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Raptors denied request to play home games in Toronto, will begin season in Tampa

The Toronto Raptors will begin the next season playing in Tampa, Fla., after their request to play home games in Toronto was denied by the federal government.

A federal source with direct knowledge confirmed to CBC News’ David Cochrane that the Raptors could return to Toronto later in the season if pandemic conditions improve.

In a statement, team president Masai Ujiri thanked government officials for their efforts and said the team would begin the 2020-21 season using Tampa as their home base. The season is scheduled to begin on Dec. 22.

“The Raptors worked diligently with public health officials at the local, provincial and federal level to secure a plan that would permit us to play our 2020-21 season on home soil and on our home court at Scotiabank Arena,” Ujiri said in the statement. 

WATCH | Raptors to begin season in Tampa:

CBC News’ David Cochrane confirms that the Toronto Raptors will begin the next season playing in Tampa, Fla., after their request to play home games in Toronto was denied by the federal government. 1:56

“These conversations were productive, and we found strong support for the protocols we put forward.

“Ultimately, the current public health situation facing Canadians, combined with the urgent need to determine where we will play means that we will begin our 2020-21 season in Tampa, Florida. We want to thank all levels of government and their public health officials for their dedication to this process, and for looking after the health of Canadians.”

Ujiri asks fans to ‘cheer for us from afar’

In the statement, Ujiri said the Raptors organization would continue to plan for a safe return to play in Toronto and remained committed to promoting and demonstrating public health measures to help combat the spread of COVID-19 in Canada. 

“They say absence makes the heart grow fonder,” Ujiri said. “I’m not sure that’s possible for us — we love Toronto and Canada, and we know we have the best fans in the NBA. For now, I’ll ask you to cheer for us from afar, and we’ll look forward to the day we are all together again.”

The 2019 NBA champions haven’t played a home game since a 99-96 loss to Charlotte on Feb. 28. 

The NBA saw its 2019-20 season pause in March due to the spread of COVID-19. It resumed July 30 at a sealed-off “bubble” complex at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Fla.

Arena home to 2020 Stanley Cup champions

The Raptors will play out of 20,500-seat Amalie Arena, home to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the 2020 Stanley Cup champs.

“I’m sure I speak for everybody in the city of Toronto, we’ll support the Raptors wherever they’re playing because they’re our Raptors,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said Friday.

“And Tampa Bay shouldn’t get any ideas in that regard, they’re our Raptors and they will be our team.”

General manager Bobby Webster said the important factors in choosing a temporary home were the practice facility, medical facilities, and an arena that fit NBA standards — particularly with broadcast requirements — and had available dates.

“And then, lifestyle matters,” Webster said earlier this week. “I think at some point we’re asking people here to uproot their lives and go to a place that they may potentially be away from their families for six to seven months. So, we want to be respectful of that, and we want people to feel like we’re going somewhere where we feel safe and they feel like they can settle in.”

Florida has been a COVID-19 hotspot in the U.S. It had 9,085 new cases on Thursday and is third-highest in total cases among states.

If COVID-19 shows signs of abating, and with a natural break in the season coming during the all-star break in early March, Webster suggested there might be “an opportunity to transition back” to Toronto.

Like the Raptors, the Blue Jays appealed to the provincial and federal governments to play at home but were denied. They relocated temporarily to Buffalo.

The 2019-20 NHL season also paused in March before continuing in the hub cities of Toronto and Edmonton.

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Nunavut woman says she called 911 from Ottawa hospital after being denied water

An Inuk woman from Pangnirtung, Nunavut, says she was mistreated by nurses at a hospital in Ottawa, who refused to give her water and change her diaper.

Leesee Qaqasiq told CBC News she was medevaced to the Civic Campus of the Ottawa Hospital after fracturing her pelvis in mid-October.

Qaqasiq said doctors told her she likely sustained the injury from landing too hard on her wheelchair. The wheelchair was salvaged at the dump and she said that she often has to chase after it when she’s not sitting in it because it has no brakes.

For treatment, Qaqasiq was flown to Ottawa. It’s a common practice for Nunavummiut requiring medical care not available in the territory to be flown to facilities in southern Canada. 

“I had to rely on the nurses to change me, to change my diapers, and they were so tired of doing it that they said I can just pee in them,” Qaqasiq said from her home on Baffin Island.

