As COVID-19 cases mount around the world, the committees responsible for Canada’s involvement in Olympic and Paralympic sport have decided they won’t be sending athletes to Tokyo if the 2020 Summer Olympics go ahead as planned.
“This is not solely about athlete health — it’s about public health,” a joint statement released by the committees on Sunday night said. Australia did the same, with its Olympic committee saying “our athletes now need to prioritize their own health and of those around them, and to be able to return to the families.”
BREAKING: The Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee will refuse to send athletes to the Tokyo Olympics if the event is not postponed.The 2020 Games are currently set to begin on July 24. News release: <a href=”https://t.co/NT8twsqAXI”>pic.twitter.com/NT8twsqAXI</a>
Japan has been facing increased pressure to call off or delay the Summer Games amid growing concern over the coronavirus pandemic. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday suggested that the Games could be postponed, adding that he wants to speak with International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.
According to Kyodo News, a Japanese media outlet, Abe told a parliamentary session that if he was asked “whether we can hold the Olympics at this point in time, I would have to say that the world is not in such a condition.”
The statement from the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee came the same day as a warning from the country’s health minister around travellers returning to the country.
Health minister reiterates importance of self-isolation
Speaking at a daily briefing on Sunday, Patty Hajdu said the federal government is willing to use “every measure in our tool box” to make sure people are following public health advice around self-isolating when they return home.
Hajdu reminded incoming travellers that there are “no exceptions” to the two-week isolation period.
The health minister pointed to the Quarantine Act, which allows for fines and charges against people who don’t follow self-isolation measures. But she also noted that, for now, the government is asking people to follow the rules and hoping “we don’t have to get to ordering them.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — who has been addressing the public regularly from outside his home while he completes a two-week period of self-quarantine — is set to speak again Monday morning. Trudeau said last week that his government was talking with major airlines about getting Canadians stranded abroad back home. Over the weekend, a plane arrived in Canada from Morocco, where a large number of travellers had been stranded. Ottawa is also working with airlines to help get people in Peru, Spain and several other countries home.
WATCH | Canadians arrive in Montreal from Morocco:
Most people only experience mild symptoms from the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus and recover within weeks. But it is highly contagious and causes severe illness in some patients, particularly the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. People can carry and spread the virus without showing any symptoms.
More than 340,000 people have been infected worldwide, and nearly 15,000 have died. Nearly 100,000 people have recovered. Read on for a look at what’s happening in Canada, the U.S. and other hard-hit areas today.
Here’s what’s happening in the provinces and territories
British Columbia’s biggest city is warning that businesses that don’t enforce proper social distancing measures could face big fines — or closures. Vancouver city council is holding a virtual meeting Monday to pass bylaws that would allow for the imposition of what the mayor calls “significant” penalties. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.
Alberta reported another 33 cases on Sunday, bringing the total number of reported COVID-19 cases in the province to 259. Also over the weekend, a group of doctors in Calgary took to the streets to protest (standing a safe distance apart) to press for more assistance to those who work with the homeless. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.
Restaurants and bars in Saskatchewan will be limited to offering takeout as of today after the province passed measures meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan, which has 53 reported cases.
Manitoba’s top public health official is urging people to stay apart but still work together to “to limit the impact of this virus” on the province. Dr. Brent Roussin said over the weekend that the province is focusing for now on testing people who travelled internationally and are experiencing symptoms. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.
In Ontario, the province’s emergency declaration is giving hospitals more power over staffing. The associations representing the province’s nurses and doctors, meanwhile, are expressing concern over potential shortage of supplies, particularly masks. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario, including the latest from the province’s education minister.
Quebec said over the weekend that schools, restaurant dining rooms and malls would all be closed until May 1. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec.
New Brunswick is reporting 17 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.
As of Monday morning, most people coming into Nova Scotia — even from another province — will be required to self-isolate for two weeks. The premier said there are some exceptions, including for people in industries like health care or trucking. Read more about what’s happening in Nova Scotia, including the latest on the state of emergency.
Prince Edward Island reported its third case of COVID-19 over the weekend. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I.
Newfoundland and Labrador are reporting a total of nine confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19. Read more about what’s happening in Newfoundland, including a list of what’s closed due to the coronavirus.
Yukon reported its first COVID-19 cases over the weekend, in a couple that had travelled to the U.S. for a conference. Read more about what’s happening in Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
Canada had 1,472 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 6:30 a.m. ET on Monday. Here’s a look at the number of cases — including deaths and recoveries — by province.
British Columbia: 424 confirmed cases, including six recovered and 10 deaths.
Ontario: 425 confirmed cases, including eight recovered and five deaths.
Alberta: 259 confirmed cases, including three recovered and one death.
Quebec: 219 confirmed cases, including one recovered and four deaths.
Saskatchewan: 52 confirmed and presumptive cases.
Manitoba: 20 confirmed and presumptive cases.
New Brunswick: 17 confirmed and presumptive cases.
Nova Scotia: 28 confirmed and presumptive cases.
Prince Edward Island: Three cases the province lists as positive.
Newfoundland and Labrador: Nine confirmed and presumptive cases.
Northwest Territories: One confirmed case.
Yukon: Two confirmed cases.
Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed cases.
Presumptive cases are individuals who have tested positive, but still await confirmation with the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg. Not all provinces are listing figures on those who have recovered. The recent COVID-19 related death of a Canadian in Japan is not currently included in the province-by-province tally of cases.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in the U.S.
From The Associated Press, updated at 6:20 a.m. ET
Top-level negotiations between Congress and the White House churned late into the night over a now nearly $2 trillion US economic rescue package, as the coronavirus crisis deepened, the nation shut down and the first U.S. senator tested positive for the disease.
While the congressional leaders worked into the night, alarms were being sounded from coast to coast about the wave of coronavirus cases about to crash onto the nation’s health system.
As President Donald Trump took to the podium in the White House briefing room and promised to help Americans who feel afraid and isolated as the pandemic spreads, the Senate voted Sunday against advancing the rescue package. But talks continued on Capitol Hill.
“I think you’ll get there. To me it’s not very complicated: We have to help the worker. We have to save the companies,” Trump said.
Later, the Republican president suggested the remedies may be more harmful than the outbreak, vowing to reassess after the 15-day mark of the shutdown. “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” he tweeted.
Inside the otherwise emptied out Capitol, the draft aid bill was declared insufficient by Democrats, who argued it was tilted toward corporations and did too little to help workers and health-care providers. Republicans returned to the negotiating table.
WATCH | States seek supplies as COVID-19 cases mount in U.S.:
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, exiting the Capitol just before midnight, struck an optimistic note: “We’re very close,” he said, adding negotiators would work through the night.
“Our nation cannot afford a game of chicken,” warned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., his voice rising on the Senate floor Sunday night. His goal is to vote Monday. The Senate will reconvene at noon.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer sounded an optimistic note.
“This bill is going to affect this country and the lives of Americans, not just for the next few days, but in the next few months and years — so we have to make sure it is good,” he said.
‘”There were some serious problems with the bill leader McConnell laid down. Huge amounts of corporate bailout funds without restrictions or without oversight — you wouldn’t even know who is getting the money. Not enough money for hospitals, nurses, PPE, masks, all the health-care needs. No money for state and local government, many of whom would go broke. Many other things.”
But Schumer said they were making progress in dealing with those issues. “We’re getting closer and closer. And I’m very hopeful, is how I’d put it, that we can get a bill in the morning.”
Here’s what’s happening in Europe
From Reuters, updated at 6:20 a.m. ET
Hard-hit Italy, which has struggled to slow the spread of COVID-19, banned travel within the country on Sunday, as its death toll climbed to 5,476.
Britain’s health minister said stricter restrictions on movements would be brought in if people did not observe advice to avoid social interaction, warning that such measures would also have to stay in place longer.
In Germany, the number of cases has climbed to 22,672 with 86 deaths, a public health agency tally showed on Monday.
Spain sought on Sunday to extend the state of emergency until April 11 as its death toll jumped to over 1,700.
WATCH | Doctor warns against medical gloves in public, talks importance of handwashing:
Here’s what’s happening in some other affected areas, including hard-hit South Korea and Iran
From Reuters and The Associated Press, updated at 7 a.m. ET
South Korea reported on Monday its lowest number of new coronavirus cases and the extended downward trend in daily infections since the peak on Feb. 29 has boosted hopes that Asia’s largest outbreak outside China may be abating. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said there were 64 new cases on Monday, taking the national tally to 8,961. The death toll rose to 118, from 110.
The new numbers marked the 12th day in a row the country has posted new infections of around 100 or less, compared with the peak of 909 cases recorded on Feb. 29. But officials urged even greater vigilance as imported cases and new, small outbreaks continued to emerge, such as in nursing homes, churches and crowded workplaces.
“We don’t give much meaning to numbers yet, but as there are some fluctuations despite a declining trend, our top priority is to prevent sporadic group infections and repatriated cases,” said Yoon Tae-ho, director-general for public health policy at the health ministry.
The worst outbreak in the Middle East is unfolding in Iran, where state TV reported another 127 deaths on Monday, bringing the total number of fatalities to 1,812 amid more than 23,000 confirmed cases. Iran has faced widespread criticism for not imposing stricter quarantine measures early on. It is also suffering under severe U.S. sanctions.
Syrians rushed to stock up on food and fuel Monday amid fears that authorities would resort to even stricter measures after reporting the first coronavirus infection in the country, where the health-care system has been decimated by nearly a decade of civil war. Authorities said border crossings with Lebanon and Jordan would close at midday.
The United Arab Emirates, home to the world’s busiest international airport, said it was suspending all passenger flights for two weeks. Dubai’s airport is a vital hub connecting Western nations with Asian countries and Australia, and suspending passenger flights there affects travellers around the world.
BENANTHONY LAVOZ AND DELON OM GET RAW WITH “The Gentleman and Scholar”
Toronto, ON – Canadian Latin Pop sensations BenAnthony Lavoz and Delon Om, dropped their new EP “The Gentleman & Scholar.” Coming off the success of their summer hit single “One More Time” the pop sensations went dark for their new project. The multi-talented artists wanted the lyrics of their new EP to describe the struggles we keep to ourselves, the ones that lead us to walk in the darkness. Lavoz and Om brought in some heavy hitters to produce “The Gentleman and Scholar.” The EP was produced by David Neale (Karl Wolf, Danny Fernandes, Peter Jackson) and multi-platinum Grammy award winning producer, Sensei Musica (Fat Joe, Pitbull, and Shakira). The project serves as an emotional outlet for Lavoz and Om, who bring to the table a genuine connect and passion. “The Gentleman and Scholar” reminds us that there are many parts that make up who we are, but at the heart of it all … is our truth. Do we own it, or do we hide? One of the singles on the EP, “Follow the Leader” features Canada’s own Danny Fernandes. The three artists connected over their dark pasts to create the song about vulnerability, redemption and finding a new and forgiving path to walk.
BenAnthony Lavoz, a Toronto native and Latin Grammy award winner has performed with Prince Royce, Nicky Jam, Bad Bunny and Ozuna. Delon Om, is a former Canadian Idol contestant, song writer and music producer signed to Ultra Records. Om’s single, “Someone Special To Me” was featured in the critically acclaimed documentary “This is for Toronto.” Together they produced an EP that speaks to the resilience of the human spirit, in hopes that lessons learned, and paths walked will give others hope and encouragement to step out of the dark and into the light.
“The Gentleman and Scholar” is raw and ready. Step into the light on all music platforms today…
FOLLOW Delon OM:
FOLLOW BENANTHONY LAVOZ:
Sasha Stoltz Publicity & Management:
Sasha Stoltz | Sasha@sashastoltzpublicity.com | 416.579.4804
Front-line workers shoulder burden of vaccine mandates – CBC.ca
This story features an audience member, like you, who got in touch with us. Send us your questions. We are listening: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Service industry workers in Canada say they’re bearing the brunt of anger, frustration and general confusion from clients over new vaccine mandates that they had nothing to do with creating, but are now responsible for enforcing.
At the entrance to Wienstein & Gavino’s, an Italian restaurant in downtown Montreal, hostess Abigail Trevino is standing at the ready to greet clients and ask them for their proof of vaccination.
“I try to defuse the situation usually with a joke, saying that I feel more like a bouncer than a hostess these days,” said Trevino. “Usually people laugh at that and it’s enough to break the tension.”
For the most part, she said, people have been understanding of Quebec’s vaccine passport system, which came into effect on Sept. 1. Occasionally she’s had customers who were annoyed or frustrated, but no one who was outright aggressive.
“I had someone get quite visibly annoyed with me, but he did actually come back and apologize afterwards and say, ‘I realize that you don’t make the rules; I’m sorry I lost my temper.'”
‘Doubled the workload’
The challenge, more than anything, has been the extra work. “It’s basically doubled the workload,” Trevino said.
From troubleshooting technical issues with smartphone QR codes and apps, to answering phone calls from people asking what kind of proof is accepted, Trevino said her responsibilities as a hostess have suddenly expanded.
While she agrees with the vaccine passport in principle, she’d like to see more recognition from the government about the added burden it places on businesses and their employees, when they’re already dealing with staff shortages.
“We’re doing a lot of extra work for no extra money, and it eats into the time it takes to seat people. It slows everything down,” said Trevino.
“It would be nice if people could be a little bit nicer to restaurant workers, because I understand that it’s frustrating for people to have to pull out their ID and they’re not always expecting it.… [But] if people could just be patient and understanding, and realize that we don’t make the rules.”
Across the border in Ontario, people have had less time to get used to vaccine certificate requirements, which came into effect on Wednesday.
The rules apply to venues including indoor areas at restaurants and bars, gyms and recreational facilities, and entertainment venues.
The Hearty Hooligan, a vegan restaurant in Hamilton, warned customers of the changes last week through a post on its Instagram account.
“Providing proof of vaccination when you are looking to dine in is the law,” the post states. “Front-line workers have taken a lot of abuse throughout this pandemic and we will not tolerate any harassment over these policies.”
But in response to that, head chef Matthew Miles said they’ve faced an onslaught of angry comments from people accusing them of everything from discrimination to supporting tyranny.
When the mask mandate first came into effect, Miles said they had customers enter the restaurant without masks, arguing about their rights. They’re bracing for more of that type of attitude.
To help protect staff, the restaurant installed a bell near the front till that rings directly to the kitchen, so that employees can call for extra help if there’s a conflict.
“Our issue right now is mainly the safety of our front-line staff. We want them to feel supported and we want them to feel safe in their workspace,” Miles said.
Inspections and fines
In response to those concerns, a spokesperson for the Ontario health minister said bylaw officers are responsible for enforcing the new requirements and inspectors will be visiting establishments to offer help and support to staff.
Workers in Ontario are being asked to call 911 if they feel threatened for denying entry to someone who refuses to comply.
In Quebec, people who try to get into places requiring a vaccination passport without one risk receiving fines ranging from $1,000 to $6,000. Businesses that don’t enforce vaccine passport rules can also face fines between $1,000 to $6,000.
Alberta’s new proof-of-vaccination program is not mandatory, but some of the businesses that have chosen to adopt it say they’re ready to call police if people refuse to co-operate.
Outside the restaurant and bar industry, workers in a range of sectors are now adding enforcement of public health restrictions to their list of tasks.
Nadia Ali, a 19-year-old Carleton University student who works part time as a lifeguard, recently learned she would have to screen swimmers for proof of vaccination.
The pool where she works is in an Ottawa condo building, and Ali said some residents have been angry about the changes.
“One lady came in and she told me this was unjust and discrimination, and that she wouldn’t be coming here again,” Ali said. “I just told her, ‘I’m sorry but I just enforce the rules, I didn’t make them.'”
Her management has been supportive, she said, and if a resident was ever aggressive, she would ask for help from the front desk. So far, it hasn’t come to that.
More than anything, Ali said, it’s a lot of hassle and extra work. She hopes the process will get smoother with time.
It all comes down to employees being put in an unfair position that they never signed up for, according to Toronto-based employment lawyer Muneeza Sheikh.
“What we are doing, essentially, is we’re placing employees in a combative scenario when that isn’t part of their job duty,” she said.
Sheikh said some of her clients have hired new staff altogether — if they can afford it — to enforce vaccine mandates. But for establishments that don’t have or can’t afford security, she said the vaccine requirements put them in a difficult position.
“There are Canadian employees who have a significant amount of anxiety around going to work now around this vaccination passport and how it’s going to be implemented,” she said.
Britain offers Canadian military help to defend the Arctic – CBC.ca
Britain is signalling its interest in working with the Canadian military in the Arctic by offering to take part in cold-weather exercises and bring in some of its more advanced capabilities — such as nuclear-powered submarines — to help with surveillance and defence in the Far North.
In a recent exclusive interview with CBC News, the United Kingdom’s top military commander said his country is “keen to cooperate” and learn more about how to survive and fight in a cold, remote setting.
Gen. Sir Nick Carter said Britain would also like to “cooperate in terms of helping Canada do what Canada needs to do as an Arctic country.”
The offer was quietly floated months ago in government circles. Experts say, however, that successive Canadian governments have been reluctant to allow anyone — even close allies — to become too deeply embedded in the region.
WATCH: Gen. Sir Nick Carter discusses the prospect of military cooperation with Canada in the Arctic
Much of that reluctance has to do with contested claims to Canada’s sovereignty in the Arctic. Concern over Canada’s exclusion from the recent security pact between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia may lend fresh urgency to the U.K.’s proposal, however.
CBC’s interview with Gen. Carter was conducted before the AUKUS pact was announced.
As members of NATO, both Britain and Canada have taken part in winter warfare exercises in Norway. Gen. Carter said he believes that cooperation could be expanded to the benefit of both countries. The British Army has for many years conducted armoured and combined warfare training at Suffield, Alta.
Keeping a closer eye on the Arctic
The Arctic is becoming more of a focus for NATO and Canada’s closest allies. The potential threat posed by the reactivation of Russia’s northern Cold War-era bases, as well as the interest of possible adversaries such as China, figured promptly in speeches and panel discussions at the recent NATO leaders summit last June.
Canada’s former Conservative government placed a premium on increasing Canada’s military presence in the Far North; it built a naval refuelling station and set in motion the construction of Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships, which are just being delivered.
Those measures offer Canada’s military limited capabilities, however. Underwater and satellite surveillance of the region is still in the planning and early implementation phases.
Carter said the U.K. has capabilities that could help keep closer tabs on the Arctic’s rapidly melting seas and inlets, but it would be up to the Canadian government to decide.
“We would absolutely defer to Canada’s expertise in this,” Carter told CBC News.
“I think we have military capabilities, certainly in the maritime domain and in terms of our science that would be useful to Canada and I think operating alongside Canada in that regard is going to be clearly good for both countries.”
What Britain has — and Canada lacks — is a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, which can operate under ice for extended periods of time.
When Canada bought its current diesel-electric submarines from Britain in the late 1990s it embarked on a project to retrofit them with fuel cells that would have delivered better, longer under-ice performance. The plan fell through and was quietly shelved.
In the late 1980s, the Conservative government of former prime minister Brian Mulroney proposed buying 12 nuclear-powered submarines with the goal of using them for Arctic defence. The end of the Cold War and subsequent defence cuts caused the plan to be shelved.
The University of Calgary’s Rob Huebert, one of the country’s leading experts on Arctic defence, said that after a hiatus of almost a dozen years, the British rejoined the biennial American high Arctic military exercise in 2018 with their nuclear-powered submarines.
Back in March, the Russians deployed three ultra-quiet nuclear subs to simultaneously punch through the Arctic ice in the same location — a demonstration that set the defence community buzzing.
“We do not have the capability of engaging Russian submarines or Chinese submarines, if and when that ever becomes a reality,” said Huebert, speaking about the Canadian navy’s Arctic inventory. “That’s the No. 1 capability that the British bring to the Arctic.”
CBC News asked Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s office to comment on the notion of closer cooperation with the British in Canada’s Far North. The query went unanswered.
Huebert said successive Canadian governments have been reluctant to let the allies become more deeply involved in the region, beyond the Operation Nanook exercise held each summer.
“We’re fearful any type of involvement with NATO would undermine our sovereignty,” said Huebert, noting that both the United States and Britain do not recognize Canada’s claim to the Northwest Passage.
Canada needs to show the flag: defence expert
The British offer of cooperation and assistance is a wake-up call for the Liberal government on several different fronts, said Dave Perry, a vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.
It is, he said, a reminder that Canada needs to be more present in the region.
“There have been [Canadian] commitments to increase the situational awareness there, but that has a long way to go and the thing for Canadians to remember is that it is our actual territory and our backyard,” he said.
“I think it is great to work with other people, but we should be doing what we can to make sure we have a home field advantage.”
With Australia planning to acquire nuclear submarines — which conceivably could operate in the Arctic as well — Perry was asked if Canada will have to rely more on its allies to monitor and defend its territory.
“I think the AUKUS deal is an indicator that there are some countries with whom we have been intimately familiar and intimately allied with. Some of our best friends on the planet are firming even tighter, smaller clubs,” he said.
“The United States under successive administrations is being far less benign about allies that they look at as pulling — or not pulling — their weight … The United States is looking for people who will pull their weight.”
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