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‘Highly irresponsible’: Canada condemns Facebook over Australian news ban

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Canada vowed on Thursday to make Facebook Inc pay for news content, seeking allies in the media battle with tech giants and pledging not to back down if the social media platform shuts off the country‘s news as it did in Australia.

Facebook blocked all Australian news content on its service over proposed legislation requiring it and Alphabet Inc’s Google to pay fees to Australian publishers for news links.

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, in charge of crafting similar legislation to be unveiled in coming months, condemned Facebook‘s action and said it would not deter Ottawa.

Canada is at the forefront of this battle … we are really among the first group of countries around the world that are doing this,” he told reporters.

Last year, Canadian media organizations warned of a potential market failure without government action. They said the Australian approach would permit publishers to recover C$620 million a year. Without action, they warned, Canada would lose 700 print journalism jobs out of 3,100 total.

Guilbeault said Canada could adopt the Australian model, which requires Facebook and Google to reach deals to pay news outlets whose links drive activity on their services, or agree on a price through binding arbitration.

Another option is to follow the example of France, which requires large tech platforms to open talks with publishers seeking remuneration for use of news content.

“We are working to see which model would be the most appropriate,” he said, adding he spoke last week to his French, Australian, German and Finnish counterparts about working together on ensuring fair compensation for web content.

“I suspect that soon we will have five, 10, 15 countries adopting similar rules … is Facebook going to cut ties with Germany, with France?” he asked, saying that at some point Facebook‘s approach would become “totally unsustainable.”

University of Toronto professor Megan Boler, who specializes in social media, said the Facebook action marked a turning point which would require a common international approach.

“We could actually see a coalition, a united front against this monopoly, which could be very powerful,” she said in a phone interview.

This week, Facebook said news makes up less than 4% of content people see on the platform but contended that it helped Australian publishers generate about AU $407 million last year.

Google has signed 500 deals worth around $1 billion over three years with publishers around the world for its new News Showcase service and is in talks with Canadian companies.

Guilbeault said Google would still be subject to the new Canadian new law, since Ottawa wanted an approach that was fair, transparent and predictable.

“What’s to say that Google – tomorrow, six months, a year from now – doesn’t change its mind and says its doesn’t want to do that any more?” he said.

Lauren Skelly, a spokeswoman for Google in Canada, declined to comment on Guilbeault’s remarks, saying the company did not know details of the legislation.

Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in Internet and e-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, said Canada should aspire to Google’s approach, where companies put money into content that provided added value.

“If we follow the Australian model … we’ll find ourself in much the same spot,” he said by phone. “Everybody loses. The media organizations lose … Facebook loses.”

Kevin Chan, head of public policy for Facebook in Canada, said there were “other options to support news in Canada that will more fairly benefit publishers of all sizes.”

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by David Gregorio)

 

Source:- Global News

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

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The latest:

  • COVID-19 outbreak ‘painful’ reminder, says P.E.I. premier as province closes classes, non-essential businesses for 72 hours.
  • Variants on the rise as Quebec reaches grim anniversary of COVID-19’s arrival.
  • Ontario reports 1,023 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and six additional deaths.
  • Long-term care minister in Ontario was “ahead” of top public health doctor on COVID-19, commission hears.
  • Health Canada received more Johnson & Johnson data on same day as U.S. approval.
  • Have a question about the coronavirus pandemic? Send your question to COVID@cbc.ca

Nearly four million doses of the newest coronavirus vaccine available to people in the U.S. are being delivered to states for injections starting on Tuesday.

The White House said the entire stockpile of the newly approved single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will go out immediately. J&J will deliver about 16 million more doses by the end of March and 100 million total by the end of June, but the distribution would be backloaded.

Though the new shot is easier to administer and requires only one dose, the administration is not altering its distribution plans.

The White House is encouraging Americans to take the first dose available to them, regardless of manufacturer.

Advisers to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted overwhelmingly Sunday to recommend the vaccine for adults 18 years old and up. It adds to the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna that were authorized in December.

Health Canada is currently reviewing the J&J vaccine, the department’s chief medical adviser said over the weekend.

“It’s really difficult to predict exactly when we might make a final decision because it really depends on that data. But we’re looking at … the next couple of weeks,” Dr. Supriya Sharma said in an interview on Rosemary Barton Live.

The two-dose vaccine from Oxford University and AstraZeneca was approved for use in Canada late last week, bringing the number of vaccines available in the country up to three.

-From The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 7:25 a.m. ET


What’s happening across Canada

As of 10:15 a.m. ET on Monday, Canada had reported 867,531 cases of COVID-19, with 30,809 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 22,000.

As of late last week, the Public Health Agency of Canada had reported 1,010 cases of variants of concern, including:

  • 964 cases of the B117 variant first reported in the U.K.
  • 44 of the B1351 variant first reported in South Africa.
  • 2 of the P1 variant, first identified in travellers from Brazil.

Ontario reported 1,023 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and six additional deaths. Hospitalizations in the province stood at 659, with 280 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units.

With case numbers on the rise in some regions and amid growing worry over variants of concern, two regions — Thunder Bay and Simcoe Muskoka — were being sent back to lockdown as of Monday.

But seven other regions were relaxing some public health restrictions Monday amid declining COVID numbers. They include Niagara Region, Chatham-Kent, Middlesex-London, Southwestern, Haldimand-Norfolk, Huron Perth and Grey Bruce.

In Atlantic Canada, Prince Edward Island moved to close schools and ban gatherings for 72 hours as health officials try to stop the growth of two clusters of cases. 

WATCH | P.E.I. tightens up rules amid concern about COVID-19 outbreaks:

Prince Edward Island has shut down much of the province and ramped up testing for the coronavirus as it tries to trace the source of outbreaks in two communities. 3:30

Speaking to Island Morning host Mitch Cormier on Monday, Premier Dennis King said health officials are working to gather details on how the outbreaks in Summerside and Charlottetown originated.

“All of us should take this very seriously and act accordingly,” the premier said. 

Health officials in P.E.I. on Sunday reported five new cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of active cases on the island to 18.

P.E.I. is also ramping up testing efforts, asking all Islanders aged 19 to 29 who work in a range of sectors — including food service, transportation and call centres — to get a test for COVID-19.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, health officials reported seven new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. The province, which had 10 people in hospital with COVID-19, reported 262 active cases.

Nova Scotia reported three new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. There were no new cases reported in New Brunswick on Sunday, but the province did report its 27th death attributed to the virus.

In Quebec, health officials reported 737 new cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths on Sunday. Hospitalizations stood at 601, with 117 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units across the province.

In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported 50 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and two additional deaths. In Saskatchewan, health officials reported 141 new cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths, while Alberta reported 301 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths.

Health officials in British Columbia don’t provide updated figures over the weekend.

Across the North, one new case of COVID-19 was reported in Nunavut on Sunday, bringing the number of active cases in the territory to 18. Yukon and the Northwest Territories report updated figures from Monday through Friday, so there were no updates available on case numbers over the weekend.

-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 10:17 a.m. ET


What’s happening around the world

People queue up to register themselves to be inoculated with the coronavirus vaccine at MS Ramaiah Hospital in Bangalore on Monday as India has opened up the jabs to anyone over age 60, as well as anyone over 45 with some serious illnesses. (Manjunath Kiran/AFP/Getty Images)

As of early Monday morning, more than 114.1 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with 64.4 million cases listed as recovered on a global tracking site maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.5 million.

In the Asia-Pacific region, the Philippines launched a vaccination campaign Monday but faces supply problems and public resistance, which it hopes to ease by inoculating top officials.

Cabinet officials, along with health workers and military and police personnel, were among the first to be vaccinated in six hospitals after 600,000 doses donated by China were received on Sunday.

The Philippines has reported more than 576,000 infections, including 12,318 deaths, the second-highest totals in southeast Asia after Indonesia.

Aside from China’s donated vaccine from Sinovac Biotech Ltd., the government has separately ordered 25 million doses from the China-based company but no date has been set for the deliveries. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the delivery of an initial 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine that was initially scheduled for Monday would be delayed by a week due to supply problems.

A health worker receives a shot of Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac vaccine during the first day of coronavirus vaccination at the Lung Center of the Philippines Hospital on Monday in Quezon city, Metro Manila. (Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)

The government has been negotiating to secure at least 148 million doses from Western and Asian companies to vaccinate about 70 million Filipinos for free in a massive campaign funded by foreign and domestic loans.

