With meteorologist Jaclyn Whittal
With meteorologist Jaclyn Whittal
Canada's health officials spoke about the recent change in guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on the time between two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and how that may contribute to vaccine hesitancy in Canada.
County council agreed to support a movement for improvements at long-term care (LTC) homes, though disagreed with local advocates’ desire to end for-profit homes. Council voted to write a letter of support for the Haliburton-CKL (City of Kawartha Lakes) Long-Term Care Coalition. The advocacy group is joining with others across the province to push for improvements, including amending the Canada Health Act to include LTC, guaranteeing four hours of direct care per day for residents, stronger enforcement and a culture change. Councillors spoke in favour of those ideas. But the coalition’s desire to end private LTC did not garner support and was specifically excluded in the resolution. “The first four points that you have, I think, are a bold initiative and a great start,” Coun. Brent Devolin said. “The supply going forward, will public initiatives alone be enough to look after all of us?” Coalition co-chair, Bonnie Roe, cited the Ontario Health Coalition, a province-wide organization also calling for the end to for-profit long-term care. Its May 2020 analysis found COVID-19 deaths in homes with outbreaks were higher in private (nine per cent) versus non-profit (5.25 per cent) or publicly-owned (3.62 per cent). The Canadian military also released a report about terrible conditions at homes it intervened in last May, which prompted the province to start an independent commission. Four of those homes were privately-owned. “There are some for-profits that are excellent, but generally speaking, they do not follow the standards,” Roe said. “People are asking, ‘why are there private profits attached to us as a society caring for our elders’?” co-chair, Mike Perry, said. “Why was that ever seen as a profit-making venture?” Warden Liz Danielsen said the Eastern Ontario Warden’s Caucus has identified LTC as a priority. But she added the caucus is not yet in favour of ending private facilities. Coun. Carol Moffatt said she can attest to the challenges of eldercare and there is a drastic need for better support for health workers. “More people to do the job,” Moffatt said. “We also maybe need to be careful of what you wish for in terms of potential downloading. How do we all as a province push for the changes that are required, without it going off the cliff and then landing in the laps of municipalities for increased costs?” Perry thanked council for the support. “There’s so much common room and so much common ground for this moving forward,” he said. “That’s where we find hope in all this tragedy recently." Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
NEW YORK — Long before she became a Tony Award-winning choreographer, Ann Reinking waited tables to save up enough money to move to New York City. She arrived with $500, no job lined up and no connections. When she died at 71 last year, Reinking left behind many fans, friends and students as well as a legacy of a cool, muscular dance hybrid of jazz and burlesque. In her honour, friends and admirers have established The Ann Reinking Scholarship, a $5,000 annual award and mentorship for a young dancer moving to New York City to help support them in their artistic endeavours. “She was one of the most profoundly generous people that I’ve known,” says Bebe Neuwirth, a two-time Tony winner who co-starred with Reinking in “Chicago” on Broadway. “This honours that in a way that also references her story of coming to New York.” The scholarship is being awarded by Off the Lane, a mentorship program for young performers moving to New York. It will be open to anyone, from anywhere, with a cut-off age of 21. “Teaching to her was such an important part of her, mentoring and nurturing new artists and helping them along the way,” said Neuwirth. “I think to have a scholarship in her name keeps that generosity of spirit going.” Trained as a ballet dancer in her native Seattle, Reinking was known for her bold style of dance epitomized by her work in the hit revival of “Chicago,” complete with net stockings, chair dancing and plenty of pelvic thrusts. Reinking co-starred as Roxie Hart along with Neuwirth’s Velma, and created the choreography “in the style of Bob Fosse,” the show’s original director and choreographer who died in 1987. She and Fosse worked together for 15 years and she was also his lover for several of them. Her movie credits include “Annie” (1982), “Movie, Movie” (1978) and the documentary “Mad Hot Ballroom” (2005), which portrayed Reinking as a ballroom-dance competition judge for New York City kids. Reinking’s work on “Chicago” earned her a 1997 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards. Reinking replicated its choreography in productions throughout the world. Mindy Cooper, who was a swing in that 1996 “Chicago” revival, recalls once asking Reinking career advice that changed the arc of her career. She also remembers Reinking one day bringing her son to rehearsals at “Chicago,” an encouraging signal that Broadway dancers could also have a family life. “She created such a safe environment for performers to bring to the room with courage and artistry,” said Cooper, now a professor of theatre and dance at University of California, Davis. “Annie grew up in the ballet world like myself and came to theatre from ballet. So we wanted to make a scholarship that could embrace all forms of dance.” The advisory board for the scholarship includes Cooper, Neuwirth and such Broadway luminaries as Chita Rivera, Joel Grey, Tommy Tune, Marilu Henner, Hinton Battle, Charlotte d’Amboise, Reinking's husband, Peter Talbert, and son, Chris Reinking Stuart. ___ Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press
Political leaders in New Caledonia on Thursday agreed new terms for the sale of Vale's nickel business, including a majority stakeholding for local interests, seeking to resolve unrest over the planned sale. The deal signed by pro-independence and loyalist leaders in the French Pacific territory also cited a "technical and industrial partnership" with Tesla, under which the electric car company would source raw materials for batteries. Brazilian miner Vale's decision last year to sell its nickel mine and processing plant to a consortium including Swiss commodity trader Trafigura sparked fierce opposition from pro-independence groups.
OTTAWA — The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times eastern): 10:50 a.m. Nova Scotia is reporting three new cases of COVID-19. Health officials say all three cases were identified in the health region that includes Halifax. Two cases involve contacts of previously reported infections while the third is under investigation. Nova Scotia has 29 active reported cases of COVID-19. --- 10:40 a.m. Ontario is reporting 994 new cases of COVID-19. Health Minister Christine Elliott says that 298 of those new cases are in Toronto, 171 are in Peel and 64 are in York Region. There were 10 more deaths in Ontario since the last daily update and more than 30,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine administered. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
NASA's Perseverance Mars rover has continued to send stunning images of the red planet back to Earth. In this moment, an incredible shot of the Sun from the Martian surface was captured. Credit to "NASA/JPL-Caltech".
American attitudes toward China have soured significantly in the past three years, with 70% of those surveyed for a report published on Thursday saying Washington should stand up to Beijing over its human rights record even if it damages economic ties. Nearly 9 in 10 respondents to a Pew Research Center survey of more than 2,500 Americans conducted in February said they saw China, the world's second largest economy, as a competitor or enemy rather than a partner, the U.S.-based center said. "Americans want more focus on human rights – even at the expense of economic ties – in bilateral relations with China," the report said.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford regularly refers to his local MPPs as “champions”. Introducing riding representatives at his now discontinued daily briefings, Ford heaped praise on the work local Progressive Conservatives do for their communities. In Mississauga and Brampton, a recent vote at Queen’s Park has left municipal officials and constituents wondering why Ford’s MPPs don’t listen to those they’re supposed to “champion”. On Monday, PC MPPs in Brampton and Mississauga voted with their party to strike down an NDP Bill to give workers in Ontario permanent and pandemic-specific paid sick days. The vote was a direct contraction of requests made by the cities the MPPs are elected to represent. Paid sick days are something the Official Opposition has been pushing for months. Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown and his Mississauga counterpart Bonnie Crombie have also been making the demand continually, with workplace transmission in Peel Region a major barrier to bringing the pandemic under control. It’s a major reason why Peel, unlike most of Ontario, remains under a stay-at-home-order. Dr. Lawrence Loh, the Region’s medical officer of health, the man tasked with managing pandemic response in Ontario’s hardest hit area, has vocally backed the calls. Research completed by Peel Public Health illustrates the impact of not having paid sick days in the region. Workplaces, many of which remain open in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga, have been a major source of the novel coronavirus transmission in Peel. Between August and January, 66 percent of all confirmed community outbreaks in the region took place in workplaces. In August, workplace transmission was the most common likely source of infection that resulted in spread within households. The threat is especially pervasive in Peel because of the number of essential jobs the area hosts and due to the large percentage of residents who work in these sectors, including those who have to commute outside the region. A series of major highways, Toronto Pearson Airport and large corridors of industrial zoning have created an ideal nexus in Peel for viral infection and spread. Essential workers makeup a significant portion of the population. According to the 2016 census, manufacturing employed more Peel residents than any other sector, including jobs that are deemed essential to keep supply chains running. Roughly 90,000 Peel residents worked in the manufacturing sector. Other job categories dominated by essential workers are common in Peel. In 2016, there were 69,920 residents working in transportation and warehousing; 59,270 in healthcare and social assistance; 44,755 in construction; and 42,205 in accommodation and food services. “This pandemic has highlighted the fact that lack of access to paid sick days is a health hazard,” Peel Public Health wrote in the briefing that accompanied its research into workplace cases. Between August and January, a total of 1,993 people who later tested positive for COVID-19 reported going to work for one or more days after their symptoms began to show. The figure represents roughly 25 percent of all cases