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More aid coming for those who don't qualify for current COVID-19 benefits: PM – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
As another critical week in Canada’s efforts to flatten the COVID-19 curve begins, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government will soon introduce new measures to make emergency benefits accessible for Canadians who don’t currently qualify.

Trudeau said that Canadians who still have jobs but are working 10 hours or less due to the pandemic, such as gig economy or contract workers, as well as those who are working but earning less money than they would if they received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), such as long-term care workers, will soon be able to qualify for federal assistance.

“There are groups of people who aren’t benefiting from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit who probably should,” Trudeau said. “We’re looking carefully at how we can increase their pay a little bit so that they do better off remaining at work, rather than going off work and receiving the emergency response benefit.”

He called the expansion on eligibility the “fine tunings” that have to come when launching a program of this scale with the intent of reaching as many people as possible.

“There will be exceptions that we have to fill,” Trudeau said. 

Over the weekend Trudeau indicated that with the CERB applications opening on Monday in a staggered way, more direct help would be coming soon for students who don’t qualify. He also put a call out for volunteers to help Health Canada with data collection, case tracking and contact tracing.

Trudeau said that 240,000 people had already applied for the emergency benefit by the time he gave his late-morning address. As of the ministerial briefing on COVID-19 efforts that followed Trudeau’s address, “more than 300,000” people had applied, according to Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos.

The benefit will provide $2,000 a month for four months for those eligible.

Not all out-of-work Canadians qualify for the emergency benefit, in order to be eligible applicants must have earned at least $5,000 in the past 12 months or in 2019 as a whole, and must be out of work for reasons directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

College and university students are one sizeable demographic that has largely been left in the lurch. Some work only casual, part-time jobs that pay less than $5,000 over the course of a year. Others only work during summer, when classes are out – meaning they haven’t lost their job due to the pandemic, but it will be difficult for them to find work in a largely locked-down country once their summer begins.

“I know there are also lots of university or college students wondering what kind of job you’ll get this summer. You need support now, and work is underway to get it to you as soon as possible,” Trudeau said.

In another effort for additional financial relief, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced over the weekend that several big banks would be lowering credit card rates for those impacted by COVID-19.

Trudeau called this “much needed relief on debt.”

EXPANDED AID BILL BEING DRAFTED

The prime minister also said that the government is currently drafting its second piece of emergency legislation, are in talks with the other parties, and will be looking to recall Parliament “in the coming days,” this time to pass a multibillion-dollar expansion to COVID-19 financial assistance measures.

On April 1, Trudeau called the expanded wage subsidy program — a 75 per cent subsidy for businesses to keep employees on staff, up from the initial 10 per cent — the largest economic program in Canadian history, and that’s why he thinks Parliament should be reconvened to approve it. Though, the recall is also needed because it exceeds what was included in the legislation passed during the first emergency overnight sitting.

In perhaps an attempt to limit future in-person House of Commons sittings in an era of working from home, the government has written to Speaker of the House of Commons Anthony Rota to get advice on what would be a historic first: moving to virtual sittings of the House of Commons as a potential avenue for digital democratic accountability.

“We have to look at ways of virtually convening Parliament, so that parliamentarians from across the country who were elected to do their jobs of representing their citizens in normal times and in times of crisis can make themselves heard,” Trudeau said. “It can’t be just about folks who have proximity to Parliament, or the ability to get here. We need to look at ways that our democracy and our institutions can stay strong and embody and fulfill the functions that Canadians need them to.”

WEEK FOUR OF PHYSICAL DISTANCING

Entering the fourth week of physical distancing and shutdown of non-essential workplaces, health officials say they will be watching closely the number of new cases being reported to get a sense of whether or not the measures in place are proving effective at slowing the virus’ spread.

With more information about the number of cases coming in from across the country, the federal government says it’s working on ways to present more concrete modelling and science-based predictions in the coming days.

