Some Coloradans with close ties to victims of gun violence say they're optimistic that a renewed push for gun control will be successful after the deadly Boulder mass shooting. (March 23)
Some Coloradans with close ties to victims of gun violence say they're optimistic that a renewed push for gun control will be successful after the deadly Boulder mass shooting. (March 23)
A member of the province's vaccine distribution task force is trying to clear up confusion among some people aged 18 to 49 in hot-spot neighbourhoods about how to get immunized against COVID-19. Dr. Isaac Bogoch said residents in that age group living in high-risk areas will be able to get the shots in mobile and pop-up clinics that are locally advertised. And contrary to what some have thought, they will not yet be able to book an appointment online at a mass vaccination clinic. The comments by the infectious disease specialist come after City of Toronto officials said there was some confusion following the announcement by the Ontario government last Wednesday that people 18 and older could get vaccinated with the help of mobile teams. "I wish there was more clarity at the time of the announcement," Bogoch told CBC Toronto. "I think it's important to note that, anyone who lives in those hot spots is certainly eligible for vaccination. There's no age cutoff for vaccination if you live in those hot spots. But the program is really bringing vaccines to the people," he added. Bogoch said these clinics are strategically located in community centres, places of worship, workplaces and at locations close to high density housing. "How will I know where they are? The answer is it's very, very locally advertised. It is truly a locally advertised vaccination. For example, if it's coming to a place of work, people at that place of work will be notified. If it's going to a community centre, members of that community will be notified." Bogoch noted there was a pop-up vaccination clinic in Thorncliffe Park on the weekend in the parking lot of the Masjid Darus Salaam mosque. The clinic was across from Iqbal Halal Foods. "Obviously, that's available for people who live in that area. You have to show proof of ID that demonstrates that you live in that postal code. That's a very local vaccine clinic for a particular community," he said. He said the idea is to lower the barriers for vaccines for the "highest of high risk." Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg, general manager of emergency management, agreed that there's been a lack of clarity about the clinics, but said that was partly due to the rapidly changing course of the pandemic. "I appreciate that there is some confusion and I think that we all appreciate how quickly these things are moving and how quickly we're all having to respond and pivot, if you will, to the changes that are being made." Pegg said people 18 and older in hot spots are not eligible to book through the provincial booking system nor at any of the mass vaccination clinics run by the city. "Generally speaking, pop-up and mobile clinics are brought to the attention of eligible clients directly by primary care physicians, employers, building managers, faith leaders and other local leaders, who are directly connected with those for whom these clinics will serve," Pegg said. Alexandra Hilkene, spokesperson for Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott, said more details on how people 18 and older can make an appointment at pop-up and mobile clinics in Toronto and Peel Region will be provided in the near future with the help of Toronto Public health and Peel Public Health. "In these high-risk areas in Toronto and Peel, mobile teams, working with public health units, community groups, and local businesses will be established to administer vaccines to individuals 18+ to targeted settings as supply allows," she said. "This includes high-risk congregate settings, residential buildings, faith based locations, and large employers. Pop-up clinics will also be set-up in highly impacted neighbourhoods to administer vaccines to those 18+, including at faith-based locations and community centres."
FREDERICTON — New Brunswick First Nations say the province's announcement Tuesday that existing tax collection agreements will not be renewed is an insult and a crushing attack on their economic viability. "The decision to tear up these tax agreements is unfair and offensive when the premier has yet to show First Nations any morsel of fairness throughout his tenure as leader of this province," Madawaska Chief Patricia Bernard said in a statement on behalf of the Wolastoqey Nation in New Brunswick. She said the government's only interest is to see "how much more money it can leech from our resources, be it natural or financial." The decision to end the agreements follows a court ruling last month that said the province has an obligation to share with First Nations carbon tax revenues collected and remitted by on-reserve retailers. Premier Blaine Higgs said Tuesday the province won't appeal that ruling but added the current tax agreements are outdated and have proven to be unfair. "The existing tax agreements are independent of Aboriginal and treaty rights and were developed before (Harmonized Sales Tax) and carbon tax," Higgs said at a news conference in Fredericton. "No other province in Canada has tax agreements, and this is completely unique to New Brunswick." The agreements date back to 1994 and were intended to provide tax fairness for businesses on and off reserve. Before that, businesses on First Nations land were not collecting taxes from non-Indigenous customers. Under the agreements, the province would rebate 95 per cent of the first $8 million collected in provincial sales tax on tobacco, gasoline and other fuels, and 70 per cent on amounts above $8 million. In the late 1990s, the agreements were refunding approximately $28,000 annually, but they have grown at a rapid rate, hitting a peak of $47 million in 2019-20. Higgs said about $44 million will be refunded to First Nations communities this year, but it is not spread equally among them. The premier said nearly 40 per cent of that money will go to just two per cent of the First Nation population. "This is money that would have gone to support hospitals, schools, social programs and roads to benefit all New Brunswickers, including First Nations," Higgs said. "Our existing arrangement is clearly unsustainable, and our province cannot afford to ignore it any longer." Some of the agreements will expire in 90 days and others end next year, and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Arlene Dunn said the government is committed to working with First Nations on what she called modern economic partnerships. She said that might include revenue sharing from natural resources or partnerships on issues such as housing and economic development. Dunn admitted the method of informing all the chiefs of the decision was not ideal. "I'm hoping they'll come to the table and pick up the phone and call me," Dunn said. The chiefs say they need to discuss the situation and decide how to proceed. But they were not impressed by how the news was delivered. Mi'kmaq leaders said the government has hit a new low in its relationship with Indigenous people in the province. A statement from Mi'gmawe'l Tplu'taqnn Inc., which represents the province's nine Mi'kmaq communities, said media were briefed on the news before Finance Minister Ernie Steeves held a brief phone call with the chiefs. "Minister Steeves read a statement, refused to take questions and hung up on the chiefs," their statement said. One chief, George Ginnish of Natoaganeg, called the treatment by the government "completely disrespectful." Green Leader David Coon says Higgs should have addressed concerns through a renegotiation of the tax agreements. “The premier is rejecting them, just as he rejected the need for an inquiry into systemic racism, or the need to write Indigenous rights into the Crown Lands and Forests Act," said Coon. "Under this government, any hope for reconciliation has evaporated." This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 13, 2021. Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press
While the government of B.C. ramps up its COVID vaccine schedule, many are wondering what the registration and booking process means for them. On Monday, Health Minister Adrian Dix said eligible age cohorts had been bumped up, meaning more British Columbians can register to get their COVID-19 vaccine. But questions about the timing between registration and booking an appointment for the vaccine has led to a flood of online confusion and frustration. "I'm confused ... I already registered. Does this mean I have to re-register when it's my turn? Please clarify." wrote @tkemper1900 on Twitter. "Have my confirmation code and still haven't been notified of an appointment date! When might I expect to hear that?" wrote @hounder55. Adding to the confusion, people aged 55 to 65 in many parts of the province can register to receive a dose of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine through their local pharmacy.(Rémi Authier/Radio-Canada) As of Monday, the updated schedule for age cohorts to register is: Mon, April 12 – Born 1966 or earlier. Wed, April 14 – Born 1971 or earlier. Fri, April 16 – Born 1976 or earlier. Mon, April 19 – Born 1981 or earlier. In a statement, the health ministry says people should expect a wait time between when they register and when they are invited to book an appointment. "We recognize people throughout the province are eager to access all vaccines that are available to them," said Marielle Tounsi, senior public affairs officer with the Ministry of Health. "Wait times vary depending on your age and vaccine supply." The jump in age cohort is a big one. As of last Thursday, those 65 and older could call to register. On Saturday, the province bumped that up five years, to people born in 1961 or earlier. Indigenous people 18 or older and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable can also now register to book their vaccine appointment through B.C.'s new Get Vaccinated system. 'Two streams' Adding to the confusion is a separate booking system set up for the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine for people between the ages of 55 and 65 that uses local pharmacies throughout the province. "The province will continue to deliver two streams of vaccines: one age-based program with Pfizer and Moderna and a second program with AstraZeneca delivered through pharmacies for people aged 55 to 65," Tounsi said. To register and book a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine appointment, eligible age groups in B.C. are asked to: Register online and get a confirmation number. You need that number to book your vaccination appointment. You will be contacted by email, text or phone with a link, depending on the notification method you chose when you registered and based on your age and availability of vaccine. The link will allow you to book a vaccine appointment, Visit the vaccine clinic to get your vaccine dose. People who get their first vaccine dose will be notified by email, text or phone call when they are eligible to book an appointment for their second dose.
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 11:00 p.m. ET on Monday April 12, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 336,841 new vaccinations administered for a total of 8,328,568 doses given. Nationwide, 815,659 people or 2.2 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 21,975.533 per 100,000. There were no new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 10,618,140 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 78.44 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland and Labrador, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting 41,096 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 110,047 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 210.161 per 1,000. In the province, 1.85 per cent (9,674) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland and Labrador for a total of 144,700 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 28 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 76.05 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 5,784 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 30,937 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 195.027 per 1,000. In the province, 5.20 per cent (8,241) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 44,265 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 28 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.89 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 36,652 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 150,123 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 153.831 per 1,000. In the province, 3.19 per cent (31,119) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 264,790 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 27 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 56.7 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 30,036 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 152,265 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 195.202 per 1,000. In the province, 2.02 per cent (15,771) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 211,545 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 27 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 71.98 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 54,401 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,944,877 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 227.294 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 2,429,695 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 28 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 80.05 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 74,722 new vaccinations administered for a total of 3,214,465 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 218.834 per 1,000. In the province, 2.27 per cent (333,419) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 4,028,725 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 27 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 79.79 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 5,498 new vaccinations administered for a total of 284,643 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 206.712 per 1,000. In the province, 4.96 per cent (68,368) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 409,470 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 30 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.51 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 8,856 new vaccinations administered for a total of 290,921 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 246.72 per 1,000. In the province, 3.52 per cent (41,474) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 331,985 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 28 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 87.63 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 84,628 new vaccinations administered for a total of 932,258 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 211.778 per 1,000. In the province, 4.02 per cent (176,941) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 1,208,955 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 27 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 77.11 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 87,082 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,112,101 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 216.717 per 1,000. In the province, 1.71 per cent (87,744) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 1,403,510 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 27 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 79.24 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 1,831 new vaccinations administered for a total of 41,518 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 994.896 per 1,000. In the territory, 40.67 per cent (16,973) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 51,400 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 120 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 80.77 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting 2,643 new vaccinations administered for a total of 41,217 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 913.518 per 1,000. In the territory, 36.51 per cent (16,471) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 51,600 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 110 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 79.88 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 331 new vaccinations administered for a total of 23,196 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 598.977 per 1,000. In the territory, 24.44 per cent (9,464) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 37,500 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 97 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 61.86 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published April 12, 2021. The Canadian Press
Chelsea Dreher, 32, is fully vaccinated after receiving her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in late February, but she hasn't been able to leave her ward, go outside or visit other residents for almost two weeks. That's because she lives at the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre, a long-term care facility in Regina, and her particular ward has been under a lockdown since a staff member tested positive for COVID-19 a little less than two weeks ago, she said. Dreher has cerebral palsy and has lived at the facility for almost nine years. She said living without any freedom is particularly difficult to deal with because she believed vaccinations would make a difference. "It feels like a kick in the face," she said. After residents and workers were offered the first dose of the vaccine, Dreher said the facility posted a sheet of paper listing everyone in the building who had accepted it. WATCH | Tired of being locked up: While almost all of the residents received the vaccine, she said, only about 50 per cent of the workers did the same. "It makes me mad," she told CBC News. "I think when you're working in a facility where you are working with vulnerable people who are more susceptible to illnesses than the average person, then I think vaccination should be mandatory." After Dreher was fully vaccinated, she asked the unit manager if she would be able to go home for visits. She was told no one would stop her from leaving, but she would need to self-isolate for 14 days when she returned. "I would essentially be closing my door for two weeks," she said. Different restrictions Dreher has a friend in the centre who is also fully vaccinated, and they received special permission to see each other because he doesn't have a lot of family. Long-term care facilities in Regina are subject to Level 3 restrictions — the most stringent — that only allow family members to visit residents who are dying or declining dramatically. When the facility is in Level 3, she and her friend are only allowed to meet in the hallway, and when it's under a lockdown, they can't see each other at all. "I don't understand why we're not allowed to intermingle with residents a little bit because he's not going anywhere else," Dreher said. "He's just going from my room to his room and back." She said that staff at the facility don't face the same restrictions and are allowed to visit in the cafeteria and mingle with workers from other units, while Dreher and her friend are required to meet in the hallway. "They're not under the same restrictions and lockdowns that we are at their end of the shift," Dreher said. "They get to go home and go out to get their groceries and what have you. You know, they still have some liberties that they can take and we don't." Treated 'less than human' Dreher said she didn't expect things to go back to normal after she was vaccinated, but she would like to have more freedom. "One thing that I would really like is to just go home like once a week," she said. "That's really all I want at this point, is to go home and see my family and my animals and eat a decent meal." Dreher said she thought that once she was fully vaccinated, she would be able to see people if she wore a mask, washed her hands and stayed physically distanced, but that hasn't been the case. She'd like to know a timeline or a procedure for relaxing the restrictions. "I'm so tired of being treated like less than human, and I imagine the others here are as well," she said. "It's like you don't have rights anymore, you don't have freedoms, you don't have a say in anything. And it's just aggravating." Ministry reviewing policy Saskatchewan's Ministry of Health said in a statement that it is reviewing the current family visitation policy at long-term care homes and "considering factors including vaccination rates and current community transmission risk." "The decision to put these measures in place was not made lightly and removing the restrictions will only happen when it is safe to do so," the statement said. The ministry said any update to the policy would be announced publicly via a news conference or release. CBC News asked about the vaccine uptake among workers at the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre, but the Saskatchewan Health Authority did not provide a response. Infectious diseases specialist Dr. Anand Kumar said there's no clear formula to determine when long-term care facilities will be able to open up to more visitors. Kumar, an attending physician at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg and a professor of medicine and medical microbiology and pharmacology at the University of Manitoba, said there will always be a subset of people who can't take the vaccine, who choose not to take the vaccine or whose families choose on their behalf not to do so. Additionally, he said, many long-term care residents have chronic organ failure, which creates a suboptimal response to the vaccine. "So rather than getting the high level of protection that we would hope, there may be a subset of people, particularly elderly people, who have less robust resistance to infection after vaccination," he said. Dr. Anand Kumar, seen here at St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg in August 2009, says it may be awhile before long-term care homes can fully reopen. (John Woods/The Canadian Press) Long-term care homes also have to contend with the vaccination status of visitors and workers, Kumar said, and he's concerned about variants, noting that data suggests current vaccines only provide partial protection against the new strains. "My heart goes out to [Dreher]," he said. "It's not fair to her. But then again, it's not fair to the other people that would be put at risk if there was unlimited visitation allowed at this stage." Kumar said he looks forward to the day when all long-term care facilities can open up and allow full visitation, but it may be awhile before that happens. "It may be wiser to kind of do it … on a single institution basis," he said. "That is to say, judge each institution based on the level of vaccination, the number of people who are vaccinated, the number of employees and visitors who are vaccinated, etc. Basically make it a judgment case by case." Mandatory vaccination Kumar said he thinks mandating that all health-care workers in these facilities be vaccinated is the right thing to do. "Quite frankly, if I had my way, everybody who works in the institution or visits the institution would have to be vaccinated," he said. "I think that having a significant number of people not vaccinated, along with a subset of residents who can't be vaccinated potentially or having suboptimal responses to vaccination, really invites disaster." That said, Kumar said he also thinks there will never be a perfect solution. If the maximum number of people were vaccinated at a facility, he said, that would be when the facility might be able to open up for visitation. "At some point you have to start to open up. You have to start giving people some joy back into their lives, especially those that are in long-term care facilities. And so, you know, the question isn't whether it's perfectly safe. The question is whether the risk is an acceptable one." Dreher said she and the other residents at Wascana Rehab have been getting COVID tests "religiously," and she hopes that with the next round of testing, everyone will be negative and the lockdown will be over soon. "And I'll be able to see my friend again, which at this point, is needed," she said. Though her spirits are low, Dreher said she was very excited to get the vaccine because it felt like she was one step closer to getting her life back. "Now I don't dare to hope to get that back because … it's just going to get ripped away," she said. And Dreher has a message for the workers who haven't yet received the vaccine: "Maybe you should find a different job."
The Nova Scotia SPCA is asking for financial support to help care for 77 dogs in need of urgent treatment. In a news release Monday, the SPCA said 10 puppies and 67 adult dogs were surrendered from a property in Cape Breton. The large number of dogs has "overwhelmed SPCA resources and animal shelters throughout the province," the release said. Many of the dogs are highly under-socialized, while some were pregnant and have given birth. "The best thing to do if pet owners find themselves in an overwhelming situation is to reach out for assistance," Sandra Flemming, provincial director of animal care at the Nova Scotia SPCA, said in the release. The SPCA can be contacted at 1-844-835-4798. One of the 77 surrendered pups, Oreck.(Nova Scotia SPCA) "We welcome and will work with pet owners who accept help. When we were notified of this situation, we worked around-the-clock to ensure the dogs and caregiver received the support they needed." Rehabilitation and medical treatment for the dogs are estimated to exceed $70,000, the SPCA said. It is appealing for donations from the public. Miele, one of the 77 surrendered dogs from Cape Breton. The SPCA is asking for donations to help pay for rehabilitation and medical treatment that will cost tens of thousands of dollars.(Nova Scotia SPCA) On average, one dog or puppy is surrendered to a Nova Scotia SPCA shelter every day. With limited space and existing pets, the 77 dogs have been safely transported to other areas to "relieve pressure" on the Cape Breton SPCA. The mixed-breed dogs are receiving veterinary care, one-on-one expert training, and are being closely monitored, the SPCA said. The dogs and puppies require "extensive" rehabilitation and are not up for adoption or visitors yet. Once they are ready to go into a home setting, they will be posted on the SPCA's adoption website. MORE TOP STORIES
A seafood processing company in Richmond and a commercial fisherman have together been fined more than $110,000 for violating Canada's Fisheries Act. On Sept. 8, 2018, a Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) officer inspected Tenshi Seafood Limited — a large crab processing, distribution and exporting plant. When the officer arrived, he witnessed a man run from the factory, hop in his vehicle and speed away with "what looked like a crab crate in the back," according to a statement from the DFO. Then, while inside the building, the DFO says the officer found several undersized crabs discarded in the processing plant. The statement goes on to say the co-owner of Tenshi Seafood Limited, Desi Liu, and some of his staff then obstructed the officer from completing the inspection, saying Liu and his staff wouldn't answer questions or provide the necessary paperwork for the discarded crabs. Liu also tried to destroy evidence by eating a receipt, it said. "That's a serious offence," said Jason Guno, Fisheries and Oceans detachment commander for Fraser coastal. "The fisheries industry is regulated and all entities have to abide by the conditions and one of them is to assist with the regulatory nature of the industry." On March 4, 2021, Tenshi Seafood Limited and Liu were found guilty of violating the Fisheries Act in a Richmond Provincial Court. The company was fined $75,000 and Liu was ordered to pay $25,000. Fisherman also fined Thuong Nguyen, the master of the Dream Chaser commercial vessel and one of Tenshi's suppliers, was also fined $10,000. His license prohibits the fishing of undersized dungeness crabs. "It means that the crabs don't get to mature to the appropriate size. If they haven't had a chance to propagate and reproduce, you're affecting the natural order of things in terms of renewable resources," said Guno. He confirmed that Nguyen was the man the officer first saw fleeing from the plant. "He was later identified and found guilty of obstruction," Guno said. The DFO says, under the Fisheries Act, it is illegal to obstruct or hinder a fishery officer, fishery guardian or an inspector who is carrying out duties or functions. "I think it's a good message to everyone involved in the seafood industry [that] it's a serious offence to not cooperate and assist fisheries officers when they're doing an investigation," said Guno. Tenshi Seafood Limited must also publish a letter addressed to its customers explaining the offences and that it was found guilty.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is urging the public to hold on a bit longer for things to return to normal following a COVID-19 lockdown. Kenney says with more vaccines coming three-quarters of Albertans should have had at least one shot by mid-September.
EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is urging the public to hold on a little longer by following COVID-19 restrictions while condemning those using threats and intimidation to protest the rules. Provincial sheriffs estimated about 750 people gathered at the legislature on Monday to protest public-health restrictions. Some chanted "lock her up" in reference to the province's chief medical health officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw. "They also chanted 'just say no' to vaccines," Kenney later said on Twitter. "It’s particularly offensive to threaten a committed public servant like Dr. Hinshaw, a consummate professional who has offered the best possible health advice to govt. I call on those responsible to stop the threats & law breaking, which is a disservice to their own cause." Kenney added that another large protest on Sunday at GraceLife Church west of Edmonton, which was recently closed by health officials for violating restrictions, resulted in the arrest of a protester who allegedly shouted racial insults at a First Nations woman on a nearby reserve. Kenney said a car belonging to the chief of Enoch Cree Nation was also vandalized. No tickets were issued at the legislature protest, Alberta Justice spokesman Jason van Rassel said. "Albertans respect the freedoms of speech and protest," said Kenney. "But breaking the law, trespassing, threats and intimidation go too far. I condemn these actions and statements. It is increasingly clear that many involved in these protests are unhinged conspiracy theorists." Earlier Monday, Kenney held a news conference and asked Albertans to keep following the rules and get vaccinated. Kenney said the amount of available vaccine is increasing and he expects a quarter of Albertans will have some protection from the novel coronavirus in a matter of weeks. Half of the population should have at least one shot by the end of May, two-thirds by the end of June and three-quarters by mid-September, he said. "We're nearing the end of a long and tiring journey. It is our path to recovery and freedom," Kenney said. "Once two-thirds of us have immunity, we'll start to feel back to normal. There'll be no formal restrictions. (Calgary) Stampede, sporting events, other festivals will be possible, especially if outdoors. "Once three-quarters of us are immune, we expect we'll be fully back to normal." Kenney said masks and physical distancing will still be encouraged of Albertans but not mandated. The province has opened what it calls rapid flow vaccination clinics in Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray, Red Deer, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. Mega clinics — each able to able to administer up to 1,000 doses per hour and 6,000 per day — opened in Calgary and Edmonton on Monday. Kenney has said vaccine rollout is critical, as the impact of COVID-19 on the province has become a race between the rise of the variants and getting a critical mass of people vaccinated. The variants, which are more contagious than the original strain, now make up about half of Alberta's 14,800 active cases. On Monday, Alberta reported a slight dip in new COVID-19 cases with 1,136 infections. It said 679 new variant cases were also identified. There were also 390 people in hospital because of the virus and 90 were in intensive care. "Right now the variants are winning that race," said Kenney. He added that socializing among young people remains a concern. A Calgary high school had to shut down recently because students were having house parties. And in Athabasca, northeast of Edmonton, a number of schools had to be closed because of infections. "A bunch of kids from one of those schools were brought together by their parents for a birthday party," Kenney explained. "Apparently the virus had a 100 per cent attack rate at that birthday party. All of the kids, who came to that birthday party, got sick." This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 12, 2021. — By Bill Graveland in Calgary The Canadian Press
Ottawa Police Service chief administrative officer Jeff Letourneau is no longer with the service following allegations he was using a company vehicle for personal use and not paying taxes for it. In a statement issued Monday, the Ottawa Police Services Board wrote that effective immediately, "Letourneau is no longer employed in the Ottawa Police Service, as a result of a unanimous decision." The decision comes after a letter was submitted to the board in late March by the president of the Ottawa Police Association Matt Skof. The letter details allegations it received from an anonymous email, that was also sent to city council. It said that Letourneau, who approves purchases of the OPS fleet, was using a fleet vehicle and not paying the taxes on it. It is also unclear if Letourneau was authorized to have use of a company vehicle in the first place. Potentially thousands in unpaid taxes The letter points to the Sunshine List, which discloses salaries earned by city employees that exceed $100,000. According to that list, Letourneau earned more than $242,000 as chief administrative officer last year, but only paid $1,060 in taxable benefits. Comparatively, another former executive with a similar salary paid nearly $13,000 in taxable benefits in 2018. Between 2018 and 2020, Letourneau has only paid between $860 and $1,060 in taxable benefits a police executive, amounts that don't make sense according to Skof. It's believed Letourneau has used the vehicle for personal trips outside of city limits and also used for his daily commute to work from his residence in Braeside, so it would have "well over 150,000 kilometres on it," Skof said. Between maintenance, gas and mileage, Skof said there's a lot that may have been spent "all at the taxpayers expense." "I think the taxpayers would take quite exception to having that amount of money go missing ... by the very person that holds the budget for the entire police department." Skof said how much "misuse may have occurred" could only be discovered through an investigation by the Ottawa Police Services Board. Board looking for replacement In its statement, the board said Police Chief Peter Sloly "has implemented interim measures" until it finds a replacement for Letourneau. The board went on to write that it "is committed to transparency and accountability and will continue to make decisions that earn the highest level of trust." "Due to the confidential nature of personnel matters, the board will not be providing any further comment," reads the statement. At this point, there are no charges against Letourneau and the allegations have not been proven in court. CBC reached out to Letourneau Monday evening for an interview but he declined to comment.
WHITEHORSE — Yukon is headed toward a minority government with the Liberal and Yukon parties tied with the same number of seats after Monday's election. With all of the votes counted, the Liberal and Yukon parties had eight seats each, and the NDP had won two seats. The riding of Vuntut Gwitchin is slated for a judicial recount after Liberal candidate Pauline Frost, the territory's health and environment minister, was tied with New Democrat Annie Blake at 78 votes each. No other candidates ran in the riding. Elections Yukon said the recount is scheduled to be held on Thursday. If the race is still tied after the recount, Yukon's Elections Act says the winner will be determined by drawing lots. Ten seats were needed for a majority government. Yukon Liberal Leader Sandy Silver called it an "interesting result," but said the party would wait to see the recount results of Vuntut Gwitchin before making further statements. "Now, more than ever, Yukoners have told us that we need to work together, and we will," he said Monday night at a news conference in Dawson City. The Liberals came into the election looking to build on their surprise 2016 majority win. Silver had urged Yukoners to not change the course in this election, pitching his government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the reasons his party should continue to lead the territory. Yukon Party Leader Currie Dixon said Monday's results showed more support for his party and its platform. Like Silver, Dixon said he would be closely watching the results of the judicial recount. "The tie result in Vuntut Gwitchin creates a considerable degree of uncertainty," he said. "Until we see the results of that tie break, we will have to remain interested in the final outcome." Dixon noted the Liberals will be given the first chance to form a government, but the Yukon Party would be pushing forward its agenda and priorities. New Democrat Leader Kate White, who pitched her party as a progressive alternative to her two main rivals, said Monday's result showed residents want political parties to work together. Opposition politicians had questioned the decision to hold an election during the pandemic, particularly as the territory worked through its COVID-19 vaccination rollout. Monday's race was the fifth election in Canada during the pandemic, and the first that didn't result in a majority win for the governing party. In New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, all the governing parties went on to form majority governments after calling an election. — By Nick Wells in Vancouver. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 12, 2021. The Canadian Press
W. Galen Weston, the patriarch of the Weston empire that controls Loblaws and other retail holdings, has died at the age of 80. Known as Galen Weston Sr., he died on Monday, "peacefully at home after a long illness faced with courage and dignity," according to a statement put out by his family. "My father's greatest gift was inspiring those around him to achieve more than they thought possible," said his son Galen G. Weston, known as Galen Weston Jr., who is CEO of both Loblaws and the George Weston Company Ltd. "In our business and in his life he built a legacy of extraordinary accomplishment and joy." Born in England in 1940, he earned a degree at the University of Western Ontario in the 1960s. After a stint in Ireland, where he met his wife and had two children, he made Canada his main base of operations in the 1970s. Apart from Loblaws, Weston also ran the George Weston Co., a holding company for various food and bakery brands, from the 1960s until 2016, when he retired at the age of 75 to hand the reins over to his son. In doing so, he followed the example set by his own father, Garfield Weston, who also stepped down from control of the family business at the age of 75, in 1974, to make room for Galen Sr. Weston was a giant of Canadian retail.(Norm Betts/ Bloomberg) Retail empire worth billions Weston retained the title of chairman emeritus of both George Weston Ltd. and Loblaws, but most of the day-to-day operations of both companies have long since rested with the younger Galen Weston. In addition to his son, he also has a daughter, Alannah Weston, and he is survived by his wife of 55 years, Hilary Weston. Galen Sr. was "particularly proud" of his wife's stint as Ontario's 26th lieutenant-governor, from 1997 to 2002, the family statement says. Although he was born into what was already a significant retail empire, Weston led it through even more expansions and acquisitions once he took control in 1974. In the process, he made the Weston family the second richest in Canada, with a net worth of more than $10 billion, according to Bloomberg. The Weston empire was founded by his grandfather George Weston, who laid the groundwork in 1882 for a retail empire that owns or controls the grocery chain Loblaws and the food conglomerate Weston, but also the fast fashion chain Primark and the department stores Holt Renfrew in Canada, Brown Thomas in Ireland, and Selfridge's in the United Kingdom.
An independent review of the Toronto police force's handling of missing-person cases, including the victims of serial killer Bruce McArthur, has found that "systemic discrimination" contributed to failings in a number of investigations. That's one of the many takeaways from a massive report led by former judge Gloria Epstein that was released Tuesday morning. You can read the full report here. Epstein found there were "serious flaws" in how missing-person cases have been handled in Toronto, and notes that "the police could have done better. "To be clear, we are past the time for conversation only," she wrote. "The public is entitled to insist on transformative change with measurable, sustainable outcomes, timelines for completion, and accountability." "Intent" to discriminate is not the issue here, Epstein said. "Proper missing persons investigations should not depend on whose voices are the loudest or most empowered in sounding the alarm," she said. The review was ordered in the summer of 2018 after the arrest of serial killer Bruce McArthur but did not initially include his crimes in order to preserve his right to a fair trial. Its scope was later expanded to include that case after McArthur pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of eight men with ties to Toronto's Gay Village. These men were victims of serial killer Bruce McArthur. Top row, from left to right, Skandaraj Navaratnam, 40, Andrew Kinsman, 49, Selim Esen, 44, and Abdulbasir Faizi, 44. Bottom row, from left to right: Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, 37, Dean Lisowick, 47, Soroush Mahmudi, 50, and Majeed Kayhan, 58.(Toronto Police Service/CBC) The review focused on those eight men, as well as Tess Richey, a young woman whose body was found in an outdoor stairwell by her mother, and Alloura Wells, a transgender woman found dead in a ravine. The issues identified in the report include a lack of communication within the police service, between the force and the police board, and with the community — as well as an often unnecessary amount of secrecy that undermined public trust. Epstein also found investigations were inconsistent, and in many instances, "basic investigative steps were overlooked or delayed," while searches were at times "disorganized, incomplete or poorly documented." Mistrust of police In her report, Epstein found that some police officers had misconceptions or stereotypical ideas about the LGBTQ community, and that police also failed to keep the public informed. "My extensive engagement with community members and organizations confirmed that many people deeply mistrust the Toronto police. This long-standing mistrust may not be directly related to missing person cases but is often rooted in systemic or overt bias or discrimination," she wrote. WATCH | Former judge says conducting review changed her outlook: At a news conference, Epstein said she is well-aware her recommendations come at a time when there are increasing calls to reduce the police budget, and that the pandemic has placed immense stress on resources. "But the failure to act comes at a much more substantial cost," she said. At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Police Services Board Chair Jim Hart said the board accepts all of the review's findings and is committed to implementing its recommendations. Hart said it is "difficult for us" to see the many ways in which the board and the police service did not meet expectations and responsibilities. "But it's vital for us to see what went wrong," Hart said. Interim police chief James Ramer echoed those comments, saying there have been mistakes and missteps in the way Toronto police handled missing persons cases, especially within the city's LGBTQ community. Ramer said he has not yet read all of the roughly 900-page report, but has gone through a lot of it. "The shortcomings [Epstein] identified are inexcusable," he said. The report also takes issue with comments made by former police chief Mark Saunders. At a news conference back in 2017, Saunders said "the evidence today tells us there is not a serial killer involved." Tess Richey, 22, went missing on Nov. 25, 2017, after a night out with a high school friend. Her mother found her body four days later. The investigation into her death was examined in the report.(Tess Richey/Facebook) But on that date, Epstein wrote, there was circumstantial evidence that McArthur may have been or was likely involved in the disappearances of five men connected to the city's Gay Village. She said the available evidence simply did not match Saunders's conclusion. At Tuesday's news conference, review counsel Mark Sandler called Saunders's comments "deeply unfortunate and deeply hurtful." "It contributed to the attitude that they had not been given the straight goods over what had transpired," he said. Ramer also apologized for those statements. "These statements were incorrect," he said. Ramer also said police are going to implement Epstein's recommendations "as quickly as possible." He said the service is doing things like doubling the number of people working in its missing persons unit from four to eight, and exploring how to integrate civilian support into missing persons investigations. Richey's mother, who found her daughter's body after police failed to, welcomed the report. "A shift in police attitude and understanding would go a long way in better serving and protecting all members of our community," Christine Hermeston said. Ramer asked the communities affected in the report to work with police. "Give us an opportunity to make it right," he said. WATCH | Police officials respond to report: 'Series of lost opportunities' Epstein has said in her report that one can never know for sure whether McArthur would have been found earlier had these deficiencies not existed. But Sandler said there was "a series of lost opportunities" to apprehend and identify McArthur. The report, which includes 151 recommendations, recommends "triaging" cases so that appropriate agencies — including social agencies — are involved, meaning that in some cases police might not be involved at all. That could mean greater reliance on social workers, civilian services and multi-agency focus tables. At Tuesday's news conference, Epstein said conducting such a wide-ranging review helped her recognize that though she viewed herself as a "people person," she realized just how small a segment of society she really knew and how little diversity she'd seen. "After 25 years as a judge, I thought I knew a lot about people," Epstein said. "[This review] changed me. It has changed who I am, what I understand about people."
An epidemiologist says it's "a bit surprising" three people hospitalized in New Brunswick for COVID-19 had been vaccinated, particularly the person who was fully vaccinated with both doses more than two weeks before the onset of symptoms. Raywat Deonandan, an associate professor at the University of Ottawa, says the clinical trials showed some vaccinated people still got sick, but that the vaccines "had a 100 per cent chance of keeping vaccinated people out of the hospital." But clinical trial numbers are always more optimistic than real-life situations, he said, noting the COVID-19 vaccines were tested on only tens of thousands of people, and now they're being distributed to tens of millions of people globally. So some hospitalizations were "bound to happen eventually," said Deonandan. Three hospitalizations out of the more than 120,000 adult New Brunswickers who received at least one dose as of last week — or roughly 0.002 per cent — is about the rate he would expect, he said. Deonandan anticipates a "vanishingly small number" of vaccinated people may also eventually die from COVID-19. "This is all about probability, not certainties," he said. "What we have done a poor job of explaining is vaccines are not bulletproof vests." They're merely a mitigation tool. And until we achieve so-called herd immunity, with between 70 and 90 per cent of the population inoculated to protect others who aren't immunized, they're the best one we've got. "The message is, if you get vaccinated, your probability of anything bad happening to you, COVID-related, is now vanishingly small, but not zero." Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, said the risk of hospitalization, ICU admission and death from COVID-19 are greatly reduced by the vaccine, but all New Brunswickers will continue to be at risk until around June 15, when the province hopes to have everybody vaccinated with one dose.(Government of New Brunswick) It's a message the province's chief medical officer of health has stressed in recent days since she took many people by surprise by announcing last Thursday that three hospitalized COVID patients were vaccinated. It takes two to three weeks for the vaccine to take effect and for the person to build up immunity, Dr. Jennifer Russell had said. "I don't want people to get a false sense of security that they're immune to COVID-19 once they've had a vaccine," she told CBC News on Friday. "And even after two doses of vaccine, we know that the risk of getting COVID is not zero." People need to continue to follow Public Health guidelines, such as wearing a mask and physical distancing, even if they've been vaccinated, she said. On Saturday, when CBC News asked how many of the hospitalized patients had been fully vaccinated, Russell confirmed the even more surprising news that one person had received both doses more than two weeks before the onset of symptoms, while the other two people had received only one dose and 14 days had not yet passed. 'Very unlikely' 3 are young, healthy Michael Grant, a professor of immunology and associate dean of biomedical science at Memorial University in St. John's, acknowledged it's "a concern" people are still being hospitalized when the vaccine rollout is underway. And it comes when there's already "skepticism" about vaccines, he said. "It's been a bit of a public relations nightmare with the AstraZeneca vaccine, with what would appear to be a bit of flip-flopping as better information become becomes available." But Grant thinks it's "very unlikely" these cases are due to a vaccine failure in young, healthy people. He contends there's "very little evidence anywhere else" that people who have been fully vaccinated and developed immunity from that vaccination are at risk for severe infection. "So unless there's something very peculiar occurring in New Brunswick, I don't think there should be any sort of generalization that people can be fully vaccinated, develop a good immune response and still be at risk for severe illness," said Grant. Dr. Michael Grant, a professor of immunology at Memorial University in St. John's, said it's been a 'hard psychological blow' for the population to be told once everybody's had the vaccine, we can start to go back to to a normal life, and then to hear some restrictions may have to remain in place even after most people have been vaccinated. (CBC) Why some vaccinated people are ending up in hospital and what kind of people this happens to is more difficult to nail down, however. Grant noted the vaccine studies were conducted on otherwise healthy individuals, so it's still too soon to know how some groups of people will respond. But there is some evidence that older people do not respond as well to the vaccine, so they may remain "somewhat susceptible" to the coronavirus, he said. If people are taking immunosuppressive or anti-inflammatory medications to treat certain conditions at the time they receive the vaccine, the drugs can reduce the response they make against the vaccine, said Grant. A couple of studies with cancer survivors who are on some form of maintenance therapy or whose immune system hasn't recovered from chemotherapy have shown they respond "very poorly" to one dose of the vaccine. "And there will be very, very rare cases where people do make an immune response against the vaccine and still get infected with the virus somehow and develop illness," he said. No vaccines perfect Deonandan said all vaccines have a failure rate. He pointed to the annual flu vaccine, which usually has an efficacy of 40 to 70 per cent. "And yet we never complained when we got the flu vaccine and saw hey, some people got the flu," he said. "But, you know, people aren't afraid of the flu because we don't hear about the thousands who die every year of the flu." The probability of vaccine failure — or the probability of detecting vaccine failure — increases as the prevalence of the disease increases, said Deonandan. Every vaccinated person still has a very small chance of transmitting and getting the disease. This may increase with the highly transmissible COVID variants, including the two now confirmed in New Brunswick — the variant first reported in the U.K. and the variant first detected in South Africa. But they have to be exposed to the disease first. Their chance of being exposed varies with the prevalence of the disease in the community. So if the prevalence is high, then the risk of exposure is high. "So this is all a population game. This is getting sufficient immunity into a sufficient number of people with the understanding that not everybody is going to be perfectly immune." Interpret numbers carefully How we interpret and communicate the numbers is important, said Deonandan. He offered as an example a high school of 100 people, where 99 of them are vaccinated against the measles with a vaccine that has a one per cent failure rate. If an outbreak infects the one person who didn't get vaccinated and the one person whom the vaccine failed to protect, half of those two people were vaccinated. "So you could look at that statistic and say, 'Oh, my God, I've got a 50-50 chance of getting measles if I got vaccinated," he said. But that's incorrect. "You have a one per cent chance of getting measles if you got vaccinated. So it depends on how you view the numbers. This is really important." A couple of months after more than half the population has been immunized, Deonandan expects the probability of community transmission will be so low that the vaccine failure rates will be "irrelevant." Grant encourages people to continue to get immunized. "The vast majority of cases, there's very strong evidence that having the vaccine is going to protect you against developing severe illness," he said.
The City of Edmonton is moving toward being a low-carbon municipality within 30 years, and is adopting an energy transition strategy now to help get it there. Council's executive committee agreed Monday that council as a whole should approve the Community Energy Transition Strategy at a meeting next week. The plan aligns with goals of the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to keep the global temperature increase to no more than 1.5 degrees above average, and to become carbon neutral by 2050. The strategy would expand on current investments like the district energy system in the Blatchford neighbourhood, along with an electric vehicle charging infrastructure, more electric buses and LRT, and energy efficiency standards for new buildings. The energy initiatives are estimated to cost Edmonton $100 million a year, plus capital costs for new city buildings starting in the 2023-2026 budget cycle. The city would also need consistent investment totalling about $2.4 billion a year from the federal and provincial governments and the private sector. Mayor Don Iveson said the city needs to set incentives and regulations while it's developing renewable energy industries. "That's going to unlock hundreds of thousands of jobs answering these challenges and achieving carbon neutrality — a balanced carbon budget if you will — by 2050." Edmonton is in a challenging position as GHG emissions have increased over the past decade. The city has one of the highest per capita emissions levels in the world at 18 tonnes per person. Four major sources contribute to GHG emissions in Edmonton: transportation (31 per cent of total emissions); manufacturing, industry and construction (27 per cent); commercial and institutional buildings (20 per cent) and residential buildings (18 per cent). Boost retrofits The committee heard from 20 people at the meeting, including representatives from the city's Energy Transition Climate Resilience Committee. One member, Shafraaz Kaba, encouraged council and administration to adopt any measures that will quickly advance the goal of zero emissions by 2050. "We underline that every decision city council makes has to be a carbon decision," Kaba told the committee. "The time is now to make this happen." The city's strategy would incorporate stricter regulations when constructing new homes and buildings, which could mean changes in zoning bylaws and codes. Chandra Tomaras, program manager of the City Environmental Strategies department, said right now only seven per cent of renovation permits are related to energy retrofits. That needs to be 10 times higher to reach the city's goals, she said. "We need 10,12,13,000 homes a year being renovated for energy efficiency," Tomaras said. Tomaras said one of the important steps in the plan requires partnerships and advice from industry to emission-neutral buildings. Coun. Ben Henderson is calling for net-zero building standards to be adopted sooner rather than later. Some things, like replacing furnaces, are easier to retrofit but the structure of a building is not, Henderson suggested. "That's the bit that I'm worried about, that we are just building ourselves another set of neighbourhoods that are going to be our nightmare 10 years from now," Henderson said. "I would love us to get there as fast as we possibly can." Stephanie McCabe, manager of the urban form and corporate strategic development branch, said the city will continue to work with industry on establishing net-zero building standards and bring in regulations while watching the affordability of new housing.
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration has struck an agreement with Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala to temporarily surge security forces to their borders in an effort to reduce the tide of migration to the U.S. border. The agreement comes as the U.S. saw a record number of unaccompanied children attempting to cross the border in March, and the largest number of Border Patrol encounters overall with migrants on the southern border — just under 170,000 — since March 2001. According to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, Mexico will maintain a deployment of about 10,000 troops, while Guatemala has surged 1,500 police and military personnel to its southern border and Honduras deployed 7,000 police and military to its border “to disperse a large contingent of migrants” there. Guatemala will also set up 12 checkpoints along the migratory route through the country. A White House official said Guatemala and Honduras were deploying troops temporarily in response to a large caravan of migrants that was being organized at the end of March. Psaki said “the objective is to make it more difficult to make the journey, and make crossing the borders more difficult.” She added that the agreement was the product of “a series of bilateral discussions” between U.S. officials and the governments of the Central American nations. While Vice-President Kamala Harris has been tasked with leading diplomatic efforts to tamp down on the increase in migration at the U.S. border, Psaki declined to share details on her involvement with the discussions and said only that the discussions happened at “several levels." She noted that Roberta Jacobson, who will depart her role as the administration's southwest border co-ordinator at the end of the month, was involved in talks. Mexico announced in March that it was deploying National Guard members and immigration agents to its southern border, and it has maintained more personnel at its southern border since Trump threatened tariffs on Mexican imports in 2019. On Monday, Mexico’s Foreign Affairs ministry said, “Mexico will maintain the existing deployment of federal forces in the its border area, with the objective of enforcing its own immigration legislation, to attend to migrants, mainly unaccompanied minors, and to combat the trafficking of people.” Honduras Foreign Affairs Minister Lisandro Rosales said Monday that Honduras maintains a multinational force at its border with Guatemala that works closely with that government on not only immigration, but also organized crime and other illegal activity. But “there was no commitment on the part of the Honduran delegation to put soldiers on the border, even though there is a clear commitment by the Honduran government to avoid this kind of migration that generates death and mourning for Honduran families,” Rosales said. But Honduras Defence Secretary Fredy Santiago Díaz Zelaya, who was part of a Honduran delegation that met with U.S. officials in Washington last week, said later that the military was studying the possibility of sending more troops to the border to assist in migration control. He said the military always works under a plan and that planning would determine how many troops would assist national police and immigration authorities at the border. “We need to do a correct analysis of the situation, increase troops if it’s necessary,” Díaz Zelaya told local press. He said Honduras would do so “in response to this request that comes from the great nation to the north (the United States) to be able to help on the issue of immigration.” The Guatemalan government denied there was any signed agreement with the United States to place troops at the border to stop migrants. “The Guatemalan government has undertaken protection and security actions at the border since last year, on its own initiative, it is a constitutional mandate,” said presidential spokeswoman Patricia Letona. “In the context of the pandemic, the protection of the borders has become a fundamental aim for the containment of the virus.” Guatemalan troops have been responsible for breaking up the last several attempted migrant caravans. The increase in migrants at the border is becoming one of the major challenges confronting Biden in the early months of his first term. Numbers grew sharply during Trump’s final year in office but further accelerated under Biden, who quickly ended many of his predecessor’s policies, including one that made asylum-seekers wait in Mexico for court hearings in the U.S. Mexicans represented the largest proportion of people encountered by the U.S. Border Patrol, and nearly all were single adults. Arrivals of people from Honduras and Guatemala were second and third, respectively, and more than half of the people from those countries were families or children travelling alone. ___ Associated Press writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego, María Verza in Mexico City, Sonny Figueroa in Guatemala City and Marlon González in Tegucigalpa contributed reporting. Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press
Yukon reported one new case of COVID-19 Monday night, as health officials expanded an exposure notification related to an April 3 Air North flight. The case is a Whitehorse resident and is linked to a previously announced case involving an out-of-territory worker who travelled to Yukon, the territorial Department of Health and Social Services said in a Monday night news release. The person is self-isolating at home and contact tracing is underway, says the release. This is Yukon's 75th confirmed case since the start of the pandemic. Exposure notice issued for Whitehorse airport terminal Yukon health officials also expanded a possible exposure notification for Air North flight 4N538 after "receiving further information related to the previous notification," according to the release. Anyone who was on the April 3 flight from Vancouver to Whitehorse that departed at 1:35 p.m. and arrived at 3:59 p.m. and who has COVID-19 symptoms should get tested. Anyone who was on the flight but doesn't have symptoms can also get tested. Additionally, anyone who was at the Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport terminal between 4 and 5 p.m. on April 3 should self-monitor for symptoms and get tested if any arise, says the release. Everyone who was on the April 3 flight should continue to follow their self-isolation plans, the release says. They can leave isolation to get a COVID-19 test, but must resume isolating after they've been tested. Health officials say anyone experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms should self-isolate, take the online assessment, and arrange for a test by calling 867-393-3083 or booking online.
As Muslims begin their second month-long fast under a COVID-19 Ontario-wide lockdown — this time with vaccines available — some wonder whether they should be getting the shot while fasting. The fasting period, from dawn to sunset, each day of the holy month of Ramadan starts Tuesday and includes no food or drink, prompting some members of Ontario's Muslim community to turn to religious and health experts for guidance. Aarij Anwer, interim imam and Islamic education co-ordinator with the London Muslim Mosque, said community members have asked him if they are permitted to get vaccinated while fasting. "The question very frequently asked is, "I got an appointment during the fasting hours. Can I take the vaccine while fasting?" The answer is, "Yes, you should take it as it does not affect the fast." Tackling misinformation Anwer said he's trying to tackle any confusion and misinformation, as well as encourage Muslims to get vaccinated. London Muslim Mosque members, as well as other Muslims worldwide, are going through their second Ramadan starting Tuesday since the pandemic began over a year ago.(Maram Hijazi/CBC) "That is something that we are encouraging Muslims to take, as part of their commitment to their faith, as part of their commitment to their well-being." Referring to Islamic agencies in North America and internationally, Anwer said there is the understanding that "non-nutritious injections, for example vaccines, have no effect on the fast and will not invalidate the fast. A person can take this and their fast will continue to be intact." Nour Al-Farawi, a primary-care nurse practitioner, said it's important for everyone, including Muslims, to get vaccinated as soon as they're able to, even if it's during the month of Ramadan. "It is well established that intramuscular injection is not a form of sustenance or food, and therefore is permissible," he said. "I do want to stress we are in the third wave of this pandemic and it's important, now more than ever, to keep ourselves and others around us safe and healthy, and this vaccine rollout is unlike any we may have experienced in the past," she said. For those concerned about possible vaccine side-effects while fasting, Al-Farawi said most are mild and do not last long. "If there's anything that's stopping you, make sure you're making an informed decision before you decide not to get [the vaccine]. I can't stress enough that it's very important at this time." Keeping well during fasting period The Canadian Muslim COVID-19 Task Force, which provides culturally appropriate guidance and messaging around the coronavirus, echoed that advice. "This year, the COVID-19 vaccine will likely be available to many individuals during the month of Ramadan," the task force's website reads. "Everyone is recommended to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible, and without delay." The Canadian Muslim COVID-19 Task Force, which provides culturally appropriate guidance and messaging around the coronavirus to Muslim communities, recommends people get vaccinated 'as soon as they are eligible, and without delay.'(Kate Dubinski/CBC News) Under the task force's guidelines, it notes that getting tested for COVID-19 while fasting, or taking the vaccine, doesn't break a fast. "It is not necessary to eat before or right after vaccination. Staying hydrated and eating nourishing suhoors [meal before sunrise] will help ensure that we are staying well for activities during Ramadan, including vaccination," the website reads. The task force says individuals are permitted to stop fasting if they get side-effects after getting the shot and feel they will worsen. COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Middlesex-London are open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET daily; all appointments can be booked in advance through the covidvaccinelm.ca website or by phone at 226-289-3560.
A London, Ont., woman undergoing cancer treatment says she had to jump through hoops before she was able to book a second COVID-19 vaccination, even though she's exempt from the typical months-long wait for a second dose. "There's no help navigating this system from anybody," said Barb MacQuarrie. "I've knocked on every door that I can possibly think of." In February, MacQuarrie, 63, was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. She's currently in treatment and set to start chemotherapy later this month. Keen to get vaccinated as soon as possible, she got her first dose of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine on March 20 in Toronto as part of a pilot project to expand vaccination distribution to Ontario pharmacies. The vaccine requires a second dose, which the manufacturer recommends be given anywhere from four to 12 weeks after the first shot. In early March, the provincial and federal governments extended to four months the interval between the first and second doses of the two-dose COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada. This was done to maximize the number of people getting a level of protection from an initial inoculation, with community spread rampant and vaccine supply limited. However, there are exemptions for people with underlying health conditions to avoid the wait and get a second dose within the timeframe recommended by the manufacturer. Ontario's Vaccine Clinical Advisory Group (VCAG) says cancer patients "receiving active treatment" are among those exempt from the extended vaccine interval. Vaccine eligibility rules posted on the Middlesex-London Health Unit's website follow these guidelines. From pharmacy to pharmacy So with an exemption, MacQuarrie said, she was eligible for a second shot as early as April 17, but had a difficult time trying book an appointment. The pharmacy in Toronto where she received the first shot wouldn't schedule her second, but said it would call her if the vaccine supply improves. MacQuarrie said it was clear the pharmacist wasn't aware of the exemptions. She called other pharmacies and, at first, got similar responses. She said there was also confusion among her care providers about the exemptions and how to get the second shot ahead of others waiting to get their first. She tried to explain her quandary to the local health unit, but said she couldn't get through. "I've spent every day last week calling the health unit multiple times," she said. "I could not even get to the point where I could be put on hold. I just got a message that call volumes were too high and to please hang up and call again." Dr. Alex Summers, associate medical officer of health for the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU), said people with exemptions can can book their second appointment when they get their first shot. While he couldn't comment on the situation MacQuarrie faced with the pharmacy, Summers said operators of the COVID-19 booking phone line for vaccination clinics (226-289-3560) are aware of the exemptions that allow cancer patients to schedule a second vaccination without the longer wait time. If I were exposed, I would in turn be exposing everyone at the cancer clinic at the same time. - Barb MacQuarrie The potential delay in getting a second shot was a concern for MacQuarrie. She lives with her son, who works in a front-line job. "If I were exposed, I would in turn be exposing everyone at the cancer clinic at the same time," she said. Finally, a London pharmacist on Monday told MacQuarrie she qualifies for an exemption and offered to help her schedule a second dose. She doesn't have an appointment yet; getting one depends on everything from the vaccine supply to number of other people trying to make bookings. MacQuarrie was keen to get her first and second doses to ensure she has maximum immunity when she beings cancer treatment later this month.(Dado Ruvic/Reuters) Angeline Ng of the Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA) admitted the program to distribute the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine in pharmacies has not been perfect. Ng said her group sent out detailed information to pharmacies informing them about the program. However, she said, not every pharmacy is an OPA member and it's possible messages were missed in the rapid rollout. MacQuarrie said she's told her story to CBC News as a cautionary tale to ensure pharmacists, health-care providers and cancer patients know about exemptions. "I had to do a lot of research and advocacy for myself to get this far," she said. "That will not be possible for many or even most cancer patients. We still have a problem that urgently needs a solution."
BERLIN — Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin announced on Tuesday that he is expanding the U.S. military presence in Germany by 500 troops, suggesting he will not carry out a Trump administration order to withdraw thousands of them. “This planned increase in U.S. personnel underscores our commitment to Germany and the entire NATO alliance,” Austin said in a notable counterpoint to the Trump administration’s repeated complaints that Germany is a weak partner on defence and security. Austin made the announcement after talks with German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer on his first tour of Europe since becoming Pentagon chief in January. Kramp-Karrenbauer welcomed the announcement as a “strong signal” of a healthy U.S.-German relationship. They also discussed a pending decision by President Joe Biden on whether to withdraw completely from Afghanistan by May 1, a deadline the Trump administration pledged to the Taliban militants. Germany is a key part of the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan. Austin said at a joint news conference with Kramp-Karrenbauer that the extra 500 U.S. troops will be stationed permanently in Germany’s Wiesbaden area as early as this fall. “These forces will strengthen deterrence and defence in Europe. They will augment our existing abilities to prevent conflict, and, if necessary, fight and win,” Austin said in prepared remarks. “This move will also create more space, more cyber, and more electronic warfare capabilities in Europe,” he added, and he said it will “greatly improve our ability to surge forces at a moment’s notice to defend our allies.” Last year, President Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of 12,000 troops from Germany as retribution for what he considered Germany’s refusal to spend more on its own defence. Austin suspended that move shortly after taking office. He said decisions on troop levels would be made as part of a comprehensive review of the U.S. military presence around the world, including in Europe. Austin’s announcement on Tuesday is the first concrete indication that he may not carry out the Trump decision, which included moving U.S. European Command headquarters from Germany to Belgium. The U.S. currently has about 35,000 troops in Germany. Asked by a reporter whether the decision to add 500 troops means Washington will not carry out Trump’s move, Austin said the Pentagon has “ceased planning” for troop reductions. The German minister said she had Biden’s word that “there will be no troop reduction as was previously planned.” “Today I received the pleasing announcement and assurance from Secretary Austin that, instead, 500 more will be stationed here,” she said. "That’s how it should be among good friends and partners -– you give each other your word and keep to it.” ___ Associated Press writer Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report. Robert Burns, The Associated Press