After two days of emergency committee meetings to decide whether to declare a public health emergency over a new coronavirus from China, the World Health Organization (WHO) has concluded that it’s too early.
The coronavirus, which emerged sometime in December 2019, has drawn comparison to the 2003 outbreak of SARS.
Dr. Michael Gardam, chief of staff at Humber River Hospital and an infection control specialist, dealt with the SARS outbreak.
The disease affected 26 countries and infected more than 8,000 individuals, according to the WHO.
With the coronavirus, 17 years later, more than 600 people have been infected, the majority of whom are from China.
At least 17 people have died as of last count.
Gardam told Global News that at this point, the risk the coronavirus presents to Canadians is “absolutely negligible.”
“If there’s any country in the world that’s as prepared as it’s going to be, it’s this one,” he said.
A background on the coronavirus and its symptoms
He believes that even with a WHO emergency declaration, there would be little to no impact on Canadian hospitals.
Coronavirus cases have already been reported in China, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and the United States. There have been no confirmed cases in Canada so far.
But Gardam says if any cases are reported, hospitals in Canada will be ready.
“Canadian hospitals learned a great deal from SARS, and then we learned more from H1N1 in 2009, and then we learned more after the Ebola scare a few years ago,” said Gardam.
A viral respiratory illness, SARS infected more than 430 Canadians and resulted in 44 deaths in Toronto alone.
“Our experience with SARS was that it’s not great to make stuff up as you go along,” the doctor explained.
“We didn’t know what the virus was, we didn’t have a test for it. We didn’t focus on handwashing in hospitals, which is all you hear about over the last decade; we didn’t have stockpiles of personal protective equipment (PPE).
“We didn’t screen people for fevers.”
A number of measures, including keeping PPE on hand, have since been implemented. When asked for some preventative measures, Gardam offered handwashing and staying home from work or school if you are sick as examples.
And while many have placed their faith in face masks as a form of prevention, he cautioned there are multiple ways the coronavirus can be transmitted.
“Viruses can also infect you through your eyes, you can get it on your hand and then rub your eye and get infected that way,” he said.
“If you’ve got somebody who’s sick and coughing, wearing a mask can actually prevent you from spraying stuff on other people.
“We use them a lot in the hospital because we’re around people who are actively infectious right now.”
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Racism: Examining Injustices of Canadian Society
As the Canadian government works to create a more inclusive and just society, racism remains an issue that needs to be addressed. Racial discrimination, both conscious and unconscious, continues to be a problem throughout the country, resulting in the exclusion and marginalization of certain groups. Let’s look at why racism is still prevalent in Canada and what can be done to combat it.
The Root Causes of Racism in Canada
Racism is a systemic and deeply rooted problem in Canada that has been perpetuated through laws, policies, and practices for centuries. Every day, Canadians are confronted with the effects of racism in their lives, whether it’s seen in the workplace, at school, or even within our own homes. In order to understand how racism has become so pervasive in our society and what we can do to combat it, we must first examine its root causes.
Racism is embedded into Canadian society largely due to the historical legacy of colonialism. Through colonization, Europeans sought power and control over other nations while systematically stripping them of their culture and identity.
This resulted in a system of dominance and privilege that was heavily skewed toward white people while creating oppressive conditions for Indigenous peoples and people of colour.
As a result, many societal systems have been built on this foundation of inequality—from education to employment to housing—which has only served to further entrench racism into our society.
Discrimination is another major factor that contributes to racism in Canada. Systemic discrimination occurs when certain groups are disproportionately denied access to resources or opportunities because of their identity or perceived differences.
For example, people who are racialized often face systemic discrimination when it comes to employment; according to Statistics Canada, unemployment rates for racialized individuals were more than double those for non-racialized individuals as recently as 2018.
Similarly, Indigenous women experience higher levels of poverty than any other group in Canada due to systemic discrimination that prevents them from accessing education and employment opportunities.
Finally, institutional prejudice plays a significant role in perpetuating racism in Canada. Institutional prejudice refers to the biases that exist within institutions such as schools or workplaces which favour certain groups over others based on race or ethnicity.
These biases may be subtle or overt, but they have powerful consequences; research shows that students who identified as visible minorities are more likely to get suspended from their school than their white peers due to implicit biases held by teachers and administrators against these students’ racial backgrounds.
Similarly, workers who are racialized may be passed over for promotions despite being better qualified than their white counterparts due to underlying prejudices against them.
How Racism Impacts People
Racism can have significant impacts on individuals’ mental health, education outcomes, employment opportunities, access to resources such as healthcare services, and overall quality of life.
For example, studies have found that racial bias affects hiring decisions even when employers are unaware of their own biases. Additionally, people from minority backgrounds often experience discrimination when trying to access housing or healthcare services due to implicit biases held by service providers or institutions.
These experiences of exclusion can lead to feelings of frustration and helplessness among those impacted by racism.
What Can Be Done?
In order for us as a society to address the impacts of racism on individuals and communities across Canada, there must be an acknowledgement that racism exists and an openness towards taking actionable steps towards addressing it.
To do so effectively requires collaboration between different levels of government as well as with organizations advocating for social justice initiatives such as anti-racism campaigns.
Efforts should also include educational initiatives aimed at increasing awareness about systemic forms of racism as well as providing tools for individuals looking to challenge discriminatory behaviour within their own circles or workplaces.
Racism is still pervasive in Canada despite the efforts taken by many individuals and organizations towards creating a more equitable society free from discrimination based on race or ethnicity.
In order to address this issue effectively, we need widespread collaboration between different levels of government along with education initiatives aimed at increasing awareness around systemic forms of racism while also providing individuals with tools necessary for challenging discrimination where they see it occurring.
With everyone working together, we can create a brighter future free from bigotry and prejudice for all Canadians, regardless of their background or identity.
Is Canada in a recession? StatCan’s early estimates are saying not yet
Early indicators from Statistics Canada on show the country’s economy is slowing but might not be in recession territory yet.
The agency released new gross domestic product (GDP) data on Tuesday, showing the economy grew at a rate of 0.1 per cent in November.
Early indications show that the country’s GDP was essentially unchanged for December.
Overall, StatCan said advance information suggests a 1.6 per cent annualized increase in GDP for the fourth quarter of the year and annual growth of 3.8 per cent in 2022.
Economic growth is expected to slow in response to higher interest rates, with many economists anticipating a mild recession this year. A recession is traditionally defined as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth.
“Overall, today’s data show that the Canadian economy continues to cool, but not as yet shift into reverse, in the face of rising interest rates,” said CIBC Senior Economist Andrew Grantham in a note to clients Tuesday.
The Bank of Canada has raised its key interest rate eight consecutive times since March, bringing it to 4.5 per cent, the highest it’s been since 2007.
After hiking interest rates last week, the central bank signalled it would take a pause to assess how higher interest rates are affecting inflation and the economy.
In November, growth in real domestic product was driven by the public sector, transportation and warehousing and finance and insurance.
Meanwhile, construction, retail and accommodation and food services contracted.
— with files from the Canadian Press
St-Onge urges provinces to accelerate efforts to make sports safer for athletes
Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge says ending abuse in sports will require complaints processes that include provincial-level athletes, not just national ones.
St-Onge and provincial sports ministers will meet during the Canada Games in mid-February where their agenda will include the ongoing effort to address widespread allegations of physical, sexual and emotional abuse in sports.
She says she asked the provincial ministers at an August meeting to look at joining the new federal sport integrity process or creating their own.
The national sports integrity commissioner can only investigate allegations of abuse from athletes at the national level.
But St-Onge says the vast majority of athletes aren’t in that category and only Quebec has its own sports integrity office capable of receiving and investigating complaints.
The national sport integrity office officially began its work last June and has since received 48 complaints from athletes.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2023.
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