Schools in the hard-hit Montreal area won’t be reopening until the fall amid continued concern over the coronavirus pandemic, Quebec Premier François Legault announced at his daily briefing on Thursday.
Except those for children of essential service workers, daycares in the region will not reopen before June 1. Legault had previously announced high schools, colleges and universities wouldn’t reopen until late August; the new decision now includes elementary schools.
The province has opened daycares and primary schools outside the Montreal region, though attendance is voluntary.
WATCH | Montreal mayor on 2 key COVID-19 decisions made by Quebec:
In Ontario, the fate of the school year is not yet known, but the premier announced the province will enter Stage 1 of its reopening plan next week.
The plan, which begins Tuesday, includes resuming construction projects, as well as the reopening of some workplaces, seasonal activities and health-care facilities.
Still, Premier Doug Ford stressed caution, and warned that plans could change if caseloads increase.
WATCH | Premier Ford announces further opening of Ontario economy:
“Businesses should open only if they are ready,” Ford said in a briefing on Thursday.
“We can’t fully predict where things will go … we cannot let our guard down now.”
Ontario’s reopening also includes retail stores outside of shopping malls with street entrances, and involves “gradually restarting” scheduled surgeries, along with allowing libraries to open for pickup. Property management services, such as cleaning, painting and pool maintenance, will also resume.
Ahead of the premier’s expected announcement, Health Minister Christine Elliott put out a tweet saying as the province plans for a gradual reopening, it will expand testing guidelines so that anyone with COVID-19 symptoms can be tested.
“Doing so will help identify and contain new cases and monitor any shifts in community spread to keep Ontarians safe,” Elliott said in the tweet. The new guidelines from Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams will say anyone with symptoms can be tested.
Elliott, who did not provide specifics on what had changed or how the expanded testing would be implemented, said the province has “nearly completed” testing for all long-term care home workers and residents, and will now expand testing to other vulnerable populations, including people in retirement homes and other group settings like group homes and shelters.
Alberta lifts restrictions — but not for the whole province
Alberta, meanwhile, is taking a step forward on Thursday as a range of businesses — including stores, daycares and hair salons — are being allowed to open across most of the province. Calgary and Brooks, which account for the majority of the active cases in the province, won’t reopen at the same pace.
At a briefing on Thursday, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the decision to keep some restrictions in the two cities was a provincial call, one that he found out about only a day earlier. Nenshi asked citizens to continue to respect the restrictions, and encouraged them to order food from local restaurants, some of which had ordered food and rehired staff in preparation for reopening over the long weekend.
“Please, please, please, please don’t let up now,” Nenshi said. “Be safe, stay kind. Together we’ll save lives.”
Alberta’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, warned that reopening doesn’t mean going back to normal.
She said she’s received reports of some businesses opening earlier than they should, but that she’s seeing more and more people wearing masks and following distancing rules.
Hinshaw asked people to consider wearing masks to protect people around them.
Edmonton businesses get back to work as Stage 1 of Alberta’s relaunch kicks off <a href=”https://t.co/SLOejT4YN3″>https://t.co/SLOejT4YN3</a> <a href=”https://t.co/9ArtgLvvNE”>pic.twitter.com/9ArtgLvvNE</a>
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was set to speak with the premiers Thursday evening in a weekly call to discuss the coronavirus outbreak, which has left more than 70,000 Canadians infected and led to sweeping public health measures aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.
Trudeau used his daily briefing to outline a support program for fish harvesters, announcing $469 million in federal funding for fish harvesters who have been ineligible for other aid initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also announced that some federal historic sites and parks, which have been closed as part of the response to the outbreak, will be reopening as of June 1. He said parks would open in phases, and some parks — including Arctic parks — won’t be reopening any time soon.
Dr. Michael Ryan, the WHO director of emergencies, said Wednesday that “this virus may never go away.”
“This virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities,” he said Wednesday, noting that other previously novel diseases such as HIV have never disappeared, but that effective treatments have been developed to allow people to live with the disease.
When asked about that remark at his briefing on Thursday, Trudeau said, “We know there are things that we took for granted last year and years before that have changed.”
