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Details of loan program coming and Trump's use of malaria drug; In The News for May 20 – larongeNOW

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It is expected today to unveil more details of its promised loan program for large corporations and commercial rent relief for small- and mid-sized businesses.

That includes more information on how businesses can apply for the programs and what conditions will apply.

Today’s focus follows last week’s extension of the 75 per cent wage subsidy for three months, to the end of August, and Tuesday’s announcement that the government is expanding the eligibility criteria for its small business loan program.

The latter program provides interest-free loans of $40,000 for eligible small businesses to cover costs like rent and utilities, with the possibility of forgiving one-quarter of the amount if it is paid off by the end of 2022.

Tuesday’s fix extended the program to companies that don’t have traditional payrolls, such as family-run businesses that pay themselves in dividends and companies that employ only contractors.

“This is about getting people back to work and giving businesses the confidence to reopen, rehire and even grow because the way our economy will recover and the way our country will remain resilient and successful is by getting Canadians back to work,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday.

In other Canadian news …

Statistics Canada is expected to report that the consumer price index decreased in April, the first full month the economy was gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Economists on average had expected a reading of negative 0.28 per cent for April, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

That’s a further decline from March when the annual pace of inflation in Canada was 0.9 per cent, marking the biggest one-month decrease in more than a decade.

It was down from 2.2 per cent in February as the price of oil collapsed and the economy then ground to a halt when governments ordered the closure of non-essential businesses in mid-March to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The Consumer Price Index measures price changes for a fixed basket of goods and services that are divided into eight major components.

These are food, shelter, household operations, furnishings and equipment, clothing and footwear, transportation, health and personal care, recreation, education and alcoholic beverages, tobacco products and recreational cannabis.

Also this …

As provinces take their cautious first steps to allow people back into local businesses, a new poll suggests most Canadians don’t think province-wide measures are the best way to reopen the economy.

The latest poll on the COVID-19 pandemic by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies suggests only 35 per cent of people thought restrictions should be loosened for entire provinces.

In contrast, 47 per cent thought those decisions should apply to specific regions within each province. Just 18 per cent said reopening measures should apply to all of Canada at once.

Still, just over half of those polled said they trust provinces to make the call about what businesses should reopen and when, whereas about one-third said that should be up to Ottawa and 14 per cent said local governments should decide.

That is essentially what happened in Quebec, where the provincial government delayed the planned reopening of schools, daycares and businesses in the Greater Montreal area for one week because of the particularly high COVID-19 infection rate in the area and a shortage of health-care workers.

The proportion of people who said they would like decisions to be made region by region were highest in that province at 73 per cent, followed by Alberta at 52 per cent.

COVID-19 in the U.S. …

President Donald Trump emphatically defended himself against criticism from medical experts that his announced use of a malaria drug against the coronavirus could spark wide misuse by Americans of the unproven treatment with potentially fatal side effects.

Trump’s revelation a day earlier that he was taking hydroxychloroquine caught many in his administration by surprise and set off an urgent effort by officials to justify his action. But their attempt to address the concerns of health professionals was undercut by the president himself.

He asserted without evidence that a study of veterans raising alarm about the drug was “false” and an “enemy statement,” even as his own government warned that the drug should be administered for COVID-19 only in a hospital or research setting.

“If you look at the one survey, the only bad survey, they were giving it to people that were in very bad shape,” Trump said. That was an apparent reference to a study of hundreds of patients treated by the Department of Veterans Affairs in which more of those in a group who were administered hydroxychloroquine died than among those who weren’t.

“They were very old. Almost dead,” Trump said. “It was a Trump enemy statement.” During a Cabinet meeting, he elicited a defense of his practice from other officials, including VA Secretary Robert Wilkie who noted that the study in question was not conducted by his agency.

But the drug has not been shown to combat the virus in a multitude of other studies as well. Two large observational studies, each involving around 1,400 patients in New York, recently found no COVID benefit from hydroxychloroquine. Two new ones published last week in the medical journal BMJ reached the same conclusion.

No large, rigorous studies have found the drug safe or effective for preventing or treating COVID-19.

COVID-19 around the world …

President Donald Trump’s declaration that he was taking a malaria drug of dubious effectiveness to help fend off the coronavirus will likely be welcomed in India.

Trump’s previous endorsement of hydroxychloroquine catalyzed a tremendous shift in the South Asian country, spurring the world’s largest producer of the drug to make much more of it, prescribe it for front-line health workers treating the virus and deploy it as a diplomatic tool, despite mounting evidence against using the drug for COVID-19.

Trump said Monday that he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a measure of protection against the virus. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, however, has cautioned against using it outside of hospitals because of the risk of serious heart problems.

Suhhil Gupta, a pharmacist in New Delhi, said Tuesday that Trump’s announcement shouldn’t carry any weight in India.

“He’s not a pharmacist. His statements are not relevant to the field,” Gupta said.

Still, India’s policy on the decades-old drug, used to prevent malaria and treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, drastically changed after Trump tweeted in March that the drug, used together with an antibiotic, could be “game changers” in the fight against the pandemic. India’s health ministry quickly approved it as a prophylactic for health care workers and others at high risk of infection, and as a treatment for critically ill patients.

In non-COVID-19 entertainment news …

Alanis Morissette is among the special guests set to appear in next week’s finale of the new incarnation of “Fraggle Rock” on Apple TV Plus.

The Ottawa-born singer-songwriter will appear along with several other stars in the sixth instalment of “Fraggle Rock: Rock On!” next Tuesday.

She’ll sing the classic “Fraggle Rock” theme song, along with Common, Jason Mraz, Neil Patrick Harris, Tiffany Haddish, and Ziggy Marley.

The original 1980s version of the children’s puppet series from the Jim Henson Company was filmed in Toronto.

The new U.S.-shot series features mini episodes that have appeared every Tuesday for free on the streaming service since last month.

COVID-19 in sports …

Alberta’s Jason Kenney is the latest premier to make a pitch for his province to host National Hockey League games should the league resume play.

The league suspended its season in February and is now eyeing a format to complete it with an improvised playoff scenario. One possibility is a tournament of 24 teams spread over two hub cities.

Kenney says he is working with the Edmonton Oilers on a proposal to be a host city and expects to be discussing the issue later this week with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

He says Edmonton would be a prime location, given it has low COVID numbers and a new downtown rink with a hotel attached to provide an isolation safe zone for players.

“I think we’ve got a tremendous pitch to make,” Kenney says.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 20, 2020

The Canadian Press

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1 new case of COVID-19 in N.B., with all 13 active cases located in the Campbellton region – Globalnews.ca

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New Brunswick announced one new case of COVID-19 on Tuesday, a person aged 80 to 89 “linked to” the Manior de la Vallee long-term care facility in Atholville, N.B.

There are 133 total cases in the province.

There are 13 active cases. All of them in the Campbellton area, known as Zone 5.

READ MORE: New Brunswick investigating after Peterborough councillor visited province despite border restrictions

Five patients are in hospital with one in intensive care. Six cases are from Manior de la Vallee, including at least one worker.

All active cases are linked to a Campbellton doctor who contracted the virus in Quebec and did not self-isolate upon his return to New Brunswick.

Health officials processed more than 2,000 tests for the second day in a row.

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Moncton real estate lowest in 15 years due to COVID-19 pandemic


Moncton real estate lowest in 15 years due to COVID-19 pandemic

Several locations in Campbellton hosted extra testing sites on the weekend as officials tried to curb the spread of the virus in the current outbreak, which began May 21.

The total number of tests conducted in the province now sits at 30,666.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

“We are pleased to see how all our partners have come together to help us manage the situation,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, in a government news release.

“We have 14 days ahead of us to see how things unfold. In the meantime, I ask New Brunswickers to continue to demonstrate their compassion, kindness and patience throughout the province.”

READ MORE: New Brunswick investigating after Peterborough councillor visited province despite border restrictions

Of the 133 total number of confirmed cases:

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  • 69 are travel-related
  • 53 are close contacts of confirmed cases
  • 10 are the result of community transmission
  • 1 remains under investigation
  • 18 people have been hospitalized; 13 have since been discharged
  • 120 are considered recovered

Zone 5 remains in the Orange phase of New Brunswick’s COVID-19 recovery plan.

