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Provincial border bans during pandemic anger barred Canadians, spark lawsuits – CBC.ca

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Lesley Shannon of Vancouver was infuriated when New Brunswick rejected her request last month to enter the province to attend her mother’s burial. 

“I’m mystified, heartbroken and angry,” said Shannon on Wednesday. “They’re basically saying my mother’s life has no value.” 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and the three territories have temporarily barred Canadian visitors from entering their borders unless they meet specific criteria, such as travelling for medical treatment. 

The provinces and territories say the extreme measures are necessary to protect their residents from the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 illness. 

But the border bans have fuelled criticism from civil rights advocates who argue barring fellow Canadians is unconstitutional. The travel restrictions have also angered Canadians denied entry for travel they believe is crucial. 

“I’m not trying to go to my aunt’s or cousin’s funeral. This is my mother, my last living parent,” said Shannon, who grew up in Rothesay, N.B.

Lesley Shannon of Vancouver, right, pictured with her late mother, Lorraine, was infuriated when New Brunswick rejected her request last month to enter the province to attend her mother’s burial. (Submitted by Lesley Shannon)

Protecting health of its citizens

On Thursday, shortly after CBC News asked for comment on Shannon’s case, the New Brunswick government announced it will reopen its borders starting June 19 to Canadian travellers with immediate family or property in New Brunswick. It also plans to grant entry to people attending a close family member’s funeral or burial.

The province’s Campbellton region, however, remains off limits.

Shannon was happy to hear the news, but is unsure at this point if she’ll be allowed to enter the province in time for her mother’s burial. She would first have to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival, as required the province, and the cemetery holding her mother’s body told her the burial must happen soon.

“I’m just hoping that [permission comes] fast enough for me.”

New Brunswick told CBC News that restricting out-of-province visitors has served as a key way to protect the health of its citizens.

“It’s necessary because of the threat posed by travel: all but a handful of New Brunswick’s [COVID-19] cases are travel cases,” said Shawn Berry, spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety, in an email.

Legal challenges

Kim Taylor of Halifax was so upset over being denied entry in early May to attend her mother’s funeral in Newfoundland and Labrador she launched a lawsuit against the province.

“I certainly feel like the government has let me and my family down,” she said.

It’s not right. No province in Canada can shut its borders to Canadian citizens.– John Drover, lawyer

Shortly after speaking publicly about her case, Taylor got permission to enter the province —11 days after initially being rejected. But the court challenge is still going ahead — on principle.

“It’s not right. No province in Canada can shut its borders to Canadian citizens,” alleged Taylor’s lawyer, John Drover. 

Kim Taylor said Newfoundland and Labrador’s decision to deny her entry into the province following her mother’s death exacerbated her grief. (CBC)

Violates charter, CCLA says

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) has joined the lawsuit and has sent letters to each of the provinces and territories banning Canadian visitors, outlining its concerns. 

The CCLA argues provinces and territories barring Canadians violates the country’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which states that every Canadian has the right to live and work in any province. 

The CCLA said if a province or territory limits those rights, its reasons must be justified. 

“So far, what we’ve seen from these governments hasn’t convinced us that there is good evidence that these limits are reasonable,” said Cara Zwibel, director of CCLA’s fundamental freedoms program.

“The existence of a virus in and of itself is not enough of a reason.”

Cara Zwibel is director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s fundamental freedoms program. The CCLA argues provinces and territories barring Canadians violates the country’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (Submitted by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association)

Newfoundland and Labrador also face a proposed class-action lawsuit launched this month, representing Canadians denied entry who own property in the province.

“The issue that our clients take is that this [restriction] is explicitly on geographic grounds and that seems to be contrary to the Charter of Rights,” said Geoff Budden, a lawyer with the suit, which has not yet been certified.

The Newfoundland and Labrador government told CBC News it’s reviewing the lawsuits. They have both been filed in the province’s Supreme Court.

On Wednesday, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball defended the province’s travel restrictions, arguing they remain necessary to avoid spreading the virus.

“This is put in place to protect Newfoundlanders and Labradorians; it’s not about shutting people out,” he said. 

WATCH | Inside the fight against COVID-19:

[embedded content]

What about a 14-day isolation?

The rest of Canada’s provinces have each advised against non-essential travel for now but are still allowing Canadian visitors to enter their province. Nova Scotia and Manitoba, however, require that visitors self-isolate for 14 days. CCLA’s Zwibel said that rule may be a less restrictive way for a province to protect its residents during the pandemic. 

“The Charter of Rights does require that if governments do place limits on rights, they do so in a way that impairs them as little as possible,” she said. 

Back in Vancouver, a frustrated Shannon points out that New Brunswick is already allowing temporary foreign workers into the province — as long as they self-isolate for 14 days. However, her invitation is still pending.

“It’s very upsetting to think I’m less welcome in New Brunswick than somebody who was not even born in Canada,” she said.

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COMMENTARY: Canada and the U.S. are neighbours but miles apart when it comes to COVID-19 – Globalnews.ca

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The COVID19 pandemic has shone a light on the core strengths of Canada’s health-care system while at the same time laying bare the serious shortcomings of the American system.

In this country, we have started to flatten the curve. Ontario and Quebec are not quite as far along as other provinces, but their spread rate of the virus has slowed considerably.

If we stick to adhering to public health protocols – keeping our physical distance, wearing a mask in many situations, not congregating in large crowds – there is every reason to think the curve will continue to flatten while the pandemic continues.

Read more:
B.C. reports 25 COVID-19 cases, most since May 8

Not so on the other side of the border.

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The COVID-19 situation in the United States is almost out of control in many places. States like California, Arizona, Texas and Florida are getting steamrolled by the deadly virus that is rampaging through them.

Even neighboring Washington, which thought it had the virus almost under control mere weeks ago, has seen a resurgence in case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths.

There seem to be many reasons for the stark differences between the two countries’ experience in fighting off the virus.

Perhaps the most important difference is that Canada’s response to COVID-19 is being driven and determined by public health officials, and not by politicians.

Read more:
President Donald Trump playing politics with the pandemic: experts

People like B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and federal Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam have been in charge for the most part and they are being guided by science rather than politics.

Canadian political leaders, meanwhile, have primarily been responsible for devising financial aid packages for the millions of people hit hardest by the virus and have stayed out of the health side of the response.

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Contrast that to the United States where, in some cases, elected officials (notably President Donald Trump) publicly clash with public health experts and ignore or override their advice.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the respected U.S. infectious disease expert, has almost disappeared from public view. Evidently, that is because the Trump administration does not want him offering the country expert advice.

Can you imagine if the B.C. government tried to muzzle Henry? A pitchfork-waving mob would instantly materialize in the streets.

Read more:
British Columbians snapping up Dr. Bonnie Henry merchandise

Another key difference is that Canadians tend to follow rules created for the benefit of the larger community. We don’t chafe under state controls and when someone like Dr. Henry says, for example, that there will be no mass gatherings of people there generally is not (the public protests against racism are notable exceptions).

Americans, on the other hand, love to boast about their constitutionally protected personal rights and have been thumbing their noses at things like crowd limits since the pandemic began. In fact, the current surge in COVID-19 cases in the U.S. can be traced back to the Memorial Day long weekend in late May, when huge crowds gathered to celebrate.

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Finally, it cannot be a coincidence that a country with a public health-care system is doing so much better fighting COVID-19. It allows us to take a centralized approach to taking on the virus.

The U.S., on the other hand, has a private system that has led to a decentralized approach. The result is a hodge-podge of results (within states, some neighboring counties have differing “lockdown” rules; some hospitals do not even report case numbers or deaths).

Two countries side-by-side, yet we could not be further apart in this pandemic.

Keith Baldrey is the legaslative bureau chief for Global BC, based at the Legislature in Victoria, B.C.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Canada's UNESCO natural wonders – CBC.ca

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A wild horse grazes at Dungeon Provincial Park in Newfoundland and Labrador’s Bonavista Peninsula, part of Discovery Geopark, which has just been named a UNESCO Global Geopark. (EB Adventure Photography/Shutterstock)

Nova Scotia’s Cliffs of Fundy and the Discovery Global Geopark in Newfoundland and Labrador received official status Friday as UNESCO Geoparks — a designation that recognizes sites and landscapes of international geological significance. They join three other Canadian UNESCO Geoparks and a collection of other UNESCO-designated Canadian sites. Here’s a look at some of Canada’s impressive natural wonders recognized by the UN agency. 

Cliffs of Fundy, N.S.

The Cliffs of Fundy Global Geopark in Nova Scotia stretches along a roughly 165-kilometre drive, with about 40 designated sites from Debert to the Three Sisters cliffs, past Eatonville, out to Isle Haute. The area is the only place on Earth where geologists can see both the assembly of supercontinent Pangea 300 million years ago and its breakup 100 million years later.

(Kayla Hounsell/CBC)

Discovery Global Geopark, N.L.

The Discovery Global Geopark in Newfoundland and Labrador’s Bonavista Peninsula, a rugged coastline that overlooks views of caves, arches and sea stacks.

(Shutterstock)

Stonehammer Geopark, N.B.

Stonehammer Geopark covers 2,500 square kilometres across southern New Brunswick, stretching from Lepreau Falls to Norton, Saint John and Grand Bay-Westfield to St. Martins. It became Canada’s first UNESCO Geopark in 2010. This couple walks on the ocean floor at low tide to view caves carved into the red sandstone by the Bay of Fundy.

(Kevin Bissett/The Canadian Press)

Tumbler Ridge Geopark, B.C.

The Tumbler Ridge Geopark includes part of the eastern Hart Ranges of the northern Rocky Mountains in British Columbia. The area is notable for fossils, including the northernmost prints of brontosaurus, the most complete dinosaur skeleton ever found in the province and, below, ankylosaurus footprints preserved in rock.

(Pecold/Shuttestock)

Percé, Que.

The most noticeable landmark at Percé Geopark is the Percé Rock, a massive limestone stack 433 metres long, 90 metres wide and 88 metres at its highest point, rising from the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Quebec near the village of Percé.

(Marika Wheeler/CBC)

Nahanni National Park, N.W.T.

Canada’s first entry on the UNESCO list, in 1978, this preserve protects a portion of the Mackenzie Mountains Natural Region, including massive canyons, sulphur hot springs, alpine tundra and the spectacular rapids of the South Nahanni River.

(GeGiGoggle/Shutterstock)

Pimachiowin Aki 

An expanse of boreal shield became Canada’s first mixed cultural and natural World Heritage Site in 2018. Pimachiowin Aki is nearly 30,000 square kilometres of boreal land straddling the Ontario-Manitoba border, where Anishinaabe peoples have lived for thousands of years.

(Matt Medler/International Boreal Conservation Campaign/The Associated Press)

Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alta.

A World Heritage Site 75 million years in the making, this spot in the heart of Alberta’s badlands has been a destination for paleontologists since dinosaur fossils were first discovered here in 1884. UNESCO also recognized the provincial park’s “particularly beautiful scenery” when adding it to the World Heritage list in 1979.

(Elena Elisseeva/Shutterstock)

Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, Alta.

Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, also known by its Blackfoot name Áísínai’pi, became Alberta’s sixth World Heritage Site in 2019. According to the provincial government, the park is home to the most significant concentration of rock carvings and paintings on the North American prairies, some of which date back 2,000 years. 

(Paul Karchut/CBC)

Joggins Fossil Cliffs, N.S. 

Nova Scotia’s Joggins Fossil Cliffs, regarded as the best record of life in the Coal Age 300 million years ago, was added to the exclusive ranks of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2008. The fossil cliffs are home to enormous fossilized trees and what’s believed to be the remains of the world’s oldest reptile. 

(Joggins Fossil Institute)

Kluane/Wrangell-St.Elias/Glacier Bay/Tatshenshini-Alsek

The first binational entry on UNESCO’s list, named in 1979, the agency describes this 97,000-square-kilometre site as “an impressive complex of glaciers and high peaks on both sides of the border between Canada (Yukon Territory and British Columbia) and the United States (Alaska). It  includes the 5,959-metre-high Mount Logan, Canada’s highest peak.

This massive reserve is home to some of the world’s fastest-moving glaciers and the largest non-polar icefield on the planet.

(Chuck Stoody/The Canadian Press)

Mistaken Point, N.L. 

Mistaken Point, on the southeastern point of the Avalon Peninsula, is home to the oldest-known evidence of Earth’s first large, complex, multicellular life forms — a 565-million-year-old sea floor that holds a collection of fossils known as the Ediacaran biota.

Mistaken Point became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016. 

(UNESCO)

Wood Buffalo National Park

Wood Buffalo, which straddles the Alberta-Northwest Territories border, is one of the world’s largest freshwater deltas and a breeding ground for millions of migratory birds from four continental flyways.

But it has been deteriorating for decades. In 2014, the Mikisew Cree asked UNESCO to examine the park and see if it still merited designation as a World Heritage Site.

UNESCO is considering the park’s status, while Parks Canada considers a $27.5-million plan to rescue it.

(Lennard Plantz/CBC)

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Canadian economy adds 953000 jobs in June, unemployment rate falls – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Nearly one million more Canadians had jobs in June, Statistics Canada says, as businesses forced to close by the pandemic began to reopen and the country continued to recoup steep losses over March and April.

Statistics Canada’s labour force survey released Friday showed 953,000 jobs were added last month, including 488,000 full-time and 465,000 part-time positions. The unemployment rate fell to 12.3 per cent after hitting a record-high of 13.7 per cent in May.

As in May, even though more people found jobs, more people also looked for work as the labour force grew by about 786,000 after a gain of 491,000 in May, bringing it to within 443,000 of its pre-pandemic level.

Statistics Canada said the unemployment rate would have been 16.3 per cent had it included in unemployment counts those who wanted to work, but did not look for a job.

Job gains were made in every province, including by 378,000 in Ontario, marking the first increase since the COVID-19 shutdown, Statistics Canada said. It didn’t include any gains in Toronto as restrictions in that city loosened after the survey week.

Despite the good news, economist Jim Stanford said there remains a historic crisis in the job market with high unemployment and hundreds of thousands who have left the labour force altogether.

Also, gains nationally were not shared equally among groups, with women, youth and low-wage workers still slower to rebound, which Stanford said could be problematic if those jobs don’t ever come back.

“I worry about a coming second round of layoffs motivated not by health restrictions, but by companies deciding their businesses are going to be permanently smaller. So that would be qualitatively different and in a way worse,” said Stanford, director of the Centre for Future Work in Vancouver.

“We aren’t remotely out of the woods yet, but this was a really encouraging step forward.”

Some three million jobs were lost over March and April due to the pandemic, and 2.5 million more had their hours and earnings slashed. By last month, some 3.1 million were affected by the pandemic, including 1.4 million who weren’t at work due to COVID-19.

Brendon Bernard, an economist at Indeed Canada, said recapturing jobs at the same pace in the coming months will be tougher.

“A lot of areas of the economy still aren’t running at full capacity,” Bernard said. “So while doors may be open and customers might be coming in, business hasn’t come back to normal.”

Despite the overall improvement, the oil and gas industry continues to struggle.

The PetroLMI Division of Energy Safety Canada says direct oil and gas employment fell by more than 6,700 positions in June compared with May, with about 70 per cent of the net job losses in Alberta.

Compared with a year earlier, employment in the oil and employment sector was down 17 per cent.

The overall job losses were unprecedented in speed and depth compared with previous recessions, Statistics Canada said, and the rebound to date sharper than previous downturns.

Ottawa’s response has been equally unprecedented: a deficit of at least $343.2 billion this fiscal year as the Trudeau Liberals dole out some $230 billion in emergency aid.

In June, 28.3 per cent of Canadians aged 15 to 69 reported receiving some form of federal aid since mid-March, Statistics Canada said. Meanwhile, the proportion of households reporting difficulty paying the bills dropped to 20.1 per cent in June from 22.5 per cent in May.

“Without the federal government being there to support Canadian workers, Canadian businesses and the Canadian provinces and territories, we would be in a bigger mess in this country right now,” Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress said in an interview this week.

The Bank of Canada and federal government believe the worst of the economic pain from the pandemic is behind the country, but Canada will face high unemployment and low growth until 2021.

In a statement, federal Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough touted the overall jobs numbers as a sign the government’s plan was working, before adding many Canadians still “face real challenges during this time.”

She and other ministers are now reshaping programs so fewer workers stay on the $80-billion emergency benefit, and more get tied to jobs through the $82-billion wage subsidy program.

“We understand the need for those emergency programs. We also understand as we reopen and recover, we have to move away from emergency programs and into stimulus and recovery,” said Leah Nord, senior director of workforce strategies for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

She said there are other issues to resolve around health and safety in the workplace, transit, and child care to help more Canadians get back to work.

In provinces where daycares reopened for children five and under, employment levels returned to pre-pandemic levels for fathers in June, but not for mothers. Similarly, mothers with children under 18 were more likely than fathers to work less than half their usual hours in June, Statistics Canada said.

Job gains have come at a faster clip for men. Their unemployment rate hit 12.1 per cent in June compared to 12.7 per cent for women. And the underutilization rate — which counts those who are unemployed, those who want a job but didn’t look for one, and those working less than half their usual hours — was 28.3 for women and 25.5 per cent for men.

Economist Armine Yalnizyan said the numbers underscore the need to provide child care as well as options for schooling in the fall so mothers can work.

The alternative, she said, could pull back any economic gains.

“It means that even if there are jobs, some women won’t be able to take them because there’s no way they can leave their kids,” said Yalnizyan, a fellow on the future of workers at the Atkinson Foundation.

“So we are looking at the potential for an economic depression instead of talking about paces of recovery and pivoting to building to better.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2020.

Here’s a quick look at Canada’s June employment (numbers from the previous month in brackets):

  • Unemployment rate: 12.3 per cent (13.7)
  • Employment rate: 56.0 per cent (52.9)
  • Participation rate: 63.8 per cent (61.4)
  • Number unemployed: 2,452,600 (2,619,200)
  • Number working: 17,427,400 (16,474,500)
  • Youth (15-24 years) unemployment rate: 27.5 per cent (29.4)
  • Men (25 plus) unemployment rate: 9.5 per cent (11.1)
  • Women (25 plus) unemployment rate: 10.4 per cent (11.8)

Here are the jobless rates last month by province (numbers from the previous month in brackets):

  • Newfoundland and Labrador 16.5 per cent (16.3)
  • Prince Edward Island 15.2 per cent (13.9)
  • Nova Scotia 13.0 per cent (13.6)
  • New Brunswick 9.9 per cent (12.8)
  • Quebec 10.7 per cent (13.7)
  • Ontario 12.2 per cent (13.6)
  • Manitoba 10.1 per cent (11.2)
  • Saskatchewan 11.6 per cent (12.5)
  • Alberta 15.5 per cent (15.5)
  • British Columbia 13.0 per cent (13.4)

Statistics Canada also released seasonally adjusted, three-month moving average unemployment rates for major cities. It cautions, however, that the figures may fluctuate widely because they are based on small statistical samples. Here are the jobless rates last month by city (numbers from the previous month in brackets):

  • St. John’s, N.L. 11.6 per cent (10.5)
  • Halifax 11.9 per cent (10.5)
  • Moncton, N.B. 9.1 per cent (8.8)
  • Saint John, N.B. 11.5 per cent (11.1)
  • Saguenay, Que. 12.9 per cent (13.3)
  • Quebec City 11.9 per cent (11.9)
  • Sherbrooke, Que. 11.6 per cent (10.9)
  • Trois-Rivieres, Que. 12.6 per cent (13.0)
  • Montreal 15.1 per cent (14.0)
  • Gatineau, Que. 11.0 per cent (11.0)
  • Ottawa 9.0 per cent (7.7)
  • Kingston, Ont. 12.4 per cent (10.8)
  • Peterborough, Ont. 9.5 per cent (9.5)
  • Oshawa, Ont. 11.8 per cent (10.1)
  • Toronto 13.6 per cent (11.2)
  • Hamilton, Ont. 12.1 per cent (10.3)
  • St. Catharines-Niagara, Ont. 12.9 per cent (12.6)
  • Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, Ont. 12.2 per cent (10.3)
  • Brantford, Ont. 12.6 per cent (11.3)
  • Guelph, Ont. 14.9 per cent (12.9)
  • London, Ont. 12.6 per cent (11.7)
  • Windsor, Ont. 15.2 per cent (16.7)
  • Barrie, Ont. 10.8 per cent (11.6)
  • Greater Sudbury, Ont. 9.4 per cent (8.4)
  • Thunder Bay, Ont. 11.1 per cent (10.4)
  • Winnipeg 11.7 per cent (10.3)
  • Regina 11.6 per cent (10.6)
  • Saskatoon 14.1 per cent (12.4)
  • Calgary 15.6 per cent (13.4)
  • Edmonton 15.7 per cent (13.6)
  • Kelowna, B.C. 10.2 per cent (9.6)
  • Abbotsford-Mission, B.C. 8.8 per cent (7.5)
  • Vancouver 13.1 per cent (10.7)
  • Victoria 11.0 per cent (10.1)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2020.

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