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Tainted water, Canadian ISIS prisoners, money laundering: Global News investigates 2019 – Global News

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From a groundbreaking investigation into the safety of drinking water to Canadians held in ISIS detainee camps in Syria to exposing Canada’s money laundering problem, Global News took an in-depth look at a wide range of issues in 2019 that sparked public conversation and led to government action.

Tainted water

In November, Global News, along with universities and 10 media organizations, began publishing a series of stories that revealed hundreds of thousands of Canadians could be consuming tap water laced with high levels of lead leaching from aging infrastructure and plumbing.

READ MORE: Quebec to review how it tests drinking water following investigative report

Reporters collected test results that measured exposure to lead in 11 cities across Canada and found out of 12,000 tests since 2014, 33 per cent exceeded the national safety guideline of five parts per billion. The reporting also found the drinking in schools and daycares in several cities were exposed to dangerous lead levels.

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News outlets around the world picked up on the Tainted Water investigation and led to changes among municipal and provincial governments.

Return to Syria






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Canadian woman detained in Syria says she accepts she could face prosecution


Canadian woman detained in Syria says she accepts she could face prosecution

Amid the fall of the so-called Islamic State, Global News returned to Syria this year to continue its reporting on the issue of Canadian foreign fighters.

At the Al-Hawl camp, which houses more than 70,000 women and children captured during the final battles with ISIS, Global spoke with several Canadians who are asking for the government to bring them home to be tried under Canada’s justice system.

READ MORE: Kurdish forces struggle to contain world’s unwanted ISIS prisoners in Syria

Canada has so far not repatriated any of the roughly 40 Canadians held at ISIS detainee camps, according to Kurdish authorities.

Canada’s broken recycling industry

In a months-long investigation for a multi-part series, Global News spoke with dozens of communities, companies and industry leaders across the country about the mounting challenges faced by Canada’s recycling industry.

READ MORE: Is Canada’s recycling industry broken?

The result is dire: with few exceptions, more recycling is being sent to landfills, fewer items are being accepted in the blue bin and the financial toll of running these programs has become a burden for some municipalities.

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Reporters also explored how to fix the country’s recycling system by focusing on a system in B.C. that relies on private companies to carry out the province’s residential recycling program.

Following the money, again

On the heels of Global’s months-long investigation into Fentanyl trafficking in 2018, reporters continued to dig into the intersection of drugs and money laundering in B.C., which looked at a then-Liberal MP whose work at a law firm has been linked to financial transactions with an alleged Chinese organized crime figure.

In the series B.C. Casino Diaries, former casino employees who worked for Great Canadian Gaming in Richmond, B.C., revealed how organized crime first infiltrated the gaming industry.

READ MORE: Whistleblower warned B.C. casino in 2000 of alleged ‘co-operation with organized crime’

Global also revealed how Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido’s law firm helped facilitate a secretive B.C. real estate deal — known as a “bare trust” deal — that helped an alleged Chinese “drug boss” hide his ownership stake in a $7.8 million condo development.

And in a national look at the problem of money laundering, Global revealed how the provinces largely fail to prosecute these complex crimes with just 321 guilty verdicts in money-laundering cases over a 16-year period.

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Following media reports on the money laundering, B.C. announced it would launch a public inquiry that has distorted the province’s real estate market and fuelled the opioid crisis.

Justice denied

Global News compiled a database to track the number of criminal cases thrown out in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s R. v. Jordan decision in 2016, which set trial deadlines of 18 months for provincial court trials and 30 months in superior court.

We found nearly 800 criminal cases — ranging from manslaughter to drug trafficking and even murder — have been stayed because a judge found the defendant’s constitutional right to a timely trial had been violated.

READ MORE: Almost half of Edmonton criminal cases ultimately withdrawn

Global Edmonton followed the story with a look at charges being tossed in Alberta over a lack of prosecutors. Data obtained by Global News from Alberta Justice shows that all charges in 47 per cent of cases were withdrawn in the last fiscal year, and that number has been steadily rising since the 2015-2016 fiscal year

Immigration Refugee Board conduct

In 2019, Global reporters continued their in-depth coverage of Canada’s immigration system, exposing the ways in which Canada’s refugee determination system is failing some of the most vulnerable claimants.

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READ MORE: Refugee judge asks woman why her husband wouldn’t ‘just kill’ her

This included claims that refugee judges at the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) do not always adhere to the guidelines in cases involving allegations of sexual assault and domestic abuse.

Reporting also revealed problems with the board’s process for hiring new judges, including the re-appointment of a former adjudicator who publicly declared that nearly all refugee claimants are liars.

For the good of the force

In January, Global began publishing an ongoing series of stories exploring the RCMP’s “culture of dysfunction” and the way in which the famous force’s indelible image has shielded it from scandal.

READ MORE: Meet the Mounties who allege the RCMP used their disabilities to force them out

The initial four-part series combed through decades worth of public documents to estimate the cost of the force’s failure to reform at $220 million and counting, revisited the case of the first female Mountie to win a sexual harassment lawsuit against the force, and probed the probable impacts of the City of Surrey’s decision to ditch the Mounties.

Those stories paved the way for additional deep dives exploring racism in the ranks, the force’s alleged campaign to get rid of Mounties with disabilities and its second $100 million sexual harassment settlement.

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Broken series

Beginning in November, Global launched Broken, a series reflecting on how we must provide better, more consistent and nuanced coverage of any woman, trans or non-binary person who has experienced violence, abuse or harassment.

READ MORE: Shelters on the front lines help women flee violence — but they’re also in crisis

Reporters tackled a multitude of complicated societal issues that aren’t often explored at length. They probed everything from the rehabilitation of domestic abusers to women of colour’s unique experience of violence and the 30-year lag time for a mainstream conversation about feminism after the Ecole Polytechnique massacre.

These stories are just the beginning, having sparked many people to reach out with their own stories of harassment, abuse and injustice, which reporters are now beginning to investigate.

Inside Ontario’s rocky first year of legal weed 

Ontario has taken perhaps the clumsiest approach of any province to cannabis legalization; unfortunately, with 40 per cent of Canada’s population, that has an outsized effect on the national cannabis economy. The province still has only one store for more than half a million people and has Canada’s second-lowest per capita cannabis sales.

READ MORE: Ontario spent at least $10 million on cannabis stores that never opened

Through the use of freedom of information requests, Global exposed the province’s secret pot warehouse, discovering that the OCS was selling cannabis buyers’ postal code data despite its privacy policy, reporting on how much taxpayers spent to not open the public-sector cannabis stores that were originally planned — over $10 million — and explaining the bizarre outcomes of the province’s decision to assign store licenses by lottery. (One winning property was entered over 173 times.)

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‘Under the Influence’

In a four-part series, reporters looked at the pharmaceutical industry’s influence on Canada’s health-care system — swaying doctors’ opinions, funding medical schools and, ultimately, affecting the type of drugs we are prescribed.

READ MORE: Big pharma paid $151M to doctors, hospitals in 2017-18, but we don’t know who got paid or why

Global News spent months talking to doctors, opioid experts, pharma reps and Canadians whose lives were forever changed by prescription drugs. Reporters obtained and analyzed documents showing millions of dollars poured into health-care industries by Big Pharma.

Read Part 1Part 2Part 3 and Part 4

Questionable conduct in Ontario real-estate 






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Ajax property entrepreneur Tarekh Rana haunted by Bangladesh fugitive crime boss doppelganger


Ajax property entrepreneur Tarekh Rana haunted by Bangladesh fugitive crime boss doppelganger

An investigation between Global News and Bangladesh’s The Daily Star newspaper has found striking similarities between a Durham developer and an international fugitive accused of leading a criminal organization behind a series of extortions and murders.

READ MORE: Tarekh Rana is an acclaimed Ajax businessman. Is he also a fugitive crime boss?

The investigation also revealed his business appears to be in disarray and revealed how Rana aligned himself with city council in Ajax, even making a sitting councillor a director of his company.

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In April, Global revealed that a company, 1PLUS12, is currently facing two lawsuits totaling $6.4 million that allege fraud or misrepresentation and is linked to an alleged $17-million mortgage fraud involving high-end real estate across Toronto.

One of their consultants, who recently changed his name, is also behind a B.C. company, that according to claims in court documents, lost investors and creditors almost $19 million.

Local investigations:

Nova Scotia

Construction industry safety

During the summer, Global News used unmarked vehicles to film several Halifax-area construction sites, capturing on tape what appeared to be a wide variety of health and safety concerns. Four independent sources with expertise in construction safety reviewed that footage and alleged it contained life-threatening risk to workers, as labourers toiled on balconies and rooftops with no fall protection, among other risks.

READ MORE: Sources identify ‘huge risk’ on Nova Scotia construction sites

When the Nova Scotia Department of Labour received a copy of the tape, it inspected more than 20 construction sites in the region, many of which were featured in Global News’ investigation. Three sites were issued warnings for not operating safely.

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CODE ZERO

In December, Global took an in-depth look at the rise in temporary emergency room closures as Nova Scotia deals with a shortage of doctors and nurses. Most are unscheduled and can come with as little as half a day’s notice.

Between 2014 and the first three months of 2018, just under half of the emergency rooms in the province — 18 of 37 — were forced to temporarily close, often as a result of a lack of doctors or nurses.

And the number of temporary closures is increasing dramatically, according to data collected from reports prepared by the Nova Scotia government.

Ontario

Abuse at Children’s Aid group homes






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Drugs, theft, alcohol and inappropriate relationships alleged at Children’s Aid group home


Drugs, theft, alcohol and inappropriate relationships alleged at Children’s Aid group home

In January, of this year, Global Kingston reported a story about a woman charged with sexual assaults of two minors and her employment at a Children’s Aid Society in Belleville at the time of the offences.

That story snowballed into an investigation that took six months and expanded into Prince Edward County.

READ MORE: Teen ‘sexual cult’ in Ontario foster home known to Children’s Aid Society, victim says

Three pieces came from that investigation, one about a Children’s Aid group home that might have led to the death of a young man, another about a foster home in Prince Edward County named by the children who lived there as a ‘sexual cult’ and a third about a victim who came forward about her abuse as a child in a foster home, only to be ignored.

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Soldiers aid commission

The Ontario Soldiers’ Aid Commission, the province’s emergency grant program for veterans, turns away veterans of recent conflicts while returning most of its budget unspent every year to the government, documents released under access-to-information laws show.

READ MORE: Ontario’s veterans’ fund turns younger vets away, returns money to government unspent

The provincial law it works under was last updated in 1970 and doesn’t let it give money to veterans of any conflict more recent than Korea. So while veterans of more recent wars often ask the volunteer board for help, they must be turned away. (The documents show that this happens, but the government won’t tell us how often.)

Lethbridge 

Blood Tribe opioid crisis

Amid Canada’s opioid crisis which has killed more than 14,000, Global Lethbridge took a deeper look at the effect the deadly painkiller were having in a southern Alberta community and

The Blood Tribe is the largest reserve in Canada, but carfentanil – a drug 100 times more potent than fentanyl – is killing people in record numbers and the community has made repeated, desperate calls for help that have gone unanswered.

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Manitoba






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Questionable spending at Sagkeeng FN


Questionable spending at Sagkeeng FN

Sagkeeng First Nation health care centre investigation

Global Winnipeg revealed in June that Employees at a Manitoba health centre received more than a million dollars in questionable payouts – including thousands in cash advances and extensive entertainment costs – over the course of 18 months.

READ MORE: Internal audit finds $1.3 million in questionable spending at Sagkeeng First Nation health centre

An internal audit, which reporters obtained exclusively, found that

Between Apr. 1, 2016 through Oct. 31, 2017, employees at the Fort Alexander Health Centre received more than $1.3 million above their salaries. The audit also revealed instances of $1,000 cash advances, extensive travel entertainment costs (including escape rooms, movie theatres and toy stores), and tens of thousands of dollars in “finders fees” for writing grant proposals.

Edmonton 

Calcium chloride in water

Through Freedom of Information requests, Global News uncovered documents regarding Edmonton’s calcium chloride program that were previously undisclosed to city councillors.​ The documents revealed that the anti-icing agent was more detrimental to concrete and asphalt than sodium chloride and was classified as a hazardous waste after a test from the water utility.

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READ MORE: Test reveals calcium chloride exceeds Edmonton bylaws; councillors not briefed

The stories prompted hours of debate as councillors discussed the new information and the future of the anti-icing program. Ultimately, the city paused the program for one year to assess other snow-clearing options.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Bank of Canada ends quantitative easing, leaves interest rates untouched – Saanich News – Saanich News

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The Bank of Canada isn’t ready to increase interest rates just yet, but the central bank moved to end quantitative easing on Wednesday, (Oct. 27).

For much of the pandemic, the central bank has pumped stimulus into the economy through quantitative easing, buying up billions of dollars in federal government bonds to keep interest rates down. This new move will see the bank halt purchases of new bonds, except to replace existing holdings that mature.

RELATED: Bank of Canada cuts growth forecast for 2021, reduces bond-buying target

The Bank of Canada’s interest rate remains at 0.25 per cent. However, the bank signalled that interest rates could rise in the second half of 2022. Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem has faced pressure to raise interest rates to stave off inflation, but hiking interest rates risks limiting Canada’s economic growth.

Macklem pointed to strong job growth in recent months and high vaccination rates for driving Canada’s economic recovery but noted that the employment rate in low-wage sectors continues to lag.

Meanwhile, inflationary pressures are being driven by bottlenecks in supply chains, as well as a global increase in energy costs. Macklem said that inflation issues are more stubborn than the bank originally anticipated.

“We know higher prices are challenging for Canadians, making it harder for them to cover their bills. I want to assure you that inflation is not going to stay as high as it is today, even if it is going to take somewhat longer to come down.”

RELATED: Bank of Canada will act to cool inflation if prices run too hot, Macklem says

Moshe Lander, professor of economics at Concordia University, said the best thing the Bank of Canada can do to tamp down inflation is nothing.

“Whatever policy stance the Bank takes, they’re going to do harm in some capacity. The best thing here is to do nothing and let the inflation work its way out.”

Lander said the most recent move from the central bank is a signal that Canada’s economy is recovering from the pandemic, but Canada still has a lot of ground to make up.

“Until we close that ground, we need to make up for lost time. We’ll tolerate a certain amount of inflation and policies that we wouldn’t normally allow for until we get back to a point where we can say we’ve come through the worst of it and we’re ready to come back to business as usual.”


@SchislerCole
cole.schisler@bpdigital.ca

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Child labour policies, Canada's greenhouse gas emissions: In The News for Oct. 28 – CKPGToday.ca

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The Canadian Press used the Access to Information Act to obtain a public copy — as well as a heavily censored, classified version — and an internal briefing note summarizing the government’s intended response.

The report says Canada is taking a leading position by exposing its procurement to this scrutiny — an important and required first step.

Since receiving the findings, the government has updated its Code of Conduct for Procurement to incorporate human and labour rights expectations for vendors and their subcontractors.

Also this …

A new analysis suggests the Liberal climate plan could meet Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions targets for the first time before the end of this decade.

The study by Clean Prosperity could give some heft to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau credentials ahead of planned climate discussions at the upcoming G20 summit and United Nations COP 26 meeting.

Trudeau is boarding a plane this morning bound for Europe to attend those summits, though his first stop on the six-day trip is an official visit to the Netherlands.

The Clean Prosperity analysis says all of Trudeau’s recent climate policies could get Canada emissions to 41 per cent below what they were in 2005, by 2030 — just within reach of the new 40 to 45 per cent target he set last spring.

Canada’s climate credibility has been in doubt after emissions rose following Trudeau signing onto the Paris agreement in 2015.

Climate will also form part of the talks at the G20 in Rome, but the COVID-19 pandemic will be the main focus there.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

SANTA FE, N.M. — Investigators say there was “some complacency” in how weapons were handled on a movie set where Alec Baldwin accidentally shot and killed a cinematographer and wounded another person. 

They also said it’s too soon to determine whether charges will be filed. 

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza noted 500 rounds of ammunition were found while searching the set of the Western “Rust.” They included a mix of blanks, dummy rounds and suspected live rounds. 

“Obviously I think the industry has had a record recently of being safe. I think there was some complacency on this set, and I think there are some safety issues that need to be addressed by the industry and possibly by the state of New Mexico,” Mendoza told a news conference nearly a week after the shooting.

Authorities also confirmed there was no footage of the shooting, which happened during a rehearsal. Investigators believe Baldwin’s gun fired a single live round that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza.

Detectives have recovered a lead projectile they believe the actor fired last week. Testing is being done to confirm whether the projectile taken from Souza’s shoulder was fired from the same long Colt revolver used by Baldwin. The FBI will help with ballistics analysis.

Two other guns were seized, including a single-action revolver that may have been modified and a plastic gun that was described as a revolver, officials said.

Rust Movie Productions, the production company, says it is co-operating with authorities and conducting its own internal review of procedures with the production shut down.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

WELLINGTON, New Zealand _ New Zealand officials said Thursday they will gradually loosen their border quarantine requirements, which have been among the toughest in the world throughout the pandemic.

But while the changes will make it easier for New Zealanders stranded abroad to return home, officials gave no date for when tourists might be welcomed back. That change is likely still months away.

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said that from next month, most people arriving in New Zealand would need to spend seven days in a quarantine hotel run by the military, half the previous requirement, while some new arrivals from low-risk Pacific island countries could skip quarantine altogether and isolate at home.

He said the new rules were an interim step ahead of broader reopening measures that would be gradually introduced once more than 90 per cent of New Zealanders aged 12 and over were fully vaccinated. So far, 72 per cent of eligible people have had both shots.

The change follows a growing outcry from New Zealanders who have been trying to return home but have been unable to secure spots in the quarantine system. Some have resorted to legal action.

“I acknowledge that there’s a lot of pressure there. My message to the people who are keen to get back into New Zealand is: There isn’t very long to wait now,” Hipkins said. “And encouraging their fellow New Zealanders to get fully vaccinated will help us get to that point faster.”

Hipkins said he expected most new arrivals would be able to isolate at home by sometime in the first quarter of next year. He said the first priority was New Zealanders and those with valid visas.

“Tourists are more of a challenge, in that they don’t necessarily have somewhere to isolate on arrival,” Hipkins said. “But we’ll work our way through all of that.” 

On this day in 1991 …

Prime Minister Brian Mulroney withdrew his name from candidacy for the post of UN secretary general.

In entertainment …

SAN FRANCISCO — The California Supreme Court has refused to consider Brad Pitt’s appeal of a court ruling that disqualified the judge in his custody battle with Angelina Jolie. 

The court on Wednesday denied a review of a June appeals court decision that said the private judge hearing the case should be disqualified for failing to sufficiently disclose his business relationships with Pitt’s attorneys. 

The judge already ruled Pitt and Jolie divorced, but he separated the issue of custody of their five minor children. Jolie and Pitt were married in 2014. Jolie filed to dissolve the marriage two years later.

The state Supreme Court’s decision means the fight over the couple’s five minor children — which was nearing an end — could just be getting started.

Emails seeking comment from attorneys for Pitt and Jolie weren’t immediately returned.

Jolie, 46, and Pitt, 57, were among Hollywood’s most prominent couples for 12 years. A former Los Angeles County Superior Court judge, John Ouderkirk, officiated at their 2014 wedding, then was hired to oversee their divorce when Jolie filed to dissolve the marriage in 2016.

He ruled the couple divorced in 2019, but he separated the child custody issues.

ICYMI …

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.— Four years after the “Greatest Show On Earth” shut down, officials are planning to bring back the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, but animals will no longer be featured in their shows. 

A spokesperson for Florida-based Feld Entertainment says an announcement is expected sometime next year. 

The three-ring circus shut down in May 2017 after a 146-year run. 

Costly court battles with animal rights activists led circus officials to end elephant acts in 2016. Without the elephants, ticket sales declined. 

Officials also blamed increased railroad costs, and the rise of online games and videos, which made the “Greatest Show On Earth” not seem that great anymore. 

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which was behind many of the protests, said it is thrilled with the concept of a circus without animal acts.

“The exciting announcement sends a powerful message to the entire industry, something that PETA’s been saying for decades: Cruelty doesn’t belong in the circus or in any other form of entertainment,” the organization told the Herald-Tribune.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 28, 2021

The Canadian Press

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Thursday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

The Russian capital brought in its strictest COVID-19-related lockdown measures in more than a year on Thursday as nationwide one-day pandemic deaths and infections hit new highs amid slow vaccination uptake across the country.

Moscow’s partial lockdown, in which only essential shops like pharmacies and supermarkets are allowed to remain open and schools and state kindergartens are shut, comes ahead of a week-long nationwide workplace shutdown from Oct. 30.

Like Moscow, some regions decided to kick off their partial lockdowns on Thursday or even earlier in an effort to cut infection numbers ahead of the nationwide initiative.

Moscow’s residents are allowed to leave their homes unlike during a sweeping lockdown in summer 2020, but the new measures point to rising concern among officials over record numbers of deaths that the Kremlin has blamed on vaccine hesitancy.

Daily reported deaths hit all-time high

Officials on Thursday reported an all-time high of 1,159 COVID-19 nationwide deaths in the past 24 hours, while the number of daily infections broke through the 40,000 barrier for the first time.

Many Russians have said they are reluctant to get vaccinated and have spurned the four vaccines Russia has registered, including the flagship Sputnik V vaccine.

Some people say they are hesitant due to mistrust of the authorities, while others cite concerns about the safety of vaccines.

As of Oct. 22, official data showed that 49.1 million Russians were fully vaccinated. The total population, excluding annexed Crimea, is officially estimated at around 144 million.

There were mixed feelings about the lockdown on the streets of Moscow on Thursday. Some residents like Lyubov Machekhina said they thought it would obviously help slow infections.

But others like Mikhail, a Muscovite who did not give his surname, voiced doubts that there would be any real impact without a larger chunk of the population being vaccinated.

“In my opinion, it will change nothing. Perhaps, it will slow down [the spread of cases] a bit, but in fact, without herd immunity it’s nonsense. I don’t believe it will work.”

-From Reuters, last updated at 6:55 a.m. ET


What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | Communities work to get parents on board with COVID-19 vaccines for kids: 

Communities work to get parents on board with COVID-19 vaccines for kids

15 hours ago

Community groups are using some of the lessons they learned in overcoming COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in adults to help parents on board with vaccinating their children. 2:05


What’s happening around the world

WATCH | U.S. FDA adviser confident in vaccine for children: 

U.S. FDA adviser confident in vaccine for children

3 hours ago

A member of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on pediatric use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine talks to the CBC’s Heather Hiscox about why she recommended emergency use authorization of the vaccine. ‘I’m feeling very good about this step,’ said Dr. Oveta Fuller. 8:18

As of early Thursday morning, more than 245 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to the case tracking tool published by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.9 million.

In the Americas, COVID-19 is slowly retreating across most of North, Central and South America, the Pan American Health Organization said, reporting that last week the region’s death and infection figures were the lowest in over a year.

Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE said on Thursday they expect to deliver 50 million more doses of their COVID-19 vaccine to the U.S. government by the end of April, as the country prepares for vaccinating children.

Health-care workers board a boat with coolers containing doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as part of a door-to-door vaccination campaign aimed at Lake Titicaca residents, in Puno, Peru, on Wednesday. (Martin Mejia/The Associated Press)

In the Asia-Pacific region, Singapore’s health ministry said it is looking into an “unusual surge” in infections after the city-state reported 5,324 new cases of COVID-19, the most since the beginning of the pandemic, while intensive care beds were filling up.

In Africa, African health officials and the United Nations are warning of a looming shortage of up to two billion syringes for mainly low- and middle-income countries around the world as the supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses rises, and routine vaccinations could be affected, too.

UNICEF, the UN children’s agency, says it is not anticipating a significant supply shortage of the more standard syringes used in high-income countries. The threatened shortage comes as the flow of COVID-19 doses increases after months of delays to the African continent. It is the world’s least protected region, with less than six per cent of the population of 1.3 billion people fully vaccinated.

In the Middle East, Iran on Wednesday reported 10,644 new cases of COVID-19 and 197 additional deaths.

In Europe, a Hungarian official announced Thursday that the government will allow employers to require that their employees get vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition for work. Additional new measures will include the required wearing of masks on public transportation and a ban on visits to public health-care institutions.

The government will opt to require vaccination for public employees, the official said. The measures came as the number of new infections and deaths in the country reaches levels not seen since a devastating pandemic surge last spring.

-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 9:45 a.m. ET

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