In the wake of several Canadian elected officials being caught travelling over the holidays – despite federal health guidelines stating non-essential travel should be avoided – it turns out the Canadian public has also been travelling.
Travel data uploaded by the state of Hawaii shows Canadian travellers have been visiting the islands in droves, by both direct and connecting flights.
The portal allows results to be filtered by airline, flight number, destination, date range, arrival airport, whether a traveller is a visitor or resident and if the traveler is in quarantine.
According to the data, more than 4,000 Canadians visited Hawaii between Dec. 1, 2020 to Jan. 7, 2021.
Of the 4,253 travellers listed, the majority (2,564) came from Calgary International Airport (YYC), 1,667 arrived via Vancouver International (YVR), 12 from Edmonton International (YEG) and 10 from Pearson International Airport in Toronto (YYZ).
Most travellers used WestJet and Air Canada to arrive at the main destinations of Maui and Honolulu, which saw 3,053 and 1,300 Canadian travellers in that date range, respectively.
A banner on the COVID-19 portal for Hawaii reminds passengers they must have a negative COVID-19 test result prior to departure to avoid a 10-day quarantine upon arrival.
Hurdles remain in Canada-U.S. relationship despite renewed commitments – CBC.ca
Challenges still lie ahead for the Canada-U.S. relationship despite several days of bilateral meetings between the two countries on their shared priorities and close ties as longtime allies.
During what Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland dubbed “Canada-U.S. week,” leaders and officials touted joint commitments to tackling climate change, recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and securing the release of detained Canadians in China Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.
But among the questions Canada needs answered is whether the country will be spared from its neighbour’s “Buy American” provisions — and whether Canada might be able to tap into the U.S. supply of COVID-19 vaccines.
When asked by CBC chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton whether the Biden administration would consider exempting Canada from the provisions, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken focused instead on the existing trading relationship between the two countries.
“We are each other’s largest trading partners. We have a remarkably vibrant commercial and trade relationship. I think the potential going forward, particularly as we’re trying to build more resilient supply chains … there is huge opportunity there,” Blinken said in his first Canadian interview, which aired Sunday on Rosemary Barton Live.
“We both have a strong incentive to work together on a whole series of projects, as well as to make sure that that trading relationship — already arguably the strongest in the world — grows even stronger,” he said.
‘Buy American’ weakens relationship, expert says
But hours before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden met virtually last Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Washington was still “evaluating” how the order might be applied.
Christopher Sands, director of the Wilson Center’s Canada Institute, says that if Blinken wants to discuss the strength of the Canada-U.S. relationship, he should acknowledge that protectionist policies will weaken those ties.
“What has made us resilient has been that rather than trying to do everything ourselves, we built these supply chains across borders. And it means that when you have a crunch, you can go to Canada for help,” Sands said.
“You don’t make supply chains more resilient by putting a ‘Buy American’ provision in, because what that means is we’re restricted to the amount of supply that’s available at home.”
Biden signed an executive order promoting the purchase, production and development of made-in-America goods several days after he took office — a priority he emphasized during his presidential campaign.
Sands told CBC News he thought the Biden administration might have distanced itself from “America First” rhetoric in the wake of the Trump presidency.
“To me, it advertises their feeling of relative weakness, that they feel that they need to address sort of populist and nationalist feelings as well,” he said.
WATCH | Top U.S. diplomat ‘confident’ Canada-U.S. relations will grow:
U.S. prioritizing own vaccination effort
The U.S. president also has not reversed an executive order introduced by former president Donald Trump ensuring vaccine manufacturers prioritize U.S. contracts before exporting doses elsewhere.
When asked by Barton, Blinken did not say whether there was a future scenario that would allow Canada to access domestically produced shots.
“We’re focused on getting every American vaccinated, and that’s job one,” he said. “But we’re also looking, at the same time, at how we can help get vaccines around the world.”
Blinken said that as vaccine production ramps up in the weeks ahead, access to doses will also increase around the world, including in Canada.
Sands said that while executive orders aren’t as binding as legislation, he was disappointed that officials haven’t done more to assure Canadians that the U.S. could share its supply.
“The easy thing to say would be, ‘Canada, you put in orders to get vaccine from Pfizer … and the U.S. is committed to expanding production of vaccine,'” he said.
“That’s the kind of thing that you would have expected the U.S. to say after World War II, kind of that leadership.”
Back in November, Pfizer told the Globe and Mail that Canada would be sent doses from the company’s plant in Kalamazoo, Mich. — but Pfizer backtracked on that statement earlier this year.
Pfizer Canada president Cole Pinnow told Barton earlier this month that the company “re-evaluated what our supply chain plan was going to be” after “some uncertainty” with the previous U.S. administration, deciding instead that Canada’s shipments would come from Puurs, Belgium.
Pinnow said doses will continue to come from the company’s European facilities at least until the end of June.
On Friday, Health Canada approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, 20 million doses of which are expected to come from the United States.
Procurement Minister Anita Anand says she has received “positive indications” that the U.S. shipment is on track to arrive in the second and third quarter of this year.
You can watch full episodes of Rosemary Barton Live on CBC Gem, the CBC’s streaming service.
Canada adds 2,300 new COVID-19 cases as provinces split on next steps against pandemic – Global News
Canada’s COVID-19 hotspots showed diverging approaches to handling the crisis on Sunday, as Ontario and Prince Edward Island prepared for new lockdowns while Quebec entered a week of spring break complete with some activities meant to ease the monotony of life during a global pandemic.
The developments came amid another 2,302 new cases of COVID-19 across the country, which pushed the national total to 866,434. Another 34 deaths were reported on Sunday as well, with the national death toll standing at 21,994.
To date over 813,520 patients infected with the virus have recovered however, while over 24.8 million tests and 1.87 million vaccine doses have been administered. Sunday’s data paints a limited snapshot of the virus’ spread across Canada however as B.C. and both the Northwest Territories and Yukon do not report new cases on the weekend.
Prince Edward Island announced it was entering a 72-hour lockdown starting at midnight as the province struggled to contain an outbreak of COVID-19.
The short-term public health order was announced as officials reported five new infections of the disease in a province that has seen few cases for most of the pandemic. The Island has now recorded 17 new infections over the past five days.
Health officials identified two clusters of COVID-19 in the cities of Summerside and Charlottetown, and said it’s possible the island has community spread of the virus. The province has a total of just 132 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
The three-day lockdown requires residents to stay home as much as possible and will close all kindergarten to Grade 12 schools, with post-secondary education moving online only.
“We would rather go harder and stronger now than wait for an outbreak like we have seen in other provinces that could put us in an extended period of lockdown for weeks or even months,” Premier Dennis King said late Sunday during a briefing with reporters.
Ontario, meanwhile, passed the 300,000 case mark on Sunday as the government prepared to hit a so-called ’emergency brake’ in two northern public health units grappling with surging case numbers.
The Thunder Bay and Simcoe-Muskoka District health units will enter the lockdown phase of the province’s pandemic response plan on Monday in order interrupt transmission of COVID-19 at a time when new variants are gaining steam.
The province has also pushed back its spring break until April in an effort to limit community spread.
Navigating a tax season complicated by COVID-19
Quebec, in contrast, has allowed movie theatres, pools and arenas to open with restrictions in place to give families something to do as the traditional winter break kicks off, even as most other health rules remain in place.
The province opted to allow students and teachers the traditional March break, even though Premier Francois Legault has said he’s worried about the week off and the threat posed by more contagious virus variants.
Quebec’s health minister said the situation in the province was stable on Sunday, with 737 new cases and nine additional deaths _ even as confirmed cases linked to variants of concern jumped by more than 100 to 137.
Most of the variant cases have been identified as the B.1.1.7 mutation first identified in the United Kingdom, including 84 in Montreal.
Ontario, meanwhile, reported 1,062 new infections linked to the pandemic on Sunday as it became the first province to record more than 300,000 total cases of COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic.
The country’s chief public health officer urged Canadians on Sunday to continue following public health measures as a way of buying critical time as vaccine programs ramp up.
“Aiming to have the fewest interactions with the fewest number of people, for the shortest time, at the greatest distance possible is a simple rule that we can all apply to help limit the spread of COVID-19,” Dr. Theresa Tam said in a statement.
Canada’s immunization program received a boost last week with the approval of a third COVID-19 vaccine, raising hopes that provinces will be able to inoculate their most vulnerable populations before the more contagious variants can fully take hold.
Trudeau says COVID-19 case counts, presence of variants being looked at with Canada-U.S. border restrictions
Toronto announced Sunday that it was expanding the first phase of its COVID-19 vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness, noting that they have a higher risk of serious health impacts due to COVID-19 and are vulnerable to transmission in congregate settings.
Quebec, meanwhile, is set to begin vaccination of the general population on Monday, beginning with seniors 80 and over in the Montreal area, or 85 and over in the rest of the province.
While some regions with extra doses began administering shots late last week, the pace of inoculation will ramp up on Monday when mass vaccination clinics in Montreal throw open their doors.
Case counts were more stable elsewhere in the country.
Manitoba reported just 50 new COVID-19 infections on Sunday and two new virus-related deaths, while Saskatchewan saw its overall tally climb by 181 but did not log any new deaths.
Alberta reported three new virus-related deaths and 301 new infections, including 29 identified as variants of concern.
In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia logged three new cases while officials in Newfoundland and Labrador reported seven.
— With files from Global News
© 2021 The Canadian Press
Canada pension fund boss Machin quits after overseas trip for COVID shot
By Noor Zainab Hussain and Maiya Keidan
(Reuters) – The head of Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), Mark Machin, has resigned after his trip to the United Arab Emirates for vaccination against COVID-19 flouted Canadian government’s travel advice and drew criticism.
CPPIB on Friday named John Graham, currently senior managing director and global head of credit investments, as the new chief executive officer of the country’s largest pension fund.
Machin, 54, becomes the second senior Canadian corporate executive to resign after attempting to jump vaccine queue, underscoring the frustration among some about the country’s slow vaccine roll out.
“It was a complete lapse of moral judgment which risked undermining people’s trust both in government policy and the stewardship of their public pension provision,” said David Wheeler, a former business professor at York University, adding that “clearly he had to go immediately”.
Machin received Pfizer’s <PFE.N> vaccine shot after arriving in the UAE with his partner this month, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, adding he had stayed on in the UAE and was due to receive his second dose in coming weeks.
“We are very disappointed by this troubling situation and we support the swift action taken by the Board of Directors,” Kat Cuplinskas, press secretary for Canada‘s ministry of finance.
CPPIB, which manages C$475.7 billion ($377 billion), is governed independently from the federal government but it reports to a board of directors selected by Canada‘s minister of finance. It manages Canada‘s national pension fund and invests on behalf of about 20 million Canadians.
Machin did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Machin, after discussions with the Board, agreed the most appropriate step was to tender his resignation, Michel Leduc, senior managing director and head of public affairs and communications said in a statement to Reuters.
NO TRAVEL BAN
Machin sent an internal memo to CPPIB staff acknowledging that he took a personal trip and was in Dubai for a number of reasons, some of which were “deeply personal”, the source said.
Machin also said in the memo that the trip was supposed to be “very private” and that he was disappointed it had become the focus of “expected criticism”, according to the source.
Although there is no specific ban on Canadians traveling abroad, the federal and provincial governments have advised against overseas trips to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Canada trails behind many developed nations in its vaccination drive, with under 3% of the population inoculated so far.
The UAE says it provides COVID-19 vaccinations to residents and citizens only, free of charge, and requires a valid residency identification card to receive the shots. It was not immediately clear how Machin, a British national, secured the vaccine by traveling to Dubai.
Machin worked with Goldman Sachs for 20 years before joining CPPIB in March 2012. He was appointed as president and CEO in 2016.
Under Machin, CPPIB reported net return of 3.1% for the year ended March 31, 2020, down from 8.9% a year earlier. Machin was paid C$5.4 million ($4.25 million) in 2020, according to CCPIB’s annual report.
Incoming CEO Graham has been with CPPIB for 10 years. Prior to that he was with Xerox Innovation Group for over nine years.
Some Canadian federal and provincial leaders have resigned in the past month after their overseas leisure trips sparked public outrage. https://reut.rs/3qZvDLh
Last Month, Great Canadian Gaming Corp CEO Rod Baker resigned after he and his wife were charged with traveling to northern Canada and misleading authorities in order to receive the vaccine.
($1 = 1.2699 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru and Maiya Keidan in Toronto; Writing by Denny Thomas; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Marguerita Choy)
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