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CRA says it locked users' online accounts because of external threat – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
The Canada Revenue Agency says online accounts were locked after an internal analysis found some user credentials may be in the hands of “unauthorized” individuals outside of the organization, CTV News has learned.

After confirming on Wednesday the sudden “precautionary” measure was not due to a cyber security threat, the CRA later acknowledged information like user IDs and passwords were obtained “through a variety of means by sources external to the CRA.”

The move had also prompted a notification from the CRA informing some users that their email address had been removed from their account, causing a flurry of concern and confusion online.

Some complained of receiving “ERR.021” and “CER.019” error codes, and said they’d been trying to call the agency for a week about the issue.

“To prevent unauthorized access to these accounts, we took swift action to lock the accounts and are in the process of contacting the legitimate account holders to unlock their accounts,” the CRA statement reads.

They go on to say that calling the agency is unnecessary, unless those targeted are applicants of the government’s emergency COVID-19 benefit with active applications.

“We will prioritize these calls to minimize delays in the delivery of these crucially important emergency benefits,” the agency said.

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Sunday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

  • Israel reopens much of its economy after vaccinating over 52 per cent of its population.
  • More than 2.2 million vaccine doses have been administered across Canada, latest data shows.
  • Toronto businesses set to reopen Monday, but the spectre of ‘back-and-forth’ closures still looms.
  • U.S. Senate passes $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill.
  • Have a question about the coronavirus pandemic? You can reach us at COVID@cbc.ca

Israel has opened most of its economy as part of its final phase of lifting coronavirus lockdown restrictions, some of them in place since September.

Bars and restaurants, event halls, sporting events, hotels and all primary and secondary education may reopen to the public on Sunday, with some restrictions on entry and capacity. The move comes after months of government-imposed shutdowns.

The Israeli government approved the easing of limitations Saturday night, including the reopening of the main international airport to a limited number of incoming passengers each day.

Most large public activities, including dining at restaurants, are available to people vaccinated against the coronavirus. Israel has sped ahead with its immunization campaign. More than 52 per cent of its population has received one dose and almost 40 per cent have had two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, one of the highest rates in the world.

Meanwhile, Canada’s chief public health officer pointed to the country’s accelerating vaccine campaign as a reason for optimism, but she also warned against complacency. 

Dr. Theresa Tam said in a statement on Saturday that more than 2.2 million vaccine doses have been administered across Canada as of Friday and that cases have “levelled off” after experiencing a decline from mid-January through mid-February.

But she noted that these encouraging signs don’t mean pandemic challenges have ended, and she urged Canadians to continue following public health guidance and practising individual precautionary measures.

In an interview with CBC’s Rosemary Barton Live on Sunday, Tam said it’s important to “just hang on in there for a bit longer” so that vaccines can be provided “to as many people as possible” and Canadians can “break the most severe consequences, the crisis phase of this pandemic.”

Canada is expanding its stockpile of shots to protect against COVID-19, prompting provinces to accelerate their vaccine rollouts.

Health Canada approved the one-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson on Friday, making it the fourth to be approved for use in the country. Meanwhile, the manufacturer of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is ramping up shipments ahead of the summer.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has also recommended that time between doses of COVID-19 vaccines can be changed from three weeks to four months, which would allow provinces to at least partially inoculate as many people as quickly as possible.

What’s happening in Canada

As of 12:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had reported 886,100 cases of COVID-19, with 30,042 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 22,235.

Alberta announced 341 new COVID-19 cases and an additional death on Saturday.

WATCH | Alberta senior says vaccine changed her life:

Linda Dickinson, a senior living in Alberta, got her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. She says getting the vaccine made her feel like a free person. 0:48

Saskatchewan added 163 new cases and three more fatalities.

Manitoba on confirmed 71 more cases of COVID-19 and one more death from the illness.

Ontario reported 1,299 new cases and 15 additional deaths on Sunday after registering 990 new cases and six new deaths on Saturday.

The COVID-19 hot spots of Toronto and Peel Region — which have been under stay-at-home orders since Dec. 26 — will move into the less strict grey zone of Ontario’s reopening framework, starting Monday. Non-essential retail will be allowed to reopen with strict capacity limits.

Stay-at-home orders are also being lifted in North Bay-Parry Sound, and the region will return to the framework’s red-control level.

WATCH | Toronto doctor talks of ‘resounding success’ of shelter vaccine program:

Toronto has begun administering vaccines to people in the city’s shelter system. Provincial officials have updated the vaccination framework to include those experiencing homelessness as part of its Phase 1 priority for vaccinations. 6:47

Quebec reported 707 new cases and seven new deaths on Sunday.

Quebec provincial police handed out 36 tickets of $1,500 to a group of people who gathered in a chalet in Stoneham, outside Quebec City, on Saturday night. Police say neighbours called them about an illegal gathering at a rented chalet.

Police say most of the people came from outside of the Capitale-Nationale region, which is slated to go from being a designated red zone to a less-restrictive orange zone on Monday.

New Brunswick confirmed six new cases Saturday as the entire province prepares to return to the less-restrictive yellow phase at the end of the weekend.

Nova Scotia reported two new cases and two new recoveries on Sunday.

Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case and one new recovery on Sunday.

Yukon has unveiled its strategy on what the territory will need to achieve before it will reduce or modify some of its COVID-19 restrictions, including changes to self-isolation requirements, expanding social bubbles and easing capacity limits inside bars and restaurants. 

Nunavut reported four new cases on Saturday.


What’s happening around the world

As of Sunday, more than 116.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported around the world, with more than 65.9 million of the cases listed on the Johns Hopkins University tracking site as resolved. The global death toll stood at more than 2.5 million.

Austrian authorities have suspended inoculations with a batch of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine as a precaution while investigating the death of one person and the illness of another after the shots, a health agency said on Sunday.

“The Federal Office for Safety in Health Care (BASG) has received two reports in a temporal connection (closeness in time) with a vaccination from the same batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the district clinic of Zwettl” in Lower Austria province, it said.

One 49-year-old woman died as a result of severe coagulation disorders, while a 35-year-old woman developed a pulmonary embolism and is recovering, it said. A pulmonary embolism is an acute lung disease caused by a dislodged blood clot.

“Currently there is no evidence of a causal relationship with the vaccination,” BASG said.

Swiss newspaper Niederoesterreichische Nachrichten, as well as broadcaster ORF and the APA news agency, reported that the women were both nurses who worked at the Zwettl clinic.

BASG said blood clotting was not among the known side-effects of the vaccine. It was pursuing its investigation vigorously to completely rule out any possible link.

AstraZeneca had no immediate comment when contacted by Reuters.

In the United States, the Democratic-led Senate has passed President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion US COVID-19 relief bill by a razor-thin margin, sending it back to the House of Representatives, which could pass it on Tuesday and have it ready for a presidential signature before unemployment aid programs expire on March 14.

U.S. President Joe Biden makes remarks from the White House after his pandemic relief legislation passed in the Senate on Saturday. He said stimulus cheques would be delivered starting this month. (Erin Scott/Reuters)

After an all-night debate, the Senate voted 50-49 for the package on Saturday, with no Republicans voting in favour.

The package includes a third round of stimulus payments up to a maximum of $1,400 for individual Americans earning $75,000 or less per year.

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The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada – 95.7 News

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The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):

10:40 a.m. 

Ontario is reporting 1,299 new cases of COVID-19 today and 15 more deaths linked to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 329 new cases in Toronto, 192 in Peel Region, and 116 in York Region.

Today’s data is based on 46,586 completed tests.

The province also says 30,192 doses of COVID-19 vaccine were administered since Saturday’s update.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2021

The Canadian Press

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Coronavirus: Canada in talks with other G7 nations about prospect of vaccine passports to travel: Hajdu – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
As countries continue to vaccinate larger segments of their populations, federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu says that discussions about introducing some form of vaccine passport are “very live” among the G7 countries.

“We’re certainly working on the idea of vaccine passports with our G7 partners. I was on a call with my G7 health minister counterparts just a couple of weeks ago, and that is a very live issue,” Hajdu said in an interview on CTV’s Question Period.

While Hajdu wouldn’t say if it’s an idea Canada is pushing for—requiring some form of proof of vaccination to travel to Canada—she said other nations and industry groups are looking into the kind of evidence or documentation that could be requested in order to travel internationally.

“We’ll be coming back to Canadians as we understand more about the intentions of our counterparts internationally, and as we understand more about how that will unfold around the world,” she said.

Some European countries have begun to signal they’ll be requesting proof of immunization against COVID-19 to allow foreign travellers to enter, in a similar way to how nations like Canada are requiring non-essential visitors to show a pre-departure negative test.

Canada is currently not allowing people to show a proof of vaccination as a way to be permitted entry under the pandemic restrictions.

“At this time, proof of having a vaccine does not replace a valid test result,” reads the federal government’s international travel information page.

U.K.’s Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment Nadhim Zahawi told CTV’s Question Period in a separate interview that the British government is working on the logistics of these requirements so that its citizens will have the ability to resume travel for work or leisure abroad

Canadian health ethicists have cautioned against rushing to adopt forms of vaccine passports to permit citizens to attend large events or resume other pre-pandemic norms, but when it comes to travel it may become “almost inevitable,” as University of Toronto bio-ethicist Kerry Bowman recently said on CTV News Channel.

Hajdu said that Canada is concerned about equity and doesn’t want to see a two-tiered system given the limited number of people who are able to access COVID-19 vaccines so far, but noted “there are requirements to travel internationally around disease prevention already.”

The federal government continues to strongly advise against international travel, as the threat of variant spread continues to be a pressing concern.

Nearly a year into the global pandemic Canada’s border strategy continues to shift, including most recently the rocky and contentious introduction of mandatory quarantine in hotels.

As of late February the federal government has required all travellers who have returned to Canada from travel abroad to stay in a designated hotel for at least three days, at their own expense, while they await a PCR test taken upon arrival. The system’s faced criticisms from travellers raising issues with the service, as well as serious concerns over the safety of these sites.

In the interview, Hajdu said she “wasn’t exactly thrilled” in the early days with how the program unfolded, but isn’t heeding calls from the Conservatives to pull the plug on the facilities altogether.

She said the issues experienced by some travelers are being worked out and as the virus evolves, Canadians should expect border measures to as well. Vaccine or not, people should continue to avoid any non-essential travel outside of Canada, she said.

Asked whether the conversation around proof of vaccination could play a role when it comes to domestic travel, Hajdu said it hasn’t come up yet in talks she’s had with her provincial and territorial health counterparts.

“We know that different provinces and territories have taken different stances around domestic travel, and of course, while COVID-19 is raging in parts of the country, often we will hear the requests by different parts of the country to just stay put to resist the urge to travel even domestically. But what I can say is that the health ministers are always reviewing their own stances on interprovincial travel,” she said.

In a recent interview with CTVNews.ca, University of Toronto public health ethicist Alison Thompson spoke about the need to balance incentivizing people to get vaccinated while ensuring any requirements to prove vaccination before being able to travel or attend larger events doesn’t become coercive.

Thompson said that it’s a conversation the general public should be having and not just among policymakers because it will impact everyone.

“This is maybe one of those times because it has implications for people’s freedom of movement and for immigration and those types of things that I would hope that the federal government would want to lead that conversation and have an eye on the kinds of inequities across provinces that could arise,” she said.

With files from CTV News’ Sarah Turnbull

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