In the Americas, Brazil’s capital has entered a two-week lockdown, joining several states in adopting measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 as intensive care beds begin to fill in some important cities.

At least eight Brazilian states adopted curfews over the past week due to the rise in cases and deaths from COVID-19. Thursday was Brazil’s deadliest day since the beginning of the pandemic, with 1,541 deaths confirmed from the virus. So far more than 254,000 people have died overall.

Brasilia Gov. Ibaneis Rocha decreed the total closure of bars, restaurants, shopping malls and schools until March 15 and prohibited gatherings of people. Sale of alcoholic beverages was prohibited after 8 p.m. In the federal district, 85 per cent of hospital beds were occupied on Sunday, according to the local health ministry.

President Jair Bolsonaro again criticized such measures, saying on his Twitter account: “The people want to work.” He threatened on Friday to cut off federal emergency pandemic assistance to states resorting to lockdowns.

In Europe, health officials in Britain have identified six cases of the P1 variant — including one in a person who has not been traced. Direct flights from Brazil to the U.K. have been halted, but the newly identified cases have been linked to people who came to the U.K. from Brazil through other European cities in early February.

The arrivals came days before the U.K. imposed a 10-day hotel quarantine on people arriving from high-risk countries, including Brazil.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson joins a reception class during their painting lesson during a visit to St Mary’s CE Primary School on Monday in Stoke-on-Trent, England. Primary and secondary schools across England will fully reopen starting March 8. (Christopher Furlong/WPA/Getty Images)

Three of the cases of the variant are in Scotland and two in southwest England. The sixth individual has not been identified because they did not correctly fill in a form with their contact details. Public Health England said it was working to find the person and is conducting local mass testing to see whether the variant has spread in the community.

In the Middle East, Iran has surpassed 60,000 known coronavirus-related deaths, the latest grim milestone for the hardest-hit country in the Middle East. The Health Ministry reported 93 new deaths from COVID-19 on Sunday and more than 8,000 new infections, pushing the total infection count over 1.63 million.

After more than a year of the pandemic, deaths from COVID-19 recently have declined in Iran as movement restrictions in the capital have set in, including inter-city travel bans, mask mandates and school closures.

The government on Sunday banned incoming travellers from a list of 32 countries, including Britain and other states in Africa and Latin America, due to fears of new virus variants. Over the year, Iran has struggled with surges that at times overwhelmed its health system as authorities resisted a total lockdown to salvage an economy crippled by U.S. sanctions.

Iran’s vaccine drive recently has gotten underway, with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine administered to health workers this month. An additional 250,000 doses by the Chinese state-backed pharmaceutical company Sinopharm arrived in Iran over the weekend.

In Africa, Ivory Coast has begun giving shots to inoculate against COVID-19 with vaccines delivered last week by the global COVAX initiative, which was created to ensure that low- and middle-income countries have fair access to doses.

A shipment of COVID-19 vaccines distributed by the COVAX Facility arrives in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on Friday. Ivory Coast was the second country in the world after Ghana to receive vaccines acquired through the United Nations-backed COVAX initiative. (Diomande Ble Blonde/The Associated Press)

F

The West African country’s mass vaccination campaign started with jabs being given to health workers, teachers and members of the armed forces in the commercial capital, Abidjan, where 95 per cent of the country’s cases have been recorded. According to the World Health Organization and UNICEF, some 24 other African countries are expected to start receiving vaccines via COVAX this week in what they say is the world’s largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history.

South Africa remained the hardest-hit country in Africa, with more than 1.5 million reported cases of COVID-19 and nearly 50,000 deaths. With fewer new cases being reported, South Africa is easing some restrictions — but President Cyril Ramaphosa urged people to stick with measures like physical distancing.

-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 9:20 a.m. ET

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Hurdles remain in Canada-U.S. relationship despite renewed commitments – CBC.ca

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Challenges still lie ahead for the Canada-U.S. relationship despite several days of bilateral meetings between the two countries on their shared priorities and close ties as longtime allies.

During what Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland dubbed “Canada-U.S. week,” leaders and officials touted joint commitments to tackling climate change, recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and securing the release of detained Canadians in China Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

But among the questions Canada needs answered is whether the country will be spared from its neighbour’s “Buy American” provisions — and whether Canada might be able to tap into the U.S. supply of COVID-19 vaccines.

