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Want to know how much added sugar is in your favourite foods? Canadian companies don’t have to tell you

Despite having to disclose many details about ingredients, specific allergens, calorie counts and other nutritional information on labels, food manufacturers are not required to include the amount of added sugar a product contains and don’t have to disclose that information to an inquiring consumer, a CBC Marketplace investigation has found.

As part of its latest investigation, Marketplace reached out to the Coca-Cola Company, General Mills and Campbell Canada, asking how much added sugar is in some of their popular products: Coca-Cola’s Vitaminwater calcium orange, General Mills’ Liberté organic vanilla 0% yogurt, and Campbell’s condensed tomato soup. 

Only one company told us how much added sugar is in its product — and it turns out, they don’t have to.

“I’m not surprised,” said David Hammond, professor and university research chair in public health at the University of Waterloo. 

“I don’t think it’s in their interest to talk about just how many of their products and at what levels they add sugar.”

Under Canada’s Food and Drugs Act, Canadian food labels must list the total amount of sugars, which includes added sugars and any naturally occurring sugars like those in dairy, fruit and vegetables. The labels do not have to specify how much sugar the manufacturer has added to the product, often just for taste. 

Canadian food labels lacking

In an email, Health Canada said “the Food and Drugs Act and its regulations do not permit the declaration of added sugars information in the nutrition facts table.” 

However, Health Canada told Marketplace that, “Consumers are free to contact manufacturers directly to seek additional information about foods or ingredients that are not on the list of priority allergens or about added sugars in a product. While many manufacturers will provide such information, there is no obligation on the part of the manufacturer to do so.”

Dietitians recommend limiting daily added sugar intake, and the World Health Organization (WHO) and Heart & Stroke Canada, among others, offer guidelines. 

The WHO recommends limiting daily “free sugars” to 25 grams, or six teaspoons, for maximum health benefits. “Free sugars” include not only added sugars, but also the sugars naturally present in fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates. Heart & Stroke Canada recommends Canadians ideally consume less than five per cent, or six teaspoons, of added sugars a day. 


Have a question or something to say? CBC News is live in the comments now.



David Hammond found added sugar in over 40,000 packaged food and beverage products found on Canadian store shelves. (David Hammond)

Back in 2015, Hammond researched the presence of added sugar in over 40,000 packaged food and beverage products available on Canadian store shelves by analyzing the ingredient list. He found added sugar in two-thirds of products, and he doesn’t believe anything has changed in the years since the study was published.

“It’s not just cookies and cakes. Most Canadians would be surprised to learn that some of the leading sources of added sugars are things like yogurt, bread,” said Hammond. 

Amount of added sugar tough to uncover

Marketplace bought the Vitaminwater, yogurt and soup products and tried to determine how much added sugar was in each. 

With only total sugar required on a Canadian food label, Marketplace worked with registered dietitian Stefania Palmeri to work out the nutrition math. 


Liberté organic vanilla 0% yogurt and Liberté organic plain 0% yogurt. Plain yogurts generally have only naturally occurring sugars and no added sugars. (David MacIntosh/CBC)


Liberté’s organic vanilla 0% yogurt has 19 grams of total sugar per ¾-cup serving. (David MacIntosh/CBC)

Liberté’s organic vanilla 0% yogurt has 19 grams of total sugar per ¾-cup serving.

In contrast, there is just five grams of total sugar per ¾-cup serving in Liberté’s organic plain 0% unsweetened yogurt. 

Palmeri’s best guess is that compared to the plain version, the vanilla yogurt has a whopping 14 grams of added sugar per ¾-cup serving, or about three teaspoons. Four grams of sugar is equivalent to about one teaspoon. 

“We’re not sure how much of this is added, but we’re still not doing well if this is the first thing we start with in the morning,” Palmeri said.

When Marketplace asked General Mills how much added sugar is in the yogurt, the company said it follows Health Canada labelling regulations, which include the labelling of total sugars in the product.


Registered dietitian Stefania Palmeri worked with Marketplace to determine the amount of added sugar in some popular products. (David MacIntosh/CBC)

U.S. does disclose added sugar on food labels

Campbell’s tomato soup was an interesting case. 

Unlike in Canada, added sugar is now listed on all nutrition facts labels in the United States — including the label for Campbell’s tomato soup. That’s because it’s now required in the U.S. under new regulations from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

On its U.S. website, the American Campbell’s tomato soup is listed as having eight grams of added sugar per 240-millilitre serving. 

WATCH | Here’s how much added sugar is in this tomato soup:

This tomato soup has added sugar. But you won’t find how much on Canadian nutrition labels. 2:38

When Marketplace called Campbell’s Canadian consumer line, no information about added sugar was provided for the product sold in Canada. However, later in emails, Campbell’s said it is “prohibited” by the Food and Drugs Act from including added sugar on the label, but did explain that the tomato soup it sells in Canada has 11 grams of added sugar in one 250-millilitre (one-cup) serving.

Despite the slightly larger serving size, that is still more sugar than the U.S. product.


Campbell’s condensed tomato soup has 16 grams of total sugar per one-cup serving. Campbell’s says 11 grams of it are added. (David MacIntosh/CBC)

“I don’t think most people have an awareness of how many places added sugars can be hidden,” said Palmeri. 

“When you’re looking at a tomato soup thinking, ‘I’m trying to eat more vegetables,’ you wouldn’t expect one of the ingredients to be glucose-fructose.”

Coca-Cola, the owner of Vitaminwater products, refused to tell Marketplace how many of the 32 grams of total sugar in its product are added sugar. 

However, it did say “too much sugar isn’t good for anyone,” and noted that it offers many low- or zero-sugar drinks including zero-sugar Vitaminwater. 

Palmeri suspects all of it is added, considering the second ingredient in the water is cane sugar. In the U.S., the label for Vitaminwater orange lists 27 grams of sugar, all of it added.


Vitaminwater calcium orange has 32 grams of total sugar in one bottle. Our experts believe all of it is added. (David MacIntosh/CBC)

Time for change

Hammond says consumers deserve to know about added sugar in their food.  

“We need to do something because the status quo certainly isn’t helping consumers at all,” he said.

Canadian consumers were consulted about new food labels back in 2013 and 2014. In the “Consulting Canadians to Modernize and Improve Food Labels” report, Canadian consumers requested that new food labels include a daily maximum value for sugar, as well as the breakdown of “naturally occurring” and “added” sugars.

But industry stakeholders pushed back, questioning the scientific basis of requiring that added sugars be on nutrition labels, “given that the body metabolizes naturally occurring and added sugars in the same way.” 

Industry stakeholders also expressed other concerns, including the cost of declaring added sugar information on labels, and cited U.S. research that found consumers had a “limited understanding” of what added sugar means.

It’s not clear which companies or manufacturers participated in the pushback. 

In emails, Marketplace asked Health Canada why added sugar will not be on the new nutrition labels, which are currently rolling out across the country.  

Health Canada replied that feedback in 2014 indicated that Canadians found the information about added sugars “confusing.” 

Health Canada also said it determined that having an added sugars declaration would be inconsistent with the WHO guideline on sugars, which recommends that people reduce their consumption of free sugars and not just of added sugars. Health Canada also told Marketplace it believes that information on the new labels — including the “% daily value” (DV) and a new footnote indicating “5% or less is a little, 15% or more is a lot” — will help educate consumers. 


(Health Canada)

Health Canada also introduced the requirement to group sugars-based ingredients together within the list of ingredients following the term “sugars.” The agency says that, “Together, these new requirements will support reduction in Canadians’ sugars intake.”

Hammond strongly disagrees and says research shows more Canadians were able to identify the presence of added sugar in a product when information for added sugar was clearly indicated on the nutrition label.

“Canadians are trying to make healthier choices … and one of the things they care about is how much added sugar is in there,” he said. 

“This should not be rocket science.”

  • Watch full episodes of Marketplace on CBC Gem, the CBC’s streaming service.

Have questions about this story? We’re answering as many as we can in the comments.


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Families eager for results as drug companies test vaccines for use on children, teens

On an unusually warm spring morning, a class of seventh and eighth graders exits the doors of Charles Gordon Senior Public School in Scarborough, Ont. They walk single file through the yard, masked and distanced from each other by a strict two metres — a sign of the times in Toronto, where kids only recently returned to in-person schooling after another lockdown.

The day’s lesson is about COVID-19 vaccines, and appropriately, it was being held at an outdoor classroom. Students had been asked to read up on the vaccines and present questions they would like to ask Canadian officials about the inoculations and their distribution.

As vaccines roll out among older adults, many of the questions from this group of students focused on the fact that children aren’t on the current inoculation schedule. Of the vaccines approved in Canada so far, only the Pfizer vaccine has been cleared for people as young as 16 years old, and the other three are currently meant for ages 18 and up.

Their teacher, Tracey Toyama, said the lesson was a natural extension of current events. “They see it every day on social media; they come in, they ask questions,” she said.

“Why are children not more prioritized in terms of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?” asked one girl.

“Why wouldn’t we vaccinate children so that they don’t put those who are vulnerable at risk?” asked another.

Indeed, since most children tend to experience milder cases of COVID-19, they weren’t prioritized in international vaccine trials. Still, kids do get sick and they can pass on the virus.

In fact, more than 157,000 Canadians aged 19 or younger have caught COVID-19. So until both adults and children are inoculated against the virus, it’s unlikely society will be able to go back to normal.


Students at Charles Gordon Senior Public School in Scarborough, Ont., hold some of their classes outdoors during the pandemic. During this lesson, students discuss the questions they would like to ask Canadian officials about the vaccines and their distribution. (Sarah Bridge/CBC)

In recognition of this, a number of vaccines are now being tested on younger people.

Drug maker Sinovac submitted data to the Chinese government this week saying its vaccine is safe for children between the ages of three and 17.

Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson are now testing their COVID-19 vaccines on younger kids, too. Moderna’s trial includes children as young as six months old. Early data from Pfizer on its trials for children aged 12 years and older is expected soon.

Quebec-based Medicago, which is working through Phase 3 adult trials for its plant-based COVID-19 vaccine, says it has plans to move on to younger age groups as data emerges.

According to Nathalie Charland, a senior director with Medicago, the trials will be similar to those they’ve conducted with people aged 18 and up, though children will likely receive half the vaccine dosage.

