Battered by COVID-19, Canada's airline industry is experimenting with testing passengers at check-in, hoping to restore the public's confidence in flying again.
Battered by COVID-19, Canada's airline industry is experimenting with testing passengers at check-in, hoping to restore the public's confidence in flying again.
WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers and conservative groups opposed President-elect Joe Biden's forthcoming immigration plan Tuesday as massive amnesty for people in the U.S. illegally, underscoring that the measure faces an uphill fight in a Congress that Democrats control just narrowly. In a further complication, several pro-immigration groups said they would press Biden to go even further and take steps such as immediate moratoriums on deportations, detentions and new arrests. Coupled with the discomfort an immigration push could cause for moderate Democrats, liberals' demands illustrated the pressures facing Biden as four years of President Donald Trump's restrictive and often harsh immigration policies come to an end. “It simply wouldn't have happened without us," Lorella Praeli, co-president of the liberal group Community Change, said of Biden's victory. “So we are now in a powerful position." Biden plans to introduce the legislation shortly after being inaugurated Wednesday, a move he hopes will spotlight his emphasis on an issue that's defied major congressional action since 1986. Its fate, as written, seemed in doubt. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who will become Senate majority leader this week, said Trump's impeachment trial, confirmation of Biden's Cabinet nominees and more COVID-19 relief will be the chamber's top initial priorities. “I look forward to working together with him" on the measure, Schumer said — a choice of words that might suggest changes could be needed for it to pass Congress. Biden's proposal would create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, set up a processing program abroad for refugees seeking admission to the U.S. and push toward using technology to monitor the border. The measure was described by an official from Biden's transition team who described the plan on condition of anonymity. With an eye toward discouraging a surge of immigrants toward the U.S.-Mexico boundary, the package's route to citizenship would only apply to people already in the U.S. by this past Jan. 1. But it omits the traditional trade-off of dramatically enhanced border security that's helped attract some GOP support in the past, which drew criticism on Tuesday. “A mass amnesty with no safeguards and no strings attached is a nonstarter,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., often a central player in Senate immigration battles. “Total amnesty, no regard for the health or security of Americans, and zero enforcement," Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who like Rubio is a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender, said in a Monday tweet. That view was shared by Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, which favours curbing immigration. “Past proposals at least accepted the concept of turning off the faucet and mopping up the overflow. This is nothing but mopping up and letting the faucet continue to run," Krikorian said. Rosemary Jenks, top lobbyist for NumbersUSA, which also wants to limit immigration, said the measure seems likely to fail in the Senate. It would need at least 10 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats to overcome a filibuster that would kill the measure. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said, “Moving an immigration reform bill won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible." He cited a 2013 massive overhaul that narrowly passed the Senate, only to die in the GOP-run House. Menendez and Rubio were part of a bipartisan “Gang of 8" senators that helped win Senate approval. Under Biden's legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfil other requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization if they pursue citizenship. For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements. Biden is also expected to take swift executive actions, which require no congressional action, to reverse other Trump immigration actions. These include ending to the prohibition on arrivals from predominantly Muslim countries. The legislation represents Biden's bid to deliver on a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of Trump's restrictive policies and mass deportations. It provides one of the fastest pathways to citizenship for those living without legal status of any measure in recent years. Biden allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new administration could find common ground with the GOP to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades. That kind of major win, even if it involves compromise, could be critical for Biden. He'll be seeking legislative victories in a Congress where Republicans are certain to oppose other Biden priorities, like rolling back some of the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts and increasing federal spending. Democrats will control the 50-50 Senate with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote. Democrats currently control the House 222-211, with two vacancies. ___ Barrow reported from Wilmington, Delaware. AP writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego also contributed to this report. Alan Fram, Lisa Mascaro And Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
Regina – By Tuesday, Jan. 19, SGI Canada had already received 1,885 property claims as a result of the Alberta clipper storm that whacked southern Saskatchewan Jan. 13-14. That’s according to Tyler McMurchy, manager, media relations, with SGI. He added that’s for just for one insurer, as SGI is one of many property insurers in the province. A further 386 auto claims were also received – not from people bumping fenders, but from things like trees landing on vehicles, or trailers being blown over. “Those were some pretty crazy winds,” McMurchy said by phone from Regina on Jan. 19. He said claims came from throughout the province, anywhere south of Prince Albert. Regina, Moose Jaw and Weyburn were particularly hit, but so were places like Saskatoon, Radville, Estevan and Milestone. In October, 2017, there had been a similar storm, but McMurchy said, “This past one had higher wind speeds and more trees knocked down.” Environment Canada had reported wind gusts as strong as an EF1 tornado north of Regina. Since it was winter, more outside items like lawn furniture and trampolines had been put away, while other items were frozen to the ground, he noted. There will be some “very large claims” he said, including building damage and farm claims. Adjusters worked throughout the weekend, and by Jan. 19, most of those who had filed claims had initial contact with an SGI adjuster, according to McMurchy. Shingles, roofs, soffits and siding are just some of the damage claims that have come in. “Some neighbourhoods, everyone’s got some shingles missing,” he said. He spoke of limiting further damage, but it may be necessary to get contractors to do that. Hold onto receipts, he noted, and take pictures, both wide angle and closeups. Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
Just a day before Joe Biden’s inauguration as the next U.S. president, Ontario Premier Doug Ford asked the next American president for Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines from U.S. facilities.
WINNIPEG — Manitoba is considering allowing more store openings and social gatherings under its COVID-19 public-health orders. With case numbers dropping in recent weeks, the province is proposing a looser set of rules that could take effect by the end of the week, subject to public feedback. One change would let non-essential stores reopen with capacity limits. Another change would allow barber shops, hair salons, podiatrists and other health services to resume operations. The province is also looking at easing a ban on most home gatherings, allowing two visitors inside and up to five visitors on outdoor private property. Manitoba's chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, says the changes would likely only be made in southern and central Manitoba, because COVID-19 case numbers remain high in the northern health region. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021 The Canadian Press
New Brunswick's Liberal opposition says it supports the decision to let schools stay open during the red phase of COVID-19 restrictions. Liberal Leader Roger Melanson is backing up Education Minister Dominic Cardy's assertion that Public Health officials recommended the change to the red-phase guidelines. "That's what Public Health recommended," said Melanson, who sits with other political party leaders on an all-party COVID-19 committee with Premier Blaine Higgs and key cabinet ministers. The province announced the abrupt change to the red-zone rules for schools on Sunday, the same day it put Zone 4 into the red phase. Melanson said he agrees with Cardy's rationale that schools, where rigid COVID policies are in place, are safer places for children than potentially uncontrolled gatherings outside school. Most of transmission "happen in an environment where it's in private sessions, in social gatherings, where people are unfortunately not respecting the guidelines," Melanson said. "The data that I received from Public Health is that it's a safer environment. It's in a controlled environment for the kids to be able to be in school in a safe way." 'Making up plans as they go' On Monday Liberal MLA Guy Arseneault, a former president of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association, accused the Higgs government in a tweet of "making up plans as they go." Arseneault questioned the decision to allow schools to open in the red phase, a decision also criticized by the teachers' association. "People are asking who's calling the shots?" he said in another tweet. Cardy said Tuesday morning in a series of interviews that changes to red-phase rules, based on Public Health data, had been in the works for some time and should have been ready before Sunday's Zone 4 decision. "My apologies for this coming at the last minute," he said. "I did not want it to be this way." Melanson said he had not heard about possible changes to red guidelines until the last few days. "That's the issue here," he said, arguing Arseneault's tweets did not risk confusing the public on the credibility of Public Health decisions. "I think what MLA Arseneault questioned was the process of how the stakeholders were informed or not informed." Minister should've contacted teacher organizations sooner Melanson said Cardy should have done better at contacting people affected by the changes, including teacher organizations, as soon as he could. "The dialogue is important here," he said. "People want to be part of the solution." Arseneault refused an interview request Tuesday. "Mr. Arseneault is comfortable leaving the leader [to] speak on behalf of caucus on this issue, so he will not be doing an interview today," said Liberal spokesperson Ashley Beaudin. Last November, before a spike in COVID-19 cases, Liberal education critic Benoit Bourque said New Brunswick high school students, who attend classes in two groups on alternating days, should be in school full-time to help them avoid mental-health issues. At the time, Cardy said the alternate-days system for high school had been endorsed by the all-party COVID committee before the start of the school year.
After four years, U.S. President Donald Trump will be leaving office as President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into the position on Jan. 20, 2021. The weeks leading up to Trump’s departure have been tumultuous, with a siege on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, five federal executions, and 143 presidential pardons, just to name a few pivotal moments.Trump began the day by speaking to a crowd at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland before boarding Air Force One. He is traveling to his golf club, Mar-a-Lago, in Florida, and will not be attending Biden’s inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C.Supporters of the 45th U.S. President gathered in West Palm Beach, Fla. to greet Trump’s motorcade when it arrived in the city.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard continued efforts to seek bail in a Winnipeg courtroom Tuesday following his arrest last month in an extradition case involving U.S. charges of sex trafficking and racketeering. Global's Brittany Greenslade was in the courtroom.
BANGUI, Central African Republic — Armed groups stood on the outskirts of Bangassou on Tuesday, raising fears of further clashes in the southern city a day after two U.N. peacekeepers were killed in a nearby ambush blamed on rebels. Tensions are high in Central African Republic after other coalition rebels attempted a rare attack on the capital of Bangui last week in the aftermath of President Faustin Archange Touadera's reelection on Dec. 27. Now residents of Bangassou say rebel fighters from the northeast of Central African Republic have begun arriving in the same area where only days earlier other rebels had left after controlling the city for more than a month. Abacar Sabone, a spokesman for the rebel coalition known as the Coalition of Patriots for Change, says his fighters consider Bangassou to be strategically important. “It is from this city that Touadera is bringing in mercenaries," he alleged of the town located 750 kilometres (310 miles) from the capital on the border with Congo. The Rev. Jean-Noel Kinazounga at the Cathedral of St. Pierre Claver said there was an uneasy calm Tuesday in Bangassou, where residents remained fearful of more violence. “We are afraid to go to the field or even join our parents on the other side of the river because of the return in force and the armed men,” said Angeline Koundro, a 40-year-old resident. Rebel fighters had first seized control of Bangassou in early December, looting shops and plunging the city into crisis. Local officials say some residents drown while attempting to flee across the river to neighbouring Congo. The rebel forces finally withdrew from the town last week but now other fighters have recently come into the area from the country's north, residents say. Those arriving rebels are being blamed for Monday's attack that killed two U.N. peacekeepers. A peacekeeper from Gabon and another from Morocco were killed about 17 kilometres (about 11 miles) outside the embattled city, according to Vladimir Monteiro, the spokesman for the U.N. mission known as MINUSCA. The rebels' attempted attack on the capital last week marked the most serious threat to Bangui since 2013, when a coalition of predominantly Muslim rebels known as Seleka overthrew President Francois Bozize after long claiming marginalization. Later that year, militia fighters known as the anti-Balaka launched their own assault on Bangui in an attempt to overthrow Michel Djotodia's rebel-led government. Eventually the anti-Balaka began attacking Muslim civilians too, beating people to death in the streets, destroying mosques and forcing tens of thousands of Muslims to flee Bangui in 2014. The rebel president Djotodia eventually stepped aside amid international pressure and an interim government organized democratic elections, which Touadera won in 2016. While he won reelection in December with 53% of the vote, he continues to face political opposition from forces linked to ex-president Bozize, who was disqualified from taking part in the recent presidential vote. ___ Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal, contributed to this report. Jean Fernand Koena, The Associated Press
Adam Grant, who first began working for the Region of Queens Municipality (RQM) in 2007 as the assistant director of the engineering and public works department, now gets a turn at the helm. Grant was appointed as the department’s new director at the RQM council meeting on January 12. He has been in the role of acting director since the retirement of Brad Rowter in December 2020. Rowter worked for the municipality for 24 years. He began his career at RQM as an engineer and was appointed Director of Engineering and Public Works in September 2003, after being in the role of acting director for about a year. “We are pleased to have Adam take on this important role with Region of Queens Municipality. With 14 years’ experience as an engineer with the municipality, we are confident Adam can lead the Municipality in our continued growth and continue to advance important infrastructure projects,” Darlene Norman, RQM’s mayor, commented in a press release. As director, Grant will be responsible for overseeing the management, maintenance and development of municipal infrastructure of two sewer systems, its water system, Queens Solid Waste Management Facility and Materials Recovery Facility, streets in Liverpool, parks and green spaces throughout Queens County, as well as the operational components of Queens Place Emera Centre. Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin
ÉMILIE PELLETIER Initiative de journalisme local — Le Droit Malgré les problèmes d’approvisionnement du vaccin de Pfizer, l’Ontario est toujours en voie d’accomplir son objectif de vacciner tous les résidents, les employés et les proches aidants de chaque foyer de soins de longue durée de la province d’ici le 15 février. C’est du moins ce qu’ont affirmé les experts de la santé publique du ministère de la Santé, mardi, quelques minutes avant qu’Ottawa annonce que Pfizer ne livrera aucune dose du vaccin au Canada, la semaine prochaine. Une nouvelle «troublante», selon le premier ministre Doug Ford, qui a profité de sa conférence de presse pour demander l’aide du président élu des États-Unis, Joe Biden. «Donnez-nous un million de vaccins», a-t-il demandé à celui qui deviendra officiellement le 46e président américain mercredi, «c’est la moindre des choses». « Nous ne nous reposerons pas avant que chaque Ontarien souhaitant recevoir son vaccin ne l’ait reçu. » — Doug Ford Première ronde complétée En Ontario, la première ronde de vaccination, soit celle où les résidents et les employés des foyers de soins de longue durée situés dans les régions les plus touchées par la transmission du virus ont été choisis en priorité, est complétée. C’est-à-dire que tous les employés et les résidents des établissements pour aînés de Toronto, Peel, York et de Windsor qui le souhaitaient ont reçu leur première dose du vaccin contre la COVID-19. L’Ontario a pris de l’avance sur cet objectif, initialement prévu pour le 21 janvier. La première série de vaccinations a également été administrée dans tous les foyers de soins de longue durée d'Ottawa et dans 40% des établissements pour aînés de la province, selon la santé publique. Néanmoins, les semaines qui suivront le 15 février pourraient être semées d'incertitudes, a noté le général Rick Hillier, responsable de la distribution du vaccin en Ontario. La province verra son approvisionnement de vaccins Pfizer considérablement réduit au cours des quatre prochaines semaines (-5% cette semaine, -80% la semaine prochaine, -55% la semaine suivante et -45% la semaine du 8 février). Cela représente plus de 66 000 doses du vaccin de Pfizer au cours de cette période. Les foyers de soins de longue durée, les maisons de retraite à haut risque et les communautés autochtones accessibles uniquement par avion sont désormais la priorité. «Nous ne nous reposerons pas avant que chaque Ontarien souhaitant recevoir son vaccin ne l’ait reçu», a déclaré le premier ministre Doug Ford en conférence de presse, mardi à 13h.Émilie Pelletier, journaliste, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Droit
TORONTO — The Canadian Premier League is targeting the Victoria Day long weekend in May as the kickoff for its third season. However, the league acknowledges that will ultimately depend on local government and health authorities. "Our plans call for the start of play this spring — while recognizing that a major factor will be our nation's progress against this pandemic," commissioner David Clanachan said in a letter to fans. "Based on where we are right now, if health authorities say it is safe to do so, we are focused on targeting a start date of the Victoria Day long weekend (May 22, 2021) — Canada’s 'unofficial start of summer.' To that end, we will remain flexible but also adaptable in our planning. To be clear, our ultimate goal is to see our supporters in the stands as we take to the field." The league acknowledges opening the doors to any number of spectators again is a decision that will be made by others. The hope is to have each of the eight teams play a normal 28-game season. The league is currently looking at a number of scheduling models. The 2020 season was originally slated to run from April 11 to Oct. 4. The pandemic shelved that plan with the league eventually playing the Island Games, a truncated tournament in Charlottetown, from Aug. 13 to Sept. 6. The 2019 inaugural regular season ran April 27 to Oct. 19, divided into spring and fall campaigns. Hamilton's Forge FC won the league title both years. The CPL has also announced that young Canadians will see more action in 2021 with clubs now required to give at least 1,500 minutes of combined playing time to domestic players under the age of 21. The requirement previously for U-21 players was 1,000 minutes (pro-rated to 250 minutes at the Island Games). As before, CPL clubs must have at least three U-21 Canadian players signed on their rosters. The rule covers player born Jan. 1, 2000 or later. The league says the U-21 minutes requirement was met or exceeded by all clubs. In 2020, Winnipeg's Valour FC led the way with a total of1,532 minutes. In 2019, Pacific FC recorded 13,532 minutes. The league says it provided 43,000 minutes of playing time to young Canadians across its first two seasons. “Part of the mission of the Canadian Premier League is to foster the growth of young Canadian soccer players," James Easton, the league's vice-president of football operations, said in a statement. "The success to date of our under-21 player minutes is a testament to the quality that exists across Canada, which is now being served in a meaningful way by the opportunities provided by the CPL and is why we have decided to increase the minutes for young Canadian players.” --- Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021 Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
Dans le cadre d’un projet de volontariat en collaboration avec le Carrefour jeunesse emploi (CJE) de la Haute-Côte-Nord, le groupe de brico-jasette de Ressources Parenfants a réalisé 40 baluchons de bienvenue qui seront remis aux nouvelles naissances de l’année 2021 du secteur ouest. L’idée a émergé après une rencontre avec l’agente de projets du CJE HCN, Isabelle Tremblay, à l’hiver 2019 servant à démystifier le volontariat. « Après sa visite, nous avons pensé à ce que nous pourrions mettre en branle pour aider notre communauté. On y a réfléchi un mois et l’idée des baluchons a fait surface », raconte Nancy Bouchard, intervenante communautaire chez Ressources Parenfants. Les participants à l’activité brico-jasette de l’organisme desservant les familles du secteur ouest de la Haute-Côte-Nord ont confectionné des tirelires, colliers de dentition et sacs magiques composant les baluchons de bienvenue. Le matériel nécessaire à la confection ainsi que la promotion des baluchons font partie des dépenses remboursées par le programme de volontariat du CJE HCN. Au total, une somme de 1 800 $ a été octroyée au projet et les participants pouvaient recevoir une compensation monétaire pour leur implication. La réalisation des produits a débuté en mars 2019 et la distribution était prévue un an plus tard, soit en mars 2020. « La pandémie de COVID-19 a retardé nos plans puisqu’il n’était plus possible d’organiser des rencontres. Nous avons toutefois poursuivi le projet et nous avons débuté la distribution des baluchons dans la semaine du 18 janvier 2021 », dévoile Mme Bouchard. Pour le moment, les volontaires ont fabriqué 40 baluchons puisqu’environ 40 naissances sont enregistrées par année dans le secteur ouest du territoire. Afin d’en recevoir un, les familles doivent s’inscrire auprès de Ressources Parenfants par courriel ou téléphone. Ils seront distribués également lors des ateliers poupons de l’organisme. Seulement les naissances 2021 sont admissibles. Christine Levasseur, résidente des Bergeronnes et jeune maman de 27 ans, a pris en charge la réalisation du projet avec l’aide de Thérèse Imbeault, participante, Nancy Bouchard et Florence Tremblay du CJE, qui a pris la relève d’Isabelle Tremblay. « Je suis heureuse d’avoir mené à terme ce projet et j’espère que les baluchons seront appréciés par les parents et les nouveau-nés », commente-t-elle. « Je tiens à remercier toutes les personnes qui ont participé de près ou de loin au projet, au nom de Ressources Parenfants », de conclure l’intervenante communautaire Nancy Bouchard.Johannie Gaudreault, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Haute-Côte-Nord
As President Donald Trump entered the final year of his term last January, the U.S. recorded its first confirmed case of COVID-19. Not to worry, Trump insisted, his administration had the virus “totally under control.” Now, in his final hours in office, after a year of presidential denials of reality and responsibility, the pandemic’s U.S. death toll has eclipsed 400,000. And the loss of lives is accelerating. “This is just one step on an ominous path of fatalities,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University and one of many public health experts who contend the Trump administration’s handling of the crisis led to thousands of avoidable deaths. “Everything about how it’s been managed has been infused with incompetence and dishonesty, and we’re paying a heavy price,” he said. The 400,000-death toll, reported Tuesday by Johns Hopkins University, is greater than the population of New Orleans, Cleveland or Tampa, Florida. It's nearly equal to the number of American lives lost annually to strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, flu and pneumonia combined. With more than 4,000 deaths recorded on some recent days — the most since the pandemic began — the toll by week's end will probably surpass the number of Americans killed in World War II. “We need to follow the science and the 400,000th death is shameful,” said Cliff Daniels, chief strategy officer for Methodist Hospital of Southern California, near Los Angeles. With its morgue full, the hospital has parked a refrigerated truck outside to hold the bodies of COVID-19 victims until funeral homes can retrieve them. “It’s so incredibly, unimaginably sad that so many people have died that could have been avoided,” he said. The U.S. accounts for nearly 1 of every 5 virus deaths reported worldwide, far more than any other country despite its great wealth and medical resources. The coronavirus would almost certainly have posed a grave crisis for any president given its rapid spread and power to kill, experts on public health and government said. But Trump seemed to invest as much in battling public perceptions as he did in fighting the virus itself, repeatedly downplaying the threat and rejecting scientific expertise while fanning conflicts ignited by the outbreak. As president he was singularly positioned to counsel Americans. Instead, he used his pulpit to spout theories — refuted by doctors — that taking unproven medicines or even injecting household disinfectant might save people from the virus. The White House defended the administration this week. “We grieve every single life lost to this pandemic, and thanks to the president’s leadership, Operation Warp Speed has led to the development of multiple safe and effective vaccines in record time, something many said would never happen,” said White House spokesman Judd Deere. With deaths spiraling in the New York City area last spring, Trump declared “war” on the virus. But he was slow to invoke the Defence Production Act to secure desperately needed medical equipment. Then he sought to avoid responsibility for shortfalls, saying that the federal government was “merely a backup” for governors and legislatures. “I think it is the first time in history that a president has declared a war and we have experienced a true national crisis and then dumped responsibility for it on the states,” said Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health care policy think-tank . When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tried to issue guidelines for reopening in May, Trump administration officials held them up and watered them down. As the months passed, Trump claimed he was smarter than the scientists and belittled experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top authority on infectious diseases. “Why would you bench the CDC, the greatest fighting force of infectious disease in the world? Why would you call Tony Fauci a disaster?” asked Dr. Howard Markel, a medical historian at the University of Michigan. “It just doesn’t make sense.” As governors came under pressure to reopen state economies, Trump pushed them to move faster, asserting falsely that the virus was fading. “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” he tweeted in April as angry protesters gathered at the state capitol to oppose the Democratic governor’s stay-at-home restrictions. “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” In Republican-led states like Arizona that allowed businesses to reopen, hospitals and morgues filled with virus victims. “It led to the tragically sharp partisan divide we’ve seen in the country on COVID, and that has fundamental implications for where we are now, because it means the Biden administration can’t start over," Altman said. “They can’t put the genie back in the bottle.” In early October, when Trump himself contracted COVID-19, he ignored safety protocols, ordering up a motorcade so he could wave to supporters outside his hospital. Once released, he appeared on the White House balcony to take off his mask for the cameras, making light of health officials' pleas for people to cover their faces. “We’re rounding the corner,” Trump said of the battle with the virus during a debate with Joe Biden in late October. “It’s going away.” It isn’t. U.S. deaths from COVID-19 surpassed 100,000 in late May, then tripled by mid-December. Experts at the University of Washington project deaths will reach nearly 567,000 by May 1. More than 120,000 patients with the virus are in the hospital in the U.S., according to the COVID Tracking Project, twice the number who filled wards during previous peaks. On a single day last week, the U.S. recorded more than 4,400 deaths. While vaccine research funded by the administration as part of Warp Speed has proved successful, the campaign trumpeted by the White House to rapidly distribute and administer millions of shots has fallen well short of the early goals officials set. “Young people are dying, young people who have their whole lives ahead of them,” said Mawata Kamara, a nurse at California’s San Leandro Hospital who is furious over the surging COVID-19 cases that have overwhelmed health care workers. “We could have done so much more.” Many voters considered the federal government’s response to the pandemic a key factor in their vote: 39% said it was the single most important factor, and they overwhelmingly backed Biden over Trump, according to AP VoteCast. But millions of others stood with him. “Here you have a pandemic," said Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant, "yet you have a massive per cent of the population that doesn’t believe it exists.” Adam Geller And Janie Har, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Canada is not going to get any vaccine does from Pfizer-BioNTech next week.Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the Canadian military commander co-ordinating the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, says Canada's shipments of the vaccine will be cut by nearly one-fifth this week and then go down to zero next week.Pfizer told Canada last week its shipments would be affected because the production facility in Belgium is being upgraded to produce more doses overall.Fortin said last week that Canada expected to get about half the total number of doses it was originally expecting over the next four weeks, but can't say today what the total impact will be beyond this week and next.Canada was to get more than 417,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week and next, but will now get just 171,093 doses this week nothing the next week.Procurement Minister Anita Anand says this is disappointing and she spent the weekend on the phone with Pfizer officials about the matter.Pfizer says multiple countries will be affected but won't say which ones. Europe is seeing its shipments cut back this week but its dose deliveries will return to normal next week.Earlier Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau repeated his commitment to have enough COVID-19 vaccine doses for any Canadians who want them by the end of September.Meanwhile, Trudeau also urged Canadians who might be planning an international trip in the near future to cancel it.Trudeau said Canadians have the right to travel, but the government could at any time, and without warning, enforce new restrictions on travellers returning to Canada.New variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 add a level of uncertainty that could affect decisions about how to handle international arrivals.The Public Health Agency of Canada has documented 183 flights arriving in Canada from abroad since Jan. 4 alone, on which at least one passenger had COVID-19.That includes four flights from London since the ban on incoming flights from the United Kingdom was lifted Jan. 6. Trudeau would not say when pressed what other measures he is considering, noting only that travellers now must present negative COVID-19 tests before boarding their planes, and must still quarantine for two weeks after arriving in Canada.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
L’Académie de danse de Forestville s’est tournée vers le Web pour poursuivre ses activités malgré le reconfinement obligé par la pandémie de COVID-19. Au lieu de mettre un frein à ses cours, l’organisme offre ses services via la plateforme numérique Zoom. « Au printemps dernier, nous sommes vraiment tombés des nues quand on a appris que nous devions cesser nos activités. On ne voulait pas que cela se reproduise, alors on a demandé à notre professeure de danse de suivre une formation pour donner des cours en ligne », affirme la présidente de l’Académie de danse de Forestville, Ruth Villeneuve. À l’automne, quand les cours ont recommencé au local du Complexe Guy-Ouellet, l’organisme avait déjà un plan B s’il se voyait contraint d’arrêter ses services. « On se doutait bien que la pandémie ne se règlerait pas en quelques mois », soutient Mme Villeneuve, qui s’implique pour l’Académie depuis bientôt quatre ans. Stéphanie Lessard, professeure de danse de l’Académie, a toutefois dû adapter ses exercices afin qu’ils soient réalisables chacun chez soi. Le temps des cours a aussi été raccourci pour faciliter l’apprentissage. « Les plus jeunes se réunissent à raison de 30 minutes et les plus âgées s’exercent pendant 45 minutes, au lieu d’une heure », indique-t-elle. Le manque d’équipement électronique a aussi fait diminuer la participation des élèves à 75 %. « Certains désirent attendre à la reprise des cours au local », mentionne Mme Lessard. Quant au nombre de danseurs inscrits, il est aussi en baisse cette année en raison de la situation sanitaire. « Nous avons entre 70 et 80 élèves, ce qui est une petite diminution comparativement à l’an dernier, mais ce n’est pas si mal », de commenter la professeure. Toutefois, pour la présidente, il était important d’offrir l’opportunité aux jeunes de s’occuper et de garder un lien avec l’enseignante. « La plupart des élèves sont contents de se voir, même si ce n’est que par visioconférence, selon Stéphanie Lessard. Ceux du primaire ont recommencé l’école, mais le groupe de danse n’est pas composé des mêmes amis que dans leur classe. » Spectacle En ce qui concerne le traditionnel spectacle de fin d’année, qui se tient habituellement en avril, le conseil d’administration de l’organisme attend les consignes gouvernementales. « On se prépare en fonction qu’il y en aura un, mais on ne sait pas comment vont se traduire les règlements sanitaires à ce moment. On travaille donc sur des plans B et C pour ne pas l’annuler complètement comme l’an dernier », dévoile Ruth Villeneuve. Les réseaux sociaux pourraient faire partie des solutions. « On pense à une nouvelle formule comme faire des directs sur la page Facebook de l’Académie pour chaque groupe », explique la professeure de danse. Toutefois, rien n’est décidé pour l’instant. Rappelons que depuis la fermeture de l’auditorium de la polyvalente des Rivières, les spectacles de l’Académie de danse se déroulent au Complexe Guy-Ouellet. Les danseurs pourront peut-être utiliser la scène du tout nouveau Pavillon des arts, si la situation sanitaire le permet.Johannie Gaudreault, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Haute-Côte-Nord
Pour comprendre la vision occidentale sur l’islam, un retour sur notre histoire commune s’impose.
Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation Chief Tony Alexis wants to make it clear he does not begrudge Maskwacis the early vaccines the four First Nations received. His concern is about the process in Alberta. Alexis said three meetings last week between chiefs and staff with health officials from both the province and federal government gave no indication that any First Nation would see early arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine doses. They were informed that Elders 65 years and over on reserves would be the next to receive the vaccine. At this point, both long-term care facilities and front line health personnel on reserves had been vaccinated against the coronavirus. On Saturday, the third day of successive funerals on his First Nation, Alexis was told by one of his band members that Maskwacis had received the vaccine. He assured his community member that wasn’t the case, because it hadn’t been discussed at previous meetings. But it turned out that it was the case. “Everybody, whether you're Albertan or Canadian or some different part of the world, everyone is afraid. People are afraid and every leadership I know have been doing their best to keep things calm and try to eliminate the noise.” Alexis said “things like this create that noise. Experiences like this go back to examples like the residential schools, Sixties Scoop, leaving the Indigenous people out of that decision-making table.” A news release issued last night by Indigenous Relations Minister Rick Wilson confirmed Maskwacis received a “limited number of doses” as they “are currently experiencing a serious rise in cases.” The combined population of the four First Nations—Louis Bull, Samson Cree, Montana and Ermineskin Cree—which comprise Maskwacis is 18,000. Samson Cree Nation Chief Vernon Saddleback told the media last Friday that nearly 10 per cent of the community were COVID-19 positive. More than five per cent of the population on Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation has COVID-19. Then yesterday, like everyone else, Alexis heard the announcement from Premier Jason Kenney that a cut by 20 to 80 per cent over the coming weeks in the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine meant a delay in vaccinating those in the next priority group, including First Nations and Métis Elders. “It’s disappointing. It’s disheartening,” said Alexis, both about the news and not being part of the discussion before the announcement was made. Assembly of First Nations Alberta Regional Chief Marlene Poitras was surprised by Kenney’s announcement. “In terms of the decisions, how things are rolling out, whose decision was it to put a hold on vaccines distribution to First Nations? We don’t know. I really don’t know. Like everybody else, I found out (Monday) morning. The First Nations are the most vulnerable population everywhere, so it doesn’t make sense to me,” said Poitras. Both Poitras and Alexis reference the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) and say Health Minister Tyler Shandro needs to comply with it. NACI has “adults in Indigenous communities where infection can have disproportionate consequences” included in stage one of the COVID-19 roll out. Poitras points to Alberta Health statistics to emphasize the point: 7.1 per cent of First Nations in Alberta have been hospitalized with COVID-19 compared to 4.3 per cent of Albertans generally. After Kenney’s announcement, Poitras began a text conversation with Indigenous Services Canada Minister Marc Miller. She said Miller said he was unaware of the decision and did not know how the province had arrived at it. Poitras said she requested information from Miller on the national roll out of the vaccine. “The numbers don’t pan out. That’s the issue,” said Poitras. “If we’re not at that decision-making table, how do we know how many vaccines are being rolled out? How many are actually being distributed to who? Who are the priorities? I know they sent out a priority list, but now they’re changing that, putting First Nations on hold. Without our direct involvement how are we to know exactly what kind of decisions are being made?” Wilson said in his statement that First Nations were “particularly vulnerable.” He points out that Phase 1 will see Indigenous Elders living on reserve and Métis settlements vaccinated at 65 years of age and up while the rest of the Alberta population in that phase has to be 75 years or older. The priority list for Alberta has phase one divided into three timelines beginning in December 2020, with Phase 1B to begin in February 2021 and including First Nations and Métis Elders on reserves and settlements. Phase 2, which spans April to September, says “work to identify sequencing … is underway.” “We value the leaders’ input and measures taken to date by First Nations,” said Wilson. However, both Alexis and Poitras believe that First Nations have not had enough input. “We’ve been trying to keep the people calm. Trying to be supportive, trying to provide proper information. When you hear information coming from the general public and they know more than we do, as leaders being told we’re sitting at this important table. It’s disheartening,” said Alexis. “There needs to be a coordinated response where First Nations are involved and that we’re making these decisions together,” said Poitras. Alexis would like to see not only chiefs directly involved with Alberta politicians in the decision making, but also First Nations experts, such as Treaty 6 physicians James Makokis and Alika La Fontaine, weighing in. “There are experts that the chiefs would listen to their advice and support them at the same time. They would echo where our communities are at. Whether it’s this or anything else in government, our people need to be at those tables and a fair process needs to be put in place that we’re following. Right now what it does, it actually damages that conversation because (the communities) will look at their leadership that they're not doing enough,” said Alexis. He added that if that process isn’t solid and transparent, First Nations may be further ahead by operating on their own and advocating for themselves. Windspeaker.com By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
Veterans Affairs Canada hasn't gone far enough in reversing restrictions on mental health counselling for the families of former soldiers, sailors and aircrew, the county's new veterans ombudsman says in a hard-hitting report. The federal government imposed constraints on access to mental health counselling for families of veterans almost a year ago. The policy shift was a response to a political embarrassment — the case of convicted killer Christopher Garnier, a son of a veteran who obtained taxpayer-funded post traumatic stress treatment. While Veterans Affairs never formally amended the family care policy, it began using a much stricter interpretation of it — which had a direct impact on some veterans' families. "There was also a lack of transparency with respect to how these significant changes in interpretation were implemented," Nishika Jardine, a retired colonel, wrote in her report released today, her first since being appointed veterans ombudsman last fall. "The lack of clear communication caused confusion and frustration among some veterans and their families, especially since some family members only found out about the changes during their mental health appointments." Late last winter, CBC News documented several cases of families who had seen services reduced or halted because of the stricter interpretation of the policy. Federal officials responded by denying that families had been "cut off" from care. But as of mid-March 2020 — just when the pandemic was getting started — the department had notified 133 families in writing that their counselling benefits were in danger of being discontinued. Jardine's investigation noted that the restrictions were revised, but not reversed. 'I walk on eggshells' It's not good enough, she concluded. "The [Office of the Veterans Ombudsman] believes this guideline continues to be too narrow and that families should receive better access to the mental health supports that they need," says her report. The investigation heard from some of the families directly affected by the service change and quoted them anonymously in the report. "I barely survive. I walk on eggshells and try to smooth things over," one unnamed spouse told ombudsman's office investigators. "This is not fair to take away these kinds of services from our children. I will try to manage and deal with him the best I can. My kids should not be cut off from support. They did not ask for this, they did not ask for a broken father. All they often want is a dad who is not sick, a normal dad." The ombudsman was moved. "It's heartbreaking," Jardine told CBC News. "It's heartbreaking when you see the impact that can be experienced." While the majority of military families are resilient, she said, every family "is unique in their dynamics ... We now understand how difficult it is to deal with mental health issues if you don't have access to support and professional mental health services." The department's policy ties family access to mental health treatment to the individual veteran and is meant to aid veterans themselves in their recovery. The ombudsman argues that the families enduring the pressures of military life — the frequent moves, the isolation and the stress of knowing a loved one on deployment is in harm's way — deserve their own unfettered access to taxpayer-funded treatment. Stung by scandal "In the OVO's assessment, when a family member suffers from an illness or injury related to the unique conditions and challenges of military service, they should have access to mental health treatment, independent of the veteran's treatment or rehabilitation plan," said the report. The department tightened its rules governing when families can receive subsidized counselling in the wake of the Garnier case. Stung by public criticism over that case, then-veterans minister Seamus O'Regan ordered a review and public servants began pursuing a stricter interpretation of the rules. The current minister, Lawrence MacAulay, asked his officials to be as flexible as possible in deciding whether family members qualify. In a written response to the report, Veterans Affairs gave little indication that it would accept the ombudsman's recommendations — which, among other things, call for veterans families to be given separate legislative treatment so they can access services more smoothly. "In short, while the existing Veterans Health Care Regulations do not provide the department the regulatory authority to offer funding for treatment benefits for a veteran's family member in their own right, Veterans Affairs Canada will continue to offer alternative resources resources where it cannot provide mental health support and to be as flexible as possible where it can," said the department's response letter. MacAulay did note, however, that his recently updated mandate letter from the prime minister instructs him to focus on mental health services for families and their primary caregivers. He said he intends to launch a review of the issue but did not offer a timeline. Jardine said her office can make recommendations but "it is up to politicians to hear, it's up to the government to hear the distress that exists in these families." Jardine would not say whether she agrees with some veterans' families who have claimed they were made to pay the price for bureaucratic overreaction to the Garnier case.
January Is The Right Time Of Year For Ice Fishing January is an excellent time of year to go ice fishing in Alberta! The lakes usually are well frozen at this time of year, and it’s a fantastic way to get out and enjoy the outdoors during the winter. It’s also an excellent way to get some more use out of your fishing license before it expires at the end of March. There isn’t a whole lot of equipment that is absolutely required, but like most hobbies, the extra “bells and whistles” can add up fairly quickly. There is a common misconception from people that have never tried ice fishing that it is a cold and miserable experience that nobody in their right minds could enjoy, but in actuality, it can be an absolute blast if you’re adequately prepared. Ice safety is of the utmost importance. Please do not take any chances! The ice thickness determines the general guidelines for whether the ice is safe to walk, ride, or drive on. These are the guidelines from the Alberta Conservation Association (https://www.ab-conservation.com/go-fish/learn-to-fish/?section=ice_safety): · 2”/5 cm thick or less: Stay off! · 6”/15 cm thick: Foot traffic and ice fishing. · 10”/25 cm thick: Snowmobiles or light ATVs (less than 1,100 lbs/500 kg). · 16”/41 cm thick: Mid-size cars and light trucks (2,200 – 4,400 lbs/1,000 – 2,000 kg), · 18”/46 cm thick: Mid-size trucks (4,400 – 6,600 lbs/2,000 – 3,000 kg). · 21.5”/55 cm thick: 3/4 ton 4x4 trucks (up to 11,000 lbs/5,000 kg). Here are six easy steps to get started: 1. The first thing you will need for your Alberta ice fishing adventure is an active Wilderness Identification Number (WIN) card. A WIN card is necessary to be able to buy a fishing license in our province, which you will also need. The new virtual WIN card was introduced on April 27, 2020, and no longer has an expiry date. A virtual WIN card costs $8.00 + GST and is available online (AlbertaRelm.com) or at point-of-sale retailers. WIN cards and fishing licenses are available in Swan Hills at the Esso and Husky gas stations. A physical WIN card isn’t necessary, but you can order one for $3.00 if you prefer to have one. 2. Next, you will need to get a fishing license. Fishing licenses are required for people between the ages of 16 and 64 and cost $28 + GST for Alberta residents. You will need to have your fishing license with you while fishing, or you could be subject to some pretty hefty penalties. Fishing licenses are available online (AlbertaRelm.com) or at point-of-sale retailers. *You can purchase your WIN card as well as hunting and fishing licenses through the AlbertaRELM smartphone app. This app also keeps track of your WIN card and licenses and can be used as an electronic fishing license instead of keeping a paper copy with you. 3. Familiarize yourself with the Alberta Guide To Sportfishing Regulations (https://albertaregulations.ca/2020-Alberta-Fishing-Regs.pdf). A hardcopy of this document is usually available at the retailers that sell fishing licenses. This guide covers the general regulations for all locations in Alberta as well as the specific regulations for every body of water (the times of year that you can fish, what equipment or bait is or isn’t allowed, the type and number of fish that you can keep, etc.). Make sure that you’re following the regulations for your fishing location. 4. Now that you have the legal and regulatory side of things handled, it’s time to make sure that you have the gear you need. Here are the basics: a. An ice fishing rod. These are designed to handle the downward force from ice fishing and are shorter than regular rods, making them easier to manage. Luckily you can get a pretty good, basic ice fishing rod for a very reasonable price. b. Fishing lures/hooks. While there are fishing lures that are designed specifically for ice fishing, many people make out just fine with regular lures or hooks. Give it a try and see what works for you in your chosen fishing spot. c. An ice auger. The auger is used to make a hole in the ice so that you can fish. Hand powered augers are the most economical, but there are gas-powered augers if you really get into the sport. A lot of people have augers in Swan Hills. There’s a good chance that someone might lend you one if you ask around. d. An ice skimmer/scoop. This is pretty much just a giant ladle used to remove slush and ice from the water in the hole. Otherwise, it tends to build up and get in the way. e. Chairs. You’re going to want something to sit on while you fish. A camp chair works great, but some people are quite content with an overturned 5-gallon pail to sit on. f. A sled for your gear. This is a much more convenient way to get your equipment onto the lake (or pond) than trying to carry it out by the armload. 5. Good winter clothes/gear. This one’s a given, you’ll want to make sure that you’re dressed for the weather, or you’re not going to have a very good time. 6. Attach your lure or hook to the line on your ice fishing rod and drop it down through your hole in the ice. Have a seat while you wait for the fish to bite. Those are the basics. Feel free to bring some snacks and drinks if you’d like; just make sure that there’s a designated driver if you’re having adult beverages. A cooler is an excellent addition; you can keep your drinks cold, you have a place to put your catch, and it’s an extra place to sit while you fish. Bring a camera or your cell phone to capture some memories. Have a great time out there, and stay safe! Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
Division 1 and 2 students at the Swan Hills School will participate in an Earth Rangers virtual presentation on January 22, 2021. Crescent Point Energy has sponsored this presentation at no cost to the school. According to information shared by an Earth Rangers representative, the presentation will include: · Real-time broadcasting from the Earth Rangers Centre · Curriculum-linked education information appropriate for grades 1 - 6 · An integration of technology like green-screens, video segments, and multiple camera angles to create a unique and immersive virtual experience · Interactive elements like trivia and a choose-your-own-adventure format to keep students attentive and engaged · Demonstrations by our beloved Animal Ambassadors · Featured local content, including conservation work happening to restore habitat for the Western Bumblebee in Saskatchewan Earth Rangers is a conservation organization that focuses on “instilling environmental knowledge, positivity, and the confidence to take action in every child in Canada.” They offer free programming for children to participate in at school, home, and in the community. Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette