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Many Canadian employees unable to self-isolate when necessary: survey – CTV News

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TORONTO —
More than half of Canadians say they are unable to self-isolate and stay home from work when necessary, according to a new survey.

The survey, conducted by researchers out of the University of Guelph and the University of Toronto, found that 51 per cent of participants said they feel “unprepared” to stay home and self-isolate if they or a family member were to contract COVID-19.

“That’s a significant proportion of the workforce who can’t stay home if needed,” said the study’s lead author Gabrielle Brankston, a PhD student at the University of Guelph, in a press release.

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The findings were published Thursday in the Canadian Journal of Public Health.

According to the study, researchers surveyed nearly 5,000 Canadians in May 2020 on their attitudes to public health measures, including limiting contacts and staying home when sick.

While researchers reported that the majority of respondents said they believed current public health measures were effective, many said they would also be expected to go to work if sick. Additionally, only 51 per cent of those surveyed said they would still be paid if they had to self-isolate at home.

The study’s lead investigator Amy Greer, an associate professor of population medicine at the University of Guelph, said in the release that the data “clearly” shows that not every Canadian has the same ability to comply with public health guidance.

“We know that to reduce transmission, we need people to be able to stay home when they are sick. As we now see increasing transmission in many parts of Canada, these data remain relevant and important even though they were collected almost a year ago,” Greer said.

According to the study, researchers found that demographics was a “significant factor” in respondents’ ability to self-isolate when sick.

The survey results indicated that younger individuals were more likely to report they had no access to paid sick leave and would be expected to go to work even if sick.

Those with lower income, who cannot work from home, and those without paid sick leave were less likely to feel confident that they could comply with public measures, according to the study.

“These findings reinforce the fact that if we want people to self-isolate to avoid spread, we need to provide more support for those who need to stay home but don’t have the means to do so,” Brankston said in the release.

“In these cases, we may be asking people to choose between feeding their family or avoiding possible further disease spread. And we need to make avoiding disease spread the easy choice,” she added.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Brankston said there need to be social supports in place, including paid sick leave, for those who have to self-isolate and also changes in workplace policies to discourage employees from coming to work when sick.

“If our collective priority is to maintain an open economy, we need to ensure that individuals are able to comply with public health measures that prevent and control transmission of the virus,” she said.

Thomas Tenkate, director of Ryerson’s School of Occupational and Public Health, said the “key driver” of being able to self-isolate is whether employees have paid sick leave.

Tenkate, who was not involved in the study, told CTVNews.ca on Thursday that those without paid sick leave will likely turn up at work because they can’t afford to stay home.

“If you’re a well paid professor like myself, I can stay home, but if you’re a minimum wage worker at a grocery store… there’s a big difference there if you get COVID and what can you do,” Tenkate said.

While some employers may not be able to offer paid sick leave to employees, Tenkate says it should be the responsibility of the federal and provincial governments to “make up the difference.”

“The aspect of access to paid sick leave is actually a really important component of the COVID response plan and I think it’s also one of the areas where the government hasn’t really stepped up enough to be able to recognize that and to support workers in that,” Tenkate said.

Tenkate explained that too much of governments’ focus in response to the pandemic has been on health aspects including securing vaccines, contact tracing, and acquiring personal protective equipment, and not enough on providing workplace support.

“All of those resources and public health measures actually get undermined if people can’t afford to stay at home when they’re supposed to,” Tenkate said.

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Canada Premiers to hold virtual news conference on struggling children’s hospitals

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Canada’s premiers plan to hold a news conference in Winnipeg today as children’s hospitals struggle to deal with a wave of child illnesses.

Hospitals across the country have been cancelling some surgeries and appointments as they redirect staff amid an increase in pediatric patients.

Admissions are surging under a triple-threat of respiratory syncytial virus, influenza and COVID-19 at a time when the health-care system is grappling with record numbers of job vacancies.

In Ottawa, two teams of Canadian Red Cross personnel are working rotating overnight shifts at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in support of its clinical-care team, while some patients have been redirected to adult health-care facilities.

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A pediatric hospice in Calgary has been temporarily closed as staff are diverted to a children’s hospital.

Members of the Alberta Medical Association have sent a letter to the province’s acting chief medical officer of health calling for stronger public health measures to prevent the spread of the illnesses, including increasing public messaging about the safety of vaccines, encouraging flu and COVID-19 vaccines, and temporarily requiring masks in schools.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 9, 2022.

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As nature talks unfold, here’s what ’30 by 30′ conservation could mean in Canada

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was unequivocal Wednesday when asked if Canada was going to meet its goal to protect one-quarter of all Canadian land and oceans by 2025.

“I am happy to say that we are going to meet our ’25 by 25′ target,” Trudeau said during a small roundtable interview with journalists on the sidelines of the nature talks taking place in Montreal.

That goal, which would already mean protecting 1.2 million more square kilometres of land, is just the interim stop on the way to conserving 30 per cent by 2030 — the marquee target Canada is pushing for during the COP15 biodiversity conference.

But what does the conservation of land or waterways actually mean?

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“When we talk about protecting land and water, we’re talking about looking at a whole package of actions across broader landscapes,” said Carole Saint-Laurent, head of forest and lands at the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The group’s definition of “protected area,” which is used by the UN convention on biodiversity, refers to a “clearly defined geographical space” that is managed by laws or regulations with the goal of the long-term protection of nature.

“It can range from areas with very strict protections to areas that are being protected or conserved,” said Saint-Laurent.

“We have to look at that entire suite of protective and restorative action in order to not only save nature, but to do so in a way that is going to help our societies. There is not one magical formula, and context is everything.”

The organization, which keeps its own global “green list” of conserved areas, lists 17 criteria for how areas can fit the definition.

Most of the criteria are centred on how the sites are managed and protected. One allows for resource extraction, hunting, recreation and tourism as long as these are both compatible with and supportive of the conservation goals outlined for the area.

In many cases, industrial activities and resource extraction are not allowed in protected areas. But that’s not always true in Canada, particularly when it involves the rights of Indigenous Peoples on their traditional territory.

In some provincial parks, mining and logging are allowed. In Ontario’s Algonquin Park, for example, logging is permitted in about two-thirds of the park area.

Canada has nearly 10 million square kilometres of terrestrial land, including inland freshwater lakes and rivers, and about 5.8 million square kilometres of marine territory.

As of December 2021, Canada had conserved 13.5 per cent of land and almost 14 per cent of marine territory. The government did it through a combination of national and provincial parks and reserves, wildlife areas, migratory bird sanctuaries, national marine conservation areas, marine protected areas and what are referred to as “other effective areas-based conservation measures.”

These can include private lands that have a management plan to protect and conserve habitats, or public or private lands where conservation isn’t the primary focus but still ends up happening.

Canadian Forces Base Shilo, in Manitoba, includes about 211 square kilometres of natural habitats maintained under an environmental protection plan run by the Department of National Defence.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada is a non-profit organization that raises funds to buy plots of land from private owners with a view to long-term conservation.

Mike Hendren, its Ontario regional vice-president, said that on such lands, management plans can include everything from nature trails to hunting — but always with conservation as the priority.

To hit “25 by 25,” Canada must further protect more than 1.2 million square kilometres of land, or approximately the size of Manitoba and Saskatchewan added together. To get to 30 per cent is to add, on top of that, land almost equivalent in size to Alberta.

The federal government would need to protect another 638,000 square kilometres of marine territory and coastlines by 2025, or an area almost three times the size of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. By 2030, another area the size of the gulf would need to be added.

Trudeau said that in a country as big and diverse as Canada, hard and fast rules about what can and can’t happen in protected areas don’t make sense.

He said there should be distinctions between areas that can’t have any activity and places where you can mine, log or hunt, as long as it is done with conservation in mind.

“There’s ability to have sort of management plans that are informed by everyone, informed by science, informed by various communities, that say, ‘yes, we’re going to protect this area and that means, no, there’s not going to be unlimited irresponsible mining going to happen,'” he said.

“But it doesn’t mean that there aren’t certain projects in certain places that could be the right kind of thing, or the right thing to move forward on.”

The draft text of the biodiversity framework being negotiated at COP15 is not yet clear on what kind of land and marine areas would qualify or what conservation of them would specifically mean.

It currently proposes that a substantial portion of the conserved land would need to be “strictly protected” but some areas could respect the right to economic development.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 9, 2022.

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UN Mideast refugee chief says Western funding shortfall may abandon hosting countries

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The United Nations refugee chief for the Middle East says countries hosting asylum seekers need more funding, or they’ll feel abandoned by the global community.

Ayman Gharaibeh (ay-MAHN guh-RYE-bah) says countries are pulling back their funding to help places like Lebanon and Jordan host refugees from Syria, and the lack of funds could prevent kids from being educated.

Gharaibeh says Canada is one of the few countries that isn’t pulling back funding, and he hopes Ottawa will encourage its allies to stop lowering their support.

He says the U-N is already struggling to support refugees due to inflation, a drop in donors and new conflicts that have displaced people from Ukraine and Ethiopia.

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Meanwhile, his region has only received eight per cent of the funding it has requested for winter gear, such as fuel and children’s clothing — compared to fifty-eight per cent by this time last year.

Gharaibeh says countries that are left to fend with these costs might stop co-operating in international agreements, which could cause more chaos in refugee flows.

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