The demise of WE’s Canadian operations won’t take the heat off Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over his government’s decision to hire the charity to run a now-defunct student volunteer program.
NDP MP Charlie Angus says WE’s announcement Wednesday that it is shuttering its Canadian operations only underscores the lack of due diligence done by the government before handing administration of the program over to an organization that was evidently in financial distress.
Two months before the government gave the contract to WE in late June, Angus notes that the organization had laid off hundreds of staff and replaced almost its entire board of directors, which had been denied access to the charity’s financial reports.
Angus says WE was “desperate” and cashed in on its connections to Trudeau, his family and his former finance minister, Bill Morneau, to persuade them to pay the organization to run the student service grant program.
Trudeau himself has been a featured speaker at half a dozen WE events and his wife, mother and brother have been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years in expenses and speaking fees.
Trudeau and Morneau have apologized for not recusing themselves from the decision to pay WE up to $43.5 million to administer the program and are both under investigation by the federal ethics watchdog for possible breaches of the Conflict of Interest Act.
“WE shutting down doesn’t make the Liberals’ scandal go away,” said Angus.
The government insists it was bureaucrats who recommended that WE was the only organization capable of administering the massive national program. However, thousands of documents released by the government suggest public servants may have been nudged to look at WE by their political masters.
‘WE closure changes nothing’: Poilievre
Two House of Commons committees were in the midst of investigating the deal and another two committees were preparing to launch separate investigations when Trudeau prorogued Parliament last month, putting an end to the committees’ work.
However, the WE affair is likely to continue dogging the government when Parliament reopens on Sept. 23 with the demise of the organization’s Canadian operations only adding fuel to the fire.
“WE closure changes nothing,” said Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre in a Thursday-morning tweet. “Finance committee will resume investigations once Parliament opens. You can run but you can’t hide.”
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said Wednesday that WE must hand over all the documents requested by the finance committee about the student service grant program.
All future WE Day events cancelled
The program was supposed to cover up to $5,000 in education costs for students who volunteered during the COVID-19 pandemic. The government initially pegged the cost of the program at $912 million but the sole-source deal with WE put the cost at $543 million.
The deal stipulated that WE was not to make money on the program. The charity has repaid the full $30 million the government gave it to launch the program and has said it will not seek reimbursement for some $5 million in expenses incurred before WE withdrew from the deal in early July amid political controversy.
The organization had already been struggling due to the pandemic-related shutdown but the questions about the student volunteer program prompted many of its corporate sponsors to cut their ties with the charity.
WE said Wednesday it plans to lay off 115 Canadian staff and sell all its property in Canada in the coming months, including its landmark $15-million Global Learning Centre in downtown Toronto, which opened in 2017.
It follows news last month that WE would be laying off dozens of employees in Canada and the United Kingdom.
The net profits will be put in an endowment fund that will be overseen by a new board of governors and used to complete several projects in communities in Latin America, Asia and Africa that were started by WE but remain unfinished.
The fund will also cover the operating costs of several large-scale infrastructure projects, such as a hospital and college in Kenya and an agricultural centre in Ecuador. However, no new projects or programs will be launched.
All future WE Day events are also being cancelled. The organization says it will no longer have staff to work with teachers, though existing resources will be digitized and available online. WE says it was active in 7,000 schools across Canada.
Shutting down its Canadian operations “shows just how much trouble WE was in and how badly they needed this bailout from their Liberal friends,” Angus said.
“They’ve have been in economic freefall for months. This was a group that fired its board of directors for asking too many questions about its finances. The question is why didn’t the government see this before handing them over a contract worth millions?”
Canada adds 2787 new cases, breaking previous day’s record
Coronavirus cases rose by 2,787 in Canada on Thursday, breaking the daily record last set the day before, while deaths rose by 33.
The increases put Canada’s national case total at 208,933 and deaths at 9,862.
Quebec reported 1,033 cases Thursday, bringing its total to 97,231. There are currently 553 hospitalized in the province, down by 12 from yesterday, with 101 of them in ICU, up by seven from the day before.
The province also reported 20 deaths, eight of which occurred in the last 24 hours. The virus has killed 6,094 people in the province to date.
Ontario reported 841 new cases Thursday, the second-highest case increase recorded so far, bringing the province’s total to 67,527.
There are now 6,390 active cases in the province with 270 people hospitalized, 74 in the intensive care unit and 48 in ICUs on a ventilator.
Nine deaths were also reported to bring the death toll to 3,071 in the province.
Out west, British Columbia announced 274 new cases, breaking the previous record of 203 from the day earlier for most new cases in the province.
The province now has 1,920 active cases with 71 hospitalizations, 24 of which are in intensive care.
Officials said many of the new cases were the result of social gatherings, such as weddings and funerals, and some due to “large” Thanksgiving gatherings.
No new deaths were reported, keeping B.C.’s toll at 256.
Meanwhile, Alberta reported 406 new cases, breaking the 400-mark for the first time in the pandemic. There are now 3,519 active cases.
No new deaths were reported.
Saskatchewan reported 60 new cases Thursday to bring its total to 2,558, with 509 active cases and 21 people currently in hospital, three of whom are in ICU.
No new deaths were reported to add to the province’s 25.
Manitoba announced the province’s deadliest day of the pandemic, with four new deaths to add to the 47 total, the vast majority of which have happened in the last few weeks.
The province added 147 new cases, with 42 hospitalizations and eight in intensive care — its highest rate of hospitalizations to date in the pandemic.
In the Atlantic bubble, Nova Scotia announced no new cases to add to its four active cases with no hospitalizations. The province has seen 1,097 cases total and 65 deaths.
New Brunswick, though, reported three new cases Thursday to bring its total to 322, with 81 active cases and five hospitalizations, one of which is in ICU. No new deaths were added to its total of four.
Newfoundland and Labrador also added one new case to bring its total to 288, and no new deaths.
No new cases or deaths were reported for PEI or any of the territories.
The coronavirus has infected 41,561,983 people wordwide to date and has killed 1,135,289, according to Johns Hopkins University.
— With files from Global News staff
Source:- Global News
Canada breaks record for coronavirus cases – CTV News
Canada has reported its highest number of COVID-19 cases in a single day, breaking a record set in the spring as two provinces announced their worst one-day tallies.
According to CTVNews.ca’s coronavirus tracker, Canada recorded 2,786 new cases on Thursday, breaking the previous record of 2,698 cases, which was set on Oct. 17.
This is also the first time the country surpassed the May 3 tally of 2,760 cases. This number was only as high as it was because it included 1,317 missing cases in Quebec from earlier in the pandemic. At the time, the province cited a computer error for the discrepancy.
Canada’s grim milestone comes as British Columbia and Alberta both broke new daily case records for the second straight day, adding 274 and 427 cases, respectively.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, attributed her province’s spike in cases to social gatherings.
“Much of the recent surge that we have seen in new cases in B.C in the last couple of weeks is directly linked to social events,” she said during a news conference. “These events have caused clusters and outbreaks that have now spilled over into our health-care system.”
Alberta’s top doctor cited Thanksgiving as the source of surging coronavirus cases there.
“The leading source of exposures for active cases right now are close contacts, and many of the cases that we are seeing now are the result of spread over Thanksgiving when families gathered together,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said in her provincial update.
“People did not mean to spread COVID, but it is a reminder where social gatherings where social distancing and masking are not used consistently are a significant risk for spread.”
Quebec continues to be the epicentre of the pandemic in Canada, adding more than a thousand new cases for the sixth time in seven days. Ontario, the second hardest hit province, registered more than 800 new cases on Thursday.
Manitoba also broke a record, but not for the number of new cases. The province recorded its deadliest day with four deaths related to COVID-19.
Ontario reports 841 more COVID-19 cases, 7-day average on the rise – CBC.ca
Ontario reported another 841 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, as the seven-day average of new daily cases — a measure that helps limit noise in the data — is starting to climb again after a brief lull.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said at a news conference that today’s number of new cases is the second highest the province has seen since the virus’s second wave hit.
“That’s concerning as we watch how this second wave is working through us in the province of Ontario,” Williams said.
The seven-day average now sits at about 761, still below the most recent peak of 781 that came earlier this month, but consistently on the rise in the last four days.
The province also reported nine more deaths in today’s update, a second-straight day with nine new deaths. Forty people have died from COVID-19 in Ontario in the last week.
Today’s new cases are concentrated in the following public health units:
- Toronto: 335
- Peel: 162
- York: 106
- Ottawa: 72
Other areas that saw double-digit increases include:
- Durham Region: 29
- Halton Region: 29
- Simcoe Muskoka: 24
- Hamilton: 20
- Eastern Ontario: 10
- Middlesex London: 10
Seventy-four of the newly confirmed cases of the illness are school-related, including at least 49 students and five staff. A total of 1,641 cases school-related cases have now been registered provincewide since the academic year began, with 501 schools having reported at least one in students or staff. That figure is equivalent to about 10.38 per cent of all publicly-funded schools in Ontario.
(Note: All of the figures used in this story are found in the Ministry of Health’s daily update, which includes data from up until 4 p.m. the previous day. The number of cases for any particular region on a given day may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, which often avoid lag times found in the provincial system.)
Williams said cases in schools have been primarily found in students, but there has not been much evidence of in-school transmission.
“That means a lot of good work is being done … in the school settings,” he said.
But the province is, Williams said, seeing clusters of cases linked to social gatherings at weddings, sporting events and at household gatherings.
Ford wishes for ‘crystal ball’
At the province’s daily news conference Thursday, Premier Doug Ford was asked if he had any insight as to if the province will be able to lift its “modified Stage 2” restrictions that have been enacted in the parts of Ontario that have been hardest hit by the virus. When introduced, the province said they were planning for the measures to last for 28 days.
“I wish I had a crystal ball to find out where we’re going,” Ford said. “I pray in a couple of weeks that these numbers are going to change.”
“People have to follow the guidelines.”
Ontario has now seen a total of 67,527 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the first was reported in late January. Of those, about 86 per cent are considered resolved, including 741 more in today’s update.
There are 6,390 confirmed, active infections provincewide, a jump of 91 since Wednesday and a new record-high for Ontario.
After a considerable decrease in Wednesday’s update, the number of people in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of the illness increased again, up 10 to 270. Some 74 patients are being treated in intensive care, and 48 are on ventilators — one fewer than Wednesday.
Meanwhile, there are active outbreaks of COVID-19 in at least 80 long-term care facilities.
5 Toronto hospitals with COVID-19 outbreaks
Another Toronto hospital has declared an outbreak of COVID-19.
The Scarborough Health Network said six patients are infected in one unit at its general hospital in the city’s east end.
A spokeswoman for the health network said the unit has been closed to admissions in order to protect patients and staff.
Leigh Duncan added that enhanced infection prevention and control measures are in place in the affected unit.
Scarborough joins a growing list of Toronto hospitals that have declared an official outbreak, defined as two health-care-related cases of COVID-19 within 14 days.
St. Michael’s Hospital, St. Joseph’s Health Centre, Toronto Western Hospital and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health have also declared outbreaks among staff or patients.
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