It would be 'foolish' to allow another wave of COVID-19 infections in Canada because we know enough about how the virus is spread to prevent it, says infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch.
It would be 'foolish' to allow another wave of COVID-19 infections in Canada because we know enough about how the virus is spread to prevent it, says infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch.
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.
U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Thursday repeated his pledge to keep credit loose and flowing until Americans are back to work, rebutting investors who have openly doubted he can stick to that promise once the pandemic passes and the economy surges on its own. With vaccines rolling out and the government fiscal taps open "there is good reason to think we will make more progress soon" toward the Fed's goals of maximum employment and 2% sustained inflation, Powell told a Wall Street Journal forum. "I want to be clear about this," Powell said in anchoring the Fed's promise to keep its near zero interest rates and monthly bondbuying intact.
SAN FRANCISCO — Financial technology company Square, Inc. said Thursday that it has reached an agreement to acquire majority ownership of Tidal, the music streaming service partly owned by Jay-Z. Under the deal, Square will pay $297 million in cash and stock for Tidal, Jay-Z will be named to Square's board of directors, and he and other artists who currently own shares in Tidal will remain stakeholders. Tidal will operate as a distinct entity alongside the point-of-sale hardware and software offerings of San Francisco-based Square, the payments company founded by CEO Jack Dorsey, who is also co-founder and chief executive of Twitter. Tidal has presented itself as the artist-friendly alternative to other music streamers, and Square says it will take that phenomenon further for musicians just as it has for businesses with its financial systems. “It comes down to one simple idea: finding new ways for artists to support their work,” Dorsey said in the statement announcing the deal. . Jay-Z said in the statement that the “partnership will be a game-changer for many.” I look forward to all this new chapter has to offer!" The Associated Press
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
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
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting five new COVID-19 cases today, four of which are in the eastern health region that includes St. John's. Health officials say the four cases in the eastern region involve people between the ages of 40 and 69; three involve close contacts of prior cases while the fourth is related to domestic travel. Officials say the fifth case is located in the western health region, involves a person between the ages of 20 and 39 and is related to international travel. Eight people are in hospital with the disease, including two in intensive care. Officials say they are still investigating the source of an infection involving a health-care worker at a hospital in the rural town of St. Anthony, located on the Northern Peninsula. Newfoundland and Labrador has 121 active reported COVID-19 infections. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian 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".
Vancouver's parks board is taking action to control the increasing numbers of messy and aggressive Canada geese. A statement from the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation says it is developing a management plan to reduce the number of geese in city parks, beaches and on the seawall. The board is particularly concerned about humans feeding the birds, saying it brings flocks of geese to high-traffic areas such as Stanley Park and the beaches of English Bay and Sunset Beach. A key part of the management plan asks residents to identify Canada goose nests on private property so they can be removed or the eggs can be addled, and left in the nest so adults continue to brood, rather than lay again. The board estimates Vancouver's population of more than 3,500 Canada geese grows every year because the habitat is ideal and the birds have no natural predators. Several Okanagan cities are asking permission to cull growing flocks of Canada geese that foul area beaches and parks, but Vancouver's board says egg addling, a measure supported by the SPCA, is its only control measure. In addition to calling for public help in identifying nests, which can be on roofs, balconies or in tall, topped trees, the park board is urging people not to feed Canada geese. “Supplemental feeding by humans can also contribute to geese being able to lay more than one clutch of eight eggs per season; meaning that if one clutch does not hatch, they can replace it," the statement says. "In nature, without food from humans, this wouldn’t happen." Canada geese have inefficient digestive systems and the parks board says the birds produce more excrement for their size than most other species. The park board says it hopes to step up egg addling, saying wildlife specialists believe the practice must be tripled in order to cut Vancouver's goose populations. A web page has been created on the City of Vancouver website to report the location of nests so they can be removed or the eggs can be addled. 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
OTTAWA — The debate over the safety of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic is coming under researchers' microscopes. Three new projects are aiming determine how many teachers and school staff in Canada have had COVID-19, to help inform prevention strategies in neighbourhoods, schools and daycares. About $2.9 million will be spent on the research in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec as part of the work of the national COVID-19 immunity task force. All three projects will ask teachers for blood samples to determine how many have antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, which would indicate a previous COVID-19 infection. In Ontario, researchers are hoping for 7,000 teachers and education workers to enrol, while in B.C. the study will focus on the Vancouver School District. In Quebec, the work will build on an existing study looking at the spread of the novel coronavirus in children in four Montreal neighbourhoods. The research will also delve into the question of teachers' mental health, a key area of concern for educators in recent months. While the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is released daily, the true number of how many people in Canada have been infected can't actually be known without widespread surveillance testing. "Although daycare and school staff may have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 in their work settings, we don’t have much data on how many school staff have had asymptomatic infections, meaning they had no symptoms but potentially could transmit the virus,” said Dr. Catherine Hankins, co-chair of the task force. The CITF was set up by the federal government to understand the factors in immunity to COVID-19. A piece of that will be the vaccines, now rolling out across the country and teachers participating in the research will also be tracked post-vaccination to see whether their antibody levels change over time. But so far, vaccines have not been approved for use in children, which will likely leave the debate about the safety of schools raging for months to come. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press
Most of us are familiar with the three Rs associated with limiting our waste: reduce, reuse and recycle. As it turns out, there’s a fourth R: renew the recycling licence. During the Feb. 22 regular council meeting for the Town of Pincher Creek, Coun. Scott Korbett formally announced the town would not be renewing its recycling contract with KJ Cameron Service Industries. Come June 30, only empty beverage containers will be accepted at the bottle depot. “The Town of Pincher Creek intends to continue to offer a recycling program,” the town’s official statement reads. “We are currently working with our regional partners to have a smooth transition to a new program by the end of June.” While understanding the town is obligated to make economic decisions when it comes to contracts, Weston Whitfield, owner and manager of KJ Cameron, worries consolidating services on a regional basis might result in an inefficient service to taxpayers. The process of gathering, transporting, then re-sorting material, Mr. Whitfield adds, might decrease the price recycling facilities are willing to pay. “My concern is in the past, places that have done collaborations like that end up with a little bit of contamination and it can affect the resale of the product,” he says. Although no official details have been released, the plan for future recycling appears to involve the Crowsnest/Pincher Creek Landfill Association. Discussion recorded in the minutes of the Jan. 20, 2021, regular meeting of the landfill association includes “Recycling Update” as an agenda item. The minutes describe proposals being sent to each of the municipalities and note that, despite no reply being received, each of the municipal representatives — Coun. Dean Ward from Crowsnest Pass, Coun. Brian McGillivray from Pincher Creek and Reeve Brian Hammond from the MD of Pincher Creek — indicated their respective councils are still considering or interested in the landfill’s recycling proposal. Recycling was also a topic during last week’s council meetings for both the MD of Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass. During the MD of Pincher Creek’s Feb. 23 council meeting, chief administrative officer Troy MacCulloch updated council on plans to move collection bins from outside the MD office to a site off Bighorn Avenue and Highway 507, near the Co-op lumberyard. The site will cover recycling needs for residents from both the MD and town. “This will be a site that the MD will build,” said CAO MacCulloch. “We will cost-share it with the town, and then going forward it would be operated and manned by the Crowsnest/Pincher Creek Landfill.” Plans for the new recycling site are still tentative as the MD is working with the current landowner to develop a lease that would permit the property to be used as a transfer station for garbage and recyclables. The garbage bins by the MD office, he added, could also be removed. This will allow for further development and easier access of the standpipe, which will remain at the location. Meetings with Pincher Creek administration have discussed the possibility of the MD taking over the composting facility, which would be included on the site. Crowsnest Pass council also voted Feb. 23 to direct administration to find a location for their own recycling bin. Ease of access, along with being sheltered from the weather and from travellers’ field of vision, were identified as main priorities. Administration was asked to present a location at the March 16 council meeting with hopes that users could begin dropping off recycling by the end of the month. The goal is to eventually have three sites in the municipality to gather recycling. Beginning with one, said CAO Patrick Thomas, was a good place to “at least start and see what the challenges are,” especially to “see how [building] the fencing and screening goes.” The Town of Pincher Creek’s full official statement regarding the recycling licence can be found online at http://bit.ly/PC-Recycle. More information on Pincher Creek Bottle Depot and Recycling can be found at www.facebook.com/pcbottledepot. Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
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
