COVID-19: How Saskatchewan’s proof-of-vaccine policy — and exemptions — will work

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe announced Thursday that the province would be enacting a mandatory mask order starting Friday, with the hopes of lifting it late October. He also announced a proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 testing policy effective Oct. 1 for businesses and event spaces.

With Oct. 1 and the Saskatchewan government’s COVID-19 proof-of-vaccination policy fast approaching, some organizations have weighed in on what this policy will mean for residents who can’t be fully vaccinated for medical purposes — and those who choose not to.

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The proof-of-vaccination or negative test policy was first announced by the provincial government on Sept. 16 to address rising case rates.

In the month of September, Saskatchewan has seen case rates and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 soar higher than they ever have in the pandemic.

Health officials report daily that a majority of residents testing positive for COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

On Sunday, 72 per cent of new COVID-19 cases reported were residents 12 and older who were unvaccinated.

Because of rising cases among the unvaccinated, the provincial government is following the footsteps of other provinces such as Ontario and Alberta by bringing in proof-of-vaccination or negative test requirements for several establishments.

Read more:
Saskatchewan brings mandatory masks back, proof of vaccination coming Oct. 1

Where will I have to show proof of vaccination or a negative test?

Effective Oct. 1, residents will need to show proof they are fully vaccinated or have tested negative for COVID-19 at restaurants (indoor dining), nightclubs, bars, taverns and other licensed establishments.

This requirement will also be in place for event and entertainment venues, including conference centres, casinos, movie theatres, concert venues, live-music venues, museums and indoor facilities hosting ticketed sporting events. Indoor fitness centres and gyms will also need to see proof of vaccination or a negative test from customers.

Where will proof of vaccination not be required?

Residents will not need to show proof of vaccination or negative tests at retail businesses — including grocery stores, places of worship, fast food restaurants offering takeout and delivery, health-care services, professional or personal services, hotels or other lodgings.

Proof of vaccination will also not be required at facilities hosting non-ticketed amateur sporting events, including youth athletics and recreational leagues, business meetings and places of business closed to the general public, unless otherwise directed by the business or employer, private gatherings held at an indoor public residence, and private gatherings held at indoor public venues such as weddings and funerals.

Read more:
COVID-19: How will proof of testing work in Saskatchewan?

Who will be exempt from this policy?

Children under the age of 12 are exempt from both the proof-of-vaccination and negative test requirement.

In an email to Global News, the health ministry said other exemptions would be determined in consultation with medical practitioners.

“At this time, the Government of Saskatchewan is still working with a variety of stakeholders to determine the final guidance regarding a proof-of-vaccination or negative test requirement. We will have more details closer to Oct 1.,” the health ministry said.

What does the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission say about the policy?

The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission has weighed in on the debate of whether or not vaccine policies are discriminatory.

“Vaccine mandates requiring proof of vaccination or negative testing are generally permissible under the (Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, 2018), so long as individuals who are unable to be vaccinated due to a Code-protected characteristic are reasonably accommodated,” the commission wrote on its website.

The Code does not protect those who are objected to getting the vaccine due to personal preference.

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“An individual who chooses not to be vaccinated based on personal preference does not have the right to accommodation under the Code.”

The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission acknowledged that there are some individuals who are unable to receive the COVID-19 vaccine due to a reason protected by the Code, such as a disability.

“Employers and service providers have a duty to reasonably accommodate them, to the point of undue hardship.”

The human rights commission further explained that accommodation will differ on a case-by-case basis.

“Employers and service providers must balance the duty to accommodate with any resulting health and safety risks.”

Testing requirements for COVID-19 “may meet the duty to accommodate,” the human rights commission added.

For individuals who require accommodation, they may need to provide medical information to support the request.

The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission added that they will not accept a complaint based on personal objection to vaccinations or vaccination mandates.

Read more:
B.C. Human Rights Commissioner issues guidelines on proof-of-vaccination requirements

Do private businesses, such as restaurants or gyms, have a duty to accommodate?

In an email to Global News, the human rights commission further explained that a duty to accommodate “does not necessarily require that an individual be exempted from vaccine mandates.”

“Reasonable accommodation must be assessed on an individual basis in accordance with the specific circumstances of the situation.”

There may be some circumstances where a reasonable accommodation includes accepting medical exemption. It may also take other forms such as COVID-19 testing requirements, delivery options, alternative hours of service or remote delivery of services.

The accommodation offered may not be perfect or preferred by the individual. When it comes to assessing an accommodation request, employers and service providers “must balance the duty to accommodate with any resulting health and safety risks.”

If granting an accommodation would create an undue hardship, an employer or service provider will not be required to do so. For example, if the accommodation would create an unacceptable health and safety risk.

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Is collection of personal vaccination information protected by the Code?

The collection of information about vaccination status is not protected by the Code. The commission added that where such information is collected, “it constitutes personal medical information and must be collected and stored in a manner consistent with privacy legislation.”

Can a letter from my doctor exempt me from the vaccine mandate?

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan (CPSS) has provided guidance to its members on providing supporting documents to individuals who are unable to get the vaccine due to medical reasons.

Dr. Karen Shaw, Registrar of CPSS said it’s “unfortunate” that across the country, people are referring to such documents as letters of exemption.

“Physicians are really providing the contraindications as to why somebody might not be able to receive a vaccination,” Shaw said at the Sept. 23 Saskatchewan Health Authority town hall meeting for physicians.

“The physician is really not exempting anyone from anything. These letters of contraindication cannot be used to exempt them from the rules that exist, whether they be public health orders or whether they be border crossing rules or any other rules that businesses may put into place.”

When it comes to providing a patient with a letter, Shaw said physicians should limit it to contraindications that are known about COVID-19 vaccines.

This can include a severe allergy or anaphylactic reaction to a previous dose of a COVID-19 vaccine dose or any of its components that cannot be mitigated — confirmed by a physician.

A diagnosed episode of myocarditis/pericarditis after receiving an mRNA vaccine is also a recognized contraindication.

Any note or letter should include the reason why a patient cannot be vaccinated against COVID-19, with “an absolute or relative contraindication” and the time frame which this would apply, such as permanent, time-limited or indeterminate.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Some rural Alberta restaurants face restrictions exemption program backlash

As much of the province’s hospitality industry tries to implement the Alberta government’s restrictions exemption program, some rural restaurants are being hit hard.

Not only are they facing open criticism and harassment, but sales have also been impacted.

Jen Frick is one of several people who stopped in for lunch at Cilantro and Chive in Lacombe and needed to show her COVID-19 immunization record card and ID to get in.

The restaurant is one of several rural Alberta businesses implementing the provincial government’s restrictions exemption program.

Read more:
Alberta’s latest COVID-19 measures cause frustration for doctors, restaurant owners

“Over the last couple of days, I’ve shown it at three different places. I have screenshotted it on my phone, bring out my ID. It’s no big deal,” Frick said.

But not everyone sees it this way.

“We’ve had a couple of incidents at the door, just making sure that we are checking IDs, and unfortunately, we were not able to look after them,” Cilantro and Chive co-owner Rieley Key said.

Kay said the backlash of implementing this program hasn’t stopped there.

“The most negative feedback we’ve got has been online, on the phone or through the mail. It’s people that aren’t coming through our doors,” Kay said.

Read more:
Harassment over COVID-19 restrictions prompts Alberta restaurant to pause indoor dining

The president of the Alberta Hospitality Association said negative feedback has been coming in from all over the province but seems to be popping up more in rural areas.

“Some have been receiving some pretty heavy harassments from guests that feel that it’s restaurants that have put this program in place when it’s been mandated by the government,” AHA president Ernie Tsu said.

Kay said many people just don’t understand it.

“ lots of people calling in, asking us what we are doing, how we are doing it and trying to better understand exactly what the requirements are,” Kay said.

Kay said the overall impact on business has been crushing.

He said sales at his Lacombe restaurant are down 40 per cent and down 55 per cent at his Red Deer location.

“It’s tough. It’s tough on morale. It’s tough on our psyche,” Kay said.

