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Major General Dany Fortin, then the Commander of NATO Mission Iraq, is interviewed in Baghdad in November 2019.

SABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images

An expert in military affairs says the sudden departure of the military official in charge of Canada’s vaccine rollout is unlikely to have any impact on the high-profile operation.

Christian Leuprecht, a professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., says the reassignment Friday of Maj-Gen. Dany Fortin won’t slow down the rollout because the military always has a second in command ready to step in to get the job done.

The Department of National Defence says Fortin left his post with the Public Health Agency of Canada pending the results of a military investigation, though the nature of that probe was not revealed.

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Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan issued a brief statement saying he was committed to building a culture of inclusion for the Canadian Armed Forces, and he also said he wanted to see the military shed “toxic and outdated values, practices and policies.”

Fortin’s replacement was not revealed Friday and the Defence Department declined to comment on the case Saturday.

Fortin was appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last November to oversee what he called the “greatest mobilization effort Canada has seen since the Second World War.”

Leuprecht, who also teaches at Kingston’s Royal Military College of Canada, said the change in command will barely be noticed.

“The mantra is, ‘Failure is not an option,’ Leuprecht said in an interview Saturday.

“The mission has to go on. If you’re fighting a war and your general gets taken out, you need someone who is able to step into the fray right away and keep running the operation. The entire machine is set up to keep on rolling.”

Federal Green Party Leader Annamie Paul receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Downsview Arena in Toronto on May 14, 2021.

Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press

Ontario reports 2,584 new COVID-19 cases, single-day high in vaccine doses

Ontario is reporting 2,584 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday along with 24 new deaths linked to the virus.

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Health Minister Christine Elliott says there were 689 new infections in Toronto, 584 in Peel Region and 252 in York Region. Other areas with high case counts include Durham Region with 157 today and Hamilton with 115.

There are 1,546 COVID-19 patients in Ontario hospitals as of Saturday morning, including 714 in intensive care and 516 on ventilators.

Ontario administered 154,104 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, a number Elliott describes as a single-day high in the province.

Quebec reports 760 new cases of COVID-19, 8 deaths

Quebec is reporting 760 additional cases of COVID-19 Saturday and eight new deaths linked to the virus, including two within the past 24 hours.

The Health Department says the number of hospitalizations declined by 21 to 509, while the number of patients in intensive care decreased by three to 120.

Officials say 98,567 doses of vaccine were administered on Friday, for a total of 4,230,520 since the immunization effort got underway.

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Montreal reported 235 new cases, more than any other region in the province.

Montérégie, southeast of Montreal, was the only other region to report more than 100 new infections, logging 122 in the past 24 hours.

The Bas-Saint-Laurent region, northeast of Quebec City, is the most affected area on a per-capita basis, with 198.2 active cases per 100,000 people.

There are currently 87.4 active cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people in Quebec.

The province has reported 362,580 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 11,032 deaths linked to the disease since the onset of the global pandemic.

Ontario urged to allow outdoor recreation amid stay-at-home order, and not only for golfers

Ontario golfers have been pushing the province to reopen courses ordered closed while the province is under stay-at-home orders, but some observers say access to outdoor recreational facilities serving a wider population should be just as high on the agenda.

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Doctors and recreational facility administrators say Canadians need access to affordable, inclusive and local ways to get outside and exercise, so long as health care professionals deem it safe.

“Many of the people I care for live in dense apartment buildings, have small indoor spaces and don’t have the luxury of a backyard,” said Dr. Naheed Dosani, a palliative care physician and health justice activist in Toronto.

“We need to really be thinking about how to keep these people physically and mentally healthy.”

Dr. Dosani and others hope the province will make any reopening of recreational opportunities equitable. As well as golf courses, basketball nets, skate parks and tennis courts have remained out of bounds for months.

Elsewhere in Canada

  • Nova Scotia is reporting 86 new cases of COVID-19. The tally marks the first time since May 1 that the province has recorded less than 100 infections in a single day. More than half of the new cases were reported in the area that includes Halifax. Premier Iain Rankin issued a brief statement saying he was pleased to see the slight reduction in the daily case count, but calling on residents to keep adhering to public health measures meant to curb further spread. Nova Scotia had 1,509 active cases of COVID-19 in the province as of Saturday, with 96 people in hospital, including 23 in intensive care.
  • Manitoba is reporting four new deaths of people with COVID-19 and 430 new cases of the virus. Saturday’s provincial pandemic update also unveiled plans to shift more students to remote learning in response to rising case counts. The province says all 27 schools in the Garden Valley and Red River Valley School Districts will move to remote learning starting on May 18 and effective until May 30. The update says the five-day test-positivity rate is 12 per cent provincially and 14.2 per cent in Winnipeg. There are 241 people with COVID-19 in Manitoba’s hospitals, with 70 in intensive care.
  • New Brunswick is reporting seven new cases of COVID-19. They include two travel-related infections that involve New Brunswickers isolating outside the province. The other cases involve either travel-related infections or contacts of previously confirmed cases in Saint John, Fredericton and Bathurst. The province is now dealing with 113 active cases, which are among the 2,052 reported since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting five new cases of COVID-19, all of which are related to travel in Canada. The province is now dealing with 78 active cases, with over half of them recorded in the zone that includes St. John’s. Health officials say one person remains in hospital. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the province has reported 1,184 cases, which include six deaths

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