This is Jessie's first time seeing snow and after a moment of hesitancy, complete and utter joy ensues. Amazing! @paddyjmurphy
This is Jessie's first time seeing snow and after a moment of hesitancy, complete and utter joy ensues. Amazing! @paddyjmurphy
Another type of COVID-19 vaccine was authorized by Health Canada on Friday. The new vaccines are manufactured by AstraZeneca, and developed in partnership with Oxford University. Canada also approved the Serum Institute of India’s version of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Afterwards, Anita Anand, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement announced that Canada has secured two million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine through an agreement with Verity Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc./Serum Institute of India. AstraZeneca has licensed the manufacture of its ChAdOx1 vaccine to the Serum Institute. The first 500,000 doses will be delivered to Canada in the coming weeks. The remaining 1.5 million doses are expected to arrive by mid-May. “The Government of Canada continues to do everything possible to protect Canadians from COVID-19. This includes securing a highly diverse and extensive portfolio of vaccines and taking all necessary measures to ready the country to receive them,” Anand said in a release. “We remain fully on track to ensure that there will be a sufficient supply so that every eligible Canadian who wants a vaccine will have access to one by the end of September. I am grateful for the collaboration of our partners in India to finalize this agreement, and I look forward to continuing to work closely together in the weeks ahead.” The two million doses secured through this agreement are in addition to the 20 million doses already secured through an earlier agreement with AstraZeneca. Health Canada’s authorization of the AstraZeneca vaccine allows the Government of Canada to advance its work with AstraZeneca to finalize delivery schedules for the 20 million doses. The application for authorization from AstraZeneca was received on Oct. 1, 2020 and from from Verity Pharmaceuticals Inc./Serum Institute of India (in partnership with AstraZeneca Canada Inc.) on January 23, 2021. After thorough, independent reviews of the evidence, the Department has determined that these vaccines meet Canada’s stringent safety, efficacy and quality requirements. These are the first viral vector-based vaccines authorized in Canada. These are also two-dose regiments and can be kept refrigerated for at least six months. Health Canada’s authorization of the Verity Pharmaceuticals Inc./Serum Institute of India product relies on the assessment of its comparability to the AstraZeneca-produced version of the vaccine.. These vaccines were authorized with terms and conditions under Health Canada’s Interim Order on the importation of drugs for COVID-19 The process allowed Health Canada to assess information submitted by the manufacturer as it became available during the product development process, while maintaining Canadian standards. Health Canada has placed terms and conditions on the authorizations requiring the manufacturers to continue providing information to Health Canada on the safety, efficacy and quality of the vaccines to ensure their benefits continue to be demonstrated through market use. Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada will closely monitor the safety. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials began expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines on Feb. 22, opening community clinics for people aged 80 years and older. Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, has said the province's plan is to open another 10 clinics in March for 48,000 people who will be mailed a letter informing them how to book an appointment. Strang said the vaccination program will then expand to the next age group in descending order until everyone in the province is offered the chance to be immunized. The age groups will proceed in five-year blocks. Future community clinics are to be held March 8 in Halifax, New Minas, Sydney and Truro; March 15 in Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth; and March 22 in Amherst, Bridgewater and Dartmouth. The province began its vaccination campaign with residents of long-term care homes, those who work directly with patients, those who are 80 and older, and those who are at risk for other reasons including First Nations and African Nova Scotian communities. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island The province says the first phase of its vaccination drive, currently slated to last until the end of March, targets residents and staff of long-term and community care, as well as health-care workers with direct patient contact at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure. Those 80 and older, adults in Indigenous communities, and truck drivers and other rotational workers are also included. The next phase, which is scheduled to begin in April, will target those above 70 and essential workers. The province intends to make the vaccine available to everyone in late summer and fall. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors on Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. The province says the vaccination of children and pregnant women will be determined based on future studies of vaccine safety and efficacy in those populations. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry also says first responders and essential workers may be eligible to get vaccinated starting in April as the province also decides on a strategy for the newly authorized AstraZeneca vaccine. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
La maison de répit Le Camélia est l’un des 12 récipiendaires canadiens d’une bourse de 10 000 $ offerte par la compagnie d’assurances Canada Vie. La Maison Le Camélia offre depuis huit ans un service de garde en milieu familial à une douzaine de personnes en perte d’autonomie ou vivant avec une déficience intellectuelle. Le don offert par Canada Vie dans le cadre de son programme Coup de pouce aux entreprises tombe à point nommé pour le Camélia de Trois-Rivières qui souffre d’un sous-financement chronique. Lucie Duval, propriétaire et directrice du Camélia, pousse un soupir de soulagement. Elle qui ne reçoit pas un centime du gouvernement, rien de Québec, ni du CIUSSS-MCQ, même en ces temps de pandémie. Et ça, elle ne l’encaisse pas. « J’ai parti une résidence pour ma fille et d’autres parents qui ne veulent pas placer leurs enfants dans le système de santé actuel. L’Agence de Santé me refuse d’être accréditée comme famille d’accueil. On a levé le nez sur moi à plusieurs reprises. Je l’ai partie sans aucune subvention de personne. C’est vraiment grave. J’ai des parents médecins qui m’ont confié leurs enfants, les intervenants sur le plancher du CIUSSS me réfèrent, mais la direction générale ne veut pas m’aider. Je leur ai dit que si je n’avais pas d’aide que j’allais fermer. Heureusement que Mme Grégoire (de Canada Vie) a cru en mon projet et a été sensible à ma cause. Ce n’est pas juste le coup de pouce, mais de savoir qu’il y a des gens qui croient en toi, à ton projet. Ça aussi on en a besoin », confie Lucie Duval. Le Camélia tourne tant bien que mal à pleine capacité et la maison refuse souvent des clients. Des parents de partout au Québec l’appellent à la recherche d’un endroit où placer leurs enfants. « Ce sont des gens épanouis, heureux. J’ai des employés en or. Sans eux je n’arriverais pas à tenir.» Lucie Duval n’a le temps de s’apitoyer sur son sort. Elle doit faire face aux urgences. Elle compte investir les 10 000 $ reçus dans la réfection de la toiture du Camélia et dans la création d’un site Web. Elle cherche à mieux faire connaître ses services, mais aussi, à mieux accompagner les parents qui ne savent plus où donner de la tête. «Je reçois régulièrement des demandes de coaching, de référencement. Souvent les parents sont laissés à eux-mêmes. J’ai des gens qui me contactent qui veulent ouvrir d’autres maisons comme la mienne. » La maison de répit Le Camélia a été nommée en l’honneur de la fille de Mme Duval, Camélia, qui vit avec une déficience intellectuelle associée à une épilepsie sévère. Camélia est née en France dans une maison bordée d’une haie de camélias. Elle est aujourd’hui âgée 25 ans. Quand on lui parle de campagne de collecte de fonds, Mme Duval affirme ne pas avoir le temps ni l’énergie de l’organiser, malgré les besoins. Le programme Coup de pouce aux entreprises de Canada Vie a été lancé en octobre dernier pour venir en aide aux petites entreprises qui n’ont jamais affronté autant d’adversité en cette période de pandémie. Boris Chassagne, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix du Sud
Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health said on Monday that Thunder Bay and Simcoe-Muskoka had gone back into lockdown due to rising COVID-19 cases and transmission of more infectious variants. Seven other public health units eased restrictions, as they moved down a level in the provincial framework.
(Eduardo Lima/Canadian Press - image credit) Torstar Corp., owner of the Toronto Star, the Hamilton Spectator and other papers, announced on Monday it plans to launch an online casino betting brand in Ontario this year. "We are excited at the prospect of participating in a regulated online Ontario gaming market with a made-in-Ontario product," said Corey Goodman, Torstar's chief corporate development officer, in a news release. After decades of being controlled by a trust owned by the families who founded the Toronto Star in 1892, Torstar was recently bought by an investment company called Nordstar, which promised to maintain the company's focus on producing "world-class journalism befitting the Star's storied history." The Toronto Star has, since its founding, espoused the so-called Atkinson principles, which are named after one of the founding families and broadly focus on advancing progressive causes such as worker protections, civil liberties, and other social justice issues. Torstar's new owners say they are branching into online gambling to help pay for those continuing efforts. "Doing this as part of Torstar will help support the growth and expansion of quality community-based journalism," co-owner Paul Rivett said. Plans contingent on expansion of online gambling market The company cited government data showing Ontarians spend about $500 million a year on online gambling, with the vast majority going to grey market websites domiciled outside Canada, where there is less legal and regulatory scrutiny, and the revenue does little to stimulate the Ontario economy. Under current rules, only the Ontario government itself is licensed to conduct online gambling, but the province's last budget opened the door to expanding the market to other companies some time this year. Torstar says its plans are contingent on those government plans moving ahead. Rivett said it's to everyone's benefit for an Ontario-based company like Torstar to become a player in the province's industry. "We want to ensure the new marketplace is well represented with a Canadian, Ontario-based gaming brand so that more of our players' entertainment dollars stay in our province," he said. Company diversifying revenue models A gaming industry consultant hired by Torstar to advise the company said it's not clear yet how much revenue the new business will generate since the government review process is not complete. "We don't know how big the market is going to be in Ontario yet, because it will depend on the consultation process within government, which is about to happen in the next couple of months," Jim Warren said in an interview with the Canadian Press. "What we do know is that Torstar is looking at diversifying the revenue model of how we fund and pay for reporters, columnists, and editorial staff." The move is also just the latest by Torstar to diversify its business beyond newspapers and into other digital realms. In November, the company launched a parcel delivery service, and then in January partnered with retailer Golf Town to purchase the SCOREGolf brand. Concern about media independence The move is not without its critics. Tom Muench, a city councillor in Richmond Hill, Ont., just north of Toronto, said newspapers are critical to the functioning of a healthy democracy, so it gives him pause that such a prominent newspaper chain may be financially beholden to an outside business to keep its doors open. "I think it's fair to say that if a casino was to pop up in communities say six months ago, many local Torstar-owned papers would write a concerned local story," he told CBC News in an email. He also wonders how those same newspapers would report on it, if any other sort of business were to open an online gambling operation on the side. "If the federal government propped up the media with government tax dollars and now with casinos, how do we assure a strong independent news and media industry?"
LONDON — Prince Philip was transferred Monday to a specialized London heart hospital to undergo testing and observation for a pre-existing heart condition as he continues treatment for an unspecified infection, Buckingham Palace said. The 99-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth II was moved from King Edward VII's Hospital, where he has been treated since Feb. 17, to St. Bartholomew's Hospital, which specializes in cardiac care. As Philip was moved into a waiting ambulance for the transfer, people held up open umbrellas to shield him from photographers and the public. The palace says Philip “remains comfortable and is responding to treatment but is expected to remain in hospital until at least the end of the week.’’ Philip was admitted to the private King Edward VII’s Hospital in London after feeling ill. Philip’s illness is not believed to be related to COVID-19. Both he and the queen, 94, received a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine in early January. The Bart’s Heart Centre is Europe’s biggest specialized cardiovascular centre, the National Health Service said. The centre seeks to perform more heart surgery, MRI and CT scans than any other service in the world. Philip, who retired from royal duties in 2017, rarely appears in public. During England’s current coronavirus lockdown, Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, has been staying at Windsor Castle, west of London, with the queen. Philip married the then-Princess Elizabeth in 1947 and is the longest-serving royal consort in British history. He and the queen have four children, eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Danica Kirka, The Associated Press
Initiée par le Service des loisirs, de la culture et de la vie communautaire de la Ville Matane, la publication de la série Traces de vies met en valeur dix personnes remarquables de la Matanie. Par le biais de ces portraits, la créatrice de contenu Mélanie Gagné et le photographe Louis-Philippe Cusson voulaient contrer l’isolement causé par la pandémie de la COVID-19, d’abord pour ces aînés. « Nous avons apprécié les entretiens avec ces êtres d’exception dans le respect des normes sanitaires de circonstance, d’indiquer en substance Mme Gagné et M. Cusson. Nous les remercions de leur générosité et de leur chaleur humaine. Ces belles rencontres auraient pu se prolonger des heures et des heures, car leur vie est inspirante et palpitante! » Jusqu’au 18 avril sur les présentoirs du parc Jean-Charles Forbes Ces portraits inspirants sont exposés jusqu’au 18 avril sur les présentoirs du parc Jean-Charles Forbes, en face de la bibliothèque municipale Fonds de solidarité FTQ sur l’avenue Saint-Jérôme. Ils ont aussi paru pendant autant de semaines en version plus longue dans l’hebdomadaire L’Avantage gaspésien. Les personnes retenues : Fernand Desjardins, un patenteux reconnu; Gaétane Fillion, une bénévole à la bibliothèque mobile à la Résidence des Bâtisseurs; Monique Fournier, une passionnée d’horticulture, de musique et d’histoire; et Denise Gentil, une fonceuse, mobilisatrice, persévérante et vaillante Plus Guillermo Jaramillo, un homme sensible et plein de talents; Yvette Lapointe, une passionnée d'histoire et d’horticulture; Roger Marquis, un grand-père moderne; Berthier Pearson, un voyageur et auteur prolifique; Gaston Roussel, gestionnaire du cimetière et enfin, Georgine Ruest, une femme aux loisirs multiples. Ouvrir/fermer la section Yoast SEO Romain Pelletier, Initiative de journalisme local, Monmatane.com
L'hôpital Temiskaming a été désigné comme hôpital de niveau « 1 », à choisir avec soins, au Canada. Cette désignation est accordée aux hôpitaux qui se sont engagés à lutter contre les tests et les traitements inutiles. Cette distinction témoigne de la qualité des soins les plus sûrs et de meilleurs services offerts aux patients. L'hôpital de Temiskaming est l'un des 18 hôpitaux canadiens et des 13 hôpitaux de l'Ontario à recevoir une telle désignation de niveau « 1 ». Une reconnaissance pour les professionnels de la santé Les tests et les traitements inutiles constituent un problème omniprésent dans les soins de santé et entraînent souvent une augmentation des temps d'attente pour les patients. Cette désignation reconnaît les efforts déployés par les professionnels de la santé pour améliorer les services à l’hôpital Temiskaming et les soins accordés à ses patients. « L'Hôpital de Temiskaming accorde une grande importance aux initiatives d'amélioration de la qualité pour soutenir la prestation de soins fondés sur des données probantes » fait savoir la directrice des soins infirmiers et directrice des soins aux patients l’hôpital de Temiskaming, madame Erin Montgomery. Un autre objectif fixé Cette désignation qui comporte plusieurs d’autres niveaux incite les professionnels et les employeurs de l’Hôpital de Temiskaming à continuer leur bel engagement sur cette voie de qualité. D’ailleurs leur prochain objectif est d’obtenir une désignation de niveau 2 d'ici le 31 mars 2022. « Avec le soutien du Conseil de la qualité et de la sécurité des patients de l'hôpital, du Comité de la qualité des soins, du Comité consultatif médical et du Comité de planification de la qualité et des services, l'Hôpital Temiskaming s'est engagé à obtenir cette désignation au niveau canadien, je tiens à féliciter toute notre équipe et les membres pour leurs efforts au cours des derniers mois » souligne Montgomery. Un travail fort et homogène Le président et Chef de la direction de l’hôpital de Temiskaming, monsieur Mike Baker, a exprimé sa fierté quant à l’obtention de cette distinction. « La force de notre équipe à l'hôpital de Temiskaming réside dans la façon dont nous travaillons ensemble pour développer des solutions ». « Les médecins, le personnel clinique et l'administration ont travaillé ensemble pour l’obtention de cette désignation reconnue à l'échelle nationale et qui permettra de continuer à améliorer directement les soins aux patients pour notre communauté » a-t-il conclu. Moulay Hicham Mouatadid, Initiative de journalisme local, Reflet Témiscamien (Le)
Thousands of rare photos and artifacts spanning decades of First Nations and Saskatchewan history will find a new home. Amateur Arcola historian Adrian Paton died last month at 86, leaving behind a treasure trove of historical photos of First Nations in Saskatchewan from around the turn of the century. The collection has passed to family members, who are considering how to share the historical photos with the public and, if possible, repatriate the artifacts to their home communities. "The picture is valuable, but the story behind the picture is what makes it incredible," said his daughter, Val Guillemin. She helped Paton compile his 2018 book, An Honest, Genial and Kindly People, which features photos and stories Paton gathered over three to four decades of research. That research grew to be a valuable source for Indigenous communities piecing together family histories, she said. One of those people was Candace Wasacase-Lafferty, a board member of Wanuskewin Heritage Park and a senior director of Indigenous Engagement at the University of Saskatchewan. She's helping Guillemin find a suitable place for her father's work, whether that's through an exhibit or by repatriating some of the artifacts. Wasacase-Lafferty has personal ties to Paton's work. Her father, who was in residential school, was about eight years old when his mother died. She grew up with few stories about her grandmother. When she found Paton's book, she pored over every turn of the century photo of her home community of Kahkewistahaw First Nation, thinking her grandmother could be there. "I'm like 50 years old and I finally feel I've seen really who I am," she said. Wasacase-Lafferty compared it to an "odd, cold and sad" Plains Cree exhibit at the British Royal Museum she saw 10 years ago, saying Paton's work is an example of how it could be done better. It acts a model of Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations, she said. University of the Fraser Valley history professor Keith Carlson, who worked with Paton at the U of S, said the rarity of the documents is also historically significant. Many of the records haven't been preserved elsewhere, he said. Carlson, a former president of the Saskatchewan History and Folklore Society, assisted Paton with his collection. He said Paton's work was notable for investigating archival sources, like old newspaper articles, to track down photos and build histories around the images. That can be a valuable resource for families learning about their histories, including by replicating highly specific details like the designs on regalia in the photos, he noted. That's valuable for people like Ocean Man First Nation Chief Connie Big Eagle. When she visited Paton's house, she lingered in front of an old photo that caught her eye. Paton told her the name of the man in the picture, leading Big Eagle to discover it was a photo of her great-grandfather that she had never seen before. "It was like there was a connection, an understanding or something, of who we come from." Nick Pearce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix
Fresh air, blazing speed and spacious alpine terrain makes skiing and snowboarding low-risk activities for COVID-19 transmission, infectious disease doctors say. But the threat is never zero during a global pandemic, they add. And people working those snowy slopes may be at greater risk of catching the virus than those dashing down them. Most ski hills in Ontario were permitted to reopen Tuesday, joining other mountainous resorts across the country that have remained operational through the winter. Many have implemented extra safety precautions and operate under local restrictions, including asking patrons to wear face coverings on lifts, cancelling classes and limiting access to indoor spaces. While the activity of skiing is relatively safe from a transmission standpoint, experts say spread can still happen, and COVID outbreaks have been reported at larger resorts over the last couple months, mostly affecting staff members. One in Kelowna, B.C., in December began with workers living on site before it sprawled to include more than 130 cases. Popular Lake Louise and Nakiska resorts in Alberta also reported outbreaks among staff. Dr. Andrew Boozary, the executive director of population health and social medicine at the University Health Network, says it's clusters of cases like those that make ski hills concerning. "I have no anti-skiing bias — it's an activity that makes a whole lot of sense in Canada — but there's a lot of people who take on risk to ensure a ski hill is operational," he said. "A lot of the time we rely on people who are in temporary work or who've been underpaid, without living wages and without paid sick leave, to take on risk so some of us can have that pleasure and leisure activity." Boozary likened the recent emphasis on ski hills to that of golf courses over the summer, or to policy around cottages and seasonal vacation homes that were tailored to higher-income populations. Skiing, like golf, isn't affordable to everyone, he says. And while Boozary agrees that skiing and snowboarding can provide mental health benefits of exercise in a low-risk setting, he'd like to see more emphasis on ensuring lower-income populations have safe, outdoor spaces too. "We've seen this dichotomy, this tale of two pandemics. And we're seeing it now with skiing," Boozary said. "There's an income divide on who gets access to these spaces." Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an infectious disease expert with the University of Alberta, says staff members at ski resorts are more likely than visitors to become infected because of the close proximity workers tend to be in. Sometimes they share indoor spaces like lunchrooms, which aren't conducive to mask-wearing when people are eating, Schwartz says, and "transmission thrives" in those settings. "The likelihood of infection is going to be a function of physical proximity, the amount of time they're in that proximity, the activities they're doing and whether there are precautions taken to minimize transmission." While skiers will generally be safe, those who wish to hit the slopes still need to be mindful of safety precautions, Schwartz says. He added that spread is more likely to happen before or after people glide down the mountains, like when they put on ski boots in a crowded indoor area. Those spots should be avoided when possible, Schwartz says, and masks should be worn when distance can't be maintained. Other factors could make trips to snowy resorts more dangerous, he added, including guests travelling from COVID hot spots and potentially bringing the virus with them into small ski towns. The rise of new variants of concern might require more stringent restrictions on skiers as well, says Parisa Ariya, a chemistry professor at McGill University who specializes in aerosol transmission. Ariya says while outdoor settings are far safer than indoors, spread "actually does happen outside" in some instances, and she recommends wearing a mask while skiing or snowboarding. Winters in Quebec and Ontario make air more dense, Ariya adds, which could have an impact on how long viral particles stay in the atmosphere. Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease expert in Mississauga, Ont., says that while cold air may cause physical changes to aerosols "it does not translate to increased risk of disease transmission." He says risk of outdoor spread remains "quite low," except for situations with large crowds in close contact, like during concerts or sporting events. "From a public health standpoint I would much rather see 50 people skiing outdoors than a group of 10 watching TV together indoors," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 16, 2020. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
Tina Fey asked the tough question 10 minutes into the three-hour Golden Globes broadcast Sunday: Could this whole night have been an email? Well, maybe. We wouldn’t have gotten to see the awkwardness of Daniel Kaluuya’s acceptance speech (almost) cut before it began, Don Cheadle giving a tie-dyed sweatshirt clad Jason Sudeikis the wrap-up signal, or Catherine O’Hara’s husband playing her off with his iPhone — a funny bit hampered by bad sound. But we also wouldn’t have gotten to tear up along with Chadwick Boseman’s widow Taylor Simone Ledward or see the sweetness of Mark Ruffalo’s kids standing proudly behind him when he won, or Ethan Hawke’s sitting with him when he didn’t. We also wouldn’t have gotten swept away by Norman Lear’s heartfelt remarks. It helped that Lear’s setup looked professionally produced. Many did not. Celebrities, we’ve all learned over the past year, have bad lighting and shoddy internet connections too, even on an awards show night. The 78th Annual Golden Globes came in limping Sunday, not just because of the strangeness of producing a live, bicoastal show a year into a pandemic, but because in the week leading up to the event, the 87-person organization behind the endeavour, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, was given an unflattering spotlight in a series of exposes in The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times. The most stinging revelation was that there are zero Black members in their ranks. Whether or not they would address it was perhaps the biggest question going into the night. Hosts Fey and Amy Poehler said they needed to change. And three members of the HFPA came out on stage to say they intended to. The remoteness of it all allowed them to control the controversy on their own terms, or at least manage it. For the show, it was a silver lining. For the audience, it felt like a punt. In a normal year, every nominee and guest would have been asked about it on the red carpet. All the celebrities who posted that Time’s Up message on their socials would have had to say something. Sunday, there was no one to ask. The HFPA may have just bought themselves another year to get their act together. Although their nominations are occasionally absurd, the ultimate winners often aren’t. “Nomadland” director Chloé Zhao became the first woman to win best director since Barbra Streisand in 1984. Boseman won too. As did “Minari” and Lee Isaac Chung (who also shared an especially sweet moment with his young daughter), even if it was relegated to the foreign language category. Kate Hudson, who proved to be a trouper despite all the fun made of her nomination and film, did not. Unfortunately, as the night wore on, more and more winners found themselves played off by the show, including most of “The Crown.” Worse, the cut off music was bad. The evening had its inspired comedic moments too, most of which came from hosts Fey and Poehler who in their fourth time leading the show seamlessly played off of one another with almost 3,000 miles between them. Though it was easy to forget that they were on different coasts, they were always ready with a well-timed gag acknowledging that they weren’t. They also mocked the weirdness of it all, about halfway through exhaustedly recapping the meagre GIF and meme moments thus far — Cheadle, Tracy Morgan mispronouncing “Soul” as sal and Sudeikis’ hoodie. “Those are the messy things we love about the Globes,” Poehler said. The show has always been touted as a party, boozy, glamourous and unruly with hosts who are welcome to poke fun and occasionally even cross the line. The booziness perhaps has been overstated of late — most are far too savvy to get drunk on camera before their category. Besides, that’s what the after parties are for. But there was a lot lost here, even as the show tried to manufacture moments between the nominees with awkward semi-public five-way conversations before commercial breaks. “This is so weird,” said Lily Collins, to the heads on the five disconnected screens around her. She could have been speaking for all of us. Cutting away to the nominees after a joke or a related win was rarely successful and often stilted, although the later categories seemed to learn from the mistakes of the earlier ones. But it made it even more frustrating that the show failed to use their in-person talent more creatively. Yes, Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo got a fun “Barb and Star” moment, as did Maya Rudolph and Kenan Thompson. But they also got Tiffany Haddish to show up and all she got was one quip about Eddie Murphy’s mansions. The NBC tie-ins, too, seemed more shameless than usual. The Golden Globes have in years past been a frivolity that's still a pretty watchable, star-studded show. It occasionally even captured the zeitgeist in surprisingly meaningful ways. Audiences expect the worst and sometimes find it. But there are also grace notes in all the silliness— remember the sea of black to support the newly formed Time’s Up a few years ago and that Oprah speech? And maybe it’s that tension that has kept the Globes audience relatively stable. Whether or not this year will hold up when the numbers come in remains to be seen, but it would be a surprise. And does it matter? It’s not as though anyone involved is planning to relive this experience. “We all know that awards shows are stupid,” Fey said early on. Yes, they are. But maybe it’s just the stupidity we all need after a very tough year. ___ Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times eastern):10:40 a.m.Ontario is reporting 1,023 new cases of COVID-19 today and six more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus.Health Minister Christine Elliott says of the new cases, 280 are in Toronto, 182 are in Peel Region and 72 are in Ottawa.Ontario says 939 more cases were resolved since the last daily report.More than 17,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered in the province since Sunday's update.This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — The Tragically Hip will be toasted with this year's humanitarian award at the 2021 Juno Awards. The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences says it selected the Kingston, Ont. rock band for its "timeless music and philanthropic pursuits" that affected generations of people around the world. Known to many Canadians as the musicians behind "Bobcaygeon" and "Ahead By a Century," the Hip have helped raise millions of dollars for various social and environmental causes. Among them, they've supported several charities, including Camp Trillium and the Special Olympics, and most recently sold face masks that raised more than $50,000 for the Unison Benevolent Fund, which provides counselling and emergency relief services to the music industry. The Hip's late lead singer Gord Downie was also part of the band's final Canadian tour, which helped raise more than $1 million for the Canadian Cancer Society and the Sunnybrook Foundation. Downie died of brain cancer in October 2017. The Hip will be presented with the honour as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Junos, which will broadcast from Toronto on May 16. Since first being presented in 2006, the humanitarian award has been given to artists that include Buffy Sainte-Marie, Sarah McLachlan, Rush and members of Arcade Fire. The Hip's members included Downie, Rob Baker, Johnny Fay, Paul Langlois and Gord Sinclair. Follow @dfriend on Twitter. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
Infectious disease experts and COVID-19 modelers are sounding alarm bells of an approaching third wave expected to be driven by more contagious variants of the virus.But while we brace for Wave 3, some are wondering if we ever actually cleared Wave 2, especially in populous areas of the country where transmission has remained more steady.Experts say the definition of what constitutes a "wave" and pinpointing when it's passed isn't so clear.Some say we're on the tail end of the second wave now, as evidenced by the downward trend of cases across the country, while others say ebbs and flows haven't been uniform enough to determine when one wave ends and another begins. Caroline Colijn, a COVID modeler and mathematician at Simon Fraser University, says the word "wave" has been somewhat misleading. Waves of viruses tend to ease up on their own as immunity grows within a population, she says, which we haven't reached yet with COVID.Instead, the ebb and flow of SARS-CoV-2 has been dictated by our own actions, Colijn added, for instance restrictive measures that limit the ability of the virus to spread."This isn't a wave, it's a forest fire," Colijn said. "We turn the hoses off and the flames build up again and we get exponential growth. Then we turn the hoses back on and cases decrease." Colijn, whose modelling predicts steep rises in cases around the end of February in six of Canada's biggest provinces, says the challenge of "wave language" is that when waves recede, people think the threat has ceded with it.But until we reach levels of herd immunity, she says, that's not going to happen."We're not seeing a natural tailing off. We're seeing things drop because of restrictions — those fire hoses we put in front of the fire," she said. "Then we turn the hoses off and we're surprised that this wave is coming back."Canada's top doctors said Friday that eight provinces have reported cases of new COVID variants, with three of them showing evidence of community transmission.Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said there had been 429 cases of the variant first identified in the U.K., 28 cases of the variant first identified in South Africa, and one of the variant first found in Brazil.While it sounds like a small number compared to our population, University of Manitoba virologist Jason Kindrachuk says the heightened transmissibility of those variants makes the situation more alarming.Compounding things further is that true prevalence of the variants nationwide is unknown, he added, though some jurisdictions have been doing point-prevalence studies to help determine that. Kindrachuk says one or two cases, when caught early and isolated, aren't too concerning. But danger proliferates as more pop up."You have that initial fire and then sparks start flying ... and that leads to a bunch of small fires," he said. "If those start to catch, you lose the ability to necessarily keep things in control." Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada's deputy chief public health officer, says the presence of more transmissible variants means people should be more diligent in adhering to current safety measures aimed at slowing the spread of other COVID strains, including limiting contacts, mask-wearing and distancing.The spike in variant cases comes at a time when Canada appears to be "two-thirds of the way down the curve," Tam said, as overall COVID cases fall.Some jurisdictions, like Ontario, have taken that as reason to reopen. Most of the province is moving away from its stay-at-home orders next week, even though projections released Thursday show a potentially rapid rise by late February. Dr. Andrew Morris, an infectious disease expert with the University of Toronto, says reopening Ontario now could lead to further lockdowns in the province later."I anticipate our numbers over the next two weeks are going to be pretty good, but it's four weeks from now, six weeks from now that I'm most concerned about," he said.Troy Day, a COVID modeler out of Queen's University, says the problem with the variants is that they're still lurking beneath the surface. And they may not truly be seen until they take hold more firmly.Day said he's concerned about a third wave in Canada because places like Britain have shown similar trajectories."Cases go down and you think everything's OK, but underneath is actually an increase in variant cases that will eventually dominate everything," he said.Day says the word wave is "funny terminology," adding he's been hesitant to definitively label the ups and downs of COVID case counts that way."All the waves we've seen are driven largely by what we're doing to control it," Day said. "The more we open up and shut down, the more multiple waves we'll have."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 12, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
COPENHAGEN — The Norwegian Nobel Committee said Monday that there are 329 candidates — 234 individuals and 95 organizations — that were nominated for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize by the Feb. 1 deadline. The Oslo-based organization said that it was the third highest number of candidates ever, adding the current record of 376 candidates was reached in 2016. A vast group of people — heads of state or politicians serving at a national level, university professors, directors of foreign policy institutes, past Nobel Prize recipients and members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee — can submit a nomination for the prize. However, the nominees aren’t announced by the very secretive board in Oslo, but those doing the nominating may choose to make it public, raising publicity both for the nominee and the proposer. The Associated Press earlier has reported that the 2021 nominees include exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and two other Belarus democracy activists, Veronika Tsepkalo and Maria Kolesnikova; the Black Lives Matter movement; Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny; Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate who has become a leading voting rights advocate; and former White House adviser Jared Kushner and his deputy, Avi Berkowitz, who negotiated a series of Middle East agreements known as the Abraham Accords. Groups nominated in 2021 include the World Health Organization for its role in addressing the coronavirus pandemic; NATO; Reporters Without Borders, known by its French acronym RSF; and Polish judges defending civil rights. The U.N. World Food Program won the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Committee announces its annual decision in October. The peace prize and other Nobel prizes are presented Dec. 10, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death. Five Nobel Prizes were established under the terms of Alfred Nobel’s will. A sixth prize, for economics, was created by the Central Bank of Sweden in 1968 as a memorial to Nobel. Each prize carry substantial cash awards that are adjusted each year. In 2020, they came with a 10-milion krona ($1.1 million) cash award — which often is shared — along with diplomas and gold medals. The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Prince Harry says the process of separating from royal life has been very difficult for him and his wife, Meghan. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Harry invoked the memory of his late mother, Princess Diana, who had to find her way alone after she and Prince Charles divorced. “I’m just really relieved and happy to be sitting here talking to you with my wife by my side, because I can’t begin to imagine what it must have been like for her going through this process by herself all those years ago,” Harry said, adding, “because it’s been unbelievably tough for the two of us.” “But at least we have each other,” Harry said, in a clip from the interview special, which is scheduled to air March 7 on CBS and the following day in Britain. Diana was shown in a photo holding toddler Harry as he made the comments. His mother died in 1997 of injuries suffered in a car crash. Harry and Meghan sat opposite Winfrey and side-by-side, holding hands during the interview that was conducted in a lush garden setting. The couple lives in Montecito, California, where they are neighbours of Winfrey. Meghan, who recently announced she is pregnant with the couple’s second child, wore an empire-style black dress with embroidery. Harry wore a light gray suit and white dress shirt, minus a tie. As Meghan Markle, the actor starred in the TV legal drama “Suits.” She married Queen Elizabeth II’s grandson at Windsor Castle in May 2018, and their son, Archie, was born a year later. The brief promotional clip was one of two of that aired Sunday during CBS’ news magazine “60 Minutes.” Winfrey’s questions and comment were predominant in the other clip, including her statement that, “You said some pretty shocking things here,” without an indication of what she was referring to. Meghan was not heard from in the clips. Harry and Meghan stepped away from full-time royal life in March 2020, unhappy at media scrutiny and the strictures of their roles. They cited what they described as the intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media toward the duchess, who is African American. It was agreed the situation would be reviewed after a year. On Friday, Buckingham Palace confirmed that the couple will not be returning to royal duties and Harry will give up his honorary military titles — a decision that makes formal, and final, the couple’s split from the royal family. The pair, also known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, verified “they will not be returning as working members of the Royal Family. “ A spokesperson for the couple hit back at suggestions that Meghan and Harry were not devoted to duty. “As evidenced by their work over the past year, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain committed to their duty and service to the U.K. and around the world, and have offered their continued support to the organizations they have represented regardless of official role,” the spokesperson said in a statement. Lynn Elber, The Associated Press
Businesses can’t survive lockdowns without more help, according to some of participants in a virtual meeting organized by the past president of the West Nipissing Chamber of Commerce. Government and community leaders, along with the Chamber’s board of directors, took part in the meeting facilitated by past Chamber president and local business owner, Joanne Valliere. The topic was about how the extended lockdown is impacting small businesses across the region. Many local business owners say they are facing financial hardships and do not feel that the current government funding and resources are sufficient. “It has been evident that local businesses are struggling, and the government grants and loans are not cutting it. It’s not the same offering curbside, it can’t make up for the loss that we are having,” Valliere, said. “Owners and their employees are feeling the financial pressure. If the lockdown is extended past March 8, we will lose many small businesses this time. It is possible for businesses to open in a safe way.” Rebecca Foisy, executive director of the West Nipissing Chamber, has been an advocate for small business owners in the region. “I am in constant contact with Chamber members, listening to their feedback to address their concerns,” said Foisy. “Local business owners want to reopen their businesses in a safe manner, and I’m working closely with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to bring these concerns to the attention of government officials.” In the session, Liberal MP for Nickel Belt, Marc Serré, declared that his office will be making an official request to determine what data the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit is utilizing that lead to the extended lockdown in the region. The full meeting is available for viewing on YouTube HERE. Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada. Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
TORONTO — The Weeknd's "Blinding Lights" is making Canadian history on Spotify. The Toronto-raised singer's hit single has become the first song by a Canadian artist to pass two billion plays on the streaming platform. And he's only the fourth artist in the world to join this elite group of massively popular songs. Ahead of him is "Dance Monkey" by Australia's Tones and I (2.1 billion streams), "Rockstar" by American Post Malone (2.12 billion) and the leader "Shape of You" from English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran (2.7 billion). A couple of other Canadians could also reach two billion streams with one of their songs later this year. Drake's "One Dance" is teetering around the mark with 1.98 billion streams, which ranks him one spot behind the Weeknd as the No. 5 most-streamed song. Shawn Mendes' "Senorita" is at No. 9 with 1.7 billion plays. The Weeknd's streaming numbers were helped by his performance at the Super Bowl, which gave his entire catalogue of albums a boost. But it's fellow Torontonian Drake who holds the biggest streaming crown on Spotify. He earned the platform's most-streamed artist of the decade honour at the end of 2019. Follow @dfriend on Twitter. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Canadian jazz pianist Oscar Peterson’s legendary career is being celebrated in a Heritage Minute.Historica Canada released the newest clip, timed for Black History Month, in its ongoing series that highlights influential figures from across the country.The minute-long video chronicles the seven-time Grammy winner's rise from a working-class Montreal family to becoming a world-renowned piano virtuoso.It touches on his encounters with greatness, such as being dubbed “the man with four hands,” and acknowledges the racism he faced at jazz gigs in the 1940s.Peterson died of kidney failure in 2007 at the age of 82.Both the English and French versions of the Heritage Minute feature end narration by Black Canadian pianists. Oliver Jones appears in the English version while Gregory Charles handles the French.The Heritage Minute is written by Brynn Byrne and directed by Aaron Yeger, known as co-writer and producer of the acclaimed 2015 film "Sleeping Giant."Historica Canada also produced a companion video exploring the history of Little Burgundy, a Black working-class community in Montreal and the jazz culture within it. The separate clip is narrated by Peterson’s daughter Celine Peterson, who was consulted about her father's Heritage Minute from its inception.Peterson says her father received many honours throughout his career, but she believes he would be especially proud of seeing his story in a Heritage Minute.“I think this is one of the ones that would really overwhelm him," she said.“People all over the world are familiar with the Heritage Minute, and it’s such a monumental form of recognition."Peterson, who serves as producer of the Kensington Market Jazz Festival in Toronto, says the debut of her father’s Heritage Minute during Black History Month is significant.“A huge part of my dad's story was racism, first at home and then around the world,” she said, pointing out that it was especially prominent early in his career as he travelled the southern United States.“He told the story when I was young about driving up on a KKK meeting when they were going from city to city. Hearing him talk about it is still haunting for me today. Maybe even a bit more so now than it was before.”Peterson's Heritage Minute is an especially cinematic one, which raises the question of whether his relatives have considered granting the rights for his story to a production company for a feature film."In the past, there have been some conversations but nothing that has necessarily been the right fit," his daughter said."Having his story told in that capacity would be natural, to a certain extent. It needs to happen, it's just a matter of when and by whom."--Watch the Oscar Peterson Heritage Minute: https://bit.ly/3bgpHHmThis report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 17, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the narration by Black Canadian pianists was for the full Heritage Minute. In fact, the pianists contribute only the end narration in both English and French.
As concerns about internationally identified COVID-19 variants hit closer to home, public health authorities are asking — and increasingly, ordering — people to isolate safely, away from others in their household. Here are some examples of how hotels and quarantine facilities are being used to keep the virus from spreading through communities. TRAVELLERS WAITING FOR TEST RESULTS As the federal government rolls out new restrictions to prevent contagious mutations of the COVID-19 virus from crossing the border, more travellers are set to be sent to hotels and other facilities to serve at least part of their mandatory 14-day quarantine. Under the new rules, which will take effect on Feb. 22, returning travellers will have to take a COVID-19 test at the airport at their own expense. They're then required to spend the first three days of their quarantine at a supervised hotel while awaiting their results, and foot the bill for their stay, expected to cost upwards of $2,000. Hotel booking information will be available online as of Feb.18. Those with negative results can serve the remainder of their two-week quarantine at home, while those with positive tests will be sent to government designated facilities. Those arriving via the land border will also be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival, and then another COVID-19 test at the end of their quarantine. Land border arrivals do not have to stay in a hotel as part of their mandatory two-week quarantine. Earlier this week, the federal government outlined some of the application requirements for privately owned hotels looking to be part of the three-night stay program. The hotels must be within 10 kilometres of one of the four international airports currently accepting flights from abroad in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. Hotels will be responsible for providing three nights of lodging in keeping with public health requirements. That includes safely shuttling guests to their accommodations; offering contactless meal delivery to rooms; access to phones and internet; and reporting traveller information to authorities, such as check-in and check-out. Safety protocols include measures to monitor movement within the hotel and ensure compliance with isolation requirements. Travellers must be sequestered from regular clients, and the hotel must have process to allow "essential and short outside time," such as smoke breaks. FEDERALLY DESIGNATED FACILITIES FOR TRAVELLERS IN QUARANTINE Since the outbreak took hold in Canada, Ottawa has been putting up travellers in hotels and other lodging sites as a "last resort" for those without a suitable place to self-isolate, said a spokeswoman for the Public Health Agency of Canada. Tammy Jarbeau said in an email that the agency currently operates 11 designated quarantine facilities in nine cities across Canada, with access to two provincially run sites. These sites had lodged 5,030 travellers, as of Jan. 24, said Jarbeau. She said the cost of the program wasn't readily available. As of last Thursday, all international passenger flights must land at one of four airports — Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary or Montreal. Jarbeau said the government designates or cancels quarantine sites as needed, but declined to disclose their locations to "protect the privacy and safety of travellers." ISOLATION SITES FOR NORTHERN TRAVELLERS Two of the northern territories have long required travellers to make a public-health pit stop before entry. To fly back to Nunavut, residents must first spend two weeks at health isolation sites in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton or Yellowknife before they can be cleared to return to their home community. The territory covers costs such as a hotel room, meals and internet access, but travellers are responsible for any additional flight expenses. Travellers headed to Northwest Territories must self-isolate in one of four communities: Yellowknife, Inuvik, Hay River or Fort Smith. Those who don't have a place to quarantine are sent to isolation centres. Last month, the territory said it would no longer pay to put up residents travelling for recreational reasons. Non-residents still have to cover their own accommodations. VOLUNTARY ISOLATION SITES A growing number of jurisdictions are setting up voluntary COVID-19 isolation sites to help people recover from the virus without putting other members of their household at risk. Public health officials say many Canadians can't safely self-isolate at home because of crowded housing conditions, contributing to the disproportionate spread of infections in low-income neighbourhoods. The centres offer people a free, safe place to self-isolate as well as other services such as meals, security, transportation, income support and links to health care. The federal government has committed roughly $29 million to support municipally run isolation sites in Toronto, Ottawa and the regions of Peel and Waterloo. The Ontario government is also spending $42 million to create and expand centres in locations across the province, adding up to1,525 more beds in coming weeks. Joe Cressy, chair of the Toronto Board of Health, said people may be referred to the city's self-isolation sites by COVID-19 case managers and community outreach workers, but individuals can access the facilities on their own accord. Cressy said the city also runs a COVID-19 isolation site out of a hotel where people who are experiencing homelessness can stay while they're sick. He noted that this recovery program is distinct from the hotels that are being used as temporary homeless shelters to support physical distancing. ISOLATION HOTEL INCENTIVES In Alberta, people who need to self-isolate because of COVID-19 concerns can not only stay in a hotel room free of charge, but may qualify for a $625 relief payment upon check-out. Earlier this week, the province expanded a temporary financial aid program intended to incentivize Albertans to self-isolate in a hotel if they can't safely do so at home. Since December, residents of hard-hit neighbourhoods in Edmonton and Calgary have been eligible for a $625 government payment at the end of their stay. Now, the aid is open to all Albertans who have been referred by a provincial health authority. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 6, 2021. Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press