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There's no quick post-pandemic fix for Canada's long-term care facilities, say experts
Pandemics, like the viruses that drive them, attack weak points. The novel coronavirus exploited a weakness in Canadian society — this country's tendency to warehouse its elderly in poorly supervised long-term care homes. The result, say experts, was completely predictable: as of May 25, long-term care residents made up 81 per cent of all reported COVID-19 deaths in Canada.
Poor infection control at long-term care facilities was well known before the pandemic struck, said immunologist Dawn Bowdish, who holds a Canada Research Chair on aging at McMaster University. "In fact, we know that we've had transfer of influenza — which is the next big infectious disease killer of older adults — between homes because people worked part time, because they moved from home to home, because we don't have the same infectious disease control that COVID has shown us that we so desperately need."
No one should assume that the shockingly high number of deaths in long-term care facilities is due entirely to the age and frailty of the people living there, said Dr. Sandy Buchman, president of the Canadian Medical Association. "It's an absolute tragedy what happened to elders that lived in Canadian long-term care facilities," he said. "It's not just about their biological vulnerability ... If you were a senior at home with the same vulnerabilities, you were one hundred times less likely to die than you were if you were in a long-term care institution."
The CMA has convened an advisory panel of experts to recommend preparations for the next pandemic. Michael Villeneuve, chief executive officer of the Canadian Nurses Association, will be part of that expert panel. He said the early focus of politicians and policy experts on the pandemic's threat to hospitals — the risk that an overwhelmed hospital system might collapse — led them to focus on that problem at the expense of long-term care.
"We had our eyes over here when there was a really critical problem over there," he said. "And that's got to have a very, very close examination before round two comes — if it comes."
People should start by understanding that the fix for long-term care won't be quick or cheap, said Villeneuve. "Long-term care needs a long-term solution. It's not going to get fixed overnight," he said. "And our concern certainly now at the Canadian Nurses Association is it'll be a sort of duct tape solution — throw a few more staff in and pay them a little bit more and it will be fine. And it won't." Read more on this story here.
A muddy celebration
(Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images)
Mud-covered farmers play in a rice paddy field yesterday in Tokha, a village on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Nepal during National Paddy Day, which marks the start of the annual rice planting season.
Building a judicial system that reflects the racial and cultural makeup of the country it serves takes "patience" — but being patient doesn't mean waiting forever, says Federal Court Justice Paul Favel. Originally from the Poundmaker Cree Nation, Favel is the only Indigenous judge on the Federal Court and just the second in Canadian history. He thinks the Canadian judiciary is slowly getting more diverse — but the federal government's commitment to building on that diversity needs "aggressive timelines" to succeed. "It's going to take some patience, but patience doesn't mean waiting another 50 to 100 years," said Favel. Since 2016, only three per cent of federal judicial appointments have self-identified as Indigenous and eight per cent have identified as visible minorities, according to the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs. Read more on this story here.
Watch | Indigenous Canadians and people of colour still underrepresented among new judges:
China today approved a contentious national security law that has sparked worries it could be used to curb opposition voices in Hong Kong. The law is aimed at curbing subversive, secessionist and terrorist activities, as well as foreign intervention in Hong Kong's affairs. It follows months of anti-government protests that at times descended into violence in the city last year. Prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, as well as others, issued statements on Facebook indicating that they would withdraw from pro-democracy organization Demosisto. Wong said "worrying about life and safety" has become a real issue and that nobody will be able to predict the repercussions of the law. Read more on the new law here.
On the eve of a Russian referendum that could increase President Vladimir Putin's power and ban gay marriage, Russian pundits are accusing Canada's ambassador to Russia of trying to influence the vote. In a video posted to Facebook by a Russian LGBTQ group, Canada's ambassador to Russia addressed the constitutional amendment that's on the table. Alison LeClaire suggested a "yes" vote would lead to a "less inclusive" situation for members of the nation's LGBTQ community. Yesterday, one of Russia's most influential talk shows on state television played the video and ripped into LeClaire, accusing her — and Canada's government — of political interference. Read more on this story from CBC Moscow correspondent Chris Brown.
Watch | Russia to vote on extending Putin's rule until 2036:
Despite the loss of billions of dollars from its stock market value, Facebook is unlikely to suffer significant damage from the growing ad boycott over its policies to prohibit hate speech in its advertisements, say some marketing experts. Indeed, some of the companies, depending on their size, could be hurting themselves more by limiting their exposure on Facebook, the experts suggest. "A few brands pulling their Facebook ads for a month will have little to no bearing on Facebook's bottom line," Mari Smith, co-author of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day, said in an email to CBC News. And if small and medium businesses cut their ads altogether, even for one month, this could cause a massive loss of revenue for those business owners, she said. Read more about the Facebook ad boycott here.
Alessia Cara was the big winner Monday night during a revamped online edition of the Juno Awards, Canada's annual celebration of music. The young singer-songwriter from Brampton, Ont., picked up a leading three trophies during the streamed broadcast, which came about three months after the Junos festivities were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Cara — who earned a Grammy for best new artist in 2017 — won Junos for songwriter of the year, best album and best pop album for The Pains of Growing. Read more about this year's Juno winners here.
Now for some good news to start your Tuesday: Jeff Meldrum was sorting through the landslide of sports equipment in the basement of his Chelsea, Que., home two weekends ago when he came across it once again — a single, forlorn hockey skate. A left without a right. The black size 10D Reebok skate had been down there for years, but Meldrum and his family were preparing for a move to a smaller house in July, so this time there would be no last-minute pardon. Around the same time, Élyse Piquette was coming to a remarkably similar decision. Piquette, who lives about 10 kilometres from the Meldrum home, was cleaning clutter out of her garage when she uncovered a single skate, a black size 10D Reebok in nearly new condition. A right without a left. Read here for the story of how the two wayward skates came to be united. If you want some more good news, check out CBC News' daily good news video compilation here.
Front Burner: In Saskatchewan, a domestic violence prevention law hits roadblocks
Saskatchewan has just become the first province to enact Clare's Law, which aims to help prevent domestic violence by allowing police to warn people about a partner's violent past. But it's already hit a stumbling block: The RCMP says it won't take part. Bonnie Allen, a CBC national reporter based in Regina, walks us through the new law and talks about why it's controversial — including among some anti-domestic violence advocates.
Today in history: June 30
1859: French acrobat Charles Blondin crosses the Niagara gorge on a tightrope. Before reaching the Canadian side, he stops to drink champagne and perform other feats. A crowd of 25,000 watches.
1984: Liberal John Turner is sworn in as Canada's 17th prime minister, succeeding Pierre Trudeau. Turner held office until his party's overwhelming defeat by Brian Mulroney's Tories in a federal election six weeks later.
1987: The Bank of Canada stops issuing $1 bills. They are replaced with $1 coins that came to be known as loonies.
2003: After a 32-year hiatus, a Canadian-built scientific satellite is launched into orbit. Canada's first space telescope, the $10-million, suitcase-sized MOST (Microvariability and Oscillations of Stars) micro-satellite probes the internal structure of stars and detects light reflected by little-known planets beyond our solar system.
2011: Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, arrive in Ottawa to begin their first official overseas tour since marrying in April. Their nine-day tour sees them stop in Quebec, P.E.I., the Northwest Territories and Alberta. Nearly 1,400 journalists were accredited to cover the visit.
With files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press and Reuters