Liese Coroy had no intentions of boarding a plane during the coronavirus pandemic.
But then her father tested positive for COVID-19, leaving him stuck in a hospital in Ottawa.
She decided to board a plane from Toronto to Ottawa on April 1 so she could get there in time to see him for the last time, even if it meant wearing a protective suit.
“I dropped everything to fly up to say goodbye to him,” she said. “I think the hardest part was not being able to touch him with my bare hands or hug him. I had gloves on, and did touch him, but it wasn’t the same. ”
Social distancing on the flight there and back was important, she said.
Coroy’s father died due to COVID-19 the day after she arrived.
Liese Conoy flew to Ottawa on April 1 to say goodbye to her father. Photo provided by Liese Conoy.
Travelling has now become one of many routines activities that now feel like a foreign concept since coronavirus spread worldwide.
Flying some time after COVID-19? Prepare for sky-high fares
But some Canadians are still flying during the pandemic and the experience is starkly different than it would have been just three months ago.
Airlines have slashed the number of flights operating per day or have suspended flights entirely, like Porter Airlines and Sunwing. WestJet has laid off nearly 6,900 people and reduced their domestic flight capacity by 50 per cent. Air Canada has reduced its network of international and domestic flights by 90 per cent but will allow some options to resume starting in June.
Four airports in Canada remain open for travel, including Toronto Pearson, Montreal-Trudeau, Calgary International and Vancouver International. The Canadian government has advised against all non-essential travel and has instituted the Quarantine Act requiring all travellers to isolate for 14 days if they come back from abroad.
Global News spoke to some who have flown fairly recently and described a vastly different travel experience that will likely reflect what others will observe when and if we return to airports.
‘Terribly nervous’ to fly
Right before her father’s death, doctors told Coroy and other family members that the prognosis was looking dire and it was imperative they get to Ottawa immediately if they wanted to say goodbye.
Airline changes as COVID-19 restrictions ease
Under the circumstances, Coroy was already highly anxious to fly, even though prior to the pandemic she was flying at least twice a month for work.
“I was terribly nervous,” she said, adding that she had arrived ready for the short flight with hand sanitizer and masks. It was eerie to be at Toronto Pearson International Airport, a massive space, with barely anyone around, she said.
“It was so empty, I’ve never seen it this way even when I’ve landed at two in the morning,” she said, adding that she stopped to take pictures of how deserted the airport looked.
Entering the plane, Coroy says she was upset as flight attendants told her social distancing would not be possible on the flight, although there were less than 15 people on the plane. Even though she had a row to herself she says, there were people directly in front of her and behind her.
Coroy says this upset her, especially since her father caught the illness.
“I was unable to move. The [flight attendant] almost deplaned me because I wanted to take another seat,” she said.
Global News asked Air Canada about their social distancing policies on flights.
The airline referred to their new CleanCare+ program launched on May 15 that involves new policies to keep travellers safe including “more personal space” in economy class at least until June 30.
Face masks for travellers and PPE for employees are now mandatory on flights and they are now blocking the sale of adjacent seats in economy class as of May 12, unless you are travelling with someone under the age of 14. Enhanced cleaning protocols are now in place as well.
Coronavirus: The future of travel
“This experience was bittersweet, I was so glad to see him [but] hated seeing him in pain, and was terrified if I didn’t take extreme care in robing and disrobing that I would become infected,” she said.
Flying home, Coroy was concerned about infecting others since she had been at a hospital, and she continued to wear a mask and keep her distance. Returning to Toronto, she isolated for 14 days as a precaution.
In the future, knowing there would be adequate social distancing not just in the terminal, but on the plane as well, would make her comfortable enough to fly again, she said.
Empty airports, no food service
Grace Armstrong, a 26-year-old student who goes to Dalhousie University in Halifax decided to fly to Milwaukee, Wis., to isolate with her family instead of staying by herself.
Armstrong says she’d been waiting to find a safer time to fly to her family since the U.S.-Canada border was closed for non-essential visits. She picked a flight on April 30 hoping more cleaning and distancing protocols would be in place by then and she self-isolated two weeks prior as a precaution, she said.
While she felt fairly safe, she says she was nervous about what it would be like to interact with the U.S.-Canada border during the pandemic and the behaviour of other travellers. As a dual citizen, she would be allowed to cross the border.
“From the beginning, I’ve been strict with myself taking precautions and my biggest worry is usually the people around me not doing the same,” she said in an email to Global News.
Masks were required at Halifax Stanfield International Airport, where she was told by a security agent that she was on one of three flights that day. She flew with Delta Airlines, who notified her via email in advance to bring her own food as shops and restaurants were closed in the airport.
During the flight, antibacterial wipes were handed out, food service was cancelled and flight attendants reminded passengers several times to keep their masks on, said Armstrong.
It was strange to hear announcements on the flight like “thank you for trusting us” instead of the expected “thank you for flying with us,” she added. Delta also emphasized they were doing extra cleaning on the plane and using an additional air purifier, she said.
But she was surprised to see many in the airport were not wearing masks when she reached Detroit, where she had a layover before reaching Milwaukee.
“Once I was in the U.S., it was maybe 50/50 people wearing masks. Deplaning in the U.S. definitely felt like I had stepped into a more dangerous area, especially because the news was on every TV discussing the worsening situation,” she said.
The Halifax Stanfield airport without many travellers. Photo provided by Grace Armstrong.
“Empty airports and having whole rows to yourself is great, but wearing a mask for 12 hours was not,” she said. “I now understand what health-care workers mean when they talk about their ears hurting from wearing a mask all day.”
Arriving in Milwaukee, Armstrong said it was frustrating to have to continue to keep her distance from her family and isolate away from them for 14 days.
In a few months, her lease will end in Halifax and she will have to fly back in time to isolate for 14 days again before she moves apartments. But if Wisconsin’s cases get worse, she says she won’t fly back so she’s not arriving from a severely impacted area.
Her confidence with travelling for leisure potentially later in the year will really come down to how strict airlines are with their safety measures, and how high the cases numbers end up being wherever she wants to visit, she said.
“I don’t want to take any unnecessary risk of getting sick or getting others sick. In that way, lifting restrictions makes me feel less confident in travelling. Where I am now is opening back up despite numbers rising, so it would be irresponsible for me to leave,” she said.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Kamloops ranch that refused vaccinated guest but kept their deposit now says they'll issue $3.2K refund – CBC.ca
A ranch owner in Kamloops, B.C., has been criticized by the province’s solicitor general for refusing to accept a vaccinated international traveller.
The Equinisity Ranch in Kamloops, in the province’s central Interior, is run by owner Liz Mitten Ryan. She told CBC News she catered almost exclusively to international travellers, including from England, Switzerland and Australia.
In a report in The Guardian, published Thursday, a prospective traveller called J.W. York said they had booked a $3,200 retreat (£2,000) with Ryan in May 2020, but the trip was put off due to lockdowns and other pandemic restrictions.
According to York, they were told recently they were not welcome at Equinisity anymore because they were fully vaccinated against COVID — and they would not be receiving a refund due to ranch policy.
Ryan confirmed that the ranch had a “no vax” policy for patrons, even though international travellers have to be fully vaccinated to enter Canada. The Guardian article quoted her as saying that vaccines were a “bioweapon depopulation tool” that could transfer to animals.
The entire episode was called “outrageous” by B.C. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.
“I have asked my ministry, the consumer protection branch, to look into this,” he told CBC News.
“This is just wrong. Like, you want to subscribe to a wack job conspiracy theory. That’s your business. But you don’t rip people off like this. It’s unethical.”
Refunds will happen, says owner’s husband
In a statement, Kevin Ryan — Liz Ryan’s husband — said the ranch would eventually send refunds to customers.
“For personal reasons for this summer, [Liz] has implemented a policy of non-vaccinated guests only,” the statement read. “Not, I stress, realizing any regulations were being broken.
“Due to the current public interest in this situation, and the subsequent informed discussions, she now realizes that it is appropriate the deposit, in this case, needs to be returned to comply with said regulation.”
Ryan told CBC News all deposits “of a similar status” would be returned by the end of the month.
On its website, Equinisity says it provides “a unique journey” for patrons to find “true healing” through meditation, horse riding and other activities. Ryan says his wife had been running the establishment for over 15 years.
Their pricing guide shows that individual patrons can expect to pay $2,800 for an eight-day retreat, while couples can expect to pay $2,400 each.
Before her husband’s statement about refunds, Liz Ryan had suggested that any vaccinated traveller sell their booking. She also said her ranch had been shut down for two years, the longest such span of her career, due to border restrictions.
Farnworth told CBC News that Equinisity’s stance against vaccinated travellers would give international travellers a bad impression of the province.
“It sends a terrible message in terms of tourism here in British Columbia and Canada,” he said. “Because, let’s face it, this person that took this trip is now going to tell their friend … ‘Why would you want to come here?'”
Farnworth said his staff would be investigating if the ranch had received any COVID relief funding, and that the ranch would not be eligible in any case, given the requirements placed on vaccinated travellers.
“I don’t think it’s particularly good business practice,” he said.
How Canada’s new NOC will affect Express Entry eligibility – Canada Immigration News
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) currently uses NOC 2016 to determine the eligibility of occupations under its temporary and permanent residency programs. However, IRCC must switch to NOC 2021 starting in November as per Canadian law.
The NOC is managed by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and Statistics Canada, which revise the system every 10 years. NOC 2021 will introduce new terminology and a revised classification structure that will affect IRCC programs.
As a result of these changes, the following 16 occupations will become eligible under Express Entry:
- Payroll administrators;
- Dental assistants and dental laboratory assistants;
- Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates;
- Pharmacy technical assistants and pharmacy assistants;
- Elementary and secondary school teacher assistants;
- Sheriffs and bailiffs;
- Correctional service officers;
- By-law enforcement and other regulatory officers;
- Estheticians, electrologists and related occupations;
- Residential and commercial installers and servicers;
- Pest controllers and fumigators;
- Other repairers and servicers;
- Transport truck drivers;
- Bus drivers, subway operators and other transit operators;
- Heavy equipment operators; and
- Aircraft assemblers and aircraft assembly inspectors.
There will also be three occupations that will become ineligible, including:
- other performers;
- program leaders and instructors in recreation, sport and fitness; and
- tailors, dressmakers, furriers and milliners.
These three occupations will remain eligible for programs with broader occupational eligibility criteria, such as some streams of the Provincial Nominee Program.
The major change to NOC 2021 is the current four-category “skill level” structure has been overhauled and replaced by a new six-category system. The new system outlines the level of Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities (TEER) required to enter each occupation.
The previous NOC had four skill levels. NOC A represented jobs that tend to require university degrees, NOC B included jobs in the skilled trades or that require a college diploma, NOC C covered jobs that require intermediate skills or job-specific training, and NOC D was for labour jobs that require on-the-job training.
In September 2020, IRCC’s Executive Committee decided that the new TEER structure will be adopted as follows:
|NOC 2016||NOC 2021|
|Skill Type 0||TEER 0|
|Skill Level A||TEER 1|
|Skill Level B||TEER 2|
|Skill Level B||TEER 3|
|Skill Level C||TEER 4|
|Skill Level D||TEER 5|
NOC 2021 will use a five-tier hierarchical system to classify occupations. Also, occupations will now have a five-digit codification system instead of the current four-digit system. The TEER system has six categories, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.
Statistics Canada explains there are two main reasons why the skill type model is being replaced by the TEER system. First, the TEER system aims to provide more clarity on the level of education and work experience required to work in an occupation. Second, the skill type model creates artificial categorizations between low- and high-skilled jobs. Implementing TEER is intended to give stakeholders a better sense of the skills required for each occupation.
This Statistics Canada tool allows you to see how your current NOC corresponds with NOC 2021.
© CIC News All Rights Reserved. Visit CanadaVisa.com to discover your Canadian immigration options.
More Canadians could face late-stage cancer tied to diagnosis delays during COVID pandemic – CBC News
It all started with a stomach bug.
That’s what Cheryl-Anne Labrador-Summers thought, anyway. It was October 2020, not long after she’d moved to the tranquil lakeside Ontario community of Georgina, and instead of relaxing with her family like she’d planned, the mother of three was struggling to figure out why she kept experiencing strange, unexplained stomach cramps.
Labrador-Summers tried to visit her family physician, but the office was shuttered because of the COVID-19 pandemic. So she searched for another clinic — only to be offered a phone appointment rather than an in-person assessment. She wound up being told that her grumbling digestive system was likely caused by a mild gastrointestinal illness.
By January, the 58-year-old had a distended stomach, looking — in her own words — “about nine months pregnant.” Again, she reached out to a physician, went for some tests, then headed to the nearest emergency department.
After finally seeing a doctor face to face for the first time in months, she learned the real cause of her discomfort: an intestinal blockage caused by cancer.
“It ended up being a nine-centimetre tumour, and it had completely blocked off my lower bowel,” she said.
An emergency surgery left Labrador-Summers with 55 staples along her torso and a months-long recovery before she could begin oral chemotherapy. Her question now is unanswerable but painful to consider: Could that ordeal have been prevented, or at least minimized, by an earlier diagnosis?
“Had I maybe been able to see the doctors earlier, I would not be in Stage 3,” she said. “I might have been a Stage 2.”
951,000 fewer cancer screenings in Ontario
More Canadians could experience late-stage cancer diagnoses in the years ahead, medical experts warn, forecasting a looming crisis tied to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We expect to see more advanced stages of presentation over the next couple of years, as well as impacts on cancer treatments,” said oncologist Dr. Timothy Hanna, a clinician scientist at the Cancer Research Institute at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.
“We know that time is of the essence for people with cancer. And when people are waiting for a diagnosis or for treatment, this has been associated with increased risks of advanced stage and worse survival.”
One review of Ontario’s breast, lung, colon, and cervical cancer screening programs showed that in 2020 there were 41 per cent — or more than 951,000 — fewer screening tests conducted compared with the year before.
Screening volumes rebounded after May 2020, but were still 20 per cent lower compared to pre-pandemic levels.
WATCH | Late-stage cancer being diagnosed in Canadian ERs:
That drop in screenings translates into fewer invasive cancer diagnoses, including roughly 1,400 to 1,500 fewer breast cancers, wrote Dr. Anna N. Wilkinson, an assistant professor in the department of family medicine at the University of Ottawa, in a May commentary piece for the journal Canadian Family Physician.
“The impact of COVID-19 on cancer is far-reaching: screening backlogs, delayed workup of symptomatic patients and abnormal screening results, and delays in cancer treatment and research, all exacerbated by patient apprehension to be seen in person,” she wrote.
“It is clear that there is not only a lost cohort of screened patients but also a subset of missed cancer diagnoses due to delays in patient presentation and assessment,” leading to those cancers being diagnosed at a more advanced stage.
Tough accessing care in a ‘timely way’
The slowdown in colonoscopies may already be leading to more serious cases of colorectal cancer in Ontario, for instance, suggests a paper published in the Journal of the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology.
“Patients who were treated after the COVID-19 pandemic began were significantly more likely to present emergently to hospital. This means that they were more likely to present with bowel perforation, or severe bowel obstruction, requiring immediate life-saving surgery,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Catherine Forse, in a call with CBC News.
“In addition, we found that patients were more likely to have large tumours.”
In some cases — like Labrador-Summers’s situation — Canadians learned alarming news about their health in hospital emergency departments after struggling to receive in-patient care through other avenues.
Shuttered family physician offices, a shift to telemedicine, and some patients’ fears surrounding COVID-19 may all have played a role.
“It became harder for patients to access care and to access it in a timely way,” Hanna said.
“At the same time, there were real risks — and there are real risks for leaving home to go anywhere, particularly to go to an outpatient clinic or a hospital in order to get checked out.”
Dr. Lisa Salamon, an emergency physician with the Scarborough Health Network in Toronto, said she’s now diagnosing more patients with serious cancers, including several just in the last few months.
“So previously, it may have been localized or something small, but now we’re actually seeing metastatic cancer that we’re diagnosing,” she explained.
Lessons for future pandemics
Health policy expert Laura Greer is dealing with Stage four, metastatic breast cancer herself after waiting more than five months for a routine mammogram she was initially due for in the spring of 2021 — a precautionary measure given that her mother had breast cancer as well.
Unlike an early-stage diagnosis, Greer’s cancer is only treatable, not curable.
“It was an example of what happens when you don’t have the regular screening, or those wellness visits,” said the Toronto resident and mother of two.
“I most likely would have had earlier-stage cancer if it had been sooner.”
Pausing access to care and screenings for other health conditions can have dire impacts on patients, according to Greer, offering lessons for how policy-makers tackle future pandemics.
“We need to make sure that we’ve got enough capacity in our health system to be able to flex, and that’s what we really didn’t have going into this,” she said.
For Labrador-Summers, it’s hard to forget the moment her life changed while she was alone in an emergency department, learning a terrifying diagnosis from a physician she’d just met. Her mind raced with questions about the future and concerns for her family.
“My older son had just told us they were expecting a child, and I just wanted to be there for them. And I didn’t know what next steps were. And we had lost my mom to cancer a few years back — to us, cancer was always terminal,” she recalled.
“So again, I’m alone, trying to process all of this.”
A screening following Labrador-Summers’ surgery and chemotherapy treatment wound up finding more cancer.
“It’s now life-threatening,” she said.
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