When asked by CBC chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton whether the Biden administration would consider exempting Canada from the provisions, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken focused instead on the existing trading relationship between the two countries.

“We are each other’s largest trading partners. We have a remarkably vibrant commercial and trade relationship. I think the potential going forward, particularly as we’re trying to build more resilient supply chains … there is huge opportunity there,” Blinken said in his first Canadian interview, which aired Sunday on Rosemary Barton Live

“We both have a strong incentive to work together on a whole series of projects, as well as to make sure that that trading relationship — already arguably the strongest in the world — grows even stronger,” he said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken paid a virtual visit to Canada last week to discuss a number of issues with the prime minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau. (Jason Burles/CBC)

‘Buy American’ weakens relationship, expert says

But hours before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden met virtually last Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Washington was still “evaluating” how the order might be applied.

Christopher Sands, director of the Wilson Center’s Canada Institute, says that if Blinken wants to discuss the strength of the Canada-U.S. relationship, he should acknowledge that protectionist policies will weaken those ties.

What has made us resilient has been that rather than trying to do everything ourselves, we built these supply chains across borders. And it means that when you have a crunch, you can go to Canada for help,” Sands said.

“You don’t make supply chains more resilient by putting a ‘Buy American’ provision in, because what that means is we’re restricted to the amount of supply that’s available at home.”

Biden signed an executive order promoting the purchase, production and development of made-in-America goods several days after he took office — a priority he emphasized during his presidential campaign.

Sands told CBC News he thought the Biden administration might have distanced itself from “America First” rhetoric in the wake of the Trump presidency.

“To me, it advertises their feeling of relative weakness, that they feel that they need to address sort of populist and nationalist feelings as well,” he said. 

WATCH | Top U.S. diplomat ‘confident’ Canada-U.S. relations will grow:

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he is ‘very confident we’re going to see real growth and expansion’ in the relationship between the U.S. and Canada during an exclusive interview with CBC chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton. 6:47

U.S. prioritizing own vaccination effort

The U.S. president also has not reversed an executive order introduced by former president Donald Trump ensuring vaccine manufacturers prioritize U.S. contracts before exporting doses elsewhere.

When asked by Barton, Blinken did not say whether there was a future scenario that would allow Canada to access domestically produced shots.

“We’re focused on getting every American vaccinated, and that’s job one,” he said. “But we’re also looking, at the same time, at how we can help get vaccines around the world.”

Blinken said that as vaccine production ramps up in the weeks ahead, access to doses will also increase around the world, including in Canada.

Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply manufacturing plant in Kalamazoo, Mich. Earlier this year, the company backtracked on a statement that Canada could receive doses from the U.S. facility. (Morry Gash/The Associated Press)

Sands said that while executive orders aren’t as binding as legislation, he was disappointed that officials haven’t done more to assure Canadians that the U.S. could share its supply.

“The easy thing to say would be, ‘Canada, you put in orders to get vaccine from Pfizer … and the U.S. is committed to expanding production of vaccine,'” he said.

“That’s the kind of thing that you would have expected the U.S. to say after World War II, kind of that leadership.”

Back in November, Pfizer told the Globe and Mail that Canada would be sent doses from the company’s plant in Kalamazoo, Mich. — but Pfizer backtracked on that statement earlier this year.

Pfizer Canada president Cole Pinnow told Barton earlier this month that the company “re-evaluated what our supply chain plan was going to be” after “some uncertainty” with the previous U.S. administration, deciding instead that Canada’s shipments would come from Puurs, Belgium.

Pinnow said doses will continue to come from the company’s European facilities at least until the end of June.

On Friday, Health Canada approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, 20 million doses of which are expected to come from the United States.

Procurement Minister Anita Anand says she has received “positive indications” that the U.S. shipment is on track to arrive in the second and third quarter of this year. 

You can watch full episodes of Rosemary Barton Live on CBC Gem, the CBC’s streaming service. 

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Canada adds 2,300 new COVID-19 cases as provinces split on next steps against pandemic – Global News

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Canada’s COVID-19 hotspots showed diverging approaches to handling the crisis on Sunday, as Ontario and Prince Edward Island prepared for new lockdowns while Quebec entered a week of spring break complete with some activities meant to ease the monotony of life during a global pandemic.

The developments came amid another 2,302 new cases of COVID-19 across the country, which pushed the national total to 866,434. Another 34 deaths were reported on Sunday as well, with the national death toll standing at 21,994.

To date over 813,520 patients infected with the virus have recovered however, while over 24.8 million tests and 1.87 million vaccine doses have been administered. Sunday’s data paints a limited snapshot of the virus’ spread across Canada however as B.C. and both the Northwest Territories and Yukon do not report new cases on the weekend.

Prince Edward Island announced it was entering a 72-hour lockdown starting at midnight as the province struggled to contain an outbreak of COVID-19.

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mRNA vaccine technology could be used to protect against other deadly diseases: experts

The short-term public health order was announced as officials reported five new infections of the disease in a province that has seen few cases for most of the pandemic. The Island has now recorded 17 new infections over the past five days.

Health officials identified two clusters of COVID-19 in the cities of Summerside and Charlottetown, and said it’s possible the island has community spread of the virus. The province has a total of just 132 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

The three-day lockdown requires residents to stay home as much as possible and will close all kindergarten to Grade 12 schools, with post-secondary education moving online only.

“We would rather go harder and stronger now than wait for an outbreak like we have seen in other provinces that could put us in an extended period of lockdown for weeks or even months,” Premier Dennis King said late Sunday during a briefing with reporters.

Ontario, meanwhile, passed the 300,000 case mark on Sunday as the government prepared to hit a so-called ’emergency brake’ in two northern public health units grappling with surging case numbers.

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The Thunder Bay and Simcoe-Muskoka District health units will enter the lockdown phase of the province’s pandemic response plan on Monday in order interrupt transmission of COVID-19 at a time when new variants are gaining steam.

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The province has also pushed back its spring break until April in an effort to limit community spread.


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Navigating a tax season complicated by COVID-19


Navigating a tax season complicated by COVID-19

Quebec, in contrast, has allowed movie theatres, pools and arenas to open with restrictions in place to give families something to do as the traditional winter break kicks off, even as most other health rules remain in place.

The province opted to allow students and teachers the traditional March break, even though Premier Francois Legault has said he’s worried about the week off and the threat posed by more contagious virus variants.

Quebec’s health minister said the situation in the province was stable on Sunday, with 737 new cases and nine additional deaths _ even as confirmed cases linked to variants of concern jumped by more than 100 to 137.

Most of the variant cases have been identified as the B.1.1.7 mutation first identified in the United Kingdom, including 84 in Montreal.

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Ontario, meanwhile, reported 1,062 new infections linked to the pandemic on Sunday as it became the first province to record more than 300,000 total cases of COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic.

The country’s chief public health officer urged Canadians on Sunday to continue following public health measures as a way of buying critical time as vaccine programs ramp up.

“Aiming to have the fewest interactions with the fewest number of people, for the shortest time, at the greatest distance possible is a simple rule that we can all apply to help limit the spread of COVID-19,” Dr. Theresa Tam said in a statement.

Canada’s immunization program received a boost last week with the approval of a third COVID-19 vaccine, raising hopes that provinces will be able to inoculate their most vulnerable populations before the more contagious variants can fully take hold.


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Trudeau says COVID-19 case counts, presence of variants being looked at with Canada-U.S. border restrictions


Trudeau says COVID-19 case counts, presence of variants being looked at with Canada-U.S. border restrictions

Toronto announced Sunday that it was expanding the first phase of its COVID-19 vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness, noting that they have a higher risk of serious health impacts due to COVID-19 and are vulnerable to transmission in congregate settings.

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Quebec, meanwhile, is set to begin vaccination of the general population on Monday, beginning with seniors 80 and over in the Montreal area, or 85 and over in the rest of the province.

While some regions with extra doses began administering shots late last week, the pace of inoculation will ramp up on Monday when mass vaccination clinics in Montreal throw open their doors.

Case counts were more stable elsewhere in the country.

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Manitoba reported just 50 new COVID-19 infections on Sunday and two new virus-related deaths, while Saskatchewan saw its overall tally climb by 181 but did not log any new deaths.

Alberta reported three new virus-related deaths and 301 new infections, including 29 identified as variants of concern.

In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia logged three new cases while officials in Newfoundland and Labrador reported seven.

— With files from Global News

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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