Businesses are beginning to prepare for what happens when employees return to the office after working from home since the start of the pandemic.
Businesses are beginning to prepare for what happens when employees return to the office after working from home since the start of the pandemic.
BANGKOK — Three Cabinet ministers in Thailand were forced to leave their posts Wednesday after a court found them guilty of sedition for taking part in sometimes-violent protests in 2013-2014 against the government then in power. The Criminal Court in Bangkok found Digital Economy Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta, Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan and Deputy Transport Minister Thaworn Senneam guilty along with about two dozen other defendants in a case that was launched in 2018. The verdicts can be appealed to a higher court but under the law the Cabinet ministers must relinquish their jobs immediately. Another prominent person convicted Wednesday was Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy prime minister who helped found the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, which led the demonstrations against the elected government of then-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Instability caused by the street protests led to the Thai army staging a coup in 2014 and keeping power until 2019. Suthep and the Cabinet ministers each received prison sentences ranging from five to about seven years. The Associated Press
(Maritime Electric - image credit) Power has been restored after a motor vehicle accident in eastern P.E.I. that left 370 Maritime Electric customers without electricity. RCMP said a car went off the road on Route 17 and hit a power pole, leaving a large section of the southern part of Montague without electricity. At 10 a.m., the local fire department, RCMP and Island EMS were still on the scene, so RCMP were not able to provide a lot of detail. The driver, a male, was alone in the vehicle at the time. His injuries are believed to be minor, but he was being transported to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown as a precaution. A Maritime Electric crew was also on the scene, and had power restored a little before 1 p.m.. More from CBC P.E.I.
Le Conseil régional de l’environnement (CRE) de Laval persiste et signe: l’administration Demers doit protéger non pas 14, mais bien 17 % de l’ensemble de son territoire conformément au seuil minimal fixé par l'Union internationale pour la conservation de la nature (UICN). L’organisme rappelle l’atteinte de cette cible par le gouvernement provincial à la fin 2020, précisant toutefois que Québec «devra vraisemblablement réviser cet objectif à la hausse pour mieux protéger le sud du Québec», la majorité des aires protégées du territoire québécois se trouvant au nord du 49e parallèle. «Il est temps que la Ville de Laval se positionne comme un leader de la conservation dans le sud du Québec et qu’elle offre à ses citoyens la possibilité de découvrir, aujourd’hui et demain, la riche biodiversité que son territoire abrite», affirmait le CRE dans un récent communiqué. Le conseil régional établit entre 17 et 20 % le potentiel de protection des milieux naturels en sol lavallois. «Tous les milieux naturels encore présents, et pas uniquement les milieux naturels d’intérêt, doivent bénéficier d’un statut de conservation particulier», plaide l’organisme en réaction au Plan de conservation et de mise en valeur des milieux naturels dont la Ville s’est doté à l’automne 2020. Rappelons que ce plan directeur, qui a pour objectif de conserver 14 % de la superficie du territoire, constitue un important jalon de la Trame verte et bleue de Laval. «[…] un projet d’envergure qui devrait permettre de planifier un aménagement plus durable du territoire, mais aussi le développement d’une culture insulaire respectueuse de la capacité de support des écosystèmes à laquelle tous les Lavallois pourront adhérer», soutient le CRE. Celui-ci ajoute que «le nombre restreint de milieux naturels sur l’île contribue à augmenter l’importance relative de chacun [d’eux] pour la résilience des écosystèmes, qu’ils soient désignés "d’intérêt" ou non.» Outre la conservation de tous les milieux naturels recensés, le biologiste Alexandre Choquet réclame une protection accrue des corridors qui les relient, nommément ceux longeant le ruisseau Corbeil - dans la partie est de l’île Jésus - et l’autoroute 13, à l’autre extrémité du territoire. «La Ville de Laval doit également instaurer une stratégie visant à prévenir l’introduction et contrôler la propagation des espèces exotiques envahissantes (EEE), de même qu’appliquer rigoureusement les directives de la Politique de protection des rives, du littoral et des plaines inondables (PPRLPI) pour protéger les bandes riveraines et les zones inondables des ruisseaux intérieurs et de nos deux grandes rivières, encore trop négligées», poursuit l’organisme, qui prône également le déploiement d’incitatifs afin d’encourager les agriculteurs à préserver les écosystèmes présents sur leurs terres. En ces temps de crise sanitaire et climatique, le Conseil régional de l’environnement rappelle les bienfaits que confèrent les infrastructures naturelles en termes de santé et de qualité de vie. «Leur conservation donnerait ainsi tout son sens à la vision Urbaine de nature que la Ville de Laval s’est donnée», termine-t-il. Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
(Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada - image credit) Deh Cho MLA Ron Bonnetrouge says elders in his region face a "pandemic" of financial and emotional abuse, and in some cases have been ignored when they seek help from social services. He said the issue demands an official position in communities to interview elders with a translator. Bonnetrouge made his comments in the N.W.T. Legislative Assembly Tuesday, and added that social services "refused to assist because they are dealing mostly with child and family services — that is taking children away from families." "We've got nobody there to advocate for seniors in the small communities. This is a serious issue and I would like to have some resources into our communities to assist in interviewing the elders," he said. Health Minister Julie Green says elders are entitled to counselling and social services to help them navigate abusive situations. Health Minister Julie Green said she was "shocked" to hear elders were turned away, and that she would follow up on Bonnetrouge's concerns because social workers' job functions are not limited to child welfare. Green said abuse of older adults is a "real and frightening problem" that is as complex as intimate partner violence. "The victims are often shamed and not willing to come forward to say they've been taken advantage of," she said. "It can be difficult to have victims of violence come forward and say that they are, in fact, victims of violence, let alone reach out for help," she said. Staff are trained to detect signs of senior abuse, but tackling the problem takes an attitude shift, said Green. "It is a set of attitudes that people have toward elders in which they are neglected and exploited," she said. Green Said the department is working with the NWT Seniors' Society to discuss potential regulations to make "real consequences" for failing to protect or for abusing elders. Send outreach to Fort Providence to address elder abuse, says Deh Cho MLA Ron Bonnetrouge. But Bonnetrouge said he "rarely" sees the organization present in his region and frontline workers in the community "have serious reservations about what anybody is actually doing to help the seniors." "They are facing them almost on a daily basis, they don't know where to go, who to turn to to help them address these issues of elder abuse," he said. "It seems there is no end in sight," he said. National pharmacare bill would benefit N.W.T.: O'Reilly MLA Kevin O'Reilly says a private members bill in Parliament needs the territory's backing because it will benefit the N.W.T. In his turn, Frame Lake MLA Kevin O'Reilly asked Green whether the N.W.T. government supports a national pharmacare program. Her simple answer: Yes. Asked whether the territory has voiced its support for Bill C-213 — a private member's bill to establish a universal, single-payer pharmacare plan — Green said the legislation "represents a real game changer" for prescriptions in the N.W.T. Only half of the territory's residents have pharmaceutical coverage, Green said. Cabinet supports national pharmacare, said Green, adding she is not aware of what communication the government had with MP Michael McLeod before the bill enters first reading Wednesday. O'Reilly asked Premier Caroline Cochrane to "pick up the phone" and ask McLeod to vote in favour.
ORLANDO, Fla. — A player for the Orlando City Soccer Club and his brother are accused of sexually assaulting a woman, sheriff's investigators said. Jonathan Suarez-Cortes, 24, was arrested Tuesday night near Orlando, the Osceola County Sheriff's Office said in a statement posted on Twitter. The team said in a statement officials learned of its player's arrest late Tuesday and are gathering more information. “No further comment will be provided by the club until additional investigation of the alleged incident is complete,” the statement said. Sheriff's investigators said the deputies responded on Monday afternoon after a woman said she had been sexually assaulted by two men the previous afternoon. A special investigations detective took over the case and authorities were able to identify Jonathan Suarez-Cortes and his brother Rafael Suarez Jr. as suspects, the sheriff's office said. Suárez-Cortés, 24, is a defender for Orlando City, acquired on loan from Querétaro FC earlier this month, according to the team's roster. The men are being held in the Osceola County Jail. Lawyers for them were not available on jail records. The Associated Press
ROME — Italy on Wednesday pressed the United Nations for answers about the attack on a U.N. food aid convoy in Congo that left a young ambassador and his paramilitary police bodyguard dead. Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio told lawmakers in Rome that Italy has asked both the U.N. and the U.N. World Food Program to open an investigation into the security arrangements for convoy, which was attacked two days earlier. The minister said Italy also will spare no effort to determine the truth behind the killing of Ambassador Luca Attanasio and Carabiniere paramilitary officer Vittorio Iacovacci. A WFP Congolese driver, Moustapha Milambo, was also killed in the attack. “We have formally asked the WFP and the U.N. to open an inquest that clarifies what happened, the motivations for the security arrangements employed and who was responsible for these decisions,” Di Maio said. The trip was undertaken at the U.N.’s invitation, according to Di Maio. The two Italians had “entrusted themselves to the protocol of the United Nations,” which flew them on a U.N. plane from Kinshasha to Goma, 2,500 kilometres (1,500 miles) away, Di Maio said. The Italian embassy in Kinshasha, Di Maio noted, has two armoured vehicles at the ambassador's disposal for moving around the city and the country. But for Monday's mission, to visit a WFP school food project in Rutshuri in eastern Congo, Attanasio was travelling in U.N. vehicles. Only hours earlier, Di Maio, flanked by Premier Mario Draghi, met the arrival of the bodies of the two Italians at a Rome military airport. Autopsies are scheduled for Wednesday and a state funeral for both men was set for Thursday in Rome. A special team of Carabinieri investigators, dispatched by Rome prosecutors, arrived Tuesday in Congo on what Di Maio said would likely be multiple missions to determine what happened. Attanasio, 43, who leaves a widow involved in volunteer projects in Congo and three young children, "was in love with his profession, with Africa and his family,'' Di Maio said. He noted that the Carabiniere was nearing the end of his security detail in Congo and was soon due back in Rome. The World Food Program, which won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for its efforts to feed refugees and other malnourished people worldwide, is headquartered in Rome. "For this reason, I immediately asked WFP in Rome and the United Nations, involving directing the Secretary General (Antonio) Guterres, to supply a detailed report on the attack on the convoy,'' Di Maio said. WFP has said the road had been previously cleared for travel without security escorts. U.N. security officials based in Congo usually determine road safety. On Tuesday, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in New York that the U.N. had launched an internal review concerning the “security around the incident.” Di Maio said the attackers numbered six, had light arms and apparently spread obstacles on the road and fired shots in the air to stop the convoy. “The noise of the shooting alerted soldiers of the Congolese Armed Forces and the rangers of Virunga park, less than a kilometre (half-mile) away, headed to the place of the incident.” Di Maio quoted the local governor as saying that to force the victims to go into the bush, they killed the WFP driver. When the ranger patrol arrived, Di Maio said, citing the Congolese interior minister’s account, the attackers “fired upon the Carabiniere, killing him, and at the ambassador, gravely wounding him.? Attanasio died of his wounds shortly afterward. Italy will reinforce its commitments to aid Africa, Di Maio said, calling that the “best way to honour the memory? of the two slain Italians. "A policy that puts Africa at the centre of Italian diplomatic, European and international attention, this is the commitment Luca believed in and in which we believe in,'' the foreign minister said. Frances D'Emilio, The Associated Press
VANCOUVER — Two more units have been added to a COVID-19 outbreak declared at Vancouver General Hospital. A statement from Vancouver Coastal Health says outbreaks are underway on inpatient units T-14-G and T-11-G in the highrise tower of the hospital's Jim Pattison Pavilion. The health authority says the outbreaks are in addition to one declared Sunday in unit T-10-C in the same tower. The statement says, in total, 16 patients and 13 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Visits to all three units have been suspended, except for end-of-life compassionate visits, and the hospital says infection prevention and control protocols are underway to prevent further transmission. Coastal Health says the rest of the hospital, including the emergency room, remain open and operating as usual. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Philippe Morin/CBC - image credit) Mushers will hit the trail Wednesday in a new dog sled race — the Yukon Journey. It's been organized as a sort of replacement this year for the territory's major annual dog sled event, the Yukon Quest. That race, which typically draws mushers and fans from around the world, was cancelled this winter because of the COVID-19 pandemic. "Everyone's been working hard for the last few weeks to kind of make this happen and come to fruition," said Steve Hossack, who's organizing communications for the Yukon Journey. "We've got a great field. We've got 11 mushers and seven of them are veteran mushers. So it should make for a very, very exciting race." The 375-kilometre Yukon Journey is much shorter than the 1,200-kilometre Yukon Quest, and it takes place entirely in Canada. The race starts in Pelly Crossing at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, and ends in Whitehorse. The original plan was for mushers to run from Dawson City to Whitehorse, but Hossack said that had to change because of some pandemic-related complications. Mushers and organizers of the Yukon Journey meet earlier this month to prepare for the race. He says the race was organized by local mushers to fill a gap left by Yukon Quest, but it's not meant to imitate that higher-profile event. The Yukon Journey is focused on dog care, he says, and there are more mandatory rest stops along the way. "It is a different flavour than the Quest," Hossak said. "You know, it's got a different set of rules and we're hoping that that might sort of influence other dog sporting events to kind of maybe rethink their policies and race rules a little bit." It will also differ from the Yukon Quest in that there will be no online race tracker for people to follow the mushers' progress in real time. He says the best way for people to stay updated is to watch the race's Facebook page. Lots of snow Trail crews have been busy in recent weeks grooming and marking the trail. Hossack says it's looking good. "We've had lots of snow, so that's great. You know, it offers a really good run in between some of these checkpoints but it also offers up some adversity — there's a few banks that we've heard that are the potential tipping corners, especially if mushers are carrying straw or anything like that," he said. There's been no shortage of snow this year which has helped prepare the Yukon Journey trail. 'You know, it offers a really good run in between some of these checkpoints but it also offers up some adversity,' says Steve Hossack. Hossack said the first mushers are likely to arrive in Whitehorse by Friday afternoon, with the rest expected before the end of the weekend. He's discouraging people from gathering around the finish line, though. "Obviously, we can't stop people. So if people want to stand along the trail in sort of a remote section in a spot where they would typically watch Quest mushers run by, that's fine. We just ask them to, you know, follow all of the territorial COVID[-19] measures that are in place." Hossack says the race has been getting "tons of support" from local businesses, so there's already at least $10,000 in prize money up for grabs. Every musher who crosses the finish line will take home a cash prize at least as big as their entry fee, he says. They'll also get a souvenir belt buckle. It's still an an open question whether the Yukon Journey will live beyond 2021. Yukon Quest organizers have already said they expect their race to be back next year. "There's been a little bit more and more discussion about the potential to run [the Yukon Journey] again in the future," Hossack said. "Right now, we kind of just have our eyes on Wednesday as our big day."
GENEVA — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday the United States will vie for a seat at the U.N.'s human rights body, which would cement a U.S. return to a Geneva-based body that was shunned by the Trump administration. The top U.S. diplomat said his country will seek a three-year term starting next year at the Human Rights Council, and acknowledged it needs reform, particularly to end its “disproportionate” focus on Israel — the only country whose rights record comes up for scrutiny at every one of its thrice-yearly meetings. In a video message, Blinken raised concerns about countries including Myanmar, which has faced international criticism over a military coup last month, China over its Xinjiang region, and Russia after the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and demonstrators during protests against President Vladimir Putin’s government. “The United States is placing democracy and human rights at the centre of our foreign policy because they’re essential for peace and stability,” Blinken said, adding that "the United States will seek election to the Human Rights Council for the 2022 to 2024 term.” The U.N. General Assembly makes the final choice in a vote that generally takes place in October every year to fill vacant seats at the 47-member-state council. The U.S., which currently has “observer status,” will seek one of three full-member seats left vacant when the current terms of Austria, Denmark and Italy — from the "Western Europe and other states group” — expire at the end of this year. In mid-2018, then President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the council over its excessive focus on Israel, which has received the largest number of critical council resolutions against any country by far, and because it failed to meet an extensive list of reforms demanded by Nikki Haley, the then-U.S. ambassador to the U.N. The Trump administration also took issue with the body’s membership, which currently includes China, Cuba, Eritrea, Russia and Venezuela, all of which have been accused of human rights abuses. Echoing such concerns, Blinken said countries “with the worst human rights record should not be members of this council.” He also repeated U.S. calls for an end to the council's regular agenda item, known as Item 7, that focuses on Israel and the Palestinian territories. He added that Washington would “continue to call out abuses in places like Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Iran” and reiterated U.S. calls for the Russian government to “immediately and unconditionally release" Alexei Navalny and other critics of President Vladimir Putin who have been “wrongly detained.” The comments came on the last day of the “high-level segment” of the council session, which lasts until March 23. Other top speakers including Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who focused in large part on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on human rights — and took aim at Western countries. He spoke shortly before Blinken. “The pandemic has exacerbated longstanding problems such as racism and xenophobia and discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities," Lavrov said, adding that mass demonstrations in the United States and Europe had exposed "persistent systemic inequalities.” He also called for greater regulation of social media networks, citing what he called increasing concern about their “non-transparent policies” — echoing longstanding Russian criticism of Western social media companies like Facebook and YouTube for they way they handle content by users. Blinken said the United States “does not claim to be perfect, but we strive every day to improve, to hold ourselves accountable, to become a more perfect union.” “We confront our own challenges openly, transparently, for the entire world to see, sometimes as painful, sometimes ugly,” he said. "But we deal with our problems openly and fully.” Jamey Keaten, The Associated Press
GREENSTONE — Ontario Provincial Police in Greenstone were called out for service 35 times over the weekend. Some of the calls Greenstone police responded to from Feb. 19 to Feb 21 included two break and enters, one assault, one disturb the peace, three domestic disputes, two family disputes, one mental health act, one threat, three traffic-related calls and two unwanted people. In total police laid eight charges under the criminal code and highway traffic act. Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
CORRECTION: A version of this article published on Feb. 22 incorrectly identified Scouts Canada as Boy Scouts Canada. This information was corrected on Feb. 24. Scouts Canada has ended its lease with Northumberland County for property in the County Forest. The Provincial Council for Ontario; Scouts Canada has leased property in the Northumberland County Forest for about 31 years. Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Scout facilities in the forest have been closed since March 2020. Citing that reason, along with uncertainty regarding their intended future use of the property, Scouts Canada determined it will not renew its short-term lease, Northumberland County said. County staff received correspondence from Scouts Canada – National Service Centre in December 2020, indicating the organization had re-considered the ongoing operational expenses and maintenance requirements for the property. Scouts Canada determined it did not make sense to continue to invest in the property and that doing so was not financially viable, the county staff report stated. County staff will make recommendations to Northumberland’s corporate support committee and county council regarding future use of the property when the Forest Master Plan is brought forward for consideration and adoption later this year. Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Northumberland News
Which would you prefer? In Serbia, people can select any of four jabs: the one developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, China’s Sinopharm, Russia’s Sputnik V and Oxford-Astrazeneca's.View on euronews
Quebec Premier Francois Legault plans to name a minister to spearhead the fight against racism. Environment Minister Benoit Charette is set to add the role to his current tasks today. The announcement is to be made by Legault as part of a small cabinet shuffle, The Canadian Press has learned. Among the recommendations last December from a task force that looked at racism in the province was the appointment of a minister to implement its anti-racism action plan. The 25 recommendations outlined in the final report aim to tackle racial profiling and discrimination faced by minorities and Indigenous people in the province. The Legault government said in December it hoped that most of those recommendations would be implemented within two years. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Heather Marcoux/CBC News - image credit) The overdose prevention trailer in downtown Red Deer was supposed to be temporary when it arrived in 2018, but two years later it's still saving lives in the Safe Harbour parking lot. Last week, there were 38 overdoses in the trailer where someone needed oxygen or naloxone or both to be revived. "We had a 24-hour period last month where we had 13 overdoses recorded," said Sara Fleck, clinical manager of the Turning Point Society of Central Alberta, which runs the trailer. "We can never predict what is going to come into our site. So we'll have some weeks where we don't have any overdoses. And then overnight there will be a new substance in town that is identified by our clients as being stronger, and we'll see several overdoses." From January to November 2020, the rate of drug poisoning deaths in Red Deer per 100,000 persons per year was 50.3, provincial statistics show. Edmonton's rate was 40.3 and Calgary's was 31. In Red Deer, 44 of the 51 drug deaths recorded in the first 11 months of 2020 were caused by opioids. The community hasn't seen numbers this high since 2018, when Red Deer's rate per 100,000 climbed to 50 at a time when Edmonton's rate was just 21 and Calgary's was 24.5. That year, former Health Minister Sarah Hoffman called Red Deer's drug crisis an emergency and authorized the temporary trailer. Fleck said Red Deer needs a permanent supervised consumption site. "In this overdose prevention site, our mandate is to save lives," she said. "And we provide referrals to health and social services, and really act as an entry to the health services for people. But at a supervised consumption site, we were going to have addictions and mental health support on site, and a very wide variety of wrap-around services." Seth Schalk looks over plans at The Red Deer Dream Centre. Fleck wants to provide more support so Turning Point can better help people rebuild their lives. She said Red Deer's high overdose rate also reflects the community's lack of access to local treatment centres. A group of Christian business people are trying to remedy that by creating a rehab facility in downtown Red Deer. Next door to a strip club and across the street from the police station sits the building formerly known as the Lotus Nightclub, which is being transformed into a residential treatment facility called the Dream Centre. Local realtor Wes Giesbrecht, president of the Red Deer Dream Centre, said he believes in the power of community and recovery. The Red Deer Dream Centre is modelled after similar facilities in Los Angeles and Calgary. Giesbrecht said the group has raised more than half of the $1.4 million in capital costs through private donations from the community, and he expects construction on the new 40-bed treatment facility for men to begin next month. "So far, we're seeing our numbers coming in a little bit under budget, we're hoping to be — we're praying — that we're going to be under budget. We've raised just under $800,000, privately at this point in time, with no government subsidies or funding." The overdose prevention site at 5246 53rd Avenue in Red Deer. Giesbrecht said the centre has applied for government grants at the federal, provincial and municipal levels but plans to be sustainable without that funding, through support from Red Deer's faith community. "I think it's time that we stop looking to the government for solutions," he said. "I think as a community, the faith community in particular, we believe in recovery." The Dream Centre is still looking to fundraise about $600,000 before June and expects to be housing men by the end of the year. He hopes that in five years people can look at Red Deer and see a community with low rates of drug use and overdoses. "It is not enough to just give somebody clean needles anymore," said Giesbrecht. "It's not enough just to get them detoxed. You need to give them tools to teach them how to live without this stuff." At the ATCO trailer behind Safe Harbour, Fleck also wants to see a different Red Deer in five years, one with more permanent supports than the trailer can provide.
MULGRAVE – Councillor Crystal Durling, the Town of Mulgrave’s representative on the Eastern Counties Regional Library (ECRL) board, told council at its committee of the whole meeting Monday night (Feb. 22) that the ECRL has expressed its desire to close the library branch in Mulgrave. “For cost for them, it makes more sense to close it,” Durling said, adding that ECRL headquarters would remain in Mulgrave. CAO Darlene Berthier Sampson asked if the library closure was a suggestion, or if they were being told the decision had been made, to which Durling replied, “They wanted to bring it to the meeting … pretty much -- it is going to happen because of money issues.” Since the pandemic started, the ECRL branch in Mulgrave has been closed. Prior to that, the branch had only opened six months of the year. Since March 2020, books have been available for curbside pick-up at the Mulgrave branch – via online ordering – and also by mail. “The only thing it is going to hurt is if a lot of people in town go there to use computers,” said Durling. Council believes that the only way to keep the library branch open in Mulgrave is to dedicate more money from the town’s budget to the operation of the facility. “It’s pretty much a money issue, the way she (ECRL CEO Laura Emery) was saying that, ‘If you want to keep the service, you’re going to probably have to pay.’ They only have so much money to work with for their budget.” The matter will be tabled until the next council meeting, but councillors voiced their agreement with the proposed closure. Last month, the Town of Mulgrave started to look for a volunteer to sit on the Eastern Mainland Housing Authority Board. The town’s seat on the board – recently left vacant – has not been filled. Berthier Sampson said at the meeting that the housing authority board is, “a very important initiative … I’m not going to mince words to the public, we’re not having great outcomes with our public housing. Financially, some of them stay empty for a long period of time and for every month they stay empty the town’s share is 12.5 per cent, approximately. The longer it stays empty the more we pay.” In addition to the financial burden of the housing units, they’re also often the subject of bylaw infractions and policing calls. The original agreement between the town and the province regarding public housing is outdated and needs to be renegotiated, said Berthier Sampson. A volunteer from Mulgrave is needed to represent the town’s interests on the board. In an addition to the approved agenda, Councillor Robert Russell asked the town staff to investigate the possiblity of plowing the Scotia Trail. The next regular town council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 2 at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
SUDBURY, Ont. — Public health officials in Sudbury, Ont., have dismissed students and staff from two schools following five confirmed cases of COVID-19. Lasalle Secondary School and Cyril Varney Public School were closed today. All five cases have been identified by Public Health Sudbury & Districts as variants of concern. The afternoon route of elementary bus N100 is also affected. "These measures were taken as a precaution to protect the school communities and to reduce the spread of the virus," said a statement from Public Health Sudbury & Districts. Staff and students at the two schools and on the bus route are being advised by public health officials to self-isolate and get tested for COVID-19. Officials say there is no evidence the virus was acquired or spread within the school communities, so no outbreak has been declared. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Julia Page/CBC - image credit) Regina city council will now require ride-hailing drivers to have yearly criminal record and vulnerable sector checks. The change comes after hearing from Regina's Capital Cabs and a representative from Uber on a review of ride-hailing in the city. In 2019, ride-hailing vehicles took up about 15 per cent of the transportation-for-hire business in Regina, with taxis taking up the other 85 per cent. In 2020, taxis took 79 per cent of the sharing in trips and ride-hailing took 21 per cent, according to administration. Council voted unanimously to require criminal record and vulnerable sector checks before drivers can start, then again on a yearly basis. Council also talked about requiring cameras in ride-hailing vehicles, but stopped short of voting on it and instead will review ride-hailing again in two years. Glen Sali, owner of Capital Cabs, spoke to council. He said he wanted a more level playing field, as taxi drivers are required to have cameras. Sali said GPS on an app cannot replace the security of a camera. "It's safety not just for the driver but also for the customer," Sali said. "So we need to have safety for both to eliminate any issues." The Regina Police Service received no complaints from the public about Uber drivers since their operations started in Regina, according to city administration. Yanique Williams, the public policy manager for Western Canada at Uber, spoke to council as well. She said cameras would be an issue in ride-hailing vehicles as many vehicles are used for personal use and professional use. While taxis are solely used for professional uses. Williams said ride-hailing and taxis need to be treated differently because they are different industries. She said cameras should be required in taxis as they operate on street hails and accept cash but that the app and issue reporting in the app keeps Uber passengers safe. $250,000 Efficiency review program approved by council City council also approved an efficiency review program, with its first phase expected to cost $250,000. The review will look at six to eight city services and make recommendations for how to improve or adapt them. Phase one will hire an independent consultant to review the services. They will report on an ongoing basis to city council. "I think that COVID-19 has provided us the opportunity to transform in some respects," Mayor Sandra Masters said during an executive committee meeting. The final report for Phase 1 is anticipated to come before council at the end of 2021. Council will also discuss allowing the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Corporation to increase its debt financing to $60 million for a plant renewal project. The plant provides treated water to Regina and Moose Jaw. The plant board said this renewal is needed for the aging facility.
(Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit) An online portal for booking appointments for COVID-19 vaccines in Ontario is set to launch on March 15, the head of the province's immunization task force said Wednesday, but it will likely be months longer before many people are able to get a reservation. The announcement from retired general Rick Hillier comes as members of the general public in both Alberta and Quebec will be able to start booking appointments this week. Hillier said the delay in launching Ontario's version is because the focus until that point will be on populations that don't require an appointment, such as patient-facing health-care workers and essential caregivers for long-term care residents. "I would have liked to have it earlier, quite frankly," Hillier told reporters, adding that health authorities are working "furiously" to test the system. When the online portal, along with a telephone booking system, launch in March, Ontarians aged 80 and over will be the next priority. Hillier cautioned that anyone who is not in that age group, or who is not trying to make a reservation for a person in the 80-plus age group, will not be able to book an appointment in the weeks that follow. Officials expect to begin vaccinating people 80 years and over by the third week of March. The proposed schedule in the following weeks, Hillier said, will look something like this as long as supplies of vaccine stay steady: April 15: vaccinations begin for people 75 years old and over. May 1: vaccinations begin for people 70 years old and over. June 1: vaccinations begin for people 65 years and over. July 1: vaccinations begin for people 60 years and over. Essential workers, meanwhile, should begin getting their shots the first week in May, Hillier said, with the final decision about who qualifies in that category still to come from cabinet. The task force has already submitted its recommendations, he added. Hillier wouldn't say when those 60 years old and under who are not essential workers should expect to start getting shots. "A great question, we don't need to answer it right now. Early summer is when we might be able to discuss that issue," Hillier said. WATCH | Retired general Rick Hillier on Ontario's vaccine rollout timeline: He also did not provide even a rough timeline for when people under 60 with underlying medical conditions or those living in higher-risk neighbourhoods might expect to be given a first dose of vaccine. Hillier did say, however, that where Ontarians can expect to get a shot will be based on their postal code. They will be delivered through a combination of mass vaccination clinics, community centre programs pharmacies. Asked why Ontario's platform wasn't launched sooner considering Alberta and Quebec residents will be booking vaccines imminently, Ford said at a news conference Wednesday that he respectfully disagrees the province is lagging behind. Ford pointed to Alberta's system crashing Wednesday on its first day of operations and said Quebec hasn't administered a single second dose of the vaccine thus far. In a series of tweets, Dr. Isaach Bogoch, an infectious disease physician and member of the task force, said that primary care providers will help staff vaccination sites and will eventually be able to offer shots at their own clinics once additional vaccines are approved for use by Health Canada. Several options on the horizon are more stable than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines currently available, Bogoch said. Approval of further vaccines could "significantly speed up" the rough timeline offered by Hillier. Ontario Premier Doug Ford watches a health-care worker prepare a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. Each public health unit will eventually be expected to give out up to 10,000 doses per day, though some larger health units should be doing considerably more, Bogoch said. For example, Toronto Public Health expects to have capacity for up to 400,000 shots per week, with most administered at nine mass vaccination sites, he added. As of Feb.14, all residents of long-term care and high-risk retirement homes — generally defined as those that provide memory care — who wanted a vaccine had been given their first shot. So far the province has administered a total of 602,848 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, and 251,590 people have gotten both doses. At a news conference Wednesday, Ford also announced Ontario will spend $115 million to provide tuition-free training to 6,000 prospective personal support workers. The programs, which are set to be up and running in April, will consist of paid placements with students completing in six months, rather than eight. The government will also provide approximately $2,000 in financial assistance to some 2,200 students already completing studies in the PSW fields. Asked if the province will move to institute paid sick days for PSWs, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Ontario's minister of long-term care, didn't answer directly. 1,054 new cases of COVID-19 The news comes as Ontario reported another 1,054 cases of COVID-19 and nine more deaths of people with the illness Wednesday morning. The additional cases include 363 in Toronto, 186 in Peel Region and 94 in York Region. Other public health units that saw double-digit increases were: Simcoe Muskoka: 53 Windsor-Essex: 50 Thunder Bay: 45 Waterloo Region: 44 Ottawa: 40 Hamilton: 38 Durham Region: 35 Halton Region: 26 Niagara Region: 13 Middlesex-London: 10 (Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, because local units report figures at different times.) The Ministry of Education also reported 112 school-related cases: 89 students, 18 staff members and five people who were not identified. As of yesterday, 16 of Ontario's 4,828 publicly-funded schools were closed due to COVID-19. Ontario's lab network completed 54,852 tests for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and logged a test positivity rate of 2.4 per cent. The seven-day average of new daily cases rose to 1,084. A steep drop in the seven-day average that began on Jan. 12 has levelled out. According to the Ministry of Health, there were 675 people in Ontario hospitals with COVID-19 as of yesterday. Of those, 287 were being treated in intensive care and 182 needed a ventilator. The nine deaths reported today bring Ontario's official toll to 6,893.
Huit voyages et 1954 tonnes de marchandises plus tard, la desserte maritime de l’île d’Anticosti et de la Basse-Côte-Nord s’est conclue lors de la première semaine de février. La Société des traversiers du Québec (STQ), responsable de la desserte maritime, et l’entreprise qui l’opère, Relais Nordik, se montrent satisfaits du déroulement de l’approvisionnement des communautés isolées après le bris à un moteur de propulsion du N/M Bella Desgagnés survenu le 16 décembre. Pour assurer la relève du navire, Relais Nordik a remis en service le N/M Nordik Express, qui n’avait pas navigué depuis près de quatre ans. Le Bella Desgagnés a également repris ses voyages pendant quelque temps avec un seul moteur fonctionnel, mais est rentré en cale sèche depuis. En plus des cargaisons transportées par la voie maritime, 66 tonnes de denrées périssables ont été livrées par camion ou avion dans le cadre du service d’urgence par la STQ, lancé le 20 décembre, et 88 tonnes de marchandises ont été prises en charge « plus tôt qu’à l’habitude » par le service de désenclavement hivernal routier et aérien, est-il mentionné dans le communiqué de presse. Malgré le plan d’urgence de la STQ et les mesures d’approvisionnement supplémentaires, plusieurs communautés de la Basse-Côte-Nord ont manqué de produits de base, comme du lait, des fruits et légumes et des couches, pendant le temps des Fêtes. Laurence Dami-Houle, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur
MULGRAVE – One might say it was an ambitious plan, to create a meal delivery service to support older, vulnerable adults in Guysborough County experiencing challenges related to food security during the pandemic. Given that the county is geographically large and has a population of whom half are more than the age of 55, the idea took some planning to get off the ground. But with government funding – from the federal New Horizon Program, N.S. Dept. of Communities, Culture and Heritage Program and N.S. Department of Seniors – the board of directors of the Mulgrave and Area Medical Centre and a project advisory committee got Community Food Connections on the road delivering meals free of charge to the kitchens of more than 160 program participants. The original program funding was expected to last until the end of February, but last week Medical Centre Board Chair Al England told The Journal that funding had been secured to keep the program running until the end of June, which “will allow for a greater impact with respect to those that are utilizing the program – or there may be others that may be in need as well that could find some benefit in signing up for the program. “We are really happy with that aspect of it, really grateful to our provincial and federal partners in respect to the overall funding of the project … the extension will allow us to exhaust the funds that were provided … There’s still a lot of concern, a lot of caution; people are fearful and anxious,” said England noting that along with providing quality meals, the program also offers a chance to socialize for people who may be reluctant or unable to leave their homes. The program started delivering meals to homes across Guysborough County – District of St. Mary’s, Municipality of the District of Guysborough and the Town of Mulgrave – in November. England said they have delivered more than 4,100 meals; mainly to program participants identified by project advisory committee members who work with older adults and suggested the names of those who would benefit the most from the program. To be eligible for the program, participants had to be 55 or older, a resident of Guysborough County and have difficulty getting to a grocery store due to health or transportation challenges, mobility issues, financial concerns, or other barriers and difficulties. Brent Lundrigan is the program coordinator and spends a lot of time on the road delivering meals from the hub location in Mulgrave to areas as far afield as Liscomb and Canso. He delivers frozen meals to program participants and manages intake of people eligible for the program. Since November, Lundrigan, a native of Mulgrave, has become familiar with a lot of back roads and brought smiles to many as he made his deliveries across the county. For more information about the Community Food Connections program, call Lundrigan at 902-777-5685. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal