OTTAWA – About 20 senators from the Maritimes are urging the federal government to provide financial assistance for the intercity bus service they say is at risk due to the pandemic.
The 21 senators sent a letter to the new Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra, in which they argue that the regional carrier Maritime Bus provides an essential service to the health network, transporting blood products and patients throughout the region.
Senators also plead that the service is particularly important for small rural towns and francophone communities in northern New Brunswick.
The Maritime Bus carrier announced in early January that due to the pandemic, it would suspend its bus service in New Brunswick between Campbellton and Moncton as well as between Edmundston and Fredericton. Service between Fredericton and Saint John and between Fredericton and Moncton has also been changed.
Video: Lots of luggage, but few fines for those traveling in the midst of a pandemic (Le Devoir)
Click here to enlarge
No collective immunity against COVID-19 in 2021, according to WHO
Faced with the galloping progression of COVID-19, massive vaccination campaigns will not be enough to guarantee collective immunity in 2021. Case statistics, which now exceed the 90 million recorded, are panicking around the world, due to more contagious mutations of the virus, especially in the United Kingdom. The WHO has warned that masks, social distancing and hand washing would still be the daily life of humanity “at least until the end of this year”. “We are not going to reach […] collective immunity in 2021 ”, affirmed the scientific director of the WHO, Soumya Swaminathan. The deployment of vaccines, when it comes to billions of doses, “takes time”, she explained, urging “to show a little patience”. The director of health of the International Federation of Red Cross Societies, Emanuele Capobianco, warned of a “potential false sense of security due to the deployment of vaccines”. A concern justified by the worldwide circulation of the variant identified in Great Britain, of increased contagiousness.
Quebec retreat on the complete reopening of libraries
After announcing that libraries in Quebec could have “all spaces open to all, the Ministry of Health reversed its decision, following an intervention from Public Health. At the beginning of the afternoon, the clarifications requested on the application of these instructions from Public Health were still not provided. Marjorie Larouche, from the Ministry of Health, said then that everything was put under discussion. “The modalities relating to the application of this measure are currently under discussion and will be the subject of further details,” she told Le Devoir. “Basically, we are being asked to respect the intention expressed by the Prime Minister [François Legault] during the press conference on January 6: opening workspaces to students and pupils only, ”explained the Director General, Eve Lagacé. Among the librarians, fatigue and skin-deep emotions were already evident when the reopening was announced this morning. Many considered it illogical to reopen at the peak of the pandemic, and saw it as a contradiction with containment and curfew. Others, fewer in number, were happy to be seen as an essential service.
Democrats formally accuse Trump of “inciting insurgency”
Democrats moved forward on Monday towards the opening of a second impeachment procedure against Donald Trump, accused of “inciting violence” which hit the Capitol. Even if the end of his mandate, on January 20, is very close, the Democrats are determined to hasten his exit, after these events which left five dead and shook the country. The Republican billionaire could thus become the first president of the United States to be indicted in Congress (“impeached”) twice in impeachment proceedings. On the one hand, parliamentarians have filed an indictment against Donald Trump, the first step towards the formal opening of a second impeachment procedure. A plenary vote to adopt this indictment could be organized as early as Wednesday in the Chamber. At the same time, they called for the unanimous adoption of a resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence to remove the President from office, invoking the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution. Long loyal to the Republican billionaire, Mike Pence has not had any contact with him since Wednesday. But he has so far shown no willingness to trigger this device.
The regional carrier has already requested support from the governments of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. But senators argue that Maritime Bus does not qualify for various federal support programs, primarily because it is a for-profit company. However, senators point out that Ottawa already directly financed the Greyhound company when this carrier abandoned bus routes in Western Canada.
“Due to the interprovincial nature of (Maritime Bus) and for the sake of regional equity, we believe that federal support, tailored to the unique circumstances of the Maritimes, is warranted,” the letter reads. “As Via Rail service is still suspended and airlines continue to cut services to the region, it is imperative that we maintain Maritime Bus service. A tailor-made federal-provincial agreement is the best way forward. ”
Earlier this month, the president of the regional carrier, Mike Cassidy, explained that the number of passengers had increased from 191,000 in 2019 to 69,000 in 2020.
The Canadian Press