Security cam footage catches 'thundersnow' in this Calgary backyard.
Security cam footage catches 'thundersnow' in this Calgary backyard.
LOS ANGELES — Tiger Woods was seriously injured Tuesday when his SUV crashed into a median, rolled over and ended up on its side on a steep roadway in suburban Los Angeles known for wrecks, authorities said. The golf superstar had to be pulled out through the windshield, and his agent said he was undergoing leg surgery. Woods was alone in the SUV when it crashed into a raised median shortly before 7:15 a.m., crossed two oncoming lanes and rolled several times, authorities said at a news conference. No other cars were involved. The 45-year-old was alert and able to communicate as firefighters pried open the front windshield to get him out. The airbags deployed, and the inside of the car stayed basically intact and that “gave him a cushion to survive the crash,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. Both of his legs were seriously injured, county Fire Chief Daryl Osby said. They said there was no immediate evidence that Woods was impaired. Authorities said they checked for any odor of alcohol or other signs he was under the influence of a substance and did not find any. They did not say how fast he was driving. The crash happened on a sweeping, downhill stretch of a two-lane road through upscale Los Angeles suburbs. Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who was the first to arrive at the wreck, told reporters that he sometimes catches people topping 80 mph in the 45 mph zone and has seen fatal crashes there. “I will say that it’s very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive,” Gonzalez said. Woods was in Los Angeles over the weekend as the tournament host of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, where he presented the trophy on Sunday. He was to spend Monday and Tuesday filming with Discovery-owned GOLFTV, with whom he has an endorsement. A tweet Monday showed Woods in a cart smiling with comedian David Spade. According to Golf Digest, also owned by Discovery, the TV shoot was on-course lessons for celebrities, such as Spade and Dwyane Wade, at Rolling Hills Country Club. Woods, a 15-time major champion who shares with Sam Snead the PGA Tour record of 82 career victories, has been recovering from Dec. 23 surgery on his lower back. It was his fifth back surgery and first since his lower spine was fused in April 2017, allowing him to stage a remarkable comeback that culminated with his fifth Masters title in 2019. He has carried the sport since his record-setting Masters victory in 1997 when he was 21, winning at the most prolific rate in modern PGA Tour history. He is singularly responsible for TV ratings spiking, which has led to enormous increases in prize money during his career. Even at 45, he remains the biggest draw in the sport. The SUV he was driving Tuesday had tournament logos on the side door, indicating it was a courtesy car for players at the Genesis Invitational. Tournament director Mike Antolini did not immediately respond to a text message, though it is not unusual for players to keep courtesy cars a few days after the event. Woods feared he would never play again until the 2017 fusion surgery. He returned to win the Tour Championship to close out the 2018 season and won the Masters in April 2019 for the fifth time. He last played Dec. 20 in the PNC Championship in Orlando, Florida, an unofficial event where players are paired with parents or children. He played with his son, Charlie, who is now 12. Woods also has a 13-year-old daughter. During the Sunday telecast on CBS from the golf tournament, Woods was asked about playing the Masters on April 8-11 and said, “God, I hope so.” He said he was feeling a little stiff and had one more test to see if he was ready for more activities. He was not sure when he would play again. Athletes from Mike Tyson to Magic Johnson and others offered hopes that Woods would make a quick recovery. “I’m sick to my stomach,” Justin Thomas, the No. 3 golf player in the world, said from the Workday Championship in Bradenton, Florida. “It hurts to see one of my closest friends get in an accident. Man, I just hope he’s all right.” Crews used a crane to lift the damaged SUV out of the hillside brush. The vehicle was placed upright on the street and sheriff’s investigators inspected it and took photos. Then it was loaded onto a flatbed truck and hauled away Tuesday afternoon. This is the third time Woods has been involved in a car investigation. The most notorious was the early morning after Thanksgiving in 2009, when his SUV ran over a fire hydrant and hit a tree. That was the start of shocking revelations that he had been cheating on his wife with multiple women. Woods lost major corporate sponsorships, went to a rehabilitation clinic in Mississippi and did not return to golf for five months. In May 2017, Florida police found him asleep behind the wheel of a car parked awkwardly on the side of the road. He was arrested on a DUI charge and said later he had an unexpected reaction to prescription medicine for his back pain. Woods later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and checked into a clinic to get help with prescription medication and a sleep disorder. Woods has not won since the Zozo Championship in Japan in fall 2019, and he has reduced his playing schedule in recent years because of injuries. The surgery Tuesday would be his 10th. He has had four previous surgeries on his left knee, including a major reconstruction after he won the 2008 U.S. Open, and five surgeries on his back. ___ Ferguson reported from Jacksonville, Florida. Stefanie Dazio And Doug Ferguson, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is moving slowly but surely toward reengaging with the Palestinians after a near total absence of official contact during former President Donald Trump’s four years in office. As American officials plan steps to restore direct ties with the Palestinian leadership, Biden’s national security team is taking steps to restore relations that had been severed while Trump pursued a Mideast policy focused largely around Israel, America's closest partner in the region. On Tuesday, for the second time in two days, Biden's administration categorically embraced a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something that Trump had been purposefully vague about while slashing aid to the Palestinians and taking steps to support Israel’s claims to land that the Palestinians want for an independent state. The State Department said Tuesday that a U.S. delegation attended a meeting of a Norwegian-run committee that serves as a clearinghouse for assistance to the Palestinians. Although little-known outside foreign policy circles, the so-called Ad Hoc Liaison Committee has been influential in the peace process since Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. “During the discussion, the United States reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to advancing prosperity, security, and freedom for both Israelis and Palestinians and to preserve the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state,” the State Department said in a statement. “The United States underscored the commitment to supporting economic and humanitarian assistance and the need to see progress on outstanding projects that will improve the lives of the Palestinian people, while urging all parties to avoid unilateral steps that make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve,” it said. U.S. participation in the meeting followed a Monday call between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel’s foreign minister in which Blinken stressed that the new U.S. administration unambiguously supports a two-state solution. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is close to Trump, has eschewed the two-state solution. Biden spoke to Netanyahu last week for the first time as president after a delay that many found suspicious and suggestive of a major realignment in U.S. policy. Blinken, however, has spoken to Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi twice amid ongoing concern in Israel about Biden's intentions in the region, particularly his desire to reenter the Iran nuclear deal. In Monday's call, Blinken “emphasized the Biden administration’s belief that the two-state solution is the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace alongside a viable and democratic Palestinian state,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. The Trump administration had presented its own version of a two-state peace plan, though it would have required significant Palestinian concessions on territory and sovereignty. The Palestinians, however, rejected it out of hand and accused the U.S. of no longer being an honest peace broker after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, moved the U.S. embassy to the city from Tel Aviv, cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority, closed the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington and rescinded a long-standing legal opinion that Israeli settlement activity is illegitimate under international law, Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
(Adam Hunter/CBC - image credit) Saskatchewan's Opposition is calling on the province to change the date for the introduction of this year's budget because it falls on the third anniversary of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash. But Premier Scott Moe says the budget will be delivered as scheduled. The Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly's spring sitting is scheduled to begin on April 6 with the tabling of the 2021-22 budget. NDP finance critic Trent Wotherspoon said it would be insensitive and inappropriate to introduce the budget on that day. "It represents indescribable loss for the families involved and for the community involved and for the team," Wotherspoon said. "It really did shake the province.You know, we're three years on from [the tragedy], but it's pretty critical that it's given it's due to properly remember and recognize those lives and the impact of all those that are affected." He said a family member reached out to him expressing concerns about the matter. "Listening to that family, I just wholeheartedly agree that it would be insensitive to hold this budget and to start the session on that day." Wotherspoon said whether or not it is just an oversight by the government, the Opposition would like to see the date moved forward. "We're calling on the government to do the right thing. And we're fully prepared to work with government to adjust and make that happen." Premier says finance minister understands weight of tragedy Moe said Finance Minister Donna Harpauer — who is also the MLA for Humboldt — will deliver the budget as scheduled. Moe said Harpauer represents the Humboldt area and understands the weight of the tragedy on the community, as she did three years ago when the crash happened. At the time, he said, he offered that she could delay presenting that year's budget, which was set for within a week of the collision, but "she wouldn't hear of it." "I know for certain that our minister of finance when she delivers the budget this spring will also be honouring those families, all of those impacted," said Moe. "She'll have her [hockey] sticks outside her door. We'll have them outside of the legislative assembly." The premier also suggested that instead of circulating a statement to the media, Wotherspoon could have contacted Harpauer directly with his concerns. Opposition finance critic Trent Wotherspoon says the government should move the start of spring session from the same day as the third anniversary of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash. Looking toward the budget Wotherspoon said when it comes to the budget there needs to be investment in the communities, from the classrooms to mental health and addictions to community-based organizations. "We have a lot of community based organizations that are hanging on by a thread right now that do such vital work in this province. And so they need to be supported," he said. "Then importantly, we need all the resources, of course, to contain the virus and to ensure successful vaccination and to get us back into a recovery." Wotherspoon said the NDP is also calling on the government to remove the PST from construction. A six per cent Provincial Sales Tax has applied to construction in Saskatchewan since April 1, 2017. Wotherspoon said the tax has hurt the economy and cost jobs.
TORONTO — Some of the most active companies traded Monday on the Toronto Stock Exchange: Toronto Stock Exchange (18,330.09, down 86.65 points.) Manulife Financial Corp. (TSX:MFC). Financials. Down 18 cents, or 0.73 per cent, to $24.44 on 18.6 million shares. Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU). Energy. Up 44 cents, or 1.7 per cent, to $26.34 on 15.3 million shares. The Supreme Cannabis Co. Inc. (TSX:FIRE). Health care. Down 1.5 cents, or 4.84 per cent, to 29.5 cents on 12 million shares. Toronto-Dominion Bank. (TSX:TD). Financials. Up $1.19, or 1.55 per cent, to $78.03 on 10.5 million shares. Zenabis Global Inc. (TSX:ZENA). Health care. Down half a cent, or 3.57 per cent, to 13.5 cents on 9.2 million shares. Cenovus Energy Inc. (TSX:CVE). Energy. Up 17 cents, or 1.88 per cent, to $9.23 on eight million shares. Companies in the news: Bombardier Inc. (TSX:BBD.B). Down one cent, or 1.7 per cent, to 56 cents. Bombardier says it has been the target of a cybersecurity breach that compromised confidential information related to its employees, customers and suppliers. Hackers gained access to the data by exploiting a vulnerability in a third-party file transfer application, Bombardier said in a news release. The breach affected approximately 130 employees based in Costa Rica, the company says. Bombardier did not specify when the incident occurred, saying only that it happened recently. The company says it was not specifically targeted and the vulnerability affected multiple organizations using the software. Gibson Energy Inc. (TSX:GEI). Up 27 cents, or 1.3 per cent, to $21.26. The CEO of Gibson Energy Inc. says "clarity" about the future of the cancelled Keystone XL pipeline has prompted increased interest from potential customers in an expansion of its diluent recovery unit now under construction at the Hardisty crude transport hub in east-central Alberta. Diluent, a light oil mixed with sticky, heavy bitumen from the oilsands to allow it to flow in a pipeline, makes up as much as a third of the volume of blended bitumen or "dilbit'' headed to U.S. refineries. Gibson's project is designed to remove the diluent from dilbit transported by pipeline to Hardisty, allowing transfer of the concentrated heavy crude to railcars for shipping south, while the diluent can be recycled to Alberta oilsands producers. Scotiabank (TSX:BNS). Up $2.02, or 2.8 per cent, to $74.10. Scotiabank was one of two banks to report that it is in a better financial position now than before COVID-19 became widespread in Canada. Scotiabank said on Tuesday that it had a profit of $2.4 billion or $1.86 per diluted share in the three months ending Jan. 31, up from nearly $2.33 billion or $1.84 per share in the same period last year. Although the novel coronavirus was identified in Canada in late January last year and sent the economy into a downturn by March, Scotiabank executives said that Canadian and international banking "showed marked improvement" by this winter. Provisions for credit losses for the quarter amounted to $764 million, down from $926 million a year ago. BMO Financial Group (TSX:BMO). Up $3.06, or three per cent, to $104.90. BMO Financial Group beat expectations as it reported its first-quarter profit was up compared with a year ago, before the pandemic began, as clients found ways to make their loan payments. The bank's executives also said on Tuesday that U.S. clients are benefiting from a faster vaccine rollout compared with Canada. BMO beat expectations as it reported a profit of nearly $2.02 billion or $3.03 per diluted share for the quarter ended Jan. 31, up from $1.59 billion or $2.37 per diluted share in the same period a year earlier. The profit came as BMO's provisions for credit losses for the quarter amounted to $156 million, down from $349 million a year ago and $432 million in the fourth quarter of its 2020 financial year. Thomson Reuters Corp. (TSX:TRI). Up $10.89, or 10.7 per cent, to $112.15. Thomson Reuters Corp. raised its dividend as it reported a fourth-quarter profit of US$562 million and beat expectations. The company, which keeps its books in U.S. dollars, says it will now pay a quarterly dividend of 40.5 cents per share, up from 38 cents. The increased payment to shareholders came as Thomson Reuters says it earned US$1.13 per diluted share for the quarter ended Dec. 31, down from a profit of US$1.32 billion or US$2.64 per diluted share a year ago when it benefited from a large one-time gain. Revenue for the quarter totalled $1.62 billion, up from $1.58 billion in the fourth quarter of 2019. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
Students may not get a day out of class for a field trip during the pandemic, but are able to experience an even wider variety of museums, zoos and concerts virtually.
A Mosquito First Nation woman arrested by the North Battleford RCMP gang unit was scheduled to enter a plea Monday but instead asked the court for an adjournment. Rae Ahenakew, 40, appeared in North Battleford Provincial Court by phone on Feb. 22 and asked that her matter be adjourned to March 8. Ahenakew and three others were arrested last September during a traffic stop in North Battleford on Railway Avenue. According to Sgt. Adam Buckingham from the Battlefords General Investigation Section, the North Battleford Gang Task Force initiated a traffic stop on two vehicles after they noticed the occupants appeared to be interacting with one another. Police didn’t specify what the interaction was but say one of the occupants was known to police and had an outstanding arrest warrant. Police noticed weapons in one of the vehicles and arrested the four occupants from both vehicles. They searched the vehicles and found a firearm, a Taser, weapons, cocaine, meth and marijuana. Ahenakew is charged with possession of cocaine and meth for the purpose of trafficking, possession of a firearm in a vehicle, and obstructing a police officer. Shynia Skeavington, 24, of Mosquito First Nation, is charged with possession of cocaine and meth for the purpose of trafficking, possession of a firearm in a vehicle, three counts of failing to comply with a probation order, two counts of failing to comply with conditions of a release order, and two counts of possession of a weapon. Skeavington appears next in court on March 17. Matthew Greer, 34, of Biggar, is charged with possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and operation of a vehicle while prohibited. Greer had an appearance in North Battleford Provincial Court on Feb. 22. Desiree Hinse, 24, of Biggar, pleaded guilty in North Battleford Provincial Court on Feb. 8, 2021, to carrying a concealed weapon, possession of a prohibited weapon, obstruction of a peace officer, unlawful possession of a substance, driving while prohibited, and failing to comply with conditions. Hinse will be sentenced on March 22. email@example.com Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
EDMONTON — Alberta's top doctor is urging patience a day before seniors born in 1946 and earlier become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Deena Hinshaw says there are 230,000 seniors in this age group, in addition to health-care workers and people in other priority groups still waiting for their shots. She says any eligible seniors who want to be immunized should be able to get their first dose by the end of March, but there may be hiccups along the way. The doses will be available by appointment at 58 Alberta Health Services sites, and Hinshaw says pharmacies and doctors' offices will be added later. Hinshaw also says it's not a done deal that the next phase of Alberta's staged reopening plan, which includes eased restrictions on retail, banquet halls and hotels, will begin on March 1. She says while hospitalizations are down, the test positivity rate and number of new people infected by each case are on the rise. The decision will depend on whether those increases are due to local issues that can be brought under control or if it's a more general spread across the province, she said. Hinshaw said it's possible that restrictions will be eased on the same day a decision is announced. "I recognize it's challenging for businesses who are looking for certainty around dates and timelines," she told a news conference Tuesday. "But we did need the additional time to be able to look at the full three-weeks of data following the first step to be able to understand what's happening with our numbers, where is spread happening and if we need to take longer or a more cautious approach going forward." Alberta reported 267 new COVID-19 infections in its Tuesday update, along with 11 additional deaths from the virus. Hinshaw said there were 6,300 tests done in the past day and that 4.4 per cent came back positive. There were 326 COVID-19 patients in Alberta hospitals, including 51 in intensive care. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press - image credit) One of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's senior cabinet ministers is stepping aside from his duties temporarily as he deals with a medical issue. In a statement, Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos said he has been experiencing chest pain in recent days and a doctor has now diagnosed him with a pulmonary embolism — an arterial blockage in his lungs. "I'm now back home and feeling well, but as per my doctor's recommendations, I will rest for a few days," Duclos said. "Let us keep taking care of each other. See you soon!" Joyce Murray, the minister of digital government, will assume Duclos's responsibilities while he recovers "for a few days." Duclos also serves as the vice-chair of Prime Minister Trudeau's COVID-19 cabinet committee and is a member of the cabinet operations committee, a key body in the executive branch that deals with "urgent and emerging issues." The Treasury Board position is an important one in government, as the occupant acts as a sort of general manager for the public service, establishing policies and standards in a wide range of areas and overseeing the implementation of programs across the federal government. The Treasury Board president keeps an eye on the government's financial management and spending and manages human resources issues, including collective bargaining agreements with unions. While the job tends to be one of the less public-facing positions in cabinet, Duclos has been a regular participant at COVID-19 briefings over the past year, where he has answered questions on everything from vaccine procurement and border closures to rent relief for small businesses.
Nonfiction 1. Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey, narrated by the author (Random House Audio) 2. A Promised Land by Barack Obama, narrated by the author (Random House Audio) 3. How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates, narrated by the author and Wil Wheaton (Random House Audio) 4. Atomic Habits by James Clear, narrated by the author (Penguin Audio) 5. Think Again by Adam Grant, narrated by the author (Penguin Audio) 6. How to Train Your Mind by Chris Bailey, narrated by the author (Audible Originals) 7. Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins, narrated by the author and Adam Skolnick (Lioncrest Publishing) 8. The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee, narrated by the author (Random House Audio) 9. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F(asterisk)ck by Mark Manson, narrated by Roger Wayne (HarperAudio) 10. Winning the War in Your Mind by Craig Groeschel, narrated by the author (Zondervan) Fiction 1. Relentless by Mark Greaney, performed by Jay Snyder (Audible Studios) 2. A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas, narrated by Stina Nielsen (Recorded Books, Inc.) 3. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah, narrated by Julia Whelan (Macmillan Audio) 4. Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah, narrated by Susan Ericksen (Brilliance Audio) 5. The Wife in the Attic by Rose Lerner, performed by Elsa Lepecki Bean (Audible Originals) 6. The Shadow Box by Luanne Rice, narrated by Nicol Zanzarella and Jim Frangione (Brilliance Audio) 7. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, narrated by Carey Mulligan (Penguin Audio) 8. 1984 by George Orwell, narrated by Simon Prebble (Blackstone Audio, Inc.) 9. When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal, narrated by Sarah Naughton and Katherine Littrell (Brilliance Audio) 10. Like You Love Me by Adriana Locke, narrated by Ryan West and Lidia Dornet (Brilliance Audio) The Associated Press
CALGARY — Trican Well Service Ltd. says an ongoing slump in Canadian oilfield activity linked to the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in lower revenue in the fourth quarter. The Calgary-based well completion company says consolidated revenue from continuing operations fell to $103 million from $163 million in the year-earlier period. It is reporting a net loss of $25 million or 10 cents per share for the last three months of 2020, including a $22.3-million impairment charge on non-financial assets. That compares with a net loss of $20.9 million or seven cents in the same period of 2019. Trican says it had adjusted earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization of $14.5 million, little changed from $14.6 million a year earlier, but beating analyst expectations for $9.7 million, according to financial data firm Refinitiv. Its adjusted earnings include $4.9 million from the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy, bringing the total for the year to $13.8 million. Trican says stronger demand allowed it to activate a sixth crew offering hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" well completions in early January. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:TCW) The Canadian Press
CALGARY — Police in Calgary say a former junior high school teacher charged with sexually assaulting six students between 15 and 20 years ago has died and his death is not believed to be criminal. Michael Andreassen Gregory, who was 57 and lived in De Winton, Alta., was facing six counts of sexual assault and 11 counts of sexual exploitation. Police had said a woman came forward last September alleging that, nearly two decades earlier, a teacher undressed her and other female students during a canoe trip their school did not approve. Police investigated and found five other women who reported sexual involvement with the same teacher at the Calgary junior high school between 1999 and 2005. Police alleged Gregory, who taught there between 1986 and 2006, used his position of trust to groom the students and get them into situations in which sexual activities could occur. Even though Gregory has died, police are still asking anyone with information in the case to come forward. They say when a suspect dies before an investigation is complete, officers still examine evidence to try to learn what happened. That allows them to give closure and support to victims, ensure there's no one else who can be charged and learn how to prevent similar crimes in the future. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
B.C. salmon farmers are asking Ottawa for more time to wind down operations in the Discovery Islands, following the release of a new analysis that details the potential loss of 1,500 jobs and $390 million of economic activity. With layoffs and culls of juvenile salmon already underway, the industry is seeking permission to complete the grow-out of 10.7-million eggs and smolts to harvestable size, and launch a transparent round of discussions with stakeholders and First Nations for a more equitable transition out of the archipelago. “We have been speaking about the impacts of this rushed, ill-considered decision since the day it was made, but this report really captured just how widespread the human and animal welfare impacts will be,” BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) executive director John Paul Fraser said. “Thankfully, we are also able to offer a reasonable, respectful way forward, one consistent with genuine reconciliation with First Nations and real engagement with all parties. The ball is now in the government’s court, and we ask them to seriously, and urgently, consider this reasonable way forward.” Farmed salmon require a five-year planning and production cycle before they reach market size. Up to four years are needed at in-land sites alone before young fish are large enough to be transferred to the ocean grower pens commonly associated with salmon farming. On Dec. 17 last year Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan announced DFO would no longer issue farming licences in the island group after June, 2022, giving the sector 18 months wind down operations without the option of transferring any more fish to the ocean pens. BCSFA, and now the RIAS analysis, say the deadline will likely result in the culling of more than 10-million eggs and juvenile salmon, which the association says represents the equivalent of 210-million meals. At a bare minimum, BCSFA wants the government to allow the transfer of fish to the ocean pens to complete their grow-out cycle. Above that, they’re asking for a suspension of the Discovery Islands decision to allow the industry time to develop a plan to minimize impacts for employees and their communities. A new economic analysis of the decision, commissioned by BCSFA from RIAS Inc., indicates the 19 Discovery Island farms represents 24 per cent loss of B.C. in operations that could eliminate of 690 direct jobs and 845 indirect jobs in mostly service sectors. The decision also means the loss of $386.6 million in economic output, with an estimated $87 million less in annual salaries and benefits and $21 million less in annual tax revenue at the local, provincial, and federal levels. Without the option to grow-out the stock, 10.7 million young fish will be culled. Today (Feb. 23) Mowi Canada has begun a cull of 925,000 eggs and juvenile salmon. Spokesperson Dean Dobrinsky also told Black Press Media three employees were laid off last week with at least another 30 expected through May and June. “We haven’t asked the government to redo their decision, we’re just asking for time to mitigate these impacts,” Dobrinksky said. “Morale is awful. People are genuinely worried for their families, their mortgages … it’s the continual talk on all of our sites. The worst part is the uncertainty. We haven’t heard one word from minister Jordan on this.” Black Press Media has reached out to Jordan's office for comment. The minister reached her decision after three months of consultations with seven First Nations in the Discovery Islands area. But industry, area mayors and B.C. Premier John Horgan have all stated they were not consulted prior to the announcement. “We’re looking for an opportunity to talk, to look after our employees, look for viable options to move our production, and make those adjustments over a humane, reasonable period of time instead of ‘right now.’” The Discovery Islands decision follows years of protest from wild salmon advocates who claim the farms act as reservoirs of pathogens and sea lice in the narrow waterways of a critical out-migration route for juvenile salmon. Quinn Bender, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden says the United States will work together with Canada to secure the release of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig from China. Biden says human beings are not bartering chips, and that the two countries won't rest until Spavor and Kovrig are home. The pair were swept up two years ago after Canada's arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who faces U.S. charges of violating sanctions against Iran. Biden's words were likely one of Trudeau's top demands when the two leaders sat down today for the president's first bilateral meeting since his election. They also vowed to move in "lockstep" in their collective fight against climate change, and to work together to defeat COVID-19. Today's meeting had to take place virtually, with Biden in Washington and Trudeau in Ottawa, due to the pandemic. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
The number of rural Ontarians working in January dropped 2.7 per cent from recent averages as the second COVID-19 lockdown clobbered retail, food services and recreation jobs in small towns, new figures show. About 16,000 fewer people were employed last month in small towns and rural Ontario compared to averages over the last three years, according to a report from the Rural Ontario Institute. “There was some backsliding in what had been a story of recovery,” said Norman Ragetlie, the institute’s executive director. “January numbers showed a drop . . . that’s pretty significant for one month, and that represents another lockdown.” The figures are even worse in some of the hardest-hit sectors: • Accommodation and food services shed 12,000 workers, dropping 46 per cent from typical job numbers. • The number employed in information, culture and recreation fell by 11,000, down 81 per cent from previous averages. • Retail and wholesale trade saw 8,000 fewer people employed than normal. These losses were offset by gains in other industries: • Construction in rural Ontario added 11,000 jobs. • Finance, insurance and real estate was up by 6,000 jobs • Utilities added 5,000 workers; and health care and social assistance showed a 4,000-job rise. The mix of losses and gains could speak to workers seeking employment in other sectors, Ragetlie said. “While there’s cause for concern, obviously from an economic perspective and more people out of work . . . hopefully, there’s adjustments in the labour market,” he said. Rural Ontario’s 2.7 per cent dip in people working is less than the gap in large urban centres that saw the number of people employed drop by 5.7 per cent, or 345,000 people, in January. The Rural Ontario Institute is a Guelph-based think-tank that advocates for and offers programs to rural areas of the province. In the report, which pulls data from Statistics Canada's Labour Force Survey, rural and small towns refer to places with a population of up to 10,000. Women continue to bear the brunt of job losses in rural areas, a consistent trend since the pandemic began. In January, the number of women working in small towns dropped 9.3 per cent, while the number of men working rose 3.1 per cent. Ragetlie said that could reflect hardest-hit industries having a higher proportion of women employees, along with impacts of school closings and child-care issues. Rural employment had been steadily rebounding since last spring’s initial COVID-19 lockdowns that devastated the economy and at its peak in May saw small-torn employment down 9.8 per cent. That rebound began to decline in November as COVID cases spiked, and with the second lockdown only just lifting, Ragetlie said job losses could continue. “In terms of the arc of the storyline here, there was a major drop off, a slow recovery, and now another dip, and we’ll have to see,” he said. “We were locked down until recently in Ontario, and I would expect that the February numbers will still reflect that and may even be worse.” firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter.com./MaxatLFPress The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
IQALUIT, Nunavut — The Nunavut government says its finances aren't as bad as it originally predicted despite spending made necessary by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nunavut tabled a $2.4-billion budget Tuesday that focuses on adding health-care services in the territory. The figure includes $4.8 million for the creation of a Pandemic Response Secretariat. The secretariat, which adds 30 new positions to Nunavut's public sector, is to manage services addressing the COVID-19 crisis. Last year, Finance Minister George Hickes projected Nunavut's deficit would be the largest yet — higher than $30 million. But the 2020-2021 deficit sits at $21 million, in part because federal funding was provided to help deal with the pandemic. Hickes predicts next year's deficit to be even lower at $14 million. "Had we not received this federal support, I would be reporting a significantly different fiscal situation today," Hickes said. The federal money includes $130 million for COVID-19-relief and $58 million to cover medical travel costs for Nunavut residents. Last year, Nunavut spent $64.2 million on isolation hubs for Nunavummiut returning to the territory. Quarantining at the hubs is mandatory and has been in place since the pandemic hit last March. Another $30 million was spent last year to put up construction workers in the isolation hubs before they flew up to Nunavut for projects. Nunavut also spent $55 million last year to support Canadian North and Calm Air, the territory's airlines, from April to September. The 2021-2022 budget doesn't dedicate new dollars specifically to COVID-19 relief. Hickes said that's because most of what's needed to support Nunavummiut during the pandemic has already been secured through federal funding. "A lot of the operational network ... on the COVID response has been created," he said. Hickes also said the territory can't anticipate what future costs related to the pandemic will be. "We don't know exactly what those costs are. We don't have a timeline. We don't have a finish line," he said. "Some of those moneys have been tapped from the third-party funding, and that's why we're leaving a cushion in case there are any shortfalls." That cushion is a $75-million contingency fund, up from $50 million in last year's budget. The 2021-22 fiscal plan also commits funding for a new bachelor of social work program at Nunavut Arctic College and $1.2 million to pay for a new colorectal cancer screening program in Iqaluit. "One of the things COVID has enhanced ... (is) that we need to bring more services closer to home and more in-territory care," Hickes said. Hickes said the government's revenues for the next fiscal year are predicted to be almost $2.4 billion. Members of the legislature are to spend the next few weeks reviewing and voting on whether to approve the budget. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021 Emma Tranter, The Canadian Press
CHICAGO — A woman whose brother was fatally shot during last summer's unrest in suburban Chicago filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday alleging that two paramedics allowed a photo to be taken of the dying man, and that a retired fire department lieutenant posted it on Facebook along with a disparaging caption. In the lawsuit, Adriana Cazares contends that her brother, Victor Cazares Jr., was shot by an unknown gunman on June 1 after going to a grocery store in the town of Cicero. She said he went there to “discourage any criminal conduct” amid widespread unrest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. The lawsuit contends that two paramedics, Justin Zheng and Gene Lazcano either took the photograph or allowed someone else to take it within minutes of their arrival at the scene of the shooting. It allegedly showed the 27-year-old Cazares on a stretcher, his head wrapped in what appears to be blood-drenched gauze, and was sent to Frank R. Rand, a retired Cicero Fire Department lieutenant. Rand, according to the lawsuit, quickly posted it to a Facebook group of 8,000 people who grew up in Cicero, along with a caption that read, “Come to Cicero to loot and break s(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)! Get a free body bag! Nice head shot!” “Defendants Zheng, Lazcano and Rand, through their actions in conspiring and in taking and publishing the photograph, including falsely depicting Victor Cazares as a looter...” the lawsuit alleges. Further, the lawsuit contends that after the photograph and caption were published, Cazares' family was "subjected to offensive comments and taunts, as were others associated with them.” The photograph does not appear in Rand's Facebook page. An attorney for Adriana Cazares, Michael Kanovitz, said he believes Rand took it down shortly after he posted it. But Kanovitz provided it to The Associated Press. In a statement, Cicero spokesman Ray Hanania said the police department and the city's internal affairs office have been investigating the incident. He said that the two paramedics are not Cicero employees but work for a private company. And he said because Rand is retired, Cicero has no influence over his social media posts, adding, "We have publicly admonished his conduct in the past." Hanania said that Cicero's investigators haven't determined who took the photograph but believe it was taken from inside the ambulance. Don Babwin, The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — On a TV show Betty White hosted 50 years ago, the perpetual charmer flirts with James Brolin, teases Della Reese and trades quips with Carol Burnett. But White appears most delighted in the company of the real stars of “Betty White’s Pet Set," among them elephants, lions and snakes. And dogs, lots of dogs. “All I can say is, Charlie Brown is right: Happiness is a warm puppy,” a beaming White says in one episode, cuddling a pair of tiny brown pooches as she quotes the Peanuts comic strip character. She and her husband, the late game show host Allen Ludden, produced the 39-episode series (originally titled “The Pet Set”) that aired in syndication in 1971 and was released Tuesday on DVD and streaming and digital platforms after a laborious restoration process. Making the show was strictly a labour of love for the Emmy-winning star of “The Golden Girls” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” who, at the age of 99, has retained her affection and compassion for animals. “When Allen and I started our own production company so many years ago, the one show I wanted to do was ‘The Pet Set,’” White told The Associated Press. “Allen’s offices were the most exciting in the building because we were the only show pre-screening guests who were furry and four-legged.” “What a time! It remains one of my favourite shows even 50 years later,” White said in a statement. White, a longtime advocate for animal well-being and conservation, reveled in doing a show with her husband and friends that focused on her passion for animals, said TV producer and distributor Darren Wadyko, whose company shepherded the re-release. Her celebrity pals were invited to bring their pets and get the chance to meet wild animals — sometimes to the guest’s dismay. Reese ("Touched By An Angel") looked askance at White when she tried to coax her closer to a leopard, and Jim Nabors (“Gomer Pyle") did likewise when a snake was involved. Burnett initially hesitated when called on for the messy task of bottle-feeding a baby elephant, but then the formula and the quips flow. “These Playtex Nursers, you can't beat ‘em,” she says. White, however, was fearless, especially in encounters filmed at a Southern California training compound that provided animals for TV and movies. At one point, she's seen snuggling with a 500-pound lion. Other guests include Doris Day, Mary Tyler Moore, Burt Reynolds, Michael Landon and game show host Peter Marshall, who was interviewed for a documentary about the series that's part of the DVD set. “It's fun to look back that many years, and how pretty we all were,” Marshall said with a laugh. The show's revival began when White's longtime agent, Jeff Witjas, asked Wadyko if he could locate the episodes. After what Wadyko termed “a virtual Indiana Jones expedition,” it turned out copies were housed at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills and in White's own Los Angeles-area home. The tapes were restored, digitized and colour-corrected, with the final version cobbling together the best parts of each set to create a pristine version, Wadyko said, a process that took more than six months. The series is available on streaming platforms Apple TV, Prime Video, Google Play, Fandango Now, with more platforms expected to be added by distribution partners Darren Wadyko Media, White’s Albets Enterprises and the MPI Media Group. Wadyko, who produced 2015's “Betty White's Smartest Animals in America,” said he's eager to see her reaction to the reborn “Pet Set,” pandemic safety allowing. He and Witjas are planning to "present her with the wonderful DVD and spend a little time watching it with her. But that event has not happened yet,” he said. Lynn Elber, The Associated Press
The review of Grimsby's council structure continues. Grimsby council recently narrowed down the options on the table, voting in favour of considering three to eight wards, seven to nine councillors and keeping an election by ward voting system. Grimsby council heard this report at the committee of the whole meeting on Feb 16. Among other conclusions, a report from StrategyCorp suggested that current ward boundary structures in Grimsby no longer accurately represent the population, given the already unequal spread of residents across the town. The report further suggested that this problem is likely to worsen in the future as the population is expected to grow, specifically in Ward 4. Another question that arose was the possibility of minimizing or increasing the number of councillors and number of wards. The conclusion, per the report, said “the current structure is not obviously broken in a way that would require a change. At the same time, a reduction in the size of council to seven, or even five, is preferred by many as a means of improving decision-making.” John Matheson of StrategyCorp, who was presenting the report to council, said a decision didn’t need to be made right away, and various scenarios would be explored and shared in a later report, likely presented in June. As for election systems, the report suggested that the town’s current election by ward system should suffice for the time being, as opposed to an at large election system. Per the report, this is primarily because of “risk that the loss of wards could lead to the loss of local representation,” and there is “no obvious problem” with the current system. Moosa Imran, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News
Melaine Simba will never forget the months she spent inside her home on Ka’a’gee Tu First Nation, south of Yellowknife, with her windows tightly shut to prevent wildfire smoke from seeping in. It was the summer of 2014 and she was following public health orders to stay inside during the Northwest Territories’ worst wildfire season on record. “There were fires all around us,” Simba told The Narwhal. “I couldn’t go outside, and I couldn’t take my son outside.” “It was just so hard to breathe in that smoke with all the falling ash.” According to a new study published in the journal BMJ Open, the wildfires caused extremely poor air quality during the more than two months of unrelenting smoke exposure. This led to a sharp increase in respiratory illnesses, with vulnerable populations, such as children and Indigenous people, disproportionately affected. The study also found that public health advisories asking people to stay inside during the wildfires were “inadequately protective,” possibly because people grew tired of the long period of isolation. With climate change contributing to longer and more intense wildfire seasons, the study authors say there’s an urgent need to be far more prepared in the future. “A really big take home of this study is that climate change is bad, and it is going to get worse,” Courtney Howard, the lead author of the study and an emergency physician in Yellowknife, told The Narwhal, adding that smoke exposure levels during the wildfires were believed to be some of the worst ever studied globally. “We are going to need new, proactive approaches as we go into a warmer, smokier state on this planet.” Warmer temperatures caused by climate change can spur drier conditions, increasing the risk of wildfires. In 2014, moderate to severe drought conditions and lightning strikes were the catalyst for 385 fires that impacted 3.4 million hectares of forest in the Northwest Territories. According to the federal government, temperatures across the North are warming more than twice as fast as the global rate. In Yellowknife, between 1943 and 2011, the annual average temperature in the city increased by 2.5 C. The average level of particulate matter (PM 2.5) in the air was five times higher than normal during the 2014 wildfires, compared with the two previous years and 2015. PM 2.5 — inhalable particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter — is associated with a range of respiratory conditions. The study found this increase in particulate matter was associated with an increase in visits to the hospital for asthma, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Asthma-related emergency room visits doubled, with the highest rates found in women, people older than 40 and Dene. Visits for pneumonia increased by 57 per cent, with men, children and Inuit particularly affected. And visits for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease increased by 11 per cent, with men, the Inuit and Dene populations and people over 60 showing the greatest risk. While the results suggest that Indigenous people were more affected, Howard said it’s difficult to say for sure because they may have been more likely to go to the ER due to lack of access to medical clinics. The demand for medicine that helps alleviate the symptoms of asthma surged, too. The dispensation of salbutamol, the agent found in puffers, increased by 48 per cent. “In fact, one of the pharmacies ran out over the course of the summer,” Howard said. Supply chain problems “demonstrated a lack of resilience,” she added. The study also sheds light on systemic issues that contribute to worse health outcomes in vulnerable populations, including Indigenous people. “Climate-related health effects impact all populations but are likely to disproportionately affect communities living at the frontlines of rapid climate change, as well as those experiencing systemic racism, socioeconomic and health disparities, and/or the enduring effects of colonization,” the study states. Protracted periods of isolation, a lack of exercise, fear and stress during the wildfires also had negative impacts on people’s mental health and way of life, according to a 2018 report that Howard was also involved with. “Livelihood and land-based activities were disrupted for some interviewees, which had negative consequences for mental, emotional and physical well-being,” the report states. During the summer, Indigenous people across the territory fish, hunt and visit old villages and the gravesites of relatives, Jason Snaggs, the chief executive officer of Yellowknives Dene First Nation, told The Narwhal. The wildfires prevented people from taking part in these cultural activities, he added. “This leads to depression, and you have sort of a compounding effect, in terms of colonialism, the effects of residential schools, intergenerational trauma,” Snaggs said. “Some people were visibly traumatized by this event.” Sheltering in place can lead to increased rates of family violence, including violence against Indigenous women, Snaggs added. During the 2016 wildfires that tore through Fort McMurray, Alta., calls to a local family crisis centre increased by upward of 300 per cent, according to Michele Taylor, executive director of Waypoints, an emergency shelter for women and children. Howard said the 2014 wildfires were a seminal event in people’s understanding of climate change in the region. “At the time, ecological grief and eco-anxiety hadn’t really shown up in the evidence base,” she said. “Looking back at our analysis, I think we can easily apply those terms to what we found and say it was a trigger for ecological grief and anxiety for a lot of people.” Howard said communities — particularly Indigenous communities — need to be better equipped to withstand wildfires. Some homes in Indigenous communities are overcrowded and aren’t built to the same standards as those elsewhere in the territory. Howard emphasized the need to address this problem first and foremost. The BMJ study recommends governments install ventilation systems in old and new homes ahead of wildfire season. Doing so would ensure residents have access to clean air without having to leave the house. “Our infrastructure decisions need to be based on the temperature and precipitation patterns that we’re anticipating for the coming century as opposed to the ones we had in the last one,” Howard said. The study also recommends primary health-care practitioners identify people who may grapple with respiratory illnesses and ensure that air filters and puffers are readily available prior to wildfire season. “That will allow people to manage their symptoms at home and never get to the point where they’re stuck in the emergency department,” Howard said. “The sooner particularly vulnerable people have access [to air filters and puffers], the better.” In 2014, the City of Yellowknife waived user fees for a multi-purpose recreation facility so residents could go there to breathe clean, filtered air and exercise, Howard said. But not everyone in Yellowknife is afforded the same level of access. N’Dilo, which is part of Yellowknives Dene First Nation and is located in Yellowknife proper, only has one space people can gather in during a wildfire — a 45-year-old gym that isn’t equipped with a filtration system to keep air clean. The study suggests that public health practitioners use satellite-based smoke forecasting to determine whether clean air shelters are needed in advance of wildfire season and, if necessary, make more available. The 2018 report — which documented the experiences of 30 community members from Yellowknife, Dettah, N’Dilo and Kakisa who lived through the wildfires — found there was a consensus among participants about the need for improved communication and coordination at the community and territorial levels as wildfires intensify. Howard said residents and health-care providers need to proactively prepare for wildfire season every year. “We need to be viewing wildfire season the same way we view cold and flu season.” Julien Gignac, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Narwhal
A new study of Kamloops restaurant owners provided a glimpse at the new (and challenging) business climate they have been forced to navigate due to COVID-19. The report found that local restaurants are having to spend more money on everything from personal protective equipment to cleaning products and plastic barriers, while simultaneously making less money. On top of that, their indoor seating capacities have been dramatically cut. Around 30 businesses took part in the survey. Overall they reported their revenues were down nearly 65 per cent, on average, from March to May 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019. The study was spearheaded by Thompson Rivers University (TRU) business student Josh Parker. Having worked for years in the restaurant industry in Calgary prior to university, Parker decided to carry out the research project when his co-op fell through. “I just wanted to do anything that I could [for the industry], to work with my school and the chamber in any way to see if we can help them out,” he explained. Parker worked on the report with his faculty advisor, Terry Lake, and Jamie Noakes, his co-op advisor. The team also partnered with The Chamber of Commerce and Mitacs BSI (Business Strategy Internship). The study found considerable differences between how independent business and chains addressed layoffs. On average, chain restaurants laid off more than 70 per cent of their staff during a 2.5 month period between March and May. In comparison, local restaurants laid off just under 50 per cent of their staff over this period. Parker added smaller restaurants were better placed to pivot to takeout when the pandemic hit. “They could figure out what they wanted to do, pivot operations and utilize their staff quicker,” said Parker. Chain restaurants were, however, able to get back to full employment rates quicker. “They’re able to kind of use their corporate entity to get all the requirements they needed to open up safely,” he said. Overall, employees at independent restaurants rated their employer’s response to the crisis higher, giving it a 4.1 out of 5, compared to 3.5 out of 5 for chain restaurants. The team also surveyed 160 customers who had ordered take-out in recent months. The survey found that the most common negative experience was the cost of take-out, with many expecting the cost to be lower given that they weren’t dining inside an establishment. At the same time, an overwhelming majority of customers said they would support local restaurants if prices had to be increased by up to 15 per cent to cover costs related to COVID-19 safety protocols. “It was kind of something we put out there that we noticed people were kind of contradicting themselves about,” said Parker. He added that it puts restaurants in a difficult position, as a meal costs roughly the same to make, whether it’s consumed in a restaurant or at home. Going forward, Parker said the public should accept that restaurants will have to marginally increase prices to maintain profitability in this difficult period. The survey also found some interesting findings on tipping culture, with just over half of participants stating they would tip both the delivery driver and the restaurant when they make an order. The survey stated the pandemic can create an added challenge for business owners to retain their employees, as servers are no longer receiving their normal tips, which effectively subsidize their salaries. As part of the survey, Parker asked customers whether they would support a no tipping policy—or more specifically, a scenario where tips were included in the final price of an order. About 32 per cent of participants said they would support this, with 44 per cent saying no and 24 per cent unsure. Another issue that restaurants brought up with Parker was the issue of online ordering services, such as SkipThe Dishes and DoorDash. Such organizations traditionally ask small business owners to hand over 20 to 30 per cent of total sales on top of partner fees. In December, the province temporarily capped the fees delivery companies can charge restaurants at 15 per cent. The rule will be in place until three months after B.C.’s state of emergency order is lifted. Skip the Dishes soon responded with a 99-cent “B.C. fee.” Parker said he found it curious to watch expensive 2021 Super Bowl ads for such companies during a time when so many small restaurants are struggling. “Without restaurants no one would need a delivery service, so I think they need to kind of work with local restaurants a little more closely,” he said. The report concluded with thoughts on how restaurants are faring overall, and calls for a more robust government response help it out. “We are in a completely unprecedented situation which has caused the government to take extraordinary measures,” it stated. “These measures have been put in place for the good of all Canadians, but they seem to impede certain businesses more, such as restaurants. “The government has forced closures and maintained 50 per cent capacity restrictions for over nine months, and local, small restaurants are in a fragile state…Many owners are unhappy with how the government has helped small businesses through the pandemic and rightfully so. There have been rent subsidies and other financial support to help these businesses, but it isn’t enough when their livelihoods are essentially put on hold.” Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.