Canada’s battle to contain the Omicron variant continues on multiple fronts today, with three provinces reintroducing public health restrictions and a fourth expanding eligibility for COVID-19 vaccine boosters.
British Columbia and Quebec are both capping capacity at bars and restaurants at 50 per cent as of today, while Newfoundland and Labrador has limited bars to 50 per cent and restaurants to 75 per cent with physical distancing in effect.
B.C. is also limiting indoor social gatherings to a maximum of 10 people.
Ontario, meanwhile, is expanding COVID-19 vaccine booster eligibility to all adults, provided it’s been at least three months since they received their second dose.
That province introduced similar public health restrictions Sunday, with capacity limits and reduced hours at restaurants and bars.
Canada reported thousands of new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend as the Omicron variant continued its rapid spread.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 20, 2021.
U.S. charges man with human smuggling after 4 freeze to death near Canada border
U.S. authorities on Thursday charged a man with human smuggling of Indian nationals from Canada, the day after four people including a baby were found frozen to death in a remote part of Canada close to the Minnesota border.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Minnesota said 47-year-old Steve Shand had been arrested just south of the border on Wednesday while driving two undocumented Indian citizens.
U.S. border patrol agents soon came across five more Indians traveling on foot, one of whom was carrying a backpack belonging to a family of four who had become separated from the group as they all tried to cross the border.
They alerted Canadian police who found the victims – a man, a woman, a teenage boy and a baby – about 40 feet (12 meters) from the frontier with Minnesota. First indications are that they died from exposure to the cold.
“These victims faced not only the cold weather, but also endless fields, large snowdrifts and complete darkness,” Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy told a televised news conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Wind chill had driven down the temperature to minus 35 C (minus 31 F), she said.
The U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement that the four victims had tentatively been identified as the missing Indian family.
The five Indian nationals explained they had walked across the border expecting to be picked up by someone and estimated they had been walking around for over 11 hours.
Shand has been charged with one count of human smuggling. He is next due in court on Jan 24.
(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Leslie Adler and David Gregorio)
Canada agency says Russian-backed actors targeting infrastructure
Network operators of critical Canadian infrastructure should boost their defenses against Russian state-sponsored threats, Canada’s signals intelligence agency said on Thursday.
The warning from the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) is the latest in a series of bulletins from Canada’s two main spy agencies accusing Russian actors of trying to hack into sensitive computer systems.
“(CSE) encourages the Canadian cyber-security community —especially critical infrastructure network defenders — to bolster their awareness of and protection against Russian state-sponsored cyber threats,” it said in a statement.
Russian actors and others are targeting critical infrastructure network operators as well as their operational and information technology, it added.
Operators should be prepared to isolate components and services that “would be considered attractive to a hostile threat actor to disrupt” and boost vigilance, CSE said.
Canada has had poor relations with Russia since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Ottawa fears armed conflict could break out in Ukraine and is working with allies to make clear to Russia that any further aggression towards Kiev is unacceptable, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Bernadette Baum)
Canada adds jobs for fifth month in December -ADP
Canada added 19,200 jobs in December, the fifth straight month of gains, led by hiring in the professional and business services and leisure and hospitality sectors, a report from payroll services provider ADP showed on Thursday.
The November data was revised to show 102,100 jobs were created rather than an increase of 231,800. The report, which is derived from ADP’s payrolls data, measures the change in total nonfarm payroll employment each month on a seasonally-adjusted basis.
(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)
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