A Bernese doggy really wants to get a hold of his favorite toy in this funny clip. Enjoy!
A Bernese doggy really wants to get a hold of his favorite toy in this funny clip. Enjoy!
Ottawa will not license any Indigenous "moderate livelihood" fishery in Atlantic Canada unless it operates within the commercial season, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said Wednesday, siding with a key demand from the region's commercial fishing industry, while angering Indigenous leaders. The statement is a major development in the dispute over treaty rights-based fishing that sparked violence last fall when the Sipekne'katik band launched its own self-regulated 'moderate livelihood' lobster fishery. The fishery in St. Marys Bay in southwest Nova Scotia took place outside the commercial season, angering other fishermen who said it was both unfair and bad for conservation. "Seasons ensure that stocks are harvested sustainably and they are necessary for an orderly, predictable, and well-managed fishery," Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan said in a statement, confirming a CBC News report earlier in the day. "In effort-based fisheries such as lobster, seasons are part of the overall management structure that conserves the resource, ensures there isn't overfishing, and distributes economic benefits across Atlantic Canada." WATCH | The history of the Mi'kmaw fishery: DFO indicated a willingness to discuss other details with affected First Nation communities. But Sipekne'katik Chief Mike Sack urged Mi'kmaw bands in Atlantic Canada to reject the federal government's position and told reporters his First Nation will continue to operate its fishery outside DFO seasons in 2021. "They're trying to divide and conquer and throw a carrot to a band or two and have them sign and just hurt everybody's case. So I hope that no other communities do sign. They don't take that low hanging fruit," he said. Sack restated his position that the treaty right was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada's Marshall decision, and accused DFO of trying to divide and conquer the Mi'kmaq. In 1999, the court affirmed the Mi'kmaw treaty right to fish in pursuit of a "moderate livelihood," but under federal government regulations for conservation. Ottawa spent half a billion dollars integrating Indigenous bands into the commercial fishery through licence buy-backs and training, but it never defined "moderate livelihood." Jordan cited part of the Marshall ruling to justify her authority. She noted the Supreme Court said "treaty rights are subject to regulation provided such regulation is shown by the Crown to be justified on conservation or other grounds of public importance." "That is what we are implementing," Jordan said in her statement. The department is offering Indigenous fishermen in Nova Scotia a pathway to sell lobster harvested in a moderate livelihood fishery. Right now, that catch does not have DFO's stamp of approval. Without authorization, they can't legally sell their catch to licenced buyers, such as lobster pounds and processors. Bands that accept DFO's position will receive a moderate livelihood licence that will allow them to sell the catch in 2021. Under provincial rules, only fish products harvested under federal commercial licences can be purchased by shore processors. The federal government "will balance additional First Nations access through already available licences and a willing buyer-willing seller approach, protecting our stocks and preserving the industry for generations to come," Jordan's statement said. Sipekne'katik First Nation Chief Michael Sack, right, halted talks with the federal Fisheries Department in December after reaching an impasse.(Paul Withers/CBC) The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaw Chiefs called the government's conditions "unacceptable" and condemned them as part of a "colonial approach" to the rights-based fishery recognized by the Supreme Court. "DFO continues to dictate and impose their rules on a fishery that is outside of their scope and mandate," said Chief Gerald Toney, the assembly's fisheries lead, in a statement. The right to a livelihood fishery isn't, and shouldn't be, driven by industry or the federal government, he said. "It is something that needs to come from the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia. Imposing restrictions independently, without input of the Mi'kmaq, on our implementation of Rights is an approach that must stop." Mi'kmaw leaders and some academics have insisted the fishery in St. Marys Bay poses no risk to stocks because it is too small. It's a claim the commercial industry rejects. One organization representing commercial fishermen said the DFO has made public what it had been telling the industry in private. "This position needs to come from them and they need to come out publicly, more often," said Martin Mallet, executive director of the Maritime Fishermen's Union. Mallet said commercial fishermen expect the DFO to enforce its rules if bands operate out of season, including pulling traps and "potentially arresting individuals that are not keeping up with the law." A group representing harvesters in southwestern Nova Scotia said the government's position "can provide certainty" for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishermen. "However, lasting and consistent enforcement that is fair to all harvesters will be critical," the Unified Fisheries Conservation Alliance said in a statement. The ambiguity over moderate livelihood led to violence last year when several bands launched self-regulated lobster fisheries — all taking place outside of commercial lobster seasons. In October, two facilities storing Mi'kmaw catches were vandalized, including one that was later burned to the ground. Indigenous harvesters also said hundreds of their traps were pulled by non-Indigenous commercial fishermen. After tensions abated, the DFO pulled hundreds of Mi'kmaw traps out of the water, many bearing band moderate livelihood tags. On Wednesday, the DFO returned to Sipekne'katik more than 200 traps it had seized last fall. Sipekne'katik First Nation Chief Mike Sack, shown in October, said Wednesday his band will continue to operate its moderate livelihood fishery outside DFO seasons in 2021.(Pat Callaghan/CBC) When defending the self-regulated fisheries, the Mi'kmaq point to the huge number of commercial traps in the water compared to those from bands. The Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance, which represents shore buyers, said that is misleading. Stewart Lamont of Tangier Lobster said he accepts the treaty right but maintains the fisheries must take place within commercial seasons. "The lobster biomass is extremely vulnerable during certain months of the year, most particularly late July, August, September, October, when lobsters are going through their annual molt," said Lamont. "They're literally hungrier than normal. They've taken on a new shell. They are far more readily embraced into a trap." He said hauling lobster at that time is short-sighted. "By the same token, they are of far lesser quality. They tend to be soft and medium shell. It's not a premium product." Commercial lobster fishing season varies across Nova Scotia, in part to maintain a steady supply to the market, and to protect stocks when they are vulnerable. MORE TOP STORIES
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
WASHINGTON — The Defence Department took more than three hours to dispatch the National Guard to the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol despite a frantic request for reinforcement from police, according to testimony Wednesday that added to the finger-pointing about the government response. Maj. Gen. William Walker, commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard, told senators that the then-chief of the Capitol Police requested military support in a 1:49 p.m. call, but the Defence Department's approval for that support was not relayed to him until after 5 p.m., according to prepared testimony. Guard troops who had been waiting on buses were then rushed to the Capitol. That delay stood in contrast to the immediate approval for National Guard support granted in response to the civil unrest that roiled American cities last spring as an outgrowth of racial justice protests, Walker said. As local officials pleaded for help, Army officials raised concerns about the optics of a substantial National Guard presence at the Capitol, he said. “The Army senior leadership” expressed to officials on the call “that it would not be their best military advice to have uniformed Guardsmen on the Capitol,” Walker said. The Senate hearing is the second about what went wrong on Jan. 6, with national security officials face questions about missed intelligence and botched efforts to quickly gather National Guard troops that day as a violent mob laid siege to the U.S. Capitol. Even as Walker detailed the National Guard delay, another military official noted that local officials in Washington had said days earlier that no such support was needed. Senators were eager to grill officials from the Pentagon, the National Guard and the Justice and Homeland Security departments about their preparations for that day. Supporters of then-President Donald Trump had talked online, in some cases openly, about gathering in Washington that day and interrupting the electoral count. At a hearing last week, officials who were in charge of security at the Capitol blamed one another as well as federal law enforcement for their own lack of preparation as hundreds of rioters descended on the building, easily breached the security perimeter and eventually broke into the Capitol. Five people died as a result of the rioting. So far, lawmakers conducting investigations have focused on failed efforts to gather and share intelligence about the insurrectionists’ planning before Jan. 6 and on the deliberations among officials about whether and when to call National Guard troops to protect Congress. The officials at the hearing last week, including ousted Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, gave conflicting accounts of those negotiations. Robert Contee, the acting chief of police for the Metropolitan Police Department, told senators he was “stunned” over the delayed response and said Sund was pleading with Army officials to deploy National Guard troops as the rioting rapidly escalated. Senate Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar, one of two Democratic senators who will preside over Wednesday's hearing, said in an interview Tuesday that she believes every moment counted as the National Guard decision was delayed and police officers outside the Capitol were beaten and injured by the rioters. “Any minute that we lost, I need to know why,” Klobuchar said. The hearing comes as thousands of National Guard troops are still patrolling the fenced-in Capitol and as multiple committees across Congress are launching investigations into mistakes made on Jan. 6. The probes are largely focused on security missteps and the origins of the extremism that led hundreds of Trump supporters to break through the doors and windows of the Capitol, hunt for lawmakers and temporarily stop the counting of electoral votes. Congress has, for now, abandoned any examination of Trump’s role in the attack after the Senate acquitted him last month of inciting the riot by telling the supporters that morning to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat. As the Senate hears from the federal officials, acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman will testify before a House panel that is also looking into how security failed. In a hearing last week before the same subcommittee, she conceded there were multiple levels of failures but denied that law enforcement failed to take seriously warnings of violence before the insurrection. In the Senate, Klobuchar said there is particular interest in hearing from Walker, the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, who was on the phone with Sund and the Department of the Army as the rioters first broke into the building. Contee, the D.C. police chief, was also on the call and told senators that the Army was initially reluctant to send troops. “While I certainly understand the importance of both planning and public perception — the factors cited by the staff on the call — these issues become secondary when you are watching your employees, vastly outnumbered by a mob, being physically assaulted,” Contee said. He said he had quickly deployed his own officers and he was “shocked” that the National Guard “could not — or would not — do the same." Contee said that Army staff said they were not refusing to send troops, but “did not like the optics of boots on the ground” at the Capitol. Also testifying at the joint hearing of the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees are Robert Salesses of the Defence Department, Melissa Smislova of the Department of Homeland Security and Jill Sanborn of the FBI, all officials who oversee aspects of intelligence and security operations. Lawmakers have grilled law enforcement officials about missed intelligence ahead of the attack, including a report from an FBI field office in Virginia that warned of online posts foreshadowing a “war” in Washington. Capitol Police leaders have said they were unaware of the report at the time, even though the FBI had forwarded it to the department. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the report was disseminated though the FBI’s joint terrorism task force, discussed at a command post in Washington and posted on an internet portal available to other law enforcement agencies. Though the information was raw and unverified and appeared aspirational in nature, Wray said, it was specific and concerning enough that “the smartest thing to do, the most prudent thing to do, was just push it to the people who needed to get it.” Mary Clare Jalonick And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
Britain will modernise its listing rules to attract more high-growth company and so-called blank cheque flotations, Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said after a government-backed review said London was on the back foot after Brexit. The London Stock Exchange is facing tougher competition from NYSE and Nasdaq in New York, and from Euronext in Amsterdam since Britain fully left the European Union on Dec. 31.
Mona Lisa describes feeling isolated and cut off from her community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first legislative session of 2021 began this week amid a grueling pandemic and an unrelenting overdose crisis, and the BC Green caucus intends to advocate for ramped up mental health supports and more government transparency. “I don't think anybody out there is like, ‘No, I'm good. Everything's perfectly fine,’” said BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau in an interview on Feb. 24. “The priority going into this session really is about mental health and what government can do to better support people's mental health. We want to see some pretty significant steps taken on that front.” The legislative session began Mar. 1 and will run, with breaks, until June 17. Furstenau has repeatedly argued for the inclusion of psychologists in primary healthcare teams, and for psychological counselling to be covered by public healthcare. Thus far, the Province has declined to include counselling under the Medical Services Plan. When pressed by Furstenau during Question Period on Dec. 9, Mental Health and Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson suggested British Columbians experiencing immediate mental health distress should call the 811 COVID-19 call-in helpline for assistance. “We have to be able to recognize mental healthcare and healthcare are the same thing,” Furstenau said in February. People should be able to access it as part of their primary healthcare without a cost barrier, she said. “Counselling is very expensive,” said Mackenzie Kerr, co-chair of the BC Greens youth council, and former 2020 Green party candidate for Prince George-Valemount. “Including mental health in our provincial health care would be absolutely huge right now, crucial.” Having someone to talk to for a professional opinion is important, said Kerr. “If you're just stuck in the same loop every day staying home, it can become very lonely, and you can talk yourself in circles in your head.” The year-long (and counting) pandemic has also exacerbated the province’s opioid health emergency, making 2020 the deadliest year yet for illicit drug overdoses. Of the 8,530 people who died from illicit drug overdoses in B.C. the past decade, 20 per cent lost their lives last year. In 2020 alone, paramedics attended more than 17,000 overdose events, including 1,250 in the north, which had the highest rate of deaths in the province last year. The cost of waiting until people are in crisis and needing emergency healthcare system is far more expensive than providing proactive mental health supports when people seek them, said Furstenau. Other issues for the Greens this session relate to trust and transparency, Furstenau said. Since last September, the legislature has been in session eight days. In previous years over the same period, fall legislative sessions ranged from 20 days in 2019 to 41 days in 2017. “During a time when people are feeling increasingly concerned about how government is making decisions,” said Furstenau, “we've had very limited and very restricted opportunity to be able to ask the questions of government that it is our job as elected representatives to ask.” Now, more than ever, governments need to ensure they have the trust of their citizens, she said. Crisis situations require collective action, and the public must trust the people asking them to make sacrifices for the common good. Mistrust of experts was the number one determinant of vaccine hesitancy, according to a study entitled Understanding Vaccine Hesitancy in Canada, by McGill University and University of Toronto researchers. Mistrust of key figures and institutions is now driving online conversations and skepticism about vaccines as much as safety concerns, revealed First Draft, an international research coalition of journalists and academics. “People want to understand; people want to have an explanation,” Furstenau said. “If it's not forthcoming from government, they will look elsewhere for those explanations. And it's dangerous.” The government’s handling of the now $16 billion Site C dam project in the province’s northeast also raises serious concerns around trust, transparency and accountability, Furstenau said. “Government has not been forthcoming with information reports, terms of reference, and even quarterly reports from BC Hydro have not been released publicly for a year now.” Another significant 2021 priority for the Greens will be holding government to its commitment to implement recommendations from last year’s old growth review panel, A New Future for Old Forests. A key recommendation called for immediate protection of old forests in ‘high and near-term risk of irreversible biodiversity loss.’ “Yet, we keep hearing and seeing evidence of ongoing logging of old growth,” said Furstenau. “The reality is, this is not a sustainable activity.” Communities need help from governments to transition from old growth logging into sustainable economic activities, Furstenau said. Turning away from old growth logging is a tough sell in Northern BC, but communities would do it if there were alternatives, said Kerr, a University of Northern BC forestry student. “If they were given more options of renewable projects,” Kerr said, “we know that they will be choosing those instead.” Conservation financing would help communities break free of dependence on boom or bust resource development projects that only deplete resources, Furstenau said, pointing to land-based aquaculture, landscape restoration, ecotourism, and sustainable agriculture and agritech as possible alternatives. “We're sort of trapped in an eternal present in our politics, when what we have to recognize is every decision we make shapes the future,” said Furstenau. “What should future generations and communities expect from us in our decision-making right now?” Fran@thegoatnews.ca / @FranYanor Fran Yanor, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Rocky Mountain Goat
Federal and provincial health officials are planning to extend the time between two-dose COVID-19 vaccines to four months. Here are some of the factors they're weighing and why it matters. Why do provinces want to space out the doses beyond official recommendations? More vaccines are arriving and the provinces aim to get them into the arms of willing Canadians as quickly as possible. But demand exceeds supply, so researchers in British Columbia and Quebec are studying what happens when the interval between doses is extended. That way they can use the supply to vaccinate more people with a first shot sooner. Late last year, Quebec decided to vaccinate more quickly and more widely by allowing a 90-day delay between doses. But British Columbia went further on Monday, moving to a four-month interval for doses of the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada's deputy chief public health officer, pointed to advances since Health Canada approved those vaccines. A health-care worker prepares to administer a dose of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, in Santiago, Dominican Republic, in February. (Ricardo Rojas/Reuters) "What's happening is, I think, very encouraging," Njoo said in a briefing on Tuesday. "We have real-world data, the actual experience of what's happening with the vaccination, for example in British Columbia and in Quebec, as they're vaccinating seniors in long-term care facilities. We're seeing quite a high level of protection." Njoo said experts are balancing vaccinating a large number of Canadians to achieve a good level of protection without compromising the effectiveness of the vaccines. On Wednesday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) said it "recommends that in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply, jurisdictions should maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose of vaccine by extending the interval for the second dose of vaccine to four months." Doing so creates opportunities to protect all of Canada's adult population more quickly, NACI said. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, told CBC Radio's The Current on Wednesday that all provinces are looking at waiting longer to give second doses. Health officials in Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador announced they're moving to a four-month interval. Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious diseases physician in Mississauga, Ont., says the top priority is to protect older individuals and those who are at highest risk of severe consequences, hospitalizations and death. Chakrabarti said the principle of getting as many people covered with one dose is a good one. WATCH | Delaying 2nd doses defensible, expert says: "We do know from other vaccines that increase in the interval between two shots doesn't have any major consequence in decreasing efficacy and in some situations might actually make it better," he said. "But keeping that in mind, we do have to be careful. I think that we don't want to stray too far away." What's the basis for the recommended dosing schedule? Vaccine-makers tested their shots in clinical trials with certain times between doses. Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine is meant to be given as two doses, 21 days apart, while Moderna recommends 28 days. For AstraZeneca-Oxford's, the interval is eight to 12 weeks. Health Canada approved the vaccines based on that clinical trial data. Both Pfizer and Moderna acknowledge that, in a pandemic, health authorities will make their own recommendations. What's the scientific basis for delaying? Chakrabarti says there's evidence, for example, to support delaying the second dose of the Hepatitis A vaccine by six to 36 months, and that's true for other vaccines, too. But the COVID-19 vaccines haven't existed long enough to know. Efficacy for Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine was around 95 per cent after both doses and 52 per cent after the first, according to clinical data. For Moderna's it was about 80 per cent after one dose and 94 per cent following the second. WATCH | Stop confusing vaccine messaging, expert says: The benefits of a second dose include longer-lasting protection, says Tania Watts, a professor of immunology at the University of Toronto who is studying immune responses to COVID-19 vaccines in Canadians. She says everyone should eventually get a second dose. But "as we go to the broader population, yes, I think we will still get the benefit if you delay the second dose," Watts said. Watts noted that when the mRNA vaccines were developed, the four-week interval for the "prime-boost effect" in the clinical trials was done for practical purposes. WATCH | Why B.C. plans to get 1st doses to as many people as possible quickly: "All things being perfect, we could stick to the protocol," from the clinical trials, Watt said. "But, if you can save a lot more lives by not giving everyone the second dose at three weeks, but giving a lot more people the first, I think this is where the rationale comes, and I think it makes complete sense." What's unknown? The variants of concern that are more transmissible than the original coronavirus could throw a wrench into the works for some combinations of vaccines. Watts said neutralizing antibodies that block the coronavirus from attaching and infecting cells dropped to almost nil in lab tests of those who received the Pfizer-BioNTech shot against the B1351 variant that first appeared in South Africa. "After two doses, which gives you stronger antibodies, you still had some partial protection," she said. Watts says Canada is at a critical juncture, watching to see if the variants will take off among partially vaccinated people. Epidemiological or population-level studies are also needed to figure out how many antibodies are needed to prevent infection as well as the details of immune system memory. As scientific understanding grows, NACI said it will update its guideline.
