Charities battered by COVID-19 say federal support needed

COVID-19 batters charities

OTTAWA - The federal Liberal government is facing growing calls to provide direct support to Canada's charity and non-profit sector as some of the country's best-known and largest organizations say they are struggling to survive because of COVID-19.

YMCA Canada and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada both say they are facing severe financial difficulties even as demand for their services such as child care and food assistance have increased because of the pandemic.

While the federal government has included the sector in some of its COVID-19 supports such as wage subsidy and rent-deferral programs, the organizations say those have only gone so far in making ends meet.

A YMCA facility has already permanently closed its doors in Yarmouth, N.S., because of the pandemic and the Boys and Girls Clubs has shuttered its operations in Edson, Alta.

Cardus, a charity that does research on the non-profit sector, is suggesting the federal government start matching donations from Canadians to different organizations.

But the YMCA and Boys and Girls Clubs say such an approach will still leave many organizations struggling, and that direct federal support is what is ultimately needed to get them through the pandemic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 7, 2020.

Bears trying to live with people, but it still isn't enough: study

Bears need more space

Grizzly bears are doing their best to get along with people, but it still isn't enough.

Newly published research assessing more than 40 years of data concludes that without large wilderness areas to replenish their numbers, the bears would disappear from landscapes they share with humans.

The paper found that bears in populated areas in Alberta and British Columbia have even changed how they hunt, shifting from daytime to more nocturnal activity.

That helps keep more grizzlies alive.

But the study says the mortality rate is still so high that the only reason bears still exist in those areas is because young bears immigrate into them from more remote places.

Those bears must learn all over again how to live with humans, which results in more fatalities.

Lead author Clayton Lamb of the University of Alberta says even the most bear-conscious communities have a ways to go before they can live with bears sustainably.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

COVID-19: today's numbers

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of July 7:

There are 106,107 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 55,997 confirmed (including 5,590 deaths, 25,458 resolved)

_ Ontario: 36,060 confirmed (including 2,691 deaths, 31,603 resolved)

_ Alberta: 8,389 confirmed (including 155 deaths, 7,627 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 2,978 confirmed (including 183 deaths, 2,629 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,065 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 998 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 805 confirmed (including 14 deaths, 732 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 314 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 304 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 165 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 162 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 32 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 1 presumptive

_ Total: 106,107 (12 presumptive, 106,095 confirmed including 8,708 deaths, 69,827 resolved)


Budget officer pegs cost of basic income at $98 billion for six months

$98B for basic income

The parliamentary budget office says it could cost more than $98 billion to provide almost all Canadians with a basic income for six months beginning this fall.

That figure is the upper range of the scenarios the budget watchdog was asked to research as part of a report out this morning.

The idea of providing a basic income to Canadians has taken on more steam as millions have watched their jobs or earnings evaporate in the COVID-19 pandemic, and the federal spending of about $174 billion to provide a financial floor for individuals and businesses.

The cost for the federal government could range between $47.5 billion and $98.1 billion for six months of a granted basic income beginning in October, depending on how much is clawed back as incomes rise.

Budget officer Yves Giroux's report says the average benefit to Canadians aged 18 to 64 would range between $4,500 and $4,800, with the number of recipients rising depending on the phase-out rate.

Giroux's report says the government could repeal $15 billion in tax measures to offset the overall cost of a basic income program.

Turbulence for airlines as Canadians not yet comfortable in return to flying

Not comfortable flying yet

A new poll suggests turbulence ahead for airlines seeking public support for their current COVID-19 plans.

Seventy-two per cent of Canadians surveyed by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies say they're not comfortable flying since a decision by some airlines to relax their own in-flight physical distancing requirements.

As of July 1, Air Canada and WestJet both ended policies blocking the sale of adjacent seats.

The measure was seen to align with a guidance document for the aviation industry issued by Transport Canada in April to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

Among other things, the department had suggested passengers should be widely spaced when possible, though they did not make it mandatory.

Airlines, however, are required to make passengers and air crews wear masks.

Only 22 per cent of those surveyed said they're comfortable getting aboard with no in-flight physical distancing and a requirement to wear masks.

There's more to it to keep flights safe, WestJet said in a statement last week after critics attacked its plan.

"What makes an airplane, and the entire journey, safe is the layers of enhanced cleaning, the wearing of masks and the hospital-grade HEPA filters that remove 99.999 per cent of all airborne particles," the airline said.

"The hygiene standards we have now are world-class and backed by industry experts."

Critics have also previously pounced on the airlines for another move: refusing to fully refund tickets for flights cancelled due to the pandemic.

Thousands of people have beseeched Transport Minister Marc Garneau to compel airlines to issue refunds, but he has refused, arguing that mandating reimbursements from a sector that's lost more than 90 per cent of its revenue would cripple the industry.

But 72 per cent of those polled say they totally oppose his decision.

In lieu of refunds, the airlines have offered vouchers but the poll suggests that it may take a while before people will rebook previously cancelled trips: 85 per cent of those surveyed told pollsters they have no plans to travel outside the country by the end of the year.

The survey polled 1,517 people and can't be assigned a margin of error because online polls are not considered truly random.

Pollsters were in the field between July 3 and 5, a historically popular few days for Canadians and Americans to be on the move between the two countries, given the July 1 Canada Day holiday and the U.S.'s July 4 Independence Day.

But the border remains closed to non-essential traffic, and the majority of Canadians surveyed said they feel it needs to stay that way. The current mutual closure agreement is due to expire July 21.

Of Canadians polled, 86 per cent said they totally disagreed with reopening the border at the end of July, allowing Americans back into the country.

Americans seem more eager both to head north and to welcome Canadians south; 50 per cent agreed the border should re-open and 36 per cent disagreed.

The potential for cross-border transmission of the virus has been a key factor in the decision to keep the border closed. Currently, rates of COVID-19 infection in the U.S. continue to climb, while in Canada the curve appears to be on a downward trajectory nearly everywhere.

Still, the survey suggests Canadians don't feel they are out of the woods. Thirty-nine per cent believe the worst is yet to come, while 35 per cent believe the worst of the crisis has passed.

In the U.S., 42 per cent of those surveyed felt the darkest days are ahead, 25 per cent believe the U.S. is in the middle of the worst part now while 21 per cent think that's already passed.

Lawyer says charges against N.S. woman to be dropped in racial profiling case

Profiling case dropped

The lawyer for a woman who accused Halifax police of racial profiling and physical abuse says charges against her will be dropped today.

Santina Rao was facing charges of disturbing the peace, resisting arrest and assaulting an officer following an incident at a Halifax-area Walmart in January.

She was scheduled to appear in Halifax provincial court today.

But her lawyer, Gordon Allen, has confirmed that the charges will be formally dropped in court.

The 23-year-old has said she became upset on Jan. 15 when police accused her of concealing items while shopping in the store.

A cellphone video of the incident shows police wrestling Rao to the floor as she protests.

Nova Scotia's independent police watchdog agency is investigating the circumstances surrounding the arrest.

Rao says she tried to show the officers her receipts and agreed to a search.

The Serious Incident Response Team has confirmed that Rao was injured during the arrest, which is the main reason why the investigation has been started.

The team's mandate is to investigate police actions that may have led to serious injury or death, or where those actions may raise a significant public interest.

Investigators have asked anyone who witnessed the incident to contact the team, which is required to file a public report about its investigation.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

COVID-19: today's numbers

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of July 6:

There are 105,935 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 55,937 confirmed (including 5,577 deaths, 25,378 resolved)

_ Ontario: 35,948 confirmed (including 2,689 deaths, 31,426 resolved)

_ Alberta: 8,389 confirmed (including 155 deaths, 7,627 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 2,978 confirmed (including 183 deaths, 2,629 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,065 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 998 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 805 confirmed (including 14 deaths, 732 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 314 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 304 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 165 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 162 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 32 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 1 presumptive

_ Total: 105,935 (12 presumptive, 105,923 confirmed including 8,693 deaths, 69,570 resolved)

Overdose deaths increase by 93 per cent among B.C.'s First Nations

Overdose deaths dramatic

The First Nations Health Authority says 89 members of its community fatally overdosed from illicit drugs across British Columbia between January and May, an increase of 93 per cent compared with the same period last year.

The authority's acting chief medical officer, Dr. Shannon McDonald, says measures to control the spread of COVID-19 have led to people using drugs in isolation as they are less likely to access harm-reduction services.

McDonald says 16 per cent of all overdose deaths in the province up to May of this year involved people from First Nations though they represent only 3.4 per cent of B.C.'s population.

She says systemic barriers and stigma have prevented First Nations from using health services.

The First Nations Health Authority and the province each recently contributed $20 million in funding for treatment and support services specifically for First Nations, and the health authority has asked the federal government to contribute the same amount.

Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe says it's "terrifying" that overdose deaths have increased overall in B.C. during the pandemic as increasingly toxic substances have hit the streets.

Peacock removed from Victoria apartment doorway after attack

Amorous peacock removed

Animal control officers in Victoria have evicted a male peacock from an apartment entrance after the bird's daily courtship activities escalated to an attack on a resident over the weekend.

Ian Fraser, Victoria's senior animal control officer, says a resident was injured when the large bird clawed her hand as she tried to get into the building.

He says the peacock managed to elude animal control officers who made several attempts to capture the bird, which is spending the next two weeks in a humane bird facility to cool off during its mating season.

Apartment resident Susan Simmons says the peacock wandered over to the building from nearby Beacon Hill Park in the spring and wouldn't leave.

She says the peacock squawked at passing vehicles, performed mating dances for nearby female peacocks and fought with other males who came near the building.

Fraser says Beacon Hill Park is home to many of the city's peacocks and it's unusual for the birds to leave the green space.

Accused in Rideau Hall crash uttered threats to Prime Minister

Gatecrasher 'uttered threats'

The man charged with ramming a truck through a gate at Rideau Hall last week was armed with two shotguns, a rifle and a revolver, and threatened Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, police say.

Newly released court documents add detail to the charges Canadian Forces member Corey Hurren is facing after the incident July 2.

Information sworn by an RCMP officer alleges Hurren had with him a prohibited M-14 rifle, plus the shotguns and a revolver made by Hi-Standard.

The document says he had a licence for the rifle, which typically means he or a close family member already owned it when the weapon became prohibited, but not for the revolver. The Manitoba resident is also accused of having a prohibited high-capacity magazine without a licence for it.

Aside from 21 charges related to the weapons, Hurren is accused of threatening to cause death or bodily harm to the prime minister.

Hurren is a reservist in the Canadian Rangers, the military says, who was on full-time duty through the summer under a program meant to help respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The RCMP say Hurren rammed through a gate at Rideau Hall in Ottawa early last Thursday.

They say the truck he was driving broke down not far into the Governor General's official estate, where Trudeau and his family have also been living while 24 Sussex Drive awaits renovations.

Hurren allegedly got out and headed in the direction of Trudeau's residence. Police intercepted him and were ultimately able to arrest him without anybody being hurt.

Planned class-action lawsuit alleges illegal strip searches of federal prisoners

Strip searches challenged

A proposed class-action lawsuit alleges authorities illegally strip searched Canadian federal prison inmates hundreds of thousands of times over almost three decades.

A statement of claim filed in Ontario Superior Court says the federal Corrections and Conditional Release Act limits suspicionless strip searches to instances when an inmate might have had access to drugs or other contraband.

It accuses federal authorities of conducting such searches when inmates leave a prison or a secure area, enter a family visitation area or undergo a transfer to another prison. The statement says inmates were forced to remove all clothing, bend over, spread their buttocks, manipulate their genitalia, remove soiled tampons and squat naked while their bodily orifices were inspected.

The court action seeks an end to strip searches not authorized by federal law as well as compensation for the proposed class members.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association's Abby Deshman, co-counsel for the class, says strip searches are incredible intrusions on individual liberty that must be clearly authorized and governed by law.

Bob Rae named new Canadian ambassador to United Nations

Rae new ambassador to UN

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has named Bob Rae as Canada's new ambassador to the United Nations.

He announced the appointment this morning.

It's the latest appointment for the former Ontario premier under Trudeau, after having been Canada's special envoy for humanitarian and immigration issues and, before that, special envoy to Myanmar.

The 71-year-old was interim leader of the federal Liberals prior to Trudeau's taking over the party in 2013.

Rae succeeds Marc-Andre Blanchard as ambassador following Canada's unsuccessful effort to win a seat at the UN Security Council.

Canada was defeated on the first ballot last month by Norway and Ireland.

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