With meteorologist Jaclyn Whittal
With meteorologist Jaclyn Whittal
Canada's health officials spoke about the recent change in guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on the time between two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and how that may contribute to vaccine hesitancy in Canada.
County council agreed to support a movement for improvements at long-term care (LTC) homes, though disagreed with local advocates’ desire to end for-profit homes. Council voted to write a letter of support for the Haliburton-CKL (City of Kawartha Lakes) Long-Term Care Coalition. The advocacy group is joining with others across the province to push for improvements, including amending the Canada Health Act to include LTC, guaranteeing four hours of direct care per day for residents, stronger enforcement and a culture change. Councillors spoke in favour of those ideas. But the coalition’s desire to end private LTC did not garner support and was specifically excluded in the resolution. “The first four points that you have, I think, are a bold initiative and a great start,” Coun. Brent Devolin said. “The supply going forward, will public initiatives alone be enough to look after all of us?” Coalition co-chair, Bonnie Roe, cited the Ontario Health Coalition, a province-wide organization also calling for the end to for-profit long-term care. Its May 2020 analysis found COVID-19 deaths in homes with outbreaks were higher in private (nine per cent) versus non-profit (5.25 per cent) or publicly-owned (3.62 per cent). The Canadian military also released a report about terrible conditions at homes it intervened in last May, which prompted the province to start an independent commission. Four of those homes were privately-owned. “There are some for-profits that are excellent, but generally speaking, they do not follow the standards,” Roe said. “People are asking, ‘why are there private profits attached to us as a society caring for our elders’?” co-chair, Mike Perry, said. “Why was that ever seen as a profit-making venture?” Warden Liz Danielsen said the Eastern Ontario Warden’s Caucus has identified LTC as a priority. But she added the caucus is not yet in favour of ending private facilities. Coun. Carol Moffatt said she can attest to the challenges of eldercare and there is a drastic need for better support for health workers. “More people to do the job,” Moffatt said. “We also maybe need to be careful of what you wish for in terms of potential downloading. How do we all as a province push for the changes that are required, without it going off the cliff and then landing in the laps of municipalities for increased costs?” Perry thanked council for the support. “There’s so much common room and so much common ground for this moving forward,” he said. “That’s where we find hope in all this tragedy recently." Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
Rails End Gallery and Arts Centre seeks to help bridge the gaps between people with its first-ever online exhibition launched Feb. 27. Titled “Connection,” the show presents submissions from its members, featuring a wide array of mediums. Besides a physical gallery still viewable at the centre under additional public protocols, it is also available on the centre’s website, with a guided virtual tour. Curator Laurie Jones said she learned about the format from the Ontario Society of Artists and it was a way to improve access. “Not everybody’s comfortable yet with being around, especially in public spaces,” Jones said. The exhibition is an annual salon show, drawing from local talent, Jones said. The pandemic prompted the move to an online addition – and the theme for the show itself. “It came up out of my own cravings for connections and missing people,” Jones said. “In many ways, we’re looking for alternate ways to connect.” Artist Rosanna Dewey’s exhibition piece depicts one of those ways. It is an oil painting entitled “Zoom Room” depicting a call on the online meeting platform. She said the show’s theme was poignant. “It’s so hard to be connected,” Dewey said. “It really made me think about what was going on and what my connections were.” She said she had some skepticism about the online concept but found it turned out appealing. “You want to be able to get up close to the artwork and you get more of a sense of the piece,” Dewey said. “But I found that people were still interested. People still needed to go and experience art, even if it was through a Zoom format.” Arts and Crafts Festival on pause But the community will miss one big way to connect with art in the summer. The Haliburton Art and Craft Festival – the gallery’s flagship event and fundraiser – is cancelled for the second straight year due to the pandemic, Jones said. She said it would be too logistically challenging to ensure safety amidst the pandemic. “We don’t want to introduce any risk to our volunteers or staff or vendors or patrons,” Jones said. “Maintaining sanitary conditions would be impossible.” Jones said the centre needs to decide early to inform artists and give them time to plan. She said there might be alternate programming, but that is being worked out. For now, the Rails End is still putting on exhibitions and bringing arts to the community. “We’re not trying to sell anything. We’re trying to provide an experience,” Jones said. “Hopefully, they feel the connection with the creative arts.” “Connection” runs until April 17 and is available at the centre itself or railsendgallery.com. Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
Disney is expanding its catalogue of Disney princesses, this time taking inspiration from Southeast Asian cultures in Raya and the Last Dragon, releasing on Disney+ for $34.99 in Canada, with a subscription.
