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Coronavirus What’s happening in Canada on May 23

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Ontario and Quebec are among the provinces going ahead with plans to ease COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, despite concerns about their capacity for testing and tracking the spread of the virus that causes the contagious respiratory illness.

Health officials in Ontario on Saturday released data showing the province has added 412 cases, a number not as high as the 441 counted on Friday — the most on a single day since May 8 — but it’s still in line with an upward trend seen in the past week and a half.

Dr. Matthew Oughton, an infectious diseases expert and professor at McGill University, spoke to CBC News about the need for being prepared.

“We should be monitoring much more, even than what we currently are, and we should certainly have more capacity in our hospital system to absorb new cases than we do right now,” he said.

 

Our weekend business panel discusses how retailers are struggling to adapt under the global pandemic. Plus, a look at the details of a bridge financing program for large companies unveiled by the federal government this week. 16:55

“If we are lucky and everything goes smoothly, everyone would be thrilled with that. But if things don’t go smoothly, we need to have surplus capacity, not already be at capacity in hospitals. That’s really a setting for potential problems.”

Earlier in the week, the Quebec government began allowing people to gather outdoors in groups of up to 10, from a maximum of three households. There were 646 new cases of COVID-19 in the province on Friday and 65 more deaths.

Ontario, meanwhile, entered Stage 1 of its framework to reopen the economy on Tuesday, giving the green light for retail stores outside of shopping malls with street entrances to reopen with physical distancing measures. Golf courses, marinas and private parks were also allowed to reopen.

As of Saturday, labs across Canada have tested 1,429,000 people for COVID-19, with about five per cent of these testing positive, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said.

 

Health-care workers talk next to a mobile COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal on Saturday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

 

“We are now testing an average of 28,000 people daily,” Tam said in a statement.

As warmer weather draws more people outside, public health officers have been urging Canadians not to get complacent about safety. Deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo says people should get outside for fresh air and exercise, but physical distancing is still recommended.

An infectious disease specialist answers questions about the COVID-19 pandemic including whether two metres are still enough for physical distancing. 3:05

Njoo says it is too early to know whether an uptick in cases in Ontario in the last few days is a sign of a second wave of infections or something else but says overall Canada has been good at flattening the curve.

As small businesses begin reopening, some are starting to add a COVID-19 surcharge. It’s there to help cover the cost of personal protective equipment, and for some, to make up for income lost from having to reduce the number of customers they serve.

Winnipeg hair salon owner Joanne Rempel opened three weeks ago and says masks and hand sanitizer are expensive. She has scaled down the workplace, cutting the number of sinks and stylist chairs. Rempel herself is doing without a salary because she is just trying to get all her stylists back to work and pay the rent.

 

Some small businesses like hair salons are adding surcharges to the cost of their services to make up for the expenses associated with additional sanitation, protective gear and physical distancing. 1:46

Non-medical masks increasingly look likely to be part of the country’s new normal, especially in places where physical distancing is largely impossible. In Winnipeg for example, unions appealed this past week for masks to be mandatory on buses.

The Ontario government is recommending, but not enforcing masks on public transit as the province’s economy gradually reopens. It says transit agencies should provide sanitizers in the vehicles, barriers between drivers and passengers, and physical distancing measures.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu said Friday her ministry has been working with provinces to make sure they have the materials needed to meet their testing goals, including swabs, reagents and people to do the work.

 

A face mask is meant to limit the spread of COVID-19. But if it slips below your nose, hovers around your chin, or you touch the outside with your hands, medical experts say that might be riskier than not wearing one at all. 3:55

“We see ourselves as building capacity for all the provinces and territories to test to their fullest need,” she told the House of Commons committee on government operations. Each province has its own testing strategy, and Ottawa must adapt its support to meet their individual needs, she said.

On the political front, negotiations are to continue this weekend among federal parties over how Parliament should function as the COVID-19 crisis drags on, along with lockdown measures introduced in March.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has said Parliament should reconvene on Monday for regular in-person sittings, arguing that the current practice of virtual meetings has run its course. He wants Parliament declared an essential service.

 

A staff member sprays disinfectant on a cart before handing it off to a customer at a garden centre in Ottawa on Saturday. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

 

The House of Commons has been largely adjourned since mid-March. Fewer than three dozen MPs have been meeting in the Commons chamber once a week, and twice a week by videolink, giving more MPs a chance to participate without risk of spreading the novel coronavirus.

As of 6 p.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had 83,621 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases, with 43,318 of those considered resolved or recovered. A CBC News tally of deaths attributed to coronavirus based on provincial data, regional health information and CBC’s journalism stood at 6,447.

