Weather Network meteorologist Jessie Uppal has the details.
Weather Network meteorologist Jessie Uppal has the details.
An envoy hired to defuse tensions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous commercial lobster fishermen in Nova Scotia has released a bleak interim report highlighting poor communication and a lack of trust between both sides. The report by Université Sainte-Anne president Allister Surette found perhaps the only thing the fishermen can agree on is blaming the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for the situation. "The lack of trust and respect has been presented to me by many of the individuals I interviewed," Surette said in his interim report filed with Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan and Carolyn Bennett, minister for Indigenous-Crown relations. "Firstly, I have heard from Indigenous and non-Indigenous parties of the lack of trust in government," Surette wrote. "Added to this level of the lack of trust and respect, some interviewed also expressed the lack of trust and respect within parties involved in the fishery and I also heard of the lack of trust and respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals, stakeholder groups and organizations." Appointed by Ottawa Surette was named special federal representative by the Trudeau government after an outbreak of violence and protests at the launch of an Indigenous moderate livelihood lobster fishery by the Sipekne'katik band in St. Marys Bay last fall. The band cited the Mi'kmaq's right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood, recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999 but never defined by Ottawa. The fishery was conducted outside of the regulated season for commercial lobster licence holders in Lobster Fishing Area 34, who objected saying the fishery was a blatant violation of fishery regulations. The reaction included alleged assaults, arson, blockades, volleys of wharfside profanity and online venom. It garnered international attention. The blowup capped years of tensions over an escalating Sipekne'katik food, social and ceremonial lobster fishery in St. Marys Bay that was, in some cases, used as a cloak for a commercial fishery. Lobster caught under food, social and ceremonial licences cannot be sold. In one case, a Crown prosecutor said the lobster caught under those licences from Sipekne'katik supplied an international "black market operation." Despite a number of federal initiatives to integrate the Mi'kmaq into the fishery since 1999 — including half a billion dollars for training and buying out and providing commercial licences — there has been a lack of progress defining moderate livelihood and implementing the fishery. Expectations of the First Nations were not met, leaving many of them to doubt the sincerity of DFO, Surette reported. Debate over enforcement Surette said the issue is complex and will not be easily solved. Non-Indigenous fishermen have argued there is not enough enforcement when it comes to Indigenous lobster fishing while the bands have complained of harassment. "However, the point to note on this matter, and more closely related to my mandate, seems to be the lack of clear direction from the government of Canada and the multiple facets and complexity of implementing the right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood," he said in the report. Surette's mandate is not to negotiate but rather to "restore confidence, improve relations" and make recommendations to the politicians. His interim report calls for more dialogue to build trust, suggesting areas of declared common interest like conservation and marketing. A lack of information from DFO was a recurrent complaint from the commercial fishermen, said Surette. "There should be some type of formal process for the non-Indigenous to be kept up to speed, especially the harvesters, since this could affect their livelihood. Some process, even though they're not involved in negotiation, that they could have input or at least understand what's going on," he told CBC Radio's Information Morning on Friday. Improving communication He made three suggestions for improving communication: a clearinghouse for accurate information, a formal process for talks between the commercial industry and the government of Canada, and forums to create a "safe space" to talk on important issues without extreme emotions. Surette interviewed 85 people — 81 per cent were non-Indigenous. "In some cases, they were heavily focused on the fishery. Others said that they preferred dealing with the ministers at this present time," he told CBC News. Surette said he will be reaching out to gather more perspectives. MORE TOP STORIES
Saskatchewan will start to stretch out the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses, as supplies run short. Second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine will be administered up to 42 days after the first dose. Official guidelines say the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is meant to be given as two doses, 21 days apart, while Moderna recommends spacing doses 28 days apart. The National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI), a body made up of scientists and vaccine experts, say provinces should follow the dosing schedule as closely as possible, but the panel is now offering some wiggle room. WATCH | Canada's COVID-19 vaccine advisory committee approves delaying 2nd dose NACI recommends spacing out the doses up to 42 days when necessary. The recommendation is also supported by the World Health Organization and Canada's chief medical health officer. "The flexibility provided by a reasonable extension of the dose interval to 42 days where operationally necessary, combined with increasing predictability of vaccine supply, support our public health objective to protect high-risk groups as quickly as possible," reads a statement released Thursday from Dr. Theresa Tam, as well as the provincial and territorial chief medical officers of health. The same day, Saskatchewan announced it would further space out its doses. "Saskatchewan will be implementing these recommendations of up to 42 days where operationally necessary in order to deliver more first doses to eligible people," the government of Saskatchewan said in a news release. WATCH | Dr. Howard Njoo addresses questions on taking first and second dose of vaccine 42 days apart: Saskatchewan's supply runs short As of Friday, 96 per cent of the province's vaccines have been administered, and new supplies coming in are not enough to replenish what has been used. Pfizer has said it will not ship a single vial of its highly effective vaccine to Canada next week as the pharmaceutical giant retools its production facility in Puurs, Belgium, to boost capacity. Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, says it's very reassuring to have the length between doses extended to 42 days. "When there's a sudden, further disruption that does present challenges," Shahab said during a news conference on Tuesday. "Most provinces are able to give the second dose of both Pfizer and Moderna within 42 days ... and that becomes very important with the disruption of shipment." Scott Livingstone, the CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, agreed. "It does mitigate some of the decreased doses coming in. We also know through contact with the federal government that once the Pfizer plant is back online, they'll be increasing our shipment," Livingstone said during Tuesday's news conference. Livingstone said the new shipments coming in will be allocated for an individual's first and second shot. WATCH | Canada facing delays in vaccine rollout More vaccines on the way Another shipment of vaccines will arrive in Saskatchewan on Feb. 1, says the government. The province is expecting 5,850 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine and 6,500 doses of Moderna's vaccine. The government says they will be distributed to the Far North West, Far North East, North East and Central West. A second shipment of 7,100 doses from Moderna will arrive on Feb. 22, and will be distributed to the Far North East, North East and Central East. "Our immunization team is trying to be as nimble as possible knowing that we could at any time through the pandemic receive more vaccines, but also then having to readjust our targets and still focusing on the most needy in this Phase 1, and we will continue to do that as vaccine supply keeps coming back up," Livingstone said.
VICTORIA — The federal economic development minister says business leaders in British Columbia want to work with a new development agency aiming to help them endure the COVID-19 pandemic and plan for the future. Melanie Joly said she's heard from entrepreneurs and business owners across B.C. about the support for a home-based economic development agency, including during an online forum Friday with the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade. Joly said the promised B.C.-based agency will provide targeted economic support and relief in the form of loans, subsidies and advice about federal programs. "People want to be able to have access to levers to survive the economic crisis and the pandemic, but at the same time people want to talk about the future and want to be optimistic as the vaccinations roll out," she said in a phone interview. Joly said she's heard in panel discussions with business leaders that they're concerned about the distance between Ottawa and B.C. as entrepreneurs argue for an agency that is closer to home. "There's a feeling of disconnection towards the federal government," she said. "That has created sometimes frustration on the part of people in B.C. We need to increase our impact, our footprint. We need to make sure that people trust the fact that the federal government is there for them." Joly, who is also the minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada, said B.C. entrepreneurs have told her the province's economy was growing before the COVID-19 pandemic and they need help now to get them through. Last December's federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year, she said, adding the budget for the new B.C. agency has not been set and there's no date yet for an opening date. "I always have a sense of urgency in life," Joly said after her meeting with the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade. "I'm a very impatient person, so the team and I are working extremely hard to make sure we can launch this new B.C. agency but we need to make sure we do things right." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
For the second straight day COVID-19 was connected to a school in Prince Albert after classes returned on Monday, Jan. 18. On Friday morning the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division notified the public that a case of COVID-19 had been connected to two classrooms at Riverside Public School in Prince Albert. “Affected students and staff will be isolating until end of Feb. 1 while the rest of the school remains learning in-person,” the division stated in an email. The division was informed recently of the positive COVID-19 test results and communication is being shared with the classrooms/cohorts, the connected staff, as well as with the school communities. The learning program will continue remotely only for those students and staff affected while in-person learning will continue for the rest of the school. As is the circumstance in all reports of COVID-19 in the division due to privacy concerns, further details of the case will not be shared. They added that schools remain safe places to learn. Both the Local Medical Health Officer and the provincial Chief Medical Health officer continue to indicate that because of the protocols in place, schools are safe and are not significant source of transmission. The division explained that we all share responsibility to minimize the risk of COVID transmission. “The division deeply appreciates the support that students, parents and community members have demonstrated, especially as the number of cases in our region climbs.” The SHA’s local public health team continues to provide expert advice and strong support for our dedicated staff as we manage the pandemic in our communities. “The division is thankful to have such a cohesive team of administration and staff supported by our partners in Health.” On Thursday a case of COVID-19 was connected to Ecole St. Anne School. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
The province’s largest vaccination effort in history is projected to vaccinate all 4.3 million eligible British Columbians by the end of September, health officials announced today. The province is prepared to deliver 8.6 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines — both of which require two doses — to all adults who want one at a rate of up to 500,000 per week as vaccine supply increases. No vaccines have been approved for use by B.C.’s 900,000 children and youth under 18. “By the end of September, everyone who wants a vaccination will have one,” said Premier John Horgan. The province has changed early plans to continue prioritizing specific at-risk groups as is being done in other provinces. Instead, the vaccine will be administered largely based on age in B.C.’s four-phase strategy. “Our immunization plan is based on evidence and data,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. “And we know the single greatest risk factor for serious illness and death from COVID-19 is increasing age.” Initially the province said frontline workers such as those in law enforcement, grocery stores and essential businesses and teachers and emergency responders could be prioritized in its plans. But research from B.C. and the rest of Canada indicates that risk of serious illness and death due to COVID-19 increases “almost exponentially” with age, Henry noted. Those over 80 are almost twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as those in their late 60s, who are five times more likely than people under 45. Even the other chronic conditions proven to increase the risk of hospitalization and death, such as serious asthma, heart disease and diabetes, are heavily correlated with age, Henry said. “Going on an age-based model captures the majority of people with underlying risk factors first,” she said. “This is going to be, and needs to be, an all-B.C. effort to make sure we can protect those most vulnerable and all of us in our communities.” Phase 1 of the strategy is already well under way, focusing on long-term care staff and residents and essential visitors, health-care workers treating COVID-19 patients and remote First Nations communities. More than 100,000 people have been vaccinated so far, and the phase will wrap up by March, Henry said. Under Phase 2, starting in March, 172 communities will see stadiums, high school gyms and public plazas turned into mass immunization centres. Mobile vaccination clinics and house-call teams will also be available for smaller communities and people who can’t make it to a vaccination centre. More than 240,000 seniors over 80 living in the community will be immunized, as well as Indigenous seniors over 65, hospital staff and community practitioners and homeless or vulnerable populations living in settings like shelters and group homes. At the same time, vaccination pre-registrations will start for the general population by phone and online, opening two to four weeks before each age group is eligible on a rolling basis. In Phase 3 starting in April, about 980,000 seniors in the community will be immunized. The plan is to start with people 75 to 79 and move through the population in five-year increments until everyone over 60 is vaccinated. B.C.’s vaccination lead Dr. Penny Ballem said immunocompromised adults and teens over 16 will get the vaccine if it’s deemed medically necessary during this phase, as well as organ transplant recipients and those with other clinical vulnerabilities. And the final phase starting in July will see about three million people aged 18 to 59 vaccinated in descending age order. Patients will also receive physical or digital vaccination records noting the date and kind of vaccination they received, and all immunization records will also be available through the provincial health gateway. The plan is based on the increasing availability of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, as well as the anticipated approval of additional vaccines on order. Vaccine shortages have already delayed vaccinations in B.C. and across Canada. The province expects more than 800,000 doses to arrive in B.C. before the end of March, 2.6 million from April to June and six million by the end of September. Planning also assumes 100-per-cent uptake in the population, which surveys indicate will not be the case. Henry hopes around 70 per cent of those eligible will be vaccinated to build community immunity. “This can be reached if the large majority of people in B.C. choose to be immunized,” she said. Officials say the timeline could shift if the AstraZeneca vaccine is approved and available in the province, or if vaccines need to be rerouted to deal with community outbreaks, clusters or high-risk workplaces. Ballem said the baseline estimates “allows us to know how to schedule human resources, supply chains for vaccines and other supplies that are necessary.” Horgan said more delays are possible if vaccine production is slower than expected. But the plan is a good starting point and can be adapted as vaccine supplies increase or acute needs emerge in communities, he said. Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix urged people to continue washing their hands, staying home when sick and masking up in public areas. It will be a long time until any sense of normalcy can return, and this is a critical time to protect the most vulnerable before they are immunized, they said. “What’s really important for success and us getting through these next few months is continuing to take the precautions that we know work,” said Henry. Moira Wyton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
CHORLEY, England — Separated from Chorley by 109 places in the English football pyramid, Wolverhampton didn't only manage a single goal in its 1-0 win. The Premier League millionaires also only managed a single shot — the goal — against the part-timers from the sixth tier. Vitinha's 35-yard, swerving strike in the 12th-minute moved Nuno Espírito Santo’s side into the round of 16 in the FA Cup on Friday night. It was spectacular but actually a rare moment of quality from the visitors to this tiny stadium in a former mill town in northern England. Contrast that with the attacking threat from the minnows. Incredibly, John Ruddy from Wolves was the busier of the two goalkeepers — facing five shots on target, including tipping over a header from Andy Halls, who is a personal trainer in his day job. And it was Wolves having to hang on to avoid being forced into extra team by a disciplined Chorley side that belied its lowly status. No wonder manager Jamie Vermiglio wasn't just savoring his chance to take on a Premier League side. A primary school headmaster in his day job, Vermiglio felt far from outclassed by his Wolves counterpart. “I thought were were fantastic — I feel really proud, of course I do,” Vermiglio said. "But I feel disappointed as well and I never thought I would come off the field feeling the way I feel. “It’s a strange emotion because I feel we have just taken a Premier League team all the way. We were in a game right until the last minute.” It says a lot about the breadth of English football that the last non-league side remaining in the FA Cup could prove more than a match to a Wolves side that reached the Europa League last-16 last season. “Credit to Chorley," Nuno said. "They are in the lower divisions but they were organized and had a good striker that fights and was strong in the duels and created problems. “I felt the scenario was created for a surprise to happen. We spoke about that but the boys were professional and achieved what we wanted. I have been on the other side and played in the lower divisions against big teams, so I know what it meant for Chorley." This was not a significantly weakened Wolves side, with the starting lineup featuring Fabio Silva — the team’s 40 million euro record-signing. “I thought we were the better team in the second half,” Chorley forward Connor Hall said. “We had them on the ropes for 10-15 minutes so we can be proud of ourselves. They showed us respect bringing a strong side and we didn’t do ourselves any harm. It is mad. In a couple of days time we will look back with pride.” Being live on television across Britain and around the world could certainly help some of the players. “Most of them could step up a level,” Vermiglio said. “There’s no way we could preform like that consistently at that level week in, week out.” Chorley isn't even top of National League North. It is only ninth in the 22-team standings. “Cup games get a little bit of something else out of you," Vermiglio said. “They are just 11 people coming up against 11 people and if you are that organized you can stay in a game of football and that’s what we have done.” The pandemic meant the only fans who got to glimpse this array of Premier League talent were those who perched onto walls next to houses packed into streets around the tiny stadium with one stand. Neither the fans nor the team know when they will be back in action at Victory Park, with the league suspended due to a tightening of coronavirus restrictions nationally. Warnings to players to social distance — and not finding a way past Wolves, perhaps — meant this game did not end with the club posting a video of the players singing the Adele ballad “Someone Like You.” That has been the soundtrack to a cup run that saw Chorley eliminate professional league sides Wigan, Peterborough and Derby to get this far and earn around 500,000 pounds ($685,000) — vital income as the club feels the financial impact of the pandemic. For a community also suffering through lockdowns, the inspiring progress of the town's team has lifted spirits. “Up and down the country people are struggling and it’s no different in Chorley,” Vermiglio said. "Those players in there have given them something to look forward to and that makes me immensely proud.” ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Rob Harris, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — New first lady Jill Biden took an unannounced detour to the U.S. Capitol on Friday to deliver baskets of chocolate chip cookies to National Guard members, thanking them “for keeping me and my family safe” during President Joe Biden's inauguration. “I just want to say thank you from President Biden and the whole, the entire Biden family,” she told a group of Guard members at the Capitol. “The White House baked you some chocolate chip cookies," she said, before joking that she couldn't say she had baked them herself. Joe Biden was sworn into office on Wednesday, exactly two weeks after Donald Trump supporters rioted at the Capitol in a futile attempt to keep Congress from certifying Biden as the winner of November's presidential election. Extensive security measures were then taken for the inauguration, which went off without any major incidents. Jill Biden told the group that her late son, Beau, was a Delaware Army National Guard member who spent a year deployed in Iraq in 2008-09. Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015 at the age of 46. “So I'm a National Guard mom,” she said, adding that the baskets were a “small thank you” for leaving their home states and coming to the nation's capital. President Biden offered his thanks to the chief of the National Guard Bureau in a phone call Friday. “I truly appreciate all that you do,” the first lady said. “The National Guard will always hold a special place in the heart of all the Bidens.” Jill Biden's unannounced troop visit came after her first public outing as first lady. She highlighted services for cancer patients at Whitman-Walker Health, a Washington institution with a history of serving HIV/AIDS patients and the LGBTQ community. The clinic receives federal money to help provide primary care services in underserved areas. Staff told the first lady that cancer screenings had fallen since last March because patients didn't want to come in because of the coronavirus pandemic. More and more patients are taking advantage of options to see a doctor online. When the issue of universal access to broadband internet was raised, Jill Biden, who is a teacher, said she hears from teachers around the country who can't get in touch with their students because of the spotty access in some areas. “We just have to work together and address some of these things," she said. “The first thing we have to do is address this pandemic and get everybody vaccinated and back to work and back to their schools and get things back to the new normal.” Darlene Superville, The Associated Press
White City ratepayers will see a property tax increase in 2021 after town council set its annual budget Jan. 11, but the increase will be mitigated in part by the results of this year’s provincial property revaluation. Settled by a 5-2 vote, council passed a budget that increases the residential and commercial mill rate by 0.33 mills, or 9.7 per cent, to 3.719 mills. Base taxes are also going up, with developed properties to pay $990 this year — up $40 or 4.2 per cent from last year — and undeveloped properties to pay $710, up $30 or 4.4 per cent over last year. With preliminary data from the Saskatchewan Assessment Management Agency’s 2021 revaluation showing a province-wide decrease in residential property values, however, the actual increase to White City’s property tax revenues is budgeted at 2.86 per cent. Council had initially sent the budget back to administration in December with the goal of achieving a 0.01 per cent tax increase. However, with utility accounts running in deficit, recent water rate increases yet to bring those services to self-sufficiency, and concerns over the future impact of hypothetical spending cuts that would have been required to balance the budget without increasing taxes, administration came back in January and recommended the tax increase to council. Councillors Hal Zorn and Scott Moskal voted against the final budget as presented, while Mayor Brian Fergusson, Deputy Mayor Rebecca Otitoju and councillors Andrew Boschman, Bill Krzysik and Kris Moen voted in favour. The 2021 budget projects gross operating revenues of $7.09 million, gross operating expenditures of $7.161 million and gross capital expenditures of $5.541 million. With $2.231 million in grants and other capital contributions factored in, along with amortization, debt repayments, a $390,394 transfer from the town’s reserves, and the issuance of $2.673 million in new long-term debt, the town is projecting a surplus of $4,552 for the year. White City residents had previously taken on almost $5.5 million in debt over the 2019 and 2020 tax years combined. Overall outstanding debt levels are projected to double from $9,037,900 in 2019 to $18,346,275 in 2023 due to projects such as the Multi-Use Recreation Facility, Betteridge Road buildout, and a Town Centre Office. Some of these projects, such as Betteridge Road, are slated to be funded by development levies. “There are some risks council should be aware of here, with respect to how soon we get development moving in this community again,” town manager Ken Kolb told council. “One, potential new borrowing would be required for the wastewater facility, and how soon we are able to collect that back as well. Those are a couple of unknowns which affect our capital plans going forward this year.” When Fergusson asked what that risk meant overall, Kolb replied if lands around the Town Centre area aren’t developed, the development levies needed to pay for it won’t be collected. “If we do get the ability to approve development in 2021, then our risk is significantly reduced,” Kolb said. “I wouldn’t recommend you proceed with construction until such a time you have development agreements signed and the developments approved by Community Planning.” Kolb said they can continue to plan for projects such as the Betteridge Road improvements or the Multi-Use Recreation Facility though there could be delays. When councillors started debate after the budget presentation, Moskal repeated his support for the near-zero per cent tax increase. “To draw that contrast in that unfortunate and unnecessary competitive nature between the RM and White City, and that they have held the line in the last two years while we have increased, it is important for us to hold the line noting that things will change with the annexation decision regardless of that decision,” Moskal said. “If we are successful in that annexation as we have proposed, things will change and they won’t change for the worse as taxes would not be going up for residents. That being said, if the decision is in part or fully declined we will need to revisit how we operate and spend in this town. We will be limited in future growth. We will not be able to expand. We will be restricted and that means a lot of things change.” Others such as Otitoju, said they shouldn’t be comparing tax rates with the RM of Edenwold in the first place. “We do need to be competitive and comparable, but I have a concern services could be stopped by doing this,” Otitoju said. “We need to make sure we make a budget that addresses concerns now. Whether we are successful with annexation or not, those are concerns for tomorrow.” Keith Borkowsky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Quad Town Forum
The Ontario government is kicking off a new social media campaign with actors, singers, athletes, and business owners who are all asking you to remain at home. Meanwhile, data tracking mobility in the city continues to show progress. Matthew Bingley reports.
MILAN — Italy’s data protection authority said Friday it was imposing an immediate block on TikTok’s access to data for any user whose age has not been verified. The authority said it was acting with “urgency” following the death of a 10-year-old girl in Sicily, who died while participating in a so-called “blackout” challenge while using the Chinese-owned video-sharing social network. Prosecutors in Sicily are investigating the case. The data protection authority noted it had advised TikTok in December of a series of violations, including scant attention to the protection of minors, the ease with which users under age 13 could sign up for the platform — against its own rules — the lack of transparency in information given to users and the use of automatic settings that did not respect privacy. “While waiting to receive a response, the authority decided to take action to ensure the immediate protection of minors in Italy registered on the network,’’ the authority said in a statement. The block will remain in place at least until Feb. 15, when further evaluations will be made. TikTok earlier this month rolled out some tightened privacy features for users under the age of 18, including a new default private setting for accounts with users aged 13 to 15. The new practices, affecting users around the world, followed a move by U.S. regulators to order TikTok and other social media services to disclose how their practices affect children and teenagers. The Associated Press
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern): 6:55 p.m. Alberta's daily COVID-19 case count has dropped a bit more to 643 and the active case count has also gone down to 9,987. The Alberta Health Services website shows that 691 people are in hospital with the infection and 115 of those patients are receiving intensive care. A dozen deaths bring that tally to 1,512. There has been a total of 119,757 cases in the province since the pandemic began. --- 6:30 p.m. B.C. is reporting 508 new cases of COVID-19, pushing active infections to 4,479. Nine more people have died due to the illness, bringing the death toll in the province to 1,128. There have been 110,566 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered in B.C., including 2,202 second doses. The province is reporting new outbreaks at two hospitals — one in Kamloops and the other in New Westminster — as well as at the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Port Coquitlam. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry say in a joint statement the risk from the virus in B.C. remains high and B.C. is not at point where public health rules can be lifted. --- 2:45 p.m. Health officials in Newfoundland and Labrador are reporting one new case of COVID-19. Authorities say the case involves a man between 20 and 39 years old and his infection is related to international travel. There are seven active reported cases in the province and one person is in hospital due to the virus. --- 2:35 p.m. Health officials in Saskatchewan are announcing 312 new cases of COVID-19. Eight more residents have also died. The Ministry of Health says 177 people are in hospital, with 30 people in intensive care. More than 31,000 vaccine shots have also been given in the province. --- 2:15 p.m. The New Brunswick government has announced that it will impose a full lockdown in the province's Edmundston region, effective midnight Saturday. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell says the number of active cases in the area of northwestern New Brunswick has grown to 129 today from just seven two weeks ago. Health officials are reporting 30 new cases across the province today — 19 of which are in the Edmundston area — bringing the total of active cases to 331, with five people in hospital and three in intensive care. Health Minister Dorothy Shephard says that under the lockdown, the first in the province since last spring, schools will shift to remote learning and only essential businesses will be allowed to remain open. --- 2 p.m. B.C. Premier John Horgan says the federal government shouldn't be blamed for shortages of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Horgan says the delays are due to issues in Europe and blaming the federal government will not speed up the process of acquiring vaccines. Pfizer announced a delay in vaccine productions last week, due to production issues at a plant in Belgium. --- 1:40 p.m. Nova Scotia is reporting four new cases of COVID-19 today, while health officials say the results of two tests conducted in December confirm two variant cases of the novel coronavirus. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang says one of the cases was confirmed to be the U.K. variant while the other was confirmed as the South African variant. Strang says both cases were related to international travel and there is no evidence of community spread from either case. The province currently has 22 active cases of novel coronavirus. --- 1:40 p.m. B.C. has rolled out its timeline for residents to receive vaccinations over the coming months, with an aim of immunizing roughly 4.3 million people by the end of September. B.C.’s oldest residents will be able to pre-register to receive a vaccine starting in March after the most vulnerable groups have been immunized. Those aged 75 to 79 will be able to start being vaccinated in April, and the process will continue backwards in five-year increments. The province says it will use everything from stadiums and convention halls to mobile clinics in transit buses to vaccinate communities across B.C. --- 1:35 p.m. Manitoba is reporting 171 additional COVID-19 cases and two deaths. The province's north continues to see higher numbers per capita than other regions. The Manitoba government announced this week it is easing some restrictions on store openings and social gatherings as of Saturday in all areas except the north. --- 1:10 p.m. Manitoba has stopped booking appointments for people getting the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at its two supersites in Brandon and Winnipeg. The provincial government says it has been told by Ottawa of another reduction in supplies of the vaccine. It says that during the week of Feb. 1, Manitoba will receive 2,340 doses instead of the 5,850 doses originally planned. --- 12:55 p.m. Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says there have been 90 reports of adverse events for a patient in Canada who received one of the COVID-19 vaccines. She said those include all health problems after the vaccine was given and may not all be related to the vaccine. Twenty-seven of those events, or one in 22,000 doses injected, were serious, including allergic reactions. --- 12:50 p.m. Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says there have now been 31 cases of the COVID-19 variant first identified in the United Kingdom, and three of the one first found in South Africa. Tam says the fact that the variants are now circling in the community without a known connection to travel is concerning. The news comes just after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there is some evidence that the U.K. variant may be more deadly than the original virus. --- 11:53 a.m. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government is considering mandatory quarantine in hotels for travellers returning to Canada from abroad. He says it's not the time to travel. Trudeau says the government is considering a number of options that will make it harder for people to return to Canada, as new variants of COVID-19 are circling. --- 11:40 a.m. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Ottawa is sending two federal mobile health units to the Greater Toronto Area. COVID-19 is putting incredible strain on local hospitals in the region. The units will bring an additional 200 hospital beds to help free up space for people who need intensive care. The units will include vital medical equipment and supplies. --- 11:35 a.m. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the CEO of Pfizer has promised "hundreds of thousands" of doses of its COVID-19 vaccine will be shipped to Canada in mid-February and in the following weeks. Trudeau reiterated that Pfizer will ensure Canada gets its four million promised doses by the end of March. Trudeau says the next few weeks will be "challenging" on the vaccine delivery front as Pfizer upgrades its plants and slows deliveries to Canada and other countries. --- 11:27 a.m. Quebec is reporting 1,631 new COVID-19 cases and 88 deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including 18 in the past 24 hours. Health officials said today hospitalizations decreased to 1,426 and 212 people were in intensive care. The province says 2,040 more people have recovered from COVID-19, for a total of 223,367. --- 10:40 a.m. There are 2,662 new cases of COVID-19 in Ontario and 87 more deaths related to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 779 new cases in Toronto, 542 in Peel Region and 228 in York Region. Ontario says more than 11,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered since the province's last report. --- 9:42 a.m. Nunavut is reporting one new COVID-19 case in Arviat, the community of about 2,800 that saw the territory's largest outbreak with 222 cases. It's the first new case of COVID-19 in the territory since Dec. 28. The territory's chief public health officer says the positive result was found in follow-up testing after the outbreak. Dr. Michael Patterson says there is no evidence of community transmission at this time. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
The NBC Sports Network, which is best known for its coverage of the NHL and English Premier League, will be going away at the end of the year. NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua announced the channel's shutdown on Friday in an internal memo to staff. “At the conclusion of 2021, we have decided that the best strategic next step for our Sports Group and the entire Company is to wind down NBCSN completely,” Bevacqua said in the memo. NBCSN is available in 80.1 million homes, according to Nielsen's latest estimate, which is less than ESPN (83.1 million) and FS1 (80.2 million). The channel was launched by Comcast in 1995 as the Outdoor Life Network. It was best known for carrying the Tour de France until it acquired the NHL in 2005. It changed its name to Versus in 2006 and then to NBC Sports Network six years later after Comcast bought NBC Universal in 2011. Bevacqua said in the memo that Stanley Cup playoff games and NASCAR races would be moving to USA Network this year. USA Network, which is available in 85.6 million homes, had already been airing early-round playoff games since 2012. “This will make USA Network an extraordinarily powerful platform in the media marketplace, and gives our sports programming a significant audience boost,” Bevacqua said. “We believe that the power of this offering is the best long-term strategy for our Sports Group, our partners, and our Company.” The news of NBCSN shutting down also comes during a time when many of NBC Sports Group’s most valuable sports properties are coming up for renewal. This is the last season of a 10-year deal with the NHL and negotiations for the EPL rights, beginning with the 2022-23 season, are ongoing. Many have predicted that the next rights deal with the NHL will include multiple networks with former broadcast partners ESPN and Fox Sports expected to be in the mix. NBC's current deal averages $200 million per season. Premier League deals are usually for three years, but NBC secured a six-year package in 2015 by paying nearly $1 billion. NASCAR, which has its races from July through November on NBC and NBCSN, has a deal through 2024. IndyCar's contract, which includes the Indianapolis 500 on NBC, expires at the end of this year. The sanctioning body said in a statement that NBC “has always been a transparent partner, and we were aware of this upcoming strategy shift." Tag Garson, Wasserman’s senior vice-president of properties, said TNT and TBS have already proved it's possible to have a cable channel that does a good job of meshing entertainment programming with sports. “NBC has done a great job with hockey and soccer that it would be hard for anyone to walk away from that,” he said. “How many windows can your fit sports programming into at USA? That’s where the internal discussions are going to be and understanding the right balance to have between sports and entertainment.” NBC could also put additional events on its Peacock streaming service, which debuted last year. There are 175 Premier League games airing on Peacock this season. Joe Reedy, The Associated Press
Canada’s response to COVID-19 shows what national unity over a common goal can accomplish, says Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. Now he says the country needs to apply similar efforts to achieving racial equality. “Recognizing these systems of government control as inherently racist, and needing to then be anti-racist, be actively anti-racist, in the way that we engage, the way that we work together between Inuit and government, is really the only way we can chart our course to a better future,” said Obed, the head of the national organization that represents 65,000 Inuit in Canada. Obed made the remarks Friday during a panel discussion about mental health in diverse communities, co-hosted online by Queen’s University and Bell, featuring four experts on race and mental health, with former federal Indigenous services minister Dr. Jane Philpott as the moderator. Obed spoke of the impact racism has had on Inuit communities and their mental health. “You can’t help but link the imposition of government control over our communities … and complete control over our education and economic well-being as anything other than a mental health catastrophe,” he said. In a June 2019 Statistics Canada report, under the National Household Survey, researchers found that suicide rates of First Nations people were three times higher than those of non-Indigenous people. More specifically, Inuit were nine times as likely to take their own lives than non-Indigenous people. That same report cited post-traumatic stress disorder due to colonization as a key factor in Indigenous mental health. Also on the panel was Dr. Kenneth Fung, clinical director of the Asian Initiative in Mental Health Program at Toronto Western Hospital; Dr. Myrna Lashley, a psychiatry assistant professor at McGill University; and Asanta Haughton, a human rights activist. They agreed that for the betterment of Black, Indigenous and people-of-colour communities, recognizing oppressive systems are essential to dismantling them. The pandemic has only made these challenges more acute, panelists said. Numerous studies show marginalized communities are the most impacted by COVID-19. A Statistics Canada study on the self-reported economic hardships caused by the pandemic on Indigenous versus non-Indigenous people showed that Indigenous people had experienced more job loss or reduced work, and a larger negative financial impact. The report concluded that “employment disruptions likely had a larger financial impact on Indigenous participants because of greater pre-existing vulnerabilities, such as lower income levels and higher proportions living in poverty and experiencing food insecurity.” Obed offered the following advice for making strides against racism: “Keep putting one step in front of the other, on the path that you’re making for your own mental health, but then also the change that you want to see,” he said. Meagan Deuling, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Nunatsiaq News
WASHINGTON — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said his piece with U.S. President Joe Biden. The two leaders spoke by phone for about 30 minutes late Friday — Biden's first conversation with a foreign leader since Wednesday's inauguration. It was also Trudeau's first chance to express Canada's official dismay at the decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline, and Biden's first to explain it. One of Biden's first actions in the White House was to rescind predecessor Donald Trump's approval for the US$8-billion cross-border expansion project. Trudeau, however, is urging Canadians to look past the decision and focus instead on all the areas of mutual agreement the two countries can look forward to. In particular, Trudeau says Biden and Canada share a vision of tackling climate change while fuelling economic growth at the same time. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
Last week Daisy Ridley and Jennifer Hudson went to a movie premiere together. They posed for photos and made remarks from a stage while an audience watched quietly. Or, more accurately, their avatars did. The actors were actually on different continents, brought together for a few minutes through virtual reality headsets to walk a red carpet, pose for photos in front of a step and repeat and to speak to a crowd of other avatars on behalf of their short film “Baba Yaga.” It’s being called the first ever VR movie premiere. “I truly feel like I went to a premiere,” Hudson said later. “But I didn’t leave home! I think it’s a cool way to do it, especially right now.” She especially liked seeing her team and how much their avatars looked like themselves. Virtual movie premieres have become standard in Hollywood since the pandemic started. The “events” typically just involve a start time for the film to broadcast on your home screen and, sometimes, a zoom-style Q&A with talent afterward. But Baobab Studios, the 6-year-old interactive animation studio behind a handful of cinematic VR experiences, decided to push the envelope for “Baba Yaga.” “I really don’t think we would have ever thought of this if it wasn’t for COVID,” said Eric Darnell, the man behind the “Madagascar” films and co-founder of Baobab. “We usually have our films premiere at festivals.” “Baba Yaga” actually got a real festival premiere too as part of the Venice Film Festival last year. But as it became increasingly clear that there would not be an opportunity stateside, the company started working alongside the XR consultancy firm MESH to produce the ambitious event, which included designing a rainforest room inspired by the one in the film. The virtual reality movie premiere is not entirely dissimilar to an actual premiere. There are publicists, filmmakers and actors, things to look at and displays to take selfies with (really). At this particular event, there was also a roped off “restricted” area, although organizers said it was simply there to designate the end of space and not an exclusive side party. And not unlike at actual events, sometimes you find yourself without anyone to talk to and just awkwardly wander around eavesdropping. But at a virtual reality premiere you can’t even pretend to send text messages or respond to emails. This reporter also had to take off her headset for a few minutes after getting VR dizzy. Darnell co-wrote and directed the film/experience alongside Mathias Chelebourg. It also features the voices of Kate Winslet and Glen Close. The film and the rainforest room are currently available to experience through Oculus Quest. Events like this may have been born out of necessity, but they could be the way of the future. “Even if we did go back to premiering at festivals, I still think this is an amazing way to bring people together and to say let’s celebrate this medium by actually having a party inside of it,” Darnell said. —- Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
B.C. health officials confirmed 508 new cases of COVID-19 Friday and said nine more people had died of the disease. In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix put the number of hospitalized patients at 315 people, 74 of whom are in intensive care. A total of 1,128 people in B.C. have lost their lives due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. There are currently 4,479 active cases of coronavirus in the province, which is an increase from Thursday's number when there were 4,450 active cases. Public health is monitoring 6,719 people across the province who are in self-isolation due to COVID-19 exposure. More than 56,455 people who tested positive have recovered. Bend curve, not rules In their statement, Henry and Dix again asked residents to closely follow measures in place to reduce infections "We can break the chains of transmission and bend the curve through our individual actions," it said. "This weekend, choose to bend the curve, not the rules." B.C. has recorded two new outbreaks in health-care facilities — one at Royal Inland Hospital and the other at Royal Columbian Hospital. Interior Health said that as of Friday morning, six patients and two staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 at Royal Inland Hospital. Late Friday, Providence Health announced that an outbreak has been declared in another unit at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver. There are now outbreaks in three separate areas of the hospital, but the health authority says there is no impact on other parts of building. Interior Health has announced an additional 11 cases of COVID-19 linked to the community cluster at Big White Mountain, bringing the total there to 214 cases since the cluster was first declared. Meanwhile, a community cluster in the Williams Lake area has grown to include a total of 268 cases. Interior Health says most of those cases are related to transmission at social gatherings and events, which are not permitted under current public health orders. The province has also declared an outbreak at the North Fraser Pretrial Services Centre in Port Coquitlam, where 20 inmates have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The new cases announced Friday break down by region as follows: 132 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 228 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 13 in the Island Health region, 79 in the Interior Health region and 55 in the Northern Health region. There was one new case of a person who resides outside of Canada. About 29 per cent of the new cases announced Friday were in the Interior Health, Northern Health and Island Health regions, compared with 39 per cent of new cases in those regions that were announced Thursday. Also on Friday, the province released its plans to vaccinate 4.3 million residents against the virus by September. Officials will vaccinate people in four phases based on age with high-risk and most elderly populations going first. So far, 110,566 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., including nearly 2,202 second doses. Friday's statement said that even as more people are vaccinated in B.C., residents need to continue to keep their guard up against infection. "We need to remember our risk remains high right now, even as we protect more and more people with vaccine," said the statement. "We are not at the point where we can lift restrictions in our community or long-term care." Henry and Dix's statement Friday follows news that B.C. will not ban non-essential travellers from other provinces in order to halt the spread of COVID-19. Thursday evening, Horgan said that the government has explored its legal options but won't be restricting travel at this point, although that could change.
TORONTO — A former senior employee with the Ontario government has repaid more than $11 million in COVID-19 benefits the province alleges he took fraudulently, his lawyer said on Friday.The unproven civil claim named Sanjay Madan, who had a senior IT role and helped develop the computer application for applying and approving the benefit for families with children.In a brief statement, Madan's lawyer Christopher Du Vernet confirmed his client had made the repayment."In fact, the province has recovered in excess of the funds it presently alleges Mr. Madan took from the Families Support Program," Du Vernet said. "However, it is also seeking its legal costs, interest and punitive damages, so the action continues."In its untested lawsuit filed last fall, the province alleged Madan, his wife and two adult children who all worked for the Ontario government in information technology defrauded the province of at least $11 million.The civil claim, which also sought $2 million in punitive damages, accused them and others of illegally issuing and banking cheques under the program that aimed to defray the cost of children learning at home."The Madan family exploited their positions of employment with Ontario and unique access to the (program) and payment processing system," the government alleged in the claim. "The plaintiff was uniquely vulnerable to Sanjay, particularly with respect to the integrity of the...application."The Ministry of the Attorney General did not immediately confirm the recovered money, first reported by the Toronto Star. Du Vernet said his client "deeply regrets" his actions and was awaiting results of medical opinions on his condition.According to the lawsuit, Madan and his family opened more than 400 accounts at the Bank of Montreal between April and May. They then deposited around 10,000 cheques made out to fictitious applicants with thousands of non-existent children under the support program.Most deposits were made over a four-week period starting on May 25, coinciding with a rule change that allowed more than five payments to be made to an applicant. The government alleges Madan either sparked the rule change or knew about it and took advantage.In other court filings, Madan is said to have told the government that he could explain "all of this" and that he has "helped many families."The government had served notice it intended to seize any money the family obtained fraudulently and obtained a court order to have their bank accounts turned over to the court pending the outcome of the lawsuit.The government also obtained a court order freezing the family's assets, which included a list of properties in Toronto.Madan was fired in November. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
Nicola Mining, the company who owns the old Craigmont Mine site on Aberdeen Rd., has announced its 2021 Exploration Objectives at the New Craigmont Copper Project. Last year, the company applied for a multi-year area-based (MYAB) exploration permit that would facilitate a five-year exploration plan. The 2021 program includes five new trenches, the reactivation of six historic trenches and up to 21 drill holes. Trenching is aimed at developing three target areas where copper occurrences have been observed but have not been drill tested. The 2021 season has been divided into two phases, with the second phase contingent on results from phase one. A complete explanation of both phase one and phase two of the 2021 program is available in a report by Yahoo Finance found here. Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald
A Komoka resident and lifelong environmentalist is building Middlesex Centre’s first net-zero energy house, hoping to spark a trend in the region. A net-zero home minimizes energy use for heating and cooling, while producing its own energy through solar panels. “It’s been a personal mission and passion of mine to try to educate, not to preach, and to live by example,” said Terry Keep. “Even a guy who is not a builder can do this with the right people around them.” Keep has been building his new carbon-neutral family home amid the pandemic and expects to be finished by April. He spent years researching the process before breaking ground last fall. The 2,300-square-foot (214-square-metre) home will feature solar panels on its steel roof, along with thicker walls for better insulation and triple-pane windows to reduce energy use. The lumber used is all Forest Stewardship Council certified. The driveway will use permeable pavers so stormwater can drain through into the ground. “It’s a nicer, quieter, dryer, tighter home,” Keep said. It’s also one of few homes to feature an electric furnace — the home uses no natural gas — and a heat pump. The house is divided into three zones, each heated only when necessary. Though net-zero homes are available in the London region — Sifton’s West Five development, for example, is geared toward sustainable living — Keep said building one independently in other neighbourhoods isn’t common. He’s documenting the building process — he calls it a “labour of love” — on YouTube, aiming to show carbon-neutral homes can be accessible and affordable for everyday consumers, not just environmentalists. He also wanted to prove you don’t have to move to a new neighbourhood to get a carbon-neutral house. “It’s the desire to show people it’s a regular neighbourhood, my home will stand beside a regular, code-built home,” Keep said. “I want people to see it can be done.” Walk through Keep’s house in progress, and it looks like any other mid-century modern home — with hints of Frank Lloyd Wright — not something out of The Jetsons. About 20 per cent of the average home's carbon footprint comes from household energy consumption. It takes about seven years for a solar-powered house to recoup the investment costs. But Keep has faced many hurdles getting his environmentally sustainable house off the ground, even without pandemic hiccups, such as labour and supply shortages. Finding architects, builders and tradespeople with knowledge and experience in developing net-zero houses was a challenge, Keep said, and getting them to commit to a single house even harder. “It’s been a really interesting ride,” said the home's builder, Frank Oosterhoff, who owns Great Lakes Construction. Keep said Middlesex Centre is a progressive area in terms of sustainability, citing the newly built net-zero firehall, and the community centre’s solar panels. Once his own house is finished, Keep plans to pursue building a row of affordable, net-zero townhouses. “The next generation is starting to realize there's value in that,” he said. “If everyone can afford one, they’ll buy it — if they can’t afford one, they won’t.” Keep drives a plug-in hybrid vehicle and is also a vegetarian. He was a founding member of EnviroWestern, a group at Western University that promotes sustainability. “We make small steps to get to a big impact over our life,” Keep said. “It doesn’t happen over a short period.” email@example.com Twitter.com/MaxatLFPress Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
OTTAWA — A group of large businesses in Banff National Park is proposing a rapid COVID-19 testing project meant to help reopen the economy safely. Yannis Karlos, the head of the group, said rapid testing can guarantee the safety of the community while allowing the return to a semblance of normality in a place heavily dependent on tourism. "We're just looking for options to take a different approach to ensure that our community remains safe," said Karlos, who owns a distillery and restaurant in Banff, Alta. "Back in March, our community basically fully shut down and we had an extremely high level of unemployment," he said. Karlos said the group of businesses that represent 5,300 employees would cover the costs of deploying COVID-19 rapid tests if the Alberta government will supply them. "The way we envision it is becoming a public-private partnership, so we're looking for some assistance from the municipality as well as from the province," he said. Town of Banff spokesman Jason Darrah said the municipality will support the project. "We want to support however possible, such as offering facilities for doing it," he said. Sandy White, the co-founder of a coalition of academics, medical professionals and business leaders called Rapid Test and Trace Canada, which is working with the businesses in Banff, said millions of rapid tests already bought and distributed by the federal government are sitting in warehouses across Canada because provincial governments are either unable or unwilling to deploy them. "The overall mismanagement of this file in particular, to say nothing of vaccines and everything else, has been depressingly indicative of Canada's response to this thing," he said. White, who himself owns two inns in Banff, said other countries have responded to the pandemic more efficiently than Canada using rapid tests and other measures to reopened their economies safely. "We are drowning in this situation and we've had a year to get all these wonderful things in place and we could be Taiwan or South Korea or Australia or New Zealand but we're not," he said. "That's very frustrating." White said the 90-day rapid-testing project proposed for Banff would aim to test as many of the town's roughly 8,800 residents as possible within the first two days. After that, the program would test between five and 10 per cent of residents every day. "We are quite confident that with a strategy like that, we can eradicate COVID within the community," he said. Banff had close to 200 active cases of COVID-19 at the end of November, when the economy had reopened and tourists were in town. "The goal really is to be able to safely reopen the economy and encourage tourists to come back to town," he said, noting local jobs depend on tourism. He said the program could also be used as a "test case" to prove that a rapid-testing strategy can work to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. White said his organization is speaking with several groups across the country, including universities and Indigenous communities, to prepare rapid-testing project proposals. "It would be us advising and assisting in setting up pilots and executing on them with the government really just providing testing services in the form of the tests and maybe some basic guidance," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press