Protecting your mental health is important and there are natural ways to do it!
Protecting your mental health is important and there are natural ways to do it!
The Burmese-Canadian community is calling on the federal government to provide more material support to anti-military protesters after a week that saw some of the deadliest clashes between police and demonstrators in Myanmar since the military coup in that country. The Burmese Canadian Action Network (BCAN) sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Minister Marc Garneau this week, just one day after police killed 18 people and wounded 30, according to the United Nations. "We, Burmese Canadians across Canada, are calling on the Government of Canada to provide tangible support for Burmese people struggling for freedom and democracy," the letter reads. The crisis began after Aung San Suu Kyi won a landslide re-election as state counsellor of Myanmar — a position equivalent to a prime minister -- on Nov. 8 last year. The military questioned the results, accusing the winning party of fraud, before seizing power and placing Suu Kyi and other senior members of her government under arrest on Feb. 1. Since then, dozens of protesters have died -- 34 on Wednesday alone -- at the hands of police and more than 1,000 civilians and elected officials have been arrested. Anti-coup protesters maintain their position behind a barricade despite smoke from tear gas in San Chaung township in Yangon, Myanmar, on Friday, Mar. 5, 2021. Demonstrators defy growing violence by security forces and stage more anti-coup protests ahead of a special UN Security Council meeting on the country’s political crisis.(The Associated Press) From pot-banging to protesters taking to the streets clad in hard-hats and goggles to protect themselves from assaults by police, the demonstrations are happening daily, in spite of bans on political protests and on social media. The letter to Trudeau and Garneau says Canada should take further action, including helping people who are now struggling with food scarcity. The civil unrest has caused major shutdowns in the country and interrupted the people's daily lives, especially those who joined the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM). BCAN appealed to Canada to send food and material support via UN agencies and civil society organizations. "We encourage you to find ways to provide such essential assistance urgently," its letter reads. The letter also calls on Canada to officially recognize the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Htaw (CRPH). The CRPH, which was created soon after the coup with the support of 400 elected MPs, combines the Lower and Upper Houses of Myanmar's parliament. Protesters hold up placards demanding the release of detained Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a demonstration against the military coup in Naypyidaw on March 4, 2021 (AFP via Getty Images) According to Tin Maung Htoo, spokesperson for the BCAN, the CRPH is currently working underground in defiance of the police and supporting the demonstrators under the radar, by releasing information and making announcements to the public. "We are quite encouraged by the [Canadian] government's stand and this stand and actions from the government is very encouraging for people on the ground in Burma, especially," he said, referring to a move by Canada and Britain to impose economic sanctions on Myanmar. The two countries made the move under the Special Economic Measures Act on Feb 18 after police violence escalated against demonstrators. We don't want to go back 20, 30 years -- back to the dark age. That is why this is the time for us to do whatever we can. - Tin Maung Htoo Maung Htoo was a student when he fled Myanmar during in 1988 after organizing protests against the military dictatorship. "More than 3,000 people, mostly students, were killed in the streets," Maung Htoo recalled. "There was no freedom of expression, association, student unions were banned." The regime lasted over 20 years, finally ending when Myanmar achieved partial democracy in 2010. Tin Maung Htoo, with the Burmese Canadian Action Network, says the people of Myanmar 'are showing their strong stand and support for democratization in the country.'(Submitted by Tin Maung Htoo) Two years before the country opened itself to the world, the military wrote a new constitution, which allowed it to keep some of its former powers, including 25 per cent of seats in parliament and control of the defence, border affairs and home ministries. When the military moved to take power in February, General Min Aung Hlaing announced the removal of 24 democratically elected ministers, naming 11 replacements.. Maung Htoo said he believes the coup is an act of desperation. He said the the military was gradually losing not only political control under Suu Kyi's leadership but also economic power, since big business organizations are military-backed and military-owned. "People are showing their strong stand and support for democratization in the country." Maung Htoo said. "We don't want to go back 20, 30 years ... back to the dark age. That is why this is the time for us to do whatever we can."
LANGFORD, B.C. — Pacific FC captain Marcel de Jong, whose 17-year pro career took him to the Netherlands, Germany and North America, has announced his retirement. The 34-year-old left back won 56 caps, including 48 starts, for Canada with three goals and two assists. Born in Newmarket. Ont., to Dutch parents, de Jong was four when his family moved to the Netherlands. He was eight when he joined PSV Eindhoven's youth academy. De Jong went on to play for Helmond Sport and Roda JC before helping Germany's FC Augsburg win promotion to the Bundesliga. He came to Major League Soccer in 2015, signing with Sporting Kansas City. He spent part of 2016 with the Ottawa Fury of the NASL before returning to MLS with the Whitecaps. De Jong appeared in 52 regular-season games for Vancouver from 2016 to 2018. He spent the last two season with Pacific FC in the Canadian Premier League. “I will forever be grateful to Pacific for the time I’ve had at the club and on (Vancouver) Island which I will continue to call home," De Jong said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021 The Canadian Press
The provincial government has established a new one-time benefit for parents for daycare costs during the pandemic. The Working Parents Benefit, announced during a government news conference on Feb. 24, will provide a one-time payment of $561 to parents in the province. To be eligible, parents must make less than $100,000, have children in childcare, and have paid three months of childcare between April 1 and Dec. 31, 2020. Examples of eligible childcare include licensed or unlicensed daycare, day homes, out-of-school care, or preschool. This new support will help families invest in childcare and preschool, but will also create economic stimulus, said Rebecca Schultz, the province’s minister of children’s services. The program is being funded with $108 million of unspent funds from Children’s Services to support the families of up to 192,000 children, according to the government. Applications for the benefit are made online, the date of opening varying regionally to manage volume, between March 1 to March 5. Applications will be open until March 31. A MyAlberta Digital ID is required to apply for the benefit. Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
