Get informed on the top stories of the day in one quick scan

December 21, 2021
Get informed on the top stories of the day in one quick scan

Good morning! This is our daily news roundup with everything you need to know in one concise read. Sign up here to get this delivered to your inbox every morning.

Reduce contacts now or hospitals will be overwhelmed by Omicron, says Tam

Canada’s chief public health officer says this will not be the holiday season Canadians were hoping for, warning people that if they don’t reduce their contacts over the next several weeks, the country’s hospitals will be overwhelmed. 

Dr. Theresa Tam told The National’s Andrew Chang on Monday that now is not the time to be gathering in big numbers.

“Even if Omicron happens to be milder than the previous virus variants, because it’s spreading so rapidly … even a small proportion of people winding up in hospital is going to overwhelm our systems.”

Canada reported more than 14,000 new cases of COVID-19 Monday, though some of the cases were from the weekend, with cases of the highly transmissible Omicron variant soaring and quickly overtaking Delta in many jurisdictions. 

WATCH | Reduce contacts over the holidays, says Canada’s top doctor: 

Reduce contacts over the holidays, says Canada’s top doctor

While some provinces have already moved to reduce capacity limits in indoor spaces, Tam believes more restrictions may be necessary.

“Putting on the brakes, as we all know, quickly can allow us to resume activities at the other end faster,” she said.

In its early days, Omicron appeared to be affecting mostly younger people. But as it spreads, Tam says, it is going to target more and more workers and workplaces and so it is crucial that workplaces give their employees the most effective protection possible: “The best masks possible that you can get your hands on, making sure ventilation is improved in those workplaces and making sure they get access to vaccines.” Read more on this story here.

12 notable Canadian stories of 2021 captured in photos

(Ben Nelms/CBC)

From the coronavirus pandemic to natural disasters to the two Michaels, 2021 had no shortage of Canadian newsmakers. Click here for a look back at the notable stories that CBC photographers and others covered this year.

In brief

One month after the high-profile arrests of dozens of people on Wet’suwet’en territory, a group identifying themselves as land defenders returned Sunday to reoccupy a protest camp, blocking access to a Coastal GasLink pipeline drill site in northern British Columbia. “The Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs’ eviction notice to Coastal GasLink still stands,” Jennifer Wickham, media co-ordinator for the Gidimt’en Checkpoint, told CBC News. She said Wet’suwet’en people and their supporters “are doing what they can in order to ensure that no pipelines cross traditional territory.” Wickham wouldn’t say how many people had returned to the remote Coyote Camp. Coastal GasLink said “10 to 12 camouflaged and masked opponents took over the Marten Forest Service Road and Morice River drill site.” The company’s statement said that security officials “left the site for fear of their safety.” Read more on this story here.

For years, Amanpreet Kaur’s parents set aside what money they could so their daughter could study abroad. In 2020, Kaur enrolled in business administration at M College of Canada, a private college in Montreal. Her tuition totalled more than $15,000 for the year. But there was a problem: Kaur couldn’t come to Canada because she didn’t have her study permit, which was delayed after the college was put under investigation last winter for its recruitment practices. In February 2021, she opted for online courses instead. When her permit still hadn’t been approved by the federal government by spring, she decided to withdraw from the school. The college initially told her it would take six to eight weeks to give her back just $7,300 (less than half of what she paid), but that wait has now stretched to more than half a year. Read more about the Indian students trying to get their money back from Quebec colleges they can’t attend.

WATCH | Family saved for years to send this student abroad: 

Family saved for years to send this student abroad

Effective tomorrow, the NHL is hitting pause on games until after its Christmas break due to a surge in COVID-19 cases that has more than 15 per cent of the league’s 700-plus players in virus protocol. The stoppage gives all 32 teams an extended break before players, coaches and staff can gather again Sunday to skate and undergo coronavirus testing. Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, the Christmas break typically prohibits team activities before Dec. 27. Games are still scheduled to resume that day. When team facilities reopen, anyone travelling with a team must first show a negative COVID-19 test result before they can access a facility. The latest wave of coronavirus-related shutdowns Monday led to the closure of facilities for 10 teams. Of 49 game postponements, 44 have come over the past two weeks with the Delta and Omicron variants spreading across North America. Read more on the NHL’s stoppage.

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller says he’s “absolutely open” to an independent review of the residential school compensation deal reached between the federal government and Catholic Church. “I would say we’re absolutely open to the idea; we have to get to the bottom of what we’ve done,” Miller said in a phone interview Monday. “The job I’ve been given is to get to the bottom of these things.… This is not the end of the story.” Advocates say while that’s encouraging news, Miller could show good faith by immediately releasing key government documents related to the deal he admits are already in his possession. “We expect the federal government to release everything. This is a necessary step for many survivors in their own healing journey,” Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron said. Read the full story here.

A single U.S. senator has detonated a political bombshell, the wide-ranging blast radius of which has touched his political party, his country and his planet. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has, until further notice, killed President Joe Biden’s hope of signing major legislation. Resurrecting the Build Back Better mega-bill could happen but it won’t be easy and it’s dead in its current form. In a Sunday interview on Fox News, Manchin said he’s done negotiating this bill. Because he holds the 50th vote in a 100-seat Senate, Manchin’s statement was a game-changer on multiple fronts. It’s rocked Biden’s presidency, enraged the Democratic Party, imperilled about two dozen major initiatives affecting millions of Americans, undone economic forecasts, torched the U.S. climate plan, tossed into doubt a global tax plan, and, perhaps to Canadians’ benefit, paused a major Canada-U.S. irritant, a potential violation of trade agreements. Read more analysis from CBC Washington correspondent Alexander Panetta.

This was supposed to be the year that international travel picked up after being shuttered by the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing with it a once-again viable tourist season for Goa, India. The small coastal Indian state depends on tourism for more than 16 per cent of its gross domestic product. But the Omicron variant has changed everything, once again forcing the cancellation of international charter flights, booked to resume in December — a month into the traditional start of Goa’s high season, which runs from the end of October until March, but is particularly well known for its Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. Read the full story from CBC India correspondent Salimah Shivji.

WATCH | Survival top of mind for Indian tourist hot spot hit by COVID-19 restrictions: 

Survival top of mind for Indian tourist hot spot hit by COVID-19 restrictions

Now for some good news to start your Tuesday: It’s a good thing Jonny Vu wasn’t able to give up his shift as a server at Yellowknife’s Woodyard Brewhouse & Eatery on a Thursday evening earlier this month as he had hoped. Vu served a table of 10 women that night who, after paying for their meal and leaving a tip, gave him a card they had each signed. “I looked inside the card and there is $1,000 cash,” he said. “It was super overwhelming. I had no idea how to react. Yeah, it was just very, like, speechless.” The card came from a group of women who have gotten together for a meal during the holidays since 2019, and given $1,000 as a gift to their server. Read more on the generous gift here.

Front Burner: Why The Matrix still resonates today

The Matrix was a blockbuster hit when it came out in 1999. Now, more than 20 years later, the film still feels relevant — whether it’s people talking about “taking the red pill” or theorizing that we’re all really living in a computer simulation — the movie starring Keanu Reeves as Neo and Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus permeated the culture. 

With The Matrix Resurrections opening in Canada on Wednesday, Jayme Poisson speaks with John Semley about why the film made such an impact then, and how its influence is still felt today. Plus, Charley Archer explains why the original movie, made by two trans women Lilly and Lana Wachowski, is an iconic piece of trans art. 

27:33Why The Matrix still resonates today

Today in history: December 21

1894: Sir Mackenzie Bowell becomes prime minister of Canada following the death of Sir John Thompson. 

1942: Butter rationing begins in Canada as a wartime measure.

1967: Louis Washkansky dies 18 days after becoming the world’s first human heart transplant patient in Cape Town, South Africa.

2010: In the early hours of the morning, many Canadians witness a rare winter solstice total lunar eclipse. NASA says it last occurred 372 years earlier.

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