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Good evening, let’s start with today’s top coronavirus stories:

Self-employed Canadians caught in CERB confusion won’t have to repay, Trudeau says

Ottawa will no longer require self-employed Canadians to pay back thousands of dollars in emergency benefits if they were among those who became ineligible due to confusion over how the program defined income.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says those who applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit based on their gross incomes, not their net, won’t have to cut the government a cheque.

CERB was open to Canadians who had earned at least $5,000 in the previous 12 months or in the 2019 calendar year. In recent months, some self-employed Canadians said they were being told to repay their CERB money because they did not meet the threshold.

In other pandemic developments nationally: Trudeau also said that, starting next week, anyone arriving in Canada by land will also need to show a recent negative COVID-19 test, as people arriving by air are already required to do.

Also, Health Canada is agreeing with with Pfizer and BioNTech that six doses can regularly be extracted from each vial of their COVID-19 vaccine, instead of the five currently indicated. The change will also take effect next Monday.

WHO investigators say COVID-19 virus unlikely to have leaked from Chinese lab

More than a year after COVID-19 began to spread across the world and nearly a month after a team of investigators arrived in Wuhan to study its origins, the World Health Organization says it has no answers as to where the pandemic began – but it nonetheless strongly discounts the possibility the virus came from a lab, Asia correspondent Nathan VanderKlippe reports.

It was the clearest indication that the international health body is throwing its weight behind a series of theories popularized in China – most notably the possibility that the virus that first broke out in Wuhan may not have originated there at all, but may have arrived on chilled food.

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Trump’s second impeachment trial opens with jarring video of U.S. Capitol siege

Democrats opened Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment trial Tuesday by showing the former president whipping up a rally crowd to march to the Capitol on Jan. 6 and “fight like hell” against his re-election defeat, followed by graphic video of the deadly attack on Congress that came soon after.

The lead House prosecutor told senators the case would present “cold, hard facts” against Trump, who is charged with inciting the mob siege of the Capitol to overturn the election he lost to Democrat Joe Biden. Five people were killed.

Analysis: U.S. Senate pushes on with second Trump trial, arguably more severe and consequential than the first - David Shribman

Air Canada laying off staff, suspending several international routes

Air Canada will lay off more than 1,500 people and suspend service on several U.S. and international routes amid a lack of demand for air travel in the pandemic.

The temporary route suspensions will be phased in beginning this Friday and last until at least April 30, a spokesman said in an e-mail. Here are the routes being suspended by Feb. 18:

  • Toronto: Fort Myers; Dublin; Boston; Washington, D.C.; Denver; LaGuardia; Sao Paolo and Bogota.
  • Montreal: Boston; LaGuardia; Bogota.
  • Vancouver: Seattle; London; Narita, Japan.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Nine-year-old Daniel Neville-Lake, his five-year-old brother Harrison, their two-year-old sister Milly and the children’s 65-year-old grandfather, Gary Neville, were killed in the September, 2015, crash.

Muzzo granted full parole: Marco Muzzo, a Toronto-area drunk driver who killed three children and their grandfather, has been granted full parole. The parole board decision imposes some conditions, including that he not consume alcohol or go into bars and strip clubs.

Bell scrapping all-sports format at three stations: The company says TSN 1040 AM in Vancouver, TSN 1290 AM in Winnipeg and TSN 1150 AM in Hamilton will no longer be all-sports stations. The format changes come in the aftermath of layoffs by Bell across multiple platforms last week. Read more: TSN’s Jay Onrait chokes up in his first show after co-anchor Dan O’Toole is cut loose.

SNC-Lavalin to sell unit: SNC-Lavalin Group is selling its oil and gas business and taking more financial charges on construction contracts as the Canadian engineering company pushes on with a strategic reinvention it hopes will provide stability after years of crisis.

RIP Mary Wilson and Marty Schottenheimer: Singer Mary Wilson, the longest-reigning member of the original Supremes, has died at 76. Coach Marty Schottenheimer, who won 200 regular-season games with four NFL teams thanks to his “Martyball” brand of smash-mouth football but regularly fell short in the playoffs, has died at 77. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2014 and recently moved to hospice care.

Chris Hadfield, novelist: Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield is tapping into real-life space thrills for his debut novel, The Apollo Murders, which is set to published Oct. 12.

MARKET WATCH

The Canadian stock market closed at another record high today, extending its winning streak to seven days, as Wall Street stocks ended mixed. The S&P/TSX Composite Index closed up 78.36 points or 0.43 per cent at 18,408.62, as cannabis shares surged.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 9.93 points or 0.03 per cent to 31,375.83, the S&P 500 lost 4.36 points or 0.11 per cent to end at 3,911.23 and the Nasdaq Composite added 20.06 points or 0.14 per cent to close at 14,007.70.

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TALKING POINTS

Sure, Canada’s vaccination plan could have been better. But hindsight is always 20/20

“The howling premiers and the outraged opposition leaders need to ask themselves if they would have done any better under the circumstances.” - André Picard

Biden is taking the U.S. on its sharpest left turn in 90 years

“Two existential crises, the coronavirus pandemic and climate change, not to mention the worst economic contraction since the Second World War, necessitate a return to big, bold FDR-styled activism.” - Lawrence Martin

LIVING BETTER

For the third project in The Globe’s Craft Club, it’s time to let your imagination run wild and get into the creative world of collage. Join Jana G. Pruden and Winnipeg musician Scott Nolan, who has found making collages during the pandemic calming and comforting, next Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET live on Facebook and at tgam.ca/craftclub. You can get an idea of what materials you might need here, and keep up to date on other activities with our Facebook group.

TODAY’S LONG READ

Female equity partners earned nearly 25 per cent less than men at a major law firm, document shows

At one of Canada’s largest business law practices, Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, women who are equity partners earned nearly 25 per cent less than their male colleagues on average, a confidential document reviewed by The Globe and Mail shows. Translated into dollar figures, this means each man made an average of about $200,000 more a year.

That document, which outlines the projected income for equity partners in 2019, shows that 75 per cent of the lawyers at that level were men. (Equity partners are the lawyers who buy an ownership stake in the firm and get paid a share of the profits.) Of the 116 lawyers on the document, it appears just four were women of colour. Three of those were in the lowest earning quartile. Here’s the full story by Robyn Doolittle and Christine Dobby.

Related: At Bay Street’s top law firms, pay and power gaps are well-kept secrets – but women are struggling toward equity. And catch up with the Power Gap investigation here and view the series here.

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