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WHO decided the COVID-19 global emergency isn’t over. What happens next?

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press 6 minute read Yesterday at 3:00 AM CST

OTTAWA - The World Health Organization decided Monday not to end to the COVID-19 global public health emergency it declared three years ago, even though the pandemic has reached what the international body calls an "inflection point."

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the WHO, said Monday "there is no doubt that we're in a far better situation now" than a year ago, when the highly transmissible Omicron variant was at its peak.

But Tedros warned that in the last eight weeks, at least 170,000 people have died around the world in connection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. He called for at-risk groups to be fully vaccinated, an increase in testing and early use of antivirals, an expansion of lab networks, and a fight against "misinformation" about the pandemic.

"We remain hopeful that in the coming year, the world will transition to a new phase in which we reduce hospitalizations and deaths to the lowest possible level," he said.

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Alberta Justice spokespeople deliver duelling statements on prosecutor email review

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 4 minute read Preview

Alberta Justice spokespeople deliver duelling statements on prosecutor email review

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 4 minute read Friday, Jan. 27, 2023

EDMONTON - An email probe into whether Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s office interfered with Crown prosecutors took a confusing turn Friday after two government spokespeople delivered duelling statements that raised questions over how far back the search went.

The review was ordered by Smith a week ago to respond to allegations in a CBC story that reported a staffer in the premier's office emailed prosecutors last fall to question decisions and direction on cases stemming from a blockade at the Canada-U. S. border crossing at Coutts, Alta.

The Justice Department said Monday it had done a four-month search of ingoing, outgoing and deleted emails and found no evidence of contact.

Two days later, Alberta Justice communications director Charles Mainville said in a statement that deleted emails are wiped from the system after 30 days, meaning the search for deleted emails may not have covered the entire time period in question.

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Friday, Jan. 27, 2023

A government email review of whether Premier Danielle Smith’s office interfered with Crown prosecutors has taken a confusing turn, with duelling statements from two Alberta Justice spokespeople on what was investigated. Smith gives an update in Calgary, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

WHO decision on COVID-19 emergency won’t effect Canada’s response: Tam

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press 5 minute read Preview

WHO decision on COVID-19 emergency won’t effect Canada’s response: Tam

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press 5 minute read Friday, Jan. 27, 2023

OTTAWA - On Monday, exactly three years from the day he declared COVID-19 to be a global public health emergency, World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus will decide whether to call it off.

But declaring an end to the "public health emergency of international concern" would not mean COVID-19 is no longer a threat. It will also not do much to change Canada's approach.

"In Canada, we're already doing what we need to do," chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said in her most recent COVID-19 update.

She said the WHO discussion is important but COVID-19 monitoring and public health responses are not going to end. That includes continued surveillance of cases, particularly severe illness and death, and vaccination campaigns.

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Friday, Jan. 27, 2023

The World Health Organization's emergency committee, will vote today on whether to maintain the emergency designation. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO, gestures as he speaks to journalists during a press conference at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Martial Trezzini-Keystone via AP

NDP says Alberta premier’s prosecutor review flawed, calls for outside investigation

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 4 minute read Preview

NDP says Alberta premier’s prosecutor review flawed, calls for outside investigation

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 4 minute read Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023

EDMONTON - Alberta’s Opposition leader says Premier Danielle Smith's assurance of a thorough investigation into allegations of interference with Crown prosecutors is "an empty talking point" given new details on the search itself.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley said that while the Smith-directed email search covered the four-month period in question, any deleted message was erased from the system after just a month, meaning the relevant time period for those emails was likely missed.

"It is outrageous that Danielle Smith is really naive enough to think that Albertans would trust an internal investigation that has not been transparently conducted, that has been conducted by people who answer to her, and that only considered deleted emails that go back 30 days,” Notley said Thursday in Calgary.

“This is an empty talking point and nothing else,” she added, renewing a call for an independent, judge-led inquiry into whether Smith and her office interfered in the administration of justice.

