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How international students heading to Canada are navigating pandemic travel – CBC.ca

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After over a year of mostly virtual learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many Canadian colleges and universities are preparing to open their doors for in-person classes this fall.

Some international students say they are overcoming huge hurdles to get back to campus amid travel restrictions tied to the pandemic. They say online learning was a necessary solution in the interim but fell short of what they expected from a university experience in Canada.

CBC News spoke with four international students whose journeys to pursue post-secondary education in Canada have been anything but ordinary.

Noime Florece, 28

Bernardo Florece III, middle, and Noime Florece, right, travelled to Canada this summer before Noime begins her studies at Humber College. After they settle in, they hope their son, Paul, left, will be able to join them in Canada. (Submitted by Noime and Bernardo Florece)

Noime Florece and her husband, Bernardo Florece III, 31, arrived at the airport in Manila, Philippines, on July 7 to travel to Canada, only to be told at the check-in desk that they weren’t allowed to travel because her classes were more than four weeks away from starting.

Noime plans to study tourism at Humber College in Toronto and her classes only begin in September.

There is no specific rule on how early an international student can arrive before classes start, said a spokesperson from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

But a Canada Border Services Agency officer could view a student arriving far in advance of the start of their program as a non-essential traveller, the spokesperson said, referring to the IRCC’s response to a question on Twitter on the issue.

“If there’s any advice that we could give, people should regularly check the flight requirements,” said Bernardo.

“It’s quite tough for us because we spent a lot of time and effort.”

Noime and Bernardo received a 50 per cent refund on their tickets and rebooked their flights. They finally left Manila on Aug. 10. 

They are now quarantining at Noime’s aunt’s house in Mississauga because they are not fully vaccinated and hope their 3-year-old son, Paul, will join them from the Philippines once they are settled here.

“I want to experience the life of a student in Canada, and I also want to gain more work experience here so that when I go back to the Philippines I can build my own business,” said Noime.

“[Travelling] was quite stressful, but we’re happy it’s all done.”

Pritish Mishra, 27

Pritish Mishra, 27, has been trying to travel from India to Canada to continue his PhD studies in computer science at the University of Toronto. Mishra still hasn’t received his study permit, though he applied for one over a year ago. (Submitted by Pritish Mishra)

Pritish Mishra has almost completed the first year of his PhD in computer science at the University of Toronto. And he’s done it almost entirely from India.

After applying for his study permit in June last year, he was excited to begin his studies in Canada come September. But with long delays in processing, he has yet to receive the permit and isn’t sure if he’ll be able to get into the country anytime soon. 

According to EduCanada, it can take up to three months to get a study permit, depending on the country you are applying from. But after waiting for his permit to be processed for over a year, Mishra still doesn’t have the document necessary for him to travel to Canada for school.

“Over this last year, my research has been seriously affected,” he said.

“It’s hard to collaborate with colleagues. My professor had to pull a lot of strings to get equipment to me in India. The mental pressure is huge.”

Mishra says he contacts the IRCC using their online web form every month to ask why his study permit is still being processed.

Mishra fills out the IRCC online web form every month to ask why his study permit is still being processed over a year after applying. The response Mishra typically receives from IRCC is that, although the required documents have been received, processing times have been affected by the pandemic. (Submitted by Pritish Mishra)

Every time, Mishra says they send him the same online response — that although the required documents for his permit have been received, processing times have been affected by the pandemic.

His PhD program usually provides stipends to students for completing research, but since Mishra doesn’t have his study permit, he can’t obtain his social insurance number. As a result, his stipend has been put on hold.

“I haven’t been paid anything for one year,” Mishra said.

“I have used up all of my savings over this one year, surviving. You are always under pressure whether you will be able to complete your PhD or not.”

Isaiah Colthrust, 22

Isaiah Colthrust, 22, studies digital enterprise management at the University of Toronto. He made a video documenting his 14-day quarantine experience when he returned to Canada from Trinidad and Tobago in January. (Submitted by Isaiah Colthrust)

When the pandemic hit last spring, Isaiah Colthrust, a fourth-year University of Toronto undergraduate student, travelled back to Trinidad and Tobago to be with family.

After months of lessons online, Colthrust came back to Canada in January since he had a job as a residence assistant that allowed him to stay at the university’s Mississauga campus, where he is studying digital enterprise management.

When he came back to Toronto, he was forced to quarantine in the Chelsea Hotel in Toronto for two weeks and filmed his self-isolation experience.

[embedded content]

“[Isolation] was pretty mind-numbingly boring,” said Colthrust.

“That’s why I made a video about [my quarantine experience], because it took up a lot of my time.”

In his YouTube video, Colthrust shares tips on how to stay mentally and physically fit – and how to wash your clothes in the sink – all from the comfort of a hotel room.

Dikshita Nath, 31

Dikshita Nath, 31, is working on her PhD in civil engineering at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Nath is from India and has faced travel roadblocks on her journey to Canada for school. (Submitted by Dikshita Nath)

Dikshita Nath planned to travel from India to Vancouver on August 11 to pursue her PhD in civil engineering at the University of British Columbia (UBC).

Indian students who wish to travel to Canada must obtain a negative COVID-19 test result from a third country before coming to Canada due to an extended travel ban on flights from India until Sept. 21.

Nath, who began the first semester of her PhD online during the summer, planned to travel with a friend from Mumbai to the United Kingdom to Mexico – where she would take a COVID-19 test – and then finally to Vancouver.

But Nath’s plans were complicated by mixed messages and quickly changing travel protocols. Nath said she understood that her journey through London’s Heathrow airport did not involve passing through U.K. border control or entering the U.K. before getting on her connecting flight to Mexico.

However, Nath says British Airways told her in Mumbai that she could not board her flight because she did not meet the necessary requirements to enter the U.K. because she did not have a spouse in the country.

When asked about Nath’s case, a British Airways spokesperson said she did not meet the entry/exit requirements and that customers should check the latest travel information before departure as well as entry requirements for their destination.

“We ran from one airline counter to the other, asking if there were [other] tickets available,” said Nath.

“It was quite a night.”

After hours at Mumbai airport searching for other flights, Nath checked into a traveller’s hostel in Mumbai that night, where she has stayed with all her luggage for over a week.

Her new plan is to get on a charter flight from Mumbai to Cairo on Sunday – where she will take her COVID-19 test – and then travel from Cairo to Toronto. Then, she plans to fly from Toronto to Vancouver to finally pursue in-person experiments as part of her PhD program.

“It’s been really hard because at one moment I’m so hopeful and at another moment I’m like, I should give up that opportunity [in Vancouver] and stay in India and find a job,” said Nath.

“It has been difficult, but it’s forced me to be stronger.”

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Justin Trudeau projected to form Canada’s next government-CBC News projects

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Canada‘s ruling Liberal Party led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to for the next government, CBC News projected on Monday, after a tight election race.

Elections Canada showed the Liberals leading in 146 electoral districts with only a small fraction of votes counted.

STORY:

MARKET REACTION: CAD/

COMMENTARY

KARL SCHAMOTTA, CHIEF MARKET STRATEGIST, CAMBRIDGE GLOBAL PAYMENTS

“This does look like a decisive win for the Liberals that essentially preserves the status quo and ensures that the fiscal spending plans that have supported the economy for the last year and half are likely to continue and continue to support growth.”

“The more supportive fiscal policy is, the more likely the Bank (of Canada) is able to move from tapering to rate hikes in the next year and a half, and certainly that is going to support the Canadian dollar.”

 

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Denny Thomas)

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

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The latest:

COVID-19 has now killed about as many Americans as the 1918-19 flu pandemic did — approximately 675,000.

The U.S. population a century ago was just one-third of what it is today, meaning the flu cut a bigger, more lethal swath through the country. But the COVID-19 crisis is by any measure a colossal tragedy in its own right, especially given the incredible advances in scientific knowledge since then and the failure to take maximum advantage of the vaccines available this time.

“Big pockets of American society — and, worse, their leaders — have thrown this away,” said medical historian Dr. Howard Markel, of the University of Michigan, of the opportunity to vaccinate everyone eligible by now.

Like the 1918-19 influenza pandemic, the coronavirus may never entirely disappear from our midst. Instead, scientists hope it becomes a mild seasonal bug as human immunity strengthens through vaccination and repeated infection. That could take time.

A person is administered a COVID-19 vaccine shot in Columbus, Ohio, on Sept. 15. (Gaelen Morse/Reuters)

“We hope it will be like getting a cold, but there’s no guarantee,” said Emory University biologist Rustom Antia, who suggests an optimistic scenario in which this could happen over a few years.

For now, the pandemic still has the United States and other parts of the world firmly in its jaws.

While a delta-fuelled surge in new infections may have peaked, U.S. deaths still are running at more than 1,900 a day on average, the highest level since early March, and the country’s overall death toll stood at just over 674,000 as of midday Monday, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, though the real number is believed to be higher.

Winter may bring a new surge, with the University of Washington’s influential model projecting an additional 100,000 or so Americans will die of COVID-19 by Jan. 1, which would bring the overall U.S. toll to 776,000.

The 1918-19 influenza pandemic killed 50 million victims globally at a time when the world had one-quarter the population it does now. Global deaths from COVID-19 now stand at more than 4.6 million.

