✅ build quality ✅ dust and splash water protection ✅ same filter size ✅ sharpness ✅ fast autofocus and bokeh ❌ 70-200mm extends while zooming ❌ 50mm became heavier and bigger then the EF-version
✅ build quality ✅ dust and splash water protection ✅ same filter size ✅ sharpness ✅ fast autofocus and bokeh ❌ 70-200mm extends while zooming ❌ 50mm became heavier and bigger then the EF-version
LONDON — Gareth Bale and Harry Kane both scored twice to help Tottenham make it three Premier League wins in a row and boost its top-four hopes after a 4-1 victory against Crystal Palace on Sunday. The duo combined twice with Kane the architect for both goals by Bale before the England captain hit a wonder strike and then created history with another in the 76th minute. Son Heung-min assisted Kane’s second and it was their 14th goal combination in the Premier League this season to beat the previous record of 13 set by Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton for Blackburn in the 1994-95 season. Christian Benteke had threatened to spoil proceedings for Jose Mourinho’s side when he equalized just before halftime, but two quick-fire goals after the break ensured the hosts rose to sixth. Tottenham is two points behind fourth-place Chelsea with 11 games remaining. Dele Alli was back on the bench after his second league start of the season at Fulham in midweek while the visitors listed the returning Wilfried Zaha as a substitute. Bale showed no early ill-effects on his third consecutive start and should have had an assist in the sixth minute but Son headed straight at Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita. The Welsh attacker had slalomed between two opponents to create the chance and it was a sign of things to come. After a brace in Tottenham’s win over Burnley last weekend, Bale added to his tally again after 25 minutes. Palace captain Luka Milivojevic was dispossessed by Lucas Moura deep inside his own half and Kane dropped a shoulder to beat the midfielder and race into the area where he squared for Bale to tap in. It was a poor way for the visitors to concede and not long after the hosts almost produced a superb team move but Sergio Reguilon sliced wide on the volley. A flurry of corners in quick succession saw Palace build some momentum and in the first minute of stoppage time they equalized against the run of play. Ebere Eze found Milivojevic in space and the captain atoned for his earlier error with a fine delivery into the area where Benteke headed home for his fifth goal of the season. Zaha was introduced at the break, but he was largely a spectator during a lightning-quick start to the second period where Tottenham scored twice in the space of three minutes. First, Bale doubled his tally for the night when he nodded home from Kane’s header across the face of goal after another excellent cross from Reguilon in the 49th. That made it 10 goals for the season for Bale, who is on loan from Real Madrid having left Tottenham in 2013. A slick move was concluded in style when Matt Doherty cut back for Kane in space and he produced a 25-yard curler into the top corner to leave Guaita with no chance. The Bale and Kane show was ended in the 70th when Bale was replaced but it had been another impressive showing to continue his return to form. There was still time for one more Spurs goal and it proved a record-breaking effort when Son squared for Kane to head in from close range. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Several provinces were preparing to loosen COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday, as Canada's chief public health officer expressed optimism over vaccines ahead of the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 crisis.The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic last March 11, and Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said it's been a difficult 12 months marked by hardship and sacrifice."Yet, as the months have gone by, I have also witnessed the remarkable courage, strength, and generosity demonstrated by Canadians," she wrote in a statement."Through it all, it is the incredible support that Canadians have shown for one another that has impressed me the most."Tam expressed optimism that brighter days were coming, thanks to the recent approvals of the Johnson & Johnson and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines."This week has been a very good week for Canada's COVID-19 vaccination programs," she wrote.The anniversary comes as all provinces are expanding their mass vaccination programs and some are loosening restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of the virus.Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick are among the provinces preparing to lift restrictions on Monday after weeks of stable or declining cases. A stay-at-home order in Ontario's Toronto, Peel and North Bay regions will lift on Monday, while five Quebec regions, including Quebec City, will be downgraded from red to orange on the province's colour-coded regional alert system.All of New Brunswick will transition to the less-restrictive "yellow" alert level Sunday at midnight, meaning residents can expand their contacts from 10 to 15 people and team sports activities may resume.Canada's two biggest cities will remain under fairly strict restrictions, however. Toronto — and neighbouring Peel Region — will enter the "grey lockdown" category, which will allow more retailers to open, with restrictions, but leaves gyms, personal care services and indoor restaurant dining closed.The greater Montreal region remains a red zone, which means an 8 p.m. curfew is still in effect.Tam said the addition of the two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster and help ease the worries surrounding supply disruptions or setbacks.In a long message, Tam said it is not that it is not possible to directly compare the efficacy of different vaccines to one another."Each vaccine was studied in a separate trial conducted at different times, using different populations and conditions," she wrote.She said the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, manufactured by Janssen, was shown to be 66 per cent effective overall in preventing moderate to severe COVID-19, while the AstraZeneca vaccine was found to have an efficacy of 62 per cent in generally preventing "symptomatic COVID-19." Both vaccines, she said, were found to protect against severe disease, meaning that those who got COVID-19 after the shot were much less likely to get seriously ill. Currently, Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization does not recommend that the AstraZeneca vaccine be given to those aged 65 or over due to limited data, but Tam stressed that the recommendations could change.She noted both the new vaccines are easier to transport than those produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which require freezer storage. With Canada set to receive more than 900,000 COVID-19 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines this week, many provinces are ramping up their vaccination campaigns.Health authorities across British Columbia will start booking COVID-19 vaccination appointments Monday for people 90 years old and older and Indigenous residents over the age of 65.Quebec, which has been booking vaccine appointments for seniors 70 or 80 and over depending on the region, will speed up the pace this week as more mass vaccination centres open across the province after focusing mainly on hard-hit Montreal last week. Quebec counted 707 new cases of the virus on Sunday, and seven more deaths. Ontario reported administering 30,192 doses of COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday, for a total of 890,604 doses handed out so far. That province logged 1,299 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, and 15 added deaths. Manitoba counted 56 new cases of the virus and two more deaths. Saskatchewan, meanwhile, reported 116 more cases and two more deaths due to COVID-19, including a person who was under 20 years old. Alberta logged roughly 300 new cases of the virus Sunday, though the province said a system upgrade meant precise numbers weren't available. Farther east, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island each recorded two new cases of COVID-19. The government said it would receive more than 14,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week, which will be sent to five different parts of the province.This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2021 Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — With President Joe Biden on the verge of his first big legislative victory, a key moderate Democrat said Sunday he's open to changing Senate rules that could allow for more party-line votes to push through other parts of the White House’s agenda such as voting rights. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin stressed that he wants to keep the procedural hurdle known as the filibuster, saying major legislation should always have significant input from the minority party. But he noted there are other ways to change the rules that now effectively require 60 votes for most legislation. One example: the “talking filibuster,” which that requires senators to slow a bill by holding the floor, but then grants an “up or down” simple majority vote if they give up. “The filibuster should be painful, it really should be painful and we’ve made it more comfortable over the years,” Manchin said. “Maybe it has to be more painful.” “If you want to make it a little bit more painful, make him stand there and talk,” Manchin added. “I’m willing to look at any way we can, but I’m not willing to take away the involvement of the minority.” Democrats are beginning to look to their next legislative priorities after an early signature win for Biden on Saturday, with the Senate approving a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan on a party-line 50-49 vote. Final passage is expected Tuesday in the House if leaders can hold the support of progressives frustrated that the Senate narrowed unemployment benefits and stripped out an increase to the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Over the weekend, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, representing around 100 House liberals, called the Senate’s weakening of some provisions “bad policy and bad politics." But Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., also characterized the changes as “relatively minor concessions” and emphasized the bill retained its “core bold, progressive elements.” Biden says he would sign the measure immediately if the House passed it. The legislation would allow many Americans to receive $1,400 in direct checks from the government this month. “Lessons learned: If we have unity, we can do big things,” a jubilant Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told The Associated Press in an interview after Saturday's vote. Still, the Democrats’ approach required a last-minute call from Biden to Manchin to secure his vote after he raised late resistance to the breadth of unemployment benefits. That immediately raised questions about the path ahead in a partisan environment where few, if any, Republicans are expected to back planks of the president’s agenda. Democrats used a fast-track budget process known as reconciliation to approve Biden’s top priority without Republican support, a strategy that succeeded despite the reservations of some moderates. But work in the coming months on other issues such as voting rights and immigration could prove more difficult. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., pledged that Senate Republicans would block passage of a sweeping House-passed bill on voting rights. The measure, known as HR 1, would restrict partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts, strike down hurdles to voting and bring transparency to the campaign finance system. It would serve as a counterweight to voting rights restrictions advancing in Republican-controlled statehouses across the country in the wake of Donald Trump’s repeated false claims about a “stolen” election. “Not one Republican is going to vote for HR 1 because it’s a federal takeover of elections, it sets up a system where there is no real voter security or verification,” Graham said. “It is a liberal wish list in terms of how you vote.” When asked about the voting rights bill, Manchin on Sunday left the door open to supporting some kind of a workaround, suggesting he could support “reconciliation” if he was satisfied that Republicans had the ability to provide input. But it was unclear how that would work as voting rights are not budget-related and would not qualify for the reconciliation process. “I’m not going to go there until my Republican friends have the ability to have their say also,” Manchin said. On Sunday, the anti-filibuster advocacy group “Fix Our Senate” praised Manchin’s comments as a viable way to get past “pure partisan obstruction" in the Senate. “Sen. Manchin just saw Senate Republicans unanimously oppose a wildly popular and desperately-needed COVID relief bill that only passed because it couldn’t be filibustered, so it’s encouraging to hear him express openness to reforms to ensure that voting rights and other critical bills can’t be blocked by a purely obstructionist minority,” the group said in a statement. Manchin spoke on NBC's “Meet the Press,” “Fox News Sunday,” CNN's “State of the Union” and ABC's “This Week,” and Graham appeared on Fox News Channel's “Sunday Morning Futures." ___ Associated Press writers Alan Fram and Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report. Hope Yen, The Associated Press
The Champions League talking points ahead of the first set of second-leg matches in the round of 16 on Tuesday and Wednesday: JUVENTUS VS. PORTO (first leg: 1-2) Álvaro Morata is finding his best form at the right time for Juventus. Morata had not scored in the league since December and was sidelined recently with illness but the Juventus forward has scored three times in his last two matches -- including in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Lazio. Morata has scored six goals in this season’s Champions League, two more than teammate Cristiano Ronaldo. The 36-year-old Ronaldo was given some much-needed rest at the weekend and went on only for the final 20 minutes, which should leave him fresh for Tuesday's match against Porto. Juventus has been dealing with illness and injuries. Coach Andrea Pirlo hopes Giorgio Chiellini and Matthijs de Ligt will recover in time to play Porto. Forward Paulo Dybala is still sidelined, while Rodrigo Bentancur is also out after contracting the coronavirus. Porto also has some injury problems, including defender Pepe with a right leg ailment. DORTMUND VS. SEVILLA (3-2) Borussia Dortmund’s 4-2 loss to Bundesliga rival Bayern Munich at the weekend could leave its mark for Tuesday’s visit from Sevilla. Star striker Erling Haaland, who scored twice in Dortmund’s 3-2 win over Sevilla in the first leg, was taken off early with stud marks on the back of his right ankle after a nasty challenge from Jérôme Boateng. Although Haaland told Dortmund coach Edin Terzic “it wouldn’t be a big problem.” The loss in Munich marked the end of Dortmund’s four-game winning run across all competitions. The team was without Jadon Sancho, Raphaël Guerreiro and Gio Reyna. All three face a race to be fit for Tuesday. Sevilla has been struggling since the first-leg loss to Dortmund, losing three of its four matches since then. It is coming off a loss to relegation-threatened Elche in the Spanish league, and was eliminated by Barcelona in the semifinals of the Copa del Rey despite a 2-0 first-leg win. PSG VS. BARCELONA (4-1) Barcelona seems like a different team to the one which played so badly in the second half at home to PSG. Ronald Koeman’s lineup is 16 games unbeaten in the league and the defence appears to be considerably stronger now that he has ditched the ineffective 4-3-3 formation for a 3-5-2 system which offers his central defenders more protection. Veteran defender Gerard Pique is a doubtful starter for the game, however, after hurting his knee midweek. A lot will rest Wednesday on Barça’s French defenders Clement Lenglet and Samuel Umtiti, with PSG is almost at full strength. Goal-scoring winger Angel Di Maria is back from injury and Neymar is close to a return after getting back to training. PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino may see no valid reason to drop the 4-2-3-1 formation which worked so well in Spain, with Kylian Mbappe helping himself to three goals despite playing wide and not as the central striker. Even though PSG defends a big lead at Parc des Princes, there may be some nerves about facing Lionel Messi in top form once again. PSG went out after losing 6-1 in Spain in 2017 having won the home leg 4-0. But this Barcelona lineup is not as strong as the 2017 squad, and PSG is more resilient now. LIVERPOOL VS. LEIPZIG (2-0) The teams return to neutral territory at the Puskas Arena in Budapest with Liverpool's two-goal cushion perhaps not as commanding as it seems given the team's recent problems, particularly in its injury-hit defence. The pressure is on the soon-to-be-deposed English champions because winning the Champions League might be the most likely route back into the competition for next season. Juergen Klopp's squad currently sits outside the Premier League's top four. Leipzig is on a six-game winning run in the Bundesliga and briefly took over top spot on Saturday. Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann omitted Angeliño from the team that beat Freiburg 3-0, but dampened hopes the Spanish winger will return in time for Liverpool. Uncharacteristic defensive lapses helped Liverpool in the first leg. The game is again taking place in the Hungarian capital due to German restrictions on visitors amid the coronavirus pandemic. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
His sleeves were rolled up as he sat straight in the chair with his head up high. Geoff Green was one of the first people in the community to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the Alder Recreation Centre on Wednesday, March 3. “It was quick, fast and painless,” said Green. “The reason I’m here is because my mother is in Avalon Retirement Lodge and I am an essential caregiver to her and her alternate decision-maker. I have to be immunized in case something happens.” The clinic was held by Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph (WDG) Public Health, Dufferin County and the Town of Orangeville. Mayor Sandy Brown encourages residents to vaccinate. “These vaccines have been vetted by public health officials all over the world, multiple times for their safety and efficacy,” said Brown. “I think we should step up and get the vaccination as soon as possible so we can get back to our normal lives.” Brown plans to receive the vaccine when the eligibility requirements expand to place him in line. About 250 people were vaccinated. They plan to ramp it up 2,500 doses a day later on. Pre-registration is available for those in the aforementioned eligible priority groups who are interested in receiving the shot. Public health had 15,000 calls inquiring about the shot. “We’re blending in the next group of health-care workers and then some of it is aged-based prioritization,” said Danny Williamson, communications specialist for WDG Public Health. “We do want to press ahead. The goal is to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible.” The cost to administer the vaccine to a patient is covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). It is preferred to have an Ontario health card present, but a birth certificate, driver's licence or passport will be accepted. The second dose is usually administered 28 to 35 days out. Anywhere from 21 to 42 days is OK. Residents in the WDG Public Health region can attend a clinic elsewhere provided they remain in the area. Green isn’t the only one to be vaccinated in his family. His mother and daughter also received the shot. “My daughter is a communications disorder assistant,” said Green. “She is a front-line worker, so she got her first dose on Friday and has her second dose in two and a half weeks.” Only select Dufferin residents received their vaccine shot on the first day. Adults who were 80 years of age and older who live in WDG, Indigenous people, those who live in a long-term-care home or are essential support staff in long-term care were eligible to have the shot. “We want to make sure our vulnerable people are taken care of,” said Brown. “The elderly and those in long-term care facilities, public health officials and front-line workers need to be vaccinated.” The health unit follows the directives of the province and, as such, they will follow its decisions as to when the broader public can be vaccinated. “I haven’t missed a day of work because of COVID since it started,” said Green. “I work for the railway. They have stringent rules in place that we have to follow. I’m looking forward to a family vacation next February when everything gets back to normal.” “We have a good understanding of our shipment schedule through March and it’s about 3,500 doses per week,” said Williamson. “That’s all Pfizer. Beyond that, we are not sure. Vaccine supplies are on an upwards trajectory. We started out with 975 does of Pfizer, the first week we got it in January.” Staff at the centre will begin vaccinating the broader public as supply expands. The centre will be supplemented by mobile clinics later on. Those who sign up will have their contact information shared to public health for booking appointments. This can be done at www.wdgpublichealth.ca or by calling 1-800-265-7293. Joshua Santos, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Orangeville Banner
A new food delivery service offers an alternative selection of fresh food right to your door. Orangeville Vegan Meals provides healthy vegan and gluten-free meals. This includes green curry, baked orange tofu with broccoli and rice, chunky lentil stew, vegan cookies and brownies and more. “One of my favourite things is to cook,” said Blake Speers, owner of Orangeville Vegan Meals. “I wanted to do that on a wide scale. I was inspired by catering companies, but I knew that wasn’t what I wanted to do.” With Orangeville Vegan Meals, families can buy ready-made meals or freeze them and not spend time cooking in a kitchen. Those interested can visit orangevilleveganmeals.com, view a menu and check out products worth trying. Orders should be in by Wednesday at noon for delivery on Thursdays between 4 and 8 p.m. The menu changes every week. Delivery to Orangeville, Alton and Mono is complimentary, while a $50 order minimum is required for Erin, Hillsburg, Elora, and Fergus residents. Speers has been vegan for six years now. She does not miss cheese or meat. She became a vegan after noticing there was a lot of cholesterol in eggs and meat that can clog arteries. “In vegan meals, there’s no cholesterol at all,” said Speers. “Your cholesterol is monitored by your own body.” Foods that are high in saturated and trans fats increase blood cholesterol levels, she said adding it may increase one's risk of developing heart disease. She developed the business at the end of August 2020, working with two to three cooks and two delivery drivers who dropped off her food to families in Dufferin Country. “It was like a dream come true because I was doing social media for other people, but then I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for it, if I wanted to have a company,” said Speers. “Once I thought about the idea, I was inspired to create the social posts and websites. I find it fun, mostly.” She rents out a commercial kitchen in Orangeville to make all the food, saying that the business has been good so far. “It keeps growing,” said Speers. “The most popular items have been the green curry and banana bread.” Other menu items include vegan cheeses, cookies, soups and burrito bowls. She previously cooked healthy meals for families with a busy lifestyle working as a nanny for five years. Speers plans to attend farmers markets in the summer to showcase her palette of food. “I went to one last year called the Mom’s Market at Hockley Valley, and I also went to one at GoYoga last summer.” When not in the kitchen or practising yoga, Speers can be found at one of her favourite Mexican or Thai restaurants. Joshua Santos, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Orangeville Banner
The city's official youth advisory body is calling for free menstrual products to be made available in all public schools across Ontario. Amid the movement to end "period poverty", Toronto's Youth Cabinet launched a petition asking for the province to fully fund menstrual products in all publicly-funded elementary and secondary schools by the end of 2021, saying the matter comes down to equity, privacy and accessibility. "This is really a human rights issue.... It's really important that we make sure we take down any barriers that prevent people who menstruate from succeeding, and one of those barriers may be accessibility to period products," said Vanessa Erhirhie, a member of the educational working group with the Toronto Youth Cabinet. The Ryerson University student said the products should be normalized and considered essential in all washrooms, adding that it shouldn't be a scramble to access a tampon or a pad when they're needed. "We don't go to our locker for toilet paper and it should be the same for menstrual products," she said. She says while products are available in some schools, they are often found at the front desk or the guidance counsellor's office, which still causes people stress and requires effort to access them. The cabinet is asking that menstrual products be readily available in female washrooms, male washrooms and gender-neutral washrooms. Two-thirds of Canadians impacted by inaccessible products The online petition, which has garnered over 10,700 signatures as of Sunday, details how the lack of access to menstrual products can negatively impact students' school attendance, their social and emotional well-being, as well as contribute to the stigma that is attached to menstruation. "Providing all students with convenient access to free menstrual products helps to support their full participation in school activities, reduces stigma and promotes gender equality," the petition reads. A 2019 report conducted by Plan International Canada found that a third of Canadian women under the age of 25 say they've struggled to afford menstrual products, and almost two-thirds of people aged 14 to 55 missed out on an activity because of their periods and the lack of access to menstrual products. Stephen Mensah, education lead for the Toronto Youth Cabinet, emphasized the need for the province not only to mandate free menstrual products, but to fund the overall initiative, including literacy on menstrual health to help end the stigma. "No one should feel stigmatized over something that is a normal part of life.... Menstrual products are a necessity, not a luxury," said Mensah . 'School boards cannot do this on their own' The cabinet said the demands of this social movement should have been met a long time ago, but lack of funding remains an issue. In 2019, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), Canada's largest school board, passed a motion to ensure free menstrual products in their schools. But Mensah said he has spoken to student trustees from the TDSB who say the move hasn't been fully rolled out yet. "School boards cannot do this on their own," said Mensah. "[They] lack the funding to necessarily sustain [this] for a long period, and to ensure all schools and all of their students can benefit from it. I think this enforces the need for the province to fully fund this initiative." Mensah pointed to other provinces, including British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, which have made menstrual products free in all public schools. In late January, the Ottawa Carleton District School Board voted unanimously to make tampons and pads available in its washrooms by September 2022. Mensah said it's high time Ontario followed suit. The Youth Cabinet will officially launch their initiative on Monday, which happens to be International Women's Day, in a joint statement with the province's four major teachers unions, the Ontario Human Rights Commission and other provincial stakeholders. "We really want to send a clear, unified message to the province that this is something that needs to be done, and most importantly, it needs to happen now," said Mensah.
Western embassies appealed to the ruling military junta to allow the protesters to leave Sanchaung, where they were cornered at the end of another day of bloodshed in Myanmar in which at least three protesters were killed elsewhere in the country. "Free the students in Sanchaung," people chanted in the streets in districts across the former capital, where daily protests have taken place for more than a month against the Feb. 1 coup which overthrew elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
VICTORIA — Health authorities across British Columbia announced locations for COVID-19 vaccine centres Sunday, the day before some of the province's oldest residents could start booking appointments to get their first shots. Vaccine call centres are set to open Monday morning to make COVID-19 vaccine appointments for people 90 and older, and Indigenous people 65 or older, as well as those who identify as Indigenous elders. Island Health officials said Sunday 19 community sites across Vancouver Island have been identified to administer COVID-19 vaccines and 25 community sites in the Vancouver Coastal Health region will be used as clinic locations. The Interior, Northern and Fraser health authorities say they will confirm vaccination sites with people when they book a COVID-19 appointment. "We recognize that there's lots of people that are eager to call in and get going (Monday), so just another reminder that please, unless you are in that category of over 90 or Indigenous over 65 or you identify as an elder, please don't call next week so we can get through this important population,'" said Victoria Schmid, Island Health's pandemic planner. "Your turn will come," she said at a news conference Sunday. "We just need everyone to be patient right now." People can contact their health authority and book appointments for themselves or their spouse, and family members or friends are permitted to schedule an appointment on someone else's behalf, Schmid said. People will be asked to provide the person's first and last name, date of birth, postal code and personal health number and will be asked for an email address or text number to confirm the COVID-19 vaccine appointment, she said.. People born in 1936 or earlier can start calling for appointments on March 15 and those born in 1941 or earlier can start scheduling their shots on March 22. Schmid said she expected the appointments to last about 30 minutes, which includes a 15-minute waiting period following the administration of the vaccine. She suggested people wear short sleeves to make it easier to give the vaccine and not to forget a mask. A support person to can accompany people to the vaccine clinic, she said. Schmid said sites for the community clinics were chosen for their accessibility and comfort and familiarity for Indigenous people. "Ease of access was really important to us," she said. "We really tried to keep a travel time to no more than 15 minutes within urban areas. We want to make sure these sites are accessible for individuals with mobility challenges." Immunization clinics will also be held at Indigenous friendship centres in Victoria, Port Alberni and Port Hardy, Schmid said. Vancouver Coastal Health said in a news release its clinics will be located cross Metro Vancouver and the Squamish and Whistler areas and the Sunshine Coast. The clinics will be held at community, friendship, senior and cultural centres and other regional sites. The health authorities plan to have B.C.'s population of elderly people, ranging in age from 80 to more than 90 years and Indigenous people 65 and older and elders, vaccinated against COVID-19 by April 12, Schmid said. She said a person 90 years and older who calls next week for a COVID-19 vaccination will get their appointment within one week. "They have a week to register for the following week's vaccination appointment," said Schmid. "After that, we're going to move to register those over 85 and then moving down the week after to those over 80." Island Health's Dr. Mike Benusic said he's optimistic about the vaccination rollout. "The announcements we're giving right now provide me with such a sense of hope," he said. "The fact is right now we have 25 times the number of people vaccinated within Island Health than people who have had COVID-19 within Island Health, and we're only going to see that number sky rocket in the next few weeks and months." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2021. Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
Grand Valley will contribute a larger slice of the pie as a conservation authority asked for more funding to make up for a pandemic-related shortfall. “This is probably one of the most difficult budgets we have had in recent years,” said Chris White, chair of the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA). “COVID-19 and its ongoing impact on the conservation authority has made it a moving target.” The overall increase to the municipal levy is 2.5 per cent. The Town of Grand Valley’s levy allocation represents an increase of 5.3 per cent. This is impacted by how the conservation authority levy is prorated for the participating watershed municipalities. The town will pay a general levy of $33,396 for 2021 to the conservation authority as directed by the council. The town paid $31,711 to the organization in 2020. “The Town of Grand Valley’s property assessment is growing at a faster pace than other watershed municipalities, which is why it is higher than the overall 2.5 per cent municipal levy increase,” said Lisa Stocco, manager of communications for the conservation authority. This equates to an average of about $11.09 per watershed resident, an increase of 12 cents per watershed resident compared to the 2020 budget. This comes as staff from the authority presented a draft budget to the town. They proposed a $32 million budget with reserves of $2 million. The town is part of 26 municipalities or regions, in the Grand River watershed, transferring money to the authority. The GRCA board approved the budget on Friday, Feb. 26. Municipalities will contribute $12.2 million in the general municipal levy to the conservation authority in 2021, about 38 per cent of the conservation authority’s total budget. “We recognize that our municipal partners, a major source of our funding, continue to face significant challenges,” said White. “Our staff and our board worked hard to ensure the budget was balanced. In 2021, COVID-19 will continue to pose challenges as we continue to work through the global pandemic.” These include $1 million in special projects, $31 million to expenditures, and a general municipal levy of $12,225.00. “The GRCA provides critical flood mitigation services, as well as unparalleled outdoor recreation opportunities, which continue to be vital to ensuring the health and well-being of the residents in our communities throughout the Grand River watershed,” said White. They also received federal and provincial grants such as $700,000 from the water and erosion control infrastructure (WECI) program and $640,000 from the source protection program grant. Included in this is a capital spending budget for water quality management equipment, software systems and gauge equipment for its flood forecasting and warning program, as well as significant maintenance for dams and dikes. “In 2021, WECI funds will be applied to the costs associated with the capital and maintenance of these structures,” said Stocco. “We are planning a WECI project in 2021 for Luther Dam to replace the stop logs. Major upgrades were completed to Luther Dam in 2012.” It also includes funds for regular maintenance, major repairs and new construction. Some of the major capital projects planned within the conservation areas include expanding the north side gatehouse, new fencing at Elora Gorge, and bridge replacement and Harris Mill masonry repairs at Rockwood. The GRCA continues to work on the updates and implementation of a drinking water source protection plan for each of the four watersheds in the Lake Erie source protection region, including the Grand River watershed. Along with supporting municipalities and other agencies in implementing the plans, the focus in 2021 will continue to be completing updates to the Grand River Source Protection Plan. This includes the development of water quantity policies, updating water quality vulnerability assessments, and developing the annual progress report for the Grand River Source Protection Plan. Joshua Santos, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Orangeville Banner
The world’s most renowned hockey dad, remembered for having a “love for life” and being important to the “culture of Canada” by his legendary hockey son, was laid to rest on Saturday. Walter Gretzky’s funeral took place at St. Mark’s Anglican Church in Brantford, Ont., but was significantly scaled back from anywhere near the scope and grandeur fitting the mark he left, with capacity limited to 30 per cent due to pandemic protocols. “I don’t think I met a prouder Canadian than my dad,” Wayne Gretzky said of his father. Dozens of community members, including throngs of youngsters donning hockey uniforms, gathered outside the church, located near the home where Gretzky raised his family. Wayne told the sombre gathering of family and friends that his father, who suffered a brain aneurysm in the early 1990s and had a decade-long battle with Parkinson’s disease, had sustained a bad hip injury a few weeks ago. Gretzky clung to life for 21 days, with his family sitting with him, similar to how he fought after numerous other debilitating health complications over the years. He died March 4. He was 82. “We thought weeks ago that the end was here,” Wayne told the mourners. “He had a love for life and he didn’t want to leave.” Wayne called his late father a remarkable man who had a “heart of gold.” He said the world would be better off if there were many more people like him. “It’s been a tough time,” Wayne said. He thanked the community for leaving food and sandwiches as the family waited for the worst. Wayne told a fond story about how his father missed the birth of one of his sons, Brent, so that the two of them could attend a tournament in Whitby. When bothered by family and friends about missing the birth of his boy, an irritated Gretzky responded, “Yes, but we got the trophy,” Wayne recounted. “Every grandchild loved him,” Wayne said describing Walter’s close relationship to his grandchildren. “They understand how important he was, not only to our family but to the culture of Canada.” Gretzky was remembered as a man of faith who cherished family, hockey and church. The gathering also heard how he treated everyone equally and was willing to volunteer his time and raise money for charities. “Walter was great with kids, our kids, and all those kids he coached in minor league over the years, and those kids who came up to him for an autograph,” said Tim Dobbin, the former parish priest at St. Mark's who presided over the funeral. He left that church late last year. " The retired Bell telephone technician was often referred to as Canada’s most famous hockey dad. Son "Wayne tweeted the news of his father’s death on behalf of the family late Thursday: “He bravely battled Parkinson’s and other health issues these last few years but he never let it get him down ... He was truly the Great One and the proudest Canadian we know. We love you Dad.” Walter Gretzky rose from humble beginnings to become the patriarch of this country’s most legendary hockey family. Wayne honed his skills in a backyard rink that Walter built for his children and neighbourhood kids. It was dubbed “Wally Coliseum.” That’s where he taught his sons the basics of the game. Walter was born on the family farm in Canning, Ont., in 1938, where his mom made “good, old country Polish food,” including perogies that were “second to none,” he wrote in his autobiography, “On Family, Hockey and Healing.” His father, from Russia, specialized in making wine. Walter went to work for Bell Canada as a technician after finishing school, and is reported to have lost hearing in one ear after an on-the-job injury. He stayed with the company until 1991, when he retired after 34 years. Wayne had barely learned to walk when Walter had him out on his backyard patch of ice, teaching him to skate. His eldest son became a child phenomenon at hockey, annually scoring hundreds of goals and skating rings around older, stronger kids. Walter also coached two other sons. Keith Gretzky is assistant general manager of the Oilers. Brent Gretzky played 13 games in the NHL, all with Tampa Bay, and played a season in the Maple Leafs system when the top farm team was in St. John’s, N.L. Friends recalled that Walter was also an astute coach of other boys in the Brantford minor hockey system, including former Boston Bruins tough guy Stan Jonathan. In 1991, three days after his 53rd birthday, Gretzky suffered a stroke." In 2007, he was named to the Order of Canada, recognized for his contributions to minor hockey and support for numerous charities and non-profits, including the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. In 2010, he carried the Olympic torch hours before the opening ceremony of the Vancouver Winter Games. Two years later, Gretzky was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease." That same year, an elementary school in Brantford was named in his honour. Walter Gretzky’s wife, Phyllis, died in 2005. He leaves behind daughter Kim and sons Wayne, Keith, Glen and Brent. With files from Star staff Jason Miller is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering crime and justice in the Peel Region. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him on email: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @millermotionpic Jason Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
Shares of Hong Kong-listed Chinese photo editing app Meitu Inc rose as much as 14.4% on Monday morning after the company said it had bought $40 million of cryptocurrencies. The beauty-focussed technology firm said in a Sunday evening exchange filing that it bought $22.1 million worth of Ether, the world's second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalisation, and $17.9 million worth of Bitcoin on March 5. Meitu is the latest company to say it will hold cryptocurrencies as part of its treasury operations.
Orangeville Transit is getting government funds to help it ride out the pandemic. The transit authority will receive $81,309 as part of the $150 million the provincial government provides to municipalities. “The $150 million noted by the report was just announced on Monday,” said Doug Jones, general manager of infrastructure services. “It is to offset operational losses due to COVID-19. The transit hub is a capital expenditure and is not eligible for this funding.” Council requested town staff to investigate the possibility of using the Edelbrock Centre as a transit hub. This came after councillors reversed their decision on the Broadway hub in a 4-3 vote on Nov. 23, after hearing numerous concerns from downtown businesses and the BIA. This allocation builds upon the first phase of the federal and provincial Safe Restart Agreement announced in summer 2020. It was developed to help municipalities deliver critical services during COVID-19. “The town has received Phase 1 SRF funding of $96,000 for the 2020 fiscal period,” said Nandini Syed, treasurer. “We have also received $1.5 million in ICIP (Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program) funding.” The first phase of Safe Restart funding for transit flowed $700 million to municipalities in 2020, and to date, $1.5 billion in funding has been allocated. As part of the Safe Restart Agreement funding, municipalities need to work with the province to explore options to ensure transit is safe, sustainable, affordable and integrated, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and after. "We heard from municipalities, and we are responding to their need for more support as COVID-19 continues to result in lost revenue and additional costs for transit systems," said Caroline Mulroney, minister of transportation. The town also received an ICIP grant of $2.09 million, of which 26.67 per cent is the responsibility of the municipality. The federal and provincial governments provide the other 73 per cent. “These funds will be utilized to purchase new buses to accommodate the system going to an expanded four-route system, new transit station, new transit shelters and stop amenities and finally for a specialized transit service, not until 2024,” said John Lackey, manager of transportation and development. Joshua Santos, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Orangeville Banner
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 9:30 p.m. ET on Sunday March 7, 2021. There are 886,574 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 886,574 confirmed cases (30,268 active, 834,067 resolved, 22,239 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 2,489 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 79.64 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 18,880 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,697. There were 26 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 245 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 35. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.09 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 58.52 per 100,000 people. There have been 25,159,921 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 1,006 confirmed cases (91 active, 909 resolved, six deaths). There was one new case Sunday. The rate of active cases is 17.43 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 19 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 1.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 201,814 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 141 confirmed cases (26 active, 115 resolved, zero deaths). There were two new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 16.29 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of nine new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 112,416 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,659 confirmed cases (29 active, 1,565 resolved, 65 deaths). There were two new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 2.96 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 18 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.64 per 100,000 people. There have been 366,679 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,455 confirmed cases (36 active, 1,391 resolved, 28 deaths). There were two new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 4.61 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 25 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.02 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 3.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 242,695 tests completed. _ Quebec: 292,631 confirmed cases (7,100 active, 275,059 resolved, 10,472 deaths). There were 707 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 82.8 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 4,891 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 699. There were seven new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 79 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 11. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 122.13 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,452,036 tests completed. _ Ontario: 308,296 confirmed cases (10,389 active, 290,840 resolved, 7,067 deaths). There were 1,299 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 70.51 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 7,480 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,069. There were 15 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 87 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.08 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 47.96 per 100,000 people. There have been 11,205,314 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 32,225 confirmed cases (1,130 active, 30,188 resolved, 907 deaths). There were 56 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 81.93 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 366 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 52. There were two new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 12 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 65.76 per 100,000 people. There have been 541,269 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 29,709 confirmed cases (1,517 active, 27,794 resolved, 398 deaths). There were 116 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 128.7 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,062 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 152. There were two new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 13 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.16 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 590,938 tests completed. _ Alberta: 135,837 confirmed cases (4,949 active, 128,974 resolved, 1,914 deaths). There were 300 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 111.92 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,333 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 333. There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 28 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.09 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 43.28 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,445,307 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 83,107 confirmed cases (4,975 active, 76,752 resolved, 1,380 deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 96.64 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,653 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 379. There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 25 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.07 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 26.81 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,969,444 tests completed. _ Yukon: 72 confirmed cases (zero active, 71 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.38 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,232 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 42 confirmed cases (one active, 41 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 2.21 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 14,849 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 381 confirmed cases (25 active, 355 resolved, one deaths). There were four new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 63.53 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 24 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,852 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 7, 2021. The Canadian Press
On March 4, 2021 Employment and Social Development Canada (ESD) released a call for proposals from First Nations (on and off reserve), Inuit, and Métis peoples, governments and organizations. The funding is meant to support new approaches to Indigenous governance, coordination and delivery of culturally appropriate early learning and child care. The ultimate goal is to improve early learning and child care services available to Indigenous communities. “For many, child care is a necessity. For Indigenous children, culturally appropriate early learning and child care can be a crucial part of childhood development. That is why the Government of Canada is committed to promoting and investing in Indigenous-led early learning and child care to ensure all First Nations, Inuit and Métis children have the foundation they need to succeed in life,” said ESD. The Government of Canada is providing $9.25 million over two years in available funding, starting in 2021–22, for research and innovation projects through this call for proposals. Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller said, “Culturally-relevant early learning and child care programs play a critical role in creating connections for First Nations, Inuit and Métis children and families, to their communities, cultures and languages.” “Today’s announcement demonstrates our commitment to ensuring every Indigenous child grows up immersed in their culture and ready to reach their full potential,” the minister concluded. Priority areas were identified through engagement with First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners. Based on their feedback, proposals should focus on the following key themes: Applications are accepted until April 14. Jacob Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Alberta Native News
Ontario pharmacists start a COVID-19 vaccine program this week at 330 locations to provide the AstraZeneca vaccine to customers aged 60 to 64 as lockdown restrictions ease in two major regions.
Nominations for this year’s Everyday Hero Awards are now open. The Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) is looking for the school community to select a person who went above and beyond in the school system. Nominations are open until March 26 and are collected digitally. “This year more than ever, it is important to host these awards to celebrate folks in our system, have something positive to look forward to, and also to recognize those individuals who go beyond what is expected of them to contribute to a positive and thriving learning and working environment,” said board chair Martha MacNeil. Winners will be honoured during a virtual ceremony on May 10 at 7 p.m. More information at the virtual ceremony will be communicated by the board closer to the date. The first ceremony was held for the 2007 to 2008 school year. The board of trustees established the Everyday Hero Awards to celebrate staff, students and community members in our school system. “The Everyday Hero Awards are important to our Board because their goal is to publicly recognize those individuals in our school system who continually go above and beyond for students and staff,” said MacNeil. Eligible candidates for the awards include UGDSB employees, students, community members or volunteers. Nominations can be for an individual or for a group that has made a difference to the school system. “When nominating an individual or group, people should reflect on whether the nominee performs their duties at a high level at all times, has made a significant school or system-related achievement, or has a unique circumstance that would be considered worthy of recognition,” said Megan Sicoli, communications administrative officer. Criteria for the award include the performance of duties at a high level, a significant school or system-related achievement, a specific innovation or achievement of substantial value or importance to the system, or a unique circumstance considered worthy of recognition by the board. “Nominators should also consider that the selection committee takes into consideration not only the achievements of the nominee but also the quality of the nomination package,” said Sicoli. “That said, before submitting their nomination package, nominators should look at whether they have supporting documentation from more than one person or organization and that their nomination package was put together with quality and care.” Joshua Santos, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Orangeville Banner
U.S. crowd-safety company Evolv Technology said on Sunday it is combining with blank-check firm NewHold Investment Corp to go public in a deal that will value it at about $1.7 billion. Evolv is backed by investors including Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and venture capital firm General Catalyst. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter, and the company expects to trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker "EVLV", according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news.
WASHINGTON — The United States and South Korea have reached agreement in principle on a new arrangement for sharing the cost of the American troop presence, which is intended as a bulwark against the threat of North Korean aggression, both countries announced. The State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs said Sunday the deal includes a “negotiated increase” in Seoul’s share of the cost, but it provided no details. The Bureau wrote on Twitter that the agreement, if finalized, would reaffirm the U.S.-South Korean treaty alliance as “the linchpin of peace, security and prosperity for Northeast Asia.” South Korea’s Foreign Ministry on Monday issued a similar statement, saying the two countries are seeking to tentatively sign the deal. It said the agreement came after three days of face-to-face talks in Washington. The U.S. keeps about 28,000 troops in South Korea to help deter potential aggression from North Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War. But how much South Korea should pay for the American military presence was a thorny issue in bilateral relations under the Trump administration, which often asked its Asian ally to drastically increase its share. In 2019, the allies struck a deal that required South Korea to pay about $924 million (1.04 trillion won) for the U.S. troops presence, an increase from $830 million in the previous year. But negotiations for a new cost-sharing plan broke down over a U.S. demand that Seoul pay five times what it previously had paid. The State Department said in a statement that the increase in the South’s share of the cost was “meaningful" but was not more specific. The Wall Street Journal, which was first to report the agreement, said it would last through 2025. South Korea's Foreign Ministry said it couldn't immediately confirm the report. In its statement, the State Department said: “America’s alliances are a tremendous source of our strength. This development reflects the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to reinvigorating and modernizing our democratic alliances around the word to advance our shared security and prosperity.” Many conservatives in South Korea worried that then-President Donald Trump might use failed cost-sharing negotiations as an excuse to withdraw some U.S. troops in South Korea as a bargaining chip in now-stalled nuclear talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The U.S. and South Korea had also halted or cancelled some of their military exercises in recent years to support the nuclear diplomacy, which eventually fell apart due to disputes over U.S.-led sanctions on North Korea. On Monday, the South Korea and U.S militaries kicked off annual military drills that would last for nine days. South Korea’s military said the drills are command post exercises and computerized simulation and don’t involve field training. It said the allies reviewed factors like the status of COVID-19 and diplomatic efforts to resume the nuclear talks with North Korea when it decided to hold the drills. It's unclear how North Korea would respond to the drills. In the past, the North often called regular U.S.-South Korea drills an invasion rehearsal and responded with missile tests. Lee Jong-joo, South Korea's Unification Ministry spokeswoman, said Monday that Seoul hopes Pyongyang would act flexibly and wisely in response to its efforts to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula. The prospect for a new cost-sharing plan has been heightened as the Biden administration has been seeking to bolster its alliance with South Korean and other countries. South Korea began paying for the U.S. military deployment in the early 1990s, after rebuilding its economy from the devastation of the Korean War. The big U.S. military presence in South Korea is a symbol of the countries’ alliance but also a source of long-running anti-American sentiments. ___ Associated Press writer Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report. Robert Burns And Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
As pandemic restrictions loosen in Toronto and neighbouring Peel Region, businesses across the personal care services industry say they’re being left behind. Several professionals and proprietors who spoke to the Star on Sunday complained they’re being treated unfairly as they continue to be barred from opening under the “grey” lockdown category. Outcry from the sector, which includes salons, barbershops and other cosmetic services, comes on the heels of the province announcing Friday that it was lifting the strict stay-at-home orders in those jurisdictions. Michele Bonnick, the owner of Amani Hair Studio in Toronto, said anticipation built as dozens of people were on a waiting list, expecting to get the green light to book hair appointments this month. Bonnick instead had to tell them she was remaining closed indefinitely. She slammed the provincial rule book for what she sees as favouritism towards big-box stores and other retailers, while struggling entrepreneurs are left to bear the brunt of the restrictions. “It’s just garbage,” she said. “The standards that they’ve set for us are so high.” Her salon has been closed for more than three months, since the November lockdown. “The problem is the ongoing shutting down and opening up, shutting down and opening up,” she said. “It’s so inconsistent.” Bonnick dipped into her savings to stay afloat during last spring’s lockdown. She’s now relying on government loans to stave off closure, but says it’s not sustainable. Bonnick pivoted last year to offer online services like consultations and product sales. “I’ve been feeling like trying to find something outside of my field in order to survive,” she said. Toronto and Peel, along with North Bay—Parry Sound, were the last ones still under the stay-at-home order imposed in December amid surging cases of COVID-19. Most of the province transitioned back to the government’s colour-coded pandemic response framework last month. Toronto and Peel will be placed in the strictest “grey lockdown” category of the framework starting Monday, as was recommended by public health officials in the two areas. That will allow more retailers to open, with restrictions, but leaves gyms, personal care services and indoor dining closed. Social gatherings remain banned indoors, and are capped at 10 people outdoors. The province said Friday it opted to place Toronto and Peel in the lockdown category because the two regions are making progress but their case rates remain high. Anosha Swalah, the creative director of Saboohi’s Salon & Spa in Mississauga, is part of a collective of about 30 salons and spas across Peel Region that have been lobbying local politicians and sharing the plight of the industry. “We’ve only operated for about three months of the entire year,” she said, adding that there was at least an 80 per cent decline in business due to closures and the crash of the wedding industry in 2020. Swalah defends the industry, saying that there is no evidence, to her knowledge, that salons have been drivers of outbreaks in Peel. She says people in the profession are feeling undermined even when they follow strict protocols, including proper sanitization, which she says is typical of the industry before the pandemic. “I feel degraded in some form,” she said. “That’s the anger that our industry is feeling.” She said the laser treatment part of the industry has taken a huge hit because they were unable to do any work during the peak winter season. Reeya Tanna, a registered nurse and owner of the Etobicoke-based Plumpitupp, a medical spa offering cosmetic injections, medical facials and esthetic treatments, said, “It has been difficult to stay motivated and hopeful when there is no end to the lockdown in sight.” Tanna worked in the industry for a few years before deciding to open her own clinic. She was on verge of opening her own private clinic on Jan. 1, but those plans were halted by ongoing restrictions. After months of not being able to offer her services in 2020, Tanna is now grappling with the uncertainty of when her clinic can get up and running. “I have little hope of opening any time soon as the government has put our industry (as cosmetic nurses) in the personal care services sector on hold,” she said. When asked why salons and other personal care services are not yet being allowed to reopen, Toronto Public Health referred to the province’s general COVID-19 response framework, which establishes thresholds based on criteria such as case counts and test positivity rates for when regions are allowed to ease restrictions on certain sectors. Peel’s medical officer of health, Dr. Lawrence Loh, told the Star in a statement on Sunday: “Given the nature of the service provided, with a recognition that precautions cannot be consistently maintained (e.g., distancing) and are not always foolproof, many jurisdictions have targeted these settings for closures. “There have also been notable outbreaks in these settings reported in other areas of the province, notably a large nail salon outbreak in Kingston. This resultant evidence and data have been built into the framework set by the provincial government.” The debate over the science behind the lockdown was front and centre during Mississauga council meetings last week. Coun. Ron Starr criticized the provincial and regional rationale for extending the closure of the personal care industry. “What is the empirical data?” he asked. “What is the rationale, in certain areas, when we don’t have that data? Yet, this is the way medical people are saying it’s going to happen?” Starr said that women, many of whom own businesses in the industry, are feeling the brunt of pressure from the uncertainty surrounding the closures. “I don’t think our message from Peel is going through,” he said during a council meeting. “Why are they shut down,” Carr asked. “Yet, we’re opening up other areas." In responding to Mississauaga council on Wednesday, Loh said the region has not achieved the critical mass of vaccinations needed to achieve herd immunity. In spite of public fatigue over restrictions, Loh said he’s avoiding prematurely reopening then having to close again. Loh said there needs to be an uptick in vaccination to lower the chance of severe outcomes for vulnerable segments of the community. “Until that time, this still remains a novel threat,” he said, adding, “There is still the storm of the century that is raging out there.” He cautioned that while some people question the science behind his decisions, “the reality is, we’ve seen what happens in other countries where they get this wrong.” “We’re so close to the vaccine,” he said. “We’re so close to warmer weather, where we can start to open with confidence again.” With files from The Canadian Press Jason Miller is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering crime and justice in the Peel Region. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him on email: email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @millermotionpic Jason Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star