Canada has agreed to take in roughly 100 refugees whose asylum claims were denied by Australia and have been stuck in limbo on South Pacific islands for years.
Canada has agreed to take in roughly 100 refugees whose asylum claims were denied by Australia and have been stuck in limbo on South Pacific islands for years.
While Ontario and Quebec are the epicentres of COVID-19 outbreaks in Canada, people in First Nations are being hit the hardest in Western Canada, where they make up half the number of hospitalizations in some provinces. The rising curve is alarming federal officials, who urged the provinces during a press conference in Ottawa on Wednesday to continue prioritizing Indigenous populations as they roll out vaccines. "So what we're saying to Canadians, to Indigenous Peoples, is now is not the time to let down your guard," Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said. "This is not the time to ease public health restrictions." As of Jan. 19, Indigenous Services Canada was reporting 5,571 active cases on reserves — most of them in Prairie provinces: British Columbia: 580 Alberta: 1,312 Saskatchewan: 1,196 Manitoba: 2,241 Ontario: 93 Quebec: 144 Atlantic: 5 Indigenous Services Canada has reported 13,873 confirmed COVID-19 cases on reserves since last March. More than 90 per cent are in Western Canada: British Columbia: 1,348 Alberta: 4,459 Saskatchewan: 3,525 Manitoba: 3,643 Ontario: 428 Quebec: 462 Atlantic: 8 First Nation leaders and health experts say there are several reasons why infections are increasing in First Nations in Western Canada, including overcrowding, gatherings, people letting their guard down, relaxed restrictions and people driving in and out of communities with road access for goods and work. Lack of housing With COVID-19 caseloads rising all across Canada, the pandemic is emerging in places where it wasn't before, said Dr. Anna Banerji, an infectious disease specialist at Temerty Faculty of Medicine and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. "It's quite concerning that COVID is starting to break into these communities," Banerji said. "They've held the forts for so long." Banerji researched respiratory infections in Inuit communities for over two decades. She said the main risk factors facing First Nations are poor access to health care services, underlying ailments, food insecurity, poverty and overcrowding. Banerji said she fears that when people get sick in First Nations, they can't find places to self-isolate. Onekanew (Chief) Christian Sinclair of Opaskwayak Cree Nation, 628 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, said his community needs 600 more houses. "When you have people living under one roof, anywhere from six to as high as 14 members living under one roof on the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, you can see how quickly that spread can happen," Sinclair said. "We're second-class citizens living in Third World conditions in a first world country." Opaskwayak Cree Nation has had success in preventing and controlling outbreaks by enforcing curfews and monitoring who enters and leaves the community with border patrols paid for by Indigenous Services Canada. The highest funding requests the department has seen for the Indigenous Community Support Fund — which was created to help communities fight COVID-19 — have been for perimeter security, said Valerie Gideon, associate deputy minister of Indigenous Services. Close to 350 First Nations across the country have closed their borders to non-essential travel, she added. But even with the added layer of security in some places, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says 50 per cent of all active COVID cases in Manitoba are First Nations members. Call for stricter provincial measures Relaxed provincial measures are also being blamed for the rise in First Nations cases. The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations in Saskatchewan is calling on the province to close bars and liquor establishments. "We believe alcohol in the bars is a contributing factor," said FSIN Vice Chief David Pratt, who recently recovered from COVID-19. "When you're on alcohol, you're more likely to lose your inhibitions, share drinks and not keep those social distance practices in practices and in check." Grand Chief Jerry Daniels of the Southern Chiefs' Organization in Manitoba is urging the provincial and federal governments to enforce tougher rules to limit travel. Daniels said he thinks caseloads are rising because of people going back and forth from First Nations to urban areas. "I think until COVID is completely wiped out, they should be taking the strongest approach possible," Daniels said. Daniels said nearly 80 per cent of the 34 Anishnaabe and Dakota communities he represents are trying to control the spread of COVID-19. Concern for loss of elders Dr. Shannon McDonald, acting chief medical officer at the First Nations Health Authority in British Columbia, said there isn't enough rapid testing available to test everyone who needs to travel to B.C. First Nations, and some tests can't detect infections in their first few days. "It only takes one person to come in and spend time with people in the community," McDonald said. McDonald fears the pandemic could take a particularly heavy toll on First Nations communties. "I always worry about our elders," McDonald said. "Our elders are our knowledge-keepers, our language holders and they are the human libraries, culturally. So communities are very sensitive to that, but individuals who are choosing not to adhere to public health advice are putting those individuals at risk and I really worry about that." Lawrence Latender, a member of Dauphin River First Nation, has felt first-hand the impact of COVID-19 during an outbreak in his community 250 kilometres north of Winnipeg. He recently lost seven neighbours and friends to the virus, including two aunts and an uncle. "I don't know if I had time to really grieve because it's one thing after the other," Latender said. "It's like you're focused on one death and then you're, well ... 'OK now I got to focus on this one. Ok, this one is gone, now I got to focus on this one.'" Letander, his wife and two young sons also tested positive, but have since recovered. Indigenous Services Canada says that, so far, there have been 120 COVID-19 deaths in First Nations. But with 169 Indigenous communities now administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and more doses on the way, there's hope the chain of transmission will break.
From a global perspective, there was nothing unique about the recent raid on the U.S. Capitol. Both Republican and Democratic administrations have backed military coups around the world for decades.
A 13-year-old Ottawa boy who alerted his neighbours to the presence of predatory coyotes in a local park is being applauded for his efforts. In April, following several attacks on dogs in the neighbourhood, Aidan Brown posted a homemade warning near an entrance to Linton Park, near the Airport Parkway and Walkley Road. The green space, which is just north of the leafy Via Rail corridor, was becoming a popular passageway for coyotes, and Brown knew dogs, and possibly people, could be at risk. "Be mindful how far out you go and how far you let your pet off leash," read Brown's neatly designed notice. Brown made audio recordings of the coyotes as they howled under the power lines behind his family's home. Then, when two battery-powered trail cameras turned up under the Christmas tree, he took his surveillance efforts to the next level. Videos capture coyotes on the prowl Within three days, the motion-triggered cameras' memory cards were filled with ghostly nighttime images of coyotes on the prowl. "We thought we were going to get a lot of turkey and very little coyotes, but half of it is coyotes. We've had very good luck," the young naturalist said. For example, five minutes before midnight on Jan. 17, one of his cameras captured four large, healthy coyotes loping through the frame, followed by an injured coyote hopping along gingerly on three legs. "I thought it was going to be very rare," Brown said. "We got very lucky, and I'm very happy with the results so far." Every few days, Brown treks out to his cameras and swaps out the memory cards. He uploads the best material to @southendtrailcams, an Instagram account created to showcase the best evidence of the area's burgeoning coyote population. NCC swaps sign Brown's advocacy caught the attention of the local city councillor. "Big shoutout to this young man, his efforts and his advocacy," said River Ward Coun. Riley Brockington, who was alerted to Brown's activities by the Riverside Park Community Association. WATCH | Brown is raising awareness about coyotes at Linton Park through trail cams and Instagram: Brockington approached the National Capital Commission (NCC), which leases Linton Park to the City of Ottawa, and within a few days a permanent sign of the same design as one installed at nearby McCarthy Park had replaced Brown's DIY original. The NCC confirmed it posted the sign after being contacted by the city. "I love this engagement. Certainly it's not just about warning people, advising people that there are coyotes, but the fact that they're part of the environment, part of the ecosystem," said Brockington. The NCC's new full-colour warning is doing its job, said Andrea Petersen, who visits the park often with her eight-month-old chocolate Labrador retriever. "It's awesome, very informative. I read the whole thing," she said. Brown said he's glad his message got out there, and that he started the ball rolling. "It was mainly for the neighbourhood, but it expanded quite fast," he laughed.
