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Speaker Rota reflects on 1st year presiding over virtual Parliament amid coronavirus

Anthony Rota is marking his first anniversary as Speaker of the House of Commons by, as he puts it, having his throat slit.He’s having surgery this coming week to remove his thyroid gland, which was damaged by radiation treatment he received almost 35 years ago for the first of two bouts of Hodgkin lymphoma.But it seems a perversely fitting conclusion to a tumultuous year in which Rota has presided over Canada’s first-ever pandemic Parliament.He has been forced to oversee an unprecedented overhaul of Commons operations to allow for hybrid sittings, with some 80-odd MPs in the chamber and the other 250 or so MPs participating virtually and voting remotely. Story continues below advertisement “It’s not what I signed up for but it is what it is,” Rota said in an interview.“It’s been an intere...

Negotiating contracts for coronavirus vaccines required flexibility, Anand says

Procurement Minister Anita Anand says that as soon as she knows when the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine will arrive in Canada, she will share that information with Canadians.But Anand told The Canadian Press in an interview this week that the original contracts to buy COVID-19 vaccines had to be vague about delivery dates because nobody knew at the time if the vaccines would be successful.It’s only in the last few weeks, when the leading candidates from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca reported such positive results from their large clinical trials, that the way forward became clear enough for Anand’s department to start asking the companies to be more specific about when they can make good on their contracts with Canada. Story continues below advertisement “We put these contracts in place ...

‘It’s our duty’: How giving Canadians a basic income can improve health and reduce costs

One of the pillars of the federal government’s coronavirus response — the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit, or CERB — is leading to calls for a permanent basic income support program in Canada.Jessie Golem, a Hamilton, Ont., resident, is among those championing such an initiative. Golem was part of a pilot project in Ontario three years ago that provided income support to 4,000 low-income earners in several communities across the province. The pilot was only in place for a little over a year before it was abruptly cancelled by the government of Premier Doug Ford.Golem told Global News’ The New Reality about having to work 60 to 80 hours a week prior to receiving the provincial government basic income.“I felt very stuck and kind of trapped in this situation, where I just sort of had to k...

‘Massive undertaking’: Roadmap of Canada’s coronavirus vaccine roll-out

If all goes according to plan, Canadians will start getting vaccinated for the novel coronavirus early next year.And one of the people spearheading those efforts is a Canadian from Sherbrooke, Que. — Nicolas Chornet, senior vice-president of international manufacturing at Moderna.He moved to Switzerland in August to set up the U.S. drugmaker’s European office and has not seen his extended family in almost a year. But they, too, ask him for constant updates.“Hey, how fast can we get this? Because we want to see you and we want you to travel and come and see us again,’” his family asks him about the vaccine, he says. Story continues below advertisement According to deals signed so far, Canada could have access to up to 414 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from seven different manufacturers...

Canucks anthem singer Mark Donnelly axed for planned appearance at anti-mask rally

He’s long been a staple of Vancouver Canucks home games, but it appears Mark Donnelly has sung the national anthem for the last time in Rogers Arena.Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini took to Twitter Friday, responding to a Vancouver Sun report that the Canucks’ anthem singer would be performing at an anti-mask rally in Vancouver on Saturday.“Hey @VancouverSun, change the headline to ‘Former Canucks anthem singer.’ #wearamask,” wrote Aquilini.Global News has requested comment from Donnelly.Hey @VancouverSun change the headline to “Former Canucks anthem singer.” #wearamask https://t.co/UZX5agK4pl— Francesco Aquilini (@fr_aquilini) December 5, 2020 Story continues below advertisement Saturday’s planned “B.C. Christmas Freedom Rally” is being organized in part by Ryan Kulbaba, who h...

COVID-19 staffing crunch forces Vancouver Catholic school online

A Vancouver Catholic school is moving all instruction online for two weeks, amid a staffing crunch brought on by COVID-19.In a letter to parents, Our Lady of Perpetual Help said all learning would be conducted virtually from next Tuesday until Dec. 18.“Due to the severe staffing constraints we are currently experiencing, we are unable to adequately staff the school at a level which is deemed safe, abides by our schools safety plan, and provides our students with the high quality educational experience they deserve,” states the letter. [ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ] An entire Grade 5 class at the school is already in self-isolation due to a cluster of cases, the school confirmed. Trending Stories Story continues below advertisement 2:48Parents pl...

Woman recounts what it was like to see a family member die of COVID-19 in an Alberta hospital

An Alberta family is sharing its tale of devastating loss in hopes it will inform others of how dangerous COVID-19 is.Andrew Birchill was taken to hospital at the end of October with four broken ribs after falling in his care home — and never came home again.His daughter-in-law, Lori Birchill, was his one designated visitor. The two would talk the halls of his unit together to help maintain his strength.“That was the first thing Andy wanted to do, was put his mask on, to stay protected,” Lori recalled.READ MORE: ‘It isn’t a hoax’: Alberta family grieves as father lies dying of COVID-19 in B.C. hospitalAndy, as he was known, kept working on his rehab. But with his mobility still hindered, he stayed in hospital longer than expected. Story continues below advertisement More than a week after ...

As COVID-19 crisis intensifies, Calgary man with cancer fears dying alone

Ian Robinson knows he’s living on borrowed time. He was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer in 2016.“I’m a successful fugitive from the law of averages right now,” Robinson told Global News Friday.He said his cancer diagnosis “closed in” his entire world and now, COVID-19 has virtually stopped his life.“I rebuilt something that looked like a life and COVID came along and just narrowed it right back down again,” Robinson said.“I’m trapped in my house for most of my life now and that’s sorrowful.” He said he felt cheated by COVID, which took away his ability to fulfill a bucket list. Story continues below advertisement “I can’t travel. I did hold my wife’s hand on a river boat in Burgundy, I lit a candle to a saint in Notre Dame, I stood in Shakespeare’s boyhood bedroom,” Robinson said.“But I want...

Former B.C. resident participating in AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine trial

A former Vancouver resident is sharing his first-hand experience as one of the thousands of people who’ve agreed to participate in COVID-19 vaccine trials around the world.Peter Wearing, who now lives in Arizona, is participating in the Stage 3 trial for the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine.The U.K.-based drug maker’s vaccine is seen as an important part of the vaccine solution, as it does not need to be transported at supercooled temperatures, and is being offered at a fraction of the price of its rivals.Both elements make it particularly promising for the developing world.“I felt that I was healthy and I’ve had vaccines in the past and never had adverse reactions, so I felt that I’ll do my part,” Wearing told Global News. Story continues below advertisement 2:51Canadian in charge of...

Workplaces are the new hotspot for COVID-19 outbreaks in Ontario

Whether it’s factories, food processing plants or construction sites, the latest numbers show heavily populated, essential workplaces are hotspots for COVID-19 in Ontario.Driven largely by such industrial jobs, workplaces have surged to become the most common setting for outbreaks in Ontario and have even surpassed care settings — a category that includes long-term care homes.As of Friday morning workplaces made up 227 — just under 30 per cent — of Ontario’s 773 active outbreaks.Dr. Cameron Mustard of the Institute for Work and Health said just as inattentiveness to one’s work can be dangerous in these industries, so to can a lack of focus on health protocols. Story continues below advertisement “The degree to which the workplace is providing personal protective equipment, is regularly wip...

Holiday cheer is in the air as Jean-Talon opens first Christmas market

Holiday cheer was in the air at the Jean-Talon Market on Friday, as its first Christmas market opened to the public.The market is set up to look like a small Christmas village, with 10 local merchants offering their wares in chalet-style stalls.Vendors include artisanal soaps, foie gras and duck products, handmade jewelry, maple syrup products and Quebec-grown dried fine herbs.“I’m excited to have the first edition here,” said the market’s interim director, Nicolas Fabien-Ouellet.“It’s a good way to discover new products, to shop locally and to give small gifts to your loved ones.”There are also food stalls offering crepes and waffles and a food truck with hot chocolate and Christmas sangria. Story continues below advertisement With COVID-19, several hygiene measures are in place.A hand sa...

Coronavirus: Ontario retail businesses banking on some holiday magic

Selling Christmas has never been so hard. With restrictions and lockdowns brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses that rely on a little holiday magic are struggling if not shutting down entirely.The Miracle pop-up bar has become something of a tradition for west-enders in Toronto. It’s a gaudy homage to all things Christmas, complete with ugly-sweater-wearing servers and themed drinks. But an hour and a half before they opened in November Premier Doug Ford announced Toronto would be put into lockdown.Luckily, when bar owner Nick Kennedy and his business partner Lauren McKenna were negotiating with suppliers, they put clauses in the contracts in case the pandemic got worse.“There will be some losses,” says McKenna, “but we’ve really done our best to mitigate that. In fact, we p...

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