WATCH | PM asked about WHO official’s remark that novel coronavirus may be here to stay:
Also Thursday, Canada’s spy agencies warned that Canadian COVID-19 research is a “valuable target” for state-sponsored actors. A joint statement from the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), Canada’s foreign signals intelligence agency, and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) warned of an “increased risk of foreign interference and espionage due to the extraordinary effort of our businesses and research centres.”
It comes just a day after U.S. intelligence agencies warned of China-backed hacking of institutions and companies researching vaccines, treatments and tests for the novel coronavirus.
The CSE and CSIS statement doesn’t name the state actors suspected of posing a threat and neither agency would say whether they have witnessed specific attacks.
As of 8:45 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had 73,401 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases, with 36,104 of those considered recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of COVID-19 deaths based on provincial health data, regional information and CBC’s reporting stood at 5,576.
While most cases of coronavirus are mild or moderate, some people — particularly the elderly or those with underlying health issues — are at higher risk of severe disease or death. There are no proven vaccines or treatments for the novel coronavirus, which causes an illness called COVID-19.
Here’s what’s happening in the provinces and territories
Fifteen more people in British Columbia have been diagnosed with COVID-19, while the province announced three more deaths in the past 24 hours. At the same time, the province’s chief health officer is asking people not to travel over the long weekend if it’s not essential. “Let’s make this our summer of care and consideration for our families, our communities and our province. A summer for us all to remember to be kind, to be calm and to be safe,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.
Alberta is starting the first phase of its relaunch plan on Thursday — but not for the whole province. The premier had words of caution as he announced the details, saying: “If we slack off … maybe people we love will suffer. And if cases and hospitalizations spike, we’ll have to reintroduce either regional or provincewide restrictions again.”
The province announced 50 new cases for a total of 6,457, with one death bringing the total to 121. There are 1,131 active cases, with 65 in hospital and 10 in intensive care. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.
WATCH | Alberta releases relaunch plan with some COVID-19 restrictions:
Saskatchewan schools are closed for the rest of the education year, and no decision has yet been made on whether students will return to in-person learning in the fall. The school year was formally ended earlier this month. Universities have said they will be returning to digital classrooms in the fall. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.
Manitoba reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, and one probable positive case has now been ruled out, public health officials say. The province said it is opening up testing so that people with cold or flu-like symptoms can go directly to a testing site. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.
WATCH | Does Canada need to ramp up testing before reopening the economy?
Ontario reported 258 new cases on Thursday, bringing the provincial total to 21,494 cases. According to the province, 16,204 of those cases are considered resolved. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario, where officials are set to expand testing.
Quebec Premier François Legault has announced that schools in the Montreal area will not reopen until September. He said it’s possible children won’t be back in school before the end of September, and students with special needs may return even later in the year. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec, where non-contact sports such as tennis and golf will be allowed to resume.
New Brunswick Education Minister Dominic Cardy says there’s risk in reopening daycares, but some risk is necessary if the province is “going to come out on the other side of this … with a functioning economy.” Cardy stressed that operational plans and precautions around safety will be required at every facility that reopens. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.
Health officials in Nova Scotia reported two new coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing the provincial total to 1,026 with 909 of those considered recovered. To date, the province has reported a COVID-19 death toll of 51, with the vast majority of the deaths linked to a long-term care facility in Halifax. Read more about what’s happening in N.S.
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Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King has laid out the basics on what will be expected of child-care providers when they reopen. “We know that we have to change how we deliver programs. Also, where some of these programs have been traditionally delivered will need to change as well,” the premier said. Read more about what’s happening in P.E.I.
Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new coronavirus cases on Thursday, marking its seventh straight day with no new cases of COVID-19. Read more about what’s happening in N.L., including a story about a plan by universities to do most learning online next fall.
The Northwest Territories could begin the first phase of its reopening plan — which includes allowing some businesses to reopen and small indoor gatherings — as soon as Friday, officials said. Read more about what’s happening across the North, including a story about a drop in emergency room visits in Yukon.
Here’s a look at what’s happening around the world
WATCH | England has cautiously started to reopen, but the decision has been met with trepidation on the streets of London:
As of 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, there were more than 4.4 million reported coronavirus cases, with more than 300,000 deaths, according to a database maintained by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. According to the university’s case tracking tool, more than 85,000 of those deaths were in the U.S., which has more than 1.4 million cases.
