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The Quebec government is floating the idea of asking asymptomatic health care workers to stay on the job if they test positive for COVID-19, while other provinces are considering test-to-stay strategies as a means of keeping the fast-spreading Omicron variant from putting a critical mass of nurses and doctors into quarantine.

The Quebec government is also looking into assigning COVID-positive staffers who are not feeling sick to hot zones where they would care only for patients who have already been exposed to the virus, Francine Dupuis, associate chief executive officer of the West-Central Montreal health authority, and two unions said.

The Quebec proposal puts a spotlight on a growing concern for Canadian hospital leaders and public-health officials as the Omicron wave gathers steam.

A nurse prepares a nasal swab at a temporary COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal, on Friday, May 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul ChiassonPaul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

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Bondfield corruption investigation widens to include Sunnybrook hospital

The corruption investigation into Bondfield Construction Co. Ltd., once one of the largest builders of public sector projects in Ontario, has widened to include its contracts with a second Toronto hospital, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

A police investigation, which is being led by a provincial law enforcement initiative known as the Serious Fraud Office, is targeting Sam Marafioti, a Sunnybrook executive who oversaw construction and planning until his recent resignation from the hospital.

As The Globe has reported previously, the fraud office is also investigating alleged corruption at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital, which, in partnership with Infrastructure Ontario, selected Bondfield in 2014 to lead its $300-million redevelopment.

James Webb Space Telescope set to reveal universe’s outer limits to a new generation

Before Olivia Lim was born, a handful of planets had already been discovered beyond our own solar system. While she was growing up in St. Hubert, Que., that handful grew to thousands. As she was preparing to enter university, a star called TRAPPIST-1, located just 40 light-years away, was shown to host multiple Earth-sized planets. Now, as a PhD student at the University of Montreal, Lim is about to be handed the most exquisite astronomical instrument ever devised to find out if any of the planets circling TRAPPIST-1 have atmospheres.

Lim and legions of other astronomers are getting ready for the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, which could take place as early as Christmas morning. When the telescope launches, they hope to get the clearest pictures yet of the universe’s outer limits – thanks to made-in-Canada technology.

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ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Putin warns U.S., NATO: Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed the West for the escalating tension in Europe, and said his country was ready to resort to unspecified military measures if the United States and NATO continued their “aggressive line.”

Tory MP touts false information about vaccines: Rachael Thomas, the member of Parliament for Lethbridge, posted false information about vaccines and their efficacy as she defended people who choose not to be vaccinated and said they’re being “demonized.” The comments come as Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole continues to struggle with his party’s position on vaccines.

Canadian companies set new record for M&A deals: Canada has been very good to Wall Street this year. A handful of U.S. investment banks stand to earn billions of dollars in fees on record-breaking merger-and-acquisition activity over the past 12 months, a string of takeovers capped this week by Bank of Montreal’s $20.9-billion bid for San Francisco-based Bank of the West.

NHL players not heading to Olympics, sources say: The National Hockey League and the NHL Players’ Association have agreed not to participate in the coming Beijing Games, according to a source. The move was made because 50 games have already been postponed and the NHL is concerned that the disruption will make it difficult for all 82 regular-season games to be played.

Former Bombardier VP acquitted in Swedish bribery probe: A former vice-president of Bombardier Transportation’s rail control solutions division is not guilty of aggravated bribery in connection with a business deal in Azerbaijan, a Swedish court ruled on Wednesday.


MORNING MARKETS

Markets remain optimistic: European equities edged slightly higher on Wednesday, with markets optimistic that the Omicron coronavirus variant would only have a limited economic fallout, even as global cases surged and more countries announced restrictions. Around 5:30 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 was off 0.09 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 gained 0.06 per cent and 0.13 per cent, respectively. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei added 0.16 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.57 per cent. New York futures were little changed. The Canadian dollar was trading at 77.49 US cents.


WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

Editorial: “To the extent that the debate over Bill 21 plays out as Quebec vs. Canada, English vs. French, ‘Quebec’s secular values’ vs. ‘overbearing Canadian multiculturalism,’ it benefits the legislation’s supporters, notably the Coalition Avénir government of Premier François Legault. It benefits them enormously.”

Kelly S. Thompson: “Think of all the times you’ve been hurt, and how much was soothed by a sincereI’m sorry.’ I know well – as an author and public speaker who has travelled the country to discuss harassment in the Canadian Armed Forces, and who has been approached many times by other people who say, ‘yes, this happened to me, too’ – that a genuine apology can have a profound healing capacity.”


TODAY’S EDITORIAL CARTOON

Brian GableBrian Gable/The Globe and Mail


LIVING BETTER

Fun and frolics: A list of (mostly) new series and specials for the holidays

Are you looking for a list of things to watch over the holidays? Some things to get you through the worry about COVID, vaccinations and boosters while experiencing bonhomie faux or authentic? John Doyle has just what you need to get into a festive spirit ...... sort of.


MOMENT IN TIME: DECEMBER 22, 2010

US President Barack Obama (C) signs the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 into law at the Department of the Interior in Washington, DC, on December 22, 2010. Obama Wednesday signed a law allowing gays to serve openly in the military, repealing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in a sweeping and historic shift for the US armed forces. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell act repealed

Former U.S. president Barack Obama ended official discrimination against LGBTQ people by repealling Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a policy that targeted queer military personnel. Brought in by the Clinton administration in 1993, it purported to lift a ban on military service by LGBTQ individuals, in place since the Second World War. The Department of Defense policy required that LGBTQ personnel remain closeted (“Don’t tell”) because their presence created, as the statute stated, “an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.” Commanding officers were not to initiate an investigation (“Don’t ask”) of the sexual orientation of their personnel. Regardless, an estimated 14,000 LGBTQ personnel were discharged during the 17 years of the policy’s existence. In his first year as president, Donald Trump reintroduced discrimination by restricting openly transgender persons from serving in the military. This ban was lifted Jan. 25 by President Joe Biden. Currently, there is a bill before U.S. Congress to establish a commission to study the “stigmatization, criminalization and ongoing exclusion and inequity for LGBTQ service members and veterans.” One of the commission’s responsibilities is to seek appropriate remedies, including an apology from the U.S. government. Stephanie Chambers


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