Health officials in Saskatchewan are opening up coronavirus testing, saying as of Monday anyone who works outside the home will be able to get a COVID-19 test — even if they aren’t showing symptoms.
“We have fairly low COVID activity and that’s where we want to keep it,” Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said Wednesday as officials released an extensive list of who can be tested, including people being admitted to health-care facilities, people who are immunocompromised and the homeless.
Saskatchewan has reported seven deaths to date. The province has reported 620 coronavirus cases, with 494 of those cases considered recovered, with most new cases in the north and far north regions.
The shift in Saskatchewan comes as hard-hit Ontario and Quebec continue to face questions about ramping up testing.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Wednesday he’s shocked by the recent drop in COVID-19 tests in the province. The province reported Wednesday that the number of tests completed in the previous day was just 7,382. On Tuesday, it was 5,813 and it was 9,155 on Monday — well below the approximately 17,000 per day that had been completed in the days before that.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said criteria for members of the public have been expanded so that anyone with symptoms can get tested, and the province is now looking to focus on retirement homes and other group living settings.
“We’re looking at solutions for that and how we can get teams in there quickly and do that testing to make sure that we really understand what’s happening in the community,” she said.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, recommended on Wednesday that people in areas with COVID-19 wear masks when they are in spaces that don’t allow for proper physical distancing. The mask guidance is meant to supplement existing public health measures like handwashing, cough etiquette and physical distancing, Tam said, as she explained the shift.
“Use of non-medical masks or face coverings is recommended as an added layer of protection when physical distancing is difficult to maintain,” said <a href=”https://twitter.com/CPHO_Canada?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@CPHO_Canada</a> Dr. Theresa Tam. <br><br>Read more: <a href=”https://t.co/uLesDCpdln”>https://t.co/uLesDCpdln</a> <a href=”https://t.co/BHchoxWELd”>pic.twitter.com/BHchoxWELd</a>
As of 7:30 a.m. ET on Thursday, there were 80,142 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases in Canada, with 40,789 of those cases considered recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial coronavirus reports, regional health data and CBC’s reporting stood at 6,136.
The novel virus, SARS-CoV-2, first emerged in China in late 2019 and has since spread around the world, causing devastating outbreaks, straining health systems and causing massive economic disruptions. The virus causes an illness called COVID-19, and while researchers are searching, to date there are no proven treatments or vaccines.
Here’s what’s happening in provinces and territories
British Columbia’s premier says he wants the federal government to take the lead on the issue of paid sick leaveso workers can stay home if they are sick — but he added that the province is “prepared to go it alone if need be.” Read more about what’s happening in B.C.
Health officials in Alberta reported three more coronavirus outbreaks in Calgary, as the city waits to see when restrictions on restaurants and salons there will be lifted. Premier Jason Kenney said that Calgary and Brooks, which are on a delayed reopening schedule because of higher case numbers, will learn Friday about when they can take the next step in reopening. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.
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Saskatchewan reported another death in a COVID-19-positive patient on Wednesday, bringing the province’s death toll to seven. Health officials announced 21 more cases, with all but one in the far north and north regions. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.
Manitoba will allow outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people and indoor gatherings of up to 25 as of Friday, health officials said, though physical distancing measures will need to be in place. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.
Ontario reported 390 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing the provincial total to 23,774, with 18,190 considered recovered or resolved. The province has seen 2,067 deaths, according to CBC’s case tracker. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.
Critical care physician <a href=”https://twitter.com/drmwarner?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@drmwarner</a> is raising concerns about Ontario’s COVID-19 contact tracing.<br><br>”I’ve spoken to family members of patients who have COVID in my ICU two or three days after they have been diagnosed, and they are asking me when public health is going to call them” <a href=”https://t.co/Zplnwk5Hxq”>pic.twitter.com/Zplnwk5Hxq</a>
Quebec is loosening up some of its public health guidance, saying as of Friday people will be able to gather outside in groups of up to 10 people, provided they are following physical distancing guidelines. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec.
New Brunswick’s premier said he is considering easing up the province’s ban on temporary foreign workers as employers face a labour shortage. “If we don’t fill the roster in the next few days … then there will be the decisions made to ensure we meet the needs,” Blaine Higgs said. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.
