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Elections Canada says it won't require workers to be vaccinated, vows polling safety – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Elections Canada says it won’t require its polling workers to be fully immunized against COVID-19, but all polling stations will be “highly controlled” with enhanced public safety measures in place.

Chief Electoral Officer Stephane Perrault said on Wednesday that he has consulted widely about the move and continues to seek advice as the pandemic evolves.

“The recommendations do not include mandatory vaccination, whether they be for electors, for workers, or candidate representatives. In the next three weeks or so, poll returning officers will be hiring some 250,000 Canadians to work at the polls to serve approximately 18 million Canadians. These are the same Canadians, these are the same people you meet every day at the grocery store,” said Perrault.

Elections Canada says it will, however, impose additional safety measures at polling stations.

“[Canadians] can expect to see essentially the kind of measures that they now have been seeing for the last 18 months. So, we will have people in charge of ensuring that the place is clean, that the electors are properly distanced. They will see for example these physical transparent barriers that will separate the poll workers,” said Perrault.

Masks will be distributed, hand sanitizer enforced, and disposable pencils required, he added.

The news comes as federal party leaders try to make clear their stance on mandatory vaccinations after the government announced last week that vaccinations would be required of federal workers and most federal industries, as well as commercial air, rail, and cruise ship passengers by the fall.

Since then, debate has erupted around whether a mandatory vaccine policy infringes on individual rights.

Asked whether Elections Canada would refuse a ballot to someone not wearing a mask, Perrault said that if Canadians plan to vote without a mask – unless it is for medical reasons – they should plan to vote by mail.

What about mail-in ballots?

The organization is anticipating a significant increase in mail-in ballots this year compared to last. According to recent surveys, the number of Canadians interested in casting a ballot by mail could be between two and three million, as opposed to approximately 50,000 during the 2019 election.

In anticipation of this, Elections Canada says it has increased the capacity to process mail-in ballots, including implementing an online vote-by-mail application system. This will be a way for those who might be in self-isolation due to COVID-19 to still cast their votes, the agency said.

“All electors who successfully apply will be sent a special ballot voting kit with everything they need to vote. This includes a pre-addressed return envelope with prepaid postage, so there is no cost to electors to return their ballots to us,” said Elections Canada spokesperson Matthew McKenna in an email to CTVNews.ca.

Anyone going this route will also be able to check their status of their application to vote by mail, and see whether or not Elections Canada has received their completed and mailed-back special ballot. Perrault recommended that Canadians who wish to do this to do so early.

“They should leave enough time for their voter kit to get to them and for them to return it to Elections Canada by Election Day,” he said. “For those who are not apply online we will have traditional mail-in forms available.”

Asked how Elections Canada will prevent people who might try to double dip – voting both through mail-in and in-person, Perrault said when an individual opts for postal voting, they are immediately crossed off an official electors list.

“If somebody wishes to vote on polling day and their name is struck they’ll have to explain why and if they’ve lost their ballot, if it’s been misplaced or if they’ve not received it, then they will swear an oath,” he said.

Will there be additional advanced polling days?

There will be four advanced polling days, but no extra in-person days added. While there had been some suggestion of adopting a weekend-long polling period leading up to election day to spread out voters during a pandemic election, that idea didn’t get off the ground after concerns were raised about labour shortages and a limited number of polling locations that would be available for the full voting period, like schools or churches.

Will the location of my polling place be different than it was in 2019?

It’s possible Canadians will be voting in a different location than they have in previous federal elections.

Given the pandemic, Elections Canada says it has faced some challenges in identifying the nearly 18,000 voting locations usually used across the country. They say work is ongoing to nail down which locations will be used as polling places—including potentially renting some spaces. Factoring in the need to keep folks physically distanced, their options are different than in past elections. As a result, “polling places may be in unusual locations or slightly further from electors’ homes,” said McKenna.

Perrault said this is an “unfortunate” reality of hosting the election amid the pandemic.

“We know that some locations will not be the usual ones or may not be accessible so these are unfortunate circumstances but we will do everything we can to make the vote as accessible as possible,” he said.

The location of Canadians’ polling place will be identified on their voter information card, which typically arrives in the mail three weeks before election day.

Could it take longer to count the ballots this time?

Perrault said that it may take a few days longer to count ballots in 2021, but it depends on how many Canadians cast their votes by mail.

“Canadians are used to getting complete results on election night, but it will be different for this election. The count of regular ballots on ordinary polling day and advanced polls will be completed on the night of the election as usual. However, the count of mail-in ballots will start after Election Day,” he said. 

With files from CTV News’ Rachel Aiello.

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

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The latest:

New Brunswick has reinstated its COVID-19 state of emergency as the province’s chief medical officer of health warned the province is at a “tipping point.”

“The pace of the fourth wave is beyond what we had anticipated,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell at a briefing Friday as the province reported a single-day record of 78 new cases and three additional deaths.

As part of the mandatory order, which will take effect at 11:59 p.m. AT Friday, residents must stick to their household bubbles and a “steady 20” of close contacts.

The order will be reviewed every two weeks and come into effect whenever there are 25 people hospitalized with COVID-19, said Premier Blaine Higgs. The number of people hospitalized currently stands at 31, including 15 in intensive care, he said.

Dr. Gordon Dow, infectious disease specialist with the Horizon Health Network, said the lifting of health-protection measures almost two months ago was an error.

“Many other jurisdictions made the very same mistake,” he said at a technical briefing earlier Friday, citing Alberta, Saskatchewan, the U.S. and the U.K.

WATCH | Lifting restrictions was a mistake, N.B. official says: 

‘That was not the right decision to make’

9 hours ago

One of the province’s top infectious disease specialists says lifting restrictions at the end of July was a mistake. 1:39

Dow said the province’s previous efforts to combat the virus focused on a successful “elimination strategy” that was used to rapidly shut down seven distinct outbreaks. But the province wasn’t ready for the delta variant, he said.

“Did we under-call this one? I would say yes, and I think most New Brunswickers would agree with that,” he said. “But I would also say that we got it right 85 per cent of the time.”

Meanwhile, Ontario is easing capacity limits at certain venues where proof of vaccination is required, including sports facilities, cinemas and concert venues.

The province’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore, says the province’s COVID-19 cases and health indicators have been stable recently, though it doesn’t mean the province can let its guard down in the face of the delta variant.

Ontario on Friday reported 727 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 additional deaths. There are 193 people in intensive care units due to COVID-19.

— From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 5:30 p.m. ET


What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | Tam is asked to advise parents considering vaccinating children against COVID: 

Tam is asked to advise parents considering COVID-19 vaccines for children

10 hours ago

A reporter asks Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, for her advice to parents considering vaccinating their children once the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available to those younger than 12. 4:01

Canada’s chief public health officer says the country is seeing about 4,300 new cases of COVID-19 per day, up from about 3,500 per day three weeks ago.

The bulk of cases and severe outcomes are among the unvaccinated, Dr. Theresa Tam said at a news briefing Friday.

From early August to early September, the average weekly rate of new COVID-19 was 11 times higher in those who were unvaccinated than in fully vaccinated people, she said, while hospitalization was 38 times higher.

While more than 80 per cent of eligible Canadians are fully vaccinated, more than six million people still have not received one or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, Tam said.

— From The Canadian Press, last updated at 5:30 p.m. ET


What’s happening around the world

A woman wearing a mask sits near an open-air café, which has been cordoned off, in Seoul on Friday. (Kim Hong-ji/Reuters)

As of Friday afternoon, more than 230.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s case tracking tool, which collects data from around the world. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.7 million. 

In the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea has reported its biggest daily jump in coronavirus since the start of the pandemic as people returned from the country’s biggest holiday of the year.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said more than 1,750 of the 2,434 new cases reported Friday were from the greater capital area, where officials have raised concern over an erosion in citizen vigilance despite the enforcement of the strongest physical distancing rules short of a lockdown since July.

In the Americas, a live televised interview with U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris was slightly delayed Friday after two hosts of the The View learned they tested positive for the coronavirus just before she was to join them on the set.

Co-host Sunny Hostin and guest host Ana Navarro were at the table for the start of the show, but were pulled from the set. Harris, who had planned to join the table, instead was interviewed remotely from a different room in the ABC studio in New York.

In Europe, Portugal is scrapping many of its remaining COVID-19 restrictions after becoming the world leader in vaccination rollout. The country has fully vaccinated nearly 85 per cent of the population, according to Our World in Data.

The government says starting Oct. 1, it will remove limits on how many people can be in cafés and restaurants, at weddings and baptisms, shopping malls, concerts and cinemas. Bars and discos will reopen, although only for vaccinated people and people with negative coronavirus tests.

Meanwhile, Norway’s government says the country will reopen society on Saturday, ending pandemic-curbing restrictions that have limited social interaction and hobbled many businesses.

“It is 561 days since we introduced the toughest measures in Norway in peacetime …. Now the time has come to return to a normal daily life,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg told a news conference.

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, left, is hugged by the country’s Health Minister Bent Hoie as they provide an update about the COVID-19 situation in the country on Friday. (Javad Parsa/NTB/AFP/Getty Images)

The decision to no longer require physical distancing will allow culture and sports venues to utilize their full capacity, rather than just a portion of seats, while restaurants can fill up and nightclubs reopen.

About 76 per cent of all Norwegians have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine while 67 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated, according to the Institute of Public Health.

In the Middle East, Yemen received its third batch of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX global vaccine-sharing scheme, the health ministry said

In Africa, Egypt has authorized Russia’s single-dose Sputnik Light vaccine against COVID-19, the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which markets the shot abroad, said on Friday. The country approved Russia’s two-dose Sputnik V vaccine in February.

— From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

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BENANTHONY LAVOZ AND DELON OM GET RAW WITH “The Gentleman and Scholar”

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Toronto, ON – Canadian Latin Pop sensations BenAnthony Lavoz and Delon Omdropped their new EP “The Gentleman & Scholar.”  Coming off the success of their summer hit single “One More Time” the pop sensations went dark for their new project. The multi-talented artists wanted the lyrics of their new EP to describe the struggles we keep to ourselves, the ones that lead us to walk in the darkness.  Lavoz and Om brought in some heavy hitters to produce “The Gentleman and Scholar.  The EP was produced by David Neale (Karl Wolf, Danny Fernandes, Peter Jackson) and multi-platinum Grammy award winning producer, Sensei Musica (Fat Joe, Pitbull, and Shakira).  The project serves as an emotional outlet for Lavoz and Om, who bring to the table a genuine connect and passion.  The Gentleman and Scholar” reminds us that there are many parts that make up who we are, but at the heart of it all … is our truth.  Do we own it, or do we hide?   One of the singles on the EP, Follow the Leader” features Canadas own Danny Fernandes.  The three artists connected over their dark pasts to create the song about vulnerability, redemption and finding a new and forgiving path to walk. 

 

BenAnthony Lavoz, a Toronto native and Latin Grammy award winner has performed with Prince Royce, Nicky Jam, Bad Bunny and Ozuna. Delon Om, is a former Canadian Idol contestant, song writer and music producer signed to Ultra Records. Oms single, Someone Special To Me” was featured in the critically acclaimed documentary This is for Toronto.”  Together they produced an EP that speaks to the resilience of the human spirit, in hopes that lessons learned, and paths walked will give others hope and encouragement to step out of the dark and into the light.   

 

The Gentleman and Scholar” is raw and ready.  Step into the light on all music platforms today…

https://open.spotify.com/album/3UVffFHFUTktYpTCGN1Ba7?si=OsBEakH7Si2mb_Y1HseJoA&dl_branch=1

 

FOLLOW Delon OM: 

INSTAGRAM: @delon_om 

SPOTIFY: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5rQzEmQuzhHIyn1N1g12s6?autoplay=true 

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5DcyrsEUpnb2r3X786nKyQ/featured 

 

FOLLOW BENANTHONY LAVOZ: 

INSTAGRAM: @benanthonylavoz 

SPOTIFY: https://open.spotify.com/artist/3PSLZvxcutlF9L42d4Y9YJ?autoplay=true 

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIXjnthAd2L7d7NImU6atBA 

 

 

  

Media Inquiries:  

Sasha Stoltz Publicity & Management:
Sasha Stoltz | Sasha@sashastoltzpublicity.com | 416.579.4804

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Front-line workers shoulder burden of vaccine mandates – CBC.ca

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This story features an audience member, like you, who got in touch with us. Send us your questions. We are listening: ask@cbc.ca.

Service industry workers in Canada say they’re bearing the brunt of anger, frustration and general confusion from clients over new vaccine mandates that they had nothing to do with creating, but are now responsible for enforcing.

At the entrance to Wienstein & Gavino’s, an Italian restaurant in downtown Montreal, hostess Abigail Trevino is standing at the ready to greet clients and ask them for their proof of vaccination.

“I try to defuse the situation usually with a joke, saying that I feel more like a bouncer than a hostess these days,” said Trevino. “Usually people laugh at that and it’s enough to break the tension.”

For the most part, she said, people have been understanding of Quebec’s vaccine passport system, which came into effect on Sept. 1. Occasionally she’s had customers who were annoyed or frustrated, but no one who was outright aggressive.

“I had someone get quite visibly annoyed with me, but he did actually come back and apologize afterwards and say, ‘I realize that you don’t make the rules; I’m sorry I lost my temper.'”

‘Doubled the workload’

The challenge, more than anything, has been the extra work. “It’s basically doubled the workload,” Trevino said. 

From troubleshooting technical issues with smartphone QR codes and apps, to answering phone calls from people asking what kind of proof is accepted, Trevino said her responsibilities as a hostess have suddenly expanded.

While she agrees with the vaccine passport in principle, she’d like to see more recognition from the government about the added burden it places on businesses and their employees, when they’re already dealing with staff shortages.

“We’re doing a lot of extra work for no extra money, and it eats into the time it takes to seat people. It slows everything down,” said Trevino.

“It would be nice if people could be a little bit nicer to restaurant workers, because I understand that it’s frustrating for people to have to pull out their ID and they’re not always expecting it.… [But] if people could just be patient and understanding, and realize that we don’t make the rules.”

At the Hearty Hooligan, a vegan restaurant in Hamilton, management said their top concern is to make sure front-line staff feel safe. (Submitted by the Hearty Hooligan)

Across the border in Ontario, people have had less time to get used to vaccine certificate requirements, which came into effect on Wednesday.

The rules apply to venues including indoor areas at restaurants and bars, gyms and recreational facilities, and entertainment venues.

The Hearty Hooligan, a vegan restaurant in Hamilton, warned customers of the changes last week through a post on its Instagram account.

“Providing proof of vaccination when you are looking to dine in is the law,” the post states. “Front-line workers have taken a lot of abuse throughout this pandemic and we will not tolerate any harassment over these policies.”

The Hearty Hooligan warned its customers that vaccine requirements would be coming into effect with this Instagram post. (The Hearty Hooligan/Instagram)

But in response to that, head chef Matthew Miles said they’ve faced an onslaught of angry comments from people accusing them of everything from discrimination to supporting tyranny.

When the mask mandate first came into effect, Miles said they had customers enter the restaurant without masks, arguing about their rights. They’re bracing for more of that type of attitude.

To help protect staff, the restaurant installed a bell near the front till that rings directly to the kitchen, so that employees can call for extra help if there’s a conflict.

“Our issue right now is mainly the safety of our front-line staff. We want them to feel supported and we want them to feel safe in their workspace,” Miles said.

Inspections and fines

In response to those concerns, a spokesperson for the Ontario health minister said bylaw officers are responsible for enforcing the new requirements and inspectors will be visiting establishments to offer help and support to staff. 

Workers in Ontario are being asked to call 911 if they feel threatened for denying entry to someone who refuses to comply. 

In Quebec, people who try to get into places requiring a vaccination passport without one risk receiving fines ranging from $1,000 to $6,000. Businesses that don’t enforce vaccine passport rules can also face fines between $1,000 to $6,000.

Alberta’s new proof-of-vaccination program is not mandatory, but some of the businesses that have chosen to adopt it say they’re ready to call police if people refuse to co-operate.

Quebec’s vaccine-passport system went into effect Sept. 1, followed by a two-week education period. People are required to show digital or printed proof of vaccination for many non-essential activities and businesses. Other provinces are just beginning to roll out their systems. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Outside the restaurant and bar industry, workers in a range of sectors are now adding enforcement of public health restrictions to their list of tasks.

Nadia Ali, a 19-year-old Carleton University student who works part time as a lifeguard, recently learned she would have to screen swimmers for proof of vaccination.

The pool where she works is in an Ottawa condo building, and Ali said some residents have been angry about the changes.

“One lady came in and she told me this was unjust and discrimination, and that she wouldn’t be coming here again,”  Ali said. “I just told her, ‘I’m sorry but I just enforce the rules, I didn’t make them.'” 

Her management has been supportive, she said, and if a resident was ever aggressive, she would ask for help from the front desk. So far, it hasn’t come to that. 

More than anything, Ali said, it’s a lot of hassle and extra work. She hopes the process will get smoother with time.

Extra anxiety

It all comes down to employees being put in an unfair position that they never signed up for, according to Toronto-based employment lawyer Muneeza Sheikh.

“What we are doing, essentially, is we’re placing employees in a combative scenario when that isn’t part of their job duty,” she said.

Sheikh said some of her clients have hired new staff altogether — if they can afford it — to enforce vaccine mandates. But for establishments that don’t have or can’t afford security, she said the vaccine requirements put them in a difficult position.

“There are Canadian employees who have a significant amount of anxiety around going to work now around this vaccination passport and how it’s going to be implemented,” she said.

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