An Ontario woman who is battling cancer says her fiance in the U.K. is still unable to travel to Canada to be with her during her treatments despite her appeals to the government to allow him to enter on compassionate grounds.
Sarah Campbell and Jacob Taylor have been separated since February due to pandemic-related restrictions at the Canadian border, which don’t allow any non-essential or discretionary travel.
Although immediate family members of Canadian citizens or permanent residents have been permitted to enter under recent exemption rules, Taylor doesn’t qualify because he’s Campbell’s fiance and not her husband yet.
The couple was set to be married in Canada in June, but they postponed their wedding when the pandemic hit and Taylor was stuck in the U.K.
When Campbell decided to travel to the U.K. to be with Taylor instead, her plans were derailed when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in early July.
Since then, the 25-year-old woman has had major surgery on her neck and is preparing to receive a radioactive iodine treatment – all without the support of her fiance.
“It’s heartbreaking and devastating,” she told CTV’s Your Morning on Friday. “When you have a diagnosis like cancer, the thing you want most in the world is your fiance, the man who was supposed to be my husband, by my side so it’s just been so difficult having to go through this without him.”
“It’s quite hard to put it into words,” Taylor added during an interview from the U.K. “The sort of feelings of helplessness that I am not able to help her, like normally, when couples go through this sort of thing, they can support one another.”
That doesn’t mean Campbell is giving up on being reunited with Taylor, however.
She has handwritten 70 letters to government officials and joined an advocacy group that is fighting to have committed couples and adult children, who have been left off the exemption list, be allowed into Canada on compassionate grounds.
“We’re just doing the absolute best we can to continue to spread the word to get it out there that there are thousands of people being affected by these border closures and keep the borders closed, but we need to make exemptions,” she said.
In a statement to CTV’s Your Morning, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair acknowledged that Canadians, such as Campbell, are making sacrifices during the pandemic.
“Our thoughts are with her during this time. The decision to bring forward significant restrictions for travel at our borders has not been taken lightly, but we know that they are necessary to prevent the introduction and transmission of COVID-19,” the statement read.
Liberals, NDP reach deal on sick leave, avoiding immediate election – CBC.ca
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says the Liberal government is willing to boost the number of people who can access sick days, clearing the way for New Democrats to support the throne speech and bypass an immediate fall election.
Singh said the agreement involves a change to the wording in Bill C-2 — the proposed legislation that would transition people from the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB) to an employment insurance program with expanded eligibility, or to one of three new recovery benefits — to significantly expand the number of Canadians who would be able to access paid sick leave.
“If what we’ve agreed upon is reflected in the bill that’s presented on Monday, if all the same elements are still there, then we will be able to support that bill and yes, we will be able to support the throne speech,” said Singh during a news conference this evening.
The NDP’s support for the throne speech would give the minority Liberals enough votes to pass it in the House of Commons and avoid a snap election.
The details of the sick leave changes haven’t been released yet, but Singh said the change “will help millions of Canadians.”
“Today marks the first step in achieving the first ever, in the history of our country, federal paid sick leave for Canadian workers,” he said
“It’s a first step toward our ultimate goal of insuring all Canadian workers have paid sick leave now and forever.”
Liberal House Leader Pablo Rodriquez tweeted this afternoon that a deal has been reached, but didn’t offer any more details about the sick leave changes.
“We are entering the second wave and millions of Canadians are still struggling to make ends meet. We now have an agreement with the NDP on a bill that will deliver the help that Canadians need. It’s by working together that we will get through this pandemic,” he said.
The Conservatives said flatly they won’t support the throne speech, while the Bloc Québécois said it won’t support it unless the government boosts health care transfers to the provinces with no strings attached.
Canadians faced ‘impossible choices:’ Singh
That made the 24 New Democrats in the House the Liberals’ best shot for securing enough votes to pass the confidence vote on the throne speech and avoid a snap election.
Ahead of Wednesday’s speech from the throne, Singh said his party would need to see the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB) extended and paid sick leave offered to every employee across the country to ensure no Canadian has to go to work sick.
Bill C-2 provides for a 10-day sick leave benefit — something the NDP had demanded — but on Thursday Singh said he still had concerns about how accessible the paid sick leave would be. He refused to explain in detail what he was asking for, saying that negotiations with the government are ongoing and those talks could affect the entire bill.
He said it’s a priority for the NDP because too many people now face what he calls “impossible choices” between staying home or going to work when they’re unwell.
“Many of them have to go into work because if they don’t they’re not going to get paid … and they cannot pay their bills at the end of the month unless they go to work,” he said in an interview of CBC’s The House airing Saturday.
Trudeau had hinted earlier in the day that talks were ongoing with the NDP.
“I’ve heard reflections from the NDP that this should be a permanent feature of Canada’s system going forward and I think that’s certainly something we can have conversations about,” he said.
“But we are very much focused on making sure that into this fall as cold season starts again that people have access to sick leave to be able to stay home and not risk going to work and infect people.”
The latest on the coronavirus outbreak for Sept. 25
Canada signs deal to secure 20 million more COVID-19 vaccine doses, though none have proven successful yet
Canada has signed an agreement to secure another 20 million vaccine doses as the global race for a COVID-19 vaccine intensifies. During a news conference in Ottawa Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a deal with AstraZeneca on access to a vaccine prospect now being developed at Oxford University. As a result, the federal government has now secured access to six leading vaccine candidates. None of the candidates have been proven to work so far.
“We’ve been guided by science since the very beginning, and right now, both the COVID-19 vaccine task force and the immunity task force are doing important work to help us identify the most promising vaccine options and strategies,” he said. There is no approved vaccine yet for COVID-19, though there are many in clinical trials and in development.
Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said the global market is intense and unpredictable. “Each supplier and therefore each negotiation is unique, with its own set of concerns,” she said. “The resulting agreements contain terms specifying the quantity, the price, the anticipated delivery schedule, the manufacturing and finishing parameters for each vaccine. When a vaccine is ready, Canada will be ready.”
The federal government already has reached vaccine agreements with Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, Pfizer and Moderna, for a total of 282 million doses. Full payments to drug companies are contingent on the vaccines passing clinical trials and obtaining regulatory approval. Health Canada says it will review the evidence on safety, efficacy and manufacturing quality for each vaccine to determine if individual vaccines will be approved for use in Canada before they are made available to Canadians.
The government is also procuring equipment and supplies needed for vaccine manufacturing and packaging, as well as immunization equipment such as syringes, needles and alcohol swabs.
Trudeau also announced that Canada will provide $440 million to COVAX, a global procurement initiative meant to ensure fair, equitable and timely access to vaccines for less wealthy countries. “This pandemic can’t be solved by any one country alone because to eliminate the virus anywhere, we need to eliminate it everywhere,” Trudeau said.
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RCMP mask policy for bearded front-line officers ‘must be rectified’: Ottawa
The RCMP is facing accusations of discrimination because of a policy requiring front-line officers to wear properly fitting N95 respirator masks — something that might not be possible with a beard. Calls for a change in policy arose after some front-line officers with beards — including Sikh and Muslim RCMP members who leave their hair unshorn for religious reasons — were reassigned to desk duties over the mask issue.
On March 19, as Canada began dealing with the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki sent out a directive outlining the use of respirator masks for front-line officers. Lucki said officers must ensure the respirator is sealed correctly, and “one of the most common causes of a breached seal is facial hair.”
World Sikh Organization legal counsel Balpreet Singh said Thursday the move has resulted in some Sikh officers being removed from their front-line duties during the pandemic. “It’s clearly a case of discrimination in that once again, Sikh officers are able to serve in the Canadian forces, were able to serve in different police forces, and there’s been really no issue. The fact that this has been allowed to linger for almost six months without a resolution — to me, it points to a larger issue of not understanding the need to accommodate.”
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair condemned the policy in a statement to CBC News on Friday. “All officers must be given equal opportunity to serve their community while practicing their faith. They must not experience discrimination based on religion,” read an email from the minister’s spokesperson. “The reports from the World Sikh Organization are concerning. It is essential for the RCMP to provide necessary personal protective equipment in a timely manner for Sikh officers. We have raised this matter with the RCMP, and expect that this be rectified as quickly as possible.”
Ontario closes strip clubs, imposes tighter restrictions on bars and restaurants
The Ontario government is implementing a number of new provincewide restrictions and public health measures aimed at curbing a surge in new cases of COVID-19.
“Over the past five weeks, Ontario has experienced an increase in the rate of new COVID-19 cases,” the province said in a news release Friday afternoon. “Private social gatherings continue to be a significant source of transmission in many local communities, along with outbreak clusters in restaurants, bars, and other food and drink establishments, including strip clubs, with most cases in the 20-39 age group.”
As a result, the government is taking the following measures:
Last call at bars and restaurants, including nightclubs, is 11 p.m. All strip clubs will be closed until further notice. Require all businesses and organizations to comply with the advice of Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams, including screening people who wish to enter their premises for COVID-19 symptoms. The orders take effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
The provincial government also said it will work with municipalities to ramp up enforcement of public health regulations.
Why stock markets are up 44% amid the worst economic contraction in history
The economy is in a ditch, and millions of Canadian workers still find themselves unemployed or underemployed compared with where things were before COVID-19. And still the stock market is posting some record gains.
“It’s surprising how quickly they came back,” Robert Kavcic, senior economist at the Bank of Montreal, said of the markets. In March, stocks crashed. They fell so steep and so far that many assumed it would take years to rebound. In the end, the stock market recovery took just 150 days. Since it bottomed out on March 23 of this year, the broadest marker of the U.S. stock market — the S&P 500 — is up 44 per cent. So, what gives?
It’s always important to remember that the stock market is not the economy. Stocks are meant to reflect the future value of a given company’s stock, not the state of Main Street today. Kavcic said the sharp rise in equities shows how the pandemic has hit different sizes of businesses in different ways. For the most part, the big fish are doing OK, but the little ones are hurting.
“If you look where most of the economic damage was, it was and still is in smaller businesses and Main Street-type businesses that don’t necessarily trade on the equity market,” Kavcic said. “You don’t have a hair salon or a restaurant trading on the Nasdaq.” And yet, he said, digital companies such as Netflix, Cisco and Microsoft have fared incredibly well. And those are the companies driving stock market gains.
Stay informed with the latest COVID-19 data from Canada and around the world.
Black Canadians get sick more from COVID-19. Scientists aim to find out why
Race-based data shows that Black Canadians are far more likely to get sick and be hospitalized for COVID-19 than other ethnic groups. A new study looking at antibodies in the blood of Black Canadians aims to understand the reasons in an effort to reduce the impact of the disease on Black communities.
The study is being led by Dr. Upton Allen, chief of infectious diseases at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. He says the data shows that across North America, Black communities are disproportionately affected by the pandemic, according to data from cities such as Toronto and Ottawa, and organizations such as the Edmonton-based African Canadian Civic Engagement Council and the Innovative Research Group.
In Toronto, for example, data from May 20 to July 16 found that Black patients made up 21 per cent of COVID-19 cases, even though they were only nine per cent of the population. “What is less clear in the Canadian context is why?” Allen said. “We suspect that it has to do with the types of exposures that people have. However, we really need the data to substantiate that.”
Researchers suspect that a number of risk factors might play a role: the work that people in the communities do, including how many are front-line workers and how many work several different jobs at different locations to make ends meet; living conditions, such as crowded, multigenerational homes; and pre-existing medical conditions that can increase risk, such as obesity and diabetes, which are often associated with poverty.
In order to find out if that’s the case, the study will be recruiting 2,000 Black Canadians and 1,000 non-Black Canadians from across the country, including both adults and children over two years old. Participants will answer a questionnaire and do a blood test.
The study aims to show: the extent to which certain communities are protected by “herd immunity”; the biggest risk factors in certain communities; and opportunities for support, such as providing a place for infected people to self-isolate.
Royals facing $60M Cdn hit as pandemic drags tourism numbers down
Queen Elizabeth and her family are facing a 35-million-pound ($60 million Cdn) hit from the coronavirus pandemic, partly due to a shortage of tourists, the monarch’s money manager said Friday.
Releasing the royal household’s annual accounts, Keeper of the Privy Purse Michael Stevens said a lack of income from visitors to royal buildings was likely to bring a general funding shortfall of $25.6 million Cdn over three years. He said the impact of the pandemic is also likely to cause a shortfall in a 10-year program to replace antiquated heating, plumbing and wiring at Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s London home. Officials have said the palace’s aging infrastructure, which had its last major upgrade after the Second World War, is at risk of a catastrophic failure if it’s not replaced.
Stevens said the royal household would not ask for more government money but would “look to manage the impact through our own efforts and efficiencies.”
U.S. researchers project Canada could see over 16,000 coronavirus deaths by January – Global News
Researchers whose projections for the spread of the novel coronavirus have proven grimly accurate for the United States say the number of deaths in Canada could surge dramatically late this year, unless measures change.
The latest model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE) at the University of Washington says Canada could see 16,214 deaths by Jan. 1. That number drops down to 12,053 fatalities if masks are universally worn by people across the country.
At least one expert has expressed doubt on the projections, however, saying they don’t take increased protections for vulnerable populations into account.
Since the coronavirus was first detected in Canada in January, 9,244 Canadians to date have died of complications from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
Dr. Ali Mokdad, a member of the IMHE’s senior management team and a professor of health metrics sciences, says the majority of the projected deaths will likely occur in December.
Coronavirus: Trudeau says 2nd wave of COVID-19 infections ‘already underway’ in 4 biggest provinces
“That’s when the weather will get much colder and align with what we see during a pneumonia season,” he said.
“We’re seeing the same pattern over and over between COVID-19 and pneumonia in every country in the southern hemisphere, and now that’s heading in our direction.”
While coronavirus cases have been surging across Canada over the past week, with over 1,000 new cases being reported daily, deaths have stayed relatively flat for months. The country hasn’t reported over 20 daily deaths since July 3, and has seen fewer than 10 nearly every day in September.
But Mokdad says that could change if cases don’t start trending downward. He pointed to the U.S., where deaths began spiking over 1,000 a day roughly a month after cases surged this past summer.
“We saw this in other countries too: when you start opening schools and businesses, who’s more likely to go there? The younger generation,” he said.
“But they don’t live in a bubble. So they’ll start interacting with their parents and grandparents, and that’s when you’ll start to see a spike in mortality.”
According to the IMHE’s modelling, the majority of new deaths in Canada will be seen in Ontario and Quebec, which Mokdad says is based on population size. Ontario could rise from over 2,800 deaths now to 5,773 by Jan. 1 if measures stay the same. Quebec, which has seen more than 5,800 fatalities to date, is projected to jump to 9,825.
The death tolls in British Columbia and Alberta, the other two provinces currently driving up the national case numbers, are projected to remain relatively flat through the winter, according to the modelling.
Coronavirus: Canadians should ‘redouble their efforts’ at preventing COVID-19 spread as national case count rises, Tam says
Stephen Hoption Cann, an infectious disease expert at the University of British Columbia, thinks the IMHE’s model doesn’t reflect protections now in place for vulnerable people like the elderly, which could help limit any new deaths.
“We’re seeing more caution when it comes to long-term care residents, immune compromised people, where we’re limiting their interactions and keeping them protected,” he said.
That, coupled with the lower mortality rate among younger patients, makes Hoption Cann think the fall and winter could be less deadly than anticipated.
“So many people I talk to now who are in that older group, they simply don’t want to take the risk of opening themselves up to more interaction and the like,” he said. “So if that continues, we’ll be in a better place.”
What can bring the numbers down?
The IHME model has been considered a tentpole for data mappers during the pandemic and has been frequently cited by the White House Coronavirus Task Force. It has also largely aligned with projections from the country’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
After projecting earlier this year that the U.S. would surpass 200,000 deaths in September — which proved to be accurate — the model now estimates there could be up to 371,509 lives lost by Jan. 1.
Modelling released by the Public Health Agency of Canada on Tuesday only goes as far as early October, when it predicts Canada’s death toll will reach up to 9,300. However, it does suggest cases could see a major upswing through October into early November if measures aren’t tightened, potentially reaching up to 5,000 new cases daily.
While Hoption Cann says that upswing could lead to a surge in deaths a month later, he again said the majority of deaths projected by the IMHE can be avoided.
“It all depends on what kind of further measures the provinces put in place to tamp down this rise in cases we’re seeing,” he said. “I don’t think we’ll see widespread business closures, but they’ll likely just ask people to kick what they’re already doing into a higher gear.”
Canada’s chief medical officer Dr. Theresa Tam said this week that the current surge can be countered if people “redouble their efforts with personal precautions.” In his address to the nation Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau echoed that plea and said he’s confident Canadians can “bend the curve” together again.
Coronavirus: Trudeau says Canada can ‘bend the curve’ together again
Mokdad agreed, saying widespread mask-wearing could help control the spread of COVID-19.
“If 95 per cent of people in Canada wear a mask … you can avoid many of the cases and deaths that we are projecting,” he said.
“We can’t avoid new cases and deaths entirely, because we have schools and businesses open and the weather is getting colder. But masks can make a difference.”
Mokdad, who is watching the Canadian response to the pandemic from the U.S., says he admires the steps Ottawa has taken to help flatten the curve — particularly compared to the conflicting messages coming from Washington, D.C.
“(Canada) went by the book,” he said. “The lockdown early on, the testing, all was by the book. But the most important part that was done right was the cohesive national message given to the public.
“And Canadians have done a better job than Americans at following those messages.”
Coronavirus: CDC director says 90% of U.S. population still at risk for COVID-19
With 20 years of experience working at the CDC before joining the IMHE, he says it’s “frustrating” to watch the institution struggle to deliver a clear message to Americans.
“We have taught other countries how to handle situations like this one,” he said. “So when you’re watching people all over the world dealing with the pandemic, and you know that you taught them how to do it, and they have done what you taught them — why the people here are not doing the same thing here, and not being allowed to in some ways, it’s very frustrating.
“I’m a very optimistic guy. If we get our act together (in the United States), if we are united but not divided and let science dictate policies, then we can do what you guys have done.”
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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