LOS ANGELES — Tiger Woods was seriously injured Tuesday when his SUV crashed into a median, rolled over and ended up on its side on a steep roadway in suburban Los Angeles known for wrecks, authorities said. The golf superstar had to be pulled out through the windshield, and his agent said he was undergoing leg surgery. Woods was alone in the SUV when it crashed into a raised median shortly before 7:15 a.m., crossed two oncoming lanes and rolled several times, authorities said at a news conference. No other cars were involved. The 45-year-old was alert and able to communicate as firefighters pried open the front windshield to get him out. The airbags deployed, and the inside of the car stayed basically intact and that “gave him a cushion to survive the crash,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. Both of his legs were seriously injured, county Fire Chief Daryl Osby said. They said there was no immediate evidence that Woods was impaired. Authorities said they checked for any odor of alcohol or other signs he was under the influence of a substance and did not find any. They did not say how fast he was driving. The crash happened on a sweeping, downhill stretch of a two-lane road through upscale Los Angeles suburbs. Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who was the first to arrive at the wreck, told reporters that he sometimes catches people topping 80 mph in the 45 mph zone and has seen fatal crashes there. “I will say that it’s very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive,” Gonzalez said. Woods was in Los Angeles over the weekend as the tournament host of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, where he presented the trophy on Sunday. He was to spend Monday and Tuesday filming with Discovery-owned GOLFTV, with whom he has an endorsement. A tweet Monday showed Woods in a cart smiling with comedian David Spade. According to Golf Digest, also owned by Discovery, the TV shoot was on-course lessons for celebrities, such as Spade and Dwyane Wade, at Rolling Hills Country Club. Woods, a 15-time major champion who shares with Sam Snead the PGA Tour record of 82 career victories, has been recovering from Dec. 23 surgery on his lower back. It was his fifth back surgery and first since his lower spine was fused in April 2017, allowing him to stage a remarkable comeback that culminated with his fifth Masters title in 2019. He has carried the sport since his record-setting Masters victory in 1997 when he was 21, winning at the most prolific rate in modern PGA Tour history. He is singularly responsible for TV ratings spiking, which has led to enormous increases in prize money during his career. Even at 45, he remains the biggest draw in the sport. The SUV he was driving Tuesday had tournament logos on the side door, indicating it was a courtesy car for players at the Genesis Invitational. Tournament director Mike Antolini did not immediately respond to a text message, though it is not unusual for players to keep courtesy cars a few days after the event. Woods feared he would never play again until the 2017 fusion surgery. He returned to win the Tour Championship to close out the 2018 season and won the Masters in April 2019 for the fifth time. He last played Dec. 20 in the PNC Championship in Orlando, Florida, an unofficial event where players are paired with parents or children. He played with his son, Charlie, who is now 12. Woods also has a 13-year-old daughter. During the Sunday telecast on CBS from the golf tournament, Woods was asked about playing the Masters on April 8-11 and said, “God, I hope so.” He said he was feeling a little stiff and had one more test to see if he was ready for more activities. He was not sure when he would play again. Athletes from Mike Tyson to Magic Johnson and others offered hopes that Woods would make a quick recovery. “I’m sick to my stomach,” Justin Thomas, the No. 3 golf player in the world, said from the Workday Championship in Bradenton, Florida. “It hurts to see one of my closest friends get in an accident. Man, I just hope he’s all right.” Crews used a crane to lift the damaged SUV out of the hillside brush. The vehicle was placed upright on the street and sheriff’s investigators inspected it and took photos. Then it was loaded onto a flatbed truck and hauled away Tuesday afternoon. This is the third time Woods has been involved in a car investigation. The most notorious was the early morning after Thanksgiving in 2009, when his SUV ran over a fire hydrant and hit a tree. That was the start of shocking revelations that he had been cheating on his wife with multiple women. Woods lost major corporate sponsorships, went to a rehabilitation clinic in Mississippi and did not return to golf for five months. In May 2017, Florida police found him asleep behind the wheel of a car parked awkwardly on the side of the road. He was arrested on a DUI charge and said later he had an unexpected reaction to prescription medicine for his back pain. Woods later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and checked into a clinic to get help with prescription medication and a sleep disorder. Woods has not won since the Zozo Championship in Japan in fall 2019, and he has reduced his playing schedule in recent years because of injuries. The surgery Tuesday would be his 10th. He has had four previous surgeries on his left knee, including a major reconstruction after he won the 2008 U.S. Open, and five surgeries on his back. ___ Ferguson reported from Jacksonville, Florida. Stefanie Dazio And Doug Ferguson, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is moving slowly but surely toward reengaging with the Palestinians after a near total absence of official contact during former President Donald Trump’s four years in office. As American officials plan steps to restore direct ties with the Palestinian leadership, Biden’s national security team is taking steps to restore relations that had been severed while Trump pursued a Mideast policy focused largely around Israel, America's closest partner in the region. On Tuesday, for the second time in two days, Biden's administration categorically embraced a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something that Trump had been purposefully vague about while slashing aid to the Palestinians and taking steps to support Israel’s claims to land that the Palestinians want for an independent state. The State Department said Tuesday that a U.S. delegation attended a meeting of a Norwegian-run committee that serves as a clearinghouse for assistance to the Palestinians. Although little-known outside foreign policy circles, the so-called Ad Hoc Liaison Committee has been influential in the peace process since Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. “During the discussion, the United States reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to advancing prosperity, security, and freedom for both Israelis and Palestinians and to preserve the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state,” the State Department said in a statement. “The United States underscored the commitment to supporting economic and humanitarian assistance and the need to see progress on outstanding projects that will improve the lives of the Palestinian people, while urging all parties to avoid unilateral steps that make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve,” it said. U.S. participation in the meeting followed a Monday call between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel’s foreign minister in which Blinken stressed that the new U.S. administration unambiguously supports a two-state solution. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is close to Trump, has eschewed the two-state solution. Biden spoke to Netanyahu last week for the first time as president after a delay that many found suspicious and suggestive of a major realignment in U.S. policy. Blinken, however, has spoken to Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi twice amid ongoing concern in Israel about Biden's intentions in the region, particularly his desire to reenter the Iran nuclear deal. In Monday's call, Blinken “emphasized the Biden administration’s belief that the two-state solution is the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace alongside a viable and democratic Palestinian state,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. The Trump administration had presented its own version of a two-state peace plan, though it would have required significant Palestinian concessions on territory and sovereignty. The Palestinians, however, rejected it out of hand and accused the U.S. of no longer being an honest peace broker after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, moved the U.S. embassy to the city from Tel Aviv, cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority, closed the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington and rescinded a long-standing legal opinion that Israeli settlement activity is illegitimate under international law, Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
The review of Grimsby's council structure continues. Grimsby council recently narrowed down the options on the table, voting in favour of considering three to eight wards, seven to nine councillors and keeping an election by ward voting system. Grimsby council heard this report at the committee of the whole meeting on Feb 16. Among other conclusions, a report from StrategyCorp suggested that current ward boundary structures in Grimsby no longer accurately represent the population, given the already unequal spread of residents across the town. The report further suggested that this problem is likely to worsen in the future as the population is expected to grow, specifically in Ward 4. Another question that arose was the possibility of minimizing or increasing the number of councillors and number of wards. The conclusion, per the report, said “the current structure is not obviously broken in a way that would require a change. At the same time, a reduction in the size of council to seven, or even five, is preferred by many as a means of improving decision-making.” John Matheson of StrategyCorp, who was presenting the report to council, said a decision didn’t need to be made right away, and various scenarios would be explored and shared in a later report, likely presented in June. As for election systems, the report suggested that the town’s current election by ward system should suffice for the time being, as opposed to an at large election system. Per the report, this is primarily because of “risk that the loss of wards could lead to the loss of local representation,” and there is “no obvious problem” with the current system. Moosa Imran, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News
Golf superstar Tiger Woods needed surgery after a car crash in Los Angeles on Tuesday that left him with multiple leg injuries. Officials say he was conscious when pulled from the wrecked SUV and the injuries are not life threatening.
Two Hamilton-area sites are among the recipients of new provincial funding to train more workers for long-term care, but critics say it’s not nearly enough. ParaMed Inc. and Mohawk College of Applied Arts and Technology are both set to receive funds as part of a provincial announcement to train 373 more personal support workers (PSWs) in Ontario. Eight projects were announced Monday, with the two local projects expected to train up to 50 PSWs. Staffing has been an ongoing problem in long-term care exacerbated by the pandemic, with greater demand for workers once residents become sick, and staff getting COVID-19 or leaving the sector. The project at Mohawk is expected to produce up to 20 “job-ready” workers who would receive access to employment and training services in health care. The province designated $265,810 for the project which runs from April 1 to Nov. 30. Home care company ParaMed Inc., in Burlington and Hamilton, was allotted $64,196 for 30 participants to take a fast-track PSW program at Conestoga College. That project began Feb. 15 and will run to July 10. An additional $249,981 will go to research spearheaded by St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto to develop support resources for PSWs. CARE+ is expected to include education on infection prevention and control and other resources, including what to do if a PSW or their close contact gets sick with COVID-19. The resources would be shared with workers at 48 homes, as well as online provincewide. However, the Ontario Health Coalition said the announcement is “so inadequate as to be unconscionable.” “This number of PSWs would not be enough to improve care in one middle-sized town, let alone across nine regions encompassing half the population of the province,” the group said in a release. The coalition estimates that to provide four hours of daily care to each resident — which the province has promised by 2024-25 — Ontario needs the equivalent of roughly 20,800 additional full-time staff, including PSWs and nurses, for existing long-term-care beds. If the 15,000 new long-term-care beds promised by the province are included, the group said that number would be about 33,700 full-time staff, or 44,900 full-time and part-time workers combined. Maria Iqbal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
(Maggie MacPherson/CBC - image credit) British Columbia will permanently allow restaurants, bars and tourism operators to buy liquor at wholesale prices, a move that industry hopes will help revive the struggling sector. The provincial government made temporary changes in June to allow the hospitality industry to buy alcohol at the same price as liquor stores, and it has now made that decision permanent. Previously, restaurants, pubs and tourism businesses with liquor licences paid full retail price — the wholesale price, plus a markup set by the government — on most alcohol purchases. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth says in a news release that the government is making the change permanent to give businesses certainty and to help the estimated 190,000 residents who work in the sector. Trevor Kallies, beverage director for the Donnelly Group, which owns several bars in Vancouver, says in the release that wholesale liquor pricing will help alleviate some financial pressures so businesses can focus on other areas, such as the health and safety of staff and customers. Al Deacon, owner of Fox'n Hounds Pub and Fox'n Hounds Sahali Liquor Store in Kamloops, B.C., says the extra savings his business will earn from buying alcohol at lower prices can be used to keep his staff members employed. "In the pub last week, for instance, we were down 12 shifts out front on the floor compared to the previous week," he said Wednesday on CBC's Daybreak Kamloops. "[This] is huge for people who are there, students or single moms or someone who's got a parent or has a mortgage." Restaurants Canada says in a statement that the move fulfils a long-standing recommendation from the industry group and it thanked the B.C. government for levelling the playing field between the province's retail and hospitality sectors. "This move will go a long way to help British Columbia's hard-hit restaurant sector transition from survival to revival," said Mark von Schellwitz, the organization's vice-president for Western Canada. Tap the link below to hear Al Deacon's interview on Daybreak Kamloops:
The Canadian men's soccer team will join the Raptors and Blue Jays in Florida next month. Canada Soccer announced Tuesday that Canada, ranked 73rd in the world, will shift its first home game in World Cup qualifying to Orlando's Exploria Stadium — on March 25 against No. 169 Bermuda — due to pandemic-related travel restrictions. The game will be considered a home match in a neutral venue. There will be no fans allowed in the stands. After facing Bermuda, Canada has two away matches — March 28 at the 193rd-ranked Cayman Islands and June 5 at No. 200 Aruba. Canada's other home game in the first qualifying round is June 8 against No. 141 Suriname. Peter Montopoli, general secretary of the Canadian Soccer Association, said no decision has been made yet on the site for the Suriname matchup. "We're going to continue to work with our provincial and Public Health Canada authorities for the best venue for us for June," he said in an interview. "No decisions have been made. "But it's a changing landscape. We certainly want to play in Canada and we'll do our best to be playing in Canada." The Orlando stadium is currently hosting the SheBelieves Cup, which features the Canadian women and three other teams including the U.S. Montopoli said the Canadian women's experience in Orlando and CONCACAF's positive view of the venue and its COVID-19 protocols had prompted Canada Soccer to choose it. The Canadian men played at Exploria Stadium in November 2019, losing 4-1 to the U.S. in CONCACAF Nations League play. The stadium is home to Orlando City SC of MLS and the NWSL's Orlando Pride. Toronto FC is also looking at shifting its base of operations to Florida, with Orlando a possible site at least for the start of the MLS season, which kicks off April 17. The Toronto Raptors are playing home games in Tampa this season, while the Blue Jays are starting their season with home games in Dunedin. Canada is one of 30 CONCACAF nations, divided into six groups for the first round of World Cup qualifying in the region covering North and Central America and the Caribbean. The group winners advance to a round of head-to-head knockout matches with the three victors joining No. 9 Mexico, the 22nd-ranked Americans, No. 47 Jamaica, No. 50 Costa Rica and No. 64 Honduras in the final round The top three teams from the eight-team final qualifying round-robin round will qualify directly to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The fourth-place team qualifies for a FIFA intercontinental playoff. Several previous qualifying road maps were rendered useless by the global pandemic, with international match windows coming and going without play. The Canadian men, who are co-hosting the 2026 World Cup along with Mexico and the U.S., have only ever qualified for one World Cup — 1986 in Mexico where they exited after failing to score in losses to France, Hungary and the Soviet Union. --- Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021 Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
Sun Peaks may not be able to celebrate Pride Week like in years past, but Tourism Sun Peaks is still hoping to make this week special for the community’s LGBTQ+ guests and residents. Pride Week starts Wednesday, Feb. 24 and carries on until Wednesday, March 3. And while the Peak Pride Festival is unable to come up to the resort and organize events as it has in years past, Tourism Sun Peaks is asking local businesses to create welcome window displays if it is feasible, which may be highlighted on social media channels throughout the week. The organization has also teamed up with Sun Peaks Resort and GK Sound to light up the Clocktower in pride colours for the week. Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
(Submitted by Rod O'Connell - image credit) Two retired foresters from the Bathurst area have identified the largest known specimens in the province of two different kinds of trees, in an area they've nominated for provincial protection. Rod O'Connell and Karl Branch found a yellow birch tree measuring 145 centimetres in diameter and a black ash tree measuring 69 cm in diameter while walking along one of the three Portage Lakes, about 60 kilometres south of Campbellton. They first noticed the big trees about 10 years ago, O'Connell recalled. At the time, the men were taking part in an annual Christmas bird count in the Upsalquitch Valley along Route 180, also known as the Road to Resources. But it wasn't until O'Connell's daughter gave him a copy of the second edition of David Palmer's Great Trees of New Brunswick as a Christmas present that he decided they deserved further investigation. "I looked in the book and I said, 'Oh, my! Our trees up there might be bigger,'" said O'Connell. "So, this December we took a measuring tape and an instrument to measure the height. … And sure enough, they were bigger." Karl Branch stands next to a yellow birch tree at Portage Lakes that is estimated to be over 400 years old. The yellow birch at Portage Lakes is not quite the tallest known. O'Connell measured it at 20 metres. And the book lists one at Ayers Lake that's 28.5 metres. But its trunk is almost 50 per cent wider than the next largest birch Palmer has documented. There are three in the book that are each 1 metre in diameter. "It's just absolutely amazing and exciting," said the author, who may soon have enough material for a third edition. "I keep getting calls and emails from people saying, 'Oh, I've got a tree bigger than any in your book. You should come and look at this horse chestnut. It was planted back in 1902 by so-and-so. And did you know about this