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EU shutting the door to Canadians is a wake-up call to ramp up our COVID-19 efforts – CBC.ca

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What a difference a few months make. Over the summer, Canadians were riding high on the notion they had flattened the curve. In comparison, COVID-19 infections in the neighbouring United States had spiked to new highs. 

Then the fall arrived, and coronavirus case numbers in Canada started to surge. 

In response, the European Union removed Canadians from its list of approved travellers on Thursday. Also, U.S. President Donald Trump made a point of noting Canada’s COVID-19 “flare-ups” in a recent speech.

Now, Canada must face an uncomfortable fact: while we’re still faring better than many countries, we’ve lost our coveted image as a nation widely recognized as having flattened the curve.

The turn of events is a reminder that the stealth coronavirus can rebound at any moment, and no country can rest on its laurels in its battle with COVID-19. 

WATCH | Trump takes note of Canada’s COVID-19 problems:

During his first public event since he was diagnosed with COVID-19, U.S. President Donald Trump said Canada and other countries are experiencing ‘flare-ups’ of the virus. 0:22

“Just because we got through the first wave didn’t mean that we were prepared for what was to come,” said Ashleigh Tuite, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto.

“I think we got a little bit smug in terms of comparing ourselves to the United States.… I think maybe it adds a sense of complacency.”

EU change of heart not surprising, expert says

Back in June, Canada got a big vote of confidence when European countries began reopening their borders. The EU placed Canada on a list of just 14 countries whose citizens EU officials recommended should be welcome in the 27-nation bloc. 

The U.S. didn’t make the cut.

Based on the EU’s recommendation, many member countries flung open their doors to Canadian travellers — with no restrictions.

But that may now change as the EU has officially removed Canada from its approved travel list. The EU said it based its revised list on a number of factors, including COVID-19 case counts and containment efforts.

Global health specialist Steven Hoffman said the EU’s change of heart isn’t surprising because Canada has entered the second wave of the virus. 

Over the past month, COVID-19 infections in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta have soared to record highs. 

“Our numbers are getting worse and so it makes sense that countries are reacting,” said Hoffman, a professor of global health, law and political science at Toronto’s York University. 

What happened?

Health experts have offered up a myriad of reasons why Canada’s COVID-19 case numbers have climbed since the summer. First, there was the inevitable rise in cases as provinces eased lockdown restrictions in the spring and summer.

Also, some provinces struggled to keep up contact tracing and testing as COVID-19 cases began to mount. 

“The testing, the tracing just wasn’t up to the job in terms of handling these larger numbers of people,” said Tuite. “As a result, the whole system got bogged down.”

But Hoffman said that Canadians shouldn’t get too distraught over the EU decision because Canada is still faring better than Europe.

Infections are surging in many European countries including France, which last week declared a state of emergency. On Wednesday, Spain became the first Western European country to surpass a million cumulative coronavirus cases. 

“In Europe, we’re seeing quite the acceleration to the point where it’s quite scary,” said Hoffman. He added that Europe currently isn’t a good travel destination. 

“If Canadians want to be protected from this pandemic … I would recommend they stay right where they are in Canada.”

Canada vs. U.S.

Although the U.S. still allows Canadians to fly to the country, Canada’s shifting COVID-19 status hasn’t gone unnoticed. 

Trump highlighted Canada’s problems in a speech earlier this month. 

“All over the world, you see big flare-ups,” he told a crowd of supporters. “Big flare-ups in Canada, very big flare-up.”

This is in sharp contrast to the summer when Canadian COVID-19 case numbers remained low while U.S. infections spiralled out of control. The jarring difference inspired many Canadians to chastise the U.S. on social media for not being able to control the virus. Some even suggested that Canada build a wall. 

But times have changed. The U.S. infection rate is still far above Canada’s rate, but some provinces are now rivalling U.S. states once considered hot spots.

According to New York Times data on Thursday, Quebec’s COVID-19 infection rate over the past seven days is nearing Florida’s rate and has surpassed the rate in Arizona and California. Manitoba’s rate is hovering close to that of California’s. 

But Hoffman said Canada can still lay claim to the country where both Canadians and Americans would rather be — when it comes to batting the virus. 

“I think every American wishes they were living in Canada right now, because our numbers and our ability to contain this outbreak is far better than what we’ve seen from the United States.”

He also suggested that Canada’s slipping COVID-19 status doesn’t constitute a crisis, but instead it’s a wake-up call to ramp up our efforts.

“This represents a warning for why we need to take this pandemic seriously,” said Hoffman. “We are maybe at this turning point for whether the second wave of this outbreak will be like the first one, or will it be a lot worse?”

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3 Nova Scotians appointed to the Order of Canada – CBC.ca

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Three Nova Scotians have been appointed to the Order of Canada, one of the country’s highest civilian honours.

They are among the 114 appointees announced Friday.

The list includes eight companions, 21 officers, one honorary member and 84 members. The full list can be found here.

“Created in 1967, the Order of Canada recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation,” said a statement on the office of the Governor General’s website.

Appointments are made by the Governor General on the recommendation of the Advisory Council for the Order of Canada. More than 7,000 Canadians have received the honour since its inception.

Jeff Dahn of Halifax, who has led groundbreaking research on lithium-ion batteries, was appointed as an officer.

Dahn is considered a pioneer of lithium-ion battery research. (Jill English/CBC)

In 2017, he won the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering for his work in making batteries increasingly efficient. He also won a Governor General’s Award for Innovation in 2016.

Dahn works out of a lab at Dalhousie University. He also began a five-year research partnership with Tesla In 2016.

In the statement, the Governor General’s office also commended him for “his mentorship and adroit bridging of academia and industry.”

Dahn could not be reached for comment Sunday.

‘It’s humbling’

Meanwhile, Dr. Ken Wilson and John Eyking were appointed as members.

Wilson, a plastic surgeon in the Halifax area, was appointed “for his nationally recognized expertise in reconstructive and plastic surgery, and for his volunteer work on international medical missions.”

“It’s humbling, but a very nice addition to a great career,” Wilson said of the honour.

In the mid-80s, Wilson became the first person east of Montreal to dedicate himself to doing plastic surgery for children.

“It was a very satisfying thing for me to be able to look after a lot of the children who have either had to travel, or that hadn’t had, sometimes, the attention they would’ve had otherwise,” he said.

Wilson has spent more than 30 years doing plastic and reconstructive surgery for children. (Submitted by Ken Wilson)

In the mid-90s, Wilson began working with Operation Smile, an organization that provides surgeries and dental care to children with cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities. He travelled a couple times a year to do surgery in underdeveloped countries, and he estimates he went on about 46 missions.

In the late 1990s, Wilson became the chief of surgery at the IWK children’s hospital in Halifax, a position he held for more than a decade.

He stopped practising five years ago, but Wilson now works as a medical consultant for Doctors Nova Scotia and is chair of the board for Operation Smile Canada.

“It was a wonderful career,” said Wilson. “I gotta say, I’ve been very lucky over the years to have the opportunity to do what I did.”

While there is no ceremony this year due to COVID-19, Wilson was mailed his snowflake insignia, as well as a “lovely book” detailing the history of the Order of Canada and the many recipients over the years.

‘All in a day’s work’

Eyking, a farmer and entrepreneur who founded Eyking Farms, was recognized for his “personal and professional dedication to the Cape Breton community, particularly within the agriculture industry.”

Eyking, of Millville, N.S., immigrated to Canada in 1963 from the Netherlands. He started a farm, which later grew into a family operation run by him, his wife and their 10 children.

He is also an inductee of the Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame.

Reached by phone Sunday, Eyking, 89, was modest about his appointment. He credited his farm’s accomplishments to the work of his large family.

“For me, it was all in a day’s work and I enjoyed it,” he said.

He, too, received a parcel from the Order of Canada, and said he enjoyed the book.

“There’s quite a few Cape Bretoners in there,” he said.

The recipients will be invited to accept their insignia at a ceremony to be held at a later date.

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Ottawa extends international travel restrictions citing COVID-19 risk – CBC.ca

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The federal government has extended existing international travel restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, barring entry to most travellers who are not Canadian citizens, permanent residents or people entering from the U.S. for “essential” reasons.

In a news release issued Sunday, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair and Health Minister Patty Hajdu announced that travel restrictions on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals seeking to enter Canada from the U.S. will be extended until Dec. 21.

Similarly, restrictions on travellers arriving from other countries will be extended until Jan. 21, as will the mandatory requirement for anyone who is granted entry to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

Emergency orders brought forward on Mar. 16 banned most foreign nationals from entering Canada for non-essential travel. There are a number of exceptions for immediate family members of citizens, essential workers, seasonal workers, caregivers and international students, to name a few.