The Walker family is grateful for the outpouring of community support after a fire ravaged one of their dairy barns last week. “We’re so overwhelmed by what everyone did for us,” said John G Walker. “It was really cool that everyone was able to pull together.” Firefighters, neighbours and local businesses rallied to help the family in their time of need. “It’s hard to name them all, because there were so many people that contributed, donated, and sent food,” he said. A fire destroyed a large portion of the main barn at Walker Farms in Summers Corners on Wednesday, Feb. 17, just before 5 p.m. Damages are estimated at $3-million. “The volunteer firefighters really stepped up,” said Mr. Walker. “They did a phenomenal job.” He noted, “No one getting hurt was the number one thing.” Firefighters from Malahide, Bayham, Central Elgin and Aylmer managed to save the back portion, which otherwise would have resulted in an additional $2-million loss. The fire took about seven hours to bring under control. While the family is thankful for what was saved, and that no people were injured, they were upset at the loss of livestock: an estimated 78 cows were lost as a result of the fire. “It’s obviously emotional a little bit. You never want to lose anything - the livestock are part of our lifestyle, our livelihood,” said Mr. Walker. “You can always build new buildings, but losing livestock always sucks.” Another 875 cows were saved, quickly herded out of the barn and into a nearby penned pasture by Walker Farms staff and firefighters. Some of those displaced cows were sent to another Walker dairy farm on Talbot Line, while others will stay at Skipwell Farms, a nearby 1,800-acre, 420-head dairy farm. They are currently being closely monitored for any health issues from smoke they may have inhaled, but Mr. Walker noted they have dealt quite well in the aftermath. Gerald Schipper, who runs Skipwell Farms, said the 80 cows have adjusted well to their new surroundings since taking them in. “The neat thing about cows is that they’re like humans,” said Mr. Schipper. “If you go by yourself to a strange place it can be intimidating, but if you go with 10 friends together it’s a lot easier.” Skipwell Farms uses a very similar milking system and layout as the Walkers, making the transition that much easier. “The Walker family have helped out a lot of dairy producers in our province, including ourselves,” said Mr. Schipper. When firefighters responded on Feb. 17, night was sinking in, and temperatures were dropping with it, starting at -8°C and getting colder. Workers brought hot food and coffee from local restaurants including Aylmer Sub, Domino’s Pizza, Tim Horton’s and KFC to help firefighters during the physically exhausting, several hour fight in the frigid temperatures. All refused offers of payment. The Walkers were also provided with lunches and suppers in the days that followed. The Walker Dairy office, milking parlour, milk house, former sales arena, and storage area were lost to the fire. Live auctions have been hosted monthly in the sales arena since the 1960s. Mr. Walker said the fire did not impact the sales side of the operation. “With COVID-19, we haven’t been running our live auctions, we went online,” he said. “We don’t need to physically have the live auction part.” The family has insurance for such emergencies and they plan to rebuild a similar structure with the possibility of some changes, said Mr. Walker. Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
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
TRURO, N.S. — A Canadian undergarment company that quickly retooled its factory last spring to make personal protective equipment is laying off 150 workers after failing to win a new federal contract. Stanfield's Ltd. of Truro, N.S., famed for its long johns and boxer shorts, switched to making medical gowns for front-line health workers at the outset of the pandemic. The company's $27.9-million federal contract was a small piece of the $1.87 billion Ottawa has spent on hospital gowns as of Dec. 31. A new request for proposals for "disposable medical isolation gowns" closed Nov. 20. But in a Facebook post, Cumberland-Colchester MP Lenore Zann says the company was not successful in their bid on the new tender for medical gowns. She says she's "terribly concerned and disappointed" to hear about the layoffs at Stanfield's as a result. Local MLA Dave Ritcey calls the loss of 150 jobs in the largely rural area "devastating." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
POLITIQUE. Le député de Nicolet-Bécancour accueille favorablement le passage du Centre-du-Québec au palier d’alerte orange annoncé par le premier ministre François Legault. Bien qu’heureux de la décision, Donald Martel a certaines inquiétudes. «Je suis content pour les restaurateurs et les gyms. J’ai un mélange de joie, ça va nous faire du bien, mais j’ai aussi des inquiétudes. J’ai peur que les gens voient dans ce changement-là un relâchement des mesures de base de prévention. Il faut rester très très vigilant. Dans le comté, on a été exemplaire au niveau de nos comportements et je souhaite que ça reste comme ça», souligne Donald Martel. Pour ce qui est du sport, le député de Nicolet-Bécancour comprend les jeunes athlètes qui veulent renouer avec leur passion. «J’ai fait du sport toute ma vie. J’ai de la difficulté à m’imaginer jeune avoir été privé de jouer au hockey ou au baseball. On n’a pas fait ça de gaieté de cœur. Ça nous brise le cœur, mais c’est essentiel. Mais le premier ministre a promis qu’il ferait une intervention avant le 15 mars. On peut être optimiste face à l’avenir», indique-t-il. À ce sujet, certaines activités parascolaires au préscolaire, au primaire et au secondaire pourront reprendre, dès le 15 mars, en groupe-classe uniquement, et ce, partout au Québec, tant en zone orange qu’en zone rouge. Ajoutons qu’à partir du 8 mars, au Centre-du-Québec, le couvre-feu demeurera en vigueur. Il sera cependant repoussé de 20 h à 21 h 30. Cela signifie également, pour ces régions, la réouverture des salles d’entrainement, des salles de spectacle et des restaurants (maximum de deux adultes par table, accompagnés, s’il y a lieu, de leurs enfants d’âge mineur). Aussi, la pratique en solo, à deux ou par les occupants d’une même résidence privée d’activités sportives et de loisirs dans les lieux publics intérieurs ouverts sera permise. Également, en zone orange, les lieux de culte pourront accueillir un maximum de 100 personnes, à compter du 8 mars prochain, à la condition de l’application stricte des mesures sanitaires. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
After several false starts, Marble Mountain is open for the season — an unusual one that is not only late starting but also sternly warns ski enthusiasts on Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula to stay away. People took to the slopes Thursday, with many remarking the conditions were great. "I'm so excited I barely slept last night," said Marble Mountain operations manager Richard Wells. "We have world-class skiing right now.… It puts a smile on your face." Wells says there about 15 centimetres of fresh snow fell within the last 24 hours, on top of the 90 centimetres that fell in recent days. There are many changes, however. Visitors need to wear masks at the base of the mountain and while waiting in line for the lifts. The day lodge is open for bathroom facilities only and people have to wear masks inside. Rental and repair service is suspended, and so is food and beverage. People are urged to bring their own lunch and leave it in their car. Getting to the top of the hill follows this motto: "Live Together = Ride Together," according to the rules listed by Marble Mountain on its Twitter account. Joey Pearce and Dustin Parsons, both from Pasadena, said Day 1 has been a smashing success. "There's so much fresh snow it's unbelievable," said Pearce. "It feels safe. I'm happy that the hill is open and I'm happy that the situation is the way that it is." Joey Pearce and Dustin Parsons of Pasadena say Day 1 of the Marble Mountain ski season has been epic.(Colleen Connors/CBC) Parsons agrees. "I don't know if there will be another day like this all year," he said. Please, stay away if you're from the Avalon Another major difference is that Wells is imploring people who live on the Avalon Peninsula, which remains in Alert Level 5, to stay away for now. "Perhaps now is not the best time to travel to Marble Mountain. We welcome you when the time is right, but it has to be safe to do so, and I think most of us can agree that right now it is not safe to do so and we would, please, highly recommend, keep the rest of us safe and respect what the public health has put in place here," Wells told CBC Radio's Newfoundland Morning ahead of Thursday's opening. Several passes that were purchased ended up being refunded because they were bought by people on the Avalon. Richard Wells, Marble Mountain operations manager, is ecstatic the ski season is finally underway. (Colleen Connors/CBC) Marble Mountain is able to tell a customer's location once a pass is bought with a credit card. Wells is imploring people to not break the rules. "Don't be the reason we lose our season," he said. No walk-up ski passes are being sold, and there is an outdoor ticket window so people don't have to congregate inside to get their pass. As for White Hills in Clarenville, the board of directors will decide on March 12 if the resort will open. That's the day Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, Newfoundland and Labrador's chief medical officer of health is expected to announce whether the Avalon will move out of Alert Level 5. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
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
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.
Alberta will be delaying second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for up to four months, instead of the current 42 days, which is expected to allow all Albertans over the age of 18 to get their first dose by early summer. On Wednesday, Alberta decided to follow recommendation issued earlier in the day by the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations (NACI), which calls for a four-month window between the first and second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. New research from Quebec, British Columbia, Israel and the U.K. shows the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were providing 70 to 80 per cent effectiveness against the virus two months after the first dose. Once a second dose is given, long-term protection against the virus will be provided. In delaying the second dose, Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said it will allow for more Albertans to receive that first dose and be protected against the virus more quickly. Nationally, it is estimated all Canadians over the age of 18 will be able to get the first shot by early summer under this new distribution plan. “We’ve seen research from other jurisdictions that indicates one dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine offers a huge boost in immunity, with Canadian data indicating about 80 per cent protection after the first dose," Hinsahw said. "This change will significantly increase how quickly we can offer Albertans the protection of their first dose. The more people that we can offer this protection to in the coming weeks and months, the more effective we will be at stopping spread," Hinshaw said. Hinshaw said the evidence on COVID-19 is constantly evolving and it is critical that the province uses the most up-to-date information to refine the provincial plan for combating the virus. The top doctor said the second dose is still important to help provide long-term protection. Starting March 10, anyone who books their first dose will have their second dose timeline extended from the original 42-day window up to the 16-week window. Second dose appointments will no longer be booked during the first dose, and Albertans will now be sent a reminder to book their second dose. Right now, three vaccines have been approved for distribution in Canada, with the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine now joining the Pfizer and Moderna products. The province is slated to get some of the AstraZeneca vaccine next week, though it is not known exactly how much. "We are still working to confirm exactly how many doses we will receive, and when they will arrive. We hope to update you soon on how these vaccines will be distributed here in Alberta," Hinshaw said. The province will not be distributing the AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 because it is not as effective on that age cohort. "What's clear is that all three of these vaccines reduce the risk of getting COVID-19 and prevent serious outcomes, including hospitalization and death," Hinshaw said. About 255,000 doses of vaccine have been administered in the province, and more than 89,000 people have now been fully immunized with two doses, she said. "This is great news for our most vulnerable Albertans and those who care for them." Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette