In India, with a COVID-19 case count second only to the U.S., it's children who've become the cheapest and easiest sources of income for families ravaged by economic fallout.
In India, with a COVID-19 case count second only to the U.S., it's children who've become the cheapest and easiest sources of income for families ravaged by economic fallout.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials began expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines on Feb. 22, opening community clinics for people aged 80 years and older. Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, has said the province's plan is to open another 10 clinics in March for 48,000 people who will be mailed a letter informing them how to book an appointment. Strang said the vaccination program will then expand to the next age group in descending order until everyone in the province is offered the chance to be immunized. The age groups will proceed in five-year blocks. Future community clinics are to be held March 8 in Halifax, New Minas, Sydney and Truro; March 15 in Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth; and March 22 in Amherst, Bridgewater and Dartmouth. The province began its vaccination campaign with residents of long-term care homes, those who work directly with patients, those who are 80 and older, and those who are at risk for other reasons including First Nations and African Nova Scotian communities. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island The province says the first phase of its vaccination drive, currently slated to last until the end of March, targets residents and staff of long-term and community care, as well as health-care workers with direct patient contact at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure. Those 80 and older, adults in Indigenous communities, and truck drivers and other rotational workers are also included. The next phase, which is scheduled to begin in April, will target those above 70 and essential workers. The province intends to make the vaccine available to everyone in late summer and fall. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors on Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. The province says the vaccination of children and pregnant women will be determined based on future studies of vaccine safety and efficacy in those populations. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry also says first responders and essential workers may be eligible to get vaccinated starting in April as the province also decides on a strategy for the newly authorized AstraZeneca vaccine. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
WARSAW, Poland — The European Union's top court ruled Tuesday that Poland’s new regulations for appointing judges to the Supreme Court could violate EU law. The ruling obliges Poland’s right-wing government to discontinue these regulations and observe the principles of judicial independence and the right to judicial protection. In a decision that could have a powerful effect on future court verdicts regarding judicial appointments, the ruling also allows Poland's courts to refrain from applying the regulations introduced by the government in 2018 and 2019. The legislation in Poland strengthened political influence over a top judicial body, the National Council of the Judiciary, and the body's procedure of appointments to the Supreme Court. It also curbed the right to appeal the council's decisions. The regulations “which have the effect of removing effective judicial review of that council’s decisions ... (proposing) candidates for the office of judge at the Supreme Court — are liable to infringe EU law," the European Court of Justice said in its ruling. The ruling was in response to a query by Poland's top administrative court to the European court regarding a complaint by some judges. The judges said the new regulations stripped them of the right to appeal a decision rejecting them as candidates for the Supreme Court. Based on Tuesday's ruling, Poland's Supreme Administrative Court can now review the appeals by the five judges. Some lawmakers praised the court's decision. The ruling on Polish government’s “political interference in the judiciary is concrete evidence that the government is blatantly flouting the rule of law, despite multiple warnings. It is also destroying Europe’s trust in the legal system there," said Jeroen Lenaers, a European Parliament member. ___ This story has been corrected to say Poland's top administrative court turned to the ECJ, not the judges themselves. The Associated Press
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of March 2 ... What we are watching in Canada ... VANCOUVER — Experts say a national vaccine panel's recommendation against administering the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to seniors could be good news for essential workers and younger populations, but it has to be promoted that way. Caroline Colijn, a COVID-19 modeller and mathematician at Simon Fraser University, and Horacio Bach, an adjunct professor in the division of infectious diseases in the faculty of medicine at the University of British Columbia, say it's up to provincial officials to advertise it as a valuable resource. Oxford-AstraZeneca has reported the vaccine is 62 per cent effective against preventing infection while Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have reported those vaccines have 95 per cent efficacy. Colijn and Bach say people seem to be fixated on the different numbers, but what really needs to be underscored is that Oxford-AstraZeneca has prevented serious illness leading to hospitalization and there haven't been any deaths. Canada has ordered 24 million doses of the vaccine, with most of it coming from the United States between April and September. British Columbia's provincial health officer, Doctor Bonnie Henry, says the vaccine may be offered to essential workers and they'll have limited choice in waiting for the other two vaccines, but should take whatever they're offered first. --- Also this ... OTTAWA — A new poll suggests a majority of Canadians believe Ottawa will follow through on its plan to provide enough COVID-19 vaccine doses for everyone who wants a shot by the fall. An online survey by Léger and the Association for Canadian Studies says 56 per cent of respondents are confident the federal government can buy enough vaccine to ensure inoculation for those who seek it by September. Canadians on both coasts and in Quebec were optimistic about their provinces' rollout plans as well as that of the feds. People in Ontario and the Prairie provinces were more skeptical, with just one in three Albertans expressing faith in their government's delivery scheme. Léger executive vice-president Christian Bourque says the ramp-up in vaccine shipments from Pfizer and Moderna last week likely brightened Canadians' views of federal distribution efforts. The Public Health Agency of Canada is expecting delivery of about 445,000 doses this week, following last week’s record high of 640,000 doses in a seven-day period. --- What we are watching in the U.S. ... WASHINGTON — The White House is making it abundantly clear it has no plans to share America's COVID-19 vaccines with Canada or Mexico. Press secretary Jen Psaki has been indicating for weeks that the Biden administration would not allow the export of doses manufactured in the U.S. any time soon. She says President Joe Biden is focused first on making sure the vaccine is available to every American. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was expected to ask Biden directly for doses when the two meet virtually Monday evening. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reportedly stopped short of making a similar request in his virtual meetings with Biden last week. "No," Psaki said Monday when asked whether the U.S. would be willing to share its supply of vaccine doses. "The president has made clear that he is focused on ensuring that vaccines are available to every American. That is our focus." Psaki hinted last week that the White House position could change later this year once more Americans are vaccinated and the doses are no longer in such short supply. Johnson and Johnson's single-dose COVID-19 vaccine began shipping out Monday after it received emergency authorization over the weekend from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. That now makes three vaccines that are available in the U.S., along with the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Health Canada has yet to approve the Johnson and Johnson shot, but gave the green light last week to a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford. --- What we are watching in the rest of the world ... YANGON, Myanmar — Demonstrators in Myanmar took to the streets again today to protest last month’s seizure of power by the military, as foreign ministers from Southeast Asian countries prepared to meet to discuss the political crisis. Police in Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city, used tear gas against the protesters. The planned special meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations comes in the wake of worsening violence in Myanmar. The country’s new military rulers over the weekend escalated their use of deadly force and mass arrests to try to quash protests against the Feb. 1 coup that ousted the elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi. The UN said it believed at least 18 people in several cities were killed on Sunday when security forces opened fire to disperse demonstrating crowds. Funerals were being held today for several of the victims. The coup reversed years of slow progress toward democracy in Myanmar after five decades of military rule, coming the day a newly elected Parliament was supposed to take office. Ousted leader Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party would have been installed for a second five-year term in office, but instead she was detained along with President Win Myint and other senior officials. --- On this day in 1964 ... The House of Commons approved a bill changing the name of Trans-Canada Air Lines to Air Canada. The law, proposed by then Liberal MP Jean Chretien, took effect the following Jan. 1. --- In entertainment ... The show must go on at the Stratford Festival, but this summer it will be happening outdoors. Organizers say they have made tentative plans for "about a dozen" live productions held in-person at the renowned southwestern Ontario festival between late June and the end of September. The plays and cabarets will take place beneath two canopies, one at the Festival Theatre and the other at the new Tom Patterson Theatre. The idea was inspired by the original tent where the Stratford Festival first performed in the early 1950s. Under the outdoors model, the festival's organizers expect to seat up to 100 people in "socially distanced pods," double the usual number of audience members who could be seated at the indoor theatre. The full slate of plays and cabarets will be announced in the spring. The plan will keep the Stratford Festival in operation throughout this summer after COVID-19 forced the entire 2020 season to be cancelled, leading the organization to dip into its endowment and secure a line of credit to stay afloat. Stratford Festival's executive director Anita Gaffney says this summer's schedule is designed so that it can be modified to either shrink or grow in size, depending on provincial and community health guidelines. She added that it's "only through significant and thorough advance planning that we can put in place the safety measures that will be essential for any eventuality." Performances will be streamed online for those who cannot attend in-person shows. --- ICYMI ... CALGARY — It's been bananas at the Leftovers Foundation as the Calgary not-for-profit tries to find a use for thousands of bunches of the long, yellow fruit, which were donated all at once last week. Interim CEO Audra Stevenson said a call came in last Friday from produce distributor Fresh Direct and it had more than seven pallets of bananas with nowhere to go. That amounted to 346 cases, each with about 10 bunches in them. "Our bread and butter is rescuing food that doesn't have a home and getting it into the hands of people who need it," Stevenson said Monday. She said the priority is to get as many of the fresh bananas as possible to organizations that serve people in need, such as homeless shelters. As of Monday morning, there were about 150 cases left and a lineup of service agencies waiting to pick some up. But by Tuesday, Stevenson said, it's likely there will be a pallet left of bananas that are past their prime, like ones that start to turn brown on your kitchen counter. "You wouldn't give one to your kid, but you would make it into banana bread." The Leftovers Foundation also has a program that brings large quantities of rescued produce to local food artisans that can upcycle it into tasty treats. The groups' website says that in the past, Made by Marcus has made ice cream from bananas it procured through the program. This time, Stevenson said Hoopla Donuts and restaurant Donna Mac are on standby to grab whatever is left once the service agencies get their fill. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published xxx. x, 20xx The Canadian Press
Prior to the pandemic, the Gurudwara temple in Saskatoon was used as a venue to vaccinate hundreds of people against the flu. Religious leaders at the Sikh temple found it was a good way to build trust within their community while advocating for equal access to health care. "They come to the golden hour for their religious prayer anyway," said Jaswant Singh, a faith leader within the Sikh Society of Saskatchewan. It made getting vaccinated easier than going to a pharmacy. Those who didn't have a vehicle were driven in from as far as 150 kilometres to get the shot. Helping with vaccinations isn't new for religious leaders, but their efforts have become even more important due to a lack of racial data on the people getting immunizations in Saskatchewan. The lack of data means the province doesn't know if members of any particular groups have been hesitant to be inoculated. This means it doesn't know if education efforts should be targeted at specific groups. Religious leaders are often strong voices in their communities, meaning they can help combat vaccine reluctance. At the Sikh temple, vaccination clinics fulfil their religious beliefs of building community, protecting humanity and eliminating discrimination between different castes. In-person congregations at the temple have now been reduced to 30 people, so all advocacy efforts have moved online. However, with Saskatchewan now distributing COVID-19 vaccines throughout the province, religious leaders say they can help eliminate ethnic disparities during the rollout, just like they do with the flu shot. "We need to be involving diverse groups of people, and that includes religious groups so that nobody is left behind," Singh said. "Particularly, we need to pay close attention to disadvantaged people who are marginalized, who may not have usual media reach." Lack of racial data in Saskatchewan In the U.K., the government has worked closely with mosques, temples and churches to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Suresh Tikoo, director of vaccinology and immunotherapeutics program at the University of Saskatchewan, says the same should be done in this province as it helps eliminate inequalities associated with language or technological barriers. "Vaccine access has to be equal to everyone," Tikoo said. "If [the government] can involve ethnic groups and their leaders and places of worship, it would really help to get the vaccination done properly, particularly in those groups." Volunteers welcome those with appointments to a vaccination centre at Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kingsbury in North London, where they are aiming to give 1,300 vaccinations a day. Faith leaders in Saskatchewan would like to see similar centres set up here. The Ministry of Health says Panorama, the vaccine tracking system used by the majority of the provinces including Saskatchewan, does not gather information about race or ethnicity, so it's unknown if any groups are being left behind. Tikoo said racial and ethnic data is important to have, and will become useful for developing future vaccines for future pandemics. "The data will help to see whether there is any disparity between different ethnic groups," Tikoo said. "Secondly, it will help to determine if any particular age group or ethnicity or sex — if any of those groups have or have not responded to a particular vaccine. "If that data is available it can very quickly be analyzed and another vaccine can be given. If that data is not available, it will take a lot of time to figure out what is the reason that the vaccine is not working in one individual or individuals." The federal government does not have its own vaccine tracking system. With gaps in the data, religious leaders are taking it upon themselves to ensure access to the vaccine and information is equally distributed. WATCH | How the U.K. is handling vaccine hesitancy in racialized communities Faith leaders take on vaccine hesitancy Since the pandemic began, faith leaders have played a central role in addressing COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and debunking misinformation. "In many cases, people trust more of their religious leaders than politicians," said Rabbi Claudio Jodorkovsky. Pastors in the Mennonite Church have been responsible for delivering information to communal living settings and those who live remotely, said Ryan Siemens, executive minister at Mennonite Church Saskatchewan. COVID-19 news is often the topic in weekly sermons and a vaccine endorsement by a faith leader can lead to acceptance by the congregation. "There's a tremendous opportunity to disseminate information that is related to public health, related to vaccination and other things that are needed for the pandemic response," said Mateen Razi of the Islamic Association of Saskatchewan. As new vaccines continue to be approved by Health Canada, faith leaders have taken on the role of debunking misinformation, and educating their congregation on the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine. Others lean on their religious leaders to understand public health orders, or to feel comfortable asking questions. "People believe you when you speak their language, and many times people have questions they're unable to express. It'd be OK to speak in English, but you're not able to express at the same level," Singh said. Religious leaders also help congregations understand what's in the vaccine. For example, members of the Muslim and Orthodox Jewish communities might have concerns about it having any sort of connection to pigs or pork. "Health and the preservation of life goes first," said Jodorkovsky. "The opposition of vaccines can not be supported by religion." Setting up clinics in places of worship Some faith leaders feel they are being underutilized during the province's vaccine rollout. "I think there's a lot of missed opportunities," Jodorkovsky said. "We are totally left out of the most important things to educate." In December, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held a video conference with faith leaders that was geared specifically toward the vaccine rollout. But faith leaders say they haven't heard much else from the provincial or federal governments since. Saskatchewan will offer three types of clinics to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine: mass vaccination clinics, drive-thru clinics and mobile clinics. The province does have regular conversations with an interfaith group, but vaccine rollout has not been a main part of the conversation, Siemens said. "It has been very, very messy and not organized. We can be real partners with the government," Jodorkovsky said. In addition to the province opening up clinics across the province, faith leaders say places of worship could also be used to reach ethnic minorities and ensuring the vaccine is equally available to all. The Saskatchewan government says there will be additional clinics set up in community based-settings. "When the time comes, that would be good," Siemens said. "But I think all of us are sort of in the wait and see when delivery actually gets here."
Ground will likely be broken later this month on a new $7.2-million greenhouse facility for the city's parks department. It will be built on the site of a current baseball diamond in Jackson Park at McDougall Street and and Memorial Drive, just south of Windsor Stadium. It will replace the aging greenhouses at Lanspeary Park, some of which are 100 years old. The new 22,000-square-foot greenhouse will be twice the size of the old facility. It will allow the city to grow plants for hanging baskets, which it currently has to buy from outside sources. It will also be one large greenhouse with more room for the tropical plants that have to be housed over the winter. "Many of the plants can't be replaced. These aren't the type of things you can go to your local garden centre in the spring and simply purchase. They're expensive. They're exotic, " said James Chacko, senior manager of parks. James Chacko, senior manager of parks for the City of Windsor. The new facility will be more energy efficient and could be used for school programs, horticultural workshops, a place to grow food for food banks and a winter garden open to the public. Chacko says neighbours need not fear light pollution such as the type being experienced from the greenhouses in Leamington and Kingsville. "The plants go to sleep over the night, just like you and I do, so that there won't be any light disturbance or light pollution," said Chacko, explaining there are no ongoing operations in the night time. The city will hear from the Lanspeary Park neighbourhood about how to utilize the three acres where the old greenhouses sit, but care will be taken to incorporate one greenhouse which originally came from Willistead. The 100 year-old building is on the city's heritage registry. The current greenhouse facility at Lanspeary Park is around 100 years old, inefficient and too small. Most will be torn down and the greenspace will be incorporated into Lanspeary Park. "That may involve it remaining in place as it is, may involve moving it slightly within the footprint of this property," said Chacko. "So certainly we're not in a rush to knock down anything that is heritage designated or we will go through all the proper channels and do our best to ensure that it can be incorporated into the new Lanspeary Park " The new greenhouse is expected to be finished by the end of the spring next year. The city will also try to rework some baseball diamonds at Mic Mac Park to accommodate fast ball as a replacement for the ball diamond that will be lost in Jackson Park.
Nova Scotia RCMP are worried about possible increased friction between rival motorcycle gangs with the opening of a new Outlaws Motorcycle Club prospective chapter in the Halifax region — an area the Hells Angels consider their territory. "The Hells Angels may see this expansion of the Outlaws as a competitive move and also disrespectful," said Det. Const. Jeff Temblett, an intelligence officer with the RCMP's criminal intelligence service. "It could lead to violence," he said. "Where they're in their backyard now there may be more opportunity for confrontation." The two motorcycle gangs have been enemies for years. Up until now the two groups have mostly been able to avoid each other, with the Outlaws set up in Cape Breton. That changed in February when the Outlaws opened a prospective chapter in Lake Echo, in the Halifax Regional Municipality. "With a new club starting up in Halifax, police believe the rivalry could escalate between the Hells Angels and the Outlaws. The Outlaws in Cape Breton remained generally out of sight to the Hells Angels," said Tremblett. The Outlaws Motorcycle Club has a one full patch chapter in Cape Breton and has opened an additional prospective chapter in the Lake Echo area of the Halifax Regional Municipality. The Hells Angels haven't had an official chapter in Nova Scotia since 2001, when their Halifax chapter was shut down by police. But their power base in the province has remained largely intact through their 10 support clubs. Support clubs are small groups that have aligned themselves with a larger, more powerful biker gang. These clubs copy the structure of the gang they've partnered with and follow the dominant club's orders. Support club members can be used to assist in criminal activities and protect the dominant club from prosecution, said Tremblett. The clubs also act as a recruiting ground for potential new members and help funnel money to the dominant club through the sale of merchandise like shirts and hats emblazoned with the gang's logos. In Nova Scotia, the Red Devils and several other groups are support clubs for the Hells Angels, while the Black Pistons support the Outlaws Motorcycle Club. The Red Devils are the top support club for the Hells Angels. It's not clear why the Outlaws have chosen to expand into Halifax where the Red Devils are situated. "Right now it's unclear if the expansion is to gain more control over the illicit drug trade in Nova Scotia," said Tremblett. Generally, each gang wants better control of Nova Scotia's ports to more easily move illegal drugs like cocaine, meth and illegal marijuana. They also want to establish networks to move drugs from province to province. The Hells Angels and the Outlaws have been rivals across North America for years, and have even faced off in Nova Scotia before, but so far haven't come to blows. A member of the Hells Angels waves towards photographers as he enters the Hells Angels Nomads compound during the group's Canada Run event in Carlsbad Springs, Ont., near Ottawa, on Saturday, July 23, 2016. In 2019, things became tense between the two groups at a motorcycle show at Halifax's Exhibition Park. Hells Angels supporters and members of the Black Pistons had heated words when they came across each other. It was much the same in 2018, at the Wharf Rat Rally in Digby, N.S., when the groups got into a fiery verbal exchange on the community's main street. There are 14 active outlaw motorcycle gangs in Nova Scotia right now, according to Tremblett: • Outlaws MC - Cape Breton • Outlaws MC - Halifax • Black Pistons MC - Cape Breton (Outlaws Support Club) • Highlanders MC - Cape Breton (Hells Angels Support Club) • Highlanders MC - Antigonish County (Hells Angels Support Club) • Highlanders MC - Pictou County (Hells Angels Support Club) • Katt Sass MC - New Glasgow (Hells Angels Support Club) • Red Devils MC - Halifax (Hells Angels Support Club) • Darksiders MC - Dartmouth (Hells Angels Support Club) • Sedition MC - Fall River (Hells Angels Support Club) • Sedition MC - Yarmouth (Hells Angels Support Club) • Bacchus MC - Sambro • Niners MC - McGraths Cove (Hells Angels Support Club) • 103 Riders - South Shore (Hells Angels Support Club) Tremblett said it's very difficult to shut these clubs down. "Police need to prove there are laws being broken within the clubhouse. There's lease agreements, rights of the persons inside, so for the police it's not an easy task to simply go in there and shut it down." The Cape Breton Regional Police seized $120,000 worth of drugs, $12,000 worth of cash and several Black Pistons vests after searching two homes and a clubhouse in Glace Bay in 2020. Oftentimes, police will need to partner with municipal agencies to determine if clubs are abiding by a community's bylaws, and if they're not, then the clubs can be closed down, said Tremblett. He said people need to remember that most motorcycle riding clubs are made up of law-abiding citizens, and only about one per cent of clubs are actually outlaw motorcycle gangs. Clubhouses run by gangs are usually easy to spot because they have lots of video surveillance, they often have painted windows, and usually sport the gang's logo. A Hells Angels clubhouse in Rosser, Man., a rural community that's part of the Winnipeg Metro Region. Anyone with concerns about outlaw motorcycle gangs in their area can contact their local police, municipal or city councilors, and the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods group for advice, said Tremblett. "Don't believe the narrative that often goes around that ... your outlaw motorcycle gangs are just good old boys that like to hang out and party and do good for the community. That's not the case," said Tremblett. "They want the public to see them as community-spirited men, and they want people involved in organized crime to fear them." MORE TOP STORIES
Islanders eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine can now book appointments online through Skip the Waiting Room. The P.E.I.-based company said it has secured a contract with the province to help provide more efficient access during the pandemic. "We saw reports of people waiting in a car for 8 hours to get testing done," said CEO and co-founder Mark Richardson. "COVID seemed like a great fit for me, so I started rattling the chains that I could rattle and said: 'As an Islander and a business, we'd love to help out with this.'" The company was born five years ago after Richardson found himself sitting in the waiting room at a walk-in clinic — for four and a half hours. "I thought to myself: 'There's got to be a better way to do this.'" 'I had seen some of the frustration and seen some of the lineups at the testing centres,' says Mark Richardson, the CEO and co-founder of Skip the Waiting Room. From there, the online site and app were created, giving others the option of pre-booking appointments to reduce time spent lingering in clinics. So far, Richardson said around 60,000 people have used the service for walk-in care on the Island. "I think every Canadian understands the frustration and wasted time of sitting in a waiting room or trying to get through a phone line." Now, in addition to becoming available to other provinces, Richardson said the company has expanded on P.E.I. to areas like internal medicine, MRI appointments and mammography appointments. Meeting an urgent timeline For those looking to book online before heading into a walk-in clinic, there is a fee of $5. But because of the terms of his contract with the P.E.I government, Richardson says it's free to schedule provincial services such as COVID-19 vaccines. I'm sure it will get a little bit more hectic when we get to the general announcement or the general population. - Mark Richardson, Skip the Waiting Room A statement from Health P.E.I said it entered into a short-term agreement with Skip the Waiting Room after it was identified as the only option available to "meet the urgent timelines to launch an online scheduling system to support COVID vaccine delivery." According to the statement, all safeguards outlined under the P.E.I Health Information Act are being maintained. "We had to jump through a lot of privacy hoops and some threat-risk assessments and all those things," said Richardson. "It was an extensive process but I'm glad to be on the other side of it." 'Going to do our best' Richardson said he doesn't know the exact number of people who have used the company to book vaccines so far — but he said he does expect it to increase. "I'm sure it will get a little bit more hectic when we get to the general announcement or the general population," he said. "I know people will be very eager to get their vaccine, as I am." For now, Richardson said, the company is spending time making improvements so that when Islanders do reach out to book virtually, Skip the Waiting Room is ready. "We might be able to book, you know, thousands of people a day, 24/7," he said. "We're working our best to make sure that there will be no hiccups. "No promises, but we're certainly going to do our best." More from CBC P.E.I.
The Montreal Port Authority has the green light to build a new container port terminal in Contrecœur, about 50 kilometres east of downtown Montreal. Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson approved the project on Monday. "Through project assessments based on science and consultations with Indigenous peoples and the public, we are able to protect our water and air, while supporting our communities," Wilkinson says in a statement. The assessment concluded that the project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects when mitigation measures are taken into account, the statement says. The Montreal Port Authority estimates that the project will generate about 5,000 jobs during the construction phase and more than 1,000 direct jobs during the operation phase, the statement says. The container port terminal will have a maximum annual capacity of 1.15 million containers. The project will also include a features such as a seven-track classification yard, a container storage and handling area and rail and road accesses. The Société de développement économique du Saint-Laurent (SODES) says the project will consolidate maritime expertise while making the St. Lawrence Seaway more competitive. Wilkinson's approval was the last step of many in getting the project authorized, and now the port authority is ready to make a call for tenders with an aim to get the facility operational by 2024. In a statement, Martin Imbleau, president and CEO of the port authority, said the project will be a "key public utility for the development of Quebec and Canada." Wilkinson's decision was also the last hope of environmentalists who, in recent decades, have raised a number of concerns about the consequences of the project on the fauna and flora nearby. The area includes the copper redhorse, an endangered fish, and the western chorus frog, whose population is declining. However, there are 330 legally binding conditions that the developer must respect throughout the life of the project, Wilkinson's statement says, and those conditions will help protect human health, fish, migratory birds, wetlands and the use of the land by First Nations people. On Monday, the non-profit environmental group SNAP Québec blasted the minister's "unacceptable" decision. "We will use all legal means needed to make sure the Species at Risk Act is respected," the group stated on social media. The Montreal Port Authority already has 19 terminals, including one in Contrecœur. Since the 1950s, solid bulk has been unloaded there, to supply, among other things, the steel industry. The additional container terminal will be able to accommodate two freighters at a time. It will be built one kilometre upstream from the bulk terminal, near Verchères.
An Amherstburg nurse denied immediate reentry into Canada, despite believing she would have no problem crossing the border as an essential worker, says the federal government and Canadian border officials need to "get on the same page" as concerns continue over how rules at the Canada-U.S. land border are enforced. She's far from alone. Windsor West MP Brian Masse says his office has been flooded with calls from individuals who used to cross the border without issue — but, as of last week, were being denied immediate reentry back home into Canada. "Nurses, engineers, teachers, business owners and workers in social services, for example, are now penalized," Masse said Friday in the House of Commons. "How can people be expected to comply [with the land border rules] when they don't have a definite directive from the minister? This situation needs to be altered." On Friday, CBC News reported that an Ontario man who serves as president of a construction company was fined $3,755 by Canadian border officials after attempting to cross back into Canada through the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel. He was deemed a non-essential traveller last Tuesday after previously crossing the border in the past about once every two weeks with no issue. Following the publication of that story, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) reached back out to CBC News to clarify its enforcement of rules at the land border. According to the agency, its rule regarding frequency of travel (affecting whether or not an individual would be permitted reentry back into Canada without having to meet pre-testing or quarantine requirements) applies only to cross-border workers — and not essential workers. "CBSA officers use all of the information available to them when a traveller is seeking entry into Canada, to determine which set of instructions (exempt or required to quarantine) apply to the traveller," the CBSA said. This means cross-border workers can only enter Canada without having to meet pre-testing and quarantine requirements if they a "normal place of employment" to work and "establish a regular pattern of travel," generally defined as daily or weekly. In practice, this should also mean essential service providers — including health-care workers, truck drivers and law enforcement — are exempt from pre-testing and quarantine requirements when crossing the land border into Canada for work-related reasons. The Canada Border Services Agency says essential service providers, including health care workers, are exempt from pre-testing and quarantine requirements when crossing the border for work-related reasons. However, CBSA says it does not comment on individual cases. But that's not what happened to Kaitlyn Desjardins. Ten days ago, she crossed into the U.S. to attend an orientation session for her new job as a registered nurse at William Beaumont Hospital. On her way back, she said, the CBSA informed her that she was crossing into Canada as a non-essential traveller. Before crossing the border, Desjardins had been told by her new employer that she'd be exempt from pre-testing requirements due to the nature of her work, she added. "I let them know I was a nurse. I gave them my letter of employment. I had all my documents on me. I even had my work visa. It didn't matter. They said that what I was crossing for wasn't essential," she said. Desjardins was pulled into secondary and given two options: drive straight to Toronto without stopping anywhere and quarantine in a Toronto hotel for 14 days or go back into the U.S. and come back to the border crossing with proof of a negative COVID-19 test result. She chose the latter option. "I had to make some arrangements for somewhere to stay and ended up getting a swab in Detroit," said Desjardins, adding she paid $150 US for the test and was unable to return to Canada until the next day. "I think the most important is that everyone gets on the same page. Right now, even still, they're not. I'm hearing so many different things from nurses, CBSA, public health. Everyone is on a different page." As a health-care worker, Desjardins said she understands the importance of keeping people safe. But these current border rules are affecting people's livelihoods. "It's not really a good feeling when you're told you can either drive four hours away without going to pick anything up or you have to go back and not be able to enter Canada." Brian Masse, MP for Windsor West, says his office has fielded calls from nurses, teachers and business owners who have been given trouble at the border while trying to cross back into Canada. In a follow-up statement to CBC News, the CBSA said it does not comment on individual cases.
With several businesses ranging from restaurants to big retail stores recently labelled as potential COVID-19 exposure sites on P.E.I., things are getting busy once again for companies offering disinfection services. Jordan Fraser, owner of United Janitorial, said calls for disinfection services are up. "We've also seen a substantial drop in generic cleaning, considering a lot of buildings are now shut down on P.E.I." Fraser said that isn't entirely a bad thing — it means he is able to move staff who would be doing general cleaning to his disinfecting team to deal with the increased demand. "We actually — going back to last year — began cross-training the majority of our employees for these exact scenarios," he said. The company has been dealing with some of the businesses listed as possible exposure sites. Other customers are just worried, said Fraser. This is just one type of electrostatic fogging gun being used to disinfect and protect against COVID-19. "We have been called out to some of the known exposure sites, but then we have also been called out to what we're calling precautionary disinfects," he said. "Business who may not have had an active case at their location are just wanting to make sure they are doing all their due diligence by doing precautionary disinfecting." Fraser said he is booking into next week when it comes to disinfection services — but if new exposure sites come up, he said, things will only get busier. On top of using fog to disinfect, Jordan Fraser says United Janitorial also uses a three-step spray and wipe down method. Two main methods are being used. The first is a "triple clean," where high-touch surfaces are sprayed with disinfectant and wiped down. Another is "fogging," using a type of backpack equipment for disinfecting, said Fraser. "It takes one droplet of solution and it turns it into 10,000 droplets of a dry mist. It allows us to ensure an entire area is really disinfected completely." Staff doing disinfecting work are supplied with full personal protective equipment, Fraser said. United Janitorial isn't the only company on P.E.I. getting more calls for disinfecting. First on Site Restoration has also been busy, said Jim Mandeville, senior project manager with the company. 'They're really cleaning every nook and cranny very closely,' says Jim Mandeville, senior project manager with First on Site Restoration. "We've actually seen a larger spike this past weekend than, you know, back to the original outbreak last spring," he said. Mandeville said the company has received calls from grocery stores and other large Island businesses."What we are doing is more of a decontamination than a cleaning," he said. "They're really cleaning every nook and cranny very closely, and then we are applying a disinfectant after that cleaning process to kill anything that may be left behind." In terms of staff, the business is managing with the aim of completing cleanings in a single shift — but if things get overwhelming, Mandeville said his staff are listed as essential workers and members from other provinces could be brought in. More from CBC P.E.I.
A woman puts a red sign with words Closed Due To COVID-19 onto a glass door. It's been a difficult year for small businesses in Newfoundland and Labrador, and the sudden move back to the lockdown provisions of Alert Level 5 hasn't made things any easier. For businesses that started during or just before the COVID-19 pandemic, rolling with the punches has been routine. However, the punches have been coming again, and some businesses say they'll need more than light at the end of the tunnel. Even businesses off the Avalon are still feeling the prolonged pinch, despite the move there back to Alert Level 4. Robyn Pearce, owner of Intervals Music Studio in St. John's, said the greatest difficulty has been reverting to an entirely online model in an industry so reliant on face-to-face instruction. "The hardest part is the fact that we really pour our heart and soul into everything that we're doing, and then just to know that purely because the vehicle doesn't work for everybody, the way that we're offering it — it's hard to see that it's just not enough for some people," she said. There have been other setbacks, too. Just before the lockdown began, her wallet was stolen from her office. Later, her studio was later broken into. Pearce said that while it's been encouraging to see some benefits to online learning, with some students opening up more in the comfort of their own homes, she said overall it's an exhausting process. "There's a completely different energy that you have to have when you're in front of a screen versus being in person with the classes," she said. As a small business owner and operator, Pearce hopes that after the election the government will try to focus on addressing businesses and their individual needs, rather than implementing broad programs. One area to address, Pearce said, is the high cost of rent. "I actually discovered a couple of years ago when I made the move to a commercial space that my rent was higher than somebody in California, which was a big shocker," she said. "The rent incentive program that [government] had was no good for someone like me," said Pearce, who noted that in order to qualify she would have had to have lost 75 per cent of her business outright. "So I'd love to have more support in that area, where someone can look at my business model and look at what I have and go from there, because a lot of the support I just didn't qualify for." Changing gears to get by Mark Murphy, co-owner of the Postmaster's House B&B in downtown St. John's, said while government programs have been designed to help businesses stay afloat, those that began during the pandemic are falling through the cracks. His business incorporated just before the first local cases began to appear in March 2020. "We bought the property in February, and coming into the pandemic there was support for mortgage deferral, but having a new mortgage, we weren't eligible for it," he said. As well, his business wasn't eligible for many of the programs rolled out to provide some pandemic relief. "All these one-size-fits-all support programs, we weren't eligible for a lot of those either," he said. "So businesses like ours, and like Intervals, are just feeling like we're falling through the cracks." With the notable downturn of the tourism industry, Murphy pivoted his business from a B&B to include baking, and while he said the community response has been great, it's only barely keeping them afloat. Murphy wants to see the government take initiative in supporting the province's newest businesses and their specific needs over the kind of support they're currently providing. "That is not working for the businesses that started right before and during the pandemic," Murphy said. "While I realize it might take more resources in the government, taking a look at each individual business model would help." Rest of the island down to level 4, bars and restaurants still closed While businesses continue to struggle across the province, the shift back into level 4 is a welcome change for those beyond the Avalon, according to Sheldon Handcock of the Gander Area Chamber of Commerce. Last week, the Gander-based organization, which represents 300 businesses in the area, posted a letter to Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, publicly asking for regions outside the Northeast Avalon to be moved into Alert Level 3. Gander and Area Chamber of Commerce Chair Sheldon Handcock, seen here during a Zoom interview with CBC, says he hopes Dr. Janice Fitzgerald takes a regional approach to reopening businesses. While the drop down to level 4 will see the continued closure of bars and restaurants, Handcock said that many seem to be acclimating to the process. "It has to be public health first, and the economy obviously is second," said Handcock. "Restaurants can still do their takeout orders, and I think that they've gotten quite a bit better from the last lockdown at being able to do curbside orders and that type of thing." While they're committed to following all directives from public health, for many local businesses, Handcock said, economic disaster is growing closer as funds begin to dwindle. "We've heard from quite a few businesses that it is pretty close," said Handcock. "We did have quite a few businesses that had said to us that if this continues on long, we can't keep our doors open." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Living near the volcano is no easy task for locals, as they have to clear huge amounts of ash from the streets, and sometimes even run for cover.View on euronews
Online retailer Amazon's new Polish website went live on Tuesday morning, the company said, marking a significant intensification of competition in the country's booming e-commerce sector. Amazon had said in January it would open a Polish site to better serve local customers previously reliant on its German version but did not set a date. The news had sent shares in Polish e-commerce firm Allegro sharply lower on the day.
Provincial police are investigating a double homicide after two women were found in a home in the Laurentians. The Sureté du Québec responded to a 911 call at around 9:15 p.m. in Sainte-Sophie on Monday, and found both of them with life-threatening injuries, and they were transported to hospital. A 60-year-old woman has since died, and police report that a 28-year-old woman who was initially listed in critical condition has also died. Police say they are from the same family. Provincial police say a car collision in nearby Saint-Jerôme took place at around the time they were called to the Laurentians home. Investigators believe a 33-year-old man who was seriously hurt in that collision is a person of interest. He will be met by investigators as soon as his condition allows it.
Global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has accused Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and several top officials of committing crimes against humanity in a criminal complaint filed in Germany. The 500-page complaint, filed on Monday with the German Public Prosecutor General in the Karlsruhe federal court, includes allegations of arbitrary detention of more than 30 journalists and the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018. Prince Mohammed has denied any involvement in Khashoggi's killing.
China was the biggest source of applications for international patents in the world in 2020 for the second consecutive year and extended its lead over No. 2 filer the United States, the U.N. patent agency said on Tuesday. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which oversees a system for countries to share recognition of patents, said China filed 68,720 applications last year while the United States filed 59,230. The rate of increase was higher for China with a 16.1% year-on-year increase versus 3% for the United States, it added.
U.S. Supreme Court justices on Tuesday appeared inclined to uphold two Republican-backed voting restrictions in Arizona in a case that could further hobble the Voting Rights Act, a landmark 1965 federal law that prohibits racial discrimination in voting. During nearly two hours of oral arguments by teleconference the court's conservative justices, who hold a 6-3 majority, asked questions indicating they could issue a ruling that would make it harder to prove violations of the Voting Right Act. The important voting rights case was heard at a time when Republicans in numerous states are pursuing new restrictions after former President Donald Trump made false claims of widespread fraud in the Nov. 3 election he lost to Democratic President Joe Biden.
Unlike many teenagers, Abdoulaye Diakhaby was petrified to turn 18. He had spent the previous four years in the child-welfare system living first in a foster home, then a group home. But at 18, he was forced to be on his own. Diakhaby, who is now 21, says he didn't feel ready; he was still perfecting his English, he didn't know how to cook and needed help with homework. "I was thinking, 'How am I going to be able to do my groceries? How to cook? How to go to school? How to pay my rent? How to get a job?'" he told CBC Toronto. Days after moving into his own place, Diakhaby returned to the group home for a couple of nights to sleep. He was lonely and isolated. Diakhaby says if he could, he'd still be living there, instead of having to make the transition away. "Everything was tough for me," he said. Diakhaby says prior to leaving care at 18, he worried about how he'd buy groceries, cook, get to school, pay rent and find a job.(Evan Mitsui/CBC) Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the province placed a moratorium on youth aging out of care and has extended it to Sept. 30, 2022. Just under 12,000 children and youth in care CBC News has learned the Ontario government will use the time to redesign how young people leave the system by doing away with the current age cut-off. Instead, provincial officials say they plan to ensure youths feel confident and prepared. According to the province, just under 12,000 children and youth are in the child-welfare system. About half of youths who experience homelessness in Ontario were involved in that system, more than half drop out of high school and 57 per cent rely on social assistance, according to a 2017 report by the now-closed Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth. Jill Dunlop, the associate minister of children and women's issues, says the government wants children to meet key milestones before they leave care. "We're building a model that's going to work for them," Dunlop said in an interview. "Young people take different paths, but we want to ensure that the supports are there." Under the current system, some young people who leave care are eligible for financial assistance until age 21 and other supports until 24. Still, advocates who have been calling for a readiness-based model say those supports haven't been close to enough. "The system itself was traumatizing and it retraumatized them," said Irwin Elman, Ontario's former — and only — child and youth advocate. "When they left the system, they felt dumped out and as one young person said, 'shoved off the edge of a cliff, alone, with nothing and expected to do well.'" The Ford government cut Elman's position and closed the office in 2018 and moved his responsibilities to the Ombudsman's office. What the new system will look like and how it will work is still being determined. The ministry says it's working with former children in care, advocates and others to design the program. More than 2,500 young people expected to age out by 2022 will be protected by the moratorium, according to Dunlop. New system must give youth a voice, advocates say When Cheyanne Ratnam aged out of care at 18, she took a blanket with her that symbolized a piece of family she knew she was losing. She survived childhood sexual abuse and other trauma before entering the child-welfare system, and says although it was the "lowest low," she was relieved to finally have a safe place to sleep. "I was just so happy to be away from abuse and not really having stability," she said. Ratnam is now the co-founder and president of Ontario Children's Advancement Coalition, which is partnering with the ministry to help develop the new model. She calls it an "ethical system reset" and says the decision on when a youth leaves should include input from designated support people. Ultimately, she says, the people in care should decide when it's time to be on their own. Cheyanne Ratnam was in the child-welfare system and is now the co-founder and president of Ontario Children’s Advancement Coalition, which is partnering with the government to help develop the new model. (Children's Aid Foundation of Canada ) "It should be in a way where young people are supported to make those decisions and not have decisions made for them so they can take ownership of their lives," she said. She also says the new model shouldn't include any sort of age cut-off and young people should be able to return to care if they choose to after leaving. "When you're alone in the community, a lot of trauma gets relived," she said. Ratnam says the child-welfare system funnels young people into homelessness, mental health issues and the justice system, and that the new model should help avoid that and set young people up for success. Conner Lowes, the president and Ontario director of Youth in Care, co-authored a letter to the province calling for a new system to be designed.(Honour Stahl) Ratnam and Conner Lowes, the president and Ontario director of Youth in Care Canada, co-authored a letter in June to the ministry calling for a new system to be designed. Lowes is also working with the province on the new model and says it's imperative it listen to those who experienced the current system. "It sets the precedent for that to be the standard, that the people [the system] is being designed for should be helping to create it," he said. "Because how else can we know what a system should look like if you're not asking the people that you're making the system for?" Support networks vital Shomari Mabayeke was placed in five different foster homes in five years. "It's kind of hard to trust people," he told CBC Toronto. "I'd move again and then it was kind of numbing after that because then I didn't make any new friends." Mabayeke first entered the system at 13 and says some homes were better than others. He aged out five years ago. "My process of coming out of care was more like, 'I just want to be gone. I don't care. Like, this is the worst thing ever,'" he said. Mabayeke says while he felt ready to be on his own at the time, he realizes now he wasn't taught certain skills, such as cooking or financial planning. Shomari Mabayeke looks through a basket of groceries delivered to him by StepsStones for Youth, a charity that helps young people transition out of the child-welfare system.(Angelina King/CBC) "They didn't do anything to prepare us for reality," he said. "You don't really get all the skills that growing up with an actual family and interacting with a loving family would give you." Mabayeke says he received some government assistance while transitioning out of care, but still relies on StepStones for Youth, a charitable organization in Toronto. "I feel like there would have been a really disastrous, chaotic moment if I didn't … use resources," he said. StepsStones helps youths who leave care secure housing, complete education and build support networks based on their interests. Heather O’Keefe, who runs StepStones for Youth, says the biggest challenge young people face when they leave the child-welfare system is not having a support network.(Evan Mitsui/CBC) "They deserve what other young people deserve," executive director Heather O'Keefe said. "They need to have people that care about them and guide them through life choices. And not only people who are paid to care for them, but people who actually genuinely care for them." Diakhaby also receives support from StepStones. He's unemployed right now and says it's been hard finding a job during the pandemic, but would like to be a plumber one day. He recently turned 21 and will soon lose his government financial assistance, but says he'll continue to rely on help and guidance from StepsStones. "They care about me," he said.
The death of 16-year-old Lexi Daken last week set off a searing wave of grief across the province. But it has also triggered a reckoning, with mental health experts taking a hard look at a worsening mental health crisis and legal experts saying her death was at least partly brought on by years of government underfunding. Lexi, a Grade 10 student who had previously attempted suicide, was taken to the emergency room at Fredericton's Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital on Thursday, Feb. 18, by a school guidance counsellor who was concerned about her mental health. She waited for eight hours without receiving any mental health intervention. After she was told by a nurse that calling a psychiatrist would take another two hours, Lexi said later, she left the hospital with a referral for followup. Her mother said no one ever contacted the family. Less than a week later, Lexi died by suicide. In an interview with Information Morning Fredericton on Monday, the executive director at the Canadian Mental Health Association of New Brunswick was overcome with emotion while discussing Lexi's death. Christa Baldwin, executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association of New Brunswick, said Lexi's death was shattering. "I don’t think I’ve ever cried as much as I have in the past week." 'This has to be the piece that moves us forward' Christa Baldwin noted that last week had started off with the promise of change, with a new mental health action plan, unveiled by Health Minister Dorothy Shephard, "that would allow us to move forward." "But then later in the week, hearing the news about Lexi — it broke our hearts, to be honest. … I don't think I've ever cried as much as I have in the past week." But Lexi's death has also been a turning point, Baldwin said. She noted that Lexi's father, Chris Daken, said in an interview last week that "Lexi's death cannot be in vain." "This has to be a piece that moves us forward .... we can't have this happening to our youth in our province, we can't have this happening to anyone in our province." Baldwin said that resonated with her. "It feels like we have entered a new chapter in this province, building a service that is client-focused, client-centred," she said. "It has ignited a fire within me and within the CMHA to advocate and use our voice to make change happen. We need something to happen for Lexi's family … and for so many other individuals who have died by suicide in this province." The new mental health action plan has put some plans and pilot projects in place, Baldwin said. Those are positive steps, but more needs to be done, she said, noting barriers to service need to be removed and attitudes toward mental health issues need to change. "I think what bothered me most is after eight hours to ask about whether to call a professional to come in to asses Lexi further — if you went in with a broken leg, you would not be asked if someone should be called in to cast your leg," Baldwin said. "We need mental health parity. Mental health is a human right equal to physical health." In an op-ed, lawyer Jody Carr, above, and UNB law professor Kerri Froc say Lexi's death is a violation of her rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. A violation of Lexi's charter rights, lawyers say It's a point some legal experts are also making. In an op-ed, lawyer Jody Carr and University of New Brunswick law professor Kerri Froc said Lexi's rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms were violated. "Under Section 7 of the charter, 'Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice,' " Carr and Froc wrote in the op-ed. "Because successive provincial governments have wilfully under-resourced this sector of health care, leading to delays in access to mental health services anchored in the Mental Health Act, violations of New Brunswickers' rights to personal security, and ultimately to life, results. "While it is true that the direct cause of these deaths and injury is self-harm, the Supreme Court of Canada has said that government is responsible for actions that enhance the risk of these violations." Carr and Froc argued that "New Brunswick has a duty to ensure that they can talk to a psychiatrist or psychologist at their and their family's time of greatest need." In an email Monday, Horizon noted it does provide around-the-clock psychiatric services. "Horizon provides emergency psychiatric services 24 hours per day, seven days a week at our regional hospitals," Dr. Edouard Hendriks, vice-president of medical, academic and research affairs at Horizon. "Medical psychiatry staff are available for consultation as required, in collaboration with the on-site care team." Nevertheless, some questions remain unanswered. Horizon did not immediately answer questions about whether it is tracking how often an on-call psychiatrist is called to come in to see a patient, or how often they decline or are unable to do so. It also did not answer questions about why Lexi was told she would face a two-hour wait for a psychiatrist, citing "confidentiality reasons." Pandemic taking deepening toll on mental health Meanwhile, the pandemic's toll on the mental health of almost every demographic in the province continues to deepen, Baldwin said. In the 2019-20 fiscal year, the Canadian Mental Health Association worked with more than 86,000 New Brunswickers, she said. "In the first three-quarters of this fiscal year, we were already at over 117,000 New Brunswickers. … Organizations are feeling that, hospitals are feeling that, Horizon and Vitalité are feeling that. We need to recognize what's happening here in terms of demand for service." Carefully developing programs and reaching out to certain demographics to make sure people are not falling through the cracks are more crucial now than ever, she said. But so is talking "openly" with people when you see they are struggling, even if it feels uncomfortable. "Asking someone if they're suicidal, having suicidal thoughts ... actually saying those words can help," Baldwin said. "We need to have these conversations, we can't sweep it under the rug. Not talking about mental health openly has done us no favours." If you need help: CHIMO hotline: 1-800-667-5005 / http://www.chimohelpline.ca Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566.
The future of work might not be at the office, or even at the kitchen table — it could be in the backyard. Some B.C. builders say the demand for backyard officers has skyrocketed since the pandemic began, with homeowners looking for a little extra space and privacy while working from home. Brian Borsato, president of Surrey-based Maas Designs, a First Nations-owned company that builds housing for Indigenous communities, says backyard offices have been wildly popular. "It's astronomical," he said. "The interest has been unbelievable. Everybody wants them." Borsato's company started building the offices earlier in the pandemic, when First Nations closed to visitors and income dried up. They started building the offices and it quickly caught on. They're typically around 100 square feet, Borsato said, with windows and enough space for a TV, desk and chair. The company builds them for clients who have the money and space to fix a situation many of us find ourselves in: huddled in our kitchens or living rooms on Zoom meetings all day, trying not to disturb other family members. Borsato recently built a backyard office for a woman who needed that extra space to focus on work and not have to move her setup when the kids came home. "Now she can come in and close the door and do all the video conferencing that she needs to do without being interrupted or interrupting anybody else," he said. A backyard office can be turned into a workshop or workout room if people return to work after the pandemic, builders say. Cole Kiez, a sales manager at CoreVal Homes in Port Moody, says backyard offices weren't part of their business before the pandemic. Now, it's their best seller and they've built 36 of them. Building a backyard office generally doesn't require a building permit as long as it's less than 108 square feet — but that clients should do some research to fully understand what each municipality will allow under their specific zoning. According to the City of Vancouver, contractors and businesses must ensure they consider the city's land use and permitting requirements for all new buildings. Some homeowners may choose to forgo the approval process on the advice of a contractor, the city said in an email, but liability ultimately falls on the owners to ensure work is permitted. They don't run cheap — Kiez says they can cost up to $25,000, depending on the size and features. They can be built with baseboard heaters and WiFi. Even once the pandemic is over, if people return to the office, the space can be used in other ways, he said. "It has a bit of a different feel and that's what people really like about it. It's part of the home, but also a little bit separate," Kiez said. "For people working from home right now, it's a backyard office. If they do end up going back to work, [it] could be an art studio, a workout room, really just extra space."