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Today's coronavirus news: Parliamentary finance committee to hear more testimony related to cancelled WE Charity deal; Ford in Mississauga to meet with businesses helping with COVID-19 response – Toronto Star

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KEY FACTS

  • 9 a.m.: Committee to hear more testimony on cancelled WE Charity deal

  • 8:51 a.m.: Ford in Mississauga to meet with businesses

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Tuesday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

9:50 a.m.: Mendocino Clothing Co., a Toronto-based retailer, has begun restructuring proceedings and plans to close stores to focus on online orders.

The closely-held company filed a notice of intention to make a proposal under Canadian bankruptcy law on July 14, according to documents posted on the website of KSV Kofman Inc., the trustee. The documents listed Toronto-Dominion Bank as a secured creditor owed $2.69 million and a further $5.78 million owed to unsecured creditors including American Express and OPGI Mgmt.

The notice of intention is the formal first step in filing under Canada’s Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and gives the company a temporary stay against any proceedings by its creditors. Mendicino joins retailers DavidsTea Inc. and Aldo Group Inc. in seeking protection, as the Canadian economy struggles to emerge from what the central bank called the steepest and deepest downturn since the Great Depression.

Although Mendocino filed under the Bankrupcty and Involvency Act, it’s important to note that the company “is not bankrupt,” KSV said. Esther Mann, a representative of the trustee, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mendicino, which has been operating since 1987, closed its head office and all of its stores as of March 16 out of concern for the safety of its customers and staff, according to a recorded message at the company’s main phone number.

Prior to the pandemic, the company operated 28 stores in and around the Greater Toronto Area, according to Insolvency Insider, which first reported the filing.

9 a.m. A parliamentary finance committee will hear more testimony related to the now-cancelled WE Charity deal at the heart of an ethics controversy plaguing the Liberal government.

Tuesday will mark the second time the all-party committee of MPs will assess the agreement struck — and then cancelled — with WE Charity to provide upwards of $43.5 million to administer a $900-million government grant program.

So far, Ian Shugart, clerk of the privy council, is on the witness list, along with a lawyer and the president of a consulting service, both of whom work outside of the government.

Read more from the Star’s Kieran Leavitt

8:51 a.m. Premier Doug Ford insists there will be no snap election in Ontario to cash in on his recent jump in the polls, but he’s still headed back out on the campaign trail.

Ford will be in Mississauga on Tuesday to meet with Mayor Bonnie Crombie and several local businesses to discuss the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

His campaign-style swing comes one day after he announced Peel Region, Toronto, and Windsor-Essex are not yet ready to move to the next stage of reopening the economy while everywhere else in Ontario will be open Friday.

In the morning, the premier is touring Neo-Image Candlelight, which retooled its high-speed candle fillers to fill bottles of hand sanitizer.

Then, he will meet with Crombie and other officials at Trillium Health Partners, which runs Credit Valley Hospital, Mississauga Hospital, and the Queensway Health Centre.

Read the full story by the Star’s Robert Benzie

8:36 a.m. Almost two-third of parents in a new poll say they believe that children returning to school in the fall should wear masks at least part of the time.

The latest poll on the COVID-19 pandemic by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies found that 41 per cent of respondents believe school children should be required to wear a mask while they’re on the bus or in the school.

A further 21 per cent said yes to masks, but only when a student is outside of class during recess, lunch or if on the bus — suggesting they were OK with students taking off their masks once in class and not in common areas.

There was also a group of respondents, accounting for 28 per cent, who believed masks should be optional.

The current public health advice is that non-medical masks can contain infectious particles on their wearers’ breath, reducing the risk of contagion from people with COVID-19 who might not know they’re carrying the illness.

The Leger online poll of 1,524 Canadians over age 18 took place July 17 to 19. The poll cannot be given a margin of error because it is not a random sample.

7:39 a.m. Front-line hospital staff in Ontario are planning a five-minute, in-hospital protest Tuesday morning to fight the proposed extension of the province’s emergency orders.

The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, a division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, says it does not want the province’s emergency order extended in its current form because it suspends their collective bargaining agreement.

The Progressive Conservative government introduced a bill two weeks ago that would allow it to keep some emergency measures in place in the months ahead.

The union says that without the CBA in place they have no workplace rights, including having the time and location of shifts changed without notice or vacations cancelled.

Union president Michael Hurley argues that while those measures were acceptable at the start of the pandemic the emergency is over in most of Ontario.

CUPE hospital workers staged workplace rallies across Ontario opposing aspects of Bill 195 on Friday.

The union’s membership voted in favour of further political protest actions last night unless the bill is amended.

Health-care workers in Ontario do not have the right to strike and have a very limited right to refuse unsafe work.

7:22 a.m. Nearly a quarter of the residents in India’s capital New Delhi have had the coronavirus, according to a sero-prevalence study conducted by the country’s disease control organization.

With a population of more than 11 million, New Delhi has so far reported 123,747 confirmed cases and 3,663 deaths. The study conducted by the National Center for Disease Control found that 23.48 per cent of the 21, 387 blood samples tested showed the prevalence of IgG antibodies.

The samples were collected between June 27 through July 10 across the city’s 11 districts. The tests help in the identification of the presence of antibodies in the general population. The study did not provide any gender or age-related details of the population sample tested.

Even as the spread of virus has been contained in the city, a significant proportion of the population is still vulnerable, according to the health ministry statement.

The South Asian country added 37,148 cases on Tuesday taking the tally more than 1.15 million, according to data shared by India’s health ministry. It’s only trailing the U.S. and Brazil now.

5 a.m.: In just four days, Torontonians were supposed to join the rest of Ontario in moving to Stage 3 of the province’s economic reopening. But with COVID-19 cases on the uptick, those plans have been put on hold.

Toronto, Peel Region and Windsor-Essex will remain in Stage 2, while Hamilton and the rest of the GTA will move to Stage 3 as planned on Friday.

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Premier Doug Ford said the numbers in these regions are not where they should be, and that the possibility of Stage 3 beginning July 31 for these areas will be revisited next week.

Toronto business owners say the delay comes as no surprise.

Jason Ching, co-owner of Omai Restaurant in Toronto, said he wasn’t planning to allow indoor seating Friday even if he had the go-ahead.

“I think we’re more comfortable doing that than having people sit inside,” he said.

Read the full story from Rosa Saba here.

4:41 a.m.: Lebanon’s health minister says the financially troubled Mediterranean country, which has so far managed to contain the coronavirus, is sliding toward a critical stage with a new surge in infections after lockdown restrictions were lifted and the airport reopened.

The recently recorded double and triple digits of new infections were coupled with an increase in untraceable cases, raising concerns that a dangerous spread in the community could follow, Minister of Health Hamad Hassan told The Associated Press.

Lebanon’s early lockdown and strict measures to contain the virus were praised for slowing down the initial spread of the pandemic. Authorities have also aggressively tested, carried out random tests, and swiftly isolated infected areas.

But Lebanon’s crippling economic and financial crisis has proven more difficult to manage. In late April, the authorities began gradually easing weeks-long restrictions that threw tens of thousands out of work; Lebanon’s only airport reopened on July 1.

The government doesn’t appear ready to again tighten restrictions or impose another full lockdown.

So far, Lebanon has recorded more than 2,900 infections and 41 deaths, including one front-line doctor who died Monday at a hospital in the south, two weeks after contracting COVID-19. Hassan said the late diagnosis is to blame for the death of the 32-year-old physician. Some 150 medical staff have been infected, only a few of them becoming sick.

Tuesday 4 a.m. Australia’s hot spot in Victoria state on Tuesday reported 374 new cases of COVID-19, its second-highest daily tally.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews also announced three more deaths, bringing the national death toll 126.

Andrews said a lockdown in Australia’s second-largest city Melbourne, which began two weeks ago, was having an impact.

“You’d like to see numbers coming down. At the end of the day though, we’re not seeing the doubling and doubling again” of cases, Andrews said. “So what that says to me … is that the sorts of measures we’ve put in place are having a direct impact.”

Face masks will become compulsory from Thursday for residents in lockdown regions when they leave their homes.

Monday 10 p.m. COVID-19 has led to the deaths of 13 nuns at a convent in Michigan in the last three months, religious officials report.

A dozen members in the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Felix of Cantalice, or Felician Sisters, died after battling the virus between Good Friday on April 10 and May 10, while a 13th associated death was reported on June 27, according to the Global Sisters Report released Monday. The nonprofit outlet is a project of the National Catholic Reporter publishing company.

The Detroit Catholic, another publication that covers the Catholic community in southeast Michigan, reported that as many as 22 sisters at the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Convent had tested positive for the coronavirus through early May.

The nuns at the 360-acre campus, who ranged in age from 69 to 99, included teachers, a librarian and a secretary in the Vatican Secretariat of State, the Global Sisters Report said.

Meanwhile, at least 19 other sisters have died in the United States during the pandemic, according to the article, which said the Livonia deaths “may be the worst loss of life to a community of women religious since the 1918 influenza pandemic.”

Representatives with the Felician Sisters of North America did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

Monday 5:34 p.m.: Ontario has seen another day with no new COVID-19 deaths, according to the Star’s latest count.

As of 5 p.m. Monday, Ontario’s regional health units reported 39,817 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, including 2,785 deaths, a jump of 160 reported infections since Sunday evening.

The last time the units did not report a fatal case in 24 hours was on July 6; before that, the province had seen 14 consecutive days with at least one reported death. In late April and early May, the health units reported as many as 94 deaths in a single day.

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Ontario reports 78 new COVID-19 cases, education minister 'unlocks' $500M for school return – CBC.ca

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Ontario reported an additional 78 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, however numbers for Toronto Public Health were not available for today’s provincial update.

Of those public health units that did report new daily case counts, Peel had the most, with 19. Ottawa had 10, while Windsor-Essex had nine and Waterloo eight.

CBC News has reached out to Toronto Public Health for an explanation about its data, but has yet to receive a response.

At a news conference Thursday, Dr. David Williams, the province’s chief medical health officer, called Ontario’s overall direction “positive,” but said people need to keep their diligence up to keep the numbers down. 

“Our trends have consistently … been coming down,” he said. “You’re doing great. You need to keep doing well and as you go to the next phase, we have to do that even better.”

Williams estimated Thursday’s total number of confirmed cases would likely fall closer to 95 had Toronto Public Health’s data been included.

“I would estimate … we may be closer to 95,” said Williams. “I don’t think we’re over 100, that’s probably the good news.”

All of the figures used in this story are found in the Ministry of Health’s daily update, which includes data from up until 4 p.m. the previous day. The number of cases for any particular region on a given day may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, which often avoid lag times in the provincial system.

Ontario has now seen a total of 40,367 confirmed infections of the novel coronavirus since the outbreak began in late January. Of those, slightly less than 91 per cent are considered resolved. Another 99 cases were marked resolved in today’s update.

There are currently some 891 confirmed, active cases of COVID-19 provincewide, though there are likely more given the lack of data from Toronto today. Active cases are confined mostly to the southern reaches of Ontario. 

The province’s network of about 30 labs processed 29,626 test samples for the novel coronavirus yesterday.

Ontario’s official death toll from the virus stayed steady at 2,787. A CBC News count based on data provided by public health units puts the real toll at 2,825.

Province unlocking $500 million on ventilation, PPE for schools

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced he had “unlocked” $500 million for the province’s back-to-school plan.

The funding is meant to enhance physical distancing and improve air quality, along with providing PPE and boosting the number of custodians, ahead of the return to school in September. 

The minister also announced an additional $50 million for upgrades to ventilation systems and $18 million for online learning amid concerns over student safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Parent groups and education workers held a demonstration outside Queen’s Park on Wednesday, calling on the government to provide funding for smaller elementary school class sizes in the fall. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

The half a billion dollars in funding comes after the ministry allowed school boards to dip into reserve funds. Boards that do not have reserves will be provided with funding from an $11 million allocation.

“Our plan is a living document. It is responding to needs on the ground,” said Lecce. 

The education minister said he is also expanding school boards’ ability to access reserve funding for this particular year.

Some parents, educators and medical professionals have criticized the provincial government’s strategy for students. In particular, the decision to keep elementary school class sizes at pre-pandemic levels has faced scrutiny. 

In Ontario, there are no cap sizes for classes in Grades 4 through 8, only a maximum average of 24.5 across each board. That means it’s not uncommon for children in high enrolment school boards to find themselves in classes of 30 or more students. 

The government has said that distancing when possible, combined with a host of other measures such as self-screening by students and staff and mandatory masks for Grades 4 to 12, would keep children safe.

Premier in Windsor

Meanwhile, Ford announced $30 million through the Connecting Links program in order to build and repair roadways in the province. 

The premier also met with local leaders in Windsor-Essex to discuss the region’s economic recovery now that it has entered Stage 3 of Ontario’s reopening plan.

Ford said he talked with area mayors about opening a new hospital, as well as expanding capacity at the region’s Ceasar’s Casino. 

“We need to take the same approach as we do with cinemas,” Ford said of the casino.

“I have to protect those jobs,” he said “I have to protect those folks … same as I have to protect the automotive industry here.”

The premier also toured the Ford Motor Company’s Essex Engine Plant where a portion of the facility was retooled to produce plastic face shields for front-line workers during the pandemic.

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Drug shortages could 'imperil the lives' of Canadians, doctors warn Ottawa – CTV News

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TORONTO —
A group of some of Canada’s leading doctors and pharmacists have issued an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, urging the federal government to address shortages for critical drugs such as Azithromycin, Lorazepam and Remdesivir that could “imperil the lives” of Canadians amid the COVID-19 pandemic

The Critical Drugs Coalition issued the letter on Thursday, asking the government to bring attention and resources to Canada’s drug supply challenges. These challenges have existed for the past decade but doctors say they have been “greatly exacerbated” due to the novel coronavirus.

“We simply cannot afford to jeopardize the lives and wellbeing of our patients due to an inadequate supply of critical drugs,” the letter reads.

Some of the drugs currently in shortage include forms of Azithromycin, Ceftriaxone, Dexamethasone, Lorazepam, Midazolam, Propofol, Remdesivir, Salbutamol and Tocilizumab, among others. The letter says that health-care professionals have also seen shortages in antibiotic drugs, some of which are on the Tier 3 list, including Penicillin G.

According to the letter, 24 out of 32 drugs on Health Canada’s Tier 3 shortage list are essential for treating COVID-19. Medications on the Tier 3 list are drugs experiencing an active significant shortage and have no suitable alternatives.

With these critical drugs typically prescribed for various condition such as epilepsy, high blood pressure, pain, and asthma, many pharmacies across the country have been limiting patients to one month’s worth of medication at a time to discourage people from stockpiling medication amid the uncertainties around the pandemic.

CTV News previously reported that doctors are also experimenting with different treatments using existing medications to help hospitalized COVID-19 patients, which in some cases, have led to misinformed members of the public stockpiling the medicine and causing shortages for patients suffering from other serious diseases requiring the drugs.

“As frontline pharmacists and physicians, we have seen and heard of serious shortages of essential, critical medications. These drugs are often used simultaneously in ORs, ERs and palliative care wards, as well as ICUs,” the letter reads.

While Canada’s ICUs are seeing fewer COVID-19 patients, the Critical Drugs Coalition says the pandemic has placed a burden on their drug supply with patients often requiring weeks of treatment on ventilators.

Deputy Minister of Health Canada Stephen Lucas said in April that the COVID-19 pandemic will likely lead to shortages of drugs and medical devices for Canadians.

Lucas said the federal government has a team dedicated to addressing the problem and is working with regulators in the U.S., Australia and Europe to identify where the supply-chain disruptions are occurring.

The federal government has also issued an interim order to allow certain international drugs that may not fully meet regulatory requirements to be imported and sold in Canada to help address drug shortages. However, pharmacists and physicians say they’re still facing shortages.

CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION

Health experts behind the letter worry that a likely second wave of infections in Canada will further increase drug shortages and put Canadians lives at risk by compromising the optimal care for their health unless certain measure are put in place.

While the letter is addressed to Trudeau, the Critical Drugs Coalition is calling for immediate action by all levels governments including provincial, territorial, and municipal with national support. The letter said Canada will “perpetually face drug shortages” unless concrete action is taken.

The Critical Drugs Coalition is a grassroots, volunteer-run coalition of physicians, pharmacists and others concerned by drug shortages amid the pandemic. The coalition recommends that Canada find a long-term solution to the problem, starting with the robust stockpiling of critical medications.

“Many of the critical care drugs should be part of the National Strategic Emergency Stockpile. However, it is clear that Canada simply did not have enough stockpiled to meet the demand during the COVID-19 pandemic and that there has been under allocation and underspending for the emergency stockpile,” according to the letter.

Some of Canada’s national medical bodies including the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians (CAEP) have also signed the letter.

In order for the stockpiling strategy to be effective, the letter says governments must work closely with hospitals across Canada to establish a comprehensive list of essential medications for hospital-based care. Additionally, it suggests governments develop a plan to obtain medications in a co-ordinated manner to prevent unintended competition.

The letter is also calling for a publicly owned or supported critical drugs manufacturer as a safeguard against future drug shortages.

China and India supply some 80 per cent of the active ingredients and raw materials for many of the medications, and while some drugs are assembled in Canada, none are completely manufactured here from start to finish.

The letter explained that this national manufacturer would specialize in creating the critical drugs on the Critical Medications List, and “would be primarily involved in satisfying significant portions” of national medication demands.

Going forward, the letter is urging greater transparency and communication from governments to the health sector and the public on the supply of critical medicines to ensure drug supply issues are addressed before they pose any serious risks to sick patients.

“We encourage our government to give this urgent issue attention and efforts now, so that Canadians can have the confidence that their healthcare system will be there when they most need it,” the letter said.

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Grieving family says Canada abandoned son in Florida prison – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Sacha Bond’s family was looking forward to 2022, when, after more than 15 years in the United States, he would finally return to Canada. Instead, his mother is by his side at a hospital in Tallahassee, Fla., watching him die.

Bond, who turns 36 at the end of August, has been an inmate at Apalachee Correctional Institution for nearly half his life. Now chained to a hospital bed and supervised by armed guards 24/7 while in a coma, this is not what Sacha’s family wants for his final days. They blame the Canadian government for not doing enough years earlier — and for not doing more now.

Sacha was found with a fever of 40.5 C around 8:30 a.m. on July 13 after having spent almost three months in confinement, according to his mother, Diane Levesque, and brother, Eric Bond.

“There’s nothing we can do at this point because his brain is completely gone. He’s gone through so much cruelty at that place, and basically now my mom is risking her life … in the worst place in the world for COVID,” Eric Bond told CTVNews.ca.

“It is really, really heartbreaking.”

When he was taken out of the cell, he collapsed and never woke up, Eric Bond said. Sacha’s temperature had climbed to 41 C by the time he was admitted into the hospital, where he was put on life support. Scans revealed severe, irreparable brain damage. His kidneys and lungs were failing and he had a blood infection.

But the family, who live in Quebec, said they would not have even known Sacha was dying in a hospital had Levesque not been in regular contact with him and the Canadian government.

She had called the consulate to ask when they would be visiting her son and was told they couldn’t because he was in the hospital, Eric Bond said. When she tried to find out which hospital he was being treated at, she was met with further roadblocks. A sympathetic staff member at the prison eventually told her.

Doctors diagnosed Bond with serotonin syndrome and neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS), his family said, both of which are triggered by certain types of medication. Over the last year or so, the prison had been changing his medication for his bipolar disorder, Eric Bond said, changes that were affecting his serotonin levels. The family had asked doctors at the prison to stop making the drug switches because the ones he was taking were working well, he added.

NMS is a very rare reaction to drugs that treat mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder.

Bond had been on life support for about two weeks by the time Levesque, who had power-of-attorney, made it to Florida. She was shocked by the severity of his condition. He was taken off life support two days later.

He is surviving longer than doctors expected because his lower brain stem, which was not damaged, is helping him breathe on his own, his family said.

“How can his soul leave his body when he’s stuck, chained to the bed?” Levesque asked in an interview.

“Canada does nothing. They’re standing by … He’ll be another statistic – that a Canadian died in a U.S. prison. You know what? He’s a human being, he’s my son.”

Neither the Florida Department of Corrections nor the warden for Apalachee Correctional Institution responded to questions about prisoner hospital policies and requests for comment from CTVNews.ca.

A 20-YEAR SENTENCE AND TRANSFERS DENIED

Bond was 19 when he got into a drunken fight at a bar during a January 2004 trip to Florida. He returned to the bar with a gun and tried to fire, but there were no bullets in those chambers, according to the family and media reports on the case. He was convicted of four counts of attempted murder and sentenced to 20 years.

He was set to be released on Sept.25, 2022, according to public inmate records from the Florida Department of Corrections.

His family tried many times over the years to transfer him to a Canadian prison under the International Transfer of Offenders Act, where they hoped he could get better treatment for his bipolar disorder, diagnosed just six months before his arrest. Canada approved the transfer twice, but U.S. authorities denied the request each time, Levesque said.

“Canada has made no effort to work with the U.S. government in order to have them send my boy back home,” she said. They sent the family funeral home pamphlets following their most recent pleas, saying there was nothing they could do, she added.

Global Affairs Canada told CTVNews.ca they are aware a Canadian citizen is being detained in Florida and said they continue to provide consular services to both the individual and their family.

“We are closely monitoring the situation and consular officials are in regular contact with local authorities to ensure he is provided the necessary medical care,” spokesman Jason Kung said via email. Citing the Privacy Act, Global Affairs said it could not disclose any further information.

Correctional Service Canada, which oversees international transfers, did not immediately respond to questions regarding the case.

SCARED OF COVID-19 AND THREE MONTHS CONFINEMENT

Prison had “broken” Bond and made him a changed person, his family said. Still, in Levesque’s last phone conversation with him, “he was OK, he wasn’t sick … He was fine, happy, laughed,” she said. But he was very concerned and scared about the COVID-19 situation at the prison, where he said social distancing was non-existent.

The Apalachee East Unit is a large, dormitory-like space that holds some 150 inmates, according to Levesque, with cots set up side-by-side and just enough room to get in and out of bed.

According to the Florida Department of Corrections website, there have been 152 positive COVID-19 tests among inmates, 25 among staff, and no deaths reported at that facility. Staff are provided with protective equipment including surgical-grade and N95 masks and Tyvek suits. Inmates are required to wear “cloth face coverings” and are monitored by medical staff with temperature checks conducted throughout the day.

Bond tried to ask for “protective management” on health and safety grounds — which would segregate him from other inmates — but his mother said that request was denied. They put him in 45 days of confinement instead, which placed him in a cell with one other inmate, she said.

When the 45 days were over, Bond refused the order to go back to the general prison area, so he was given another 21 days of confinement, this time in a different type of cell that had no bars on the solid doors, a small window with no sunlight, and no ventilation. Phone calls were not allowed.

“My brother was sending letters to all the consulates saying, ‘This is insane, I’m going freaking nuts, I have a rash from head to toe. I can’t even breathe in here,’” Eric Bond said.

Levesque was also exchanging daily letters with Bond during this period, but after his first 45 days, she got a call: “Sacha wants me to pass you a message — stop writing in French because they’re keeping all these letters. He’s not getting them.”

In his last letter to his mother, Bond said he was breathing in black mould all day long, had a body rash and was sweating 24/7. He fell into a coma 10 days later.

Now, Levesque keeps him company in the hospital room day and night, sleeping in a chair and holding his hands under the watchful eye of two prison guards who stay in the small room with them. She is no longer allowed to keep a phone inside the room to connect with her other son, who worries he will not be able to see his brother’s last moments.

“We’re a very strong family. Sacha stayed in prison, did his time for 17 years and we just wanted him to come out of that tunnel … There is zero per cent chance of him pulling out of this and the prison is insisting on chaining his body to that bed,” said Eric Bond.

“I’m 100 per cent going to lose my brother. I’m really scared of losing my mother in this whole process.”

The guards’ presence has made things especially tense, said Levesque.

“The hospital is the best, co-operative and very empathetic, sympathetic, you know. But that prison? They want to control him up to the last minute,” she said, adding that the guards told her: “‘He’s still ours. He still belongs to us.’”

Her presence in the room outside of visitation hours was also questioned, even though she received permission from the hospital to remain with her son.

“There was no way I wasn’t coming over here, even though COVID is like a cesspool down here,” Levesque said. “It’s one of the worst places, but that’s where my son is. That’s where I need to be.”

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