Federal public health officials have been encouraging people to stick with frequent handwashing, cough etiquette, physical distancing and staying home when sick. On Wednesday, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam added another recommendation, saying people should wear non-medical face masks in public when they aren’t sure they will be able to physically distance.

Here’s what’s happening in the provinces and territories

British Columbia’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Saturday that, for the first time in a long while, no new cases have been reported among residents of the province’s long-term care homes.

Days into B.C.’s transition into Phase 2 of re-opening, Henry noted the probability of new infections will go up as there are more gatherings — and that could be reflected in the number of cases early next week.

“Catching it early means we can respond, and make sure the chains of transmission are stopped,” she said. “The faster we can identify new cases, the faster we can respond to prevent spread.” Read more about what’s happening in B.C.

 

Dr. Bonnie Henry says British Columbians have been following social distancing guidelines as restaurants and businesses reopen. 0:43

In Alberta, Calgary and Brooks will join the rest of the province by allowing bars, restaurants, hair salons and barbershops to open on Monday, while more restrictions will be lifted across the province on June 1.

Premier Jason Kenney said Friday that the decision comes on the advice of the chief medical officer of health, though he warned that the virus is still a threat.

“While this is positive news for many, it doesn’t mean that we’re out of the woods yet,” said Kenney. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.

 

Saskatchewan said it will move to the next phase in its reopening on June 8Bars and restaurants are among the businesses that will be allowed to reopen in Phase 3, though they will have to operate at reduced capacity and with physical distancing measures in place. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.

In Manitoba, two residential care homes run by the same company have been fined a total of more than $5,000 for violating public health orders in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the province.

The homes are run by the private home-care business Daughter on Call, which confirmed earlier this week that one of its employees tested positive for COVID-19 on May 10. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.

 

As Manitoba continues to ease restrictions and plan for the next phase of its reopening plan, here’s what some people dream of doing once life gets back to a “new” normal. 1:38

Ontario reported 412 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, continuing an upward trend and pushing the total number of cases in the province to more than 25,000 since the pandemic began.

Meanwhile, new testing regulations took effect on Saturday, with asymptomatic front-line health-care workers being tested across the province.

The province will also begin a second round of testing in long-term care homes, which have been hardest hit by COVID-19. As criticism mounts about the number of tests being done in Ontario, Premier Doug Ford appealed to anyone with symptoms on Friday to visit a COVID-19 assessment centre. Read more about what’s happeing in Ontario.

 

People gather at a park in Toronto on Saturday as Ontario eases some COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. (Michael Charles Cole/CBC)

 

In Quebec, advocates say Montreal police have been unfairly ticketing homeless people and the support workers helping them and are calling for a moratorium on fines given to people living in the street.

Lyn Black, an Anishinaabe outreach worker in the city, told CBC News that she was fined $1,500 by police when she was handing out masks to people. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec.

 

People wait to be tested for COVID-19 at a mobile testing clinic in Montreal on Saturday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

 

New Brunswick reported no new coronavirus cases on Saturday. A case reported Wednesday in the Campbellton region remains active and is still under investigation. The total number of cases is 121 with 120 of those patients listed as recovered. No one with COVID-19 is in hospital. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.

Nova Scotia reported one new case on Saturday.

“New case numbers are staying low and we continue to head in the right direction. We can, and should, be proud of how we’ve fared,” said Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, said in a press release sent out Saturday. Read more about what’s happening in N.S.

More and more Nova Scotians are starting to wear non-medical masks when out in public. Public health officials say it’s an extra layer of protection whenever physical distancing is difficult to maintain. Darlene Ettinger, of Upper Kennetcook, N.S., has been busy sewing lots of masks and giving them away for free. The CBC’s Collen Jones has her story. 1:59

Prince Edward Island moved into Phase 2 of reopening on Friday, and is now allowing retail stores to open their doors to the public with physical distancing measures. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I.

Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new coronavirus cases on Saturday, marking 16 days without a new case. Read more about what’s happening in N.L., where the government has announced new measures to help businesses impacted by the pandemic.

There were no new cases of coronavirus reported in Yukon, the Northwest Territories or Nunavut on Thursday. Read more about what’s happening across the North.

 

 

Here’s what’s happening around the world

Edited By Harry Miller

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Kamloops ranch that refused vaccinated guest but kept their deposit now says they'll issue $3.2K refund – CBC.ca

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A ranch owner in Kamloops, B.C., has been criticized by the province’s solicitor general for refusing to accept a vaccinated international traveller.

The Equinisity Ranch in Kamloops, in the province’s central Interior, is run by owner Liz Mitten Ryan. She told CBC News she catered almost exclusively to international travellers, including from England, Switzerland and Australia.

In a report in The Guardian, published Thursday, a prospective traveller called J.W. York said they had booked a $3,200 retreat (£2,000) with Ryan in May 2020, but the trip was put off due to lockdowns and other pandemic restrictions.

According to York, they were told recently they were not welcome at Equinisity anymore because they were fully vaccinated against COVID — and they would not be receiving a refund due to ranch policy.

Ryan confirmed that the ranch had a “no vax” policy for patrons, even though international travellers have to be fully vaccinated to enter Canada. The Guardian article quoted her as saying that vaccines were a “bioweapon depopulation tool” that could transfer to animals.

The entire episode was called “outrageous” by B.C. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.

“I have asked my ministry, the consumer protection branch, to look into this,” he told CBC News.

“This is just wrong. Like, you want to subscribe to a wack job conspiracy theory. That’s your business. But you don’t rip people off like this. It’s unethical.”

Refunds will happen, says owner’s husband

In a statement, Kevin Ryan — Liz Ryan’s husband — said the ranch would eventually send refunds to customers.

“For personal reasons for this summer, [Liz] has implemented a policy of non-vaccinated guests only,” the statement read. “Not, I stress, realizing any regulations were being broken.

“Due to the current public interest in this situation, and the subsequent informed discussions, she now realizes that it is appropriate the deposit, in this case, needs to be returned to comply with said regulation.”

Ryan told CBC News all deposits “of a similar status” would be returned by the end of the month.

On its website, Equinisity says it provides “a unique journey” for patrons to find “true healing” through meditation, horse riding and other activities. Ryan says his wife had been running the establishment for over 15 years.

Their pricing guide shows that individual patrons can expect to pay $2,800 for an eight-day retreat, while couples can expect to pay $2,400 each.

Before her husband’s statement about refunds, Liz Ryan had suggested that any vaccinated traveller sell their booking. She also said her ranch had been shut down for two years, the longest such span of her career, due to border restrictions.

B.C. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, pictured here in February 2020, says his staff would be investigating if the ranch had received any COVID relief funding. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Farnworth told CBC News that Equinisity’s stance against vaccinated travellers would give international travellers a bad impression of the province.

“It sends a terrible message in terms of tourism here in British Columbia and Canada,” he said. “Because, let’s face it, this person that took this trip is now going to tell their friend … ‘Why would you want to come here?'”

Farnworth said his staff would be investigating if the ranch had received any COVID relief funding, and that the ranch would not be eligible in any case, given the requirements placed on vaccinated travellers.

“I don’t think it’s particularly good business practice,” he said.

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How Canada’s new NOC will affect Express Entry eligibility – Canada Immigration News

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Published on May 28th, 2022 at 08:00am EDT

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Details of how the updated National Occupation Classification (NOC) system will affect Express Entry eligibility have been released.

NOC 2021 will come into effect in November 2022. A total of 16 occupations will become eligible for Express Entry, and three will become ineligible, according to an internal briefing memo.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) currently uses NOC 2016 to determine the eligibility of occupations under its temporary and permanent residency programs. However, IRCC must switch to NOC 2021 starting in November as per Canadian law.

Discover if You Are Eligible for Canadian Immigration

The NOC is managed by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and Statistics Canada, which revise the system every 10 years. NOC 2021 will introduce new terminology and a revised classification structure that will affect IRCC programs.

As a result of these changes, the following 16 occupations will become eligible under Express Entry:

  • Payroll administrators;
  • Dental assistants and dental laboratory assistants;
  • Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates;
  • Pharmacy technical assistants and pharmacy assistants;
  • Elementary and secondary school teacher assistants;
  • Sheriffs and bailiffs;
  • Correctional service officers;
  • By-law enforcement and other regulatory officers;
  • Estheticians, electrologists and related occupations;
  • Residential and commercial installers and servicers;
  • Pest controllers and fumigators;
  • Other repairers and servicers;
  • Transport truck drivers;
  • Bus drivers, subway operators and other transit operators;
  • Heavy equipment operators; and
  • Aircraft assemblers and aircraft assembly inspectors.

There will also be three occupations that will become ineligible, including:

  • other performers;
  • program leaders and instructors in recreation, sport and fitness; and
  • tailors, dressmakers, furriers and milliners.

These three occupations will remain eligible for programs with broader occupational eligibility criteria, such as some streams of the Provincial Nominee Program.

The major change to NOC 2021 is the current four-category “skill level” structure has been overhauled and replaced by a new six-category system. The new system outlines the level of Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities (TEER) required to enter each occupation.

The previous NOC had four skill levels. NOC A represented jobs that tend to require university degrees, NOC B included jobs in the skilled trades or that require a college diploma, NOC C covered jobs that require intermediate skills or job-specific training, and NOC D was for labour jobs that require on-the-job training.

In September 2020, IRCC’s Executive Committee decided that the new TEER structure will be adopted as follows:

NOC 2016 NOC 2021
Skill Type 0 TEER 0
Skill Level A TEER 1
Skill Level B TEER 2
Skill Level B TEER 3
Skill Level C TEER 4
Skill Level D TEER 5

NOC 2021 will use a five-tier hierarchical system to classify occupations. Also, occupations will now have a five-digit codification system instead of the current four-digit system. The TEER system has six categories, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

TEER 0
  • Management occupations.
TEER 1
  • Completion of a university degree (bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate); or
  • Several years of experience in a specific occupation from TEER category 2 (when applicable).
TEER 2
  • Completion of a post-secondary education program of two to three years at community college, institute of technology or CÉGEP; or
  • Completion of an apprenticeship training program of two to five years; or
  • Occupations with supervisory or significant safety (police officers and firefighters) responsibilities; or
  • Several years of experience in a specific occupation from TEER category 3 (when applicable).
TEER 3
  • Completion of a post-secondary education program of less than two years at community college, institute of technology or CÉGEP; or
  • Apprenticeship training of less than 2 years; or
  • More than six months of on-the-job training, training courses or specific work experience with some secondary school education; or
  • Several years of experience in a specific occupation from TEER category 4 (when applicable).
TEER 4
  • Completion of secondary school; or
  • Several weeks of on-the-job training with some secondary school education; or
  • Several years of experience in a specific occupation from TEER category 5 (when applicable).
TEER 5
  • Short work demonstration and no formal educational requirements.

Statistics Canada explains there are two main reasons why the skill type model is being replaced by the TEER system. First, the TEER system aims to provide more clarity on the level of education and work experience required to work in an occupation. Second, the skill type model creates artificial categorizations between low- and high-skilled jobs. Implementing TEER is intended to give stakeholders a better sense of the skills required for each occupation.

This Statistics Canada tool allows you to see how your current NOC corresponds with NOC 2021.

Discover if You Are Eligible for Canadian Immigration

© CIC News All Rights Reserved. Visit CanadaVisa.com to discover your Canadian immigration options.

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More Canadians could face late-stage cancer tied to diagnosis delays during COVID pandemic – CBC News

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It all started with a stomach bug.

That’s what Cheryl-Anne Labrador-Summers thought, anyway. It was October 2020, not long after she’d moved to the tranquil lakeside Ontario community of Georgina, and instead of relaxing with her family like she’d planned, the mother of three was struggling to figure out why she kept experiencing strange, unexplained stomach cramps.

Labrador-Summers tried to visit her family physician, but the office was shuttered because of the COVID-19 pandemic. So she searched for another clinic — only to be offered a phone appointment rather than an in-person assessment. She wound up being told that her grumbling digestive system was likely caused by a mild gastrointestinal illness.

By January, the 58-year-old had a distended stomach, looking — in her own words — “about nine months pregnant.” Again, she reached out to a physician, went for some tests, then headed to the nearest emergency department.

After finally seeing a doctor face to face for the first time in months, she learned the real cause of her discomfort: an intestinal blockage caused by cancer.

“It ended up being a nine-centimetre tumour, and it had completely blocked off my lower bowel,” she said.

An emergency surgery left Labrador-Summers with 55 staples along her torso and a months-long recovery before she could begin oral chemotherapy. Her question now is unanswerable but painful to consider: Could that ordeal have been prevented, or at least minimized, by an earlier diagnosis?

“Had I maybe been able to see the doctors earlier, I would not be in Stage 3,” she said. “I might have been a Stage 2.”

Photos show Labrador-Summers with a distended stomach before her emergency surgery, left, and the 55 staples along her torso following the procedure. (Supplied by Cheryl-Anne Labrador-Summers)

951,000 fewer cancer screenings in Ontario

More Canadians could experience late-stage cancer diagnoses in the years ahead, medical experts warn, forecasting a looming crisis tied to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We expect to see more advanced stages of presentation over the next couple of years, as well as impacts on cancer treatments,” said oncologist Dr. Timothy Hanna, a clinician scientist at the Cancer Research Institute at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.

“We know that time is of the essence for people with cancer. And when people are waiting for a diagnosis or for treatment, this has been associated with increased risks of advanced stage and worse survival.”