Canada's top five federal contaminated sites to cost taxpayers billions to clean up – CTV News
With a cost estimate of $4.38 billion, remediation of the Giant Mine, one of the most contaminated sites in Canada, is also expected to be the most expensive federal environmental cleanup in the country’s history.
The figure, recently approved by the Treasury Board of Canada, spans costs from 2005 until 2038, when active remediation at the former Yellowknife gold mine is anticipated to end. That includes $710 million the federal government said has already been spent, but does not include costs forlong-term care and maintenance.
“It doesn’t bother me so much that it’s going to cost $4 billion to clean up Giant Mine. What really bothers me is that the taxpayer is covering that cost,” said David Livingstone, chair of the Giant Mine Oversight Board.
It indicates the federal government failed to ensure private developers provided financial security to remediate sites. He said while that has improved over time, there will likely be more issues in the future.
“We as a society need to get a better handle on what it costs us to support mining industry and oil and gas industry,” he said. “If the numbers suggest that it’s going to cost more to clean up a site than that site generated in revenue to the Crown, we’ve got a problem.”
There are more than 20,000 locations listed in the federal contaminated sites inventory, from dumps and abandoned mines to military operations on federal land.
Environment and Climate Change Canada says that after Giant Mine, the four most expensive cleanups are the Faro Mine in Yukon, the Port Hope Area Initiative in Ontario, Esquimalt Harbour in British Columbia and Yukon’s United Keno Hill Mine.
More than $2 billion has been spent on the five sites so far, and it’s anticipated they will cost taxpayers billions more in the coming years. Their final price tags are not yet known.
The most recent numbers from the Treasury Board of Canada indicate more than $707 million has been spent on remediation, care and maintenance at Faro Mine, a former open pit lead-zinc mine.Its remediation project is expected to take 15 years to complete and is currently estimated to cost $1 billion, plus $166 million for the first 10 years of long-term operation and maintenance.
Parsons Inc. was awarded a $108-million contract in February for construction, care and maintenance at Faro Mine until March 2026, with the option to extend the contract for the duration of active remediation. The company said the contract could ultimately span 20 years and exceed $2 billion.
In 2012, Ottawa committed $1.28 billion in funding over 10 years for the cleanup of historical low-level radioactive waste in the municipalities of Port Hope and Port Grandby, Ont. To date more than $722 million has been spent on assessment and remediation.
The Port Grandby Project was completed earlier this year and has moved into long-term monitoring for hundreds of years. The Port Hope cleanup, which started in 2018, will continue into 2030.
The cleanup in the Esquimalt Harbour seabed in Victoria currently has a budget of $162.5 million. Roughly $214 million has already been spent on remediation and assessment. The Department of National Defence said that may include costs before 2015, when the remediation project began.
Cleanup of United Keno Hill Mine, a historical silver, lead and zinc mining property near Yukon’s Keno City, is estimated to cost $125 million, including $79 million during its active reclamation phase. That is expected to begin in 2023 and take five years, followed by a two-year transition phase then long-term monitoring and maintenance. More than $67 million has been spent on remediation, care and maintenance at the site so far.
Other costly federal sites that have been cleaned up include the Cape Dyer Dew-Line, 21 former radar stations across the Arctic, for $575 million, the Sydney tar ponds and coke ovens on Cape Breton Island, N.S., for nearly $398 million, and the 5 Wing Goose Bay air force base in Labrador, for $142.9 million.
The 2022 public accounts state the gross liability for the 2,524 federal contaminated sites where action is required is nearly $10 billion based on site assessments. Of the 3,079 unassessed sites, 1,330 are projected to proceed to remediation with an estimated liability of $256 million.
The federal contaminated sites action plan was established in 2005 with $4.54 billion in funding over 15 years. That was renewed for an additional 15 years, from 2020 to 2034, with a commitment of $1.16 billion for the first five years.
Jamie Kneen with MiningWatch Canada said the contamination from Giant Mine highlights the importance of the planning and assessment process for development projects.
“If you don’t actually do any planning around something, you can end up with a pretty horrible mess,” he said. “In this case, it killed people before they started even capturing the arsenic. We don’t want that to happen anymore.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2022.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Trudeau government unveils long-awaited plan to confront an 'increasingly disruptive' China – CBC News
Canada’s long-awaited Indo-Pacific strategy describes China as “an increasingly disruptive global power” on the world stage — a social and economic force that’s too big to ignore but is also increasingly focused on bending international rules to suit its own interests.
Using some surprisingly blunt language, the strategy says the Canadian government needs to be “clear-eyed” about China’s objectives in the Far East and elsewhere. It promises to spend almost half a billion dollars over five years on improving military and intelligence co-operation with allies in the region.
“China’s rise, enabled by the same international rules and norms that it now increasingly disregards, has had an enormous impact on the Indo-Pacific, and it has ambitions to become the leading power in the region,” says the 26-page document, which was provided to the media in advance of its formal release in Vancouver on Sunday.
“China is making large-scale investments to establish its economic influence, diplomatic impact, offensive military capabilities and advanced technologies. China is looking to shape the international order into a more permissive environment for interests and values that increasingly depart from ours.”
The strategy document also says that “China’s sheer size and influence makes co-operation necessary to address some of the world’s existential pressures, such as climate change and biodiversity loss, global health and nuclear proliferation.”
In that respect, Canada’s foreign policy blueprint mirrors the approaches taken by its closest allies, including the United States, which last February released its own vision for engagement in the region.
Where the American and Canadian strategies differ is in how Canada’s document spells out that it will “at all times unapologetically defend our national interest” and that its views will be “shaped by a realistic and clear-eyed assessment of today’s China.”
Many observers — including some prominent Liberals — have urged the government over the past few years to maintain the pro-business and investment relationship with Beijing that has built up over the last two decades.
The new strategy document, however, appears to reflect the lessons of the bruising international clashes that have driven relations between Canada and China into the deep freeze: the arrest and extradition fight involving Chinese telecom executive Meng Wanzhou; China’s retaliatory detention of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig; and even the lecture Chinese President Xi Jinping recently delivered to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — an event caught on camera.
“In areas of profound disagreement, we will challenge China, including when it engages in coercive behaviour — economic or otherwise — ignores human rights obligations or undermines our national security interests and those of partners in the region,” the strategy document says.
In an interview airing Sunday on CBC’s Rosemary Barton Live, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly described the overall plan as “pragmatic” and principled.
“Our approach is clear, you know, and we have a clear framework which is essentially about protecting our national interests without compromising our values and principles,” Joly said.
“So what I’ve said many times at this point is we will challenge when we ought to and we will co-operate when we must.”
Foreign investment, foreign interference
Overall, the strategy envisions about $2 billion in investments to, among other things, strengthen Canadian “infrastructure, democracy and Canadian citizens against foreign interference.”
It proposes changes to the Investment Canada Act to prevent state-owned enterprises and other foreign entities that threaten Canada’s national security from taking over critical Canadian industries and intellectual property. All federal departments are being told to review Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with China and other countries to ensure Canada’s national interests are being protected.
The strategy upholds Canada’s One-China policy when it comes to Taiwan. The island — a democracy — faces increasing threats from Beijing, which has not ruled out the use of military force in its drive to unify Taiwan with the mainland.
“Canada will oppose unilateral actions that threaten the status quo in the Taiwan Strait,” the strategy says. On Sunday, Defence Minister Anita Anand skirted questions about Canada’s willingness to defend Taiwan, as well as whether the government was concerned about a backlash from China due to Canada’s increased presence.
“We will ensure that the region remains one that is stable and will continue to grow economically,” she said.
Also on Sunday, Joly drew a direct line between Canada’s involvement in the Pacific and another major focus of its foreign policy: the Arctic. She said closer ties with South Korea and Japan would support Canada’s goal of maintaining sovereignty in the region, in light of increased interest from countries like China.
“More Canadian men and women will be in the region to ensure peace and also uphold the rule of law,” she said.
The strategy document has been years in the making and was eagerly anticipated by Canada’s allies in the region, including Japan and South Korea, which have been lobbying for deeper co-operation. It also contains a section on India, which includes a commitment to work toward a new trade agreement.
