The Canadian Armed Forces’ Speakers Program connects CAF members to classrooms all across the country. We learn more from Defence Minster Harjit Sajjan.
The Canadian Armed Forces’ Speakers Program connects CAF members to classrooms all across the country. We learn more from Defence Minster Harjit Sajjan.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Trump administration on Wednesday effectively killed a contentious proposed mine in Alaska, a gold and copper prospect once envisioned to be nearly as deep as the Grand Canyon and could produce enough waste to fill an NFL stadium nearly 3,900 times — all near the headwaters of the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery.The Army Corps of Engineers “concluded that the proposed project is contrary to the public interest” and denied a permit to build the Pebble Mine under both the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act, the agency said in a statement.The rejection was a surprise. It's at odds with President Donald Trump’s efforts to encourage energy development in Alaska, including opening up part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, and other moves nationwide to roll back environmental protections that would benefit oil and gas and other industries.The Corps of Engineers also seemed to signal just a few months ago that after almost two decades of political wrangling, Pebble Mine was on a fast track to approval, a reversal from what many had expected under the Obama administration.But unlike drilling elsewhere in Alaska, the mine proposed for the southwestern Bristol Bay region could have negatively affected the state's billion-dollar fishing industry. Conservationists and even Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., sounded the alarm on the project before the administration changed course again.The CEO of the Pebble Limited Partnership, the mine’s developers, said he was dismayed by the decision, especially after the corps had indicated in an environmental impact statement in July that the mine and fishery could coexist.“One of the real tragedies of this decision is the loss of economic opportunities for people living in the area,” CEO John Shively said in a statement. The environmental review “clearly describes those benefits, and now a politically driven decision has taken away the hope that many had for a better life. This is also a lost opportunity for the state’s future economy.”He said they are considering their next steps, which could include an appeal of the corps’ decision.“Today Bristol Bay’s residents and fishermen celebrate the news that Pebble’s permit has been denied; tomorrow we get back to work,” said Katherine Carscallen, executive director of the group Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay.The group wants Congress to pass laws protecting the region. “We’ve learned the hard way over the last decade that Pebble is not truly dead until protections are finalized,” Carscallen said.In July, the Corps of Engineers released an environmental review that the mine developer saw as laying the groundwork for key federal approvals. The review said that under normal operations, Pebble Mine “would not be expected to have a measurable effect on fish numbers and result in long-term changes to the health of the commercial fisheries in Bristol Bay.”However, in August, the corps said it had determined that discharges at the mine site would cause “unavoidable adverse impacts to aquatic resources” and laid out required steps to reduce those effects.Canada-based Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., which owns Pebble Limited Partnership, said it had submitted a mitigation plan on Nov. 16.Even if the corps had approved the project, there was still no guarantee it would have been built. It would have needed state approval, and President-elect Joe Biden has expressed opposition to the project.Critics saw Pebble Mine as getting a lifeline under the Trump administration. Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency withdrew restrictions on development that were proposed — but never finalized — under the Obama administration and said it planned to work with the corps to address concerns.However, Trump’s eldest son was among those who voiced opposition earlier this year. After senior Trump campaign adviser Nick Ayers tweeted in August that he hoped the president would direct the EPA to block Pebble Mine, Trump Jr. responded: “As a sportsman who has spent plenty of time in the area I agree 100%. The headwaters of Bristol Bay and the surrounding fishery are too unique and fragile to take any chances with.”The president later said he would “listen to both sides.”“The credit for this victory belongs not to any politician but to Alaskans and Bristol Bay’s Indigenous peoples, as well as to hunters, anglers and wildlife enthusiasts from all across the country who spoke out in opposition to this dangerous and ill-conceived project," said Adam Kolton, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League.Alaska’s two Republican U.S. senators, who support oil and gas development and mining, hailed the rejection of the Pebble Mine permit. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said the decision affirmed her position that it’s the wrong mine in the wrong place.“It will help ensure the continued protection of an irreplaceable resource — Bristol Bay’s world-class salmon fishery,” she said.Sen. Dan Sullivan said he would remain an advocate for good-paying jobs derived from resource development.“However, given the special nature of the Bristol Bay watershed and the fisheries and subsistence resources downstream, Pebble had to meet a high bar so that we do not trade one resource for another,” he said. “Pebble did not meet that bar.”___Associated Press journalist Becky Bohrer in Juneau contributed to this report.Mark Thiessen, The Associated Press
VICTORIA — Doctors and nurses are being asked to support British Columbia's safe supply drug program and other substance use measures, as an average of five people a day die from illicit drug overdoses, the B.C. Coroners Service says.There were 162 overdose deaths in B.C. last month, more than double the 75 recorded in October last year.The number of deaths in each health authority is at or near the highest monthly total ever recorded, the coroners service said Wednesday in a news release. Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the supply of street drugs and is disrupting access to harm-reduction services such as supervised injection sites."We encourage clinicians to support those at risk of overdose by prescribing safe supply and reducing the numbers of lives lost to toxic substances," she said in the statement. The coroners service continues to advocate for an accessible, evidence-based and accountable treatment and recovery system for drug users, Lapointe added.Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry authorized registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses to prescribe pharmaceutical alternatives to street drugs in September.Before that, only doctors and nurse practitioners were able to prescribe drugs, including substitute medications for illicit-drug users.But advocates for drug users say there is still a lack of medical personnel prescribing safe, prescription alternatives to illicit drugs."They're not prescribing to the extent they should be," said Karen Ward, a drug rights advocate and a drug policy and poverty reduction consultant with the City of Vancouver."They need to be prescribing assertively and doing outreach," she said in an interview. Ward said drug users and advocates feel as if the relentless death toll is like an "ongoing tidal wave."She questioned why there is still a lack of prescribing guidelines related to Henry's September order."That was two months ago … why aren't they done? This should have been done that day," Ward said.Leslie McBain, the co-founder of Moms Stop the Harm, said she's devastated by the latest numbers from the coroners service."I don't know if it can get much worse than this for people," she said in an interview. There needs to be more people willing and able to prescribe prescription alternatives to illicit drugs, McBain said, and the provincial government needs to listen to drug users about the type of alternative drugs they want."The drugs being offered to people were not the drugs they were used to or would keep them in a balanced, stable place," she said.October is the fifth month this year that more than 160 people have died and the eighth consecutive month with more than 100 deaths.The latest toxicology testing suggests an increase in the number of cases with extreme concentrations of the opioid fentanyl between April and October compared with previous months, Lapointe said in her statement.Henry echoed Lapointe's concerns, saying the pandemic is having a devastating effect on the overdose crisis."Now more than ever, we must remove the stigma of drug use and remove the shame people feel, which keeps them from seeking help or telling friends and family," she said in a statement on Wednesday.There have been 1,386 deaths from suspected overdoses since January, nearly 400 more deaths than when a public health emergency was declared by the provincial government in April 2016.— By Nick Wells in Vancouver.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.The Canadian Press
