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'Now is not the time': Federal government warns against travel abroad as Omicron spreads – CBC News

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Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos is asking Canadians with plans to travel abroad to cancel their trips as the highly transmissible Omicron variant spreads worldwide.

Later today, the federal government will change its travel guidance to officially advise Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside the country for the time being.

“To those who were planning to travel, I say very clearly — now is not the time to travel. The rapid spread of the Omicron variant on a global scale makes us fear the worst,” Duclos said.

With tens of thousands of Canadians planning trips abroad over the coming weeks, the new advisory could wreak havoc on vacation plans and void some travel insurance policies.

Acknowledging that introducing a new advisory only 10 days before Christmas is a “drastic” move, Duclos said he’s acting now because he’s “afraid” and “concerned” for people who travel abroad because the Omicron situation is changing quickly. The rate of spread is “huge,” he said, and Canadians may find themselves stranded if countries impose lockdown measures or curb flights in and out.

“The situation abroad is already dire in many places and it’s going to get worse very quickly, so we’re afraid for what could happen to them if they leave Canada,” Duclos said.

Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos speaks during an update on the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Duclos said Wednesday he’s ‘afraid’ for Canadians who travel abroad. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

We’re answering your questions about travel during the pandemic. Send yours to Ask@cbc.ca, and we’ll answer as many as we can.

In addition to the new travel warning, Duclos said the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) will ramp up the mandatory arrival testing program at the country’s airports. Duclos said last week the feds could process up to 17,000 arrival tests a day — he’s now promising to do more and to “test as many travellers as possible.”

Last week, the federal government announced it would make incoming travellers from non-U.S. foreign destinations get a COVID-19 test when they arrive in Canada. This new test is in addition to the pre-departure molecular test that all travellers must undergo before leaving for Canada.

Asked if the arrival testing program will be applied to people coming from the U.S., Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said the government is “constantly reassessing” the situation.

“When we feel we need to change our policies, we’ll announce it as quickly as possible. For now, we’re monitoring it,” Alghabra said.

Asked if the government would consider reinstating the hotel quarantine program — an earlier initiative that forced returning international air passengers into hotels while while they waited for their post-arrival test results — Duclos said “all options are on the table.” For now, he said, the government is just advising against travel but other measures could soon follow.

With the existing pre-departure testing requirement and a vaccine mandate in place, PHAC data suggest very few returning travellers have actually tested positive for COVID-19. 

Of the 232,835 arrival tests completed by fully vaccinated air passengers between Sept. 10 and Nov. 27, only 0.14 per cent produced a positive result.

The test positivity rate was nearly as low for unvaccinated and partially vaccinated travellers — just 0.63 per cent of those 267,559 tests have come back positive.

Asked why the federal government is targeting travellers while allowing provinces and territories to proceed with mass gatherings like indoor sporting events, Duclos said today’s measures are all about “prudence.”

“Whether we like it or not, we must adapt to this reality. We must stand together and do everything in our power to protect our health care system and our front-line workers,” he said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes his way to the House of Commons Parliament Hill to listen to Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland present the Economic and Fiscal Update in Ottawa on Tuesday, December 14, 2021. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

WestJet, one of the country’s largest airlines, strongly condemned the new travel advisory in a media statement Wednesday, saying the government’s decision is “not based on science and data.”

“Air travel is the most tested and protected consumer activity in Canada. Every person travelling internationally is tested on average twice throughout their travel journey,” said Harry Taylor, the airline’s president and CEO.

“As the only fully-vaccinated air travel sector in the world, WestJet is calling on the government to publicly share the travel related COVID-19 data that has been used to re-impose the advisory and advice targeted towards fully-vaccinated Canadians and the travel and tourism industry.”

Taylor said “fully-vaccinated Canadians should not be singled out” by the government for choosing to take part in a “safe activity.” He also said the travel advisory, coming just 10 days before Christmas, will cause “unnecessary disruption” and “chaos” across the travel industry.

Speaking briefly to reporters earlier, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canadians need to be cautious when making plans for the holidays.

“Canadians have been attentive [to COVID-19] for months and months. We’ve seen that people know how to do the right thing. They’re going to have to be vigilant and make careful decisions about Christmas,” Trudeau said in French before the start of a Liberal caucus meeting this morning.

Tune in to CBC’s The National tonight for a special full edition on COVID-19 and the rapid spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant in Canada and around the world. What do you need to know to protect yourself and the people around you? Should you change your holiday plans? What’s safe and what’s not? Adrienne Arsenault and Andrew Chang will be joined by doctors and health experts throughout the program to answer your questions. Send your questions to ask@cbc.ca, and be sure to tune in to The National tonight at 9 p.m. on CBC News Network, 10 p.m. on CBC Television and CBC Gem.

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Global jobs recovery delayed by pandemic uncertainty, Omicron, ILO says

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The global job market will take longer to recover than previously thought, with unemployment set to remain above pre-COVID-19 levels until at least 2023 due to uncertainty about the pandemic’s course and duration, the International Labour Organization said in a report on Monday.

The U.N. agency estimates the equivalent of around 52 million fewer jobs in 2022 versus pre-COVID levels, which amounts to about double its previous estimate from June 2021.

Disruptions are set to continue into 2023 when there will still be around 27 million fewer jobs, it said, warning of a “slow and uncertain” recovery in its World Employment and Social Outlook report for 2022.

“The global labour market outlook has deteriorated since the ILO’s last projections; a return to pre-pandemic performance is likely to remain elusive for much of the world over the coming years,” the report said.

Director-General Guy Ryder told journalists that there were numerous factors behind its revision, saying the “primary one is the continuing pandemic and its variants, notably Omicron.”

The speed of recovery varies across regions, with the European and North American regions showing the most encouraging signs and Southeast Asia and South America lagging behind, according to the report.

Still, the projected deficit in working hours this year represents an improvement over the past two years. In 2021, the ILO estimates there were some 125 million fewer jobs than pre-pandemic levels and in 2020, 258 million fewer.

Overall, around 207 million people are estimated to be unemployed in 2022. However, the report said that the impact would be significantly greater since many people have left the labour force and have yet to return.

Among those are a high number of women https://www.reuters.com/markets/funds/gender-equality-takes-one-step-forward-three-back-during-covid-2021-12-02, often because they have been drawn into unpaid work at home such as teaching children during school closures or caring for sick family members.

The report predicted that the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women’s employment would narrow in the coming years but that a “sizeable gap” would remain.

“There are some anecdotal indications that they are not coming back in the same numbers and in the same portions as men are doing which would lead to concerns that a ‘Long COVID’ effect on gender at work would be a negative one,” said Ryder.

Others who have left the workforce have done so voluntarily as part of a phenomenon some economists call “the great resignation”. Ryder said this appeared to be more prominent in areas of the economy such as health and care giving.

“We do need to look again and to invest further in those areas of economic activity,” he said.

(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Chizu Nomiyama)

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Black and Racialized Artists, Musicians and Producers Join Forces For THE FREEDOM MARCHING PROJECT

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January 2022/Toronto, ON — Rufus John, award-winning Black Caribbean-Canadian R&B/ Soul singer & songwriter is gearing up to release the single, Freedom Marching (Part I). The song will be available for pre-order on January 10th, 2022 and will be featured on the 3-song EP, The Freedom Marching Project, which is slated to be released on February 4th, 2022.  

In support of the release of the EP, the project will also consist of; two official music videos, one in-studio performance video, a Call-To-Action Commercial, a Behind the Scenes Docuseries and a website that will feature resources and information for those who are willing to watch, listen and learn to then #JoinTheMarch. 

 The Freedom Marching Project founded by John, was inspired by the thousands of people who had the courage to use their voice to take action by marching through streets all over the world shouting, “Black Lives Matter!” in what is hailed as the most significant civil rights movement of our generation.  The goals of the Project are to use the creative power of Art, Education and Activism to; honor the community leaders who are fighting daily on the frontlines for equity, access, diversity, participation, and rights for BlackIndigenous, racialized communities, to shed light on the lived experiences of Black, Indigenous & Racialized communities and to provide resources and information to those who want to Stay Informed, Get Connected and Take Action. 

 

John’s own music tells life stories of his past. A certified youth worker and mentor, John’s goal is to bring to the fore-front, deeply embedded issues experienced by the youth he helps and to inspire those who want to do more, to listen, to learn and join the movement.  John’s mandate has always been to not just connect but to engage.  John’s patience & commitment comes from his own experiences & mistakes and the people that helped him.   Walking alongside the youth he mentors is not only necessary for their journey but for his.  Being in for the long term is important.  Showing up is key.  

 

John used his connections within the music industry to bring together some Juno & Grammy award winners & nominees to lend their voices and talents to this special project. Collectively the talented group is called, United Artists 4 change and the ensemble features over 40 Black and Racialized Artists, Musicians and Producers from around Canada. The EP was produced by Da-Rell Clifton, vocally produced by Gary McAuley, Rufus John & Darren Hamilton, and mixed/mastered by Dan Brodbeck.  Some of the artists involved are:  JRDN, Carlos Morgan, D.O, Chad Price, Dan-e-o, Owen O Sound” Lee, Dwayne Morgan, Quisha Wint, Jason Simmons (Vocal Paint), The McAuley Boys, Nefe, Clair Davis, Aphrose, D/Shon and The Waterloo Region Mass Choir.   

 

The Freedom Marching Project has partnered with Community leader Selam Debs & the initiative Parents of Black Children. A Go Fund Me page has been set up where people can donate for the month of February and all the proceeds raised via Go Fund Me will be evenly distributed between The Freedom Marching Project and our partners who are combating racism, oppression and discrimination within the current systems and communities.

 

https://www.gofundme.com/f/the-freedom-marching-project?utm_campaign=p_lico+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=customer 

 

 

Release Dates: 

Jan 10thPre save/order Freedom Marching (Part I) 

Jan 17thDocuseries Ep.1  

Jan 21stDocuseries Ep. 2  

Jan 26th: Docuseries Ep. 3    

Jan 28th: Freedom Marching (Part I) Release 

Feb 1stIn Studio Music Video Release 

Feb 4thFull EP Release 

Feb 11th & 12thMusic Videos Release  

 

Connect with The Freedom Marching Project:

Website: www.freedommarching.com

YouTube:https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp9Kyeuul-PvvBmn4baMrvw

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FreedomMarchingProject

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/freedomarchingproject/

Tik Tok: https://www.tiktok.com/@freedommarchingproject

 

 

** Talent available for interviews

Media Inquiries: 

Sasha Stoltz Publicity & Management:Sasha Stoltz | Sasha@sashastoltzpublicity.com | 416.579.4804 

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National Gaming on Capital Hill

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This past January 13th, The US Supreme Court issued two rulings blocking an Occupational Safety and Health Administrations COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate for employers who have 100 or more employees, while allowing a separate rule which applies to healthcare workers at facilities receiving federal funds.

The 6-3 decision blocked OSHA and other organizations from imposing any such rule. While the OSHA made every effort to enforce temporary emergency standards in its massive organization, it seems the influence and legal pressure applied by both Labor and Corporations to end this attempt to have 84 million workers get COVID-19 vaccinations was too much for the administration.

The Supreme court directed organizations and corporations with more than 100 employees to develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, with exceptions for employees that instead are required to undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face mask at work.

While many corporations and manufacturers did enforce OSHA rules and carry out the needed mass vaccinations, the problem arose that such an organization such as OSHA had never issued such a mandate, and Congress had declined to enact any measure similar to OSHA’s. What do we have here folks? A governmental organization trying to carry out what the Biden Administration has asked to be done in America. The vaccines are available, but a large portion of America remains unvaccinated.

Instead of issuing a Presidential Executive Order declaring an emergency, the Administration has directed a few organizations to do so that they can wait and see if such a mandate will be accepted and approved by the population, labor, and business sectors. Perhaps it is the way this is being done that is the problem for The Supreme court, or the Republican friendly conservative of the court simply outnumber the liberal members. Politics as usual. Ineffectual, unworkable politics where no matter the issue, the Republicans will block any Democratic Administration’s attempt to protect America.

A nation divided, even when the lives of many are at stake. American media makes the storming of the Capital on Jan 6th seem like an emergency, an insurrection of serious substance while the Republicans on the Capital, block in every way possible any attempt to save lives through public safety and health mandates. Remember how the Republican strategy to make Obama Administration seem ineffectual by blocking all legislative efforts? The same Republicans are repeating this strategy with the Biden Administration. A sports analogy whereby one blocks constantly until your opponent makes a mistake and fumbles. While the lives of millions are threatened by COVID-19 these Republicans play games with the nation. Americans are feeling stressed, hopeless, and fearful of their future and yet their elected officials cannot work together to accomplish anything, except perhaps giving themselves a wage increase. Have those on Capital Hill forgotten who they represent?

Steven Kaszab
Bradford, Ontario
skaszab@yahoo.ca

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