The Liberal government promised when first elected in 2015 to develop a new approach to China after years of prickly relations under the former Conservative administration.
But Canada has struggled to figure out how to engage with an increasingly assertive — sometimes belligerent — China and its supreme leader Xi, who has openly rejected elements of Western-style governance, such as the separation of powers.
The Liberals signalled a plan to increase Canada’s military commitment to the region during the prime minister’s recent overseas trip to the G20 Summit.
That commitment is outlined in broad strokes in the strategy document through promises to boost engagement in international military exercises and to increase the number of Canadian warships deployed in the region.
There’s also a pledge to help smaller countries in the region build up their security forces, presumably with the help of Canadian training. That pledge is similar to the promise the Liberal government made in 2017 to help increase the training and quality of United Nations peacekeepers — a promise that has gone unfulfilled.
The strategy says the military commitments being made are tied to the ongoing review of Canada’s defence policy, ordered in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. That review has yet to be made public.
The defence and security promises in the Indo-Pacific Strategy are being made at a time when the Canadian military is short 10,000 members and is struggling to recruit new ones.
Joly said the government will make the strategy work and will be “putting money where our mouth is.”
Earlier this month, China’s embassy in Canada responded to a speech made by Joly that previewed the new strategy, saying it “contained a lot of negative contents related to China that distorted the truth, exaggerated the so-called ‘China threat’ and discredited China’s image, which constituted a gross interference in China’s internal affairs. China is deeply concerned about this and firmly opposes it.”
The strategy was welcomed by the U.S. ambassador to Canada, David Cohen, in a statement Sunday.
Canadian military would be ‘challenged’ to launch a large scale operation: chief of the defence staff
Canada’s military forces are “ready” to meet their commitments should Russia’s war in Ukraine spread to NATO countries, but it would be a “challenge” to launch a larger scale operation in the long term, with ongoing personnel and equipment shortages, according to Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre.
Eyre told Joyce Napier on CTV’s Question Period in an interview airing Sunday that while the forces in Europe are “ready for the tactical mission they’ve been assigned,” he has larger concerns about strategic readiness. He said there’s a lack of people and equipment, and further concern around the ability to sustain a larger scale mission in the longer term.
The Canadian Armed Forces are still struggling to retain staff, with nearly 10,000 fewer trained personnel than they’d need to be at full force, and equipment stocks below what they require.
“We’ve got challenges in all of those,” Eyre said, adding the numbers reflect what’s been “let slip over decades, as we’ve focused on the more immediate (needs).”
Eyre said Canada’s military would be “hard pressed” to launch another large-scale operation like it had in Afghanistan, as an example, without having to redistribute its resources around the globe, as threats evolve.
“The military that we have now is going to be increasingly called upon to support Canada and to support Canadian interests, to support our allies overseas, but as well at home,” Eyre said, citing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, climate change impacting the landscape in the Arctic, and an increase in digital and cybersecurity threats.
“It’s always a case of prioritization and balancing our deployments around the globe, not just with what, but when, and with who … and getting that balance right is something that that we’re working on,” he said. “Could we use more? Yeah, absolutely. But we operate with what we have.”
“We prioritize and balance based on what our allies need, and what the demand signals, just to make sure that we achieve the strategic effect the government wants us to achieve,” he also said.
Meanwhile Defence Minister Anita Anand said on CTV’s Question Period last week that Canada should “be able to walk and chew gum at the same time,” and balance its NATO commitments with securing the Arctic and promoting peace in the Indo-Pacific.
Eyre said his number one priority is getting Canada’s armed forces up to full strength, with an attrition rate of 9.3 per cent between both regular and reserve forces, up from 6.9 per cent last year. The Canadian Armed Forces Retention Strategy was released just last month.
“We are facing the same challenge that every other industry out there is facing in terms of a really tight labor market,” Eyre said. “Every other military in the West is facing the same challenge.”
He explained the organization is working on streamlining its recruitment process, among other changes, to meet the increasing need, with the goal to get numbers up “as quickly as possible.”
“Ideally, would have been yesterday,” he said. “We’re looking at where we can accelerate the recruiting, the training, and optimizing our training pipeline.”
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