and participate in anti-Black racism and violence towards Black and Indigenous communities in Canada has been a discussion for decades, said Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto Mississauga.

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“Part of it is discrimination within policing — both implicit and explicit — but then the other parts of it are how the police operate and what we’re asking police to do,” he said.






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Regis Korchinski-Paquet death: Toronto protesters march in memoriam, against anti-Black violence


Regis Korchinski-Paquet death: Toronto protesters march in memoriam, against anti-Black violence

The origins of policing in the southern United States were based on preserving the slavery system, as Time magazine reports, and police were primarily tasked with being “slave patrols” to prevent Black slaves from escaping. After the Civil War ended, these patrols still existed to uphold segregation and discrimination towards Black people.

Police in Canada were historically also tasked with “clearing the land” to steal the property of Indigenous Peoples, said Hudson.

“Those two focuses of the police, Indigenous and Black people, controlling us … there’s a through line to today and how the police interact with our communities,” she said.

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READ MORE: The RCMP was created to control Indigenous people. Can the relationship be reset?

Policing has been used to enforce the dominant narrative in Canada, which is colonization, said Alicia Boatswain-Kyte, a social work professor at McGill University whose research examines systemic oppression.

“These institutions are a product of (colonialism); they stem from that,” she said. “Right now we’re seeing what it looks like at this stage … and it gets manifested in the form of police brutality.”

Mental health, homelessness and other social issues

Experts are concerned that police in Canada are tasked with issues related to poverty, mental health and homelessness, and they are “ill-equipped and an inappropriate resource to be addressing those issues,” Owusu-Bempah said.

A 2018 report on racial profiling by the Ontario Human Rights Commission found that a Black person was 20 times more likely than a white person to be involved in a fating shooting by Toronto police. The report was the result of an inquiry launched after Andrew Loku, a father of five who was experiencing mental health issues, died after being shot by police.

A coroner’s inquest ruled that Loku’s death was the result of a homicide and recommended that police are better trained if they are to deal with mental health calls.

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“The violence we see inflicted by the police are often happening with people who are having a mental health crisis,” said Hudson.

Shifting the money to fund organizations that understand the nuances of mental health issues and the challenges faced by racialized communities would be a better use of taxpayers’ money, she said.






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How racism affects Black mental health


How racism affects Black mental health

Out of the nearly one million calls the force responds to, Toronto police respond to about 30,000 mental health calls every year, spokeswoman Meaghan Gray told the Canadian Press.

The force’s mobile crisis intervention teams ⁠— which include a trained officer and a mental health nurse ⁠— attend only 6,000 of those calls each year because they do not go to calls where a weapon may be involved.

Annual training for the force includes courses on communication and deescalation techniques, said Gray.

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“The Toronto Police Service believes that mental health is a complex issue that requires the involvement of multiple entities, including but not limited to community support, public health, and all levels of government, to render any meaningful change,” she said.

READ MORE: Marches in Toronto, Ottawa to honour Black lives lost at hands of police officers

It would be better if a mental health nurse or some other trained expert was always present, Boatswain-Kyte said.

“Are they (police) really the ones that are best suited?” she said.

“Social workers, for instance, go to school to understand how to form relationships, to understand how people are excluded and what factors contribute to their exclusion.”

READ MORE: George Floyd death draws scruitiny on police use of force. What’s Canada’s protocol?

By making police the body available to provide help in these situations, Boatswain-Kyte said, it sends a message that people with those health issues aren’t welcome in our society.

“Regardless of the amount of training … the implicit bias as a result of what (police) have been socialized to believe and understand about the ‘dangers’ of Black and brown bodies is going to influence them at the time when they have to make a decision.”

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Boatswain-Kyte points to a study published in May from Columbia University that found there is “no evidence that enhanced police training focused on mental health crises” can reduce fatal shootings towards those having a mental health crisis, or racialized people in general.

By the numbers

In Toronto, the largest portion of a resident’s property tax bill — around $700 out of an average bill of $3,020 — goes to the Toronto Police Service. The lowest portion of property taxes goes to children’s services, Toronto employment and social services and economic development and culture.

The situation is similar elsewhere in the country, as the Vancouver police budget has grown by more than $100 million in the last decade, representing about one-fifth of the city’s $1.6-billion 2020 operating budget.






2:34
Backlash mounting over Premier Doug Ford’s comments on racism in Canada


Backlash mounting over Premier Doug Ford’s comments on racism in Canada

A 2014 report published by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute found that policing budgets in Canada had doubled compared to the GDP since 2004, even though the public calls to police have “remained stable.”

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“Police associations have been happy to stoke public fears about safety, but the correlation between numbers of officers, crime rates and response times has long been shown to be spurious,” the report said, authored by Christian Leuprecht, a political science professor at Queen’s University and Royal Military College.

Police work that is essentially unrelated to policing could be done by other groups, Leuprecht explains.

Moving forward

Owusu-Bempah is calling on city mayors like Toronto Mayor John Tory to review which roles and functions we want the police to provide and which should be provided by other agencies.

“Then we need a lot of (the) funding currently spent on police … given to other organizations” that are better equipped to help with issues like homelessness and mental illness, he said.

Given the recent incidents of anti-Black racism and brutality perpetuated by police, Hudson says defunding the police would also give agency and safety to Black communities.

