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The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada for Monday, April 5, 2021 – Coast Reporter

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The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times eastern):

7:45 p.m.

An Alberta energy company says three positives cases of the Brazilian COVID-19 variant have been linked to its employees.

PTW Energy Services says in a statement that the infections were detected in its offices in Drayton Valley, Edson and Hinton.

It says it is working closely with health officials to monitor the situation.

Chief medical health officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw has said it’s believed an outbreak of about 26 cases linked to the variant started with a traveller returning to Alberta from out of province.

7:10 p.m.

Health officials in B.C. are reporting 999 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday and 890 cases on Monday, for a total of 1,889 new cases over the past two days.

The province says 23 people have died from complications linked to the virus since last Thursday.

There are 8,490 active cases in the province, of which 318 people are in hospital, with 96 in intensive care.

B.C. also reported 916 new confirmed cases that are variants of concern, for a total of 3,559 cases that have been confirmed to date, including 2,771 of the variant first identified in the United Kingdom and 737 of the strain originally detected in Brazil.

6:20 p.m.

Health officials in the Northwest Territories say one person was infected with COVID-19 recently due to international travel.

The Office of the Chief Public Health Officer says the person is from Yellowknife.

The territory says contact tracing has not identified any risk to the public.

It says the person and three other contacts are self-isolating and doing well.

Health officials say the case will be counted in the territory’s COVID-19 statistics Tuesday.

5:40 p.m.

Alberta has identified 887 new daily cases of COVID-19 and 432 more involving variants. 

Nearly 40 per cent of active cases are now variants.

Chief medical health officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw says on Twitter that she’s concerned about the rising number of cases, including variants, in recent days.

There are currently 4,145 active cases of variants in the province.

There are 312 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 76 in intensive care.

5:35 p.m.

Alberta’s top doctor says an outbreak of the COVID-19 variant first found in Brazil appears to be linked to a large employer with multiple sites across Western Canada. 

Chief medical health officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw says on Twitter that it’s believed it started with a traveller returning to Alberta from out of province. 

She says the spread has been confined to three work sites in the central and north zones in which employees travelled between locations. 

Some 26 cases have been linked to those sites and to household contacts. 

Hinshaw says so far, three of those infections are confirmed to be the Brazilian variant, adding that’s likely to increase as more results come in.

4:30 p.m.

Saskatchewan is reporting 219 new COVID-19 cases and one additional death.

The province’s daily pandemic update says 86 new cases involving variants of concern have been identified.

The update also notes that a hotel and bar in a central Saskatchewan village has been issued a stiff fine for failing to follow COVID-19 restrictions.

It says the Milden Hotel and Bar was fined $14,000 for failure to comply with the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan.

3:50 p.m.

Ottawa’s chief medical officer is asking the Ontario government to implement further restrictions, including a provincewide stay-at-home order.

Dr. Vera Etches says in a series of tweets that the province isn’t dealing with the same virus from one year ago. The virus has changed, she says, and so must our behaviours.

She points to stricter lockdowns in other countries that have helped control transmission.

She writes on Twitter that vaccines are here, but communities need more time and more doses for vaccination efforts to have a real impact.

Etches also says her team is in the process of reviewing COVID-19 data to determine what approach the national capital should take with schools.

2:20 p.m.

Peel Region’s top doctor says he has ordered all schools to be closed.

Dr. Lawrence Loh says he is ordering schools in the southern Ontario region, including Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga, to close starting tomorrow.

The schools will move to online learning only and will remain closed until April 18.

Loh says the closure will allow students and staff at least two weeks out of schools to break any chains of transmission and protect them from exposure.

1:35 p.m.

Manitoba is reporting 135 new COVID-19 cases and two deaths over the last two days. 

The current five-day test positivity rate is 5.1 per cent provincially and 4.3 per cent in Winnipeg.

The province says some 7,200 vaccination appointments set for Monday to Thursday of next week will have to be rescheduled. 

It says a delay in supplies of the Moderna vaccine will affect appointments at so-called “pop-up” sites. 

The sites are temporary vaccination clinics set up in smaller communities across the province, including Steinbach, Portage la Prairie, Dauphin and Swan River.

1:05 p.m.

Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting no new COVID-19 cases today.

Health officials in the province haven’t reported a new infection since April 1.

The province has four active reported cases.

It has reported a total of 1,020 COVID-19 infections and four deaths linked to the virus.

12 p.m.

New Brunswick is reporting 10 new cases of COVID-19 today.

Health officials say seven cases in the Moncton region are under investigation.

They say three cases in the Edmundston area involve contacts of a previously reported infection.

New Brunswick has 168 active reported COVID-19 cases and 14 people in hospital with the disease, including eight in intensive care.

11:45 a.m.

Toronto Mayor John Tory says the city is working on a plan to vaccinate high-risk people at their places of work.

Tory said today the plan would involve mobile vaccination units that are already being used in some hard-hit neighbourhoods.

He says the federal and provincial governments should work together to improve the paid sick day program to help workers stay home and isolate.

The Ontario government has said it will not duplicate the paid sick leave program run by the federal government.

11 a.m.

Quebec is reporting 1,252 new cases of COVID-19 today and four more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including one in the past 24 hours.

Health officials say hospitalizations rose by one, to 503, and 123 people were in intensive care, a drop of five.

The province says it administered 22,494 doses of vaccine Sunday, for a total of 1,552,215.

Quebec has reported a total of 317,364 COVID-19 infections and 10,697 deaths linked to the virus; it has 10,271 active reported infections.

10:45 a.m.

Nova Scotia is reporting three new cases of COVID-19 today in the Halifax area.

Health officials say one case is related to travel outside Atlantic Canada, one involves a contact of a previously reported infection, and one is under investigation.

Nova Scotia has 32 active reported infections.

The province says it had administered 113,471 doses of COVID-19 vaccine as of Sunday, with 29,532 people having received a booster shot.

10:40 a.m.

Ontario says it has had nearly 6,000 new COVID-19 cases over a two-day span.

The province is reporting 2,938 new cases of COVID-19 today and 3,041 cases for Sunday.

Data sharing was paused in Ontario on Sunday for the Easter holiday.

Ten deaths were linked to the virus on today’s report and 12 on Sunday’s update.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 5, 2021.

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What the rise of the PPC says about Canada in 2021 – CTV News

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TORONTO —
While the People’s Party of Canada did not manage to gain any seats this federal election, its accruing of the popular vote has experts saying the rise of the far-right populist party cannot be ignored.

Maxime Bernier, who failed to win his own riding of Beauce, Que., said Monday that he will remain as party leader despite the defeat, telling CTV News’ Genevieve Beauchemin at his Saskatoon rally that he views the election outcome as “a huge victory.”

The PPC won over 820,000 votes and more than five per cent of the popular vote this time around, a marked increase from the 1.6 per cent of the vote it got in 2019.

POPULISM FINDS A HOME

The party that ran on an anti-immigration, anti-lockdown platform that has been endorsed by white nationalists, Neo-Nazis and other far-right groups has become a home for anti-vaxxers, anti-government protesters and gun rights activists, showing that populism on the left or right may be more about a movement than a traditional political party, said University of Guelph professor of political science Tamara Small.

“I think the only leader who is ecstatic about last night’s results is Bernier,” said Small in a telephone interview with CTVNews.ca after the election. “I don’t think they’re going anywhere… it seems that he’s taken that populism and attached it to far-right politics.”

The idea of Canadian exceptionalism from far-right and populist movements needs to be dispelled, Small said.

“The idea used to be that Canada was immune to sort of far-right populism…this idea that Canadians were sort of going to be free from the populism that we saw in Europe, like Nigel Farage is to the U.K.,” Small said. “But I think lots of people are wondering, if he’s [Bernier] just going to say ‘I’m not here to form government…I’m more here to challenge the system’” as a way of gaining support.

Barbara Perry, director of the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism at Ontario Tech University, said it makes sense to call the PPC a populist party, and that the party takes “an extremist position on things like immigration and diversity.”

“They’re extreme in terms of their anti-Trudeau or anti-state positioning. They’re extreme in terms of their anti-lockdown and anti-tax standpoints as well. So, yeah, I think they absolutely might be considered extremists,” Perry said in a telephone interview with CTVNews.ca.

“As is calling them a populist group or populist party, because that’s really what he’s done so effectively is absorbed some of those broad concerns around COVID-19 and freedom and even the more mainstream concerns about economic anxieties, loss of jobs, loss of businesses… and managed to roll them all up.”

Some who support the PPC bristle at the implication that the party is a hotbed of far-right rhetoric or white nationalist supporters, with many online saying they simply support a party that is dedicated to their freedoms.

In an email to CTVNews.ca, PPC candidate for the riding Parkdale-High Park Ont., Wilfried Danzinger, denied that the party is aligned with extremist values, writing that “love was the guiding principle of his campaign,” and that his supporters come from all “different sexual preferences, all ages and religions.”

When CTVNews.ca emailed the PPC for comment on this story, party spokesperson Martin Masse sent back a one-line response: “I don’t respond to requests from leftist activists masquerading as journalists. Get lost.”

COVID-19 WAS A ‘GIFT’ TO THE PPC

The rise of the PPC in the polls can be attributed partially to the “gift” of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Evan Balgord, executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.

Balgord said that “the COVID-19 pandemic was a gift to the far-right” in general as it allowed them to infiltrate conspiracy theory spaces and begin attracting new followers.

“The rise of the party kind of fit into this because these people didn’t really have a political party. If they voted for any party, they would vote Conservative,” he said. “But they weren’t particularly happy about voting Conservative either because they’re the most fringe. So when the PCC started as a party in 2019, Bernier, right from day one was using their language, their talking points, and the words of the far-right in several spaces. We saw them actually say ‘Bernier is dog whistling to us.’”

But Small questioned whether the end of the COVID-19 pandemic would stop the drip of followers to the PPC and spell a marked decline in the party.

“My sense is that a lot of this anger and concern is tied up in a particular type of anger about lockdowns and vaccine mandates and overreach of the state,” Small said. “I’m not too sure whether or not once the pandemic is done, to what extent the party still exists.”

It is a sentiment echoed by extremism researcher and assistant professor at Queen’s University, Amarnath Amarasingam.

“In early 2020, with COVID-19, the kind of conspiratorial thinking and angst around the pandemic went through the roof, and a lot of these movements coalesced around similar ideas,” Amarasingam said in a telephone interview with CTVNews.ca, noting that traditionally conspiracy movements generally operate separately from each other.

Amarasingam said the COVID-19 pandemic “gave them all a common cause and they all were playing in the same playground.”

Amarasingam said the question now surrounding the PPC is whether its rise is solely due to the “catch-all” the party provided surrounding anger around lockdowns, quarantine and the pandemic, “or whether it’s a sign of something bubbling beneath the surface that a lot of everyday Canadians actually held secretly anti-immigrant views, anti-refugee groups, all the things that are part of the PPC platform.”

“If that’s the case, I mean, it’s going to be a longer concern of ours,” he continued. “So that’s kind of the big question is whether this is just a blip because of the pandemic or whether it kind of speaks to something else going on that we should be concerned about.”

HATE WAS ON THE BALLOT

Bernier has always denied ties or affiliations to any of the far-right, white supremacist and Neo-Nazi rhetoric he is accused of platforming with his stance on things like reduced immigration and scrapping the Multiculturalism Act.

However, Balgord said known Neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups endorse the party, and that the party is populated with a litany of candidates, insiders and supporters who have been documented by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network as members of far-right groups.

“There’s so many examples,” he said. “This isn’t a few isolated incidents, this is a pattern. This is what the PPC is.”

Balgord referenced more than 10 incidents of PPC candidates or people associated with the party who have engaged in far-right rhetoric or have been exposed by work done by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network as being part of white nationalist groups.

“One of his very first riding executives was a guy [who] ran a USA Neo-Nazi organization and actually did time in the United States for organizing racially motivated assaults,” he said.

Balgord noted that the man charged with throwing gravel at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau while he was campaigning as the Liberal leader was a riding director for the PPC, and that his organization had previously exposed him for “posting white power music on social media accounts with lyrics about killing immigrants.”

Another example listed by Balgord was the PPC candidate for the Ontario riding of Vaughn-Woodbridge who was exposed by Press Progress this month for allegedly having touted and created a video game where users can re-enact the 1999 Columbine shooting massacre and partake in their own shooting of caricatures of minorities and LGBTQ2S+ people.

Bernier himself has been featured on what Balgord describes as an “anti-Semitic blog collective,” which endorses a book full of terrorist Nazi ideologies. 

The PPC platform itself is also chock-full of “dog whistles” to the far-right, Balgord, Amarasingam and Perry said, referencing the sections on refugees, immigration and “Canadian identity.”

“I think the Canadian identity is tied to the anti-immigration, anti-refugee stuff,” Amarasingam said. “But I know when someone says Canadian identity, especially with all the other things that are at play in the platform, what that likely means for the PPC, is basically kind of ‘The Great Replacement,’ but around Canadian values.”

The Great Replacement theory is a conspiracy prevalent in white nationalist and far-right groups that posits that a shadowy cabal is behind demographic changes in a country or area, and that “white identity” or “Western values” are in decline because of it.

Balgord said it is known to have spurred terrorist attacks like the Christchurch mosque shooting of 2019.

“When we talk about the PPC, it’s necessary to talk about their ties to white supremacy and white nationalism and how dangerous the thing is, they’re not just another political party, right?” Balgord said. “They’re the white nationalist and the hate movement in Canada. It’s their way of trying to get a foothold into mainstream Canadian politics.”

Perry noted the language Bernier has used in his campaigns, in tweets and even in his speech on election night, in particular his word choices of “government overreach, tyrannies and authoritarian government.”

“Look at some of the language. It’s drawn from groups like three percenters…in particular in the militia movement,” Perry said. “So, yeah, there’s a very direct line. It’s not a dotted line. It’s a direct line.”

But when asked about the PPC and Bernier’s denial of allegations of extremist views, Balgord was unimpressed.

“The PPC is the party of plausible deniability,” he said. “But when you really scratch the surface, you find that it’s a party for white nationalists.”

WHERE DOES CANADA GO FROM HERE?

For the single-issue voters who chose to vote for Bernier’s party because of their views on lockdowns or COVID-19 vaccine mandates, the end of lockdowns and pandemic restrictions may tempt them away from the party, but Amarasingam says they cannot deny that their vote is still an endorsement of what the PPC represents.

“I think if you’re a single-issue voter on the vaccine, and you can find common cause with the PPC that doesn’t necessarily make you far-right, that just means that you’re unfortunately willing to sell a whole host of Canadian communities down the river to hold up this one value,” he said.

Amarasingam said that education on extremism may be what people need to make informed choices moving forward.

“I think everyone basically has to become an extremism watcher now that it’s no longer just some of us who live in these bizarre online communities paying attention to things, because as things become mainstream, people need to understand extremism and how these dynamics work and how these movements work,” he said.

As for the PPC’s presence in mainstream politics, Perry and Small said it’s a fine line to walk between exposing and identifying extremist views and providing too much of a platform for them to gain more followers.

“I think people feel very differently. I think there’s a lot of people who would say you should just ignore these people and never give them any platform,” Small said. “But I’m of the belief that not being aware in some ways is like throwing a match into a forest and then just not worrying about it.”

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

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The latest:

Alaska, which led most U.S. states in coronavirus vaccinations months ago, took the drastic step on Wednesday of imposing crisis-care standards for its entire hospital system, declaring that a crushing surge in COVID-19 patients has forced rationing of strained medical resources.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy and health officials announced the move as the tally of newly confirmed cases statewide reached another single-day record of 1,224 patients amid a wave of infections driven by the spread of the highly contagious delta variant among the unvaccinated.

The delta variant is “crippling our health-care system. It’s impacting everything from heart attacks to strokes to our children if they get in a bike accident,” Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer, said at a news conference with Dunleavy.

Alaska’s health and social services commissioner, Adam Crum, announced that he signed an emergency addendum extending to the whole state standards of crisis care announced last week at the state’s largest hospital, Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage. The new document limits liability faced by providers for crisis-level medical care in all Alaska hospitals.

Moreover, it acknowledges the realities of rationed care statewide, with scarce medical supplies and staff prioritized in a way that denies normal levels of care to some patients for the sake of others, depending on how sick they are and their chances for recovery.

To cope with the COVID-19 influx, Alaska has signed an $87 million US contract to enlist hundreds of health-care workers from out of state, officials said.

About one-fifth of Alaska hospital patients are infected with COVID-19, according to state data. But that figure understates the burden placed on the system as a whole as it “squeezes out” capacity to treat victims of car accidents, strokes, heart attacks and other ailments, Dunleavy said.

Paradoxically, back in April, Alaska had ranked among the top states getting COVID-19 vaccines into the arms of residents, helped in large part by efforts of the state’s pandemic-conscious Indigenous population.

Alaska has since slipped below the national average, with just 58 per cent of residents aged 12 and older fully vaccinated, according to the state database. The vaccination slump coincided with significant political resistance to public health requirements.

-From Reuters, last updated at 6:45 a.m. ET


What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | Record number of COVID-19 cases further strain Saskatchewan’s hospitals: 

Growing calls for lockdown as COVID-19 strains Sask. hospitals

13 hours ago

There are growing calls for tighter restrictions in Saskatchewan, including a lockdown, as the record number of COVID-19 cases further strain the province’s hospitals. 2:20

Saskatchewan’s only children’s hospital is opening its pediatric intensive care unit to younger adults with COVID-19.

Those under the age of 40 are getting admitted to the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon. The Saskatchewan Health Authority said Wednesday that so far two adults are in the pediatrics ICU, and space is being made for more.

Dr. Susan Shaw, the health authority’s chief medical officer, said critical care capacity is under strain.

The province has recently been reporting record numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations — mostly unvaccinated patients.

-From The Canadian Press, last updated at 6:40 a.m. ET


What’s happening around the world

A health worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a private school in Quito, Ecuador, earlier this month. (Rodrigo Buendia/AFP/Getty Images)

As of early Thursday morning, more than 230.1 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s case tracking tool. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.7 million.

In the Americas, the Pan American Health Organization has warned that countries in the region could continue to face localized COVID-19 outbreaks well into 2022, even while deaths have fallen from their peak in January.

In the Middle East, Syria is facing a new surge in infections in both government-held areas and territory outside state control that could overwhelm the war-ravaged country’s fragile health system.

In Africa, Uganda’s president has eased restrictions, allowing the resumption of education for universities and other post-secondary institutions, citing a decline in infections.

Police patrol along St. Kilda Beach in Melbourne on Thursday. The city has seen recent protests from construction workers and others against COVID-19 regulations. (William West/AFP/Getty Images)

In the Asia-Pacific region, police in the Australian city of Melbourne prepared for a fourth day of anti-lockdown protests on Thursday while a vaccination hub closed after protesters abused staff, the operator said, while COVID-19 cases across the state of Victoria hit a daily record. Hundreds of protesters have taken to the streets in the city of five million since officials this week ordered a two-week closure of building sites and made vaccines mandatory for construction workers to limit the spread of the virus.

Japan plans to give other countries 60 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said, doubling the target from the previous pledge of 30 million doses.

Thailand pushed back plans to reopen Bangkok and some other major cities to foreign arrivals until November.

In Europe, Italy plans to give other countries 45 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines before the end of the year, three times its original pledge, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said.

-From Reuters and The Associated Press, last updated at 6:35 a.m. ET


Have questions about this story? We’re answering as many as we can in the comments. 

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New Zealand’s Ardern says lockdowns can end with high vaccine uptake

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday the country should aim for a 90%-plus rate of inoculation, and could drop strict coronavirus lockdown measures once enough people were vaccinated.

New Zealand eliminated COVID-19 last year and remained largely virus-free until an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant in August led to a nationwide lockdown.

With its biggest city Auckland still in lockdown and new cases being reported every day, Ardern said vaccinations will replace lockdowns as the main tool against the virus, allowing authorities to isolate only those who are infected.

“If that rate (of vaccinations) is high enough then we will be able to move away from lockdowns as a tool,” she said.

The highest possible vaccine rates will give the most freedoms, Ardern said, adding that the country should be aiming for a 90% plus rate of vaccination.

After a sluggish start to its vaccination campaign, some 40% of adult New Zealanders are fully vaccinated and about 75% have had at least one dose.

Authorities reported 15 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, all in Auckland, taking the total number of cases in the current outbreak to 1,123.

The Director General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield warned earlier this week that New Zealand may not get to zero COVID cases again.

 

(Reporting by Praveen Menon; editing by Richard Pullin)

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