Meteorologist Jaclyn Whittal has your National forecast for January 4, 2021
Meteorologist Jaclyn Whittal has your National forecast for January 4, 2021
PALM BEACH, Fla. — Donald Trump has lost his social media megaphone, the power of government and the unequivocal support of his party's elected leaders. But a week after leaving the White House in disgrace, a large-scale Republican defection that would ultimately purge him from the party appears unlikely. Many Republicans refuse to publicly defend Trump's role in sparking the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. But as the Senate prepares for an impeachment trial for Trump's incitement of the riot, few seem willing to hold the former president accountable. After House Republicans who backed his impeachment found themselves facing intense backlash — and Trump’s lieutenants signalled the same fate would meet others who joined them — Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly Tuesday for an attempt to dismiss his second impeachment trial. Only five Republican senators rejected the challenge to the trial. Trump's conviction was considered a real possibility just days ago after lawmakers whose lives were threatened by the mob weighed the appropriate consequences — and the future of their party. But the Senate vote on Tuesday is a sign that while Trump may be held in low regard in Washington following the riots, a large swath of Republicans is leery of crossing his supporters, who remain the majority of the party’s voters. “The political winds within the Republican Party have blown in the opposite direction,” said Ralph Reed, chair of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and a Trump ally. “Republicans have decided that even if one believes he made mistakes after the November election and on Jan. 6, the policies Trump championed and victories he won from judges to regulatory rollback to life to tax cuts were too great to allow the party to leave him on the battlefield.” The vote came after Trump, who decamped last week to his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, began wading back into politics between rounds of golf. He took an early step into the Arkansas governor’s race by endorsing former White House aide Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and backed Kelli Ward, an ally who won reelection as chair of Arizona’s Republican Party after his endorsement. At the same time, Trump’s team has given allies an informal blessing to campaign against the 10 House Republicans who voted in favour of impeachment. After Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer backed impeachment, Republican Tom Norton announced a primary challenge. Norton appeared on longtime Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast in a bid to raise campaign contributions. On Thursday, another Trump loyalist, Rep. Matt Gaetz, plans to travel to Wyoming to condemn home-state Rep. Liz Cheney, a House GOP leader who said after the Capitol riot that “there has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.” Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. — a star with Trump’s loyal base —- has encouraged Gaetz on social media and embraced calls for Cheney’s removal from House leadership. Trump remains livid with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, who refused to support Trump's false charges that Georgia's elections were fraudulent. Kemp is up for reelection in 2022, and Trump has suggested former Rep. Doug Collins run against him. Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s decision not to seek reelection in 2022 opens the door for Rep. Jim Jordan, one of Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters, to seek the seat. Several other Republicans, some far less supportive of the former president, are also considering running. Trump’s continued involvement in national politics so soon after his departure marks a dramatic break from past presidents, who typically stepped out of the spotlight, at least temporarily. Former President Barack Obama was famously seen kitesurfing on vacation with billionaire Richard Branson shortly after he left office, and former President George W. Bush took up painting. Trump, who craves the media spotlight, was never expected to burrow out of public view. “We will be back in some form,” he told supporters at a farewell event before he left for Florida. But exactly what form that will take is a work in progress. Trump remains deeply popular among Republican voters and is sitting on a huge pot of cash — well over $50 million — that he could use to prop up primary challenges against Republicans who backed his impeachment or refused to support his failed efforts to challenge the election results using bogus allegations of mass voter fraud in states like Georgia. “POTUS told me after the election that he’s going to be very involved,” said Matt Schlapp, the chair of the American Conservative Union. “I think he’s going to stay engaged. He’s going to keep communicating. He’s going to keep expressing his opinions. I, for one, think that’s great, and I encouraged him to do that.” Aides say he also intends to dedicate himself to winning back the House and Senate for Republicans in 2022. But for now, they say their sights are on the trial. “We’re getting ready for an impeachment trial — that’s really the focus,” said Trump adviser Jason Miller. Trump aides have also spent recent days trying to assure Republicans that he is not currently planning to launch a third party — an idea he has floated — and will instead focus on using his clout in the Republican Party. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said he received a call from Brian Jack, the former White House political director, on Saturday at home to assure him that Trump had no plans for defection. “The main reason for the call was to make sure I knew from him that he’s not starting a third party and if I would be helpful in squashing any rumours that he was starting a third party. And that his political activism or whatever role he would play going forward would be with the Republican Party, not as a third party,” Cramer said. The calls were first reported by Politico. But the stakes remain high for Trump, whose legacy is a point of fierce contention in a Republican Party that is grappling with its identity after losing the White House and both chambers of Congress. Just three weeks after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, Trump’s political standing among Republican leaders in Washington remains low. “I don’t know whether he incited it, but he was part of the problem, put it that way,” said Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a strong Trump supporter, when asked about the Capitol siege and the related impeachment trial. Tuberville did not say whether he would personally defend Trump in the trial, but he downplayed the prospect of negative consequences for those Republican senators who ultimately vote to convict him. “I don’t think there’ll be any repercussions,” Tuberville said. “People are going to vote how they feel anyway.” Trump maintains a strong base of support within the Republican National Committee and in state party leadership, but even there, Republican officials have dared to speak out against him in recent days in ways they did not before. In Arizona, Ward, who had Trump’s backing, was only narrowly reelected over the weekend, even as the party voted to censure a handful of Trump’s Republican critics, including former Sen. Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain. At the same time, Trump’s prospective impeachment sparked a bitter feud within the RNC. In a private email exchange obtained by The Associated Press, RNC member Demetra DeMonte of Illinois proposed a resolution calling on every Republican senator to oppose what she called an “unconstitutional sham impeachment trial, motivated by a radical and reckless Democrat majority.” Bill Palatucci, a Republican committeeman from New Jersey, slapped back. “His act of insurrection was an attack on our very democracy and deserves impeachment,” Palatucci wrote. ___ Peoples reported from New York. Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington contributed to this report. Steve Peoples And Jill Colvin, The Associated Press
The first fully battery-electric bus line in Metro Vancouver will be up and running in 2022, according to TransLink, thanks to a $16 million investment from Canada's gas tax fund. In a joint announcement, the federal government and TransLink said the money will be used to purchase 15 battery-electric buses from Canadian manufacturer Nova Bus. the vehicles will run on the No. 100 route through New Westminster, Burnaby and Vancouver. Outgoing TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said the acquisition of the buses will more than quadruple the company's current fleet of four battery-electric buses. "Our plan is to continue to replace diesel buses being retried… with all zero-emission battery-electric buses," he said. Each zero-emission bus is expected to save 100 tonnes of greenhouse gases and $40,000 in annual fuel costs compared to a conventional diesel bus. Martin LaRose, general manager of Nova Bus, said the vehicles being sold to TransLink will have a battery range of around 350 to 450 kilometres. The buses can be charged in approximately five minutes at charging stations while picking up passengers. Nova Bus is based in St. Eustache, Que., and is a division of Swedish-owned Volvo Buses. Almost a third of all greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, said Desmond.
Cette initiative est lancée par les agents de découvrabilité territoriale (ADT) qui sont en poste depuis l’automne dernier. Les ADT, qui sont présents dans différentes régions comme l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue, le Nord-du-Québec et le Nord-Est de l’Ontario, ont pour mission d’améliorer la visibilité et la quantité de l’information sur nos territoires qui se retrouvent sur la plateforme Wikipédia. Au départ, les ADT ont dû se familiariser avec le site Wikipédia pour ensuite répertorier tout ce qui s’y trouvait et ayant rapport aux régions concernées avant de débuter le travail de terrain. « Il a fallu effectuer un travail de terrain pour débroussailler ce qui se trouvait déjà sur Wiki. Pour ensuite modifier quelques informations, améliorer quelques pages. Il faut aussi créer du nouveau matériel », de nous mentionner Émélie Rivard-Boudreau, ADT Qu’est-ce qu’un Wiki club? Un Wiki club, c’est un regroupement de passionnés où chacun contribue, selon ses forces et compétences, à mettre en lumière différents aspects de son territoire dans la grande encyclopédie libre Wikipédia. Plusieurs manières de participer ont déjà été identifiées, soit à titre de rédacteur, de photographe amateur, de sourceur. La combinaison de ces formes variées de contribution permet ultimement de rehausser la représentativité des territoires de chacun sur Wikipédia. « L’un des objectifs visés est de recruter des ambassadeurs ou wikipédiens dans chaque territoire compris dans le Croissant boréal, c’est-à-dire l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue, le Nord-Est ontarien francophone et la Baie-James », a précisé Edma-Annie Wheelhouse, agente de développement culturel numérique au Conseil de la culture de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue. « Nous partageons déjà de nombreux points communs en matière de territoire, d’économie, d’identité et de culture. En nous unissant, nous augmentons notre pouvoir d’attraction et favorisons notre déploiement à l’échelle nationale et internationale de la francophonie.» Pourquoi Wikipédia ? C’est parce qu’il n’y pas de limite avec Wikipédia. On peut y entrer des textes, bien sûr, mais aussi des photos, des graphiques, des diagrammes, des vidéos et chacun peut ajouter son grain de sel, peu importe quand il le fait. « Si on prend une personnalité X du Nord-du-Québec, il se peut qu’aujourd’hui nous n’ayons pas assez de matériel pour faire un article complet sur cette personnalité. Mais pourquoi ne pas commencer tout de suite? On peut créer sa page et mettre sa date de naissance. » C’est l’exemple que nous a donné Émélie Rivard-Boudreau. « L’initiative est de faire rayonner des gens de chez nous. Par exemple, au début du projet, il y a une page qui a été créée sur Godefroy de Billy qui a été un maire important de la ville de Chibougamau dans les années 1970. L’artiste peintre, Stéphanie Thompson de Matagami, a vu sa page créée », de renchérir Frédérique Brais-Chaput, ADT pour le Nord-du-Québec.» « Présentement, je travaille sur les pages des radios », de nous mentionner l’ADT du Nord-du-Québec. Il n’y avait pas de pages ou simplement des ébauches incomplètes et en anglais. C’est une vitrine importante pour eux. Un autre exemple, la page de Romeo Saganash est incomplète, selon Mme Brais-Chaput. C’est lui aussi un personnage important. Il faut que l’information que l’on y retrouve soit complète et exacte. » Selon les responsables du projet : « Ce n’est pas normal que les principales entreprises de la région soient absentes de la plateforme Wikipédia. » Au dire de Mme Brais-Chaput, les entreprises comme Chantiers-Chibougamau, Barrette-Chapais, Chapais Énergie et tout récemment, les Serres bleues, sont absentes. Elles se doivent d’être présentes pour que le monde puisse les découvrir. Ouvert à tous Le recrutement de personnes de chaque territoire intéressées à joindre les rangs du Wiki club Croissant boréal est déjà amorcé. « Les passionnés de la langue française, de l’histoire, de la politique, de l’actualité, de la culture, du sport ou des technologies peuvent tous trouver de l’intérêt à contribuer à Wikipédia », a-t-elle constaté. En consultant la page Wikipédia du projet « Croissant boréal », les nouveaux contributeurs pourront rapidement repérer comment ils peuvent y exploiter leurs intérêts et leurs forces. »René Martel, Initiative de journalisme local, La Sentinelle
A prospective COVID-19 vaccine touted as a made-in-Canada response has begun human clinical trials in Toronto, and the company says it's already preparing a follow-up that will target more infectious variants. Providence Therapeutics of Calgary says if all goes well, it could start manufacturing millions of doses of its first prospective vaccine by the end of the year, guaranteeing a Canadian stockpile that wouldn't be subject to global supply pressures or competition. That's if the formulation proves safe and effective, of course. Among the challenges of developing a vaccine amid a raging pandemic is the uncertainty of how more infectious variants now emerging will complicate the COVID battle. Even if successful, by the time Providence Therapeutics releases its vaccine hopeful much of the country could be in the throes of a more infectious virus that does not respond to this formulation, allowed company CEO Brad Sorenson. "We don't believe that this is going to be resolved by a single vaccine," said Sorenson, whose biotech also produces a personalized mRNA-based vaccine against cancer. It's a challenge now facing Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which have each said its products appear to respond well to the variant initially identified in the United Kingdom, and to a lesser degree, the variant first detected in South Africa. Moderna said earlier this week it plans to test two booster vaccines aimed at the variant associated with South Africa. Sorenson said Providence is already internally testing a vaccine candidate that targets the variants, and he hoped to begin clinical trials by the end of the year. "We believe that there's going to be a need to be in a position of readiness to be able to respond as these variants are coming up, and to be able to make sure that we have that capacity." That doesn't mean Providence is changing production runs just yet. Sorenson said the immediate focus is to establish the safety and efficacy of its COVID-19 vaccine, dubbed PTX-COVID19-B and designed in the early days of the pandemic last March. It uses messenger RNA technology and focuses on the spike protein located on the surface of a coronavirus that initiates infection, similar to the Pfizer and Moderna products. The trial involves 60 healthy volunteers aged 18 to 25 who will be monitored for 13 months, with the first results expected in February. The subjects are divided into four groups of 15, three of which will get three different doses. The fourth group gets a placebo. Sorenson said immediate pandemic efforts should be focused on the novel coronavirus currently devastating many parts of the country. "It's a matter of capacity. Right now these variants are there, they're concerning, and we're keeping a close eye on it, but that's not predominantly what the needs of the population are," said Sorenson. "Right now the needs of the population are still tied to the primary spike protein virus that's out there and is ravaging around the world." Sorenson said his next vaccine candidate takes a broader approach by attempting to elicit a T-cell response, thereby creating a longer-term vaccine "and cover what we believe would be a lot more variants." "We have to prove it out but we believe that if we are successful that it will allow for a much more durable immunity and a much broader immunity." The other goal is to prepare for large-scale manufacturing in Calgary, if all goes well with the trials and approval process. Sorenson said doses for the Phase 1 trial are being made in Toronto but the plan is to commercially manufacture the completed vaccine through a contract with the Calgary-based Northern RNA Inc. That won't be up and running by the end of the year, Sorenson allowed, so the short-term plan is to send raw materials made in Canada to a plant in the United States that would make the commercial product. Eventually, the whole process would be completed in Canada, he said. "We're building the entire chain within Canada so we're not going to run into a problem where this particular input into the vaccine is unavailable," he said. Much of this also depends on financial support from the federal government, Sorenson added. While the National Research Council of Canada has backed Phase 1 trials, Sorenson said he's awaiting word on further support. He'd also like Ottawa to back Providence's efforts to address the new COVID variants. "They've already recognized the importance of mRNA technology. What they don't realize is the power of mRNA technology to be responsive to these challenges that are coming up," he said. "Hopefully the politicians and the people that cut the cheques and write the policies that give direction to the bureaucrats will hear that and we'll start seeing a more concerted approach that looks at a fuller picture." Pending regulatory approval, Sorenson said a larger, international Phase 2 trial may start in May with seniors, younger subjects and pregnant people, followed by an even broader Phase 3 trial. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press
Huronia Airport's tri-party owners pored over the various options presented by a consultant to keep the asset viable. Trent Gervais, president and CEO of Loomex Group, which was hired to prepare a detailed report around the aviation property, talked Monday evening to the three municipalities that own the 300-acre piece of property in Tiny Township. He said the airport has some crucial positive features, such as room to grow, an approximately 4,000 foot runway that can accommodate small charters, commercial and larger general aviation aircrafts, proximity to cottage country, and low tax, utilities, and fuel costs. Some downsides, as Gervais pointed out, include weak internet access, outdated machinery and equipment, outdated fuel system and lack of a flight school. In the report, he lists a number of ways the airport can be revived as a revenue-generating asset for the area. Increasing communications on various channels can not only bring in tourism and visitors, but also attract a flight school, and open up the space to events. Additional hangar spaces can be added and some of the airport building space can be leased out to other businesses. Another suggestion was to strike a partnership with Tay Township, which is the only North Simcoe municipality currently not sharing in the ownership of the airport. When the floor was opened for questions, Midland's Coun. Jon Main was the first to jump in with a query. "How have you seen the airport industry change in the pandemic and are we close to seeing it return to normal?" he asked. Gervais said it's no secret that COVID-19 has decimated the aviation industry. "Airports hurting the most are those that rely heavily on schedule service," he said, adding some airports have lost 90% of their business. Despite that, it’s still going fairly strong, said Gervais. "We also think it’s a great opportunity that when the general population gets out and moves around, it’s going to take them time to build up the trust to travel abroad," he said. "Domestic travel is a great asset. What can your airport do to attract that potential business to the area?" Tiny Township's Coun. Tony Mintoff said despite the challenges and the hardships COVID-19 has created in every other area of life, the airport's movements were up by 17% over 2019. "Our fuel sales are up 60% over last year," he said. Main asked about another use for the airport. "We have all these extreme weather events that are potentially going to be affecting us, so are the airport's emergency capabilities would be fantastic to be further explored?" he said. Gervais said that could work. "Your airport could be equipped to assist with emergency management," he said. "It could be a small evacuation shelter. It could be a small transportation hub. It could play another role. It's just an asset sitting there." Penetanguishene councillor George Vadeboncoeur wanted to know if the tri-party municipal agreement would be reviewed. Jeff Lees, chief administrative officer for Penetanguishene, said that was one of the suggestions made by Loomex and agreed upon by the three CAOs. Midland's Coun. Bill Gordon wanted to know more about the suggestion around hosting events on the airport property. "I've heard that a couple times now, and as I recall there were at least two events that were proposed and denied," he said. "Has there's been a shift in the mentality now?" Gervais clarified the types of events the report was suggesting. "What we are really encouraging is that the events should be aviation and aerospace related," he said. "They're the types of events we would encourage you to attract to the airport." Mintoff, who is part of the Huronia Airport Commission, added to that. "We've had two significant proposals brought to us," he said. "One was for a concert-type venue. We worked with the proponent, but what happened was that they were asking us to undertake all the liabilities and responsibilities, without any commitment to revenue from that opportunity. "The second opportunity was to host drag races on the airport runway," continued Mintoff. "We worked very much with the proponent to make sure we had the appropriate insurance policies, but found out that these events can create significant damage to the runways. The amount of money we were being offered wouldn't have cleaned it up." The commission, he said, understands the desire of the three host municipalities to generate revenue to offset the deficit. "We feel we have to have the right things that will generate reasonable revenue without exposing municipalities to the liabilities," Mintoff said. Gordon then asked about the airport competing with the Lake Simcoe Regional Airport in Oro-Medonte. "The Lake Simcoe (Regional) Airport is in significant growth mode and it's proven so likely to produce income," he said. "Are we really wise to be competing against our own upper tier of government when our collective tax dollars are promoting their growth?" Gervais said there's plenty of room in the airspace for all the airports. "The Lake Simcoe Regional Airport sits as part of the Southern Ontario Airport Network," he said. "Each one of those airports is defined around the type of business they're in. Although Simcoe won't turn away general aviation traffic, that's not what they're promoting. They're out there promoting the big jet traffic. "Those that are travelling to North Simcoe are going to want to land in North Simcoe," added Gervais. Gordon then asked about divestment. "Why did we choose not to look at divestment as an option?" Gervais said that wasn't part of the mandate. However, the report does include a section about divestiture. Small and medium-sized municipalities may look at selling off airports with aging infrastructures, but there are many advantages and disadvantages to consider, says the report. Selling may be difficult negotiate considering the agreements already in place with hangar owners. Private investors may not want to invest back in the airport. "Another challenge with a private airport structure is managing noise and other environmental externalities generated by airports," says the report. "Seldom, costs of noise pollution are included in the profit and loss sheet of a private airport. Often, politicians spend tax dollars to cover the costs of noise mitigation; this would remain a burden on the municipality, regardless of ownership structure, in order to calm neighbouring voters/taxpayers." As well, the Loomex report says, selling the airport to a private owner would take away municipal control over the activities at the airfield. Midland's Mayor Stewart Strathearn spoke up against divestiture. "If you divest totally of the airport, you'll never get it back," he said. He then asked about the runway capacity to allow larger planes to land. "We have a 4,000-foot runaway, can it accommodate a Dash-8? What would the range of an aircraft like that be?" he said. "If we're talking about a more focused marketing plan, tied into something like cruise ships, then you start to have people who are deposited in our area and may need to go back to, for example, Chicago." Gervais said the strip is equipped for a Dash-8 to land on it. "We'd have to look at what size, but a Dash-8 300, would have 50 to 70 passengers," he added. Strathearn also wanted to know how the Huronia Airport would stand apart from all the other airpotrs in the region that already offer flight school. Gervais' advice was to look for the niche. "There are a lot of international pilots that could be attracted," he said. "Could it be an ultra light flight school? There are a lot of unmanned aircrafts that are reaching potential. I wouldn't suggest attracting just another flight school, but what niche market can you get into that nobody else is doing?" Strathearn then asked about funding. "If this airport were to attract a charter services, what would it do to its status in the hierarchy of airports?" he said. "Would we be eligible for significant federal funding as a consequence?" Gervais said the airport would have to reach a certain threshold for regularly scheduled service for that. "The better you can collaborate as a region and have a solid business plan, the more inclined you are to be able to get some federal and provincial funding," he said. Tim Leitch, Tiny Township's acting CAO and director of public works, explained next steps. "Moving forward on this, we felt that one of the main things to get us going would be a task force made up of three staff members from the ownership groups, an aviation expert, the airport manager, and representation from our councils," he said. "We want to develop a road map for how we're going to move forward to make sure the airport is a sustainable business." The task force, said Leitch, will bring back a report to respective councils to create a consistent plan of action moving forward. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
A five-day virtual symposium on Indigenous languages hosted by Canadian Heritage kicked off on Jan. 25, the same day applications for the positions of Indigenous languages commissioner and three directors closed. The symposium, the Office of the Indigenous Languages Commissioner, and the Indigenous Languages Act (Bill C-91) proclaimed in June 2019 underscore that an “urgent agenda for action” is being set, said Métis National Council President Clement Chartier. The Michif language is “critically endangered,” he said, with a generous estimate of having 1,000 fluent Michif speakers still living. Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Natan Obed echoed Chartier about the dire need for strong and immediate action to be taken to revitalize Indigenous languages. However, Obed went a step further, continuing to advocate for what he was unsuccessful in getting when the Indigenous Languages Act was being developed: Inuktut given official language status within the Inuit homeland of Nunangat. “We have rights to use our language, to access education and health care and government services in our language,” said Obed. The figures support that, he said. Sixty-five per cent of the country’s 65,000 Inuit live in 51 communities throughout Nunangat, an area comprised of the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Nunavik (Northern Quebec) and Nunatsiavut (Northern Labrador). Nunangat accounts for one-third of Canada’s land mass and covers 70 per cent of Canada’s coastline. More importantly 84 per cent of Inuit in Nunangat speak Inuktut and it is an official language in the N.W.T. and Nunavut and an official administrative language of the Nunatsiavut government. “We are still hoping for that foundational piece in the same way French and English have foundational protection in this country and I hope that this week through the symposium we can talk about that broad goal,” said Obed. Chartier backed him up. “I support and continue to support that the Inuit language, which is so vital to the existence and culture of Inuit peoples, does, in fact, get official languages status and in the future that other Indigenous languages do as well,” he said. All three leaders talked about the need for a whole-of-government approach as Indigenous languages impact areas such as education and health care. They also spoke of the need for the funding that accompanies the legislation to be long-term, adequate, flexible and sustainable. “I’ve made the point that governments must do as much as they can to bring back, to revitalize, rejuvenate and give fluency back among our First Nations and tribes and they have to put as much energy and effort and resources as they used when they tried to eradicate our languages through the residential school system,” said Bellegarde. Steven Guilbeault, minister of Canadian Heritage, acknowledged the damage successive governments had played “in the erosion of Indigenous languages in the first place through their misguided policies and practices.” In the 2019 budget the Liberal government earmarked a starting amount of $333.7 million over five years along with $115.7 million to support the implementation of the act. Guilbeault committed to working with Indigenous partners, who he said would lead the way. “Our government is all in. We imagine a future in which First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples across Canada feel empowered to learn, speak, and live in their languages,” he said. Since spring 2020, Canadian Heritage has been undertaking consultations in every region and every territory, including specific sessions for First Nations, Métis, Inuit and urban Indigenous peoples. In-person sessions had to be replaced with virtual engagements due to the coronavirus pandemic. The separate consultation sessions, said Paul Pelletier, director general, Indigenous Languages, Canadian Heritage, represent the government’s understanding that revitalizing Indigenous languages needs to be tackled in a distinctions-based manner, including the funding model. “We will take some time … to go through what we heard in respect to the funding model and working and planning on a distinctions basis, what that will mean in terms of developing new First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation funding approaches and how we look at the kinds of changes that are needed. There will be differences amongst those approaches,” said Pelletier. Recommendations for the selections of commissioner and directors will be made by a committee comprising of government officials and First Nations, Métis and Inuit representatives. The recommendations will go to Guilbeault for Cabinet approval. While Jan. 25 was the last day to apply for the positions, Pelletier said applications will continue to be monitored “to ensure that we are not overlooking any qualified candidates.” The days ahead for the symposium will look at best-practices already in place to revitalize Indigenous languages; the funding model; and the role of the Office of the Indigenous Languages Commissioner. As well, the Anishinabek Nation Language Commissioner Barbara Nolan and New Zealand Maori Language Commissioner Rawinia Higgins will share their experiences in their positions. Canada’s role in the International Decade of Indigenous Languages, declared by the United Nations for 2022 to 2032, will also be discussed. “For Indigenous peoples around the world how do we see this happen? In Canada we have Bill C- 91, a federal piece of legislation, and that can help lead the world so that this domestic state called Canada is doing something real, something tangible to make that decade worth while in reality,” said Bellegarde. Windspeaker.com By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
WARSAW, Poland — A Polish man who has been at the centre of an international life-support dispute has died at a British hospital, officials said. The middle-aged man, identified only as R.S., was repeatedly put on and off life support treatment during weeks of wrangling at British and European courts over whether continuing the treatment was in his best interests. Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Piotr Wawrzyk told reporters Tuesday evening that the man died. He said Poland’s authorities have been taking every effort to save his life. Poland’s government took steps last week to bring him to the country for specialized treatment. The man, a British resident for years, was hospitalized in a coma in Plymouth, England, on Nov. 6 after suffering cardiac arrest. Doctors said his brain had been severely and permanently damaged. The man’s wife and children said he should be allowed to die, but his mother, sisters and niece argued that the man’s Roman Catholic faith meant he wouldn’t have wanted his life terminated. Polish news agency PAP said Tuesday it has been informed by family members that the man died after his condition deteriorated Monday night. The Associated Press
COVID-19. La tendance à la baisse du nombre de cas de COVID-19 au Québec fait dire au premier ministre que «ça confirme que nos mesures fonctionnent dont le couvre-feu». «Si la tendance se maintient», François Legault annonce des allégements de mesures sanitaires dans certaines régions. Ce déconfinement de certaines activités serait effectif à partir du 8 février. Les détails seront dévoilés la semaine prochaine. Lors de sa conférence de presse, le premier ministre a également réitéré sa demande à Justin Trudeau d’interdire les voyages internationaux ou d’imposer des quarantaines supervisées dans des hôtels. «Il y a eu des reportages en Europe, en Alberta, en Ontario. C’est catastrophique quand ce variant arrive avec des voyageurs de l’étranger. C’est une propagation exponentielle… Chaque jour qui passe, il y a un risque qui s’ajoute. Il y a urgence d’agir… Pourquoi c’est si long de prendre une décision», se désole François Legault. Le premier ministre a également fait part de ses inquiétudes en lien avec l’approvisionnement en vaccins. À ce sujet, Christian Dubé a indiqué que les équipes du Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux vont être prêtes à vacciner de 300 000 à 400 000 personnes par semaine. «Ne manque que les vaccins», dit-il. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
A philanthropic eyewear brand that incorporates Indigenous art into its designs has just launched a new collection to “pay homage to British Columbia’s top health officers.” AYA Optical, an eyewear brand founded by North Vancouver resident Carla D’Angelo, has named its latest frames after Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “I wanted this collection to pay homage to B.C.’s top health officers,” said Carla D’Angelo, AYA optical founder and president. “The intelligence, strength, empathy and collaboration in leadership they conveyed during the pandemic, was absolutely inspirational, and I wanted to pay it forward.” The collection has designs created by Ojibwe artist Donald Chretien and raises funds for the Pacific Association of First Nations Women. Chretien has been working as an artist for 30 years, and his unique works can be found in some of the most interesting corners of North America. His Vancouver Olympics installation piece, titled: Ngashi Nijii Bineshiinh or Mother, Friend, Small Bird, is on permanent display in Vancouver's Pacific Coliseum and stands 12 feet high by 80 feet long. On a much smaller scale, the two new optical frames – one named Bonnie and the other Dix – show off Chretien’s fine art abilities and share Ojibwe culture in a range of colours. “The Bonnie is accented with the artwork of the stunning and colorful loon,” a release explains. “The loon in Ojibwe art, much like Dr. Henry herself, is noted as a great listener and proud speaker for others.” The Dixon frame is highlighted with a dynamic bear design. “The bear clan has significance in Ojibwe culture, as guardians of the downtrodden and extensive knowledge about plants and medicine,” a release states. Since 2003 AYA Optical has offered “a global platform for indigenous artists to showcase their work, while giving back to the very communities that have inspired the brand.” AYA has long supported One X One’s First Nations School Breakfast program, feeding over 700,000 breakfasts to children who would have gone without, and has also distributed eyewear in remote communities. Most recently, AYA Optical has partnered with Pacific Association of First Nations Women in conjunction with their annual scholarship fund. The association advocates for systems change and provides culturally safe learning and holistic supports to uplift indigenous women and strengthen families. A donation of $10 from every sale of a Bonnie or Dixon frame will go toward supporting the fund. “The opportunities to help and give back to those in need is one of the most rewarding things about our business,” said D’Angelo. The first $2,500 scholarship will be awarded in March. Artists who collaborate with AYA Optical are paid both a commission and royalties. Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News
A concrete plan to save the McKelvie Creek valley from logging is finally underway after the village of Tahsis and Western Forest Products (WFP) signed a Letter of Understanding (LOU). As part of the agreement, the forestry company has established new wildlife and old-growth reserves in the McKelvie Creek area within WFP’s Tree Farm Licence 19. By doing so the company has committed to Tahsis’ community objective of ‘no harvesting’ within the McKelvie area. Apart from being the community’s source of drinking water, McKelvie watershed is also home to old-growths, and an important habitat for the threatened Marbled Murrelet. The last intact watershed in the Tahsis region, McKelvie has been at risk of logging for years under TFL 19. The LOU brings to rest a long haul by Tahsis to “completely preserve” the watershed. Since 2018 Tahsis has been opposing all harvesting within the McKelvie watershed. In 2019, Tahsis council passed a resolution which called for its preservation and a request was made to the province to remove the watershed from TFL 19 altogether. Last year, although McKelvie Creek was among the nine old-growth forest areas where the province deferred logging, Tahsis still felt this was a temporary fix and that they were running against borrowed time. READ MORE: B.C. suspends some old-growth logging, consults communities Which is why this agreement is being considered a huge win for the community. Tahsis mayor Martin Davis who was at the helm of negotiating the deal said that WFP agreed to include several areas that the village mapped out to be preserved. Some of these areas contain sensitive ecosystems, karst limestone landscapes, and/or culturally significant areas for First Nations, said Davis. “The areas we had negotiated for are the large blocks to the northeast and northwest of Tahsis, as well as the areas along Tahsis Inlet and the bits around Weymer Park which is to the southeast of town,” he said. In future, the village is also looking at establishing a community forest in the surrounding crown land with hopes of setting up a small scale, village-run, sustainable logging operation, said Davis. In an email statement, WFP spokesperson Babita Khunkhun said that they are “pleased” that the ongoing discussions with Tahsis council have resulted in the LOU endorsing a draft plan that balances community interests in conservation and forestry activity in TFL 19. Tahsis falls within the traditional territories of the Mowachaht/ Muchalaht First Nation (MMFN). The draft prepared and agreed to by both parties will be reviewed by MMFN before it is submitted to the province for legal establishment through the Land Act and Forest and Range Practices Act. The forest management plan for the area, which proposes new wildlife and old forest reserves in the McKelvie, requires discussion with Indigenous groups to reflect their interests and is subject to government approval, said Khunkhun and added, the plan may be refined based on this engagement. “WFP will manage TFL 19 and continue to work collaboratively with the local Indigenous communities and the Tahsis Village Council on this important initiative,” she said. Binny Paul, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Campbell River Mirror
A group of doctors and advocates are calling on Ontario Premier Doug Ford to address what they call a ‘humanitarian crisis’ in long-term care homes by bringing the military back for support and embarking on hiring and training drives.
OTTAWA — Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet is standing by comments he made about Transport Minister Omar Alghabra earlier this month that sparked criticism he was trying to tar the new cabinet member with Islamophobic innuendo. Blanchet addressed the blowback nearly two weeks after Alghabra expressed disappointment in what he dubbed a harmful and "dangerous game" of insinuation by the Bloc. Blanchet says his earlier statement that questions over Alghabra's association with what the Bloc called "the political Islamic movement" were made politely and as part of a "normal process" of scrutiny. He says those questions were rooted in previous stories by national and provincial media outlets, and that the government should respond to ongoing questions from Quebecers about Alghabra's former role as head of the Canadian Arab Federation. On Tuesday afternoon, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland called on Blanchet during the daily question period to apologize to his fellow MP across the virtual aisle. Alghabra has faced attempts to sow doubt in his background before, with Conservative Sen. Denise Batters apologizing to the Saudi Arabia-born parliamentarian after she wondered aloud why media hadn't questioned the then-parliamentary secretary to the foreign minister about his place of birth. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — British Columbia's public safety minister says a Vancouver couple accused of flying to Yukon to get a COVID-19 vaccine is one of the most "despicable" things he's heard in a long time. Mike Farnworth says the alleged actions of former Great Canadian Gaming Corp. CEO Rodney Baker and his wife Ekaterina Baker show a "complete lack of any sort of ethical or moral compass." Tickets filed in a Whitehorse court show the 55-year-old man and his 32-year-old wife were each charged with failing to self-isolate for 14 days and failing to act in a manner consistent with their declarations upon arriving in Yukon. The allegations against them have not been proven in court and the tickets indicate the couple can challenge them. Ekaterina Baker did not immediately respond to calls and emails requesting comment while Rodney Baker did not immediately return a request for comment sent to Great Canadian Gaming, which accepted his resignation Sunday. Farnworth said the couple paid a "pretty high price," with Rodney Baker losing what the minister described as a "$10-million-a-year job." An information circular published by Great Canadian Gaming in March 2020 says Baker earned a total of about $6.7 million in compensation from the company in 2019. The tickets were issued on Thursday under Yukon's Civil Emergency Measures Act and both people face fines of $1,000, plus fees. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
A man with a history of drug charges visiting a house allegedly occupied by someone with a similar criminal past piqued the interest of Six Nations Police on Tuesday. So officers decided to follow the man’s silver Honda Odyssey as it made its way from the house on Chiefswood Road to a Hagersville business. Police say the vehicle did a full loop around the building before backing into a loading area with its trunk open. When police pulled the van over after it left the loading dock, officers noticed a meth pipe on the floor between the driver and passenger seats. A search of the van unearthed unspecified quantities of fentanyl, methamphetamine, cocaine and pills, along with baggies, cash, cellphones and a digital scale. Police arrested and charged the three people in the van – a 50-year-old man from Hagersville, a 40-year-old man from Ohsweken and a 25-year-old woman from Ohsweken – with possession of fentanyl for the purpose of trafficking and possession of proceeds of crime, as well as failure to comply with a release order. The Hagersville man was also charged with possessing methamphetamine for the purpose of trafficking. The three were held for a bail hearing. J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
The Leaders in Equality Award of Distinction (LEAD) Program is a new initiative that supports students who are engaged in reducing gender discrimination or in fields of study where their gender is typically underrepresented. A total of $225,000 in scholarships and awards is available through this program, allowing 90 students to receive $2500 each. The LEAD program consolidates two streams of funding; the Women in STEM Award stream and the Persons Case Scholarship stream. The purpose of tying these two funding streams into one program is to streamline the application process and reduce the amount of “red tape.” The Women in STEM Award is open to women under 30 years of age who are studying science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. Up to 40 awards of $2500 are available under this funding stream. The Persons Case Scholarship is open to anyone pursuing a field of study to advance gender equality. Up to 50 awards of $2500 are available under this funding stream. The application deadline for the LEAD Program is February 21, 2021. According to the LEAD program website, eligible applicants for either stream of the LEAD program must be: 1) A Canadian citizen, Permanent Resident or Protected Person (visa students are not eligible) 2) An Alberta resident, and to be considered an Alberta resident one of the following conditions must apply: a) One parent or legal guardian has maintained permanent residence in Alberta for at least 12 consecutive months immediately prior to commencing post-secondary studies, or b) Alberta is the last place the student has lived for six consecutive months immediately prior to commencing post-secondary studies, or c) The student’s spouse/partner has maintained permanent residence in Alberta for six consecutive months prior to the person attending post-secondary Eligible applicants for the Women in STEM Award: 1) Identify as a woman studying in STEM 2) Must be 30 years or younger by March 31, 2021 3) Must be a registered (full or part-time) student in an approved Alberta post-secondary institution Eligible applicants for the Persons Case Scholarship: 1) Can be any gender 2) Can be any age 3) Must have student status: a) undergraduates must be a registered (full or part-time) student in an approved Alberta post-secondary institution b) graduates must be an Alberta resident (as described above) and be registered (full or part-time) in a graduate program in Alberta or elsewhere The LEAD Program website also states that Indigenous students, racialized students and students living with a disability are strongly encouraged to apply. More information on the LEAD Program and the application process can be found at https://www.alberta.ca/leaders-in-equality-award-of-distinction-lead-program.aspx. Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
Il est vrai que l’on fait souvent cette expérience douloureuse assez jeune : le feu, ça brûle, mais, comment ce phénomène s’explique-t-il ?
Former finance minister Bill Morneau says he is withdrawing from the race to lead the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In a statement posted to Twitter, Morneau said he failed to receive enough support to move on to the third round of the selection process to become the next secretary-general of the intergovernmental agency. "I am proud to have used this opportunity to talk about issues that matter to Canadians and to the world — the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the fight against climate change, inclusive growth and seizing the opportunities of the digital world," Morneau's statement said. "I am looking forward to the next secretary-general being a strong voice on the important issues that affect us all." Morneau joined the OECD race after resigning suddenly as both finance minister and MP for Toronto Centre in August 2020, while the Liberal government was embroiled in the WE Charity scandal. He said at the time that he had been thinking of leaving federal politics and running for the top diplomatic post well before the WE Charity affair prompted his sudden departure from cabinet. The Paris-based OECD, established in 1961, collects statistical, economic and social data and helps develop evidence-based policies to address a wide range of global issues. Its 37 members account for approximately 60 per cent of the world's economy. Angel Gurría, a Mexican economist and former diplomat, has served as secretary-general since 2006. He will step down later this year. Two other candidates have announced they were chosen to move on to the next round — former EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström of Sweden and Philipp Hildebrand of Switzerland, who is currently vice-chair of BlackRock, the world's largest investment management company. We Charity scandal Prior to his resignation, both Morneau and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came under fire for participating in cabinet discussions that led to the awarding of a contract to WE Charity for the administration of the federal government's COVID-19 summer student grants program — despite both men having close personal ties to the organization. Morneau's daughter Grace worked at WE in the travel department at the time. His other daughter, Clare, has spoken at WE Day events. Morneau also admitted to belatedly paying back over $41,000 in travel expenses to WE Charity for trips he took with the organization to Ecuador and Kenya. Trudeau has participated in WE events and several of his family members have been paid to do so as well. Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion ended his investigation into Morneau's trips in October, saying he accepted the former minister's contention that he thought he had reimbursed the travel costs. But Dion continues to investigate whether both Trudeau and Morneau breached the Conflict of Interest Act by failing to recuse themselves from cabinet deliberations about WE Charity. Dion's office would not speculate Tuesday on when the ethics commissioner might deliver his verdict. "Both examinations are ongoing and Commissioner Dion will report on them once they have been completed," it said. "There is no timeline for when his reports will be released. Our office conducts investigations thoroughly and with a high degree of diligence, and we make the reports public as quickly as possible." Public servants supported campaign Despite reports of friction between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Morneau during the summer months over the WE Charity scandal, Trudeau had endorsed his former finance minister for the diplomatic post, saying Canada would "vigorously support" Morneau's candidacy. According to figures tabled in the House of Commons in November, 19 public servants at Global Affairs Canada (GAC) were working on a part-time basis to support Morneau's campaign. In a written response to a question from Conservative Saskatchewan MP Corey Tochor about the cost of that support, the department said it didn't have a final price tag for all diplomatic and advocacy efforts. The campaign had incurred $6,265.76 in hospitality costs by that time as part of the outreach to OECD member delegates and "other OECD-related representatives based in Paris." Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau said the government is disappointed that Morneau did not have enough support to continue in the race to head the OECD. "We felt that Bill Morneau was the ideal candidate for the job in these difficult times," Garneau said in French in the House of Commons. He thanked the former minister for his "dedication" and his work on improving Canadians' quality of life. "Although this isn't the outcome we'd hoped for, we will be working with the next secretary-general for the OECD, who will be chosen by its members."
From a clog-dancing world champion to a Cuban shark hunter, the people who live in the world's many Prestons have some interesting tales to tell. And a performance arts group in the U.K. is on a mission to collect them all. Preston Calling — a project to unite people who call Preston home and help keep the loneliness of the pandemic at bay — was launched last year by Derelict, a non-profit arts organization based in Preston, Lancashire. "Now that we've been able to connect with people all over the world, it's made people feel much more included in the world and it's giving people much more hope," project co-ordinator Philip Sykes told CBC Radio's Information Morning. "It's been a bit of a hopeless time, I have to say, for us anyway in the U.K." When his group had to shelve many of its projects last year, it decided to turn to the telephone instead. "We liked the idea of calling someone," Sykes said. "You know, we could say, 'Hello, this is Preston' and they could say 'Hello, we're Preston, too.'" So far, Preston Calling has found 60 villages, towns and cities that share the name, most in English-speaking Commonwealth countries, including the Prestons in Nova Scotia. The historic Black communities on the outskirts of Halifax are made up of neighbouring North Preston, East Preston and Cherry Brook. "I thought it was the most cool thing in the world, like, I thought maybe there might have been a couple of other Prestons … but I had no idea there were 60," said Tara Taylor, a playwright from East Preston who contributed to the project. She shared some of her favourite memories and spaces from her hometown, which have been collected on the group's website. "My favourite place out here is our river next to the church and we actually — way back in the day — used to baptize people in the river," Taylor said. The popular story that the Prestons were named after Rev. Richard Preston, who escaped slavery in the U.S. and became a leader in the African Nova Scotian community, isn't actually true, Taylor said. "He actually came here in search of his mother and it was already called Preston, so he took the name on as Preston," she said. "So we commonly think that it was named after him for coming here, but it's actually the opposite way around." Taylor is now trying to find out more information about the name Preston and where it came from. In addition to the submissions from Preston residents that are compiled online, Preston Calling is also releasing a podcast with conversations with people from around the world. So far Sykes has met a store owner in Preston, Kentucky, who used to be the world's clog-dancing champion and performed in venues in the U.K. and U.S. He also met a woman from Preston, Cuba with a very impressive grandfather. "She's actually got my favourite story, which is that there was a particularly troublesome shark in Preston, Cuba, called Don Pepe and her grandfather was actually able to track it down and caught the shark — so some really, really amazing stories," said Sykes. For Taylor, reflecting on what she loves about her hometown has her feeling a special bond with all the other Prestons out there. "I want a tour," she said. "I want to go visit all of them and I want us to all bring the beautiful sights from each one of our towns." MORE TOP STORIES
TORONTO — A former senior civil servant accused of embezzling $11 million in Ontario COVID-19 relief money betrayed his own family, according to his wife and two sons. In sworn affidavits, the wife of Sanjay Madan and their two adult sons disavow any knowledge of his alleged scheme, which is now the subject of an unproven civil action against them all. According to his affidavit, Chinmaya Madan said he became suspicious of his father around June last year after discovering unexplained money in his bank accounts, some of which he didn't know existed. Only after repeated questioning did his father admit to having "diverted" money and promise to return it, the affidavit states. "I felt betrayed by my father," Chinmaya Madan said in the document filed in Superior Court. "I was and remain absolutely shocked by the allegations." The Ontario government's unproven civil claim names Sanjay Madan, who had a senior IT role and helped develop a computer application for the COVID-19 benefit for families with children. Also named are his sons Chinmaya Madan and Ujjal Madan, and his wife of 28 years, Shalini Madan. The claim alleges the Madan family, who all worked for the government in information technology, defrauded the province of at least $11 million. No criminal charges have been filed. The claim asserts the family and others illegally issued and deposited cheques under the program aimed at defraying the cost of children learning at home. The province alleges the Madans opened hundreds of accounts at the Bank of Montreal between April and May 2020, then deposited around 10,000 cheques made out to fictitious applicants. Sanjay Madan had always been "controlling and secretive" about money and managed the family's finances, his wife said in her court filing. However, the actions alleged against him were totally out of character, she said, adding she learned of 1,074 Canadian bank accounts in her name, only three of which she said she had opened. "I am at a complete loss to understand why Sanjay would risk everything in the manner he did. We needed nothing. It all makes no sense to me," Shalini Madan says. "The Sanjay the plaintiff describes is like a completely different person than the man who is my husband and the father of our children." In a statement Tuesday, the Madan family's lawyer called the wife and children "victims not villains." "The Sanjay Madan who is alleged to have behaved so inappropriately is not the man they have known," Christopher Du Vernet said. "They are still struggling to understand what prompted him to act as he did, and especially to have used his own family when doing so." The children claim they were the victims of identity theft. They say in their court filings that they believed their father was returning the "diverted" money and was making things right, but also say they wonder if he was just stringing them along. Du Vernet said last week Sanjay Madan had returned more than the $11 million the government alleges he misappropriated. He said his client "deeply regrets" his actions and was awaiting results of medical opinions on his mental health. His family, Du Vernet said, could only conclude Sanjay Madan had long suffered from a mental disorder that profoundly distorted his judgment. "Mr. Madan’s wife and children are learning that Mr. Madan has actually had two sides to him: the dedicated husband and father they saw, and the miscreant they never saw." The lawyer also said none of Sanjay Madan's family had spent any of the money he allegedly took. In his affidavit, Ujjawal Madan said he never had any reason to suspect any wrongdoing by his father. "As long as I have known him, he has been a conservative spender," he said. The government, which fired Madan in November, has a court order freezing the family's assets, which included properties in Toronto. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
With hundreds of Ontario long-term care residents dead and COVID-19 outbreaks continuing to ravage facilities across the province, a group of health experts is pushing the province to abolish for-profit long-term care facilities. "When you think about for-profit homes, they're by design created to have one thing in mind and that's profits for shareholders. It's not care for our seniors," Dr. Naheed Dosani, said Tuesday on CBC Radio's Metro Morning. "This is a humanitarian crisis." Dosani, a palliative care physician for the William Osler Health System, which has hospitals in Brampton and Etobicoke, is one of more than 215 Ontario doctors and researchers who have joined the Doctors for Justice in Long-Term Care campaign. Despite repeated assertions from Premier Doug Ford, Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton and other provincial officials that Ontario was building an "iron ring" around its long-term care facilities to protect residents from a second wave of the virus, deaths have continued to mount. Out of more than 5,900 COVID-19-related deaths in the province, more than 3,400 were in long-term care, according to provincial statistics. 44 resident deaths at one facility Most recent is the outbreak at Roberta Place Long Term Care Home in Barrie, Ont., where almost every single resident has contracted COVID-19. Genome sequencing has also confirmed that a highly transmissible variant of the virus first detected in the United Kingdom has been found at the home, according to the local public health unit. The facility was reporting 44 resident deaths as of Monday. After a lull in cases in the summer, Dosani said long-term care homes are still seeing poor infection-control practices and a delayed response to outbreaks. He also referenced this report from Ontario's COVID-19 Advisory Table, which found that in the first wave of the pandemic, the province saw 78 per cent more deaths in people with COVID-19 in for-profit homes than in their public counterparts. "It's not a fluke," Dosani said. "This system was actually built this way. It's built to put profits over people." 'Unprecedented challenges' In response to the group's demands, Fullerton told CBC News in a statement that the province has been working "around the clock" since the pandemic started to protect the most vulnerable populations — while noting there have been "unprecedented challenges" along the way. "For example, our government built a testing system from scratch, secured PPE [personal protective equipment] from regions across the globe and flowed over a billion dollars to shore up the sector," she said. "We absolutely have applied lessons learned from the first wave to inform our current response." Fullerton said the current number of cases and outbreaks remain her "top concern" and that she is confident that measures such as testing, masking, pandemic pay and partnerships with hospitals are "stabilizing the sector." She also said the province has moved up the target date for vaccinations for all long-term care residents to Feb. 5, which is 10 days earlier than originally scheduled. "Vaccinations of all long-term care homes are a light at the end of tunnel," Fullerton said in the statement. WATCH | Medical professionals demand change in long-term care Doctors call for appropriate staffing in LTC The group of doctors is also calling on the province to take the following measures with respect to long-term care: hire appropriate levels of staff set a minimum pay standard for front-line workers ensure at least 70 per cent of staff at every facility are working full time let family caregivers have access to facilities work with hospitals to establish partnerships for care "Until we actually delve deeper at the roots — the systemic underpinnings of what is causing this crisis in long-term care — we will not develop that iron ring," Dosani said. "The solutions and conversations thus far have been way too superficial, and have been band-aid approaches." Horwath backs campaign Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath backed the group's campaign. "I'm grateful to these doctors and researchers for coming together to advocate for seniors," she said in a statement. "Long-term care residents and their loved ones have endured agony, incredible sorrow, and tragic loss during this pandemic. Ford has "protected for-profit corporations — allowing them to put their bottom line ahead of the care and quality of life of seniors," Horwath said in the statement. "It's time for an overhaul to stop the terrible living conditions and preventable deaths." An independent commission — Ontario's Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission — has been looking into how the province handled the deadly spread of COVID-19 in long-term care homes and has flagged a lack of provincial oversight and uneven management standards. The commission's interim report on the situation late last year pointed to a provincial decision in the fall of 2018 to end comprehensive inspections and a lack of enforcement when issues are found. It also found that fines and prosecutions are rarely applied to home operators, leaving a lack of urgency to address violations. Earlier this month, the commission told the province it needed more time to finish its final report because the government itself wasn't providing enough documentation. The Ontario government rejected the extension request.