One review of Ontario’s breast, lung, colon, and cervical cancer screening programs showed that in 2020 there were 41 per cent — or more than 951,000 — fewer screening tests conducted compared with the year before.

Screening volumes rebounded after May 2020, but were still 20 per cent lower compared to pre-pandemic levels.

WATCH | Late-stage cancer being diagnosed in Canadian ERs:

ERs faced with late-stage cancer diagnoses amid pandemic

4 days ago

Duration 2:11

Hospital emergency rooms are seeing a wave of patients being diagnosed with late-stage cancer after the COVID-19 pandemic forced many doctors’ offices to close or pivot to virtual appointments, leading to fewer cancer screenings.

That drop in screenings translates into fewer invasive cancer diagnoses, including roughly 1,400 to 1,500 fewer breast cancers, wrote Dr. Anna N. Wilkinson, an assistant professor in the department of family medicine at the University of Ottawa, in a May commentary piece for the journal Canadian Family Physician.

“The impact of COVID-19 on cancer is far-reaching: screening backlogs, delayed workup of symptomatic patients and abnormal screening results, and delays in cancer treatment and research, all exacerbated by patient apprehension to be seen in person,” she wrote.

“It is clear that there is not only a lost cohort of screened patients but also a subset of missed cancer diagnoses due to delays in patient presentation and assessment,” leading to those cancers being diagnosed at a more advanced stage. 

Tough accessing care in a ‘timely way’

The slowdown in colonoscopies may already be leading to more serious cases of colorectal cancer in Ontario, for instance, suggests a paper published in the Journal of the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology.

“Patients who were treated after the COVID-19 pandemic began were significantly more likely to present emergently to hospital. This means that they were more likely to present with bowel perforation, or severe bowel obstruction, requiring immediate life-saving surgery,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Catherine Forse, in a call with CBC News.

“In addition, we found that patients were more likely to have large tumours.”

Dr. Lisa Salamon, an emergency room physician with the Scarborough Health Network, is pictured outside Birchmount Hospital, in Scarborough, Ont. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

In some cases — like Labrador-Summers’s situation — Canadians learned alarming news about their health in hospital emergency departments after struggling to receive in-patient care through other avenues.

Shuttered family physician offices, a shift to telemedicine, and some patients’ fears surrounding COVID-19 may all have played a role.

“It became harder for patients to access care and to access it in a timely way,” Hanna said.

“At the same time, there were real risks — and there are real risks for leaving home to go anywhere, particularly to go to an outpatient clinic or a hospital in order to get checked out.”

Dr. Lisa Salamon, an emergency physician with the Scarborough Health Network in Toronto, said she’s now diagnosing more patients with serious cancers, including several just in the last few months.

“So previously, it may have been localized or something small, but now we’re actually seeing metastatic cancer that we’re diagnosing,” she explained.

Lessons for future pandemics

Health policy expert Laura Greer is dealing with Stage four, metastatic breast cancer herself after waiting more than five months for a routine mammogram she was initially due for in the spring of 2021 — a precautionary measure given that her mother had breast cancer as well.

Unlike an early-stage diagnosis, Greer’s cancer is only treatable, not curable.

“It was an example of what happens when you don’t have the regular screening, or those wellness visits,” said the Toronto resident and mother of two. 

“I most likely would have had earlier-stage cancer if it had been sooner.”

Health policy expert Laura Greer is dealing with Stage 4, metastatic breast cancer after waiting more than five months for a routine mammogram she was due for in the spring of 2021. (Esteban Cuevas/CBC News)

Pausing access to care and screenings for other health conditions can have dire impacts on patients, according to Greer, offering lessons for how policy-makers tackle future pandemics.

“We need to make sure that we’ve got enough capacity in our health system to be able to flex, and that’s what we really didn’t have going into this,” she said.

For Labrador-Summers, it’s hard to forget the moment her life changed while she was alone in an emergency department, learning a terrifying diagnosis from a physician she’d just met. Her mind raced with questions about the future and concerns for her family.

Labrador-Summers’s husband and one of her sons kiss her on the dock near their lakeside home in Georgina, Ont. (Ousama Farag/CBC News)

“My older son had just told us they were expecting a child, and I just wanted to be there for them. And I didn’t know what next steps were. And we had lost my mom to cancer a few years back — to us, cancer was always terminal,” she recalled.

“So again, I’m alone, trying to process all of this.”

A screening following Labrador-Summers’ surgery and chemotherapy treatment wound up finding more cancer. 

“It’s now life-threatening,” she said.

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