The rest of the province is in the third, Yellow phase.

A number of businesses were scheduled to open the week in an advanced stage of the Yellow phase, but those plans were delayed until at least June 5 because of the outbreak in Campbellton.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Family says 'back and forth' between N.S., Ottawa over shooting probe 'unreal' – Melita New Era

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HALIFAX — A Nova Scotia family has made a passionate appeal for the federal and Nova Scotia governments to end the “back and forth” over which should lead a public inquiry into a recent mass shooting.

Darcy Dobson, the daughter of a licensed practical nurse who was among the 22 victims, writes in an open letter that she, her father Andrew and her five siblings “formally request the start of a public inquiry into the mass shooting on April 18 and 19.”

article continues below

The letter notes that with few answers provided more than 40 days after the tragedy, families aren’t able to heal properly, and adds “the amount of information being kept from us is deplorable.”

Premier Stephen McNeil has said he wants Ottawa to lead a public inquiry because the areas of key jurisdiction — such as the protocols followed by the RCMP — are federal.

However, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hasn’t committed his government to overseeing an inquiry, saying only it will “work with the government of Nova Scotia” to get answers.

In an emailed statement Monday, Nova Scotia Justice Minister Mark Furey said the province is working with Ottawa to determine the best mechanism to provide victims’ families with answers.

“This is a matter of both federal and provincial responsibility, and the province is working with the federal government to take action and move this forward together,” Furey said.

“We believe this joint approach will yield the best results. Individuals, families, communities, and Nova Scotians impacted by this tragedy deserve no less.”

Dobson’s mother, Heather O’Brien of Truro, N.S., was killed by the gunman on April 19 as she drove along a highway in Debert, N.S.

The letter from the 30-year-old daughter is signed by the entire O’Brien family and says, “the back and forth about who’s responsible for an inquiry is unreal.”

It says mistakes were made at both the provincial and federal levels, adding, “We need answers to heal, we need answers so we can find a way to live in this new normal that we’ve been forced into.”

The letter adds that authorities should be trying to learn from one of the worst mass killings in Canadian history.

“What’s the hold up in the inquiry? Why hasn’t this happened yet? Where are we in the investigation? Was someone else involved? Why can’t we get any answers at all 40 days in?!” it asks.

“The fact that any one of us has to ask these questions is all very concerning and only makes everyone feel inadequate, unimportant and unsafe.

“Please for the people of our province, for the people of our country, for the people who have lost someone so dear to their hearts, find a way to let us start to heal.”

Dobson writes in her letter that her mother had taught her children to push strongly for what they believe in.

“This is why we are standing up. We are requesting you give us the information we all deserve.”

She also says other families may soon be joining hers in publishing requests for an inquiry to be called.

In recent weeks questions have been raised about why the RCMP didn’t issue a search warrant for the gunman’s home in Portapique, after reports of domestic abuse of his spouse and possession of illegal firearms seven years ago.

Last month, Brenda Forbes, a former neighbour of Gabriel Wortman — who was shot and killed by police on April 19 — said she reported an account of a 2013 incident of domestic violence by Wortman against his common-law spouse to the RCMP in Truro.

She said she reported witnesses telling her that Wortman had strangled and beaten his common-law partner, and she said she told police there were guns in the house.

Police have said Wortman’s rampage began late on the night of April 18 with the domestic assault of the same woman, who managed to escape and hide in the woods after the gunman assaulted her at their residence in Portapique.

The RCMP said in an email Friday it is still looking for the police record of the 2013 incident and declined further comment.

Last week saw more revelations the Mounties had received detailed warnings about Wortman.

A newly released police bulletin revealed that in May 2011, a Truro police officer had received information from a source indicating Wortman was upset about a police investigation into a break-and-enter and had “stated he wants to kill a cop.”

The officer goes on to say he was told Wortman owned a handgun and was having some “mental issues” that left him feeling stressed and “a little squirrelly.”

Thirty-three Dalhousie law professors have called for an inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act — which allows for broad terms of reference — arguing the province is responsible for the administration of justice.

Other legal experts have said another option is for a joint federal-provincial inquiry, as there are overlapping issues of provincial and federal jurisdiction.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2020.

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Family says 'back and forth' between N.S., Ottawa over shooting probe 'unreal' – The Record (New Westminster)

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HALIFAX — A Nova Scotia family has made a passionate appeal for the federal and Nova Scotia governments to end the “back and forth” over which should lead a public inquiry into a recent mass shooting.

Darcy Dobson, the daughter of a licensed practical nurse who was among the 22 victims, writes in an open letter that she, her father Andrew and her five siblings “formally request the start of a public inquiry into the mass shooting on April 18 and 19.”

article continues below

The letter notes that with few answers provided more than 40 days after the tragedy, families aren’t able to heal properly, and adds “the amount of information being kept from us is deplorable.”

Premier Stephen McNeil has said he wants Ottawa to lead a public inquiry because the areas of key jurisdiction — such as the protocols followed by the RCMP — are federal.

However, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hasn’t committed his government to overseeing an inquiry, saying only it will “work with the government of Nova Scotia” to get answers.

In an emailed statement Monday, Nova Scotia Justice Minister Mark Furey said the province is working with Ottawa to determine the best mechanism to provide victims’ families with answers.

“This is a matter of both federal and provincial responsibility, and the province is working with the federal government to take action and move this forward together,” Furey said.

“We believe this joint approach will yield the best results. Individuals, families, communities, and Nova Scotians impacted by this tragedy deserve no less.”

Dobson’s mother, Heather O’Brien of Truro, N.S., was killed by the gunman on April 19 as she drove along a highway in Debert, N.S.

The letter from the 30-year-old daughter is signed by the entire O’Brien family and says, “the back and forth about who’s responsible for an inquiry is unreal.”

It says mistakes were made at both the provincial and federal levels, adding, “We need answers to heal, we need answers so we can find a way to live in this new normal that we’ve been forced into.”

The letter adds that authorities should be trying to learn from one of the worst mass killings in Canadian history.

“What’s the hold up in the inquiry? Why hasn’t this happened yet? Where are we in the investigation? Was someone else involved? Why can’t we get any answers at all 40 days in?!” it asks.

“The fact that any one of us has to ask these questions is all very concerning and only makes everyone feel inadequate, unimportant and unsafe.

“Please for the people of our province, for the people of our country, for the people who have lost someone so dear to their hearts, find a way to let us start to heal.”

Dobson writes in her letter that her mother had taught her children to push strongly for what they believe in.

“This is why we are standing up. We are requesting you give us the information we all deserve.”

She also says other families may soon be joining hers in publishing requests for an inquiry to be called.

In recent weeks questions have been raised about why the RCMP didn’t issue a search warrant for the gunman’s home in Portapique, after reports of domestic abuse of his spouse and possession of illegal firearms seven years ago.

Last month, Brenda Forbes, a former neighbour of Gabriel Wortman — who was shot and killed by police on April 19 — said she reported an account of a 2013 incident of domestic violence by Wortman against his common-law spouse to the RCMP in Truro.

She said she reported witnesses telling her that Wortman had strangled and beaten his common-law partner, and she said she told police there were guns in the house.

Police have said Wortman’s rampage began late on the night of April 18 with the domestic assault of the same woman, who managed to escape and hide in the woods after the gunman assaulted her at their residence in Portapique.

The RCMP said in an email Friday it is still looking for the police record of the 2013 incident and declined further comment.

Last week saw more revelations the Mounties had received detailed warnings about Wortman.

A newly released police bulletin revealed that in May 2011, a Truro police officer had received information from a source indicating Wortman was upset about a police investigation into a break-and-enter and had “stated he wants to kill a cop.”

The officer goes on to say he was told Wortman owned a handgun and was having some “mental issues” that left him feeling stressed and “a little squirrelly.”

Thirty-three Dalhousie law professors have called for an inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act — which allows for broad terms of reference — arguing the province is responsible for the administration of justice.

Other legal experts have said another option is for a joint federal-provincial inquiry, as there are overlapping issues of provincial and federal jurisdiction.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2020.

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