Here's the latest for Wednesday December 23rd: Trump suggests he might not sign COVID relief bill; Trump pardons 15 people; Surgeon General observes vaccine rollout in Chicago; California Gov. names Senate replacement for Kamala Harris.
Here's the latest for Wednesday December 23rd: Trump suggests he might not sign COVID relief bill; Trump pardons 15 people; Surgeon General observes vaccine rollout in Chicago; California Gov. names Senate replacement for Kamala Harris.
An envoy hired to defuse tensions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous commercial lobster fishermen in Nova Scotia has released a bleak interim report highlighting poor communication and a lack of trust between both sides. The report by Université Sainte-Anne president Allister Surette found perhaps the only thing the fishermen can agree on is blaming the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for the situation. "The lack of trust and respect has been presented to me by many of the individuals I interviewed," Surette said in his interim report filed with Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan and Carolyn Bennett, minister for Indigenous-Crown relations. "Firstly, I have heard from Indigenous and non-Indigenous parties of the lack of trust in government," Surette wrote. "Added to this level of the lack of trust and respect, some interviewed also expressed the lack of trust and respect within parties involved in the fishery and I also heard of the lack of trust and respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals, stakeholder groups and organizations." Appointed by Ottawa Surette was named special federal representative by the Trudeau government after an outbreak of violence and protests at the launch of an Indigenous moderate livelihood lobster fishery by the Sipekne'katik band in St. Marys Bay last fall. The band cited the Mi'kmaq's right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood, recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999 but never defined by Ottawa. The fishery was conducted outside of the regulated season for commercial lobster licence holders in Lobster Fishing Area 34, who objected saying the fishery was a blatant violation of fishery regulations. The reaction included alleged assaults, arson, blockades, volleys of wharfside profanity and online venom. It garnered international attention. The blowup capped years of tensions over an escalating Sipekne'katik food, social and ceremonial lobster fishery in St. Marys Bay that was, in some cases, used as a cloak for a commercial fishery. Lobster caught under food, social and ceremonial licences cannot be sold. In one case, a Crown prosecutor said the lobster caught under those licences from Sipekne'katik supplied an international "black market operation." Despite a number of federal initiatives to integrate the Mi'kmaq into the fishery since 1999 — including half a billion dollars for training and buying out and providing commercial licences — there has been a lack of progress defining moderate livelihood and implementing the fishery. Expectations of the First Nations were not met, leaving many of them to doubt the sincerity of DFO, Surette reported. Debate over enforcement Surette said the issue is complex and will not be easily solved. Non-Indigenous fishermen have argued there is not enough enforcement when it comes to Indigenous lobster fishing while the bands have complained of harassment. "However, the point to note on this matter, and more closely related to my mandate, seems to be the lack of clear direction from the government of Canada and the multiple facets and complexity of implementing the right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood," he said in the report. Surette's mandate is not to negotiate but rather to "restore confidence, improve relations" and make recommendations to the politicians. His interim report calls for more dialogue to build trust, suggesting areas of declared common interest like conservation and marketing. A lack of information from DFO was a recurrent complaint from the commercial fishermen, said Surette. "There should be some type of formal process for the non-Indigenous to be kept up to speed, especially the harvesters, since this could affect their livelihood. Some process, even though they're not involved in negotiation, that they could have input or at least understand what's going on," he told CBC Radio's Information Morning on Friday. Improving communication He made three suggestions for improving communication: a clearinghouse for accurate information, a formal process for talks between the commercial industry and the government of Canada, and forums to create a "safe space" to talk on important issues without extreme emotions. Surette interviewed 85 people — 81 per cent were non-Indigenous. "In some cases, they were heavily focused on the fishery. Others said that they preferred dealing with the ministers at this present time," he told CBC News. Surette said he will be reaching out to gather more perspectives. MORE TOP STORIES
Saskatchewan will start to stretch out the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses, as supplies run short. Second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine will be administered up to 42 days after the first dose. Official guidelines say the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is meant to be given as two doses, 21 days apart, while Moderna recommends spacing doses 28 days apart. The National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI), a body made up of scientists and vaccine experts, say provinces should follow the dosing schedule as closely as possible, but the panel is now offering some wiggle room. WATCH | Canada's COVID-19 vaccine advisory committee approves delaying 2nd dose NACI recommends spacing out the doses up to 42 days when necessary. The recommendation is also supported by the World Health Organization and Canada's chief medical health officer. "The flexibility provided by a reasonable extension of the dose interval to 42 days where operationally necessary, combined with increasing predictability of vaccine supply, support our public health objective to protect high-risk groups as quickly as possible," reads a statement released Thursday from Dr. Theresa Tam, as well as the provincial and territorial chief medical officers of health. The same day, Saskatchewan announced it would further space out its doses. "Saskatchewan will be implementing these recommendations of up to 42 days where operationally necessary in order to deliver more first doses to eligible people," the government of Saskatchewan said in a news release. WATCH | Dr. Howard Njoo addresses questions on taking first and second dose of vaccine 42 days apart: Saskatchewan's supply runs short As of Friday, 96 per cent of the province's vaccines have been administered, and new supplies coming in are not enough to replenish what has been used. Pfizer has said it will not ship a single vial of its highly effective vaccine to Canada next week as the pharmaceutical giant retools its production facility in Puurs, Belgium, to boost capacity. Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, says it's very reassuring to have the length between doses extended to 42 days. "When there's a sudden, further disruption that does present challenges," Shahab said during a news conference on Tuesday. "Most provinces are able to give the second dose of both Pfizer and Moderna within 42 days ... and that becomes very important with the disruption of shipment." Scott Livingstone, the CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, agreed. "It does mitigate some of the decreased doses coming in. We also know through contact with the federal government that once the Pfizer plant is back online, they'll be increasing our shipment," Livingstone said during Tuesday's news conference. Livingstone said the new shipments coming in will be allocated for an individual's first and second shot. WATCH | Canada facing delays in vaccine rollout More vaccines on the way Another shipment of vaccines will arrive in Saskatchewan on Feb. 1, says the government. The province is expecting 5,850 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine and 6,500 doses of Moderna's vaccine. The government says they will be distributed to the Far North West, Far North East, North East and Central West. A second shipment of 7,100 doses from Moderna will arrive on Feb. 22, and will be distributed to the Far North East, North East and Central East. "Our immunization team is trying to be as nimble as possible knowing that we could at any time through the pandemic receive more vaccines, but also then having to readjust our targets and still focusing on the most needy in this Phase 1, and we will continue to do that as vaccine supply keeps coming back up," Livingstone said.
Nipissing First Nation Chief Scott McLeod says the public health directive supporting in-class learning in northern Ontario schools is more political than scientific. The community’s high school opted to keep Nbissing students online until at least February 16 after the province extended its COVID-19 pandemic emergency order. The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit is one of the few in Ontario to support in-class learning, a decision panned by many in light of it closing down toboggan hills, outdoor skating rinks and snowmobile trails. “We're just trying to deal with the Covid and we just shut our rinks down and we're just kind of monitoring what provinces and municipalities are doing and making sure that we're consistent or more stringent in areas like our school being closed,” McLeod said about Nbisiing Secondary School Thursday. “It's all online right now, despite the provinces still allowing it, at least in northern Ontario, the high schools are still open,” he said, noting that seems to be out of step with what some provincial experts are saying. “I was listening to Dr. Kevin Brown. He's the co-chair of the Covid Science Table for Ontario,” said Chief McLeod. “He was giving an update to the Chiefs of Ontario and he honestly can't understand why the schools in northern Ontario are still open. And you know, that, to me was troublesome, right? ‘You have one of the top epidemiologists saying that he doesn't understand. I was expecting ‘Here, this is the data, shows this or that,” because I like listening to the data, not just listening to people rant on Facebook. But, yeah, he was lost for an answer as to why it's still open. “And so obviously it's a more political call than a science one,” McLeod said. The school posted the update on its website, as did the community. “In response to Ontario’s second declaration of emergency and to align Nbisiing with Nipissing First Nation’s response to the provincewide stay-at-home order and shutdown restrictions, Nipissing First Nation (NFN) Council has approved changes to Nbisiing’s return to in-person learning date,” it reads. “In order to keep people home as much as possible to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19 in our community, protect vulnerable populations, and keep our school community safe, Nbisiing will continue to teach all classes virtually and will return to in-person learning on Tuesday, February 16th, 2021 (Monday the 15th is Family Day).” Nipissing FN only closed its outdoor rink in Garden Village, which is enclosed with walls and roof, because they don’t want people from outside the community taking advantage of it while their rinks are ordered closed. “Our problem with the skating rinks, as soon as North Bay and Sturgeon closed, we have to close because they all come down hours and we don't want them there,” he said. Chief McLeod did what many others are doing in response by creating their own ice sheets, whether that’s in a yard or on the lake. They can control the numbers and make it safe by following the known protocols, he added. “Well, I made one in my backyard and I Facebooked all my family members saying, ‘You want to come skating with your family, book it … just message me so I know that there's no other family there and you can have it to yourself.’” Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada. Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
With January usually comes the overheard motivational sentences such as new year, new me or no pain, no gain. Kanehsata’kehró:non Kaniehtawaks Lauder wanted to go beyond that mentality. The Pilates instructor was longing for a sacred space where people could discuss mental, physical, spiritual and environmental wellness. Launched on January 17, the Embody Classroom, an eight-week online program, is dedicated to self-growth. “We know that we all have our own trauma and struggles,” said Lauder. “No human is okay 100 percent of the time and that is something I want to emphasize and normalize.” With the Embody Classroom, Lauder encourages the participants to journal while exploring difficult topics through movement and breath work. Within a few minutes of announcing the initiative, her class was full. “It’s awesome because I’m able to connect, even if virtually, with friends and family in not only Kanesatake and Kahnawake, but also in BC, Akwesasne and Six Nations,” said Lauder. Her workshop touches on mental wellness awareness, suicide prevention, stress techniques, alcohol and drug abuse, and the menstrual cycle. “I aim to revitalize the connectedness our culture once had with balancing wellness,” said the 27-year-old instructor. “I want to talk about the affects intergenerational trauma has had on First Nations people; disconnection to land, culture, foods, herbs and ways of being; learning how to nourish ourselves through plant medicines, mindful meditation and learning to enjoy yourself.” Lauder has always been an active person. From a very young age, you could find her either practicing gymnastics, cheerleading, figure skating, or kickboxing. But she knows that not every Onkwehón:we had that kind of luck. “I am doing this for my ancestors who were deprived of the right to move, dance, celebrate, teach, communicate,” said Lauder. “I want to be a leader for our youth. I want to see our communities flourish with happier and more vibrant, resilient individuals.” Lauder explained that she witnessed her community bloom in 2017 when Kanehsatake CrossFit (KCF) opened. Back then, there were no Pilates instructors in Kanesatake, and Lauder saw an opportunity. “It became a safe place for me and many other individuals,” she said. “I gained confidence and a sense of clarity, sense of purpose.” While she started exploring basic yoga a few years earlier, as she experienced intense chronic back pain, the CrossFit gym was the push she needed to get official certification. At the same time, recalled Lauder, her sister was taking Pilates classes at John Abbott College and recommended that she joined her. “I was hooked. I dove in, scared as hell, nervous, unsure…. excited,” said Lauder. Her sister wasn’t the only family member who inspired Lauder. She said that she was deeply influenced by her mother, Isabelle Nicholas, who was only 32 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Lauder said her mother completely changed the way she was cooking, started to take time for herself to be more active, leading her daughters to find better ways to nourish themselves. “I am grateful to have such a powerful role model in my life,” said Lauder. With the encouragement of KCF’s owners, Kaneratiio Simon and Julie Anne David, Lauder obtained her Pilates certification and launched Embody Pilates in 2018 - Pilates classes she offered both in Kanesatake and Kahnawake. “I decided that I do not have to be a doctor in order to help people,” said Lauder. “Pilates gave me a sense of being. I feel my best, my most powerful when I am moving around my stagnant energy.” Inevitably, the pandemic forced Lauder to slow her practice down. No more pulling double shifts in between the two communities, or monthly trips to Toronto for further training certification. She became so used to being busy and exhausted that she did not know how to simply do nothing. “My sense of purpose, my passions, my motivation were spiralling and I began to feed my fear, anxiety, depression, scary and overwhelming thoughts and emotions,” said Lauder. In a sense, she created Embody Classroom not only to offer a safe space for others, but also for herself to grow. “I am not a professional in every subject that we are going to cover. That’s the point. I will learn and f*** up alongside my students,” she said. “We are only human. We experience one life in this body. I choose to step out of my own comfort zone to better myself, so that I can help people.” email@example.com Virginie Ann, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door
The federal government is mulling a mandatory quarantine in hotels for returning travellers as the country's top doctor warns that easing COVID-19 restrictions too quickly could cause case numbers to shoot up again. The federal government is also looking at other options that would make it harder for people to return from foreign trips, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday. He said it's time to "kill the second wave of the virus." Monday will mark a year since the first recorded appearance of the novel coronavirus in Canada. Trudeau said it is understandable that Canadians are tired and fed up, but they must remain cautious. “We need to hang on and hold tight for the next few months,” he said. “We must get through to the spring and mass vaccinations in the best shape possible.” Trudeau said the next few weeks will be challenging for vaccine supply as Pfizer-BioNTech slows deliveries to Canada and other countries while the company retools its plant in Belgium. The prime minister said Pfizer-BioNTech has committed to ensuring Canada will receive four million vaccine doses by the end of March. Provinces have reported a total of 738,864 vaccine doses used so far. That's about 80 per cent of the available supply. COVID-19 cases began to spike across the country in December and January, which put a strain on hospitals. Quebec and Ontario were particularly hard hit and officials responded with restrictions. Quebec instituted a curfew, while Ontario brought in an order for people to stay at home except for essential purposes such as work, food shopping or health care. Daily case numbers have slightly decreased in Ontario in the last week. There were 2,662 new cases Friday and 87 more deaths. The seven-day average of new daily cases was 2,703, down from a high of 3,555 on Jan. 11. There were 1,512 people in hospital on Friday, a decrease of 21 from the previous day. COVID-19 continued to pressure some local hospitals, so Ottawa said it would send two federal mobile health units to the Greater Toronto Area, adding an additional 200 hospital beds. Quebec has been under its provincewide curfew for nearly two weeks. Health officials reported 1,631 new cases and 88 deaths Friday. Hospitalizations decreased by 27 people to 1,426. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said that bringing down the second wave of COVID-19 has been a "trickier path" than the first wave last spring. Daily case counts are higher than they were then and have put increased pressures on the health-care system. "If we ease up too soon or too quickly, resurgence will be swift," she said. She also expressed concern that 31 cases of the United Kingdom COVID-19 variant, and three of the South African variant have been found in Canada. It's believed that both are more contagious. The cases were identified through screening smaller batches of tests. Tam said more needs to be done to understand the level at which new variants are circulating in communities. Nova Scotia reported four new COVID-19 infections on Friday, two of which were variant cases. Health officials said both cases were related to international travel. There were 731,450 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada and 18,622 deaths as of Thursday. Over the past seven days, there were a total of 42,555 new cases. The seven-day rolling average was 6,079. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has suspended the sale of decommissioned RCMP vehicles, two days after a man in Nova Scotia was arrested for allegedly impersonating an officer while driving a fake police car. The suspect's 2013 Ford Taurus was a decommissioned police car and was allegedly altered to look like an unmarked police vehicle. The car was similar to the replica RCMP cruiser used by a gunman who killed 22 people in Nova Scotia during a 13-hour rampage on April 18-19. Blair issued a statement today saying the RCMP's resale process for decommissioned vehicles ensures they cannot easily be misused for criminal purposes. The minister said, however, such sales will be suspended to ensure the process is not flawed. Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said today he was pleased with Blair's decision. "It's a great first step," McNeil said, adding that the province's justice minister, Mark Furey, has been working with Blair on the police vehicle file. "We have a piece of legislation that will be introduced during the next session. It deals with (police) accessories and how to deal with municipal (police) vehicles in our province." On Wednesday, the Mounties said that in the most recent case, a 23-year-old suspect from Antigonish, N.S., may have used the car in question to pull over other vehicles in the Halifax region and Antigonish County. The vehicle was outfitted with LED lights in the rear window, a microphone on the dashboard, a public address system, citizens band radio and a push bar with LED lights mounted on the grill. Police also confirmed the suspect did not appear to have any police clothing or firearms of any kind. "It remains illegal to impersonate a police officer and we will take every step possible to prevent such crimes from taking place," Blair said in the statement. "We will continue to work so that all Canadians feel safe in their communities." The vehicle used in the April mass shooting was heavily modified with an emergency light bar on the roof and decals that looked exactly like those found on marked RCMP cruisers. Early in the RCMP's investigation of the mass killing, a senior officer said the killer's vehicle allowed him to "circulate around the province, steps ahead of our investigators." The replica vehicle was so convincing that questions were raised about the availability of former police vehicles for public purchase. The Mounties have confirmed that on the night of April 18, the killer set fire to several homes and killed 13 people in Portapique before evading police later that night while disguised as an RCMP officer. The next morning, he resumed killing people he knew and others at random before he was fatally shot by a Mountie at a gas station in Enfield, N.S., which is just north of Halifax. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
For years, Jordan Murphy longed to complete her weight-loss transformation with another round of cosmetic surgery. It was a matter of finding the right time. The Toronto social media influencer knew from her prior procedures that going under the knife could require weeks of bedrest. She was also conscious of the fact that medically altered beauty doesn't come cheap. But when the COVID-19 crisis cleared her calendar, Murphy found herself with a sudden abundance of time and money she would typically spend on travel and recreation. The 27-year-old filled the hours by scrolling through social media, sizing up how her body compared to others, particularly the before-and-after photos plastic surgeons posted to their feeds. "I think it just put the idea into my head: This is the perfect time to do this," said Murphy, adding that she's been barraged by questions from her online followers since documenting her "360 lift," an operation that removes excess skin and fat from the abdomen, waistline and back, last summer. "(The only downside is) that I haven't been able to dress up cute and go out anywhere to rock the new bod." Murphy is one of many Canadians who plan to emerge from lockdown looking leaner, lifted or augmented in all the right places as several clinics report an uptick in demand for cosmetic procedures during the pandemic. Some cosmetic physicians say more patients are seeking out their services as the crisis has afforded people more time to scrutinize their perceived flaws, and the flexibility to get work done without raising eyebrows among friends and coworkers. But critics worry that people could be rushing into serious medical procedures as the psychological toll of the pandemic has fuelled body image issues, in part because of the distorting powers of video-chat platforms and social media. Others in the medical community, including a Quebec doctors' association, say private clinics shouldn't be performing cosmetic surgeries as COVID-19 caseloads have strained the health-care system, forcing many patients to wait for medically necessary operations. There's little data available on the number of cosmetic procedures that are performed in Canada. But according to a Google Trends analysis published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, U.S. searches for some of the most popular ones dropped off in the early months of the pandemic, before rebounding to hit two-year peaks over spring and summer of last year. This is consistent with what Dr. Mathew Mosher, president of the Canadian Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, is hearing from members who, in some cases, have been struggling to keep up with the increased interest in their services. "The sustained nature of the added interest has surprised many of us," said Mosher, who operates out of the YES Medspa and Cosmetic Surgery Centre in Langley, B.C. When private clinics started to reopen last spring, Mosher said surgeons were bracing for a backlog of postponed procedures, but didn't expect they'd be fielding an influx of calls from first-time patients and regulars. It's hard to gauge whether this spike in inquiries is translating into more surgical bookings, Mosher said, noting that COVID-19 precautions have curtailed many clinics' operational capacity. It also seems that demand has ebbed to some degree as many jurisdictions ramped up lockdown measures. Still, he said, it's clear that the pandemic has opened up new possibilities for patients to revamp their natural assets. While job losses have forced many Canadians into financial precarity, Mosher said those fortunate enough to have maintained a steady paycheque may have more money to spend on esthetic concerns. Moreover, he said, patients are able keep up with their professional duties while recouping at home. "Doing something that is in some ways empowering and positive has come up on the to-do list for a few more patients." While most of his patients are seizing the chance to move ahead with procedures they've been thinking about for a while, Mosher said he's also sensed a concerning "urgency" among clients who seem to be fixated on a newly detected imperfection or acting on an impulse to make a change during a stressful time. "I've seen more patients coming to the office where they frankly have been given poor advice," he said. Toronto dermatologist Dr. Julia Carroll said she credits the surge in demand for cosmetic services such as Botox, lip fillers and laser peels in part to what some have dubbed the "Zoom boom." As our conversations have shifted to video conference calls, many people are spending more time staring at their own faces, and some don't like what they see. "Most people get up in the morning, brush their teeth or put on their makeup, and they don't look at themselves for the rest of the day," said Carroll. "But now, you're seeing yourself in animation all day long.... So you see things that bother you." Carroll cautions that these virtual visages probably aren't accurate, because most webcams use short focal lengths that can warp how certain features appear onscreen. But while she doesn't think anyone "needs to look a certain way," Carroll says cosmetic procedures can boost a person's confidence. "For some people, there's a real disconnect between how they feel on the inside and what they present to the world," Carroll said. "I think a lot of patients are just trying to reconnect those two parts of themselves." Catherine Sabiston, a University of Toronto professor and Canada research chair in physical activity and mental health, says the lack of in-person social interaction under lockdown means people are spending more time online comparing themselves with filtered images of others, which can negatively impact body image. The internet is also filled with counterproductive messages about the COVID-19 crisis being a time for self-improvement, feeding into the guilt many feel about changes to their exercise and eating habits, she said. As these forces conspire to make people feel bad about themselves, Sabiston said it's no surprise that people are turning to the scalpel as a quick-fix solution. The fact that cosmetic surgeries are moving forward when many patients can't access cancer treatments speaks to the social disconnect that seems to prioritize people's appearance over their health, said Sabiston. She urged authorities to adopt a more balanced approach that would allow people to access the services they need to ensure their bodies are healthy and help them feel better in them. "Our bodies are miracles in so many ways, and yet, we hone in on the appearance aspects when there's so much more to what our bodies can do," she said. "We should be putting our emphasis on how to help people so that more plastic surgery isn't necessarily the bottom line." In a statement Wednesday, the Quebec College of Physicians called for all non-essential cosmetic procedures to be postponed in light of the measures the province is taking to limit COVID-19 spread. Health Minister Christian Dube told reporters last week that the province is considering how to address the medical staffing crisis, but suggested it would be easier to bring in intensive care personnel from other regions than to enlist nurses from private care and cosmetic surgery clinics. A spokeswoman for Quebec's health ministry added that staff from private cosmetic surgery clinics can still volunteer in the public health sector without shutting down operations. In Ontario, some clinics that offer cosmetic procedures have opted to scale back services or shut down altogether. While health practices remain open under the province's latest directive, a spokesman for Ontario's health ministry said "it's up to each professional's clinical judgment to determine what services should be offered," in accordance with the rules set out by their regulatory colleges. On its website, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario says regional restrictions on personal care services, such as facials and hair removal, apply to medical practices, but clinics can continue to offer procedures that can only be performed by health-care professionals. Mosher appreciates the frustrations front-line medical workers feel as the recent surge in infections pushes health-care systems to their limits, but argues that closing private clinics will do little to assuage capacity concerns. Cosmetic surgeons report relatively low rates of complications, so there's little risk that their patients will need urgent care in overburdened hospitals, he said. Mosher said the cosmetic surgery industry isn't large enough to provide the reinforcements that hospitals require, and while some cosmetic surgery providers work in both the private and public sector, many don't have the expertise to help much with urgent care. "Health-care workers that are involved in delivering (cosmetic surgery) services would be more than happy to step up and assist if we were called upon," he said. "But like everybody else, we rely on the guidance from the health authorities." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021 Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — Bob Avian, a Tony Award-winning choreographer who had a role in some of the most beloved and influential shows on Broadway, including “Dreamgirls,” “A Chorus Line,” “Follies” and “Miss Saigon,” has died. He was 83. Avian died Thursday of cardiac arrest at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said Matt Polk, head of the theatrical publicity firm Polk & Co. Tony-winner Tony Yazbeck on Twitter called Avian “a sweet and kind spirit who generously gave his creative talents to legendary works.” Marvin Hamlisch said: “His legacy will live on stage for years to come.” Avian rose from a dancer in “West Side Story” and “Funny Girl” to work alongside such theatre luminaries as Michael Bennett, Cameron Macintosh, Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber. It was with Bennett that Avian enjoyed a long professional partnership, working as associate choreographer or assistant director on such Bennett-choreographed productions as “A Chorus Line,” “Promises, Promises,” “Coco,” “Company,” “Follies, “Seesaw” and “God's Favorite.” “For someone so talented, he remained remarkably modest about his own achievements on so many landmark musicals,” said Cameron Mackintosh in a statement. “He facilitated the genius of Michael Bennett and with every little step he took taught me more about the art of staging a modern musical than virtually anyone else I’ve met. It was a privilege to have been his friend and colleague for over 35 years.” He was a producer on the original “Dreamgirls” and “Ballroom” and did musical staging for “Sunset Boulevard” starring Glenn Close in 1994, “Putting It Together” with Carol Burnett and the original “Miss Saigon” with Lea Salonga in 1991. Avian earned six Tony nominations and won twice, for choreographing “Ballroom” and co-choreographing “A Chorus Line.” He won an Oliver Award for choreographing Boublil and Schonberg's musical “Martin Guerre” in London. He also choreographed “The Witches of Eastwick” in the West End starring Ian McShane. Avian's association with “A Chorus Line” continued when he directed the 2006 revival on Broadway and the London revival at the Palladium in 2013. He also directed touring versions. He earned a bachelor's degree from Boston University and also studied at Boston Ballet School. In 2020, his memoir “Dancing Man: A Broadway Choreographer’s Journey” co-written with Tom Santopietro was published by University Press of Mississippi. He is survived by his husband, Peter Pileski, and a sister, Laura Nabedian. Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press
Residents and local organizations are joining Toronto-Danforth Councillor Paula Fletcher in objection to a cluster of seven cannabis shops around Queen Street East and Broadview Avenue. It’s the second time Fletcher’s office has sent a letter to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) regarding the issue. The first was sent in July 2020, when the city passed her motion requesting ACGO to consider the proximity to community services and parks, as well as communications from the city against clustering of cannabis shops. While in the summer the initial objection referred to four pending applications for pot shops on Queen Street East, this second objection comes as the area is expecting to see seven such shops. “It is concerning that there are so many along this stretch of Queen Street East, and that they are so close to the South Riverdale Child-Parent Centre, the Ralph Thornton Community Centre, the Queen/Saulter Library and public parks,” Fletcher wrote in the letter. She said she has heard from several community members, with more than 20 constituents writing in, all trying to understand why there are seven cannabis stores near one major intersection and how the AGCO approves applications for these shops. “Everyone’s clear, no one is opposed to legal marijuana,” Fletcher told the Beach Metro News. “They’re opposed to the overconcentration of shops.” She cites the corner store model adopted by the current provincial government as problematic for residents and communities, akin to having “seven LCBO stores one after the other.” Original regulations set up by the provincial government of Kathleen Wynne restricted cannabis shops within 300 metres of a school, childcare centre, or daycare centre, but Fletcher said “it flew out the window” with the change in Ontario governments. Others in the community raise economic and social concerns of the clustering of pot shops. “The problem is what’s happening on Queen is if you end up with all these stores selling the same thing a whole lot of them will go out of business,” Ralph Thornton Community Centre board chair Alan Lennon said. As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many small business closures and commercial evictions, Lennon is concerned that it will become more and more difficult to fill the small storefronts in an economically viable way. “The other part is, if you have a block with all the same shops, you’re not going to have a lot of traffic – you’ve limited it,” he said. “It doesn’t make economic sense to us,” Lennon said. “You’re setting up people for failure in their business, and you’re making it so they will fail, and it doesn’t make social sense, you’re setting up a community to be one-dimensional.” “That’s not what we want,” he added. “And they’re [AGCO] not listening.” Non-profit community organization Fontbonne Ministries has a branch – Mustard Seed – on 791 Queen St. E. The location is a short walk from Queen Street East and Boulton Avenue, where there are three pending cannabis shops at the small intersection. “We understand it’s something legal, regulated, and you have these stores,” Fontbonne Ministries executive director Ben Vozzolo said. “But we question the need for that many in such a small area.” The organization serves vulnerable populations and runs a drop-in program at its Mustard Seed location on Queen Street East. Vozzolo raises concerns of having so many cannabis stores in close proximity to vulnerable people. But it’s not just the social effects, they’re concerned about the diversity of retail in the neighbourhood. “I’m curious to know what AGCO’s criteria is for determining how many of these shops are put in one neighbourhood,” Vozzolo said. Fontbonne, along with Ralph Thornton Community Centre, and other community members, has sent letters to the AGCO asking about the approval of these shops. No one has received any replies. “It would be nice to have a response acknowledging the concern,” Vozzolo said. In December 2020, AGCO announced it was issuing 80 cannabis retail store authorizations per month. To date, it has received more than 1,300 applications for retail store authorizations, 305 have been issued and 269 authorized cannabis retail stores are currently open in the province. Ali Raza, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Beach Metro News
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with newly inaugurated U.S. President Joe Biden by phone Friday — the first opportunity for the two leaders to chart a fresh course for the Canada-U.S. relationship after four tumultuous years with Donald Trump. The 30-minute phone call — Biden's first with a foreign leader as president — was warm, friendly and collegial, according to a senior government official who spoke confidentially to CBC News because they were not authorized to speak in public about the matter. "Many of the priorities are aligned. He's got a good rapport with us and wants to work with us, as we do with him," the official said. The relationship between the two countries is widely expected to improve with Biden in the Oval Office as he and the Democratic Party share a number of political values with Trudeau and the Liberals. According to a readout of the call from the Prime Minister's Office, the two leaders found common ground on such issues as the COVID-19 response, economic recovery, climate change, continental security, working with Indigenous peoples and international relations. The two leaders agreed to meet again next month, the readout said, although it didn't specify whether that meant in-person or virtually. Trudeau expressed his disappointment with Biden's early move to effectively cancel the Keystone XL pipeline by revoking its permit. The official said Biden acknowledged the hardship the decision would create in Canada — but defended his decision by saying he was making good on a campaign promise and restoring a decision made by the former Obama administration. The idea of retaliatory sanctions against the U.S. — something Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has been calling for — didn't come up during the conversation, said the official. In a sign that Biden intends to restore close relations between the three North American economies, Biden spoke to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Friday in his second call with a foreign leader. Those relationships were strained under Trump, who forced a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and imposed tariffs on both Canada and Mexico at various points. Trudeau and Biden also discussed another potential area of conflict between the two countries: Biden's commitment to including 'Buy American' provisions that privilege U.S. companies in future infrastructure spending plans. The official said Biden acknowledged the deep supply chain connections between the Canadian and the U.S. economies and assured Trudeau that Canadian officials would be consulted as the policy is developed — but not that Canada would necessarily be happy with the outcome. "Reflecting on the extraordinary and deeply interconnected economic relationship between the two countries, and with a view to promoting and protecting it, the Prime Minister and President agreed to consult closely to avoid measures that may constrain bilateral trade, supply chains, and economic growth,' the PMO readout said. WATCH | Can Trudeau convince Biden to reverse course on Keystone XL? Pipeline decisions sets dangerous precedent, premiers say The phone call came a day after Trudeau held a call with provincial and territorial premiers, several of whom pressured the PM to push back against what they called a dangerous precedent on the Keystone decision. Kenney, Ontario's Doug Ford, Saskatchewan's Scott Moe and Quebec's François Legault all pressed the prime minister to take action to save Keystone. The details of that meeting were first reported by Global News and confirmed by CBC News. In a letter sent to Trudeau today, Kenney called for economic retaliation against the U.S. or compensation for TC Energy and the province for the loss of billions of dollars. "By retroactively revoking the presidential permit for this project without taking the time to discuss it with their longest standing ally, the United States is setting a deeply disturbing precedent for any future projects and collaboration between our two nations," the letter reads. "The fact that it was a campaign promise makes it no less offensive. Our country has never surrendered our vital economic interests because a foreign government campaigned against them." Moe said cancelling the project would endanger North American energy security, kill jobs on both sides of the border and scare investors away from energy projects. "It is an important piece of infrastructure and cancelling it retroactively ... does have implications on the investment environment as we move forward," Moe told CBC's Power and Politics. WATCH |'Sanctions are always on the table': Premier Scott Moe Canadian proponents of the project have argued that Canada has strong environmental regulations governing the extraction of crude oil, and that the project is much more environmentally-friendly today than it was five years ago when Obama blocked it. On Monday, after news emerged of Biden's plans to scuttle the pipeline, Keystone XL owner TC Energy announced it would ensure the project achieved net zero emissions upon its launch in 2023. The company added it would be fully powered by renewable energy sources no later than 2030. In an interview airing on CBC Radio's The House on Saturday, Canada's Ambassador to the U.S. Kirsten Hillman said she did everything she could to make the case for the pipeline to Biden's team. "I personally worked hard over the last several months with Alberta, with the industry, with colleagues and in Ottawa to make the case for the Keystone XL project with the incoming Biden team, the transition team and their advisers," Hillman told host Chris Hall. "My view is that the decision of the Biden team is a final decision." WATCH |Trade war with the U.S. not in the interest of Alberta and Saskatchewan, says parliamentary secretary Trudeau could try to extract concessions from Biden on other Canadian priorities in compensation for the domestic political punishment he'll endure if the pipeline isn't built, said former Liberal cabinet minister John Manley. "If I were in his shoes, I would say, 'Joe, I really need your help to get those two Canadians out of China,'" Manley told CBC's Power & Politics. He was referring to Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the Canadians imprisoned by China in December 2019 following Canada's arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on U.S. extradition charges. Manley said another potential concession could come in the form of an exemption for Canada from any 'Buy America' legislation passed by Congress.
Italian broadcaster Mediaset said on Friday it had won two legal cases against French and U.S. portals involving online piracy. In a statement, the broadcaster said an Italian court had ordered France's Dailymotion to pay it more than 22 million euros ($27 million) for publishing illegally 15,000 videos using Mediaset content. The court also ordered American portal Veoh, known as Qlipso Inc at the time of the offence, to pay Mediaset more than 3.3 million euros and 60,000 euros in costs.
REGINA — Eight more Saskatchewan residents have died from COVID-19 as the province records another day of more than 300 new cases. Health officials say many of 312 latest infections come from in and around Saskatoon, North Battleford, Prince Albert and Regina. The Ministry of Health says there are 177 people in hospital, with 30 patients receiving intensive care. Police in Regina say on Thursday officers carried out a detention order against a 36-year-old man who was positive with COVID-19, but not self-isolating. It happened after officers were called to a downtown hotel, which is being used to house people who need to self-isolate, but don't have the means to do so on their own. Police say the man was first taken to hospital in Regina, and then to a medical facility in North Battelford, which keeps people in closed custody. "He had left the hotel a number of times and the medical health officer believed he was endangering the lives, safety or health of others by his refusal to self-isolate," says police spokeswoman Elizabeth Popowich. Popowich says detention orders are issued by the Saskatchewan Health Authority and allow for an officer to take a person into custody until their release is approved by a medical health officer. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2020 The Canadian Press
WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expresses gratitude for U.S. President Joe Biden's decision to rejoin global efforts in the fight against COVID-19.
TORONTO — Penny Oleksiak and Kylie Masse were among six swimmers named early to Canada's Olympic team Friday. Swimming Canada nominated Olympic champion Oleksiak of Toronto, world backstroke champion Masse of LaSalle, Ont., world butterfly champion Margaret Mac Neil of London, Ont., Taylor Ruck of Kelowna, B.C., Sydney Pickrem of Halifax and Markus Thormeyer of Newmarket, Ont., to the Canadian team for the Tokyo Summer Games. Also, the Olympic and Paralympic trials in Toronto originally scheduled for April have been delayed until May. The Canadian women's swim team won six of Canada's 22 medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. The 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo were postponed until July 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has interrupted training and decimated the competition calendar for Canadian athletes. Swimming Canada invoked the unexpected or usual circumstances clause in its selection process to choose the half-dozen swimmers before trials. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
When drug companies like Pfizer and Moderna learned to successfully incorporate messenger RNA technology into a COVID-19 vaccine, experts say they likely opened the door to a significant shift in the future of immunization.The milestone in vaccine development was met with enthusiasm from most, but the seemingly swift pace and novel approach is causing hesitancy in others. Experts say the new technique shouldn't dissuade people from getting the vaccine. While the mRNA method is new to inoculations, the actual technology has been around for decades. The difference now, they say, is scientists have ironed out the kinks to make a useful product."It sounds fancy, mRNA, but there's nothing outlandish about it," said Dr. Earl Brown, a virology and microbiology specialist with the University of Ottawa. "This is the way our cells operate — we live by mRNA."Vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna were the first inoculations approved for humans to use mRNA, which provides our cells with instructions to make proteins. In the case of COVID vaccines, the injected material shows cells how to make a harmless piece of the coronavirus spike protein, which then teaches our immune system to recognize the virus and fight off a future infection.Scientists made the vaccine by programming genetic material from the spike protein into mRNA, a process that theoretically could work for other viruses."As long as you know how to create those instructions — that genetic code you need to convince your body to create that target — you can design an mRNA vaccine against any antigen," said Nicole Basta, an associate professor of epidemiology at McGill."But the question is whether it will be effective, and whether it will be safe."The development of future mRNA vaccines might be quick, Basta says, but they would need to go through the usual evaluation process and clinical trials to ensure safety and efficacy. So vaccines for other viruses won't be popping up overnight.Still, Basta adds, there's potential for using mRNA to either improve upon existing vaccines or to develop new ones against other pathogens.Dr. Scott Halperin, a professor at Dalhousie University and the director of the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology, sees mRNA vaccines as "evolutionary rather than revolutionary."Part of the reason COVID vaccines came together so quickly was the technology had been developing for years, Halperin said. The global pandemic offered scientists a pressing opportunity — and unprecedented funding and collaboration — to try again for a viable injection.Previous research had been done on creating mRNA vaccines against Zika and other viruses, Halperin added, and there were earlier efforts focused on cancer treatments. Coronavirus-specific research was further sped up by spike protein analysis from SARS and MERS.While the mRNA technology itself is impressive, Halperin says improvements need to be made to create a more temperature-stable product before these types of vaccines and treatments "truly take over.""The logistics of delivering mRNA vaccines right now, we wouldn't want to have to do that for every vaccine we produce," he said, referencing the ultra-cold storage temperature that's currently needed. "But I do think it's an important milestone."Scientists are expected to continue advancing the technology, just as they did recently in solving two confounding problems with mRNA — its fragility and instability.Brown says fragility was resolved by packaging the mRNA in a fat coating, giving it something to help bind onto cells so it wouldn't disintegrate upon injection. The instability was conquered by modifying the uracil component of RNA, one of the four units of its genetic code."The technology application is new, but the science is mature," Brown said. "We've just reached the point at which we can apply it." Traditional vaccines typically contain a killed or weakened virus, Brown said. Those methods are still being used in COVID vaccine development, including by AstraZeneca-Oxford, whose product has not yet been approved in Canada.A benefit to using mRNA is the speed at which a vaccine can be developed or updated once scientists know what to target, Brown says. While experts believe current vaccines will work against recent variants of the COVID virus — including one originating in the U.K. that's more transmissible — Brown says mRNA's adaptability could theoretically come in handy if new strains emerged that necessitated an update. "In six weeks they could produce something," he said. "It would still have to go through Phase 3 trials, but it does give you more flexibility and a big leg up."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska had 24,100 fewer jobs in December than a year earlier amid ongoing economic repercussions from the COVID-19 pandemic, the state labour department reported Friday. Karinne Wiebold, a department economist, said there aren't many bright spots to glean from the December jobs report. “One possible glimmer is that we think oil and gas employment has bottomed out, so while the year over year losses are still steep, it should not get much worse,” she said by email. That sector reported about 6,800 jobs in both November and December, but the department said there's no sign yet of a “bounce.” Oil and gas employment stood around 10,000 in December 2019, the department said. Leisure and hospitality recorded the largest losses, with much of the December drop attributed to bar and restaurant restrictions in Anchorage aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, the department said. The sector had 8,600 fewer jobs than in December 2019, according to the labour department report. State government gained 500 jobs in December, compared to a year earlier, primarily due to pandemic-related hires, such as contact tracers and additional staff to help process unemployment insurance claims, the department said. The Associated Press
CALGARY — WestJet says a Boeing 737 Max that was scheduled to fly from Calgary to Toronto on Friday returned to the gate before taking off due to a warning in the cockpit. A WestJet spokeswoman, Lauren Stewart, said that after the plane's engines were started, its monitoring system indicated a "potential fault that needed to be verified and reset." The process takes time and requires an engine run, which the airline does not perform with passengers on board, Stewart said. In the interests' of passengers' time, WestJet cancelled the flight and booked passengers on the next available flight to Toronto, Stewart said. The aircraft has since been cleared by maintenance and will return to service as scheduled on Jan. 24, Stewart said. The Max was cleared to fly in Canadian airspace on Wednesday after it was grounded for nearly two years following deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Canada Post is telling customers to expect delivery delays due to a COVID-19 outbreak at a key mail facility in Mississauga, Ont., that has sickened dozens of workers. A spokesman says testing at the Dixie Road site has found 39 positive COVID-19 cases over the last three days. Canada Post says 182 workers at the site have tested positive since the start of the new year. Spokesman Phil Legault says the Mississauga facility is central to the crown corporation's entire national delivery and processing network. Legault says the plant continues to operate and process heavy incoming parcel volumes, but there will be delays. More than 4,500 people work at the Mississauga site. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
Mosquito Grizzly Bear's Head Lean Man First Nation is set to get roughly $127 million for land it lost to the federal government more than a century ago. In a Monday tribunal decision, Justice Harry Slade awarded the First Nation the money for about 5,800 hectares the First Nation lost in 1905. Chief Tanya Aguilar-Antiman declined to comment, but in a prepared statement said the First Nation is "deliberating possible options for (its) best interest" after the decision. The First Nation is located near the Battlefords. The decision comes more than two decades after the First Nation filed a land claim against the federal government in 1995. In 2014, the First Nation alleged it lost the land illegally, which the federal government denied. However, in 2017, the federal government acknowledged taking the land was invalid. The reason is the federal government took a surrender vote — despite a requirement that only members of the First Nation participate — but still "accepted and acted on the surrender," Slade wrote. He added that the loss of land accounted for roughly two thirds of the reserve. He went on to say "the breach led directly to the permanent alienation of Treaty reserve land" from the First Nation. The decision arrived at almost $127 million by adding together the land's loss of use value of $111,433,972, and its market value of about $15.5 million. Nick Pearce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix
A victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a teacher in the 1980s has secured an apology and $1.1 million in damages from School District 57.. The terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit seeking damages for the abuse he suffered at the hands of Wendell Diakiw, who taught at Austin Road elementary school in Prince George during the 1970s and 1980s. Had the school district not included an apology, Bruneau said he would have gone ahead with taking the matter to trial. As it stands, Bruneau was pleased with the school district's response. "The school district handled it so well and really did the right thing, which is unheard of, and I really want the news to reflect that and set a new precedent for other institutions to do the same," Bruneau said in an interview. According to a statement issued Thursday by London, Ontario-based Beckett Personal Injury Lawyers, the $1.1-million payout is understood to be the largest reported settlement of an individual teacher abuse case in British Columbia and will be covered by School District 57's insurer. Bruneau was a Grade 6 student at Austin Road when, according to the statement, the abuse began and continued for three years in the mid-1980s. Bruneau, in turn, played a key role in Diakiw's downfall. In 1986, Bruneau, then 16 years old, attended Diakiw’s house with a tape recorder and secured a taped confession, which led to police charges. In 1987, Diakiw was charged with a range of sexual offences in relation to six students, including Bruneau, and was sentenced to five years in jail later the same year. Bruneau was among four alleged victims for which Aaron Lealess, a lawyer at Beckett, had filed lawsuits against Diakiw and School District 57. The other three have also settled out of court but with the terms undisclosed due to confidentiality agreements. Court records show that Bruneau's case was the only one for which School District 57 did not file a response to the civil claim. Each of the claimants had sought as much as $3.2 million in damages. "At the very beginning of the claim, you just pick a high number - that's the maximum you could hope for basically, and then once more facts become known - you get all the medical records, education records, Mr. Bruneau was assessed by an expert psychologist - and so once you get all the information together, you get a bit better of an idea," Lealess said in an interview. "The plaintiff has their view of what the case is worth which is usually much higher than what the defence has their own view, which is much lower, and then this case was ultimately settled." Lealess said it was scheduled to proceed to trial this past November but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, "and ultimately we were able to get a settlement." Lealess said the $1.1 million represents the damage Bruneau has suffered in terms of the impact on his education and career and the expenses related to a lifetime of counseling, as well as inpatient treatment due to the psychological fallout. After living away from Prince George for 30 years, Bruneau has since moved back to the city. He expressed a degree of closure with the settlement and particularly the letter of apology. "It's a big shift in my thinking too, like the anger," Bruneau said. "Now it's a big thank you, I mean that's a huge difference." Diakiw was also named in the lawsuits and has been served but has not filed statements of response. As such, Lealess said they will be pursing a default judgment. "Now whether we can get a dime out of him is probably doubtful but we're going to continue to pursue the case against him," Lealess said. "It's more for the principal of the matter." Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen