Vivien Zheng lost $340K in an elaborate wire-transfer scam. Financial crime expert Vanessa Iafolla says that could have been prevented if banks had better protection for customers.
Vivien Zheng lost $340K in an elaborate wire-transfer scam. Financial crime expert Vanessa Iafolla says that could have been prevented if banks had better protection for customers.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. She also says the province will soon share an updated vaccine plan that factors in expected shipments of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province will do that after getting guidance from the federal government on potentially extending the time between first and second doses, like B.C. is doing, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months, Elliott says She also says Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since there's limited data on its effectiveness in older populations. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
HOLTVILLE, Calif. — Authorities are investigating whether human smuggling was involved after a crash Tuesday involving an SUV packed with 25 people and a tractor-trailer that left 13 people dead and bodies strewn across a roadway near the U.S. Mexico border. Most of the dead were Mexicans, a Mexican official said. When police arrived, some of the passengers were trying to crawl out of the crumpled 1997 Ford Expedition while others were wandering around the fields. The rig's front end was pushed into the SUV's left side and two empty trailers were jackknifed behind it. Twelve people were found dead when first responders reached the two-lane highway, which winds through fields in the agricultural southeastern corner of California about 125 miles (201 kilometres) east of San Diego. Another person died at a hospital, California Highway Patrol Chief Omar Watson said. “It was a pretty chaotic scene,” said Watson, who also described it as “a very sad situation.” Roberto Velasco, director of North American affairs for Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department, confirmed Tuesday on his Twitter account that at least 10 of those killed have been identified as Mexicans. No identities have been released. The cause of the collision was unclear, authorities said, and it also was not immediately known why so many people were crammed into a vehicle built to hold eight people safely. Watson said the SUV only had front seats — the middle and back seats had been removed. That would allow more people to fit into the vehicle but makes it even more unsafe. It wasn't immediately clear whether the SUV was carrying migrants who had crossed the border, ferrying farmworkers to fields, or was being used for some other purpose. “Special agents from Homeland Security Investigations San Diego responded ... and have initiated a human smuggling investigation," the agency said in a statement, adding that other details weren't being released. Macario Mora, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, said agents were not pursing the SUV at the time of the crash, which was initially rumoured. The immigration status of the passengers was unknown. “It was an unusual number of people in an SUV, but we don’t know who they were,” Mora said. The people in the vehicle ranged in age from 15 to 53 and were a mix of males and females, officials said. The 28-year-old driver was from Mexicali, Mexico, just across the border, and was among those killed. The 68-year-old driver of the big rig, who is from nearby El Centro, was hospitalized with moderate injuries. The passengers' injuries ranged from minor to severe and included fractures and head trauma. They were being cared for at several hospitals. One person was treated at a hospital and released. The crash occurred around 6:15 a.m. at an intersection just outside Holtville, which dubs itself the world’s carrot capital and is about 11 miles (18 kilometres) north of the U.S.-Mexico border. It was a sunny, clear morning and authorities said the tractor-trailer and its two empty containers were northbound on State Highway 115 when the SUV pulled in front of it from Norrish Road. A California Highway Patrol report said the SUV entered an intersection directly in front of the big-rig, which hit the left side of the SUV. Both vehicles came to a halt on a dirt shoulder. It's not clear if the SUV ran a stop sign or had stopped before entering the highway. It's also not yet known how fast the tractor-trailer was travelling. The speed limit for tractor-trailers on the highway is 55 mph (88.5 kph), according to CHP Officer Jake Sanchez. The other road is also 55 mph for vehicles. A 1997 Ford Expedition can carry a maximum payload of 2,000 pounds. If it had 25 people inside, that would easily exceed the payload limit, which taxes the brakes and makes it tougher to steer, said Frank Borris, former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defects Investigation. “You’re going to have extended stopping distances, delayed reactions to steering inputs and potential over-reaction to any type of high-speed lane change,” said Borris, who now runs a safety consulting business. SUVs of that age tended to be top-heavy even without carrying a lot of weight, Borris said. “With all of that payload above the vehicle’s centre of gravity, it’s going to make it even more unstable,” he said. The crash occurred amid verdant farms that grow a wide variety of vegetables and alfalfa used for cattle feed. Thousands of people cross into the U.S. each day to work in the fields. The harvest of lettuce and other winter vegetable crops runs from November until March, and buses and SUVs carrying farmworkers are often rumbling down the rural roads s in the early morning hours. The area has also seen smugglers carrying migrants in trucks and vehicles. Hundreds of migrants who died after crossing the border are buried in unmarked graves in Holtville’s cemetery on the edge of town. ___ Associated Press reporters Stefanie Dazio in Los Angeles, Julie Watson in San Diego, Anita Snow in Phoenix, Tom Krisher in Detroit and Mark Stevenson in Mexico City contributed. ___ This story has been corrected based on updated information from officials to show the tractor-trailer driver is 68, not 69. Elliot Spagat, The Associated Press
HALIFAX — The Canadian military says aircraft and ships are responding to an emergency aboard a Canadian fishing vessel that has been damaged by fire off of the coast of Nova Scotia. The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax says the FV Atlantic Destiny is a scallop factory ship with 32 people on board and there are no reports of injuries. The ship has lost power and is adrift about 120 nautical miles south of Yarmouth, N.S., in heavy seas. Lt.-Cmdr. Brian Owens says a CH-149 Cormorant search and rescue helicopter has started removing some of the crew members from the ship. Owens says a small number of the crew will remain on board. He says the fire is out but the ship was taking on water. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan is looking to follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. Chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab says information from that province as well as from Quebec and the United Kingdom suggests that a first shot effectively protects against the novel coronavirus. He says he hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. Shahab says if that were to happen, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. He says all adults in the province could be vaccinated with a first dose by June. Premier Scott Moe says such a shift would be a game-changer for how long public-health restrictions would stay in place. "What that (would) look like over the course of the next number of weeks as opposed to having that conversation over the course of the next number of months," Moe said during a briefing Tuesday. The province said when it first outlined its vaccine rollout that it would wait between 21 and 28 days between shots as recommended by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech. The province says about 80,000 vaccinations have been given across the province. It says at least one of the approved vaccines to fight COVID-19 has made its way into every long-term care home. Health officials say 91 per cent of residents opted to get their first shot of the two-dose vaccination. Second doses have gone into the arms of long-term residents in about 53 per cent of facilities. The province says it expects to receive about 15,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot approved by Canada last week. Shahab says Saskatchewan will follow advice from a national panel of vaccine experts that it be used on people under 65. The vaccine's effectiveness in people older than that hasn't been sufficiently determined because there were not enough seniors in clinical trials. Another 134 new cases of COVID-19 were reported Tuesday as well as two deaths. Shahab and Moe say daily case numbers and hospitalizations have stabilized and continue to decrease — signs they say could lead to some public-health measures being relaxed. Moe said he would like to see some way for people to have visitors in their homes. That hasn't been allowed under public-health orders since before Christmas. The current health order is to expire March 19. Moe said his government could provide details as soon as next week on what restrictions might be eased. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 2, 2021 Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
TOPEKA, Kan. — Former Congressman Steve Watkins of Kansas has entered a diversion program to avoid trial over allegations that he voted illegally in a 2019 municipal election. Watkins, a Republican from Topeka who served only one term in the U.S. House, was facing three felony charges. He was accused of listing a postal box at a UPS store as his home on a state registration form when he was living temporarily at his parents' home. He was also charged with lying to a detective who investigated the case. The Shawnee County district attorney filed the charges just weeks before the August 2020 primary, and Watkins lost to now-Rep. Jake LaTurner. “I regret the error in my voter registration paperwork that led to these charges. I fully co-operated from the beginning and had no intent to deceive any one, at any time. I am glad to resolve the ordeal,” Watkins said in a statement Tuesday. Watkins acknowledged he lied to the detective when he said he did not vote in the Topeka City Council election, The Kansas City Star reported. Under the diversion agreement entered into Monday, Watkins' prosecution will be deferred for six months. If he meets the terms of the agreement, the case will be dropped by September. The Associated Press
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times eastern): 6:15 p.m. B.C.’s top doctor says the decision to delay second doses of COVID-19 vaccine by four months is based on scientific evidence as well as real-world data. Dr. Bonnie Henry says the data show protection from a single dose is upwards of 90 per cent and lasts for several months, and delaying second doses will maximize the benefit of vaccines for everyone while reducing mortality and severe illness for those most at risk. She adds that the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means people could be vaccinated sooner than planned as the province launches its campaign to immunize the general population. Henry explained the province’s decision to delay second doses while announcing 438 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, as well as two more deaths, pushing the death toll in B.C. to 1,365. --- 6:10 p.m. Alberta is reporting 257 new infections of COVID-19, including 35 new variant cases of the virus. The variant total in the province is now at 492. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical health officer, says 261 people are in hospital with COVID-19 and 54 of them are in intensive care. She says there have also been two additional deaths linked to the virus. --- 4:45 p.m. Saskatchewan will follow the advice of a national committee that recommends the latest vaccine against COVID-19 be used in people 64 and younger. The province's chief medical health officer says it will soon receive around 15,000 doses of the shot from Oxford-AstraZeneca. Dr. Saqib Shahab says the province will select which age groups will be eligible to be inoculated. He says Saskatchewan is also waiting on national advice about how long it could delay giving people a second dose. Premier Scott Moe says waiting up to four months to give people their second shot could be a "game changer" for the province. He says that could mean thousands more people getting vaccinated by June. --- 3 p.m. Health officials are reporting 134 new cases of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan and two more deaths. The two residents who died were 80 and older. The Ministry of Health says at least one of the approved vaccines has made its way into every long-term care facility in the province. To date, around 80,000 shots have been given provincewide. There are 154 people in hospital, with 20 people in intensive care. --- 2:25 p.m. New Brunswick is reporting four new cases of COVID-19 today and one death attributed to the novel coronavirus. Health officials say the province’s 28th COVID-19-related death involves a resident in their 80s at the Manoir Belle Vue long-term care home in Edmundston. The four new cases are all in the Miramichi region and bring to 36 the number of active reported cases in the province. Three patients are hospitalized with the disease, all in intensive care. Officials say a recent infection reported in the Miramichi region is a suspected case of the B.1.1.7 variant. --- 1:55 p.m. Nova Scotia is reporting one new case of COVID-19 today and confirming seven more variant cases as a result of previous testing. The new case is in the northern zone and is a close contact of a previously reported case and brings the total number of known active cases to 29. The variant cases include two that are the B.1.1.7 or U.K. variant, and five that are the 501.V2 or South African variant. The two cases with the U.K. variant are in western zone and Halifax area and are connected to a previously reported U.K. variant case, while the five South African variant cases are in the Halifax area, with one case related to travel and the other four being household contacts of the traveller. This brings the total number of cases of the U.K. variant identified in Nova Scotia to eight and South African variant to six. --- 1:45 p.m. Manitoba is reporting two additional COVID-19 deaths and 64 new cases. However, eight cases from unspecified dates have been removed due to a data correction, for a net increase of 56. --- 1:20 p.m. The Manitoba government is offering another round of grants to businesses and charities that have been forced to scale back operations by COVID-19 public health orders. The third round, like previous ones, will provide up to $5,000 to help make up for lost revenue. --- 1:20 p.m. Quebec’s health minister says the government has reached a deal that will see 350 pharmacies in the Montreal administering COVID-19 vaccines by March 15. Christian Dube says the vaccines will be available for people as young as 70 and that the locations of the pharmacies will be publicized in the coming days. He is also warning Quebecers that the drop in daily cases across the province may be deceiving because cases of the B.1.1.7 mutation are rising. He says Montreal may be in the “eye before the storm” regarding a possible surge in infections caused by the variant. --- 1 p.m. Ontario seniors won’t receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. Health Minister Christine Elliott says the province plans to follow advice from a national panel of experts who recommend against giving the vaccine to people older than 64. Elliott says the vaccine could be used in correctional facilities as it does not require the same cold storage as the other two vaccines in use. She says the province will share an updated vaccination plan that factors in the new supply soon. --- 1 p.m. Three-hundred thousand of the 500,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine arriving this week expire in just a few weeks' time. Federal government officials note all COVID-19 vaccines do have expiry dates and it's not the time for hoarding doses anyway. Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says all vaccines should be administered as soon as they arrive. She says it is up to provinces to determine who is best placed to get which vaccines, but all are safe and effective. --- 12:55 p.m. Newfoundland and Labrador health authorities are reporting five new cases of COVID-19, including one infection involving a health-care worker at a rural hospital. Four of the cases reported today are in the Eastern Health region, where authorities have been battling an outbreak in the St. John's area. The fifth case involves a health-care worker at a hospital in St. Anthony, a town of about 2,200 on Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula. Public health says there are now 203 active cases of COVID-19 across the province, with nine people hospitalized because of the disease and five of those in intensive care. --- 12:50 p.m. The Manitoba government is loosening some of its COVID-19 restrictions as its case numbers continue to drop. Starting Friday, people will be allowed to have another entire household visit in their home, and outdoor public gatherings can increase to 10 people from five. Maximum capacity at stores and restaurants will increase to 50 per cent from 25, and indoor religious services can run at 25 per cent capacity, up from 10 per cent. Licensed establishments can reopen their video lottery terminals. Some facilities, such as casinos, bingo halls and concert venues, must stay closed. --- 12:45 p.m. The federal procurement minister says there's no reason to doubt delivery of 20 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine set to come from the United States. Anita Anand says she's received assurances from the vaccine manufacturer that it does not see any problems with exporting those doses. But she says a delivery schedule for those doses is up in the air. The U.S. government has said it wants Americans all vaccinated first before it shares vaccine doses with other countries. --- 12:30 p.m. Canada's top public health officials say shifting knowledge of how the available COVID-19 vaccines work is behind the changing guidance on how they should be used. Deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo says initial advice for provinces to stick with manufacturers' guidelines on vaccine use was based on that being the best information available at the time. He says there is now real-world evidence those rules can be adapted. A decision by B.C. health authorities to stretch the interval between doses to long as four months has drawn criticism for potentially going too far off existing guidelines. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is set to release updated guidance on how the various vaccines can be used, including the extent to which one dose is effective. --- 12:15 p.m. Canada's chief public health officer says what's been a daily decrease in new COVID-19 cases is now levelling off. Dr. Theresa Tam says there is now a moderate increase in case counts at the national level. Tam says there is an increase of new variants circulating in Canada, and no province has been spared. But she says more ground is being gained on the vaccine front every day with the authorization of new vaccines that will all help to fight the novel coronavirus. --- 12:10 p.m. Federal Procurement Minister Anita Anand says half a million doses of the latest COVID-19 vaccine to be approved for use in Canada will arrive tomorrow. She says the first shipment of the version of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India is on the way. Anand says that means Canada is on track to receive about 945,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine in total this week. --- 12:05 p.m. The Quebec government has reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. A source close to the provincial government who was not authorized to speak publicly confirmed the agreement, which was first reported today by 98.5 FM. About 50 pharmacies in the Montreal area will be the first to receive shipments of the Moderna vaccine before the program is extended to pharmacies across the province. Health Minister Christian Dube is scheduled to release details of the plan at an afternoon news conference. --- 11:50 a.m. Nunavut is reporting one new case of COVID-19 today. The new case is in Arviat, the only place in Nunavut with active cases of COVID-19. Arviat, a community of about 2,800 people, has been under strict lockdown since November, with all schools and non-essential businesses closed. The community's hamlet council has also put a nightly curfew in place to help curb the spread, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. There are nine active cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut, all in Arviat. --- 11:45 a.m. Health officials in Prince Edward Island are reporting four new cases of COVID-19. The cases involve three men and one woman, all in their 20s, and they are self-isolating. There are now 22 active cases on the Island. Test results from the National Microbiology Laboratory have confirmed that two earlier COVID-19 cases involving two women in Charlottetown are linked to the variant first identified in the United Kingdom. --- 11:15 a.m. Quebec is reporting 588 new cases of COVID-19 and eight more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. Health officials say hospitalizations rose for a third consecutive day, up by 16 today, for a total of 628. The number of people in intensive care dropped by one, to 121. The province says it administered 16,458 doses of vaccine Monday, the first day of Quebec’s mass vaccination campaign for the general public. Quebec has reported a total of 288,941 COVID-19 infections and 10,407 deaths linked to the virus. --- 10:30 a.m. Ontario is reporting 966 new COVID-19 cases and 11 more deaths from the virus. The new data is based on 30,737 tests. There are 284 hospitalized people in intensive care and 189 people on ventilators. The province says it administered 22,326 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine since the last daily report. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said in the 12:55 p.m. item that all five new cases in Newfoundland and Labrador were in the Eastern Health region. In fact, only four of them were, while the fifth was in the northern town of St. Anthony.
CALGARY — A Calgary man has admitted to slitting his girlfriend's throat and, days later, stabbing to death his mother and stepfather. Crown prosecutor Shane Parker said Tuesday that Dustin Duthie, 27, pleaded guilty to the second-degree murders of Taylor Toller and Shawn Boshuk and the first-degree murder of Alan Pennylegion. An agreed statement of facts said Toller, Duthie's girlfriend of five years, was last seen on video footage from outside her condo unit about 4 a.m. on July 26, 2018. Duthie was captured on video leaving the condo alone about an hour later. Police found Toller, 24, five days later with her throat slit and "tucked into her bed as if she was asleep." The agreed statement of facts mentions a torn-up note in which Duthie explains why he killed Toller, but the document does not detail the note's contents. On the same day Toller was found, Duthie stabbed Boshuk, his mother, six times in their home and covered her with a plastic sheet, the statement said. Boshuk had messaged Toller's grandmother a day earlier, concerned about how her son would react to police contacting him about Toller's disappearance. The statement said Pennylegion witnessed Duthie cleaning his mother's blood in the kitchen and Duthie attacked his stepfather, stabbing him eight times. Duthie and his stepfather had a tense relationship at the time and Duthie had threatened violence against Pennylegion over the years, the statement said. One of Duthie's pit bulls was stabbed but survived with surgery. Pennylegion's pet dog, Odie, found with his owner in the main floor bathroom, was also stabbed and died. The statement said Duthie shaved his head, showered, and changed his clothes after killing his mother and stepfather. About 10:50 a.m. on July 31, he called 911 and confessed to the killings. The document said he was "contemplating 'suicide-by-cop.'" A sentencing date has not yet been set. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021 The Canadian Press
Washington targeted seven mid-level and senior Russian officials along with more than a dozen government entities.View on euronews
CALGARY — The Western Hockey League announced Tuesday that it has been granted approval by the B.C. Provincial Health Office to play in bubble environments in Kamloops and Kelowna this season. The league said in a release that the WHL's B.C. Division will begin play March 26. The league's announcement comes a day after B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said a plan had been approved in principle to allow the league to resume play in the province during the COVID-19 pandemic. Teams in the league's other three divisions have already been cleared to play by state and provincial governments and public health authorities. The Kamloops Blazers, Prince George Cougars, and Vancouver Giants will be based in Kamloops. The Kelowna Rockets and Victoria Royals will play in Kelowna. Teams will be permitted to travel directly between the hub cities for games, with no stops permitted in between. No spectators will be permitted in the arenas. The league said a 24-game schedule for the B.C Division will be announced at a later date. Players and staff will begin self-quarantining Saturday and then will report to their respective bubble on March 13, where they will be required to undergo COVID-19 testing upon arrival followed by an additional quarantine period. Players and staff will then undergo a second COVID-19 test before being permitted to engage in any team activity. The league said COVID-19 screening for all players, team staff and officials will also take place on a daily basis, including regular temperature screenings. Coaches will be required to wear masks at all times, including while conducting practice and while behind the bench during games. "The WHL appreciates the cooperation we have received from the Provincial Health Officer and health officials in B.C. as we work toward a safe return to play in the B.C. Division," WHL commissioner Ron Robison said in a release. "With our extensive protocols and the necessary approvals now in place, we are looking forward to play beginning in the Kamloops and Kelowna hubs. "We are excited to now have all four WHL Divisions returning to play as it was our objective from the onset to deliver a season for all of our players." The start of the 2020-21 WHL season was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Play finally began Feb. 26 with the league's Alberta-based teams. Teams in the U.S. Division are scheduled to start March 19 while the East Division, with teams based in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, has been cleared to play in a bubble environment. The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League was the only league under the Canadian Hockey League to start its season at its traditional time, but pandemic-related issues have caused several interruptions. The Ontario Hockey League has yet to announce plans for a season. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
McMurray Métis elder Anne Michalko said she felt like she was on her way to freedom when she learned she would be getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Michalko, 83, spent much of the past year in quarantine. On Thursday, she made a rare venture outside her home for her first vaccine shot. Her second shot comes one month before her birthday in May. She hopes she can celebrate turning 84 with family. “Can you imagine feeling excited to go out and get a needle?” she said. “I’m looking forward to sitting around the fire pit and enjoying each other’s company. Maybe I’ll take my great grandson for a walk.” Alberta’s vaccine rollout plan entered Phase 1B on Feb. 7, allowing anyone born before 1946 to get a vaccine. Anyone living in retirement centres, senior citizen lodges and other supportive living homes can also get vaccinated. There have been 546 people in Fort Chipewyan that have had their first vaccine dose. The community has been prioritized because of its remote location and limited health care services. The rollout has given some relief to a community with a long memory that includes the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, which wiped out three-quarters of the community. One victim was Chief Alexandre Lavoilette, the first chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. Chief Allan Adam of ACFN remembers stories of the Spanish Flu from his late grandmother. She was 18-years-old when the pandemic hit the community, he said. “She said people were lost because they had also lost their chief,” said Adam. “Nobody knew where to go.” Adam is thankful Fort Chipewyan has not experienced anything like the Spanish Flu over the past year. He said he is proud of the work the work the community is doing to keep people safe. “A lot of history was lost from the older people at that time,” he said. “We were lucky and we dodged a bullet this time.” Chief Peter Powder of Mikisew Cree First Nation said stories of the Spanish Flu made some people anxious to get vaccinated. “That’s where people’s heads were at, just hearing about that and how bad it was back in the day,” said Powder. Powder said encouraging young people to get vaccinated has been a priority, since they are more likely to travel outside the community. Some people have been excited to get vaccinated, but Angela Conner, a nurse with Nunee Health, said she has seen some hesitancy in the community. Nunee Health is promoting vaccination and trying to fight false information shared online. The hamlet received a second shipment of vaccines on Feb. 28. “Everything that we use is evidence-based,” said Conner. “We’ve been opening up our facility here for any questions. Quite a few people have called and we did have our nurse practitioner open for any kind of consults.” Other Métis leaders feel they have been left out of Alberta’s vaccination program. Since the first vaccines arrived in Alberta, elders on First Nations or Métis settlements have been getting vaccinated if they are between 65 and 74. Some communities that are mostly Métis are not considered settlements, meaning those elders must wait until the general public can be vaccinated in the fall. A community like Conklin, for instance, is mostly Métis and has seen 11 per cent of its population get COVID-19. But the community is considered a rural hamlet under the responsibility of the municipality. Fort McKay’s Métis community is also on municipal land and not considered a settlement. McMurray Métis has 45 elders between 65 and 74 who will be left out of Phase 1B because the Local is based in Fort McMurray. “In Alberta, it is recognized that Indigenous elders are part of a first priority,” said Bryan Fayant, McMurray Métis’ disaster and recovery strategist. “Our elders are a part of the regular rollout and I just don’t think that’s enough.” firstname.lastname@example.org Sarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
OTTAWA — A House of Commons committee is unanimously urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to promise he won't call a federal election while the COVID-19 pandemic rages across Canada. In a report by the procedure and House affairs committee, even Liberal members supported a recommendation calling for a commitment that there will be no election during the pandemic, unless Trudeau's minority Liberal government is defeated on a confidence vote. The committee makes no similar call for opposition parties to promise not to trigger an election during the pandemic by voting non-confidence in the government. However, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has vowed his party won't vote to bring the government down as long as the country is in the grip of COVID-19. That should be enough to ensure the survival of the minority Liberal government for the foreseeable future, unless Trudeau decides to trigger an election himself. Trudeau has repeatedly insisted he has no interest in forcing an election but opposition parties remain suspicious. "Unfortunately, the Liberal government has already indicated their desire to recklessly send Canadians to the polls at whatever time they deem to be the most advantageous for the prime minister," the Conservatives say in a supplementary report to the committee's report. Indeed, the Conservatives assert, without explanation, that Trudeau has already tried to orchestrate his government's defeat. They thank Liberal committee members for taking "a stand against the whims of the prime minister, who has been eagerly pressing towards an election for the last few months." At the same time, Conservatives have been pursuing a strategy that could give Trudeau justification for calling an election: They've been systematically blocking the government's legislative agenda, including repeatedly delaying a bill authorizing billions in pandemic-related aid. They have also blocked debate on a bill that would give Elections Canada special powers to conduct an election safely, if need be, during the pandemic. Bill C-19 is the government's response to chief electoral officer Stephane Perrault, who has said special measures are urgent given that a minority government is inherently unstable and could theoretically fall at any time. However, some opposition MPs view the legislation as proof that the Liberals are planning to trigger an election. In their own supplementary report, New Democrats argue that an election in the midst of the pandemic "has the potential to undermine the health of our democracy." They point to the current delay in Newfoundland and Labrador's election due to a COVID outbreak as an example of the "delays, confusion and unforeseen barriers in voting" that could undermine Canadians' confidence in the outcome of a federal election. "This raises the spectre of a government whose political legitimacy is openly challenged," the NDP committee members say, adding that could lead to the kind of crisis that provoked a riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 by supporters of former president Donald Trump. The Capitol riot, sparked by Trump's unfounded claims that mail-in ballots were fraudulent, appears to have been on the minds of opposition committee members when it comes to other recommendations for how to safely conduct an election, if necessary, during the pandemic. Anticipating a massive increase in mail-in ballots, the chief electoral officer has, among other things, suggested that mail-in ballots received one day after the close of in-person polls should still be counted. The Conservatives say the procedure and House affairs committee should have rejected that proposal, arguing that "the election should end on Election Day and Canadians deserve to know the results without delay." Bloc Quebecois committee members, in their supplementary report, similarly argue that extending the deadline for receipt of mail-in ballots "would delay the election results, which would fuel voter suspicion and undermine confidence in the electoral system, which is obviously undesirable." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — Alberta’s health minister says the province is considering whether to follow British Columbia in extending the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses. Tyler Shandro says a committee of COVID-19 experts is analyzing emerging data and a decision is coming. The B.C. government announced Monday that it will extend the wait between first and second doses to four months to get more people vaccinated overall in a shorter time period. B.C. based its decision on data from the United Kingdom, Israel and Quebec that shows the first dose of vaccines is 90 per cent effective. “There’s fantastic evidence that’s coming out,” Shandro said Tuesday. “What the exact period of time (between doses) is going to be is still to be decided. We’ll be announcing it soon, but we will be looking at having that length of time between first and second extended.” When Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech began distributing their vaccines late last year, it was recommended the first and second shots be completed within six weeks to be fully effective. About 235,000 Albertans have so far received at least one shot. About 88,000 have been given the recommended two doses. Premier Jason Kenney has said all 29,000 residents in long-term care and designated supportive living facilities — people at the highest risk of contracting the novel coronavirus — have received both doses. Alberta is moving onto other priority groups, including seniors over 75 and First Nations people over 65. Shandro said 55,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to arrive every week this month. A third vaccine, Oxford-AstraZeneca, is also on the way. “It’s going to give us an opportunity to get more people vaccinated more quickly,” he said. Oxford-AstraZeneca was approved last week for use in Canada. But a national panel of vaccine experts is recommending it be given to people under 65, because there were not enough seniors in the vaccine's clinical trials to determine its effectiveness in that age group. Shandro said Alberta will follow the guideline. Alberta is keeping many of its restrictions meant to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus until vaccines take hold. Retail stores and worship services are still capped at 15 per cent capacity and entertainment venues remain closed. Indoor gatherings are banned and outdoor ones are limited to 10 people. Kenney did announce Monday that libraries can reopen with capacity limits and he further eased restrictions on fitness centres. Gyms were already allowed one-on-one fitness training, but they can now offer low-intensity indoor fitness classes, including tai chi, wall-climbing and Pilates. Emily Slaneff, chairwoman of the Alberta coalition of the Fitness Industry Council of Canada, said the new rules are confusing, contradictory and don’t allow specialized facilities, such as boxing clubs and spin studios, to open at all. Slaneff noted low-intensity fitness classes can be high-intensity for anyone trying to get into shape. And, conversely, high-intensity workouts are less strenuous for anyone already in good shape and trying to stay that way. “It’s a really difficult metric to use,” she said. “Two individuals can do the exact same workout and have very different experiences.” She said a lot of gyms are on the knife’s edge of bankruptcy and need support immediately to survive. “It feels like they (the government) are toying with lives and livelihoods,” she said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021 Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
While many things were shut down due to the pandemic, Tabitha McLoughlin and her team responded to increased demand in their community for fresh food by opening another farmers market. McLoughlin is the executive director of Grow Local Tricities, which manages the Port Moody and Coquitlam farmers markets. In June, the organization started its Port Moody summer market as an emergency response for farmers in their area. “We did it in response to knowing that we had farmer vendors who were losing contracts to restaurants and losing contracts to food suppliers, because those guys were shutting down or being closed down, and they had crops in the ground,” she said. “And it was well enough attended that we’ll continue to do it again this year.” McLoughlin has worked with Grow Local for 15 years and said she wasn’t surprised the new market was so well-received. She has seen a steady interest in farmers markets over the past five to eight years, and COVID-19 has only fast-tracked it. “I think the media really started to push ‘buy local’ ... because, as much as we have preached it for years, the importance of the economic impact that is generated by buying from places within your own community is now being seen on such a massive scale,” she said. McLoughlin said it was interesting seeing farmers markets being used in such a utilitarian manner during the pandemic, after trying on so many different hats to appeal to consumers. “What we saw was people coming specifically to buy at the market ... We have spent years building the farmers markets to be these destinations where you and your kids can do a craft, watch a food demonstration,” she said. “We had to throw all that out the window and be like, 'OK, we need you to come in and shop as fast as you possibly can.'” Jen Candela, communications manager with Vancouver Farmers Markets (VFM) since 2007, said the last decade has seen a lot of growth on their end. The VFM has operated markets since 1995 and now supports 280 small farms and businesses. “I think people are a lot more concerned about where their food comes from than they were 20 years ago,” she said. “Vancouver is also a health-conscious city, so people want the freshest, healthiest food they can find. Unless you grow your own food, farmers markets are the best place to find that.” There is little data on farmers markets in Canada. The last nationwide survey was done in 2009 by Farmers Markets Canada, a now-defunct organization. Even then, total direct sales from farmers markets across Canada was estimated to be $1.03 billion. Although the markets may be expanding and growing, McLoughlin said the sentiment behind them remains the same. “I think (people’s reasons) for putting these things together was always greater than just simply bringing the food into the community,” she said. “Now as it's become more and more common, it's not just like the hippies in the parking lots anymore. It's way more mainstream, to the point where it's almost become trendy.” Cloe Logan / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer Cloe Logan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Uptake for the second dose of the Moderna vaccination in First Nation communities in Northern Manitoba is going well. While Manitoba First Nations continue to show higher test positivity rates compared to non-Indigenous Manitobans, many First Nation communities have shown relatively good signs as their Elders continue to receive their vaccination. In an online press conference on Tuesday, Dr. Michael Routledge confirmed that there is some improvement in severe cases from the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Inc. communities due to the vaccine uptake. “There are still a couple of communities in the MKO area that are struggling with some outbreaks, but by large, most MKO communities have been very quiet,” said Routledge, the medical advisor to MKO and Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin. “In the north, we are seeing the case numbers and test positivity rates slowly come down. We are starting to see the outbreaks get under control, although again, they are some communities that are really struggling.” Routledge added that the second allotment of vaccine supplies for Elders have arrived in most Manitoba First Nation communities including Sapotaweyak Cree Nation. As of Monday, there are 843 active cases among First Nations people with 25 current hospitalizations and eight in intensive care units. On Monday, the province updated the eligibility for vaccinations whereby First Nations born on or before Dec. 31, 1950, can now book their appointments to receive immunization against the virus. “As I always tell our people, we are all in this together,” said Chief Nelson Genaille from Sapotaweyak Cree Nation who believes 40 more vaccine doses will arrive in his community soon. “What’s going to happen next? You know, that’s what we need to prepare for. We don’t know what’s coming in the future for our children or grandchildren … how can we make it better? One good way is communication, another good way is teamwork, and another is to properly uplift ourselves because the mind is very powerful.” Nicole Wong is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. Click here to sign up for our daily newsletter. Nicole Wong, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun
Western Hockey League broadcaster Bob Ridley marked a career milestone Saturday, calling his 4,000th game for the Medicine Hat Tigers. Ridley has been the voice of the team broadcasts since the Tigers' first game, Oct. 15, 1970, and he's called every game since, but one. "Those 50 years and 4,000 games went by real quick, so I guess I might have enjoyed what I was doing," said Ridley on the Calgary Eyeopener. Saturday's game at Co-op Place resulted in a Tigers win, 7-2, against the Red Deer Rebels in the 2020-21 home opener. LISTEN to Ridley's famous voice here: He said that despite the building being empty save the players, it was a "marvellous evening" of tribute from team staff and players. However, the looming achievement was a bit of a distraction. "I'm kind of glad that milestone has come and gone and I can move on with other things," he said. He was originally set to call his milestone game in March 2020, but the pandemic put a pause on that until the team returned to action last month with a shortened season. For 50 seasons, Ridley has done play-by-play for the games; and for 45 seasons, he's also driven the team bus. "That's one way I got to meet and know the players real well," he said. "As a result of it, I became very, very good friends with most of them." Many NHL stars got their start with the Tigers, including Lanny McDonald, Kelly Hrudey, Rob Niedermayer, Trevor Linden, Tom Lysiak and Bryan McCabe. Bob Ridley was honoured by the team and staff on Saturday at Medicine Hat's Co-op Place.(Medicine Hat Tigers) Career in review Ridley, originally from Vulcan, Alta., began broadcasting on the radio on weekends in Drumheller while studying at Mount Royal College in Calgary. He went on to do more radio gigs, and started to call play-by-play for a baseball team in Swift Current, Sask. After moving to Medicine Hat in 1968, he began broadcasting senior hockey. In 1969, the Medicine Hat hockey rink, called Arena Gardens, burned to the ground, but it was replaced a year later with the Medicine Hat Arena. That same year, 1970, the Tigers entered the league as a franchise and Ridley began calling their games. The one game he missed came in 1972, when he was assigned to cover the women's national curling championship in Saskatoon. The game has changed since those early days, says Ridley, who has seen three generations of athletes play, in some cases. "It's so fast now and it seems to change about every three or four years … it's so quick now. And speed and scale is what it's all about," he said. "That's what keeps me going, watching these young kids develop and move on and more kids coming up through the ranks." Last week, the WHL announced a new award, the Bob Ridley Award for Media Excellence, which will be awarded annually in his honour. He was the first recipient of the award, among many in his career. He says he's not fussed about hitting any other major milestone but rather will be "just taking it one game at a time." With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.
The Biden administration sanctioned seven mid-level and senior Russian officials on Tuesday, along with more than a dozen government entities, over a nearly fatal nerve-agent attack on opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his subsequent jailing. The measures, emphasizing the use of the Russian nerve agent as a banned chemical weapon, marked the Biden administration's first sanctions against associates of President Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader was a favourite of former President Donald Trump even during covert Russian hacking and social media campaigns aimed at destabilizing the U.S. The government officials included at least four whom Navalny's supporters had directly asked the West to penalize, saying they were most involved in targeting him and other dissidents and journalists. However, the U.S. list did not include any of Russia's most powerful businesspeople and bankers, oligarchs whom Navalny has long said the West would have to sanction to get the attention of Putin. Tuesday's step “was not meant to be a silver bullet or an end date to what has been a difficult relationship with Russia,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “We expect the relationship to continue to be a challenge. We’re prepared for that.” The Biden administration also announced sanctions under the U.S. Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act for Russian entities, including those the U.S. said worked to research, develop and test chemical weapons. The U.S. intelligence community concluded with high confidence that Russia's Federal Security Service used the Russian nerve agent Novichok on Navalny last August, a senior administration official said. Russia says it had no role in any attack on the dissident. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Tuesday denounced the new U.S. sanctions as part of its “meddling in our internal affairs.” “We aren’t going to tolerate that,” Zakharova said in a statement, adding that “we will respond in kind.” “Attempts to put pressure on Russia with sanctions or other tools have failed in the past and will fail again,” she said. The Biden administration has pledged to confront Putin over alleged attacks on Russian opposition figures and alleged malign actions abroad, including the hacking of U.S. government agencies and U.S. businesses. Trump spoke admiringly of Putin and resisted criticism of Putin's government. That included dismissing U.S. intelligence findings that Russia had backed Trump in its covert campaign to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. The administration co-ordinated the sanctions with the European Union, which added to its own sanctions Tuesday over the attack on Navalny. The U.S. and European Union shared concerns about “Russia’s deepening authoritarianism,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. “The U.S. government has exercised its authorities to send a clear signal that Russia’s use of chemical weapons and abuse of human rights have severe consequences,” Blinken said in a statement. The individuals sanctioned by the U.S. included the head of Russia's Federal Security Service, the head of prisons, Kremlin and defence figures, and Russia's prosecutor general. The Biden administration had forecast for weeks that it would take action against Russia. Besides the Navalny sanctions, officials have said the administration plans to respond soon to the massive Russian hack of federal government agencies and private corporations that laid bare vulnerabilities in the cyber supply chain and exposed potentially sensitive secrets to elite Kremlin spies. Navalny, 44, was sickened by the Russian nerve agent in an attack that the United States and others linked to Putin’s security services. After months of recuperation in Germany, Navalny flew home to Moscow in January and was arrested on arrival for an alleged parole violation. His detention sparked street protests across Russia. Police arrested thousands of demonstrators. Authorities have transferred the opposition leader to a penal colony to begin serving a sentence, after what rights groups said was a show trial. Long a target in Russian government attempts to shut down dissent, Navalny has repeatedly appealed to the West to start targeting the most powerful business and financial oligarchs of his country, saying only then would Russian leaders take international sanctions seriously. Russia critic Bill Browder, a London-based investor, tweeted that he feared the new U.S. sanctions would be “way too little and not touch Putin’s billionaire cronies.” Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat and chair of the House Intelligence Committee, called the U.S. move overdue. Working with U.S. allies, “we must use an array of tools, including sanctions, to meaningfully deter, repel, and punish Moscow’s transgressions,” Schiff said in a statement. The U.S. government has previously censured behaviour by Russia that American officials saw as having violated international norms. In 2016, for instance, the Obama administration responded to interference by the Kremlin in the presidential election by expelling dozens of Russian diplomats who officials said were actually spies and by shuttering two Russian compounds in Maryland and New York. Trump's administration also took a handful of actions adverse to Moscow, including the closure of Russian consulates on the West Coast and the suspension of a nuclear arms treaty. ___ Associated Press writers Eric Tucker in Washington, Aamer Madhani in Chicago, Lorne Cook in Brussels and Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report. Ellen Knickmeyer, The Associated Press
L'Agence spatiale canadienne et la NASA travaillent déjà sur les missions Artemis qui visent un retour sur la Lune d'ici 2024. Un premier pas vers une exploration plus profonde de l'espace grâce à une nouvelle station internationale. Mais avant de rêver de marcher sur Mars, il faut régler un problème majeur: comment fournir assez de nourriture aux astronautes pour des missions devant durer plusieurs années? Dans l’espoir de solliciter des milliers de cerveaux à travers le monde pour cogiter sur ce casse-tête, les agences spatiales canadienne (ASC) et américaine (NASA) ont lancé en début d’année un grand concours appelé «Défi de l'alimentation dans l'espace lointain» (Deep Space Food Challenge). Mardi midi, des experts des deux agences ainsi que des astronautes, dont le Canadien Jeremy Hansen, ont participé à une discussion virtuelle au cours de laquelle on a abordé divers aspects de l’alimentation dans l’espace. Il a notamment été question de l’importance de fournir des aliments appétissants et savoureux pour que les astronautes aient envie de manger. Un enjeu crucial pour qu’ils ne réduisent pas leur consommation de nourriture et qu’ils maintiennent une bonne santé. En bref, le principal problème demeure que si l’on part en mission d’exploration spatiale, il faut tout apporter avec soi depuis la Terre. Actuellement, il est facile d’approvisionner la Station spatiale internationale (SSI), puisqu’elle se trouve en orbite autour de la Terre, à quelques heures de vol. Dans le cas d’une mission vers Mars, par exemple, il faudrait prévoir des quantités de nourriture suffisantes pour plusieurs années. De plus, il faut tenir compte qu’il n’y a pas de réfrigérateur dans les navettes en raison du coût énergétique nécessaire au fonctionnement de tels appareils. Actuellement, on utilise des aliments déshydratés qui sont hydratés à nouveau par les astronautes dans l’espace. On utilise aussi des aliments préparés mis en conserve ou en sachets, mais leur durée de conservation poserait problème selon les experts de la NASA. Voilà pourquoi on recherche de nouvelles méthodes permettant de fournir des aliments sains et savoureux aux astronautes. On aimerait, par ailleurs, développer des moyens de produire des aliments dans un environnement hostile, comme sur la Lune ou sur Mars. Des techniques qui seraient également applicables sur Terre, comme l’a souligné l’astronaute Jeremy Hansen en parlant du concours. «C'est une opportunité incroyable pour l'humanité! D'abord pour nous donner la chance d'explorer l'espace. Ensuite, parce que c'est essentiel pour nourrir les populations en régions isolées. La sécurité alimentaire est un enjeu majeur au Canada et le transport d'aliment demeure difficile et très coûteux dans le Grand Nord notamment», a-t-il fait valoir. Il faut donc tenir compte du fait que les astronautes sont confinés à un espace limité, avec des ressources limitées et des contraintes liées à l’énergie ou au poids des équipements. Des aliments frais et variés Le principal défi que cherchent à relever les agences spatiales consiste à trouver un moyen de fournir des aliments frais aux astronautes. Comme le mentionne la scientifique en chef du programme de technologie alimentaire de la NASA, Grace Douglas, ce sont les produits frais qui sont les plus appétissants et les plus réconfortants pour les astronautes. Car au-delà de fournir uniquement des nutriments aux membres de l’équipage, il faut leur offrir des plats savoureux et variés qui leur donnent envie de s’alimenter convenablement. Chaque aliment contient une multitude de micronutriments qui sont essentiels au corps humain. «Pour être nutritif, un aliment doit être consommé!», a résumé simplement son collègue Scott M. Smith, chercheur principal au laboratoire de biochimie du Centre spatial Johnson de la NASA. Celui-ci ajoute que les données prouvent qu’une bonne alimentation limite la perte de poids des astronautes et favorise la récupération au retour sur Terre. Tous s’entendent sur le fait que le principal reproche formulé par les astronautes est le manque de variété dans le choix des aliments. En ce qui concerne l’expérience gustative, l’ex-astronaute américain Donald Thomas, qui a passé plus de 1000 heures dans l’espace en quatre missions, a déclaré que ce n’était pas si mal, mais qu’il ne mangerait jamais dans un restaurant où l’on sert ce genre de plats! Pour renchérir, Jeremy Hansen, qui attend toujours sa première assignation, a rappelé que l’absence de gravité a pour effet de faire enfler légèrement la tête et de boucher les sinus. Les aliments deviennent donc plus fades. «Il faut prévoir des mets épicés ou bien assaisonnés», a-t-il conseillé aux éventuels participants du concours. Le défi est ouvert à tous les résidants du Canada. Les entreprises, organismes à but non lucratif ou les institutions d’enseignement sont aussi admissibles. Le volet canadien du concours est coordonné par l’Agence spatiale canadienne, située à Longueuil. Des bourses sont offertes en prix à chacune des trois étapes du concours. Les équipes intéressées doivent déposer leur candidature avant le 30 juillet. Ugo Giguère, Initiative de journalisme local, La Presse Canadienne
A second COVID-19 variant has been confirmed in a northern Ontario region that’s battling a deadly outbreak of cases driven by another infectious variant. The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit says two people in the area have tested positive for the variant that first originated in the U.K.The health unit says the two people in the district of Parry Sound, Ont., do not know where they caught the virus.More than 500 cases of that variant have been detected across the province since December. The region’s top doctor says the confirmation of a second variant is concerning especially because it was caught through community spread. Dr. Jim Chirico says it's essential to follow public health measures to save lives and eventually reopen the economy. On Monday the health unit reported a third death related to an outbreak of 42 cases at an apartment building in North Bay, Ont.Fifteen cases in that outbreak have been linked to a more infectious virus variant that was first detected in South Africa.North Bay has remained under strict public health orders as restrictions loosened on businesses elsewhere in the province, due to the high number of variant cases detected last month. Ontario's government will decide Friday whether to move the North Bay area, as well as Toronto and Peel Region, back into the provincial COVID-19 response framework. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
André Picard likes to stay busier than most, if his new book is any indication. The Globe and Mail’s health reporter and columnist penned Neglected No More during evenings, weekends and vacations away from his day job as more Canadians turned to him to make sense of the pandemic unfolding around them. But he wasn’t interested in writing about the pandemic just yet — “the important book about COVID will probably be written in 10 or 20 years,” he told The Tyee. Picard wanted to ask different questions. And there were big ones to answer, as thousands of elders and residents of long-term care died during the pandemic’s first wave. To date, at least two-thirds of the 21,905 people who have died of COVID-19 across Canada lived in long-term care or assisted living facilities. “What kind of excuses do we make to ourselves as a society that this is acceptable?” asked Picard. The failures of elder care in Canada, as Picard argues, began long before the novel coronavirus arrived. Readers may be surprised that Picard forgoes lambasting the easy villains in the devastating crisis — for-profit care providers, “bad apple” care staff — in service of a deeper indictment of Canada’s refusal to value elders in life as well as in death. Ten months after we first spoke about health reporting, I reached Picard by phone in Vancouver, where he is spending the winter as an Asper Visiting Professor at the University of British Columbia. We discussed the difficulty of writing about people who often can’t speak for themselves, what accountability for these preventable deaths could look like, and how his optimism that the pandemic will be a turning point for elder care has managed to stay alight. Moira Wyton: You wrote Neglected No More during the pandemic, but it’s not really about the pandemic at all. Where does this story begin for you? André Picard: If you’re worried about health care in Canada, you have to write about elders and you have to write about older people, because that’s who uses the vast majority of care, so I’ve always been interested in this issue. And to me, we know that COVID has shone a spotlight on a lot of failings. We’ve all known for a long time that the way we treat seniors in our health system is terrible. And this was just an opportunity to jump on that topic and use COVID as a launching pad to talk about these larger issues. How do you approach reporting on an issue where the people who are most affected, the elders in care or seeking care, are impossible to reach? Can there really be any substitute for speaking to elders directly? And what do you think you might still be missing from this picture? You can do it indirectly. Normally, if I get a book like this, I would be going to the homes and visiting and getting the colour, et cetera, so the book is more sparse in that sense. That’s always a challenge. It’s not unique to the pandemic. You always wish you could speak directly to everyone all the time. I always worried the most about people with dementia, and my two parents who lived with dementia, so you really wish you could get inside their mind, to know what they’re thinking and get their real thoughts and not get them second-hand, but you do as best you can. And you try and represent their lives fairly via their caregivers and their care providers, and other things that you can see when you have that opportunity. With the pandemic, we’ve seen a rise in opinions about COVID-19, saying, “Oh, it’s not that bad, it’s ‘only’ killed people who are quite elderly.” I’m curious whether you think this failure that we’re seeing, and have been seeing for many decades, amounts to ageism and discrimination? I think there’s no question that our public policies are just rife with ageism, it’s just ingrained. What other people in society do we send off to live in these prison-like facilities just because they’re old? And again, I think COVID sort of highlighted this, as you mentioned, with all the people just saying, “Oh, they’re old, they were going to die anyhow.” That’s just an appalling thing to say. Not only is it not true, but it’s appalling in itself. And I think something like COVID, what happened in our home care — our long-term care system, specifically — is this perfect intersection of ageism, sexism and racism. The vast majority of workers are racialized. The vast majority of people living there are women. They’re not just older, but they’re women. It’s these three marginalized communities coming together in one spot. It’s just like triple the bad treatment. And so that’s why it’s a lot of focus on the homes, because there’s just so much wrong with them. How do we as a society, and as journalists, even begin to address ageism, sexism and racism in elder care? I think the starting point has to be a pretty profound philosophical shift. The countries that treat their elders the best have a philosophy that we don’t. You have to have that fundamental starting point... that you’re going to do everything in your power to keep people in the community and have a dignified life. Now, we have a policy where the default mechanism is once you get a little sick, you can’t live in your home, we shoot you off to this home, out of sight, out of mind and out of dignity. There are good homes, I repeat that many times in the book, there’s lots of good care. But should people be there in the first place? That’s the larger issue. I think we have to ask ourselves this really profound question about what kind of excuses do we make to ourselves as a society that this is acceptable. And it’s an uncomfortable question to ask because I don’t think there’s a good answer to it. It’s pretty appalling what they’re doing, and we have to confront it. As you write in your book, better care is possible, and already exists for veterans in Canada through well-funded home care and long-term care for veterans who really need it at Sunnybrook Veterans Centre in Toronto. And in certain cultures, such as many South Asian cultures, staying in a multigenerational home is a lot more normalized and expected. How do you think those in charge of elder care in Canada can learn from these other perspectives and from what we’re already doing for some people? We can learn a lot from cultural diversity. Canada has the benefit of being able to benefit from that, and we should do a lot more. Respect for elders is what it comes down to in a lot of cultures. You wouldn’t dream of sending your grandparents off to live somewhere else. But the flip side of that is there are realities of modern life. Chinese culture is really seen as respecting elders, but we still have long-term care homes that are for the Chinese community, just because of the practicalities. Their kids now live 4,000 kilometres away; they don’t have five kids, they have one. Regardless of your culture, I would think one issue that cuts across every culture is we should respect older people... for the knowledge of what they’ve given us, their sacrifice. I use the Sunnybrook Veterans Centre example because nobody ever argues that we shouldn’t treat veterans, right? If it’s good enough for veterans, why isn’t it good enough for everyone? We have the solution. There’s no reason everyone in Canada couldn’t be treated like those at Sunnybrook. But before we do that, we should also make sure that only people who need to be in the home are there. That’s the other great thing about Sunnybrook: nobody’s there by default, they’re there because they really need the care that’s provided. Over the last 11 months, for-profit care has been like a universal punching bag, being blamed for many deaths. But you’re a bit easier on for-profit care providers, pointing out that issues stem elsewhere. Why do you think that widespread anger against for-profit care is misplaced? I decided deliberately to not write a lot about that, because I just think it’s almost a dogmatic political issue. I think there are some good private homes and some good public homes, or some terrible public homes and some terrible private homes. Now, that being said, if there is no private care in Canada, will we be any worse off? No, I don’t think we need it. I think it’s been there for so long, it’s hard to get rid of it. And I think we would serve ourselves better to understand why it’s there, rather than just saying “get it out now.” I just think there’s a lot more to resolve before privatization. To me, the worst thing is not privatization in itself. It’s that we have a bunch of owners who are essentially property managers — they’re not care providers. I understand why people are angry at private care when the data is yes, more people died in private homes. But again, there are explanations for that: the homes are older, they’re bigger, they have different clientele. So, what do we do with these “excuses”? We ask what’s happened there, but it doesn’t make it right. I just think that it distracts from doing other things that have to be done much more urgently. You spoke to a number of staff and personal support workers in care facilities for the book. What stood out to you from your conversations? What do you think will be really surprising to readers about what they said? I think people will be surprised at [the number of] people who are really dedicated to this work and really want to do better. And I’d say what would surprise the public is that the staff are just as angry and frustrated as families and recipients of care. People really want to be able to have time to care, and they don’t. So they leave their shifts, and they’re angry at themselves that they just couldn’t do what they know needs to be done... because there’s no hours, they don’t have the equipment, they don’t have the time. I hope you’ll forgive me for asking about the pandemic a little bit. For this book, you analyzed data ending around Sept. 30, 2020, before the second wave had taken hold, and you sang the praises of B.C.’s handling of long-term care. Yet since the end of September, B.C. has had at least 1,000 more elders die in long-term care homes in a tragic and fatal second wave. What do you make of the fact that the second wave was so much worse? Yes, first of all, the frustration of deadlines is real, especially for a daily reporter. That was always driving me crazy, knowing that the book would have to be done in September and wouldn’t be out till March. You hedge your bets a bit, so I focus mostly on the first wave, because nobody could predict exactly what would happen. I said some positive things about B.C., but it’s all relative. I think B.C. has some policies, has some newer infrastructure, that made things better. Proportionally, probably today, B.C did a little bit better in the second wave too. But I think it’s just a reminder that nobody did a good enough job of learning the lessons of the first wave. Quebec made a big show of hiring 10,000 more workers. And in the end, how many did they get? Maybe 5,000. B.C. did the same thing, made big announcements about hiring more people, but they lose almost as many as they hire. Also, we let down our guard, and I think that’s true everywhere in the country. It’s doubly tragic that the second wave was worse than the first wave because it just reminds us we didn’t do enough to correct [the mistakes]. The horrors that happened the first time around just got repeated — and then some. Does this make you think differently about what you wrote or the capacity of the elder care sector to have learned and enacted changes during the summer’s lull in cases? To me, the most frustrating and angering thing I see comes where they’ve now had two and three outbreaks. How can you not learn from that? Fifty people die in your home and then you bury them, and then you make the same mistakes? It just seems so unthinkable. And I think the larger [issue], the one we’ve known all along, is the way to prevent cases and deaths in long-term care is to get control in the community. That’s been our biggest failure, because we just never got control of the pandemic within the larger community. The homes are not isolated. We can do our best to isolate them, but they’re not ever going to be isolated from the community. We forgot that the way to solve this was to solve the larger problem of the virus. The second part is, we could have done better on testing. We know we banned workers working in more than one home. But there were exceptions to that rule every day. The locking out of caregivers — it’s a big mistake to the degree and the length of time we did it, it’s just horrible. People suffered a lot from the isolation and the loneliness, as much as from the pandemic. We should have found ways to make it safer for caregivers because they’re so essential to the care. And then the big one is: we never solved the fundamental problem of the labour issue. There are just not enough bodies in there to provide the care. The lack of good care makes it easier for diseases to spread and more people working with large numbers of people... you have them being less cautious because they’re in a hurry. All these things all feed into each other. I hear from families every single day about how frustrated they are, and you can’t argue with them. It’s awful, what’s still going on. In the beginning of the book, you said you were skeptical that there would be any accountability for the mass deaths of vulnerable seniors that we have seen. Why is that? We’re not ever good at accountability in Canada, because we don’t have a system. Nobody’s really in charge. It’s hard to figure out who’s accountable [and] there’s a structural way of avoiding any accountability, which is unfortunate. Are people going to go to jail for this? Are they going to be losing lawsuits? I don’t know. If you look at Canada’s history, that’s very unlikely to happen, unfortunately. What we have to focus on is building a better system, so it doesn’t happen again. What might accountability look like in that better system? On the ground, at that level, we need better inspection, better regulation. But I try to be careful to say not more regulation, because we have so much regulation and people work in these homes, but they don’t measure the right things. We make sure that the fridge is exactly at the right temperature, but there’s not really any measure of quality of care. So you’re going to have someone wallowing in their feces for 10 hours, and as long as their milk is the right temperature, the home passes with flying colours. And then there has to be political accountability, and I think that the political accountability comes from putting someone in charge. A lot of these elder care issues go across four or five ministries in most provinces, and no one’s really in charge and there’s a lot of buck passing. I’m a big fan of having a serious ministry of seniors, or of elders, or whatever you want to call it, and put them in charge and make sure they’re accountable. B.C. stands out in that it has the seniors advocate. I think that’s a really good step, even though she doesn’t have any power. But she does have at least the ability to kind of embarrass the government and put them on the spot, so there’s some accountability there. When I asked you in April whether you thought the pandemic would trigger structural changes to health and social safety nets, you said no except for “some hope on the seniors’ care side, just because it’s so, so devastating.” Are you still optimistic things will change? I think there’s a real opportunity to fix things. I think there has to be a certain amount of guilt in politicians, and seeing how horrible this is, and wanting to fix it. So yes, I do have some hope. I despair at the fact that it took this much to make us even talk about change — it should have never have come to this. When we see countries that have zero deaths in long-term care, you just shake your head and say, “Why? Why couldn’t that be asked of one of the richest countries in the world? Why do we have this kind of carnage?” I’m hopeful, but I think hopeful with an asterisk on it. You have been open that your parents both lived with dementia in long-term care. What is the personal impact of this reporting been for you? Is there a part of this process that stays with you? First of all, I’m old. So that gives me a personal stake in this, I’m getting up there in age. But on a more serious note, anyone who’s had parents who have gone through “the system,” who’s had parents with dementia, with these chronic illnesses in long-term care, they lived these frustrations. And they stay with you, they anger you, and that anger never really goes away. I think you see some of that in the book, that I understand and empathize with what a lot of the families are talking about, because I lived it too. And then I just have the benefit of knowing the system from having written about it a long time. And I hope that combination makes it a little more powerful. For people without that personal connection and or that lived experience, how do you think we rally or engage them in pushing for more investment and transformation? I think you have to remind them that everyone’s going there eventually. We’re all on a fast stream to taking care of our parents and our grandparents. This is simple demographics — there are fewer children born, our parents are living longer, and it just means there’s going to be more and more caregivers, and they’re going to be younger and younger. There’s going to be a lot more pressure to do this on everyone. Even younger people really have to take this to heart. It’s going to be a lot more people caring for their parents and their grandparents. One of the most interesting trends in the caregiving data is grandchildren caring for elders. That’s a fairly new thing. So I think this issue is expanding, and it’s touching much more people across society. I hope that will give impetus for governments to act, knowing that people are really going to want change, and they’re not going to be part of our neglect of elders. The younger people, I think, are more outspoken, and they’re more adept at doing that, and they’re more willing to speak out. It’s not the same as my parents’ generation, where you would never even question the government, you don’t question your health-care provider. That stuff’s all going out the window. One of the first lines I highlighted in the book when I was reading was you saying that an aging population is a success, and it’s something to honour and to cherish in our country. What would be an indication to you that Canada is moving in that direction? The way to honour people is to make sure they live in dignity, that they live where they want and how they want. Once that becomes the guiding principle, everything flows from that. We just don’t have that principle. We talked about this respect of what veterans have given, the sacrifice. And not to undervalue the contributions of veterans, but that applies to that entire generation. They’ve made sacrifices that we’ve built on, and we owe them. They’ve paid their taxes for 40 and 50 years. And now it’s time to cash in. We are already reneging on that basic social contract in a really horrible way. Thank you so much, André. I actually lied, I have one last question. Where on Earth did you find the time to write this book? People keep asking me that. I always keep busy, I’m a very regimented person. So I sort of decided to do this fairly late in the process. Publishers were approaching me to do some books about COVID, and I wasn’t interested. Because to me, I think the important book about COVID will probably be written in 10 or 20 years when we have the proper perspective. And then suddenly, someone said, “Well, what are you interested in?” And after I said elder care, they said, “Go for it.” So then from that it went really rapidly. I had in my mind what I wanted to highlight, and I said I’m just going to do it in a regimented way, I have 60 days, I have 1,000 words a day to write after my day job. I didn’t want to take time off work, other than anything I took from my summer holidays to do this, because the pandemic was already keeping me very busy Moira Wyton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
CALGARY — The founder and CEO of Good Earth Cafes Ltd. says the Calgary-based chain could potentially double its 45 locations across Canada through a program to take over coffee shops being closed down by international chains such as Starbucks.In January, Seattle-based Starbucks said it would complete its plan to close up to 300 coffee shops across Canada by the end of March as part of a "transformation strategy'' to respond to changes in consumer habits during the COVID-19 pandemic.Michael Going of Good Earth says his company is already looking at potential sites to be redeveloped and is recruiting partners for multi-unit franchises as well as single unit owner operators.Good Earth says it has hired Stan Boniferro of Stabon Enterprises to work with landlords and developers in identifying sites with proven performance, infrastructure and good growth prospects. The first Good Earth shop opened in Calgary in 1991. The chain says it aims to offer ethically sourced coffee and fresh food while promoting community interaction and environmental responsibility.Going says franchisees would cover the cost of renovating the former Starbucks to match Good Earth's theme and design. He declined to give a specific target number for Good Earth's program."We're not going to take 300. First of all, there's not 300 good locations they're leaving behind," said Going."We could double the number of locations we have now in a couple of years time."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 3, 2021. The Canadian Press