A nurse takes the pulse of a patient in the influenza ward of the Walter Reed hospital in Washington during the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic. (Harris & Ewing/Library of Congress/The Associated Press)

The 1918-19 flu’s death toll in the U.S. is a rough guess, given the incomplete records of the era and the poor scientific understanding of what caused the illness. The 675,000 figure comes from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Before COVID-19, the 1918-19 flu was universally considered the worst pandemic disease in human history. It’s unclear if the current scourge ultimately will prove to be more deadly.

In many ways, the 1918-19 flu — which was wrongly named Spanish flu because it first received widespread news coverage in Spain — was worse.

In this 1918 photo made available by the Library of Congress, volunteer nurses from the American Red Cross tend to influenza patients in the Oakland Municipal Auditorium, used as a temporary hospital. (Edward A. ‘Doc’ Rogers/Library of Congress)

Spread by the mobility of the First World War, it killed young, healthy adults in vast numbers. No vaccine existed to slow it, and there were no antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections. And, of course, the world was much smaller.

Just under 64 per cent of the U.S. population has received as least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with state rates ranging from a high of approximately 77 per cent in Vermont and Massachusetts to lows around 46 to 49 per cent in Idaho, Wyoming, West Virginia and Mississippi.

Globally, about 43 per cent of the population has received at least one dose, according to Our World in Data, with some African countries just beginning to administer first shots.


What’s happening across Canada

A person wearing a face mask walks by a COVID-19 information sign after voting at a polling station in Montreal on Monday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

  • Masks mandatory in indoor N.B. public spaces as province sees record new cases.
  • Nova Scotia registers 55 new cases over Friday and the weekend.

What’s happening around the world

As of Monday, more than 228.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 tracker. The reported global death toll stood at well over 4.6 million.

In Europe, Greece’s COVID-19 health advisory body has recommended expanding the country’s booster shot program to people aged 60 and older, care-home residents and health-care workers.

WATCH | Science uncertain about best approach to COVID-19 booster shots: 

Science uncertain about best approach to COVID-19 booster shots

13 days ago

Some immunocompromised Canadians are already receiving COVID-19 vaccine boosters, but the science is still unclear about whether everyone should get one in the near future or wait for one designed for the new variants circulating, including delta. 1:58

In Africa, authorities in Burundi have decided to suspend all social events except on Saturdays and Sundays as concerns grow about a rising number of COVID-19 infections.

In Asia-Pacific, New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, will remain in lockdown for at least two more weeks, although some restrictions will be eased from Tuesday.

In the Americas, the president of Costa Rica has warned that developing countries are at risk of sliding into instability without more pandemic aid from richer nations and the International Monetary Fund.

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Federal election latest updates: Conservatives, NDP try to win seats from Liberals in Atlantic Canada – CBC.ca

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  • You can stream the CBC News election special in the video player above.
  • This story will be updated as results roll in, so please refresh. Get live results from across Canada and in your riding here.
  • More details on how to watch or listen to CBC’s coverage.
  • The first polls closed in Newfoundland at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the Maritimes at 7:30 p.m. ET. The hugely important battlegrounds of Quebec and Ontario take centre stage at 9:30 p.m. ET. B.C.’s polls close at 10 p.m. ET.

Results — including CBC’s first projected win — have begun trickling in after polls in the 2021 federal election closed, first in Newfoundland and Labrador, then the rest of Atlantic Canada.

Liberal Seamus O’Regan, the natural resources minister when the election was called, was the first candidate projected to win re-election, in St. John’s South–Mount Pearl.

All 32 ridings in Atlantic Canada have begun posting results, but an early warning: this could be the start of a long process.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led many to vote by special ballot (1,267,014 ballots have been mailed out and 951,039 returned as of Monday, according to Elections Canada). That means it could take a while before you know who won and lost, especially in ridings where polling conducted during the 36-day campaign suggests the margin is razor thin.

However, Elections Canada told CBC News soon after those polls closed that it expects close to 95 per cent of those ballots to be counted tonight.

Here’s a look at what’s at stake in the four Atlantic provinces:

Liberals hope Rock stays red

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau bumps elbows with Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey earlier this summer. Furey is making no apologies for endorsing the federal Liberals, despite criticism from the provincial opposition. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

The Liberals have been able to count on Newfoundland and Labrador to get them off to a good start, and Liberals recently won at the provincial level during another pandemic-era election.

Since taking office, Premier Andrew Furey has praised Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau as “an immense friend to the province,” raising the hackles of the opposition who urged Furey to remain neutral.

Where might the Liberals be vulnerable?

The NDP will try to hang on to their lone seat of St. John’s East. Longtime MP Jack Harris held the seat before his retirement, and the party is hoping Mary Shortall can keep it orange.

The Conservatives are hoping to break through and win in Long Range Mountains, on the island’s west coast, where the Liberal incumbent, Gudie Hutchings, saw her vote share drop in 2019.

Conservative eyes on Nova Scotia

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole would love to see Nova Scotia ridings turn blue on Monday night, just like many did in the recent provincial election. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Heading into the election the Conservatives held one of the 11 seats in Nova Scotia, and are optimistic they’ll make inroads. 

Nova Scotia’s Progressive Conservatives won the August provincial election, despite starting the campaign way behind in the polls.

The Liberal handling of the moderate livelihood fishery, which saw violence and vandalism erupt in the southwestern part of the province last year, has also created a potential opening. 

The one seat the Conservatives hold is the West Nova riding, which has been ground zero for that dispute. The riding next door? South Shore–St. Margarets — the home of Bernadette Jordan, who was fisheries minister at dissolution. If this riding flips to the Conservatives, it’s an encouraging sign for leader Erin O’Toole.

More than just the mud is red in P.E.I. (usually)

Four seats are at stake on Prince Edward Island.

The province usually votes Liberal, with Egmont the only riding to send a non-Grit to Ottawa since 1988. But one definite change is that Liberal Wayne Easter will not win. He had won nine straight elections in the riding of Malpeque, but isn’t running again.

People line up outside a polling station in the Spadina-Fort York riding in Toronto on Monday. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

Can the Green Party win in Fredericton again?

New Brunswick will serve as an early test for the Green Party.

In 2019, Jenica Atwin won Fredericton for the Greens, marking the party’s only win ever outside of B.C. Then she crossed the floor to join the Liberal Party.

So, will Fredericton’s voters consider the Greens with a new candidate, Nicole O’Byrne? Or will the city go back to flip-flopping between the Liberal and Conservative parties?

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh spent part of his childhood in St. John’s. Now, he’s hoping his party can hang on win at least one seat in the city. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

When will we know the results?

There’s a real chance you’ll go to bed tonight without knowing who won the election.

But you might.

In-person voting at advance polls was way up from 2019, with approximately 5,780,000 votes being cast from Sept. 10-13, according to Elections Canada. 

Also, we’ll see whether there’s a good turnout on election day. What counts as good? Nearly 66 per cent of total eligible voters cast a ballot in 2019, just down from 68.5 per cent in 2015.

In-person ballots can be counted as soon as the polls close (here are the official poll closing times in local time in case you can still dash out to vote), while those special ballots won’t be counted until Tuesday

Our decision desk will keep working until we have answers for you. Send coffee. 

What’s happening at polling stations?

If you’re reading this at a polling station, don’t worry about not being able to cast your ballot. Elections Canada says anyone in line when a station is supposed to close will still be allowed to vote. 

Some Canadian voters waited outside in long lines on Monday while Elections Canada apologized for a technical problem with an application on its website that tells people where they can vote.

Many posted on social media that they were receiving an error while trying to use the voter information service page. They said the error stated: “We were unable to find your voting location. Please call the office of the returning officer for assistance.”

The problem has been fixed.

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul, pictured here in Toronto’s Regent Park, will have to break the Liberal hold on Toronto Centre if she wants to represent her party in the House of Commons. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

In Toronto, which has significantly fewer polling stations than in previous years, many stood outside in long lines before casting their ballots. In the city’s downtown core, one line wrapped around an entire city block as people waited to vote in the Spadina–Fort York riding. Once inside, however, many told CBC News the process went smoothly.

In Montreal, an accident caused some minor injuries, a police spokesperson said, after a woman lost control of her vehicle and hit people near a polling station in Montreal’s West Island. Const. Caroline Chèvrefils could not provide more details about the driver or the condition of the victims.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-François Blanchet, left, tours the Lion Electric bus and truck plant while campaigning on Thursday in St.-Jerome, Que. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

The magic number: 170

If you need a refresher on how this whole election thing works, Canada has 338 federal ridings, most located in densely populated parts (think: the Greater Toronto Area).

To win a majority government, a party needs to win 170 seats or more. The Liberals triggered the election holding 155, but would need a strong showing to win back the majority the party lost in 2019. 

The Conservatives currently held 119 seats prior to the election.

Party that wins most seats won’t always govern

There’s one wrinkle here.

As CBC’s Aaron Wherry explained in 2019, a party could win the most seats in the election, but that doesn’t mean its leader will be prime minister — the same holds true today.

Justin Trudeau, as the incumbent prime minister, has the authority to recall Parliament, present a speech from the throne and seek to win the confidence of the House of Commons. With the support of other parties, he could continue as prime minister even if a rival party has more seats than his. 

Of course, if a rival party wins a majority that scenario is out the window. 

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier takes part in a campaign stop, in Toronto, on Thursday. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

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