Poor visibility, intense winds, and snow along the St. Lawrence River.
Poor visibility, intense winds, and snow along the St. Lawrence River.
WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers and conservative groups opposed President-elect Joe Biden's forthcoming immigration plan Tuesday as massive amnesty for people in the U.S. illegally, underscoring that the measure faces an uphill fight in a Congress that Democrats control just narrowly. In a further complication, several pro-immigration groups said they would press Biden to go even further and take steps such as immediate moratoriums on deportations, detentions and new arrests. Coupled with the discomfort an immigration push could cause for moderate Democrats, liberals' demands illustrated the pressures facing Biden as four years of President Donald Trump's restrictive and often harsh immigration policies come to an end. “It simply wouldn't have happened without us," Lorella Praeli, co-president of the liberal group Community Change, said of Biden's victory. “So we are now in a powerful position." Biden plans to introduce the legislation shortly after being inaugurated Wednesday, a move he hopes will spotlight his emphasis on an issue that's defied major congressional action since 1986. Its fate, as written, seemed in doubt. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who will become Senate majority leader this week, said Trump's impeachment trial, confirmation of Biden's Cabinet nominees and more COVID-19 relief will be the chamber's top initial priorities. “I look forward to working together with him" on the measure, Schumer said — a choice of words that might suggest changes could be needed for it to pass Congress. Biden's proposal would create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, set up a processing program abroad for refugees seeking admission to the U.S. and push toward using technology to monitor the border. The measure was described by an official from Biden's transition team who described the plan on condition of anonymity. With an eye toward discouraging a surge of immigrants toward the U.S.-Mexico boundary, the package's route to citizenship would only apply to people already in the U.S. by this past Jan. 1. But it omits the traditional trade-off of dramatically enhanced border security that's helped attract some GOP support in the past, which drew criticism on Tuesday. “A mass amnesty with no safeguards and no strings attached is a nonstarter,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., often a central player in Senate immigration battles. “Total amnesty, no regard for the health or security of Americans, and zero enforcement," Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who like Rubio is a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender, said in a Monday tweet. That view was shared by Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, which favours curbing immigration. “Past proposals at least accepted the concept of turning off the faucet and mopping up the overflow. This is nothing but mopping up and letting the faucet continue to run," Krikorian said. Rosemary Jenks, top lobbyist for NumbersUSA, which also wants to limit immigration, said the measure seems likely to fail in the Senate. It would need at least 10 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats to overcome a filibuster that would kill the measure. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said, “Moving an immigration reform bill won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible." He cited a 2013 massive overhaul that narrowly passed the Senate, only to die in the GOP-run House. Menendez and Rubio were part of a bipartisan “Gang of 8" senators that helped win Senate approval. Under Biden's legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfil other requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization if they pursue citizenship. For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements. Biden is also expected to take swift executive actions, which require no congressional action, to reverse other Trump immigration actions. These include ending to the prohibition on arrivals from predominantly Muslim countries. The legislation represents Biden's bid to deliver on a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of Trump's restrictive policies and mass deportations. It provides one of the fastest pathways to citizenship for those living without legal status of any measure in recent years. Biden allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new administration could find common ground with the GOP to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades. That kind of major win, even if it involves compromise, could be critical for Biden. He'll be seeking legislative victories in a Congress where Republicans are certain to oppose other Biden priorities, like rolling back some of the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts and increasing federal spending. Democrats will control the 50-50 Senate with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote. Democrats currently control the House 222-211, with two vacancies. ___ Barrow reported from Wilmington, Delaware. AP writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego also contributed to this report. Alan Fram, Lisa Mascaro And Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA is considering a second firing of its moon rocket engines after a critical test came up short over the weekend, a move that could bump the first flight in the Artemis lunar-landing program into next year. The space agency had aimed to launch its new Space Launch System, or SLS, rocket and an empty Orion capsule by the end of this year, with the capsule flying to the moon and back as a prelude to crew missions. But that date could be in jeopardy following Saturday’s aborted test. “We have a shot at flying it this year, but we need to get through this next step," said Kathy Lueders, head of NASA's human spaceflight office. All four engines fired for barely a minute, rather than the intended eight minutes, on the test stand at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The countdown rehearsal for the 212-foot (65-meter) core stage — made by Boeing — included the liquid hydrogen and oxygen tanks, as well as the all necessary computers and electronics. On Tuesday, NASA attributed the automatic shutdown to the strict test limits meant to protect the core stage so it can be used on the first Artemis flight. The hydraulic system for one engine exceeded safety parameters, officials said, and flight computers shut everything down 67 seconds into the ignition. Two other engine-related issues also occurred. NASA said it can adjust the test limits if a second test is deemed necessary, to prevent another premature shutdown. Engineers will continue to analyze the data, as managers debate the pros and cons of proceeding with a second test firing at Stennis or shipping the rocket straight to Florida's Kennedy Space Center for launch preparations. Some of that Kennedy work might be able to be streamlined, Lueders said. This core stage can be loaded with super-cold fuel no more than nine times, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters Tuesday evening. A second full-blown test firing would reduce the remaining number of fill-ups. The Artemis program is working to put astronauts back on the moon by 2024, a deadline set by the Trump administration. It's uncertain how the incoming White House will approach that timeline. In its annual report Tuesday, the Aereospace Safety Advisory Panel urged NASA to develop a realistic schedule for its Artemis moon program and called into question the 2024 date for returning astronauts to the lunar surface. On the eve of his departure from NASA, Bridenstine, a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma, stressed that key programs like Artemis need to encompass multiple administrations, decades and even generations. It's crucial , he said, that "we've got buy-in and support from all of America and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.” ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia joined other provinces Tuesday in having to rapidly recast its plans to provide Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this month and next. Provincial officials initially provided an estimate that it would have 13,500 fewer doses than expected over the next six weeks. However, by mid-afternoon, chief medical officer Dr. Robert Strang said that with Ottawa's announcement that Pfizer was shipping no vaccine next week, plans were underway to cope with a "substantive reduction in the weeks ahead." The province had forecast, as of midday on Tuesday, that due to the slowdown it would receive only 16,575 doses of the vaccine from Pfizer's Belgium plant by the end of the month and 28,275 in February. An official later confirmed Nova Scotia would no longer be receiving the 975 doses of vaccine it had expected next week. The federal government has said it's expected that the shipments will ramp back up after the company has made changes to its production facility in Belgium. Nova Scotia public health officials say it is among the best positioned jurisdictions in the country to cope with the vaccine delays due to its low case counts of the illness. As of Tuesday morning, the province has just 22 active cases, with four new cases of COVID-19 detected on Monday. Asked about the Pfizer announcement's impact, Strang said the news was still fresh. "We'll be able to talk in more detail in the next few days about what our vaccine supply will mean for the next few weeks," he said. However, Premier Stephen McNeil said the closure of a production line to allow for the increased production rate in the near future is "short-term pain for what we believe will be long-term gain." "The lack of shipment will be made up in the following month and the next six months for sure." The premier said the province will meanwhile focus on setting up vaccination sites in every region of the province. "When Pfizer starts ramping up, or a new vaccine gets permitted by Health Canada, we (will) have a system that allows us to ramp up vaccinations very quickly across our province," he said. The province had hoped to provide 78,750 vaccinations in March and then have a mass rollout of 333,333 doses in April at clinics in pharmacies and doctors offices. Over the next month, the first wave of shots will go to health workers and long-term care staff and residents, along with a pilot project for African Nova Scotian and First Nations communities. Special care homes for people with intellectual and physical disabilities will also have vaccinations for staff and residents. The second phase, happening over the next 60 days, will include a pilot project for community clinics for residents over 80 years old in Halifax and Truro, more vaccinations of health workers and special care facilities and a pilot project for delivering vaccines at pharmacies. The 90-day plan is to have mass immunization clinics established in all communities with cold storage locations. As of Monday evening, about 2,200 Nova Scotians had received both vaccine doses, and 8,520 total doses had been administered from the province's supply of 23,000 doses. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press
A new OPP detachment has opened its doors in Moosonee. The $20-million facility has 11 holding cells, closed-circuit television technology (CCTV), a modern infrastructure design to meet technological requirements and other security features, according to a Ministry of the Solicitor General news release Located at 16 Butcher Rd., the approximately 18,000-square-foot facility is a satellite station that is a part of the OPP James Bay Detachment. "This modern, new workspace allows our Moosonee detachment members to enhance their policing services and support to many vast, remote communities and First Nations territories that present significant land and air accessibility challenges," OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique said in the news release. "This important modernization project demonstrates the commitment we share with our government to preserve public safety and uphold the law." The new building is accessible and was designed to meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Standard, which recognizes buildings with reduced environmental impacts, according to the government announcement. It was built as part of the $182-million OPP Modernization - Phase 2 project. Announced in 2018, the modernization project replaced nine aging OPP facilities across the province. All nine detachments were built by Bird Capital OMP Project Co Inc. The initiative was delivered by Infrastructure Ontario through its public-private partnership (P3) model. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
There was a clear but unusual path for three Alberta-based teams to play in the Tim Hortons Brier this season. Curling Alberta made a difficult choice that will send two rinks to the Calgary event and leave that third team on the outside looking in. Jeremy Harty's team issued a statement Monday night that congratulated the provincial representatives while expressing disappointment that only two Alberta-based men's teams would go to nationals. "Alberta men were fortunate enough to have a Tour this year with three very well-run events and all competitive teams in attendance," the team said on Twitter. "We were No. 1 on the Alberta Tour both this season and last season and felt we had the merit to be named Team Alberta knowing that (Kevin) Koe and (Brendan) Bottcher would be guaranteed the wild-card spots. "We understand that it was a tough decision and we appreciate all of Curling Alberta's efforts this year." The association decided to invite last season's champions -- Brendan Bottcher and Laura Walker -- to wear Alberta colours again, dropping Koe into a wild-card spot. Curling Alberta waited 10 days after cancelling its championships before announcing its picks. Bottcher, ranked fourth in the country and a Brier finalist last year, was obviously a worthy selection. But Curling Alberta also had to consider Koe, since his team didn't compete in provincial playdowns thanks to its automatic Brier entry as Team Canada. Further muddying the waters was Harty, a young team that had a slight edge on the second-place Koe in the Alberta Tour points race. Bottcher and the sixth-ranked Koe were essentially Brier-bound no matter what. But picking Harty -- ranked a respectable 15th in Canada -- as the provincial rep would have meant all three could go. "We think Team Bottcher are going to be great reps," Harty third Kyler Kleibrink said Tuesday. "They're good guys and they're good mentors to us. Team Koe will be great as well. "We're not saying we're better than these teams or that we deserve it more than these teams. We just think Alberta had a good chance to send three reps." Helping ease the disappointment was a phone call from Bottcher third Darren Moulding, who Kleibrink said reached out to voice his support and say he thought the team's time would soon come. "Lifted the spirits for sure," Kleibrink said. "His words of encouragement and telling me his story and path was great." Curling Alberta's decision to send reigning champions to the so-called curling bubble was one that other provinces have used in recent weeks. The Walker pick for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts was expected but the men's selection for the Brier was the subject of more debate. Harty's teammates were buoyed by recent decisions from Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia to consider results beyond 2020 provincial championships for their picks, Kleibrink said. Before the pandemic, many elite Alberta-based teams were focused on top-flight events around the country rather than just provincial bonspiels. The association also had to consider that the 2020-21 women's Alberta schedule had to be cancelled. It all left Curling Alberta board members with plenty to think about before selections were made. The decision left Koe to join Manitoba's Mike McEwen in a secure wild-card position based on the 2019-20 Canadian rankings. A Harty pick as Team Alberta would have given Bottcher and McEwen wild-card spots and Koe would have been a slam dunk for the third. "I think that it's good for Alberta that there is a discussion over situations like this because it just shows the depth that we have," said Koe lead Ben Hebert. "What we've created here in Alberta is a good curling culture. "I think that's how young teams get good is they have good competition to play against and there's a couple good, young, up-and-coming teams in Alberta here as well that are going to be around for a while." Ontario's Glenn Howard, a four-time Brier champion, is a favourite for the final wild-card entry as the highest-ranked team without a berth. Harty is a longshot to get the entry as he's in the mix with other underdog teams that may be considered by Curling Canada. The federation is expected to make its selection next month. For the Scotties, it's possible there could be a whopping five Manitoba-based teams in the 18-team draw depending on how the wild-card picture plays out. Tracy Fleury is a lock for one of the three wild-card spots, so her team will join Manitoba's Jennifer Jones and Team Canada's Kerri Einarson in the field. Suzanne Birt is a heavy favourite to win the Prince Edward Island title this month but she'd get the second wild-card spot with a loss. Mackenzie Zacharias would be next among eligible teams on the rankings list, a whisker ahead of fellow Manitoban Beth Peterson. The criteria for the third wild-card pick in both draws has not been finalized. As a result, it remains possible that higher-ranked teams skipped by Alberta's Kelsey Rocque and Robyn Silvernagle of Saskatchewan could be considered. Both teams have two returning players, one short of the normal required minimum. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter. Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Troops in riot gear lined the sidewalks, but there were no crowds. Armored vehicles and concrete barriers blocked empty streets. Miles of fencing cordoned off many of the nation's most familiar landmarks. Joe Biden was safely sworn in as president in a Washington on edge, two weeks after rioters loyal to former President Donald Trump besieged the Capitol. Law enforcement officials contended not only with the potential for outside threats but also with rising concerns about an insider attack. Officials monitored members of far-right extremist and militia groups, increasingly concerned about the risk they could stream into Washington and spark violent confrontations, a law enforcement official said. There were a few scattered arrests but no major protests or serious disruptions in the city during Biden's inauguration ceremony. As Biden put it in his address: “Here we stand just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen, not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Not ever.” After the deadly attack that killed five on Jan. 6, the Secret Service stepped up security for the inauguration early, essentially locking down the nation's capital. More than 25,000 troops and police were called to duty. The National Mall was closed. Checkpoints were set up at intersections. In the hours before the event, federal agents monitored “concerning online chatter,” which included an array of threats against elected officials and discussions about ways to infiltrate the inauguration, the official said. In right-wing online chat groups, believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory expressed disappointment that top Democrats were not arrested for sex trafficking and that Trump did not seize a second term. Twelve National Guard members were removed from the security operation a day earlier after vetting by the FBI, including two who had made extremist statements in posts or texts about Wednesday's event. Pentagon officials would not give details on the statements. The FBI vetted all 25,000 members in an extraordinary security effort in part over the presence of some ex-military in the riot. Two other U.S. officials told The Associated Press that all 12 were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups or to have posted extremist views online. The officials, a senior intelligence official and an Army official briefed on the matter, did not say which fringe groups the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in. The officials told the AP they had all been removed because of “security liabilities.” The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, confirmed that Guard members had been removed and sent home, but said only two cases were related to inappropriate comments or texts related to the inauguration. He said the other 10 cases were for issues that may involve previous criminal behaviour or activities but were not directly related to the inaugural event. The FBI also warned law enforcement officials about the possibility that members of right-wing fringe groups could pose as National Guard troops, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the matter. Investigators in Washington were particularly worried that members of right-wing extremist groups and militias, like the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, would descend on Washington to spark violence, the law enforcement officials said. Some of the groups are known to recruit former military personnel, to train extensively and to have frequented anti-government and political protests. In addition to the thousands of National Guard troops, hundreds of law enforcement officers from agencies around the country were also brought into Washington. The increased security is likely to remain in the nation's capital for at least a few more days. ___ Associated Press writers Lolita Baldor in Washington and James LaPorta in Delray Beach, Florida, contributed to this report. Ben Fox, Colleen Long And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
VANCOUVER — Dozens of peer support workers on the front lines of Vancouver's overdose crisis are about to be unionized in a move aimed at formally recognizing the role they play in saving lives. Andrew Ledger, president of CUPE Local 1004, says the workers voted 100 per cent in favour of joining the union last March. But he says certification has been delayed by several factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic and a challenge to certification filed by the employer, PHS Community Services Society. PHS Community Services did not immediately respond to an interview request. Ledger says the Labour Relations Board of British Columbia is expected to issue its official certification this week, affecting about 40 workers. Peer workers at overdose prevention sites, needle depots and other harm reduction services are employees with experiences similar to those they serve. Ledger says some have worked for decades without benefits like paid vacation or the ability to collectively negotiate higher wages. "It's access to benefits, it's acknowledgment of their service, it will establish seniority for these workers, it's job protection. It's all the same rights and benefits that their co-workers receive," Ledger says. "Those are really important for all workers and I think it's long overdue that these long-serving peer employees receive the same benefits." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
The TPD Boutique has reopened on Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB) land making it the third cannabis shop within one square kilometre near the Canco Gas Station on Highway 97 just outside of Oliver. Owner of TPD, Christopher Dawe, said his shop was closed last year to get in line with requirements from the OIB. “(The OIB) had some prerequisites and safety concerns that they wanted me to satiate before I opened. So, what essentially happened was, I built the place last year, and then I was under the impression that we were allowed to open and then I realized that we had just a couple of hoops to jump through. And then with the COVID and everything, it was just a more lengthy process,” Dawe said. Those hoops included getting in line with federal legislation on lab testing and packaging, Dawe said. Dawe reopened his shop recently with OIB elders in attendance for the ribbon cutting. The OIB adopted the Osoyoos Indian Band Cannabis Bylaw, with two Indigenous Bloom stores opening on OIB land last year. TPD Boutique is the first shop to open under the OIB’s regulatory framework since. The OIB was very particular about safety of the product as well as the packaging and being in line with federal legislation, Dawe said. “Through the OIB program, we just have a little more leniency as to where we can acquire our products from. So, through the government program, you can only acquire your products from a government LP, which is a legal provider. Through the Indigenous cannabis bylaw act, I'm able to acquire my products through any of the previously legislated cannabis enrolment programs.” This means Dawe is able to work with local growers who he says have been producing cannabis in the Okanagan and Similkameen for some time for medicinal use before recreational cannabis was legalized in 2018. One of three cannabis shops in the small area, with an Indigenous Bloom location close by, and Nimbus Cannabis across the highway, Dawe does not feel there are too many cannabis shops concentrated in one area. “I feel as though we should have as many shops as the market allows for and ultimately the market will determine the right amount of shops. I think that's how the free market works for the most part,” Dawe said. Mike Lane, senior vice president of regulatory compliance for Indigenous Bloom, previously told the Times-Chronicle the Indigenous Bloom stores are not federally regulated, but their product mimics and/or exceeds federal and provincial standards. “Every single product, whether it’s a strain of dried flower, an edible, a concentrate, a rub, etc., is tested by an independent third-party laboratory licensed by Health Canada for analytical testing under the Federal Cannabis Regulations,” Lane said in early 2020. As of yet, there has not been a negotiation between the Government of Canada and First Nations for tax collection or sharing. “Until that’s done, we can’t charge taxes,” Lane previously told the Times-Chronicle. Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
La chanteuse jérômienne Margau participe ce mercredi à la deuxième édition du concours Talents Bleus à l’émission La semaine des 4 Julie. Elle représentera fièrement la région de Laurentides-Lanaudière. Rappelons que le concept rassemble 16 talents de tout art de la scène confondu, provenant de l’ensemble du Québec. Chaque semaine, deux participants s’affrontent et c’est le public qui détermine le gagnant, annoncé en direct dès la fin de l’émission. Celui qui remporte le vote se rend à la prochaine étape, soit les demi-finales, ou se voit tout de même repartir avec 1000$. Le prix ultime est de 100 000$. Margau est une habituée de l’émission, elle qui la regarde quotidiennement. Son coup de cœur? L’humoriste Mathieu Dufour. « Je suis une fan! », lance-t-elle. Hésitante au départ, elle a finalement décidé d’envoyer sa candidature au concours vers la mi-décembre. Environ un mois plus tard, elle pourra tenter sa chance sur le plateau de La semaine des 4 Julie. Le concept est toutefois bien différent de ce qu’elle connait. Contrairement à sa participation à La Voix et à The Voice en France, où elle s’était rendue aux quarts de finale, l’artiste se retrouvera cette fois vis-à-vis des participants aux multiples talents, ce qui rend la comparaison difficile. Mercredi, elle sera opposée à un duo de la Gaspésie en cirque. « Je ne me fais pas trop d’attentes », avoue-t-elle. Elle compte plutôt profiter au maximum de cette expérience qu’elle entrevoit comme une belle opportunité de chanter, alors que les occasions se font rares en ces temps de pandémie. Et en plus, elle sera accompagnée au piano par nulle autre que Guillaume Marchand, pianiste de Céline Dion! Sans vouloir nous révéler la chanson qu’elle interprétera, Margau nous confie qu’il s’agira d’un classique québécois revisité. Jeudi dernier, la chanteuse a passé la journée avec l’équipe de tournage de l’émission pour filmer un court résumé qui sera présenté tout juste avant sa prestation. Elle m’explique qu’elle devait notamment y promouvoir la région des Laurentides et identifier certains de ses coups de cœur. Margau étudie présentement en communications à l’Université TÉLUQ, une institution d’enseignement à distance affiliée à l’Université du Québec. Elle continue aussi de travailler sur sa musique. D’ailleurs, elle lancera bientôt un single, déjà enregistré. « Je devrais ensuite enregistrer un deuxième, puis un troisième single. Ensuite, on va discuter d’un album. On veut tâter un peu le terrain. » Une chose est certaine, nous entendrons parler d’elle cette année : « Il y a des trucs qui vont sortir en 2021, c’est certain! » On vous invite à aller voter en grand nombre pour notre représentante des Laurentides qui offrira sa prestation en début d’émission, le mercredi 20 janvier. La semaine des 4 Julie est présentée à 21h sur noovo.ca. Il est possible de voter pendant l’émission via le site internet.Ève Ménard, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Accès
CALGARY — What Marie-Philip Poulin looks forward to the most at the Canadian women's hockey team camp is simply lining up for drills and seeing her teammates' faces. It's been 10 months since the national women's hockey team was on the ice together. Hockey Canada obtained the necessary exemptions from Alberta Health to hold a 14-day camp in Calgary amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Poulin, Canada's captain, has missed the competition and camaraderie desperately. "It means a lot. It's been a long time coming," said the 29-year-old forward from Beauceville Que. "Just being back here as a group in Calgary, it's going to be awesome just to get back on the ice and really connect." All players and staff were told to quarantine for seven days and get tested for the virus before heading to Calgary. Of the 47 players invited, 35 arrived Sunday to quarantine in their hotel rooms and be tested four times over five days. Barring positive tests, the players were scheduled to start skating in groups of three Tuesday before larger groups hit the ice Thursday. Three intrasquad games are planned. "These women want the opportunity to just compete a little bit against each other," head coach Troy Ryan said. "That's one of the biggest things we're going to be able to provide them at this camp. "It brings a little bit of normal life back to them. Although it looks totally different, I think it kind of gives them a little bit of hope." The dozen invitees not in Calgary were classified as "unable to attend", which ranges from injury, college commitments and COVID exposure, but they'll participate in virtual meetings and activities, said Hockey Canada director of women’s national teams Gina Kingsbury. "We're seeing everyone on the screen. We just won't see everyone on the ice," Kingsbury said. Canada's last international game was Feb. 8, 2020, to cap a five-game Rivalry Series against the United States. At a short camp in Toronto later that month, Hockey Canada finalized the roster for the women's world championship, but the tournament in Nova Scotia was cancelled and rescheduled to April 7-17, 2021. Canada's international games in the 23 months since finishing third in the 2019 world championship in Finland has been limited to seven games against the U.S. The 2019 Four Nations Cup in Sweden was cancelled because of a dispute between the host women's team and its own federation. Women's professional hockey was in transition when the pandemic hit. The majority of the Canadian women's team belongs to the Professional Women's Hockey Players' Association (PWHPA) which has yet to announce any showcase tournaments this winter. So a perfect storm of circumstances has Canada's top female hockey players sorely lacking in meaningful games. Women in the national team pool train in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary hubs under varying restrictions and have skills coaches employed by Hockey Canada. Poulin's on-ice environment in Montreal has ranged from a limit of three players on the ice to larger groups with everyone wearing masks while they skate. "It's been a little difficult," Poulin acknowledged. "It's been challenging, but any time we had a chance to jump on the ice as a group, we took advantage and really pushed each other. Beyond camp is continued uncertainty over if and when the women's world championship will happen. Hockey Canada's operation of the national junior men's team and world under-20 tournament that concluded Jan. 5 in Edmonton paved a path for this women's camp and potentially the world championship to go ahead in a pandemic. "I hear from Hockey Canada the commitment is there," Kingsbury said. "If one country can do it's definitely us and we've shown that with world juniors. "It's just a matter of when in the year that looks like. I'm confident it will happen in the spring. It might be a few weeks later or a month later." The Calgary' camp, which concludes Jan. 30, is normally held in September. Ryan wants the players to focus on what they have and not what they're missing. "There's no way we would have been able to do this camp a few months ago, so it's a step in the right direction for sure," he said. "All the things that had to be done to make this camp possible, if you're not someone that steps back from that and actually appreciates it, I'm not sure that's the type of person we're going to have success with." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
The United States swore in its 46th President on Jan. 20, 2021. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attended their inauguration in Washington, D.C. with a slew of distinguished guests, but few onlookers as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a need for social distancing.Several past presidents were in attendance, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr., however the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, did not attend. Trump flew to his golf club in Florida earlier in the day. Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence did attend the ceremony with his wife.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
ATLANTA — For some, helping to get out the vote during Georgia's U.S. Senate runoffs meant writing checks for campaigns. Others signed up to canvass neighbourhoods or make calls for campaign phone banks. Brandon Litman took a different approach by making thousands of pieces of art to connect the Democratic candidates with voters. The 39-year-old artist from Brooklyn, New York, packed up his spray paint and travelled to Atlanta in early December amid a critical election overtime period in Georgia. Control of the U.S. Senate was at stake in what Litman called “the most important runoff elections of our lifetimes.” His plan: to create and give away art that would inspire voters to turn out for Democratic Senate contenders Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. For weeks leading up to the Jan. 5 election, Litman churned out handmade posters featuring likenesses of Ossoff and Warnock. Boosted by a coalition of Black and younger voters, the challengers went on to defeat Georgia’s two Republican senators and hand the Senate majority to Democrats as President-elect Joe Biden takes office. Georgia certified the results Tuesday. After arriving in Atlanta last month, Litman started showing up at Ossoff and Warnock campaign rallies, painting custom yard signs for supporters. He would sometimes set up shop under an overpass in downtown Atlanta, where passersby would stop and wait in line for a free poster. Litman soon connected with the Ossoff campaign, which let him tag along to events in other Georgia cities. Litman, known on social media as @voteruthless, would chat with prospective voters and let them choose their favouritecolours for the customized portraits. They would watch him work through clouds of spray paint, and within a few minutes the posters would be done. Ellen Foster, Ossoff’s campaign manager, credited Litman with bringing “a lot of excitement to the campaign trail.” She called his efforts “an organic and fresh way to engage voters while also creating buzz for this movement.” Litman had previously done artwork featuring 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. But he said none of them were as popular as his work centred on the Georgia Senate races. By the time the campaigns ended, he figured he had produced about 3,500 posters. “I’ve refined this get-out-the-vote model of co-creating politically themed art over the past few years,” Litman said. “It is so powerful in attracting people, young and old and all backgrounds.” Brynn Anderson, The Associated Press
A COVID-19 outbreak at the Windsor Police Service is now over, according to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. On Tuesday, Windsor police said all officers who contracted the illness have returned to work. Police also said that the outbreak did not have a "significant impact on frontline service delivery." The outbreak began on Jan. 4 and was said to be confined to a single area. At the time, Windsor police told CBC News that six officers had tested positive.
Specific details about workplace outbreaks of COVID-19 are not made public in most of Canada. Toronto is starting to make the information available, arguing that transparency increases accountability, but others wonder whether ‘naming and shaming’ does more harm than good.
FREDERICTON — More than half of New Brunswick will move to the red level of the province's COVID-19 recovery plan at midnight tonight. Health officials are reporting 31 new cases of COVID-19 in the province today and one additional death. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell says the death of a person in their 80s at the Parkland Saint John long-term care facility brings to 13 the number of COVID-related deaths in the province. There are currently 316 active cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick. At the red level, gyms, salons and recreational facilities must close, and restaurants can only offer takeout or delivery. Premier Blaine Higgs says the province will consider imposing a lockdown with more stringent measures if the latest restrictions don't limit the spread of the virus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
Trapped for months in Southwestern Ontario by COVID-19 travel restrictions in their Caribbean homeland, some migrant farmworkers from Trinidad and Tobago will finally fly home Friday. But many are opting to stay put, hoping to avoid a catch-22: not being able to return to Canada to work in the spring when the next growing season begins. “It’s been a really long ordeal . . . some people have been waiting for months,” said Ken Forth, president of Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services, a non-profit that helps co-ordinate processing requests for foreign seasonal workers. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to be stranded here.” Ongoing COVID-19 travel woes with the border-locked Caribbean nation stranded nearly 400 Trinidadian migrant workers in Ontario late last year. A flight home is set for Friday, with more workers having received travel exemptions required by Trinidad and Tobago that before were few and far between. Schuyler Farms near Simcoe employs about 100 Trinidadian workers, and until this week, few had made it home. Owner Brett Schuyler said 18 of his workers — all those who want to — will be on this week’s flight back. “It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “Everyone just has to get their (COVID-19) tests done, have a negative result, and it should all come together, which I’m very glad for.” Trinidad requires workers to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their flight. Schuyler said the workers were left in limbo for months, awaiting word from Trinidad on flights home and whether they'd get travel exemptions. But despite the option to head home, about 70 Trinidadian workers at Schuyler Farmers are staying put. “Some of the reasoning behind the group that stayed is out of fear of not getting back to Canada,” Schuyler said. “Last spring, people that were set to come up in March didn’t end up coming until July. This fall, people trying to get home, there are huge delays again.” Canada’s new requirement that incoming travellers show a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of their flight also could be a “potential hurdle” for returning workers, Schuyler said. Last month, Ontario extended health-care coverage and provided financial aid to the stranded migrant workers. Immigrant, Refugees and Citizenship Canada enacted a temporary public policy, in effect until Feb. 21, to let stranded workers apply for temporary status, get a six-month open work permit and be eligible for employment insurance. Forth couldn't estimate how many Trinidadian migrant workers were still stranded in Ontario as of late January, as small numbers have flown out since December. After Friday's flight to Trinidad and Tobago, only one more will be needed to get the rest of those who want to go, back home, he said. No date has been confirmed for that flight. “At the first of December, there was no light at the end of the tunnel, now they will get home,” Forth said. “I feel for the people too because the unknown was the big problem.” firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter.com/MaxatLFPress Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Mayor John Spencer considers himself and his town lucky: though Port aux Basques, N.L., is a nine-hour drive away from specialized health care in St. John's, at least it's connected by a modern highway. Residents in need of cancer care in such nearby towns as Isle aux Morts or Burnt Islands first have to drive a pockmarked, two-lane road through the crags of Newfoundland's southwestern tip before they even hit the main route to the capital. Spencer emphasizes there is no resettlement program at play. "But it's happening," he said in an interview Tuesday. "People are moving to areas where they can avail of services, and medical is number one." Newfoundland and Labrador's crushing debt and plans for an economic recovery have so far dominated discussion since Liberal Leader Andrew Furey called an election Friday. But on Monday, as Furey stood outside a long-term care centre to announce improvements, hands reddening in the cold, the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association flipped the switch on its own campaign pleading with party leaders to address critical problems in health care, beginning with the 90,000 people in the province — one in six residents — who don't have a family doctor. "These people are more likely to be admitted to hospital, more likely to be treated by multiple providers who do not know them well, and are more likely to have unnecessary tests," Dr. Lynette Powell, the association's president, told reporters. Powell is also a family physician in Grand Falls-Windsor, in central Newfoundland. In an interview Tuesday, Powell said many young Newfoundland and Labrador physicians are put off by the fee-for-service payment structure, which puts an emphasis on quantity rather than quality of care. "High volumes are what's rewarded, and most young physicians coming out are not trained to see huge volumes of patients. They're trained to provide good quality care." It also leads to burnout, Powell said — a claim backed up by a recent report from the Harris Centre at Memorial University in St. John's, which says 36 per cent of the province's physicians are dissatisfied with their work-life balance, compared to 26 per cent in Canada. Fourteen per cent had plans to leave the province, whereas the same was true for just three per cent of doctors elsewhere in Canada. The medical association is asking leaders to set goals for retaining more graduates from Memorial University's medical school. Powell stresses that people who grew up in Newfoundland and Labrador want to stay, doctors included. But they can easily wind up the only medical professional in town, always on call, and always overworked, she said. "It's all well and fine to live in rural Newfoundland and have a Ski-Doo, but if you can never get on it, you've lost some of why we stay here," she said. Newfoundland and Labrador is the most sparsely-populated province in the country, as well as the oldest and most rapidly aging, particularly in rural areas. Spencer estimates the average age in Port aux Basques is about 55. That makes for an expensive, challenging health-care system, Powell acknowledges. That same report that looked at physician satisfaction says that even with a shortage, Newfoundland and Labrador has the highest number of family physicians per capita in Canada. The province estimates it will spend $3.4 billion dollars, or 40 per cent of its budget, on health care this fiscal year. Powell said the association supports Furey's economic task force, assembled in the fall to look at the how the province can restructure its services to be more cost-effective. The Progressive Conservatives and the NDP have been critical of the team, saying it's likely to recommend privatization and austerity measures. Voters will head to the polls on Feb. 13 before seeing a first draft of the team's recommendations, due on Feb. 28. Furey, a surgeon, has acknowledged the association's concerns and said his party is committing to filling gaps in the system. On Tuesday, he promised to invest more in telehealth and digital platforms allowing patients to connect with doctors virtually. Spencer said he supposes that telehealth services are the way things have to go. He knows of people in his community who need medical care in St. John's, and simply can't afford the long commute and the costs of hotels. "We know the gap is widening in relation to those who have and those who don't have, and it becomes very, very difficult," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
Pembroke – With only 10 new COVID-19 cases in the last week in the region, Renfrew County and District Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Cushman is encouraging residents to continue to be vigilant as they await the vaccine roll-out. “We are through the middle of January and we are seeing a turn-around,” he said on Monday afternoon. “Keep it up. Let’s bring on the vaccines and get through this.” After weeks of rapidly increasing numbers, the last week has seen the new cases trickle down to one or two a day. Currently there is one person in hospital with COVID from the district. He said they are in an Ottawa hospital and had significant co-morbidity issues. While outbreaks have all but been eliminated with one outbreak remaining at a long-term-care home, he cautioned this can “turn on a dime” and people need to continue to be cautious. Fortunately, area residents can enjoy being outdoors, he said. “We need to keep doing this,” he said. “Renfrew County is not a densely populated urban centre. Get out and get some fresh air. Stick to members of your household.” With December being the worst month for COVID cases, January seems to be improving slightly. He pointed out with seven people in isolation and no new cases on Tuesday, things were looking up. “We are seeing the fruit of the hard work everyone is doing since the Boxing Day lockdown,” he said. This contrasts with December and even the first 10 days in January where the numbers were increasing. The district, which includes not only Renfrew County but Nipissing and South Algonquin, has seen a total of 296 cases of COVID since the pandemic began in March. There has been one death early on. Numbers had begun to spike in November and December but are levelling off now significantly with only seven people currently in self-isolation with a diagnosed case of COVID. “We are seeing the drop off because of the lockdown and co-operation,” he said. With the numbers that low in the county the province might be looking at these numbers and pursuing a more regional approach again, he noted. “I don’t want to speak for Mr. Ford (Ontario Premier Doug Ford),” he said. “Maybe in another week or so we can re-assess, and certain jurisdictions can open up.” If the colour-coding system were in place, Renfrew County would be considered green right now, he said. One of the issues with the zones was people travelling from the grey (lockdown) zones to red, orange, yellow and green zones, he clarified. “And I do understand there is a lot of spillage when people find the rural areas and green zones,” he said. While many families are awaiting a provincial announcement on Wednesday about school re-opening, Dr. Cushman said this will be a provincial and school board decision. One concern by many is the impact on mental health the lockdown is having. It is not only affecting seniors isolated in long-term-care homes but children not able to go to schools and people in abusive relationships, including many others. “It is terrible,” he said of the mental health impact. “The collateral damage is almost on par. You can’t deal with one without the other.” Vaccine Roll-Out Stating he understands the desire to see businesses re-open and people able to congregate again, Dr. Cushman said it is important to wait on the vaccine roll-out and plans are in place to vaccinate the most vulnerable in early February in the county. “The latest is we think we do the long-term care homes the first of February,” he said. “We are very committed to that. “We have been advised that we can expect to receive Pfizer and/or Moderna vaccines in early February, but there has been no confirmation of the number of doses,” he noted. However, a clear plan is in place on how the vaccines will be administered. “We’ve seen examples of spoilage in other centres,” he said. “That will not happen here.” Each long-term care home has a plan in place to vaccinate residents and staff, he said. “We are ready to go,” he said. “We are working with each home and they have a plan.” In this first phase, the province has announced the vaccine will be rolled out to health care workers, adults in First Nations, Metis and Inuit populations and recipients of chronic home health care. Phase 2 is expected to begin in late winter and will expand to include additional congregate care settings and adults over 70. Phase three will expand the roll-out. Dr. Cushman said he remains concerned about travel as a risk factor for people in the area, noting cases have come in from travel to other regions, including Ottawa. As well, people should not let their guard down in the workplace or at home. “Don’t congregate in the work setting,” he stressed. As far as being outdoors, people don’t have to wear a mask if they are alone but should take one along in case it is impossible to keep physically distant, he said. While very few fines have been issued in the district, the health unit did go public on a few fines late last year. With the new State of Emergency order brought in by the province last Thursday, Dr. Cushman explained now by-law officers and police can also issue fines. “It means we have more means of enforcement,” he said. The health unit has received calls about some people breaking the Stay-At-Home order and lockdown order, he said. “We did have some chatter in one small neighbourhood,” he said. “We investigated and it was more chatter than reality.” In the meantime, he reminded area residents standard COVID-19 precautions go a long way and are the best way to prevent the spread of the virus. Area residents are reminded to: get the flu shot; stay home if sick; avoid contact with people who are ill; practice physical distancing (two metres); wear a mask/face covering when physical distancing cannot be maintained; wash their hands, and use the COVID Alert App. COVID testing continues in the county with 51,243 tests completed. Testing is done by appointment and anyone needing a test must call RCVTAC at 1-844-727-6404 to schedule a testing time. Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
TAMPA, Fla. — The Toronto Raptors waived seldom-used centre Alex Len on Tuesday.The Raptors signed the seven-foot, 250-pound Len on Nov. 25, but he appeared in just seven games for Toronto, averaging 2.3 points, 1.6 rebounds and 10.8 minutes.Len signed with Toronto after playing 55 games last season with Atlanta and Sacramento. The Ukrainian-born player was selected No. 5 overall by Phoenix in the 2013 NBA draft. The centre position has been a weak spot for Toronto since Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka departed during free agency. Aron Baynes, who also joined the Raptors during free agency, has struggled at the position. Canadian Chris Boucher, however, has been excellent coming off the bench. Boucher isaveraging career highs of 16.1 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.5. He had 21 points and 10 rebounds in Monday's 116-93 victory over Dallas.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
After four years, U.S. President Donald Trump will be leaving office as President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into the position on Jan. 20, 2021. The weeks leading up to Trump’s departure have been tumultuous, with a siege on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, five federal executions, and 143 presidential pardons, just to name a few pivotal moments.Trump began the day by speaking to a crowd at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland before boarding Air Force One. He is traveling to his golf club, Mar-a-Lago, in Florida, and will not be attending Biden’s inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C.Supporters of the 45th U.S. President gathered in West Palm Beach, Fla. to greet Trump’s motorcade when it arrived in the city.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.