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Tale of two tea houses: Differing approaches to Alberta vaccine passport in High River

Kay said he wants people to know they are doing this to keep customers and staff safe — a position Frick understands and hopes others will too.

“Be kind to people out in the service industry that are enforcing the restrictions, and be kind to your health-care workers. They’ve dealt with so much throughout the last two years, and we just really need to support them,” Frick said.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Top Catholic bishop hopes residential school apology will improve Indigenous relations

WATCH ABOVE: Global National: Sept. 24

A leader in Canada’s national assembly of Catholic bishops says he hopes an apology for the harms endured at residential schools could mark a turning point in the church’s relations with Indigenous Peoples.

But some Indigenous leaders say it remains to be seen whether the remorseful sentiments will be backed up by meaningful steps toward reconciliation.

Read more:
Canada’s Catholic bishops formally apologize for role in residential school system

Bishop William McGrattan, vice-president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, says there are plans to expand on the commitments outlined in Friday’s “unequivocal apology” for the abuses committed by members of the church community who were involved in running residential schools.

The bishops have promised to provide records that could help “memorialize” the students believed to be buried in unmarked graves, raise money for initiatives endorsed by Indigenous leaders and work on getting the Pope to visit Canada.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald says she welcomes the apology, but was disappointed that the bishops didn’t pass a resolution to formally invite the Pope to Canada to apologize to residential school survivors, their families and communities.

McGrattan says plans for the Pope to meet with an Indigenous delegation travelling to the Vatican in December should be a “first step” toward securing the apology called for by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

'Life changing miracle drug': Cystic fibrosis treatment funded by Alberta government

Every day is a struggle for 12-year-old Elina Childs. The Edmonton girl has cystic fibrosis (CF) and her body is always working in overdrive. She struggles to stay awake throughout the day and every breath she takes is painful.

“My lungs feel frozen. Whenever I breathe in it feels like the air is super hot. It really hurts to breathe in,” Elina said.

“She spent months in the hospital at a time, she is falling asleep at school because her body can’t keep her awake for the whole day. She comes home from school and just sleeps. She is just, like ‘I want to go out and play’ and she can’t because she has to sleep. She is so tired,” Elina’s mom Michelle Childs said.

Cystic fibrosis is a deadly genetic disorder, affecting the digestive system and the lungs.

“12 years ago, I stood in our house and got the worst phone call of my life, hearing that she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis,” Michelle said.

“On Friday I got another phone call, which I can only described as being the best phone call of my life, and I heard that Trikafta was finally approved in Alberta.”

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Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan will start covering the cost of the new drug Trikafta to help people living with CF. The medication costs about $300,000 a year, per patient.

Rather than just treating symptoms, Trikafta targets the basic defect from one specific genetic mutation that causes CF.

According to the cystic fibrosis website, Trikafta could reduce the number of people living with severe lung disease by 60 per cent, and the number of deaths by 15 per cent. It would also add years of life to those with CF. For example, a child born with the disease could see a decade added to their life.

“I think it will help keep me out of the hospital… I hope it will at least give me one day to be a normal kid,” Elina said.

“Her body works so hard to stay alive, I can’t wait till she can put that energy into something she loves,” Michelle said.

Lisa Grono’s two teen children, Sydni and Logan Grono both have CF. After Trikafta was federally approved, the family’s private insurance covered the cost of the drug for both siblings. The teens have now been on it since July and Lisa has seen a big difference.

https://globalnews.ca/video/7969489/health-matters-new-miracle-drug-trikafta-approved-for-cystic-fibrosis-in-canada

“The kids are doing really well. Logan’s lung function has went from 86 per cent all the way up to 110 per cent in one month,” Lisa said.

“His cough is gone, his sinuses are clear for the first time ever.”

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Insurance denies Halifax man a life-changing drug for his cystic fibrosis

Lisa said she is looking forward to other families getting access to this life saving drug.

“When we got approved for it we were so happy but when other people don’t have it you can’t be super happy about it yet. We could celebrate a little bit, but it didn’t feel right yet. But now it feels right,” Lisa said.

“Going forward for all the babies born now, all the people who have CF, this is a life changing miracle drug.”

 

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Penticton youth rally to demand action on climate change

WATCH: Teaching children about the importance of sustainability

Youth in Penticton, B.C., held a rally on Friday demanding political action on the escalating climate emergency.

Approximately 50 people gathered with signs, banners and music and chanted demands for action while walking down Main St. to Gyro Park near the city’s lakefront.

“This is the fight for our future and the future of generations to come,” said grade 11 student Rosemary Tumbach from Summerland.

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Tumbach announced that youth would be inviting community members from the region to join them for monthly “Fridays for Future” rallies to be held on the last Friday of each month.

“We need to lift each other up and help each other to help the Earth. When we combine our incredible differences to work together, we are so powerful. We need to make sure government hears our voices,” said Penticton grade 11 student Eden Bamford.

Penticton biologist and South Okanagan West-Kootenay NDP MP Richard Cannings was in attendance and often participates in climate rallies.

He was re-elected to a third term during the 2021 federal election on Sept. 20, while the federal Liberals won another minority government.

Cannings told the crowd that one of his key objectives in Ottawa is to “get climate change to the top of the legislative agenda.”

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“We are calling on every parent, every adult, every elected person at every level to sweep away apathy and false narratives by accepting the truth presented by scientists around the world that our biosphere is collapsing,” added Jim Beattie, chair of First Things First Okanagan.

“Today, let’s honour our children and commit to leave them a better world.”

Recent scientific reports paint a dire picture of the international effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions, and the U.N. warned that more needs to be done if the goals of the 2015 Paris climate accord are to remain within reach.

Even though Parliament won’t look much different, some experts say Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s bruised minority government has given other parties leverage to push for more ambitious climate action.

That’s in large part because the threat of an election is off the table at a time when Canadians are demanding that more be done.

“No one can use the threat of `support me or we’ll launch an election,’ that’s over, that card has been played,” said Isabelle Turcotte, director of federal policy at the Pembina Institute.

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Turcotte pointed to every major party having a climate plan of some kind, and the fights over whether to have a carbon tax largely settled since 2019’s election as evidence Canadians are taking the climate crisis more seriously.

“Canadians clearly want progressive policies on climate, and they need a government that’s going to collaborate,” she said.

One area of focus will be the Liberal promise to accelerate the phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies, but strengthening the climate accountability bill that is supposed to guide Canada to net-zero is also expected to factor into the upcoming legislative climate battles.

Turcotte said she hopes the NDP will see its opportunity to hold Liberals accountable on the climate file.

Read more:
Why Canada could be burning coal well beyond the 2030 deadline set by the Liberals

“Sometimes the NDP has been hesitant to really differentiate themselves from the Liberal Party on climate and there’s a big opportunity for them here,” she said.

Turcotte highlighted a plank in the NDP platform that called for national and sectoral carbon budgets to help guide a transition to a clean economy in every corner of the country, calling them “really fundamental tools” to create transparency and needed to ensure a successful transition.

“The Liberals have a similar, but much narrower commitment with the targets for the oil and gas sector,” she said, referring to the promise to cap emissions and then ramp them down over time.

“Let’s build on that and let’s actually apply that across the board,” she said.

-With files from The Canadian Press and John Woodside, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Kingston celebrates first in-person Pride parade since pandemic began

Sunday marked Kingston's 32nd annual Pride parade, back in-person for the first time since 2019. The event saw hundreds of Kingstonians take to Confederation Park to celebrate.

Kingston Pride celebrated the 32nd annual Pride parade on Sunday and was met with great weather for the occasion.

“The sun is shining on Pride, as it always does. It shone on the parade and it’s been fantastic,” says Festival Director Ted Robinson.

The theme for this year’s Pride parade was “Together Again.” That’s because it’s been over two years since the festivities were held in-person.

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“There’s lots of people for whom COVID-19 has been an extremely difficult time with isolation, you know,” says Robinson. “We as a community rely on each other tremendously. So being able to be here and share what’s been happening for each of us in the last 18 months is fantastic.”

While Pride is traditionally celebrated in June, organizers moved the festival to September in hopes of bringing people together safely.

The events at Confederation Park required all attendees to show proof of full vaccination status and safety protocols were in place.

“People are grateful to be here, they’re grateful to be out and about, they’re grateful that we’ve put all of the safety protocols in place that we need to,” says Robinson.

Read more:
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Kingston Pride Chair Ian Burns says Kingston has shown great support for the Queer community.

“People really look to Pride as that symbol of community,” says Burns. “And without that visibility, it’s so much harder to find the people that you want to be with.”

For some Pride-goers, this year marks their first time at the parade.

“I’m very excited to be here,” says Trevor Shyack. “I just came out so it’s like so awesome to be so supported and be in such an amazing city with such supportive people.”

The 2021 Kingston Pride festival marks Shyack’s first parade, and they say they’ve felt welcomed by the Kingston LGBTQ2S+ community.

“You’re able to express yourself and you’re able to feel like you’re part of something bigger, which is really important,” says Shyack. “And it’s having that sense of community and having that sense of belonging in something bigger. And that’s really cool.”

For others, the event brings them strength.

“Me being part of the LGBTQ community, I feel welcome and I feel like very welcome into everything right now and I just feel more empowered,” says Addison Russell.

Sunday’s Pride parade and festivities mark the end of over a week of celebrating the LGBTQ2S+ community.

Kingston Pride says it will have more community events in the coming months to keep Kingstonians involved.

“If you don’t know about the Queer community, take a look at it, make sure you do some research,” says Burns. “And also just talk to people. We’re all people, and we’re all here and we all love.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Spain's La Palma's airport reopens, but all flights remain cancelled as volcano erupts

WATCH LIVE: La Palma volcano eruption intensifies as rivers of lava flow toward sea

The airport on the Spanish island of La Palma reopened on Sunday although all flights were canceled as the volcano spewed lava and emitted ash clouds over the surrounding area a week after it began erupting.

People used umbrellas to protect themselves from falling volcanic cash, while the airport’s departures hall was quiet and boards showed only canceled flights.

“They laugh at us because of the umbrella but if we don’t use it we end up covered in ash,” said engineer Waldo Nasco.

The Cumbre Vieja volcano erupting on Sept. 25, 2021 on La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain.

The Cumbre Vieja volcano erupting on Sept. 25, 2021 on La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain.

(Photo By Kike Rincon/Europa Press via Getty Images)

Experts said on Sunday there were two active lava flows, one fast-moving flow to the north and a slower one to the south.

“We have a flow to the north that is moving quickly… this lava comes from more interior areas of the crater and its temperature is about 1,250 degrees,” said Miguel Angel Morcuende, director of volcano response committee Pevolca, told a news conference on Sunday.

Reuters drone footage showed a rapid river of red hot lava flowing down the slopes of the crater, passing close to homes, and swathes of land and buildings engulfed by a black mass of slower-moving, older lava.

Lava destroyed the village church in Todoque on Sunday afternoon, its bell tower crumbling under the flow. It narrowly escaped earlier in the week when lava stopped just short of the church.

Morcuende said people who had been evacuated from Tacande de Arriba, Tacande de Abajo and Tajuya would be able to return to their homes.

Spain’s airport operator Aena said the airport had reopened after teams cleared ash off the runway. But Binter, the Canary Island airline said it would not allow flights today because of the conditions.

“The ash cloud originating from the volcanic eruption makes it necessary to maintain the temporary stoppage of flights to La Palma… The flights scheduled for today have been canceled,” it said in a statement, adding flights would be halted until conditions allowed them to take place safely.

Read more:
La Palma volcano: Lava continues destructive flow as volcanic ash covers villages

‘Closeness and solidarity’

Pope Francis sent a message of “closeness and solidarity” to those affected by the eruption during his weekly blessing in St. Peter’s Square.

On La Palma, churches held special masses for those affected.

“There are many people who are having a very bad time so we are praying for them,” said Magali Zarate, 49, from Mexico, after mass at the church of Colegio Sagrada Familia de Nazaret, where people outside swept away volcanic ash.

Zarate was on holiday on La Palma and was unable to return home because her flight was canceled.

The Cumbre Vieja volcano spews lava, ash and smoke as seen from Los Llanos de Aridane on the Canary island of La Palma in Sept. 26, 2021.

The Cumbre Vieja volcano spews lava, ash and smoke as seen from Los Llanos de Aridane on the Canary island of La Palma in Sept. 26, 2021.

(Photo by DESIREE MARTIN / AFP) (Photo by DESIREE MARTIN/AFP via Getty Images)

The Cumbre Vieja volcano, which began erupting last Sunday, entered a new explosive phase on Friday, experts said. The national Geographical and Mining Institute said on Saturday its drones had shown the volcano’s cone had broken.

The eruption has destroyed hundreds of houses and forced the evacuation of nearly 6,000 people since it began on Sept. 19.

“La Palma airport is back in operation. After progress in ash cleaning work, it can now be reopened,” Aena tweeted.

Travelers had been faced with canceled flights on Saturday, and many had joined long queues at the port in the hope of getting a boat off the island.

Read more:
Earthquake threat prompts evacuations on Spanish island of La Palma

On Sunday, ferry operator Fred Olsen Express said it would add an extra round trip between La Palma and Tenerife from Monday until Wednesday.

“Fred Olsen Express will increase connections… to continue meeting the demand for transport generated by the emergency situation caused by the volcanic eruption,” it said in a statement.

La Palma, with a population of over 83,000, is one of an archipelago making up the Canary Islands.

No fatalities or serious injuries have been reported since the volcano’s eruption, but about 15% of the island’s economically crucial banana crop could be at risk, jeopardizing thousands of jobs.

© 2021 Reuters

The 2 Michaels are home. But what about the 115 Canadians still detained in China?

WATCH: "Two Michaels" and Meng Wanzhou return home

All eyes were on Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor on Saturday as the two returned home following nearly three years spent in apparent arbitrary detention in China.

Heartwarming images and video surfaced of the two reuniting with their families. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday called their homecoming “good news for all of us,” noting that they had both gone through an “unbelievably difficult ordeal.”

But as of Sunday at least 115 Canadians remain in custody in Chinese prisons, Global Affairs Canada said in an emailed statement to Global News. Not all Canadians imprisoned in China are in arbitrary detainment, but the agency said at least four of those jailed are on death row.

Read more:
‘Two Michaels’ welcomed home by friends, family after years in Chinese detention

“Canada opposes the death penalty in all cases, everywhere,” Global Affairs Canada said.

“We have raised our firm opposition to the death penalty with China and continue to call on China to grant clemency for all Canadians sentenced to death.”

The agency said it reviews each detention on a case-by-case basis, as consular officials often require a “tailored approach” that can adapt to different local contexts and circumstances.

Here’s a look at the four Canadians currently on death row.

Robert Schellenberg

Of those sentenced to death, the most recent is Canadian Robert Schellenberg of Abbotsford, British Columbia. The Liaoning High Court upheld his death sentence on Aug. 10 following an appeal made over the summer.

Schellenberg was detained on drug charges in China in 2014 and was formally charged with drug smuggling in January 2015. Initially, a Chinese court had sentenced him to 15 years in prison. But four years later, his verdict was overturned following a retrial and he was sentenced to death.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau said in August that Canada “strongly” condemned the court’s decision to uphold the death penalty for Schellenberg.

Read more:
Chinese court upholds death sentence for Robert Schellenberg in drug smuggling case

“We have repeatedly expressed to China our firm opposition to this cruel and inhumane punishment and will continue to engage with Chinese officials at the highest levels to grant clemency to Mr. Schellenberg,” he said, shortly after the ruling was delivered.

“We oppose the death penalty in all cases, and condemn the arbitrary nature of Mr. Schellenberg’s sentence.”

In an emailed statement to Global News, Global Affairs Canada reiterated that the federal government remains “strongly opposed” to the decision to arbitrarily impose and uphold the death penalty for Schellenberg.

The agency added it “will continue to engage with Chinese officials at the highest levels to seek clemency for Mr. Schellenberg.”

Xu Weihong

Canadian Xu Weihong was sentenced to death by the Guangzhou Municipal Intermediate Court over drug manufacturing charges on Aug. 6, 2020. They also handed down a life sentence to Wen Guanxiong, whom they claim helped Xu make ketamine.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin justified Xu’s death sentence during a briefing last year, saying that death penalties would help “deter and prevent” similar crimes in the future.

“I would like to stress that China’s judicial authorities handle the relevant case independently in strict accordance with Chinese law and legal procedures,” Wang had said.

He added that “this case should not inflict any impact on China-Canada relations.”

Ye Jianhui

Ye Jianhui is the fourth Canadian to receive the death penalty in China.

His sentence was handed down in August of last year over charges to manufacture and transport drugs by the Foshan Municipal Intermediate Court, just one day after Xu’s.

Ye and co-defendant Lu Hanchang conspired with others to manufacture and transport drugs between May 2015 and January 2016, the Associated Press reported last year.

Asked last year if the sentencing of the Canadian drug offenders was linked to Meng’s case, Wang said China’s judicial organs “handle cases independently,” while also adding that “the Canadian side knows the root cause” of difficulties in China-Canadian relations.

Read more:
China sentences another Canadian to death over drug charges

Fan Wei

Fan Wei was given the death penalty on April 30, 2019 along with 11 others over his involvement in an international methamphetamine operation.

Speaking to Global News the day of his sentencing, Global Affairs Canada said officials attended the sentencing and reading of the verdict. They called on China to grant clemency, adding the decision to apply the “cruel and inhumane” death penalty to Fan’s case was of “extreme concern” to their government.

“Obtaining clemency for Xu Weihong, Ye Jianhui and Fan Wei is also of primary importance given China’s decision to impose the death penalty in these cases,” Global Affairs Canada said, in an emailed statement to Global News on Sunday.

“Canada will continue to provide consular services to Robert Schellenberg, Xu Weihong, Ye Jianhui and Fan Wei, as well as to their families.”

— With files from Global News’ Saba Aziz and Aaron D’Andrea, as well as the Canadian Press, Associated Press and Reuters.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Saskatchewan sets new records for daily and active COVID-19 cases

A day after the SHA announced its halting organ transplants because its overwhelmed by COVID-19, the father of Humboldt Broncos player Logan Boulet urged people to get vaccinated.

A week after setting a record for daily new COVID-19 cases, Saskatchewan has set another one.

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Officials reported 552 new cases on Sunday.

The previous record was set on Sept. 19 when officials reported 543 new cases.

Another record was set on Sunday when active cases reached a total of 4,864. Prior to this, the most active cases Saskatchewan has had since the beginning of the pandemic was 4,763 on Dec. 7.

The seven-day average of daily new cases is 478 or 39.7 per 100,000 population.

Read more:
Saskatchewan sees uptick in COVID-19 vaccination shots

There are 281 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 63 receiving intensive care.

Three more residents who tested positive for COVID-19 have died, the province also reported Sunday. The provincial death toll is now 670.

The province logged 436 new recoveries on Sunday.

Read more:
QR codes temporarily removed from Sask. COVID-19 vaccine records due to ‘privacy breach’

A total of 2,153 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were given out since the province’s last COVID-19 update on Saturday. A total of 729,097 residents are now fully vaccinated.

 

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Murder, arson charges laid in deadly fire in northern Alberta, victim yet to be identified

RCMP in northern Alberta have laid charges in connection with a deadly fire.

Mounties and Smoky River Fire Services responded to a trailer fire on the afternoon of Sept. 22 in the town of Falher, near Peace River.

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Once the fire was extinguished, investigators discovered human remains.

The medical examiner is working to determine the victim’s identity and cause of the death.

Roderick Ellery-Sorensen, 26, of Falher has been charged with second degree murder and two counts of arson.

The fire caused damage to the neigbouring house and apartment complex.

Ellery-Sorensen is expected to appear in court in Peace River Sept. 27.

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