Layla, a rescue dog in Colorado, loves to sled up and down big hills on her frisbee! Look how happy she is!
Layla, a rescue dog in Colorado, loves to sled up and down big hills on her frisbee! Look how happy she is!
Canada added a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine to its pandemic-fighting arsenal on Friday, approving Johnson & Johnson's product a week after it was authorized in the United States. That gives Canada four distinct vaccines — along with Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca — and it adds flexibility to the country's plan to immunize the majority of its residents by September. Health Canada includes a fifth vaccine, Covishield, which is a separate brand name for doses of the AstraZeneca product made at the Serum Institute of India. The U.S.-based Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for emergency use on Feb. 27. Canada has already secured 10 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine through previous negotiations with the company, with the option to buy another 28 million. The 10 million pre-purchased doses will be delivered before September, but they're not expected to start flowing into Canada until at least April. Here's what we know about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine: HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT? Johnson & Johnson announced promising results from its Phase 3 clinical trials at the end of January, suggesting its vaccine reduced severe COVID-19 disease by 85 per cent, and prevented 100 per cent of COVID-related hospitalization or death. The vaccine had a 72 per cent efficacy in preventing COVID infections after 28 days in the company's U.S. trials. The efficacy dropped to 66 per cent when averaging in results from other global trials, including a South African study that factored in more transmissible variants of the COVID virus. An FDA report last month said the vaccine was 64 per cent effective in preventing infection in South Africa about a month after the vaccines were administered. Pfizer and Moderna showed 95 per cent efficacy in their respective trials, but those were both tested against previous dominant strains of the virus and didn't account for the variants that have popped up since. Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca also had zero hospitalizations and deaths in their trials. The FDA report said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was similarly effective across age, race and people with comorbidities. The agency added that effectiveness appeared to be lower (42.3 per cent after one month) in people over 60 with comorbidities such as diabetes or heart disease. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THIS VACCINE? The potential ease of distribution offered by a one-and-done shot, and its ability to be stored in a regular fridge are among its biggest strengths. Vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca all require two doses. Johnson & Johnson's vaccine can be stored in a regular fridge for up to three months, the company says. Pfizer's vaccine initially required ultra-cold storage temperatures between -60 C and -80 C, though Health Canada said this week it could be stored in a regular freezer for up to 14 days. Moderna's vaccine can also be stored at regular freezer temperatures while AstraZeneca can be stored in a fridge. WHAT KIND OF VACCINE TECHNOLOGY IS USED? Unlike the mRNA technology used in Pfizer and Moderna's products, Johnson & Johnson is a non-replicating viral vector vaccine similar to AstraZeneca's. That means it uses a different harmless virus, which can't copy itself, as a vector to give our cells the instructions they need to make the coronavirus's spike protein. The immune system recognizes the protein and makes antibodies, which then allow us to fend off attack from the same virus if exposed in the future. WERE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS NOTED? No specific safety concerns were identified in participants of the trials, regardless of age, race and comorbidities. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said in a press conference Friday that almost 20 per cent of participants in the Johnson & Johnson trials were 65 years of age and older, and "no differences in safety or efficacy were seen compared to the younger groups." The FDA said the most common reported side effects were headache and fatigue, followed by muscle aches, nausea and fever. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
NASA's Mars rover Perseverance has taken its first, short drive on the surface of the red planet, two weeks after the robot science lab's picture-perfect touchdown on the floor of a massive crater, mission managers said on Friday. The six-wheeled, car-sized astrobiology probe put a total of 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) on its odometer on Thursday during a half-hour test spin within Jezero Crater, site of an ancient, long-vanished lake bed and river delta on Mars. Taking directions from mission managers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles, the rover rolled 4 meters (13.1 feet) forward, turned about 150 degrees to its left and then drove backward another 2.5 meters (8.2 feet).
CORNWALL – As the provincial government moves to the second phase of its vaccination plan, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit will open six mass vaccination centres to administer doses. Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, medical officer of health for the EOHU said that centres will open in Winchester, Cornwall, Alexandria, Casselman, Rockland, and Hawkesbury. These will not be the only mass-immunization sites for the region, but they are the ones to start. He identified the Cornwall Civic Centre as the Cornwall location, the other centres will be in arenas as well due to physical spacing requirements. He did not give a timeline on when those centres would open. Roumeliotis said there will also be mobile clinics for vaccination for those who cannot attend a clinic. "Next month will be increased acceleration of vaccine output," he said. "This does not take into account AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson vaccines." The EOHU is already scheduling vaccination appointments for people 80 years old or older (born 1941 or earlier) and is sending out automated robocalls to inform eligible people of instructions on how to book an appointment. Walk-ins are not accepted. The provincial Phase Two vaccination plan will vaccinate: older adults between 60 and 79 years of age; individuals with specific health conditions and some primary caregivers; people who work or live in congregant living centres; people who live in so-called "hot spots" where there are high rates of death, hospitalization, or transmission; and certain workers who are unable to work from home. Ontario is launching an online booking tool around March 15th for scheduling vaccinations. While vaccination plans continue to ramp up, so have COVID-19 infection numbers in the region. Active infection numbers have increased from 108 on February 26th to 164 as of March 5th. Overall there have been 2,870 people who have contracted the Novel Coronavirus since the pandemic was declared one year ago. In South Dundas, there is one active case, North Dundas has two active cases, and South Stormont has 27 active cases. The City of Cornwall (53) accounts for nearly one-third of all active cases of COVID-19 in the region. So far only four people have been identified as having COVID-19 variants, three linked to an outbreak last week at the St. Albert Cheese Cooperative in St. Albert, the fourth case was in Akwesasne. Of the six long-term care home facilities currently in a declared outbreak, only the Woodland Villa in Long Sault involves residents who have tested positive. The other five facilities in declared outbreak have only employees who have tested positive. All residents of LTC homes who wanted a vaccine have now received both doses, and all residents of retirement homes have receive at least one dose. Isolated COVID-19 cases have been detected in 11 schools. Each of the 11 have one staff member or one student who tested positive. These include Morrisburg Public School in Morrisburg, Rothwell-Osnabruck School in Ingleside, and North Stormont Public School in Berwick. No outbreaks have been declared in those schools. The region remains in the Orange-Restrict zone with a rolling seven-day average of infections per 100,000 people of 32.1, and the reproductive rate is 1.15. Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
Countless people all over the world have stories of meeting him. This is mine.
