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The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada for Tuesday, April 6, 2021 – The Record (New Westminster)

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

1:25 p.m.

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

Health officials say the Saint John, Fredericton and Edmundston regions each have one case. 

Officials are also confirming that the seven cases reported Monday in the Moncton region are connected and are travel-related.

The Vitalite Health Network says the intensive care unit at the Edmundston Regional Hospital is at capacity and new patients will be diverted to other hospitals.

There are 162 active reported cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick and 18 patients are hospitalized with the disease, including 12 in intensive care.

12:45 p.m.

Canada’s chief public health officer is advising Canadians to avoid interprovincial travel amid concerns COVID-19 vaccines might not be fully effective against new variants of the disease.

Dr. Theresa Tam says she is concerned about people travelling as tourists and gathering for leisure activities.

With new variants of concern now being identified in provinces such as British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta, there is concern Canadians could further spread these strains of the virus across the country.

Tam says some laboratory tests show the P1 variant, in particular, might elude a person’s immunity response.

This means people who have been vaccinated or who have contracted COVID-19 could still get sick or reinfected by the virus.

12:15 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says most provinces have made it clear they don’t need Ottawa’s help when it comes to getting COVID-19 vaccines into the arms of Canadians, but he adds the federal government will be there if needed.

He says political leaders are just as exhausted as Canadian families, business owners and frontline workers, which he believes is why some premiers, including Ontario’s Doug Ford, have been critical of the vaccine rollout in Canada.

Trudeau says that when he speaks with Ford later today, he hopes to determine how the federal government can assist Ontario with the third wave of COVID-19 now sweeping the province.

11:45 a.m. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is delivering the final instalment from billions of dollars announced last summer to help provinces and territories through the COVID-19 pandemic.

He says the federal funding has been used to bolster the capacity of Canada’s health-care systems, secure personal protective equipment for essential workers and protect the most vulnerable.

It has also helped support child-care needs during the pandemic and keep municipalities and public transit operating.

Trudeau now says $700 million, the final instalment from the Safe Restart Agreement, will help provinces and territories with efforts including testing and contact tracing.

11:40 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will speak today with Ontario Premier Doug Ford about the COVID-19 situation in Ontario.

He says he expects to discuss what the spike in cases in Ontario means for hospitals and the importance of vaccinating as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.

Trudeau says he will also speaks to all provincial and territorial premiers Wednesday about their efforts to protect and support Canadians from the new variants and rising cases in areas across the country.

11:30 a.m.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is calling on the federal government to do more to help provinces get vaccinations into the arms of essential workers.

Singh says a priority should be workers who cannot stay home and toil in industries where the virus is known to be spreading.

He says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau can help by offering assistance from the military and pushing for paid sick leave.

Singh says he won’t accept the excuse that administering vaccinations is a provincial responsibility.

11:20 a.m.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is pressing the government to ask the auditor general to appoint a “special monitor” to track the federal pandemic response as it happens to glean lessons promptly.

O’Toole also says a Conservative government would call a public inquiry to study the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He says the federal Liberals “dropped the ball” on vaccines and Canadians need to know what worked and what didn’t.

—11:15 a.m.

Quebec is reporting 1,168 new cases of COVID-19 today and four additional deaths, including one within the previous 24 hours.

The provincial Health Department says hospitalizations rose by 11 to reach 514, with 121 patients in intensive care, a drop of two.

Public health authorities say 39,816 doses of vaccine were administered in the province yesterday, bringing the total to 1,592,197.

Quebec has reported 318,532 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 10,701 deaths since the pandemic began.

11:05 a.m.

Nova Scotia is reporting six new cases of COVID-19 today and a total of 36 active cases.

Five cases have been identified in the Halifax area with one related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada, three close contacts of a previously reported case, and one case under investigation.

There is also one case in the province’s eastern health zone identified as a close contact of a previously reported case.

Health officials say that unrelated to the new cases are four new cases of the variant that first emerged in the United Kingdom that have been identified in the Halifax area and have since been resolved.

11 a.m.

Prince Edward Island is reporting no new cases of COVID-19 today.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Heather Morrison says there are eight active reported cases on the Island.

Morrison says two cases reported on March 26 have been confirmed as the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the United Kingdom.

She says both variant cases are related to travel outside Atlantic Canada.

10:30 a.m.

Ontario reports 3,065 new cases of COVID-19 and eight more deaths linked to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says that 955 of those new cases are in Toronto, 561 are in Peel Region, and 320 are in York Region.

She also says there are 165 new cases in Ottawa and 132 in Niagara Region.

