Tag Archives: Time

Is now the time to make global corporations pay their fair share?

As the procrastinators among us worry over our own tax forms, it may be a little galling to think about the shrinking share of taxes paid by some wealthy corporations.

This week the New Democratic Party is considering how to soak the rich to help pay for the less well off, but as the rich get richer and governments look for ways to pay for the pandemic, you don’t have to go to the NDP to find experts trying squeeze a bit more money out of the wealthy.

U.S. money manager Warren Buffett, the world’s fourth-richest person, has proposed a wealth tax. In the U.S., the state of New York is working on a plan to raise taxes on those earning more than a million dollars a year, joining New Jersey in an attempt to raise revenue from the richest.

And at this week’s gathering of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, world leaders, including U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, are going after the biggest pots of money of all. They want to raise more cash from global corporations.

Yellen on Monday urged the adoption of a minimum global corporate income tax to offset any issues stemming from U.S. President Joe Biden’s plan to raise the U.S. corporate tax rate to 28 per cent from 21 per cent.  

Contribution from corporations slide

It’s not a new idea. Back in 2014, a panel struck by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development thought they had it set with a plan to reverse the slide in government revenues from the world’s biggest companies. When I wrote about it at the time in Fighting the corporate tax tricks that lead to inequality, OECD tax director Pascal Saint-Amans was confident change was imminent, as a new agreement kicked in by 2016.

The OECD was convinced it had global buy-in and that made it easy: “Because it’s political,” Saint-Amans said confidently in 2014. “When you have political support you find the technical solutions.”

But by 2016, with the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president, that political consensus had collapsed and corporate tax revenue continued to slide. According to the upcoming book The World After, co-edited by Canadian scholar Jennifer Welsh, that window for change may have opened again.

Canada has been a supporter of the OECD plan and a spokesperson for Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland suggested Tuesday that Canada would support those proposing the minimum tax plan at this week’s meeting.

“At this moment where governments have already asked their populations to do things out of the ordinary in the name of public health, they’ve also had to extend that logic … into their post-pandemic recovery,” said Welsh, after Yellen’s statement on global minimum corporate tax rates.

There are two main barriers to raising taxes on global corporations. One is ideological. Some people are convinced that the best way to run an economy is to leave money in the hands of the rich and the big companies because they will use that money to make us all wealthier.

Critics of that idea point to the fact that as taxes on companies and the people who own them have shrunk in rich countries, so has the share of wealth going to the poor and middle class. During the years corporate tax rates have been falling, the rich have gotten richer compared to everyone else.

Heading offshore

But the second barrier to raising taxes on big corporations is the same one faced by states like New York trying to tax their own wealthy people. The threat of higher taxes makes people move away to places where taxes are lower. 

With a good tax accountant, you don’t even have to move. All you have to do is make sure the beneficial owner, a legal corporation, officially resides in that low tax regime. Ireland, for example, offers corporate tax rates as low as 12.5 per per cent for companies that do business there. In order to earn revenue, countries compete in a race for the bottom.

What Yellen has proposed and has garnered support for from countries like Germany and France and institutions like the IMF is to agree to binding laws that would set corporate taxes at a minimum rate. While official corporate tax rates have declined — currently ranging between about 12 to 35 per cent in major economies — the planned provision would also crack down on various laws and deductions that make them even lower. In 2014, by claiming it was actually earning its money under Irish tax law,  Apple paid a tax rate estimated at 0.0005 per cent.

Coping with COVID-19 has been expensive, and a sense of crisis may give governments the latitude to agree on new tax rules for large corporations. (Carlos Osorio/Reuters)

Some of those loopholes have been patched but Welsh says the current crisis may allow for wider reforms, shaming low-tax countries and the companies that benefit from them into doing their share. That doesn’t mean low tax regimes will give up their lucrative advantages without a struggle. Nor will lobbyists for large corporations necessarily cave in.

Canadian tax historian Shirley Tillotson and others told me last year that history has shown that times of crisis give governments more latitude to raise taxes. They said in a rich country like Canada there were plenty of  places to look for money, but once again political will and popular acceptance of change are crucial.

Welsh said The World After is a joint project between the University of Montreal and McGill University to present a series of ideas to exploit what they saw as a “sense of great possibility” that comes at a moment of crisis.

Yellen’s proposal scheduled to be discussed this week could be part of a generational shift that Welsh and people like Buffett have been hoping for. But Welsh warns that periods of crisis can also lead to a urge for stability, a demand for tinkering rather than radical reform.

“Not all crises lead to transformative change,” said Welsh. “It takes leadership. It takes the ability to have credible proposals that are dramatic, but could actually work.”

The plan for minimum corporate taxes may fit that bill.

A demonstrator at a national day of resistance during the COVID-19 pandemic in Los Angeles last August. The current crisis might be an opportunity to push through tax reforms some have long been advocating for. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

Follow Don Pittis on Twitter @don_pittis

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CBC | World News

India’s daily coronavirus cases soar past 100,000 for 1st time as western state tightens restrictions

India reported its biggest single-day spike in confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began Monday, and officials in the hard-hit state home to Mumbai are resuming the closure of some businesses and places of worship in a bid to slow the spread.

The Health Ministry reported 103,558 new COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours, topping the previous peak of 97,894 daily cases recorded in late September. Fatalities rose by 478, raising the country’s death toll to 165,101.

India now has a seven-day rolling average of more than 73,000 cases per day, and infections in the country are being reported faster than anywhere else in the world.

The biggest contributor to the surge has been the western state of Maharashtra, home to the commercial capital of Mumbai. The state has contributed more than 55 per cent of total cases in the country in the last two weeks.

The state will start shutting cinemas, restaurants, shopping malls and places of worship from Monday evening. Authorities will also impose a complete lockdown at weekends.

People wait their turn for a COVID-19 test outside a court in Mumbai on Monday. India now has a seven-day rolling average of more than 73,000 cases per day. (Rafiq Maqbool/The Associated Press)

Infections had receded in India for several months but started to rise again in late February. Since then, new cases have increased more than tenfold.

India has confirmed a new and potentially troublesome variant of the virus, but officials have cautioned against linking that or other variants to the surge.

Experts say the surge is blamed in part on growing disregard for physical distancing and mask-wearing in public spaces, including public gatherings. Some say the government has been sending mixed messages.

As health officials continue to warn of gatherings in public places, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party leaders continue to hold mammoth rallies in several states where local elections are underway.

Health workers wait after taking the body of a COVID-19 victim for burial in New Delhi on Monday. (Manish Swarup/The Associated Press)

Modi’s government has also allowed a huge month-long Hindu festival to go ahead on the banks of the Ganges River in northern Uttarakhand state. The festival draws tens of thousands of devotees daily.

Vaccinations ramp up

India has intensified its vaccination drive in recent weeks, now administering more than three million jabs a day. But the shots have been slow to reach India’s nearly 1.4 billion people.

More than 76 million Indians have received at least one shot, but only 9.5 million of them have received both. Health officials want to cover 300 million people by August, but experts say the vaccinations need to move faster to stop the spread.

People wait to get inoculated in New Delhi on Monday. Those older than 45 are now eligible for the coronavirus vaccine. (Manish Swarup/The Associated Press)

The country has launched the third phase of its coronavirus vaccination drive with those older than 45 eligible for the jab. In the first two phases, front-line workers and people above the age of 60 were eligible.

India has reported 12.6 million virus cases since the pandemic began, the highest after the United States and Brazil.

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CBC | World News

B.C.’s health minister says it’s time to ‘dig in’ to obey COVID-19 safety rules as cases mount

B.C. Minister of Health Adrian Dix has defended measures in place to limit the spread of COVID-19, even as his province set one-day case counts records on Friday and Saturday.

“Right now they’re strict measures and we need everyone to dig in,” Dix said in an interview Sunday. “This is the time to follow those measures.”

Dix along with Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry cancelled indoor dining, in-person worship and group fitness classes last week to curb an alarming growth in COVID-19 cases.

Other measures in place since November include restricting indoor gatherings to individual households only and to avoid travel to other health regions.

In early March, the province allowed for British Columbians to gather outside in groups of up to 10 people, following four months of restrictions on social gatherings. 

Surge in young patients

Dix said on Sunday that B.C.’s latest COVID-19 measures were very strict, and did not say if other new measures could be coming in days ahead.

A record 2,090 new cases of COVID-19 for Friday and Saturday were announced in a release from the province on Saturday, but it did not include information about deaths, variants of concern or the number of active cases.

The 1,018 new cases on Friday and 1,072 new cases on Saturday were both single-day infection records.

The release said 90 patients were in critical care, which was up 11 from 79 on Thursday.

Dix said on Sunday that a higher proportion of younger people are becoming ill from the disease.

“I’m not one bit happy about where we are at now,” he said, adding that provincial measures are targeting indoor transmissions.

On Saturday, a tweet from Dr. Kevin McLeod of Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver said hospitals are seeing a surge in young patients needing serious medical intervention for illnesses caused by COVID-19.

Dix said he saw the tweet and said its message was an important one.

“What it says to everybody is this is the time to take care,” he said. “Right now is the time to really follow public health orders whether you’re 25 or 75.”

The minister also said  B.C. had delivered a record number of vaccinations this past week.

A total of 856,801 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C. to date, including 87,455 second doses.

Vaccine appointments are currently open for seniors aged 72 and up, Indigenous people over the age of 18 and people that the province has deemed to be clinically extremely vulnerable.

People between the ages of 55 and 65 are also eligible for the AstraZeneca vaccine in the Lower Mainland while more communities are expected to be added by the end of next week.

No travel, says Dix

Dix has also pleaded with people to stay local this weekend, as he said unnecessary travel has contributed to the rise in infections.

Some officials in tourist destinations in B.C. said over the weekend that they were noticing an influx of visitors.

“My feeling is that the province’s restrictions on indoor dining and the messaging about staying local are getting through certainly to a lot of people, not everybody,” said Tofino Mayor Dan Law.

In the Southern Interior, Osoyoos Mayor Sue McKortoff said it appears that more people are visiting her community this weekend than over the past two weeks, but not as much as a normal year.

She says people coming are doing so to play golf, visit wineries or be at properties they own and are playing it safe.

“We offer Canada’s warmest welcome, that’s our motto, and so it seems unusual. But I appreciate the fact that people are looking after themselves and looking after our businesses and looking after the community by obeying … the health regulations. I don’t see it being a problem.”

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CBC | Health News

After a slow start, Canada’s vaccine rollout is now a race against time

Last week, before the crack of dawn, 466,800 doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine landed at Toronto Pearson Airport in the belly of a FedEx plane after a journey of 8,500 kilometres, from Madrid via Paris and Indianapolis.

If cargo could fly first class, this cargo would qualify.

The vaccine doses, housed in metallic cargo containers, were unloaded before any of the other cargo. As they were carefully lowered off the hydraulic lift and onto a cargo trailer, temperature sensors showed the doses had arrived at their ideal temperature of -20ºC. Ground staff whisked the pallets off the tarmac for customs inspection so that they could be redistributed to the provinces and, eventually, injected into the arms of Canadians.

Minister for Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand was on the runway that morning to oversee the delivery — the latest in a series of deliveries that have been growing in size and frequency in recent days.

“All day long, I’m spending my time trying to move doses from [the third quarter] or from the fall to the spring … and working with suppliers to try to accelerate doses,” said Anand.

“But being here, and seeing the doses come off of the plane, means it is going to happen. Doses are going into arms in the very near term, and that is so meaningful and so important for Canadians.”

Under pressure

Canada’s vaccine rollout got off to a sluggish start. As countries like Israel and the United Kingdom started mass campaigns early in 2021, Canada saw its per capita vaccination rates plunge in international rankings.

Critics at both the federal and provincial levels have blamed the slow pace on Ottawa’s procurement process. Some have pointed to a lack of domestic vaccine manufacturing facilities, or the fact that provinces aren’t able to sign their own contracts with vaccine producers.

Anand knows she’s under enormous pressure to deliver.

“We did come through a rough period in February, and that’s because global supply chains, as a general matter, are just ramping up,” Anand said, referring to manufacturing delays at both Pfizer and Moderna that resulted in smaller-than-anticipated shipments to several countries, including Canada.

“This is the largest vaccination campaign in global history, as well as Canadian history. Having said that, we are ramping up.”

Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand (left) and Major General Dany Fortin look on as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responds to a question during a news conference in Ottawa Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. (Adrian Wyld / Canadian Press)

Canada is expecting 8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of March. Deliveries are set to ramp up sharply after that, fuelled by weekly Pfizer deliveries of at least a million doses. More than 7 million doses are expected to land in April alone.

Anand said she expects 36.5 million doses by the end of June — enough for every person in Canada to receive a single dose.

“The ramp-up is going to be very steep. But again, we’ve got to watch supply chains. This is very early days in this race of making sure that we have everyone inoculated,” she said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues to stick to a September deadline for getting every eligible and willing Canadian vaccinated. Because of the increasing supply — and updated guidelines that allow public health officials to wait up to four months before delivering a second dose — provinces are now looking to complete their first round of vaccinations before summer.

The ‘big lift’

The appearance of more contagious COVID-19 variants that might cause more severe illness has put increased pressure on governments to vaccinate quickly.

“The provinces and territories are telling us that they are ready, they want more vaccine. And that’s exactly what we as a federal government are aiming to do,” Anand said.

Trudeau has called Canada’s vaccine supply ramp-up “the big lift.” The prime minister told a virtual roundtable of health care workers in February that the country would be going from a trickle of deliveries in the early months of the year to “receiving millions upon millions, even tens of millions of vaccines into the spring. And we’re going to have to make sure we’re getting them out to everyone.”

The challenge is a daunting one. Taking into account the 8 million doses delivered to Canada before the end of March, about 23 million more Canadians are eligible for vaccination this spring.

To deliver first doses to that entire population between April 1 and July 1, health care workers will have to vaccinate an average of 255,000 people per day, seven days a week.

Watch: Ontario launches online booking system as fears of a third wave grow

Ontario’s provincial COVID-19 vaccine booking system launched to mixed reviews, with many saying they got an error message or waited in jammed phone queues. Meanwhile, doctors in the province raised concerns of a third wave of COVID-19 infections. 1:49

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says his province has the capacity to administer 150,000 vaccines a day. “We’re making steady progress,” Ford told reporters during an update on the province’s rollout on Sunday. “We just need more vaccines.”

That’s a message the federal government is hearing a lot lately from municipalities. Anthony Di Monte, general manager of emergency operations for the City of Ottawa, said the city has seven clinic-based immunization sites — including re-purposed hockey arenas and community centres — plus two hospital sites and a mobile unit ready to inoculate the city’s population of one million.

He said that once he gets the doses he needs, he’ll be ready to launch on 72 hours’ notice Ottawa’s complete mass vaccination program — which is set to deliver, for a start, 11,000 shots a day through all ten sites.

Anthony Di Monte, general manager of emergency operations for the City of Ottawa, speaks to the CBC’s David Cochrane. (Sarah Sears/CBC News)

“Our objective for all seven of our (clinic-based) sites is to do in the neighborhood of 1,200 to 1,400 vaccinations a day, per site,” said Di Monte. 

“We’ve got some confidence that we could probably crank that up a little bit and get closer to the 2,000 mark per site once we get rolling and we have enough staff.”

With enough doses and enough people, Di Monte said, Ottawa can keep its clinics open around the clock. The city has plans for a drive-through vaccination site in the sprawling parking lot outside the Canadian Tire Centre, home of the Ottawa Senators; it’s also looking at using two convention centres.

‘We ramp up and we never go back’

What Di Monte fears is a disruption in supply that would force him to close a vaccination site.

“You want the machine to start going and flowing and a regular flow,” he said. “I would prefer to see that we ramp up and we never go back. We just keep going and I’ll turn the switch up as much as we have capacity.”

Anand said her department is keeping a close watch on those supply lines.

“We are seeing vaccine nationalism take hold in certain areas of the world, including in Europe and, to an extent, the United States,” she said. “And we’ve got to make sure that Canada’s supply chain is protected.”

The cargo flight Anand met at the airport last week crossed European and American borders, offering a clear example of how “vaccine nationalism” — countries limiting exports to concentrate on vaccinating their citizens first — could tie Canada’s supply lines in knots.

Anand said Canada’s diverse vaccine portfolio — four vaccines from five different suppliers — serves as a hedge against that threat.

“We have to make sure that we’re on top of this file and the delivery schedules,” she said.

“I’m thinking of all the elderly people in Canada who need vaccine, want a vaccine, and Canadians at large. This is what makes this work so important, and this is why we have to see this right through to the end so every single Canadian will have access to a vaccine before the end of summer, if not before.”

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CBC | Health News

It’s March Madness time, but with a Canadian flavour

It’s another year of trying to do the impossible: predict a perfect March Madness bracket.

Do you go all-in on the top seeds or hedge your bets with a few Cinderella stories? Do you do hours of research or flip a coin?

Considering the odds of picking a perfect bracket — a feat that has literally never been achieved — are about 1 in 9.2 quintillion (that’s a lot of zeros), we’re not sure the method you use even really matters.

That’s why we’re taking a different approach this year by setting out to make the most Canadian bracket possible, a winner in our hearts if not in our wallets.

The Method

We carefully combed through all 68 team rosters to find the Canadian players.

For the purposes of our bracket, the team with the most Canadians moves on. If both teams in a match-up happen to have the same number of Canadian players, we take the higher seed.

If a match-up doesn’t have a clear choice, we get creative, like giving the nod to Michigan as the alma mater of North Court’s very own Jevohn Shepherd.

Finally, if there were no Canadians or Canadian connections on either roster, we simply chose the team that had the closest proximity to Canada. Sorry, Florida; We The North, after all.

West Picks

(CBC Sports)

A respectable six teams in the West region have Canadians on their roster, and that includes No. 1 seed and tournament favourite Gonzaga who comes into March Madness as the only undefeated team.

But to keep it Canadian, it was all eyes on UC Santa Barbara, the only school in the region to have two Canadians on its roster — Brandon Cyrus of Oakville, Ont., and Max Cheylov of Toronto.

That much Canadian talent was enough for us to pick No. 12 UCSB as our giant killer and take them past Gonzaga all the way to the Final Four.

Other Canadians on West rosters: Andrew Nembhard (Gonzaga – Aurora, Ont.), Victor Radocaj (East Washington – Richmond B.C.), Eugene Omoruyi (Oregon – Rexdale, Ont.), Okay Djamgouz (Drake – Toronto)

East Picks

(CBC Sports)

The East is the quietest region for Canadian talent, having just four teams with Canucks on their roster.

But after a chaotic first round in our bracket (and a lot of mapping which schools were closer to Canada) a clear favourite emerged: No. 2 Alabama.

Like UCSB, Alabama boasts not one but two Canadians — freshmen Joshua Primo and Keon Ambrose-Hylon, both from Toronto. That was enough to catch our attention and send them straight into the Final Four.

At the other end of the bracket, No. 1 seeded Michigan is without a Canadian player, but received some special treatment in our bracket as CBC’s North Courts co-host Jevohn Shepherd played basketball there in the late 2000s.

That was enough for us to take Michigan to the Sweet Sixteen, where they ran into their first game against a Canadian player in Colorado and Keeshan Barthelemy of Montreal, and it was game over for the Wolverines.

Other Canadians on East rosters: Jahvon Blair (Georgetown – Brampton, Ont.), Nathaneal Jack (Florida State – Mississauga, Ont.)

South Picks

(CBC Sports)

You heard it here first, welcome to the region of Cinderella stories.

With neither of the top seeded teams boasting a Canadian on their roster, our bracket has No. 16 Hartford taking a huge upset victory over No. 1 Baylor (based solely on proximity to Canada), and No. 2 Ohio State falling to No. 15 Oral Roberts and Elijah Lufile of Milton, Ont.

And then there’s No. 14 Colgate, the third team in our bracket with two Canadians on the roster in Sam Thomson from Otterville, Ont., and Malcolm Bailey from Stratford, Ont.

And just like that, we’ve got a 14 seed in our Final Four. Hate it or love it, the underdog’s on top.

Other Canadians on South rosters: Liam McChesney (Utah State – Prince Rupert, B.C.), Zach Edey (Purdue – Toronto)

Midwest Picks

(CBC Sports)

Things get especially interesting in the Midwest, as seven of the 16 teams in the first round have a Canadian on their roster and sailed into the Round of 32, meaning we only had to break out the map once to decide a winner.

Once teams got out of the first round, it was all about seeding. With no two-Canadian team to take the edge, our Final Four pick was the highest seed left, No. 3 West Virginia and Gabe Osabuohien of Toronto.

Other Canadians on Midwest rosters: Matey Juric (Drexel – Toronto), Aher Uguak (Loyola Chicago – Edmonton), Maurice Calloo (Oregon State – Windsor, Ont.), Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe (Oklahoma State – Mono, Ont.), Quincy Guerrier (Liberty – Montreal), Olivier-Maxence Proser (Clemson – Montreal)

Final Four

(CBC Sports)

After the dust settled, we landed with three high seeds and a Cinderella story in our Final Four predictions. Seems very March Madness, no?

This is also where that Cinderella story comes to an end, as No. 12 UCSB meets a much higher seeded opponent in No. 2 Alabama in the semifinals, two of three Final Four teams with two Canadians on the roster.

The third team is No. 4 Colgate, who makes quick work of No. 3 West Virginia and their solo rostered Canadian in the semifinal.

That lines up an NCAA finals clash featuring four Canadians between the two teams. But in the end, we’re giving the edge to the higher seeded Alabama and their dynamic Canadian freshman duo of Primo and Ambrose-Hylton.

So there you have it.

63 games later, the most Canadian bracket we could muster ends with the Crimson Tide cutting down the nets in Indianapolis. Nothing like a little red and white confetti to set the mood.

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CBC | Sports News

4th time was a charm for Brendan Bottcher’s team

This is an excerpt from The Buzzer, which is CBC Sports’ daily email newsletter. Stay up to speed on what’s happening in sports by subscribing here.

Brendan Bottcher broke through

Heading into last night’s Brier final, Bottcher’s Alberta rink was in danger of becoming the Buffalo Bills of curling. Another loss in the title game would make it four in a row — just like those infamous ’90s Bills teams.

Never mind that reaching four consecutive finals in a tournament as competitive as the Brier is a great accomplishment. Or that Bottcher’s team was the underdog in each of the four finals. Or that the opposing skips in those games — Brad Gushue in ’18 and ’20, Kevin Koe in 2019 and this year — are among the greatest ever. Or that legends Russ and Glenn Howard each lost the Brier final four times as a skip (though they both won a pair too). Four consecutive defeats on men’s curling’s biggest stage could have turned Bottcher into a punchline.

Instead, his Alberta team got the last laugh, defeating Koe’s defending-champion Team Canada 4-2 last night in the Calgary bubble. It’s the first Brier title for the 29-year-old Bottcher and his teammates Darren Moulding, Bradley Thiessen and Karrick Martin, who had all endured the three consecutive title-game defeats together. “It sucked the first time, it sucked the second time and it sucked just as much the third time,” Bottcher said after curling 97 per cent last night to become the first skip other than Koe or Gushue to win the Brier since 2015.

A few other takeaways from the Brier:

The Kevin Koe debate will have to wait. If he’d won a record fifth Brier title as a skip last night, we’d be arguing right now about whether Koe is the greatest men’s curler of all time. But the 46-year-old remains tied with Ernie Richardson, Randy Ferbey and Kevin Martin with four titles. Ferbey owns more world titles than Martin, but Martin won an Olympic gold medal in Vancouver, so the edge probably goes to him for now. Koe, though, is clearly still going strong. He’ll be among the favourites at the Canadian Olympic curling trials, which he won four years ago.

Wayne Middaugh stole the show. The 53-year-old hadn’t competed in a Brier in eight years and hadn’t skipped in one in 16. His curling career effectively ended five years ago when he suffered a horrible leg injury while skiing. But when his old friend and teammate Glenn Howard broke several ribs in a recent snowmobile crash (fellas — take it easy out there!) he asked Middaugh to skip his team at the Brier. Middaugh became the story of the tournament by going 7-1 in the round robin to win Pool A and then winning his opening game in the championship pool. Three straight losses after that caused him to barely miss out on the three-team playoffs, but what a run.

There’s still lots of curling left. Two events down in the Calgary bubble, five to go. The Canadian mixed doubles championship starts Thursday and runs for a week. Then Bottcher’s team will represent Canada in the men’s world championship April 2-11. Back-to-back Grand Slam of Curling events will be held April 14-25 before Scotties champion Kerri Einarson’s team represents Canada at the women’s world championship starting April 30.

Brendan Bottcher curled 97% and finally snapped his Brier losing streak, as his Alberta rink defeated Kevin Koe 4-2. 1:59


Notice anything weird about the March Madness bracket? For the first time in 45 years, both Duke and Kentucky are missing. Since then the schools have combined to win nine NCAA men’s basketball titles and send countless players to the NBA. Both were ranked in the top 10 in the pre-season Associated Press poll. But Kentucky went 9-16 and Duke was 13-11 and already looking like it would miss the tournament when the program shut itself down last week after a positive COVID-19 test. The clear favourite to win the tournament, which tips off later this week in a bubble-like environment in Indianapolis, is Gonzaga. The Bulldogs are 26-0 and have an important Canadian player in junior guard Andrew Nembhard. The other No. 1 seeds are Michigan, Illinois and Baylor. The schedule is also a little weird this year. Rather than the 64-team field getting started on Thursday, the four play-in games will be held that day and the main event starts Friday. Read more about the bracket here.

Corey Conners was in contention again. A week after finishing third at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Canadian golfer had another strong showing at an even more prestigious tournament. Conners shot a final-round 66 yesterday to finish seventh at the Players Championship — four shots behind winner Justin Thomas. The 29-year-old from Listowel, Ont., has pocketed more than $ 1.1 million US in prize money over the last two weeks and risen to 44th in the official world rankings and 23rd in the FedEx Cup standings.

Canadian freestyle skiers and snowboarders are racking up medals at their world championships. In the past seven days, skier Mikael Kingsbury won double gold in the men’s moguls and dual moguls; Simon d’Artois and Rachael Karker scored silver in, respectively, the men’s and women’s ski halfpipe; Seb Toutant took silver in the men’s snowboard slopestyle; and Megan Oldham grabbed bronze in the women’s ski slopestyle. The world championships for ski and snowboard cross were held back in February, and Eliot Grondin took bronze in the men’s snowboard event. The final world-championship events of the season take place Tuesday, when the men’s and women’s ski and snowboard big air finals will be held in Aspen. Canadians Laurie Blouin, Mark McMorris and Max Parrot will compete in the snowboard competitions. Qualifying for the ski events was still in progress at our publish time. Watch the ski finals live from noon-1:30 p.m. ET and the snowboard finals from 3:30-5 p.m. ET on CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app.

And in case you missed it…

A few other things from the weekend you should know about:

Genie Bouchard fell just short of her first tournament win since 2014. The Canadian tennis player reached the final of the modest Guadalajara Open, where she lost 6-2, 7-5 Saturday to 57th-ranked Sara Sorribes Tormo. Bouchard, who was once ranked as high as fifth, rose from 144th to 116th with her run to the final in Mexico. Read more about it and watch highlights here.

Drew Brees retired. The NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards and completions announced yesterday he’s hanging it up after 20 seasons. The last 15 came with the Saints, who took a chance on Brees coming off a career-threatening shoulder injury and ended up creating one of the great QB-coach partnerships in football history. With the inventive Sean Payton designing and calling the plays and Brees executing them to perfection with his pinpoint accuracy and sharp mind, the Saints made a miraculous run to the second round of the playoffs in their first season together — 2006, the year after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Three years later, they won the franchise’s first (and still only) Super Bowl, and the Saints made the playoffs in nine of the last 15 years — pretty remarkable for a team that was a laughingstock before Brees arrived. Read more about his brilliant career here.

Marvin Hagler died. One of the most beloved boxers ever, Hagler is best known for his 1980s middleweight battles with Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran and, of course, Thomas Hearns. The 1985 Hagler-Hearns fight lasted only eight minutes but is revered for the sheer amount of violence the fighters heaped on each other — especially in the first round, which some consider the greatest ever fought — before Hagler stopped Hearns in the third. Hagler won a 15-round decision over Duran in 1983 but lost on points to Leonard in 1987 in his final bout. Hagler died Saturday at the age of 66. Read more about his life and career here and (do yourself a favour) watch that legendary first round of Hagler-Hearns here.

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Why moving to daylight time is ‘a challenge on top of a challenge’ in 2021

Clocks jumped forward in most parts of Canada this weekend and sleep experts say the ritual will cause more stress for those already tossing and turning at night during the pandemic.

Generally speaking, many Canadians are spending more time at home and less time outdoors; pre-pandemic routines are no longer in place. 

It’s all having an effect on how we’re living and how we’re sleeping, according to Rébecca Robillard, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Ottawa.

“We’re seeing such a high level of people who are having sleep difficulties during the pandemic,” she said, listing insomnia and shifts in sleeping patterns as just some of the issues affecting Canadians.

Rébecca Robillard, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Ottawa, has been studying how people’s sleep has been affected during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted by Rébecca Robillard)

Within the pandemic context, Robillard said Sunday’s time shift poses “a challenge on top of a challenge.” Canadians — assuming they don’t live in Yukon, or other regions that don’t change their clocks this weekend — will have to adjust to the time change in addition to feeling fatigued by pandemic-era sleep issues.

The Yukon government announced last year that it would ditch the twice-a-year switch following public consultations that found a strong majority of respondents supported ending seasonal time changes.

‘Harsh’ health outcomes

The time shift was already a challenge for many people before the onset of the pandemic anyway.

Kimberly Cote, director of Brock University’s Sleep Research Laboratory, says there is growing opposition among sleep experts toward the process. 

“The bottom line is that shift, twice a year, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for our health, for our physiology,” she said.

Kimberly Cote, a professor of psychology at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont., said there is growing opposition among sleep experts toward the time shift. (Submitted by Kimberly Cote)

As an example, Cote says research has consistently shown that a higher number of traffic collisions and workplace accidents occur on the Monday following the annual spring switchover.

“It’s a pretty well-established phenomenon that what seems like a small change in sleep — like, a loss of up to an hour — would have such a consequence, but it does,” she said.

That phenomenon could look a bit different this year, due to a lot more people working at home — though Cote points out accidents can also occur at home.

Many parts of Canada — at least those that make the switch to daylight time — will be turning their clocks forward this weekend. (Elise Amendola/The Associated Press)

Robillard said the shift to daylight time is also associated with “some pretty harsh outcomes” for people’s physical and mental health.

“There are some indications that there’s a surge at the population level, in terms of psychiatric admissions, for example, or issues with mental health,” she said.

Robillard said there are increased cases of cardiovascular problems, strokes and heart failure occurring.

“On that specific day, we see those things happening,” Robillard said.

How to adjust

In terms of tips for adjusting to the time change,  Cote and Robillard have a few suggestions.

“Don’t fight the adjustment,” said Cote, who recommends setting a schedule, not taking long naps and sticking to regular sleep times.

Robillard said it’s important to minimize light exposure when winding down the evening, which means thinking about the screens we are staring at.

“That includes tablets, computers, televisions, because those are all little lamps,” she said.

Robillard recommends avoiding phones, tablets and similar devices, in the final hours of your day as you prepare for bed. (Ashley Landis/The Associated Press)

“Bring back the books, bring back the discussions, or slow-paced yoga, or whichever kind of peaceful, relaxing activities that you could do in the evening might be especially important now,” said Robillard.

Cote and Robillard both recommend staying active.

“Even if we might feel a little bit more tired, doing a bit of exercise during the daytime is … [a] strong signal to adjust to the new timing,” said Robillard.

Cote said staying active is “always good advice,” but keeping a consistent exercise routine helps with your sleep.

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Canadian Premier League opens up about finances, saying it’s time for transparency

Entering its third season, the Canadian Premier League has demonstrated there is an appetite for a domestic soccer circuit.

Two-time champion Forge FC has done the CPL proud in CONCACAF club play. Atletico Ottawa joined last year; an addition more remarkable in that the expansion franchise arrived during a pandemic.

Some 10 CPL players — 11 if you include Montreal FC defender Karifa Yao, who has been loaned to Calgary’s Cavalry FC — were named in Canada’s provisional men’s roster for CONCACAF Olympic qualifying.

CPL talent has made the jump to Major League Soccer and abroad.

The eight-team league has shown plenty. What it hasn’t done is lift the curtain on its finances.

Until now.

The CPL, with teams in Halifax, Hamilton, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Langford, B.C., is sharing some of its financial data for the 2021 season, saying it’s time for more transparency.

“It needs to be done,” commissioner David Clanachan said in an interview.

‘In a long-term game’ to make profit

With media and supporters clamouring for such information, Clanachan said the decision was made to share numbers to get the accurate information out there.

  • The league says this season each team will operate with a $ 1.2-million salary cap, which covers both players and coaching/technical staff.
  • Player spending must fall between $ 650,000 and $ 850,000 while the coach/technical range is between $ 350,000 and $ 550,000. Combined, the two must fall under $ 1.2 million.
  • The cap includes salaries, housing and travel allowances and individual player bonuses but not “league or club accomplishment bonuses.” The league says, on average, the salary cap accounts for some 57 per cent of team revenue — and could reach some 70 per cent factoring in bonuses.

The league says, on average, it takes more $ 4 million a year to run a CPL team.

Asked when the league might make a profit, Clanachan replied “We’re not there yet, that’s for sure. We’re going to be a few years into it.”

“Our owners know that. They’ve invested circa $ 60 million already in this league. We’re in a long-term game here.”

The league says the salary cap is the same as it was last year, because of the shortened season in 2020. The plan is to raise it in 2022.

The decision to share some of the financial figures comes at a time when CPL players are trying to form a union. Last April, some 90 per cent of the players in the league signed on during the association’s organizing drive.

The Professional Footballers Association Canada (PFACan) was accepted last month as a candidate member by FIFPRO, which represents more than 65,000 professional men’s and women’s players across 65 affiliated national player associations.

PFACan will have to serve two years as a candidate member before becoming a full member of FIFPRO, which recognizes one player association per country.

Time for league to adjust, former player says

PFACan has complained about the league’s lack of transparency with regards player pay. Other complaints include the league adopting new rules and not publicizing them, and teams having access to player wage details throughout the league while the players themselves are not allowed to disclose their pay.

“It’s a deeply unfair field right now for players,” said Paul Champ, an Ottawa-based labour and human rights lawyer who is helping the players organize. “And we’re just trying to make it a bit fairer in terms of mobility, and negotiating free contracts and also having a minimum standard.”

Canadian international Marcel de Jong is president of PFACan. The 34-year-old, who retired as a Pacific FC player last Friday, says he understands the CPL is a new league.

“But it’s been two years now and I think that’s enough time for the league to make some adjustments and see what it did wrong and correct them,” he said.

  • The league says its average player pay in 2021 is around $ 40,000, which may include housing, car allowances and incentive bonuses. The league says the top end of the salary scale is $ 77,000.
  • There will be a minimum player salary of $ 22,000 in 2021, which including other compensation is expected to reach $ 26,000. The league says it had a “target” minimum salary in the past but is now “raising and codifying it.”
  • The minimum does not cover those on U-Sports contracts, who play during the summer while not at school. Clanachan said those deals would be in the range of $ 10,000 to $ 12,000.
  • Options on player contracts come with 15 per cent raises on average, according to the league.

Champ, however, said there are CPL players with contacts under $ 10,000 with a “large number” in the low teens. They would now be eligible for a bump in salary, according to the league figures.

“We recognize there will be economic realities of this league. But these clubs still do OK. In the first season, a lot of clubs averaged 5,000 spectators per game. And they’ve got a big broadcast contract [with MediaPro],” said Champ. “So, they don’t have to be paying these poverty wages to players.”

Dreaming big

De Jong says some players are forced to move home and live with their parents in the off-season because they can’t afford their own place.

Clanachan says the league is young and looking to improve standards and conditions every year.

“Look at the amount of young Canadians that are playing professional football today that weren’t playing it prior to 2019,” he said. “That’s the bottom line. That’s what we’re doing. We’re creating a soccer economy in the country.”

The CPL is dreaming big. Clanachan says the goal is to become one of the top three leagues in CONCACAF, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean.

To get there, Clanachan says the CPL has to take “a managed, staged approach to how we grow the league.”

As a comparison, Major League Soccer teams will be able to spend $ 9.225 million US on player salaries in 2021, including basic general allocation money and targeted allocation money. The number is higher if they have designated players, only a portion of whose salaries count against the cap.

The minimum MLS salary in 2021 is $ 81,375 on the senior roster and $ 63,547 on the reserve roster.

The league has yet to release its 2021 schedule but is targeting the Victoria Day weekend (May 22-24) for kickoff. The hope is some fans will be allowed in.

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Ontario sees 1,138 new COVID-19 cases as number of active infections climbs for 1st time in weeks

Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of Ontario’s science advisory group, is expected to present updated COVID-19 projections for the province at a news conference scheduled for 3 p.m. ET.

You’ll be able to watch it live in this story.

Ontario reported another 1,138 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, as the number of active infections provincewide increased for the first time in more than six weeks.

The upward climb was small — in total, there were just 21 more active cases yesterday than the day before (10,071 compared to 10,050) — but it could be notable, given that until now infections marked as resolved have outpaced newly confirmed cases every day since Jan. 12.

The new cases in today’s update include 339 in Toronto, 204 in Peel Region and 106 in York Region.

Thunder Bay also saw another 44 cases. The local medical officer of health in the unit told CBC News this morning that residents should prepare to go back into the grey lockdown phase of the province’s COVID-19 restrictions system. Thunder Bay is currently in the red “control” tier.

Other public health units that logged double-digit increases were:

  • Ottawa: 64
  • Waterloo Region: 56
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 44
  • Halton Region: 40
  • Hamilton: 37
  • Windsor-Essex: 33
  • Durham Region: 28
  • Eastern Ontario: 20
  • Brant County: 19
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 18
  • Niagara Region: 12
  • Southwestern: 11

(Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit on a given day, because local units report figures at different times.)

The seven-day average of new daily cases increased for a fifth straight day to 1,099.

Ontario’s lab network completed 66,351 tests for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and reported a test positivity rate of two per cent.

According to the province, there has been a total of 449 cases involving the COVID-19 variant of concern first identified in the United Kingdom. That is 54 more than there were in yesterday’s update. There have also been 11 cases of the variant first found in South Africa, and two linked to the variant identified in Brazil.

Later today, the co-chair of Ontario’s science advisory group is expected to present revised projections of how the variants could impact the spread of the virus. Dr. Adalsteinn Brown previously said that the variant identified in the U.K. could become dominant in the province by mid-March.

Researchers from the University of Guelph and University of Waterloo independently ran modelling simulations based on Ontario’s most recent reopening plan, with stay-at-home orders possibly lifted in Toronto, Peel and North Bay-Parry Sound on March 8. The results suggest that the spread of the variant, which has been shown to be more contagious, could have profound effects on case numbers in latter half of March.

School-related cases

The Ministry of Education also reported another 83 school-related cases: 70 students, 12 staff members and one person who was not identified. There are currently 18 schools closed due to the illness, or about 0.4 per cent of all schools in the province.

In a news release issued late yesterday, Toronto Public Health said that there are eight schools within the health unit where at least one case has screened positive for, or is most likely due to, a variant of concern.

“The affected individuals and cohorts have been dismissed from school with guidance based on their level of risk. TPH has followed up with close contacts in affected class cohorts and has recommended testing,” release said.

Public health units also recorded the deaths of 23 more people with COVID-19, pushing Ontario’s official toll to 6,916.

Meanwhile, the province said it administered 19,112 doses of vaccines yesterday, the second-most on a single day so far. As of 8 p.m. yesterday, 255,449 people had received both shots of a vaccine.

WATCH | Ontario’s vaccine rollout likely to be accelerated, says task force member:

Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases physician and member of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine task force, says vaccinations of Ontarians in certain age categories are likely to move more quickly than initially planned. 0:56

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CBC | Health News

Pretty Sure We’re Prepared This Time: Blizzard Confirms Burning Crusade Classic

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Ever since World of Warcraft Classic proved there are a lot of people willing to facemash their way through the original, most difficult portion of the game, we began to hear chatter that a follow-up might be in the works for The Burning Crusade, the first expansion pack for the popular game. Whether this was wishful thinking or potentially true has not been clear until now. Blizzard has announced The Burning Crusade Classic, arriving later this year.

Features are what you’d expect. It’s The Burning Crusade, with only minor quality-of-life changes to the UI. Raid content will be introduced post-launch over a period of time, the same way Classic content was.

The method Blizzard has chosen for moving the player base is similar to one I proposed when Classic was new. When TBCC launches, players will have the option to either advance there with the rest of their server or stay behind on new, Classic-only servers. In short, Blizzard isn’t just bringing back specific instances of the game as snapshots, they’re recreating the entire character path folks took through the game the first time, with one difference. This time, if you don’t want to progress, you’ll be able to keep playing Classic on servers that are limited to Classic.

Historically, Blizzard always made certain features of new content available to all players, but not all of them. Any new content gated into an expansion pack remained locked to it, but broad world changes are always introduced for all players. Let’s say you were a Druid player stuck at Lvl 60 when everyone else got to go on to Lvl 70. You’re still Lvl 60, but you would get features like spell changes and talent tree adjustments. That may not be the case, here, because it isn’t clear if WoW Classic would freeze just before the final patch of the base game.

Basically, TBCC offers the same deal that WoW Classic did: Play the version of the game you liked better, as long as you want, with WoW Classic and TBCC included with the standard game subscription. I’m interested in TBC, partly because it was the first time players with multi-class characters had a decent chance of actually performing their roles. Paladin and Druid tanks advanced from also-rans to viable options, though Paladin taunts remain a bit annoying here, because you have to target the alternative individual being targeted, as opposed to slapping a mob in the face.

We’re Probably Prepared

If Blizzard makes any changes to TBCC, I’d like to see them make a few small changes or additions to Illidan’s portrayal to keep up with their own lore retcons. In Burning Crusade, Illidan Stormrage is one of the later raid bosses you’ll face in the instance. In the later expansion, Legion, Illidan is something of an anti-hero, whose motivations are rather different than as they were portrayed previously. It would be nice to see a little effort to harmonize the two depictions of the character, but I doubt it’ll happen.

If WoW Classic was a nostalgic opportunity to return to WoW as it was born, The Burning Crusade offers a chance to visit WoW as it matured. The Burning Crusade dramatically expanded character opportunities added the ability to fly via player-owned mounts, increased the overall leveling speed of the game, and expanded the lore with storylines that resonated through multiple expansions. Critical characters like Garrosh were introduced and plot lines that had lain dormant since the end of Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal were paid off.

Players showed up in droves to battle Onyxia and brave the depths of Molten Bore Core. Will they return to brave the Black Temple, battle the trolls of Zul’Aman, and save the Sunwell from corruption?

PS: Paladins, your bubble will not save you in the Serpentshrine Cavern mega-drop. If you plan to skip the elevator and let gravity do its thing, you’d best wait some seconds before you trigger it.

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