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In today's Morning Brief, we look into the number of returning air travellers who've been fined for skipping federally-mandated quarantine hotels.

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Ottawa says 500+ travellers have been fined for defying quarantine rules, but has no idea of total number

The federal government has doled out hundreds of fines since Feb. 22 — typically for $3,000 each — to air passengers who refused to quarantine in a designated hotel upon arrival in Canada.

Even so, the government couldn't provide CBC News with a total number of people who've violated its rule that passengers entering Canada be tested for COVID-19, then quarantine in a hotel while waiting for their results.  

And when CBC tried to track down the total number of hotel quarantine violators, it found no evidence of fines being issued to passengers who landed in Calgary or Montreal — two of the four cities, along with Vancouver and Toronto, where international flights are allowed to land during the pandemic.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) told CBC News last week it was "aware" of 513 tickets being issued to air passengers who arrived in Toronto or Vancouver between Feb. 22 and April 25 and refused to go to a quarantine hotel. The agency said that in those cities, both PHAC officers and police can issue tickets. 

PHAC said the rules are different in Calgary and Montreal, so to check with local authorities for statistics on tickets. CBC did and found no indication that any had been issued. 

But that doesn't mean all travellers arriving in those two cities obeyed the rules. CBC News interviewed several passengers who said they recently landed in Montreal or Calgary, refused to quarantine in a hotel and have yet to be hit with a fine.

"I'm sure the [police] have better things to do," said snowbird Allan Prout of Yorkton, Sask., who flew to Calgary from Puerto Vallarta on April 26. "I mean there's real criminals out there. I'm not a criminal."

Prout said he refused to check into a quarantine hotel because of the price — up to $2,000 — and because he wanted to do his full 14-day quarantine at his house. Read more on this story here.

Mexico subway collapse kills at least 23

(Jose Ruiz/The Associated Press)

Mexico City firefighters and rescue personnel work to recover victims from a subway car that fell after a section of an elevated line collapsed on Monday night. The collapse sent a train plunging toward a road, trapping at least one car under rubble. At least 23 people are reported dead and about 70 are injured, city officials said. Read more on this story here.

In brief

Albertans can expect an announcement today about stronger public health measures, Premier Jason Kenney says. He told a news conference on Monday that he was angered to see that a large group of people gathered over the weekend at a rodeo event in Bowden, Alta., in flagrant violation of the restrictions in place. "Given the issues we saw this weekend and the record-high cases reporting, we are developing a package of stronger public health measures, which I expect to announce tomorrow," he said. Grilled by reporters about his response to the pandemic's third wave, Kenney said his government continues to take the broad view that public health measures must be balanced against economic considerations. The province reported 2,012 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and four more deaths. Read more on this story here

WATCH | Kenney teases new restrictions as Alberta's COVID-19 cases rise:

Kenney teases new restrictions as Alberta’s COVID-19 cases rise

The National

13 days ago

With Canada's vaccination campaign ramping up, especially this month with millions of doses set to arrive, people are wondering — when is it our turn to loosen up on masks? "The discussion about masks is going to depend on the level of vaccinations," said Doug Manuel, a senior scientist with The Ottawa Hospital who does modelling of local COVID-19 numbers. "The key to no masks is a low likelihood of transmission in the community, and the key to that will be the level of vaccination." Herd immunity could be reached, he says, if around 70 to 80 per cent of people are vaccinated, at which point public health restrictions can be relaxed. About a third of Canadians had received at least one dose of vaccine by Monday. The models for Ontario suggest vaccinations won't bring down the case numbers until late August and September — "under good scenarios," said Manuel. Read more on how long we may have to keep wearing masks

WATCH | When can I stop wearing a mask? Not until case numbers come down, epidemiologist says:

When can I stop wearing a mask? Not until case numbers come down, epidemiologist says

13 days ago

British Columbia's top doctor says people in the province should take the first vaccine they're offered, as Canada's vaccine advisory committee reaffirmed its preference Monday for mRNA vaccines. "The first vaccine that you have access to is the one you should get and that includes the AstraZeneca vaccine," Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) said the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine should be offered to people 30 and older who don't want to wait for Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, contradicting Health Canada's mantra to opt for the first vaccine available. Henry agreed that some people may want to wait for an mRNA vaccine due to the risk of rare but potentially serious blood clots linked to Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, which are viral vector vaccines. But she stressed that real-world evidence shows both types of vaccine are equally effective, providing high levels of protection against COVID-19 and preventing hospitalizations and deaths. Read more on Henry's comments here.

WATCH | Questions around NACI advice for Johnson & Johnson vaccine:

Questions around NACI advice for Johnson & Johnson vaccine

The National

13 days ago

A veteran junior hockey coach has been charged with sexual assault and assault in Saskatchewan following a complaint from a former player, CBC News has learned. Bernie Lynch, who has coached across Canada, the U.S. and Europe for more than four decades, turned himself in to police in Devon, Alta., over the weekend after the Regina Police Service issued a warrant for his arrest on April 30. He faces one count each of sexual assault and assault, dating back to August 1988. The complainant was 17 at the time.The Regina Police Service confirmed that the 66-year-old remains in custody and will be transferred to Regina as part of its ongoing investigation. Lynch is also the subject of another police investigation in Edson, Alta., where he coached the Junior A Aeros in the Western States Hockey League during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons. A recent CBC News investigation detailed allegations of abusive behaviour made by parents and players, and concerns over a close and possibly inappropriate relationship with a player. Read more about this story here.

WATCH | Junior hockey coach charged with sexual assault, assault:

Junior hockey coach charged with sexual assault, assault

The National

13 days ago

A group of 19 Ontario police officers has launched a constitutional challenge against the provincial and federal governments and several police chiefs, claiming that enforcing sweeping pandemic health restrictions puts them at odds with their oath to uphold the charter. Fifteen active and four retired members of law enforcement agencies — including the Toronto Police Service, York Regional Police Service, Ottawa Police Service, Niagara Regional Police Service, Hamilton Police Service and the RCMP — are behind the civil action. The challenge, which has yet to be tested in courts, seeks several declarations, including that Canada's pandemic laws "are not rational" and have "no force or effect," and that lockdowns, stay-at-home orders and curfews are "forms of martial law." Read more about the officers' legal challenge.

A Canadian army investigation of a troubled reserve unit at the centre of allegations of right-wing extremism identified several members as "vulnerable" and "at risk" of being swept up into "a hateful ideology." A partly redacted copy of the investigation's complete findings was viewed recently by CBC News. While he acknowledged some troubling signs, Maj.-Gen. Derek A. Macaulay — who until recently was the acting commander of the army — insisted that, overall, the 4th Canadian Ranger Group does not have an extremism problem. "What we're seeing, based on the summary investigation and the unit command survey, is that there have been indications of some right-wing extremism but there isn't a problem," Macaulay told CBC News in a recent interview. Read more on the investigation.

Now for some good news to start your Tuesday: To mark a special anniversary, Winnipeg businessman and former refugee Tam Nguyen is making 100 Vietnamese sandwiches to deliver to people in need. The tailor and former restaurateur is celebrating 41 years since he safely escaped Vietnam by boat. "I feel happy," Nguyen said. "I feel I'm really lucky." Today marks the anniversary of his arrival in Malaysia, following a harrowing five-day journey by boat. He then headed to Canada at the age of 23 with not much more than the clothes on his back. He does something every year to mark the anniversary of his escape and survival, and to share his joy for landing in Winnipeg. This year, he chose to make 100 Vietnamese sandwiches, known as banh mi, because he said he knows what it feels like to go without. Read more on how Nguyen will mark the day

Front Burner: Inside a slaughterhouse COVID-19 outbreak

Earlier this year, a COVID-19 outbreak tore through the Olymel pork-processing plant in Red Deer, Alta., eventually infecting more than 500 people and killing at least three. Workers say that not only did the plant and the provincial government do too little to protect them, but that employees — many of them Filipino immigrants — ended up feeling blamed for the outbreak.

Today, an inside look at how the outbreak unfolded, as seen through the eyes of some of the workers — and what their stories reveal about the situation facing essential workers across Canada.

We've been working on this special episode in collaboration with CBC Calgary reporters Sarah Rieger and Joel Dryden. You can read their corresponding feature article here.

Today in history: May 4

1958: Canadian comedians Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster made the first of a record 67 appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show.

1992: Residents of the Northwest Territories vote in favour of a proposed boundary that would divide the territory into two sections. The creation of Canada's third territory — Nunavut — was part of a massive land-claims settlement with Inuit in the eastern Arctic.

2010: The RCMP introduce new policies on Taser use saying they will fire stun guns at people only when they're hurting someone or clearly about to do so. The directive mirrored a recommendation from a B.C. public inquiry prompted by the death of airline passenger Robert Dziekanski.

2012: The Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg strikes the final one-cent coin as it was being phased out after 154 years. The last penny went to Canada's currency museum in Ottawa.

With files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press and Reuters

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