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Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023

Alberta’s Opposition NDP Leader says Premier Danielle Smith’s assurance of a thorough investigation into allegations of interference with Crown prosecutors is “an empty talking point” given new details on the search itself. Smith gives an update in Calgary, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Manning COVID review to cover off work of long-promised Alberta public health panel

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 4 minute read Preview

Manning COVID review to cover off work of long-promised Alberta public health panel

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 4 minute read Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023

EDMONTON - Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s promise to assemble a panel of medical experts to deliver ongoing advice on public health and COVID-19 will be covered off by former Reform Party Leader Preston Manning’s pandemic review, her office said Wednesday.

“The central role of the (Manning) panel will be to review legislation and recommend amendments to better enable the province to respond to future health emergencies,” Smith’s spokesman Taylor Hides said in a statement, responding to questions on when the science panel would be announced.

“The panel’s full membership is being finalized but will be announced as soon as possible.”

Hides did not respond to followup questions to explain how the Manning review fulfils the previously stated, divergent mandate of Smith’s promised ongoing public health science advisory panel.

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Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith gives an Alberta government update in Calgary on Jan. 10, 2023. Smith’s long-promised public health science advisory panel, which has been beset by slipped deadlines and confusing messaging, has the NDP Opposition questioning whether it exists or ever will. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Alberta NDP says it would scrap COVID-19 review panel if party wins election

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 4 minute read Preview

Alberta NDP says it would scrap COVID-19 review panel if party wins election

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 4 minute read Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023

EDMONTON - Alberta Opposition Leader Rachel Notley says if her NDP was to win the spring election, it would scrap a COVID-19 review panel led by former Reform Party leader Preston Manning.

Notley says Premier Danielle Smith should be focused on helping Alberta families struggling with inflation rather than paying Manning $253,000.

“We will not continue that panel and we will do everything we can to negate what is an outrageously unjustified level of compensation (to Manning),” Notley told reporters Tuesday.

“(Manning) brings no objectivity (and) no scientific expertise to the job of assessing and evaluating this issue,” she added.

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Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith gives a government update in Calgary, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Alberta government says no evidence of emails to prosecutors on border blockade cases

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 5 minute read Preview

Alberta government says no evidence of emails to prosecutors on border blockade cases

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 5 minute read Monday, Jan. 23, 2023

EDMONTON - The Alberta government says it could not find any emails to substantiate an allegation that one of Premier Danielle Smith’s staffers wrote to prosecutors to try to influence how they handled cases tied to a blockade in Coutts, Alta., last year at the Canada-U.S. border crossing.

But critics and political observers say the email review raises more questions than answers, including why the premier held an investigation that didn’t speak with anyone involved.

“A comprehensive review of emails has not generated any records of contact between the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service and the premier’s office staff,” the Justice Department said in a statement Monday.

It said that over the weekend, civil servants reviewed almost a million incoming, outgoing and deleted emails spanning a four-month period.

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Monday, Jan. 23, 2023

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith gives a government update in Calgary, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023. The Alberta government says it could not find any emails to substantiate allegations one of Smith’s staffers wrote to Crown prosecutors to try to influence how they handled cases tied to the blockade at the Coutts border crossing.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Alberta premier promises email search amid questions over prosecutor interference

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 6 minute read Preview

Alberta premier promises email search amid questions over prosecutor interference

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 6 minute read Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023

EDMONTON - Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has asked for an email search this weekend to determine if her staff have been contacting Crown prosecutors and interfering in cases involving the Coutts, Alta., border crossing blockade.

Smith made the announcement on her Corus call-in radio show Saturday while also delivering a fifth version of the meetings she has had with Justice officials prosecuting COVID-19 cases.

On the email search, Smith said there are 34 staffers in her office and 400 prosecutors to check on but says she expects to have results early next week to respond to a story reported Thursday by CBC News.

“The CBC has said they don’t have the emails. They did not provide us with names, and so I have asked for our independent public service to do a review of emails,” Smith told her radio listeners.

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Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023

Demonstrators gather as a truck convoy blocks the highway at the busy U.S. border crossing in Coutts, Alta., Monday, Jan. 31, 2022. Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has asked for an email search this weekend to determine if her staff have been contacting Crown prosecutors and interfering in cases involving the Coutts, Alta., border crossing blockade. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Smith’s office mum on investigating whether staffer contacted Alberta prosecutors

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 4 minute read Preview

Smith’s office mum on investigating whether staffer contacted Alberta prosecutors

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 4 minute read Friday, Jan. 20, 2023

EDMONTON - Premier Danielle Smith’s office says it would be wrong if a staffer contacted prosecutors about cases involving the Coutts, Alta., border crossing blockade, but hasn’t committed to investigating whether that happened.

The office made the comment in response to a CBC News report citing unnamed sources that said a staffer in Smith’s office sent a series of emails to Crown prosecutors last fall questioning and challenging their approach to the cases.

“Premier Smith has not been in contact with Crown prosecutors and has no knowledge of anyone on her staff having done so,” said the statement.

“This is a serious allegation. If a staff member has been in touch with a Crown prosecutor, appropriate action will be taken.”

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Friday, Jan. 20, 2023

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s office says it would be wrong if a staffer contacted Crown prosecutors about cases involving people who blockaded a U.S. border crossing at Coutts, Alta. The premier gives an update in Calgary, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Ex-Reform leader Preston Manning picked to chair review of Alberta’s COVID response

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 5 minute read Preview

Ex-Reform leader Preston Manning picked to chair review of Alberta’s COVID response

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 5 minute read Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023

EDMONTON - Premier Danielle Smith has struck a committee to investigate how the Alberta government responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, and has appointed former Reform Party leader Preston Manning to chair it.

Smith said Thursday that Manning and the panel are to take feedback virtually from experts and the public, then issue a final report and recommendations by Nov. 15.

Manning is to pick the other panel members subject to approval by Smith.

The budget is $2 million, and Manning is to be paid $253,000.

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Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has struck a committee to investigate provincial decision-making and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and former Reform Party leader Preston Manning will chair it. Manning takes part in a panel discussion during a conference in Ottawa on Friday, May 6, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Smith says she won’t pursue COVID pardon legislation on advice from justice officials

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 3 minute read Preview

Smith says she won’t pursue COVID pardon legislation on advice from justice officials

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 3 minute read Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023

EDMONTON - Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says she won't introduce legislation to pardon those convicted of COVID-19 public health violations because she has been advised to let the courts handle it.

Smith says she is following the direction of Justice Minister Tyler Shandro and the deputy attorney general.

“The advice (Smith) was provided was that Crown prosecutors independently make assessments on whether to proceed with prosecutions based on whether they are in the public interest and whether there is a reasonable likelihood of conviction,” said Smith’s office in a statement Tuesday.

“The premier respects this independence and the independence of the courts.”

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Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says she won't introduce legislation to pardon those convicted of COVID-19 public health violations because she has been advised to let the courts handle it. Smith gives an Alberta government update in Calgary, on Jan. 10, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Smith says no COVID-19 pardons because Canadian system doesn’t work like the U.S.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 5 minute read Preview

Smith says no COVID-19 pardons because Canadian system doesn’t work like the U.S.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 5 minute read Monday, Jan. 16, 2023

EDMONTON - Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says she is no longer pursuing amnesty for COVID-19 health-rule violators because Canada doesn’t work that way.

“Because we’ve been so influenced by the (United) States, I think that some people think that a premier has the same power as they do in the States of clemency or offering pardons,” Smith told the Shaun Newman podcast Monday.

“I’ve not observed that that’s the case in Canada. We just have a different criminal justice and different legal system, and once things have been handed over for prosecution, politicians have to be hands off.”

However, law professor Lorian Hardcastle says there is a way.

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Monday, Jan. 16, 2023

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith gives a government update in Calgary on Jan. 10, 2023.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Smith says she urged minister to consider whether COVID prosecutions could succeed

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 5 minute read Preview

Smith says she urged minister to consider whether COVID prosecutions could succeed

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 5 minute read Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023

EDMONTON - Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has delivered a third version of what she discussed with justice officials over how to handle the prosecution of people charged with breaking COVID-19 health rules.

Smith told her Corus radio show Saturday that she has urged Justice Minister Tyler Shandro and his deputy attorney general to consider whether the cases were in the public interest and whether there was a reasonable chance of conviction before proceeding.

Prosecutors, under departmental guidelines, are already aware that these are the overarching principles to consider before pursuing any case.

“I wanted to ask them if they had looked at these cases in that light,” Smith told her radio show.

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Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith gives an Alberta government update in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Alberta NDP: ‘A lot of lying going on’ about premier’s role in COVID-19 prosecutions

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 4 minute read Preview

Alberta NDP: ‘A lot of lying going on’ about premier’s role in COVID-19 prosecutions

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 4 minute read Friday, Jan. 13, 2023

Alberta's Opposition NDP leader says Premier Danielle Smith has entangled herself in a web of lies and needs to come clean over what she has been saying to prosecutors pursuing COVID-19 health violations.

“She’s scrambling. She is either lying now or she was lying then. Clearly lying is happening. There is a lot of lying going on,” Rachel Notley told reporters in Calgary on Friday.

Notley added there is also evidence of interference in the administration of justice.

“The deputy attorney general, when it comes to individual matters that are before the courts, does not meet with the premier to have the premier try and coax him into changing what happens with respect to decisions.”

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Friday, Jan. 13, 2023

Opposition Leader Rachel Notley says Premier Danielle Smith has entangled herself in a web of lies and needs to come clean with Albertans over what she has been saying to prosecutors pursuing COVID-19 health violations. Notley speaks in Edmonton on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Alberta premier backs off on promise to seek pardons for COVID-19 health violators

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 4 minute read Preview

Alberta premier backs off on promise to seek pardons for COVID-19 health violators

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 4 minute read Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023

EDMONTON - Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, less than three months after promising to seek pardons for COVID-19 health violators, says she will now let justice take its course while also announcing she is regularly contacting Crown prosecutors about these cases.

“The way our system of justice works is we do have an independent justice department and independent Crown prosecutors,” Smith told reporters Thursday when asked why she has not followed through on the pardon commitment.

“As we continue to see some of these cases go through — some of them get dropped, some of them fail — (prosecutors) have to consistently recalibrate, but I do want to make sure they have an independent process for assessing that.

“But I ask them on a regular basis, as new cases come out, is it in the public interest to pursue and is there a reasonable likelihood of conviction?”

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Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith gives an Alberta government update in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023. Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, who promised less than three months ago to seek pardons for COVID-19 health violators, now says she will let justice take its course. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Rule requiring negative COVID test before Chinese flights takes effect

The Canadian Press 1 minute read Preview

Rule requiring negative COVID test before Chinese flights takes effect

The Canadian Press 1 minute read Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023

VANCOUVER - Airline passengers leaving China, Hong Kong and Macau will have to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test when they enter Canada starting today.

The Canadian government announced last week that the travellers would need a negative test administered within 48 hours of their departure as cases soar in China.

Other countries, including the United States and several European nations, imposed similar rules despite protest from China.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson criticized the change in requirements this week, saying some countries were attempting to manipulate COVID measures for political purposes and it would take countermeasures.

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Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023

Cathay Pacific crew members who worked on a flight from Hong Kong arrive at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., on Wednesday, January 4, 2023. The Canadian government announced last week that the travellers would need a negative test administered within 48 hours of their departure as cases soar in China. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Experts question Ottawa’s negative COVID-19 test for air travellers from China

Hina Alam, The Canadian Press 6 minute read Preview

Experts question Ottawa’s negative COVID-19 test for air travellers from China

Hina Alam, The Canadian Press 6 minute read Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023

Canada's requirement of a negative COVID-19 test of travellers from China will not help in preventing new variants or the spread of the virus, say experts.

Kerry Bowman, assistant professor at the University of Toronto's Temerty Faculty of Medicine, called the requirement "absolutely a political move, and not based on science at this point."

"This isn't the early days of the pandemic,” he said. “So, I do think it's largely political."

The federal government said Saturday that people coming from China, Hong Kong and Macao will have to test negative for COVID-19 before leaving for Canada.

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Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023

Masked travellers with luggage line up at the international flight check in counter at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. An expert says Canada's requirement of a negative COVID-19 test of travellers from China will not help in preventing new variants or the spread of the virus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Andy Wong

Ottawa to temporarily require negative COVID-19 test from travellers from China

The Canadian Press 2 minute read Preview

Ottawa to temporarily require negative COVID-19 test from travellers from China

The Canadian Press 2 minute read Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022

Ottawa plans to temporarily require people flying from China, Hong Kong and Macao to test negative for COVID-19 before leaving for Canada, beginning in early January.

The federal government says in a Saturday news release that the requirement will apply to all air travellers age two and older from the three countries and will begin on Jan. 5 at 12:01 a.m. EST.

The government says the measure is "in response to the surge of COVID-19 in the People's Republic of China and given the limited epidemiological and viral genomic sequence data available on these cases."

It says people will need to provide a negative COVID-19 test result to the airline, taken no more than two days before their departure, before boarding a flight to Canada.

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Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022

Travellers make their way through Pearson International Airport in Toronto Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. Ottawa plans to temporarily require people flying from China, Hong Kong and Macao to test negative for COVID-19 before leaving for Canada, beginning in early January. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Health agency ‘closely monitoring’ COVID-19 in China, no mention of pre-flight tests

The Canadian Press 2 minute read Preview

Health agency ‘closely monitoring’ COVID-19 in China, no mention of pre-flight tests

The Canadian Press 2 minute read Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022

OTTAWA - The national public health agency says it's "closely monitoring" the COVID-19 situation in China, but gives no indication it's planning to follow the U.S. by requiring that travellers from China be tested for the virus.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says in a statement that any policy changes will be made in a travel health notice.

It says there's already a "level two" notice for all countries, including China, meaning that travellers should practise enhanced health precautions, including the use of personal protective equipment, delaying travel and avoiding high-risk activities.

An additional notice regarding Chinese New Year was posted Dec. 23, saying the festivities in late January are expected to involve large crowds in China, elevating the risk of infection with COVID-19 or other diseases.

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Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022

Inbound travelers waiting for hours to board buses to leave for quarantine hotels and facilities from Guangzhou Baiyun Airport in southern China's Guangdong province on Dec. 25 2022. The national public health agency says it's "closely monitoring" the COVID-19 situation in China, but gives no indication it's planning to follow the US in its decision to require that travellers from China be tested for the virus.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Emily Wang Fujiyama

Canadians fined at least $15M for breaking COVID quarantine rules in 2022, data shows

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press 4 minute read Preview

Canadians fined at least $15M for breaking COVID quarantine rules in 2022, data shows

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press 4 minute read Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022

OTTAWA - Canadians who were caught violating federal COVID-19 quarantine rules racked up at least $15 million in fines this year, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, but it's not clear how much of that will actually be paid.

The agency provided data to the House of Commons in the fall in response to a request from Conservative MP Eric Duncan.

Duncan did not respond to a request for comment.

This year saw the widespread lifting of Canada's COVID-19 health restrictions. Until October, travellers were required to follow testing and quarantine rules, depending on their vaccination status, and upload their public health information through the ArriveCan app.

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Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022

A sign reminds arriving passengers to quarantine against COVID-19 at Trudeau Airport in Montreal, Friday, Feb. 19, 2021.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Manitoba Labour Board rejects complaints against unions on COVID rules

Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press 3 minute read Preview

Manitoba Labour Board rejects complaints against unions on COVID rules

Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press 3 minute read Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022

WINNIPEG - The Manitoba Labour Board has dismissed several complaints in recent months from workers who wanted their unions to fight COVID-19 requirements.

The details differ slightly in each of the complaints considered since December of last year from, among others, a nurse, a lab technologist, a plumber and an instructor.

But the rulings have a common finding — that unions had acted reasonably after considering legal advice and the interests of all their members.

"There is no question that unions may, and should, evaluate potential grievances to determine whether or not they have any chance of success," a board ruling states in the case of a psychiatric nurse who was put on unpaid leave after refusing to either provide proof of vaccination or undergo frequent rapid testing.

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Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022

A vaccine is drawn at a clinic in Winnipeg, Friday, March 19, 2021.The Manitoba Labour Board has dismissed several complaints from workers who wanted their unions to fight COVID-19 requirements.THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Senate passes defense bill rescinding COVID vaccine mandate

Kevin Freking, The Associated Press 5 minute read Preview

Senate passes defense bill rescinding COVID vaccine mandate

Kevin Freking, The Associated Press 5 minute read Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022

WASHINGTON (AP) — A bill to rescind the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for members of the U.S. military and provide nearly $858 billion for national defense passed the Senate on Thursday and now goes to President Joe Biden to be signed into law.

The bill provides for about $45 billion more for defense programs than Biden requested and roughly 10% more than last year’s bill as lawmakers look to account for inflation and boost the nation’s military competitiveness with China and Russia. It includes a 4.6% pay raise for servicemembers and the Defense Department's civilian workforce.

The Senate passed the defense policy bill by a vote of 83-11. The measure also received broad bipartisan support in the House last week.

To win GOP support for the 4,408-page bill, Democrats agreed to Republican demands to scrap the requirement for service members to get a COVID-19 vaccination. The bill directs Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to rescind his August 2021 memorandum imposing the mandate.

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Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and other Republican senators tell reporters they want the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for members of the U.S. military to be rescinded under the annual defense bill, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Six-month COVID-19 vaccine delay would have cost $156B: study

Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press 3 minute read Preview

Six-month COVID-19 vaccine delay would have cost $156B: study

Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press 3 minute read Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022

A study from the C.D. Howe Institute estimates Canada would have lost $156 billion in economic activity in 2021 had COVID-19 vaccines been rolled out six months later than they were.

That would have been equivalent to about 12.5 per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product.

“The results show that vaccination was highly beneficial to population health and also cost-effective from an economic perspective,” the think tank said in a report released Thursday.

Rosalie Wyonch, a senior policy analyst and author of the report, said vaccines were effective at reducing the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths. There were also much larger benefits on the broader economy, she added.

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Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022

A person draws out a vaccine in Kingston, Ont., on Sunday Jan. 2, 2022. A study from the C.D. Howe Institute estimates Canada would have lost $156 billion in economic activity in 2021 had COVID-19 vaccines been rolled out six months later than they were. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg

Canada’s chief science adviser releases recommendations to combat long-COVID

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press 3 minute read Preview

Canada’s chief science adviser releases recommendations to combat long-COVID

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press 3 minute read Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022

OTTAWA - Canada's chief science adviser gave the government a road map on Wednesday to wade through some of the murky and mysterious elements of long-COVID in an effort to offer people better treatment, starting with an admission that the disease even exists.

The recommendations presented by Mona Nemer came from a task force that was establishedin July to respond to post-COVID-19 condition, or long-COVID.

As of August, 14.8 per cent of adults who have had COVID-19 experienced symptoms three months or more after their initial infection, Nemer said.

The symptoms range in severity and include muscle pain, brain fog, trouble breathing, extreme fatigue, gastrointestinal problems and heart palpitations.

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Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022

Chief science advisor Mona Nemer speaks during a news conference, Thursday, April 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Nemer released the recommendations of a taskforce established in the summer to respond to post-COVID condition, or long-COVID, today ahead of the release of her full report. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Churches in Manitoba Court of Appeal to challenge COVID-19 rules

Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press 3 minute read Preview

Churches in Manitoba Court of Appeal to challenge COVID-19 rules

Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press 3 minute read Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022

WINNIPEG - Lawyers for seven Manitoba churches made another attempt Tuesday to have some of the province's former COVID-19 restrictions declared invalid.

The churches say public health orders in 2020 and 2021 that temporarily closed in-person religious services, then permitted them with caps on attendance, violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

A Court of Queen’s Bench justice previously rejected that argument, saying the restrictions were both necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and allowable under Section 1 of the Charter.

The churches’ lawyer told the Court of Appeal that the trial judge erred in not fully examining whether less restrictive rules could have achieved the same goal.

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Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022

A gavel sits on a desk before the a meeting of the House Justice and Human Rights Committee in Ottawa, on February 13, 2019. Seven Manitoba churches are in court appealing a ruling that upheld COVID-19 restrictions on religious services. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

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