A new poll by pollster Research Co. found that out of 1,000 Canadians surveyed online at the end of August, a whopping 90 per cent agreed with the current Canada-U.S. border closure to non-essential traffic.
The show of support comes at a time when several Canadian border cities are licking their wounds over a loss of U.S. tourism. Nevertheless, they’re maintaining their support for the border closure, to help stop the spread of COVID-19 from the country with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths.
“As much as this hurts — and it hurts — it’s all about short-term pain for long-term gain,” said Jim Diodati, mayor of Niagara Falls, Ont.
He said that pre-pandemic, U.S. tourism pumped close to $1 billion annually into the economy of Niagara Falls and its surrounding area.
Even so, Diodati said he supports the border closure, and so do around a dozen other Ontario border-town mayors who took part in a video conference call with the federal government last week.
“We’re not in a hurry to open that border until we’ve got control of what’s happening on both sides,” he said.
Mike Bradley, the mayor of Sarnia, Ont. — who was also on the call — agrees. Tourists from neighbouring Michigan usually bring millions of dollars annually into Sarnia’s economy, but not this year.
“We need to take care of our own people first,” said Bradley. “Of all the steps that we’ve taken in Ontario and taken locally to protect our public … to give all that up now, for a bump in dollars just doesn’t make sense.”
The Canada-U.S. border closure to non-essential traffic expires on Sept. 21. While American travellers — with the exception of some immediate family members — are barred from entering Canada, the U.S. still allows Canadians to fly to the country.
Both Ontario mayors predict the Canadian government will announce this week that it will extend the border closure for at least another 30 days.
“I think it’s kind of a foregone conclusion,” said Diodati.
Canada-U.S. border: U.S. numbers decline
Canadians began loudly expressing support for the Canada-U.S. border closure on social media in July, when U.S. COVID-19 case numbers were soaring to new and worrisome highs.
Since then, the U.S. numbers have declined — but Canadian support for the border closure hasn’t.
According to U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics, new daily U.S. cases peaked above 70,000 in late July, then dropped to below 50,000 per day by mid-August.
Despite the news, Canadians continue to warn Americans to stay away. In the latest case last week, a truck with Texas license plates in Victoria was vandalized and spray-painted with “Trump.”
Well <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/yyj?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#yyj</a>, some really nice Victorians badly vandalized my dad’s truck with Texas plates. Smashed windshield, stole license plates and graffiti’d it.<a href=”https://twitter.com/keithbaldrey?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@keithbaldrey</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/Adam_Stirling?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Adam_Stirling</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/richardzussman?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@richardzussman</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/cfax1070?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@cfax1070</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/RyanPriceCFAX?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@RyanPriceCFAX</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/GlobalBC?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@GlobalBC</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/CTVNewsVI?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@CTVNewsVI</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/CTVVancouver?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@CTVVancouver</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/jjhorgan?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@jjhorgan</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/vicpdcanada?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@vicpdcanada</a> <a href=”https://t.co/xI6MUul0U0″>pic.twitter.com/xI6MUul0U0</a>
Canadians are also on the lookout for American travellers sneaking into the country.
George Creek — a member of a group of volunteer boaters reporting U.S. pleasure boat sightings in Canadian waters to border officers — said he’s far from convinced that the U.S. has the virus under control.
“They’re so fractured down there. They have no national cohesive approach,” said Creek, who lives just outside Nanaimo, B.C.. “Their [medical] experts are being ignored.”
Global health specialist Steven Hoffman suggested that even with a decline in case numbers, many Canadians will continue to support the border closure due to concerns that politics is influencing the U.S. response to the virus.
“It really starts to raise questions among people as to whether the response is being designed in a way to maximize its effectiveness, or is it being designed in a way to maximize or to influence the outcome of a forthcoming election,” said Hoffman, a professor of global health, law and political science at Toronto’s York University.
For example, at a U.S. rally in June, Trump told a group of supporters — who weren’t required to wear masks — that he wanted to “slow the [COVID-19] testing down.”
Last month, the CDC changed it’s guidelines on COVID-19 testing to recommend that asymptomatic people who come into contact with an infected person “do not necessarily need a test.” The guideline change has been reportedly tied to Trump.
Critics have also accused Trump of downplaying the severity of the virus.
“There’s a lot of reasons why everyone in the world should be concerned about the way that this pandemic has been addressed in the United States,” said Hoffman.
Diodati of Niagara Falls predicts Canada won’t entertain discussions over reopening the Canada-U.S. border until after the U.S. election, when perhaps politics is no longer muddying the waters.
“We call this silly season when there’s an election,” he said. “Let’s let the Americans get through their election process … and then we’re going to probably have more meaningful dialogue.”
The Research Co. poll surveyed 1,000 adults in Canada online between Aug. 30 and Sept. 1. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points, nineteen times out of 20.
Doug Ford calls on Health Canada to focus on reviewing rapid COVID-19 antigen tests – Global News
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has called on Health Canada to focus on reviewing rapid COVID-19 antigen tests in the hope that one will be approved and used to alleviate the surging testing demand in the province.
“That should be their number one priority,” Ford said.
“I know Health Canada is doing a great job. They’re extremely, extremely busy but this should be the number one priority.”
Ford made the remarks during a rare Saturday press conference in which he announced that new gathering restrictions would be expanded to the entire province amid a spike in coronavirus cases.
Antigen tests aren’t as accurate as the tests currently used in Ontario, which require processing in a lab, but could deliver results in minutes.
“Is it one hundred per cent? No, but it sure is a lot better than having hours of lineups outside the testing centres. It’s absolutely critical. Health Canada please focus on this,” Ford said.
There have been hours-long waits at some of the province’s 148 assessment centres in recent days.
Ford has already said he will be releasing a plan to open up COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic individuals at pharmacies in a bid to help with the recent spike in demand.
Health Minister Christine Elliott also said Saturday that eight assessment centres across Toronto, Peel Region, and Ottawa have increased capacity. Elliott said additionally, seven pop-up testing sites have launched in the regions and more are coming.
Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, said she understands that Health Canada is currently reviewing six antigen tests and added that they’re “a lot easier” than the current testing kits but can be less accurate.
Meanwhile, NDP Deputy Leader Sara Singh said in a statement Saturday that the “Ford government was not prepared for this spike in cases, and they should have been.”
Singh cited the long lineups at testing centres as an example.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program – CBC.ca
Migrant workers and advocates called for a “just recovery” from the COVID-19 pandemic during a digital rally on Saturday based out of Vancouver.
The pandemic has shown how heavily Canada relies on migrant and undocumented workers to perform essential jobs, said Chit Arma, who chairs the Migrant Workers Centre’s board of directors in Vancouver.
“The pandemic has also exposed the extent to which these essential workers do not enjoy essential rights, and the long-standing systemic problems with the temporary foreign work program that puts workers in an extremely precarious position,” she said during the video conference.
The rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre.
The campaign calls on the federal government to create a new permanent residency program for all essential migrant and undocumented workers, and to allow the workers to apply for an open-work permit while waiting for their applications to process.
No one at the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada could immediately be reached for comment.
On July 31, the federal government announced $58.6 million in funding that it said would boost protections for temporary foreign workers and address COVID-19 outbreaks on farms.
Of that, $35 million was earmarked to improve health and safety on farms and in employee living quarters to prevent the spread of COVID-19. About $7.4 million would support the workers, including $6 million for direct outreach delivered through migrant support organizations, the government said.
‘Recognizes precarious status’
The government also said it was working to develop mandatory requirements to improve living conditions in employer-provided accommodations.
In August, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino announced a temporary measure to provide a pathway to permanent residency for asylum claimants working in health-care during the pandemic.
Under the measure, the front-line workers would be able to apply for permanent residency if they met certain criteria, including having made an asylum claim before March 13 and having been issued a work permit after their claim.
“This approach recognizes those with precarious immigration status who are filling an urgent need and putting their own lives at risk to care for others in Canada,” the government said in a news release.
Natalie Drolet, executive director of the Migrant Workers Centre, said the measure excludes other front-line workers like grocery store clerks, truckers and care workers.
“While this is a positive step, it leaves too many migrant workers and undocumented workers behind who have also been on the front lines in the pandemic,” Drolet said.
Migrants and undocumented workers play key roles as health-care workers, grocery store clerks, cleaners, care workers, truckers and agricultural workers, Arma said.
More than 1,300 migrant workers in Ontario alone have been infected with COVID-19, she said. Three have died, including one undocumented worker, she said.
‘Fear of being removed’
Arma came to Canada in 2005 to work as a caregiver. Her temporary status in Canada gave her stress and anxiety, she said.
“I had papers, I had documents, and yet I had that fear of being removed, a fear of speaking up because I might be deported,” she said.
“I can imagine how undocumented workers are experiencing even worse because of the lack of documents they have.”
Maria Cano arrived to work as a caregiver in 2017 through the temporary foreign worker program. She said the experience showed how disempowering the experience could be, even before the pandemic struck.
Cano worked for four different families and moved to three different cities in her first few years. They expected her to work long hours without compensation, she said.
“When I spoke up, I lost my job,” she said. “That entire process was very stressful and financially draining.”
She finally found a “nice Canadian family” who treated her with respect and sponsored her but said others shouldn’t hope for the same luck — they should be protected with recognized rights instead.
“The COVID-19 pandemic makes it more difficult and stressful for all the undocumented and migrant workers in Canada,” she said.
Beginning Dec. 15, the B.C. government will require employers wishing to hire foreign workers through federal programs to register with the province.
The government said in a news release Saturday that the measures would ensure the workers are paid for the hours they work, have accurate job descriptions and ensure their rights and safety are protected on the job.
Vancouver theatre company among first in Canada to relaunch during COVID-19
It’s been about six months since anyone has taken in a show put on by Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre Company, but that’s about to change.
The venue will be among the first in the country to resume live performances, when it launches a one-actor play under strict new COVID-19 protocols on Thursday.
“It is a huge step towards normalcy, I have had people say to me, ‘All I need is to see a show, and I can’t wait to come and see something,’” said actor Ali Watson, who will play all 16 parts in No Child, which premieres Sept. 24.
In order to allow for more performances, the play has been double-cast, with Watson and actor Celia Aloma starring in alternating shows — each with their own stage managers and crews.
“I think its a really excellent distraction from COVID-19, especially because it’s not about COVID-19, which everything you see online and in person is about that,” Watson said.
The Arts Club and virtually all live performance venues were forced to close their doors in March, when the province issued an order against gatherings of more than 50 people.
The venue usually puts in 18 shows a year for about a quarter-million spectators, according to artistic director Ashlie Corcoran.
The pandemic forced them to cancel 25 scheduled shows, including performances well into 2021.
“It’s been a long, hard six months of being dark,” she said.
“To use our brains to start planning and building and creating instead of cancelling, it’s very much buoyed our spirits.”
Starting with No Child, which focuses on the efforts of a drama teacher in an inner-city New York school, the Arts Club is rolling out three one-actor plays.
Audience members will need to sign a declaration of health before entering. There will be no queueing up before the show, bathroom capacity will be limited, masks will be mandatory, and exiting the theatre will be controlled to ensure physical distancing.
The audience will also be capped at 50 people in a theatre that normally seats 300.
“Doing theatre for audiences of 50 will not economically sustain us, but we do feel it’s very important to be connecting, both with artists … and with the audience,” said Corcoran.
The Arts Club relies on ticket sales for about 80 per cent of its revenue, and Corcoran said it’s managed to survive so far through donations over the summer.
Darrel Dunlop, president of IATSE local 118, which represents workers in the live performance sector, said the pandemic has been devastating to his members.
With CERB ending, he’s worried about a “brain drain” of skilled workers into industries.
“A lot of the people, they’ve had to start looking for jobs in another sector,” he said.
But Dunlop is cautiously optimistic, citing creative ways productions have been finding to reopen safely under new pandemic protocols with smaller casts, crews and audiences.
“They’re actually going to be doing multiple shows in a day, and they’re actually going to be doing that with separate crews,” he said, meaning if someone becomes ill another crew can always sub in.
“Until there’s a time when you can actually put a full audience in, it will be different, the experience will be different. … We have to be patient and we have to be willing to accept the change.”
Source: – Global News
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