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Travel restrictions and Omicron: What’s changing in Canada, U.S. –



The United States on Thursday became the latest country to announce travel requirement changes in an effort to curb the spread of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant — which will affect Canadian travellers.

The changes, announced by President Joe Biden, include a new testing requirement for travellers flying into the U.S.

The move comes days after a handful of countries, including Canada, quickly clamped down on travel and imposed bans on African countries, as fears around the new variant of concern grew.

Here are the latest travel rules imposed by both the U.S. and Canada.

U.S. travel changes

Biden’s announcement Thursday includes a requirement for all air travellers entering the U.S. — including those from Canada — to be tested for COVID-19 within 24 hours of boarding their flight, regardless of their vaccination status.

Previously, people who were fully vaccinated would have been able to present a negative test taken with 72 hours of boarding a flight to the U.S.

Read more:

Feds, provinces considering expanding COVID-19 tests for U.S. travellers amid Omicron

“It doesn’t include shutdowns or lockdowns, but widespread vaccinations and boosters and testing and a lot more,” said Biden.

The president however made no mention of any changes to current land border travel requirements between Canada and the U.S.

The new rules come less than a month since the U.S. first opened its land border to fully vaccinated Canadians. In mid-November, the Canadian government also waived PCR testing requirements for Canadians returning from the U.S. for any trip less than 72 hours.

Click to play video: 'WHO asks for more doses to be sent to poorer nations amid global vaccine inequities'

WHO asks for more doses to be sent to poorer nations amid global vaccine inequities

WHO asks for more doses to be sent to poorer nations amid global vaccine inequities

A background briefing released by the White House ahead of Biden’s announcement also outlined other components of the new U.S. strategy against COVID-19.

The U.S. plans to expand access to booster shots and accelerate access to vaccines to kids under the age of five. It also plans to create new rapid response teams to combat the spread of Omicron outbreaks, and to ship 200 million more vaccine doses abroad within the next 100 days.

Last week, the U.S. also announced travel bans of its own on several countries, including South Africa, where the virus was first detected.

Canadian travel changes

Canada was quick to announce a wide array of new travel restrictions following the discovery of Omicron.

The federal government on Tuesday banned entry to foreign travellers who have been to Nigeria, Malawi and Egypt in the last two weeks — adding to the list of African countries facing travel bans, like South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini, that were first announced on Nov. 26.

Canadians and permanent residents —  who have the right to return to Canada — who have travelled through any of the listed countries in the past two weeks will still be allowed to return, though they must be tested at the airport and would have to quarantine while awaiting their test results.

According to Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, the COVID-19 testing requirement for those returning to Canada would still apply even to those who are fully vaccinated, and any tests administered in the 10 listed countries would not be accepted.

Read more:

Omicron variant: Canada expands travel ban, seeks booster guidance

Federal ministers also announced new additions to the testing requirement Tuesday, adding that anyone now coming into Canada from a country aside from the United States would have to be tested on arrival and must isolate and await their results.

Alghabra and Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said Wednesday that expanding those testing requirements to American travellers was still not out of the question, though not all Canadian airports would have the capacity to begin such testing for arriving air travellers.

“The speed of implementation will also vary in local airport conditions,” he said. “There are airports in Canada which can start doing that really quickly because there is excess capacity. Other airports will take a bit more time.”

Click to play video: 'Confusion, frustration grow over Canada’s new travel rules as Omicron variant spreads'

Confusion, frustration grow over Canada’s new travel rules as Omicron variant spreads

Confusion, frustration grow over Canada’s new travel rules as Omicron variant spreads

That on-arrival test would be paid for by the federal government, though the pre-departure test must still be taken before arriving in Canada, Duclos said. Unvaccinated travellers would remain the same, however, with a requirement for a 14 day quarantine, and a need to get tested upon arrival and again on day eight of their quarantine.

Duclos said that the testing requirement was set to come into effect in the “next few days,” and that he expects more than 30,000 tests to be administered at Canadian airports every day.

Industry groups have since warned that Canada’s latest testing plan could cause “chaos” at airports across the country.

Daniel Gooch, president of the Canadian Airports Council, told The Canadian Press that airports would not be able to test overseas arrivals without long waiting times.

Click to play video: 'How Omircron might ground your holiday travel plans'

How Omircron might ground your holiday travel plans

How Omircron might ground your holiday travel plans

“Do we really want people waiting for hours for a test in a customs hall?” he told the Press on Wednesday.

“We want to avoid chaos. And we want to ensure that travelers who have booked trips are comfortable to travel.”

So far, a total of nine cases of Omicron have been found in Canada since Ontario’s announcement of its first two cases Sunday. Alberta was the most recent province to announce new cases of the variant, with two more reported on Wednesday.

Read more:

Omicron variant: Canada expands travel ban, seeks booster guidance

The U.S., on the other hand, announced Wednesday it had detected its first case of the variant in California, while at least 20 other countries — including the U.K., Denmark, Australia and Israel — have since reported Omicron infections after South African scientists identified the variant last week.

Cases of COVID-19 in South Africa reportedly doubled on Wednesday to more than 8,500, while the country’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases said that the variant had now overtaken the Delta variant among the samples it was analyzing.

Experts uncertain about travel bans

Public health officials and experts have warned against the rush to slap travel bans and restrictions amid Omicron’s spread.

Preliminary data from South Africa suggests Omicron could potentially be more transmissible and have a higher chance to cause re-infection in individuals.

Experts were quick to point out several things, however, including a lack of definitive evidence that the variant was deadlier than the current dominant strain of COVID-19 and the low vaccination rates in South Africa.

While many cautioned there is a lack of data surrounding the variant of concern, countries were quick to close their borders to African nations — prompting a harsh backlash from the World Health Organization and other public health experts.

Click to play video: 'WHO director-general says travel bans don’t work, punishes countries for ‘doing the right thing’'

WHO director-general says travel bans don’t work, punishes countries for ‘doing the right thing’

WHO director-general says travel bans don’t work, punishes countries for ‘doing the right thing’

The WHO this week warned countries to not impose travel bans and called on them to follow science and international health regulations.

Read more:

WHO slams southern Africa travel bans spurred by Omicron variant scare

Experts have pointed to travel bans as now being ineffective at this stage as the Omicron variant would have most likely spread beyond the borders of the targeted countries.

“Unfortunately for this Omicron variant, it’s too late at this stage, I think. It’s already here,” said Julianne Piper, a research fellow and project coordinator with the Pandemics and Borders research project at Simon Fraser University, in an interview with Global News earlier this week.

— with files from The Canadian Press, Reuters and Global News’ Saba Aziz and Leslie Young

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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The Gender War amongst Us



The United Nations define gender-based violence as any act of gender-based violence that results in or is likely to result in physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women and other persons, including threats of acts of violence, coercion and arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.

Gender-Based Violence is a global public health problem that challenges and affects the morbidity and mortality of women and the LGBTQ Community. It is estimated that 30% of women and 85% of The LGBTQ have experienced at least one form of GBV in their lifetime since the age of 15. The United Nations study among Women of reproductive age revealed that Intimate Partner Violence(IVP) ranged from 15% in Urban Regions(ie Japan) to 71% in Rural Regions (ie Ethiopia)Evidence reveals that this problem is most prominent in developing nations where socioeconomic status is low and education limited, especially in sub-Saharan Africa countries.
Gender Prejudice and Violence directed towards Women and The LGBTQ Community is globally widespread, even within the well-educated populations of the developed world.

Gender-Based Violence is a common practice in Africa, Asia and developing nations in Latin America. Most African Cultural beliefs and traditions promote men’s hierarchical roles in sexual relationships and especially in marriage. Almost two-thirds (63%) of the African population live in rural settings which increases the difficulty to access basic amenities and communities are isolated from the influence of central governments or the laws that prohibit GBV. Despite legislative advances, GBV remains pervasive and a daily reality for Women, Girls and THE LGBTQ Communities. Within Rwanda, many Women and Girls experience multiple and intersecting forms of violence and oppression including intimate partner violence, sexual violence, early and forced marriages, genital mutilation and human trafficking.

Gender Biased Violence directed towards The LGBTQ Community is high within African society, where their lifestyle may appear as a challenge to other males’ masculinity or gender understanding. Within the Latin Community, such violence exists but is far less felt than in areas within Africa. The Latin Worlds’ understanding of masculinity seems to vary, appearing to be more accepting of “the different”. Many Latin Males have multiple gender partners even within marriage. African attitudes are far more conservative and unyielding.

Gender Politics have shaped our world, moving from ancient acceptance of the power and influence of Womanhood to a place where religion became the excuse to oppress Women and other elements of society like the LGBTQ Community. Humanities’ move toward freedom and self-expression has been squashed by the manipulative, powerful masculinity of Mankind. Impressions of a controlling, protective society show us what we are to believe and how we are to live our lives.

Equality, self-determination and self-expression for Women and the LGBTQ Community still remain important aspects of the developed world’s policymaking and implementation. Within the continents of Africa, Central and Latin America, and some Asian nations government policymakers attempt to legally establish the necessary laws to protect their populations, but cultural, political and societal traditions and prejudices have entangled themselves within these nations’ evolutionary movement towards equal rights and gender democracy. A Gender War remains among us, within us, allowing prejudice, fear and hate to shape our society. Like all wars, there are many casualties, but with education, determination and the hand of justice applied, this war can be won.

Steven Kaszab
Bradford, Ontario

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Journalists in Canada face 'alarming' levels of stress, trauma and harassment, report suggests –



Members of Canada’s news industry are suffering “alarming” levels of work-related stress and trauma, a new report suggests, and researchers are calling for better supports to help journalists cope with covering COVID-19 and other crises.

The findings, based on 1,251 voluntary responses to an online survey conducted between Nov. 1 and Dec. 18, 2021, showed that media workers have dealt with high rates of mental health conditions over the past four years.

Sixty-nine per cent of respondents reported anxiety, 46 per cent said they had depression, and 15 per cent said they experienced post-traumatic stress injury.

The lead researchers on the project said the report underscores how the upheaval of a pandemic-accelerated news cycle has exacerbated the pressures of working in a profession steeped in competition and tragedy.

“Our findings confirm our worst fears and suspicions about the industry,” Carleton University journalism professor Matthew Pearson said at a news conference on Parliament Hill on Wednesday.

“The onus is now on all of us — from the front lines, to newsroom leaders, executives and journalism educators — to grasp the gravity of this situation and meaningfully address it to reduce the harms Canadian media workers are suffering on the job.”

Co-author Dave Seglins, a CBC News journalist and mental health advocate, said the information age has ramped up stress for journalists facing more demanding workloads and perilous job security, while also opening the floodgates for online misinformation and harassment.

More than half of participants surveyed said they had experienced online harassment and threats, and 35 per cent said they had encountered harassment in the field.

The harms of harassment were particularly pronounced among women, transgender and non-binary journalists, the report said. Black, Arab, South Asian and Filipino journalists reported higher rates of online harassment. Workers who were more identifiable as members of the media, such as video journalists and photographers, were more likely to be targeted in the field.

The survey also indicated that exposure to trauma is taking a toll on media workers, with 80 per cent of participants saying they’ve experienced burnout as a result of reporting on stories about death, injury and suffering. Some participants also reported experiencing other emotional and psychological side effects, such as suicidal thoughts or “numbing out” by using alcohol or other substances.

More than half of participants said they had sought medical help to deal with work stress and mental health, while 85 per cent of those surveyed said they had never received training on mental health and trauma at work.

The “suck it up” culture of many newsrooms deters journalists from seeking help to manage their struggles due to fears about how speaking up could impact their careers, Seglins said, and many employers lack the expertise, resources and benefits needed to support journalists’ well-being.

He urged news organizations to collaborate with workers to identify and redress these gaps to ensure the proper functioning of the Fourth Estate.

“All of this is having a profound impact on the health of people who work in the news industry — the watchdogs of our democracy,” Seglins said.

The Canadian Press provided images for the report, and the survey was distributed to Canadian Press employees.

The polling industry’s professional body, the Canadian Research Insights Council, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error.

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Canada donates $1 million to probe sexual violence by Russian troops in Ukraine



OTTAWA — Canada is committing an extra $1 million to help the international community investigate sex crimes by Russian troops in Ukraine.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said Canada would give the extra funds to the International Criminal Court to help it investigate sexual violence toward women, and also crimes against children.

Ten RCMP officers, and Canadian civilian law enforcement experts, are helping to investigate war crimes in Ukraine, including sexual violence by Russian troops.

Global Affairs Canada said the extra money could be used to help fund specialist sexual violence investigations and to protect victims who may be witnesses in war-crimes cases.

The funds may also be used to provide psychological support for victims.

Joly said it was important that Russian troops who have used sexual violence against Ukrainians be brought to justice.

“Canada condemns in the strongest terms the use of conflict-related sexual violence and we will continue to work with partners such as the ICC to end impunity for these heinous crimes,” she said in a statement.

“Those who commit sexual violence in conflict situations must be held to account.”

At a meeting in Ottawa earlier this month with Ann Linde, Sweden’s foreign minister, Joly discussed the need to treat Russian troops using sexual violence as a weapon as war criminals.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Joly said 10 RCMP officers would help gather evidence of rape and sexual violence by the Russian military.

Linde said Sweden has also sent “experts on investigating sexual and gender-based crime” to help the ICC with its war crimes investigation. They are interviewing refugees — “mainly women and girls and children,” she said — as witnesses.

Ukraine’s ambassador designate to Canada told members of Parliament earlier this month that Russia is using sexual violence against women and children as a weapon of war.

Yulia Kovaliv told the House of Commons foreign affairs committee on May 2 that Ukraine is compiling “horrific documented evidence” of war crimes.

“The horror is that children are victims of these sexual crimes, which are done (before) the eyes of their parents,” Kovaliv said. “Sexual crimes is part of the Russian weapon (against) Ukraine.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published 26, May, 2022.


Marie Woolf, The Canadian Press

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