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Ontario wants better testing for COVID-19 at airports: In The News for Dec. 22

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 Dec. 22 ... What we are watching in Canada ...

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 Dec. 22 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Ontario Premier Doug Ford wants the federal government to move faster on COVID-19 testing for incoming international travellers as a new variant prompted more border closures. 

The federal government has announced a ban on Sunday night on all incoming passenger flights from the U.K. for 72 hours due to the new manifestation of the novel coronavirus in that country.

Canada had been easing the near-total shutdown at the border that went into effect in March.

First, a tight list of essential workers were allowed in. It was expanded to allow more workers, such as agricultural labourers. Then the government expanded the list of eligible family members able to join or visit relatives in Canada, and has since expanded that list further. 

Most incoming travellers are required to quarantine for 14 days and are screened for symptoms of COVID-19. If they violate quarantine, they can face heavy financial fines or jail time.

But Ford compared the way the border is being managed to a leaky roof on Monday.

He said close to 64,000 people arrived at Toronto's Pearson airport last week alone and suggested they were basically unchecked.

"Let's get the testing at the airport and stop the leak," he said. 

"It doesn't matter if there's 10 people getting through, that's 10 too many that are going to be out in the community spreading COVID." 


Also this ...

The National Hockey League and its players' association will attempt a 56-game regular season in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic's raging second wave, with every Canadian franchise competing in a national division.

The NHL and NHLPA left room in their plan to adapt to COVID-19.

And there are still a lot of details to be worked out, including whether Canada's seven teams in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal will be allowed to play in their home arenas.

For that to happen, health officials from five provinces will have to sign off on any plan.

Most of the provinces said Monday they are reviewing the NHL's proposal. 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said talks continue on allowing the province's two NHL teams to host games.

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix was non-committal about the NHL proposal.

"We'll make some decisions in the days to come as to whether the plan meets the needs of people."

Dr. Jazz Atwal, Manitoba's acting deputy chief provincial public health officer, said officials there are also going over the NHL's proposal, but even if the plan gets approved, there won't be any fans at Winnipeg Jets' games any time soon. 

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, noted that a number of provinces are involved in the decision as the province looks at whether it will allow games in Calgary and Edmonton.


What we are watching in the U.S. ...

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has received his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

He was given the vaccine on live television on Monday as part of a growing effort to convince the American public the inoculations are safe.

Biden took a dose of Pfizer vaccine at a hospital not far from his Delaware home, hours after his wife, Jill Biden, did the same. 

The president-elect rolled the left sleeve of his turtleneck all the way up to his shoulder, then declined the option to count to three before the needle was inserted into his left arm.

“You just go ahead anytime you’re ready," he told the nurse practitioner who administered the shot.

Biden emphasized the safety of the vaccine, and said President Donald Trump’s administration “deserves some credit" for getting the vaccine distribution process “off the ground.”

Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband are expected to receive their first shots next week.


What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

The European Union has given approval for the coronavirus vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer to be used across the 27-nation bloc.

There are hope EU countries can begin administering the first shots to people shortly after Christmas.

The EU’s executive commission gave the green light just hours after the European Medicines Agency said the vaccine meets safety and quality standards. 

“As we have promised, this vaccine will be available for all EU countries at the same time, on the same conditions," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. “This is a very good way to end this difficult year, and to finally start turning the page on COVID-19.”

Deliveries of the vaccine are expected to start this coming Saturday, with inoculations beginning across the EU between Dec. 27 and Dec. 29.


On this day in 1986 ...

The Quebec Court of Appeal ruled that four sections of Quebec's controversial language law were invalid. After the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the decision, the Quebec legislature passed a new law two years later that allowed French-only on signs outside stores and bilingual signs inside.


In entertainment ...

Michelle Latimer says she's resigning from the second season of CBC's Indigenous TV series "Trickster." 

The filmmaker from Thunder Bay, Ont.,  says she's leaving the production after seeking advice over concerns raised about the accuracy of her claimed Indigenous ancestry. 

She served as co-creator and director of the show.

Latimer posted a Facebook message on Monday saying, "I have listened to my community and feel that stepping away from the production is the appropriate course of action."

Latimer had previously said she was of Algonquin, Metis, and French heritage, from the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg and Maniwaki area in Quebec, but a CBC investigation last week challenged those claims and raised issues over her self-identification.

On Thursday, Latimer wrote that she "made a mistake" in naming Kitigan Zibi as her family’s community before verifying the linkage. 

"Trickster" is based on a series of novels by Eden Robinson that tell the story of a teenager from Kitimat, B.C., who discovers he has magical powers passed down through generations.



Black service members in the U.S. air force are far more likely to be investigated, arrested, face disciplinary actions and be discharged for misconduct, according to a new report.

The report by the air force inspector general looked at racial disparities across the service and said Black members of the air force and space force are less likely to be promoted to higher enlisted and officer ranks.

It says one-third of them believe they don't get the same opportunities as their white peers. 

The report comes as the Pentagon struggles with a broader effort to expand diversity within the ranks. The Defence Department last week endorsed a new slate of initiatives to more aggressively recruit, retain and promote a more racially and ethnically diverse force.

Gen. Charles Brown Jr., chief of staff of the air force, said service leaders must rebuild trust with their force.

“Racial disparity isn’t an easy topic and something we don’t traditionally talk about much throughout our levels of command," said Brown, the first Black man to lead the air force. “Now we must all move forward with meaningful, lasting, and sustainable change.”


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 22, 2020

The Canadian Press