#Ottawa, #CanadaConservativePartyNewLeader; #ErinOToole;
Ottawa, Aug 24 (Canadian-Media): Erin O'Toole wins Canada's Conservative Party leadership race Aug 24 by getting 57 percent of the votes on the third and final ballot, compared to 43 percent for second-place contender Peter MacKay, media reports said.
Erin O'Toole. Image credit: Twitter handle
O'Toole was victorious after Leslyn Lewis dropped off on the second ballot, and Derek Sloan dropped off after the first ballot.
The final results of the leadership race for the Conservative Party were announced shortly after 1 a.m. ET Aug 24 after a six-hour delay due to glitches with the ballots.
O'Toole, with great promises to broaden the party's base of supporters and present a vision to make Canada more prosperous said in his acceptance speech said he would champion Conservative values and hold Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to account.
"We must continue to point out Liberal failings and corruption, but we must also show Canadians our vision for a stronger, more prosperous and more united Canada."
O'Toole acknowledged the party was in need to broaden its base to win the next election and reached out to all Canadians from diverse backgrounds in all regions of the country and said,
"I believe that whether you are Black, white, brown or from any race or creed, whether you are LGBT or straight, whether you are an Indigenous Canadian or have joined the Canadian family three weeks ago or three generations ago, whether you're doing well or barely getting by, whether you worship on Friday, Saturday, Sunday or not at all … you are an important part of Canada, and you have a home in the Conservative Party of Canada."
O'Toole's victory speech suggests he understands the need to reach out to a broader base of voters with a positive message, said David Stewart, a political science professor at the University of Calgary, in an email, reported by CBC News.
"The Conservatives have badly underestimated Trudeau in two elections and have to be careful not to assume that the current controversies will dominate the next election,"
Andrew Scheer, the outgoing Conservative Party leader, in his farewell speech urged all Conservative party members to reach out to new supporters by staying united.
"In times like these, it is even more important for every single Conservative to stay united and do everything we can to work together to spread our message of hope," he said.
"It doesn't matter what kind of Conservative you are. Our party needs all of you and we need you to go out and find more people who share our beliefs. Please stay involved. Be bold. Think. Challenge the mainstream media. Don't take the left-wing media narrative as fact."
#Ontario; #Canada; #3M; #madeInOntarioN95Respirators; CanadaOntario3MPartnership
Ottawa, Aug 23 (Canadian-Media): An announcement was made Aug 21 on the site of the expansion by Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Anita Anand, Canada's Minister of Public Services and Procurement, and Vic Fedeli, Ontario's Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, that Ontario and federal governments are partnering with 3M Canada to expand its Brockville, Ontario manufacturing facility to produce made-in-Ontario N95 respirators.
3M. Image credit: Twitter handle
An investment of $23.33 million is being made by both levels of government to support 3M's capital investment of $70 million to produce enough respirators to meet private sector, provincial and North American market demand throughout the pandemic and beyond and ensuring a readily available stockpile of N95 respirators.
This investment would help creation of new manufacturing capabilities, new jobs, and a strengthened domestic supply chain for vital Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as Ontario continues on its path of economic recovery.
"In the face of a global pandemic, I vowed as Premier that we would do everything we can to get the essential supplies we need to protect our heroic healthcare and frontline workers in the province," said Premier Ford during the announcement. "Ontario is a manufacturing powerhouse and our joint investment with the federal government and 3M Canada shows we can make the best N95 respirators anywhere in the world to supply our frontline heroes here in Ontario and right across Canada."
A five-year agreement was reached by the Government of Ontario and the Government of Canada with 3M for providing 50 million respirators annually beginning in early 2021 to meet current demand for frontline healthcare workers in Ontario and across Canada.
There would be equal sharing of the respirators between Ontario and Ottawa.
30 jobs in Brockville, Ontario are expected to be created by the project, including production operators, maintenance technicians, process engineers, supervisors and quality assurance professionals.
"Our health care workers have been on the front lines of our country's fight against COVID-19 since the very beginning," said Trudeau. "While the virus remains a threat, we need to make sure these real-life heroes have the equipment they need. This agreement with 3M Canada highlights the Government of Canada's commitment to protecting those who are doing so much to keep their fellow Canadians healthy and safe."
Fideli said that our health professionals and frontline workers depend on N95 masks while they are on the ventilators while they're battling COVID-19 and added,
"Ontario's partnership with 3M and the federal government will provide a made-in-Ontario solution to reduce our dependence on foreign supply chains while strengthening our domestic supply chain and further expanding our world-class manufacturing capacity."
Ottawa, Aug 21 (Canadian-Media): Aug 21 being the last day to vote in the Conservative leadership race, Conservative strategists say that the Conservative party needs to project its image, as pollsters are looking for a leader a clear vision for the country, appealing to a diverse cross section of voters ahead of the next general election, media reports said.
Conservative Party of Canada. Twitter handle: Facebook page
Canada's Official Opposition leadership to succeed the outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, is being contested by four candidates including Leslyn Lewis, Peter MacKay, Erin O'Toole and Derek Sloan.
"The Liberal Party is going to put forth their vision whether it's in the throne speech or whether we get to the general election," said Conservative strategist Shakir Chambers. "They're going to have their agenda, and we can't just, as a party, focus on micro targeting tax credits or having tax cuts."
"We need to have a comprehensive, coherent vision of what the party stands for; how we address the issues that are facing Canadians; how we ensure there are opportunities for the future whether you're a woman, whether you're racialized."
"For those who don't vote Conservative, the party struggles. [It's] seen as old, traditional, close-minded. Some even described it as racist," said David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data. "So you get this image of a brand ... that isn't really relevant for many Canadians today and seems kind of part of the past," CBC News reported.
Although COVId-19 pandemic has lowered the leadership contest this year compared to past campaigns, Conservative strategist Melissa Lantsman says party members are still thoroughly engaged.
The election of a federal party leader this year has recorded more than 150,000 votes having already been cast, making it the highest turnout in Canadian history.
The mail-in vote's results will be announced by the party during an event in Ottawa on Sunday beginning at 6 p.m.
#Canada; #New$37BReformPackage; #EI; #Covid19;
Ottawa, Aug 20 (Canadian-Media): Canada's Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, in her first announcement as Canada’s finance minister alongside Canada's Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough unveiled the new $37 billion aid package during a news conference in Ottawa Aug 20 to help Canadians through the transition as the economy gradually reopens.
Chrystia Freeland. Image credit: Twitter handle
Details of the new plan released Thursday reveal how most people will be transitioned onto EI, would cost at least $37 billion over the next year.
"By supporting Canadians who are out of work because of the pandemic, we are making it possible for our country to continue to practise social distancing and to do the right things in the fight against the coronavirus,” Freeland said during the news conference. “As we shift from our initial emergency response to a safe and prudent restart, as we shift to living with COVID-19, our approach also needs to evolve.”
Measures include, federal government's extension of Canada emergency response benefit (CERB) by one more month, overhauling the employment insurance (EI) program to facilitate more people to be financial assisted during COVID-19, EI requiring greater flexibility on the work hours, making it easier for people to qualify for a one-year period.
More than $69 billion have already been paid by CERB to more than 8.6 million recipients.
CERB, which pays people $2,000 a month will now be in place until Sept. 27, extending the program from six months to 28 weeks.
After the culmination of CERB, Canadians who were already eligible for EI will transition to that program, while others can apply for new "recovery" benefits.
Self-employed eligible to apply for a benefit of up to $400 a week for up to 26 weeks if they have stopped working or had reduced incomes due to COVID-19.
The new rule allows them to continue to earn money, but will be required to repay 50 cents of every dollar earned above $38,000.
The second new benefit would allow any Canadian worker who falls ill or has to self-isolate due to COVID-19 to receive 10 days of paid sick amounting to $500 a week but the claimant can't claim this benefit and another sick leave payment at the same time.
The agreement negotiated with the provinces and territories necessitated the restart the national economy safely.
A third benefit will support Canadians who must stay home to care for a child under 12 or another dependent because their school, daycare or other day program facility is shut down due to COVID.
“We recognize that there continues to be an ongoing public health crisis in our country, and we need to prepare...Not all regions across the country or sectors are reopening at the same time,” said Qualtrough, who took the lead on developing this new plan and added,
"We're doing our very best to support all Canadian workers and leave no one behind."
But this program will not be applicable to the people who choose to keep their kids home even though the facility is open, unless they provide proof of a medical reason such as an immunodeficiency disorder.
The payment of the three new recovery benefits, which will be and expected to cost $22 billion.
Added to this is $8 billion cost of the extension of CERB, and $7 billion EI costs would bring total of $37 billion.
New recovery benefits applications are scheduled to open in October, with payments flowing in three to five days.
But the recovery benefits are subject to the approval of the parliament, which is currently prorogued until Sept. 23, when the House of Commons will begin a new session with a speech from the throne crafted by the Liberal government.
#B.C.; #Covid19Pandemic; #MessageToYoungPeople
British Columbia, Aug 14 (Canadian-Media): Seeing a surge in the novel coronavirus infections in the recent weeks, led by people between the ages of 20 and 39 led B.C.'s premier John Horgan to make a call to celebrities to help spread the message to young people that large parties aren't safe right now.
John Horgan. Image credit: Twitter handle
Horgan's call was responded by actor Ryan Reynolds on Friday with a typical audio recording directed at Horgan's Twitter account, saying it was a voicemail message he'd left on the premier's phone.
"I'm not sure it's a great idea, frankly. People, I don't think they want medical advice from guys like me, no sir," Reynolds said in the message.
But he goes on to say that partying during a pandemic is dangerous, and thousands of young people around the world have become sick or even died from the COVID-19 illness caused by the virus.
Beyond that, young people can infect older people, who are much more vulnerable to the illness.
"B.C. is home to some of the coolest older people on Earth. I mean, David Suzuki, he lives there," Reynolds said, CBC news reported.
The province is also home to the Deadpool star's mother, Tammy.
"My mom, she doesn't want to be cooped up in her apartment all day. She wants to be cruising Kitsilano Beach looking for some young 30-something Abercrombie burnout to go full Mrs. Robinson on. She is insatiable," Reynolds said.
"I hope that young people in B.C. don't kill my mom, frankly, or David Suzuki, or each other."
Reynolds told CBC News the social media response was his way of answering a call.
Horgan told reporters on Friday afternoon that he's feeling "really pleased" with the recording.
"His humour is unparalleled," the premier said. "Underlying that humour is a really serious message."
Horgan said that he hopes Reynold's message reaches an audience that do listen Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry's daily briefings.
Horgan added that he had also discussed with Health Minister Adrian Dix about ways to connect with a younger audience through TikTok and YouTube stars, and that he is speaking with singer Michael Bublé as well.
#Canada; #U.S.; #CanadaUSBorderClosure
Ottawa, Aug 14 (Canadian-Media): Bill Blair, Canada's Public Safety Minister announced Friday that the federal government has taken the decision to extend the Canada-U.S. land border closure for another 30 days until September 21.
Bill Blair. Image credit: Twitter handle
For four months suspension of non-essential travel has been in place, and with the increased number of cases of COVI-19 pandemic in many U.S. states, the two governments have mutually agreed to continue restricting movement across the world's longest international border.
"We will continue to do what's necessary to keep our communities safe," Blair said in a tweet.
Canada-US Border. Image credit: Flickr
There has been a dramatic drop in traffic between the two countries due to the closure of Canada-US Border, but essential workers including truck drivers and health-care professionals are still able to cross by land despite the restrictions.
As for Canadians, they are still able to fly to U.S. destinations.
The movement of Americans through Canada who are ostensibly on their way to Alaska has also been curbed by the federal government of Canada.
U.S. travellers destined for the northern state have been limited to five crossings in Western Canada with and are commitment to taking a direct route.
#Ottawa; #Canada; #ShortageOfPPE; Warning
Ottawa, Aug 14 (Canadian-Media): A warning regarding shortage of the personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to weather a pandemic was issued early February by the public servants who manage the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile (NESS), media reports said.
PPE. Image credit: Public Health Ontario Website
But according to the records released to the House of Commons government operations committee, despite the warning in February, it was not until mid-March that federal government of Canada signed contracts for few contracts for PPE or other equipment, like ventilators, goods like N95 respirators, the masks used by health-care professionals to protect themselves from COVID-19.
The bureaucrats responsible for replacing the national stockpile didn't receive a national security exemption to quickly replenish supplies through sole-sourced contracts until March 14.
It was not until March 18 that the first orders for N95 were finalized, days after the provinces issued emergency orders amid a surge of COVID-19 cases leading the PHAC to co-ordinated national shutdown.
The PHAC warned, however, deliveries weren't expected until at least March 30 given global demand and added, "Managing/moderating demand will be critical."
The persistent shortage of masks in March and April prompted Sandy Buchman, the president of the Canadian Medical Association to warn a Senate committee in May about the country's "sick" health-care system being at a "breaking point" as physicians lacked access to a consistent and adequate supply of protective equipment.
An adequate supply of PPE in the stockpile, added Buchman would have resulted in less "mental anguish" for physicians and medical professionals who were grappling with a rationed supply of N95 masks.
"The anxiety associated with the lack of adequate PPE and, might I mention, high-quality PPE, was palpable — the vast majority of our physician membership was experiencing huge levels of mental stress and strain regarding this," he said.
Public services' Conservative critic said the federal government's slow response resulted in unnecessary hardship.
"They had domestic and international evidence that there was a global crisis unfolding, they ignored it, they dithered and Canadians suffered," Kelly McCauley said in a statement.
Even the WHO warned about severe interruptions in PPE supply as early as February 7th," McCauley said.
"Their failure to move on procuring PPE for Canada ultimately led to dangerous shortages while the country struggled to fight the pandemic."
Nova Scotia, Aug 6 (Canadian-Media): Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil announced Aug 6 his decision to step down, after being elected in 2003 as MLA for Annapolis and being premier since 2013, media reports said.
Stephen McNeil. Image credit: Twitter handle
In a media availability that was broadcast live following a cabinet meeting he said "Seventeen years is a long time, and it's long enough."
55-year-old McNeil said he had decided to resign prior to the coronavirus pandemic, but he reconsidered when the virus arrived in Nova Scotia in March.
"All of those plans were put on hold, and I gave this my all. I spent five weeks here without ever getting home to my own property and my own home. [I was] away from my family because I was working with Public Health and with our team to try to get control of it," said McNeil.
McNeil said he will continue to act as premier and Liberal Party leader until his replacement has been chosen by the party.
"We're at a position right now where I felt the window for me to — I either had to say I was going, or I was too late," and added
'This is not a lifelong career'
McNeil was leader when the party became the Official Opposition in 2009, and then defeated the governing New Democrats in 2013 to form a majority government.
"I spent the last six years doing what I think is in the best interest of all Nova Scotians," he said Aug 6.
Some of the polarizing decisions he and his government have made were mentioned by McNeil touched including imposing contracts on several public-sector unions during his Question and Answer period with the cabinet members.
Even before the pandemic, Health care in Nova Scotia had been constantly criticized by opposition parties.
In his remarks Aug 6, McNeil highlighted hundreds of millions of dollars on the hospital project is being spent by his government.
McNeil said he celebrated his 17th anniversary in elected office on Wednesday and said
"I love this job. I've enjoyed every day of it, and every day I'm inspired by the people of this province. But this is not a lifelong career."
Leaders from both of the province's opposition parties offered well wishes to McNeil in statements after his announcement.
Once McNeil officially steps down, he will immediately qualify for a pension of $120,000/per year.
#Ottawa; #Pfizer; #Moderna; #potentialCOVID19Vaccines
Ottawa, Aug 5 (Canadian-Media): An announcement was made by Canada's Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand during a news conference in Toronto on Aug 5 that the Government of Canada has entered into agreements with Pfizer and Moderna to secure millions of doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines.
Anita Anand, Image credit: Twitter Handle
During the news conference along with Canada's Science and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains, Anand said today's announcement marks "an important step forward" and the agreements will ensure Canadians are "at the front of the line" when a vaccine is approved.
While Pfizer is a biopharmaceutical company involved in the discovery, development and manufacture of health care products, including medicines and vaccines, Moderna is a biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of medicines and vaccines made of messenger RNA, said a news release.
Anand said in the news release that Pfizer will supply Canada with its BNT162 mRNA-based vaccine candidate, while Moderna will provide its mRNA-1273 vaccine candidate to Health Canada.
Health Canada would be subject to regulatory approval prior to administering the vaccines to Canadians.
“Canada has flattened the curve, but COVID-19 remains dangerous without a vaccine. Over the last months, our government has been investing to fight this virus. We have been committing important funding toward research and preparedness to develop a vaccine and treatments. Today’s announcements will build on the work already started to support COVID-19 research in Canada and will give us more chances of having a vaccine and treatments,” said Canada's Health Minister, Patty Hajdu in the news release.
Patty Hajdu. Image credit: Twitter handle
Necessary equipment and supplies to manufacture to produce the vaccine in Canada and other supplies to ensure safe immunization such as syringes, alcohol swabs and gauze are also being procured by the Public Services and Procurement Canada.
Normally it takes years or decades for the development of a vaccine, but scientific communities around the world are aiming to speed up the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 in 12 to 18 months.
Several measures being taken by the Government of Canada to secure a future supply of COVID-19 vaccine and therapies were announced by Bains and Anand in a news release.
Bains unveiled in the news release the members of the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force including vaccine and immunology experts, as well as industry leaders co-chaired by Joanne Langley, Head of Infectious Diseases at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax and Professor in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology at Dalhousie University, and J. Mark Lievonen, former President of Sanofi Pasteur Limited in Canada.
The Task Force provides scientific and technical advice to the government on a portfolio of leading international vaccine candidates.
Anand said in the news release that the negotiation by the government is underway with a number of leading pharmaceutical companies to establish a regular supply base of potential vaccine candidates.
Following the recommendation of the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force, Bains announced an investment of up to $56 million in the news release to support clinical trials for a COVID-related vaccine candidate from Variation Biotechnologies Inc. (VBI) through the Strategic Innovation Fund to facilitate Canada’s ability to secure an effective vaccine.
The news release added that this investment is funded from the Government’s $600 million to support COVID-19–related vaccine and therapy clinical trials.
#Ottawa, #CovidAlertApp; #PrivacyConcerns
Ottawa, Aug 5 (Canadian-Media): It was confirmed Vito Pilieci, a spokesperson for Canada's Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien that the federal government's new COVID Alert app does not offer 100 percent privacy and could allow some who test positive for the coronavirus to be identified, media reports said.
Covid Alert App. Image credit: Twitter handle
“Canadians can opt to use this technology knowing it includes very significant privacy protections,” says Daniel Therrien, Privacy Commissioner of Canada in a news release. “I will use it.”
When the app was unveiled by the Canadian government of on Friday, the government stressed that users' privacy is protected because it "has no way of knowing your location, your name or address," among other details.
But Piliec confirmed that the privacy commissioner's office had concerns about the claims the government wanted to make and added,
"True anonymity, technically speaking, would require the complete and permanent impossibility of reversing the data processes at play, which could reveal sources of personal information and so re-identify individuals," he said. "Our understanding of the situation is that while the identification of users would be highly improbable, it would not be impossible."
Therrien's office disagreed with the claim of the government employees who developed it that they wanted to describe the app's handling of information as "anonymous."
"Anonymous' implies that there is no risk whatsoever that a person could be identified,"Therrien's office wrote. "However, and although we all agreed that while there's a very, very low risk that someone could be re-identified through the app, it isn't necessarily zero.
"Someone living in a remote area and only interacting with one or two other people could theoretically be identified by their neighbours if they received exposure notification alerts, for example."
This led the government to subsequently changed its claims and Therrien endorsed the app.
But the importance of the app as a tool to help control the spread of the virus in Ontario was agreed by Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario Patricia Kosseim.
“I support the use of exposure notification technology to help control the spread of COVID-19, provided it is used in the way it’s been designed to respect the privacy of Ontarians,” says Commissioner Kosseim in the news release. “This app will only work if people trust their personal information will be protected and choose to use the technology. Based on our review of the app and acceptance of our recommendations, I am satisfied that there are strong measures built in to help protect individual privacy.”
Health Canada also agreed with the app's usefulness and has identified vulnerable populations including seniors, marginalized individuals, and First Nations, Inuit and Métis, who may benefit from targeted outreach strategies.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer also said on Aug 4 in her daily news briefings that the app is one of many tools available to fight the pandemic, and that people should use them even if they aren't perfect.
Theresa Tam. Image credit: Twitter handle
"Despite these gaps, we need to have a go at using it," said Tam. "As many people who can download it and use it as possible will make the app more successful."