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5 things to know for Thursday, September 17, 2020

TORONTO — Canada is approaching 140,000 total cases of COVID-19, with more than 8,200 cases still active. Here’s what else you need to know to start your day.

1. Undisclosed funds: Former Liberal MP Raj Grewal allegedly received $6 million in funds that he did not disclose to the ethics commissioner while he served as a member of Parliament, according to new court documents obtained by CTV News. 

2. Possible election: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday he doesn’t want an election, but if one is held, Canadians should feel confident that Elections Canada is capable of delivering a fair process despite the pandemic. 

3. COVID-19 funds: As long lines are being reported at COVID-19 testing centres across the country, the federal government pledged $19 billion in funding to addres...

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Wildfire smoke causes East Coast haze; West Coast air quality among worst recorded

The smoke from dozens of wildfires in the western United States is stretching clear across the country — and even pushing into Mexico, Canada and Europe. While the dangerous plumes are forcing people inside along the West Coast, residents thousands of miles away in the East are seeing unusually hazy skies and remarkable sunsets.

The wildfires racing across tinder-dry landscape in California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington are extraordinary, but the long reach of their smoke isn’t unprecedented. While there are only small pockets in the southeastern U.S. that are haze free, experts say the smoke poses less of a health concern for those who are farther away.

The sun was transformed into a perfect orange orb as it set over New York City on Tuesday...

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‘We’re way more rational’: Expert believes second coronavirus wave won’t induce panic buying

TORONTO — An expert in the Canadian food industry doesn’t believe a potential second wave of COVID-19 will induce the kind of panic buying that previously left grocery store shelves bare.

Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University in Halifax, believes Canadians and food manufacturers are more knowledgeable about the virus and more prepared this time around to ensure grocery stores will be properly stocked.

“Six months into the pandemic, we’re way more rational,” he told CTV News Channel on Wednesday. “We know more about virus. We know how public health officials are going to be dealing with this virus.”

“There are more certainties know and I think it has helped a lot of Canadians to calm down, so that’s why there’s more discipline i...

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The Liberals pledged 2 billion trees over 10 years, but none planted yet

TORONTO — While on the campaign trail a year ago, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised that a re-elected Liberal government would plant two billion trees over the next 10 years. But so far, none of those trees have gone in the ground.

Some federally-funded trees have been planted in 2020, according to Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan’s office, but the “two billion” promise referred to brand-new trees, on top of the usual replanting efforts.

Ian Cameron, press secretary for O’Regan, says that COVID-19 is the cause for the delay.

“Our government provided $30 million to businesses in the forest sector to ensure that they could safely continue their planting activities during COVID-19,” he said in a statement to CTV News...

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At least 1 dead, hundreds rescued after Hurricane Sally

PENSACOLA, FLA. — Hurricane Sally lumbered ashore near the Florida-Alabama line Wednesday with 105 mph (165 kph) winds and rain measured in feet, not inches, killing at least one person, swamping homes and forcing the rescue of hundreds as it pushed inland for what could be a slow and disastrous drenching across the Deep South.

The death happened in Orange Beach, Alabama, according to Mayor Tony Kennon, who also told The Associated Press that one person was missing. Kennon said he couldn’t immediately release details.

Moving at just 3 mph (5 kph), or about as fast as a person can walk, the storm made landfall at 4:45 a.m. close to Gulf Shores, Alabama, about 30 miles (50 kilometres) from Pensacola, Florida...

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Advocates sound alarms as long-term care homes see COVID-19 cases rise

TORONTO — Advocates worry that long-term care homes devastated by COVID-19 earlier this year could see another deadly wave of cases this fall if authorities don’t clamp down on new outbreaks.

In Ontario, 20 long-term care homes have already reported COVID-19 outbreaks. West End Villa in Ottawa is the hardest hit, with six deaths in the past two weeks and 47 residents and 11 staff members testing positive.

“This is a concerning time for our community and our families and we will continue to keep them informed,” Extendicare, which runs the Ottawa home, told CTV News in a written statement.

In the spring, as the virus spread from one long-term care home to the next, an estimated 82 per cent of deaths in Canada were among residents of long-term care homes.

People older than 80 acco...

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Pembroke, Ont. high school first in Ontario to close after COVID-19 cases

PEMBROKE — Fellowes High School in Pembroke, Ont. has been ordered closed to staff and students following three confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health for the Renfrew County and District Health Unit (RCHDU) ordered the closure of the school on Wednesday afternoon after the third case of novel coronavirus involving staff at the school.

Fellowes High School is the first school in Ontario ordered closed due to a COVID-19 outbreak since the new school year began.  Classes began at the Pembroke high school on Tuesday, Sept. 8. 

The Renfrew County and District Health Unit says a third staff member, a contact of both individuals who had previously tested positive for COVID-19, tested positive on WednesdayThe staff member is believed to have been infected fo...

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‘The situation in the United States is getting worse’: Ont. border city mayor supports extension of border closure

TORONTO — For many Canadian border communities, the closure of the Canada-U.S. border due to COVID-19 has had serious economic consequences.

But one Ontario border city mayor says he’s “absolutely” in favour of the continuing restrictions on cross-border travel, largely because of the way the U.S. has handled the pandemic.

“The situation in the United States is getting worse,” Fort Erie Mayor Wayne Redekop told CTV News Channel on Wednesday. “There seems to be no regard for the health and safety of others.”

The U.S. is the country with the highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, with more than 6.5 million cases and more than 195,000 deaths as of Wednesday.

Redekop added that Ontario has experienced “a bit of an uptick” in cases recently.

“So at this stage of t...

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Ex-MP Grewal allegedly didn’t disclose $6M to ethics czar, defrauded constituency employee: documents

OTTAWA — Former Liberal MP Raj Grewal allegedly received $6 million in funds that he did not disclose to the ethics commissioner while he served as a member of Parliament, according to new court documents obtained by CTV News.

He is also alleged to have defrauded “an individual employed at his parliamentary constituency office of a sum of money exceeding $5,000 in value” the documents say.

The RCMP announced last week that it had charged Grewal with four counts of breach of trust and one count of fraud over $5,000.

The firm representing Grewal, Stockwoods LLP, sent a statement to CTV News when the charges first emerged, denying the allegations.

“Mr. Grewal adamantly denies these allegations – as he has done steadfastly since 2018...

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Trudeau says election would not be ‘irresponsible’ but he does not want one

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he doesn’t want an election — but if one is held, Canadians should feel confident that Elections Canada is capable of delivering a fair process despite the pandemic.

Trudeau made the comments during a Wednesday press conference, speaking after three days of meetings with his ministers and experts at a cabinet retreat.

“I do not want an election, I don’t think Canadians want an election,” Trudeau said, shaking his head after a reporter asked him to clarify his stance.

“I think it’s irresponsible to say that an election would be irresponsible. Our country and our institutions are stronger than that, and if there has to be an election, we’ll figure it out.”

Trudeau’s government will be delivering its throne speech next Wednesday, provi...

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