By extending the expiration dates to the 21st of the month, today’s change brings the timing of the international travel restrictions in alignment with those governing the Canada-U.S. land border. Previously, international restrictions expired on the last day of each month while the Canada-U.S. border restrictions expired on the 21st.

Both have been regularly extended since March.

“The government continues to evaluate the travel restrictions and prohibitions as well as the requirement to quarantine or isolate on an ongoing basis to ensure Canadians remain healthy and safe,” the release said.

“The ability to align U.S. and international travel extension dates, as well as the mandatory isolation order, beginning on Jan. 21, 2021 will enable the government to communicate any travel extensions or changes as quickly as possible and provide certainty for Canadians, U.S. and international travelers.”

International travel restrictions on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals seeking to enter Canada from the U.S. will be extended until Dec. 21. (Rob Gurdebeke/The Canadian Press)

Exemption for amateur sports events

The release also said the government will begin accepting applications from “high-performance amateur sport organizations” seeking to hold single sport events in Canada. Applicants will need to show they have a plan to protect public health that is approved by provincial or territorial officials and the relevant local health authorities in order to be considered.

Sport Canada, which is part of the Department of Canadian Heritage, will be responsible for authorizing such events, in consultation with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the release said.

More than 1,300 professional athletes have been issued national interest exemptions, which allow those who don’t qualify under current COVID-19-related restrictions to travel to Canada, or to skip the mandatory 14-day quarantine when they arrive.

Last month, the federal government expanded the eligibility for people coming from the U.S. on compassionate grounds. Those changes governing family reunification have been broadened to include exceptions for certain extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents including couples who have been dating for at least a year, including their children, grandchildren, siblings and grandparents. 

Despite travel restrictions, more than five million arrivals into Canada have been allowed to skip the 14-day quarantine requirement, according to data from the Canada Border Services Agency, mainly because they’re essential workers.

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Ottawa extends international travel restrictions citing COVID-19 risk – CBC.ca

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 on


The federal government has extended existing international travel restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, barring entry to most travellers who are not Canadian citizens, permanent residents or people entering from the U.S. for “essential” reasons.

In a news release issued Sunday, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair and Health Minister Patty Hajdu announced that travel restrictions on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals seeking to enter Canada from the U.S. will be extended until Dec. 21.

Similarly, restrictions on travellers arriving from other countries will be extended until Jan. 21, as will the mandatory requirement for anyone who is granted entry to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

Emergency orders brought forward on Mar. 16 banned most foreign nationals from entering Canada for non-essential travel. There are a number of exceptions for immediate family members of citizens, essential workers, seasonal workers, caregivers and international students, to name a few.

By extending the expiration dates to the 21st of the month, today’s change brings the timing of the international travel restrictions in alignment with those governing the Canada-U.S. land border. Previously, international restrictions expired on the last day of each month while the Canada-U.S. border restrictions expired on the 21st.

Both have been regularly extended since March.

“The government continues to evaluate the travel restrictions and prohibitions as well as the requirement to quarantine or isolate on an ongoing basis to ensure Canadians remain healthy and safe,” the release said.

“The ability to align U.S. and international travel extension dates, as well as the mandatory isolation order, beginning on Jan. 21, 2021 will enable the government to communicate any travel extensions or changes as quickly as possible and provide certainty for Canadians, U.S. and international travelers.”

International travel restrictions on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals seeking to enter Canada from the U.S. will be extended until Dec. 21. (Rob Gurdebeke/The Canadian Press)

Exemption for amateur sports events

The release also said the government will begin accepting applications from “high-performance amateur sport organizations” seeking to hold single sport events in Canada. Applicants will need to show they have a plan to protect public health that is approved by provincial or territorial officials and the relevant local health authorities in order to be considered.

Sport Canada, which is part of the Department of Canadian Heritage, will be responsible for authorizing such events, in consultation with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the release said.

More than 1,300 professional athletes have been issued national interest exemptions, which allow those who don’t qualify under current COVID-19-related restrictions to travel to Canada, or to skip the mandatory 14-day quarantine when they arrive.

Last month, the federal government expanded the eligibility for people coming from the U.S. on compassionate grounds. Those changes governing family reunification have been broadened to include exceptions for certain extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents including couples who have been dating for at least a year, including their children, grandchildren, siblings and grandparents. 

Despite travel restrictions, more than five million arrivals into Canada have been allowed to skip the 14-day quarantine requirement, according to data from the Canada Border Services Agency, mainly because they’re essential workers.

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