Greg Funston, a University of Alberta PhD student, and his team uncovered the first tyrannosaur embryo fossils ever recorded.
Greg Funston, a University of Alberta PhD student, and his team uncovered the first tyrannosaur embryo fossils ever recorded.
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 in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. 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 Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- 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 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. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- 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. She also says the province will soon share an updated vaccine plan that factors in expected shipments of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province will do that after getting guidance from the federal government on potentially extending the time between first and second doses, like B.C. is doing, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months, Elliott says She also says Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since there's limited data on its effectiveness in older populations. --- 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. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- 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 says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- 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 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
The opening of the Royalmount residential and commercial complex has been postponed to the summer of 2023 due to the pandemic, putting it one year behind schedule. Planned for the Town of Mount Royal near the intersection of highways 15 and 40, the complex is supposed to incorporate thousands of homes, upscale businesses and parking spaces at a time when commercial vacancies are on the rise across the island of Montreal. The first phase comes with a $1.5-billion price tag, but that's not deterring the developer, Carbonleo, from pushing forward with renowned companies like Louis Vuitton on board, said the company's vice-president, Claude Marcotte. "There are several brands like that, that we are going to have that are not in the Montreal market, that will join us," said Marcotte. The number of housing units planned on the site has been reduced. It is now just over 3,000 rather than the 4,500 originally slated to be built over a period of 10 years. These units will, for the most part, be condos in 50-storey towers. The Royalmount project does not include social housing, but Montreal is looking to develop social housing at the nearby Blue Bonnets site, Marcotte noted. The current zoning does not allow residential construction on the site, and TMR officials have yet to greenlight a dispensation. Mayor Philippe Roy said the the public will be consulted before a final decision is made. "If we ever get to the stage of changing the zoning to allow residential, then it is the agglomeration of Montreal that must proceed with the modification of the development plan," said Roy. "At that time there will be work to do with the City of Montreal." While Carbonleo management remains optimistic, there has been plenty of opposition to the project from elected officials, like Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who has panned the project's lack of social housing. Years of discussions, redesign and setbacks Back in July 2020, Marcotte said his company was undeterred by the pandemic. He said Carbonleo was pushing forward with a slightly revised plan that would be a better fit in the new world of physical distancing, face masks and hand washing. He said, at the time, that theatres might be delayed and hotels adapted to the new reality, "but in the end, it's going to be pretty much the same type of project." Earlier that year, the company had announced its redesign of the project after some five years of public consultations and concerns from the community. Carbonleo said the new design would "benefit the metropolitan and local communities," as the company strives to build an environmentally friendly site that incorporates greenery and 3.8 kilometres of pedestrian paths.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Naval Academy is developing plans to begin vaccinating midshipmen this month so students can deploy to ships and with Navy teams as part of their training this summer, Vice Adm. Sean Buck told Congress Tuesday. If the vaccines are available, the midshipmen would be the first military academy students to receive the COVID-19 shots. The plans come as the Naval Academy wrestles with a new uptick in positive coronavirus cases, and has locked down the campus in Annapolis, Maryland, for 10 days. Students have been restricted to their rooms for classes and meals, and can go outside for a maximum of two hours a day, with only one roommate. The lockdown was announced on Sunday, and includes the suspension of sports events and practices, other than the men's varsity basketball team, which will participate in post-season play because the athletes have been isolated since last week. Speaking to the House Defence Appropriations subcommittee, Buck said that he's given Navy leaders a timeline for when he'd like to begin giving vaccines to midshipmen who will be deploying out to the fleet. Generally, students go out on fleet cruises in the summer after their freshman year, do a four-week training stint in the fleet after their sophomore year and go on a higher-level fleet cruise after their junior year. Often the training is part of the process to determine what service job interests them. “Our Navy has prioritized the operational forces first. They’re getting vaccinated. They have a very safe and healthy bubble,” Buck told lawmakers. “And for them to be willing to accept our midshipmen from the academy as well as midshipmen from NROTC universities around the country, we need to vaccinate them prior to the summer training.” The Navy has had several small outbreaks on ships, both deployed and at home ports, and leaders have been trying to get crews vaccinated in order to avoid upticks in the virus. The USS Theodore Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier, had a massive outbreak early last year while at sea, and was sidelined in Guam for weeks while the crew went through a methodical quarantine process. To meet the training timelines, Buck said a small initial group of students would have to start getting vaccines by the last week of March, in order to get out to their deployments in mid-May. That would give them time to get both shots, and have two weeks to ensure their immunity was in full effect. Buck and the superintendents for the Army and Air Force academies told lawmakers that they have all started providing vaccines to their faculty and staff, based on the priorities set by the CDC and the Defence Department. But the Air Force and Army academies haven't yet begun preparations to give shots to students. Army Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., said about 4,000 staff and faculty have gotten the vaccine so far, which is about half. At the Naval Academy, more than 900 of the roughly 2,300 staff and faculty have gotten shots, including some who got vaccines in the local community based on their eligibility. The military leaders said first responders and vulnerable people are prioritized, as noted in the CDC and Pentagon guidelines. Williams added that he's confident students will want to get the vaccine once it's available. Air Force Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, superintendent of the Air Force Academy in Colorado, noted that the cadets are “the most healthy of our population and they fall into the lower level” of the priorities. Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press
TOPEKA, Kan. — Former Congressman Steve Watkins of Kansas has entered a diversion program to avoid trial over allegations that he voted illegally in a 2019 municipal election. Watkins, a Republican from Topeka who served only one term in the U.S. House, was facing three felony charges. He was accused of listing a postal box at a UPS store as his home on a state registration form when he was living temporarily at his parents' home. He was also charged with lying to a detective who investigated the case. The Shawnee County district attorney filed the charges just weeks before the August 2020 primary, and Watkins lost to now-Rep. Jake LaTurner. “I regret the error in my voter registration paperwork that led to these charges. I fully co-operated from the beginning and had no intent to deceive any one, at any time. I am glad to resolve the ordeal,” Watkins said in a statement Tuesday. Watkins acknowledged he lied to the detective when he said he did not vote in the Topeka City Council election, The Kansas City Star reported. Under the diversion agreement entered into Monday, Watkins' prosecution will be deferred for six months. If he meets the terms of the agreement, the case will be dropped by September. The Associated Press
McMurray Métis elder Anne Michalko said she felt like she was on her way to freedom when she learned she would be getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Michalko, 83, spent much of the past year in quarantine. On Thursday, she made a rare venture outside her home for her first vaccine shot. Her second shot comes one month before her birthday in May. She hopes she can celebrate turning 84 with family. “Can you imagine feeling excited to go out and get a needle?” she said. “I’m looking forward to sitting around the fire pit and enjoying each other’s company. Maybe I’ll take my great grandson for a walk.” Alberta’s vaccine rollout plan entered Phase 1B on Feb. 7, allowing anyone born before 1946 to get a vaccine. Anyone living in retirement centres, senior citizen lodges and other supportive living homes can also get vaccinated. There have been 546 people in Fort Chipewyan that have had their first vaccine dose. The community has been prioritized because of its remote location and limited health care services. The rollout has given some relief to a community with a long memory that includes the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, which wiped out three-quarters of the community. One victim was Chief Alexandre Lavoilette, the first chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. Chief Allan Adam of ACFN remembers stories of the Spanish Flu from his late grandmother. She was 18-years-old when the pandemic hit the community, he said. “She said people were lost because they had also lost their chief,” said Adam. “Nobody knew where to go.” Adam is thankful Fort Chipewyan has not experienced anything like the Spanish Flu over the past year. He said he is proud of the work the work the community is doing to keep people safe. “A lot of history was lost from the older people at that time,” he said. “We were lucky and we dodged a bullet this time.” Chief Peter Powder of Mikisew Cree First Nation said stories of the Spanish Flu made some people anxious to get vaccinated. “That’s where people’s heads were at, just hearing about that and how bad it was back in the day,” said Powder. Powder said encouraging young people to get vaccinated has been a priority, since they are more likely to travel outside the community. Some people have been excited to get vaccinated, but Angela Conner, a nurse with Nunee Health, said she has seen some hesitancy in the community. Nunee Health is promoting vaccination and trying to fight false information shared online. The hamlet received a second shipment of vaccines on Feb. 28. “Everything that we use is evidence-based,” said Conner. “We’ve been opening up our facility here for any questions. Quite a few people have called and we did have our nurse practitioner open for any kind of consults.” Other Métis leaders feel they have been left out of Alberta’s vaccination program. Since the first vaccines arrived in Alberta, elders on First Nations or Métis settlements have been getting vaccinated if they are between 65 and 74. Some communities that are mostly Métis are not considered settlements, meaning those elders must wait until the general public can be vaccinated in the fall. A community like Conklin, for instance, is mostly Métis and has seen 11 per cent of its population get COVID-19. But the community is considered a rural hamlet under the responsibility of the municipality. Fort McKay’s Métis community is also on municipal land and not considered a settlement. McMurray Métis has 45 elders between 65 and 74 who will be left out of Phase 1B because the Local is based in Fort McMurray. “In Alberta, it is recognized that Indigenous elders are part of a first priority,” said Bryan Fayant, McMurray Métis’ disaster and recovery strategist. “Our elders are a part of the regular rollout and I just don’t think that’s enough.” firstname.lastname@example.org Sarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
WASHINGTON — Domestic extremist groups pose a serious threat to the military by seeking to recruit service members into their ranks and, in some cases, joining the military to acquire combat experience, according to a Pentagon report released Tuesday. The report, prepared last year at the request of Congress, did not assess whether the problem of extremism in the military is growing, but it cited a number of examples of service members with extremist affiliations. It said the number of current and former military members who ascribe to white supremacist ideology is unknown. “Military members are highly prized by these groups as they bring legitimacy to their causes and enhance their ability to carry out attacks,” the report said. “In addition to potential violence, white supremacy and white nationalism pose a threat to the good order and discipline within the military.” For example, the report noted that a Marine was discharged in 2018 for having ties to a neo-Nazi group called Atomwaffen Division, and it said the group’s co-founder served in the Army National Guard in Florida. Another Marine was determined to be the founder of a different white supremacist group, called AIM, which stands for American Identity Movement. The group spread propaganda through an operation it called “Project Siege” and as of March 2019 had about 500 members. The group’s founder was a former Marine sergeant and a former leader was an Army veteran. Several other members of the military and the Reserves were identified as being associated with the group, and the report noted that some were either demoted or discharged. The report described a social media post, reported by a service member, who claimed to “see plenty of our kind” in combat arms. The message recommended ways to identify fellow group members, saying “simply wear a shirt with some obscure fascist logo.” The military has long been aware of small numbers of white supremacists and other extremists in its ranks, but the problem burst into public awareness after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, where an outsized number of military veterans and some current military members were present. It quickly fell to a new Pentagon chief, Lloyd Austin, to determine the scale of the problem and try to fix it. On Feb. 5, Austin directed all commanders and supervisors at every level of the military to conduct a one-day “stand down” — a pause in normal business — by early April to discuss extremism in the ranks. At his first Pentagon news conference two weeks later, Austin said extremism is a threat to the bonds of trust between service members, who count on cohesion to make them effective on the battlefield. “I really and truly believe that 99.9 per cent of our service men and women believe in” the oath they swear when entering the military, Austin said, adding that the actual number of extremists in the military is unknown. “I expect for the numbers to be small, but quite frankly, they’ll probably be a little bit larger than most of us would guess,” he said. “But I would just say that, you know, small numbers in this case can have an outsized impact.” Austin often mentions that he has personally witnessed the damage that racism and extremism can inflict. In 1995, when then-Lt. Col. Austin was serving with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, three white soldiers described as self-styled skinheads were arrested in the murder of a Black couple who were walking down the street. Investigators concluded the two were targeted because of their race. The killing triggered an internal investigation, and all told, 22 soldiers were linked to skinhead and other similar groups or found to hold extremist views. Robert Burns And Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press
On Wednesday, the verdict in Toronto’s van attack trial will be revealed. Alek Minassian has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. Erica Vella reports.
At least 165 more British Columbians died of illicit drug overdoses in the first month of 2021, more than double the number of deaths recorded last January. An average of more than five people died each day in the deadliest January recorded since the overdose crisis was declared a public health emergency nearly five years ago in April 2016. January was the 10th consecutive month where more than 100 people died as pandemic-driven border restrictions contributed to an increasingly toxic street supply, and progress dragged on promises of safer supplies for substance users. The devastating report comes just weeks after the province confirmed 1,726 people died in 2020, making it the deadliest year for overdoses. “We’re particularly concerned about the toxicity of the drugs detected in many of the deaths recorded in January,” chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said in a news release. “The findings suggest that the already unstable drug supply in B.C. is becoming even deadlier, underscoring the urgent need for supervised consumption options, prescribing for safe supply, and accessible treatment and recovery services.” As the province’s death rate per capita climbed to 38 per 100,000 in January, up from 33.1 in 2020, no community has been left untouched. Northern Health, where harm reduction services are sparse and access to health care can require expensive and time-consuming travel, experienced the highest rate with 71 deaths per 100,000. Vancouver Coastal Health region was second with 52 deaths per 100,000. According to the most recent data from the First Nations Health Authority, First Nations individuals in B.C. represented 16 per cent of overdoses in the first four months of 2020, up from 9.9 per cent in 2019, despite only representing 3.3 per cent of people in B.C. Extreme fentanyl concentrations were present in nearly one in five deaths, the most ever recorded, the Coroners Service reported. Benzodiazepines, including analogues like etizolam, were found in almost half of deaths in January. Etizolam was found in 31 per cent of deaths. In combination with fentanyl, it can repress the respiratory system and significantly increase the risk of overdose. The province has been spending on new treatment and recovery bed spaces and training nurses to be able to prescribe some first-line opioid substitutes. It has also approached the federal government about decriminalizing personal possession of illicit substances. Mental Health and Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson said in a statement the province had “stepped up our response to these emergencies as quickly as possible in B.C., but the effects of the pandemic on the illicit drug supply chain has made drugs dramatically more toxic than a year ago and, tragically, more lethal. “We know people are hurting now and we have to do more to stop this terrible surge in overdose deaths,” she said. But critics have accused the government of moving far too slowly to address the deadly public health crisis. People who use drugs and advocates say more has to be done to separate people from the illicit supply and provide safer alternatives, particularly for those who can’t or don’t want to access treatment. In September, the ministry announced it would massively expand eligibility and substances available in safe supply programs in the province. Safe supply programs aim to separate people from the poisoned street supply by providing pharmaceutical-grade alternatives to illicit drugs. This prevents overdoses because people can be more certain of what they are taking as well as the exact dosage. The Globe and Mail reported in February that the province is considering a variety of substances, including powdered fentanyl and fentanyl patches, in its safe supply guidance. But details on the expansion are still scarce six months after it was announced, with hundreds more lives lost in the meantime. Vancouver is still pursuing its own application to the federal government to decriminalize possession of drugs for personal use. It sent its first submission to Health Canada Monday as a step toward formal negotiations. The city saw 411 people die in 2020, and an additional 42 in January alone. “Today’s news that 2021 has started off with an even higher level of overdose deaths makes decriminalization and ending the war on people who use drugs even more urgent,” said Mayor Kennedy Stewart in a release. Staff consulted with Vancouver Coastal Health, community groups and the Vancouver Police Department in the initial submission, which aims to divert people who use substances away from the criminal justice system. A spokesperson for the mayor said this so-called “Vancouver model” is still being developed. The city doesn’t plan to use administrative penalties or mandatory treatment as alternatives to criminal sanctions, as seen in the recently approved Oregon model. But police will be able to determine if the individual is in personal possession and to refer them voluntarily to the city’s Overdose Outreach Team. Further details and community consultations are expected in April. Moira Wyton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
ARVIAT, Nunavut — The mayor of Arviat in Nunavut says his community on the shore of Hudson Bay has strictly followed a state of emergency order that includes a nightly curfew. Arviat, with a population of about 2,800, is the southernmost settlement on the territory's mainland. It has nine active COVID-19 infections and 306 recovered cases. Mayor Joe Savikataaq Jr. said the hamlet has hired four additional bylaw officers to patrol the streets 24 hours a day and especially during the 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. The state of emergency began Feb. 24 for seven days and has been extended for an additional week to March 8. Savikataaq Jr. said the extra week will hopefully buy some time to lower the community's case count and reduce the risk of community transmission. All of Nunavut entered into a two-week lockdown after COVID-19 first appeared in the territory in November. The virus has stubbornly hung around in Arviat and it's the only place that is still shut down. Schools and non-essential businesses are closed and travel restricted. Savikataaq Jr. said no fines have been issued for breaking the curfew, but one verbal warning was given to a community member. "Compliance is very high. Everyone is listening to it. It's amazing for a town of about 3,000 to have just one verbal warning," he said Tuesday. Arviat RCMP said there have been eight COVID-related complaints since the state of emergency began, but no charges have been laid. Savikataaq Jr. said it will take a few weeks to see if the state of emergency orders are working. "It doesn't happen overnight. The past seven days and the seven days coming, you won't see those effects until further in the future." Arviat's member of the legislature, John Main, said his constituents who live in overcrowded housing and who are infected with COVID-19 have called to ask why the government has not set up isolation spaces in the community. "They have been calling and asking me, 'Where can I go to sleep? I can't stay at my house. I don't want to pass on COVID-19 to my family, so where do I go now?'" Main told the legislative assembly last week. "Please envision or imagine you get a phone call from a doctor or a nurse and you are told that you have COVID-19," he said. "On top of that, imagine there are 10 people living in the same house with you and you don't even have your own room." Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut's chief public health officer, said the current outbreak in Arviat is based on household transmission. "There is still no evidence of community transmission in Arviat at this time." Because of Arviat's travel restrictions, Main is attending the sitting of Nunavut's legislative assembly from home through a video connection. A television is wheeled into the assembly where his face appears on a screen each day. To date, 8,066 people in Nunavut have received at least one dose of the Moderna vaccine. Nunavut's Department of Health did not respond to questions about how many people in Arviat have received the vaccine. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021 — By Emma Tranter in Iqaluit, Nunavut ___ This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan is looking to follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. Chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab says information from that province as well as from Quebec and the United Kingdom suggests that a first shot effectively protects against the novel coronavirus. He says he hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. Shahab says if that were to happen, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. He says all adults in the province could be vaccinated with a first dose by June. Premier Scott Moe says such a shift would be a game-changer for how long public-health restrictions would stay in place. "What that (would) look like over the course of the next number of weeks as opposed to having that conversation over the course of the next number of months," Moe said during a briefing Tuesday. The province said when it first outlined its vaccine rollout that it would wait between 21 and 28 days between shots as recommended by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech. The province says about 80,000 vaccinations have been given across the province. It says at least one of the approved vaccines to fight COVID-19 has made its way into every long-term care home. Health officials say 91 per cent of residents opted to get their first shot of the two-dose vaccination. Second doses have gone into the arms of long-term residents in about 53 per cent of facilities. The province says it expects to receive about 15,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot approved by Canada last week. Shahab says Saskatchewan will follow advice from a national panel of vaccine experts that it be used on people under 65. The vaccine's effectiveness in people older than that hasn't been sufficiently determined because there were not enough seniors in clinical trials. Another 134 new cases of COVID-19 were reported Tuesday as well as two deaths. Shahab and Moe say daily case numbers and hospitalizations have stabilized and continue to decrease — signs they say could lead to some public-health measures being relaxed. Moe said he would like to see some way for people to have visitors in their homes. That hasn't been allowed under public-health orders since before Christmas. The current health order is to expire March 19. Moe said his government could provide details as soon as next week on what restrictions might be eased. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 2, 2021 Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — Just before two RCMP officers opened fire on a fellow officer and a civilian during last year's Nova Scotia mass shooting, they struggled with congested radio channels and mistook a man wearing a bright vest for the killer. These are among the fresh facts revealed Tuesday in a police watchdog agency report clearing the Mounties of criminal wrongdoing after they fired five shots with high-powered rifles outside the Onslow, N.S., firehall. The six-page report by the Serious Incident Response Team says the "totality of the evidence" prompted the officers to believe the killer was standing just 88 metres away from them on the morning of April 19. "They discharged their weapons in order to prevent further deaths or serious injuries .... The (officers) had reasonable grounds to believe the person they saw, who was disobeying their orders, was the mass murderer who had, in the preceding hour, killed three more persons," it concludes. The six-page document traces the 10:21 a.m. incident — which didn't result in deaths or injuries — to the early hours of the morning, when the two officers were recalled to duty at 3 a.m. for a briefing as the shootings that would take 22 lives unfolded. According to the report, they were told that the spouse of the killer had said the gunman was driving a replica RCMP car and was wearing an orange vest. "They learned that several children had witnessed their parents being shot dead .... The actual total number of victims was unknown at the time of the briefing because several buildings in Portapique were on fire, and whether there were additional victims had not yet been determined," the report says. They also had been briefed that the gunman had high-powered weapons with laser-mounted sights. Several hours after the first briefing, there were radio transmissions saying the killer had murdered a woman in Wentworth, N.S. At that point, the two officers were "transitioned from investigators to being involved in the hunt for the killer," the report says. Through the morning, reports of additional murders came over the radio, including two women in the Debert, N.S., area, which is about a 10-minute drive from the Onslow firehall. As they approached the firehall, which had been designated as a rest area, they saw a marked RCMP car parked in front and a man wearing a yellow and orange reflective vest standing next to the driver's door. According to the report, the two officers didn't realize a uniformed RCMP officer was sitting in the vehicle. The investigation says the two officers repeatedly tried to advise other RCMP officers by radio of what they were seeing but couldn't get through. Felix Cacchione, the director of SIRT, said in an email to The Canadian Press that he didn't have an exact time of arrival. "I can only extrapolate from the radio communications that it was about a minute before shots were fired," he wrote. According to the report, both officers got out of their vehicle with their rifles and were still unable to reach anyone on the radio. The report says they yelled "police," and "show your hands," but the civilian in the vest ducked behind the car before popping back up and running toward the firehall. The Mounties opened fire, with one officer firing four shots and the other a single shot. During the killer's 13-hour rampage, the report found, there were 7,731 radio transmissions over emergency response channels. It says the "sole reason" the reason the officers couldn't transmit before opening fire was because "there was no available talk path due to the heavy volume of radio traffic." It concluded the officers had a "lawful excuse" to fire their guns and didn't break Criminal Code provisions that prohibit officers from using their firearms in a careless manner. "Based on everything (the officers) had seen and heard since coming on duty and what they had just observed, they had reasonable grounds to believe that the (civilian in the vest) was the killer and someone who would continue his killing rampage," says the report. In a statement on its Facebook page Tuesday, the Onslow Belmont Fire Brigade said it is "frustrated and disappointed that there will be no accountability for the RCMP. Their actions that day endangered lives, damaged property and caused mental health issues for many of the people involved." An RCMP spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether any disciplinary action has been taken against the two officers. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said both people shot at outside the firehall were RCMP officers.
WASHINGTON — Last year's confluence of COVID-19 and Donald Trump exposed the urgent need to reinvent North America, experts across the continent agreed Tuesday as they explored how best to fortify its trilateral ties. The Washington-based Wilson Center convened a virtual gathering of 13 different academics, ambassadors and diplomats from all three countries to flesh out the idea of renewing the North American relationship. The prospect has been much discussed in recent days, thanks to a flurry of high-profile political meetings between American leaders and their Canadian or Mexican counterparts aimed at signalling U.S. President Joe Biden's post-Trump commitment to multilateral diplomacy. But there's a risk that the movement never rises beyond the level of well-crafted political rhetoric, said Alan Bersin, former chief diplomatic officer of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. To work, he said, the endeavour will need buy-in at the grassroots level in all three countries, as well as from the business community. Trump "did create an impetus for business, for the first time, to recognize that they better defend the shared production platform that has arisen in the last 25 years in North America," Bersin said. "We can do it much better together than we can do it alone." That will be more easily said than done, he added — noting the fact that each of the three countries has a different name for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which replaced NAFTA last year. Each country puts its own name first. "We've got to actually start to create an atmosphere and an understanding broadly that it's better for us to face the world together in the next generation than to concentrate on our separate paths." Perhaps the starkest illustration of the fragility of North American supply chains, even in the age of the USMCA, came last April when Trump ordered Minnesota-based 3M to stop exporting American-made N95 respirators outside the country. The company itself, which pushed back on humanitarian grounds, eventually defused the crisis by promising to meet demand in the U.S. by importing masks from its overseas facilities. Trump's protectionist instincts have lingered, however: the Biden administration has so far shown no interest in reversing the former president's insistence that U.S.-made vaccines be reserved for American arms. Canada needs to take stock now about how to inoculate itself from similar problems before the next pandemic hits, said Michael Grant, assistant deputy minister for the Americas with Global Affairs Canada. "We need to be prepared for something like this happening again," said Grant, calling for a "Fortress North America" approach that would prioritize supply lines within the continent itself. "There are some fragilities there that I think we need to work on." For 20 years, businesses and ordinary citizens alike have embraced the idea of North America as a single, unified region, said Bill Crosbie, formerly director general of the North America Bureau, which oversees Canadian embassies and consulates across the continent. Only at the political level have relations between the three seen ups and downs, he said. "The government, top-down side of things, it waxes and wanes, and it has waned over the past few years," Crosbie said. "But if we can bring back to the table ... the areas where we have joined up, where we've been successful — either as governments or as the private sector or as civil societies — we can build on those successes to demonstrate that this collaboration is delivering real benefits for people in all three countries. Tuesday's virtual conference kicked off the Wilson Center's "North America 2.0" project aimed at floating policy recommendations for a more unified trilateral relationship. But it also followed nearly a solid week of earnest bilateral conversations between high-level leaders in all three countries, beginning with Biden's virtual meeting Feb. 23 with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The centrepiece of that meeting — a "Road Map for a Renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership" — detailed a "whole-of-government" effort to co-operate in a number of areas of mutual interest. Those included beating back COVID-19 and resurrecting the pandemic-battered North American economy, a united front against climate change, addressing income inequality and social injustice on both sides of the border and restoring global faith in multilateral institutions like the World Trade Organization. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. James McCarten, The Canadian Press
A Fort Resolution, N.W.T. pre-med student is calling out what she says is a racist and dangerous policy by the territory. Laney Beaulieu, who studies medical sciences at Western University in London, Ont., took to social media to voice her concerns over a territory-wide policy that prohibits community nurses from making house calls or providing any emergency services outside the health centre. "I'm tired of my community being treated like our lives don't matter or like we are too dangerous to care for," her post on Facebook read, in part. "Emergency medical care is not a luxury, it is an essential service that is provided to the rest of Canada without them even having to ask for it." Her post also acknowledges Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh MLA Steve Norn who raised the alarm over the issue at the legislative assembly on Friday. While addressing the legislature, he brought up the death of an elder who was in medical distress in June. The elder was only a few hundred metres from the health centre, Norn had said. This week, Beaulieu told CBC's Lawrence Nayally, host of Trail's End, that in many of N.W.T.'s small Indigenous communities, including Fort Resolution, the nurses are the only health care professionals in a community. "We don't have doctors that span the community, we don't have paramedics. So the nurses really are our only source of health care, and to learn that they can't do emergency response, or they can't leave the nursing station to go on emergency calls was really shocking because that's a very vital part of medical wellness," Beaulieu said. "It is, in my opinion, blatantly racist and dangerous." MLA for Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh Steve Norn says a policy prohibiting community nurses from making house calls prevented two sick residents from getting life-saving care.(Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada) Negatively affects Indigenous people She said that's because it discriminates against Indigenous people in N.W.T. "This policy doesn't affect people in Yellowknife or Hay River where there is a very large population of non-Indigenous people. It … negatively affects Indigenous people in small, isolated communities, where nurses are the only form of emergency response that's available," she said. Health Minister Julie Green had said that nurses are not first responders and that first responders have a different skill set. Beaulieu agrees that may be the case in larger centres. But in small, isolated municipalities, she said nurses take on a larger scope of care and practice than they normally would. "They already take on jobs that normal nurses don't have to do," she said, adding that could include performing sutures, prenatal and pediatric checkups and X-rays. "Those are things that North nurses don't normally do in larger centres, but they are expected to do them in these smaller communities. And with that, I think the duty to be ... an emergency responder, because that's our only option." She added when the responsibility is left on friends and family members to transport a patient to an emergency centre, it could cause more harm than good and it could waste time that could have been spent providing care. "In some communities, especially very isolated ones … not everyone has a car. So there's the additional problem of having to transport someone by a four wheeler or Ski-doo," she said. Advocacy for patients Beaulieu says she'd like to see a repeal of the policy. "But if that can't be done if … it's decided that nurses really can't leave the nursing station, then I think immediately, there needs to be paramedics or first responders installed in these communities," she said. The student plans to become a doctor, a role she said involves more than just administering medical care. "In the North … there are so many systemic problems inside of Indigenous communities," she said. "I think that in order to really support the wellness and the health and well being of our Indigenous population, you can't just treat them on a physical level, you also have to try to be an advocate from your position of power to, you know, remedy these other problems."
While many things were shut down due to the pandemic, Tabitha McLoughlin and her team responded to increased demand in their community for fresh food by opening another farmers market. McLoughlin is the executive director of Grow Local Tricities, which manages the Port Moody and Coquitlam farmers markets. In June, the organization started its Port Moody summer market as an emergency response for farmers in their area. “We did it in response to knowing that we had farmer vendors who were losing contracts to restaurants and losing contracts to food suppliers, because those guys were shutting down or being closed down, and they had crops in the ground,” she said. “And it was well enough attended that we’ll continue to do it again this year.” McLoughlin has worked with Grow Local for 15 years and said she wasn’t surprised the new market was so well-received. She has seen a steady interest in farmers markets over the past five to eight years, and COVID-19 has only fast-tracked it. “I think the media really started to push ‘buy local’ ... because, as much as we have preached it for years, the importance of the economic impact that is generated by buying from places within your own community is now being seen on such a massive scale,” she said. McLoughlin said it was interesting seeing farmers markets being used in such a utilitarian manner during the pandemic, after trying on so many different hats to appeal to consumers. “What we saw was people coming specifically to buy at the market ... We have spent years building the farmers markets to be these destinations where you and your kids can do a craft, watch a food demonstration,” she said. “We had to throw all that out the window and be like, 'OK, we need you to come in and shop as fast as you possibly can.'” Jen Candela, communications manager with Vancouver Farmers Markets (VFM) since 2007, said the last decade has seen a lot of growth on their end. The VFM has operated markets since 1995 and now supports 280 small farms and businesses. “I think people are a lot more concerned about where their food comes from than they were 20 years ago,” she said. “Vancouver is also a health-conscious city, so people want the freshest, healthiest food they can find. Unless you grow your own food, farmers markets are the best place to find that.” There is little data on farmers markets in Canada. The last nationwide survey was done in 2009 by Farmers Markets Canada, a now-defunct organization. Even then, total direct sales from farmers markets across Canada was estimated to be $1.03 billion. Although the markets may be expanding and growing, McLoughlin said the sentiment behind them remains the same. “I think (people’s reasons) for putting these things together was always greater than just simply bringing the food into the community,” she said. “Now as it's become more and more common, it's not just like the hippies in the parking lots anymore. It's way more mainstream, to the point where it's almost become trendy.” Cloe Logan / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer Cloe Logan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
EDMONTON — Alberta’s health minister says the province is considering whether to follow British Columbia in extending the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses. Tyler Shandro says a committee of COVID-19 experts is analyzing emerging data and a decision is coming. The B.C. government announced Monday that it will extend the wait between first and second doses to four months to get more people vaccinated overall in a shorter time period. B.C. based its decision on data from the United Kingdom, Israel and Quebec that shows the first dose of vaccines is 90 per cent effective. “There’s fantastic evidence that’s coming out,” Shandro said Tuesday. “What the exact period of time (between doses) is going to be is still to be decided. We’ll be announcing it soon, but we will be looking at having that length of time between first and second extended.” When Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech began distributing their vaccines late last year, it was recommended the first and second shots be completed within six weeks to be fully effective. About 235,000 Albertans have so far received at least one shot. About 88,000 have been given the recommended two doses. Premier Jason Kenney has said all 29,000 residents in long-term care and designated supportive living facilities — people at the highest risk of contracting the novel coronavirus — have received both doses. Alberta is moving onto other priority groups, including seniors over 75 and First Nations people over 65. Shandro said 55,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to arrive every week this month. A third vaccine, Oxford-AstraZeneca, is also on the way. “It’s going to give us an opportunity to get more people vaccinated more quickly,” he said. Oxford-AstraZeneca was approved last week for use in Canada. But a national panel of vaccine experts is recommending it be given to people under 65, because there were not enough seniors in the vaccine's clinical trials to determine its effectiveness in that age group. Shandro said Alberta will follow the guideline. Alberta is keeping many of its restrictions meant to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus until vaccines take hold. Retail stores and worship services are still capped at 15 per cent capacity and entertainment venues remain closed. Indoor gatherings are banned and outdoor ones are limited to 10 people. Kenney did announce Monday that libraries can reopen with capacity limits and he further eased restrictions on fitness centres. Gyms were already allowed one-on-one fitness training, but they can now offer low-intensity indoor fitness classes, including tai chi, wall-climbing and Pilates. Emily Slaneff, chairwoman of the Alberta coalition of the Fitness Industry Council of Canada, said the new rules are confusing, contradictory and don’t allow specialized facilities, such as boxing clubs and spin studios, to open at all. Slaneff noted low-intensity fitness classes can be high-intensity for anyone trying to get into shape. And, conversely, high-intensity workouts are less strenuous for anyone already in good shape and trying to stay that way. “It’s a really difficult metric to use,” she said. “Two individuals can do the exact same workout and have very different experiences.” She said a lot of gyms are on the knife’s edge of bankruptcy and need support immediately to survive. “It feels like they (the government) are toying with lives and livelihoods,” she said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021 Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
CALGARY — A Calgary man has admitted to slitting his girlfriend's throat and, days later, stabbing to death his mother and stepfather. Crown prosecutor Shane Parker said Tuesday that Dustin Duthie, 27, pleaded guilty to the second-degree murders of Taylor Toller and Shawn Boshuk and the first-degree murder of Alan Pennylegion. An agreed statement of facts said Toller, Duthie's girlfriend of five years, was last seen on video footage from outside her condo unit about 4 a.m. on July 26, 2018. Duthie was captured on video leaving the condo alone about an hour later. Police found Toller, 24, five days later with her throat slit and "tucked into her bed as if she was asleep." The agreed statement of facts mentions a torn-up note in which Duthie explains why he killed Toller, but the document does not detail the note's contents. On the same day Toller was found, Duthie stabbed Boshuk, his mother, six times in their home and covered her with a plastic sheet, the statement said. Boshuk had messaged Toller's grandmother a day earlier, concerned about how her son would react to police contacting him about Toller's disappearance. The statement said Pennylegion witnessed Duthie cleaning his mother's blood in the kitchen and Duthie attacked his stepfather, stabbing him eight times. Duthie and his stepfather had a tense relationship at the time and Duthie had threatened violence against Pennylegion over the years, the statement said. One of Duthie's pit bulls was stabbed but survived with surgery. Pennylegion's pet dog, Odie, found with his owner in the main floor bathroom, was also stabbed and died. The statement said Duthie shaved his head, showered, and changed his clothes after killing his mother and stepfather. About 10:50 a.m. on July 31, he called 911 and confessed to the killings. The document said he was "contemplating 'suicide-by-cop.'" A sentencing date has not yet been set. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021 The Canadian Press
A Green MLA wants to know if government is considering legislation for guaranteed paid sick leave as part of its COVID-19 response. Lynne Lund raised the issue during question period Tuesday. Lund told CBC News she'd like to see legislation requiring employers to provide seven paid sick days to their employees, and for government to support businesses that need help to do that. "We want people to stay home when they're not feeling well ... but the flip side of that is they actually need to be able to do that," Lund said. Lund said for many Islanders, missing work to get a COVID-19 test and wait for results or to stay home with symptoms can lead to serious financial challenges. "For many low-wage workers losing even a day's pay is a real struggle," Lund told the legislature. Lund said many young people on P.E.I. work minimum-wage or low-wage jobs. She added those young Islanders have also been repeatedly affected by calls for mass testing, like during the circuit breaker in December and most recently in testing efforts related to clusters of cases in Charlottetown and Summerside. "They felt a duty to protect Islanders and we have a duty to protect them too. Question to the minister of economic growth, will you bring in legislation in this sitting to guarantee paid sick leave?" The P.E.I. Federation of Labour has also begun a campaign to urge the provincial government to implement paid sick leave for all workers on the Island.(John Robertson/CBC) 'Holding on by a thread' Responding to Lund's question, Minister of Economic Growth Matthew MacKay said many businesses across P.E.I. are really struggling during the pandemic. "We've seen businesses that are holding on by a thread right now, so to ask a business to pay seven day sick leave to an employee is just not in the cards right now. But that's why we did come with this million dollar pot," MacKay said. MacKay was referring to Monday's announcement of a $1 million fund for Islanders who take time off work due to illness and don't have paid sick leave and don't qualify for federal support programs. Lund said she knows there are many businesses that are struggling during the pandemic, and would like to see legislation that also offers financial support to businesses to help them meet a paid sick day requirement. 'We've seen businesses that are holding on by a thread right now,' says Minister of Economic Growth Matthew MacKay.(Legislative Assembly of P.E.I. ) During an interview after question period, MacKay said money from the newly announced fund can be accessed by employers to help cover costs of paid sick days. He said the final details of the fund are still being worked out. Paid sick leave — beyond COVID The P.E.I. Federation of Labour has also begun a campaign to urge the provincial government to implement paid sick leave for all workers on the Island. Carl Pursey, president of the federation, said it should be permanent and extend beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. We're going to be awhile getting our economy back to where it once was. — Minister of Economic Growth Matthew MacKay "If someone's not feeling good for a day or two, they can take a day or two off work and get paid and not have to have the fear of not having pay because now people are going to work if they're not feeling 100 per cent and they could be spreading [COVID-19]." Pursey said he has spoken with the province in the past about the need for at least seven sick days a year for all workers in the province. He said labour groups across the country have been discussing the issue. He said government should help smaller businesses that can't afford to offer paid sick leave to workers. "The government needs to see the pressure, pressure to put something in that's permanent," he said. MacKay said he wouldn't rule out exploring guaranteed paid sick days in the future, but said now isn't the right time. "We're going to be awhile getting our economy back to where it once was, so when that time comes you know it could be a topic for discussion. Until that point, government is going to be here to help employees and employers out to the best of our ability," MacKay said. More P.E.I. news
The Downtown Eastside is dealing with two serious public health issues — a rise in COVID-19 cases and an outbreak of shigellosis, a highly contagious bacterial infection caused by unsanitary conditions. A tenant who lives in the Hazelwood, a single-room occupancy hotel in the Vancouver neighbourhood, says she’s concerned about her neighbours after learning from staff in her building that at least 20 residents have tested positive for COVID-19. In SRO hotels, residents live in small rooms and usually share bathrooms and kitchens, so it’s difficult to self-isolate. The Tyee is not identifying the tenant because of fears that she will face repercussions if others learn she lives in the building, including risks to her safety. She said she has been vaccinated, so she’s not that worried about her own health. “I’m concerned more about my neighbours, because they are part of the vulnerable population,” she said. Residents include heavy drug users and people “with multiple disabilities and probably very low immune systems, and lots of co-existing health problems,” she said. The tenant is also questioning why it appeared to take so long for notices warning residents of the outbreak to be posted in the building. Notices posted by Vancouver Coastal Health and reviewed by The Tyee say the exposure started Feb. 10 and is ongoing. “That notice was posted on Feb. 24, so that’s two solid weeks where the tenants here had no clue they were in danger,” said the tenant. The CEO of the company that operates the Hazelwood says there are currently 100 cases in two buildings operated by Atira Women’s Resource Society or Atira Property Management, a for-profit subsidiary of the society. Between Feb. 7 to 20, 142 new COVID-19 cases were recorded for the local health area that includes the Downtown Eastside. Janice Abbott declined to speak to The Tyee about the COVID-19 clusters, referring The Tyee to Vancouver Coastal Health. Vancouver Coastal Health did not respond to The Tyee by publication time. But in a Twitter post, Abbott said there are currently two clusters of cases in one building in the Downtown Eastside and another building outside the neighbourhood. Abbott said an outbreak of another disease called shigellosis, caused by the shigella bacteria, is also a concern. On Saturday, Vancouver Coastal Health warned that over 10 people from the Downtown Eastside had been hospitalized over the past few weeks after contracting shigellosis. Shigella is a bacteria present in feces that can spread when people don’t have access to proper hand washing, safe food preparation or clean bathrooms. It causes diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps and some people can become severely ill and need treatment with antibiotics to recover, according to a notice Vancouver Coastal Health sent to Downtown Eastside housing and social service providers. It can also be transmitted through sexual contact. Shigella infection is a major cause of dysentery. Vancouver Coastal Health told housing providers to ensure that bathrooms and showers are kept clean, staff and tenants have access to frequent hand washing and hand sanitizer, and bathrooms are regularly stocked with soap and hand sanitizer. The Hazelwood tenant The Tyee spoke to said that her building is kept fairly clean, but “it definitely could be better.” The Tyee previously reported on complaints that the Gastown Hotel, a provincially-owned SRO also operated by Atira Property Management, is not being cleaned properly. According to the Hazelwood tenant, Atira Property Management paid tenants earlier in the pandemic to regularly sanitize common touch points like elevator buttons and doorknobs. However, that program was recently cut, according to the tenant. Abbott declined to respond to questions about that program. “I feel like leaving people in the dark really contributed to the rapid spread” of COVID-19, the tenant said. “And also, the lack of cleaning and sanitization.” Over the past few weeks, Vancouver Coastal Health has been working to give COVID-19 vaccines to people who live in the Downtown Eastside and are homeless, live in shelters or reside in supportive housing. Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, has said that people from the Downtown Eastside who get COVID-19 are more likely to be hospitalized. According to Abbott, 115 residents of Atira-operated buildings, or five per cent of total residents, have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Of Atira staff, 91 people have tested positive, or seven per cent of total staff. Three residents have died after contracting COVID-19. The Tyee has asked Vancouver Coastal Health for more information about the shigellosis outbreak and will update this story when we receive the health authority’s response. Jen St. Denis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
Toronto Community Housing has re-housed one of the five households it evicted for missed rent last fall, after a Star story that revealed one of the households landed in a homeless shelter. Those five evictions took place between the end of a provincial eviction moratorium in August and a motion from city council to halt arrears evictions in TCH in December. The day after the Star’s report, Mayor John Tory said he’d contacted TCH CEO Kevin Marshman, to confirm that no further arrears evictions would be taking place. “It shouldn’t have happened, and certainly today I had a conversation in light of this story,” Tory said at the time, while noting that the evictions had still been within the bounds of the law. “It was one of those things where it happened in kind of in a short gap that exists between one lockdown and another … I’m not making an excuse for it, I’m just staying that’s what happened.” Asked what would happen to the evicted households, Tory said he would ask Marshman to examine the cases “and see what the appropriate response should be.” During a committee meeting on Tuesday, Coun. Paula Fletcher asked for an update. “I know that at least one family was rehoused as a result of work we did with the shelter and the analysis that we did of their eviction,” replied Scott Kirkham, TCH’s manager of stakeholder relations. Asked by the Star to confirm whether the re-housed family was the one evicted into the shelter system, TCH declined to comment, saying it couldn’t reveal personal information. “We can confirm that, following a review, one of the five households was re-housed,” a statement read. Tory, in a statement Tuesday, said he was “pleased to hear” that an evicted family was re-housed in TCH. Wong-Tam said it seemed the agency had taken a “moment of self-reflection,” and credited its response to city officials’ requests about arrears evictions during the pandemic. “TCH seems to fully understand the severity of the issue,” she said. The housing committee on Tuesday voted to send a request to council on March 10 for TCH to extend its arrears eviction halt until at least June. With files from Francine Kopun Victoria Gibson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
MONTREAL — Residential sales in metropolitan Montreal fell in February for the first time in six years as transactions plunged outside Quebec's largest city. The Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers says the number of sales decreased three per cent from a year earlier to 5,106 homes for the first February decline since 2015. Sales decreased 32 per cent in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, 14 per cent in Laval, 10 per cent in Vaudreuil-Soulanges and eight per cent on the South Shore. However, sales increased six per cent on the Island of Montreal due to the strength of the condo market. Sales of plexes with two to five units increased 19 per cent, single-family homes fell 14 per cent and condo sales were up eight per cent. The median price for single-family homes increased 28 per cent to $460,000. Condominium prices rose 24 per cent to $340,000 and plex prices climbed nine per cent to $650,000. Total sales in metropolitan Quebec City increased six per cent with condos up 50 per cent and plexes 48 per cent higher. Single-family homes were down 11 per cent. The median price of single-family homes grew 13 per cent to $295,000, plexes were up 16 per cent to $375,000 and condos were four per cent higher at $198,000. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press