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In Nova Scotia, Dalhousie University announced it is moving most classes online for the fall. The university president said programs like medicine, dentistry and agriculture will still happen offline, but with public health measures in place. Read more about what’s happening in Nova Scotia.
Prince Edward Island’s premier said Wednesday that seasonal residents will be allowed to start coming into the province beginning June 1. They will have to provide a written plan of how they will self-isolate for 14 days, Dennis King said. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I.
Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, extending its stretch with no new cases to 13 days. Read more about what’s happening in N.L, where the leader of the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District is saying it’s too early to say whether students will be back in their classrooms in September.
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Yukon is extending a program that offers relief for businesses that have seen revenue drop by 30 per cent or more during the coronavirus pandemic. Read more about what’s happening across the North.
Here’s what’s happening around the world
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Canada now has more than 95,000 coronavirus cases — more than 34K are active – Globalnews.ca
More than 720 new cases of the novel coronavirus were reported in Canada on Saturday — all but 41 of them from Ontario and Quebec.
As Canada surged past 95,000 cases of COVID-19, the two most populous provinces continued to account for the vast majority of new cases and deaths reported daily.
Nearly 53,000 people around the country are considered recovered.
Ontario saw 455 new cases — but only 387 of them were new since Friday — while Quebec reported 226 new infections. Quebec has more than 52,000 cases so far, while Ontario has seen more than 30,000.
Quebec has seen nearly 5,000 deaths so far, accounting for almost 64 per cent of the national death toll. Ontario has the second highest number of deaths, at just over 2,400.
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Out of 70 new deaths reported on Saturday, Ontario and Quebec both reported 35 fatalities each. Quebec saw hospitalizations go down, and only 22 of the 35 deaths were classified as new.
Alberta recorded 40 new cases and no new deaths, bringing its figures to more than 7,100 cases and 146 deaths. This was a sharp uptick from a day earlier, when the province reported just seven new cases. More than 6,600 people are deemed recovered.
Saskatchewan reported one new case, for a total of 650 cases. Eleven people have died so far, and more than 610 are considered recovered.
No new cases
For the second day in a row, all of the Atlantic provinces saw no new cases or deaths on Saturday. Nova Scotia has the most number of cases — 1,058, including 61 deaths. Most of New Brunswick’s 136 cases have recovered as it battles an outbreak in the Campbellton region — one person in the province has died.
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Newfoundland and Labrador has two active cases, and is set to allow travel within the province starting June 8 (Monday). Prince Edward Island has seen no new infections since all 27 of its cases have recovered.
The Northwest Territories and the Yukon remain COVID-19 free, with all their cases having recovered weeks ago. Nunavut remains the only region in Canada that hasn’t seen a case yet.
Manitoba also reported no new cases on Saturday, leaving it with nine active cases and more than 280 recoveries. Seven people have died in the province so far.
British Columbia had no new figures to report on Saturday. The province has seen more than 2,600 cases so far and 167 deaths.
The novel coronavirus has resulted in more than 6.8 million cases around the world and more than 398,000 deaths, according to data tracked by Johns Hopkins University.
— With files by The Canadian Press
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Anti-black racism protests, vigils planned across Canada – CBC.ca
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.”
“I am almost speechless. I am about to cry,” she says. “I feel like I am a Newfoundlander in spirit and soul.” <br><br>The audience yells back at her “you are!” <a href=”https://t.co/rZXj08NvIT”>pic.twitter.com/rZXj08NvIT</a>
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.
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.
Hundreds of Londoners are here at Victoria Park for an anti-black racism protest <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/LdnOnt?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#LdnOnt</a> <a href=”https://t.co/PVevHrYQGV”>pic.twitter.com/PVevHrYQGV</a>
Rally is so big it fits down Queens Street, around the block in both directions. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/LdnOnt?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#LdnOnt</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/BLM?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#BLM</a> <a href=”https://t.co/3a6bzJFVwy”>pic.twitter.com/3a6bzJFVwy</a>
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.
‘They’re targeting us’: Why some advocates want to defund Canadian police – Global News
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.
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
“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.
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.
“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.
“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
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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