Alberta’s plan to lift almost all COVID-19 public-health measures by mid-August is being decried by medical experts and has left cities, schools and businesses wondering what to do to guard against the virus.
Officials announced this week that the province will end routine contact tracing outside of high-risk settings and no longer require those who do test positive to isolate, among other protocols.
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While local governments and businesses can continue to implement measures such as mask mandates after Aug. 16, they cannot do widespread testing and tracing, or require people to isolate, leaving them with few tools to meaningfully respond to a continuing pandemic.
Joe Vipond, an emergency-room physician in Calgary, said he was “outraged” to learn of Alberta’s plan, and that the province still faces numerous risks and uncertainties, including COVID-19 breakthrough rates, long-term disability and the impact on children. He called on Albertans to act to ensure that these changes do not happen.
Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw updates media on the COVID-19 situation in Edmonton on Friday, March 20, 2020.
JASON FRANSON/The Canadian Press
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‘Blind desperation’ as Afghans rush to be included in Canadian resettlement program
Afghans trying to come to Canada through the government’s new resettlement program have been frustrated by a difficult application process, which is creating serious challenges for those urgently trying to escape the Taliban as the U.S. withdraws from the country.
One of the biggest issues is a 72-hour deadline specified in a government e-mail that went out to potential applicants. “If you do not provide a completed application package within the next three days, we will conclude that you are not interested in participating in this Public Policy,” the e-mail read. However, a statement from the federal immigration department later said that wasn’t the case.
Robin Rickards, a retired veteran who is independently trying to help Afghans who worked with the Canadian Forces resettle in Canada, also pointed to other barriers for Afghans trying to access the resettlement program. To open the documents, applicants need a specific computer program. If they can get in, the documents are all written in English. If they manage to fill them out, the application requires signatures, meaning applicants need access to a printer. Going to public internet cafés to print out the documents could also make applicants a target.
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Some people trying to apply for resettlement have also been met with bounce-back notices from government e-mails saying the mailbox is full and can’t accept messages now.
‘They want us out of Japan:’ Nigerian refugee leaving for Canada amid Olympics
Gloria Nkechi Onyekweli landed in Tokyo in 2006 with a fake passport in hand and a burning desire to be as far as possible from Nigeria, her home, where security forces shot her fiancé and had begun to hunt for her.
On Friday, she plans to board a plane for Canada, which has accepted her for resettlement after years of unsuccessful attempts to become a refugee in Japan – a country whose smiling welcome of Olympians stands in contrast to its treatment of people like Ms. Onyekweli.
In nearly 15 years in Japan, she was kept behind bars for 30 months and occasionally treated harshly. She describes being bruised by guards in immigration detention and feeling “mental torture” from the pressure of uncertainty. The law barred her from working, even after she learned Japanese and secured credentials to care for the elderly.
“They always present to the world that they are hospitable and nice,” she said. But when it comes to refugees, “they just want us to vanish from the Earth and get out of Japan.”
Subscribe to our Olympics newsletter: Tokyo Olympics Update features original stories from Globe reporters in Canada and Tokyo, will track Team Canada’s medal wins, and looks at past Olympic moments from iconic performances.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Penny Oleksiak misses 100-metre freestyle podium by a hair: In her signature event at the Tokyo Olympics, Oleksiak was just barely edged off the podium despite swimming a personal best time in the event. Canada’s swimming superstar finished fourth in a lightning-fast women’s 100-metre freestyle final on Friday in Tokyo, setting a new national record time of 52.59 seconds.
Tokyo Olympics daily guide: Canada wins third gold of the Games in women’s eight rowing; Djokovic’s Golden Slam hopes dashed with loss to Germany
SFU academic assails Canada’s ‘self-righteous’ criticism of China on human rights: Yuezhi Zhao, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Political Economy of Global Communication at Simon Fraser University, wrote a column in China Daily defending Beijing’s record on ethnic minorities such as the Uyghurs. Zhao argues that Canadians are being self-righteous in accusing the Chinese government of genocide in Xinjiang in view of Canada’s treatment of Indigenous peoples.
Former Saudi spy chief says lawsuit targeting him tainted by torture: Saad Aljabri, who held a cabinet-rank intelligence post in Riyadh before being exiled and fleeing to Toronto, is asking a Canadian court to throw out an embezzlement lawsuit against him. He argues that the allegations are unfounded and the evidence on which it relies was gleaned from human-rights abuses and, likely, torture.
Social-media companies focus of potential online harms bill: The federal government has launched a new consultation for a proposed bill aimed at combatting online hate shared on social-media sites. Ottawa plans on creating a Digital Safety Commissioner of Canada, as well as a Digital Recourse Council that Canadians can petition to have content removed from social-media sites. The legislation would be in addition to Bill C-36, which looked at public hate speech by individuals.
Michele Audette, commissioner of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls inquiry appointed to Senate: Audette was named as a senator for Quebec as part of a raft of appointments made public by the Prime Minister’s Office. Two others with political experience were among those named today: Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen and Clément Gignac, chief economist at iA Financial Group and former Quebec MNA. Also receiving appointments were David Arnot, the chief commissioner of Saskatchewan’s Human Rights Commission and Amina Gerba, a Cameroonian Canadian entrepreneur.
World shares eye monthly gains: Global shares tracked Asia lower on Friday but remain on course for their sixth straight month of gains as solid corporate earnings and central bank stimulus keep sentiment intact. Just before 6 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 slid 0.76 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 were off 0.82 per cent and 0.07 per cent, respectively. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei closed down 1.8 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slid 1.35 per cent. New York futures were weaker. The Canadian dollar was trading at 80.40 US cents.
WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
Indigenous peoples must lead the effort to recover residential-school children
”After more than a century of government policies, such as the Indian Act, that were put in place to assimilate and destroy us, the federal government or any colonial entity cannot be put in charge of how this recovery process is going to look. Canada lost any semblance of having that place of honour in this sacred duty about 154 years ago.” – Tanya Talaga
It’s time to get tough with vaccine resisters
“We continue to pander to a group who, in many cases, are simply too lazy to sign up to get a shot. Or, they continue to embrace crackpot conspiracy theories and misinformation being spread on social media. We patiently hope that they will wake up and see the light one day, meantime their recalcitrance affects the rest of us.” – Gary Mason
Alberta’s new COVID-19 policy is reckless and repugnant
“A cynic would suggest that given Premier Jason Kenney has said there will be no more shutdowns – and given the growing number of cases linked to the much-hyped Calgary Stampede – the government’s response to rapidly increasing cases and positivity rates is to dismantle the provincial tracking system ahead of the fourth wave.” – Blake Murdoch
TODAY’S EDITORIAL CARTOON
David Parkins/The Globe and Mail
Grandma’s got it going on, even at 80
After watching her mother get hit on in the park, First Person writer Kelly Korbin reflects on what it means to be hot as an octogenarian, especially as women’s beauty values youth above all else. Perhaps we should learn to decenter physical attributes from attraction. Korbin recalled some wisdom shared by a friend of her son’s after he announced that he had a girlfriend in his Grade 2 class:
“‘Really, what’s she like?’
Hoping that provocative selfie poses hadn’t infiltrated the primary playground, I asked him what ‘hot’ meant.
He thought about it. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘She’s really nice. And she doesn’t cry when she gets hurt.’ ”
MOMENT IN TIME: July 30, 1928
Canadian women claim silver, bronze in 100m at 1928 Olympics
American athlete Betty Robinson, second from left, wins the final of the women's 100-metre event during the Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium, Amsterdam, 31st July 1928. Canadians Bobbie Rosenfeld (1904 - 1969, far left) and Ethel Smith (1907 - 1979, far right), took silver and bronze, respectively. The Amsterdam games were the first to include athletics events for women.
Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
As trailblazing runs go, the women’s 100-metre final at the 1928 Amsterdam Games will take some beating. At stake were the very first Olympic medals to be awarded to female athletes in track and field. And with three of the six participants running for Canada, the country had a good chance of landing atop the podium and completing a golden sweep the day after Vancouver’s Percy Williams breasted the tape in the men’s 100-metre final. Canadian hopes wobbled slightly when world-record holder Myrtle Cook was disqualified for a pair of false starts. But with two more of the Matchless Six, as Canada’s first female Olympic track team was dubbed, left in the race – including Fanny (Bobbie) Rosenfeld, later named Canadian female athlete of the half-century – optimism was high. However, in a scene that was to become all-too-familiar to Olympic observers over much of the next century, an American sprinted clear of the field to claim gold. Sixteen-year-old Betty Robinson, in only her fourth competitive race, edged Rosenfeld into second place with a winning time of 12.2 seconds, while Toronto’s Ethel Smith took home bronze. – Paul Attfield