The Township of McMurrich/Monteith received correspondence from several municipalities on the closure of the Ontario Fire College. McMurrich/Monteith council discussed whether they would draft a resolution similar to other municipalities in support of saving the fire college from closure. Here is the discussion in key quotes: • “It would be great to save the college, but I think they’ve drawn their line in the sand,” said Coun. Lynn Zemnicky. • “The college is losing money on it,” said Coun. Dennis Banka, in regard to the $65 cost per course. • “Every ratepayer is paying for that and I understand what the issues are around that … but if we send five people there and another municipality sends 100, then we’re subsidizing that 100 because we’re only sending five. So, the numbers to me don’t play out. I can’t see why as a ratepayer in a municipality I would want to subsidize another municipality for something,” said Coun. Alfred Bielke. • “I’m not denying that the fire college rates down there more than likely need to be adjusted, but I think the government shouldn’t be closing it down and asking us to come up with thousands of dollars just to train our volunteer firefighters,” said Coun. Dan O’Halloran. • “If they get their costs more realistic to what it actually costs to train a person, I’ve got no problem with it, but I think these other programs that we’re being forced into is going to cost us a fortune. I’m not seeing we’re going to get anything better out of it,” said O’Halloran. McMurrich/Monteith unanimously passed a resolution in support of saving the Ontario Fire College. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration insisted Friday that a quest for scientific accuracy, not political concerns, prompted members of his COVID-19 task force to ask the state health department to delete data last summer from a report on nursing home patients killed by the coronavirus. The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, citing documents and people with knowledge of the administration’s internal discussions, reported late Thursday that aides including secretary to the governor Melissa DeRosa pushed state health officials to edit the July report so it counted only residents who died inside long-term care facilities, and not those who died later after being transferred to a hospital. At the time, Cuomo was trying to deflect criticism that his administration hadn't done enough to protect nursing home residents from the virus. About a third of the state's nursing home fatalities were excluded from the report as a result of the change. The revelations about the removal of the higher fatality number come as the Democrat also faces accusations he sexually harassed two former aides and a woman that he met at a wedding. Cuomo had apologized Wednesday for acting “in a way that made people feel uncomfortable” but rejected calls for his resignation and said he would fully co-operate with the state attorney general's investigation into the sexual harassment allegations. Federal investigators are scrutinizing his administration’s handling of nursing home data. Top Democrats in the state have said they want those investigations to conclude before they make a judgment about Cuomo's conduct, but in the wake of Thursday night's report, a few state lawmakers renewed calls for the governor to either resign or be ousted. “And Cuomo hid the numbers. Impeach,” tweeted Queens Assembly member Ron Kim, who said Cuomo bullied him for criticizing how Cuomo withheld nursing home data. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that the allegations that Cuomo aides deleted data from the report was “troubling” and said the White House “certainly would support any outside investigation.” The July nursing home report was released to rebut criticism of Cuomo over a March 25 directive that barred nursing homes from rejecting recovering coronavirus patients being discharged from hospitals. Some nursing homes complained at the time that the policy could help spread the virus. The report concluded the policy didn't play a major role in spreading infection. The state's analysis was based partly on what officials acknowledged at the time was an imprecise statistic. The report said 6,432 people had died in the state's nursing homes. State officials acknowledged even then that the true number of deaths was higher because the report was excluding patients who died in hospitals. But they declined at the time to give any estimate of that larger number of deaths, saying the numbers still needed to be verified. In fact, the original drafts of the report had included that number, then more than 9,200 deaths, until Cuomo's aides said it should be taken out. State officials insisted Thursday that the edits were made because of concerns about accuracy. The administration initially released data about how many nursing home residents died at both hospitals and nursing homes, but quietly stopped in early May. “While early versions of the report included out of facility deaths, the COVID task force was not satisfied that the data had been verified against hospital data and so the final report used only data for in facility deaths, which was disclosed in the report,” Department of Health Spokesperson Gary Holmes said. The governor's office didn't respond to questions from The Associated Press about whether Cuomo himself was involved in removing the higher death total from the report. Scientists, health care professionals and elected officials assailed the report at the time for flawed methodology and selective stats that sidestepped the actual impact of the directive. The administration refused for months to release more complete data. A court order and state attorney general report in January forced the state to acknowledge the nursing home resident death toll was higher than the count previously made public. DeRosa told lawmakers earlier this month that the administration didn't turn over the data to legislators in August because of worries the information would be used against them by President Donald Trump's administration. “Basically, we froze, because then we were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice or what we give to you guys, what we start saying was going to be used against us while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation,” DeRosa said. Cuomo and his health commissioner recently defended the March directive, saying it was the best option at the time to help free up desperately needed beds at the state’s hospitals. And they've argued community spread is the biggest risk factor for nursing homes, and that it's unlikely that most hospital patients treated for COVID-19 were contagious once they arrived. “We made the right public health decision at the time. And faced with the same facts, we would make the same decision again,” Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said Feb. 19. The state now acknowledges that at least 15,000 long-term care residents died, compared to a figure of 8,700 it had publicized as of late January that didn’t include residents who died after being transferred to hospitals. The Associated Press
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — While the Wyoming National Guard was sending more than 100 troops to Washington, D.C., to help with security around President Joe Biden's inauguration in January, Gov. Mark Gordon quietly mobilized dozens of Guard troops and others in case of violence at the state capitol in Cheyenne. The all-but-undisclosed local deployment Jan. 15-21, specifics of which came to light Friday after an inquiry by The Associated Press, stood in stark contrast with the state's contribution to U.S. Capitol security praised by Gordon and other top Wyoming officials. “Thank you to the @wyoguard members who are serving our country by providing support at today’s Presidential inauguration. Wyomingites are grateful for your service,” Gordon, a Republican, tweeted on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20. Wyoming's congressional delegation — Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis and Rep. Liz Cheney, all Republicans — likewise have posed in photos with and lauded the Wyoming troops at the U.S. Capitol but not those working similar duty back home. The governor didn't previously disclose details of the deployment of 60 Army National Guard and 13 Air National Guard members in the Cheyenne area because it was a “security operation,” Gordon spokesman Michael Pearlman said Friday. “They basically were prepared to do backup in case there was some sort of violent action at the Capitol,” Pearlman said. “They can’t perform law enforcement duties, so they were purely as support.” While other states such as Utah made high-profile increases to security after an FBI warning of “armed protests” in all 50 states that week, security in Cheyenne appeared light. In fact, the Guard troops weren't far away at an “undisclosed location," Pearlman said. Wyoming Highway Patrol, Laramie County Sheriff's Department, Cheyenne Police Department and Wyoming state park personnel also were on standby, Pearlman said. The Cheyenne deployment was announced in the vaguely worded last line of a Wyoming National Guard news release Jan. 14 that announced the troops headed to Washington, D.C., Pearlman added. “Additional National Guard Soldiers and Airmen will be made available to provide support to Wyoming authorities, should the need arise,” the release said without elaboration. The added security proved unnecessary. Hundreds of protesters prompted a lockdown of the Wyoming Capitol on Jan. 6, the same day a mob of President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, resulting in five deaths. Hundreds turned out again Jan. 28 to hear Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz rail from the Capitol steps against Cheney for voting to impeach Trump for the riot. Both gatherings were peaceful and no protests of note happened in Cheyenne between those dates. The extra use of Guard troops, Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers, local police and sheriff’s officers and state park personnel in Cheyenne came to light with an Associated Press request for costs associated with additional security at the state capitol this year. The extra security that week cost $163,531, including $128,815 incurred by the Wyoming Military Department. The military expenses included $70,179 for pay, $36,864 for lodging, $10,742 for equipment costs and $11,030 for food, according to the governor's office. The Wyoming Highway Patrol meanwhile spent an extra $29,374, the Cheyenne Police Department $4,000, the Laramie County Sheriff’s Office $645 and the Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources $697 on extra security at the ready that week, Gordon's office said. Besides the National Guard troops, six sheriff's deputies were placed on standby for security in Cheyenne. Wyoming Highway Patrol and Cheyenne police officials didn't immediately respond to requests for comment Friday on how many of their officers were placed on standby for security. ___ Follow Mead Gruver at https://twitter.com/meadgruver Mead Gruver, The Associated Press
A local family with deep ties to the Rockyford area is being honoured for best representing the values of the family farm within their rural community. Gordon and Darlene Koester and family, with Koester Cattle Co. Inc., was a recipient of the BMO Farm Family Award, presented by the Calgary Stampede and BMO Bank of Montreal. This awards program was created to promote a renewed urban-rural relationship and to recognize outstanding southern Alberta farm families who best typify the value of the family farmer to society. The Koester’s local ties started in 1928, when the family moved from Iowa to Rockyford. Joe, one of nine children, and his wife, Tillie, purchased their own farmstead in 1950, raising eight children. Their son Gordon and his wife Darlene took over the family farm and raised four children. Sons Matthew and Adam became an integral part of the family farm operation, but in 2015, they decided to pursue their off-farm careers on a full-time basis. Bradie, one of the couple’s two daughters, and her husband, Dan, then jumped at the opportunity to come home and farm, and are now at the helm of the operation. The family winning the award was a surprise, said Gordon, in an interview. “I was taken back by the nomination, thinking there’s a lot of deserving people out there,’ he said. “I was humbled to be chosen, that’s for sure.” The Koesters have been an integral part of their community. Gordon is the past president of the Rockyford Lions Club and past chairman of the Rockyford Agricultural Society, Hall Board, Curling Club, Parish Council, Knights of Columbus and Minor Hockey, and is also a 25- year member of the Seed Growers Association. Darlene helped establish ringette in the Rockyford Community 30 years ago, and was a coach and manager throughout the years while her daughters played. She was also the Rockyford Rodeo secretary for 25 years in addition to driving a school bus for three decades. Dan and Bradie belong to the Rockyford Minor Hockey and Ringette Association as coaches and board members, in addition to Rockyford’s Ag Society, Lions Club, Rodeo Committee, Parish Council and Knights of Columbus. They also coach their girls’ fastball teams as well as play ringette and hockey on adult teams. Dan belongs to the Strathmore Seed Cleaning Plant and is entering his second year as chairman. Being established for multiple generations has helped the Koesters make such an impact in their community, said Gordon. “My father and mother taught us to be part of the community and make sure things work,” he said. “We’re a small enough community that everybody can take a turn.” Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Major League Baseball teams in California can welcomea limited number of fans back to ballparks on April 1 under new state rukes announced Friday that will also let Disneyland and other theme parks reopen for the first time in more than a year. The changes allow people to attend other outdoor sporting events and live performances in limited numbers that go into effect on baseball's opening day, when the San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels and Oakland A's all have home games. The A's confirmed they will have fans in the stands. Disneyland officials did not say when the park would reopen. But when it does, only people who live in California can buy tickets. The same goes for MLB games and outdoor performances, as public health officials try to limit mixing while continuing to roll out coronavirus vaccinations. Indoor events such as NBA games and concerts are not included in the new rules announced by the adminstration of Gov. Gavin Newsom. The state is acting because the rates of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are declining while the number of people receiving vaccines is increasing, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s top public health official. “Today’s announcement is focused on building in some of the compelling science about how the virus behaves, and how activities when done a certain way can reduce risk,” Ghaly said. California divides its counties into four colour-coded tiers based on the spread of the virus. The purple tier is the most restrictive, followed by red, orange and yellow. Attendance limits are based on what tier a county is in. Outdoor sports are limited to 100 people in the purple tier. The limits increase to 20% capacity in the red tier, 33% in the orange tier and 67% in the yellow tier. Teams and event organizers can only sell tickets regionally in the purple tier. In the other tiers, teams and organizers can sell tickets to anyone living in California. No concessions will be allowed in the purple tier, while in others, concession sales will only be available at seats. Enforcing the rules will be left to venues. Ghaly and Dee Dee Myers, director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, said organizers will have to sell tickets in advance and can cross-check to confirm hometowns to help with contact tracing if needed. Myers acknowledged that some people will try to beat the system, but she said officials hope people will respect the guidelines. The Oakland A’s announced rules that give a glimpse of what life will be like for fans during the pandemic. They will be seated in pods of two or four seats, and tickets will only be available on the MLB Ballpark app. Fans can order concessions on their phones and have them delivered to their seats. No tailgating is allowed, and teams will not accept cash inside the stadium. People who don’t have debit cards can purchase one with cash at a limited number of locations inside the venue. “We are excited to safely welcome fans back to our ballpark for the upcoming season,” A’s President Dave Kaval said. Theme parks can open in the red tier at 15% capacity and boost attendance limits as virus rates decrease. Again, only people who live in California can buy tickets. Indoor rides at outdoor parks will be allowed because they are typically short and can allow for proper spacing. “We can’t wait to welcome guests back and look forward to sharing an opening date soon,” Ken Potrock, president of Disneyland Resort, said in a statement. Disneyland employees have been furloughed or out of a job for nearly a year. Andrea Zinder, president of the local United Food and Commercial Workers Union that represents Disney workers, said employees are “excited to go back to work and provide Californians with a bit more magic in their lives." Disney fan Kenny King Jr.said he became an annual Disneyland passholder a decade ago and typically takes his family there five times a year. King, 38, and his family, who live in Pleasant Hill, last went to Disneyland in February 2020 for his birthday. He's excited to return with his 8-year-old daughter, who had just started enjoying rides such as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Space Mountain, and to take his 2-year-old son, who was mesmerized by the lights and sounds when he went to the park last year. “We’ll sit there at the house sometimes and we’ll be like man, I just miss Disneyland,” King said. He said he's confident Disney will take appropriate safety measures. “They’ve had plenty of time to game plan on that,” he said. Adam Beam And Kathleen Ronayne, The Associated Press
Golden Hill School Division (GHSD) held a board meeting on Feb. 23, focusing on a range of topics, including setting next year’s budget, this year’s election, enrolment trends and changes to its transportation program. Budget development The government of Alberta released its 2021 budget on Feb. 25, which will shape GHSD’s budget next year. According to the province, funding for kindergarten to Grade 12 is being maintained, despite lower-than-expected enrolment. However, GHSD will review the specifics of the budget in developing its own budget for next year, through a multistep process. At this time of year, the board is focused on its overarching budgeting principles, explained superintendent Bevan Daverne. “One of those principles is that we live within our means and make (GHSD’s budget) work within the funding we receive,” he said. While GHSD may access reserve funding for its budget, it is not permitted to run an overall deficit. Another principle is ensuring GHSD’s priorities continue to align with its overall education plan. “We’ll continue to focus on those things that matter most for learning,” said Daverne. Once the budget is released, the province’s minister of education calls all the division chairs across Alberta to communicate the highlights of the budget, explained Laurie Huntley, GHSD board chair. The board will later receive the budget in its entirety for review. “That’s when the rubber hits the road and our people start crunching the numbers and comparing things from last year to this year,” she said. The board will review the specifics of the provincial budget and its impact during the next meeting in March, added Daverne. Election 2021 This year, a provincial school board of trustee election will be held on Oct. 18. Trustees are responsible for setting school division goals and priorities, developing a budget and policies, ensuring communication with residents, advocating for the division and evaluating the superintendent. GHSD has six trustees, each representing a different ward. One of the changes to this year’s election was the nomination period, which started on Jan. 1, earlier than previous years. During the Feb. 23 meeting, the board passed an updated bylaw outlining the identification requirements of nominees. The current trustees on the board have been “outstanding,” said Daverne. “They think about what’s best for students as a whole, they are very good listeners and they are very considerate in the decisions they make.” Advocacy is a key part of trustee’s work, including advocating for changes to funding, regulations and rules with provincial decisions makers, he added. Huntley (Ward 5, Carseland and Wheatland Crossing), Rob Pirie (Ward 4, Strathmore) and Jennifer Mertz (Ward 4, Strathmore) are all seeking reelection. Enrolment changes During the Feb. 23 meeting, GHSD’s headcount was shown to have increased from December 2020 to January 2021 by 135 students. This trend was driven by increases in its online learning programs, including 127 added to its Golden Hills Learning Academy and 26 to its NorthStar Academy. The jump was due to the pandemic, said Huntley. “We think you can sum up the reason in five letters: C-O-V-I-D,” she said. But this increase is not due to children in the division moving from learning at school to learning at home, she explained. Instead, these programs are offered to students throughout Alberta, so the increases are due to students from other jurisdictions entering the program. From the start of last year, these programs have doubled in size, noted Daverne. To meet this new demand, GHSD has had to make some quick adjustments, such as hiring more teachers. But within the division, the opposite trend is being seen, where students are moving back into schools from at-home learning. “Our families have been really happy to be able to get back to face-to-face classroom learning,” said Daverne. Transportation monitoring report GHSD’s yearly transportation monitoring report was also discussed during the Feb. 23 meeting, focusing on GHSD’s school bus program. A new operating training program has been implemented, called mandatory entry-level training (MELT), established in March 2019 as a provincial requirement for large vehicle operators. The training requires set hourly training requirements for drivers (53.5 hours total), including increased requirements for classroom, in-yard and on-road training. Existing GHSD policies already required 62 hours of training, with some of the training performed over a year. But the change with MELT is the training is required up front. This is not necessarily an improvement, because drivers require regular supervision, ride alongs and support to develop, said Daverne. “We’re going to help you continue becoming a better driver, and we’re going to continue to supervise over time,” he said. GHSD is also pursuing several initiatives for its transportation program, including ongoing efforts to implement online attendance tracking systems, new cleaning protocols and adding live cameras to the buses. “We’re looking at ways to monitor students’ attendance on a bus automatically – where they get on and where they get off,” he said. Each of GHSD’s buses has GPS tracking, which will be considered in a review of the department’s inclement weather policy. The buses also each have WiFi for students, providing a filtered internet from which they can access their Google Classroom. “School bus transportation is very different today than it once was,” said Daverne. Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
Trustees in the River East Transcona School Division have approved a $201.8-million budget for the upcoming school year that takes into account the impact COVID-19 has had on student well-being. The budget has few changes in store for 2021-22, aside from a modest increase of 5.1 new full-time equivalent resource teacher and clinician positions. “This health crisis has thrown everything upside down, and we know come the fall, there are going to be a lot of children, a lot of families, who are going to require a lot more support from education — academically, and for their mental health and well-being,” said Jerry Sodomlak, chairman of the board. The province has allocated $98.9 million in operating funding, the equivalent of a 0.6 per cent increase, for the Winnipeg-based division next year. Divisions have been directed to freeze property education taxes, with the province instead offering one-time grants the equivalent of a two per cent hike; in River East Transcona, that means a resident with an average home valued at $287,500 will see an approximately $27 decrease on their tax bill. Sodomlak said revenues don’t keep pace with inflation and growing enrolment costs, and could result in larger class sizes next year. “The government has dropped the ball… but I believe that we have an extremely capable and strong senior administration team in our division and teaching staff who will be able to continue our programming,” he said Wednesday, adding the division has strong inclusion supports, unique bilingual programs and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) offerings. Trustee Brianne Goertzen, chairwoman of the finance committee, echoed those sentiments Wednesday: “We’re looking at trying to maintain a status quo.” Not unlike other boards, staffing and benefit costs in the River East Transcona account for nearly 90 per cent of its total budget. Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Former President Donald Trump on Friday endorsed South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster's bid for a second full term in 2022, continuing their yearslong alliance in a move to strengthen ties with the early-voting state that Trump won twice. In a statement through his Save America PAC, Trump commended McMaster's efforts on behalf of the military, veterans and law enforcement, saying the Republican “has my Complete and Total Endorsement as he runs for re-election!” The endorsement, along with other recent moves, continues to signal Trump's desire to maintain ties with South Carolina, home of the first presidential primary votes in the South. Earlier this week, Trump formally endorsed U.S. Sen. Tim Scott in his own 2022 reelect bid, also complimenting Scott’s work on behalf of the military, law enforcement and veterans. Last month, Trump gave backing to Drew McKissick for a third term as chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, signalling a desire to wade not only into state-level politics but also to play a role in maintaining the local party framework in places that backed his presidency and where his support remains steady. But the former president’s relationship with McMaster goes deeper, predating either man’s administration. In early 2016, then-Lt. Gov. McMaster threw his support behind Trump’s presidential bid, becoming the first statewide-elected official in the country to do so. That summer, McMaster was one of two speakers to formally nominate Trump at the Republican National Convention. The move helped boost Trump to a double-digit victory in South Carolina’s early primary. It also surprised many allies and friends of McMaster, a longtime member of South Carolina’s establishment GOP circles. But McMaster’s wager paid dividends a year later, when Trump picked Nikki Haley as his U.N. ambassador, allowing McMaster to ascend to the governor’s office, a post he had long sought. In 2018, as McMaster sought his first full term in office, Trump campaigned for his ally roughly 12 hours before polls opened in a GOP runoff race, which McMaster ultimately won. ___ Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP. Meg Kinnard, The Associated Press
VANCOUVER — Dentists, teachers and bus drivers are among the essential workers who hope to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in British Columbia, as a provincial committee decides who should be prioritized for the shot. BC Teachers' Federation president Teri Mooring said her members should be included in the plan expected to be released by the B.C. Immunization Committee around March 18. Education staff have had the second-highest number of COVID-19 claims accepted by WorkSafeBC, behind only health-care workers, and teachers have faced challenging conditions, Mooring said. "It's been a very difficult and stressful environment for teachers in B.C.," she said Friday. "Teachers have not, from the very start, been satisfied with the preventative measures that have been in place in classrooms. What we see is one of the most lax mask policies in all of Canada." The province does not require elementary students to wear masks, unlike in Ontario and high-risk areas of Quebec. B.C.'s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, has said young children don't get as sick from COVID-19 or pass it on as well as others. Henry has said the immunization committee will use public health principles, vaccine science and an ethical framework to reach its decision on which essential workers and first responders should receive the AstraZeneca vaccine. Once the plan is finalized, the vaccine will be administered in a parallel program to the province's age-based strategy for the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a joint statement Friday that the newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine will become another tool in its program to accelerate the protection of more people in the province. The officials reported 634 new cases and four more fatalities, pushing the death toll to 1,380 in B.C. Four new cases were confirmed to be variants of concern, bringing the total to 250. The BC Dental Association said in a statement it would be "extremely pleased" if its members were included in the group to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot. Dentists and their teams cannot treat patients remotely, work in very close proximity to the mouth and often use aerosol-generating procedures, it said. The association also pointed out that dentists, dental hygienists and certified dental assistants are included in Henry's recent order to help administer the vaccines. "We would expect that any dentist choosing to participate in mass vaccination clinics would be required to have been vaccinated themselves prior to providing them," it said. Balbir Mann, president of Unifor Local 111, which represents Metro Vancouver bus drivers, said his members should receive the vaccine because they have been at risk throughout the pandemic. "When people get on the bus to pay their bus fare, they're literally a couple feet away. Our members, day to day, they're scared of the sneezes and coughs they have to deal with on a daily basis." Henry has suggested that workers in food processing plants will be prioritized because there have been a number of outbreaks in the facilities that have led to broader community transmission. James Donaldson, CEO of BC Food and Beverage, said his organization has been advocating for food production workers to receive priority access to vaccines since they became available. "Our industry is essential as it ensures the continuity of the food supply for people in B.C. and around the world," he said. Kim Novak, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Canada Local 1518, represents food plant workers including those at Grand River Foods in Abbotsford who recently grappled with a COVID-19 outbreak. "It's because of the nature of the work. People are working in close proximity. Even with enhanced (personal protective equipment), staggering breaks and other health and safety protocols that have been implemented, there is still a high level of exposure," she said. Novak's union also represents grocery store workers and she hopes they will be included in the plan for the vaccine. "In grocery stores in particular, there is a lot of exposure to different people in the public," she said. "That exposure not only is a risk for our members ... but also the public who interact with them." BC Trucking Association president Dave Earle, meanwhile, said his group represents both long-haul truckers and local drivers who return home every night. He wants to hear from the province about where the COVID-19 hot spots are in the transportation system. For example, in B.C., there are 300,000 people with a Class 1 licence allowing them to operate a semi-trailer truck, Earle said. "Not everybody with a Class 1 licence operates a heavy truck at the moment and many of those who do don't do it in an environment where they're at any greater risk than you and I just going about our daily lives," he said. In some European countries, people have been hesitant to receive the AstraZeneca shot because of fears it is less effective than the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization has also not recommended AstraZeneca for people over 65, while Health Canada has approved it for all adults. Henry sought on Thursday to assure essential workers that the AstraZeneca vaccine is extremely effective. The clinical trials for all three vaccines were done under different conditions and cannot be fairly compared, she said. The groups representing essential workers said Friday they hadn't heard any concerns about the AstraZeneca shot from members. Earle said his association takes guidance from public health officials and they've been abundantly clear. "Whatever you're offered, take it. Let's get out of this." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. Laura Dhillon Kane, The Canadian Press
This spring, Winnipeg’s civil service will unveil its new master plan for public transit, coming on the heels of Ottawa’s announcement to shovel billions of dollars into programs across the country over the next decade in an effort to lower emissions from the transportation sector. This convergence of public money and planning seems to offer Winnipeg a chance to reimagine what is possible in the realm of transit — what the system could be going forward, despite past failings. However, it is quickly becoming clear there are no visions of streetcars or light rail dancing in their heads. Dreams for Winnipeg’s transit system are much smaller, even among its biggest proponents, which speaks to how far the system still has to go in order to meet a threshold of service that would successfully convince people to leave their cars at home. Or, even more radically, not buy a car in the first place. Breaking people of their car-driving habit is a key aspect of national and municipal climate plans. More than 40 per cent of greenhouse-gas emissions in Manitoba came from the transportation sector in 2018. Of the emissions from transportation, about 37 per cent comes from vehicles classified as light-duty cars and trucks. Electrification will help lower passenger-vehicle emissions, but prospective civic policies also rely on getting more people out of their vehicles altogether and on to bikes, buses and trains. “Investments in public transit will also require some behavioural changes on the part of commuters,” declared the Senate’s 2017 report on decarbonizing the transportation sector. “Unless taking transit is easier, faster and cheaper than taking a car for one’s daily commute, investments will not result in the desired emission reductions.” Ideally, all of the pieces are meant to come together to help solve the emissions problem. But in Winnipeg, the road forward is shaping up to be a long, slow one. ● ● ● Coun. Vivian Santos grew up getting around the city by bus, accepting the hour-long commute between her Southdale home and downtown that would otherwise take 15 minutes by car. As she got older, a bike became a better alternative to the bus, cutting her commute time in half. “I stopped taking transit because it was just, to be honest, a waste of my time in the morning,” she says. In the decades since, bus service hasn’t really improved, but her financial flexibility did, plus she added kids to the mix. And so, the Point Douglas councillor made the same choice most Winnipeggers who can afford it make, and she bought a car. There are now two in her household to shuffle her family around the city. Her children are getting to the age where they could start taking transit on their own — and she’d like to encourage them to do so — but it’s not realistic, based on where they live in the northwest part of the city. “There’s actually no transit service out here, to be honest with you. So if my son were to take transit, he would actually have to walk 10 minutes to McPhillips. Or he’d have to walk maybe seven minutes the other way down towards Pipeline and Templeton. So we’re really kind of outside of the transit system,” she says. Winnipeg has some of the lowest transit use rates per capita in the country, according to a recent report from Climate Reality Canada, the Canadian arm of former U.S. vice-president Al Gore’s international environmental non-profit organization. Among large cities with more than 600,000 residents, Winnipeg came in last, with an average of 67 transit trips per person annually. The next lowest was Calgary with 84. The Canadian leader in transit trips per capita is Montreal, with 236. Nationally, transit ridership has increased from roughly 1.8 billion regular service trips in 2009 to 2.1 billion in 2017, according to the Canadian Urban Transit Association. But in Winnipeg, ridership stalled and even declined in that same time period, according to city statistics. The last census revealed Winnipeg was the only Canadian city where commuting by public transit had declined over the preceding 20-year period. Santos believes getting more people on transit isn’t about building rail lines or any other flashy, grand plans. To her, it’s much more simple — it’s about making transit more frequently accessible and reliable, and charging less money to use it. “I think a good balance of both should be done,” she says. “They need to be done together. Because I understand that if we lower the fees, we’re going to have more people come on, we’re gonna see an uptick rate of people taking the transit. So obviously, we need to increase purchasing buses, and we need to better our frequency.” To that end, she put a motion before the city’s public works committee in February to study what the impact of lower fares might be in Winnipeg. It was rejected in a 2-2 vote. Curt Hull, director of Winnipeg’s Climate Change Connection, agrees with Santos’s evaluation of what’s needed to bring the transit system up to speed, and explains why aiming higher at this point isn’t practical. “Implementing rapid transit by rail is really a long ways further from where we are. You don’t start with that. You start with building the demand with things like developing frequent service, and then once you get enough demand, enough ridership on a particular route, then you make it rail. So we’re a long ways away from that,” Hull says. Efforts to regenerate the transit system with rapid bus instrastructure — the second leg of the Southwest Transitway was completed last spring — have proven lacklustre, Hull says, but he is hopeful new, less capital-intensive improvements will help deliver more riders. In addition to Santos’s hopes for more frequent, cheaper service, Hull adds a couple of things to the wish list. The routes need to be simple, he says, and access to lines criss-crossing the city needs to be easy. He envisions something like an on-demand service for suburban neighbourhoods, where a small van or a similar vehicle shuttles a rider to the main bus lines. Having regular but empty buses running through those neighbourhoods doesn’t make sense, he says, but you can’t cut them off from the network, either. “The issue is the availability of funding for it,” he says. ●●● Winnipeg relies more heavily on the fare box to fund transit than any other city in the country on a per capita basis, which pins the system’s progress directly to ridership. It’s a chicken-and-egg scenario — the system can’t be improved until ridership increases, but that won’t happen without system improvements. It also puts the system at risk for ridership fluctuations, as was the case for most of last year because of the pandemic. Across the country, transit ridership fell by more than 60 per cent in 2020, according to Statistics Canada. While it rebounded somewhat in the summer months, those minor gains were lost again amid the second wave in late fall and early winter. “That hits our system that much more than other systems,” says Coun. Matt Allard, chair of Winnipeg’s public works committee. Winnipeg’s reliance on fare-box revenues was cemented in 2017 when the provincial government moved away from its 50-50 funding agreement with the city. In 2019, fares represented 45 per cent of total expenditures on transit, which amounted to $91.7 million of $204 million. At the public works committee meeting in February where Santos put forward the idea of free or lower-fare transit, the conversation quickly turned from one that was simply about buses and dollar figures to a much more complicated question: is public transit something Winnipeggers consider to be a public good? Taxpayers who are childless or do not have school-age children still contribute money to the education system. Taxpayers who do not borrow books from the library still pay to keep the lights on and the shelves stocked. Those who do not drive still pay to keep the roads maintained. And all of those services are free of direct costs to the user. Winnipeggers have come to an implicit agreement that some things are in the public’s interest to fund. But so far, Winnipeg and its residents have yet to bring public transit under that umbrella. As long as the system relies heavily on the fare box, it will not be viewed as a public good. At least not to the same extent that other services are. Much like parents not bringing their children to a park with broken swings and garbage strewn everywhere, a neglected transit system will not yield higher ridership. It will not be a civic source of pride, as it is in many other cities. “Convenient access to public transit” is among the United Nations’ indicators for sustainable development goals. Yet, Winnipeg fails to meet measures of success that were created as goals in developing countries. International Institute for Sustainable Development targets for appropriate wait times and distance to the closest bus stop are unattainable for a third of Winnipeggers. Transit investments have been found to have significant positive spillover effects in economic development, especially in sectors such as tourism. It also stands to reason riders save money that would have otherwise have been spent on a car. Then there’s the significant shared benefits between climate interests in transit and equity policy across different socio-economic classes. “If you see transportation as a way of participating in society — which it certainly is — the more accessible transit is, the more people can easily get around and the more their experience becomes comparable to somebody who owns a vehicle, who’s more economically advantaged,” Allard says. The push for change has become louder as the urgency of climate action increases. Carolyn Kim, the director of transportation at the Pembina Institute, argues that making the decision as a city to invest in transit would be transformational, in itself. “If you’re able to increase the level of service, and people can ride a bus that is more frequent, it’s more reliable. It’s affordable,” Kim says. Also critical to the conversation is deliberately targeting dense housing and business development along the main transit arteries, she adds. Getting people onto transit is about making it a more convenient, cheaper alternative to driving. So the flip side of the equation, though often unpopular politically, is to find ways to increase the cost of driving through increased parking rates, lowering parking availability and other planning tools. It’s another avenue to pursue transformational changes, Kim says. Take London, as an example. The British city has created an “ultra-low emission zone” where, depending on how much your vehicle pollutes the air, you are charged a daily fee to drive in certain areas. Cities are free to get creative with policies and find solutions that work for them, Kim says, but they have the power to set priorities and pathways that change residents’ behaviour. ●●● Winnipeg is also contemplating where the electrification of buses fits into the picture. A pilot project for the use of both battery-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell buses will be considered by council this spring. Allard says he’s looking forward to debate on the topic, but to him, more buses on the road — regardless of how they’re powered — is the priority, since the transit fleet is responsible for such a small fraction of emissions in the city compared to personal passenger vehicles. Joanna Kyriazis, a senior policy adviser with Clean Energy Canada, warns against that kind of thinking, pointing out that electric buses actually stand to save cities money, since operation and maintenance costs are so much lower, even if up-front costs to purchase the vehicles are still higher. “The life of a bus is 12 to 18 years. And so if we keep making diesel bus purchases today, that that decision has consequences for another two decades,” she says. And the added allure of electric buses might be another way for the city to persuade drivers to park and ride, she says. Along with electrification, the new buses also come with GPS to track where they are on routes, and that information can then be sent to users. Generally, they also come with electronic-pass scanners, so riders don’t need to fumble with correct change and tickets. All of these upgrades make the transit experience better, she says. Plus, no more diesel fumes. “It’s also a great way for people to experience an electric vehicle for the first time. And the more we see them on our streets, the more we ride them, the more we see how many benefits they deliver, the more likely those riders are to go and buy an electric car themselves. So there are these spillover effects,” Kyriazis says. “Doing the same thing we’ve always done isn’t working. And so modernizing and connecting these vehicles is going to help improve the rider experience.” In Winnipeg, transformational changes might not be as big and headline-grabbing as they are in other cities, but this city is coming from behind and has more ground to make up if transit is going to become a priority. Rail lines or a world-class network of multi-modal transit aren’t on anyone’s realistic wish list. But perhaps Winnipeg is on the verge of a different radical change. One where transit isn’t looked at as a lost cause, but rather something to be invested in for the good of the community. Sarah Lawrynuik, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
Alberta’s COVID-19 vaccination program is being extended into pharmacies, but only in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer for now. All Albertans aged 75 and older can book an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. In addition to Alberta Health Services (AHS) sites, a list of participating pharmacies is available through the website of Alberta Blue Cross (ab.bluecross.ca). Appointments at participating pharmacies are starting this week. As more doses become available, more pharmacies will begin to offer the vaccine, including in more communities. “As the vaccine supply increases in the province, we look forward to expanding the program to include all community pharmacists in pharmacies across the province,” said Margaret Wing, Alberta Pharmacists’ Association CEO, in a Feb. 24 government news release. By providing flu and other vaccines in the past, pharmacies have the skills needed to safely provide COVID-19 vaccines, according to the government. Albertans are being encouraged to have both doses of vaccine at the same location, so any first doses booked at a community pharmacy will be followed by the second dose at the same place. The pharmacies must be called directly to book an appointment through them. Residents must select the pharmacy that is located closest to them. No walk-ins are permitted. Booking for vaccination at AHS sites can still be made online (albertahealthservices.ca) or by calling 811. On Feb. 25, the government announced more than 100,000 Alberta seniors and 22,000 other seniors in congregate care settings have booked for a vaccination appointment. Combined with the 28,000 seniors in long-term already vaccinated, over half of Alberta’s 75-plus population either have already been vaccinated or are scheduled to receive a first dose. Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
The Town of Strathmore and Siksika Nation are continuing their efforts for shared understanding and collaboration among residents of the two communities to combat racism. Strathmore Mayor Pat Fule and Siksika Nation Councillor Rueben Breaker provided an update of the work the two communities are leading together, via a Facebook Live address on Feb. 25. Representatives from each community started working together in 2019 to ensure First Nations people visiting and living in Strathmore have positive experiences in town, said Fule. “It’s all about creating a safer and more welcoming community,” he said. This is being done because First Nations people have experienced racism in Strathmore. “I’ve heard some quite serious and harrowing stories from people, as far as things yelled at people (and) comments made to them,” said Fule, adding the problem needs to be addressed. “We have to be willing to own it and admit that there could be a problem. This should not be happening in our community.” The COVID-19 pandemic sidelined these efforts, but now the initiative is being restarted. “Now we’re back at the table and we’re going to go hard at this, because racism is not going away,” said Breaker. The group is generating ideas to present to Golden Hills School Division (GHSD) and Christ the Redeemer (CTR) Catholic Schools to make the education lives and experiences of Siksika students “more smooth and more meaningful,” said Fule. Another focus of the initiative is policing. This follows Strathmore RCMP together with representatives from Strathmore and Siksika Nation signing a shared letter of understanding in October 2020 to develop more trust between them. “It was perfect timing, because it’s no secret that the topic of systemic racism within the RCMP is prevalent all over Canada,” said Breaker. “We want to make sure that even at the law enforcement level, that our people are treated fairly and just have that basic understanding.” Also being considered is how to improve affordable housing, social services and employment for First Nations people in town, said Fule. But these efforts are not focused on Strathmore alone, said Breaker. Strathmore and area sports teams visiting Siksika Nation to play should be welcomed there too, he said. To reach some of these goals, representatives from Strathmore and Siksika Nation are considering forming a formal anti-racism committee. To support this, town administration is looking to create terms of reference to follow, said Fule. Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
Three more Hamilton schools are offering asymptomatic COVID-19 testing this week. The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board will offer asymptomatic testing at Orchard Park Secondary School in Stoney Creek on Friday for students and staff at the high school. Orchard Park’s feeder elementary schools — Eastdale, Green Acres, South Meadow, R.L. Hyslop and Winona — are also eligible. This is the second time testing will be offered at Orchard Park, which was part of a Feb. 13 pilot clinic. At the Catholic board, testing will be available at Cathedral Catholic High School in central Hamilton on Friday for asymptomatic students and staff at the school and at Cathedral Children’s Centre. On Saturday, testing at the school will be for the feeder schools, Holy Name of Jesus, St. Ann Hamilton, St. Eugene, St. Lawrence, St. Luke, St. John the Baptist, St. Patrick, Sts. Peter & Paul. Hamilton public health says the rapid antigen test, which is being used at both Orchard Park and Cathedral, is “less invasive” than the nasopharyngeal swab. St. Eugene Catholic Elementary School is using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, lab-based and more accurate than rapid tests, at its clinic on Thursday evening. An outbreak was declared Feb. 23 at the east Hamilton elementary school, which has had four confirmed cases of the virus. PCR tests will be used as directed by public health “during an outbreak investigation.” “PCR tests will also be used for close contacts of confirmed cases,” said spokesperson James Berry in a Feb. 26 email to The Spectator. No cases were found among the more than 250 asymptomatic tests conducted at Hamilton schools last week. HWCDSB chair Pat Daly told The Spectator on Monday the board had “expected somewhat of a higher turnout” among students. Kate McCullough, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
Pope Francis is on a historic visit to Iraq despite the global pandemic. After a year of laying low in Vatican City, he's resumed his travels with a message of unity for a country ravaged by religious violence.
The Chief of the Nipissing First Nation, west of North Bay, said he is concerned for his people who may be suffering with mental health, addiction, loneliness and isolation issues during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Chief Scott McLeod said even the strongest-minded, most stable members of his community are experiencing COVID fatigue now that we’ve been dealing with the virus for about a year now. “Humans are very social creatures and I think we took that for granted before COVID hit. Staying at home doesn’t seem all that difficult until you start doing it for weeks on end,” the Chief said. “Everybody is really tired and wants to see us get back to some sense of normalcy. Our health department has been working non-stop with increases in everything from addictions to mental health issues. COVID has exacerbated problems that were already plaguing our community.” Chief McLeod said it has been challenging to deal with people who need mental health assistance because due to COVID they have to be treated and counselled from a distance. “The problem is that during these lockdown occurrences, addiction treatment centres which have waiting lists for services are simply not taking any new people during lockdown mode. It’s very problematic,” Chief McLeod said. “We do have supports within our community that we offer that don’t involve institutionalization. We do have programs like the ‘Right Path' that offer an array of services and assist those who want to get on a better path of life choices. But it’s still very hard. It’s a difficult situation to deal with at the best of times, never mind during a global pandemic.” Chief McLeod said addiction and mental health issues are not unique to and not just confined to Indigenous communities. He said the whole world is having to deal right now with similar problems that have been made worse by the coronavirus. The Chief is a staunch supporter of land-based, culturally-relevant treatment programs, an approach that has worked well with Indigenous people right across the country who are suffering from mental health and addiction issues. “They tend to provide better results especially when you combine language and culture into those models. We are looking at various ways to help including those traditional approaches,” the Chief said. “We are looking at the best methods to treat addictions. Unfortunately trying to plan things during a pandemic makes things difficult.” The Chief made his comments just before an announcement by the provincial government on March 4 where the Conservatives pledged over $12.8 million to immediately expand and enhance culturally appropriate mental health and addictions services for Indigenous peoples, families and communities across the province. Details were released by Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. "Now more than ever, it is critically important to ensure that everyone, including Indigenous communities, can access the safe and effective mental health and addictions services they deserve - when they need them and where they need them," said Minister Elliott. "Our government is committed to working with Indigenous communities and other health system partners to build a comprehensive and connected mental health and addictions system that people from every corner of the province can access.” Gen Couchie, spokesperson for Nipissing First Nation, said it is not yet clear exactly how then territory will benefit from the new funding. She added that increased funding in the area of mental health and addiction treatment could be a huge help as the territory works to assist its vulnerable citizens. Couchie was also cautiously optimistic that the new funding could be used for an outreach program that the First Nation is currently developing. John McFadden is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering Indigenous issues for MuskokaRegion.com, ParrySound.com and Simcoe.com. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. John McFadden, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orillia Today
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 10:00 p.m. ET on Friday, March 5, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 85,376 new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,253,514 doses given. Nationwide, 561,238 people or 1.5 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 5,946.061 per 100,000. There were 8,190 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 2,622,210 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 85.94 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 4,472 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 24,757 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 47.279 per 1,000. In the province, 1.61 per cent (8,427) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 35,620 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,105 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 13,281 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 83.724 per 1,000. In the province, 3.32 per cent (5,273) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 14,715 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 9.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 90.25 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 6,657 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 38,676 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 39.631 per 1,000. In the province, 1.48 per cent (14,395) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 61,980 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 62.4 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 7,424 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 33,741 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 43.255 per 1,000. In the province, 1.56 per cent (12,142) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 46,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 72.13 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 19,975 new vaccinations administered for a total of 510,479 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 59.659 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 638,445 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 79.96 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 35,886 new vaccinations administered for a total of 820,714 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 55.872 per 1,000. In the province, 1.83 per cent (269,063) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 903,285 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 90.86 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 2,358 new vaccinations administered for a total of 84,937 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 61.682 per 1,000. In the province, 2.17 per cent (29,847) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were 8,190 new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 124,840 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 9.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 68.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 2,789 new vaccinations administered for a total of 86,879 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 73.679 per 1,000. In the province, 2.37 per cent (27,945) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 74,605 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 116.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 9,488 new vaccinations administered for a total of 275,719 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 62.634 per 1,000. In the province, 2.06 per cent (90,486) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 274,965 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 100.3 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 12,357 new vaccinations administered for a total of 311,208 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 60.646 per 1,000. In the province, 1.69 per cent (86,865) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 385,080 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 80.82 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 1,279 new vaccinations administered for a total of 19,437 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 465.769 per 1,000. In the territory, 17.00 per cent (7,093) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 18,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 45 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 102.8 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 19,775 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 438.285 per 1,000. In the territory, 10.10 per cent (4,558) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 19,100 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 42 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 103.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 158 new vaccinations administered for a total of 13,911 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 359.216 per 1,000. In the territory, 13.28 per cent (5,144) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 23,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 62 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 58.21 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 5, 2021. The Canadian Press
Ulukhaktok, N.W.T. residents are hunkering down at home as they face a blizzard, but thankfully, their internet has been restored. "This the longest [internet outage] it's been," said Ulukhaktok Mayor Joshua Oliktoak. "I guess it was getting hard for some people, so I'm very thankful that it was resolved so people are able to get what they need before they have to stay in … everything is shut-down except for the stores." The internet was in and out for nearly eight days before Northwestel fixed the issue Thursday evening, the company confirmed. It said a "technical issue" had caused "internet network congestion" in the community. Residents had been trying to alert the company to the internet problem, but, said a Northwestel spokesperson, during the outage period "data was still flowing in and out of the community and we did not fully realize the impact it was having on customers." The internet outage was so widespread that it even affected residents' ability to pay for groceries and gas. Oliktoak said Friday afternoon that the internet returning meant community members could pick up groceries and supplies before the blizzard got too bad. "We are fortunate it got fixed before the weekend," said Oliktoak. "Right now it's real bad. Some people can't see across the road."