There are now seven more cases at the Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC). The cases are still contained to the same unit where the initial 14 were identified over the weekend, said Richard Dionne, president of the CNCC Local 369. The corrections officer said he could not share the total number of inmates in that wing, but noted that the area remains isolated. "I don't know the full count and I can't give it to you anyway for security reasons," said Dionne, speaking to MidlandToday. He said he was thankful that no staff cases have been identified at this time. "Hopefully, it stays that way," said Dionne. "The health unit came in the other day to offer voluntary staff testing. I don't know how many staff got tested, but none of those that did, to my knowledge, have come back positive." He said the same safety protocols are being followed with staff wearing increased PPE when interacting with inmates and those incarcerated being provided with masks if needed. "There haven't been any additional measures put into place right now," said Dionne. As for the virus possibly spreading in the air, he said, every unit functions independently in terms of ventilation. "I'm very hopeful we can contain it to the one unit and not have it spread to the entire institution," Dionne said, adding the stress level among staff remains high. "The workload has increased just based on the way that the operation changes because we're limiting day-room use and following protocol around higher use of PPE. And it's also the same for inmates, he added. "They just get more and more frustrated being locked down," Dionne said. "Increased cell time is never good for anyone. That's been put out there by a number of professionals that time locked in the cell by yourself or with one other person isn't beneficial." A request for comment from the province was not received by publication time. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
County of Haliburton council decided not to up its 15 per cent corporate emissions reduction target despite staff presenting options for higher goals. It targets a 15 per cent reduction in emissions from 2018 levels by 2030. But McKay presented other options such as increasing that figure to 30 per cent to align with federal and provincial targets, or 45 per cent to follow the best science and help further limit global warming. McKay provided examples of similar municipalities aiming for different goals, from Sault Ste. Marie at 10 per cent to the District of Muskoka targeting a 50 per cent reduction by 2030. “We are seeing unprecedented levels of action by all levels of government, shifting from incremental action toward transformative action,” McKay said. “Experts are warning us this is the critical decade to maintain a livable climate … A 45 per cent reduction is one that is based in science. "Cutting our emissions essentially in half would require bold leadership but we would not be alone in this endeavour.” Councillors expressed concerns about upping the target. Deputy warden Patrick Kennedy said the County faces pressure with more people moving to the area permanently. “Fifteen (per cent) is still an admirable goal to achieve with what’s coming,” Kennedy said. Coun. Carol Moffatt said the municipalities passed budgets and she would want more information on financial implications before approving a higher target. “I would like a multi-year rough projection of what it’s going to do to our budget so we can plan and prepare for it adequately, as opposed to taking a leap of faith for the good of the world,” Moffatt said. “We need to do both.” Environment Haliburton! vice-president Terry Moore said he was upset by how the conversation played out. “The financial budget, they’re not going to matter much when we don’t have a climate that’s conducive to civilization,” Moore said. He said there is not enough of a community movement on the issue versus a place like Muskoka. He lamented the County’s approach to finish a corporate plan before beginning consultations for a separate community plan. “There is nowhere near enough pressure. Council’s not going to lead on this,” Moore said. Warden Liz Danielsen said council will look for more information from McKay as she continues her work. “We’re all recognizing it is a moving landscape,” Danielsen said. “Just because we’re not making a change today, does not mean we won’t do that down the road, and even not too long from now.” Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
LATCHFORD – Latchford Mayor George Lefebvre has let his frustration be known when it comes to the current situation surrounding insurance for municipalities. Municipal insurance rates have been on the rise and the matter has been a growing concern across the province. One specific area that Lefebvre says he has an issue with is the fact that the legal system allows municipalities to be sued for accidents that occur on major highways, which he feels shouldn’t have any bearing on the municipalities. Lefebvre says those frivolous lawsuits alone are enough to help drive up the rates when the insurance companies are forced to defend the municipalities. A highway accident is “something that has absolutely no bearing (on us) whatsoever,” he said at Latchford council’s regular meeting on February 18. “We all know, we’ve seen a number of these accidents recently. Two of them have occurred in Temagami on Highway 11 and they’re suing the Town of Latchford. It’s just absolutely ridiculous. Some people on an ATV (all-terrain vehicle), crossing the railroad track and caught trespassing on the pipeline and trespassing on the tracks, flipped the ATV and sued the Town of Latchford. Now where the hell is the justice in that?” The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and the province’s Attorney General have been looking into the matter of rising municipal insurance costs for the past couple of years, but actions were delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. One municipality reported seeing their premium increase from $120,000 to $225,000. Englehart was among the lowest, seeing their insurance rate go up eight to nine per cent this year while the Municipality of Charlton and Dack saw an increase of 36 per cent. Latchford clerk-treasurer Jaime Allen told The Speaker in an email message that the town’s rate increased by 13.5 per cent. “We had to change our provider several years ago to attempt to control the increases, so (we) fully appreciate and support the effort by the other municipalities,” said Lefebvre later in an email interview. Back at their regular meeting on January 21, Latchford council passed a resolution to support Charlton-Dack’s resolution that stands up against rising municipal insurance rates. Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker
A Milan court on Thursday lifted restrictions on the management of an Italian unit of Uber Technologies, imposed last year as part of an investigation into possible exploitation of food delivery riders, a court document showed. The court said Uber Eats Italy srl, a division of Uber Italy, had complied with judges' orders to improve working conditions for riders including on health and safety, providing necessary equipment as well as sickness and accident coverage. The president of the panel of judges told Reuters that Uber Italy had also adjusted riders' pay and now pays its riders more than the collective labour agreement signed in Italy last year.
NEW YORK — Even in a crazy year with so many ups and downs, consider the last 12 months of Aaron Tveit. The Broadway star was wowing fans in “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” when it was suddenly shuttered by the coronavirus. Then he contracted COVID-19 himself. He recovered to lend his voice to relief efforts, got a few high-profile acting gigs and then landed his first Tony nomination. “It’s hard to have perspective,” he said. “I just think that’s going to need a little bit of time and a little bit of a 25,000-foot view to see what actually happened in the last year.” Two back-to-back blows came within weeks last March when his show was shuttered and then Tveit became one of the first Broadway actors to speak publicly about contracting COVID-19. "I wanted to kind of say, ‘Look, I’m somebody that really takes care of my health and I’d like to think I’m in good shape.’ I was basically trying to say, ‘This can affect anyone. Please take this seriously,’” he said. Tveit, 37, says he now suspects he was sicker than he thought at the time. For several weeks, he slept 13 hours a day but thankfully, his lungs weren't affected. “It was like a terrible, terrible sinus infection.” A few weeks later, he had a flare-up. “In terms of lasting effects, I think I’ve been OK,” he said. “I know a lot of people that really, really suffered. So I consider myself very lucky that I got by with as mild a case as I did.” Tveit summoned the strength to lend his support for out-of-work actors — joining stars like Sutton Foster and Jeremy Jordan for a benefit concert hosted by Rosie O’Donnell and later singing “Marry Me a Little” for a Stephen Sondheim birthday celebration. “It felt so meaningful to me to be included but also the message behind it: We can still be a community, we can still learn how to come together even under these circumstances," he said. With “Moulin Rouge!” grounded, Tveit found work elsewhere. Over the summer, he shot a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie with Laura Osnes and flew to Vancouver to work on the Apple TV+ series “Schmigadoon!” “Gratitude doesn’t even describe how I feel,” he said of the employment. “I think about it every day because I know so many people who have not been able to work at all. The question of paying rent, of being able to support families and pay bills — it’s it’s truly devastating.” Tveit's first big gig was in a “Rent” tour and he made his Broadway debut as a replacement in “Hairspray” and then “Wicked.” He then had three starring roles in “Next to Normal,” “Catch Me If You Can” and now “Moulin Rouge!” His film work includes the adaptation of "Les Misérables" and on TV he was in “Graceland,” “BrainDead” and “Grease Live!” A bright spot in a dark year was when “Moulin Rouge!” earned more than a dozen Tony nominations, which the company celebrated with a Zoom toast. “I’d like to think that our show would have done as well in any year. So I’m very proud of the work that we’ve done,” he said. Tveit was the only actor nominated in the category of best leading actor in a musical for his role as Christian and it marks his first nomination. Unopposed, he’s poised to win, as long as 60% of Tony voters vote for him in the category. “It’s the most wild thing that it just worked out that way. But I’m just so grateful and I take it as nothing but as a recognition of the hard work that I put into the show,” he said. Producer Carmen Pavlovic calls Tveit a unique musical theatre actor whose vocal talent “just blows you away,” spanning ballads and all-out rock numbers. "I’m thrilled he’s received his first Tony nomination for his performance, which reflects not only his work on ‘Moulin Rouge!’ but also Aaron’s vast body of work that brings his career journey to this special moment,“ she said. Tveit sees something of a silver lining in the Broadway shutdown: Long unaddressed social issues are being examined, top among them racial representation on both sides of the curtain. While urging donations to the national services group The Actor's Fund, he also champions Black Lives Matter groups, anti-racism organizations, bail relief and transgender resources. “I’ve done a lot of listening,” he said. “I've tried to just shut my mouth and listen to everything around me and what people need and what people feel and then look at how personally I may or may not be helping.” When Broadway restarts, he hopes the hard work can continue of ensuring all people have equal access to theatre work, not just friends or those recommended. “I think that if that means for a while making a concentrated effort to look beyond the norm, then maybe five or 10 years from now hopefully we'll be in a much better place,” he said. ___ Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press
NASA's Perseverance Mars rover has continued to send stunning images of the red planet back to Earth. In this moment, an incredible shot of the Sun from the Martian surface was captured. Credit to "NASA/JPL-Caltech".
RALEIGH, N.C. — A Trump may be on the ballot next year — but not Donald Trump. The former president's daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, is eyeing the North Carolina Senate seat being vacated by Republican Richard Burr. While many in the state are skeptical she will move forward, an entrance into the race would set up a crucial test of whether Donald Trump's popularity among Republicans, which remains massive more than a month after leaving office, can translate to others. The answer to that question has implications that extend far beyond Lara Trump's political future. If Donald Trump can prove that he can help other Republicans win office, his self-appointed status as leader of the party would be validated. Losses, however, would remind Republicans of his vulnerabilities. For now, Republicans say the only thing that is certain is that Lara Trump would easily dispatch rivals in a GOP primary. “If Lara were to get in the race, I think she would command widespread and immediate attention across the state,” said Michael Whatley, chairman of the North Carolina GOP, who has said his goal going forward is “making sure that we keep all of the Trump voters that came in during the last election and convert them into reliable Republican voters.” Donald Trump fancies himself as a kingmaker in GOP politics, but his record is mixed. Under his leadership, Republicans lost control of the House in 2018. When he was on the ballot again last year, Republicans mounted a strong performance in congressional races, coming much closer than expected to retaking the House. But the GOP lost two Georgia Senate seats — and the majority — in January despite a last minute campaign push from Trump. The 38-year-old Lara Trump is married to the former president's son, Eric. A former television producer, she has never held public office and declined to comment for this story. While many in North Carolina privately doubt Lara Trump will ultimately seek the Senate seat, she's being encouraged by South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally who has warned the party against abandoning the former president. She is still considering a run for the Senate seat, according to two people who have spoken with her recently and requested anonymity to discuss private conversations. While she would need to move her young family to the state, the Wilmington, North Carolina native, is deeply familiar with the state and its voters after campaigning there extensively in 2016 and 2020, according to one of the people. She was a key surrogate for her father-in-law and named her second child Carolina. She also likes the idea of being the next Trump to run for something, even as a test to her father-in-law mounting a comeback in 2024, the other said. The former president's daughter, Ivanka, recently said she wouldn't challenge Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio and his son, Donald Trump, Jr., is believed to be uninterested in seeking office himself. For Trump loyalists, there would be a certain satisfaction in a family member succeeding Burr, who was one of just seven Senate Republicans who voted to convict the former president in an impeachment trial for inciting the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. “Stay tuned,” she said last week in an interview on Fox News Channel, adding that she was keeping the option “open.” If she opted for a run, Lara Trump would have to contend with a rapidly changing state. While Donald Trump defeated Joe Biden in North Carolina last year, his margin — 1.3 percentage points — shrank in half from 2016. That's driven by a politically active Black population and an influx of voters into areas like Charlotte and the Raleigh suburbs. Earning their votes will be crucial given doubts that anyone besides the former president will be able to turn out the waves of largely rural, new voters Trump attracted both in 2016 and 2020. “Without Trump on the ballot, Republicans have a turnout issue they have to address. However, without Trump on the ballot, Democrats have a turnout issue they have to address,” said Paul Shumaker, a longtime Republican consultant in the state, referring to the energy Trump inspired on the left. So far, the Senate race has just one declared GOP candidate: Mark Walker, a former congressman and pastor. He represents the bind Republicans in North Carolina find themselves in. In an interview, Walker was eager to note he met with Trump “many times” in the Oval Office and recounted how the former president encouraged him to run in 2019 when he was mulling a campaign for Sen. Thom Tillis’s seat. He insisted Donald Trump remains a powerful force in politics. “I don’t think that’s any question at this point, if you pay attention to the political lens, that the Republican political party goes through Donald Trump in terms of his influence on the party as whole,” Walker said. Still, Walker noted the need for Republicans to attract a broader swath of voters beyond Trump's core base. “We want President Trump’s support. We want Mitch McConnell’s support. We want Democrats to support us because we have a message that resonates,” he said. “I truly believe that there’s a space to be able to do both, to be that conservative champion but also be that bridge-builder.” Walker’s team tried to secure a meeting with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, over the weekend while Walker was visiting the state for the Conservative Political Action Conference, where both men spoke. But the two men didn't connect. Trump’s team has been “tapping the brakes a little bit” on rolling out endorsements as they work to develop a framework for choosing candidates, a spokesman said. ___ Colvin reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Jonathan Lemire contributed to this report from New York. Jill Colvin And Bryan Anderson, The Associated Press
The dining room in Katie Rioux's Quebec City restaurant has been closed since the fall, and she expected her business would remain a takeout-only operation for weeks to come, if not longer. On Wednesday, though, the owner of Café Krieghoff received some unexpected good news. Premier François Legault announced he was scaling back health restrictions in several regions, allowing Rioux and countless other restaurant owners to serve customers sitting inside for the first time in five months. "Honestly, we could not have gotten better news than this," said Rioux, who also promised to do her part to ensure Quebec City does not go back to being a red zone. "As restaurant owners, we will do everything we can. I think the population is also on our side." Café Krieghoff owner Katie Rioux can't wait to serve sitting customers at her Quebec City restaurant for the first time in five months. (Radio-Canada) However, some public health experts say the Quebec government's decision to roll back restrictions to this extent is too hasty. Following March break, the Quebec City region will be joined by the Eastern Townships, Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Québec and Chaudières-Appalaches as the latest to be downgraded from red to orange zones. In these regions, gyms and show venues will be allowed to reopen, houses of worship will be able to take in as many as 100 people at a time. The government is also dropping the requirement that all primary school students must wear a medical grade mask. The nightly curfew remains, but will kick in at 9:30 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. "I would have preferred to wait until at least one week after the holiday week, because then we would be able to see the impact of the vacation on the increase of cases everywhere in Quebec," said Dr. Cécile Tremblay, a microbiologist and infectious diseases specialist at the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal. "We know that people from Montreal travel to other regions, and we won't know the result of that until two weeks from now." The race between variants and vaccines Legault's announcement came a day after Health Minister Christian Dubé and Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda held a news conference of their own, during which they warned Quebecers about the growing spread of coronavirus variants. "The ocean is calm at the moment ... but underneath there are sharks," Arruda said, "and I'll tell you what those sharks are: they're the variants." The decision to remove restrictions in places outside of the greater Montreal area seems to reflect data showing that variants are gaining more ground in Montreal than elsewhere in the province. On Wednesday, Legault said spikes in cases and hospitalizations were expected in and around Montreal, and those projections played a major role in the government's most recent announcement. But Prativa Baral, an epidemiologist with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says the province is squandering a golden opportunity to deal a crushing blow to the virus. Seniors arrive for their COVID-19 vaccination at a clinic in the Olympic Stadium in Montreal.(Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press) With more and more Quebecers set to get vaccinated, Baral says the government should focus on its inoculation campaign while limiting contacts as much as possible, in an effort to keep the spread of variants under control. "For us to be loosening restrictions now, is too premature. We don't want to be reactive, we want to be proactive for once," Baral said. "At this point, it's more of a virus versus vaccine race, and we really want to make sure that we're pushing the vaccine segment to win, as opposed the variant segment." The province's latest projections for the spread COVID-19 appear to reinforce the importance of winning that race. According to the mathematical modelling published by the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) on Thursday, lowering the province's collective guard could provoke a rapid spike in new infections that could reach between 3,000 and 4,000 cases per day. It also seems possible, perhaps even likely given the presence of infectious variants, that Quebec will experience a third wave. Sticking with the low-socialization and low-contact measures that were in place from January and February might not entirely prevent another peak this spring in terms of daily infections, but it could keep hospitalization numbers and fatalities low. Marc Brisson, the director of the Université Laval mathematical modelling group that conducts the INSPQ's COVID-19 forecasts, said the model doesn't account for the government's latest announcement, but does include increased inter-regional travel and social contacts from March break. "If we can accelerate vaccination ... and follow public health guidelines, then at that point our model is saying we could stay at a number of cases that would be relatively stable. However, if vaccination slows down and there's more contact, then a third wave is predicted," he said. There is some good news in the projections, however. The model supports the government's contention that there are two distinct epidemiological realities in Quebec: greater Montreal, and the rest of the province. The fact there is lower community spread outside the province's largest urban agglomeration means it's less likely the variant strains will spread. "The race is how many vulnerable people we can protect with vaccination and ... can that variant infect the most vulnerable among us?" he said. The key, Brisson concluded, is continued adherence to public health measures, which "would buy time for the vaccine to take its effect."
Le secteur de l’électricité jouera un rôle clé dans la réduction des gaz à effet de serre. Améliorer le transport sur de longues distances permettrait de distribuer une énergie propre à moindre coût.
To anyone looking into Kim Switzer’s backyard last week, they might have seen what looked to be Switzer playing with her son, Memphis. But despite the singing, the dancing, the laughter, and the pure joy on their faces, the pair were actually working; tromping around in snowshoes in a very particular way to create a 12-foot-wide flat circle in the snow that would serve as the starting point for a backyard igloo. The joy was much needed for Switzer, who thrives when she is outside but has found it difficult to do so this winter in the way she needs for optimum mental health. “For me, it’s pure joy,” she said. “I love nature, it’s rejuvenating for me. It’s uplifting.” Being a single mom of three, homeschooling her kids, experiencing the death of a parent and the loss of a business, all while living through the pandemic and experiencing a lack of winter camping left Switzer feeling discouraged. “My whole winter has been [hard], I haven’t been out, I haven’t been out anywhere,” she said. Then, the kindness of a stranger and the connection made available through social media turned Switzer’s winter around. An avid outdoorsperson herself, she follows like-minded people on social media for ideas, inspiration and friendship. When she saw Martin Pine, who is from Huntsville, share about igloos he was making, she quickly sent him a message asking if he might come to her house and build one in her yard. “The next thing I know, I get a message in my inbox that says, ‘you’re like the third person who’s asked me about building an igloo in their yard, and you’re the only one that’s actually close enough that could actually make it possible,’” she said. Switzer was exuberant with excitement, in the manner, she said, of “a little kid in a candy shop.” “And I still am,” she said, the week after the igloo was built. After she and Memphis had created the starting point in the yard for the igloo, Pine visited the backyard and helped to teach Switzer the technique he has perfected using a contraption called, fittingly, an Icebox Igloo Tool. “He pops open this little itty, bitty, tiny, square box that I would say is definitely less than six inches thick, and maybe a foot wide by 18 inches long,” she said. “It folds all up and it’s meant to strap on your back so you can take it anywhere.” With the Icebox Igloo Tool, Switzer said Pine can generally build an igloo in about four or five hours but she said it took them more time as she was asking questions and learning the process of packing the snow, following the angle guide and creating an igloo that can hold the weight of a person leaning against it. “There were plenty of times where he was like, ‘you’re so concentrated,’” she said. “I was just soaking it all in. I learned so much about snow, and even going around the circle I learned how snow changes state ever so slightly. In the shade, it packs this way, but as you come around and you’re in the sun, it becomes a little more wet, and a little bit more sticky … How different snow packs and moves and blends, it’s pretty wild, actually.” When it was finished, Switzer said she was able to get her much-needed outdoor time, sleeping overnight in the igloo, spending time in it with her ukulele, even eating a take-out meal from the Mill Pond restaurant in the shelter. Pine’s unmonetized YouTube channel has almost 10,000 subscribers and his instructional videos of canoe camping, winter camping, bushcraft, meal preparation and igloo construction have accumulated thousands of views. “I love backcountry camping and I have always lamented that so few people avail themselves of the opportunities we have here in Ontario for getting out into nature and camping in the backcountry,” he told the Times. “I determined many years ago that what keeps people from camping in the backcountry – as opposed to say, car camping in a serviced site in a park – is a simple lack of practical knowledge about how to go about [it].” He shares his knowledge online and was happy to help Switzer learn how to make her own igloo in her backyard – for the price of a cup of coffee or two. “As a boy, growing up in rural Quebec, I loved making and camping in snow shelters called quinzhees, which is essentially a large pile of shovelled snow which one then hollows out to resemble a crude igloo-like shelter,” said Pine. Pine said he knew that igloos were sturdier shelters that could remain standing longer and would not result in the builder getting soaked in their creation. “But the Inuit built their igloos out of a type of snow that is not found in this part of the country, namely hard-sintered, wind-packed snow, which can then be shaped during the building process.” Pine purchased the Icebox Igloo Tool, an invention created by an American mountaineer in Colorado, “Igloo Ed,” that allows him to make snow bricks regardless of the snow conditions. While Switzer’s igloo has suffered in recent weather conditions, she sees the resulting hole in the top of the igloo as an opportunity – one to provide a chance to look up at the stars, and also, to learn about how to fix the problem in her own backyard igloo as experience for if she builds one at another time in backcountry. “I’ve got to learn, and you learn from trial and error, mistakes, whatever it might be,” she said. “It’s been four or five days of just an abundance of information.” The igloo in the backyard of her Carnarvon home has lifted her spirits tremendously. “This is the highlight of my winter,” said Switzer. “That right there made my entire winter.” For more information, visit Pine’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/PineMartyn. Sue Tiffin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Minden Times
The Peace River Regional District will be going ahead with plans for a new public library in Chetwynd, after board directors voted in favour of issuing requests for proposals for design and construction at their Feb. 25 meeting. The new library is a joint effort between Area E and Chetwynd. A lean-to style building is being floated as one possible option. Costs are capped at $5 million. “This has been going on for awhile, we’re trying to get costs down to something we can afford,” said Director Dan Rose. “We’ve got floor plans and ideas of what it might look like, so they’re not starting from scratch.” He added the library has extensive experience working remotely as a satellite office. "We’re certainly willing to accommodate as many communities as we can, with our services. I’m sure we could make agreements with everybody on how to do that,” said Rose. Fort St John Mayor Ackerman agreed a regional approach could be a good move for libraries in the Peace. “I’m totally open to having that conversation, even though the library in Fort St John is not a municipal library,” said Ackerman. “If you’re suggesting a regional library, I’m on that bandwagon.” Dawson Creek Mayor Dale Bumstead says the city will lend a hand if Chetwynd needs. “I appreciate how busy it is in Chetwynd right now. If they have any trouble at all in locating a site or land for this Chetwynd Public Library, we’d be happy to help facilitate that partnership with them, and construct it in Dawson Creek,” said Bumstead, jokingly. email@example.com Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News
WASHINGTON — A key Senate committee on Thursday approved the nomination of New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland to be interior secretary, clearing the way for a Senate vote that is likely to make her the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved Haaland's nomination, 11-9, sending it to the Senate floor. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski was the lone Republican to support Haaland, who won unanimous backing from committee Democrats. Murkowski, a former chair of the committee, said she had “some real misgivings” about Haaland, because of her support for policies that Murkowski said could impede Alaska's reliance on oil and other fossil fuels. But the senator said she would place her “trust” in Haaland's word that she would work with her and other Alaskans to support the state. Her vote comes with a warning, Murkowski added: She expects Haaland “will be true to her word” to help Alaska. Haaland was not in the committee room, but Murkowski addressed her directly, saying, "I will hold you to your commitments.'' “Quite honestly,'' Murkowski added, ”we need you to be a success.'' Democratic Sens. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Maria Cantwell of Washington state both called the committee vote historic, and both said they were disappointed at the anti-Haaland rhetoric used by several Republicans. Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the panel's top Republican, and other GOP senators have repeatedly called Haaland's views “radical” and extreme. Heinrich said two interior secretaries nominated by former President Donald Trump could be called “radical” for their support of expanded drilling and other resource extraction, but he never used that word to describe them. Under the leadership of Cantwell and Murkowski, the energy panel has been bipartisan and productive in recent years, Heinrich said, adding that he hopes that tradition continues. The committee vote follows an announcement Wednesday by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, that she will support Haaland in the full Senate. Her vote, along with Murkowski's, makes Haaland’s confirmation by the Senate nearly certain. The panel's chairman, Sen. Joe Manchin, announced his support for Haaland last week. Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, said Thursday that he does not agree with Haaland on a variety of issues, including the Keystone XL oil pipeline, but was impressed by the strong endorsement by Alaska Rep. Don Young, a conservative Republican who is the longest-serving member of the House and has forged a strong working relationship with the liberal Haaland. As a former governor, Manchin also said he knows how important it is for a president to have his “team on board” in the Cabinet. “It is long past time to give a Native American woman a seat at the Cabinet table,'' he said. Interior oversees the nation’s public lands and waters and leads relations with nearly 600 federally recognized tribes. Barrasso, who has led opposition to Haaland, said her hostility to fracking, the Keystone XL oil pipeline and other issues made her unfit to serve in a position in which she will oversee energy development on vast swaths of federal lands, mostly in the West, as well as offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska. Barrasso said a moratorium imposed by Biden on oil and gas leases on federal lands “is taking a sledgehammer to Western states’ economies.? The moratorium, which Haaland supports, could cost thousands of jobs in West, Barrasso said. Matthew Daly, The Associated Press
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada says poor weather and visibility were factors in a fatal plane crash in northeast Kingston, Ont., in November 2019. Pilot Otabek Oblokulov, his wife and their children ages five, 10 and 14 from Houston, Texas, were killed. Oblokulov's brother-in-law Bobomurod Nabiev and his wife Sabina Usmanova from Toronto also died in the crash. The Piper PA-32 plane, better known as a Cherokee Six, was travelling Nov. 27, 2019 from Buttonville Municipal Airport in Markham, Ont., to Quebec City, said the Transportation Safety Board (TSB). The plane made contact with Kingston's flight service station — a facility that provides information to pilots — before crashing some time after 5 p.m. ET in a heavily wooded, swampy area in the city's northwest. In its report released Thursday, the TSB said the pilot gave the wrong position to his contact in Kingston about two minutes before impact. He was turning away from the airport when they last spoke, before climbing, rolling and dropping. TSB said he had only flown in Texas and it doesn't know if he checked any other weather sources than an app showing a wider look at the United States and areas along the Canadian border, which showed mixed precipitation. If he had, the TSB said he would likely have seen forecasts that would have required the use of instruments to determine the plane's altitude. There was mist and moderate to severe turbulence in the area at the time of the crash, along with a relative lack of lights on the ground. "At that point, there would be little or no visual reference to the surface during the portions of this flight. And that can be a difficult thing for a pilot who does not have an instrument rating," said Ken Webster, lead TSB investigator on the crash. The flight plan map, starting in Markham, Ont.() Oblokulov had received his private pilot certificate in 2018 and had little experience flying with instruments, according to the report. This means he was flying under visual flight rules (VFR), which relies on eyesight. "Given the pilot's limited flying experience ... it's likely they did not recognize all of the hazards associated with flying a night VFR flight into deteriorating weather conditions," Webster said. "He likely became especially disoriented and lost control of the aircraft." The Transportation safety Board removed the wreckage from an area near Creekford Road and Bayridge Drive in Kingston, Ont. (Transportation Safety Board) The TSB said it has investigated five similar fatal crashes since 2013 and has recommended Transport Canada clarify its rules around flying under VFR at night. The board said Transport Canada is in the process of drafting changes to its rules and has sent reminders to pilots about the risks of those kinds of flights.
Ottawa has come up with a simpler way to claim expenses for that spare room or corner that became a makeshift office last spring when pandemic lockdowns went into effect across the country. In addition to the detailed method for claiming home office costs, the federal government announced a new temporary flat rate method last year with the specific aim of making taxes a little easier in these trying times. Experts say the new flat rate method is quick and easy, but using the detailed method may yield a better outcome, depending on your circumstances and it is worth checking out both ways to make sure you're getting the best deal. Edward Rajaratnam, executive director at EY Canada, said the detailed method may be better for renters than homeowners because of their ability to claim a portion of their rent, which could increase the size of their deduction beyond the $400 cap placed on the flat rate option. However, he said, the temporary flat rate method is simpler as the name would imply. "The beauty of this is it is a flat rate, it is $2 a day up to a maximum of $400 and the second beauty of that is that you actually do not need to maintain receipts," he said. "Everybody who has been working from home, they have been busy with work, so just imagine them trying to find receipts." You don't get to count days off, vacation days, sick leave days or other leaves of absence, so you might not reach the 200 days needed to max out the flat rate claim of $400. However, they don't have to be full days of work to qualify. Even if you only worked part of the day, you can claim the $2 for that day. While the flat rate method is easy, Gerry Vittoratos, national tax specialist at UFile, says you still should ask your employer to complete the Canada Revenue Agency form that allows you to use the detailed method if it turns out to yield you a better return. "You might get more if you go with the detailed method, don't prevent yourself from claiming that," Vittoratos said, noting that CRA has simplified the forms this year to make it easier for companies to provide them for employees. "Do the comparison between the two and see which one is better for you. It might turn out the detailed method is a lot better." To qualify under both methods you need to have worked more than 50 per cent of the time from home for a period of at least four consecutive weeks in 2020. Unlike the flat rate method, The detailed method requires a thorough accounting of actual expenses which need to be supported by receipts. But, unlike the flat rate method your total deduction is not capped at $400, so you could end up saving more. Eligible expenses include things like office supplies but also a share of expenses such as utilities, home internet access fees, maintenance and minor repairs. Renters can claim a potion of their rent, but homeowners cannot claim mortgage payments. You cannot claim expenses for which you were reimbursed by your employer. If you're using the detailed method and looking to claim some of your utilities or rent, you'll need to figure out how much of your home was used for work. If you had a spare room that became your designated office, the proportion that you can claim is the same as the proportion that space takes up in your house. So if your spare bedroom turned office makes up 10 per cent of the square footage of your home, then you get to claim 10 per cent of expenses like utilities for the time you spend working at home. But the calculation becomes more complicated if you were using your kitchen table or dining room, spaces that also served another purpose in your home in addition to a workspace as you can only claim for the time the space was used for work. Vittoratos says if you're considering using the detailed method it is important to know how big your home is and what proportion was used for work, as your accountant will need it to figure out what is best for you. "Have all the information in front of you. Make sure that everything is in order so you get the maximum return possible," he said. Rajaratnam noted that the flat rate deduction is per individual. So if you live with someone and you both worked from home you could both make a flat rate claim. "If you and your spouse are both working from home ... both of you can claim $400 each and you do not need to show expenses, as long as you have been working from home," he said. However, he says, everybody needs to consider their own circumstances to figure out what is best for their tax return. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Craig Wong, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada will review a decision to order a new trial for an Alberta man convicted of murder. Russell Steven Tessier was charged with first-degree murder in 2015, eight years after Allan Gerald Berdahl's body was found in a ditch near Carstairs. Berdahl died from gunshot wounds to the head, and there were tire tracks, footprints and two cigarette butts near the scene. Tessier was convicted in 2018 but Alberta's Court of Appeal later ordered a new trial. The appeal court said the trial judge made legal errors concerning the voluntariness of statements Tessier made to police. As usual, the Supreme Court gave no reasons for agreeing to hear the case. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
A local resident’s request for a street light to be installed in front of his house has been denied. Oshawa city staff met with resident Don Smith following direction by council at its Sept. 28, 2020 meeting to review the installation of a street light at 2770 Wilson Rd. N. Due to the pandemic, the meetings took place over the phone. In a previous letter to the city, Smith requested the light be installed on an existing pole at the south driveway entrance of his property due to damage and safety concerns. “Being the last residential property on the road, the multiple incidents of garbage dumping, vandalism, and use of my property from a night time parking spot, my request is reasonable,” he writes. Smith also noted he would come home at night on several occasions to find a car in the dark in his driveway. “At best I think people could be having medical issues and need to get off the road, but the toilet paper, tissues and used sanitary napkins they leave for me to pick up and dispose of suggests to me something different,” he says. Councillor Rosemary McConkey says not having a street light in this area is a major concern. “This is a concern to anyone that lives in a situation like the current owner of this property,” she says. “We can accommodate this resident and the last thing we want to hear is about parties happening, which is a major problem.” Councillor John Neal agreed with McConkey, noting it’s a safety issue. “Safe and reliable infrastructure should be across the whole city, not just selected areas,” he says. However, Councillor John Gray, who sits on the community services committee, says the committee gave this issue a great deal of consideration. “It’s the fact that it’s going to cost $20,000 to put up a street light,” he says, noting the advantage of living in a rural area is the dark. “My impression of a rural area is that you have the advantage of a night sky. Here in the city it’s harder to see a night sky,” he continues, adding the cost for the project is quite expensive and doesn’t compare to the other advantages. According to a city report, street lighting in the area along Wilson Road North is limited due to the current Oshawa Power & Utilities Corp. (OPUC) hydro infrastructure, noting “street lights require a secondary conductor for power, and the majority of the poles on Wilson Road North do not currently have this secondary power supply.” The report states there is a hydro pole with a street light located across the street at 2765 Wilson Road North, which was installed in 2017 at the request of a local resident. According to staff, this was the only hydro pole along Wilson Road North that had access to secondary power for a new streetlight. Staff say there are three hydro poles located north of 2765 Wilson Road North, including one hydro pole at Smith’s property, however none of these poles have a secondary supply required for street lighting. According to a quote from OPUC, it is possible for a secondary cable line to be installed at the city’s expense of $12,000. Furthermore, due to the fact OPUC deemed the pole at the end of Smith’s driveway unsafe due to the existing high voltage line connection on the pole that extends down the pole to provide underground service to this property and existing wiring, a new pole would need to be installed as well. Therefore, the total cost of the project to install a new hydro pole and street light, as well as two more lights on the other two existing poles, would cost the city $20,000. Due to the area of the city in which the resident lives and the high cost of the project, council approved staff’s recommendation to deny Smith’s request for a street light. Courtney Bachar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Oshawa Express