VICTORIA — Tax changes targeting sugary drinks and e-commerce services based outside of B.C. will come into effect on April 1 after being delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The B.C. government says the changes include the elimination of the provincial sales tax exemption for carbonated beverages that contain sugar, natural sweeteners or artificial sweeteners. The tax will apply to all beverages dispensed through soda fountains or similar equipment, along with all beverages dispensed through vending machines. The government says the move is supported by health professionals. The second tax change will apply to those selling digital software and telecommunication services, who will be required to collect the PST on sales to B.C. customers if they have revenue in the province of more than $10,000. All Canadian sellers of vapour products, such as vape pens, will be required to register to collect the sales tax on all online or mail-order sales to B.C. customers as part of the new measure. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. The Canadian Press
Saskatoon family doctor Marlys Misfeldt says wait-lists for psychiatric help have been an issue for a long time but recently, several of her referrals have been rejected outright. Dr. Misfeldt told CBC's Saskatoon Morning that she has been working with a patient who has depression and is not improving. "He's not doing well, so I requested a referral from the pooled psychiatry referral system and about three or four weeks later, I got a letter back saying, 'Specialist has decided this referral is not needed and has been cancelled,'" she said. "No discussion with my patient, no discussion with me, just a letter back saying … it is cancelled." She said she has received two or three other letters like this in the past year, where prior to that, she would receive a letter saying her patients were on a wait-list. Misfeldt was trying to access the pooled referral program, which is operated and directed by psychiatrists. The voluntary program includes 22 psychiatrists and the Saskatchewan Health Authority provides one staff member for the program, a triage nurse. Misfeldt said a psychiatrist she spoke to who deals with the pool system told her there are 300 people on that waiting list. Once you get on the waiting list, Misfeldt said it can take nine months to a year to see a psychiatrist. There are eight other psychiatrists who are not part of the program and who can, in theory, accept referrals, but Misfeldt said when she has tried reaching out to them, they've said they're not taking new patients. Global shortage of psychiatrists Psychiatrist Sara Dungavell, who works in Saskatoon and northern Saskatchewan communities, said what happened to Dr. Misfeldt is "not appropriate." "What Dr. Misfeldt got as a response is, frankly, wrong," Dr. Dungavell said. "If you aren't accepting patients or if the wait-list is going to be too long for you to see this person with an adequate amount of urgency, then at least you told the family doctor why you said no. You can't leave this blank." While the number of psychiatrists per capita in Saskatchewan compared to other provinces is low, Dungavell said there's actually a global shortage of psychiatrists. "We can't see people quickly because brains don't heal quickly, so it requires a lot of psychiatrists to provide adequate levels of care for folks, and we're not accepting people just staying in misery and untreated mental illness anymore." Dungavell said efforts have been made to provide more access to psychiatry in Saskatchewan, particularly for those who go to the emergency room. Even that, however, adds to the backlog, because there's no one to take those patients on once they leave the ER. "It's leaving family doctors in the situation of Dr. Misfeldt, where they are doing their absolute best to try and treat their patients but don't have access to the specialists who should be supporting them," she said. Saskatchewan needs to be a place psychiatrists want to work, which means creating a good continuum of care for patients, Dungavell said. "What most of us physicians want is to be able to provide good, quality, efficient care where we're doing what we do best," she said. "We count on community mental health nurses, social workers, on licensed psychiatric nurses and occupational therapists, rec therapists, to help our patients with those other very important areas of life that contribute to their mental health." Dr. Sara Dungavell splits her time between her Saskatoon clinic, where she provides support for members of the LGBT community, and northern Saskatchewan communities, including La Ronge, La Loche and Stony Rapids. (CBC) The north is particularly lacking the kinds of support people need to care for their mental health, Dungavell said. "The more the government actually pays for and supports this full team of people to work with each psychiatrist, the more efficient and effective we can be, the more psychiatrists will want to work here and the more we can stretch the limited resources that is psychiatry." Cancelled referrals uncommon: government, SHA The Saskatchewan Health Authority, the Psychiatry Referral Pool and the Ministry of Health sent a joint statement in response to questions about psychiatric referrals. "The capacity of pooled referral psychiatrists is significantly below the rate of incoming referrals," the statement said, but it's uncommon for psychiatrists to cancel referrals. While the statement said the departments can't comment on specific cases, they will "continue to look into the individual reasons why [cancellations] may occur in certain instances." Alternatives for family physicians include contacting the psychiatrist on call, contacting LINK — a provincial program that connects family physicians with psychiatrists — or contacting a psychiatrist who is not part of the referral pool. The statement said that in situations where a patient has been triaged and recommended for treatment other than psychiatry, "a letter always accompanies the return with information about the review and includes clear guidance on mental health access points as well as the phone number for the intake triage." 'Heartache and grief for the people of our province' Dr. Misfeldt said if this problem doesn't get solved, it will cause "more suicides, more marital breakup, more relationship deterioration, more heartache and grief for the people of our province." She's continuing to work with her patient who was denied access to the pooled referral program but she said it makes her feel "anxious and depressed" to hear about the long waits for psychiatric help. "These people are valuable people to our province and they are not functioning to their best ability and not participating in life." If you're experiencing suicidal thoughts or having a mental health crisis, help is available. For an emergency or crisis situation, call 911. You can also contact the Saskatchewan suicide prevention line toll-free, 24/7 by calling 1-833-456-4566, texting 45645, or chatting online. You can contact the Regina mobile crisis services suicide line at 306-525-5333 or Saskatoon mobile crisis line at 306-933-6200.
Local residents are upset over the city’s modular housing proposal at Trenton Avenue and Cedarvale Avenue citing concerns of appropriateness of the area and community safety regarding the future occupants of the building. The concerns have prompted an online community meeting on the evening of Monday, March 8. The project is part of the City of Toronto’s Housing Now initiative to make use of city-owned lands to address the lack of affordable housing. The modular housing proposal for Trenton and Cedarvale in East York aims to create a three-storey building with 64 studio apartments, self-contained with a private kitchen and bathroom each. It’s designed to help individuals who are exiting homelessness, and will be administered by a local non-profit housing provider under an agreement with the city. It’s not unlike the modular housing proposal at 11 Macey Ave. in southwest Scarborough that includes 56 studio apartments. That building – also designed to assist people exiting homelessness – opened on Dec. 19, 2020, eight months after city council approval. The “modular” part of the term essentially means pre-fabricated components of the building arrive onsite ready to construct. This allows the city to build the affordable units within the span of months, and not years. The Macey Avenue building had its own local opposition – several area residents, including the West Oakridge Neighbourhood Association wrote letters to the city, elected officials, planners, and media expressing concerns with “social problems associated with vagrancy and public intoxication” from people experiencing homelessness being moved into one area. With the Trenton Avenue site, a number of residents are also speaking in opposition. Global News was on the scene of a local protest at the parking lot near the Trenton site in late February, where residents referred to the lot as a community “hub.” Resident Steve Bland told Global News he’s not against providing affordable housing, but noted that increasing the population density in the area by adding the Trenton site “may not be the appropriate place” for “people going through the most troubling and difficult times of their lives with addiction and mental health issues.” The city-wide initiative to construct modular housing for people exiting homelessness is being released in phases. The Macey Avenue site was included in the project’s Phase 1, and now Trenton – which was approved just a few weeks ago – is part of Phase 2. In a letter to Beach Metro News, local resident Lars Bot, expressed concerns about the building’s proximity to Parkside Public School and Stan Wadlow Park, which are across the street. “The simple fact that a homeless shelter is planned across from a public school and park… shows how poor this program is planned,” he wrote. Local elected officials, including Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford and Beaches-East York MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith have also received a flurry of correspondence from residents. They both reminded residents that the modular housing buildings are housing and not shelters. Ali Raza, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Beach Metro News
As U.S. technology shares stumble, investors are debating whether the decline is an opportunity to scoop up bargains or a sign of more pain to come for stocks that have led markets higher for years. The Nasdaq Composite, an index heavily populated by tech and growth names, has slumped 8.3% since its Feb 12 closing record, over three times the decline for the S&P 500. Drops in popular growth stocks have been even steeper, with Tesla shares off 27% and Peloton down 32%.
LONDON — The timing couldn’t be worse for Harry and Meghan. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will finally get the chance to tell the story behind their departure from royal duties directly to the public on Sunday, when their two-hour interview with Oprah Winfrey is broadcast. But back home in Britain, events have conspired to overshadow the tale of a prince and his American bride. On top of the pandemic and record economic slump, Prince Philip, Harry’s 99-year-old grandfather is now recovering from a heart procedure. CBS announced the program Feb 15. The next day, Philip was admitted to hospital. “Harry and Meghan are hugely popular,’’ Pauline Maclaran, a professor of marketing and author of “Royal Fever: The British Monarchy in Consumer Culture,” told The Associated Press. “But I think that some people who might otherwise have supported them will find this just a little bit distasteful, that they’re drawing all this attention to themselves … just at this time when Prince Philip appears to be quite seriously ill.” Though it is the choice of CBS when to air its pre-recorded interview, critics are already lining up to deride it as a brand-building exercise by the pair, who left Britain saying they wanted to live a normal life but have been accused of continuing to use their royal status to open doors and make money. The sit-down with America’s queen of celebrity interviews is a chance for the couple to explain what led them to quit royal life, citing what they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media. A book about their departure, “Finding Freedom,” also alleges that senior royals had little respect for Meghan, a biracial former actor, and that courtiers treated her badly. Pre-released clips have already shown Harry talking about his fears that history would repeat itself after his mother, Princess Diana, died in a car crash while pursued by paparazzi. In another clip from the interview, Winfrey asks Meghan how she feels about the palace “hearing you speak your truth today?” “I don’t know how they could expect that, after all of this time, we would still just be silent if there was an active role that the firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us,” the duchess replies. “The firm” is a nickname for the royal family, sometimes used with affection and sometimes with a note of criticism. In another pre-released clip, Meghan told Winfrey how “liberating” it was to have a conversation with the television host without the input of royal minders. Ahead of the broadcast, relations with the palace are increasingly strained. First there was Queen Elizabeth II’s decision to strip Harry and Meghan of the handful of royal patronages they had retained in the one-year trial period following their departure last year. The couple responded with a terse statement promising to live a life of service — a move many in the U.K. saw as disrespectful to the queen, as she usually has the final word. Then on Wednesday, the palace said it was launching a human resources investigation after a newspaper reported that a former aide had accused Meghan of bullying staff in 2018. One of the authors of “Finding Freedom,’’ Omid Scobie, compared the recent commentary about Harry and Meghan in the British media to the Salem Witch Trials, while noting Americans have had more sympathy them. His tweet linked to a discussion on the U.S. television program “The View,’’ including comments from Meghan McCain, a conservative columnist and daughter of the late U.S. Sen. John McCain. “I think we can’t ignore the elephant of the room that there’s probably a racial angle to this,’’ McCain said. “There’s a lot of racism directed at this woman, in a lot of different ways she threatens a lot of people in the patriarchy. ... It just looks like they are bullying her in the press.’’ It was all supposed to be so different. At the time Harry started dating Meghan, the British public seemed smitten with the beautiful young woman who starred for seven seasons on the U.S. television drama “Suits.” When they married in 2018, newspapers were filled with optimistic stories about how the energetic couple would help make the monarchy relevant for a new, multicultural Britain. But less than two years later they decamped to North America. After a brief stay in Canada, the couple settled in Meghan’s home state of California, buying a house in the exclusive Santa Barbara County enclave of Montecito that reportedly cost more than $14 million. Among their neighbours: Oprah Winfrey. Then came deals with Netflix and Spotifiy, reportedly worth millions. The commercial deals and headline-grabbing amounts are uncomfortable for the royal family, which has devoted itself to public service as a justification for its wealth and privilege. The queen, among the richest people in Britain, has spent her life supporting charities, cutting ribbons at hospitals and travelling the world to represent her country. “The main thing that the royal family is so good at is serving the nation, serving the nation and the Commonwealth, basically serving us rather than serving themselves,’’ royal historian Hugo Vickers told ITV News. “And I’m sorry, if you’re sitting in an $11 million mansion in California and making fantastic deals, that is trading in on your royal heritage. And it’s all wrong, frankly.” Others are concerned that the interview will include damaging revelations about the royal family. The royals rarely grant interviews, and when they do the questions are usually narrowly focused on specific issues. For instance, Harry and his brother, William, have tried to remove the stigma from mental health problems by talking about their own struggles after the death of their mother. More free-ranging interviews have often gone badly. Interviews with Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Harry and William’s parents, around the time of their divorce led to embarrassing revelations about infidelity. More damaging for the palace was the interview Prince Andrew, Harry’s uncle, did with the BBC in 2019. Andrew tried to address rumours about his links with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, but he was forced to give up royal duties after failing to show empathy for Epstein’s victims. “I think it’s a bigger danger than the Prince Andrew car-crash interview,’’ Maclaran said of the Oprah interview, “because I think that Meghan is going to get a lot of sympathy, particularly from American audiences, about her position being untenable.” Regardless of what’s actually said, the interview is a threat to the stature of the monarchy because it further blurs the line between celebrity and royalty — tarnishing the royal mystique, Maclaran said. Late night chat show host James Corden underscored the threat to the royal brand during a tongue-in-cheek segment with Harry broadcast last week in which Corden suggested the prince and his wife might move into the mansion that provided the backdrop for the 1990s sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” “If it was good enough for the Fresh Prince, it’s good enough for a real prince,” Corden said. The line put Harry, whose father and brother will be king one day, on the same footing as a TV character who fled west Philadelphia for a posh life in Southern California. Royal watchers wonder what could possibly be next. “It’s just such a mess,” said Penny Junor, who has written several books about the royals, including a biography of Harry. “I don’t think there are going to be any winners in it.” Danica Kirka, The Associated Press
CALGARY — Projects that qualify to sell federal greenhouse gas emission credits to offset industrial carbon taxes will have to have been started in the past four years and go "beyond business-as-usual practices" under proposed regulations unveiled by Ottawa. To qualify for federal GHG credits, projects must be situated in Canada, have been started after Jan. 1, 2017, and offer "real, additional, quantified, unique and permanent GHG reductions," Environment and Climate Change Canada said Friday. Some of those provisions are concerning for Canadian farmers because they mean the sector won't be rewarded for responsible practices they've been adopting for decades, said Drew Spoelstra, a grain and dairy farmer who is also a vice-president with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. "Farmers have been doing a lot of good environmental work for a number of years. This didn't just happen overnight," he said on Friday. "We've been doing things like following no-tilling and best management practices for a generation almost." He added there's a potential for farmers to be a "huge generator of credits" if the federal program is set up properly, adding the OFA intends to take part in a 60-day comment period ending May 5. Final regulations are to be established by next fall. In a briefing, department officials said Friday the federal program will not compete with credits generated under similar programs offered in provinces such as Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec but will instead complement provincial programs. Approved carbon offsets can only be used once, they said, adding one credit will be issued for each tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent reduced or removed from the environment. The projects will have to be registered, approved, monitored and face third-party verification before credits can be sold to industrial buyers for use to offset their applicable greenhouse gas emissions and thus reduce their carbon tax costs. In December, Ottawa announced a $15-billion plan to meet its climate change commitments that included steady annual increases to its carbon tax from $50 per tonne in 2022 to $170 per tonne by 2030. Canada wants to get to a 32-per-cent reduction in emissions by 2030, slightly more than its 30-per-cent Paris agreement commitment. The department said Friday it will be developing protocols going forward to govern regulations for various types of offsets. On Friday, it unveiled proposed protocols for advanced refrigeration system upgrading, landfill methane reductions, and forest and agricultural land management. It said the duration of the crediting period would be up to 30 years for forestry projects, up to 20 years for other biological sequestration projects and eight years for all other project types. Monitoring for the biological carbon sequestration projects will have to be submitted annually for the crediting period and 100 years after, it said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. Dan Healing, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The approval of a fourth COVID-19 vaccine and news of accelerated deliveries for another had government officials taking an optimistic tone Friday about the path of the pandemic in Canada. "We can be really increasingly optimistic in our outlook and that is really great," said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, at a news conference in Ottawa. Her excitement grew out of news that Health Canada has now authorized the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for use here. It joins vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca among the offerings now available to Canadians. It is the first and only vaccine Canada is buying that is a single dose, and is deemed safe and effective for all adults. "Assessing all the data, we concluded that there was strong evidence that showed that the benefits of this vaccine outweigh the potential risks," said Dr. Supriya Sharma, chief medical adviser at Health Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said Pfizer will ship 1.5 million more doses of its vaccine to Canada this month, and two million more in the spring. That means instead of getting 12.5 million doses from Pfizer between now and the end of June, Canada will get 15.5 million doses. Procurement Minister Anita Anand said in total Canada now has confirmed deliveries of 36.5 million doses of vaccines by Canada Day, which would be more than enough to get a single dose to each adult Canadian by then. That doesn't include any of the 10 million doses purchased from Johnson & Johnson, and includes none of the 20 million doses coming directly from AstraZeneca. Anand says some of those are to be delivered in the spring, and all of them by the end of September, but specific delivery dates aren't yet firm. After being burned by production and delivery delays last month that saw Canada's vaccine rollout performance pale in comparison to most of its allies, the Liberals are reluctant to adjust their formal timeline of getting every Canadian the chance to be inoculated by the end of September. "What we are hearing today is important news, but we need to ensure that those delivery schedules are firm before we can discuss changing that timeline," said Anand. Still Tam said with most Canadians now likely to be vaccinated earlier than expected, at least with first doses, this winter should be the end of the worst the pandemic will offer. "I think my optimism is that this following fall is going to look quite different to the preceding one," said Tam. While every vaccine except Johnson & Johnson's is given in two doses, every province is moving to implement new guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization that those doses should be spaced out up to four months, rather than three or four weeks. That is being done to get more people vaccinated with a first dose, after real-world evidence showed strong data that one dose is highly effective on its own. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a modified common-cold virus to carry a piece of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 to convince the body to mount an immune response to prevent future COVID-19 infections. Clinical trials found it to be 66 per cent effective against moderate illness from COVID-19, 85 per cent effective against severe illness, and 100 per cent effective against death. Sharma stressed that all vaccines authorized in Canada will protect Canadians from severe illness and death, and won't be effective at all if Canadians don't get them. "Our advice to Canadians is to get whichever vaccine is available to you," she said. "It's that simple. The longer you wait to get vaccinated, the longer the time goes by that you are not protected." Dr. Ebele Ola, vice-president of medical affairs for Johnson & Johnson's pharmaceutical arm, Janssen, said data showed the vaccine to be effective against the viral variants of concern that appear to be more contagious. Ola said the vaccine was tested in the United States, South America and South Africa, and it was extremely effective at preventing severe illness in places the variants were common. She echoed Sharma's call for Canadians not to hold out for a specific vaccine, but rather to marvel in the "remarkable" achievement of so many effective vaccines being available. "The best vaccine is the one that is offered," said Ola. Nearly 1.7 million Canadians have now been vaccinated with at least one dose, and the pace of vaccinations has quickened in the last two weeks. In the last seven days, more than 457,000 people were vaccinated, 2 1/2 times as many as in a similar period two weeks before. While all Canadian adults can now expect their turns to get vaccines will come in the next few months, children are going to wait a lot longer. Sharma said clinical trials are underway to see if any or all of the approved vaccines are safe and effective for children. Data for teenagers is going to come first, followed by that for children under 12. "Potentially, by the end of the calendar year, we might have some answers for children," she said. There remains only one more vaccine currently under review by Health Canada, called Novavax, but it is still completing its clinical trials, and doesn't expect data any earlier than late March. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. Mia Rabson and Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the U.S. was the first country to approve the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Feb. 26.
TORONTO — As expected, Toronto FC will join the Raptors and Blue Jays in Florida for the start of the Major League Soccer season. Toronto will stay in the Orlando area, training at the Omni Resort at ChampionsGate some 35 kilometres southwest of Orlando Airport. The team said it can play home matches in both Orlando and Tampa. Orlando City SC plays at Exploria Stadium while the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the USL Championship play at the 7,500-seat Al Lang Stadium in nearby St. Petersburg, where CF Montreal has held its training camp in the past, The team said its stay in Florida will be contingent upon health and safety regulations as borders reopen in Canada. The Raptors are playing out of Amalie Arena in Tampa while the Blue Jays, who played in Buffalo, N.Y., last season, are holding their first two homestands in nearby Dunedin. TFC finished out the 2020 season in East Hartford, Conn., due to pandemic-related border restrictions. The team played just four games at BMO Field last season. The team is no stranger to ChampionsGate, having held part of its pre-season camp there in past years. A short walk across the hotel golf course leads to training fields. TFC is currently training under the bubble at the club's north Toronto training centre and at BMO Field, whose pitch has underground heating. The team was granted permission to open camp early, on Feb. 17, to prepare for the Canadian Championship final against Hamilton's Forge FC. The winner of that match advances to a two-legged Scotiabank Champions League round-of-16 tie against Mexico's Club Leon. The return leg is April 14. The MLS regular season is slated to kick off April 17. The date and venue of the Canadian Championship final have yet to be announced, although March 20 has been floated. Time is short given the March 22-30 FIFA international window features both World Cup and Olympic qualifying. --- Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021 Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
Tofino, BC - For the majority of Steve Howard’s life, he lived by the phrase, “real men don’t cry.” “Back in my day we were always taught not to cry,” he said. “We were always taught not to feel. So, we grew up kind of tough. Whatever we held in, we kept in.” It’s a mindset that the Tla-o-qui-aht man is trying to shift by encouraging his four sons to openly share their feelings. And yet, his past traumas of physical, mental and sexual abuse continue to hold him back. “We all have troubles and we all have flaws,” he said. “We don’t share our stories. Sexual abuse is a really big thing that happened to First Nations people – not just in Tla-o-qui-aht, but all over Canada and the United States. We as men don’t express that feeling of being raped, not just by a priest but by [our] own family members.” Noticing a gap in men’s support, Howard, Chris Seitcher, Dwayne Martin, Craig Devine and William Goodbird formed a men’s group and started hosting informal men’s circles in Ty-Histanis in the Fall of 2017. While they noticed options for women, youth and elders, there wasn’t a place for men to come together. For Howard, the men’s circle provided him a safe space to share his story without fear of judgement. In turn, he encouraged the men around him to “feel strong enough to express who they are.” “Everybody’s story helped my journey,” he said. “It’s the growth of knowing that I’m not alone in this world.” In those early stages, the men’s group struggled to host regular circles because they didn’t have a consistent space to gather in. The setback meant attendance was scarce and yet its impact started to pulse throughout the nation. “One of the key things that we noticed was it started a conversation in and around the community,” said Devine. “These men would [return] home from our men’s gathering and be totally high as a kite on the good vibe of everything. They brought that energy back home with them and their wives noticed it and their kids noticed it. We started really wanting to build on that.” Eventually, the group of volunteers secured a space within the nation’s health centre and three to 18 men started regularly attending. Through sweats, brushings, singing, drumming and talking circles, the group aimed to integrate a more ancestral approach to dealing with trauma. “We communicate our emotions in a different way, or the way that we were taught,” said Seitcher, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation cultural support worker. "Sometimes expressing them will come out through yelling, swearing or causing harm to another person.” While there is no excuse for that behaviour, Seitcher said the men’s group is trying to shift those forms of expression through connection and ceremony. “If we are able to truly work on ourselves and truly heal, we are able to be in the moment,” he said. “We are able to live for today. We’re able to see and be connected with the people that we meet and talk to – with our families and loved ones. We won’t sit with the things that were done in the past. We won’t sit with the hurts that have happened in the past. It will come up – those hurts and those pains – but we have to allow it to flow through our bodies so that we can let it go.” As momentum started to build, the First Nations Health Authority stepped in last year and provided a significant amount of funding for the group. Despite being unable to gather due to COVID-19 restrictions, Seitcher, Devine and Naomi Seitcher, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation community services manager, have been working to formalize the group, which has been named, ƛ̓iik̓pitap taqumł. Levi Martin offered the name, which means “to build a solid foundation for the community.” “It always makes me feel good when people are wanting to do something to make changes in themselves, in their families and communities,” he said. They landed on the name because the structure of a house cannot stand without the foundation, said Seitcher. “Each one of us in the community can be that foundation,” he said. “If one person heals, the hope is that the next person heals too. If we heal as a community, the next generation will be that much better off.” By letting go of the past, Seitcher said the community will be able to “move forward in a good way.” Looking ahead, ƛ̓iik̓pitap taqumł plans to provide an open, consistent space where Tla-o-qui-aht men can gather and grow through ceremony, health programming and cultural learning. By supporting men in their healing journey through connection, Howard said the men’s group is a tool “to speak your mind.” “A lot of us are too scared to speak,” he said. “But once you learn how to speak, then you learn how to stand. And once you learn how to stand, you learn how to walk. It’s learning how to move forward again.” Melissa Renwick, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Ha-Shilth-Sa
Cecilia Carroll has been waiting weeks for her mail-in ballot kit to arrive, and is now worried that, with just days left to send her ballot back in, she won't be able to vote in a provincial election for the first time in her adult life. Carroll, who lives in Torbay, applied three weeks ago to get her special ballot kit so she would be able to vote by mail. As of Friday morning, it hadn't yet shown up. Carroll has called Elections Newfoundland and Labrador twice, and followed up with an email, but has been told it's on its way, and there's nothing else to do but wait for it to show up. But Carroll said living with a disability means there are external factors she's worried about that could prevent her from being able to send her ballot in before the postmark deadline of March 12. "My biggest concern is getting it back in the mail in time. Like, for me, you're dropping it in a community mailbox because you can't go to the post office, so I don't know what time that gets picked up and taken to the post office," Carroll said. There's nothing else I can do. - Cecilia Carroll "I need to have … it back in the mail at least by Wednesday, because then it's not getting picked up until Thursday and then it had to go to the post office to be postmarked for Friday." That's a best-case scenario, at this point, Carroll said; if her community mailbox gets snowed in, and she has to wait for it to be shovelled out, that could mean she can't get her kit sent out in time. "If we have a snowstorm Monday or Tuesday, I'm not gonna be able to get to my mailbox, so I won't be able to vote," Carroll said. "And I can honestly say I've never missed voting in an election since I became old enough to vote." Carroll is worried, too, that she's not alone. Carroll says it can sometimes take days for snow to be cleared from community mailboxes, meaning people living with a physical disability, like her, might not be able to send their ballots by the deadline if there's a storm.(Margaret Boothroyd/Submitted) "I truly believe there will be a lot of people with disabilities who will not be able to vote in this election. I mean, when you go to a polling station, there's someone there to help you if you need help. If you're living alone and you're in the middle of a pandemic, you may not feel comfortable having someone come to your home because you could have underlying health issues and you could risk getting COVID," she said. "I think there will be a lot of people who will just decide not to because it will be easier than trying to go through the process of trying to get somebody to help them, and not everybody is willing to speak up or call and complain or ask questions." 'You shouldn't have to do that' The provincial election was moved to mail-in only last month, after an outbreak of coronavirus variant B117 put the province into Alert Level 5 lockdown less than 12 hours before polls were set to open on Feb. 13. In-person voting had been scrapped just days before that for nearly half of the province's electoral districts, in eastern Newfoundland, due to spiking case numbers and mass resignation of poll station staff. This week, chief electoral officer Bruce Chaulk, confirmed he hand-delivered ballot kits to some people in his neighbourhood, including Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie and Liberal candidate Siobhan Coady. For people like Carroll still waiting to see if they'll get a ballot in time, that shows there's something amiss. "Great, if they're delivering them to everyone who hasn't gotten one. No one has said that that's an option. But to me, you shouldn't have to do that. You're supposed to have a process in place that's accessible for everyone, regardless of disability or mobility issues or whatever," she said. "If you're a person with a visual disability, who helps you fill out your ballot? Where's your template to complete that? Or who reads it for you so that you know what's written on it? Those types of things, I don't know what they've been included in the process this time around because it's a mail-in ballot.… There's nothing extra there telling you what to do if you're a person with a disability who needs assistance with voting." Former CBC broadcaster Karl Wells tweeted his thanks to the province's chief electoral officer, Tuesday, after receiving a call from Bruce Chaulk.(Karl Wells/Twitter) Dozens of commenters on social media called the election a "mess," and asked whether they, too, should expect their ballots to be hand delivered. "This is nothing short of showing favouritism to those in the public eye," wrote on commenter on CBC N.L.'s Facebook post. "All citizens must be treated in the same manner. How did he even find those ballots, was he in the mailroom flicking through them, to find people he knows?" wrote another commenter. Indigenous voters, too, are feeling excluded, according to two candidates in Labrador who say Elections NL reneged on a commitment to distribute election materials that had been translated into Newfoundland and Labrador's Indigenous languages, which include Inuktitut, Innu-aimun and Mi'kmaw. Carroll said she worries the thousands of people in the province who live with disabilities may not get to cast a ballot. "Honestly I don't know, but I feel that there's probably way too many people out there, in my heart and soul, who are not gonna vote because it's gonna be too complicated for them to do it," she said. Carroll said she'll keep waiting for the mail-in kit to arrive, in the hopes that nothing else will happen to hinder her vote. "If I don't get it today, I guess I'm back on the phone again. I mean, there's nothing else I can do." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said Friday she is issuing an executive order mandating that all K-12 public schools provide universal access to in-person learning by the month’s end for students up to fifth grade and by mid-April for older students. The state’s coronavirus case numbers have fallen significantly and Oregon put teachers ahead of older residents in the line for the COVID-19 vaccine — a decision that angered many people age 65 and up. As teachers get vaccinated, Brown has been under tremendous pressure from parents and local elected officials in many counties to reopen schools. Many teachers' unions nationally have balked at returning to in-person learning, putting them at odds with Democratic governors like Brown in some states. In neighbouring Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee has implored educators to return to the classroom, but most students there are in on-line classes and the Seattle teachers' union is defying a district plan to return special education students to schools. Under the Oregon order, students in K-5 must have an in-person learning option by March 29. Students in grades six through 12 must have one by April 19. Students who prefer to remain in online class will also have the option. “The science is very, very clear: with proper safety measures in place, there is a low risk of COVID-19 transmission in school. Oregon parents can be confident about sending their children back to a classroom learning environment," Brown said in a statement, after visiting a Portland school. Brown has previously said about 20% of Oregon public school students were back to in-person learning. Rylee Ahnen, spokesman for the Oregon Education Association, said in a statement teachers support returning to the classroom if it can be done safely. He said educators understand teachers' frustration. “We urge all our local school districts to continue to work in good faith with local educators,” Ahnen said. The union represents 44,000 K-12 teachers across Oregon. Most students in Oregon have been learning online for the better part of a year. Some school districts have returned to part-time in-person learning, mostly at the elementary level. Brown said all but six counties in the state currently meet or exceed the advisory metrics for a return to in-person, hybrid learning for all grade levels. Five of the counties that do not yet meet the guidelines for all grade levels do make the cut-off for a return to elementary school. After those dates, all public schools in Oregon will operate either on a full-day of in-person school or a hybrid model, in which students spend parts of the day or some days each week in a classroom setting and other parts of the day or week online. The approach that districts choose will be dictated by COVID-19 case numbers in their county and local decision-making, officials said. The Salem-Keizer School District, the states's second largest after Portland, announced Friday that it would welcome middle and high school students back to a hybrid model that combines in-person learning and distance learning starting April 13. Elementary students in the district have already been back in class on a hybrid model. Gillian Flaccus, The Associated Press
Mourners left flowers and hockey sticks outside the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre in Brantford, Ont., on Friday. The city is mourning Walter Gretzky, a fixture in the community, who died Thursday at age 82.
Five local health coalitions continued their efforts to transform Ontario’s long-term care home policies and funding structure with a virtual protest held this week. Chatham-Kent long-term care (LTC) representatives and family members of LTC residents shared stories from the front lines. The event was organized by the Ontario Health Coalition and joining them were other Southwestern Ontario LTC representatives. “Mr. Ford announced back in December that there will not be any increase in funding for staffing until April of 2022. That's woefully inadequate and it doesn't help our long-term care loved ones now,” said Shirley Roebuck, chair of the Chatham-Kent and Sarnia chapters. “So what we are pushing for is for the government to make legitimate realistic increases in funding and mandate better staffing and staff mixes, as well as infection control and safety.” The event was held via Zoom and live casted on Facebook. The protest received more than 1,600 views. Lucinda Allaer, a Sarnia resident whose 88-year-old dad, George, is currently living at Fairfield Park long-term care home in Wallaceburg, spoke of her experiences. “He's always filled with the joy of life and he has a wicked sense of humour. He used to carry around a fake finger in his pocket, which he would joyfully slip into his friend's sandwich and then just sit back and wait for the enduring drama to subside...I mentioned that because it's such a big difference to who he is today. My dad no longer laughs at all since he transitioned into long-term care.” The Wallaceburg home recently underwent a COVID outbreak affecting 100 people. Two people died from COVID-19 and two other residents passed away from other causes after testing positive. “My dad cries all of the time,” Allaer said. “He talks about suicide. He asks me to help him to die.” The organizers also held a tribute for all residents and staff that died of COVID-19. To date 146 LTC residents and one staff member passed away from the virus in Southwestern Ontario. In Ontario, 3,756 of its 7,024 COVID-19 deaths have been in long-term homes. Eleven of those individuals were staff members and the rest residents. The protest made a call-to-action, asking residents to email their local MPPs demanding better staffing and funding for long-term care. Rick Nicholls, MPP for Chatham-Kent-Leamington was sitting in the house and unavailable for comment. Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition, called the province’s staffing plan “woefully inadequate” and said it should look to Quebec where 10,000 personal support worker equivalents were brought in over the summer, trained in three months, and deployed in homes before the second wave hit. “(Staffing) was in crisis prior to the pandemic, and we have lost a significant proportion of the staff during the pandemic,” she said. “Staffing levels are now the lowest that we've ever seen across Southwestern Ontario.” Mehra said the government’s staffing plan, released in December, “embraces” what the health coalition has been lobbying for in the past decade which is a minimum care standard of four hours of hands on care for residents each day. However, the beginning of those changes, which is expected to add 15 additional minutes of care per resident per day, will only be implemented in April 2022. The full plan will be implemented by 2025. “It's about the same number of staff that get trained each year anyway. And we have lost at least a third of the staff in the first wave and more in the second wave. So we've lost more than 15 minutes of care through the pandemic, on average per resident anyway. So this is cruelly slow,” Mehra said. She added that the average lifespan of residents in long-term care homes is between 18 months and two years, so many will pass away before these changes are implemented. Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice
Nunavut's Department of Environment and the Kivalliq Wildlife Board (KWB) are teaming up to take a closer look at the impacts the road for Meliadine Mine near Rankin Inlet is having on migrating caribou. Mitch Campbell, a wildlife biologist with the government in Arviat, Nunavut, told CBC News the partnership program is still being developed. The goal is "to get a sense of the impacts and then how we might be able to work with the different stakeholders to try and figure out ways of mitigating those impacts," Campbell said. Agnico Eagle, which owns and operates the gold mine, has faced recurring criticism from the government, communities and Inuit organizations on their analysis of impacts to caribou from their mining operations. For example, the Nunavut government and the Kivalliq Inuit Association (KIA) raised concerns about Agnico's caribou monitoring and data analysis in the company's 2019's annual report. The company changed their proposed plans to run two pipelines from Meliadine to Melvin Bay, over 30 kilometres away, after community outcry about impacts to caribou. Protestors set up a blockade outside of Meliadine Mine in March 2020 to protest the mine's operations during COVID-19.(Submitted by Marvin Dion) And at a roundtable meeting held last month to discuss burying those pipelines, Agnico presented a scientific analysis of the mining road's impact on caribou that the government, the KWB and the KIA have roundly criticized. Campbell said Agnico's latest analysis presented at that meeting contradicted the impacts on caribou that community members across the Kivalliq have observed. "This is one of the reasons why the [government of Nunavut] is moving forward with a partner program with the Kivalliq Wildlife Board," he said. "So that we can get a better sense of how to fix those flaws with that original report." Work done by the new partnership will be provided to all stakeholders in order to inform mitigation efforts moving forward, he added. Data sharing tensions But the Kivalliq Wildlife Board and the government of Nunavut have not always seen eye-to-eye on sharing data. Clayton Tartak, research coordinator with the board, said that the government has refused to share information to the Nunavut Impact Review Board's (NIRB) public registry in the past. Tartak told CBC News that at technical hearings about Meadowbank's mining road held in Baker Lake in 2019, the government refused to provide two studies it had done on impacts of the road to migrating caribou. "That's concerning," Tartak said. "The Baker Lake hunters and trappers organization [HTO] asked in 2019 that those reports be shared to the impact review board and to date that hasn't happened." Agnico Eagle's Meliadine gold mine is 25 kilometres north of Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. (Submitted by Agnico Eagle) Interested parties up-to-date: government Casey Lessard, communications manager with Nunavut's Department of Environment, told CBC in an email that the government has "kept interested parties up-to-date on their research." Lessard provided links to two documents — two versions of the same report on seasonal caribou migration around the Meadowbank mine and associated road. The first document, a draft report, was uploaded to the NIRB registry in 2017. The second document was completed in July 2020, Lessard said — nearly a year after the NIRB's technical hearing during which the Baker Lake HTO asked that the report be uploaded to the NIRB registry. Lessard said the second, final document has been uploaded to the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board's website.
A resident of Haliburton County has died due to COVID-19, according to an epidemiological report update from the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge district health unit on March 4. The death marks the first local recorded COVID-19 related death of the pandemic, which was declared in March 2020. Confirmed deaths are individuals who died and had a positive laboratory test for COVID-19, according to the health unit. To date, the local health unit has seen 67 deaths related to COVID-19 – 54 confirmed, and 13 probable. “While the health unit cannot provide specifics about an individual case, there was unfortunately a recent death of a Haliburton County resident due to COVID-19,” said Chandra Tremblay, spokesperson for the HKPRD health unit, on March 5. “The person had been hospitalized outside of the region for a non-COVID related issue and acquired COVID while in hospital.” As there have not been any local positive cases of COVID-19 confirmed by the health unit in almost a month, the report of the death was confusing for those following Haliburton County's daily case updates, and the Echo sought further clarification from the health unit to explain the data update. “HKPRDHU was notified of the case earlier in February and the person was included in our case count as of February 10,” said Tremblay. “The person remained in hospital, but due to issues with the data system, they were not included in our hospitalization or active case counts. The error was recently discovered, but the person had already died, and the death was reported in the health unit counts yesterday.” As of March 4, in Haliburton County the health unit was reporting no current unresolved cases of COVID-19, two current high-risk contacts, and 51 confirmed cases to date. In City of Kawartha Lakes there are currently 11 unresolved cases and 37 high-risk contacts, with a total to date of 542, and in Northumberland County, there are currently 10 unresolved cases and 91 current high-risk contacts for a total of 1,037 confirmed cases. The HKPRD health unit posts data reports daily from Monday through Saturday at http://www.hkpr.on.ca. Sue Tiffin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Minden Times
The Northwest Territories government must do more to eliminate systemic racism, its politicians declared during a session dedicated to the subject at the territorial legislature this week. Members of the N.W.T. Legislative Assembly ended Wednesday’s session by passing a motion requesting that the government, known as the GNWT, review its policies and determine where any racial and cultural bias may exist. Moved by Thebacha MLA Frieda Martselos, the motion requests an examination of policies related to education, health and social services, justice, housing, and government hiring. “This motion is very much in line with my entire life philosophy of improving government for the people we serve. I have been fighting my entire adult life for the betterment of Black, brown, and Indigenous people,” said Martselos, the former chief of the Salt River First Nation. “Racism takes many different forms, especially in government. Gaps in cultural barriers have always been a problem. Affirmative action and the procurement policy are prime examples of bureaucratic systemic racism. This has to change. Only then, we will make a difference.” Premier Caroline Cochrane and her six fellow cabinet members abstained from the vote on Martselos' motion, as is convention for such motions brought to the House by regular MLAs, but said they were in favour of it. The territorial government has about four months to respond to the motion. What that response may look like remains unclear. Some MLAs used Wednesday's themed session to address personal experiences of systemic racism, while others discussed how to make policies more equitable. Steve Norn, the MLA for Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh, said action must follow Wednesday's discussion to ensure real change occurs. Deh Cho MLA Ron Bonnetrouge, who seconded Martselos' motion, said he had felt racism first-hand from a range of institutions, describing "lots of racist overtones happening to our people." Lesa Semmler, the Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA, said recent steps in the right direction had still to eliminate many barriers. “It’s very hard, steering this ship in a new direction with the obstacles that we have. We have not enough money from our federal government to correct the past policies that were created to try to eradicate or assimilate Indigenous people, that caused more damage,” Semmler said. “There is much more that needs to be done to correct the damage history has caused to the Indigenous people of this territory.” Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been on the 19th Legislative Assembly’s to-do list since this set of MLAs was elected in 2019. That process has moved slowly. In November, a Special Committee on Reconciliation and Indigenous Affairs said it was working to begin the process of implementing the declaration. On Wednesday, Premier Caroline Cochrane reinforced the need to adopt the declaration and to “ingrain these principles into our legislation, policies, and institutions.” “We are committed to learning from the mistakes of the past and moving on from colonial and outdated ways of thinking," Cochrane said. "We must embrace the principles of the United Nations declaration and the principles of anti-racism in the way that we approach all of our mandate commitments." Great Slave MLA Katrina Nokleby questioned how the GNWT is combating racism in hiring practices. She asked whether hiring targets will be implemented for senior levels of management. Finance minister Caroline Wawzonek, who carries responsibility for human resources, said an Indigenous recruitment and retainment framework would in the coming year introduce departmental hiring targets that extend beyond entry-level positions. She said the territory will launch an anti-racism campaign from March 16 to April 21 that “will encourage all GNWT employees to challenge their beliefs and attitudes around racism.” “Systemic racism hides in plain sight," Wawzonek said. “We recognize that, in order to eliminate systemic racism in the N.W.T., we must build a culture of anti-racism within the public service.” The implementation of mandatory cultural awareness training for employees has yet to be completed. The N.W.T.'s affirmative action policy is under review. Health minister Julie Green vowed to address racism in all its forms in the N.W.T.’s health department and health authorities. “Research shows that Indigenous peoples experience a disproportionate amount of negative health and social outcomes in comparison to non-Indigenous people,” Green said. “It is our responsibility as a government to address this inequity directly by making sure that all aspects of the Health and Social Services system are culturally respectful and safe for Indigenous peoples. "This also includes respecting Indigenous understandings of health and wellness and finding ways to accommodate traditional healing in our system.” Green said a cultural safety action plan released in 2019 had so far resulted in 13 cultural safety training sessions involving 225 healthcare or social services workers. The sessions teach people about Indigenous medicine, residential schools and intergenerational impacts, and racism at interpersonal and systemic levels. Green said an N.W.T. cultural safety framework being developed will be reviewed by health and social services staff as well as an Indigenous advisory board. Most of that work, the minister said, will come from a unit of almost entirely Indigenous staff from across the territory. Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio