A sundog graces a frosty day on the Prairies.
A sundog graces a frosty day on the Prairies.
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
OTTAWA — Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos is stepping aside due to illness.Duclos says in a statement that he felt persistent chest pain over the past several days.He went to hospital on Sunday and was told he had a pulmonary embolism.He says he is home again and feeling well, but his doctor recommended he rest for a few days.Joyce Murray, the minister of digital government, will assume his duties for now.Duclos has been the Liberal MP for a Quebec City riding since 2015, and was the minister for social development in the Trudeau government's first mandate.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
P.E.I.'s Public School Branch (PSB) needs to keep the wheels on its buses going round and round – especially considering it's running low on bus drivers. To help recruit more, it started its own driver training program last year, which was partly put in place as a result of COVID-19. Many bus drivers would speak to how rewarding it is ensuring P.E.I. students arrive at school safely, transportation supervisor Mike Franklin said. "They treat the kids like they were their own." Dave Gillis, the PSB's transportation director, said the program has already seen its first few graduates. During a virtual board of directors meeting on Feb. 10. he noted P.E.I. has about 250 drivers, many of whom are reaching retirement age. Up until now, the PSB had relied on JVI Driver Training to train drivers and provide the licence necessary to operate a bus, but the pandemic forced JVI's courses to temporarily shut down. As a result, the PSB had a six- to eight-month period without any new drivers coming in. "Our pipeline was completely dry," Gillis said. "(And) we foresee a strong retirement of drivers in the future." Franklin was brought in to help develop and run the program – he has taught similar courses before and can grant the licence. He noted that they're still working with JVI, but that JVI has other groups it's committed to helping, such as the French Language School Board or the P.E.I. Regiment. "We're just trying to help them out," he said. By training bus drivers itself, the PSB can ensure the gaps being left by retiring drivers are filled and that there are enough substitute drivers on hand if regular drivers need time off. "We're willing to put the money up to train them," Franklin said, noting the PSB will waive the program's cost of about $3,000 as long as applicants agree to work for at least 10 months after they are trained. That’s because a bus driver’s licence also allows drivers to operate other vehicles, such as dump trucks, meaning many drivers could end up looking to other industries for work. The course has two elements – in-class that focuses on the technical elements of driving a bus and in-the-field that focuses on the practical elements of actually driving it. Twitter.com/dnlbrown95 Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian
La crise de logements dans les communautés, dont celle de Uashat mak Maliotenam met en lumière les besoins criants liés à la surpopulation au sein d’une même maison, mais également de l’itinérance. De bonnes nouvelles viennent enfin d’être annoncées. Un projet visant l’aboutissement de plus de 200 logements abordables, sur une période de 5 ans, a été confirmé grâce, à l’aide de Services Autochtones Canada. L’étape, actuellement embryonnaire, permettra d’entreprendre des démarches afin de construire des maisons supplémentaires dans les communautés. Les constructions sont évaluées aux environs de 45 M$, sur 5 ans. Il s’agit, en moyenne, de 40 maisons par année. «La surpopulation dans les maisons et la difficulté d’accès à des logements sociaux qui conviennent aux besoins des familles sont au cœur des préoccupations de plusieurs communautés des Premières Nations partout à travers le Canada. La construction de nouvelles unités de logements et de maisons adaptées chez nous permettrait de combler une partie de nos besoins.», mentionne le Chef Mike Mckenzie. Karine Lachance, Initiative de journalisme local, Ma Côte-Nord
Golf superstar Tiger Woods needed surgery after a car crash in Los Angeles on Tuesday that left him with multiple leg injuries. Officials say he was conscious when pulled from the wrecked SUV and the injuries are not life threatening.
BUCHAREST, Romania — Olivier Giroud’s bicycle-kick goal awarded after video review gave Chelsea a 1-0 win against Atlético Madrid in the first leg of the round of 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday. It took nearly three minutes for Giroud and his teammates to be able to celebrate the important 68th-minute away goal that was initially disallowed for offside. Giroud was clearly in front of the defenders when he pulled off his acrobatic shot, but VAR determined that the ball came from Atlético defender Mario Hermoso, thus annulling the offside. Atlético was the home team but the match was played in Bucharest, Romania, because of travel restrictions preventing visitors from Britain entering Spain. The second leg will be on March 17 in London. In the other round-of-16 match on Tuesday, Bayern Munich defeated Lazio 4-1 in Italy. It was the second consecutive loss for Atlético after a seven-match unbeaten streak in all competitions. It was also the eighth straight game in which the Spanish club has conceded a goal, extending its worst run without a clean sheet since coach Diego Simeone arrived in late 2011. Chelsea is yet to lose in its eight matches since coach Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard at the helm. It had been a lacklustre match until Giroud’s goal, with neither team managing to create many significant scoring opportunities and with the goalkeepers not having to work too hard. Chelsea controlled possession and looked a bit more dangerous, but both sides appeared to be satisfied with the scoreless draw and didn’t take too many risks. Hermoso was trying to clear the ball from the area and ended kicking it backward in a ball dispute with Mason Mount. Giroud reached up high with his left foot send the ball toward the corner of Atlético goalkeeper Jan Oblak. Mount and Jorginho were shown yellow cards and will miss the second leg because of accumulation of cards. Simeone had to improvise with midfielder Marcos Llorente as a right back against Chelsea because of several absences on defence, including Kieran Trippier following an English betting investigation. The teams had played in the group stage of the Champions League in the 2017-18 season, with Chelsea winning 2-1 in Spain before a 1-1 draw in London. Atlético eliminated Chelsea in the semifinals in 2014. It was in Bucharest that Simeone won his first title with Atlético, the 2012 Europa League. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
VICTORIA — British Columbia is expected to start informing people over age 80 about their vaccinations for COVID-19 starting next week as the province prepares to open mass clinics while doing more in-depth testing for variants. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says B.C. is in a phase of "vaccine hope and pandemic reality" but an age-based immunization plan will remain in place despite some calls to prioritize essential workers. Henry says the province is expanding its pool of immunizers to include dentists, midwives and paramedics before 172 sites open up to eventually offer a vaccine to everyone age 18 and up. However, she says it's concerning that cases of variants like the one first identified in the United Kingdom are increasing after an unknown number were recently identified at seven schools in the Fraser Health region. B.C. has recorded 559 new cases and one more death, for a total of 1,336 fatalities since the start of the pandemic. The teachers' union has called on the province to allow school districts to come up with their own guidelines on mandatory masks for elementary schools but Henry says her current directive was made with the participation of parents' groups, teachers and school superintendents. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021 The Canadian Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says his government will not change its plan to table the spring budget on the same day as the anniversary of the deadly Humboldt Broncos crash. Sixteen people were killed and thirteen were injured when a semi-truck ran a stop sign at a rural intersection and hurtled into the path of the junior hockey team's bus on April 6, 2018. An inexperienced truck driver was sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to causing the crash. NDP finance critic Trent Wotherspoon said one victim's family has expressed concern to him about the Saskatchewan Party's plan to introduce its budget on April 6. "The family just feels it’s incredibly insensitive to bring the budget down on a day ... that really should be remembering this tragic day from three years ago and remembering the lives lost and the impacts for all those families, all those affected," he said Tuesday. “I wholeheartedly agree.” Wotherspoon added that the family wants privacy. Moe said Finance Minister Donna 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. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
An outbreak of COVID-19 has been declared at St. Eugene Catholic Elementary School in east Hamilton. In a letter to families on Tuesday, the school’s principal said the outbreak was declared “after an epidemiological link was identified between today’s case and an earlier case at the school.” The Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board has reported three confirmed cases of the virus — a staff member on Feb. 23, a “third-party employee” on Feb. 22 and a student on Feb. 15 — at the school. “The outbreak is related to the group currently in quarantine,” the letter reads. The board says students and staff at St. Eugene should continue to attend school “unless directed otherwise” by public health. This is the fourth outbreak in a Hamilton school — third in the Catholic board — to be declared in the last week. An outbreak was declared on Feb. 17 at St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Elementary School on the west Mountain, which currently has nine positive cases — five students and four staff. The west Mountain school is closed to in-person learning until March 1 as a result of the outbreak. COVID-19 testing was offered to all staff and students at St. Teresa of Avila on Feb. 20. The HWCDSB said 60 tests were conducted — 23 PCR tests among those self-isolating and 37 rapid tests for other staff and students. The board said on Monday all 37 rapid tests came back negative, and that it is still waiting on the PCR test results. Three staff cases have been reported at St. Ann Catholic Elementary School in central Hamilton, which has been in outbreak since Feb. 18. An outbreak was also declared Feb. 17 at the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board’s A.M. Cunningham Elementary School, located in central Hamilton, after two students tested positive for the virus. Schools in Hamilton reopened for in-person learning on Feb. 8 with enhanced health and safety measures in place after weeks of remote learning. Kate McCullough, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
GameStop Chief Financial Officer Jim Bell will step down next month, the video game retailer said on Tuesday, as it focuses on shifting into technology-driven sales in the wake of headline-grabbing big betting in its stock. GameStop said Bell's resignation was not due to any disagreement with the company relating to its operations, including accounting principles and practices. However, a source said that while Bell's exit was unrelated to the recent wild swings in GameStop's stock spurred by retail traders on the Reddit social media site, his departure was initiated by the company.
Perhaps it will come as a surprise to few, but Nordic skiing is taking off in B.C. For many, it’s the perfect pandemic activity—(relatively) affordable, easily accessible for those living in the beautiful Thompson Okanagan region, and good for your overall health and well-being. And, oh yeah—it’s sort of COVID-proof. “A lot of people have gravitated to the sport because of [COVID-19],” said Ivor McMahen, president of the Sun Peaks Nordic Club. “COVID restrictions have shut down a lot of other sports, but because of the nature of cross country skiing, being outside and not requiring close proximity to other people, we’re able to continue almost normally.” Across B.C., the popularity of the sport has grown by around 50 per cent, according to McMahen and a recent interview Sun Peaks Independent News had with a representative from Tourism Kamloops. McMahen said he has definitely noticed the uptick in usage of Sun Peaks’ acclaimed trail system, and that membership levels in the club, which have increased to 111 this year from 92 the year previous, don’t fully capture the picture. “I think the actual popularity and interest in the sport is up much more than that,” he said. Unlike other local clubs—such as the Overlander Nordic Club and the Stake Lake trail system—the Sun Peaks Nordic Club does not manage the local trail system, which is operated by Sun Peaks Resort LLP. Adding to the usage of local Sun Peaks trails is the fact that anyone with a downhill pass can now utilize them. “Overall, I think it’s a really great thing that the resort is doing that,” said McMahen of the deal, which it has been offered for the past couple years. “It really encourages people to get out without having to buy an extra pass, but it makes it harder to tell how many people are getting out, and doing Nordic as opposed to alpine.” The club plays a pivotal role in supporting Sun Peaks’ cross country skiing community and fostering the next generation of skiers through events and programs. While it’s had to shut down its popular group skis sessions, the club has had success promoting its popular junior development program. It provides instruction for kids and youth from four to 16-years old. The program is informally known as the “Jackrabbits” program. It has a total of 32 kids involved this year. And for the first time in club history, it’s had to put a cap on its numbers. “It was named after Jackrabbit Johannsen, who was a legendary fellow in eastern Canada who skied everyday until he was over 100 years old.” McMahen said the idea of the program is to get kids turned onto the sport in an organic way and develop all-around athletes. “The main philosophy, especially in the really young ages at this, is not to aim to produce elite skiers,” he said. “It’s aim is to produce healthy, well balanced, physically capable kids. The word that they refer to as physical literacy, so it’s balance, agility, the ability to jump, run and just self-propel yourself.” McMahen added the club hopes to get a masters program up and running next year, where more experienced (and mature) skiers can get some tips on how to improve their performance. “There’s a few tricks to the sport, it’s not as simple as it looks,” he said with a laugh. The Thompson Okanagan provides a number of options for people to enjoy cross country skiing if you’re looking to try something new. – The Stake Lake Trails, located south of Kamloops and operated by the Overlander Ski Club, boasts a 60-km trail system. – Harper Mountain offers a three kilometre groomed trail system that meanders through a forested area, and is great for both traditional cross country skiing and skate skiing. -The Telemark Nordic Club, located in West Kelowna, offers 60 kilometres of trails. – The Kelowna Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Club offers 75-km of trails. – Sovereign Lake, located in SilverStar Resort, is also open. It offers 105 kilometres of daily groomed trails and is the largest network of cross-country ski trails in Canada. Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to confirm Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary, his second run at the Cabinet post. The former Iowa governor spent eight years leading the same Department of Agriculture for former President Barack Obama's entire administration. He was confirmed Tuesday on a 92-7 vote. “We’re going to be a USDA that represents and serves all Americans,” Vilsack said after the vote. “I am optimistic about the future and believe our brightest days are ahead.” In his testimony, Vilsack, 70, heavily endorsed boosting climate-friendly agricultural industries such as the creation of biofuels, saying, “Agriculture is one of our first and best ways to get some wins" on climate change. He proposed “building a rural economy based on biomanufacturing” and “turning agricultural waste into a variety of products.” Vilsack also pledged to work closely with the Environmental Protection Agency to “spur the industry” on biofuels. With systemic racial inequity now a nationwide talking point, Vilsack also envisioned creating an “equity task force” inside the department. Its job, he said, would be to identify what he called “intentional or unintentional barriers" that prevent or discourage farmers of colour from properly accessing federal assistance programs. Vilsack also heavily backed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — commonly known as food stamps, or SNAP — as a key instrument in helping the country's most vulnerable families survive and recover from the pandemic era. His Trump-era predecessor, Sonny Perdue, had sought to purge hundreds of thousands of people from the SNAP-recipient lists. Vilsack received minimal pushback or criticism during confirmation hearings. One of the “no” votes came from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats. Sanders later said that Vilsack would “be fine” but he would have liked “somebody a little bit more vigorous in terms of protecting family farms and taking on corporate agriculture.” Vilsack's approval was hailed by the Food Research and Action Center, which focuses on food security and equity. The organization said Vilsack's department faces a looming challenge to “protect and strengthen federal nutrition programs to help address our nation’s hunger crisis that has been deepened by the COVID-19 pandemic.” Ashraf Khalil, The Associated Press
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.
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
Robert Riley Saunders, a social worker facing 13 criminal charges including fraud, theft and forgery, has chosen to be tried by a Supreme Court justice, without a jury. Saunders was employed by B.C.’s Ministry of Children and Family Development as a social worker in Kelowna between 1996 and 2018. He appeared in Kelowna Law Court on Feb. 22 via video conference, and his next court appearance is set for March 8, 2021. In a separate action last October, the province settled a multi-million dollar class action lawsuit, which alleged that “Saunders defrauded many children in the care of the Ministry of their food, clothing and shelter allowances, leaving many of them destitute and homeless.” “The Province admits that Saunders harmed children in the Director’s care for whom he had responsibility in his capacity as a social worker and that the Province is vicariously liable for the harm caused by Saunders,” reads the settlement agreement. “This harm includes neglect, misappropriation of funds and failure to plan for the children’s welfare and, with respect to Indigenous children, failure to take steps to preserve their cultural identities.” In an affidavit submitted during the class action hearing, it says that MCFD estimated the number of class members at 102, and the majority were Indigenous youth. Court documents show that Saunders claimed to have a social work degree from the University of Manitoba on his resume when he didn’t in fact have one. The next step in the current criminal proceeding will be a pre-trial conference, says Dan McLaughlin, communications counsel for the BC Prosecution Service, via an email to IndigiNews. He says they expect to set the date for the conference at the next court appearance on March 8. “The trial date will not be set until the pre-trial issues are dealt with,” he says. A court-ordered publication ban prohibits anyone from publishing information that could identify the alleged victims in this case. Saunders was released on bail on Dec. 18. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, members of the public and media who want to attend virtual proceedings remotely can do so via Microsoft (MS) teams. Chehala Leonard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
Sun Peaks may not be able to celebrate Pride Week like in years past, but Tourism Sun Peaks is still hoping to make this week special for the community’s LGBTQ+ guests and residents. Pride Week starts Wednesday, Feb. 24 and carries on until Wednesday, March 3. And while the Peak Pride Festival is unable to come up to the resort and organize events as it has in years past, Tourism Sun Peaks is asking local businesses to create welcome window displays if it is feasible, which may be highlighted on social media channels throughout the week. The organization has also teamed up with Sun Peaks Resort and GK Sound to light up the Clocktower in pride colours for the week. Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
WASHINGTON — Linda Thomas-Greenfield was confirmed as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations on Tuesday, a victory for the Biden administration as it seeks to reengage with the world body after four years of President Donald Trump's “America First” posture left the U.S. isolated internationally. Senators voted 78-20 to confirm Thomas-Greenfield to the post, which will be a Cabinet-level position. Thomas-Greenfield, a retired 35-year veteran of the foreign service who resigned during the Trump administration, will be the third African American, and the second African American woman, to hold the job. Her confirmation was hailed by Democrats and advocates of the United Nations, who had lamented the Trump administration's unilateral approach to international affairs. “This confirmation sends a message that the United States is back and that our foreign service is back,” said Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., who chairs a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa, global health and global human rights. "We as a country and as a world are safer with Linda Thomas-Greenfield serving as the United States ambassador to the United Nations.” “We can count on Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield to work with international partners to confront our collective challenges head on, and play an active role in ensuring the U.N. evolves with the demands of our era as an essential forum for collective problem-solving and catalyst for global progress,” said Elizabeth Cousens, president of the United Nations Foundation, a private group that supports the world body’s endeavours. “Hers is the leadership America needs at the UN at this critical moment for the U.S. and world." Republicans who opposed her said she was soft on China and would not stand up for U.S. principles at the United Nations. Thomas-Greenfield had rejected those concerns during her confirmation hearing, telling senators that a 2019 speech she gave to the Chinese-funded Confucius Institute had been a mistake and was not intended to be an endorsement of Chinese government policies. In the speech, she had praised China’s $1 trillion Belt and Road global infrastructure program in Africa and called for “a win-win-win situation” where the U.S. and China would promote good governance and the rule of law. She told senators that China is a strategic adversary and that “their actions threaten our security, they threaten our values and they threaten our way of life, and they are a threat to their neighbours and they are a threat across the globe.” Thomas-Greenfield spoke of China’s diplomatic inroads during the Trump administration, which pursued an “America First” policy that weakened international alliances. And she made clear there would be a change under Biden to reengage internationally and promote American values. She stressed that American leadership must be rooted in the country’s core values — “support for democracy, respect for universal human rights, and the promotion of peace and security.” And she said that effective diplomacy means developing “robust relationships,” finding common ground and managing differences, and “doing genuine, old-fashioned, people-to-people diplomacy.” At her hearing, she recalled attending a segregated high school and then Louisiana State University “as a consequence of a lawsuit.” She said she was “not the norm” among the Ivy League graduates who also joined the Foreign Service in 1982. “And yet, I had an extraordinary 35-year career that culminated as the assistant secretary of state of African affairs,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “To me, that represents the progress, and promise, of America.” Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
NORTH BAY, Ont. — Public health officials say a second person has died in connection with a COVID-19 outbreak at a North Bay, Ont., apartment building where a variant of the virus has been found. The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit says the person who died had tested positive for a variant of concern. The health unit says 42 people have contracted COVID-19 in the building outbreak, including 27 who have tested positive for a variant. The variant first detected in South Africa has been detected in one case, while the specific variant strains in the other cases have yet to be determined. The health unit announced the first death in the outbreak just a week after it was declared on Feb. 8. The district is experiencing an increase in COVID-19 variant cases, which the health unit says is particularly worrying because variants spread more easily. North Bay is one of only three regions in Ontario that remain under a stay-at-home order. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian 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