Canada column for Sunday, Oct. 19/14
THE CANADIAN REPORT
(c) By Jim Fox
Canada is stepping up its measures in the fight against the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada has committed $35 million and is planning additional aid as the United Nations calls for more international help.
So far, the Public Health Agency of Canada has sent two mobile labs to Sierra Leone where Ebola has killed 4,500 people along with $2.5 million in personal protective equipment.
One of the lab teams is working with Medecins Sans Frontieres to provide rapid diagnosis while the other is helping to improve infection prevention and control procedures.
Canada has also offered to donate experimental vaccine, currently undergoing clinical trials, to the World Health Organization.
Health Minister Rona Ambrose has assured front-line health workers in Canada that experts and epidemiologists are ready to provide immediate support, expertise, rapid diagnoses and emergency supplies if a threat emerges.
Anyone arriving in Canada from an affected West African country is now being referred to a quarantine officer for a mandatory health assessment, she said.
Canada Post’s plan to eliminate home delivery in favor of neighborhood group boxes is being challenged by seniors’ groups and organizations for people with disabilities.
They are joining with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers in a legal challenge to stop the plan to end home delivery in a bid to cut costs.
The union believes doing away with home delivery is a decision that should be made by Canada’s Parliament, not Canada Post.
Only one-third of Canadians get home delivery now and digital alternatives such as electronic bills and email are quickly replacing traditional mail delivery, Canada Post’s Jon Hamilton said.
News in brief:
- Suspended senator Patrick Brazeau has been ordered to go to a rehabilitation facility for two months after being arrested on an impaired driving charge and having a knife in his car. He also went to rehab in April after being arrested for assault, possession of cocaine, uttering threats and breaching bail conditions. He also faces charges of assault and sexual assault after an incident last year and fraud and breach of trust for his Senate expense claims.
- Canada’s nuclear regulator says hundreds of thousands of people who live near Ontario’s nuclear power plants must be given a supply of anti-radiation pills. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission says the pills must be distributed to all homes, businesses and institutions near the Pickering, Darlington and Bruce nuclear stations in the “unlikely” event of a radioactive leak.
Facts and figures:
The dollar is lower at 88.95 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.1241 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate remains at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate is unchanged at 3 percent.
Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 14,286 points and the TSX Venture index 809 points.
The average price of a liter of gasoline is lower at $1.2092 (Canadian).
Lotto 6-49: (Oct. 15) 4, 11, 14, 25, 30 and 36; bonus 32. (Oct. 11) 3, 4, 6, 17, 30 and 34; bonus 36. Lotto Max: (Oct. 10) 5, 13, 18, 28, 31, 38 and 44; bonus 46.
- A judicial inquiry has ruled that decades of incompetence, neglect, greed and dishonesty by a succession of owners, engineers and municipal officials led to the deadly cave-in of the Algo Center Mall in Elliott Lake, Ontario. The incident was “one of human, not material failures,” Commissioner Paul Belanger said. Two women were killed when the roof-top parking deck collapsed in June 2012.
- The Canadian Hurricane Center was predicting heavy rain and high winds in southeastern Newfoundland over the weekend from Hurricane Gonzalo as it transitions to a strong tropical storm. Forecasters were also warning of large ocean swells along the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia.
- A McMaster University study has found that coffee makes drivers better and more alert. It found that music and caffeine keep drivers alert, but driving performance was better enhanced by a cup of coffee. Test subjects who had neither were the most fatigued. “Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system,” said researcher ShiXu Liu.
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com