The only good thing that Dean Nixon can say about his prison is that it has a view.
From the balcony of his small, fourth-floor apartment, the Guelph, Ont., resident can see the open countryside. Able, at least, to imagine freedom, if not experience it.
Nixon, a 46-year-old horse trainer and Stage 4 cancer patient, is living in a bureaucratic limbo, obliged to self-isolate for the coming year while in Canada due to the country’s COVID-19 quarantine restrictions.
As far as border and health officials are concerned, Nixon poses a danger because he must travel to the United States twice a month for a life-saving treatment that’s not available in Canada. And according to current regulations, he has to self-isolate in his apartment for 14 days every time he returns, resulting in a perpetual quarantine.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” Nixon said last week, standing on his balcony with his dog, Jeanna, as he spoke to a reporter on the sidewalk, four storeys below. “The only thing I’m guilty of is trying to save my life.
“We have people regularly crossing the border for work. We have American executives coming into Canada who are allowed to circumnavigate mandatory quarantine. I’m trying to figure out how a truck driver, or a nurse, poses less of a threat to the public health than I do, when I’m part of the at-risk population.”
Nixon was first diagnosed with anal cancer in the spring of 2016, and by that fall, the disease had metastasized, spreading to his liver. His doctors in Ontario could only offer more chemotherapy, and faint hope. So Nixon searched the internet and found an experimental program for patients with human papillomavirus-related cancers being run by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Md.
Doctors there enrolled him in a year-long trial of a new immunotherapy drug starting in early 2017. Nixon’s cancer went into remission, but returned a few months after the treatment ended. He went back on the drug for another year at the beginning of 2019, with similarly promising results. But a follow-up scan this past July discovered new tumours, and in early October he began yet another round of treatments — requiring 26 visits to the United States over the course of the coming year.
Exemption for treatment in Canada, but not for those who go abroad
Nixon is usually out of the country for less than 48 hours. He wears a mask whenever he’s in public, keeps his distance and washes his hands frequently. He stays at a Maryland Airbnb that caters to NIH patients, taking extra care to sanitize its rooms. And at the hospital’s sprawling campus, COVID-19 precautions are even stricter, with screening, mandatory masks and gloves and limited interaction with staff. Since the pandemic began in March the NIH has recorded just one coronavirus transmission at its campus.
But none of this has made an impression on Canadian border agents or with officials from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), who have so far refused to exempt Nixon from following the mandatory, 14-day quarantine each time he returns home. His latest crossing and self-isolation order came on Nov. 18.
He finds the situation especially galling given that people who travel to Canada to receive medical treatment don’t have to self-isolate. More than five million federal quarantine exemptions have been handed out since last March, mostly to essential workers such as truckers, nurses and technicians. But corporate titans are receiving them too, as detailed in a series of recent CBC News Investigations that have uncovered discretionary business trips by senior U.S. executives.
“There’s really no consideration for what my routine would be like, where I live, my situation….” Nixon said. “On a personal level, it means I can’t visit friends, family, can’t take my dog for a walk, can’t be out in the open air, can’t exercise…. It leaves me alone here to sit and think about my disease. Which is not a great thing.”
Unable to work and facing financial ruin
The quarantine is also interfering with his livelihood — training standardbred harness racing horses. The farm where his operation is based is just a seven-minute drive from his apartment, but he hasn’t been able to visit since the beginning of October. Instead he tries to keep abreast of how the horses are running, eating and behaving via phone calls and text messages with his hired hand. He’s already lost two clients and fears that more might follow.
“[The horses] don’t speak. So the No. 1 tool at our disposal is to be able to monitor the animals. And if you can’t observe them, you can’t do your job,” said Nixon.
Over the past six weeks, Nixon has tried reaching out to his local Liberal MP, the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Canadian Cancer Society for assistance. So far, no one has been able to help. He has also appealed to PHAC for a special exemption but has been rejected.
In an email sent earlier this week, the federal health agency told Nixon that quarantine exemptions “are purposefully limited to minimize the introduction and spread of COVID-19” and that he is unlikely to qualify for one.
“Unfortunately, there are no exemptions for travellers returning to Canada from receiving medical treatment in the U.S.,” reads the note.
CBC News contacted the Canada Border Services Agency and PHAC about Nixon’s case, asking why the medical exemptions flow in only one direction. The CBSA said that it only enforces the rules as set out by the Public Health Agency of Canada and the federal government. PHAC has yet to provide a comment or explanation.
No choice but to seek treatment in U.S.
Dr. Julius Strauss, who oversees Nixon’s treatment at the NIH’s Clinical Center, says he worries about how his patient will cope with the effects of a year-long lockdown.
“I am concerned about Mr. Nixon’s mental health, about being locked down with this diagnosis and not having any ability to interact,” Strauss said.
“I understand the safety precautions, but also have concerns about his financial hardships, because he’s not able to do his normal job.”
The immunotherapy is Nixon’s only viable choice, says the doctor.
“It’s critical for him, this treatment,” Strauss said. “It’s not experimental for him. Because for him, we know it works.”
Nixon isn’t sure if he’s the only one facing such a cross-border dilemma. There are no other Canadians currently receiving treatment at the NIH. And no one has come forward in the patient support forums he posts to.
Nixon’s goal is to someday set up a group to help more Canadians access foreign clinical trials. But first he must find a way to navigate the pandemic and its restrictions.
“If I don’t go to the States, I won’t get treatment and I’ll probably die. If I don’t go to work, I can’t afford to go to the States and I’ll probably die,” he said.
His wishes are as simple as the government regulations are complex.
“I really just would like to be able to go to work, maybe take my dog for a walk, and that’s about it. I’m not asking for a lot. What they’re asking, I think, is considerably more.”
3 million Canadians could be vaccinated in early 2021, but feds warn of ‘logistical challenges’
Federal officials sought to reassure Canadians today that Ottawa has a plan to procure and distribute millions of COVID-19 vaccines in early 2021, as the government’s critics argue that Canada seems to be falling behind other developed countries in planning for a mass vaccination campaign.
Health Canada regulators are reviewing clinical trial data, the government has signed purchase agreements for promising vaccine candidates and public health officials have procured needles and syringes for a future deployment, officials said. But top civil servants still don’t know how and when Canadians will be vaccinated due to a number of uncertainties.
Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said the country will grapple with “some logistical challenges” in the months to come as it prepares to inoculate Canadians. He said the federal government will leverage the Canadian Armed Forces and an existing influenza vaccine distribution network to help with deployment.
Njoo warned that vaccine supply will be quite limited at first and will be reserved for “high priority groups” only — seniors in long-term care homes, people at risk of severe illness and death, first responders and health care workers and some Indigenous communities, among others.
A larger rollout, he said, will happen once supply chains stabilize and regulators approve more vaccine candidates for use in Canada.
If all goes well, and if U.S. pharmaceutical giants are able to meet delivery timelines, Njoo said as many as six million doses could be deployed in the first three months of 2021. Each patient will need two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine.
He cautioned, however, that it’s an “optimistic projection” and the details are far from certain right now.
Njoo said the federally run National Emergency Strategic Stockpile (NESS), which has storage sites across the country, already has procured the needles and syringes needed for vaccinations, which will be shared with the provinces and territories.
The federal government also has purchased cold storage for the promising Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, should they be approved for use here in Canada. Those two drugs are based on groundbreaking messenger RNA technology, or mRNA, which essentially directs cells in the body to make proteins to prevent or fight disease.
The government has been criticized by the opposition, provincial leaders and some public health experts for providing few details about its plans to roll out a vaccine once Health Canada gives one the green light.
While the U.S. has publicly released a robust distribution plan — 20 million Americans are expected to be vaccinated in December alone — Canadian officials have been largely quiet about how the deployment here will be structured. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is scheduled to speak with the premiers tonight to offer more specifics.
Njoo said there’s been a “great deal of preparation behind the scenes” and the government will provide more information about logistics, distribution and allocation at a later date.
Njoo did not offer a precise timeline, beyond a commitment to getting some Canadians vaccinated “early” next year.
Arianne Reza, an assistant deputy minister at Public Services and Procurement Canada, said she expects vaccines will be available in the “first quarter of 2021.”
She said Canada has so far finalized purchasing agreements with five different pharmaceutical companies — AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Medicago, Pfizer and Moderna — while agreements with Johnson & Johnson and Novavax are being finalized now.
Canada is expected to receive at least 194 million vaccine doses, with contractual options for 220 million more. “Canada does have firm agreements,” Reza said. “We work every day with the vaccine manufacturers to firm up the delivery schedule.”
Dr. Supriya Sharma, the chief medical adviser at Health Canada, said her department has been reviewing clinical trial data on a rolling basis since October 9.
The rolling review process — a policy shift implemented because of the urgency of this pandemic — allows drug makers to bypass the lengthy timelines they normally face when launching a new vaccine.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is set to make its final decision on the Pfizer product on Dec. 10 — the company has reported a 95 per cent effectiveness rate — and Sharma said Health Canada is expecting to give approval for that product “around the same time. We’re on track to make decisions on similar timelines.”
“We don’t want to set up expectations that we might not be able meet. We’re working flat out,” Sharma said.
Reza said she doesn’t know when that product might hit our shores, but she’s hopeful for a fast turnaround.
“The minute regulatory approval comes through, they will be ready to go quite quickly with supply and initial shipments,” she said.
Sharma said drug companies could send vaccines to Canada for “pre-positioning” — stockpiling in advance of regulatory approval — but no vaccines have yet been shipped to our country.
Health minister should apologize to families of dead Canadians: Tory
Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner, the party’s health critic, said delays in vaccine deployment will lead to more COVID-19-related deaths. She said Health Minister Patty Hajdu should be prepared to apologize to Canadian families who lose loved ones to the virus.
“I know that sounds stark,” Rempel told a press conference. “But Canada’s inability to be clear on the details, to have a clear plan — when countries around the world have treated this with military efficiency and the severity that’s needed — will result in death.”
“Countries around the world will have the ability to vaccinate against COVID-19 but, in Canada, we will likely face 2,000 deaths per month because we don’t have the same ability,” she said, citing federal public health projections about the number of Canadians that could die each month if the virus continues to spread.
She said the government is perpetuating “mass chaos” and “mass confusion” by failing to release a clear distribution plan only weeks before an expected rollout.
She pointed to comments from Ontario’s health minister, Christine Elliott, who said Thursday she still wasn’t sure just how much her province will receive as part of the government’s coordinated vaccine bulk-buying program.
“I don’t even have words for how concerning this is … the provinces haven’t been brought to the table in a meaningful way. There’s a disconnect,” Rempel Garner said. “At the 11th hour, provincial governments shouldn’t be asking these questions.”
Canada As a Prosperous Economic Nation For Immigration
Canada has long enjoyed popularity as a great tourist destination. Immensely beautiful countryside and a vast array of outdoor activities, has always attracted tourists from different parts of the world. Cities such as Quebec and Montreal rich in tradition and also Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver with exemplary architecture are all worth the journey.
Canada has a large domestic and foreign tourism industry. This second-largest country in the world everything to lure globe trotters, from nature lovers, shopping buffs to adventure seekers. Canada belongs to the world’s leading economic nations. The country is rich in minerals and vegetable resources, has very fertile land for agriculture and forestry along with the immense potential for hydroelectric power have all contributed to its economic growth.
Canada is often referred to as a cultural mosaic, with one-fifth of its population comprising of foreign nationals, which is the highest ever proportion in the last 75 years. For the last decade, the Canadian economy has been growing rapidly by the aid of Immigration, low unemployment and significant trade surpluses with the United States.
Canada is preferred for Immigration all over the world due to its prosperous socio-economic structure, high education standards, lucrative career options and most importantly, not so stringent immigration laws. It is also a popular study destination, with over 1,300,000 international students studying at its various universities and institutes. International students experience a secure, peaceful and multicultural environment in Canada, getting the maximum exposure to work on a global platform.
The immigration policy of Canada can be divided into the temporary entry and Permanent Immigration. Under the Temporary entry, applicants can apply for Tourist Visa, Student Visa and Work permit. Tourist Visa to Canada allows visiting Canada for a period of two to five years. It is of three types, which are Single entry visa, multiple entry visa and transit visas.
Tourist visa to Canada does not entitle the visa holder to work in Canada. Canada Immigration and Citizenship department have developed a very systematic immigration procedure for economic class immigrants like skilled workers and business class immigrants. The Investor Immigration Program seeks experienced businessman to Canada who can support the economic development of the country. The categories under this program are investors, entrepreneurs and self-employed persons.
Many Immigration consulting firms provide useful guidance regarding the entire visa application process by asking the applicant to fill up free online assessment forms. To apply for permanent Immigration, the applicant needs to fill an application form that is reviewed by Canada Immigration authorities, who decide upon the eligibility of the candidate.
As Crime Rises in Toronto, Criminal Lawyers Ensure the Accused Get a Fair Trial
Over the past two years, Toronto has soon a noteworthy uptick in the incidence of violent crime. While much of this has been the result of turf wars between mafia and other criminal organizations, it has also involved more random, unpredictable attacks that have claimed the lives of a tragic number of young Torontonians.
As is to be expected whenever there is a rise in violent crime, the police are aggressively working to prosecute suspects and renew public confidence. Unfortunately, this zeal to tamp down the problem of gun violence can sometimes cause innocent people to get caught up in police investigations — and as a 2018 Ontario Human Rights Commission report found, the system problem of racial profiling in the Toronto Police Service means that these innocent people are far more likely to be Black.
Criminal Law and the Presumption of Innocence
The vast majority of Torontonians want to live in a safe, peaceful city where violent crime is as rare as it is shocking. But if real progress is to be made toward identifying and addressing the rise in gun and knife violence, it cannot come at the expense of the civil rights of Torontonians.
The presumption of innocence is a bedrock principle of our legal system, and all people accused of violent crimes, no matter the evidence, must be given a chance to defend themselves and clear their names in court.
This cannot happen without criminal lawyers, who ensure that anyone accused of a violent crime will have access to the kind of expert legal advice that is the precondition of a fair trial.
What to Do if You’ve Been Charged with a Violent Crime
If you have been charged with a violent crime, it can be hard to know how to respond. Unlike in other countries, the police are under no legal obligation to inform you of your rights, so it is essential that you understand what you are owed:
- The Right to Silence: If the police have taken you into custody and charged you with a criminal offense, you are not under any obligation to provide them with information. The police are not judges, and they cannot compel testimony from you. What they can do is take what you’ve said to build a case against you, so it is always better to say nothing until you’ve spoken with a lawyer.
- The Right to Counsel: Ontario law guarantees you the right to legal counsel and representation. Talking to a criminal defence lawyer in Toronto as soon as you’ve been charged will help you understand how best to proceed. They will also be able to advise you about whether to make a statement to the police.
Violent crimes are some of the most serious offenses in Canadian law, and those convicted often face harsh penalties. But this is also why the bar for conviction is high: in order to send a person to prison for years or decades, it is essential that their guilt be established beyond reasonable doubt.
As violent crime rates remain high despite the COVID-19 lockdowns, it is more essential than ever that Ontarian’s faith in their justice system be maintained. But the only way to do this is by ensuring that all people are treated equally under the law, and that those accused of a serious crime are given the resources necessary to defend themselves.
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