Michael Widner's death in March 2017 left a lot of questions unanswered — and not just for the investigators tasked with solving the targeted killing of a Hells Angels prospect. Widner's wife learned the man she wed in 2008 had also maintained a long-term "marriage-like relationship" with another woman. The parts of each week he had claimed to be working in a different part of Vancouver Island were actually spent living with his other family, which included two children. The "who" and the "why" of Widner's killing remain unsolved. But a B.C. Supreme Court judge this week answered one of the other mysteries sparked by his death: provincial law allows for both of the dead man's partners to be considered spouses despite a criminal prohibition against polygamy. "He left a complicated legacy," wrote Justice Jennifer Duncan. 'Caught completely off guard' "Complicated" appears to have been an understatement. Duncan's lengthy decision on a lawsuit filed by Widner's secret spouse for a share of his estate pulls back the curtains on a double life spent evading the scrutiny of both romantic partners and police. Widner is believed to have died around March 9, 2017. His body was found near Port Renfrew, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, a week after he was reported missing. Police have not said how he was killed, but are treating the death as a homicide. RCMP released this image of Michael Widner after he went missing. His body was found a week after he disappeared. Police consider his death a homicide. Nobody has been charged.(RCMP) According to the decision, Widner had been living with Sabrina Widner since 2000, and the couple had two children. They married in a civil ceremony in 2008 followed by a Mexican resort celebration attended by Bob Green, a prominent Hells Angel who was himself murdered in 2016. Sabrina Widner said she didn't learn of her husband's involvement in the gang until police started asking questions after his disappearance four years ago. "Did he own a Harley, did he have any ties to the Hells Angels? Ms. Widner said no," Duncan wrote. "Within a day or two the police advised her that they had found a body in Port Renfrew and were certain it was Mike. The news began carrying reports about the killing of a Hells Angels prospect with criminal ties. Ms. Widner said she was caught completely off guard by this." 'Trusted him about everything else' Sara Boughton met Widner in 2009, four years after graduating from high school. They moved in together within a month. At the time, Widner claimed to be going through a divorce that would be settled in three months. Three months morphed into eight years. Michael Widner, not pictured here, was a prospect for the Hells Angels, but his wife says she did not know he was involved with the organization.(Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press) The couple had a son and a daughter and went on holidays to Mexico together. Boughton said Widner told her he and his wife often argued, and that when he asked for a divorce she would "tell him he would not see his children and threaten him about being a criminal," the judge wrote. Since 2013, Boughton and Widner had been renting a house in Shawnigan Lake, about an hour's drive from Widner's other home in Sooke. Widner claimed he slept on the couch when he returned to his other family. Boughton said she didn't believe that, but it never struck her that he might still be "intimate" with his wife, Duncan wrote. Boughton said Widner also concealed his relationship with the Hells Angels from her. She said she found out some time in 2015, and didn't think it was a wise move for him to join. "Despite the fact that the deceased lied about his marital status and covered up his involvement in the Hells Angels, Ms. Boughton trusted him about everything else," Duncan said in her decision. 'Difficult to lead two lives' Widner died without a will. His wife said he didn't have a bank account or anything but a boat and a car left in his name. He listed his income at $1,500 in his 2011 tax return and $300 the following year. "In 2013, he claimed an income of zero," Duncan wrote. Widner's estate is estimated to be worth $150,000. (Mike Widner Memorial Page/Facebook) And yet, Boughton estimated Widner provided her with $8,000 a month for household expenses, and the dead man's mother claimed she saw him give Sabrina Widner "handfuls" of large bills — an allegation his wife denied, saying they didn't live a "lavish" lifestyle. According to the judgment, Widner appeared to get his money from a variety of sources. He ran a legal medical marijuana grow-op licensed in Sabrina Widner's name. He also tried his hand at a variety of odd jobs. And during the court proceedings, his mother said he was a high-level cocaine dealer. Widner's father and mother, who are separated, both testified at the proceeding. They each claimed to have known about their son's romantic entanglements, but neither shared the information with Sabrina Widner. "Mr. Widner felt his son's relationships were none of his business. He told his son to deal with the situation, because it was difficult to lead two lives," the decision says. His mother said she "did not think it was any of her business to tell Ms. Widner about Ms. Boughton." Psychics and politicians speak The possibility of a girlfriend was mentioned by a psychic whom Sabrina Widner consulted in the days after her husband disappeared. It was also because of a psychic that she didn't believe her husband owned a Harley-Davidson. "He had a motorcycle when their daughter was born but a psychic told them he would die on a motorcycle so they sold it," Duncan wrote "She learned that the Deceased had two motorcycles at Ms. Boughton's house and had purchased several others for the Hells Angels." Former Liberal attorney general Mike de Jong once spoke about the kinds of circumstances that would require a provision in B.C. law for two spouses to share a dead person's estate.(Tanya Fletcher/CBC) A pair of B.C. politicians would also turn out to be prescient in the matter of Michael Widner's life and death. Duncan cites legislative debate in 2009 between Liberal Attorney General Mike de Jong and NDP critic Leonard Krog about provisions of the Wills, Estates and Successions Act that are at the heart of the fight between Boughton and Sabrina Widner. The law specifically mentions a situation involving the division of an estate for "two or more spouses." "I'm just trying to grasp and get my head around this concept when you would have this intersection where two spouses would in fact have a claim," Krog said. De Jong said the law was drafted to include every possible circumstance — including one involving two people unwittingly involved in "overlapping" relationships. "As distasteful or tawdry as it may seem, the possibility that an individual or two individuals might find themselves in this situation requires, we believe, the inclusion of the provision," de Jong said. Duncan said it was clear the legislature intended to provide for people who were in a "marriage-like relationship" with someone who was also married at the time of their death. Sabrina Widner still plans to challenge the validity of the spousal provisions of the law, because her lawyers claim it would appear to conflict with the criminal law against polygamy. In the meantime, Duncan found Boughton is entitled to half of what can be found of Widner's estate — which appears to be about $150,000. "Ms. Widner understandably resents her husband's duplicity in forming a relationship with Ms. Boughton, having children with her and supporting a separate, secret household," Duncan wrote. "The resulting amount is to be divided equally between the two surviving spouses."
Across Canada, opposition parties have struggled to make a mark as governments continue to steal the spotlight as they grapple with COVID-19. Jagmeet Singh's New Democrats are not one of those parties. The polls suggest support for the NDP is on the rise. But what's behind it — and is it something that might last? According to the CBC's Canada Poll Tracker, an aggregation of all publicly available polling data, the Liberals still hold a solid lead in national polls. Erin O'Toole's Conservatives continue to trail with less support than they had in the 2019 federal election. But the New Democrats stand at 19 per cent in the Poll Tracker, well above the party's 15.9 per cent share of the popular vote from 2019. It didn't happen overnight; the NDP is not in the midst of a surge. Instead, the New Democrats have been picking up a point or two per month since the beginning of May 2020, when the NDP bottomed out at 14.2 per cent in the Poll Tracker. The NDP's position in the polling average oscillates up and down based on which pollsters have published the most recent numbers. Certain polling methodologies appear to give better results for the NDP than others. Online surveys, for example, tend to produce higher numbers for the NDP than those conducted via interactive voice response (IVR) over the telephone. But regardless of their methodologies, multiple pollsters are picking up this rising orange tide. Léger has pegged the NDP at between 20 and 23 per cent support in each of its last seven polls going back to the end of November. The online polling firm had the NDP at just 14 to 17 per cent in April and May. Mainstreet Research, which does its polling via IVR, has had the NDP at 15 per cent after a few earlier surveys put the party in the 12 to 14 per cent range. The Angus Reid Institute and Ipsos have put the NDP around 20 per cent in national polls; last year they were recording NDP support in the 17 to 18 per cent range. While the increase only amounts to a few points — and not every pollster is seeing the same thing — the trend line broadly appears to be a positive one for Singh. NDP up in every part of the country The polls suggest the New Democrats have improved their position in every region of the country, with gains of between three and five points since their low last spring. The NDP now sits at about 28 per cent support in B.C., an increase of five points since May 2020. The party is also up five points to just under 20 per cent in Ontario. The NDP is up by about four points in Alberta (to 18 per cent) and three points in Quebec and Atlantic Canada (to 12 and 16 per cent, respectively). The fact that the rise in NDP support has been nearly uniform from coast to coast suggests that Singh and the federal party can take some credit for the better numbers. It also suggests a spillover effect from provincial politics. Take British Columbia. It's unlikely a coincidence that support for the federal New Democrats spiked in mid-October, when B.C. was in the midst of a provincial election. The B.C. New Democrats under Premier John Horgan secured a solid majority government that month. The federal NDP saw its poll numbers go from the 21 to 24 per cent range prior to October to the 25 to 29 per cent range afterward. And as the popularity of Premier Jason Kenney's government slipped in Alberta, support for the federal NDP has risen. Some provincial-level polling puts Rachel Notley's Alberta NDP ahead of Kenney's United Conservative Party. As in 2015 — when Tom Mulcair's federal NDP got a bounce from Notley's upset victory — it's hard to see the two polling spikes as unrelated. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh (right) with B.C. Premier John Horgan in 2019. The federal NDP experienced a spike in support in B.C. coinciding with the provincial B.C. NDP's election victory.(Chad Hipolito / Canadian Press) Political shifts in provincial capitals can't entirely explain the rise of the federal New Democrats, however. The NDP does not have a significant presence in Quebec or much of Atlantic Canada. In Ontario, Andrea Horwath's NDP has been unable to make any major headway in the polls against Doug Ford's Progressive Conservative government. Liberals and Conservatives stuck At the federal level, the New Democrats undoubtedly are benefiting from the inability of both the Liberals and the Conservatives to get their own numbers to budge. National support for the Liberals and the Conservatives has been largely unchanged for more than six months. There has been a little movement regionally, however, and the NDP has been able to take support away in several places. The Liberals have lost the most since their peak last spring, with the NDP being the primary beneficiary in Ontario, Atlantic Canada and the Prairies. The federal Conservatives have fallen back while the NDP has picked up support in Alberta. In B.C., the NDP is up while the Liberals, Conservatives and Greens are down. In Quebec, it's the Bloc and Liberals who have slid while the New Democrats (and Conservatives) have climbed. Both Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole, left, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have struggled with stagnant poll numbers for months.(Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press) With a minority government in Ottawa, Singh has enjoyed some success in using his party's leverage in the House of Commons to get the Liberals to move on things the NDP supports. Recently, he's started presenting election-style campaign promises. But Singh might also be able to thank O'Toole and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for making him look good by comparison. Trudeau's approval ratings have slipped in recent weeks but the Conservatives have not seen any corresponding bump. At 29.9 per cent, the party is below 30 per cent in the Poll Tracker for the first time since O'Toole became leader at the end of August. Like Trudeau, O'Toole has watched his personal polling numbers worsening. Canadians have a more positive impression of Singh — but that has been the case for some time. The most recent survey by the Angus Reid Institute finds 49 per cent holding a favourable view of Singh, compared to 39 per cent who hold an unfavourable view. That's almost exactly where the Angus Reid Institute situated Singh in May 2020. This all suggests that the NDP's steady rise might have a lot to do with how the other parties are doing — which raises the question of just how durable it might be. Little to gain, lots to lose for NDP Singh pledged last week that, because of the pandemic, he would not force an election by defeating the Liberal government in the House of Commons (though a spokesperson later told CBC News this pledge did not extend to a budget vote, which would force an election if the Liberals lost it). The experience of Newfoundland and Labrador — which might only learn the outcome of its election two months after it was originally supposed to — has provided a stark example of what can happen when an election is held in the midst of a pandemic. And there might be little for the NDP to gain from forcing an election in the near term. According to the Poll Tracker, at their current level of support the New Democrats might emerge from a spring election with about 29 seats, only five more than they hold now. But if an election were held with the parties polling as they do now, the Conservatives might actually lose seats — and perhaps hand the Liberals a narrow majority government in the process. For a few seats more, Singh could risk losing the leverage his party holds with a minority government. It's also possible that the polls are little more than a mirage. The NDP under-performed its polling in the last federal election, winning about a dozen fewer seats than expected. If Singh is being buoyed by the popularity of some of his provincial cousins and the uninspiring performance of his federal opponents, he might be better advised to avoid putting his party's support to the test too soon.
Sandra Valliquette is worried her brother is being left behind in Ontario's vaccination rollout plan. He lives at a group home in Saint-Pascal-Baylon, an area just southeast of Clarence-Rockland, Ont., that provides housing for people with special needs and mental health disabilities. According to the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, people in group homes and other congregate settings will be vaccinated in Phase 2, beginning later this month and running through August. Valliquette says her brother has been living in lockdown for six months and worries what being categorized as a lower priority will mean for him, and the approximately 30 others he lives with. "My brother has underlying health issues. He's vulnerable in that place," she said. Lack of data worrisome, says advocate While people living in group homes are a higher priority than some, Valliquette worries that being in Phase 2 means her brother will remain in lockdown for the foreseeable future. "I am just confused about why he has to wait," she said. Sandra Valliquette says she's concerned for her brother who lives in a group home. (Submitted by Sandra Valliquette ) Megan Linton, a disabilities justice advocate, says people living in these group settings — whether they're for-profit homes, shelters or in independent living — should be fast-tracked up the COVID-19 vaccine queue. There's a lack of information about how many people with disabilities live in these places or have died of COVID-19, Linton said, but data from other parts of the world suggests people with disabilities are some of those most at risk. The situation has led to a lack of accountability for these institutions when there is an outbreak, said Linton. "It's incredibly concerning the way that disabled people have been left out of the vaccinations prioritization," she said. "If you are at higher risk, you should be prioritized." She said age shouldn't be the sole priority, noting that many living with disabilities have shorter than average life expectancies. "The government has the opportunity to prioritize and to ensure that this doesn't become a greater crisis," Linton said. Valliquette said if group homes can't be made a higher priority, she hopes Ontario reconsiders its stance inoculating more people with a single dose before moving onto the second. "There has to be some sort of flexibility and second thought," Valliquette said.
Starting Thursday, non-essential travellers who are already required to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test on the Windsor side of the land border must participate in on-site testing at the Ambassador Bridge or Windsor-Detroit Tunnel. Trailers in the duty-free parking lots of both the Ambassador Bridge and Windsor-Detroit Tunnel, set up by the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Red Cross, will be used for tests of non-essential, Canadian travellers coming back into Canada — as well as those who have landed from out of the country. Testing will begin Thursday at 7 a.m. at both the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel and Ambassador Bridge. An onsite testing trailer can be seen in the duty free store parking lot at the Ambassador Bridge. (Sanjay Maru/CBC) "This won't affect [essential workers]. They'll pull up to the customs lanes. They'll say they're an essential worker and they'll do what they've done for the past year," said Chris Tremblay, general manager for Windsor Detroit Borderlink, the company which operates the tunnel. Melanie Soler, vice president of emergency management response operations for the Canadian Red Cross, said individuals who partake in on-site testing at the land border will be given two testing kits. The first kit will be self-administered by the traveller inside the testing trailer. "Our personnel will observe them administering their own sample and packaging their own sample," said Soler. "Once the traveler deposits that sample in a safe and sanitary spot, our personnel will put that in a refrigeration package to make sure it gets to the lab for testing." It's not mandatory for individuals to be supervised by Red Cross staff when they self-administer their "day one" test, but the option is there in case they have any questions about it or need assistance, she added. In fact, a non-essential traveller can self-administer the "day one" swab in their personal quarantine location, if desired, according to PHAC. The general manager of the Ambassador Bridge says while it may seem redundant to come to the border with proof a COVID-19 test result only to be swabbed again on site, it's an added measure to keep people safe.(Sanjay Maru/CBC) After the first test is done, the traveller will be given a second testing kit which they will self-administer on "day 10" of quarantine. "The Public Health Agency of Canada is leading the collection of samples from travellers at land borders in coordination with federal partners including Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Canada Border Services Agency," said PHAC in a statement. In all instances of on-site testing, travellers will be pulled away from the flow of essential traffic to ensure border flow keeps moving. 'A lot can happen within 72 hours' Since Feb. 15, non-essential travellers entering Canada through the land border have been required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test conducted 72 hours before arrival. According to the Public Health of Agency of Canada, this on-site testing effort will help travellers "meet day one arrival requirements." But that doesn't mean on-site testing will replace the need for a pre-arrival test. Non-essential travellers will still have to show up to the border with proof of a negative result even if they participate in on-site testing. In fact, travellers without that pre-arrival test result may be directed to a designated quarantine facility by PHAC officials, according to the CBSA. COVID-19 testing trailers like these have been setup near Windsor's two international land border crossings. (Sanjay Maru/CBC) "From our level, is it redundant? Sounds like it's redundant," said Ambassador Bridge general manager Randy Spader. "I'm going to give you a negative test — and you're going to test me?" He adds, however, that "a lot can happen within 72 hours," and the federal government is seemingly doing whatever it can to prevent the cross-border spread of COVID-19. "Somebody who takes a test on Thursday, they're at the border on Sunday. What were they doing for those three days?" he said. "I think it's just a precaution to ensure the testing ramps us and Canada has the most information available to them for people wanting to get home." An invalid or inconclusive "day 10" test result will result in another test being mailed out to the traveller. The federal governments adds that failure to complete either of the self-administered swabs "could lead to fines of up to $750,000 or imprisonment."
A third COVID-19 vaccine is on its way to Saskatchewan. Chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said Tuesday that the province expects to receive a batch of 15,000 AstraZeneca-Oxford doses next week. "We are already working to incorporate that into our vaccination program and will be able to announce the details in a couple of days," Shahab said. Shahab added that Saskatchewan will likely only give that first batch of AstraZeneca-Oxford doses to people aged 64 and younger. Health Canada approved the AstraZeneca-Oxford product last Friday. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), the independent panel that sets the guidelines for vaccine deployment, is not recommending that these shots be used in people aged 65 and older. While Health Canada has determined the product is safe to use on all adults, NACI said there isn't enough clinical trial data available to determine how effective this product is in preventing COVID-19 infection among people in this older cohort. Shahab's remarks about the incoming AstraZeneca-Oxford doses came the same day the province announced it was making good progress immunizing one of its Phase 1 priority groups. As of Tuesday, 90 per cent of long-term care home residents had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The other 10 per cent either refused the vaccine or couldn't take it because of medical or other reasons. AstraZeneca-Oxford part of rosy vaccine outlook Premier Scott Moe listed the coming AstraZeneca-Oxford doses as one of several factors that could result in all Saskatchewan residents receiving their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by early June. He said that would also depend on: Consistent supply of the Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna viruses at the level they're being received now. Potentially widening the delivery window between first and second vaccines doses to four months, as B.C. has announced it will do. The Johnson & Johnson's single-dose COVID-19 vaccine also coming to Saskatchewan. "We do have much larger access to vaccines in the days ahead than we have in the days gone by," Moe said.
Samsung Electronics Co Ltd is considering two sites in Arizona and another one in New York in addition to Austin, Texas, for a new $17 billion chip plant, according to documents filed with Texas state officials. The documents dated Feb. 26 also estimated tax abatements concerning the plant will be about $1.48 billion over 20 years from Travis County in Texas and the city of Austin, up from the $805.5 million previously mentioned. Samsung is in talks with the sites at Arizona and New York, with each offering property tax abatement and "significant grants and/or refundable tax credits" to fund infrastructure improvements, the documents said.
Another socially-distanced legislative session kicked off this week, this one marked by COVID-related issues, a two-month delay of the provincial budget, and an Opposition bench tasked with holding a majority government in check during a pandemic. “Our job as the Official Opposition is to hold the government to account,” said Interim BC Liberal Opposition Leader Shirley Bond on Feb. 26. “That's going to be a challenging job with a significant majority in the legislature, but we have a skilled team.” One immediate challenge will be the delayed provincial budget. The legislative session will run from Mar. 1 to June 17, with some breaks, and the budget will be presented on Apr. 20. Typically tabled every year in mid-February, governments were legally bound to present a budget by the end of March. However, the Finance Statutes Amendment Act 2020, passed last December, extends the deadline to Apr. 30 when a budget follows an October election, as it does this year. “British Columbians deserve to know the financial state of our province,” said Bond. “We should have had that discussion. The budget should have been tabled by now.” Back in December, the Liberals voted against the legislation containing the extension. “We really don't see a need why it had to happen,” said BC Liberal House Leader Peter Milobar last week. “We said this would create uncertainty with groups. It was brushed off by government.” Now, as session begins two weeks after a budget would normally have been introduced, agencies, businesses and associations are starting to get worried, he said. “I've spent this week on a lot of Zoom calls with agencies and organizations that don't know what the budget delay will, or won't, mean to them,” said Milobar who represents the riding of Kamloops-North Thompson. “It's incumbent on the government, they're the ones that have delayed this budget, to provide that certainty.” The December legislation also included a provision to extend special warrant spending authority to keep essential funds flowing if the budget and estimates are presented after the beginning of the new fiscal year – Apr.1 for most businesses and institutions – which will be the case this spring. “It is not intended to provide for new program spending but, rather, to provide for continuation of the operations of government until a supply act can be passed by the Legislative Assembly,” Finance Minister Selina Robinson told the legislature on Dec. 9. “Any enhanced or expanded programming cannot happen until a new budget is introduced,” Milobar said. Meanwhile, the government will have four weeks to introduce legislation prior to the Throne speech, which occurs one week before the budget. “I'm assuming the government will have work for legislators to do. We'll have to wait and see what that agenda looks like,” said Bond, who is MLA for Prince George-Valemount, and will be attending the session in person for the first time since the pandemic began. Previously, she attended by Zoom, as do the majority MLAs due to public health restrictions. The top priority is the pandemic and the health and well-being of British Columbians, but people are also concerned about economic issues, said Bond. “How is British Columbia going to emerge as we move ahead? Sectors, like the tourism sector, that have been decimated by COVID, what will the government do to support and energize that sector?” Last year, the Province announced $105 million in funding for the sector, along with the creation of a task force made up of tourism and hospitality industry representatives to disperse the funding. “We're going to be highlighting the challenges that the Horgan government has created for small businesses and for British Columbians – a quarter of a billion dollars sitting on the sidelines, because the government couldn't manage the to get it out the door,” said Bond, referencing the $280 million or so in COVID-19 relief funding still not disbursed from $300 million designated for small and medium-sized businesses. The program is set to expire mar. 31, when any remaining funding will be rolled back into the provincial government coffers, Premier John Horgan confirmed in February. “They've made lots of commitments, and many of them they've yet to deliver,” said Bond. “There's going to be no shortage of questionable situations around how the premier and his ministers have been handling their files,” said Milobar. “We're all very focused on wanting to shine a light on the shortcomings of the government's response to a wide range of issues.” Additional priorities for the Opposition will include scrutiny of the vaccination roll out and continued calls for rapid testing in long term care and schools, said Bond, who is also the opposition critic for seniors services and long-term care. “There will be lots of debate and dialogue,” said Bond. “It's going to be a very intense session.” Fran@thegoatnews.ca / @FranYanor Fran Yanor, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Rocky Mountain Goat
The rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations in Ontario is happening at 34 different speeds, with each public health unit taking its own approach. The pace in the province's largest public health unit is notably slower than average. Officials in Toronto can't say when people aged 80 and up will be eligible to get vaccinated and are urging people not to call the public health hotline with questions about the timeline. Meanwhile, several public health units covering large urban areas have already started giving shots to that age group. York Region and Windsor-Essex both began their vaccinations of 80-plus-year-olds on Monday. In York Region, 20,000 of the roughly 45,000 people eligible have already booked appointments. People aged 80 and older line up outside a sports centre in Richmond Hill, Ont. on Monday to be among the first participants in York Region's mass vaccination program against COVID-19.(Evan Mitsui/CBC) During a City of Toronto news conference on Monday, officials were asked specifically when people in this age group in can expect to get the shot. There was no clear answer. Medical officer of health Dr Eileen de Villa spoke for two and a half minutes without addressing the question. WATCH | Questions and concerns continue around the timeline for Ontario's COVID-19 vaccine rollout: Next, Fire Chief Matthew Pegg, leading Toronto's COVID-19 emergency response, said bookings would begin once the province's appointment system launches (slated for March 15), and added that vaccinations would begin in "early April." De Villa then jumped in to say that vaccinations of some sub-groups of people in this age group could begin this month, but added, "We need supply to be more readily available to get into the large-scale administration of vaccine for that 80-plus population." Given that all of Ontario's public health units are facing the same supply constraints, why is Ontario's largest city weeks behind other major population centres in the province? Ontario's timeline for vaccinating people against COVID-19 puts 2.1 million people in its Phase 1 priority group, including long-term care residents, health-care workers and people aged 80 and older.(Ontario Ministry of Health) The chair of Toronto's board of health, Coun. Joe Cressy, blames a vaccine allocation mismatch: the province is distributing doses to each public health unit based solely on its total population, not based on its population in the high-priority groups. In short, the argument is that Toronto is hampered from moving on to vaccinate seniors aged 80 and older because it has yet to receive enough doses to vaccinate those who were first in line -- such as hospital workers. "We have a disproportionately large number of people who qualify in phase 1 because they are more vulnerable," Cressy told the news conference. That leads to a question: why didn't the province provide a larger number of vaccines to places with a larger number of people in priority groups? Solicitor-General Sylvia Jones acknowledged Tuesday that Toronto's explanation for its slower pace "makes sense." But when asked whether the province should have distributed doses on an as-needed basis instead of a per-capita basis, she didn't directly answer. Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa, left, gives Ontario Premier Doug Ford, centre, and Toronto Mayor John Tory, right, a tour of a vaccination clinic for health-care workers in January. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press) "The focus on the over 80 (age group) is critical," Jones told a news conference. "We'd love to have more vaccines to give to our public health units." Just don't ask the provincial government how many vaccine doses it has actually given to its public health units. The Ministry of Health refused CBC's request for this data on Tuesday, citing security concerns. The government also refused to provide a breakdown of how many vaccine doses have been administered by each public health unit, even though the ministry reports a province-wide total every day. The lack of disclosure makes it challenging to prove or disprove the claim that the distribution of vaccines has been unfair to Toronto. However, some figures disclosed by health units allow for rough math. The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit says it has received 12,285 doses of vaccine, while Toronto has received 195,440 doses. Using population data from Public Health Ontario, those shipments are enough to give one dose to 10.8 per cent of people living in Haldimand-Norfolk, but just 6.3 per cent of the population of Toronto. Toronto Public Health estimates that 325,000 people are eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19 under Phase 1 of Ontario's vaccine rollout. (Evan Mitsui/CBC) What is less clear is the evidence for Toronto's claim of being home to a disproportionate number of people in the priority groups for vaccination. People aged 80 and over are part of phase 1 of Ontario's vaccination timeline. But before getting to them, public health units were told to target the province's top-priority categories: long-term care residents and staff, other front-line health-care workers and Indigenous people. Ontario estimates 1.15 million people belong to those highest-priority groups. That is roughly eight per cent of the province's total population. Toronto Public Health could not provide an estimate Tuesday of how many people in the city are in those top-priority groups. But for Toronto to have a disproportionate burden, the number would need to be more than 240,000. Another comparison stick is the number of people eligible for vaccination through the whole of phase 1. Toronto Public Health says it's 325,000 people in the city, roughly 11 per cent of Toronto's population. That is no higher that the proportion of Ontario's population eligible in phase 1. Toronto Public Health COVID-19 vaccination numbers 195,440 doses of vaccine have been shipped to Toronto around 325,000 people are eligible to be vaccinated in phase 1 around 135,000 of them are aged 80 and above, including some 10,000 residents of long-term care
The number of charging points for electric vehicles in Germany has increased by more than 10% in the past three months to reach 39,538, energy industry association BDEW said on Wednesday. Policymakers in Europe's biggest economy aim to cut emissions from transport by expanding the use of electric vehicles. "The expansion of public charging points continues unabated," BDEW said, adding that government efforts to boost demand for electric vehicles and equipment were bearing fruit.
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 64,485 new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,014,128 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 5,314.423 per 100,000. There were 40,180 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 2,482,350 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 81.14 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 3,827 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 20,285 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 38.739 per 1,000. There were no new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 33,820 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 59.98 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 966 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 12,596 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 79.405 per 1,000. There were no new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 14,715 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 9.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 85.6 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 5,505 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 33,471 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 34.298 per 1,000. There were no new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 61,980 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 54 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 7,424 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 33,741 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 43.255 per 1,000. There were no new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 46,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 72.13 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 16,513 new vaccinations administered for a total of 455,328 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 53.213 per 1,000. There were no new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 537,825 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 84.66 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 22,326 new vaccinations administered for a total of 727,021 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 49.494 per 1,000. There were no new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 903,285 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 80.49 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 1,535 new vaccinations administered for a total of 78,205 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 56.794 per 1,000. There were no new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 108,460 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 72.1 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 947 new vaccinations administered for a total of 80,236 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 68.045 per 1,000. There were no new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 74,605 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 107.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 9,546 new vaccinations administered for a total of 245,054 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 55.668 per 1,000. There were no new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 274,965 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 89.12 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 7,501 new vaccinations administered for a total of 283,182 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 55.184 per 1,000. There were 40,180 new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 364,020 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 77.79 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 1,097 new vaccinations administered for a total of 17,168 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 411.397 per 1,000. There were no new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 18,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 45 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 90.84 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting 3,321 new vaccinations administered for a total of 19,775 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 438.285 per 1,000. There were no new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 19,100 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 42 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 103.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 664 new vaccinations administered for a total of 8,066 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 208.284 per 1,000. There were no new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 23,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 62 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 33.75 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
The Red Shores racetrack in Charlottetown is in a complete lockdown in an effort to control an outbreak of strangles. About 200 horses at the track were tested late last week, and officials are now awaiting those results before deciding on further actions. "We decided that to get a better understanding of what we're dealing with, and for heightened precautionary measures, that we would go into a lockdown for the grounds, which essentially means no horses coming or going for a time period," said Lee Drake, manager of racing, brands and broadcast divisions at Red Shores. "We've only had two confirmed cases of strangles on Prince Edward Island. Those horses were removed from the barns and are undergoing isolation at this point, and we are conducting screening tests for all the horses that are currently on the grounds." Red Shores Racetrack has taken measures to prevent the spread of strangles, including adding security and restricting who can enter the barns.(Shane Hennessey/CBC) The cost of the mandatory testing is being covered by Red Shores, the P.E.I. Harness Racing Industry Association and the Atlantic Provinces Harness Racing Commission. Highly contagious Red Shores says only essential workers will be allowed into each barn, as identified by each trainer, and they must now follow strict biosecurity measures. That means foot baths, brushes and disinfectant have been supplied to each barn. (Red Shores Racetrack)Strangles is an upper-respiratory illness that can cause swollen lymph nodes, nasal discharge and fevers in horses, donkeys and mules. While the illness can be fatal, most animals do survive. It is highly contagious and spreads easily through nose to nose contact between horses, or even contact with people. If handlers get the bacteria from one horse on their hands, feet or clothing, they can pass it on to another horse. A meeting was held on February 23 that included the Atlantic Veterinary College, Charlottetown Veterinary Clinic, Prince Edward Island Harness Racing Industry Association, Atlantic Provinces Harness Racing Commission and Red Shores. The lockdown took effect two days later, with no additional horses allowed on the grounds until further notice. "The next step is to to consult with the veterinarians — they are, of course, guiding us through this — and just get a better understanding of those results, the next steps," Drake said. "I should say that's confidential, like a doctor-patient privilege, if you will, between them and their client [the horse owner]. And so they'll be guiding them, and updating us, on the next steps that are going to be taken." Lockdown rules Under the lockdown rules, horses will be allowed to leave the track property only if they have a clearance letter from a veterinarian. During the lockdown, Red Shores says only essential workers will be allowed into each barn, and they must now follow strict biosecurity measures, including foot baths, brushes and disinfectant supplied to each barn. About 200 horses at the track were tested late last week and officials are now awaiting those results before deciding on further actions.(CBC) Owners and trainers are also being encouraged to take their horses' temperature daily and log the results, and consult a veterinarian if they see any symptoms. Drake said he can't confirm stories of strangles in other horses on P.E.I., outside of the racetrack. "Whether you're based on track, or you're on a farm, you have a heightened awareness of what's happening," Drake said. A medical laboratory technician in the AVC Diagnostic Services bacteriology lab examines bacterial growth on culture plates. (Anna MacDonald/AVC) "Until we know more of what we're dealing with, every stable — whether you're either on the grounds here or off the grounds — should be doing the measures that the veterinarians have asked. And that is, keeping a close watch on your horses and doing daily temperature checks." Meanwhile, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario says it has been informed that three additional horses tested positive for strangles in a barn at Shamrock Training Centre. Restrictions were put in place there after a horse shipped from Prince Edward Island tested positive. It had just been transported from Red Shores on Sunday, Feb. 14. No horses will be allowed to ship in for training until further notice.(Shane Hennessey/CBC) Also, Truro Raceway has issued a statement saying that it will be restricting horses from P.E.I. because of the strangles outbreak. "Any individual seeking to move a horse from P.E.I. to Truro will need the horse to have two negative strangles tests, conducted one week apart, prior to being permitted to enter the property," Truro officials said in the statement. "We will continue to monitor the situation, and this will be our policy until further notice." More from CBC P.E.I.
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