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CRTC trying to hang up on spoof calls

Caller ID spoofing occurs when callers hide or misrepresent their identity by displaying fictitious or altered phone numbers when making calls.

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All those calls from the taxman and Canadian Border Services officials threatening to arrest you could soon be coming to an end thanks to new regulations from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

“Many Canadians are now able to determine which calls can be trusted thanks to a new technology aimed at combating spoofed calls named STIR/SHAKEN. Caller ID spoofing is frequently used in nuisance and fraudulent calls to mask the identity of the caller,” said the CRTC in a release.

“As of today, telecommunications service providers will certify whether a caller’s identity can be trusted by verifying the caller ID information for Internet Protocol-based voice calls. This new technology will help reduce the frequency and impact of caller ID spoofing. As service providers continue to upgrade their IP networks and offer compatible phones to their customers, more and more Canadians will be able to see the effects of STIR/SHAKEN.”

It’s believed up to 25% of all calls in Canada are scams.

The CRTC said Caller ID spoofing occurs when callers hide or misrepresent their identity by displaying fictitious or altered phone numbers when making calls.

“This new caller ID technology will empower Canadians to determine which calls are legitimate and worth answering, and which need to be treated with caution. As more providers upgrade their networks, STIR/SHAKEN will undoubtedly reduce spoofing and help Canadians regain peace of mind when answering phone calls,” said Ian Scott, CRTC CEO.

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Health Minister Duclos has no info on $150-million COVID contract to SNC-Lavalin

But testifying at the Commons health committee, Duclos had no answer when asked why the contract was issued.

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SNC-Lavalin was given a $150-million sole-source contract to provide “urgently” needed field hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic — but Canada’s Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos doesn’t seem to know much about it, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

The field hospitals were never used.

“This is obviously in support of the needs at the request of provinces and territories,” said Duclos.

But testifying at the Commons health committee, Duclos had no answer when asked why the contract was issued.

“What is the status of the mobile field hospitals SNC-Lavalin was contracted to produce?” asked Conservative MP Shelby Kramp-Neuman (Hastings-Lennox, Ont.).

“It was an example of the significant level of preparation that we did throughout the crisis,” replied Duclos.

“Why have the field hospitals from SNC-Lavalin not been deployed?” asked Kramp-Neuman.

Duclos replied he had no information on “the exact nature of the state of that equipment.”

“Did the Prime Minister’s Office approve of this?” asked MP Kramp-Neuman.

“That’s a public works question,” replied Duclos.

“We’re not getting a lot of clarity here,” said MP Kramp-Neuman, adding: “The buck stops with you. Sadly, I recognize you don’t have all the answers to everything, but it doesn’t seem like we’re getting a lot of answers to anything.”

An unidentified Department of Public Works manager finalized the SNC-Lavalin contract on April 9, 2020 without notice to other bidders.

“A public call for tenders was not issued due to the urgency of the need as a result of the pandemic,” said an internal e-mail.

However, as late as Sep. 9, 2020, the Québec contractor had still not fixed a delivery date, according to staff emails.

Paul Thompson, deputy minister of public works, Tuesday said he knew little of the contract details.

“I personally don’t have all the details at my fingertips,” said Thompson.

SNC-Lavalin was paid to supply field hospitals equipped with 200 hospital beds, ventilators, masks, medical gowns and ten days’ worth of medication, back-up generators, water and oxygen tanks, X-ray machines, shower bays and latrines.

“The self-sufficiency of the unit makes it extremely flexible for deployment where the need is greatest in Canada,” said a memo.

Internal records dated Oct. 13, 2020 disclosed no one wanted the field hospitals.

The department said spending included $2 million for design work and millions more on warehousing medical supplies for presumed future use.

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WATCH: Calgary lawyer discusses employment law and human rights with regard to vax mandates

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Calgary lawyer Leighton Grey with Grey Wowk Spencer LLP. joins the Western Standard for a live discussion on employment law. Grey and others at his law firm represent many oil and gas workers along with public and civil servants.

Grey gives his “5,000-foot view” of what millions of workers are facing with COVID-19 vaccination mandates across the nation.

Federal workers will also hear from Grey on the new update from the Treasury Board stating a “one-size-fits-all approach” won’t work for the many departments and agencies in the federal government.

Tune in Wednesday, January 19 at 11:30 a.m. MST for the exclusive interview.

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Manitobans shipped to US for surgery

The move is an effort to deal with the province’s backlog of more than 153,000 surgical and diagnostic procedures, blamed on COVID-19 health care demands.

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About 300 Manitobans awaiting spinal surgery will be sent to Sanford Medical Centre in Fargo ND for their operations.

The move is an effort to deal with the province’s backlog of more than 153,000 surgical and diagnostic procedures, blamed on COVID-19 health care demands.

Patients who have been on the spinal surgery waiting list for more than a year will be given priority. Some may be headed south of the border by the end of January.

Health Minister Audrey Gordon and members of the Diagnostic and Surgical Recovery Task Force are expected to provide an update at a 2 p.m. CST news conference.

The province may also be contemplating sending joint-surgery patients to Sanford.

“We acknowledge the suffering. We acknowledge the waits,” said Dr. Ed Buchel, the provincial surgery lead for Manitoba Shared Health told CBC.

Sending patients elsewhere in Canada isn’t an option because every provincial health care system is overwhelmed with demands from the Omicron variant, he said.

Health staff have been diverted from operating rooms to care for COVID-19 patients while surgery backlogs escalated.

Patients suffering broken backs, unstable spines or cancer are deemed too risky for surgery in the U.S.

Preference will be given to those with serious conditions needing urgent attention, yet are able to travel by vehicle to Sanford, 360 km from Winnipeg.

Doctors Manitoba hopes this is a short-term measure.

“Sending patients out of Manitoba for care is not ideal, but we understand the task force has very few local options right now because of the shortage of staff and the current surge in Omicron hospital admissions,” spokesperson Keir Johnson said in a statement to CBC.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Manitoba was the only province that transferred critical care patients, 57 in all, out-of-province.

To be updated…

Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

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