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Summer jobs for students and B.C.'s salmon cannon; In The News for June 25

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 June 25 ... 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 June 25 ...

What we are watching in Canada ... 

OTTAWA — The federal government is to launch a program today aimed at encouraging students to volunteer in the fight against COVID-19 — more than two months after first announcing it and just in time for those who haven't been able to find a summer job.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is also expected to announce a substantial increase in funding for a host of other existing programs, like Canada Summer Jobs, aimed at creating thousands of new opportunities for youth.

Back in April, Trudeau announced creation of the Canada Student Service Grant, a way of giving students who can't find a summer job a chance to earn some money while volunteering in "national service" activities related to fighting the pandemic.

Eligible students are to receive grants of $1,000 to $5,000 to support the costs of post-secondary education in the fall.

The amount of each grant is dependent on the time devoted to volunteer work.

The grant program was part of a multi-pronged, $9-billion investment by the federal government to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic on young people.


Also this ...

TORONTO — A new study finds the proportion of Canadian COVID-19 deaths that have occurred in long-term care facilities is about twice the average of rates from other developed nations.

The analysis released today by the Canadian Institute for Health Information provides a damning snapshot of senior care as of May 25, when those residents made up 81 per cent of all reported COVID-19 deaths in the country compared to an average of 42 per cent among all countries studied.

The data compares Canada's record to that of 16 other countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The proportion of deaths long-term care ranged from less than 10 per cent in Slovenia and Hungary to 31 per cent in the United States to 66 per cent in Spain.

At 5,324, the reported number of long-term care deaths in Canada was near the average but data varied widely among countries: from 28 in Australia to 30,000 in the U.S., with more than 10,000 in France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Researchers point to limitations that prevent some comparisons — countries vary in COVID-19 testing and reporting practices, and in their definition of long-term care. 

In addition, COVID-19 cases are often under-reported and in the case of Italy, data was available from only 52 per cent of the nursing homes operating in the country.

Nevertheless, Tracy Johnson, CIHI's director of health systems analysis and emerging issues, says the data offers valuable insight into a tragedy many families, caregivers and residents have been trying to illustrate since the pandemic began.


ICYMI (In case you missed it) ...

A pump system dubbed the salmon cannon is up and running along a remote stretch of British Columbia's Fraser River in order to help fish move past a massive landslide.

It's believed the slide north of Lillooet happened in late fall 2018, but it wasn't discovered until last June after fish had already begun arriving at the site on their journey to spawning grounds.

Earlier this month, officials with Fisheries and Oceans Canada told a House of Commons committee meeting that early runs of Stuart sockeye and chinook salmon were devastated last year.

The director of the department's response to the landslide says plans are now in place to significantly increase the number of fish that survive using several methods, including the so-called salmon cannon.

Gwil Roberts says sonar monitoring shows 30 fish have arrived near the slide so far and three have moved into a fish ladder that guides them into the pump system.

The initial system has two tubes that run along the side of the river canyon wall for about 160 metres and six tubes of different sizes are set to be installed in July.


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

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The outcry has reverberated for weeks online and at demonstrations across the U.S. — arrest the officers who killed Breonna Taylor.

It's been three months since her shooting death in Louisville, Ky.

So far, police have dismissed one of the three detectives who fired into her apartment in March.

Protesters, celebrities and others are wondering why the case is taking so long. Protesters in Louisville say they're frustrated by the slow process.

Stars such as Beyonce have written a letter urging Kentucky's attorney general to move swiftly.

The state's top prosecutor says it takes time and patience to do an investigation properly.


What we are watching elsewhere in the world ...

A half-year into the pandemic, it's hard to imagine that anyone, anywhere hasn't heard of the coronavirus.

But scores of migrants arriving in Somalia tell United Nations workers every day that they are unaware of COVID-19.

Monitors for the UN migration agency interview people at Somalia's border on a popular route to rich Gulf nations.

In the week ending June 20, just over half — 51 per cent — of the 3,471 migrants tracked said they had never heard of COVID-19.

Celeste Sanchez Bean, a program manager with the UN agency in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, says she was shocked.


Today in 2007 ... 

Canadian-born pro wrestler Chris Benoit was found dead along with his wife and seven-year-old son in their Atlanta-area home. Investigators later confirmed Benoit killed them before hanging himself in the weight room. The case sparked intense debate about steroid use.


COVID-19 in sports ...

Several players and staff members on the Toronto Blue Jays have tested positive for COVID-19, a source has told The Canadian Press.

The source confirmed the news on condition of anonymity because the team has not officially announced the positive cases.

The developments came less than a week after the Blue Jays shut down their spring training complex in Dunedin, Fla., after a player presented symptoms consistent with the virus. Last Friday, the team said personnel at the facility underwent testing per protocols established by its medical team and Major League Baseball.

Sportsnet's Shi Davidi was the first to report the positive COVID-19 test results on Wednesday afternoon.

MLB announced Tuesday night that the regular season — trimmed to 60 games from the usual 162 due to the pandemic — will be played in empty ballparks starting July 23 or 24, with teams scheduled to report to camps by July 1.

Most teams intend to work out in their regular-season ballparks but the Blue Jays' plans remain unclear.

Specifics on the exact number of positive COVID-19 cases and arrangements the team has made will likely be announced at a news conference expected on Friday. 

Anyone entering Canada for non-essential reasons must quarantine for 14 days, and the U.S.-Canada border remains closed to non-essential travel until at least July 21.

It also remains unclear where the Blue Jays will play home games this season. A message left with the team was not immediately returned.

Major League Baseball has submitted a plan to the Canadian government to play in Toronto this year and health authorities are examining it.

Anna Maddison, a spokeswoman for the Public Health Agency of Canada, said Wednesday the restart plan is being reviewed.


In entertainment ...

TORONTO — The Toronto International Film Festival has announced plans for this year's annual movie marathon, which will include both physical and digital screenings, virtual red carpets and drive-ins.

The festival's 45th edition is slated to run Sept. 10-19 and has been reimagined to follow the protocols set by authorities to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

Organizers say the 10-day event will have a lineup of 50 new feature films, five programs of shorts and an online industry conference. 

It will also have outdoor experiences, press conferences, interactive talks, and Q-and-As with cast and filmmakers.

TIFF didn't provide specific details on how such events will unfold, but it's clear this will be a much different festival than the usual extravaganza of hundreds of films and a city crawling with stars, cinephiles and celebrity watchers.

The films include Francis Lee's "Ammonite," starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan, Halle Berry's directorial debut "Bruised," and "Concrete Cowboy" by Ricky Staub, starring Idris Elba, Jharrel Jerome, and Lorraine Toussaint.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 25, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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