READ MORE: George Floyd’s death still a homicide despite evidence of medical issues: experts

“How could the body that is ostensibly meant to provide safety for our communities … be one of the the the the reasons we keep getting hurt?” Hudson said.

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“Most people don’t have to interact with police at all … but for our communities, they’re targeting us.

“We just want to live like everybody else.”

— With files from the Canadian Press

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Meghan.Collie@globalnews.ca

Olivia.Bowden@globalnews.ca

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

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Ontario extends emergency orders to June 19, as province reports 455 new COVID-19 cases – CBC.ca

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Ontario is extending its emergency orders for another 10 days, the same day the province reported an additional 455 cases, 68 of which were the result of a reporting delay. 

The province’s emergency orders had been set to expire June 9 but Ontario announced Saturday that they are being extended until June 19.

Those orders include banning people from dining in bars and restaurants, and gathering in groups larger than five.

They also include the closure of child-care centres, though Premier Doug Ford has said that a phased reopening plan for them will be announced early next week.

Extending the emergency orders also means the continued closure of bars and restaurants except for takeout and delivery, libraries except for curbside pickup or delivery, and theatres.

Ontarians looking to use playgrounds, or beat the heat at public pools and splash pads are also out of luck as a result of the extended orders. 

“Extending these emergency orders will give employers of frontline care providers the necessary flexibility to respond to COVID-19 and protect vulnerable people and the public as the province gradually and safely reopens,” the Ontario government said in a release issued Saturday morning. 

Additionally, the province says it is extending the suspension of limitation periods and time periods for legal proceedings until Sept. 11, ensuring people “will not experience legal consequences” if the original time requirements of their case are not met while this order is in effect.

This news comes after Ontario’s state of emergency, which permits the government to issue emergency orders like these, was extended earlier this week to June 30

Ontario’s cumulative cases surpass 30,000

Meanwhile, the province reported 387 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, as well as 68 others that were impacted by a reporting delay.  

According to new data released by Ontario’s Ministry of Health, the lag in reporting was the result of a “laboratory-to-public health reporting delay.”

That delay stemmed from a “breakdown in communication” between an assessment centre and a hospital lab where a number of positive tests were not communicated to the public health units, Public Health Ontario told CBC Toronto in an email. 

When combined, those 455 newly reported cases represent a 1.5 per cent increase in total cases, a spike when compared to increases in new cases seen earlier this week, which hovered around 1.2 per cent.

The province’s cumulative number of cases now sits at 30,202. Some 23,947 of those cases are considered resolved.

Ontario’s network of about 20 labs processed some 23,105 tests on Friday, the most on any single day since the outbreak began in late January and the first time that figure has surpassed 23,000. 

Ontario has now broken its record number of tests processed for the third straight day, though the province’s partnership of about 20 public, commercial and hospital labs have capacity to handle up to 25,000 samples per day.

Watch l Ontario struggles to keep COVID-19 under control:

Cases of COVID-19 are rising again in Ontario and while Premier Doug Ford says it’s because of more testing, others say there are bigger problems that need addressing. 2:02 

The province’s official COVID-19 death toll grew by 35 and now sits at 2,407. A CBC News count based on data compiled directly from regional public health units puts the real toll at at least 2,434 as of Saturday at 12:30 p.m. 

Just over 64 per cent of COVID-19-linked deaths were residents in long-term care homes, a drop of 15 per cent from the province’s previous update.

The province has tracked outbreaks in 311 long-term care facilities, while 88 remain ongoing, a drop in 78 homes since yesterday. 

Public Health Ontario that significant drop stemmed from the the fact that many long-term care outbreaks that were classified as “open” also included an “declared over” date, which signals that the outbreak is over. That error has since been rectified, Public Health Ontario said in an email. 

The number of patients in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 dropped by 76, down to 673. 

Those being treated in intensive care units fell by one, to 117, while patients requiring a ventilator increased by three, to 97. 

Despite steady new case numbers, Ford says he will reveal details next week on Ontario’s second phase of loosening pandemic restrictions

Although Stage 2 won’t begin immediately after details are revealed, Ford says the province will give notices to businesses that will be given the green light to reopen. 

“We encourage businesses to begin preparing to reopen, so when the time comes, they will be able to protect employees, consumers and the general public,” Ford said in the statement Saturday. 

Meanwhile, thousands of people took to the streets of downtown Toronto Friday to protest against anti-black racism — you can read more about that here

2nd migrant worker dies in Windsor

The Windsor region is reporting the death of a second migrant worker from COVID-19.

Windsor Regional Hospital says a 24-year-old man was first admitted to a different hospital on Monday, and died at their facility on Friday.

The hospital says they have contacted the man’s family in Mexico.

A news release also says that local hospitals and health organizations will jointly conduct a “mass swabbing” for COVID-19 of 8,000 migrant workers in Windsor-Essex starting on Tuesday.

Another temporary foreign worker in the Windsor area who came to Canada in February and tested positive for the virus on May 21 died last weekend.

Approximately 20,000 migrant workers come to Ontario each year to work on farms and in greenhouses — many of them from Mexico, Guatemala and the Caribbean — and this year have been required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

Outbreaks that have affected dozens of migrant workers have been reported in Chatham-Kent, Windsor-Essex, Niagara Region and Elgin County.

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