white spruce? It just keeps on going." O'Connell said he may know of a balsam fir that beats the record, too. It's located on the Nepisiguit Mi'gmaq Trail. He plans to measure it this spring. Palmer estimated the yellow birch tree at Portage Lakes may be five centuries old. "It's obviously been there for a while. Yellow birch is not a fast growing tree. It puts on a few millimetres of growth a year." "I wouldn't hesitate to say it's maybe four or five hundred years old." Palmer said it looks to be in good condition and might even live another 200 years. Yellow birch are "one of the iconic trees of the Acadian forest," said Palmer. "In mature stands," he said, you can usually find "a good sprinkling" of them. They're the longest lived of the three birch species in the province. White birch are old at about 100 years, he said. And gray birch typically only lasts 30 to 40 years. Karl Branch stands next to the large black ash tree found near Portage Lakes O'Connell estimates the black ash at Portage Lakes is about 150 years old. He measured it to be 20.75 metres tall. Palmer's book has one in Exmoor, north of Metepenagiag, that's 24 metres tall, but it's only 55 cm in diameter. The one O'Connell and Branch found is 14 cm wider. "These are two exceptional trees for sure," said Branch. "Just thinking that this birch tree was growing on that site probably before permanent European settlement in North America is difficult to envisage. The odds of a tree surviving all those seasons along with the wind storms, droughts, insect epidemics, fungal attacks, forest fires and more recently logging, are astonishing." Besides their size, he's also surprised by how close they are to each other. "They're only 20 feet apart," said Branch, "— practically twins." Branch didn't want to reveal the exact location of the trees because he's concerned it might put them at risk. "There's always a danger when you bring too much attention to the trees then people want to go see them and destroy what you're trying to protect in the first place." They've been able to survive there for so long, he said, because of "a combination of excellently adapted genes and lots of luck." For one thing, the land is "part of a wetland complex," so the trees are not easily accessible for harvesting and "it wouldn't have been easy ground to work on." This black ash tree near Portage Lakes is thought to be about 150 years old. For another, the forest make-up in the area is primarily hardwood, while softwood was traditionally sought for logging. "It's really only the last 20 to 30 years we've been actively harvesting hardwoods," said Branch. "So, it's been kind of ignored, basically." Palmer noted that yellow birch does have commercial use in high-end furniture and flooring. He described the wood as "beautiful" with a "rich, yellowish brown" colour. But over the long span of these trees' lives there would have been greater threats than forestry, said Branch. "Logging is relatively recent compared to the age of these trees," he said. "They really survived there because they're partially sheltered in the valley bottom. And they're growing obviously on a rich site. So that all contributed. And being a wetland complex there's a lower fire risk of fire. That would have been a much higher risk to them in the long term. They're sheltered from the wind storms … These trees lucked out and just germinated in a great spot, obviously." Owl surveys are done in the Portage Lakes area each spring, said O'Connell. This barred owl was photographed in December about 50 metres away from the site of the two large trees. O'Connell and Branch have submitted a proposal to protect the land that the trees are on. The trees themselves are worth protecting, said Branch, but he also sees them as part of a bigger picture. "It's the whole idea of allowing for older habitat to develop," he said. "It shows us what potentially the forest could look like." Big trees are becoming rarer in New Brunswick forests, said Branch, due to "more intensive forest management activities." "Short" harvesting cycles of 50 to 60 years don't allow most trees to "attain their full ecological potential," he said. Barred owls like large old trees for habitat. O'Connell said the Portage Lakes area has good habitat for barred owls. He participates in owl surveys there from April to mid-May. "It's sort of a protected spot along the lakes," said O'Connell. "Therefore we have a tendency to find more mature-forest-type birds like the black-backed woodpecker, which is fairly rare." Branch said other birds of prey use the large branches of "veteran" trees for perching and nesting. A few types of ducks and owls use their cavities for breeding. And mammals such as pine martens and fishers make dens in them to birth and raise their young. Unlike other ducks, wood ducks prefer to nest in cavities of old trees. "Clearly it's a very rich site and should be protected," said Palmer. The provincial Department of Natural Resources and Energy Development acknowledged the Portage Lakes area is of "known interest for conservation." Part of the area is already protected. The department said O'Connell and Branch's nomination is one of 111 that have been submitted for the latest round of possible "nature legacy" protection. It said each site will be considered by a team of biologists, foresters and geologists. Candidate areas for protection as shown on an interactive map on the Natural Resources and Energy Development website. Those who submitted nominations prior to the most recent Jan. 31 deadline can expect a status update by "this spring," said department spokesperson Nick Brown. After the initial screening, said Brown, proposed new protected areas will be released for review by First Nations, industry rights holders and the public before the government makes any final decisions. Since November, DNRED has opened comments on possible protection of more than 150,000 hectares, said Brown. He said two more batches of sites should be released in April and June.
A new study of Kamloops restaurant owners provided a glimpse at the new (and challenging) business climate they have been forced to navigate due to COVID-19. The report found that local restaurants are having to spend more money on everything from personal protective equipment to cleaning products and plastic barriers, while simultaneously making less money. On top of that, their indoor seating capacities have been dramatically cut. Around 30 businesses took part in the survey. Overall they reported their revenues were down nearly 65 per cent, on average, from March to May 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019. The study was spearheaded by Thompson Rivers University (TRU) business student Josh Parker. Having worked for years in the restaurant industry in Calgary prior to university, Parker decided to carry out the research project when his co-op fell through. “I just wanted to do anything that I could [for the industry], to work with my school and the chamber in any way to see if we can help them out,” he explained. Parker worked on the report with his faculty advisor, Terry Lake, and Jamie Noakes, his co-op advisor. The team also partnered with The Chamber of Commerce and Mitacs BSI (Business Strategy Internship). The study found considerable differences between how independent business and chains addressed layoffs. On average, chain restaurants laid off more than 70 per cent of their staff during a 2.5 month period between March and May. In comparison, local restaurants laid off just under 50 per cent of their staff over this period. Parker added smaller restaurants were better placed to pivot to takeout when the pandemic hit. “They could figure out what they wanted to do, pivot operations and utilize their staff quicker,” said Parker. Chain restaurants were, however, able to get back to full employment rates quicker. “They’re able to kind of use their corporate entity to get all the requirements they needed to open up safely,” he said. Overall, employees at independent restaurants rated their employer’s response to the crisis higher, giving it a 4.1 out of 5, compared to 3.5 out of 5 for chain restaurants. The team also surveyed 160 customers who had ordered take-out in recent months. The survey found that the most common negative experience was the cost of take-out, with many expecting the cost to be lower given that they weren’t dining inside an establishment. At the same time, an overwhelming majority of customers said they would support local restaurants if prices had to be increased by up to 15 per cent to cover costs related to COVID-19 safety protocols. “It was kind of something we put out there that we noticed people were kind of contradicting themselves about,” said Parker. He added that it puts restaurants in a difficult position, as a meal costs roughly the same to make, whether it’s consumed in a restaurant or at home. Going forward, Parker said the public should accept that restaurants will have to marginally increase prices to maintain profitability in this difficult period. The survey also found some interesting findings on tipping culture, with just over half of participants stating they would tip both the delivery driver and the restaurant when they make an order. The survey stated the pandemic can create an added challenge for business owners to retain their employees, as servers are no longer receiving their normal tips, which effectively subsidize their salaries. As part of the survey, Parker asked customers whether they would support a no tipping policy—or more specifically, a scenario where tips were included in the final price of an order. About 32 per cent of participants said they would support this, with 44 per cent saying no and 24 per cent unsure. Another issue that restaurants brought up with Parker was the issue of online ordering services, such as SkipThe Dishes and DoorDash. Such organizations traditionally ask small business owners to hand over 20 to 30 per cent of total sales on top of partner fees. In December, the province temporarily capped the fees delivery companies can charge restaurants at 15 per cent. The rule will be in place until three months after B.C.’s state of emergency order is lifted. Skip the Dishes soon responded with a 99-cent “B.C. fee.” Parker said he found it curious to watch expensive 2021 Super Bowl ads for such companies during a time when so many small restaurants are struggling. “Without restaurants no one would need a delivery service, so I think they need to kind of work with local restaurants a little more closely,” he said. The report concluded with thoughts on how restaurants are faring overall, and calls for a more robust government response help it out. “We are in a completely unprecedented situation which has caused the government to take extraordinary measures,” it stated. “These measures have been put in place for the good of all Canadians, but they seem to impede certain businesses more, such as restaurants. “The government has forced closures and maintained 50 per cent capacity restrictions for over nine months, and local, small restaurants are in a fragile state…Many owners are unhappy with how the government has helped small businesses through the pandemic and rightfully so. There have been rent subsidies and other financial support to help these businesses, but it isn’t enough when their livelihoods are essentially put on hold.” Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
(Laura Meader/CBC - image credit) The Opposition health critic says the province's planned phone line that will act as a single point of contact for mental health and addictions services needs to be staffed with people on P.E.I. Trish Altass said it's important people from the community are handling the requests for help. "This phone line will really need to have trained P.E.I.-based staff who are able to refer people directly to services, like detox and the Hillsborough Hospital and counselling supports," Altass said. Premier Dennis King announced the phone line during his state of the province address to the rotary clubs on P.E.I. Monday night. He said the 24/7 line will have a "real human being" answer the phone, and will be able to help callers navigate the process to get the appropriate treatments and supports. Opposition health critic Trish Altass says it will be important to have staff and beds on hand to help ensure Islanders get the help they are looking for when they do make the call. There were not a lot of details given about how this new phone line will work or what the number will be, but he said it will be ready to go by March 1. There are no details yet on who will staff it or where it will be based. Positive step While getting people triaged quickly is important, Altass said making sure staffing levels are adequate to help the people seeking assistance will be critical. "If people are being referred to services and still have to wait for weeks or months to access those services then really we have not addressed the root causes of this issue," Altass said. Ellen Taylor, a mental health and addictions advocate, said it's wonderful to see government committing to the single point of access. Ellen Taylor, a mental health and addictions advocate on P.E.I., says it's important to reduce barriers for people seeking help and the single point of access phone line could be a good way to do that. "People will rethink getting into recovery if they find out it's a one call thing and people are going to be there to help them," Taylor said. "If people really knew there was help out there then, I think, that's the ideal thing." Taylor said it can be difficult for people who are seeking help to navigate all the different options. "If more people use it, then people will know about it because … people don't know where to call or go online or know what's available," Taylor said. "The people who are accessing the services, I think, it will make them feel more comfortable and feel successful and that is so important for recovery." More from CBC P.E.I.
Melaine Simba will never forget the months she spent inside her home on Ka’a’gee Tu First Nation, south of Yellowknife, with her windows tightly shut to prevent wildfire smoke from seeping in. It was the summer of 2014 and she was following public health orders to stay inside during the Northwest Territories’ worst wildfire season on record. “There were fires all around us,” Simba told The Narwhal. “I couldn’t go outside, and I couldn’t take my son outside.” “It was just so hard to breathe in that smoke with all the falling ash.” According to a new study published in the journal BMJ Open, the wildfires caused extremely poor air quality during the more than two months of unrelenting smoke exposure. This led to a sharp increase in respiratory illnesses, with vulnerable populations, such as children and Indigenous people, disproportionately affected. The study also found that public health advisories asking people to stay inside during the wildfires were “inadequately protective,” possibly because people grew tired of the long period of isolation. With climate change contributing to longer and more intense wildfire seasons, the study authors say there’s an urgent need to be far more prepared in the future. “A really big take home of this study is that climate change is bad, and it is going to get worse,” Courtney Howard, the lead author of the study and an emergency physician in Yellowknife, told The Narwhal, adding that smoke exposure levels during the wildfires were believed to be some of the worst ever studied globally. “We are going to need new, proactive approaches as we go into a warmer, smokier state on this planet.” Warmer temperatures caused by climate change can spur drier conditions, increasing the risk of wildfires. In 2014, moderate to severe drought conditions and lightning strikes were the catalyst for 385 fires that impacted 3.4 million hectares of forest in the Northwest Territories. According to the federal government, temperatures across the North are warming more than twice as fast as the global rate. In Yellowknife, between 1943 and 2011, the annual average temperature in the city increased by 2.5 C. The average level of particulate matter (PM 2.5) in the air was five times higher than normal during the 2014 wildfires, compared with the two previous years and 2015. PM 2.5 — inhalable particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter — is associated with a range of respiratory conditions. The study found this increase in particulate matter was associated with an increase in visits to the hospital for asthma, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Asthma-related emergency room visits doubled, with the highest rates found in women, people older than 40 and Dene. Visits for pneumonia increased by 57 per cent, with men, children and Inuit particularly affected. And visits for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease increased by 11 per cent, with men, the Inuit and Dene populations and people over 60 showing the greatest risk. While the results suggest that Indigenous people were more affected, Howard said it’s difficult to say for sure because they may have been more likely to go to the ER due to lack of access to medical clinics. The demand for medicine that helps alleviate the symptoms of asthma surged, too. The dispensation of salbutamol, the agent found in puffers, increased by 48 per cent. “In fact, one of the pharmacies ran out over the course of the summer,” Howard said. Supply chain problems “demonstrated a lack of resilience,” she added. The study also sheds light on systemic issues that contribute to worse health outcomes in vulnerable populations, including Indigenous people. “Climate-related health effects impact all populations but are likely to disproportionately affect communities living at the frontlines of rapid climate change, as well as those experiencing systemic racism, socioeconomic and health disparities, and/or the enduring effects of colonization,” the study states. Protracted periods of isolation, a lack of exercise, fear and stress during the wildfires also had negative impacts on people’s mental health and way of life, according to a 2018 report that Howard was also involved with. “Livelihood and land-based activities were disrupted for some interviewees, which had negative consequences for mental, emotional and physical well-being,” the report states. During the summer, Indigenous people across the territory fish, hunt and visit old villages and the gravesites of relatives, Jason Snaggs, the chief executive officer of Yellowknives Dene First Nation, told The Narwhal. The wildfires prevented people from taking part in these cultural activities, he added. “This leads to depression, and you have sort of a compounding effect, in terms of colonialism, the effects of residential schools, intergenerational trauma,” Snaggs said. “Some people were visibly traumatized by this event.” Sheltering in place can lead to increased rates of family violence, including violence against Indigenous women, Snaggs added. During the 2016 wildfires that tore through Fort McMurray, Alta., calls to a local family crisis centre increased by upward of 300 per cent, according to Michele Taylor, executive director of Waypoints, an emergency shelter for women and children. Howard said the 2014 wildfires were a seminal event in people’s understanding of climate change in the region. “At the time, ecological grief and eco-anxiety hadn’t really shown up in the evidence base,” she said. “Looking back at our analysis, I think we can easily apply those terms to what we found and say it was a trigger for ecological grief and anxiety for a lot of people.” Howard said communities — particularly Indigenous communities — need to be better equipped to withstand wildfires. Some homes in Indigenous communities are overcrowded and aren’t built to the same standards as those elsewhere in the territory. Howard emphasized the need to address this problem first and foremost. The BMJ study recommends governments install ventilation systems in old and new homes ahead of wildfire season. Doing so would ensure residents have access to clean air without having to leave the house. “Our infrastructure decisions need to be based on the temperature and precipitation patterns that we’re anticipating for the coming century as opposed to the ones we had in the last one,” Howard said. The study also recommends primary health-care practitioners identify people who may grapple with respiratory illnesses and ensure that air filters and puffers are readily available prior to wildfire season. “That will allow people to manage their symptoms at home and never get to the point where they’re stuck in the emergency department,” Howard said. “The sooner particularly vulnerable people have access [to air filters and puffers], the better.” In 2014, the City of Yellowknife waived user fees for a multi-purpose recreation facility so residents could go there to breathe clean, filtered air and exercise, Howard said. But not everyone in Yellowknife is afforded the same level of access. N’Dilo, which is part of Yellowknives Dene First Nation and is located in Yellowknife proper, only has one space people can gather in during a wildfire — a 45-year-old gym that isn’t equipped with a filtration system to keep air clean. The study suggests that public health practitioners use satellite-based smoke forecasting to determine whether clean air shelters are needed in advance of wildfire season and, if necessary, make more available. The 2018 report — which documented the experiences of 30 community members from Yellowknife, Dettah, N’Dilo and Kakisa who lived through the wildfires — found there was a consensus among participants about the need for improved communication and coordination at the community and territorial levels as wildfires intensify. Howard said residents and health-care providers need to proactively prepare for wildfire season every year. “We need to be viewing wildfire season the same way we view cold and flu season.” Julien Gignac, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Narwhal
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden says the United States will work together with Canada to secure the release of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig from China. Biden says human beings are not bartering chips, and that the two countries won't rest until Spavor and Kovrig are home. The pair were swept up two years ago after Canada's arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who faces U.S. charges of violating sanctions against Iran. Biden's words were likely one of Trudeau's top demands when the two leaders sat down today for the president's first bilateral meeting since his election. They also vowed to move in "lockstep" in their collective fight against climate change, and to work together to defeat COVID-19. Today's meeting had to take place virtually, with Biden in Washington and Trudeau in Ottawa, due to the pandemic. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — Police are still seeking a suspect in the slaying of a Montreal-area woman on Sunday who had told authorities days prior about being the victim of alleged death threats. Provincial police said there have been no arrests in the killing of Marly Edouard, 32, known in Haiti's music scene as a former manager, producer and radio host. A command post was set up near her home in the Montreal suburb of Laval on Monday; a police spokeswoman said Tuesday she had no new information to provide. Djimy Ducasse, who lives in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, and co-owned a music agency with Edouard, said in an interview Tuesday the community to which Edouard was closely tied is taking her death hard. Edouard came to Canada in 2016 and, two years later, set up Symbiose509, a Laval-based promotion, marketing and events agency with Ducasse, which operated in Haiti. Ducasse said he met Edouard in 2013 when she was managing rap stars in Haiti and he was hosting a radio show. It was a friendship that would continue with the pair becoming business partners. “We became good friends, we spoke all the time, we spoke about business, we spoke about everything and nothing,” said Ducasse, who last spoke to her on Friday — the same day she reported alleged threats to local police. Ducasse said they spoke about some tasks she wanted him to do and some recent health problems she'd encountered, but she never mentioned anything about threats on her life. He said he had tried calling her Sunday but Edouard never responded, which he said was unlike her. On Monday, Ducasse was alerted to Montreal media reports that Edouard had been killed. Quebec provincial police have classified Edouard's death as a homicide and have said her body bore marks of violence when it was found Sunday in the parking lot of her condominium building. Meanwhile, Quebec’s police watchdog is investigating the Laval police's response to the alleged threats Edouard reported last Friday. The Bureau des enquetes independantes said Edouard had called 911 to ask for help from Laval police on Feb. 19. The call was placed about 12:40 p.m. to police; officers met with her and left, according to the watchdog agency. Less than 48 hours later, Edouard was found dead. Edouard was described by Ducasse as kind and driven. She had been involved in the music scene in Haiti at a very young age and had worked with many artists in the country. Some artists took to social media to pay their respects to her. “Marly isn’t someone that went unnoticed,” Ducasse said. “Everyone who was part of the rap scene in Haiti, it was nearly impossible to not have worked on at least one project with Marly Edouard. It’s why her death hits hard for a lot of people in Haiti." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
La crise de logements dans les communautés, dont celle de Uashat mak Maliotenam met en lumière les besoins criants liés à la surpopulation au sein d’une même maison, mais également de l’itinérance. De bonnes nouvelles viennent enfin d’être annoncées. Un projet visant l’aboutissement de plus de 200 logements abordables, sur une période de 5 ans, a été confirmé grâce, à l’aide de Services Autochtones Canada. L’étape, actuellement embryonnaire, permettra d’entreprendre des démarches afin de construire des maisons supplémentaires dans les communautés. Les constructions sont évaluées aux environs de 45 M$, sur 5 ans. Il s’agit, en moyenne, de 40 maisons par année. «La surpopulation dans les maisons et la difficulté d’accès à des logements sociaux qui conviennent aux besoins des familles sont au cœur des préoccupations de plusieurs communautés des Premières Nations partout à travers le Canada. La construction de nouvelles unités de logements et de maisons adaptées chez nous permettrait de combler une partie de nos besoins.», mentionne le Chef Mike Mckenzie. Karine Lachance, Initiative de journalisme local, Ma Côte-Nord
Perhaps it will come as a surprise to few, but Nordic skiing is taking off in B.C. For many, it’s the perfect pandemic activity—(relatively) affordable, easily accessible for those living in the beautiful Thompson Okanagan region, and good for your overall health and well-being. And, oh yeah—it’s sort of COVID-proof. “A lot of people have gravitated to the sport because of [COVID-19],” said Ivor McMahen, president of the Sun Peaks Nordic Club. “COVID restrictions have shut down a lot of other sports, but because of the nature of cross country skiing, being outside and not requiring close proximity to other people, we’re able to continue almost normally.” Across B.C., the popularity of the sport has grown by around 50 per cent, according to McMahen and a recent interview Sun Peaks Independent News had with a representative from Tourism Kamloops. McMahen said he has definitely noticed the uptick in usage of Sun Peaks’ acclaimed trail system, and that membership levels in the club, which have increased to 111 this year from 92 the year previous, don’t fully capture the picture. “I think the actual popularity and interest in the sport is up much more than that,” he said. Unlike other local clubs—such as the Overlander Nordic Club and the Stake Lake trail system—the Sun Peaks Nordic Club does not manage the local trail system, which is operated by Sun Peaks Resort LLP. Adding to the usage of local Sun Peaks trails is the fact that anyone with a downhill pass can now utilize them. “Overall, I think it’s a really great thing that the resort is doing that,” said McMahen of the deal, which it has been offered for the past couple years. “It really encourages people to get out without having to buy an extra pass, but it makes it harder to tell how many people are getting out, and doing Nordic as opposed to alpine.” The club plays a pivotal role in supporting Sun Peaks’ cross country skiing community and fostering the next generation of skiers through events and programs. While it’s had to shut down its popular group skis sessions, the club has had success promoting its popular junior development program. It provides instruction for kids and youth from four to 16-years old. The program is informally known as the “Jackrabbits” program. It has a total of 32 kids involved this year. And for the first time in club history, it’s had to put a cap on its numbers. “It was named after Jackrabbit Johannsen, who was a legendary fellow in eastern Canada who skied everyday until he was over 100 years old.” McMahen said the idea of the program is to get kids turned onto the sport in an organic way and develop all-around athletes. “The main philosophy, especially in the really young ages at this, is not to aim to produce elite skiers,” he said. “It’s aim is to produce healthy, well balanced, physically capable kids. The word that they refer to as physical literacy, so it’s balance, agility, the ability to jump, run and just self-propel yourself.” McMahen added the club hopes to get a masters program up and running next year, where more experienced (and mature) skiers can get some tips on how to improve their performance. “There’s a few tricks to the sport, it’s not as simple as it looks,” he said with a laugh. The Thompson Okanagan provides a number of options for people to enjoy cross country skiing if you’re looking to try something new. – The Stake Lake Trails, located south of Kamloops and operated by the Overlander Ski Club, boasts a 60-km trail system. – Harper Mountain offers a three kilometre groomed trail system that meanders through a forested area, and is great for both traditional cross country skiing and skate skiing. -The Telemark Nordic Club, located in West Kelowna, offers 60 kilometres of trails. – The Kelowna Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Club offers 75-km of trails. – Sovereign Lake, located in SilverStar Resort, is also open. It offers 105 kilometres of daily groomed trails and is the largest network of cross-country ski trails in Canada. Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
(Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press - image credit) One of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's senior cabinet ministers is stepping aside from his duties temporarily as he deals with a medical issue. In a statement, Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos said he has been experiencing chest pain in recent days and a doctor has now diagnosed him with a pulmonary embolism — an arterial blockage in his lungs. "I'm now back home and feeling well, but as per my doctor's recommendations, I will rest for a few days," Duclos said. "Let us keep taking care of each other. See you soon!" Joyce Murray, the minister of digital government, will assume Duclos's responsibilities while he recovers "for a few days." Duclos also serves as the vice-chair of Prime Minister Trudeau's COVID-19 cabinet committee and is a member of the cabinet operations committee, a key body in the executive branch that deals with "urgent and emerging issues." The Treasury Board position is an important one in government, as the occupant acts as a sort of general manager for the public service, establishing policies and standards in a wide range of areas and overseeing the implementation of programs across the federal government. The Treasury Board president keeps an eye on the government's financial management and spending and manages human resources issues, including collective bargaining agreements with unions. While the job tends to be one of the less public-facing positions in cabinet, Duclos has been a regular participant at COVID-19 briefings over the past year, where he has answered questions on everything from vaccine procurement and border closures to rent relief for small businesses.
P.E.I.'s Public School Branch (PSB) needs to keep the wheels on its buses going round and round – especially considering it's running low on bus drivers. To help recruit more, it started its own driver training program last year, which was partly put in place as a result of COVID-19. Many bus drivers would speak to how rewarding it is ensuring P.E.I. students arrive at school safely, transportation supervisor Mike Franklin said. "They treat the kids like they were their own." Dave Gillis, the PSB's transportation director, said the program has already seen its first few graduates. During a virtual board of directors meeting on Feb. 10. he noted P.E.I. has about 250 drivers, many of whom are reaching retirement age. Up until now, the PSB had relied on JVI Driver Training to train drivers and provide the licence necessary to operate a bus, but the pandemic forced JVI's courses to temporarily shut down. As a result, the PSB had a six- to eight-month period without any new drivers coming in. "Our pipeline was completely dry," Gillis said. "(And) we foresee a strong retirement of drivers in the future." Franklin was brought in to help develop and run the program – he has taught similar courses before and can grant the licence. He noted that they're still working with JVI, but that JVI has other groups it's committed to helping, such as the French Language School Board or the P.E.I. Regiment. "We're just trying to help them out," he said. By training bus drivers itself, the PSB can ensure the gaps being left by retiring drivers are filled and that there are enough substitute drivers on hand if regular drivers need time off. "We're willing to put the money up to train them," Franklin said, noting the PSB will waive the program's cost of about $3,000 as long as applicants agree to work for at least 10 months after they are trained. That’s because a bus driver’s licence also allows drivers to operate other vehicles, such as dump trucks, meaning many drivers could end up looking to other industries for work. The course has two elements – in-class that focuses on the technical elements of driving a bus and in-the-field that focuses on the practical elements of actually driving it. Twitter.com/dnlbrown95 Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian
Nonfiction 1. Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey, narrated by the author (Random House Audio) 2. A Promised Land by Barack Obama, narrated by the author (Random House Audio) 3. How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates, narrated by the author and Wil Wheaton (Random House Audio) 4. Atomic Habits by James Clear, narrated by the author (Penguin Audio) 5. Think Again by Adam Grant, narrated by the author (Penguin Audio) 6. How to Train Your Mind by Chris Bailey, narrated by the author (Audible Originals) 7. Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins, narrated by the author and Adam Skolnick (Lioncrest Publishing) 8. The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee, narrated by the author (Random House Audio) 9. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F(asterisk)ck by Mark Manson, narrated by Roger Wayne (HarperAudio) 10. Winning the War in Your Mind by Craig Groeschel, narrated by the author (Zondervan) Fiction 1. Relentless by Mark Greaney, performed by Jay Snyder (Audible Studios) 2. A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas, narrated by Stina Nielsen (Recorded Books, Inc.) 3. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah, narrated by Julia Whelan (Macmillan Audio) 4. Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah, narrated by Susan Ericksen (Brilliance Audio) 5. The Wife in the Attic by Rose Lerner, performed by Elsa Lepecki Bean (Audible Originals) 6. The Shadow Box by Luanne Rice, narrated by Nicol Zanzarella and Jim Frangione (Brilliance Audio) 7. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, narrated by Carey Mulligan (Penguin Audio) 8. 1984 by George Orwell, narrated by Simon Prebble (Blackstone Audio, Inc.) 9. When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal, narrated by Sarah Naughton and Katherine Littrell (Brilliance Audio) 10. Like You Love Me by Adriana Locke, narrated by Ryan West and Lidia Dornet (Brilliance Audio) The Associated Press
City staff are recommending $500,000 be allocated to repairs and debris removal along the south dike at Gilbert Road. Funding will come from the city’s drainage improvement reserve fund, staff said in a report. Councillors were unanimously in favour at this week's city council meeting. A king tide event on Jan. 13 caused damage to the rip-rap—rocks placed along the shoreline for protection—as well as the accumulation of a large number of logs and other wood debris. The repair work includes reinstatement of rip-rap along a 300 metre stretch as well as debris removal along a 750 metre stretch. Staff described the work as urgent in their report, and recommended it begin immediately. Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel