Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it’s premature to talk of so-called “immunity passports” for Canadians because the science is unclear about whether people who have recovered from COVID-19 are protected from catching it a second time.
As provinces begin opening up their economies from COVID-19 lockdowns, Trudeau said on Saturday none of those recovery plans hinge on people being immune to catching COVID-19 twice.
Trudeau said he spoke to premiers Friday and they discussed a basic framework that provinces will use as they reopen businesses, schools and other institutions. The focus, he said, is on preventing the spread of the virus through physical distancing and personal protective equipment.
“It is very clear that the science is not decided on whether or not having had COVID once prevents you from having it again,” he told reporters. “It’s something we need to get clearer answers to and until we get those clearer answers, we need to err on the side of more caution.”
Trudeau was responding to a recent World Health Organization brief stating there is no evidence that people who have recovered from the virus have antibodies that protect them from getting infected again.
The WHO issued the brief in the context of certain countries announcing the possibility of providing so-called “immunity passports” or “risk-free certificates” to citizens who have already been infected.
Coronavirus outbreak: Canada’s top doctor says it’s not yet known if ‘immunity passport’ could be effective
Provinces have varying approaches to relaxing public health orders that were put in place to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia, for instance, continue to urge citizens to stay home as much as possible, while New Brunswick announced Friday low-risk outdoor activities such as golf, hunting and fishing were permitted to resume.
Ontario and Quebec announced they would present their recovery plans next week. Quebec Premier Francois Legault said his government would detail separate plans for schools and then for businesses.
Legault and the province’s director of public health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, have been pushing the idea of “herd immunity” as an approach to re-opening schools. That strategy involves exposing a large proportion of Quebecers to the novel coronavirus in a measured, gradual way, to help them develop a natural immunity.
Coronavirus outbreak: Herd immunity ‘not a concept that should be supported’, Tam says
That theory follows the logic of a vaccination program. When people receive a vaccine, they are given a weakened form of the virus, allowing their immune system to build antibodies to kill it.
“The idea is to go very gradually so that people who are less at risk can develop antibodies to be able to become immune,” Legault told reporters earlier in the week.
But Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, warned against that approach Saturday. She said the federal government has put in place an immunity task force that will investigate how people’s immune systems are responding to COVID-19.
She said that since many Canadians have followed physical distancing orders, the percentage of the immunized population is “quite low.” And despite evidence that the virus is particularly dangerous to older people and those with underlying health conditions, younger people are still at risk.
“So the idea of generating natural immunity is actually not something that I think should be undertaken,” she said. “I personally think that as medical officers, we would be extremely cautious about that kind of approach.”
The case count in Canada topped 45,000 on Saturday. The global death toll, meanwhile, went above 200,000.
Many of the deaths in Canada have been people in senior homes and long-term care facilities, which have struggled to manage outbreaks among residents and staff.
Coronavirus outbreak: Canada’s top doctor says education on vaccine important ahead of potential COVID-19 treatment
Five of the six deaths connected to COVID-19 that were reported Saturday in Nova Scotia, for example, occurred at the Northwood long-term care home in Halifax Regional Municipality. There are 10 licensed long-term care homes and unlicensed seniors’ facilities in Nova Scotia with cases of COVID-19, involving 191 residents and 90 staff.
The situation is far worse in Quebec, where 65 per cent of the province’s 1,446 COVID deaths have occurred at long-term care facilities, many of which are severely understaffed. Another 15 per cent of the province’s death total comes from senior homes.
In Ontario, frontline health care workers in facilities such as long-term care homes, will receive a raise of $4 per hour for the next four months, Premier Doug Ford announced Saturday.
Coronavirus outbreak: Canada death toll hits 2,350 deaths as cases pass 44,000
Aside from the long-term care homes, the premier said the bonus will be available for workers in senior residences, emergency shelters, supportive housing, social services congregate care settings, corrections institutions and youth justice facilities, home and community care providers and some staff in hospitals.
The premier made the announcement as dozens of protesters took to the provincial legislature to defy physical distancing measures set by the province.
“It just burns me up,” said Ford, who called the protesters “reckless” and “selfish.”
“We have health-care people working tirelessly, but then we have a bunch of yahoos sitting there protesting as they’re breaking the law and putting workers in jeopardy.”
© 2020 The Canadian Press
Canada’s daily coronavirus death toll surges from day prior as 705 new cases reported – Globalnews.ca
The death toll from the novel coronavirus in Canada more than doubled from the day prior, with 69 lives reported taken on Tuesday.
A further 705 new cases of COVID-19 were also identified across Canada as the country moved into its second week of daily cases ranging below the 1,000 mark.
Tuesday’s numbers brings Canada’s total lab-confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths to 92,399 and 7,395, respectively.
Of those total cases, over 50,000 people have recovered from the virus. Canada-wide coronavirus tests have also surpassed 1.8 million.
Ontario, which reported 446 new cases surpassed the total reported by Quebec at 239 for the second straight day however.
Until Monday, Quebec was generally considered the epicentre of Canada’s COVID-19 outbreak as both daily reported cases and deaths within the province topped the country over the course of the pandemic.
Both cases and deaths within the eastern province account for more than half of Canada’s totals.
Several other provinces have also announced new cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday.
Coronavirus around the world: June 2, 2020
British Columbia reported only four new cases of the virus, whereas Alberta added another 13 infections. No fatalities linked to COVID-19 were reported by either province.
Manitoba also announced two new cases of the virus. The province’s death toll, however, has remained at seven since the first week of May.
In Atlantic Canada, only New Brunswick was the only province to report a new case of the virus.
More to come…
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
In their own words: political leaders in Canada weigh in on Trump's response to U.S. protests – CBC.ca
Canadian political leaders are weighing in on U.S. President Donald Trump’s handling of anti-racism protests sweeping across the United States in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of law enforcement.
While most leaders were reluctant to single out Trump by name, both Nova Scotia’s premier and Ottawa’s mayor had plenty to say about behaviour that they described as “offensive” and “disgraceful.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Trudeau’s answer to a question about Trump’s decision to have protesters moved with tear gas and riot police — so he could have his picture taken outside a church — has been talked about more for what he didn’t say than for what he did say.
The prime minister took 21 seconds to think before delivering an answer that focused on the discrimination faced by people of colour in Canada.
When pressed further to respond to Trump’s threat to call in the military into deal with protesters, the prime minister said his focus was on Canadians, not United States domestic politics.
“My job as a Canadian prime minister is to stand up for Canadians, to stand up for our interests, to stand up for our values,” he said. “That is what have done from the very beginning, that is what I will continue to do.”
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland
The deputy prime minister followed Trudeau’s position closely, noting that Canada has its own problems with anti-black racism and unconscious bias.
“What I am concerned about, actually, is Canadian complacency. I think that it’s really, really important for us to set our own house in order and for us to really be aware of the pain that anti-black racism causes here in our own country,” she said.
“We as Canadians, all of us, need to take this very traumatic moment for many people in the world as an opportunity to look at what we are doing in Canada and to work hard to do better.”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford
Ford also avoided directly criticizing how the United States’ leadership has handled the protests, but he did say that he is glad to live in a country that doesn’t suffer from the same racial divisions and systemic racism seen in the U.S.
“They have their issues in the U.S. and they have to fix their issues, but it’s like night and day compared to Canada,” Ford said. “I’m proud to be Canadian. I’m proud to be the premier of Ontario.
“Thank God that we’re different than the United States. We don’t have the systemic, deep roots they’ve had for years … The difference between the U.S. and Canada, for the most part, for the most part — we get along.”
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil
McNeil offered a less diplomatic comment when speaking about Floyd’s death and the Trump administration’s response to the protests that followed.
“When you watch what’s happened south of the border, where a black American was killed at the hands of law enforcement, you understand the outrage and hurt and anger that people are feeling,” he said.
“Quite frankly, the political response in the United States has been offensive … to the world.”
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson
Watson offered what may have been some of the sharpest criticism of the Trump administration coming from a Canadian politician — singling out the president by name and calling his behaviour throughout the crisis “disgraceful.”
“I think it was disgraceful. Clearing out peaceful protesters so he could have a photo-op holding a Bible,” said Watson.
“Presidents and leaders of organizations should be calming the waters and instill a sense of hope, and not [creating] greater chaos. What we’ve seen in the United States is both sad and remarkable but unfortunately, with this president, somewhat predictable.
“He seems to like to take gas and throw it on the fire.”
'Set our own house in order': Political leaders on racism in Canada – CTV News
As protests spurred by the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis continue across the United States, federal Canadian politicians delivered special take-note speeches in the House of Commons on Tuesday, calling out the ongoing inequalities in this country and imploring Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to go beyond “pretty words.”
Trudeau led off the series of speeches with an acknowledgement of anti-black racism in Canada and his own past shortcomings, which included wearing blackface on more occasions than he could concretely say.
“When it comes to being an ally, I have made serious mistakes in the past, mistakes which I deeply regret and continue to learn from… I’m not perfect, but not being perfect is not a free pass to not do the right thing,” Trudeau said.
“I know that for so many people listening right now, the last thing you want to hear is another speech on racism from a white politician,” said the prime minister, adding that the reason he was delivering his speech was to make it clear that the government is listening.
Trudeau said that Canadians who are standing up in this moment and all those who have “felt the weight of oppression” deserve better, committing to working with the opposition parties on eradicating racism in Canada.
REPARATIONS, AN APOLOGY?
However, Trudeau faced questions over the course of the day about the government’s existing policies and whether he was prepared to go further than he’s previously committed to when it comes to addressing the existing inequalities within Canadian society.
Not long after taking a lengthy pause in responding to a question about U.S. President Donald Trump’s calls for military action against protesters, Trudeau was asked what his government intends on doing to improve the situation in Canada.
Specifically, he was asked about a 2017 UN Human Rights Council report on the experiences of African Canadians.
The report recommended that the federal government issue an apology and consider providing reparations for enslavement and other historical injustices. Asked if his government intended on doing either, the prime minister could not say.
His response went over the work his government has done and continues to do with the black community as well as the funding being put towards countering systemic and institutional racism and discrimination, but he did not commit to a national apology, something he’s done several times over his tenure as the prime minister for other injustices faced by Canadians.
“We will work with the black community across this country as we have to respond to their priorities. There is a lot to do in Canada and we will do it in partnership with them,” he said.
In the House of Commons, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh challenged Trudeau to use his position of power to “go beyond pretty words, and pretty speeches, and do something.”
Singh, who is the first person of colour to lead a major federal political party in Canada, said that if Trudeau believes that black lives matter, he should commit to ending racial profiling, and the over-incarceration of black people in Canada.
He also noted the ongoing racial inequalities faced by Indigenous people in Canada and called on Trudeau to stop the court proceedings challenging the federal government’s need to compensate First Nations kids affected by a discriminatory child welfare system; and to ensure access to clean water, housing, and education.
“Why do black people, why do Indigenous people need to keep on asking to be treated like a human? Why? You know, people are done with pretty speeches, particularly pretty speeches from people in power that could do something about it right now if they wanted to,” he said.
‘SET OUR OWN HOUSE IN ORDER’
Demonstrations have been taking place in Canadian cities including Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal, in solidarity with those decrying anti-black racism in the United States.
Asked why neither she nor Trudeau said Trump’s name or addressed his leadership decisions during their comments on Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said her focus is on addressing “Canadian complacency.”
“I think that it’s really, really important for us to set our own house in order and for us to really be aware of the pain that anti-black racism causes here in our own country, of the reality that we do have systemic discrimination here in Canada,” Freeland said. “I think that we as Canadians, all of us, need to take this very traumatic moment for many people in the world as an opportunity to look at what we are doing in Canada and to work hard to do better.”
‘WE HAVE TO SPEAK UP’
During his address, outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said that Canada “was a beacon of freedom to so many escaping slavery,” and that the country has benefitted as a result, offering examples of Canadians who “overcame” and went on to serve their communities. These include Lincoln Alexander, who was elected in 1968 and was the first black MP and eventually became the first black cabinet minister; and Viola Desmond who challenged segregation and is now pictured on Canadian $10 bills.
“While there are many things that we can point to in our history with pride, that is not to say that we have a perfect record, nor are immune to the threat of racism or that anti-black racism is just an American problem. Canada has had its own dark episodes of racism that cannot be ignored, and sadly not just in our past,” Scheer said.
“No one should be attacked in their community or targeted on the bus because of the colour of their skin,” he said, adding that the fight against any efforts to infringe upon freedoms needs to continue.
Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet echoed Singh’s calls for political leadership to go beyond words, and suggested the first concrete measure the federal government could take would be to accelerate the processing of asylum claims.
Green Party parliamentary leader Elizabeth May concluded the series of special addresses with an emotional request to her MP colleagues: “We can look at our own conduct and our own behavior… When you see a bully, when you hear hate speech, we have to speak up. We have to speak out,” she said.
“Black lives matter. I want to just do nothing but chant it in this place until we stand together and say black lives matter,” May said.
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