Along with monitoring each of the test cases to make sure they’re safe, she said, “We will be looking at the immunogenicity of the vaccine candidate to see if what we saw in adults is the same that we see in children.”


Medicago has been conducting clinical trials of its plant-based COVID-19 vaccine on people aged 18 years and older. Nathalie Charland, a senior director with Medicago, says her company has plans to test the vaccine on younger age groups as well. (Medicago)

Dr. Noni MacDonald with Dalhousie University in Halifax said vaccinating children is “incredibly important.”

She said adults were “rightly” prioritized for COVID-19 vaccines because, “children have not been shown to be the big vector of transmitting this virus from one person to another; it’s mostly adults and young people.”

However, MacDonald added, “The problem we have is we know that we need to have the community immunity happen. So, if we have big pockets of children that are not immunized, that community is not immune.”

With variants circulating, she said, the impetus to vaccinate children as soon as possible is strong.

“This is not the end,” she said. “This is a wicked virus and we need to control it in all the ways we can.”

That urgency is especially acute in households where a family member is immunocompromised.

Torontonian Amerie Alvis, 15, has been worried about bringing the virus home to her mom this past year. Her mother, Jaeda Larkin, is a single parent with rheumatoid arthritis.

“What if she does get sick, and I’m all alone?” Alvis said.


Jaeda Larkin, left, and her daughter Amerie Alvis. Amerie has chosen to do online schooling until she is able to get vaccinated, in order to minimize the risk of contracting COVID-19. (Sarah Bridge/CBC)

At nearly 16 years old, Alvis should be eligible for the Pfizer vaccine in a few months and said she is “all for it.”

In the meantime, she has chosen to do online schooling rather than go back to class, in order to minimize the risk to herself and her mom. Alvis said she won’t go back until she gets a shot, but she’s hopeful life could look different next fall.

Having lost some relatives in the U.S. to COVID-19, Larkin is similarly keen to see the two of them vaccinated against the virus.

“The thought of risking my daughter or, you know, potentially having her get sick is terrifying to me,” Larkin said.

Without available vaccine data for kids under 16, some parents of younger children are hesitant to commit just yet.

Torontonians Barry Ayow and Gina Athanasiou aren’t sure whether they’ll want to vaccinate their two youngest kids, who are 12 and 14 years old, against COVID-19 right away.

“I’m willing to experiment on myself. I’m willing to be a guinea pig. But to volunteer my children to be guinea pigs, that’s a different thing, right?” said Ayow.

At the same time, a sense of duty to their older family members and neighbours is weighing on the couple.

“Will duty outweigh our obligation to our kids to make sure that they’re safe? I don’t know,” said Athanasiou, who has concerns about possible side effects of the vaccines on her kids.

She added, “Maybe we’ll feel more comfortable when we have the studies.”


Barry Ayow, right, and Gina Athanasiou say they’re willing to get vaccinated for COIVD-19, but they aren’t sure whether they want to vaccinate their two youngest children right away. (Ousama Farag/CBC)

Dr. MacDonald said parents can be reassured that a push to vaccinate children won’t be coming “out of nowhere.”

“This is going to be based on evidence,” she said.

In fact, according to MacDonald, information about the COVID-19 vaccines will be more robust than what was initially available for previous vaccines, such as polio.

When the time comes for children to get vaccinated, she said, “literally tens of millions of doses of these vaccines will have been used in the population. We’ve never had that kind of volume whenever we’ve used vaccines in children before when we were starting.”

In a show of hands, about half the students in the Grade 7 and 8 class at Charles Gordon Senior Public School said they themselves would take the vaccine based on what they currently know, with others mostly citing the need for more information on their own age group.

What’s clear from nearly all of them during their classroom discussion, though, is that the stress of the pandemic isn’t just affecting adults.

For seventh grader Isaiah Velez, keeping his family and friends safe is a personal priority, he said, as is putting an end to the pandemic. “I miss going out in public and meeting my friends — a lot,” he said.


Watch full episodes of The National on CBC Gem, the CBC’s streaming service.

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CBC | Health News

Distrust grows between EU and pharmaceutical companies over COVID-19 vaccine rollout

The latest:

The European Union on Tuesday warned pharmaceutical giants that develop coronavirus vaccines to honour their contractual obligations after slow deliveries of shots from two companies hampered the bloc’s vaunted vaccine rollout in several nations.

The bloc already lashed out Monday at pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, accusing it of failing to guarantee the delivery of coronavirus vaccines without a valid explanation. It also had expressed displeasure over vaccine delivery delays from Pfizer-BioNTech last week.

“Europe invested billions to help develop the world’s first COVID-19 vaccines. To create a truly global common good,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the World Economic Forum’s virtual event in Switzerland. “And now, the companies must deliver. They must honour their obligations.”

The statement Tuesday highlighted the level of distrust that has grown between the 27-nation bloc and pharmaceutical companies over the past week.

On Monday, the EU threatened to impose strict export controls on all coronavirus vaccines produced in the bloc to make sure that companies honour their commitments to the EU.


A doctor adjusts his personal protective gear before entering a patient’s room at a COVID-19 intensive care unit at Klinikum Rechts der Isar hospital in Munich, southern Germany on Monday. (Lennart Preiss/AFP/Getty Images)

The EU said it provided €2.7 billion (more than $ 4.1 billion Cdn) to speed up vaccine research and production capacity and was determined to get some value for that money with hundreds of millions of vaccine shots according to a schedule the companies had committed to.

“Europe is determined to contribute to this global common good, but it also means business,” von der Leyen said Tuesday via video link.

Germany was firmly behind von der Leyen’s view. 

“With a complex process such as vaccine production, I can understand if there are production problems — but then it must affect everyone fairly and equally,” German Health Minister Jens Spahn told ZDF television. “This is not about EU first, it’s about Europe’s fair share.”

The EU, which has 450 million citizens and the economic and political clout of the world’s biggest trading bloc, is lagging badly behind countries like Israel and Britain in rolling out coronavirus vaccine shots for its health-care workers and most vulnerable people. That’s despite having over 400,000 confirmed virus deaths since the pandemic began.

The EU has committed to buying 300 million AstraZeneca doses with an option on 100 million extra shots. Late last week, the company said it was planning to reduce a first contingent of 80 million to 31 million.

The shortfall of planned deliveries of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is expected to get medical approval by the bloc on Friday, combined with hiccups in the distribution of Pfizer-BioNTech shots is putting EU nations under heavy pressure. Pfizer says it was delaying deliveries to Europe and Canada while it upgrades its plant in Belgium to increase production capacity.

The European Medicines Agency is scheduled to review the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine Friday and its approval is hotly anticipated. The AstraZeneca vaccine is already being used in Britain and has been approved for emergency use by half a dozen countries, including India, Pakistan, Argentina and Mexico.

The delays in getting vaccines will make it harder to meet early targets in the EU’s goal of vaccinating 70 per cent of its adults by late summer.

The EU has signed six vaccine contracts for more than two billion doses, but only the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have been approved for use so far.

-From The Associated Press, last updated at 7:15 a.m. ET


What’s happening in Canada

WATCH | Inside two Toronto ICUs one year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case:

A look inside two Toronto hospital ICUs one year after Canada’s first case of COVID-19, and at the doctors and nurses both exhausted and determined to keep fighting. 4:28

As Parliament resumed Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced a barrage of questions from MPs of all parties as they blasted the Liberal government for what they described as a botched approach to rolling out vaccines.

Both Trudeau and Procurement Minister Anita Anand repeated the government’s promise that by the end of September, all Canadians wishing to be vaccinated will have received their shots.

Trudeau has stressed that the delay that is currently hampering vaccination efforts is only temporary and that Canada is expected to receive four million doses of the Pfizer vaccine by the end of March. The prime minister noted that the country is still receiving shipments of the Moderna vaccine.

Earlier Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said there is “tremendous pressure” on the global supply chain for vaccines that the government has tried to mitigate.

“We are working on this every single day, because we know how important vaccines are to Canadians, to first and foremost the lives of Canadians and also to our economy,” she told a news conference in Ottawa by video.

WATCH | New urgency for vaccinations in long-term care homes:

Faced with a COVID-19 vaccine shortage, Ontario says it will now vaccinate only long-term care residents and other seniors in at-risk retirement homes and care settings. 2:54

Despite the vaccine delay, some provinces continued to report encouraging drops in the number of new cases and hospitalizations. Ontario reported fewer than 2,000 cases on Monday, as well as fewer people in hospital. It was a similar story in Quebec, where hospitalizations dropped for a sixth straight day.

As of early Tuesday morning, Canada had reported 753,011 cases of COVID-19, with 62,444 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 19,238.

In Alberta, health officials reported the province’s first case of a COVID-19 variant first seen in the United Kingdom that can’t be directly traced to international travel. Health Minister Tyler Shandro said that while it is one case, the variant has the potential to spread faster than the original novel coronavirus and could quickly overwhelm hospitals if not checked.

“There’s no question that this kind of exponential growth would push our health-care system to the brink,” Shandro told a virtual news conference Monday.

Here’s a look at what’s happening across Canada:

From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 6:45 a.m. ET 


 What’s happening around the world

As of early Tuesday morning, more than 99.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 55.1 million of the cases considered recovered or resolved, according to a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.1 million.

In Europe, the U.K. is set to announce changes to its quarantine rules later Tuesday that could see anyone arriving in the country having to spend ten days in a hotel at their own expense. Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said there will be an “announcement on this issue later on today,” but would not be drawn on what the changes would entail.

The British government has been reviewing its quarantine policies amid concerns over new variants of the coronavirus. Whether the changes will be universal and apply to everyone arriving, including British citizens, or just to those arriving from high-risk coronavirus countries, is unclear. Zahawi told Sky News that “as we vaccinate more of the adult population, if there are new variants like the South African or the Brazilian variants, we need to be very careful.”


Pedestrians walk past a sign pointing toward a COVID-19 testing centre in Walthamstow over the weekend in London. (Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

The U.K. has seen more than 3.6 million reported cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University, with more than 98,700 deaths.

Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s deputy prime minister and finance minister, said Monday that Canada is considering additional international travel restrictions. Speaking on CBC’s Power & Politics, Freeland said she is, “very sympathetic to the view that, with the virus raging around the world, we need to be sure our borders are really, really secure.”

In Portugal, the health minister said authorities are considering asking other European Union countries for help amid a steep surge in COVID-19 cases. Portugal has had the world’s worst rate of new daily cases and deaths per 100,000 people for the past week, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Health Minister Marta Temido said sending patients to other EU countries is not uncommon in the bloc. But, she said, Portugal has the disadvantage of being geographically remote and hospitals across the continent are under pressure from the pandemic. She said the country may instead be asking for medical workers to be sent.

Portuguese hospitals are under severe strain, Temido told public broadcaster RTP. “We have beds available,” she said. “What we’re struggling with is finding staff.”

That request may be difficult to fulfil, because all countries in the 27-nation bloc are dealing with their own pandemic strains, made more difficult now because of the emergence of virus variants.

In the Asia-Pacific region, health authorities in Taiwan are quarantining 5,000 people while looking for the source of two new coronavirus cases linked to a hospital.

Indonesia’s confirmed coronavirus infections since the pandemic began crossed one million on Tuesday and hospitals in some hard-hit areas were near capacity.

Indonesia’s Health Ministry announced that new daily infections rose by 13,094 on Tuesday to bring the country’s total to 1,012,350, the most in Southeast Asia. The total number of deaths reached 28,468.

The milestone comes just weeks after Indonesia launched a massive campaign to inoculate two-thirds of the country’s 270 million people, with President Joko Widodo receiving the first shot of a Chinese-made vaccine. Health-care workers, military, police, teachers and other at-risk populations are being prioritized for the vaccine in the world’s fourth-most populous country.


Medical workers visit COVID-19 patients at a general hospital in Indonesia on Monday. (Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images)

Chinese airlines are offering refunded tickets as the coronavirus continues to spread in the country’s northeast. The offer Tuesday from the government’s aviation authority comes amid a push to prevent people travelling during the Lunar New Year holiday next month.

In the Americas, Mexico’s death toll passed 150,000 on Monday following a surge in infections in recent weeks.

In Africa, Russia and China have approached Zimbabwe about supplying vaccines to tackle its escalating COVID-19 outbreak amid concern about Harare’s ability to afford the shots.

In the Middle East, Oman said earlier this week it will extend the closure of its land borders for another week until Feb. 1.

-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 7:10 a.m. ET

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Federal government moves to seal off Canadian companies from human rights violations in China

The federal government announced a suite of new regulations today meant to ensure that Canadian companies are not complicit in human rights abuses or the use of forced labour in China’s Xinjiang province.

The measures include new requirements for firms that do business in the region and a pledge to ban the export of products from Canada to China if there is a chance they could be used by Chinese authorities for surveillance, repression, arbitrary detention or forced labour.

“Canada is deeply concerned regarding the mass arbitrary detention and mistreatment of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities by Chinese authorities,” Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said in a news release shortly before leaving the department to become the new minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.

“Nobody should face mistreatment on the basis of their religion or ethnicity,” Champagne added.

Today’s actions represent the strongest measures yet taken by Canada in the face of growing international criticism of the Chinese government over its policies in Xinjiang — but they stop short of imposing “Magnitsky sanctions” on Chinese officials — something called for by a parliamentary committee that found China’s actions meet the definition of genocide.

Forced labour, arbitrary detention

UN experts and activists say more than one million Uighurs, Kazakhs and others have been arbitrarily held in prison-like centres for political indoctrination. China claims the centres are intended to combat extremism and teach job skills, but former residents and rights groups say they target Islam and minority languages and cultures.

A coalition of civil society organizations has also accused China of forcing hundreds of thousands of Uighurs and other minorities to pick cotton by hand. The vast western province produces 85 per cent of China’s cotton and 20 per cent of the global supply, which is sold to fashion brands worldwide.

The Center for Global Policy, a Washington-based think tank, found in a December 2020 report it was very likely a major share of cotton from Xinjiang is “tainted with forced labour.”


Workers walk by the perimeter fence of what is officially known as a vocational skills education centre in Dabancheng in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Canada already bans the importation of goods produced through forced labour as part of its obligations under the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), Global Affairs Canada said in a news release.

The new regulations also require that Canadian companies in the Xinjiang market sign a declaration acknowledging that they are aware of the human rights situation in the province and pledging to conduct due diligence on Chinese suppliers to ensure they are not knowingly sourcing products or services from companies that use forced labour.

Global Affairs Canada also issued a business advisory warning Canadian businesses of the legal and reputational risks they face by maintaining supply chains associated with forced labour.

The new measures were announced in concert with similar actions taken by the U.K., although that government promised to impose financial penalties on companies that do not comply — something that doesn’t appear to be part of Canada’s approach.

Last fall, the House of Commons subcommittee on international human rights released a report stating that China’s persecution of this Muslim minority is a clear violation of human rights and is meant to “eradicate Uighur culture and religion.” The Chinese foreign ministry lashed out in response, accusing the committee of spreading lies and disinformation.

Canada exported $ 23 billion worth of merchandise to China and imported $ 75 billion in 2019.

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Pompeo points finger at Russia for widespread cyberattack on U.S. government, companies

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Russia was “pretty clearly” behind the grave cyberattack against the United States, the first administration official to publicly tie the Kremlin to the widespread intrusion at a time when President Donald Trump has kept silent on the failure to protect government and private-sector computer networks.

It’s not clear exactly what the hackers were seeking, but experts say it could include nuclear secrets, blueprints for advanced weaponry, COVID-19 vaccine-related research and information for dossiers on key government and industry leaders.

“We’re still unpacking precisely what it is, and I’m sure some of it will remain classified,” Pompeo said in an interview late Friday with radio talk show host Mark Levin.

“But suffice it to say there was a significant effort to use a piece of third-party software to essentially embed code inside of U.S. government systems, and it now appears systems of private companies, and companies and governments across the world as well. This was a very significant effort, and I think it’s the case that now we can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians that engaged in this activity.”

Russia has said it had “nothing to do” with the hacking.

Deputy White House press secretary Brian Morgenstern told reporters Friday that national security adviser Robert O’Brien has sometimes been leading multiple daily meetings with the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the intelligence agencies, looking for ways to mitigate the hack.

He would not provide details, “but rest assured we have the best and brightest working hard on it each and every single day.”

The Democratic leaders of four House committees given classified briefings by the administration on the hack issued a statement complaining that they “were left with more questions than answers.”

“Administration officials were unwilling to share the full scope of the breach and identities of the victims,” they said.

18,000 organizations infected with malicious code

Pompeo, in the interview with Levin, said Russia was on the list of “folks that want to undermine our way of life, our republic, our basic democratic principles…. You see the news of the day with respect to their efforts in the cyberspace. We’ve seen this for an awfully long time, using asymmetric capabilities to try and put themselves in a place where they can impose costs on the United States.”

What makes this hacking campaign so extraordinary is its scale: 18,000 organizations were infected from March to June by malicious code that piggybacked on popular network-management software from an Austin, Texas, company called SolarWinds.

It’s going to take months to kick elite hackers out of the U.S. government networks they have been quietly rifling through since as far back as March.

Experts say there simply are not enough skilled threat-hunting teams to duly identify all of the government and private-sector systems that may have been hacked. FireEye, the cybersecurity company that discovered the intrusion into U.S. agencies and was among the victims, has already tallied dozens of casualties. It’s racing to identify more.

‘This will be a long ride’

Many federal workers — and others in the private sector — must presume that unclassified networks are teeming with spies. Agencies will be more inclined to conduct sensitive government business on Signal, WhatsApp and other encrypted smartphone apps.

“We should buckle up. This will be a long ride,” said Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder and former chief technical officer of the leading cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike. “Cleanup is just phase one.”


Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder and former chief technical officer of the leading cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, shown in New York in 2012, says if the hackers are from Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence agency, as experts believe, their resistance may be tenacious. (Keith Bedford/Reuters)

The only way to be sure a network is clean is “to burn it down to the ground and rebuild it,” said  Bruce Schneier, a prominent security expert and Harvard fellow.

Florida became the first state to acknowledge falling victim to a SolarWinds hack. Officials told The Associated Press that hackers apparently infiltrated the state’s health-care administration agency and others.

Customers of SolarWinds include most Fortune 500 companies, and its U.S. government clients are rich with generals and spymasters.

If the hackers are indeed from Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence agency, as experts believe, their resistance may be tenacious. When they hacked the White House, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the State Department in 2014 and 2015, “it was a nightmare to get them out,” Alperovitch said.

The Pentagon has said it has so far not detected any intrusions from the SolarWinds campaign in any of its networks — classified or unclassified.

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Trump signs executive order aimed at social media companies

U.S. President Donald Trump escalated his war on social media companies, signing an executive order Thursday challenging the liability protections that have served as a bedrock for unfettered speech on the internet.

Still, the move appears to be more about politics than substance, as the president aims to rally supporters after he lashed out at Twitter for applying fact checks to two of his tweets.

Trump said the fact checks were “editorial decisions” by Twitter and amounted to political activism. He said it should cost those companies their protection from lawsuits for what is posted on their platforms.

Trump and his allies, who rely heavily on Twitter to verbally flog their foes, have long accused the tech giants in liberal-leaning Silicon Valley of targeting conservatives on social media by fact-checking them or removing their posts.

“We’re fed up with it,” Trump said, claiming the order would uphold freedom of speech.


(@realDonaldTrump/Twitter)

It directs executive branch agencies to ask independent rule-making agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, to study whether they can place new regulations on the companies — though experts express doubts much can be done without an act of Congress.

Companies such as Twitter and Facebook are granted liability protection under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act because they are treated as “platforms,” rather than “publishers,” which can face lawsuits over content.

A similar executive order was previously considered by the administration but shelved over concerns it couldn’t pass legal muster and that it violated conservative principles on deregulation and free speech.

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2 Canadian insurance companies stop covering coronavirus-related trip cancellations

Two major Canadian travel insurance providers — Manulife and TuGo — will no longer cover new customers who need to cancel their trips due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Travellers with regular trip cancellation insurance typically have been able to get reimbursed if, after booking their trip, Ottawa issued a coronavirus-related advisory to avoid non-essential travel to their destination. 

However, Manulife or TuGo will no longer offer this type of coverage. Both companies have issued alerts, saying the coronavirus is now a “known” issue and therefore cancellation coverage no longer applies — as it’s designed for unexpected mishaps.

Travel insurance broker Martin Firestone says he believes other companies will likely follow suit, to avoid the huge costs that could arise as the coronavirus spreads globally. 

“They are opening themselves up to millions of dollars of claims that they will have to pay unless they invoke this,” said Firestone, with Travel Secure in Toronto. “If this thing blows up and it becomes a pandemic, all these countries are going to get on the [no] non-essential travel list.”


The chances of getting your coronavirus-related cancelled trip covered by travel insurance is narrowing as two companies are no longer offering the coverage. (Mark Schiefelbein/The Associated Press)

TuGo’s change went into effect on Wednesday for policies purchased on or after that day.

“We’ve identified COVID-19 (coronavirus) as a known circumstance,” said spokesperson Melissa Kaerne in an email. “That means it is no longer considered sudden and unexpected, as it is a global health issue.”

Manulife didn’t respond to a request for comment in time for publication of this story. But an internal memo obtained by CBC News lays out its new policy. 

The memo says, starting Friday, customers who purchase Manulife travel insurance will no longer be reimbursed for coronavirus-related trip changes including cancelling a trip due to a travel advisory or concerns over the spreading virus. 

The memo indicates that people who purchase the “Cancel For Any Reason” (CFAR) option can still get coverage if they cancel their trip.

The CFAR option comes at an added cost and generally only covers up to 75 per cent of a cancelled trip. 

No longer unexpected

The federal government has issued coronavirus-related advisories against non-essential travel to China, Iran, northern Italy and parts of South Korea.

As the coronavirus spreads, that list will likely grow, but neither Manulife nor TuGo will cover new customers who book trips to any destinations that get added to the government’s list. 

Industry expert Will McAleer says cancellation insurance is supposed to cover sudden and unanticipated events, such as falling ill and not being able to take your trip. He said companies cutting off coronavirus cancellation coverage have likely deemed that it no longer fits in that category.

“They appear to be saying that, ‘Hey, you know about it,'” said McAleer, executive director of the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada.

“We’ve now seen [the virus] spread from country to country and as a result, thinking that it could spread to yet another country should certainly be something that we can all expect.”

Firestone advises travellers who haven’t already purchased insurance and plan to travel during the coronavirus outbreak to start shopping around, as he anticipates other providers will also change their cancellation coverage.

“I think they’re all going to jump on the bandwagon.”

While some travellers may feel the new development is unfair, Firestone points out that travel insurance was designed to cover the odd mishap, not large numbers of travellers cancelling their trips — which could become the case with the coronavirus outbreak.

“That’s changed the odds,” he said. “Everyone’s got these sort of loss-ratios they work on and they all got thrown out the window with this.”

Meanwhile, in a trend reversal, Air Canada and Air Transat have each announced new policies that actually broaden coverage for travellers during the coronavirus outbreak. According to their websites, passengers can book a flight or an Air Transat sun-destination vacation package between March 4 and 31, and then make changes at a later date, free of charge. 

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CFIA cancels licences of 3 companies in massive meat recall

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says it has cancelled the licenses of three companies tied to a massive meat recall that ensnared nearly 900 beef and veal products.

The CFIA says in a statement it cancelled the Safe Food for Canadians licenses of Ryding-Regency Meat Packers Ltd, as well as two others operating under St. Ann’s Foods Inc.: Canadian Select Meats Inc. and The Beef Boutique Ltd.

The agency says these companies are no longer able to slaughter food animals or prepare meat products, including to export or send to other provinces or territories.

The CFIA says it made the decision after an investigation identified the licence holders provided false or misleading information to the agency about E. coli lab results.

The agency launched the investigation in September to look into possible E. coli contamination of some beef and veal products sold by the companies.

A spokesman for Ryding-Regency did not immediately respond to a request for comment, while the publicly listed number for St. Ann’s was not in service.

The CFIA previously suspended the licenses for all three holders in September while it conducted its investigation.

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Drug companies in opioid epidemic settle with Ohio counties, avoiding 1st federal trial

Four big drug companies have reached a last-minute, $ 260 million legal settlement over their role in the U.S. opioid addiction epidemic, averting the first federal trial that was scheduled to start Monday morning in Cleveland.

The settlement covers drug distributors AmerisourceBergen Corp, Cardinal Health Inc., McKesson Corp. and Israel-based drugmaker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., and ends lawsuits by two Ohio counties.

Hunter Shklonik, an attorney for the counties, said Teva is paying $ 20 million in cash and will contribute $ 25 million worth of Suboxone, an opioid addiction treatment.

On Friday, talks collapsed aimed at reaching a broader $ 48-billion US settlement covering thousands of lawsuits filed by counties, towns and states from across the country over the crisis.

The trial was scheduled to pit two Ohio counties against the five companies that the local governments say helped fuel a nationwide crisis. Some 400,000 U.S. overdose deaths between 1997 and 2017 were linked to opioids, according to government data.

The judge overseeing Monday’s trial said he would work out a new trial date for the remaining defendant, pharmacy chain operator Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.

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Companies push ahead on pot gummy plans despite hazy regulations

Chewy, colourful cannabis-infused gummies in bright colours and in the shape of animals or creatures are among the best-selling edible pot products on the black market — but Canadians shouldn’t expect them on legal shelves.

Regulations that will make edibles legal come into force Oct. 17, exactly a year after Canada legalized the sale and purchase of dried and fresh cannabis, oil, seeds and plants. The rules laid out so far are aimed at keeping the new pot products out of the hands of kids and stipulate they can’t be seen as “appealing to young persons” — but Health Canada has yet to provide additional details on exactly what crosses the line.

That leaves companies grappling with how to market gummies — an already popular adult product based on a children’s treat — without being too much fun.

THC-infused gummy bears are unlikely to be among the new products set to hit legal shelves as early as December but companies are pushing ahead with pot-gummy plans they believe will allow them to eventually cash in on consumer demand without resorting to colourless and flavourless blobs.

Licensed producer Zenabis Ltd.  said it is prioritizing the gummies’ category of edibles because of its demonstrated and growing appeal south of the border, said Kyrsten Dewinetz, its program manager of food and beverage services.

“It’s popular with many different demographics… We’re probably going to forge ahead a little bit more quickly in this category,” she said, adding Zenabis aims to launch its line of gummies by early 2020.

Companies to provide intent to sell

The earliest new goods can be sold legally will be mid-December, due to the required 60-day notice companies must provide to Health Canada of their intent to sell them.

A recent survey of Canadians conducted by Deloitte showed that current users’ most-preferred edible format was a gummy at 26 per cent, followed by cookies at 23 per cent, brownies at 22 per cent and chocolate at 16 per cent.


A recent survey of Canadians showed that current users’ most-preferred edible format was a gummy at 26 per cent, followed by cookies at 23 per cent, brownies at 22 per cent and chocolate at 16 per cent. (Shutterstock / Pong Pong)

 

Gummies are appealing to consumers for a variety of reasons, including portability and the ability to conceal them easily in public, said Rishi Malkani, a partner focusing on cannabis mergers and acquisitions for Deloitte.

“They’re tiny, they’re easily ingestible, you could do it quite discreetly… It’s a little easier to transport or take with you to an event than brownies or other edibles, or even beverages for that matter.”

Market estimated at $ 2.7 billion

The Canadian market for the soon-to-be-legalized goods is worth an estimated $ 2.7 billion annually, with edibles amounting to $ 1.6 billion alone, according to Deloitte.

In the U.S., where edibles are already available in several states where recreational pot is legalized, gummies are more popular than ever, according to BDS Analytics.

During the first four months of 2019, 17 of the top 20 selling ingestible products in California, Colorado and Oregon were gummies, according the U.S. firm.

And despite similar rules requiring that edibles makers not appeal to kids in various states, cannabis gummies and candy ripping off well-known brands continue to pop up.

In July, confectionery giant Mondelez Canada launched a lawsuit in a California court against a company called Stoney Patch Kids, whose products look virtually identical to its Sour Patch Kids product.

Research outlines risks to children 

The risks to children of such products were outlined in recent research by the Canadian Paediatric Society, which found that a “significant number of young children” required medical care after ingesting cannabis in the months surrounding legalization last October.

The preliminary research found 16 reported cases involving recreational pot between September and December 2018.

And in late July, the Quebec government decided to unveil its own more stringent rules for pot edibles that would ban the sale of cannabis candies, confections and desserts including chocolate and “any other product that is attractive to minors.”

The provincial government said that Ottawa’s measures to regulate so-called Cannabis 2.0 products would not allow Quebec to “achieve its public health and safety objectives.”


Vancouver made Treats & Treats edible cannabis products are pictured in Vancouver, British Columbia on Friday, June 14 2019. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

 

Quebec’s rules are subject to a 45-day public consultation before they take effect.

If Quebec’s stricter edibles come into force, that could result in a $ 300-million annual drop in Quebec’s cannabis market — and $ 40 million lost on gummies alone, according to Deloitte.

“It will be a significant impact,” said Malkani, noting that gummies are expected to account for roughly eight or nine per cent of edibles in Quebec.

It’s a move that officials in Washington State almost took last year, when it unexpectedly asked pot edibles makers to halt production of candies and gummies in October.

Regulators later softened its stance to allow for candies and gummies, but limited the colours and shapes to only those from a government-approved list and issued packaging guidelines.

‘The answer is no’

Health Canada has said edibles must not be “reasonably considered to be appealing to a young person” but has not stipulated which colours, flavours or shapes will be allowed.

The level of appeal to children of a given product will be determined on a case-by-case basis, and the factors used include shape, colour, flavour, name, packaging and how it is presented, agency officials told reporters on a briefing in June.

“If a gummy bear is appealing to a young person, would that be permitted? The answer is no,” one Health Canada official said.

The federal agency said that it would publish guidance that will outline the factors to be considered, but the additional details have yet to be released.

Meanwhile, companies are rushing to get production of these goods started as soon as possible to avoid the initial supply shortages seen in the wake of legalization last October.

Cam Battley, the chief commercial officer for Aurora Cannabis Inc., said the licensed producer agrees with the government’s overall objective but there remains a “lack of clarity” on exactly what is permissible. Still, he said the Edmonton-based firm has a gummy game plan — but would not go into specifics.

“We’re confident that we have a strategy that will successfully thread that needle, supporting the policy objectives of migrating those patients over to the legal system but at the same time not being attractive to children,” said Battley.

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