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New pandemic aid and health-care workers at risk: In The News for Oct. 5

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Oct. 5.

What we are watching in Canada …

OTTAWA — Canadians forced to miss work because of COVID-19 can start applying for financial support from the federal government today.

The new benefits have been highly anticipated as Canadians face increasing uncertainty due to a surge in new COVID-19 cases heading into the fall and winter.

The new caregiver benefit provides $500 per week for up to 26 weeks to households where one person has to miss more than half a week of work because they have to care for someone.

That includes situations in which a child or other dependent has either caught COVID-19 and can’t go to school or daycare, or in which schools, daycares or day programs and facilities are closed because of the illness.

Canadians will also be able to start applying for a new sick-leave benefit that will pay up to $1,000 for those forced to stay home because they have become infected or have to isolate because of the illness.

A third program replacing the $500-per-week Canada Emergency Response Benefit that has formed the main support program for Canadians unable to work due to COVID-19 will become available next week.

Also this …

A report by the senior adviser to the SARS commission says Canada put health-care workers at risk of contracting COVID-19 by failing to learn lessons from that epidemic.

Mario Possamai outlines multiple shortcomings by the Public Health Agency of Canada, which was established in response to the commission’s early recommendation as it investigated how SARS arrived in Canada in 2003 and spread, killing 44 people.

Hundreds of people died of SARS elsewhere, including in China and Taiwan, but Possamai says those countries heeded the epidemic’s warnings to be better prepared for COVID-19 compared with Canada, which didn’t stockpile personal protective equipment.

Possamai says the safety of workers, from those in long-term care homes to respiratory technicians and nurses and doctors, has been ignored and their infection rate proves that because it’s four times the rate of their counterparts in China.

Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses’ Unions, which commissioned the report, says Possamai’s recommendation to include occupational health and safety experts from the health-care sector should be adopted to provide security for the workers, letting them know that their safety matters.

The Public Health Agency of Canada did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

ICYMI (in case you missed it) …

Those wondering whether Indigenous women’s rights are still being violated need only look to the death of Joyce Echaquan for their answer, advocates said Sunday as they participated in an annual vigil for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Echaquan, an Atikamekw woman, filmed hospital staff insulting her on Monday while she lay dying in her hospital bed in Joliette, Que., in what advocacy organizations said was yet another example of the sort of systemic racism that leaves the disappearances of Indigenous women and girls unsolved.

“Violence against them is still present, and last week we had yet another horrific example of this,” the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador said in a news release that renewed a call for government action to implement a national inquiry’s recommendations on the issue.

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante, in tweets Sunday marking the day of remembrance, commended crowds of protesters who marched through her city’s downtown on Saturday to demand justice for Echaquan, a 37-year-old mother of seven.

Plante called for people to be allies of First Nations to end systemic racism and discrimination, and to commit to reconciliation.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

BETHESDA, Md. — U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday continued to show disregard for basic precautions to contain the spread of COVID-19 even as he declared a new-found appreciation for the seriousness of the novel coronavirus.

His comments came during his third day of hospitalization for the disease.

In a video message to the nation late Sunday afternoon, Trump stated, “I get it,” before briefly leaving the hospital to salute from his motorcade supporters who had gathered outside.

The move undercut the video message in which he said his hospitalization resulted in him “really going to school” about the virus that’s killed more than 209,000 Americans.

Also this …

NEW YORK — New York City’s mayor says he has asked the state for permission to close schools and reinstate restrictions on nonessential businesses in several neighbourhoods because of a resurgence of the coronavirus.

Shutdowns would happen starting Wednesday in nine zip codes in the city.

Mayor Bill de Blasio says about 300 public and private schools would have to close. Indoor dining, which just resumed a few days ago, would be suspended. Gyms would also close.

De Blasio says the city needs the state to sign off on the restrictions.

Over the past two weeks, though, the number of new cases of the virus has been rising in pockets of the city.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

MEXICO CITY — Authorities in Mexico say at least six people died and thousands were evacuated in southeastern Mexico after tropical storm Gamma lashed the Yucatan Peninsula’s resort-studded coast with near-hurricane force winds and drenched Tabasco and Chiapas states.

Mexico’s civil defence agency said four of the deaths, including two children, were in Chiapas, where a landslide on a mountainous slope buried their home.

The other deaths were in Tabasco state. Gamma, along with cold fronts, combined over the weekend to cause extreme rains in parts of the Yucatan Peninsula and Chiapas, affecting more than half a million people.

Also this …

BRUSSELS — European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen says she has placed herself in isolation after being in contact with a person infected with the coronavirus.

She says she tested negative for the virus on Thursday and that she will undergo another test later Monday.

Von der Leyen attended a two-day summit of EU leaders in Brussels late last week.

She says she will be in quarantine until Tuesday morning.

Two weeks ago, EU Council President Charles Michel was forced to postpone a summit of EU leaders because he was quarantining.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Oct. 5, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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