This story goes way back - in a chaotic but fantastic town there was once a traveler, a robbery, and a chance to improve the lives of so many people.
This story goes way back - in a chaotic but fantastic town there was once a traveler, a robbery, and a chance to improve the lives of so many people.
(Submitted by Noah Gibbs, Matthew Parker and Jacob Long - image credit) It's been a challenging enough season for youth hockey players, given cancelled games and restrictions around how they can practise and gather. But for some Fredericton Caps U18 AAA hockey players from the Edmundston area, the season has been more challenging. They've had to be away from friends and family living in what has been a part of the province hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. With no U18 AAA hockey teams in the Edmundston area, a handful of players from that region are playing for the Fredericton Caps to further their hockey careers. Living with billet families and going to school in the capital city since last September, the boys were able to play eight games and return home to see their families before a spike in cases shortly after the holidays moved New Brunswick into more restrictive phases of the province's COVID-19 recovery plan. For Jacob Long, who plays defence for the Caps, January and February have been difficult months, with his attention split between hockey and concern for his friends and family in his hometown. Zone 4 was the location of a large outbreak that pushed the region into the province's most severe lockdown phase for two weeks, resulting in the closure of schools and non-essential businesses. "I was getting a bit worried [about the outbreak]. I know a couple of people who had [COVID-19] so it was not fun hearing that," he said. Long said he was also concerned about the well-being of his uncle, who's the owner of Manoir Bellevue, the care home that found itself battling a month-long outbreak among its staff and residents, with COVID-19 linked to the death of six residents. 'It can be tough sometimes' Matthew Parker hasn't seen his family in person since Christmas. The 16-year-old Fredericton Caps player hasn't been able to go home in almost two months. "It can be tough sometimes, and you miss seeing them and everything," Parker said. It's also tough on Gary Parker, his father, who would normally make the drive at least once a week to see his son play. "It's very different, very difficult," Parker said. "You want to be beside your son as much as possible in any such situation, but we're actually lucky that he's still having fun and enjoying himself and working hard." Gary Parker, left, would normally travel every weekend from Edmundston to see his son, Matthew Parker, play in games. This season, he hasn't been able to do that due to COVID-19 restrictions. Matthew Parker said he feels lucky to be able to practice and train, despite competitive games being suspended while the entire province remains in the orange recovery phase. "It's pretty great, I think. And we're ready — like any time that the season starts again, we'll be ready," he said. Still optimistic about future prospects Noah Gibbs, like the rest of his teammates, has been practising four days a week, on top of hitting the gym in order to stay in shape. And he's hopeful the unusual season won't have a long-term impact on his hockey career. "Because everyone is living the same thing as us... I'm not really concerned," Gibbs said. "[They've done a] really good job to make sure we stayed in shape. And we're ready to play some more games and develop ourselves too, so I'm confident," he said, adding he's already been drafted to play next year for the Québec Remparts, of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Noah Gibbs, a player with the Fredericton Caps U18 AAA hockey team, said he isn't worried about the unusual season holding him back in his chances at advancing in the sport. Parker said he's also keeping a positive attitude, and remains optimistic he'll come out at the end of the season with good prospects for next year. "I'm not worried much, honestly. I tell myself that everything happens for a reason and I just go with the flow," he said. "And I have a couple of options for next year, so that's always good." Supports there if needed Eric Bissonnette, the team's head coach, has been keeping a close eye on players who've found themselves playing away from their hometown this season. "I know from our organization, we've put a major, major effort to make sure that they knew they have a support system with them," Bissonnette said. "Sometimes you only find out things after the fact, but we've tried to have an open line of communication and they look like they've coped with it very well." Overall, Bissonnette said he's been impressed with how well the players have handled all the time away from family and not being able to play games this season. "Coming to the rink they've been the very best, always bringing a positive attitude. So I like to think that they've done extremely well."
TORONTO — The National Film Board of Canada is creating two key positions and improving hiring practices as part of new measures it says are aimed at eliminating injustice and systemic racism not just in Canadian society, but also within the institution. The diversity, equity and inclusion changes come amid a racial reckoning that has many in Canada's screen industry calling for an increase in funding and representation for creators from Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour communities. The announcement also comes just over two months after the film board released its strategic plan for 2020-2023, which was delayed from July 2019 as the NFB further consulted with stakeholders who were concerned about the institution's spending priorities. The new initiatives include the creation of a director of diversity, equity and inclusion position, to be filled by a candidate from an underrepresented community. The senior role will oversee equity and anti-racist practices, and will be a member of the NFB’s executive committee. The NFB is also establishing a new director of Indigenous relations and community engagement position, which will involve forging closer ties with communities. That role will be filled by an Indigenous candidate and help improve Indigenous representation among film board employees, and advise on issues related to production and distribution of NFB works. "One of the reasons I feel it's so important to have those two people embedded with us in everything is that we are a white, white, white management committee," Claude Joli-Coeur, government film commissioner and NFB chairperson, said in an interview. Having a director of Indigenous relations and community engagement working closely with the top brass will also be greatly beneficial in situations like what the NFB is facing with the documentary "Inconvenient Indian," he said. The NFB co-production is on hold for distribution after a CBC News report questioned director Michelle Latimer's claims of Indigenous identity. Joli-Coeur said the NFB and producers are still "assessing all the different possibilities" for the film, noting "it's a very complicated situation" their Indigenous Advisory Committee is providing guidance on. "That's an illustration of why we need change, why we need more Indigenous colleagues, and why we need also a champion of Indigenous (projects) to help us to navigate in those very turbulent waters." The NFB says the new measures were designed with the input of many internal and external partners, and are in addition to the government agency's Indigenous Action Plan, now in its third year, as well as its plan for gender parity. The two new positions will work closely together, report directly to Joli-Coeur, and work with other decision-makers at the organization on a daily basis. They'll "have an important influence on anything" the NFB does, from the way it thinks to how it approaches things and finds solutions, he