More than 76,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered in Ontario since Monday’s report.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 6, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Cargill to build new Canadian canola plant

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WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) – Cargill Inc will build a $350-million canola plant in Regina, Saskatchewan, the U.S. agribusiness said on Thursday, in the latest project that aims to profit from booming demand for oilseeds.

Canola futures hit record highs this week and soybeans have hit multi-year tops as demand for canola to process into vegetable oil and animal feed exceeds supply.

Refiners are also planning to produce renewable diesel from canola and soybeans to comply with government mandates in Canada and several U.S. states to make cleaner-burning fuels.

“There’s going to continue to be strong pull, we believe, into countries like China, from a food perspective,” Jeff Vassart, President of Cargill’s Canadian unit, said in an interview. “We do see increasing demand for renewable diesel too and we want to make sure that we’re positioned for it.”

The plant will have capacity to crush 1 million tonnes of canola annually.

Privately held Cargill expects the plant to start operating by early 2024, creating 50 full-time jobs.

Cargill said it would also modernize its two canola crush facilities in Camrose, Alberta, and Clavet, Saskatchewan to increase volume.

In March, rival Richardson International said it would double its canola-crushing capacity at Yorkton, Saskatchewan, making it Canada‘s largest such plant. Cargill also said last month it would expand its U.S. soybean-crushing capacity.

Vassart said the company is confident that Canada will produce enough canola to match demand, as farmers boost yields and, to a lesser extent, expand plantings. If production does not increase enough, Canada may export less canola seed, he said.

Canadian canola stocks are expected to dwindle to an eight-year low by midsummer, but Cargill expects to be able to continue crushing at a strong pace, Vassart said.

 

(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg and Rithika Krishna in Bengaluru; editing by Grant McCool)

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U.S., other countries deepen climate goals at Earth Day summit

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By Jeff Mason and Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States and other countries hiked their targets for slashing greenhouse gas emissions at a global climate summit hosted by President Joe Biden, an event meant to resurrect U.S. leadership in the fight against global warming.

Biden unveiled the goal to cut emissions by 50%-52% from 2005 levels at the start of a two-day climate summit kicked off on Earth Day and attended virtually by leaders of 40 countries including big emitters China, India and Russia.

The United States, the world’s second-leading emitter after China, seeks to reclaim global leadership in the fight against global warming after former President Donald Trump withdrew the country from international efforts to cut emissions.

“This is the decade we must make decisions that will avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis,” Biden, a Democrat, said at the White House.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the new U.S. goal “game changing” as two other countries made new pledges.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who visited Biden at the White House this month, raised Japan’s target for cutting emissions to 46% by 2030, up from 26%. Environmentalists wanted a pledge of at least 50% while Japan’s powerful business lobby has pushed for national policies that favor coal.

Canada‘s Prime Minster Justin Trudeau, meanwhile, raised his country’s goal to a cut of 40%-45% by 2030 below 2005 levels, up from 30%.

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro announced his most ambitious environmental goal yet, saying the country would reach emissions neutrality by 2050, 10 years earlier than the previous goal.

Greenpeace UK’s head of climate, Kate Blagojevic, said the summit had more targets than an archery competition.

“Targets, on their own, won’t lead to emissions cuts,” she said. “That takes real policy and money. And that’s where the whole world is still way off course.”

PUTIN SAYS PROBLEMS GO WAY BACK

Most of the countries did not offer new emissions goals. Chinese President Xi Jinping said China expects its carbon emissions to peak before 2030 and the country will achieve net zero emissions by 2060.

Xi said China will gradually reduce its coal use from 2025 to 2030. China, a leader in producing technology for renewable energy like solar panels, burns large amounts of coal for electricity generation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed giving preferential treatment for foreign investment in clean energy projects, but also made an apparent reference to the United States being historically the world’s top greenhouse gas polluter. “It is no secret that the conditions that facilitated global warming and associated problems go way back,” Putin said.

The U.S. climate goal marks a milestone in Biden’s broader plan to decarbonize the U.S. economy entirely by 2050 – an agenda he says can create millions of good-paying jobs but which many Republicans say will damage the economy.

The U.S. emissions cuts are expected to come from power plants, automobiles, and other sectors across the economy. Sector-specific goals will be laid out later this year.

The new U.S. target nearly doubles former President Barack Obama’s pledge of an emissions cut of 26%-28% below 2005 levels by 2025.

CEMENTING CREDIBILITY

How Washington intends to reach its climate goals will be crucial to cementing U.S. credibility on global warming, amid international concerns that America’s commitment to a clean energy economy can shift drastically from one administration to the next.

Biden’s recently introduced $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan contains numerous measures that could deliver some of the emissions cuts needed this decade, including a clean energy standard to achieve net zero emissions in the power sector by 2035 and moves to electrify the vehicle fleet.

But the measures need to be passed by Congress before becoming reality.

The American Petroleum Institute, the top U.S. oil and gas lobbying group, cautiously welcomed Biden’s pledge but said it must come with policies including a price on carbon, which is a tough sell among some lawmakers.

‘THE U.S. IS BACK’

The summit is the first in a string of meetings of world leaders – including the G7 and G20 – ahead of annual UN climate talks in November in Scotland. That serves as the deadline for nearly 200 countries to update their climate pledges under the Paris agreement, an international accord set in 2015.

Leaders of small island nations vulnerable to rising seas, like Antigua and Barbuda and the Marshall Islands, also spoke at the summit.

World leaders aim to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, a threshold scientists say can prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

A Biden administration official said with the new U.S. target, enhanced commitments from Japan and Canada, and prior targets from the European Union and Britain, countries accounting for more than half the world’s economy were now committed to reductions to achieve the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal.

European leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed delight that the United States was back in the climate fight.

“The importance of this day in my judgment is the world came together,” Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry told reporters at the White House.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Valerie Volcivici; additional reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow; Elaine Lies and Aaron Sheldrick in Tokyo, David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Jake Spring and Lisandra Paraguassu in Brasilia, David Stanway in Shanghai, writing by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Lisa Shumaker)

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Ontario third wave, blame piled on Doug Ford

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By Steve Scherer

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Ontario Premier Doug Ford, facing backlash over his government’s handling of the pandemic, resisted calls to resign on Thursday as Canada‘s most populous province grappled with a third wave of COVID-19 infections that critics said could have been prevented.

With pressure building on hospitals, Ottawa is sending federal healthcare workers to help. Ontario had 3,682 new infections on Thursday and 40 deaths, the highest of any province.

#Dougfordmustresign has trended on Twitter this week, while newspaper editorials and provincial opposition leaders also called on Ford, 56, to step down.

Some 46% of Ontario residents have a negative view of Ford, up nine percentage points from a week earlier, according to an Abacus Data poll on Wednesday. Ford’s Progressive Conservatives(PC) trailed the opposition provincial Liberals by one point in the same poll, ahead of a June 2022 provincial election.

“Mr. Ford’s real mistake has been repeatedly ignoring the deep bench of scientists who are there to advise him, impulsively imposing himself as the province’s Fearless Decider,” an editorial in the national Globe and Mail newspaper said this week.

The premier ruled out resigning on Thursday, almost a week after issuing unpopular orders to close playgrounds and allow police to randomly stop people, both of which were abandoned within 48 hours.

Multiple police departments refused to enforce Ford’s orders while Toronto-area health units unilaterally ordered businesses that experience outbreaks to close.

“I’m not one to walk away from anything,” an emotional Ford told reporters on Thursday. “I know we got it wrong and we made a mistake, and for that I’m sorry.”

Ford said he was apologizing for acting “too quick”. Critics said the problem was that he opened the economy up too fast after the second wave, and then moved too slowly when it was obvious that cases were spiking.

Had Ontario kept stay-at-home measures in place longer in February, the case-count “would not have been nearly as bad as what we’re seeing now,” said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases specialist at Toronto General Hospital.

“We saw case numbers rising for a month … and they were never really acted on,” said Bogoch, who is a member of the Ontario government’s vaccination task force.

Ford extended stay-at-home measures until mid-May last week and on Thursday said his government would provide paid sick leave to workers who need to isolate, a measure many say would have helped prevent the third wave.

On Thursday, Ford said 40% of the province would have at least one vaccine shot by the end of the month.

But the political damage could be lasting.

“It’s going to be a pretty hard hole to climb out of,” said Frank Graves, president of polling company EKOS Research.

Ford, the brother of Toronto’s late mayor Rob Ford who once admitted to smoking crack, has been in power since 2018, sweeping to an unlikely victory after the PC’s former leader was forced to resign in the midst of the election campaign.

During the 2019 federal election campaign, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau capitalized on Ford’s unpopular cost cuts, attacking him repeatedly while touring Ontario, a crucial battleground province that is home to almost 40% of Canada‘s population.

“This does remind me of 2019 where absolutely the best asset in Ontario for the federal Liberal Party was Doug Ford,” a well-placed Liberal source said.

 

(Reporting by Steve Scherer; additional reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Diane Craft)

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