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PM to provinces: 'Act now' to slow surging COVID-19 – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Citing “concerning” record-breaking spikes in new COVID-19 cases across the country, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is imploring provinces not to keep sectors of the economy open if it’s putting Canadians at risk, and to reach out for more help from the federal government if they need it.

“With rising cases of COVID-19 here at home, there’s added pressure on all orders of government to keep people safe, and to protect jobs. But I would hope that no leader in our country is easing public health vigilance because they feel pressure not to shut down businesses or slow down our economy,” Trudeau said during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday.

“I understand that worry, but let me tell you: that’s how we end up with businesses going out of business, and the economy damaged even more. Beating COVID is the only way to protect our economy,” he said.

The prime minister said he knows people are trying to find a balance between adapting to the now months-long reality of living life differently due to the pandemic, and not becoming complacent with the personal and societal precautionary measures in place.

In his view, the federal financial aid measures his government has offered since March—including $19 billion in “safe restart” funding for provinces—have been intended to allow provinces and regional public health authorities to make the tough but necessary decisions around closures and restrictions to keep COVID-19 under control.

“Job one right now is keeping people safe,” he said. “If businesses continue to suffer under surges of COVID-19, the damage will be longer lasting than targeted shutdowns.”

Asked for specific examples of rules or lack thereof that he finds the most troubling—whether it’s bars or gyms being operational in some places for example—Trudeau said it’s not up to the federal government to “decide who closes down where and how fast.”

On Tuesday, just as the province began recently easing restrictions in some high-infection zones, Ontario recorded a record-breaking 1,388 new infections. In Manitoba the government has just announced the entire province is moving under “Code Red” critical restrictions after seeing a surge of new cases in recent days.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford responded directly to Trudeau’s remarks on Tuesday, saying he doesn’t know if the prime minister was directing his comments at him, but if they were, Ontario businesses need more support.

“We need more support, financial support, and I’d be more than happy to sit down and talk to the prime minister about that support,” Ford said, adding that there are still pre-promised federal funding that has yet to flow.

Ford said his government is concerned about the increasing spread, but that to date Ontario is “sparing no expense or sparing no resources.”

Later on Tuesday, after appearing alongside Ford at an event, Toronto Mayor John Tory announced that Toronto will move to the red zone of Ontario’s COVID-19 tiered shutdown system, the last step of the tiered system before a full lockdown. Canada’s most populated city had just recorded its highest number of new COVID-19 infections, with 533 new cases in the previous 24-hours.

In unveiling his provinces new lockdown measures after initial steps proved to not be enough to slow the spread, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said that from Quebec to British Columbia, provinces are proving to be harder hit by COVID-19’s second wave than they were during the spring surge.

“When we were abiding by the fundamentals we were beating COVID, then some of us lost our way and now COVID is beating us,” Pallister said.

Trudeau said the situation is “really concerning,” but as has been his position over the course of the pandemic, he doesn’t think the Emergencies Act—which grants “extraordinary powers” to enact certain nationwide security measures—is needed.

“I’m imploring the premiers and our mayors to please do the right thing: Act now to protect public health. If you think something is missing in the support, we’re offering for your citizens, tell us,” Trudeau said. “Whatever it takes, however long it takes.”

Asked if the government is considering stepping in and imposing tougher restrictions if regions don’t heed his call to do “the right thing,” Trudeau didn’t say, but did suggest that quick action has been shown to work to get resurgent spread under control in other countries and if provinces take those kinds of lockdown measures, the federal government would support their residents.

During the press conference, the prime minister also provided an update on the state of the federal government’s procurement of key COVID-19 supplies.

Over the last few days the government has sent more than 1.2 million pairs of nitrile gloves to frontline workers; provided more than 3.3. million rapid tests to the provinces and territories; and secured a new deal for 7.6 million rapid tests and more than 2,100 analyzers that will be delivered by global medical technology company BD in the coming weeks.

As of 12:30 p.m. EDT, there are 40,390 active cases of COVID-19 across the country.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam told reporters on Tuesday that across Canada there have been on average more than 3,800 cases reported each day in the last week. She said that on average more than 1,300 Canadians are being treated for COVID-19 in hospital on any given day in the last week, with nearly 250 in critical condition and on average 51 new deaths each day.

“It is clear we have yet to bend the curve on accelerated growth in Canada,” Tam said. “It’s time to get really serious. Going into this respiratory season, COVID-19 is already well ahead of us.”

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The cost of down payments in Canadian cities skyrocketed in 2021, new data shows – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Skyrocketing housing prices in 2021 are driving up how long it would take for homebuyers to save for a down payment, new data shows.

The National Bank of Canada (NBC)’s latest report found that during the second quarter of 2021, housing affordability has worsened by the widest margin in 27 years. The report examined housing and mortgage trends in 10 cities across the country.

To save up enough for a down payment for an average home in Canada, it would take just short of six years – or 69 months – if you saved at a rate of 10 per cent of their median pre-tax household income.

This marked a notable jump compared to the 57 months of saving at that same rate this time last year.

And, if you live in Vancouver, Victoria and Toronto, it could take decades – assuming you put away 10 per cent of your before-tax household income.

Here’s a breakdown of how much time it would take to save up for a down payment for an average home or condo, if you saved a tenth of your pre-tax income:

Vancouver

  • Standing head and shoulders above the other cities, it would take a staggering 34 years – or 411 months – of saving to be able to afford a home here.
  • The average home here costs $1.47 million.
  • It would take just under five years – 57 months — to save up enough for a down payment on an average condo in Vancouver.

Victoria

  • An estimated 28 years, or 338 months, of saving to make a down payment for a non-condo home, with the total price of a representative home set at $1.03M.
  • It would take 47 months of saving to afford a condo down payment.

Toronto,

Toronto

  • To save enough for a down payment for a home here would take 26.5 years – or 318 months.
  • The average home here costs approximately $1.2 million.
  • To afford a condo down payment here would take just under five years, or 56 months.

Hamilton

  • At a 10-per-cent saving rate, you’re looking at 6.5 years of saving up to afford a down payment for a home — and around four years to afford a condo in this city.

Ottawa/Gatineau

  • Trying to save up a home down payment in Canada’s capital could take a little over four years.

Montreal

Montreal

  • Saving up a tenth of your pre-tax earnings for 3.5 years would mean you could afford a down payment on a representative home in Montreal
  • The total price tag of a non-condo home sits at $492,777.
  • Trying to afford a condo here could take you just a little more than two and a half years of saving.

Calgary

  • You’d need to save up for just under three years – or 34 months – to afford a home here, or about half that time to afford a condo.

Edmonton

  • Potential homebuyers were looking at 2.5 years – or 30 months – of saving if you’re looking to make a down payment on a non-condo home.
  • The average total cost of a non-condo home was $428,600.

Winnipeg

Winnipeg

  • Affording a down payment on a $370,000 home could take homebuyers about 2.3 years worth of saving.
  • Home buyers needed 18 months to save up a down payment on a condo.

Quebec City

  • The price of a representative home in Quebec’s capital is $330 742 and it would take the average Canadian household just over two years – or 28 months — to save up a down payment.

Researchers also found mortgage payments now make up 45 per cent of the income for a representative household, slightly above the average amount (43 per cent of income) needed in 1980.

NBC noted that during most of the past two years, income growth and lower interest rates have been conducive to improving affordability.

But 2021 has been a stark contrast, the bank said, with home price increases outpacing income growth and mortgage interest rates also rising.

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Countries making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory

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A sharp upturn in new coronavirus infections due to the highly contagious Delta variant and a slowdown in vaccination rates have pushed governments to make COVID-19 shots mandatory for health workers and other high-risk groups.

A growing number of countries also stipulate that a shot, or a negative test, will be needed for dining out, among other activities.

Here are some countries’ vaccine mandates:

AUSTRALIA

Australia decided in late June to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for high-risk aged-care workers and employees in quarantine hotels.

It has also made vaccinations obligatory for Paralympic athletes heading to Tokyo because unvaccinated members on the team could pose a health risk.

BRITAIN

It will be mandatory for care home workers in England to have coronavirus vaccinations from October.

English nightclubs and other venues with large crowds will require patrons to present proof of full vaccination from the end of September.

CANADA

Canada‘s Treasury Board Secretariat said on July 20 it was considering whether COVID-19 vaccines should be required for certain roles and positions in the federal government, according to CBC News.

FRANCE

The French parliament on Aug. 2 approved a bill which will make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for health workers as well as require a bolstered health pass in many social venues.

The government said on July 19 that the planned 45,000 euro ($53,456) fine for businesses that do not check that clients have a health pass will be much lower, starting at up to 1,500 euros and increasing progressively for repeat offenders. Fines will not be imposed immediately.

GREECE

Greece on July 12 made vaccinations mandatory for nursing home staff with immediate effect and healthcare workers from September. As part of new measures, only vaccinated customers are allowed indoors in bars, cinemas, theatres and other closed spaces.

INDONESIA

Indonesia made COVID-19 inoculations mandatory in February, with the capital Jakarta threatening fines of up to 5 million rupiah ($357) for refusing.

ITALY

A decree approved by the Italian government in March mandates that health workers, including pharmacists, get vaccinated. Those who refuse could be suspended without pay for the rest of the year.

HUNGARY

Hungary’s government has decided to make vaccinations mandatory for healthcare workers, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told public radio on July 23.

KAZAKHSTAN

Kazakhstan will introduce mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing for people working in groups of more than 20, the health ministry said on June 23.

LEBANON

Lebanon is to limit entry to restaurants, cafes, pubs and beaches to people holding vaccine certificates or those who have taken antibodies tests, the tourism ministry said on July 30. Non-vaccinated employees of these establishments would be required to conduct a PCR test every 72 hours.

MALTA

Malta banned visitors from entering the country from July 14 unless they are fully vaccinated.

POLAND

Poland could make vaccinations obligatory for some people at high risk from COVID-19 from August.

RUSSIA

The Russian capital has unveiled a plan https://bit.ly/2TWsroN requiring 60% of all service sector workers to be fully vaccinated by Aug. 15, according to the Moscow Times.

Moscow residents no longer have to present a QR code demonstrating they have been vaccinated or have immunity in order to sit in cafes, restaurants and bars from July 19.

SAUDI ARABIA

In May, Saudi Arabia mandated all public and private sector workers wishing to attend a workplace get vaccinated, without specifying when this would be implemented.

Vaccination will also be required to enter any governmental, private, or educational establishments and to use public transportation as of Aug. 1.

Saudi citizens will need two vaccine doses before they can travel outside the kingdom from Aug. 9, state news agency SPA reported on July 19, citing the ministry of interior.

TURKMENISTAN

Turkmenistan’s healthcare ministry said on July 7 it was making vaccination mandatory for all residents aged 18 and over.

UNITED STATES

U.S. President Joe Biden announced on July 29 that all civilian federal workers will need to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or face regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements and travel limits, a source familiar with the matter said.

New York City will become the first major U.S. city to require, from Sept. 13, proof of vaccination for customers and staff at restaurants, gyms and other indoor businesses as the country enters a new phase of battling the Delta variant.

New York will require state employees to be vaccinated or get tested weekly, a mandate that will go into effect on Sept. 6, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will require their workers to get the vaccine or get tested weekly, Cuomo said on Aug. 2.

New Jersey state health care workers and employees who work in jails must by vaccinated by Sept. 7 or face testing twice a week.

California Governor Gavin Newsom said that all state employees would be ordered to get vaccinated starting Aug. 2 or undergo COVID-19 testing at least once a week.

Denver municipal employees and people working in high-risk settings in the city will be required to get vaccinated, Mayor Michael Hancock said on Aug. 2.

($1 = 0.8418 euros)

 

(Compiled by Paulina Cwikowska, Dagmarah Mackos and Oben Mumcuoglu; editing by Milla Nissi, Steve Orlofsky, Joe Bavier and Nick Macfie)

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U.S. to outfit border agents with body cameras in major oversight move

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The United States will require thousands of border agents to wear body cameras, according to three officials and government documents, a major operational change that could increase oversight of agents and also help capture criminal activity.

The cameras are expected to be rolled out in parts of Texas and New Mexico during the summer and expanded in the fall and winter to Arizona, California, and Texas’ busy Rio Grande Valley, which all border Mexico, according to a recent government assessment of how the devices could impact privacy. Agents in Vermont along the U.S. border with Canada will also be equipped with cameras, the assessment said.

U.S. border authorities plan to deploy a total of 7,500 body-worn cameras, with 6,000 in the field by the end of the year, a border agency official told Reuters.

Pro-immigrant activists will likely welcome the increased oversight that cameras could bring to an agency some have criticized for excessive use of force and institutional racism. But a union for border patrol agents also supports cameras, saying they could assist criminal investigations and help show that agents act professionally.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups have called on border patrol agents to use the cameras to improve accountability in the wake of several high-profile fatal shootings by law enforcement over the past decade.

Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, stressed that agents should have access to the footage, including when an agent is accused of wrongdoing.

Border Patrol’s parent agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), is the largest law enforcement agency in the United States, which presents a unique challenge for video footage collection and storage.

Recordings of illegal activity, use of force or agent misconduct could be used as evidence in investigations or prosecutions, the privacy assessment said.

The cameras could offer new insight into the policing of the southern border, where migrant arrests have risen to 20-year highs in recent months and encounters sometimes take place in remote areas.

In cases where footage could be used as evidence in a criminal case, it could be retained for up to 75 years, according to the privacy assessment. Footage that does not have value as evidence would be destroyed within 180 days.

After a bipartisan group of lawmakers spearheaded efforts to secure funding for bodycams, CBP awarded a total of about $21 million to Axon Enterprises Inc [AXON.O] for body cameras and to connect the cameras to a cloud-based storage system, according to the agency official.

The devices are the size of a deck of playing cards and will be affixed to the front of agents’ uniforms, the official said.

Axon declined to comment on the rollout.

CBP conducted a small pilot of body cameras in 2015, but ultimately opted not to deploy them then.

An agency assessment at the time said the cameras would likely reduce the use of physical force on the job, but cited a number of reasons not to adopt the devices, including cost and agent morale.

Gil Kerlikowske, who was CBP commissioner at the time, said another consideration was that the cameras “did not hold up particularly well” in the field, where they could be knocked off in the brush or mucked up with dust and dirt.

Body cameras have become more commonplace since the 2015 effort. The U.S. Department of Justice said in June that its agents would be required to wear cameras when serving search and arrest warrants.

Kerlikowske said many law enforcement officers support the idea, too.

“There are now police officers who won’t go on the street without their body camera,” he said. “They want that video image.”

(Reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington, editing by Ross Colvin, Aurora Ellis, Mica Rosenberg and Diane Craft)

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