It's a demonstrably difficult task to find a comic screen partner worthy of standing opposite Melissa McCarthy, so you have to appreciate “Superintelligence" for throwing in the towel. In it, McCarthy plays Carol Peters, a former Yahoo executive who's chosen, purely for her extreme averageness, by a newly liberated, megalomaniacal artificial intelligence that presents her with a three-day test to prove humanity isn't worth destroying. It's the kind of set-up that would have once presided over by the devil or some demigod, but now that role goes to Alexa. That means that for much of “Superintelligence," a new comedy streaming Thursday on HBO Max, McCarthy is walking around on her own, her only foil a disembodied voice (James Corden's) or an occasional talking screen. That's not as good as McCarthy with either of her best recent on-screen partners — Sandra Bullock ("The Heat"), Richard E. Grant ("Can You Forgive Me?") — but it's not bad. It means McCarthy has the movie if not completely to herself (Corden's cheery warmth still comes through, and Bobby Cannavale winningly plays her love interest) then nearly so. Even though the innocuous “Superintelligence” is on the bland side, it remains hard not to enjoy two hours with McCarthy. The more telling companion of McCarthy's in “Superintelligence” is her husband, the director Ben Falcone. This is their fourth film together with Falcone behind the camera, and it may be the best of the bunch. That, however, isn't saying much considering their run of “Life of the Party" (2018), “The Boss” (2016) and “Tammy” (2014). Those films have their moments, and they're always shot-through with affection for their leading lady. But they're easily the weaker, more forgettable side of McCarthy's filmography. “Superintelligence," written by Steve Mallory, is the most high-concept of their films together, and it's ultimately an excuse to bring apocalyptic stakes to a rom-com plot. Faced with the possible end of the world, Carol resolves to reconnect with an old flame (Cannavale). Their chemistry together is easy and relaxed, if not especially funny. The cast overall feels wasted, especially the supporting performances of Brian Tyree Henry (as a computer scientist), Jean Smart (the president) and Sam Richardson — the talented “Veep” performer who I sincerely hope soon gets his own movie. Like a lot of studio comedies of late, it feels like there's space here for jokes that mostly never quite got filled in. The real romance in “Superintelligence” might not be between any of the characters, but McCarthy and Falcone (who also makes his typical cameo). Their collaborations are uneven but warmhearted, and their movies together feel like an almost sweet sacrifice of quality for the sake of family. “Superintelligence,” a Warner Bros. release, is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for some suggestive material, language and thematic elements. Running time: 105 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four. ___ Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP Jake Coyle, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — The federal Liberals will take a small step toward a plan to create a national daycare system, with sources telling The Canadian Press next week's economic update will have money for a new federal child-care body.Sources with knowledge of the government's plans, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to detail private conversations about yet-to-be-announced measures, said the Liberals will unveil funding for the child-care secretariat next week.There are also expectations the Liberals will add emergency money through "safe restart" deals with provinces to help child-care centres struggling financially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.All of it will tease what the Liberals have privately described as major new spending being considered behind closed doors, one of the sources said.A spokeswoman for Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said her office won't comment on what will or won't be in the fiscal update.The Liberals have promised a long-term commitment to create a national child-care system, seeing it as a key way to help women whose working lives have suffered during the pandemic, in what has been dubbed a "she-cession."A report released Wednesday estimated that between 363,000 and 726,000 women in the "prime parenting age cohort" between 25 and 50 could join the labour force over a 10-year period as a national child-care program is developed. Among them would be up to 250,000 women moving into full-time jobs.Report author and economist Jim Stanford said the lack of accessible and affordable daycare is a key reason why fewer women in their 30s and 40s are in the workforce than men the same age.There is also the potential for tens of thousands of construction jobs as new centres and spaces are built, along with an employment boost in the child-care sector as it expands."Economists have agreed for years that child care has huge economic benefits, but we just can't seem to get the ball over the line in Canada," said Stanford, director of the Centre for Future Work. "I finally think the ducks are being lined up here and we can actually make this happen," he added."This really is the moment when we can finally move forward, and it is a moment when Canada's economy needs every job that it can get."A recent report by RBC economists Dawn Desjardins and Carrie Freestone calculated that 20,600 women fell out of the labour force between February and October even as 68,000 more men joined it. The situation was most acute for women ages 20 to 24, and 35 to 39; one of the reasons the duo cited for the sharper drop was the pandemic-caused closure of child-care centres. Child-care centres, which often run on tight margins and rely on steep parental fees, couldn't keep up with costs during spring shutdowns and shed about 35,000 jobs between February and July. Some centres have closed for good.The worry, Stanford said, is job losses become permanent and more centres close without financial assistance from governments. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said there is a need now for $2 billion to keep the country from losing any more daycare spaces. He called on the Liberals to prove they are serious about national child care."There is a desperate need for child care. Families need it, and women particularly need it," he said Wednesday."We need to see a willingness to do the hard work, but to put in the financial commitment as a starting point."When pressed for details by Singh during question period in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded by noting the Liberals committed to creating a "Canada-wide early learning and child-care system" in the throne speech.Scotiabank economists Jean-Francois Perrault and Rebekah Young suggested in September that creating nationally what Quebec has provincially would cost $11.5 billion a year. Their analysis also suggested federal coffers could reap billions in new tax revenue as women in particular would get into the workforce in greater numbers, offsetting some of the overall cost. Stanford's estimate is for a boost to government revenues of between $18 billion and $30 billion per year, split between federal and provincial governments. "This literally is a social program that pays for itself," Stanford said."The economic benefits of giving this first-class care to early-age children, and getting their mothers in the labour market working to their full potential, are enormous."Getting those outcomes will rest on how the Liberals design the system, which will need to be done with provinces who have responsibility for daycare delivery.Kate Bezanson, associate dean of social sciences at Brock University, said the pandemic has been an opening for greater federal-provincial collaboration. Child care may be next, she said, to ensure women aren't left behind in a recovery.“We have in the pandemic seen a kind of collaboration across jurisdictions in a way we haven’t seen outside of wartime," said Bezanson, who also has expertise in constitutional law. "We should be doing that. We have to be doing that."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
A B.C. mother says she is furious after her daughter and other Grade 6 students were given homework asking them to highlight "positive" stories and facts about Canada's residential school system for Indigenous children.The Abbotsford School District said it is investigating after being made aware of the assignment Wednesday.Krista Macinnis, 31, said her 11-year-old daughter was given the assignment in a class at William A. Fraser Middle School.It directs students to: "Write at least 5+ positive stories/facts from the residential schools from three different websites." Macinnis and her children are First Nations. Her ancestry comes from the Cree and Blackfoot nations. She expressed her disgust in a TikTok video, decrying the "whitewashing [of] the rape of our culture, the theft of our people and the genocide of just everything in general when it comes to First Nations people."WATCH | Macinnis explains why the assignment is so offensive:Residential schools across Canada removed Indigenous children from their families from the 1800s and well into the 1900s, often transporting them far from home, where they weren't allowed to speak their own language and were often physically, emotionally or sexually abused. The system has been blamed for damaging Indigenous traditions and family ties.It is estimated 150,000 youth went through residential schools and that several thousand died in the system.Macinnis said she first saw the assignment when she was making dinner for her family. Her daughter came to her for help with it."I was just appalled by it," she told CBC News. "When I saw it in writing with my own eyes I began to shake uncontrollably. I began to cry. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I was in complete shock."Macinnis said she had not yet explained the history and consequences of residential schools to her children.She says she believes kids should learn about the negative impacts of the schools and sees nothing positive about them. 'Not acceptable,' district saysAbbotsford School District superintendent Kevin Godden said the school's principal has apologized to parents for the assignment."We are deeply sorry for any harm caused to the parents, students, families and the Indigenous community at large," Godden said in a statement."Assignments like this are not acceptable. This incident is a disservice to the district's commitment to truth and reconciliation."The district said the assignment is not a reflection of its teaching workforce.It added: "As this is a personnel matter, no further information is available at this time." B.C. Education Minister Rob Fleming said the province had contacted the district about the assignment."Any teachings that detract or dismiss the realities of residential schools have no place in our education system," Fleming said in his statement. "It is critically important for students to learn that this past legacy of abuse has created and continue to present a devastating legacy of the multi-generational impacts of residential schools."Macinnis commended the school for reaching out to her but said she wants more than an apology. She wants to see accountability and to make sure students aren't given assignments like this again."I want to know how this slipped through the cracks and was even able to get into the classroom," Macinnis said."There needs to be actions behind these words or else nothing is going to change."
Government and election officials frequently call on shredding companies to dispose of personal and sensitive documents that are no longer needed.But in a suburban county of Atlanta this week, those routine waste removal appointments were twisted into yet another election misinformation story when social media users falsely claimed shredding trucks were destroying ballots and “evidence of voter fraud.”The unfounded allegations continue to spread online as Georgia officials carry out a machine recount of ballots after certified results showed Joe Biden had a 12,670-vote lead over President Donald Trump. Trump requested the recount, which follows a statewide hand tally.L. Lin Wood Jr., a conservative attorney who had unsuccessfully sued in an attempt to block the certification of Georgia’s election results, on Tuesday shared a series of videos taken by a Georgia resident. They showed a shredding truck outside the West Park Government Center in Marietta.“Evidence of voter fraud is being destroyed in Cobb County, GA TODAY,” Wood captioned one of his tweets. “Many people, powerful & not so powerful, are going to PRISON.”The real explanation for the truck’s visit was far less scandalous: a routine shredding of county tax documents.The county tax commissioner’s office, which shares a building with the county’s main elections office, has documents shredded twice a month, according to Ross Cavitt, communications director for the county.“No items from Cobb Elections were involved,” Cavitt told The Associated Press in an email.The false claims built on similar rumours from last week, when the same Georgia resident captured photos and video of a truck destroying election-related waste outside the Jim R. Miller Event Center in Marietta and claimed it was evidence of “ballots being shredded.”After Wood amplified those photos and videos on Friday, Cobb County officials refuted the claim, explaining that the shredding company was summoned to destroy non-relevant election materials, as happens after all elections.“Everything of consequence, including the ballots, absentee ballot applications with signatures, and anything else used in the count or re-tally remains on file,” Janine Eveler, the county’s director of elections and voter registration, said in a statement.Some of the photos shared on Friday appeared to show a trash can with a paper labeled “ABSENTEE BALLOT” inside. But Eveler said that was an inner privacy envelope used by voters to seal absentee ballots, and had “no evidentiary value.” County officials will hold on to the actual absentee ballots, as well as the outer envelopes signed by voters, for two years.Wood did not respond to a telephone call and email seeking comment.Despite the county’s responses, Wood’s tweets with the debunked claims continued to receive massive engagement on Wednesday, collectively amassing more than 200,000 retweets. And a separate Facebook user’s post falsely claiming a shredding company was “hired by Democrats” to destroy evidence was viewed nearly 150,000 times.County officials told the AP they have not seen any evidence of fraud or anomalies in vote tabulation in the 2020 election.“People nowadays, they post stuff immediately without asking any questions and without any proper context, and it spreads like wildfire,” Cavitt said of the false claims.Jude Joffe-Block And Ali Swenson, The Associated Press
St. Albert now has 223 active COVID-19 cases, with 22 new cases being diagnosed in the past 24 hours. On Wednesday, the province released new COVID-19 data, showing the cases in St. Albert continuing to climb. Over a 48-hour period the city added 42 new cases while another 30 people recovered from the virus. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the city has had 647 people come down with the virus On Monday, Alberta surpassed all other provinces for the most COVID-19 cases in the country, totalling 13,166 active cases. At the St. Albert Retirement Residence, active COVID-19 cases are dropping, with just two residents and two staff members currently testing positive from the virus. Overall, there were 52 total positive COVID-19 cases in the residence since the start of the outbreak, with 44 of those recovered and four people who lost their lives. There were a total of 15 staff members who tested positive since the beginning of the outbreak with 13 now recovered. Sturgeon County currently has 95 active cases, with 167 people recovered. Morinville has 33 people currently diagnosed with COVID-19 and 84 recovered. As Alberta reaches 500 COVID-19 deaths, Alberta Health services is bracing for more cases by making 400 ICU beds and 2,000 acute care beds available to COVID-19 patients. On Wednesday afternoon, Alberta Chief Medical officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the province has reached a grim milestone of 500 deaths, with another 1,265 COVID-19 cases diagnosed overnight. “This is a tragic milestone. My sympathies go out to the loved ones and friends of these individuals who are mourning the lives lost during what is a very difficult time to grieve,” Hinshaw said. The province conducted around 15,600 tests in the last 24 hours with an 8.1-per-cent positivity rate. The nine deaths reported Wednesday occurred between Nov. 7 and Nov. 24 with five of the people having comorbidities. Overall, the province has 13,719 active cases with 355 people in the hospital and 71 in intensive care. Alberta has passed 50,000 COVID-19 infections since the beginning of the pandemic, which accounts for 1.2 per cent of Albertans. As COVID-19 surges, the province has readied even more hospital space. Some of the beds are new, while others are existing beds made available by reducing non-urgent surgeries and moving patients to continuing care centres or other hospitals. "These steps are being taken to make sure that there is sufficient capacity to meet the growing health-care need," Hinshaw said. Effective today, AHS will be changing the rules around visitor access to acute care hospitals that have outbreaks and in communities under enhanced status. This includes having one designated family or support person permitted under specific circumstances. For maternity patients, there is one designated family or support person permitted. For pediatrics and critical care, there are up to two designated family or support persons allowed. For end-of-life visitation, there will be one designated family or support person allowed, with other visitors needing to prearrange with the site. Jennifer Henderson is the Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Great West Newspapers, covering rural Alberta issues.Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette
Regina, Shellbrook – Sports have not been shut down entirely, but games have, and practices are now reduced to eight people. All but the youngest of children are now expected to wear masks when appropriate. Those were some of the latest restrictions the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health announced another round of new restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19. Those restrictions in many ways do not go as far as some of what has been implemented in Alberta and Manitoba in recent days and weeks. Saskatchewan’s new cases on Nov. 25 came in at 164, but the 7-day average is now 214.3, a relatively levelling off over the last four days. While Manitoba has entered another lockdown, on Nov. 24, Alberta announced that it would soon be closing junior high and high schools, reverting to online learning as of next week, and extending the winter break for all students until Jan. 11. Saskatchewan will be doing neither, as it stands. Premier Scott Moe, who is personally self-isolating after a possible exposure to COVID-19 at a Prince Albert restaurant 10 days earlier, made the announcement via videoconference on Nov. 25. He was joined by Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab, who was in the Legislature in Regina. The new Saskatchewan measures come into effect at 12:01 a.m., Friday, Nov. 27. Moe said, “Our goal is to find the right balance, on behalf of the people in this province to protect Saskatchewan people from the spread of COVID-19, while at the same time, protecting the Saskatchewan people's jobs and their livelihoods. Our goal is to not shut down businesses, services and activities that ultimately put people out of work, and at times, may threaten their mental health. Our goal is to find ways for those things to operate and to do so safely, so that people can continue to participate in athletics and continue to work, while at the same time, continue to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.” Public gatherings Moe said, “All indoor public gatherings will be limited to 30 people. This includes all types of social gatherings, including weddings, funerals, as well as worship services. No food or drink maybe present or served at these events, and capacity will also be restricted to 30 people at all casinos bingo halls, arenas live performance venues and movie theatres, as well as any other facilities that currently have the capacity of up to 150 people.” He noted that private gatherings in your home are still limited to five people. Restaurants, bars and night clubs will not be shut down, but they will have to space out indoor clientele even more, with limits of four people per table, and three metres between tables unless they have barriers installed, in which case two metres is sufficient. Sports All team/group sports, activities, games, competitions, recitals, practices, etc. are suspended, according to the release on Nov. 25. This includes amateur and recreational leagues for all age groups. Examples include hockey, curling, racquet sports, cheerleading, dance practices in group setting, etc. “All team sports are going to be paused until Dec. 17,” Moe said. “However, athletes under the age of 18 may continue practicing or training in groups of eight or fewer.” Masks strengthened Mask use is now required for all indoor fitness activities, except for swimming. Individual and group fitness activities can continue, but with three metre spacings and limits of eight people in a group. “All students, employees and visitors in schools and daycares are now required to wear a mask, except when they need to eat or drink. And mask use is now required in all common areas of businesses and workplaces,” Moe said. Children ages zero to two years-old are exempt from wearing masks. Children ages 3-12 should wear a mask if they are able to. All employees and visitors in all common areas in businesses and workplaces, even in those areas which the public does not have access (e.g. construction sites, manufacturing facilities). “Large retail stores, must limit their capacity to 50 per cent or four square meters per person, whichever is less,” Moe said. Sports led to school, work infections Shahab explained the reasoning behind the sports restrictions, saying that the nature of play always has a risk of transmission, even if you follow all the guidelines. “But over the last two to three weeks, they were becoming so frequent, and many cases, they were resulting in, for example, in children's sports, multiple cases then being imported into schools. For adult sports, multiple cases and became imported into workplaces. So, it was really important to have that pause for three weeks to slow down transmission in that setting.” Once cases come down, Shahab said the guidelines may be adjusted again. Moe explained how these particular restrictions were chosen, saying, “It would be great if we could just pinpoint or two venues or one or two activities where this spread is occurring, and just restrict those zones. But the reality is, it’s COVID, it’s in our communities, and it has been spreading in a number of different places, both inside and outside of our homes, and that's why we need to enact a number of different measures to get our numbers under control.” As for why the restrictions didn’t go further, such as a complete shutdown, lockdown or circuit breaker, similar to what was done in the spring, Moe said, “We do understand this virus better than we did back in the spring. We do know more about how it is spread. And we know what we need to do to reduce the spread of this virus, to keep ourselves and keep others safe. We need to just slow down a little bit. “The overwhelming majority of Saskatchewan businesses and their employees in this province are operating safely, day to day. So, it would be terribly unfair, and it would have a huge negative impact, to close down all those businesses and put thousands of Saskatchewan people out of work. Yes, that is what we did, temporarily, this past spring. We took a very sweeping, broad brush approach to shutting down businesses, services and activities in our communities,” he said, adding, “But we don’t believe the solution is another wide-scale lockdown. Moe said, “Putting thousands of Saskatchewan people out of work, devastating small businesses and families, ending their livelihoods in many cases; a much better approach for us is to find the right balance; to find ways for us to operate and to do so even more safely than we have. By ensuring, yes, we are following all the existing guidelines that are in place. And by implementing some additional protocols so businesses and services can remain open and can do so safely.” Moe said, “We’re not prepared to look at a shutdown of our economy, in our communities, at this point in time, and we don’t believe it’s imminent that we will have to do a shutdown, here in the province. But, in saying that, if we’re not able to bend the growth and rate of transmission of this disease, obviously, that is a conversation that may come in the weeks and months ahead.” He said the actions taken thus far, and those added today, will hopefully not only flatten the rate of increase of infections, but bend that curve back down. He thanked the business, athletic and worship organizations that took part in recent consultations with regards to these measures. Both Moe and Shahab held out some hope that some restrictions might be lifted in time for the upcoming holidays. One possibility might be some allowable visits to long-term care homes, with multiple levels of personal protective equipment, but we’re not at that point in time, yet. The Ministry of Health is now posting a listing of outbreaks in long-term care homes on the Government of Saskatchewan website. Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
Integrity Commissioner David King has cleared the East Ferris planning advisory committee chairman of conflict of interest allegations, according to a municipal media release issued today. A resident fighting a subdivision plan approval registered a complaint to King six months ago, contending that PAC chairman John O’Rourke had a business relationship with the developer that she argued was a conflict. The media release the municipality issued was in response to an article published by BayToday Nov. 17 that featured the frustrations Maggie Preston-Coles was facing in her effort to oppose the subdivision approval. Preston-Coles, in the article, complained that the investigation was taking too long and she needed the results for her appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, while also expecting to take the issue to the Ontario Ombudsman depending on the result. East Ferris, in the media release, stated it wanted to provide “complete and accurate information” to the public about the municipal planning progress because they were not contacted for comment for the Nov. 17 article. Preston-Coles said the municipality should be doing its own studies when considering subdivision proposals, including traffic impact and environmental risks studies. The article didn’t initially make it clear the general practice is to have the developer hire professionals in their field do the studies while municipal staff review them. A clarification line to that effect was added to the story after an East Ferris staff member contacted the reporter. “With respect to the conflict of interest allegation against our PAC member, the Integrity Commissioner’s role is to conduct inquiries into these types of allegations,” the media release stated. “In this case, the Integrity Commissioner has determined that the pecuniary interest is remote or insignificant and he will not be pursuing this matter any further.” Preston-Coles has also complained to LPAT about having three appeal managers, with the latest one not communicating to her since July. That’s when she was told LPAT changed its mind, due to an East Ferris objection, and was not allowing her to add to the appeal her issues regarding the municipality’s official plan and rezoning approval. Meanwhile, LPAT recently asked the municipality to submit a motion to dismiss the appeal entirely. Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada.Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
School District (SD) 58 and Nicola Valley Institute of Technology are partnering with a new initiative that aims to help students and families transition to life after secondary school, whether that includes post-secondary education, taking a gap year or entering the workforce. “Whether attending college or university, community living, engaging in apprentice training, or entering the workplace, students will have a clear plan for an initial post-secondary destination,” reads a statement from the program. Jennifer Lisle of NVIT and Dave Andersen of SD58 will be heading the program, and helping high school graduates decide where they want to go in life and how to get there. According to Andersen, this will include: “We are also tasked with follow up and tracking of recent graduates of SD58,” said Andersen. “We are there to offer some of the same supports to students that may be switching programs or took a gap year after graduation. We are hopeful that by establishing a relationship during secondary school, students will be more likely to reach out and seek help from us if they need it later on down the road.” Although Lisle works for NVIT, the program is open to all SD58 grads whether they plan to attend NVIT or not. She has held various roles at the college, from Admissions and Registration Officer, to Academic and Financial Planner, to Assistant to the Associate Vice President. “Her expertise in the post-secondary world can be a huge advantage to students and families trying to navigate the complexities of properly applying and registering for post-secondary programs,” said Andersen. Students are encouraged to meet with faculty and, along with their course work in Career and Life Connections 12, develop a detailed post-secondary transition plan.Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald
Residents of the city of Halifax say the closure of indoor dining is necessary to stop the recent upward trend in COVID-19 cases in the region. Yeah Yeahs Pizza manager Josh Fagan says the restaurant has plans to boost takeout orders to ensure a steady revenue stream over the coming weeks.
The Central Interior Hockey League (CIHL) has cancelled its senior men’s ‘AA’ 2020/21 season, but league officials are keeping the door open to the possibility of exhibition games in the new year. The league includes the Terrace River Kings and teams in Prince Rupert, Kitimat, Smithers, Hazelton, Williams Lake and Quesnel. “We had a schedule to start December 4th but with recent restrictions feel that in in any circumstances less than a super miracle vaccination, we would probably not return to play with spectators in time to salvage a 20-21 season,” said Ron German, CIHL President, in a media release. German thanked the communities, fans, volunteers and sponsors for their support. He said that if conditions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic change in 2021, the league would explore the possibility of playing exhibition games if BC Hockey and local guidelines could be met.Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News
EDMONTON — Two emergency room doctors say Alberta's increased public health restrictions don't go far enough to deal with rising COVID-19 cases that are already straining hospitals in the province.The government brought in tighter restrictions Tuesday that include a ban on gatherings in people's homes and changes for schools, churches, restaurants and retailers.Dr. Shazma Mithani, who works at two Edmonton hospitals, said she saw first-hand why more restrictions were necessary a day earlier when she arrived for her shift at the Royal Alexandra Hospital."I saw the most COVID patients ever," Mithani said Wednesday in an interview with The Canadian Press. "I didn't even see that many patients that shift because we were so bed-blocked."Some patients, she explained, were taking up emergency department beds because there weren't enough staffed beds available in the ward they needed.Mithani said she saw about 10 or 11 patients that night."Three of them were confirmed COVID and three were presumed COVID ... and one of them I actually had to put a breathing tube in and send to the ICU," she said."It's here. It's just the beginning."Alberta Health reported 1,265 new cases on Wednesday — the seventh consecutive day with numbers above the 1,100 mark. There were 355 patients in hospital, 71 of them in intensive care. Eight more people died, bringing that total to 500.Mithani, who's also a spokeswoman for the emergency medicine section of the Alberta Medical Association, said the rising numbers have been hitting Edmonton particularly hard.There were 175 COVID-19 patients in Edmonton hospitals, with 40 in intensive care. In Calgary, there were 121 infected patients in hospitals and 20 were in intensive care.Dr. Joe Vipond, who works at Rockyview General Hospital in Calgary, said he hasn't worked an ER shift in about a week, but noted that he's had COVID-19 patients every day in the last month."I've had two deaths in a month," said Vipond, who added he typically only sees a few deaths a year in the emergency department.Both Vipond and Mithani said they would have liked to see stronger restrictions."We're now at the stage that nothing short of a strong lockdown is going to help," said Vipond. "These middle measures are not going to do it, unfortunately."Mithani said the restrictions simply turn earlier recommendations into rules.The only positive step, she said, was banning indoor gatherings, which she suggested should have happened long ago.Dr. Daniel Gregson, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Calgary, agreed it was good to see recommendations on gatherings turned into actual restrictions."The other thing we've done is moved to mandatory masking from a suggestion to a requirement," he said. "That's a good thing as well."However, Gregson said some areas have been left open to interpretation."They've said 10 (people) for weddings and 10 for funerals, which is good to have an absolute number because people focus on what they can do," he said. "But other settings such as faith-based activities, which can be fairly widely interpreted, are not limited to that 10."That's a concern. A lot of our problems have been in group settings where people are not using appropriate precautions ... and that really translates into transmissions in households."Mithani added that the decisions don't appear to be based on data, since contact tracing has broken down and up to 80 per cent of cases have no information about where they were contracted."I'm really disappointed with the half measures that were put in," she said. "I, 100 per cent, understand there needs to be a balance between the economy and managing this pandemic, but we are now at a point where our health-care system is about to break and that needs to be made the priority right now."Our economy relies on the health of Albertans."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press
It’s not every day you can drink a beer that’s spent the better part of six months at the bottom of a lake, but if all goes according to plan, Lake of the Woods Brewing Company will be giving beer lovers the chance to do exactly that. It’s all part of one of the newest additions to the company’s line-up. The beer, named “Deep 6,” is more than a year in the making, the result of thinking outside the box and taking inspiration from brewers the other side of the globe. Taras Manzie is the president and CEO of Lake of the Woods Brewing Company, and he said the idea originated with one of their hires who had heard of a company doing something similar on another continent. “We actually were fortunate enough that a few years ago we recruited a brewer from South Africa,” Manzie said. “We were spitballing about ideas – different beers, different techniques, all that kind of stuff – and he had come across a brewery that had tried it when he was living there, but they take a batch and then age it in the ocean. We were like, ‘wow, that’s a novel idea,’ so we did some research on if it actually make sense in our climate, in freshwater.” After plenty of research and a test run, the idea found its sea legs and a production run of 1,000 bottles is now sitting in its temporary home six feet beneath the surface of Lake of the Woods, where it will stay until the ice comes out in 2021 – whenever that might be. “When the ice comes out, which is never really predictable but we figure by May 1, we’ll be good to go and start pulling them out and then we’ll hand package them,” Manzie said. “You get a certificate with the beer. Each label’s hand-numbered, and will be signed by the brewer. We’re not going to clean the bottles or anything, if there’s lake residue on them, so be it, that’s exactly what you’re paying for. They’ll be presented in this special tube like you get a bottle of scotch in, custom manufactured for the individual bottles themselves.” Part of the process of sinking the beer was determining how to store them safely over a period of six months underwater, as well as how to get them down there in the first place. “It wasn’t easy,” Manzie said. “We had to reverse engineer what we had to do. Obviously you can’t put it in cardboard boxes, so we needed something that’s going to be able to be sturdy enough but not too heavy, the bottles are heavy enough themselves. We were able actually to find pretty much a skid sized metal cage that had a folding top on it, so we got a few of those, repurposed them, took the filled bottles and they’re all sealed with wax, so there will be no issues with any kind of seepage or anything like that, and then layered them into each one of those caged totes.” Once in the totes, the team at the brewing company chartered a boat and some moving equipment, and hired a professional diver to make sure the process went as planned. “We actually hired a professional diver to make sure that we weren’t going to drop these things in the middle of a fish habitat or uneven ground or any of that kind of stuff,” Manzie said. “We also had the diver to ensure that when we did drop the skids that they were sitting nice and evenly and not on top of each other, etc. etc.” While some might be concerned that the bottom of the lake will get too cold for the beer, possibly leading to them freezing, Manzie explained that the temperature where the beer are sitting will only reach between three and four degrees (37 to 39 F) which he said is the perfect temperature for lagering the beer and will result in a Russian Imperial Stout that is “ridiculously smooth.” “Some people’s Russians, they brew them so that they taste boozy because they are boozy, you would not know that there is one percent alcohol in that Russian when it’s going to come out,” he said. “All the flavours kind of meld together, and due to the fact that it’s aged for a number of months in tank here prior to bottle and then once it’s in bottle at that temperature it’s an extremely smooth drinking product, it will be worth every penny.” Even at a higher price than what might expect from a bottle of beer, the reception from the beer loving portion of the public so far has been strong, with more than half of all pre-sales having been spoken for by the end of day last Friday. Online pre-orders are still up, but the success of the beer has itself presented a bit of a problem with beer fans from the other side of the border. “The problem is that because of AGCO regulations, we can’t ship the beer outside of the province,” Manzie said. “We’ve had a huge number of inquiries, probably 50 percent of all of our inquiries have been from the U.S., or traffic on the website. We created deep6.beer, a separate website just to handle the sales and information for the site, and half of that traffic has all been from the U.S. Anyone is welcome to purchase the beer, they just have to either know someone in Kenora or Ontario, and then they can get it from them.” Going forward, Manzie said the brewing company is expecting to make Deep 6 an annual release that will offer up a different type of beer each year, and that next year it will be available throughout Manitoba, Ontario and Minnesota. But for those who managed to secure one of the bottles from this run, they’ll have a unique piece of northwestern Ontario history that will continue to get better until the day they finally pop the top and pour themselves a glass.Ken Kellar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
When Treyton Middleton found out who was suspected of shooting his stepfather in the street outside their home on Saint John's lower west side, he looked him up on Facebook. On Wednesday afternoon, the jury heard that Middleton, now 19, sent a message to the man that night, threatening to round up some friends and kill him. In fact, when Const. Connor Bodechon arrived at 321 Duke St. West to take photos about an hour after the shooting, Justin Breau's Facebook profile is on the computer screen photographed in Middleton's bedroom. Breau, 37, is on trial for second-degree murder in the death of 42-year-old Mark Shatford. He is accused of shooting Shatford at about 4:25 a.m. on Nov. 17, 2019. Despite numerous surgeries at the Saint John Regional Hospital, Shatford died on Dec. 18. During testimony on Wednesday, Middleton said he awoke to banging and yelling in the early morning hours of Nov. 17, 2019. He peeked out of his bedroom and saw two masked men moving through the second-floor apartment where he lived with Shatford, his mother, three siblings, and his sister's boyfriend. Middleton said he followed the men down the stairs and managed to grab one of them at the front door. He said he threw the man to the ground outside and started punching him. As he continued to fight with the man, he saw his mother and Shatford pass by, heading to a vehicle parked on the street. Middleton said he continued to fight with the man until he heard a gunshot. As he turned, he said, he saw Shatford fall to the ground. He immediately went to Shatford's side. He testified that the man with the gun then pointed it at him and his mother and told them to shut up. Middleton said he tried to grab a large wrench that Shatford had dropped, but his mother wouldn't let him take it. As the vehicle pulled away, Middleton said, he threw the wrench at it but missed. What became of the wrench before police seized it in January remains unclear.Middleton and his mother, Melissa Daley, both testified they don't know how the wrench got back inside the apartment. But pictures taken by Bodechon, who arrived at the scene at 5:50 a.m., appear to show the item on top of the fridge. Bodechon took several pictures inside the home, including the one that show's the computer screen in Middleton's bedroom. "I did that on my own," Middleton said of the Facebook search. "I just wanted to see him."It was under cross-examination by defence lawyer Brian Munro that Middleton was asked about sending a Facebook message to Breau not long after the shooting. Middleton admitted sending a message that he was going to round up some people and kill Breau. He was also asked about his actions immediately after the shooting. Middleton said he went to a "buddy's" place but the person wasn't at home. He was repeatedly asked to name the "buddy" but he refused each time. "I'm not answering it," he insisted, before the jury was led out of the courtroom. After a short time — and some discussion in the absence of the jury and Middleton — the jury was brought back in and cross-examination resumed. Middleton was again asked to name the person and said it was his ex-girlfriend, Bella McCutcheon. He told the court that he called her "buddy" because they were not dating at the time. The trial is scheduled to resume Thursday morning.
With a unanimous vote — and support of parents and stakeholders — the Calgary Board of Education decided Wednesday to close the National Sport School. But this isn't the end of the program for elite student athletes.Parents and stakeholders said they supported the CBE decision because it allows them the opportunity to transfer the program to the smaller Palliser School Division while remaining at the WinSport campus in northwest Calgary. "I am absolutely elated," said Kevin Barr, a member of the Parents and Supporters of the National Sport School."It's clear that the public school trustees recognized the value of the program but, unfortunately, the current economic climate precludes the CBE from funding it like it needs to be funded. And so we're greatly appreciative of them voting unanimously to close the school so that we can work on a transition plan to the Palliser School Division."Tom Hamer, deputy superintendent of the Palliser district, said next steps are to continue to work with the CBE and the families toward a "seamless transition.""I don't see there being any obstacles at this point. I think everybody is on the same page," he said. "The outcome that all of us wanted, both with Palliser and the CBE, was to be able to continue to offer high quality learning and athletic opportunities for students. Certainly the CBE making their decision today allows us to take a more formal role."Hamer said the school division is well versed in operating small schools. "We are, for the most part, a division of small schools. That's what we're focused on doing, and those are the kind of programs that we run. We run small high school programs," he said."Furthermore, we also run a very robust online program called Palliser Beyond Borders, and that kind of system will serve kids that are training offsite or out of the country very well in terms of their continuity of learning."CBE board chair Marilyn Dennis said that while she's confident the alternative plan suggested by the board — accommodating the students at Bowness High School — would have met student needs, it was clear that having the school on the WinSport campus was invaluable to the students and their families. "It is also clear that this is not a viable option for the CBE any longer," she said. "The priority for these families is not so much what school board they are associated with, but rather that they continue to access the services and supports available to their children at WinSport."Dennis said the CBE is very proud of the legacy it has created with the National Sport School (NSS)."It is a testament to the CBE's longstanding commitment to support students in their unique abilities. Students, parents, sport and community stakeholders speak highly of the National Sport School and the support it offers the student athletes who attend this school," she said.The CBE previously began the process to consider the closure last January, but it ultimately aborted that plan after the school community asked for more time to consider other options that might be available.The CBE agreed to continue operating the program for one more year, but with a reduced level of funding. Addressing the trustees prior to their vote, Phil Graham, vice-president of WinSport, said the negative effects of this reduced level of funding in a small school and on the student athletes has been quite apparent this year."Despite the heroic efforts of the NSS teaching staff to mitigate the negative impact, continuing to operate the school in this reduced manner is not sustainable and will likely result in a high student and staff turnover and ultimately an inability to keep this 26-year vision and mission alive and thriving," he said."We do not view this outcome as reasonable and in the best interests of the student athletes.… We strongly oppose the CBE continuing to operate the NSS at a reduced level of funding. Transitioning the NSS's operations to Palliser is an innovative win-win-win solution." In a recent public engagement, the CBE said it received 58 written statements from parents, various athletic associations locally and nationally, as well as from the city and parent groups."It is very unusual that the near unanimous consensus of those writing to the board is in favour of closure of a school," said CBE trustee Trina Hurdman. "But this is where we are today, because the community has recognized that the CBE is not in a financial position to be able to sustain the program at the level that is necessary for these student athletes to thrive."The CBE has previously said that should the school successfully transfer to Palliser, it would be happy to allow it to continue to use the same name. The National Sport School will no longer be a CBE school as of June 30. Hamer said the plan is to have it reopen under the Palliser banner in September."We're very excited with the opportunity and we're excited to continue to work with the CBE and the NSS to ensure that we have kids getting high quality education in the province of Alberta."
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Cargojet Inc. says it is preparing for record levels of online shopping over the holidays as Canadians buy gifts digitally during restrictions at brick-and-mortar stores, and is taking unprecedented measures to try to keep package deliveries on time.The Mississauga-based company says it is hiring additional pilots and staff, and added a new plane to its fleet this month for the second time this year.Cargojet says it has also added flights on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to build up 20 per cent more capacity for packages, a schedule that will continue during the peak shopping season from Black Friday to early January.The air cargo company says that when stores closed for the initial COVID-19 lockdowns in March and April, cargo volumes easily surpassed levels that are usually only seen at the peak of the year — the holiday season. Now, Cargojet is predicting that volume this winter will top the spring, given that thousands of small businesses have opened online stores, and there is another wave of uncertainty around regional lockdowns. Statistics Canada also said this week that online sales are set to hit a record this year in Canada, topping 2019’s tally of $305 billion, after e-commerce doubled from February to May.“This peak is expected to be like none other,” Cargojet said on Wednesday.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX: CJT) The Canadian Press
A gathering of scholars and activists on Wednesday pointed to soaring test positivity rates on First Nations and suggested that Indigenous colonialism in Canada is alive and well and killing Indigenous people in the midst of a global pandemic. The online discussion with Pamela Palmater, Winona LaDuke and host Dr. Niigaan Sinclair, spoke about how Indigenous people are dealing with ongoing colonization, what has or hasn’t changed due to the pandemic, and where Indigenous people and their allies can go from here. “Racism impacts health and we see that particularly here in Manitoba," said Sinclair. "Fourteen per cent is the test positivity rate in Manitoba. They closed schools in New York for a 3% positivity rate. “On First Nations, it is 23%. That means one out of every four people is testing positive on First Nations for COVID-19. This proves that racism kills.” Palmater, a Mi'kmaq lawyer and professor at Ryerson College, advised Indigenous communities to not forget the power of their sovereignty, peoplehood, nationhood, self-determination and that they are collective. “We have to remember that every single person has something to contribute,” said Palmater. “While the land defenders are out there trying to protect our lands and waters, we also need people behind the scenes supporting the land defenders, advocating in international forums and keeping a close eye on what federal, provincial and municipal governments are doing without our knowledge.” While people were focusing on how the pandemic would impact their communities, Palmater noted that governments not only allowed massive industry projects to continue but were changing laws, legislations and regulations to give them multiple exemptions. “We need people from every skill level and every background to do their part in different forums. I believe that it is one of the most encouraging things that I have seen come out of the pandemic,” said Palmater. “When the Indigenous nations and tribal governments took control of their borders despite the restrictions on gathering, they made sure they were still advocating and defending." Palmater said that by exercising Indigenous voices, they are helping to educate, inform and empower people as well as to raise the alarm on what is happening among Indigenous people. The event also functioned as a launch for Palmater’s and LaDuke’s new books. Both works were published by Fernwood Publishing. “Warrior Life: Indigenous Resistance and Resurgence,” is the second collection of writings by Palmater. In the book, Palmater addresses various Indigenous issues such as empty political promises, ongoing racism, sexualized genocide, government lawlessness as well as noting that reconciliation is a lie. Palmater’s book is available now and can be purchased at the Fernwood Publishing website. “To Be a Water Protector: Rise of the Wiindigoo Slayers,” by LaDuke — an American environmentalist and former vice-president candidate — touches on global, Indigenous-led opposition to the enslavement and exploitation of the land and water. The book also acknowledges several elements of a New Green Economy and outlines the lessons we can take from activists outside North America. LaDuke’s book can be pre-ordered now and will be available in the first week of December. Nicole Wong is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.Nicole Wong, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun
OTTAWA — The head of a Canadian biotech industry association says Canada can and does make vaccines — just not the ones expected first to help stop the COVID-19 pandemic.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau created a firestorm Tuesday when he said Canadians will have to wait a bit to get vaccinated for COVID-19 because the first doses off the production lines will be used in the countries where they are made.So while vaccinations might start next month in the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany, it will be January at the earliest before any doses are injected in this country.Canada, said Trudeau, "no longer has any domestic production capacity for vaccines" and it makes sense that the countries that do will prioritize their own citizens.Andrew Casey, the CEO of BioteCanada, told The Canadian Press Wednesday that Canada does produce vaccines but the technology for the leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates is so new, the manufacturing capacity is being built alongside the vaccines themselves."This is the first time the technology has actually been applied," he said. "So you have to then build the facility to manufacture at scale, which is a challenge."While pharmaceutical company Sanofi has a vaccine plant in Toronto and GlaxoSmithKline has one in Quebec, both make protein-based vaccines, such as the more familiar ones Canadians get every year for the flu.Canada has spent more than $1 billion to pre-order seven different developing COVID-19 vaccines, and only one being developed jointly by Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline uses the protein technology.The first two vaccines expected on the market, from Pfizer and Moderna, each use genetic material known as messenger ribonucleic acid or mRNA. A third with promising trial results, from AstraZeneca, uses a modified common-cold virus that normally infects chimpanzees. Each type trains the human body to develop antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.Casey said a protein-vaccine maker can't just start making the bioengineered vaccines."One is like making wine, one's like making Coke," he said. "Yes, they both grow in bottles. Yes, you can drink both out of a glass. But the manufacturing processes used for the two is so completely different. You can't just say well, we'll shut down the protein one, and we'll switch over to the mRNA."Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel Garner demanded in question period Wednesday that the government explain whether Canada had even tried to convince the companies to make their products here.Trudeau didn't answer, but if those negotiations happened, they have not been successful.Pfizer is expanding production facilities in Kalamazoo, Mich. and Puurs, Belgium to produce most of its vaccine. The company has said it is open to others manufacturing it, but that the technology is difficult to transfer.Moderna has a 10-year exclusive agreement with Swiss-based Lonza Group AC to make its vaccine, mainly in facilities in New Hampshire and Switzerland. Lonza chairman Albert Baehny said earlier this month the new technology meant Lonza had to remake its production lines "from scratch."AstraZeneca, which has promised three billion doses of its vaccine, has signed contract deals with at least two dozen manufacturers around the world to produce its vaccine but not in Canada.A spokesman for Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains said the biomanufacturing sector has been declining in Canada since the mid-1980s."When this pandemic began Canada had no flexible, large-scale, bio-manufacturing capacity suitable for a COVID-19 vaccine," said John Power. He said Canada has been working with experts to address the issue and has made investments, including $140 million in a new National Research Council plant in Montreal.The NRC said Wednesday the Biologics Manufacturing Centre will be finished next July. It doesn't have an agreement yet to produce a specific vaccine, but is being built so it can produce several biologic vaccines, including of the type being made by AstraZeneca. It will not be able to make mRNA vaccines like those from Moderna or Pfizer.It is supposed to be able to produce two million doses a month before the end of 2021.A spokeswoman for GlaxoSmithKline told The Canadian Press the company's Ste-Foy, Que., plant will be part of production of the GSK vaccine eventually but timelines and specifics aren't yet available.A Canadian-made vaccine from Quebec-based Medicago is also expected to be in production in Canada next year. Medicago CEO Bruce Clark said the company has been able to adapt a vaccine for influenza to target COVID-19 instead, noting such an adaptation is one of the advantages of biologic vaccines. But Clark said one of the disadvantages is that it's harder to transfer the technology of biologics to be made in other places.Medicago has facilities in Quebec and North Carolina and is building a new one in Quebec. The existing ones can make about 50 million doses by the end of next year, while the new plant will be able to do as many as a billion annually.The company has been talking to the federal government for years to get funding for a "full-scale manufacturing facility," he said. "We were not successful," said Clark. "It's really only been in the context of the pandemic that we've seen funds be freed up to commit to capacity in Canada."Last month Ottawa agreed to provide $173 million to Medicago for research on its vaccine and construction of an expanded facility. Clark said the 2023 completion date for the new plant could be bumped up with more money.None of the vaccines in question have finished clinical trials and all must also be approved by Health Canada before they can be used here.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
Two men accused of human trafficking appeared in Saskatoon Provincial Court Nov. 24 and Nov. 25. There is now a court ordered ban on publication of the two men’s names. At their first appearance the court placed a publication ban on the identity of the woman who was allegedly being held captive by the two men. One man is a 23-year-old from Kindersley and the other is a 30-year-old from Saskatoon. The Kindersley man is charged with trafficking persons, material benefit from trafficking, two counts of uttering threats, theft under $5,000, breach of a release order, and breach of a conditional sentence order. He was denied bail. The Saskatoon man is charged with trafficking persons, uttering threats, and two counts of breach of a release order. He was granted bail during a show cause hearing in October. The Saskatoon Police Guns and Gang Unit arrested the two men in the 1500 block of Rayner Avenue on July 2. The Guns and Gang Unit became involved after the Saskatoon Police received a report June 29 that a 23-year-old woman was being held at a residence over a period of time. The Saskatoon VICE Human Trafficking Unit assisted police and warrants were issued for the two men. The Saskatoon man is scheduled to appear in Saskatoon Provincial court Dec. 10 to enter a plea and elect how he wants to be tried. The Kindersley man is scheduled to appear in Saskatoon Provincial Court Dec. 9 to enter a plea. email@example.com Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter / Battlefords News-OptimistLisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist