Authorities say they have apprehended a person in connection with a shooting at a busy tavern in southeastern Wisconsin early Sunday that left three men dead and three men injured. (April 18)
Authorities say they have apprehended a person in connection with a shooting at a busy tavern in southeastern Wisconsin early Sunday that left three men dead and three men injured. (April 18)
Ontario education unions, advocacy groups and parents are raising concerns about a government plan to offer an online learning option for the next school year, saying it could be the start of a permanent change with serious implications for students and workers. At a news conference hosted by the The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario on Wednesday, the groups argued the change would divert funds from in-person learning and weaken the public education system. "At a time when the top education priority for the (Premier Doug) Ford government should be to ensure schools across Ontario remain open safely for in-person learning, they're planning to make virtual learning permanent," said ETFO president Sam Hammond. He and other union and stakeholder panelists argued that in-person learning is crucial to student development, and raised concerns about pressures placed on educators balancing in-person and online teaching demands during the pandemic. Harvey Bischof, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, said online learning has widened inequalities among students. "We are left to wonder why a government that claims to be committed to equity would choose to push an instructional model that creates inequitable learning conditions for students," he said. The union leaders were reacting to a Tuesday announcement from Education Minister Stephen Lecce that online learning would be offered during the next school year amid continued uncertainty about the COVID-19 pandemic. Ontario schools are currently operating fully remotely during a third wave of infections that's sickening Ontarians by the thousands each day. Lecce also said on Tuesday that the province has committed to "consulting" on making online learning available to students beyond the pandemic. A proposed permanent online learning plan first sparked concern in March when the government shared with stakeholders a draft that outlined different options, including synchronous remote learning and an independent online model for secondary students run by TVO and TFO. Annie Kidder with advocacy group People for Education said a permanent change to the education system shouldn't be made during a crisis like COVID-19. "We need to take the time to look at all the implications of online learning," Kidder said Wednesday. "Some of it's working really, really well, but a move to this kind of massive change right now is simply wrong." A spokeswoman for Lecce did not comment Wednesday on any permanent plans to offer online learning, but said the government wants children to be learning in schools. "Parents deserve a choice next September, as we continue to face uncertainty as a consequence of this global pandemic," Caitlin Clark said. Shameela Shakeel, a York Region parent with Ontario Families for Public Education, questioned whether the choices being offered to parents will reduce resources and teachers available for in-person learning. "I think that if they're going to provide choices, then they need to provide the funding that goes along with those choices," she said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 5, 2021. Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press
Lawyers for Meng Wanzhou claim the United States is basing its bid to extradite the Huawei executive to New York on a theory of fraud that's "unprecedented in Canadian law." In documents released Wednesday, Meng's defence team previewed the arguments it is expected to make this summer during the final phase of her extradition proceedings. Her lawyers claim American prosecutors are trying to render the 49-year-old to New York to face charges of defrauding HSBC on evidence that's unreliable, and in some cases, just plain wrong. They also claim the main problem with the Crown's theory of the case is that there is no evidence the bank Meng allegedly tried to trick into doing illegal business with Huawai actually suffered — or even risked suffering — any loss. "This case is different. On every element of the alleged offence, the [United States'] case displays legal and factual defects rarely seen in fraud cases," the defence submission reads. "No deception. No loss. Not even a plausible theory of risk. And no causal connection between the impugned representations and the deprivation said to have befallen the putative victim." Accused of fraud and conspiracy Meng is Huawei's chief financial officer and the daughter of the Chinese telecommunications company's billionaire founder, Ren Zhengfei. She was arrested at Vancouver International Airport on Dec. 1, 2018, after arriving on a flight from Hong Kong, en route to Mexico City and a conference in Argentina. Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou attends extradition proceedings in downtown Vancouver in March. Her lawyers claim the U.S. has not met the bar for extradition.(Ben Nelms/CBC) Meng is charged with fraud and conspiracy in New York in connection with allegations she lied to an HSBC executive in Hong Kong in 2013 about Huawei's control of a subsidiary named Skycom, which was accused of violating U.S. economic sanctions against Iran. Prosecutors claim HSBC continued a business relationship with Huawei and agreed to keep moving the company's money through the U.S. financial system because of Meng's alleged misrepresentations. According to U.S. authorities, HSBC risked breaching the same set of sanctions as a result — placing the bank in danger of prosecution and economic and reputational loss. The extradition proceedings were originally scheduled to wrap up by mid-May, but, last month, the judge overseeing the case delayed the final three weeks of arguments until August at the request of Meng's lawyers, who said they needed the extra time to pore through reams of newly-released HSBC documents. 'No meaningful risk' In the submissions released Wednesday, the defence argues Meng did not deny that Skycom was controlled by Huawei. In fact, they claim she said the opposite. Meng's lawyers also claim HSBC could not have been held criminally liable for sanctions violations committed because of Meng, and that it would be very unlikely for the bank to have faced civil consequences either. A logo of HSBC is displayed outside a branch in the Central Financial District of Hong Kong in 2015. Meng Wanzhou is accused of lying to one of the bank's executives about Huawei's business activities.(Bobby Yip/Reuters) They claim senior bank employees were well aware of the truth about Huawei's relationship with its subsidiary prior to — and separate from — anything Meng told them. The defence concludes by saying that sending Meng to face trial on the kind of record before the court would set a dangerous example. "In no prior case has an individual been found guilty of fraud for exposing another individual — much less a sophisticated multinational corporate entity — to the hypothetical risk of a separate and future enforcement proceeding," Meng's lawyers write. "HSBC simply faced no meaningful risk of sanctions violations that were causally linked in any manner to Ms. Meng's representations. Ms. Meng's representations were not inaccurate; but, in any event, HSBC knew what it needed to know in order to protect its own interests." 'Deceitful' representations put bank at risk Lawyers for Canada's attorney general have also filed the submissions they plan to make in favour of Meng's extradition. The Crown argues that the record of the case filed by the United States meets the standard that would be needed to send someone to trial in Canada — the establishment of a prima facie case. Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou displays her GPS ankle monitoring bracelet as she arrives at B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. She is living under a form of house arrest.(Ben Nelms/CBC) They point out that the extradition judge is not supposed to hold a trial. They also say the evidence submitted by a state in order to request a person's extradition is held to be "presumptively reliable." The Crown claims the elements of fraud — as laid out in Canadian law — include Meng allegedly lying to deceive HSBC and the bank, risking liability under U.S. sanctions law as a result. "As the CFO of Huawei and the daughter of its founder, her representations regarding Huawei's business activities undoubtedly carried considerable weight," the Crown's submission reads. "Ms. Meng's deceitful representations to HSBC about Huawei and Skycom thwarted HSBC's efforts to eliminate its risk exposure, putting HSBC's economic interests at risk." In addition to arguments on the extradition request, Meng's lawyers will also try to have the case tossed because of alleged abuse of process when the proceedings recommence. The defence team will argue that the United States misled Canada about the strength of its case and omitted key facts from the record. They have previously argued that Meng's rights were violated at the time of her arrest, that she's being used as a political pawn and that the entire prosecution is in violation of international law. Her next court appearance is scheduled for May 7, at which point lawyers are expected to discuss the management of the case in the months ahead. Meng has denied the allegations against her.
The first Albertan to die from a rare blood clot condition linked to a COVID-19 vaccine was turned away from an Edmonton hospital two days before her death, a family friend says. Lisa Stonehouse, 52, died Saturday at the University of Alberta Hospital. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said Tuesday that a woman in her 50s died of vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. Hinshaw did not identify the woman, but family members confirm that Stonehouse was Alberta's first fatal case. Wilfred Lowenberg, a friend, said Stonehouse was turned away from the emergency department at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital. Two days later, she was admitted to the Strathcona Community Hospital. She was later transferred to the U of A Hospital with a blood clot in her brain. "The vaccine was supposed to save lives and it ended up taking hers," Lowenberg told CBC News on Wednesday. "Even if there is only a one-in-a-million chance for someone to develop a blood clot from AstraZeneca, I personally think that's too many." The family is asking Covenant Health, the Catholic health-care provider that manages the Grey Nuns, to investigate why she was turned away, Lowenberg said. Investigation ongoing An internal investigation is ongoing, Covenant Health said in a statement Wednesday. "We offer our deepest condolences to her family and loved ones at this difficult time," the statement said. "Covenant Health, in collaboration with Alberta Health Services, is actively investigating all circumstances surrounding [Stonehouse's] visit to the emergency department, and have assured the family we are looking into their concerns." It's estimated that VITT occurs in one in every 100,000 to 250,000 vaccinations, according to Hinshaw. Stonehouse is the second person in Alberta with a confirmed case. More than 253,000 doses of AstraZeneca or CoviSHIELD/AstraZeneca have been administered in the province. Last month, Quebec reported Canada's first death of a patient after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. On Wednesday, a second VIIT death was confirmed, in New Brunswick. In a statement, Hinshaw said the risk of COVID-19 is far greater than the risk of VITT. She said Albertans ages 50 to 59 diagnosed with COVID-19 are 350 times more likely to die from that infection than to experience VITT after an AstraZeneca vaccine. Felt sick right after shot Stonehouse got her shot on April 21. Almost immediately, she felt stiff and sick, Lowenberg said. She felt increasingly unwell and developed an unbearable headache. On April 29, with her symptoms worsening, she called Health Link but was told she was likely dealing with a normal vaccine reaction, Lowenberg said. Later that night, her daughter drove her to the ER at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital in southeast Edmonton, Lowenberg said. Her head was throbbing, and she was weak and vomiting. Stonehouse was sent home to rest, Lowenberg said. On April 30, her daughter again drove her to the ER, this time at the Strathcona Community Hospital in Sherwood Park. She was admitted. A CT scan showed a blood clot had formed, triggering a fatal bleed in her brain. Stonehouse was transferred to the U of A Hospital, but in the ambulance she suffered a seizure and was intubated, Lowenberg said. The following day, she was taken off life support. Daughter, 19, has lost both parents Lowenberg said the family wants to know why Stonehouse was "summarily dismissed" during her initial visit to the ER at the Grey Nuns. He wonders if the 12-hour delay in care contributed to her death. The only reason she took the vaccine is because she wanted to travel the world with Jordan. - Wilfred Lowenberg Stonehouse's daughter, Jordan, 19, has now lost both her parents. Stonehouse's husband of 17 years, Morrie, died in January 2019 after a brain aneurysm. Lowenberg said Stonehouse, a bookkeeper, had an infectious laugh. He said she was selfless, intelligent, witty and "amazing." Stonehouse had big plans for life after the pandemic. "The only reason she took the vaccine is because she wanted to travel the world with Jordan," he said. "She wanted to take Jordan to all the places that her and Morrie had gone to. She wanted to spend her life with her daughter, just enjoying life."
A human rights board of inquiry has found that a Black man was discriminated against by Halifax police when he was ticketed for jaywalking. Board chair Benjamin Perryman released a decision Wednesday that finds Gyasi Symonds faced discrimination based on his race when he was stopped by two officers and later received a $410 ticket in the lobby of the downtown building where he works. In his ruling, the board chair describes two encounters between Symonds and constables Paul Cadieux and Steve Logan that started when the provincial civil servant was observed crossing Gottingen Street on Jan. 24, 2017, to get a coffee. The decision says the officers first stopped Symonds as he headed for the Nook Espresso Bar across from his office without using a crosswalk at the corner. They warned him about jaywalking and told him he was free to go. Perryman said that first encounter was "brief and cordial." The decision says the facts of what happened next were disputed, with Symonds telling the board he crossed at the intersection when he returned to his office and the two police officers saying they observed him again crossing in the middle of the block and that he didn't yield to a bus. The officers followed him into his office building and gave him a ticket. Under the province's Motor Vehicle Act, it's an offence if someone crosses a road at a place where there's not a regular crossing for pedestrians and doesn't "yield the right of way to vehicles on the roadway." However, Perryman found in his ruling that it was "more likely than not" that Symonds didn't jaywalk on his return trip and concluded the officers' decision to wait and observe the man was based in part on race. Perryman has ordered the Halifax Regional Police to pay Symonds $15,232 and give him a written apology. He also suggests all new hires complete training in policing without bias. The board of inquiry chair noted inconsistencies in the constables' recollection of what they saw when they testified that Symonds crossed in front of a bus on his return to the office, while finding the complainant's recollections to be more credible. "I do not go so far as to find that the Halifax Regional Police officers constructed their evidence .... However, on the evidence before me, I am not satisfied that there was a good basis for issuing such a ticket and there was certainly no basis whatsoever to be targeting the complainant in the first place," he wrote. Both Halifax Regional Police officers named in the complaint spoke during the board of inquiry hearing in November 2020. They say that they acted appropriately after witnessing Symonds jaywalk immediately after they warned him. Symonds says he was following the rules. (Carolyn Ray/CBC) Perryman noted that he was concerned about the decision of the officers to remain and observe Symonds after the first encounter, as the man exited the coffee shop to return to work. His decision says the officers told the board of inquiry they kept watching Symonds because they had some time available and that it was a so-called "de-escalating tactic," where they believed police presence would deter law-breaking. Perryman said he found those explanations inadequate. "It subjected the complainant to policing that was different from other Nova Scotians going about their day. It was disproportionate to the circumstances of an individual crossing in the middle of the road to get a coffee and receiving informal education about jaywalking," he concluded. "I find that race was a factor in the police officers' decision to target the complainant for surveillance and investigation." Perryman said the encounter between the officers and Symonds in the lobby of the office building was "not a cordial interaction." However, he concluded the treatment of Symonds at that point may have been rude, but it wasn't racial discrimination. He noted the two officers were relatively new on the job, and Cadieux had only been on patrol for a few weeks. The ruling also finds the training provided to Cadieux and Logan was inadequate and contributed to their discriminatory behaviour. The ruling notes a Halifax police course on "legitimate and bias-free policing" was offered in 2009 but was not offered again until 2018, some time after the incident. Perryman suggests that all new police hires "successfully complete training in legitimate and bias-free policing before they commence active duty, and all current police officers should be required to retake and successfully complete such training periodically." The decision dated April 29 also says this training should be well-documented and access to statistics should be publicly available. For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here. (CBC) MORE TOP STORIES
CALGARY — Leslie Echino had planned on serving more than two dozen patrons at a time on an expanded patio at her Annabelle's Kitchen restaurant in Calgary's Marda Loop neighbourhood. She hauled extra furniture from the patio at her shuttered downtown location and invested thousands in a cover to keep the outdoor space open for longer. But, instead, Echino is looking to lay off staff for the fourth time during the COVID-19 pandemic after the province on Tuesday ordered an end to outdoor dining. It was one of several measures Premier Jason Kenney announced in an attempt to stop a sharp spike in infections. Indoor dining had been permitted for a brief while earlier this year, but was shut down against in April. The off-and-on closures have taken a toll, especially on employees with families who rely on a steady paycheque, Echino said Wednesday. "It's getting expensive. It's expensive on cost. It's expensive on mental well-being and health," she said. "How long can my staff go through this?" Echino said she doesn't want the restaurant to be open with COVID-19 spread so rampant. Alberta has by far the highest rate of active infections in Canada at 534 per 100,000 --- nearly 2 1/2 times the national average. "We all have to buckle down. We all have to take a hit for the greater good," she said. "But I think what is important is the support to the people who need it: my staff. "When you're forced to close and you cannot operate, you need that support." The Alberta Hospitality Association, for which Echino is a board member, is urging the government to help with utility bills, wage top-ups, patio costs and property taxes. It also wants clearer communication about what a path to recovery looks like. "As an organization, we have maintained a commitment to work with government using open dialogue and communication to ensure the needs of the hospitality industry are met," the association said in a release. "The latest lockdown shows a complete disregard to those efforts." Kenney said Wednesday that his United Conservative government is rolling out the third instalment of a program that provides grants of up to $10,000 for small- and medium-sized businesses that have experienced at least a 30 per cent drop in revenues. That tranche of funds would be worth a total of $350 million. He said his government has also been providing relief on Workers' Compensation Board premiums and, with Ottawa, commercial rent assistance. "We'll look at whether we need to do anything additional," Kenney said. "My hope is that if people really get the message here and act responsibly, that ... those businesses can hopefully get back to a decent summer." Ben Leon, an owner at The Dandy Brewing Co. in Calgary, said tougher measures are necessary, but they should have been brought in months ago. The brewery invested $10,000 to spruce up its patio in anticipation of the summer season. It's not as simple a job as setting up some tables outside, Leon said. "There is a good amount of infrastructure that needs to be put in and built to make it safe and make it comfortable," he said. "I'd rather have lost four weeks in February-March to get everything back and be able to have a good, solid, even patio season all summer." This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 5, 2021. Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press
A Whitehorse man is dead after losing control of his skateboard and suffering a fatal head injury, according to the territory's chief coroner. 28-year-old Robert Thompson died early Sunday morning. According to a Wednesday news release from the coroner, Thompson was found injured on Hamilton Boulevard at around 6 a.m. on Sunday. He was taken to hospital and pronounced dead shortly after. The coroner says it appears that Thompson had been riding his skateboard eastbound on a downhill stretch toward the Alaska Highway when he lost control. The coroner says Thompson was not wearing any protective gear when he fell. An autopsy determined that he suffered a fatal head injury. In her news release, Chief Coroner Heather Jones advises that helmets, wrist guards, gloves, knee and elbow pads and protective clothing should always be worn while skateboarding.
Police in Saskatoon are hoping a voice recording will help them locate Megan Gallagher, a 30-year-old woman who has been missing since September. The recording contains two people using Gallagher's cellphone to call a cab. It was recorded one day after she was last seen. Police said the two people asked to be picked up on the 700 block of Weldon Avenue and were dropped off on the 100 block of Avenue P S. at about 3:30 a.m. CST ob Sept. 21, 2020. Police hope to identify the people on the call so they can be questioned. Gallagher was last seen on video surveillance at a convenience store in the 3700 block of Diefenbaker Drive one day before the call was made. Police said Gallagher's cellphone has not been found. In January, Saskatoon police said the woman's disappearance is being treated as a homicide. The major crimes unit has been investigating along with the missing persons unit. On Sept. 20, Megan Gallagher was captured on a surveillance video at a convenience store on the 3700 block of Diefenbaker Dr. in Saskatoon at around 6 a.m. CST, say police.(Saskatoon Police Service) Police said Gallagher was wearing a black Cabella's hoodie, black pants and a light blue shirt underneath her hoodie at the time of her disappearance. Gallagher has several tattoos, including a half-sleeve with a large owl from shoulder to elbow, a crossbow behind her ear, a rainbow coloured feather on her ankle and the names Jake and Adam beneath her arm. She also has "#13" on her hand. Anyone with information is asked to contact Saskatoon police or Crime Stoppers.
A Vancouver Island mother is pleading for more long-term drug treatment programs at facilities for children after her 12-year-old died last month from what she suspects was a drug overdose. The BC Coroner's Office says Allayah Thomas' case is under investigation but the cause of death has not yet been confirmed. Adriana Londono spoke to CHEK news and said her daughter Allayah,who went by Ally, died on April 14 in hospital in Victoria after overdosing on drugs at a friend's home in Langford. She got the news of her daughter's death in a phone call. "I just broke down and I was in shock, like, I'm still in shock. And I didn't know how to process it. I just ran to the bathroom and cried and screamed," said Londono. Adriana Londono, the mother of pre-teen who died last month of a suspected drug overdose, says her daughter needed care in a drug treatment facility but was too young to qualify.(Chek News) She described Ally as sweet and loving and said she wanted to be makeup-artist but her life took a turn last year when her daughter started experimenting with drugs including methamphetamine and heroin at 11-years-old. Londono said her family tried to get her help but was told her daughter was too young to qualify for rehab services at a facility which she believes Allayah desperately needed. She explained that she had her daughter when she was 19-years-old and has been struggling with her own mental health issues and substance abuse issues and felt helpless. "I haven't been helped for my problems so I felt how can i help her? I can't even help myself," said Londono. Londono said her daughter was living with her grandparents who also tried to get help. "That was what we really wanted and there was no rehab. They just sent us counsellor numbers, outreach workers and all these things that really weren't enough. Like she needed to go to rehab. There needs to be a rehab facility for kids under 14." Her grandparents told CHEK news, the Grade 6 student refused to go to counselling. Gaps in treatment services B.C.'s Representative for Children and Youth Jennifer Charlesworth acknowledged there are significant gaps in treatment services especially for families living outside of urban areas. She said overdose deaths among children are rare and most treatment services in facilities are geared toward helping older teens. "So it's a wake up call for us to think developmentally how would we work with these young people and 12 year olds shouldn't be with 16 year olds either." Charlesworth said sometimes young people in crisis who are using drugs feel they don't need help so it is important to first reduce the shame and stigma for families seeking help and use harm reduction as a way to prevent overdose deaths. "Harm reduction, again, is really important. Because the child, we need to join with them and then say okay if you are going to use, let's use safely. Then once we've that handled what are some of the options for you to care of yourself without using substances." She said there is a need for residential treatment for serious addictions which can't be addressed with out-patient or outreach services. The Ministry of Children and Family Development said in a statement that it cannot comment due to privacy restrictions but it's practice is to conduct a review of these types of cases. Londono said she wants people to be aware of the toxicity of the drugs that are available and said every family should have a naloxone kit at home to reverse opioid overdoses. She says kids should not be afraid to tell their parents what drugs they have done. "They shouldn't be in fear of being punished. They should be in fear of dying."
B.C.'s curve continued to bend down Wednesday as health officials announced 572 new cases of COVID-19, the lowest total since March 20. In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said there are 6,877 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C. The province recorded no new deaths. Hospitalizations, which typically lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, remain high at 481, with 161 of those people in intensive care. Overall hospitalizations are down by roughly seven per cent from last Wednesday, when 515 people were in hospital with the disease. The number of patients in intensive care is down by about six per cent from 171 a week ago. The province introduced a "circuit breaker"-style lockdown on March 29, which included a pause on indoor dining and indoor adult group fitness activities. Henry said this week the province is starting to see the efforts of those restrictions, which remain in place until May 25. The provincial death toll from the disease stands at 1,594. The province did not have data available Wednesday on the number of people under public health monitoring. Henry and Dix said COVID-19 outbreaks at the Craigdarroch Care Home in Victoria and Acropolis Manor in Prince Rupert, B.C., are now over. Teens to be immunized As of Wednesday, 1,943,230 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, with 93,656 of those being second doses. About 43 per cent of eligible British Columbians have now received a first dose. Henry confirmed Wednesday that teens will now be part of B.C.'s immunization plan. Earlier that day, Health Canada approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on people 12 to 15 years old. It's the first vaccine to be authorized for use in this younger age category. The vaccine was already approved for people 16 and older, but B.C. had only set aside vaccines for those aged 16 and 17 who are clinically vulnerable. Henry said about 300,000 people between the ages of 12 and 17 in B.C. will now be eligible to receive vaccines. She said kids could possibly could get them before the end of the school year, although the details still need to be sorted out. The province also announced Tuesday that pregnant British Columbians aged 16 and older are now eligible to book a shot. Online appointments aren't available for people who are pregnant, but they can call the province's booking line at 1-833-838-2323 to secure a slot Everyone 18 and older in British Columbia can register for their vaccination now if they have not already done so. This can be done online through the "Get Vaccinated" portal, by calling 1-833-838-2323, or in person at any Service B.C. location. Registering for a vaccine is not the same as booking the appointment to get your shot. Once registered, users receive a confirmation code. They then wait for an email, text or call telling them they are eligible and can then book their vaccine appointment using that code.
Construction in Newfoundland and Labrador continues to boom despite the price of lumber. (Colleen De Neve for CBC News) Sticker shock over lumber prices that have soared over the last year does not seem to have beaten down a desire to build or do repairs in Newfoundland and Labrador homes, a trade group says. The Canadian Home Builders' Associations says supply and demand are driving the skyrocketing prices of lumber, although it also says the industry is still booming. A key factor: the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected supply last year and which also inspired consumer demand, particularly among many people who have been working from home. CHBA executive officer Alexis Foster told CBC News the pandemic shut down lumber mills across Canada and the United States, and they have yet to fully return to pre-pandemic levels state side Rising transportation costs, Foster added, are also fuelling high prices. Then, there is the demand. "We have people looking to do renovations to their homes, new home builds, you're in your home a lot more, you're finding out what's bothering you more, so you want to fix that," Foster said Tuesday. Home renovations are up 26 per cent over the last year across Canada, Foster said. In Newfoundland and Labrador, she said, work has been driven by the provincial government's residential construction rebate program. CHBA-NL president Grant Cooper said the rebate program has done wonders for the construction industry over the pandemic. The program offered a 25 per cent rebate for renovation projects up to $10,000, and the same for new home construction. Canadian Home Builders' Association Newfoundland and Labrador executive officer Alexis Foster lumber prices aren't expected to fall this year, and possibly into 2022. (Mike Simms/CBC) "We've been hurting for a number of years leading up to this. It was quite slow — the demand was down," Cooper said. "In May to June last year, things started to pick up, which it typically does in the summer. But this year was like no other and we're getting more and more calls from homeowners, that despite the increase in prices, [they] are still inquiring about getting work done on their house." Not predicting a drop this year Art Hicks, owner of Home Hardware Building Centre in Witless Bay, told CBC News lumber prices today are three to four times what they were before they started climbing in 2020. Pre-cut two-by-four was $3.39 before the pandemic, but now it's about $13, Hicks said. Oriented strand boards, or OSB, were once $13 and now cost around $62. Plywood has tripled, from $21 to $65. Hicks said retailers have had no choice but to pass on wholesale hikes at the cash register. Cooper said he feels for anyone looking to complete renovations and home projects right now, but said there are silver linings for those looking to build a new home. Canadian Home Builders' Association Newfoundland and Labrador president Grant Cooper says despite the increase in lumber prices, people are still inquiring about getting work done on their homes. (Mike Simms/CBC) "Interest rates are at an all-time low. They may be saving more than they ever have because travel is restricted. They're not spending money that they used to spend," he said. "So, this may be a great time to save up that deposit and put that toward the new build." For those who are willing to wait, Foster said the CHBA is predicting lumber prices will not drop this year, and maybe not even next year, either. Cooper said prices may never return to pre-pandemic levels. "This is something that we're seeing in our national office, [this] lasting until at least 2022," said Cooper. "At the end of the day, it very much is supply- and demand-driven, and until demand comes off, we're still going to see shortages and price increases. This may be the new norm going forward for quite some time." Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Demolition of the former Woolworth's store is set for May 17, as the developer searches for a grocery store to anchor a new building for that prime corner in uptown Saint John. The demolition of the building at the top of King Street will make way for a 12-storey development with apartments and commercial space. "We'll be tearing it down and starting a whole new project," said Percy Wilbur, the developer behind the project. Neighbouring buildings, 85 and 87 King, will also be torn down. Percy said barriers will be set up in the area and traffic will be redirected. Charlotte Street will be narrowed from three lanes down to two lanes. South Market Street will be closed for safety reasons, and King Street will lose some of its parking. 'People want to come back' For the past eight weeks, Percy said, crews have been cleaning out mould, mildew and lead paint from the property. Construction will mean 50 to 75 people working on site at one time. The corner across from King Square was once home to Woolworth's, but the old building has gone through exterior changes and then been in decline and empty for a while. The next building will include retail space and 95 rental units. "People want to come back to the city," he said. "There's a new vibe." Postcards from 1960 show the Woolworth's building in better days at the head of King Street, across from King's Square.(Submitted by New Brunswick Museum — Musée du Nouveau-Brunswick) Wilbur says construction on the project could be completed within two and a half years. But that timeline could change because an anchor tenant has not yet been secured. Percy said he has been looking for tenants for several months now. Sights set on a grocery store Percy has his sights set on a local grocery store in that area, an increasingly popular place to live. "I think that would be the best fit in that neighbourhood," he said. "And there seems to be quite a public outcry for that type of business to go in there." The climbing price of building materials also poses a challenge because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But Percy said he has received a lot of support from the public, as well as government officials with the city and the province. "Everything seems to be moving forward," he said.
Whale sharks are the biggest sharks in the ocean. In fact, they are the biggest fish of any kind. Second in size only to a few species of whales, they are truly enormous. But despite their size, they are truly the gentle giants of the deep. They have no teeth and they cannot bite a human or cause any harm, unless they crash into one who does not move out of their way. These scuba divers were in complete awe and wonder as they witnessed these mammoths up close in the remote waters off the Galapagos Islands. The sharks come here each year to bear their young and to feed in the currents around the islands. These waters are filled with hammerhead sharks, white tipped sharks, Galapagos sharks, sea turtles and fish of all shapes and sizes. Scuba divers also come here to explore the waters and see these animals in their natural environment.
Ontario is scheduled to break out of its stay-at-home order on May 20, but health experts say we're likely not going to be ready, especially if we don't want to end up back in another pandemic wave. The Ontario government strengthened rules three times in April, all as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surged. Those sweeping changes started less than two months after eastern Ontario came out of the winter shutdown. "When we saw cases dipping in February, people said 'Oh, these are the dying embers of the second wave,' but in fact they were also at the same time the sparks of a third wave," said Dr. Gerald Evans, an infectious disease specialist at Queen's University and Kingston Health Sciences Centre. That, he said, is why it's important to be cautious when loosening restrictions. "This is really a lesson that we need to have learned … from the previous [waves]." Instead of putting a specific date on when the order should end, he said new COVID-19 cases need to drop significantly to below a rate of 20 per 100,000 people per week, or what used to be Ontario's yellow zone. To put that in perspective, Ontario was at 166.6 on May 1 and Ottawa was at 102.9 as of Wednesday. Two weeks ago Ottawa's number was near 180. It hasn't been around 20 since late November. Could parts of eastern Ontario drop that low by May 20? Probably not, according to Evans, but it's possible some regions — like Leeds, Grenville and Lanark counties, with a rate around 30 — could reach it by the end of the month. The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) is currently in the low 50s and the Kingston area is in the mid-40s. EOHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said earlier this week he would at least like to see the order extended through the May 24 long weekend to avoid holiday gatherings and spread. Wastewater still high One of Ottawa's telling coronavirus signs is in the city's poop. The viral load in the city's wastewater has decreased, but is still two to three times higher than it was last summer and continues to hover around the January peak. Ottawa's wastewater data up to early May showing a gradual decline in the viral signal, but levels similar to what the city saw in January. The dates highlighted in blue are when the spring melt may have affected the data.(613covid.ca) "When we go up, it's [a quite sharp] increase, but when we come down it's a very slow trailing off," said Tyson Graber, a scientist on Ottawa's coronavirus wastewater monitoring program. He said this time around it's "stubborn" and keeps plateauing. Part of that may be due to more contagious variants of concern, which made up more than three-quarters of the signal as of May 1. A more normal summer Besides the variants, another thing this wave and shutdown has had that others haven't is widespread vaccinations. That will make a big difference if measures stay in place, according to Evans. If people can hold out a bit longer, he said the start of summer could look much closer to normal. "The longer the lockdown is in place and stay-at-home orders are in place, then the bigger bang for our buck we're going to get from vaccination."
SYDNEY (Reuters) -Australian officials reinstated social distancing measures in Sydney as New Zealand partially suspended the pair's "travel bubble" on Thursday, amid fears an Indian variant case of COVID-19 could spur a significant outbreak. The swift action was taken a day after a 50-year-old man became the first reported local transmission case in New South Wales state in more than a month, with the source of his infection baffling health officials. Further testing determined the man was infected with a variant first detected in India and genomic sequencing had linked the case to a returned traveller from the United States, NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said on Thursday, but there was no clear transmission path between the two people.
The Interior Health authority has taken the unusual step of forcibly closing a Kelowna, B.C., martial arts studio for flouting public health orders. On Tuesday, Interior Health officers — accompanied by the City of Kelowna staff and RCMP — changed the locks of Flow Academy at 1151 Sutherland Avenue. The health authority says it took aggressive measures to close the premises because owner Tonya Aguiar ignored provincial health orders against indoor group exercises. Flow Academy provides classes such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu, kickboxing, yoga and meditation. In February, Aguiar was ticketed for interfering with health officers' inspection of the premises and was ordered by the health authority to stop hosting indoor group activities. Interior Health's chief medical health officer Dr. Albert de Villiers said the authority issued a closure order on April 20, but the studio ignored it and kept operating. "We still saw people coming and going and they were contravening the gathering order and … the closure order," de Villiers told CBC's Brady Strachan. "Unfortunately, [we] had to change their locks because there was nothing else we could do at that point." "This is the first time I actually had to go this far in changing locks and spending a lot of time to actually do this," de Villiers said. "It's the first time we've done that, and hopefully [it's] the last time." CBC News has reached out to Aguiar by email but hasn't heard back. Last month, Flow Academy announced on its website that it wouldn't take new membership applications from anyone who had taken a COVID-19 vaccine, inaccurately characterizing the vaccines as dangerous and a liability concern. Interior Health's closure notice posted on Flow Academy's door says the business failed to follow the authority's closure order issued on April 20.(Brady Strachan/CBC) Although the announcement was removed, de Villiers said he's troubled by the misinformation about coronavirus vaccines being spread in the local community. "It's always concerning to us because unfortunately … the public will actually believe and act on that [misinformation] as well, and then they might put other people at risk," he said. Flow Academy, which has been operating without a business licence since February, submitted an application for one but was turned down by the city due to non-compliance with provincial health orders. The City of Kelowna's risk manager Lance Kayfish said the city issued four violation tickets totalling $4,000 to Flow Academy for an unlicensed operation and failing to permit city inspections. "It [the amount of tickets issued] is quite unusual," Kayfish said. Group indoor fitness activities in gyms, yoga studios and other spaces are currently prohibited. The order is valid until May 25.
Officials in Hay River, Northwest Territories, say river breakup is now imminent, and want to make sure people in the area are prepared for a flood. "As breakup is now imminent locally, if you live on Vale Island or West Channel, please prepare for the possibility of an evacuation with relatively short notice," said the Wednesday update from the Town. It says water levels have been rising steadily on the Hay River at all monitoring stations and it appears the monitor at Meander has failed due to the significant drop. Water appears to be from bank to bank, which indicates that ice is starting to move closer to town, according to what the monitoring station at Delancey Estates is showing. "Pine Point Bridge Monitoring station shows flow on the upstream side with ice jammed on the downstream side of the bridge. There is some cracking of the ice and break up it starting to happen on the downstream side of the bridge," the release says. At Steen River, levels are "very high" but it the rise may have levelled off. There is water flowing at the Border Station, where breakup has occurred, and levels continue to rise slowly at that station. There is water flowing over the falls now as well, and the town expects to see broken ice "floating by the camera" as breakup continues upstream. The monitoring station is down at the moment, the release says, but the town is still "keeping a close eye on levels at that area." The levels at Paradise Valley are still constant but the town expects to see the breaking of the ice in that location on Wednesday. There is a water flow above and below the ice on the West Channel, with water getting to the lake right now, and some water on the ice down the East Channel. Temperatures are expected to rise over the next few days, which means snow and ice will continue to melt in large amounts. Officials expect to see levels on the southern N.W.T. watershed growing more rapidly. The town's emergency measures coordinator and water resources officials are continuing to monitor the situation, and will update people when conditions change. Updates from the town can be found here.
The proposed road to a liquefied natural gas project on Nova Scotia's Eastern Shore is paved with conflicting opinions about whether the highway change — and the $10-billion development it is a part of — should even go ahead. Pieridae Energy received environmental approval in 2014 to build a natural gas liquefaction plant at Goldboro, a tanker terminal, marine facilities and power plant. For the project to proceed, the company needs to move a 3.5-kilometre section of Highway 316, a secondary highway that hugs the coastline. The proposed realignment would divert vehicles inland and around the proposed LNG facility. Public submissions to the provincial government about moving the highway, also known as Marine Drive, are sharply divided. Everyday people, a tourism group, an energy industry association, environmentalists and Indigenous groups have all made submissions to the Environment Department. There were comments in support of the road project, saying the existing road is in need of improvement. Pieridae Energy needs to move a 3.5-kilometre section of Highway 316, a secondary highway that hugs the coastline.(Pieridae Energy) A local tourism group said the project must ensure that a massive industrial site does not obstruct view planes, and that signage is provided to notify travellers that they're still on Marine Drive. Others said a road would be a path to new jobs. The Maritimes Energy Association, a trade group, said it supports the project because it will create approximately 3,500 jobs during construction and up to 200 permanent positions. "This project will bring significant investment to Nova Scotia and aid the province in its economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic," the association said, adding that the highway realignment would increase public safety. One commenter from Antigonish said the work "needs to happen" in Nova Scotia, especially one with "so many positive spinoffs." Another person from Quebec said they know the area well and do not see an issue with moving the highway. "Please do not let this project die. Nova Scotia needs good paying jobs," they said. Some Indigenous groups, however, slammed Pieridae for a lack of consultation. The Native Council of Nova Scotia said its offer to meet virtually with Pieridae was "brusquely denied, and we are cavalierly told to seek out information regarding the project from a third party." The council raised several questions in its written submission, including plans for the water course, the blue felt lichen and Atlantic salmon in the area, and whether the wetland alteration plan had been approved. Pieridae is proposing to liquefy natural gas from the Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline at a plant to be built in Goldboro, Guysborough County, and ship it by sea.(Pieridae Energy) The Maritime Aboriginal People's Council, an intergovernmental leaders group, pointed out the highway realignment project would be on traditional ancestral homeland. It also criticized Pieridae's failure to meet with the Native Council of Nova Scotia. In a joint submission, the Ecology Action Centre, the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance and the Sierra Club Foundation recommended scrapping the project. They said approving the project would increase Nova Scotia's greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, instead of cutting them. The submission also raised concerns about the presence of old gold mine shafts, and the safety and contamination risks they pose. Pierdae's proposal is to build the new six-kilometre road, and upon completion, ownership and maintenance would be the responsibility of the province. The company has said it does not anticipate any major adverse environmental effects from the road project, and expects to start construction this fall. MORE TOP STORIES
Neighbourhood groups are calling for a public inquiry into how the social housing component of a $400-million development at the site of the old Montreal Children's Hospital disappeared from the building plan. Maryse Chapdelaine, a project manager with the Peter McGill Community Council, was surprised to learn that nearly three years after it was announced, the social housing project was dead. "We're trying to figure out, maybe not who's to blame, but how could this happen?" said Chapdelaine. "Without the social housing units, the project makes no sense." The proposed social housing units made the highrise development acceptable to some community members. Now they're not only off the table, but the subject of an ongoing legal dispute. The situation has become so acrimonious that the developer says he would build a tower of social housing for free — if Mayor Valérie Plante resigned. Community groups want to know what went wrong — and whether this saga might serve as a cautionary tale as the city tries to confront a housing crisis. Maryse Chapdelaine, a project manager with the Peter McGill Community Council, said her group is calling for a public inquiry into what happened to the social housing project at the old Montreal Children’s Hospital site.(Charles Contant/CBC) The old hospital site is located on the square bordered by René-Lévesque Boulevard, Atwater Avenue, Sussex Street and Tupper Street. In addition to more than 1,000 rental and condo units, the new development is set to include an enlarged park, community centre, library and auditorium. The original plans also called for 174 social housing units, something for which there is an urgent need, say neighbourhood advocates. The average rent in the Peter McGill neighbourhood is about $1,200 per unit, said Éric Michaud, project manager for the neighbourhood housing group, the Comité logement Ville-Marie. He calls the lack of social housing at the old hospital site "a terrible failure." "It's scandalous, what happened," he said. Michaud said he hoped from the start that the public land on which the hospital sat would be returned for public use. He said he was dismayed when a private buyer bought the land for about half its appraised value in 2015. Residents 'excited' for original plan The land was purchased by businessman Luc Poirier for $25 million. He then sold it to Philip Kerub's company, High-Rise Montréal (HRM) and the developer Devimco Immobilier. The two developers proposed the six tower project. Devimco is responsible for four of those housing towers, plus the park and community space. HRM was responsible for two towers, whose contrasts were striking. The first is 1111 Atwater, a posh skyscraper being marketed as the most luxurious condos outside of Dubai. There was also Tower 6, where the social housing was supposed to be built. "We were very happy to hear when it was announced that there was going to be social housing units for families," said Chapdelaine of the original plan. Graham Singh, a pastor and father who moved to the neighbourhood several years ago, said the prospect of a mixed development attracted him to the area. "We were really excited to be living in this part of Peter McGill, where we were expecting this development to come out in the way that it had been proposed," he said. Rev. Graham Singh, a pastor and father who lives in the neighbourhood of Peter McGill, said he was attracted to the neighbourhood because of the development at the old Montreal Children’s Hospital, but he is disappointed by how the city has handled it. (Credit: Esteban Cuevas) Developer met with city 'countless times' The president of HRM, Philip Kerub, says he went in with good intentions. "I was trying because I wanted to do it," he said in an interview with CBC News. "It was important for me to actually make a deal and get this social housing." According to documents filed to the Quebec Superior Court, HRM signed a contract with the City of Montreal in June 2017, during the tail end of the Coderre administration. It includes a clause allowing the developer to pay a penalty of $6,235,000 if a deal could not be reached to build social housing after nine months of negotiation. CBC News has reviewed the relevant part of the contract. Kerub said his team met with the city "countless times" to work out a deal. He said the requirements for social housing are strict, and court documents claim HRM paid more than $750,000 to engineers, architects and other staff to draft plans for the housing. Per legal documents, HRM was looking at building a turnkey social housing project which would then be sold to the City and the City's housing office, the OMHM. According to the court filing, the developer says a tower that adhered to the standards of social housing would cost at least $40 million, but the city was able to offer a maximum of only $34.5 million. Kerub says he elected to pay the $6,235,000 penalty included in his contract rather than lose millions of dollars and build the housing. "I said, that's just not reasonable. Now, [the city] delayed me long enough… now we have to go our separate ways," he said. Publicly, Mayor Valérie Plante started calling out HRM as early as July 2019. By September 2019, negotiations had stalled. Kerub decided to pay the penalty and propose his Plan B for Tower 6. Plante retaliated by proposing changing the zoning of the sixth tower, so the building would have a maximum of four storeys instead of the approved 20. "There was a social contract that was made by the developer," Plante said during the council meeting on Sept. 16, 2019. "It's sad. It's a shame." In September 2019, Mayor Valérie Plante announced to the municipal council that HRM did not intend to fulfil its "social contract" and build social housing at the development at the old Montreal Children's Hospital.(City of Montreal) This was news to Kerub, who says he says he signed a legal contract — not a social contract — and that the city is both smearing his name and breaking the contract. "I'm tired of being attacked and being called the villain when it's the exact opposite," he said. Last month, HRM filed an injunction to prevent the rezoning of Tower 6, saying the city broke its contract and the developer ought to be allowed to build a 20-storey tower. "It's absurd. It's really outrageous. And now they've drawn themselves into a lawsuit, which they're going to lose miserably," he said. Kerub said he offered them other locations for social housing, and proposed creating student housing or a condo hotel in the sixth tower, where the social housing was supposed to go. "You know what I said to my friends? I said, the city still wants me to build social housing? No problem. You tell Valérie Plante to resign, and I'll build it for free," he said. He also questions the logic of blocking a 20-storey tower of potential housing amid a housing crisis. "How does that benefit the population?" he said. "You lost everything now and you cut it down to four storeys to try and penalize me. But how are you going to penalize me? I tripled my money here." The City responded with a statement, saying it could not comment on the matter because it is before the court. The statement said that the contract with HRM was signed by the previous administration, and that social and affordable housing is a priority of the Plante administration. The ordeal has left people who live in the neighbourhood scratching their heads, wondering how a municipal government that promotes social housing could have let this happen. "I would support a public inquiry not to see something change on this site because it is too little, it is too late," said Singh, "But I would support a public inquiry to try to do much better with figuring out how we're actually going to see downtown Montreal developed in the future." For now, because of the legal proceedings, any project for the sixth tower is in limbo. Kerub said so far, no court date has been set. WATCH | See what the work looks like at the site of the old Montreal Children's Hospital:
For the second time in less than a week, the public health authority in Windsor-Essex is warning about a high number of opioid overdoses. According to an opioid-overdose alert issued on Wednesday, there were eight overdoses recorded in the three-day period between April 30 and May 2. The overdoses occurred primarily in Windsor, according to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, and seven out of the eight involved use of the highly powered opiate fentanyl. The health unit also issued an alert about overdoses on Saturday, saying there had been eight overdoses between April 26 and April 29. In total, there were 16 overdoses in between April 26 and May 2. Additionally, there were 10 EMS overdose notifications flagged by the monitoring system. "Compared to historical weekly comparisons for the same time period, these indicators surpass our threshold levels for an extreme alert," the statement said. The statement said that partners involved in the Windsor-Essex Community Overdose and Substance Strategy (WECOSS), are monitoring the increase and working to understand more about the cases reported. So far this year, WECOSS has issued seven alerts about spikes in overdoses. Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health for Windsor and Essex County, said Wednesday that the pandemic is affecting those with substance use and mental health problems more severely than others. "These high rates of overdoses [are] ringing alarm in our community and we want to make sure that all the agencies that are working with this population are aware and are creating that awareness, distributing naloxone kits, ensuring that all the proper education is provided to them," he said at the WECHU daily briefing on Wednesday.
U.S. lawmakers are pushing for tens of billions of dollars in funding to shift to electric vehicles and away from gas-powered vehicles and build hundreds of thousands of charging stations. Representatives Andy Levin and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday are unveiling a revised version of their bill dubbed the "Electric Vehicle Freedom Act" to create a network of high-speed charging stations within five years along the public roads of the national highway system in the United States. The House Democrats proposed a version last year while Donald Trump was president and who backed ending taxpayer subsidies for electric vehicle purchases.