Trudeau said the government is working on getting more testing kits to get a more fulsome picture of how many Canadians have contracted the virus.

“Every single day we are doing more tests than the day before. We recognize that large-scale testing is a key element of flattening the curve and dealing with the long term prognosis of this pandemic. We will need to continue to test more and more to get those answers back quickly and be able to monitor the spread of Coronavirus through our population,” Trudeau said.

“Testing will be an essential part of how we get through this,” he said.

As of Monday morning, there are 15,853 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada, with the highest concentrations of the virus in Quebec, and Ontario.

SUPPLY SHIPMENT STRESSES

Shipments of essential medical supplies are also set to continue arriving in Canada this week, as domestic production ramps up in an effort to stave off the impacts of global price gouging and protectionism. Already, some provinces are warning they are days away from running out of personal protective equipment like respirator masks and gloves.

On Monday, Trudeau noted that there have been issues with delayed or incomplete deliveries from other countries.

“We have recognized over the past weeks a number of situations in which shipments coming from different countries around the world have been delayed [or] haven’t arrived with as many products as we were hoping to see,” Trudeau said.

Facing questions about the ongoing concern that the United States is restricting producers including 3M from sending supplies made in the U.S. to Canada and elsewhere, Trudeau said he is confident that any outstanding shipments will be delivered.

“We are working with them to ensure that the orders that Canada has placed get delivered. We expect those shipments to come,” he said.  

The prime minister said that Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne spoke Monday with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and that talks continue and have so far been “productive.” 

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Stage 3 of Ontario's COVID-19 reopening plan looms nearer – CBC.ca

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The chances of large parts of Ontario moving soon to Stage 3 of the province’s COVID-19 reopening plan are looking bright as the spread of the coronavirus remains slow in most public health units. 

It’s been nearly three weeks since all of eastern and northern Ontario, as well as much of the southwestern part of the province, advanced to Stage 2. That allowed the opening of shopping malls, hair salons, swimming pools, and bar and restaurant patios. 

Data from those 24 public health units — everywhere but the Greater Toronto Area, Hamilton, Niagara, Windsor-Essex, Lambton and Haldimand-Norfolk — show the spread of the virus remains largely contained.

“We hope to be able to move into the next stage as soon as possible,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Tuesday.

“It’s looking very good, but we still need another week’s data to really inform the situation, and then decisions will be made about the opening of Stage 3.”



More than half of Ontario’s 34 public health units currently have fewer than 10 active cases (coronavirus cases that are considered to still be infectious). Fifteen health units have three or fewer active cases. 

The parts of the province that were first to advance to Stage 2 — including Ottawa, Waterloo Region and London — have a combined population of nearly six million. In these areas, since restrictions were eased on June 12: 

  • The combined number of new cases daily has averaged 27, down from a daily average of 34 in the four preceding weeks.     
  • The number of new cases reported daily has remained below 35 on all but one day.   

The trend in the daily number of new cases is the statistic watched most closely by health officials in determining whether restrictions can be lifted. 

Provincial-level discussions are currently happening about when to announce Stage 3, Elliott said. She said the decisions to be made include which parts of the province would move ahead and which measures would be relaxed. 

“We have to do it safely,” Premier Doug Ford said. “We will do it safely, and we’re going to do it in steps as we did before. We just have to continue seeing the numbers go in the right direction.”  

Provincial officials have said any announcements about progressing to the next stage would be made on Mondays. 

Soussan Kordi cuts a customer’s hair at Soussan’s Barber Shop in Kingston on June 12, the day that 24 of Ontario’s 34 public health units moved into Stage 2 of the province’s COVID-19 reopening plan. Those areas, including all of eastern and northern Ontario, could be the first to be approved for Stage 3. (Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press)

An announcement on Stage 3 could come within the next week or so, according to Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, medical officer of health for eastern Ontario. He told a videoconference with reporters on Tuesday that officials are looking at increasing the maximum size of gatherings and allowing customers inside restaurants. 

Specific Stage 3 changes not yet clear

The province has not laid out precisely what changes will come in Stage 3 of the reopening. Its general framework released back in April suggested Stage 3 would mean “opening all workplaces responsibly” and “further relaxing the restrictions on public gatherings.”

Even with a move to Stage 3, mass gatherings such as concerts and spectator sports events would remain prohibited “for the foreseeable future,” the framework says.

Restrictions currently in place in Stage 2 that could be eased include the closure of playgrounds, the 10-person limit on social gatherings, and the ban on indoor seating at restaurants and bars. 

While the daily number of new COVID-19 cases is a crucial metric for determining the timing of Stage 3, the other measures that are considered include the availability of hospitals beds, speed of testing, and effectiveness of tracing close contacts of each person who tests positive.    

Some public health units see mandatory mask usage in indoor public settings as a key tool in preventing outbreaks and advancing to Stage 3.

 

“We want to move to Stage 3,” Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s chief medical officer of health, said while presenting evidence in favour of a mask policy during a news briefing on Monday. “We want all the businesses to be open. We want people to be able to continue to get back to work.” 

The public health unit covering Kingston — which previously had among the lowest number of COVID-19 cases in the province — ordered masks to be worn in indoor public places in response to an outbreak at a nail salon that is now linked to 27 confirmed cases.

Mask wearing, handwashing likely to remain

A mask policy takes effect in Toronto on July 7, and it’s being considered in Hamilton

The ability to prevent and contain local outbreaks will be one of the province’s considerations about whether a public health unit is ready to move to Stage 3, said Dr. Chris Mackie, the London-Middlesex medical officer of health. 

The province is “watching the data carefully and not rushing into a Stage 3 reopening, which I think is appropriate,” Mackie said on Tuesday in a news conference. 

The province will take the lead on the decisions about Stage 3, according to Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, medical officer of health for the Region of Waterloo, among the first public health units to advance to Stage 2.  

“When we reach Stage 3, it is very likely that many of our current heath measures, such as physical distancing, mask wearing and handwashing, will remain in effect,” Wang said in a statement to CBC News. 

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Canada to ban 'nuisance seals' killing to keep access to U.S. market – CBC.ca

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Canada will abolish permits that allow the killing of “nuisance seals” by commercial fishermen and aquaculture in an effort to maintain access to the lucrative U.S. seafood market, CBC News has learned.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada plans to eliminate nuisance-seal licences. Earlier this spring, the department told commercial fisheries associations that nuisance permits will no longer be issued. Canadian fish farms voluntarily stopped killing seals in 2018.

“DFO is making this change in order to ensure continued access to the U.S. fish and seafood market, a market worth about $5 billion annually to Canada,” DFO spokesperson Benoit Mayrand said.

By Jan. 1, 2022, all countries with fisheries interacting with marine mammals that export to the U.S. will have to demonstrate they have marine mammal protections that are the same or of comparable effectiveness to measures taken in the U.S..

DFO intends to adopt regulatory language aligned with the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act’s import provisions, Mayrand said.

Scotland also banning practice

The U.S. exempts killing marine mammals under specific circumstances, such as where it is imminently necessary to protect human health and safety, and under the Good Samaritan exemption, where the humane dispatch of a seal will avoid serious injury, additional injury, or death to a seal entangled in fishing gear or debris.

DFO said it will post its plans for public comment in coming weeks.

Earlier this month, Scotland announced it will eliminate permits to shoot nuisance seals. Scotland is also keenly aware that market access is at stake.

Mairi Gougeon, the Scottish minister responsible for that portfolio, told the Scottish parliament that its new rules will match the U.S. rules.  

“It will ensure that we can still export farmed fish to the United States of America in future. That is one of our most important markets; it was worth £178 million (about $301 million) in 2019,” she said on June 17. 

Canada’s aquaculture industry already on board

Tim Kennedy, president and CEO of the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance, wrote to DFO in a letter dated Dec. 21, 2018.

“The Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance would like to state our members’ commitment to ‘no intentional mammal kill’ practices in our seafood farming operations within Canada. We maintain an exception for the very rare possibility of the endangerment of human health, as per the exception in the MMPA legislation,” Kennedy wrote.

The association says it represents 95 per cent Canadian fish farms and shellfish operations.

“This was quite a major step of the Canadian industry to move forward and make this commitment because the population of seals on the East Coast and sea lions on the West Coast have really increased dramatically,” Kennedy told CBC News.

He said producers are now using steel-hardened nets to keep seals out.

‘A critical market issue’

About 80 per cent of the Atlantic salmon grown in Canada gets exported to the U.S..

“This is a critical market-access issue. So with the time being right and with the industry moving in this direction anyway, the formalization of the commitment, I think, made a lot of sense,” Kennedy said.

DFO says in 2018, 66 seals were reported killed under nuisance-seal licences in Atlantic Canada. In 2019, 95 were reported killed.

But that may be an underestimation of how many are killed by fishermen.

On the East Coast, huge grey seal colonies are often blamed by commercial fishermen for the slow recovery of groundfish stocks.

In a 2016 assessment of the grey seal population, DFO scientists estimated a total of 3,732 grey seals were killed in the region — but that number came with a caveat.

“Nuisance-seal licences are issued to fishermen that report seals causing damage to fishing gear or catches,” said DFO’s assessment. “They are required to report the number of seals they have removed, but most fishermen do not provide this information.”

A nuisance-seal licence is different from a commercial-harvest seal licence and the proposed amendments will have no impacts on the directed seal harvest, DFO said.

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Ottawans reinvent Canada Day celebrations for 2020 – CBC.ca

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For the first time in recent memory, Parliament Hill did not host the country’s biggest party on Canada Day.

With no formal celebrations on the hill this year, Ottawans instead turned to their neighbourhoods, city parks and beaches to show Canadian pride.

Here’s what just a few people in the nation’s capital did to celebrate Canada’s 153rd year.  

Adegoke Sofumade, third from right, who moved with his family from Nigeria seven years ago, said the pandemic forced him to appreciate the support of friends and family. “It’s been really really hard, but … COVID is going to go and we’ll still be standing,” he said. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

“Having this big family gives us hope. It gives us comfort,” Adegoke Sofumade said. “We are here to help each other, to lift each other’s spirits.” Sofumade, his family, and the family of several colleagues were enjoying the holiday at Britannia Beach on Wednesday. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

For Crystal Wasney, second adult on the left, her son Colton, and her extended family, Canada Day is about making the most out of this time we have together. It’s also about volleyball. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

Hundreds of anti-government and anti-lockdown protesters gathered on Parliament Hill in Ottawa this afternoon. (Joseph Tunney/CBC News)

There was a hodgepodge of messages presented at the protest. While many had complaints against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, others brandished signs decrying public health recommendations to wear masks. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

Parents Neesha, left, and Sunny Khosla, right, take their daughter, Kaya, for a walk in her festive outfit near the ByWard Market. (Joseph Tunney/CBC News)

Stephanie Palie and Kevin Thomas pose with the Ottawa sign near the ByWard Market, with five-month-old Maileen relaxing in the baby carriage. (Joseph Tunney/CBC News)

From the left: Qahtan Hassan and Ingirsir Sarakar arrived in Canada last November from Iraq. It’s been a long first year, but they say today is special. “It’s the first Canada Day since we [came] from our country,” Sarakar said, standing near Britannia Beach. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

Couple Lin Lu, left, and Ziyuan Di, right, enjoy a “chill session” in Major’s Hill Park. (Joseph Tunney/CBC)

Mourad Kanani from Tunisia stands with his wife, Suha. Their children Habiba, 3, and Ahmed, 18 months, were both born in Canada. “We are proud they are already Canadian,” he said. (Amanda Pfeffer/CBC)

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