said. "They will also be our eyes on the floor, because I'm expecting that they will be deeply connected with all of our employees. Anything that we don't see that is kind of hidden or not on the spotlight that we're missing, will be brought to our attention." Other new measures announced Wednesday include a pledge to make the NFB staff "fully reflect Canadian society" by March 31, 2023. Figures based on voluntary declaration from the NFB's fiscal year 2019-2020 show that out of 365 full-time permanent employees, the NFB staff base includes: 211 women, 52 visible minorities, three Indigenous employees, and eight people with disabilities. The organization says it wants to ensure its slate of directors and producers always includes individuals from underrepresented communities. And it pledges that at least half of all new hires will be drawn from people in those groups — Indigenous, Black, racialized, and LGBTQ2+, and people with disabilities. "It's a transformation of the organization," said Joli-Coeur. "We want to set up goals that, within the next two years, will have an important impact on the fabric of our employees and how we work with creators and how we fulfill our mandate." Joli-Coeur's second and final term as commissioner is done at the end of November 2022. He said he's "preparing the ground" for his successors with specific target dates to help ensure goals are met and the NFB makes significant and lasting changes. "When I leave the organization, I want see already that change happening, and that's something that is achievable," he said, "and after that the ambition should be that we exceed that representation." Other new commitments include prioritizing recruitment of individuals (two out of three people) from the aforementioned underrepresented communities for all other management positions as the positions open, "until the NFB accurately reflects the composition of Canada's population." The film board also vows to ensure its programming equitably includes the voices of creators from those underrepresented communities, and that those groups are represented within the NFB's Creation and Innovation committees. To help find a wide range of people and companies of diverse backgrounds for contract work, the NFB plans to establish "a respectful, clear, convenient and transparent method of data collection." The NFB also pledges to: - Continue to highlight creators and promote works from diverse communities in the NFB's distribution and marketing activities, focusing on themes of social justice, equality, intersectionality, and immigration. - Put described video and subtitles on each new film. - Work with organizations representing equity-seeking groups to develop greater sensitivity and openness. - Create annual action plans with measurable targets for matters of diversity, equity and inclusion at the NFB. - Issue independent quarterly reports to the NFB’s executive committee and its board of trustees on issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion, unconscious bias and systemic racism at the NFB. - Also issue annual reports on these issues and the progress made. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
(CBC - image credit) New Brunswick's auditor general took a dispute over her authority to dig into the books of the body in charge of billions of dollars in New Brunswick government employee pension funds directly to MLAs Tuesday, a forum that has worked well for her in the past. Kim Adair-MacPherson told MLAs in her report to the legislature's public accounts committee she has been refused full access to the financial records of Vestcor to review its pay and performance, and requested their intervention to avoid a court fight with the body. "In our view, the Auditor General Act, as it stands, grants the Auditor General authority to audit Vestcor," said Adair-MacPherson in her report. "To prevent future disagreements over access, however, we propose a regulation be added to the Auditor General Act to explicitly list Vestcor as an auditable entity." Vestcor is the Fredericton-based organization set up to manage what is now $18 billion in New Brunswick government pensions and other funds. It's jointly owned by the province's two largest public pension funds serving civil servants and teachers, but also oversees the retirement plans of hospital workers, nurses, Crown corporation employees, provincial court judges, MLAs and other groups. Vestcor also manages other investment accounts, including University of New Brunswick endowment funds and nuclear waste and decommissioning funds for NB Power. It used to be a Crown agency but was given its independence in 2016, in part, so it could market its expertise and manage funds for other out-of-province public bodies. So far none have signed on, something the auditor general suggested should also be looked into. She said she also has an interest in reviewing other issues, like how six-figure bonus payments to Vestcor executives are earned and calculated and how its investment strategy is performing. In 2019, Vestcor paid its top three executives a combined $2.63 million, most of that in bonus and incentive pay. Vestcor president John Sinclair earned $1.26 million in 2019, most of that from $882,721 in bonus pay. In a statement posted on its website Vestcor disputed the Auditor General's contention she has the authority to review the body's operations. "Our analysis and advice have indicated that the Auditor General should be much more limited with respect to access to Vestcor related information than what had been requested, " read the statement. "We therefore have had to respectfully decline these requests to ensure we can continue to fulfill our contractual and other commitments to our clients." In addition to wanting the province to order Vestcor to accept the authority of her office, Adair-MacPherson encouraged MLAs to call the body before the public accounts committee to ask their own questions about its operations. "We're now five years later and some of the things [MLAs] were told have not panned out the way that they were led to believe," Adair-MacPherson told reporters. "Decision makers have to agree that they want this entity subject to audit." People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin made a motion for Vestcor to appear before the public accounts committee to answer questions. In her report, Adair-MacPherson reproduced letters back and forth between her office and Vestcor trying to arrange a review of materials the body claimed it is not required to disclose. She said the effort dragged on for weeks and stalled the audit of the province's books until she could trust the valuation of pension assets the province was reporting in its own financial statements. She said New Brunswick's comptroller had to hire an outside auditor for $30,000 to deal with the matter. "It was in my view ridiculous the hurdles we had to go through to get to the point to finalize the statements," she said. Vestcor recently upgraded its accommodations by moving its operations into two floors of a new office tower on Carleton Street, Fredericton's so called "sexiest building." People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin made a motion to summon the body to answer questions. The committee is scheduled to vote on the matter Wednesday. It's not the first time Adair-MacPherson has used her appearance in front of MLAs to ask for help. 'It's a simple fix,' says AG In 2018, she told MLAs her office was underfunded and required a $1-million budget increase to properly do its job. It was a plea political parties immediately added to their election platforms that year and which the Higgs government delivered in its first post-election budget. On Tuesday, she said she hoped taking her dispute with Vestcor to MLAs would generate support and another swift response. "It's a simple fix. It's an easy clarification of the Auditor General Act," she said. "It's my attempt to resolve the issue once and for all."
Filming a polar bear just inches from its nose, close enough to see its breath fog up the lens, was a career highlight for Jeff Thrasher. The CBC producer is part of the team behind Arctic Vets, a new show that follows the day-to-day operations at Assiniboine Park Conservancy in Winnipeg. "It was breathing warm air onto the lens. I was thinking, 'Wow, there's nothing between me and this polar bear,"' Thrasher said, who filmed the shot using a GoPro camera up in Churchill, Man. The show is also the first time cameras have been allowed in the Winnipeg facility, which houses Arctic animals like seals, polar bears and muskox. "I've filmed many, many things in my career and that's right up there," Thrasher said. There are 10 half-hour episodes in the new series that features expeditions to Manitoba's subarctic, emergency animal rescues and daily life at the conservancy. The first episode follows veterinarian Chris Enright to Churchill just as polar bears are starting to migrate up the coast of Hudson Bay. When a bear wanders too close to town, Enright works with the local Polar Bear Alert Team to catch it and lift it by helicopter to a safe distance away. In the same episode, back in Winnipeg, the team trims the hooves of resident 800-pound muskox, Chloe. Although being around Arctic animals is part of Enright's daily life, he hopes the show will help bring southern Canadians a little closer to the North. "This is our norm. But it's not the norm for a lot of people, so the show is a good opportunity to tell these stories," he said. "We have herds of caribou that rival migrating animals on the Serengeti, but people in the South don't necessarily know about that. And that's really unfortunate, because there's some incredible wildlife in the North." Enright also hopes the show will urge Canadians to think about protecting the country's Arctic ecosystems, which face the critical threat of climate change. "There's a lot of concern with the effects of climate change and over the next 50, 100 years what's going to happen. As southerners, there are things we can do to protect and conserve those ecosystems," he said. The COVID-19 pandemic also hit in the middle of filming, which Enright said prevented the team from travelling into Nunavut. Jackie Enberg, an animal care supervisor and Heather Penner, an animal care professional, are also featured in the show for their work with polar bears. "It's not just animal care or vet care, or conservation and research. It's all of it. We all have a great passion to educate and share and help inspire other people to make a difference, whether it's to make changes in your lives or just talk about," Penner said. Enberg said the bears featured in the show were rescued when they were a few years old. "They're here because they could not survive in the wild," Enberg said. "We just ultimately hope people will fall in love with polar bears as much as we have," Penner said. Arctic Vets airs Friday. Feb. 26 at 8 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem. By Emma Tranter in Iqaluit, Nunavut This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. --- This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship The Canadian Press
(Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit) Joanne Valiquette used to love going out for walks and having visitors to her North Bay apartment. But now the 68-year-old is afraid to even go into the halllway of the Lancelot Apartments, which has become the centre of a COVID variant outbreak in the city. "It really hit close to home when it's in this building. It is scary," says Valiquette. "So I'm afraid to go out to to do my laundry or to go through the lobby downstairs." So far, over 40 tenants of the building have tested positive for COVID, about two dozen of them a confirmed case of one of the new fast-spreading variants of the coronavirus. Two of Valiquette's neighbours have died. "I have a feeling it's never going to end. We're never going to have freedom again," she says. "It's going to be like this maybe for the rest of my life." Over 40 tenants at the Lancelot Apartments in North Bay have tested positive for COVID-19, about 26 of them for one of the new variants. Two people who lived in the building have died. The Nipissing and Parry Sound districts are now approaching two months in lockdown and the health unit has extended the stay-at-home order until at least March 8. Unlike Toronto and Peel, which remain shutdown because of a high number of COVID cases, the North Bay and Parry Sound areas aren't re-opening in order to stop the spread of the variants. "It is nerve-racking. You feel like you're one swab away from a disaster," says Jamie Lowery, the CEO of the city-run Casselholme nursing home. "You're always wondering... if somehow it will get into your home." One visitor to Casselholme did test positive for a COVID variant and then there were 12 more positive COVID tests this week— two staff and 10 relatives of residents. Lowery says about half of them were re-tested and it came back negative. The health unit says that doesn't mean they don't have the virus and are consulting with experts about the test results. But Lowery says public health is refusing to re-test the remaining half dozen, mostly spouses of one of the long-term care residents. "I'm very upset," he says. "These are seniors. And every time you cough or sneeze or feel a headache, in your mind, you're like 'uh oh.' They're quite worried." Jamie Lowery, the CEO of the Casselholme nursing home, would like to see the health unit release more information about the spread of variants in North Bay. Lowery would also like to see the health unit sharing more of what it knows about how the variants are spreading in North Bay. Others took that frustration further, marching in the street outside the health unit office calling for an end to the lockdown and chanting "Chirico has got to go" referring to medical officer of health Dr. Jim Chirico. "I was surprised and disappointed by that. I think he's done an outstanding job," says North Bay city councillor Chris Mayne. "I think he's actually saved lives in our community by being prudent and I think most people in the community appreciate that." A few dozen protesters on the streets of North Bay this week called for an end to the lockdown and laid blame on medical officer of health Dr. Jim Chirico. Chirico has been the target of criticism for the past month, after the health unit went over and above provincial restrictions and ordered tobogganing hills, skating rinks and snowmobile trails in Nipissing and Parry Sound closed. That ban was lifted this week, while the stay-at-home order continues. Robb Noon, the mayor of the small town of Callander just south of North Bay, says public health is "showing leadership" by "making the tough decisions" but says they need to explain their thinking to frustrated citizens. "If we don't have anything to go by to understand that, it just leads to speculation. You never see a light at the end of the tunnel. You have no clue," says Noon. "The public is so thirsty for more information." Parry Sound Mayor Jamie McGarvey says he has yet to get an explanation why his town and others over an hour's drive from the variant outbreak in North Bay can't re-open along with the rest of northern Ontario. "There are a number of very upset people. They are certainly questioning the lockdown. There are businesses that are suffering," he says. "Why penalize absolutely everybody when you could isolate the severe situations?" No one from the North Bay-Parry Sound Public Health Unit was made available for an interview for this story and Dr. Chirico has not been made available to speak with CBC for several weeks now.
(John Robertson/CBC - image credit) P.E.I. has confirmed two new cases of COVID-19 and one public exposure site — at the Toys R Us store on Buchanan Drive in Charlottetown. There have been 117 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on P.E.I. since March 2020. Three remain active. There have been no deaths or hospitalizations. The Prince Edward Island government plans to set up collaborative structures for patient care that it refers to as "medical homes" and "medical neighbourhoods." The University of Prince Edward Island announced it is planning a return to a "more normal" academic experience in the fall of 2021. A report from the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council shows potential vulnerabilities for P.E.I.'s economic recovery. It will likely be another six to eight weeks before the Atlantic bubble reopens, Dr. Heather Morrison said in her regular weekly COVID-19 briefing Tuesday. P.E.I. is embarking on a four-week pilot project where it will use both rapid and regular tests for COVID-19 on people landing at Charlottetown Airport. The Island is getting a new warehouse that will in part ensure the province is better prepared for the next pandemic. A COVID-19 vaccination clinic opened in the Sherwood Business Centre in Charlottetown Monday. On Wednesday, Newfoundland and Labrador reported eight new cases of COVID-19, and one new death. The province now has 345 active cases. Nova Scotia reported three new cases, with the total of active cases at 21. New Brunswick reported two new cases bring its number of active cases to 64. Also in the news Further resources Reminder about symptoms The symptoms of COVID-19 can include: Fever. Cough or worsening of a previous cough. Possible loss of taste and/or smell. Sore throat. New or worsening fatigue. Headache. Shortness of breath. Runny nose. More from CBC P.E.I.
TORONTO — A civil liberties lawyer says a decision by the City of Toronto to bill a restaurant owner nearly $200,000 to cover the cost of enforcing lockdown regulations raises concerns about people's constitutionally protected right to protest. Adam Skelly, the owner of Adamson Barbecue, opened his restaurant for indoor dining in November in violation of COVID-19 public health regulations, drawing dozens of anti-lockdown protesters. On the weekend, Skelly posted on social media that he had received an invoice from the city for $187,030.56, with the cost of the police response accounting for $165,188.73 of the total. Cara Zwibel, the director of the fundamental freedoms program with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said the idea that individuals should have to pay for the opportunity to exercise their freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly is concerning. There are significant costs to policing a wide variety of matters, she said, but criminals don't pay the policing costs associated with those crimes. "There is a concern that the city is not treating this as part of their normal operations," Zwibel said. "But this is what police do, they enforce the law and keep the peace, that's the cost of doing business as a municipality." A spokesman for the city said businesses that have violated the law and have been ordered to close have remained closed, making Adamson Barbecue an exception. "There was a significant amount of time that the police and city incurred in dealing with this issue in terms of his opening the establishment and our need to close it under public health orders," Brad Ross said in an interview. The invoice was sent to Skelly in December but has not yet been paid, he said, adding that the city is considering launching a civil suit to recoup the money. Ross said this is the first time the city sends an invoice to someone during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, he said a business or resident was billed for not clearing a sidewalk of snow, leaving the city to do the work - but those cases were not common. Zwibel said there is already a system in place to deal with people who break the law: the justice system. The "pay-to-protest" issue has come up in the past, she said, especially on university campuses. If a topic of a planned protest is a hot-button issue and the event is expected to attract a large crowd, universities have tried to have organizers pay for security. "The universities will sometimes say 'well, there's going to be a big reaction to that and so we're going to need security, and so you're going to have to pay for it," Zwibel said. "I would say it's not appropriate to have to pay to exercise your constitutionally protected right to protest." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
Bruce Springsteen was fined $500 on Wednesday after the rock 'n' roll legend pleaded guilty to a charge of consuming alcohol at a federally run New Jersey beach in November, and prosecutors dropped drunken driving and reckless driving charges. Springsteen, 71, whose songs have chronicled life in his home state of New Jersey and its shore scene for more than 50 years, entered his plea in an online arraignment before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Anthony Mautone in Newark. He admitted to downing "two small shots of tequila" on Nov. 14 at Sandy Hook beach, part of the National Park Service's Gateway National Recreation Area, where alcohol consumption is prohibited.
The largest outflow on record for Cathie Wood's ARK fund was not enough to stop the firm from increasing its bet on Tesla Inc after the electric carmaker's stock closed below $700 for the first time this year on Tuesday. Wood, whose $26.6 billion ARK Innovation exchange-traded fund (ETF) was the top-performing actively managed U.S. equity fund tracked by Morningstar last year, bought $171 million of Tesla shares, pushing its weight to about 10% of the fund. The sell-off triggered heavy trading, with $5 billion of ARK Innovation shares changing hands on Tuesday - more than double the previous session's volume.
(Submitted by the Bennett family - image credit) John Bennett and his family take a picture before quarantining. It's a nightmare scenario for many families in Newfoundland contending with the latest rise in COVID-19 numbers: Parents testing positive and having to divide their home for self-isolation, all while taking care of young children. For one St. John's family that's already a reality. John Bennett's 10-year-old son, John, has cystic fibrosis, a chronic lung disease. Last week, Bennett, his wife Gillian, and their other son Noah, 6, all tested positive for COVID-19. Bennett initially booked a swab after visiting Bigs Ultimate Sports Grill in Mount Pearl, around the time the B117 variant started its spread through the metro region. While his first test came back negative, Bennett said he and his wife developed symptoms a few days later. "She just wasn't feeling all that well — a little bit under the weather," said Bennett. A day after her test, she got the result: positive. Bennett said the news came as a shock to his family, and soon after, he and his two sons got tested as well. Bennett's returned positive that time, though both of his sons' results came back negative. Noah was tested again on Monday, and the result came back positive. The Bennetts have two boys, John and Noah. John, the oldest, has cystic fibrosis. Right away, the family tried to divide the house, with Bennett's sons, wife, and himself each taking separate parts of the home. But having young kids, especially one with a lung condition like cystic fibrosis, made staying apart a challenge. "It feels like a bit of a yo-yo effect. At one moment you're feeling OK, the next minute emotions are kind of all over the place," said Bennett. "You're trying to take care of yourself, you're also trying to take care of your kids, your wife, and then trying to figure out some logistics of all living in the house together." Cystic fibrosis heightening anxiety Bennett's foremost worry at the moment is John falling ill, too. Since the pandemic began last year, Bennett said, they've learned a little more about how the virus affects those living with cystic fibrosis. "I'm certainly not minimizing it whatsoever, but from what we've seen over the last year, it doesn't necessarily have a bigger impact," Bennett said. While there's no evidence to show conditions like cystic fibrosis make individuals more susceptible to contracting COVID-19, people with the condition may be susceptible to more serious symptoms. Meals delivered by friends and family have been a big help, says Bennett. Bennett described his son as healthy and active, a kid who diligently follows a cystic fibrosis treatment regimen. The uncertainty of the virus, however, is still a cause of concern. "It's been worrying. We don't want him to have it," Bennett said. "But if he does have it, and sometimes I guess you just have to mentally prepare yourself for those things, we'll deal with it the best we can." John was tested again this week and his results came back negative: welcome news for Bennett and his family. For the time being, Bennett said John is in isolation with plenty of games to keep him entertained. "He's been in kind of his own isolation mode; he's got his Xbox, and he's got some friends online that just kept him company and whatnot." A father's advice? Get tested While they never expected the pandemic to hit so close to home, Bennett said, they shared their story over social media in order to keep friends and family informed, and encourage others to get tested. "I tested negative and had some symptoms probably three or four days after. Hindsight is 20/20. I should have probably gotten retested," said Bennett. His overall message is no matter how mild your symptoms may be, he hopes others take them seriously. Bennett, whose family has been vocal about John's condition in the past, said they've received overwhelming support. "All of the support from family and friends to be quite honest with you has helped us get through this," he said. "Messages of support, food being dropped off, snacks being dropped off. Just the outreach has kind of left us sometimes a little bit speechless." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
(Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit) COVID-19 levels are declining from the devastating peaks of the second wave across much of Canada, but experts say the threat of more contagious coronavirus variants threatens to jeopardize our ability to prevent a third wave. Canada has close to 850 confirmed cases of the variants first identified in the U.K., South Africa and Brazil, with at least six provinces now reporting community transmission — meaning there's probably a lot more spreading beneath the surface than we know. But as variant cases increase, overall COVID-19 numbers have dropped steadily in Canada, with just over 31,000 active cases across the country, and an average of about 2,900 new cases and 54 deaths daily. "Overall, we're still doing well," Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said during a news conference on Tuesday. "But things could change rapidly." So, is Canada destined for a third wave? Or will we be able to adequately respond to the threat of variants spreading across the country to avoid one altogether? Parts of the country that have seen notable declines in cases have recently moved to reopen non-essential businesses and lift lockdowns in the face of fast-spreading variants, despite public health officials cautioning against doing so. WATCH | Federal modelling warns COVID-19 cases will rise with variants: Is a 3rd wave in Canada inevitable? Much like the first and second waves of the pandemic in Canada, the situation varies greatly across the country for a number of different reasons — ranging from geographic and demographic to political. But even provinces and territories that have had fewer COVID-19 cases are still at high risk of devastating outbreaks, overwhelmed health-care systems and severe outcomes for vulnerable populations if variants spread rapidly. Tam said Newfoundland and Labrador is a cautionary tale for the rest of Canada, where an outbreak of the variant first identified in the U.K., also known as B117, led to a spike in new cases in the community during a time when public health measures were "less stringent." "Provincial health authorities knew something was different when cases escalated over a matter of days, even before laboratory evidence confirmed the presence of the B117 variant," she said. Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease physician and scientist with Toronto General Hospital, said variants have made it hard for anyone to predict the likelihood of a bad third wave of the pandemic in Canada with any degree of confidence. "When you factor in variants of concern and you factor in not enough immunity in the population to protect ourselves, it's clear that a third wave is certainly a possibility," he said. "But I wouldn't say it's an inevitability." Storm clouds are pictured above a shipping vessel moored in English Bay in Vancouver on Jan. 25. Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease physician and scientist with Toronto General Hospital, says a third wave of the pandemic is possible but not inevitable. Bogoch said the likelihood of a third wave depends on how Canadians respond to the loosening of restrictions and the increase in opportunities to mingle together and get into situations where the virus can more easily be transmitted. "It also completely depends on how the provincial governments and the public health authorities choose to reopen their provinces and their ability to rapidly react to a rise in cases," said Bogoch, a member of Ontario's COVID-19 vaccine distribution task force. "It doesn't mean you have to stay locked down until everyone is vaccinated. It just means that as places reopen, they have to be extremely careful, proceed very slowly and be able to rapidly pivot if there's any indication that there are cases plateauing or rising." What is the likelihood of a 3rd wave in Canada? Raywat Deonandan, a global health epidemiologist and an associate professor at the University of Ottawa, says that based on what we know right now, a third wave is "mathematically inevitable" in Canada because of three key factors. The first is we know what third waves typically look like from previous pandemics, such as the 1918 Spanish Flu, which saw a brutal third wave during the winter and spring of 1919 — around the same point of the pandemic we're in now. Deonandan said societal behaviour is another factor that could lead to a more severe third wave if variants drive outbreaks as restrictions lift and Canadians don't strictly adhere to public health guidelines. And the third factor is variants, which Deonandan said could be the driving "mechanism" for a devastating third wave in Canada given the extent to which they've already spread in recent weeks. But he said the likelihood of a bad third wave could change with two major caveats. "The first is: It is avoidable with sufficient public health response and precautionary action, but our history shows us that most governments are unwilling to do the hard public health response, and most populations are unwilling to tolerate that level of action," he said. "The second caveat is of course vaccination." The good news is that vaccines have not only been shown to be effective in the real world in reducing severe outcomes from COVID-19 but also in potentially curbing virus transmission. A nurse prepares doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto on Dec. 22. Experts say we may not be able to vaccinate enough of the population fast enough in Canada to adequately slow the spread of variants in time before they take over. But the catch is we may not be able to vaccinate enough of the population fast enough in Canada to adequately slow the spread of variants in time before they take over. "It's a race against time. We want to get the vaccines out there now, before variants get in," said Dr. Anna Banerji, a physician and infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health. "I really believe that we can get on top of this if we get people vaccinated and then make modifications to the vaccines as we need to." Banerji said even if Canada has a third wave, it likely won't be as bad as previous waves because she feels Canadians have learned tough lessons in the pandemic — such as in December, when people gathered over the holidays and cases skyrocketed. WATCH | How vaccines can keep up with coronavirus variants: "People see that our individual actions have an impact on the outcome, and so I think while people may feel disempowered, they're realizing that their behaviour really does count," she said. "Once we get the vaccines out, things will change and we'll start opening things up. So I'm still optimistic for the future, even if there's a lot of fear out there." How bad could a 3rd wave be in Canada? Deonandan said that while Canada may not be able to completely "vaccinate our way out of a third wave," it could look completely different than waves we've seen in the past. "What might happen is that our third wave is very high in cases but not as high in deaths, because we have done a pretty good job in vaccinating our long-term care centres if nothing else, and that's where a large proportion of our deaths come from," he said. "But hospitalizations might be a different matter." Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease specialist at Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga, Ont., said once those at highest risk are vaccinated, including seniors living in the community and in long-term care, hospitalizations will likely decrease. "But people are going to worry if we open up, we're just going to get tons of cases," he said. "Yes — but they're not going to be severe." Chakrabarti said if Canada sees a smaller third wave, or "wavelet," the health-care system might be able to "absorb" the impact of COVID-19 better than previous waves and avoid becoming completely overwhelmed. A nurse tends to a patient suspected of having COVID-19 in the ICU of a Toronto hospital in May. Infectious disease specialist Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti says if Canada sees a smaller third wave, or 'wavelet,' the health-care system might be able to 'absorb' the impact of COVID-19 better than previous waves. South Africa recently saw a notable decline in COVID-19 cases despite the variant first identified there driving a spike in transmission, which could bode well for other countries hoping to control that variant from spreading. But experts caution that a decline in cases could be short lived, as evidenced by countries hit hard by B117, such as Portugal, Spain, Ireland and the U.K., that later saw an even greater spike in cases driven by the variant. If Canada is hit by a third wave, Bogoch said it's likely that community-dwelling seniors and racialized communities will be disproportionately harmed. "We know how to prevent this from happening. We have the tools that work, we know how to do this, we can prevent a third wave," he said. "There's no reason to have a third wave. There's no reason to have another lockdown. This is not related to the virus, and we have enough information about how this virus is transmitted. This is truly based on policy." Deonandan said while he agrees that a third wave could be prevented, he's all but convinced Canada is destined to face one because of a lack of political will from parts of the country that are already pushing to reopen. "It's highly likely. I think we could do heroic things to avoid it, but we won't," he said. "But what is uncertain is what the hospitalization and death toll of a third wave will be — it might not be as severe."
STONY PLAIN, Alta. — A pastor of an Edmonton-area church that has been allegedly holding Sunday services in violation of COVID-19 rules is to appear in court today. James Coates with GraceLife Church in Spruce Grove was arrested last week. RCMP have said he was remanded in custody after refusing to agree to bail conditions. The church has been holding services that officials say break public health regulations on attendance, masking and distancing. Police fined the church $1,200 in December and a closure order was issued in January. Coates was twice charged in February with violating the Public Health Act and violating a promise to abide by rules of his release, which is a Criminal Code offence. Coates has addressed the province's health restrictions in his sermons, telling worshippers that governments exist as instruments of God and there should be unfettered freedom of worship. An associate pastor of the church, Jacob Spenst, conducted last Sunday's service and told the congregation that messages of support have been pouring in for the jailed pastor. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Adrian Wyld / Canadian Press - image credit) When Iain Rankin was sworn in on Tuesday as Nova Scotia's new premier, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau became something very few prime ministers become, something none of his predecessors became at such a young age — the person with the most experience at the table. With the retirement of former Nova Scotia premier Stephen McNeil, Trudeau is now the senior figure in the federation. No provincial or territorial premier has been in government as long as Trudeau has been prime minister, even though he started in the job little more than five years ago. That makes Trudeau just the sixth prime minister ever to become the longest-serving sitting government leader in the country. It also puts him in a club with some accomplished members: the other PMs who hit that longevity mark before leaving office were John A. Macdonald, Wilfrid Laurier, Mackenzie King, Pierre Trudeau and Stephen Harper. Unlike those five, however, Trudeau hasn't had to wait very long to become the last person standing. No other prime minister (with the exception of Macdonald, who by default was the senior figure nearly from the start) has served for less time than Trudeau before becoming the most seasoned leader in the country. Trudeau has been in office for just 5.3 years. Harper — who previously had been the prime minister who had the shortest wait to seniority — was starting his seventh year in office when he became the longest-serving leader in the federation in 2013. Trudeau's father had to wait over a decade. Pierre Trudeau was also nearly 60 when he took over the mantle of Canada's senior political figure, while both King and Laurier were over 60 when they reached the milestone. Justin Trudeau is just a little over 49 years old — a few years younger than both Harper and Macdonald when they achieved seniority. Since 1867, the average age of the senior figure around the first ministers' table has been around 55 years old, making Trudeau one of the younger oldest-hands in Canadian political history. Even in the current context, it might seem a bit odd that Trudeau's longevity is greater than that of his provincial colleagues. Only Rankin (37), Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey (45) and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe (47) are younger than Trudeau. Few premiers have reached seniority faster than Trudeau In fact, for most of Canada's history the longest-serving sitting government leader has come from a provincial capital rather than Ottawa. That makes Trudeau's quick rise to seniority even more of an oddity. Only two provincial premiers have served for less time than Trudeau before becoming the most experienced leader — and the last one served nearly a century ago. Former British Columbia premier John Oliver waited just 4.9 years before becoming the senior figure in the federation in 1923, while New Brunswick premier George E. King did it in just under three years in 1875. On average, premiers and prime ministers have had to wait about nine years to achieve senior status — enough time to cover at least two governing mandates. Trudeau is only a third of the way through his second term in office. Former Quebec premier Robert Bourassa had to wait the longest before getting to the head of the table. He became the senior figure in 1990, about 20 years after his first election win in 1970. Of the 43 people who have held senior status since Confederation, only eight premiers were younger than Trudeau when they reached the top of the mountain. They include New Brunswick's Frank McKenna and Richard Hatfield and Alberta's Ernest Manning. Seniority is fleeting On average, Canada's "senior statesman" (and it has only ever been a man) has held the title for just 3.7 years. Trudeau will have to hold on to his job until November 2023 to pass Harper and avoid becoming the prime minister who has been the senior figure for the least amount of time. Macdonald, of course, holds the record — nearly 19 years spread over two non-consecutive periods in office. No provincial premier has broken that record, though Manning came the closest. He was the senior political figure for nearly 15 years between 1954 and 1968. Manning was also the last figure to hold the title for more than seven uninterrupted years. Why? The past few decades have seen a lot of turnover among premiers and prime ministers. The last person to be the longest-serving governing leader for more than three years was Alberta's Ralph Klein, who stepped down as premier in 2006. Iain Rankin was sworn in as Nova Scotia premier on Tuesday, replacing Stephen McNeil, who previously had been the longest-serving sitting premier in Canada. Trudeau is the 12th person to hold the senior status title since Klein retired from politics. Compare that to the relative stability in federal and provincial leadership between 1927 and 1968, when only four leaders sat as senior figures: Quebec's Louis-Alexandre Taschereau, Nova Scotia's Angus L. Macdonald, King and Manning. Trudeau has seen his fair share of turnover during his relatively short time in office. Rankin is the 27th provincial or territorial premier Trudeau will get to know. That might sound like a lot — but King, Macdonald, Harper and Jean Chrétien each saw at least 40 premiers and territorial leaders come and go. Trudeau might still have to make it through another election or two to get into that company.
GLASGOW, Scotland — Neil Lennon resigned as manager of Scottish club Celtic on Wednesday with the team a distant second behind Glasgow rival Rangers. Celtic was in pursuit of a 10th consecutive league title but is 18 points behind Rangers in a turbulent season punctuated by a 1-0 loss to struggling Ross County on Sunday. "We have experienced a difficult season due to so many factors and, of course, it is very frustrating and disappointing that we have not been able to hit the same heights as we did previously," Lennon said in a statement. “I have worked as hard as ever to try and turn things around, but unfortunately we have not managed to get the kind of run going that we have needed.” Lennon began his second stint as Celtic manager in February 2019 after Brendan Rodgers left to take over at Leicester and led the team to two league titles. Assistant coach John Kennedy was named to take over on an interim basis. “I would like to pay tribute to Neil for all he has done for the club in his second spell, delivering our eighth and ninth successive league titles, the quadruple treble and winning the last five available domestic trophies,” Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell said. “Neil has always been and will always be a true Celtic man and someone I will always hold in the highest regard.” Lawwell said it is a “sad day” to see Lennon leave. “Neil is a man of quality and decency," he said, "he is someone who will always be part of the fabric of Celtic and someone who will always be welcomed at Celtic Park.” ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Human rights campaigners hope the landmark ruling will set a precedent for other cases.View on euronews
(CBC - image credit) Data from Elections NL requested by CBC News this week is raising red flags for opposition party leaders, who say a record-low turnout would threaten election results. Elections NL estimates there have been 120,000 requests for mail-in ballots, in addition to the 68,259 special or advance ballots already received. If all those ballots are returned, it would equal a 51 per cent voter turnout rate — a historic low for Newfoundland and Labrador, which during its last election in May 2019 saw 60.7 per cent of eligible voters mark a ballot. The current lowest voter turnout, 55 per cent, came in 2015. "The right to have unimpeded access [to vote] … is absolutely central to the legitimacy of government," said PC Leader Ches Crosbie, in reaction to those numbers, in an interview Tuesday. The Tories have repeatedly pointed a finger at Liberal Leader Andrew Furey for triggering an election prior to widespread vaccine availability. Crosbie contends Furey ought to have pushed back his 12-month deadline to drop the writ, or at the very least, waited until summer. "That negligence, that's why we are where we are right now," Crosbie said. Furey wouldn't do an interview, instead sending a statement through his campaign office. "Our Liberal team is hearing from many voters who are looking forward to voting, and we hope this will contribute to a good turnout," the emailed statement said. "While it is too early to know what the voter turnout rate will be, our party hopes that Elections NL's work to navigate this unprecedented election will allow voters to safely cast their ballots." Furey has previously said that when he called a January election, he did so based on epidemiological modelling, which did not account for the current COVID-19 outbreak throttling the province. That outbreak led Elections NL to postpone election day, and cancel all in-person voting. It had originally been scheduled for Feb 13, just one day after the province's top doctor ordered strict lockdown measures to contain a rapidly spreading coronavirus variant. Turnout not yet certain Elections NL said because it had a wide array of application methods — including fax and phone — not all its requests have been processed, and it can't yet supply a final total. But Crosbie is betting on a portion of mail-in ballot requests not making it back to Elections NL in time for the March 12 deadline. Factoring in spoiled, late, and unreturned ballots against the number of requests, Crosbie thinks it's "simple mathematics to see that the voter turnout is likely to be less than 50 per cent." When questioned directly, Crosbie wouldn't go so far as to say his party would challenge the election results, but called the prospect of legal action "almost inevitable." NDP Leader Alison Coffin and Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie are expressing concerns over the estimated voter turnout rate. "The whole situation — things being made up, ad hoc, that affect voting rights [that] are constitutional in nature, invites litigation," he said. "It's such a mess." He also wouldn't say whether he would accept an argument for illegitimacy if the PCs were to win. "Whoever emerges from this," he replied, "is going to have a dubious mandate to get things done." Meanwhile, NDP Leader Alison Coffin stressed the tasks directly ahead of the electorate. At the moment, she said, anyone who did get a ballot should focus on submitting it in time. "Then we can figure out the ramifications of everything that's happened," she said. Given the obstacles voters face, however, she's not shocked to hear about Elections NL's data. Much of what happened, she said, could have been examined and managed by the Liberals to address types of access. "I think it would have been the responsible thing for the Furey government to look at modernizing the Elections Act," Coffin said. While Coffin says her party has not yet decided on whether they'll pursue a legal challenge, the NDP are asking for online feedback to reform the Elections Act once a government has been formed. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
(CBC - image credit) Despite early signs of overheating in Canada's housing market, Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem so far has no plans to raise interest rates until the economy and employment are back on track following the slump caused by COVID-19. Speaking remotely to the combined Calgary and Edmonton chambers of commerce on Tuesday, Canada's top central banker said that the economy would continue to need monetary stimulus, likely until 2023, even though there are already signs it could be distorting the residential real estate market. "In that low-for-long world, there are risks that housing could get carried away, so that is something we will be looking at very carefully," Macklem said in response to a question from a member of the remote audience. Some observers have already expressed worries that the Canadian housing market is rising at an unsustainable pace, leaving critics — including some in the real estate industry — nervous of a boom, followed by a devastating bust once interest rates finally start to rise. Women and youth hardest hit But while Macklem also expressed concern, he said that even though the bank predicts the economy will begin to surge by the end of this year, high unemployment among Canada's most vulnerable groups means the economy will continue to need a helping hand. "Because women and youth hold so many of the jobs in the hardest-hit sectors, they have borne a disproportionate share of the job losses," Macklem told his audience, and he said that many of the jobs that have disappeared will not come back. Already, long-term unemployment — measured as people who want to work but have not found a job in more than 26 weeks — is currently holding at more than half a million people, a level not seen in the economy in 30 years. Macklem said failure to get those people into jobs will lead to what he called "labour market scarring." In other words, it would result in permanent damage to the Canadian workforce. He suggested that while the bank is holding rates at rock-bottom levels, in return employers in his audience need to contribute by helping to train the types of employees they needed. That applied especially in the digital economy. WATCH | COVID-19's unequal economic recession in Canada: Low-wage jobs were hit the hardest. Not only did technology-related employment not fall as far, but the demand for tech workers has bounced back to levels higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. And he said that employers must help create their own workforce in an economy that is increasingly digital and automated. "Technology is no longer a sector," Macklem said. "It's every sector." But he said that rebuilding the workforce and the economy in that new form will be a process of months and years, and he reiterated that there is little fear of inflation and thus rate hikes because there remains plenty of slack in the economy. Beware 'extrapolative expectations' But just as low rates have led to increased borrowing by businesses that has helped spur expansion and share prices, low mortgage rates have made it easier for prospective homeowners to bid up the price of houses. So far, Macklem said, the move toward bigger houses further away from city centres has not been speculation so much as the need for more working — and learning — space for employees who no longer have to commute to the office. Part of the evidence for that is that larger, more distant homes are rising in value, whereas inner-city properties are attracting fewer buyers and renters. Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem, speaking remotely to the combined Calgary and Edmonton chambers of commerce on Tuesday, said the bank would keep a close eye on the housing market and think about how to contain a housing bubble that could lead to future trouble. But there are signs that the practical motivation for rising prices may be changing to the kind of speculative frenzy seen in 2016 and 2017 that the government tried to quell with tax measures and stress tests some of which were relaxed last year. "What we get worried about is when we start to see extrapolative expectations, when we start to see people expecting the kind of unsustainable price rises we've seen recently go on indefinitely, and they're basing their decision on those kinds of assumptions," he warned. And while he did not describe what kind of actions he would take to stimulate jobs without overstimulating housing, Macklem said the bank would keep a close eye on the housing market and think about how to contain a housing bubble that could lead to future trouble. "When we see people starting to buy houses solely because they think prices are going to go up, that is a warning sign for us," he told the audience. "We are starting to see some early signs of excess exuberance." Follow Don Pittis on Twitter: @don_pittis
(Mackenzie Scott/CBC - image credit) Although Pink Shirt Day is this coming Friday, that didn't stop some students who are out of school this week in Ulukhaktok, N.W.T., to celebrate the day a little early. Last Friday, students at Helen Kalvak Elihakvik School posted reminders to be kind throughout the community in honour of the day that is celebrated nationally with people wearing pink shirts to show they are against bullying. "The kids have come up with some great ideas and some great positive words and blurbs and quotes to be put out there. Together we've all created some pink ice bricks, put some posts in them, so these positivity signs spread kindness throughout all of Ulukhaktok," said Sandra Summers, a teacher at Helen Kalvak Elihakvik School who, along with her fellow teachers, is on professional development this week. Two students from Helen Kalvak Elihakvik School in Ulukhaktok, N.W.T. show the signs they made to celebrate Pink Shirt Day. Each sign the students made were in English and Inuinnaqtun and included phrases of kindness. Summers and Kathy Blouin both teach kids in composite classes of grades two to four. Pink Shirt Day started in Nova Scotia in 2007 with one small act of kindness. For the teachers, it was important that the kids be educated about the day and celebrated it even though they aren't in school. "It fits in really well with our health unit right now with mental health and emotional well being ... our goal is to bring kindness to these kids and then for these kids to then go on and spread kindness throughout the community." 'Our words are powerful' The pink signs were written in both English and Inuinnaqtun and included phrases like "throw kindness around like confetti" and "kindness is among us." Students worked on it throughout the week, and posted them throughout the community on Friday with help of the RCMP. "So ideally, when somebody when someone walks into the Co-op or the Northern [store], they are going to see one of the signs and it will make their day," said Summers. Eight-year-old Sarah Joss said she had fun making the sign but was really looking forward to "bringing kindness around the town." "Our words are powerful, they can make people sad or happy." With bright smiles, the kids delivered the messages with their classmates and teachers. "The biggest thing we want them to take from this is we want to inspire them to inspire others," said Summers. "We want to let them know if they are in a tough situation that they can always choose kindness."
Italian brands Missoni and Fendi kicked off the first day of Milan Fashion Week on Wednesday, with designers once again forced to swap the buzzing catwalks for digital presentations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Known for its zig-zag "Fiammato", or flamed, pattern and colourful designs, Missoni was the first fashion house to stream a video of its latest womenswear, blending clothes for autumn/winter with those for spring/summer. Filmed at Milan's Assago Forum, a venue that has been shut for months, models re-enacted social gatherings from bowling games to catch-ups with friends.
(Sarah MacMillan/CBC - image credit) Holland College is launching a new pilot project to help people who are, or were, a youth in care. The college will waive tuition and fees for prospective students who qualify, and if they don't meet the qualifications for their chosen program, they can access the college's adult education or GED programs to get those qualifications. To qualify for the pilot project, the student would need to have been in care for at least 24 months as a minor and must be a resident of P.E.I. There is no age limit. Holland College president Sandy MacDonald used to work with at-risk youth, and said some children in care sometimes have a difficult time transitioning to adulthood. "They drop out of school in greater numbers. They don't maximize their potential academically," he said. "So we thought that we were uniquely situated here at the college to help them with those transitions." MacDonald said he expects up to 10 people to enrol in the pilot project. "Our primary mandate and the reason our students come here is to find work and they want to find meaningful employment as soon after the graduation as possible," MacDonald said. "And we know that the way the labour market is in P.E.I. these days, that there will be opportunities for people on graduation." 'Community leadership' The program would be the first of its kind in the province, but not for the region. In Nova Scotia, Mount Saint Vincent University and the Nova Scotia Community College have recently announced programs to cover tuition for former youth in care, as has Memorial University in Newfoundland. "We have seen this take hold in other jurisdictions and we didn't want the young people in this province to be left behind," said P.E.I. Child and Youth Advocate Marvin Bernstein, who called the announcement "good news." "It's part of community leadership to step up to the plate and provide this kind of opportunity. Young people who've been in care and have gone through certain levels of adversity or disruptions in terms of their stability and life experience, through no fault of their own.… Can we give them a break? Can we give them an opportunity?" Bernstein said that from the perspective of equity and fairness, youth in care should have the same opportunities as their peers. Marvin Bernstein was sworn in as P.E.I.'s first child and youth advocate in July 2020. "History has shown us that, generally speaking, young people who've been in care don't access post-secondary education to the same degree. There's a lower percentage and they have poorer life outcomes. So this can change their life trajectory dramatically," he said. "They should have the right to pursue higher education, to reach their full potential, and when we encourage that kind of approach, society benefits because then we have contributing members of society." Bernstein said he'd also like to see UPEI follow suit. "It's kind of laying down the marker and perhaps challenging the other post-secondary institutions, UPEI, to do likewise, and then we will have more opportunities and more benefits, because right now with one institution, you've got a limited number of spaces," he said. "Can we open up other opportunities and other institutions?" Officials with the province said P.E.I. currently has 94 youth in care, six of which are graduating from high school this year. More from CBC News