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 41,760 new vaccinations administered for a total of 692,899 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,828.264 per 100,000. There were 18,975 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 907,515 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 76.35 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 3,258 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 8,549 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 16.326 per 1,000. There were 2,400 new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 13,575 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.6 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 62.98 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,684 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,910 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 37.257 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 8,250 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 71.64 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 5,344 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 9,175 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.402 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 23,000 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 39.89 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 2,704 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 10,436 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.379 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 17,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 58.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 10,207 new vaccinations administered for a total of 174,260 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 20.365 per 1,000. There were 16,575 new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 237,125 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 73.49 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 13,784 new vaccinations administered for a total of 237,918 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 16.197 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 277,050 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 85.88 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 2,514 new vaccinations administered for a total of 20,265 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 14.717 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 46,290 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 43.78 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 2,658 new vaccinations administered for a total of 27,233 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 23.095 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 29,300 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 92.95 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 2,928 new vaccinations administered for a total of 95,243 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 21.636 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 101,275 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 94.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 5,756 new vaccinations administered for a total of 98,125 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 19.122 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 133,475 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.6 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 73.52 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,347 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 32.278 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 18.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,893 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 41.956 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 26.29 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,545 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 65.718 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 42.42 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
As Ontario approaches the end of its fourth week under a province-wide lockdown, epidemiologists say declining new infections prove the measures are working, but they warn we are still far from ready to reopen non-essential businesses, schools, and other heavily restricted activities. Ontario reported 2,655 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday. The seven-day average fell to 2,850, marking 10 consecutive days of decreases from a high of 3,555. Ashleigh Tuite, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health, says the declining average is a "positive sign," but only part of the picture officials are looking at when considering the province's next steps. 'Small victories' "I think it's important to look at those numbers and, you know, celebrate the small victories, but also recognize that we're going to be at this for a while longer," Tuite said in an interview. On Wednesday, the province reported 1,598 COVID-19 patients in Ontario hospitals. 395 COVID-19 were admitted to intensive care units and 89 additional deaths were reported, matching a previous record. Tuite and other experts say that those indicators remain far too high to consider easing lockdown measures. Getting to that point will require weeks, not days, of progress. "What we want to see is that every week that goes on, there's a steady decline," Tuite said. "I would say you probably want to see about a 25-per-cent decline week-over-week. When you see that trend, then you can start talking about opening things up again." No magic number Earlier this week, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said easing lockdown restrictions will require reducing new infections to "around or below" 1,000 per day. However, other infectious disease experts tell CBC News reopening won't be such a simple calculation. "There's not necessarily a magic number in terms of number of cases," Tuite said. Dr. Jeff Kwong, a senior scientist and infectious disease specialist at University of Toronto, says 1,000 cases per day is too high to consider lifting restrictions. "I'm not sure where Dr. Williams got a thousand cases per day. I've heard we should be aiming for one [new daily infection] per million people. Ontario has a population of about 15 million people. So that would be 15 cases per day," Kwong said in an interview. "Fifteen and 1,000 is quite a big difference.". Williams also singled out reducing the number of ICU admissions to 150 as another threshold for reopening. On Wednesday, Ontario reported 395 COVID-19 patients in the province's ICUs. As for reopening schools, Kwong says it's a "really tricky call." Keeping them closed may help reduce the spread of COVID-19, but it's harmful to children. Kwong says more time is needed before returning to in-person learning, but in the meantime, he'd like to know what criteria the province is considering for reopening schools. "We haven't identified any targets," he said. Avoiding another lockdown Even if infection, hospitalization and mortality rates can all be reduced to the point of reopening, is it just a matter of time until that very reopening causes them to shoot up again? Pretty much, according to experts. But a vicious lockdown loop can be avoided with proper supports in place to test for, trace and isolate COVID-19 cases. Tuite says rolling out more rapid testing will be key for a safe reopening, as well as ensuring employees have paid leave to stay home while they're sick. Isolation hotels should also be maintained so COVID-19 patients won't infect other people at home. "We have to do everything we can to ensure that once we get case numbers down, they stay down, and we have all of these other supports in place so that we can keep cases at a manageable level," Tuite said.
Ontario's plan to vaccinate the populations of its most remote First Nations communities against COVID-19 faces many challenges, but Indigenous leaders say that earning the trust of the people must be a priority. Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler of Nishnawbe Aski Nation, a political organization that represents 49 of Ontario's 123 First Nations, said that the most obvious hurdle of Operation Remote Immunity is geography, as those remote communities may not have an airstrip and must have their winter roads built in time for the vaccine to be delivered. But he said that even more important than the physical logistics of delivering the vaccine is ensuring that Indigenous people are willing to accept it. "Making sure that communities are aware of the vaccine, that they understand the vaccine and why it's important so they can consent to getting the vaccine is part of the challenge," said Fiddler. All 31 remote First Nations that are participating in Operation Remote Immunity are part of Nishnawbe Aski Nation, so Fiddler and his staff have been working with Ontario's vaccine task force as a liaison between the individual communities and the government. Communication has had to flow both ways before the vaccines start arriving on Feb. 1. "We're creating material for distribution with our health authorities, creating pamphlets and social media, making sure everything is translated into Ojibway, Ojicree and Cree," said Fiddler. "So our elders can really understand the information that's being sent to them. "Once they do understand it they can give it serious consideration before giving their consent." Fiddler said that making sure everyone understands what's in the vaccine and why it's important to take it is necessary for First Nations people who are living with the trauma of Canada's colonial history. "It's not just the vaccine itself, it's the whole history of the sad, sometimes tragic past of health care and how it's been delivered in our communities," said Fiddler, adding that historically there has been a two-tiered system where Indigenous people received inferior health care. "That's what we're up against. It's a massive undertaking and it's a challenge we know that we have to address as part of this rollout." Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald, who is on the province's vaccine task force, said she was also aware of some reluctance by First Nations people to take the vaccine. She pointed to a history of medical experiments being performed on Indigenous people from the 1930s to the 1970s. "We do know that in the past vaccines were tested in First Nations communities," said Archibald, who added there is no mechanism for polling First Nations populations about things like vaccine hesitancy. "The trauma and experiences from residential schools have left our communities in a state of hesitancy when it comes to trusting Canada." A spokesman for Ontario's Ministry of Indigenous Affairs said that the administration of vaccines has already begun in Ontario's larger First Nations communities, starting with long-term care homes in Six Nations of the Grand River, Mohawks of Akwesasne, Oneida Nations of the Thames, and Wikwemikong Unceded Territory. Vaccinations have also begun at the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority and Weeneebayko Area Health Authority, with a focus on hospital and long-term care and chronic care staff and residents. Spokesman Alex Puddifant said Ornge, the province's air ambulance corporation, is leading the operations for the 31 fly-in First Nation communities, transporting the vaccine from hub cities in Northern Ontario to the reserves. Partner organizations including, Northern School of Ontario Medicine and Queens University, will help provide nurses and paramedics to administer the doses. Fiddler said that NAN is playing a supporting role, ensuring that communities are ready when the vaccines arrive with interpreters, drivers, and a co-ordinator to make sure that all of the residents in a territory consent to the vaccination and receive their dose. Dr. Sarita Verma, the dean of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, said that she and her team know they'll have to build trust with patients who are, or are directly related to, residential school survivors. "Taking a patient-centred approach that's different in Northern Ontario with First Nations communities will be important," said Verma. Indigenous Services Canada reported on Tuesday that there were 428 active cases of COVID-19 among Ontario's First Nations. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press
Summerside's sewage treatment plant is back in compliance following what city officials describe as a "glitch," which pumped higher than normal levels of effluent into the city's harbour for more than three weeks. Bruce MacDougall, the councillor responsible for the water and sewer utilities, says staff noticed the higher than acceptable levels last month. He said federal and provincial officials were immediately notified and the shellfish fishery in the harbour was shut down. "Late December, we had a little glitch in the system and whenever staff noticed it they notified the provincial and federal officials," MacDougall said in an interview with CBC News. "We do testing every day and that's how we noticed it. So once we noticed the higher readings, we had to put an action together to bring those readings down." 'It wasn't raw discharge' The problem was noticed Dec. 13. The levels did not return to normal until Jan. 6. City officials say these events are rare ever since it invested more than $19 million into upgrades at the plant in 2008. The last time something like this happened was more than 10 years ago, the city said. Morley Foy, an engineer with the Department of Environment, said operational issues created the higher than normal levels. He said the sewage was still being treated but the amount of solids being released into the harbour was higher than normal. "It wasn't raw discharge by any means, but it was above the limits," said Foy. "The UV system that's in place, the ultraviolet light that does the portion of the treatment for the disinfection was able to manage those high levels, and throughout the whole period when the facility was not working the way it should have been working, it was still performing very well for bacteria reduction." 'Changes to processing plants' Foy said there was "very little impact" to the harbour. "The time of year was very fortunate for this event in the sense that there was no recreational activity taking place within the harbour nor was there any fishing activities taking place within the harbour," said Foy. Despite that, a shellfish closure was ordered Dec. 14. A spokesperson with the federal Department of Fisheries said, "Signs were installed and the fishing industry was notified. No fishing activity was taking place in the area at that time. "The area will remain closed until the beginning of the spring fishing season." Greg Gaudet, Summerside's director of municipal services, said the city began work immediately to correct the problem. But he said the fix took some time. 'Back into the safe zone' "It usually takes about a 10- to 12-day time period, you got to realize all that liquid … has to work its way through the whole process of the plant," said Gaudet. "What we believe may have happened, there may have been some changes to processing plants in Summerside in December, they may have had some shutdowns, in which case they weren't putting out any biological oxygen demand into the sewer system, which gave our system that we had fine-tuned a little burp. "Basically, it upset the process." Gaudet said they plan to improve communications between the city and its biggest sewage customers. "When they change their operations, we have to change ours." The Summerside sewage treatment plant not only treats sewage from the city, it also treats waste from people's homes throughout Prince County. When somebody has their private sewage tank cleaned, that waste ends up at the Summerside plant. MacDougall said these events are rare and the city works hard to ensure they don't happen. "Everything has been brought back into the safe zone," MacDougall told city councillors during a meeting on Monday night. "We've got the all clear now." More from CBC P.E.I.
What a difference a day makes in the outlook for the Canadian economy. Earlier this week, some economists were predicting that the Bank of Canada's Tiff Macklem would cut interest rates again when presenting Wednesday's Monetary Policy Report. But while Canada's chief central banker warned that a resurgence in the effects of the pandemic was sending the economy further down, prospects for a vaccine-led recovery meant Canada would see a sharp return to growth later this year and next. And while borrowers did not benefit from the "micro-cut" some had predicted — what Macklem carefully described as reducing already low rates "to a lower but still positive number" — perhaps more important for ordinary Canadians was his assurance that the bank-set interest rate would not rise. Startling transition to growth And that reassurance came despite the central bank's outlook of a startling transition from a shrinking economy in the first three months of the year to extraordinarily strong growth of four per cent in 2021 and five per cent next year. In a previous meeting with reporters at the end of last year, Macklem based his forecast on the assumption that a vaccine would not be widely available until 2022 and that the economy would be scarred by the impact of the virus on jobs and businesses. But this time, there was no talk of scarring. "Certainly the earlier-than-expected arrival of the vaccine is a very positive development," the Bank of Canada governor said. "But we're starting off in a deeper hole." Some economists have suggested that a strong rebound of the type Macklem and the bank's Governing Council foresee would lead to a new burst of inflation that would require the bank to raise interest rates. There have been worries, including from the real estate industry, that a hike in the rock-bottom rates that have allowed Canadians to afford large mortgages would lead to a sudden slowdown. But Macklem offered several reasons why that was unlikely to happen, for a while at least, and probably not until 2023. For one thing, any decision to reduce stimulus would begin with a slow winding down of the Bank of Canada's quantitative easing (QE) program. Currently the bank is still going to the market and buying at least $4 billion worth of government bonds every week, effectively releasing that cash into the economy. Macklem expects that to continue. Another reason why the bank feels it won't have to raise rates — the same logic for why it can continue QE — is the deep hole Macklem mentioned. Despite the hundreds of billions of dollars in stimulus money from the Canadian government — plus the $900 billion US COVID-19 relief package already approved south of the border and the $1.9 trillion pandemic plan unveiled by newly installed U.S. President Joe Biden — the battered North American economy has lots of climbing to do. Still lots of slack in the economy Economics tells us that inflation does not kick in until the supply of goods, services and labour is used up such that people competing for those things start to bid up the price. But with so many unemployed, buildings empty, lots of raw material and plenty of money available to borrow and invest, the Canadian economy is not likely to reach those capacity limits until 2023, Macklem said. Inflation numbers out Wednesday showed prices rising at the slowest rate since the financial crisis of 2009, plunging in December to an annual rate of 0.7 per cent — well outside the central bank's target range of between one and three per cent. The Bank of Canada expects that number to bounce back this year to an ostensibly comfortable two per cent, but as Macklem described, that will be deceptive. "This is expected to be temporary," he said. "The anticipated increase in inflation reflects the effects of sharp declines in gasoline prices at the onset of the pandemic, and as those base year effects fade, inflation will fall again, pulled down by the significant excess of supply in the economy." As well as being an unequal recession, this has been an unusual one in that those who kept their jobs have been building up a savings hoard that some have suggested will be released in a deluge of spending once the lockdowns end — as everyone heads out dancing and partying like in the Roaring Twenties. Asked if a rush of spending was likely, Macklem once again explained why, even if it happens, a return to the days of the Great Gatsby is unlikely to unleash inflation. As retail experts explained in early December, those who have money to spend have been saving on services while continuing to spend plenty on goods. And even if we spend more on dancing, services do not lend themselves to a burst of excessive consumption. WATCH | Bank of Canada predicts wealthier households will hold on to savings: "If you don't get a haircut," Macklem said, gesturing to his own longish style, "when you go back to getting haircuts, you don't get extra haircuts." All that said, Macklem was clear to point out that with so many uncertainties, the bank's outlook is not a foregone conclusion. The economy could recover faster. "That would be a good thing," he said. A rising loonie, which would allow Canadians to spend more on imported goods and trips abroad, may slow the recovery as Canadian exports get pricier. And with an unpredictable and evolving virus, things could stay bad for longer, too, in which case the Bank of Canada has tricks up its sleeve, including micro-cuts, to add a little more stimulus if that turns out to be necessary. Someday the low interest rate party will be over, but for now, Macklem sees the most likely path as a strong if choppy and protracted recovery and continued rock-bottom borrowing costs until 2023 — or until a full recovery happens. Follow Don Pittis on Twitter: @don_pittis
China struck an optimistic tone toward President Joe Biden's new administration on Thursday, saying "kind angels can triumph over evil forces" and playing down early irritants as the result of an atmosphere poisoned by Donald Trump's term in office. Bilateral relations worsened dramatically during Trump's tenure. Biden, who took office on Wednesday, is expected to maintain pressure on Beijing but with a more traditional and multilateral approach.
Can COVID-19 vaccines be mixed and matched? Health officials say both doses should be of the same vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccines rolling out in the United States, the United Kingdom and other parts of the world so far require two shots given a few weeks apart. In the U.S. where Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are being distributed, health officials say the vaccines are not interchangeable. In England where shots by Pfizer and AstraZeneca are available, officials also say the doses should be consistent. But in the rare event that the same kind isn’t available or if it's not known what was given for the first shot, English officials say it’s OK to give whichever vaccine is available for the second shot. Since the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines work in a similar way, they say a mismatched dose is better than partial protection. But without any studies, vaccine doses should not be mixed, said Naor Bar-Zeev, a vaccine expert at Johns Hopkins University. If people do happen to get a different vaccine for their second shot by accident, Bar-Zeev said it is likely “to work fine and likely to be well tolerated," but evidence is needed to be sure. ___ The AP is answering your questions about the coronavirus in this series. Submit them at: FactCheck@AP.org. Read previous Viral Questions: Should I get a COVID-19 vaccine if I’ve had the virus? If I’ve already had the coronavirus, can I get it again? How quickly do I need a second vaccine shot? The Associated Press
Pet groomer Victor Pundzius was so confused with the new orders that he called the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit to clarify whether or not his service was essential. Turns out it's not. But Pundzuis, who owns For Your Fur Kids in Windsor, says after what he saw following the last lockdown, grooming should be. "It was terrible, the dogs were in bad shape, grooming should have been deemed essential. I think it's unfair the way everything was done," he said. And he wasn't the only one questioning provincial measures. Two local housekeepers told CBC News that they also found the province's stay-at-home order from Jan. 14 unclear on what services could still operate. The rules left them feeling uncertain, especially since Windsor-Essex went through several rounds of new restrictions starting in November that kept changing how and which businesses could operate. Housekeeper Nicole Kersey says the provincial rules in the stay-at-home order issued last week are "vague," so she's being cautious while still trying to earn a living. "I really was [confused] and I kind of still am," said Kersey, who owns Nicole's Quality Cleaning in Windsor-Essex . "It says I'm essential I can still do my job but then it doesn't make sense [because] they don't want you going to other homes." Under the new order, housekeepers are listed as being allowed under domestic services but only for homes with children, seniors or vulnerable persons. After six years on the job, Kersey had built up some loyal clients, but out of fear, she says about 80 per cent of her clients have cancelled or put their services on hold. The lack of work has taken a financial toll on her and she's had to apply for government funding. Adam Morrison, president of Queen of Clean Windsor Inc., which specializes in residential and commercial cleaning, says he's also feeling the hit. On the residential side, about 30 per cent of his clients don't qualify for services under the new order. "It makes any business owner nervous right? We're not in a position where it's hitting us now and we're not necessarily hitting a lot of the requirements for some of the wage subsidies," he said. Meanwhile, Pundzius says if the lockdown goes past a month, not only will it hurt the dogs, but it will harm his business too. At this time, his income is already down as people can't access his services and many aren't buying products despite him offering curbside pickup. "It's just unfair with Costco, all these other big companies, it seems like they just want to hurt the little guy basically," he said.
Three landowners from Black Point in Pictou County took their fight over rocks on a beach to Nova Scotia Supreme Court Wednesday. The judicial review is examining the province's approval of a rock retaining wall on James Beach. Legal costs are being covered by a $15,000 crowdfunding effort. "It has been worthwhile for me ... to see the community come together and protect our beautiful beach," said Maryn Lynn, one of the applicants who owns property on James Beach. Wayne and Helen Chisholm built the armour stone rock wall at James Beach, northeast of New Glasgow, in 2017. It crosses the width of the beach, before turning 90 degrees and running parallel to the water. The base of the wall sits in more than a metre of water at high tide, and it's been repaired and expanded as it's damaged by the ocean. After community complaints, the province determined the wall is legal, because Nova Scotia landowners are allowed to replace existing retaining walls even when the shoreline has moved farther inland. The Chisholm family declined to comment Wednesday. Nova Scotia's Department of Lands and Forestry won't comment while the case is before the court. Hoping for a reassessment A judicial review can't order the wall to be changed or removed, but it could send the matter back to the minister of Lands and Forestry if the approval process is found lacking. "We're hopeful that at the very least, the government will take another look at this decision," Lynn said. "This is not about erosion protection, because all of the people in our neighborhood do erosion protection," said Beth Skerrett, another applicant. "We're very much in support of erosion protection. The problem for us is the beach access. So having beach access to walk along the front of any beach in Nova Scotia is really the core of this issue," Skerrett said. Erosion and accretion The lawyer for the applicants, Jamie Simpson, said legal arguments hinge on where Crown land ends and private land begins. Normally, all land below the mean high water mark is owned by the government, allowing public access to the entire length of a beach. If the shoreline moves, so does that boundary. Simpson says aerial photographs dating back to the 1990s show those kinds of shoreline shifts on James Beach. "Sometimes land is added to the sand spit, and sometimes land is taken away.... We see erosion and accretion happening over the scale of years and decades," Simpson said. If private land is suddenly ripped away, Simpson said landowners have the right to fill it back in. But on James Beach, he argues that's not the case. Simpson said the government never gave a "cohesive, logical argument as to why the boundary hasn't moved." "The minister has to come up with a more robust way to make these decisions, not to make what appears, from the outside, to be something of an arbitrary decision," he said. Provincial significance Lynn and Skerret say their legal challenge could resonate for all Nova Scotia beaches. "I think this issue is very important if we consider climate change, which is not going away," said Lynn. "This is about whether or not the general public, and not just coastal property owners, will have access to the beach below the ordinary high water mark." Skerret added: "Today is not whether it was a good decision or a bad decision for this family to build the wall. The decision here is, did the government make the right decision by allowing them to build the wall where they built it?" Justice Deborah Smith reserved her decision at the close of Wednesday's hearing. MORE TOP STORIES
Millions of us have been living with severe restrictions and orders to stay socially distanced. But this can lead to 'touch starvation'. Find out more. View on euronews
It's time-out for sports in red zones of New Brunswick. According to the province's red phase of recovery, all organized sports have been cancelled and gyms and fitness centres are closed. For minor hockey players, for example, that means no games, no practices, and no off-ice training, explained Nic Jansen, the executive director of Hockey New Brunswick. And at this point in the season, Jansen said tournaments are probably not going to happen. "Yeah, I think that's certainly a possibility," he said. "In the end, I think it'll be a decision that Public Health makes, but I think that's definitely a possibility." Jansen said Hockey New Brunswick had been waiting on direction from Public Health officials about whether tournaments could resume in yellow. With most of the province now in red, and only a few weeks left in the regular season, it's looking less and less likely, he said. Meanwhile, hockey continues in Zones 5, 6 and 7, under orange restrictions, which means teams can continue to practice together, but there are no games. That's only allowed in the yellow phase. Jansen encourages young players to stay active and do what they can to keep up their skills. "I think if you're fortunate enough to have access to a backyard rink, by all means, get out, use it." In a season that's been unusually mild, backyard rinks and ponds are a little hard to come by, but Jansen said players can continue to work on their skills in their basement or driveway. "And it doesn't have to be hockey. It can be any type of physical activity. Just get outside and play and enjoy the outdoors," he said. Basketball Things have "pretty much shut down everywhere," said Tyler Slipp, Basketball New Brunswick's director of operations. Red restrictions have meant an end to all basketball activity, and those regions still in orange are operating under strict rules that prohibit games and impose physical distancing restrictions on players. So although players in Zones 5, 6 and 7 can continue to practice together, they have to stay two metres apart. Slipp said that means no scrimmages and no defensive drills — leaving a lot of shooting and dribbling practice. He said it's not ideal, especially in a season already hard-hit by COVID restrictions. Since schools haven't allowed outside organizations to use their gyms since the pandemic began, minor basketball leagues across the province had a hard time finding space to run their programs. "I'm still just really sad for all the kids that didn't get a chance to play because of the lack of facilities this year," said Slipp. Last summer, Basketball New Brunswick started working on a project that would help players train on their own through an online program that will launch this Saturday, said Slipp. It was announced less than two weeks ago and 90 young people have already signed up, he said. While it was developed to address the historical short-comings identified in New Brunswick's provincial teams, Slipp said the program can help young players continue to work on their individual skills during the pandemic. He said the Gold Medal Performance Program includes strength and conditioning, nutrition, and sports psychology. Soccer While normally thought of as a warmer-weather sport, soccer continues year-round for many elite players, said Younes Bouida, the executive director of Soccer New Brunswick. But for those in red zones, winter soccer has come to an end. Bouida said many of the elite programs have switched to online tools to keep teams connected and give players at-home programs to stay active and work on their skills. Those in orange zones, meanwhile, continue to be able to practice together, although they have to stay two metres away from each other, which is definitely better than the options available to teams in red zones, said Bouida. School sports and activities All school sports, including intramural sports, are cancelled in red zones. So, too, are all after-school clubs and activities. "Masks are required to be worn during physical education and only activities that are conducive to physical distancing, such as yoga, dancing and moderate walking, are permitted in high school and strongly recommended for K-8 students," explained Education Department spokesperson Tara Chislett in an email Wednesday afternoon. What orange will bring Under the orange phase of recovery, teams are permitted to practice as a group, but the activities are limited to "skills and drills." Scrimmages are prohibited and players are expected to stay two metres apart at all times. Gym, fitness facilities, and yoga studios may operate under a COVID-19 operational plan with additional public health measures, including: Two metres of physical distancing, with masks, in low-intensity fitness classes such as yoga, tai chi, and stretching; and three metres of physical distancing for high-intensity activities such as spin, aerobics and boot camp. active screening and record keeping of patrons. closed locker rooms/common areas. Yellow Sports teams can continue to play, following their operational plan, and tournaments or larger events may be permitted, subject to the approval of a plan. For most teams in yellow, it was business-almost-as-usual, but with added COVID precautions like screening and proper hand hygiene. Red The only activity encouraged in the public health messages is "Exercising alone or with persons in your bubble." Maritime Junior Hockey League On Monday, the Maritime Junior Hockey League announced that seven games would be postponed as a result of Zone 4 going into the red phase of recovery. In a press release, the league said the postponed games would affect the Edmundston Blizzard and Grand Falls Rapids. No further releases have been issued since Zones 1, 2 and 3 went red, but the league's director of communications James Faulkner confirmed by email Wednesday that teams in the orange zones can continue to practice together. All activity has stopped for those in red, said Faulkner. National Basketball League of Canada The National Basketball League of Canada announced in November that it would postpone its season. According to the league's website, the tentative start date is now March 12. Quebec Major Junior Hockey League The league announced Monday that it would postpone regular season games "following meetings with government and Public Health officials of the three provinces of the Maritimes Division." Those in red zones, however, will not be allowed to practice together.
COVID-19 restrictions are interrupting training and certification programs for lifeguards in Ottawa, raising the possibility that public pools, beaches and water parks will be understaffed this summer, one safety advocate warns. Indoor pools are closed during Ontario's current lockdown, postponing the training and testing would-be lifeguards need to be certified. According to Perry Smith, programs director for the Lifesaving Society in Ontario, that could lead to a shortage of trained personnel when those aquatic facilities reopen. "At some point those will be reopened and they take in some cases hundreds of lifeguards to supervise," said Perry. "We recommend that when the stay-at-home mandate is lifted, that people continue with their training as soon as they can, so they don't get into a situation where … they're not able to get the training they want going into the summer," said Perry. Between mid-March and Boxing Day, when Ontario's 28-day lockdown went into effect, first aid training and lifeguard certification was allowed to continue, albeit with safety protocols including smaller classes, frequent cleaning of equipment and the some online elements. That restricted capacity, creating a backlog that's now getting worse. According to Perry, the City of Ottawa has had lifeguard staffing problems in the past, with too many lifeguards gunning for choice outdoor jobs at water parks, public beaches and summer camps, and too few settling for indoor posts and teaching swimming lessons, according to Perry. You don't want your beachfronts or your swimming pools with not enough staff available to provide the services. - Perry Smith, Lifesaving Society In order to attract more young people to the field, the Lifesaving Society recently reduced the age requirement to start training, Perry said. "So they can get their training when they're 15, and then when they turn 16, then they can be employed as a full lifeguard." He's encouraging would-be lifeguards to get as much of their training done online as possible, "so when the pools are open, then they can continue their training and complete it." Perry is also urging municipalities including Ottawa to do whatever it takes to have pools and programs ready to go. "You don't want your beachfronts or your swimming pools with not enough staff available to provide the services," he said. But the City of Ottawa doesn't appear concerned that the stalled lifeguard training and certification process will lead to shortages months from now. "The city does not foresee any issues with staff lifeguards for the upcoming summer, and will proceed with the hiring process as per usual," said Dan Brisebois, director of citywide programs, aquatics and specialized services. In a statement, Brisebois said the city will continue to monitor the effect of COVID-19 on municipal pools and other city-run amenities.
In preparing for her first election run, Kristina Ennis never expected what would be called into question during her first days of door knocking. At least a couple of times a day, her age has been brought up at the door, Ennis, the Progressive Conservative candidate for St. John's West, told CBC News. "Comments around, even straight up asking, 'How old are you? Are you old enough to be running in this election?'" said Ennis. Ennis — who, for the record, is 30 — said she tries her best to brush off such remarks and focus on her skills, like a near-decade of experience in the oil and gas sector. But the comments on her appearance nag at her at night, especially so after talking to male counterparts to find none of them had similar experiences. "I don't think my age has anything to do with my credibility. And when I get questions like that, I feel as if my credibility and my skills and my qualifications are being called into question simply because I am a female in politics," she said. Ennis's experience hasn't been an aberration since Newfoundland and Labrador's general election was called Friday evening. Female candidates have been sharing encounters of sexism and misogyny, from casual comments to online trolling, that aren't limited to political newcomers. "I've had some harassing behaviour against me. I'm seeing that on the campaign trail. In the third day. So it's a bit of an interesting experience," said Sarah Stoodley, the Liberal incumbent candidate in the midst of her second campaign for Mt. Scio's seat. Most of the comments come via email, Stoodley said, continuing a trolling trend she saw when she was an MHA. One tactic? Don't engage much with the senders, she said. "They're not really interested in having a conversation, like around policy." Still, the emails have prompted her team to ensure Stoodley never enters or leaves her campaign office unaccompanied, she said, with even some women on her team — unelected employees or volunteers — having been targets. Alison Coffin, running for the NDP in St. John's East-Quidi Vidi in her third election, credits her campaign team for insulating her from the nastiest online snipes. But despite trying to abide by what should be the internet's golden rule — don't read the comments — sexism seeps through. "I certainly have had lots and lots of comments about how I look, what my hair is like. And people don't talk to you about your message — they say, 'Well, oh, that outfit didn't quite fit right,'" said Coffin, who is also the party's leader. Even for a seasoned politician, Coffin said, such jabs can be setbacks, and she knows it keeps others with political aspirations on the sidelines. "That's a real unfortunate barrier for a lot of women. A lot of people don't appreciate that type of criticism, and it really is a deterrent to bring good, strong women candidates who are smart and have good ideas," she said. A non-partisan push Despite their political differences Ennis, Coffin and Stoodley share an uncommon unity in this campaign in the face of discrimination. And they're not the only ones. "Females from all parties are coming together to support one another, and I really love that spirit of teamwork. I'm really big on teamwork as it is, and I think a collaborative approach to problem-solving is what's best in most situations," Ennis said. There's weight to that energy. The nomination deadline for candidates is Saturday, but so far, percentage-wise, there are more women running in the 2021 election than ever before at 33 per cent, or 37 out of the 112 candidates declared as of Wednesday. Female candidates are contributing uplifting songs to a non-partisan playlist to help power them through any campaign trail problems — Ennis's pick is Grown Woman by Beyoncé — and giving advice; Stoodley recommends brushing off negative comments, while Coffin said it helps to shut off social media. To effect larger change, Ennis said education is key. She credits Equal Voice NL — the provincial chapter of the Canada-wide non-profit that promotes women in office — as raising the issue's profile. On a personal level, a tool she's used in the past has been to make people aware of unconscious bias, and she hopes this campaign incorporates that tactic. "A lot of people don't necessarily realize how their words hurt and impact another person. And I think the campaign happening right now, and the number of comments women are getting, I think it's important that … that the awareness can get out there, that this is inappropriate, and this is why it's inappropriate, so that people hopefully understand and this attitude stops," she said. The 'old boys' club' — in 2021 It's a big ask, and bigger than a month-long campaign, where addressing sexist comments takes time away from the issues and policies the politicians are trying to discuss. Gender parity among all parties remains elusive, and prior to the election, only 22.5 per cent of MHAs were women. Coffin said sexism continues to dog and deter female candidates in part because it isn't getting fully addressed within the larger political sphere. "I certainly see that in the House of Assembly, that semblance of that old boys' club is still there. It's a lot of token words about women's issues, but it doesn't seem to be a real fulsome understanding," she said. Case in point: in October, Lisa Dempster, a Liberal cabinet minister at the time, was called "a schoolgirl" by Opposition MHA Barry Petten, who later apologized for those remarks. For progress to be made, Coffin said, sexism needs to be called out wherever it's seen. "We need to address it directly and it needs to be embodied by all politicians," she said. For her part, Stoodley is working to embody change. Being visible, she said, is key, and her past months in politics show that commitment. She was sworn in as a cabinet minister in her third trimester in August, with her pregnancy bringing about Confederation Building changes from adding change tables in washrooms to permitting babies on the legislature's floor. In less high-profile work, Stoodley said she has tried to give political tours and, in pandemic times, Zoomed with schoolchildren to talk about what being an MHA is like. "If they see themselves as that, hopefully they can aspire to be that," Stoodley said. Stoodley notes female candidates often are able to fundraise less than male counterparts — a CBC/Radio Canada investigation found an average gap between genders of about $5,000 in the last federal election — and she hopes there's room for further, systemic electoral change. "In terms of the system we're working in, where we run and we're candidates and we have parties, can we tweak the system to help encourage more women to run, so that we move closer to the 50/50 split that reflects the general population?" she said. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Canada's national statistical agency is hiring tens of thousands of employees as it prepares for the challenge of conducting a physically-distanced census during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a press release published this week, Statistics Canada said it's overhauling its canvassing practices and looking to bring on 32,000 field staff to survey the Canadian population this spring. StatsCan said it is striving for a "contact-free" census, with agency staff collecting the necessary information without coming into face-to-face contact with the public. The census collects demographic information on every person living in Canada. The data is then used by governments, businesses, associations, community organizations and others to make evidence-based decisions at the municipal, provincial and federal levels. This year will mark the first time the agency has ever conducted a census in the middle of a public health emergency. "More than ever, these data are necessary," said Geoff Bowlby, director general of the 2021 census. "If you look at the current pandemic, the census data have been instrumental in determining how we should respond to the pandemic." As examples, Bowlby cited public health authorities using census data to learn which neighbourhoods are most vulnerable to COVID-19, and the federal government using population data to calculate the equitable distribution of vaccine doses. Online if possible, in-person only if necessary Bowlby said StatsCan said will do everything it can to keep respondents and census employees safe while conducting this year's census. Residents will be encouraged to complete the short-form and long-form surveys on paper, online or by phone. In-person interviews and door-to-door canvassing will be conducted only in rare circumstances where those methods are unsuccessful or unavailable. Over 68 per cent of respondents completed their census survey online during the last census in 2016. The agency said at the time it was the most successful in its history, with a total of 98.4 per cent of Canadian households responding. This year, the agency has set a target of 80 per cent online responses. In the event that an in-person visit is deemed necessary, no interview will be done inside a private home. Interviewers will be required to wear masks, carry hand sanitizer and maintain physical distancing from those they are surveying. Bowlby said the agency is looking to hire a record number of local enumerators to survey people in remote, northern and First Nations communities. In previous years, those communities were surveyed using a traditional canvassing method which saw census employees administer questionnaires inside people's homes. Over 600 staff who already have been hired received learning materials by mail or did their training via video conference, the agency said. Balancing risk with need for quality data Wayne Smith, Canada's chief statistician from 2010 to 2016, said a certain level of in-person contact will be necessary to engage hard-to-reach people, including those who live in areas without reliable, high-speed internet. Otherwise, the quality of the data could be compromised by a low response rate. "To say that it's going to be a revolution in comparison to what's been done before — I would be very surprised," said Smith. "Boots on the ground in the North and on reserves and in remote areas is still part of the package." Smith said the agency will have to convince Canadians of the importance of conducting the census during a pandemic before they send out the surveys — or run the risk of creating a public relations problem that could discourage people from completing it. Michel Frojmovic, community data program lead at the Canadian Community Economic Development Network, said information gathered from the census is absolutely necessary for municipal and community organizations. He said the risk of conducting the census during the pandemic is justified. "To find data in Canada that's consistent and credible and comparable and available over time is rare and divine," said Frojmovic. "One of the only sources of that data would be the census." Frojmovic said he is convinced StatsCan can pull it off. "If they do COVID safety as good as they do data security, then we're in good shape," he said.
Coal mining is already having an impact in Alberta's Rocky Mountains even as debate intensifies over the industry's presence in one of the province's most beloved landscapes. "They've been very active up there," said Kevin Van Tighem, who lives near one of the areas now heavily leased for coal exploration. The United Conservative government's decision to revoke a policy that had protected the eastern slopes of the Rockies from open-pit coal mining since 1976 has convulsed the province. Petitions opposing the move have gathered more than 100,000 signatures. Popular Alberta entertainment figures have come out against it and area ranchers and First Nations are trying to force a judicial review of the decision. Documents from the Alberta Energy Regulator show that permission has already been granted for hundreds of drill sites and kilometres of roads threading through critical wildlife habitat and land previously untouched by mining. "The day after the coal policy was rescinded we started seeing applications for exploration," said Katie Morrison of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. "Before we've done any real assessments of the impacts, we're seeing these companies have some potential pretty big impacts on that land." Documents filed with the regulator give some sense of what's already been permitted. Cabin Ridge Coal, operating 50 kilometres north of Coleman, Alta., is putting in 197 drill sites on land once protected by the coal policy. It plans 15 new access roads and 19 "reactivated" roads — abandoned for decades and now being refurbished. The exploration plans require nine new stream crossings. Elan Coal, north of Blairmore, Alta., has been permitted for 456 drill sites that include 66 kilometres of new roads and 29 kilometres of reactivated roads. Montem Resources, active south of Coleman, has the OK for 71 drill sites with an unspecified length of "new and existing access." Almost all of the drill sites are on grizzly bear range. Mountain goat and sheep habitat will be affected. Company plans detail how environmental impacts are to be reduced by careful construction and timing work for when it will cause the least disruption. They suggest the amount of land directly disturbed will be small — less than 100 hectares for Cabin Ridge. That's not the whole story, said Van Tighem, a former chief superintendent of Banff National Park. Wildlife steer clear of active roads and drill sites by up to 500 metres, he said. Roads cut into hillsides — no matter how well built — are "erosion traps" and roads that run uphill are "sluiceways" for run-off that would normally feed streams, he said. Mitigation measures aren't all they're cracked up to be, he added. "They're not ever as good as (companies) promise and not as consistently applied as the government would lead us to believe." Morrison points out that at least twice since the coal policy was revoked, companies have asked for exemptions to rules that prevented them from operating during sensitive times for wildlife. "Both exemptions were applied for, granted and work started within a day or two," she said. "That doesn't scream rigour to me as far as decreasing impact." Peter Brodsky, spokesman for Energy Minister Sonya Savage, said the government takes public concern seriously. This week, it paused all lease sales on formerly protected land and cancelled a small number of them, refunding $80,000. "The department will be working with Alberta Environment to determine next steps to best address the concerns that have been raised," he said in an email. "We will not choose between protecting the land for future generations and providing economic opportunities. We need to — and will — do both, in a measured and environmentally responsible way." Area rancher Gordon Cartwright looks up into the hills on his neighbour's land and recalls what a geologist told him last summer about what his neck of the foothills looks like. "He said, with the intensity of the operations and the drilling, it looked more like mining preparation than exploration," Cartwright said. "That activity's pretty damaging. A lot of these soils are highly susceptible to erosion and are hard to revegetate. "You would have thought consultation would have happened before you start opening up the country and creating that kind of disturbance." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. — Follow @row1960 on Twitter Bob Weber, The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — Enterprise software company SAP Canada will open a new research and development office in Montreal for its SAP Labs division and plans to add 30 new employees as part of the expansion. The company said in a new release Thursday that its decision to open the new office, located at Place Ville Marie in downtown Montreal, indicates its commitment to the Quebec market, which it views as a world-class technology hub. “With this new office in the city, we are cementing our position as one of Montreal’s leading employers and a key player in Canada’s growing digital economy,” said Cindy Fagen, managing director of SAP Labs Canada, in a statement. SAP Canada’s new employees will be part of a unit that builds custom technology for consumer-facing businesses. The investment brings the company’s total workforce in Montreal to 1,000 employees, SAP Canada said. While Toronto remains Canada’s dominant tech hub, Montreal has attracted increased investment from technology companies in recent years, especially in the field of artificial intelligence. The Quebec government has devoted a lot of money in its efforts to attract high-tech jobs to the city, announcing in 2017 that it would spend $100 million to lure artificial intelligence startups and research initiatives to the area. The Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, which manages several public insurance and pension plans in the province, has also invested in startups with prominent presences in the city, including Lightspeed POS Inc. and Nuvei Corp. SAP said it is working with Montreal International, an agency that helps businesses invest in the city, on the expansion. SAP’s announcement comes as many companies re-evaluate their office expenditures in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, with some choosing to reduce their physical footprint in favour of implementing more flexible work-from-home policies. SAP Canada expects to move employees into the new office in September. Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said in a statement that SAP Canada’s investment will play an important role as the city looks to recover from the harsh economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The city can keep counting on its exceptional workforce in the digital sector, which is key to the city’s economy and it will certainly play a critical role in its economic recovery,” Plante said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:LSPD) Jon Victor, The Canadian Press
A mother from Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., is urging people to take COVID-19 — and the health measures in place — seriously, as her son fights for his life. Myrine Kakfwi, 30, has been in an intensive care unit in an Edmonton hospital for the last three weeks. Every day his mother Dolly Pierrot rubs lotion on her son's feet and hands, and massages his legs as he lies on his back in his hospital bed. "We have been talking to him, telling him not to give up and telling him how many people are praying for him. His dad plays music for him and we pray with him," she said in a Facebook post. Not just a bad flu It was over a month ago, on Dec. 5, when Kakfwi told his mom from his home in Edmonton that he thought he had COVID-19 — he was coughing and felt he had a bad flu, Pierrot told CBC News. "I was immediately worried and I was really concerned for him," she said. Just a few days later, on Dec. 7 she heard from her eldest son that Kakfwi was taken by ambulance to the University of Alberta Hospital. Pierrot says that was the same day Kakfwi was diagnosed with COVID-19. "I just wanted to know how serious it was, if he was OK," she said. "My oldest son said that Myrine was coughing up blood." Pierrot says she was also concerned for her eldest, since he was in contact with Kakfwi and was taken to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton to be put in isolation. Luckily, his COVID-19 test came back negative, she said. Pierrot says the hospital then told her that Kakfwi was admitted and being treated in isolation. "He came in with a collapsed right lung and they said that he had ... double pneumonia," Pierrot said. It wasn't until about a week before Christmas that Kakfwi seemed to be recovering. "He was FaceTiming us, he was talking to us," Pierrot said. "He was really regretful that he didn't take COVID-19 seriously. He said he was just not being careful." Suddenly offline But as the days and hours passed, Pierrot said her son's health seemed to deteriorate again. "He was just not making sense," she said of Kakfwi when he was speaking to the family. "And then all of a sudden, he just went offline and we couldn't get ahold of him." They tried calling on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day but still no answer from her son. "I kept calling U of A and nobody seemed to know where he went," Pierrot said. By Dec. 27 she was in contact with the intensive care unit and found her answer. A doctor called Pierrot and told her Kakfwi was "seriously" ill. "He said that he was admitted into ICU … and he had double pneumonia and he had a couple of bacteria in both lungs and he was placed on a ventilator." 'You need to come down' She asked the doctor if she and Kakfwi's dad should travel from Fort Good Hope down to Edmonton. The doctor said they should come immediately. Pierrot said her local MLA, Paulie Chinna, and the Yamoga Land Corporation helped her make travel arrangements. They landed in Edmonton the next morning. When they arrived at the hospital, they were allowed to see Kakfwi right away, she said, and were given 24-hour access to him. The doctors told them Kakfwi no longer had COVID-19, but the after effects were keeping him unwell. Kakfwi had a CT scan on Monday, where doctors found another infection in one of his lungs. One of his lungs has also been leaking air, so a specialist is going to see if a valve can be inserted to close up the leak, she said. "So he's been … fighting back for the last three weeks," Pierrot said, adding they're taking it day by day. Right by his side Pierrot said she and Kakfwi's dad have been staying at a hotel, and splitting their time between there and the hospital. She says everyone has been rooting for a quick recovery for her son. "The doctors told us that he's young and so they're really pushing his body hard … they're not giving up on him" Pierrot said. And neither are his parents. "As long as he's fighting, his dad and I are fighting right along with him, and we're not going anywhere, we're going to stay here and be with him [for] the whole thing." Message to others Pierrot says she is sharing her son's story in hopes that people will take COVID-19 seriously. "It's real, it's dangerous," Pierrot said. "It spreads so quick and so easy, we just have to be so vigilant with sanitizing and wearing your mask and staying home." She said the family has received an abundance of support through messages, phone calls and donations from the community of Fort Good Hope. "Which is really comforting to know that people do care about each other and we feel so supported here," Pierrot said. "Just amazing how people pull together and rallied behind us... it just really helps us stay strong throughout this."