By Nov. 2, toward the end of her two-week stay, Qaqasiq said nurses on the night shift refused to change her diaper and denied her water.

“There was one [nurse] that said I peed too much and denied me water because I was going to pee too much,” she said. 

“I wasn’t given water all night long until I called 911 in desperation,” she said. “I thought I was going to die of thirst.” 

EMS arrived at her hospital room, where Qaqasiq said they delivered bottles of water.

Ottawa hospital reviewing allegations

The Ottawa Hospital denied CBC’s interview request. 

In a written statement, media relations officer Michaela Schreiter said the hospital’s patient relations department is “reviewing the situation to ensure all concerns are addressed.”

“The hospital sincerely apologizes for any negative experiences that do not align with [its] values,” Schreiter said. 

Qaqasiq said that throughout her two-week stay, nurses complained regularly about the tasks involved in her care. 

“I felt guilty for making them work,” she said.  


A written statement from the media relations officer at the Civic Campus of the Ottawa Hospital said they were ‘reviewing the situation to ensure all concerns are addressed.’ (Francis Ferland/CBC)

Qaqasiq’s medical escort — her son — was not allowed to enter the hospital because of COVID-19 restrictions. 

“What I’m most afraid of is elders who cannot speak English — how will they be treated?” Qaqasiq said. “They will have no way of knowing what to do, where to go, who to talk to.”

Qaqasiq, who attended residential school as a child, believes she was mistreated because she’s Inuk. 

“We’re done. Like, we’re not going to be treated like that anymore, anywhere,” Qaqasiq said. 

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CBC | Health News

Ghislaine Maxwell denied arranging girls for Prince Andrew in newly released deposition

Jeffrey Epstein’s ex-girlfriend denied introducing Britain’s Prince Andrew to underage sex partners in a defensive and combative deposition made public Thursday, calling the prince’s accuser an “awful fantasist.”

“Are we tallying all the lies?” Ghislaine Maxwell asked during the 2016 deposition, saying she could not recall taking Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre out for a night of clubbing with Andrew in London. “Her tissue of lies is extremely hard to pick apart what is true and what isn’t.”

The exchange was contained in hundreds of pages of transcripts ordered released by U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska in a civil lawsuit.

Maxwell has been charged with recruiting three underage girls in the 1990s for Epstein to sexually abuse and committing perjury in the depositions, though the charges don’t relate to the prince. She has pleaded not guilty.

Maxwell, 58, parried a long list of inquiries about Epstein’s sexual proclivities and her interactions with Giuffre and other young women, insisting she never saw the financier have sex with anybody.

Denied hiring under-18 girls

“She is an absolute total liar and you all know she lied on multiple things and that is just one other disgusting thing she added,” Maxwell said, denying having three-way sex with Epstein and Giuffre.

“I never saw any inappropriate underage activities with Jeffrey ever.”

Giuffre has accused Epstein of arranging for her to have sexual encounters with numerous wealthy and influential men, including Prince Andrew. He and the other men have denied her allegations.

Maxwell repeatedly denied hiring anyone under the age of 18 for Epstein.


In this Sept. 2, 2000 file photo, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell is seen leaving a wedding in Salisbury, England in a car driven by Britain’s Prince Andrew. (Chris Ison/PA/The Associated Press)

As for whether she was Epstein’s girlfriend after meeting him in 1991, Maxwell called it a “tricky question.”

“There were times when I would have liked to think of myself as his girlfriend,” she said.

Asked whether it was Epstein’s “preference to start a massage with sex,” Maxwell said: “I think you should ask that question of Jeffrey.”

In a deposition of Epstein conducted later in 2016, Epstein mostly invoked the Fifth Amendment, which protects against self incrimination.

“Fifth,” he replied when he was asked if Maxwell was “one of the main women” he used to procure underage girls for sexual activities.

Deposition stemmed from defamation case

Preska had ordered the transcripts of seven hours of depositions of Maxwell released by Thursday morning. The judge allowed release of the transcripts after rejecting arguments that the interviews for Giuffre’s 2015 defamation lawsuit against Maxwell would jeopardize a fair criminal trial for Maxwell next July.

Maxwell has been held without bail since her July arrest on charges that she procured the underage girls for Epstein to sexually abuse between 1994 and 1997.


Virginia Roberts Giuffre is shown on Aug. 27, 2019. Unsealed court documents have provided a glimpse into a fierce civil court fight between Jeffrey Epstein confidante Ghislaine Maxwell and one of the women who accused the couple of sexual abuse. (Bebeto Matthews/The Associated Press)

The 2016 transcripts were among over 2,000 pages of documents being released since a federal appeals court last year began unsealing documents from the since-settled Giuffre lawsuit. She said Maxwell recruited her at age 17 to be sexually abused by Epstein and Maxwell from 1999 to 2002.

The Miami Herald, whose reporting in 2018 brought fresh scrutiny to Epstein’s crimes, had argued in seeking the unsealing that Maxwell’s fear of embarrassment shouldn’t stop the public from learning of “the sexual abuse of young girls at the hands of the wealthy and powerful.”

Epstein was 66 in August 2019 when he killed himself in a federal jail in Manhattan as he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges.

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Nurses, truckers in Ontario denied health-care services over COVID-19 risk

Some essential workers in Ontario say they’ve been denied health-care services because their jobs put them at risk of contracting COVID-19.

Hinda Hassan, an ICU nurse at Grand River Hospital in Kitchener, Ont., said it happened to her during a scheduled massage therapy and chiropractic appointment last week.

She was given a COVID-19 screening questionnaire at a Waterloo, Ont., clinic that asked if she had come into contact with confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.

Hassan checked yes and clarified that this contact was due to her job at the hospital, where she’s required to wear personal protective equipment. 

She said she was told to come back after being tested for COVID-19. 

The Ontario Ministry of Health released a COVID-19 patient screening guidance document in June to ensure that “all health providers are following the same screening protocol” and to “help ensure consistency when dealing with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19.”

A ministry spokesperson said in a statement that the document is only for risk assessment and that it’s up to individual regulatory colleges to decide how to proceed if a patient screens positive.

Anyone who feels they have been denied service unfairly should take it up with their relevant regulatory college, the spokesperson said.

Hassan said there is no practical way for her to take time off work while she awaits a result. And, she said, it was tough news to hear given that she has put her own health and safety on the line during the pandemic.

“If you need my service, I can’t say, ‘Hey, you’re high risk. I’m sorry. I can’t take care of you.’ But then here you are — you’re denying me those rights,” she said. “It felt a little frustrating.”

Clinic apologized for denying service

The College of Massage Therapists of Ontario said someone like Hassan shouldn’t have had problems, based on the province’s current screening guidelines.

“An ICU nurse who works with COVID-19 patients (wearing appropriate personal protective equipment) should absolutely be able to receive massage therapy treatment, assuming they are not showing symptoms of COVID-19,” a spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for the College of Chiropractors of Ontario declined to comment on individual situations but said its professionals follow Ministry of Health screening guidelines. 

The clinic has since called Hassan back, apologized and updated its policies. She said she’s happy it made the change, and she plans to make another appointment.


Vicky MacLean, an ICU nurse in Waterloo Region, tried to book a speech therapy appointment for her toddler but was unable to because of her contact with COVID-19 patients. (Submitted by Vicky MacLean)

Vicky MacLean, a fellow ICU nurse in Waterloo Region, in southern Ontario, said a similar situation happened in her family.

At the beginning of June, MacLean said, she tried to book a speech therapy appointment for her toddler but was screened out because of her contact with COVID-19 patients.

MacLean said she was offered a virtual appointment, but she felt her two-year-old wouldn’t be able to focus during an online session.

After reaching out again last week, MacLean learned that the clinic had updated its screening policies based on provincial guidance, and she booked an in-person appointment.

She said she was “overwhelmed with joy” at the news but wishes she had managed to get an appointment sooner.

“We’re doing everything we can at home, but … she would be much further along if she’d had speech therapy,” MacLean said of her daughter.

Vicki McKenna, president of the Ontario Nurses’ Association, said she hasn’t heard of similar problems from other nurses. But she said she’s sorry to hear that such incidents are happening.

“Nurses, they’ve been under incredible stress over the last number of weeks, as many people have,” she said. “They deserve services as well — and certainly their families.”    

‘I don’t see why my wife is punished’

It isn’t just nurses who’ve been denied service, said Bob Heans, of Fergus, Ont.

He’s a long-haul truck driver and often drives through the United States.

Heans said his wife recently made an appointment for a dental checkup, but when she mentioned his work as a long-haul driver, she was told she had to isolate from him for 14 days before she could be treated.

Heans said he doesn’t think that was fair to either of them.

“Being a truck driver, we’re probably all scared senseless for our family enough,” he said.

“I probably wash my hands 100 times a day, probably go through two bottles of hand sanitizer in like two or three days,” he said.

“I don’t see why my wife has to be punished for this because I’m a long-haul truck driver.”    


Trucker Bob Heans, who often drives through the United States, says his wife was told she needed to isolate away from him for 14 days before she could get a dental checkup. (Submitted by Bob Heans)

Stephen Laskowski, head of the Ontario Trucking Association, said the industry has worked hard to protect drivers from COVID-19 and doesn’t think they’re at an elevated risk because they travel south of the border.

“Long-haul truck drivers spend a lot of their time alone inside their trucks. Trucks are sterilized before drivers get in, when they come out,” he said.

“We’re very proud as an industry of how proactive we’ve been.”

Laskowski said he’s heard other reports of drivers being turned away from health-care services, and that’s a concern because they need to have periodic medical exams to renew their licences.

The association is currently trying to find out how widespread the issue is, he said.

Dental college seeking clarity

Heans’s situation demonstrates a “long-standing issue” with current provincial screening guidance, said Kevin Marsh, a spokesperson for the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario.

Marsh said dentists — like massage therapists and other health-care providers — also use the province’s screening template, which includes a question about whether a patient has travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days.

“Long-haul truck drivers who travel into the U.S.A. will always screen positive to this question. So will many pilots,” Marsh said in an email.

“As a result, their family members will always come into question, as they have close contact with someone who screens positive.”

The dental college has asked the provincial government for more clarity regarding people in these categories, but it has not yet received a response, Marsh said.

Skipping the dentist

For now, Marsh said dentists can provide emergency dental care to patients who screen positive for COVID-19, but for non-essential appointments, patients still have to either get tested or isolate for 14 days.

Heans said that means he and his wife will simply skip the dentist for the foreseeable future.

“I guess we have to,” he said.

As for Hassan, she said she’s happy with how her situation was resolved but hopes it will shed light on a situation that other essential workers may be going through. Essential workers who find themselves in a situation like hers shouldn’t be afraid to push back, she said.

“I think just have a discussion around it,” Hassan said.  

“In some cases, it’s going to take some navigation, and that’s how a decision is going to be made.”

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What’s next for U.S. women’s soccer team after unequal pay lawsuit denied

Players for the U.S. women’s national team may have been dealt a blow by a judge’s ruling in their gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, but the case is far from over.

The women have vowed to keep up the fight, encouraged by the likes of Joe Biden, Billie Jean King and even the men’s national team.

“This is just a setback,” King said when asked what she would tell the team. “There’s so many of these ups and downs. Just keep learning from it, keep going for it. You’re still such a great influence, not only in soccer, but for equality for everyone.”

King, who was calling for equitable prize money in tennis in the 1970s, once famously proclaimed: “Everyone thinks women should be thrilled when we get crumbs, and I want women to have the cake, the icing and the cherry on top, too.”

The players sued the federation last year, claiming they have not been paid equally under their collective bargaining agreement to what the men’s national team receives under its labour deal. They asked for more than $ 66 million US in damages under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The federal judge threw out the players’ claim of discriminatory pay Friday in a surprising loss for the defending World Cup champions. U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner said the women rejected a pay-to-play structure like the men’s agreement and accepted greater base salaries and benefits.

But he allowed aspects of their allegations of discriminatory working conditions to go forward.

The trial remains scheduled for June 16 in federal court in Los Angeles.

Players have vowed to appeal the judge’s decision.

WATCH | Potential federal funding for CFL may be benchmark for value of women’s sport:

Former CWHL GM Sami Jo Small and former CWHL goalie Liz Knox talk federal funding of pro sport in a pandemic and what that means for the rest of Canada’s sporting community. 7:40

There are several legal options. Players could seek to overturn Friday’s decision at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and could even discuss with the USSF the possibility of a joint application for a stay pending appeal. They could proceed with a trial limited to working conditions such as flights, hotels and medical staff, then appeal Friday’s ruling.

Or the sides could seek to settle, perhaps as part of a deal to replace and extend the current collective bargaining agreement, which expires on Dec. 31, 2021.

Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, went to Twitter this weekend to encourage the players.

“To @USWNT: don’t give up this fight. This is not over yet. To @ussoccer: equal pay, now. Or else when I’m president, you can go elsewhere for World Cup funding,” he posted, referring to the 2026 men’s World Cup, set to be hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada.


The players’ association for the men’s national team also released a statement Monday expressing support.

“For a year and a half the USMNT players have made proposals to the federation that would achieve equal pay for the USMNT and USWNT players,” the statement said. “We understand the WNT players plan to appeal last week’s decision and we support them.”


Steven A. Bank, a professor at UCLA, said he was expecting Klausner’s decision on the summary judgment to focus the case but not to the degree it did.

“Frequently, judges will do that in order to narrow down the issues, but because it also spurs the parties to settle by essentially using a heavy hand and saying, `Hey, a lot of these things you have is fluff, so let’s get rid of this, and neither of you have as great a case that you think you do.’ So I’m not surprised that there was some level of summary judgment granted and some level denied,” he said. “But I was surprised that the judge came down with what is a fairly complete victory for U.S. Soccer.”

Rapinoe notes women’s success

In an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Monday, Megan Rapinoe said she was shocked by the decision. She pointed out the women’s team was far more successful than the men, winning consecutive World Cup titles and playing more games.

“If I earn $ 1 every time I play, and a man earns $ 3, just because I win 10 games and he only wins three games, so I made $ 10 and he made $ 9, I’m not sure how that’s me making more money, while having to essentially win everything we could’ve possibly won over these last two years: two World Cups and just about every game we’ve played,” Rapinoe said. “For me, it missed the point, and was very disappointing, to be honest.”

Attorney Hampton Dellinger, who represented players in a battle over artificial turf at the 2015 World Cup in Canada, said the case will take time to play out.

“Obviously, I think it’d be great if the parties could reach a reasonable settlement,” Dellinger said. “But to my mind, if the legal fight is going to continue, I don’t think the judge’s first word is necessarily going to be the last word.”

Public opinion leans towards women

Arguments could be made that the team has already made its case in the court of public opinion. Following the U.S. victory in the World Cup final last year in France, the crowd chanted “Equal Pay” as the players celebrated on the field.

The women also drew support from some of U.S. Soccer’s most high-profile sponsors when the federation argued in court documents that the women lacked the skills and responsibilities of their male counterparts. The so-called scorched earth argument led to the resignation of USSF President Carlos Cordeiro, who was replaced by former national team player Cindy Parlow Cone.

“I think it’s great that they brought the case forward, because I think any visibility into this issue is just going to help further the cause, because it’s going to make more people sensitive and aware that the issue of unequal pay persists in all spectrums of our economy,” said Mary Ellen Carter, an associate professor of accounting at Boston College.

“I happen to know it well in the executive space, but it’s not only there. So I think the courage that they had to come forward with the suit keeps the issue at the forefront, and I think that that’s important.”

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6-time Canadian curling champion Jennifer Jones denied a 7th title

Jennifer Jones will have to wait for another chance to win a record seventh Canadian women’s curling championship.

The decorated skip believes she has the team and the time to get that opportunity.

Jones and her Winnipeg wild-card team fell 8-3 to Ontario’s Rachel Homan in Sunday’s semifinal at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Homan advanced to the evening final against Manitoba’s Kerri Einarson for the title.

WATCH | Homan heads to Scotties final:

Ontario’s Rachel Homan scores 2 in the 9th end to seal the 8-3 victory over Wild Card’s Jennifer Jones.  0:27

The winner will represent Canada at the world championship March 14-22 in Prince George, B.C.

Jones, 45, is tied with Colleen Jones for the most national women’s championships won by a skip. She claimed the fifth of her six crowns five years ago in Moose Jaw, Sask.

Losing to Homan foiled her bid to win it again at Mosaic Place.

“You always think about it every time you step on the ice,” Jones said. “Not even about winning a record seven, but winning and representing Canada.

“I would have loved to have had an opportunity to represent Canada in Prince George. It always is terrible to lose, but at least we gave ourselves a chance this year.”

After Jones won her sixth title and a second career world championship in 2018, her longtime second Jill Officer retired. Jones, Officer, third Kaitlyn Lawes and lead Dawn McEwen won an Olympic gold medal in 2014.

Jones and Officer had curled together since their junior days. Jocelyn Peterman replaced Officer.

Jones speaks of her team as a work in progress despite her experienced lineup.

“We worked on a lot of things. I feel they’re all coming together,” the skip said. “We’re trending in the right direction which I love and having a ton of fun.”

‘We know we’re better than that’

Trailing 5-1 after five ends Sunday, Jones tried setting up multi-point ends to get back in the game. Homan shut the door on her with defensive hits and Jones shook hands after nine.

“The disappointing part is we know we’re better than that and we just let it get away too early,” Lawes said. “We knew we had to keep it close with them, especially because we’re such a great-hitting team.

“Obviously we come here and we want to win. We’ve built a lot over the last two seasons with this lineup. In the big picture, I’m really proud of where we’re at. I know we have a lot left in the tank.”

Homan’s team boasted shooting accuracy percentage of 91 per cent compared to wild-card’s 76 over the first five ends Sunday. Peterman struggled early at 68 per cent, which put pressure on Lawes to make runback doubles.

Jones was heavy on a draw in the second end to give up a steal of three. The skip was light on another draw to score two in the eighth and settled for one.

“It’s hard to come off a loss,” Jones said. “I get to go home to my kids and that’s always great.

“I am not a super-competitive person — people don’t believe that — except when it comes to curling.

“When we’re on the ice, we want to win. It doesn’t matter what we’ve won in the past. We’re in the moment and we’re just has hungry as we’ve ever been.”

In her 15th career Tournament of Hearts, Jones was the wild-card team for the first time. The wild-card was introduced to the national men’s and women’s championship in 2018.

After losing to Einarson in the Manitoba women’s final, Jones beat Tracy Fleury to gain entry into the main draw in Moose Jaw.

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CBC | Sports News

Joe Giudice’s Request for Release From ICE Custody Gets Denied

Joe Giudice’s Request for Release From ICE Custody Gets Denied | Entertainment Tonight

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PharmaCare fight ends in win for B.C. amputees denied new limbs

Kia Johnsen will soon be able to walk on two feet again, one real and one artificial.

She’s finally won her battle to have the replacement of her worn-out artificial leg covered under B.C. health care —something denied to her and others who underwent ground-breaking surgery to have prosthetics attached directly to their bodies.

“It’s even better than Christmas,” said Johnsen, 46. “When I first got the call, I cried like a baby, actually sobbed.”

But she still shakes her head at the absurdity of the situation.

While one section of the B.C. Health Ministry, the Medical Services Plan, had approved and funded the expensive surgery, another section, PharmaCare, refused to pay to maintain the recipients’ prosthetics after the procedure.

The prolonged fight with PharmaCare— the Health Ministry program which assists British Columbians with medical supplies as well as prescriptions — has taken its toll.


Denied a new artificial leg, Johnsen has fallen several times after being forced back onto crutches. (Christian Amundson/CBC)

The delay meant her prosthetic leg finally wore out, forcing Johnsen onto crutches and into a wheelchair just to get around her hometown of Prince George.

She suffered repeated falls.

“It’s frustrating and depressing. And then you get angry,” said Johnsen.

$ 105K surgery

Johnsen first injured her knee in a skiing accident at the age of 11.

Years of surgery followed — ending in an above-the-knee amputation in 2013. Her fluctuating weight meant a standard prosthetic kept falling off. Her good bone density, however, made her a candidate for a revolutionary procedure being pioneered in Australia.

Three years ago, Johnsen was among three amputees in B.C. to be flown to Sydney to undergo “osseointegration surgery” at a cost of $ 105,000 each.

In the procedure, a titanium bar is implanted directly into the bone in the stump— also known as a residual limb — to allow more secure attachment of a prosthetic leg.


This X-ray of Kia Johnsen’s upper leg shows the titanium implant drilled into her bone. (Supplied/ Kia Johnsen)

Recipients experience better “body connection” to the prosthetic and even report feeling the texture of the ground beneath them.

It’s a massive improvement over the old “socket” method of attaching artificial limbs, where a cup is moulded to the shape of the stump and the prosthetic is held in place through suction or straps— which can cause rubbing and open sores.

But there was a hitch.


Osseointegration (‘osseo’ is Latin for ‘bone’) allows a prosthetic to be directly attached to the body. (Osseointegration Group of Australia)

It was only after the osseointegration surgery that Johnsen learned PharmaCare wouldn’t cover the cost of her artificial leg when it broke down, saying it had no policy to deal with maintenance of prosthetics after the new procedure.

Artificial limbs for all patients typically last three to five years — and basic models cost anywhere from $ 5,000 to $ 12,000 to replace.

Johnsen says when her artificial knee finally wore out, she was caught in a classic “Catch-22.”

“It was like winning the lottery. And then having it stolen,” said Johnsen.

‘It’s retraumatizing’

It took almost three years for PharmaCare to agree to cover new prosthetic limbs for osseointegration recipients, notifying Johnsen and another amputee of the change earlier this month.

Amputee advocates say it’s the right decision—but the delay was unacceptable.

“I can’t believe it took so long,” said Annelise Petlock of The War Amps, based in Ottawa.

“Every time we have to fight as amputees, we have to fight for essentially our arms and our legs. It’s retraumatizing,” said Petlock, an amputee herself.

‘I would give B.C. an ‘F’

Another issue remains.

Regular amputees in B.C. have long complained general coverage of prosthetic limb replacement is seriously inadequate.

PharmaCare policy dictates government tax dollars will only be paid out to maintain “basic functionality”— meaning more sophisticated, higher priced prosthetics are not covered.

Plus there are deductibles and a fee structure that critics say hasn’t been changed since 2008, setting replacement costs far below current market prices.

It means in B.C., only the most fundamental prosthetics are approved by PharmaCare. And even then, they’re only partially funded.

“We think Canadians would be shocked if they learned that if you lost a limb, you wouldn’t be appropriately covered by your provincial health care,” said Petlock. “I don’t think it should be nickel and diming on the back of the amputee.”

“I would give B.C. an ‘F’ because of the ‘basic functionality’ provision and how insulting that is to amputees in the province.”

Petlock says B.C. is the only province that has that provision.

In an email to CBC News, the B.C. Health Ministry says it plans to review its prosthetic policies this fiscal year.

‘I’m ecstatic’

Johnsen is just happy to be finally getting any kind of coverage.

She’s looking forward to receiving a new prosthetic— something she could never afford on her own.


Johnsen hopes to have a new prosthetic leg in the near future and say goodbye to her crutches and wheelchair. (Christian Amundson, CBC)

“I don’t really care what kind of knee [I get]. I’m not picky,” said Johnsen. “I just want to get up and do what I want and what I need to do. That’s the big thing.”

“I’m ecstatic.”

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Indigenous B.C. man denied place on liver transplant list challenges alcohol abstinence rule

The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and an Indigenous man are filing a complaint at the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal challenging the legality of a policy that requires people to abstain from alcohol for six months in order to be eligible for a liver transplant.

David Dennis, 44, who is Carrier Sekani and Nuu-chah-nulth, has end-stage liver disease. The Vancouver man says he would qualify as a priority candidate for a liver transplant, if not for BC Transplant’s abstinence policy.

Because Dennis has not abstained from alcohol for the past six months, he says he’s been “kicked off the list entirely.”

Chronic liver disease is the deterioration of the liver. It can be caused by many different things like hepatitis, autoimmune deficiencies, metabolic conditions and alcohol or drug use. End-stage liver disease is the point of deterioration at which a liver transplant is the only effective treatment.  

The groups bringing the challenge wrote that the abstinence policy discriminates against Indigenous people.

They say Indigenous people have disproportionately higher rates of alcohol use disorder due to “centuries of racist and harmful colonial policies implemented at all levels of Canadian government, but especially through the intergenerational traumas of the Indian residential schools on Indigenous families and communities.”

Intergenerational trauma

In an interview, Dennis says he’s been an alcoholic for most of his life. He says both sides of his family have a history of alcohol dependency.

“Both my parents [were] chronic alcoholics who recovered from residential school, ” he said. “My late father Clarence died from alcoholism. My grandfather on my mother’s side died from suicide while intoxicated. My grandmother went missing … she was an alcoholic.”

Dennis, who said he has been sober since mid-May, is holding onto hope he can get a transplant.

“But if I don’t make it, I want the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and Frank Paul Society to carry on and get rid of this lethal form of racism.” 

Policy challenged in Ontario

In general, liver transplant programs in Canada require a period of six months of abstinence from alcohol before considering a patient with liver disease. 

According to a June 2019 scientific paper from the University of British Columbia, researchers in Hepatology Communications, one reason for the abstinence period is that stopping alcohol use can improve liver function to the point where a liver transplant may not be needed. Advocates of the policy say they are also concerned patients could relapse into alcohol consumption after the transplant.

The policy has not been without challenge.

Debra Selkirk, whose husband died of liver failure from acute alcoholic hepatitis in 2010, launched a a constitutional challenge against the policy, arguing it didn’t allow her husband enough time to get sober before requiring a transplant. 

Delilah Saunders, a young Inuk activist, gained support from Amnesty International after she was denied a liver transplant for having a history of alcohol use in 2017.  

In 2018, Ontario began a three-year pilot program to review the policy.

Agency reviewing case

BC Transplant responded with a written statement saying it “appreciates the distress that patients and their loved ones face when needing an organ transplant.”

The agency, which oversees all aspects of organ donation and transplant in B.C. and manages the province’s organ donor registry, said it would be reviewing the case together with the Liver Transplant Team at Vancouver Coastal Health.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, wrote that “the proper response to Indigenous peoples whose lives have been affected by intergenerational trauma and oppressive colonial policies should include empathy and understanding, not another door shut to justice and equality. “

As of July 31, 2019, there are 53 people on the wait list for liver transplants in British Columbia.

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CBC | Health News

Ajax, Barcelona move on to semis, Ronaldo denied 4th straight title

Ajax eliminated another one of the favourites from the Champions League as it won 2-1 at Juventus on Tuesday to reach the semifinals for the first time since 1997 and end Cristiano Ronaldo’s hopes of a fourth straight title.

Having already seen off Real Madrid in the previous round, Ajax showed no fear against Ronaldo and the Italian giant either, advancing 3-2 on aggregate after dominating much of the game.

Even going behind to a goal from Ronaldo in the first half didn’t faze Ajax’s young players as Donny van de Beek levelled shortly after and 19-year-old captain Matthijs de Ligt scored the winner in the second half.

Ajax will play either Manchester City or Tottenham in the semifinals.

It is the first time since 2010 that Ronaldo failed to reach the last four, having won the competition the last three years in a row with Madrid. His old rival Lionel Messi is very much in contention, though, after scoring two goals to help Barcelona beat Manchester United 3-0 and progress 4-0 on aggregate in Tuesday’s other quarterfinal.

Juventus signed Ronaldo in the off-season in the hope of ending a 23-year wait for the Champions League.

The 34-year-old Portugal forward scored a hat trick in the previous round against Atletico Madrid to almost single-handedly overturn a two-goal deficit, and had also found the back of the net in Amsterdam. He added his fifth goal in three Champions League matches in the 28th minute on Tuesday, heading in a Miralem Pjanic corner.

But Ajax levelled six minutes later when Hakim Ziyech’s mishit shot turned into an assist for Donny van de Beek, who beat the offside trap to redirect it past Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

Donny van de Beek of Ajax celebrates his goal on Tuesday. (Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Ajax grew in confidence in the second half and had a number of chances to take the lead, with Szczesny making a couple of stellar saves to keep the game level. But Juventus continued to look vulnerable without captain and key defender Giorgio Chiellini, and Ajax finally found its breakthrough in the 67th as De Ligt outjumped both Daniel Rugani and Alex Sandro to head in a corner.

Messi’s pair dispatches Man U

Lionel Messi scored two early goals to send Barcelona into the semifinals for the first time in four seasons with a comfortable 3-0 win over Manchester United on Tuesday.

After Barcelona withstood some early pressure from United, Messi ended any hopes of a comeback for the Premier League side as the hosts advanced 4-0 on aggregate.

Messi opened the scoring with a brilliant solo effort in the 16th minute after he won possession of the ball, ghosted past a defender, and curled a shot into the far corner.

The second came just four minutes later, although Messi was helped by a massive error by David de Gea that time. The Argentina forward only managed a tame shot on goal but the Spain goalkeeper let it slip underneath him and into the net.

Philippe Coutinho added a third goal with a superb curling strike from long range in the 61st to cap arguably the best performance by the former Liverpool player since joining Barcelona just over a year ago.

“The image (we gave) was spectacular. This is who we are,” Messi said. “I was fortunate the first went in, I struck it hard and just inside the post. I needed a little more luck on the second. The important thing is that we achieved our goal. We have taken one more step (to the title).”

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