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'There's nobody to talk to': New Air Canada booking system leaves some travellers hanging –



A new reservation system at Air Canada is causing frustration for some customers trying to change flights, use rewards points or request bereavement fares.

Aaron Churchill, an interior designer in Edmonton, tried to change a flight he booked for Jan. 30 after learning his client in Columbus, Ohio needed to reschedule a job. 

He entered his reservation number on Air Canada’s website but it wouldn’t allow him to reschedule online. 

Churchill called the reservation line, as directed by Air Canada, and got a recorded message, over and over. 

“I keep trying to call back and I keep trying to get a hold of someone and there’s absolutely no one to get a hold of,” Churchill told CBC News Monday. “I’ve tried to communicate with Air Canada at least 28 times and I can’t get through.”
“My frustration is — here you can book online, they will gladly take your money but then when you go to try to communicate with somebody at Air Canada they actually don’t allow you to talk to a human being.”

Churchill said he might have to drive to the airport to talk to a customer service agent in person. 

In a statement to CBC News, Air Canada said the new reservation system that launched in mid-November is working as planned, for the most part. 

“The new system, implemented after a two-year project involving 700,000 hours of development, is highly complex and, as with any IT project of this magnitude, a transition period is normal and issues do arise.” 

The airline said the issues are mainly affecting customers trying to change existing bookings.

The customer service line plays a message in English and French recorded by the director for contact centres worldwide, who apologizes for the delays.

“Call volumes are significantly higher than normal. Due to current volumes, I apologize that we are not able to place you on hold at this time,” the message says.

The recording advises customers to contact Air Canada within 24 hours of their travel date if the request relates to an existing booking.

If their flight is more than 24 hours away, it asks customers to call back closer to that date.

The company has a web page dedicated to frequently asked questions, on which it admits some Aeroplan members are unable to redeem miles for flight rewards.

Some accounts haven’t been transferred over to the new system, it says, but they’re “working as quickly as possible to restore full functionality to these accounts.”

Customers aren’t able to confirm same-day changes online. 

“Until we complete our system roll-out, this functionality is temporarily unavailable through self-serve channels.”

The company admits the new system hasn’t been implemented completely, that it’s expected to be rolled out in full in the “new year.”

Aaron Churchill, middle, said he’s tried to contact Air Canada 28 times since he booked a flight on Dec. 12. (Aaron Churchill)

It’s little comfort to customers like Laurence Robinson looking for a bereavement ticket to Kingston, Jamaica, to attend his grandfather’s funeral in mid-January. 

He tried to apply online and saw that customers are required to call when requesting a bereavement fare. 

“There’s nobody to talk to. The machine just tells you options of how you can do things online — it says nothing about bereavement.”  

Robinson said he was very close to his grandfather and that many family members are expected to attend the funeral. 

“I mean, I have to go no matter what the cost is,” he said. “But I was just hoping the more I could reduce my expense on the flight, because we’re all contributing to the funeral, I could provide more to the funeral.” 

Robinson sent the company an email and received a reply, saying “You can rest assured that an Air Canada representative will get back to you as soon as possible.”

In the message, the company said it may take up to three weeks for a response. 

Robinson said he ended up buying a regular ticket but hopes to retroactively receive the bereavement discount. 


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Canadians need to cut contacts by 25 per cent to curb second COVID-19 wave: modelling – CTV News



Based on the current projections, Canadians need to decrease their current rate of contacts by 25 per cent in order to get the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic under control in this country.

According to new national modelling released on Friday, despite additional restrictions being re-imposed in regions where the virus’ spread has ramped up in recent months, the current epidemic curve does not appear to be flattening.

After surpassing the previous round of projected maximum cases and deaths, cases continue to increase and Canada is on track to see thousands of new cases and hundreds of new deaths by Nov. 8. 

If we maintain our current rate of contacts, the epidemic is forecast to resurge, and a decrease of 25 per cent would mean that the spread would come under control “in most locations,” according to the presentation delivered by Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam and Deputy Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo.

Tam is calling on people to avoid gatherings with people outside of their “consistent, trusted contacts” and to take all other social interactions virtual, limit non-essential outings as much as possible, and in scenarios where physical distancing can’t be maintained with people outside of your household, wear a mask. She also suggested some workplaces have more to do to ensure their employees who may have come back into workspaces over the last few months have enough safeguards in place to protect staff. 

“Right now, our most powerful tool remains social distancing… In communities where cases are rising quickly, we need to keep our contacts as limited as possible. This is what it will take to slow the spread of the virus,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the press conference. “So when you’re thinking of seeing people outside your household, ask yourself: ‘Is this absolutely necessary?’ I know the situation is frustrating. I know it’s hard, but it is temporary. If we work together, cases will go down again.” 

Asked whether it’s time for more widespread closures to get the second wave under control, Trudeau said that despite the increase in cases, some regions are seeing the spread slow due to more targeted measures, negating a large-scale shutdown. 

“It takes time… but it is going to take weeks and months,” he said. 

As of the modelling being released there have been a total of 228,542 confirmed cases nationwide over the course of the pandemic, and by the end of next week that number is on track to increase to between 251,800 and 262,000 cases. 

There have been a total of 10,074 deaths recorded due to COVID-19, and that metric is also on track to grow considerably in the next several days, with the new figures projecting between 10,285 and 10,400 deaths by Nov. 8. 

As has been the case throughout the health crisis, the incidence rate varies across provinces and territories, but generally over the last two weeks higher rates of infection are being reported, COVID-19 patients are being hospitalized at higher rate than was seen over the summer, and deaths are “gradually” increasing. 

Over the past week, Canada has seen an average of 30 deaths per day. The current average age of death for people dying due to COVID-19-related illness is 84 years old in Canada, but ranges from ages 19 to 107.

Currently, the average test positivity rate is approaching 4 per cent nationally, and the number of health regions reporting more than 50 cases per 100,000 have nearly doubled in last few weeks, with 34 regions currently experiencing this rate.

Rates of Canadians under the age of 40 contracting the virus remain the highest, but an increase in new cases is occurring across age groups. Outbreaks are also continuing to be reported in the highest rates at long-term care and retirement residences; at schools and child-care centres; and as a result of social gatherings such as weddings, funerals and informal family or community celebrations. 

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Canada posts 2nd-highest total of new coronavirus cases as U.S., world smash records – Global News



Canada reported another 2,951 new cases of the novel coronavirus Thursday, nearly hitting the daily record set just days ago.

It’s the second-highest number of daily confirmed infections since the beginning of the pandemic, behind the 3,004 reported on Sunday.

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The new cases account for just over three per cent of the 92,328 tests completed over the past day, according to provincial health data.

Canada has now seen a total of 228,301 confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date, of which 191,208 have recovered from the disease. Over 11.5 million tests have been completed.

Forty-two new deaths were also reported Thursday, bringing the national death toll to 10,074. Over a third of those deaths were historical and did not occur over the past 24 hours.

Out of the 17,043 active cases across the country right now, 1,168 are in hospital — 11 more than Wednesday’s total.

Ontario and Quebec once again had the highest provincial totals of new cases Thursday, although Ontario said its latest projections show the growth of the virus across the province is slowing.

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“Most indicators are showing a slowing growth,” said Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, who is advising the province on its response to the pandemic. “But cases are continuing to climb.”

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Ontario reported 934 new cases and 10 more deaths, bringing the province’s totals to 73,819 confirmed infections and 3,118 deaths. More than 63,000 patients have recovered, while 322 are currently in hospital.

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In Quebec, 1,030 more cases were reported along with 25 deaths. Eight of those deaths occurred over the past 24 hours, officials said, while the rest date back before Tuesday.

The province remains the hardest hit by the pandemic, with 103,844 cases and 6,214 deaths to date. Of the remaining cases, 88,442 have recovered while 509 have been hospitalized.

Another daily record was set in Manitoba with 193 new cases, bringing its total to 4,894 infections. The province’s death toll rose to 62 after four more deaths were also reported, while a total of 2,423 patients have recovered. Nearly 100 active cases are in hospital.

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Saskatchewan also hit a new record for daily infections with 82, although no new deaths were reported. Officials have now confirmed 2,990 cases to date, along with 25 deaths and 2,258 recoveries. Twenty people are now in hospital.

In Alberta, 477 new cases were announced along with five more deaths, bringing its totals to 27,042 infections and 318 fatalities. The province says 130 patients are currently in hospital, though another 21,803 cases have recovered.

British Columbia saw 230 lab-confirmed cases and four additional “epidemiologically linked” cases that have not been confirmed through laboratory testing.

One additional death was also announced, a senior who had attended a small birthday party with less than 10 people who all became infected.

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B.C. health officials report 234 new cases of COVID-19, briefing held in Surrey

B.C. health officials report 234 new cases of COVID-19, briefing held in Surrey

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the case was a representation of the challenge the province is currently facing, as the surge in cases has been linked to social gatherings.

“It reminds us that this virus can’t tell the difference, and even a small gathering when this virus is circulating can be dangerous,” she said.

B.C. has seen a total of 13,868 confirmed cases and 241 additional “epi-linked” cases to date, of whom 262 have now died and 11,448 more have recovered. Of the province’s record-high 2,344 active cases, 86 are in hospital.

New Brunswick was the only Atlantic province to report any cases Thursday, confirming four new infections. The province’s total cases now stands at 341, of whom six have died and 294 have recovered. Four of the 41 active cases in New Brunswick are in hospital.

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Nova Scotia has seen 1,102 cases and 65 deaths to date, while Newfoundland and Labrador’s total sits at 291 cases and four deaths. Each of the two provinces has four active cases.

Prince Edward Island’s last update on Tuesday said only one of the province’s 64 cases to date is active, while the rest have recovered.

In the territories, Yukon reported a new case Thursday, taking its total to 23 cases to date. Of those, 17 have recovered, and none have died.

The Northwest Territories has seen 10 cases so far, eight of whom have recovered. Nunavut remains free of local confirmed cases.

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The past two days has seen both the United States and the world at large shatter previous records for daily cases, as a second wave of the pandemic continues to overwhelm many countries — particularly in Europe.

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Over 530,000 new cases globally were reported on Wednesday alone, according to Johns Hopkins University, which tracks public health data around the world.

And on Thursday, the COVID Tracking Project said the U.S. hit a new record of over 88,000 new cases, while over 1,000 people died in 24 hours.

The U.S. remains the most infected country in terms of both confirmed cases, at over 8.94 million, and deaths, around 228,000.

The cases account for roughly 20 per cent of the nearly 44.9 million cases confirmed globally so far. The worldwide death toll, meanwhile, is nearly 1.18 million.

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

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Saturday –



The latest:

Canada’s chief public health officer is calling for a “collective effort” to stem the spike of COVID-19 and to lessen the burden on essential workers.

“To essential workers — from those growing our food and keeping grocery stores stocked with vital supplies to the health-care and public health workforce providing care and services to Canadians — thank you for your commitment to keeping our society running,” Dr. Theresa Tam said in a statement on Saturday.

“Many of you have been on the front lines since the beginning, putting yourselves in harm’s way,” she said. “As individuals, we have an important role to play to minimize the COVID-19 burden on essential workers.”

Tam again urged Canadians to adhere to public health guidelines, such as physical distancing, hand washing, wearing a face covering and using the COVID Alert app.

Tam’s comments come a day after the latest federal modelling on COVID-19 suggests the surge in cases could continue in the coming weeks unless Canadians take action now.

On Friday, she said that based on the current projections, Canadians need to cut their contacts by 25 per cent in order to get the second wave under control to the point where daily counts may drop below 2,000.

Without reducing the rates of contact, Canada could see COVID-19 case counts rise to 8,000 per day come early December, she said.

Tam said the country has lost its lead in the ongoing “dance” with COVID-19 after curbing cases over the summer, and taking it back will require discipline.

“What comes next for us this fall and winter is for every one of us to determine through our decisions and our actions,” Tam told a news conference. “Letting down our guard and letting this virus win is not an option.”

What’s happening in the rest of Canada 

As of 12:40 p.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had 234,084 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases, with 28,229 of those active. Provinces and territories listed 195,721 as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 10,134.

Ontario reported 1,015 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, up from 896 cases added to the count on Friday. Locally, there are 325 new cases in Toronto on Saturday, 282 in Peel Region, 94 in Ottawa and 88 in York Region.

A pumpkin vendor waits for customers at a market in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his children will not be trick-or-treating this year because Ottawa is considered one of Ontario’s hot spots.

The province has recommended against going door-to-door for candy in the modified Stage 2 public health unit regions of Ottawa, Peel Region, Toronto and York Region.

In Quebec, children can go out as long as they stay with members of their own household. Health officials in British Columbia are recommending people keep their trick-or-treating groups to six people or fewer.

Quebec reported 1,064 new cases on Saturday, down from 1,108 new cases on Friday.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Friday said a plan is coming next week to ease COVID-19 restrictions in the province’s hot spots.

John Oliveira, left, helps load hockey equipment for nine year-olds Delcan Morgan, left, and Anthony Oliveira, right, after having a small group session of on-ice practice in Brampton, Ont., on Oct. 26. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Ford said he has asked his health advisers to put together a strategy to allow shuttered businesses in the regions to safely reopen.

Restrictions that banned indoor dining in restaurants and bars and closed gyms were put in place in the so-called hot spots on Oct. 10. The measures were intended to be in place for 28 days and are set to expire next Saturday.

Ford could not provide any details of the plan or say how the plan would impact restaurants and gyms.

In Peel Region, the city of Brampton is not helping the cause. Its weekly test positivity rate rose to 9.6 per cent for the week ending Oct. 24, according to a Peel Health Surveillance report published on Friday.

(CBC News)

This represents a 1.5-point increase from the previous week, when Brampton sat at 8.1 per cent positivity. This is well above the five per cent benchmark used by infectious disease experts to signal the virus could be under control.

Brampton’s positivity rate is two-and-a-half times higher than the national figure.

WATCH | Gym owners, patrons frustrated by renewed COVID-19 closures:

Despite Manitoba’s surge in COVID-19 cases, gyms remain open in most of the province even though the facilities are closed in Ontario and Quebec. Gym owners and patrons are increasingly frustrated and want to know why they’re paying more to contain the pandemic than other jurisdictions. 1:57

In Alberta, health officials reported a record number of new cases in a single day on Friday, with 622 new infections. There are currently 140 people in hospital with COVID-19 in Alberta, with 25 of them in intensive care. The Edmonton and Calgary health zones have about 2,000 cases each.

New Brunswick reported one new COVID-19 case and two recoveries on Saturday.

Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases on Friday for the fourth straight day. Three active cases remain in the province. 

Nova Scotia reported five new cases on Saturday, up from two additional cases on Friday, when officials in the province said the state of emergency would be renewed. The emergency status will begin at noon on Nov. 1 and run until Nov. 15, unless the province extends it. 

Saskatchewan reported 76 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, with 34 of those cases coming from the Saskatoon area. There are currently 22 people in hospital, with 16 of those receiving in-patient care. 

A public health order on nightclubs is now in effect in Saskatoon, where drinking alcohol is barred between 10 p.m. and 9:30 a.m. CST, and they are required to close between 11 p.m. and 9:30 a.m. Karaoke and dance floors have been closed at the clubs, where guests are to be seated and cannot mingle between tables. 

Two medical experts told CBC News they’re worried that the number of new infections will overwhelm the province’s health system. 

British Columbia announced in a written public statement another 272 cases of COVID-19 on Friday and one additional death. There are currently 2,390 active cases in the province.

Three new outbreaks at health-care facilities were announced by health officials, who also reminded residents not to hold large parties over the Halloween weekend. 

What’s happening around the world

A database maintained by Johns Hopkins University put the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases reported around the world since the pandemic began at more than 45.7 million as of Saturday morning, with more than 29.7 million of those listed as recovered. The death toll reported by the U.S.-based university stood at more than 1.1 million.

In Britain, the government is considering imposing a new national lockdown in England, after its scientific advisers warned that hospitalizations and deaths from the resurgence of the coronavirus could soon surpass the levels seen at the outbreak’s spring peak.

A protester in London’s Parliament Square holds a poster on Friday, on Day 5 of a week-long protest action called ‘Survival in the Square,’ highlighting how the pandemic has affected opera singers and other performers. (Hollie Adams/AFP/Getty Images)

The Times of London says Prime Minister Boris Johnson could announce a month-long lockdown as soon as Monday, though the government says no decisions have been made. Any new lockdown would likely see non-essential businesses close and people told to stay mostly at home, though schools would remain open.

The U.K. is recording more than 20,000 new coronavirus infections a day, and government statisticians say the true figure is far higher. On Saturday the country is likely to surpass one million confirmed cases since the outbreak began. The U.K. has Europe’s highest coronavirus death toll at more than 46,000.

India has registered 48,268 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, continuing a downward trend.

The country’s Health Ministry on Saturday also reported 551 additional deaths, taking total fatalities up to 121,641. The figure raises the country’s total virus tally to more than 8.1 million, behind only the U.S. Over 7.4 million people have recovered.

The slowdown in daily infections has held for more than a month, with fewer than 60,000 cases for nearly two weeks. Some experts say the trend suggests the virus may have finally reached a plateau in India, but others question the testing methods and warn that a major festival due in a few weeks and the winter season could result in a new surge.

In Sri Lanka, police have, for the first time, arrested dozens of people for not wearing masks and failing to maintain physical distancing, under the new laws imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

A Sri Lankan police officer stands guard as health officers collect swab samples from rail commuters to test for COVID-19 at a railway station in Colombo on Oct. 12. (Eranga Jayawardena/The Associated Press)

Police spokesperson Ajith Rohana said 39 people were detained, and separately, another 221 were held for violating a curfew.

Since Thursday, the Sri Lankan government has imposed a curfew in the whole of Western province, where new outbreaks at a garment factory and the main fish market were discovered early this month. The province includes the capital Colombo.

Infections from the two clusters have grown to 6,945 by Saturday, including 633 in the last 24 hours, bringing to more than 10,000 the number of confirmed cases in the island nation, including 19 deaths.

WATCH | COVID-19 long-haulers share experience with prolonged symptoms:

After a record-breaking day for COVID-19 cases in Manitoba, the province announced more restrictions for the Winnipeg area and prepared for an influx of cases at hospitals. 2:14

The United States now has nine million confirmed cases of the coronavirus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins, as infections continue to rise in nearly every state.

It took two weeks to reach the mark from eight million, the fastest jump of one million yet. It had taken more than three weeks for the total to rise from seven million to eight million.

Confirmed U.S. cases are on the rise in 47 states. Deaths are up 14 per cent over the past two weeks, averaging more than 800 every day. The virus has now killed more than 229,000 Americans.

South Dakota broke its record for new coronavirus infections reported in one day on Friday as 1,560 people tested positive.

The new virus cases brought the number of cases statewide to 13,520, according to the state’s Department of Health. That means that roughly one out of every 65 people currently has an active infection.

The state has ranked second in the nation for new cases per person over the last two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins researchers. There were about 1,359 new cases per 100,000 people.

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