through the period, meaning one in four went to work infectious. Discussing the data, Loh has pointed out this is probably an underestimate. Despite reassurances from health officials collecting the data, it is likely some chose not to admit to authority figures they went to work while infected. Of all the data collected by Peel Public Health, one statistic stands out. Eighty individuals reported to work between August and January after their positive result had been reported to public health and they were confirmed to have the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Armed with these statistics, Peel’s mayors and medical officer of health have been begging for paid sick days. With the GTHA Mayors providing ample media attention to voice the reality for hundreds of thousands of their constituents, they had hoped to be heard by now. But they have been ignored and even the region’s local, governing MPPs have tuned out. The Stay Home If You Are Sick Act, tabled by the NDP and struck down with the help of seven Peel based PC MPPs Monday, would have offered workers 14 paid sick days during the pandemic. It also suggested seven paid days after the pandemic is over. “If Peel’s Conservative MPPs hadn’t helped the Ford government block the Stay Home If You Are Sick Act, workers in Brampton and Mississauga could have had paid sick days when they woke up today,” NDP Deputy Leader and Brampton Centre MPP, Sara Singh, said. “Instead, people in Peel are returning to jobs in health care and food processing without that support, doing essential work while the government turns its back on them, again.” The Pointer reached out to all seven PC MPPs to ask them to justify their vote and if they listened to Loh’s advice as the local medical expert. Staff members at the offices of Mississauga—Lakeshore MPP Rudy Cuzzetto, Mississauga—Malton MPP Deepak Anand, Mississauga Centre MPP Natalia Kusendova and Mississauga—Streetsville MPP Nina Tangri answered phone calls confirming they had received questions, but did not provide responses. The remaining MPPs, Associate Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria (Brampton South) Amarjot Sandhu (Brampton West) and Sheref Sabawy (Mississauga—Erin Mills) did not answer messages left by email and voicemail. Kaleed Rasheed (Mississauga East—Cooksville) did not vote. “I’m very disappointed in our Mississauga provincial members of parliament,” Crombie said at a Wednesday press conference. “They know how important sick days are. This should not come down to ideological differences — we need to do the right thing.” It’s not the first time questions have been raised about Peel’s MPPs. In 2018, Sarkaria and Sandhu felt the wrath of their community after they skipped a vote pushing to bring a third hospital to Brampton. The Progressive Conservatives’ official party line on introducing paid sick days is that they duplicate a benefit being offered by the federal government, the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB). Communications staff for the PC government have blanketed social media with the position, saying paid sick days already exist and that the NDP is muddying the waters. But the experts in Peel take issue with the idea CRSB solves the issue. Peel Public Health says the benefit’s usefulness is “limited” by duration, delayed release of funds and “lack of linguistic cultural support for applicants”. “Eligibility criteria further limit the ability of programs such as CRSB and Employment Insurance to address COVID-19 transmission in the workplace,” Peel Public Health wrote in its research. “The whole COVID-19 thing is a jigsaw puzzle, but this is one really big piece that continues to be missing in my estimation,” Loh said at Mississauga’s weekly press conference, referring to the need for paid sick days. In the legislature, the message is being ignored by the ruling PCs. Despite recently posting screenshots of a virtual briefing with Loh, the region’s MPPs have not acted on his advice. “Local leaders like Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, and Peel Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh recognize that paid sick days are a vital public health measure to keep workers safe in Brampton’s essential workplaces,” Singh said in the legislature Wednesday. “But this government ignores them again and again, refusing to take action to stop this virus, keep workers safe and end the cycle of lockdowns.” Email: email@example.com Twitter: @isaaccallan Tel: 647 561-4879 COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you. Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
COVID-19. Les plus récentes données sur l'évolution de la COVID-19, au Québec, font état de 707 nouveaux cas pour la journée d'hier, pour un nombre total de 290 377 personnes infectées. Parmi celles-ci, 272 553 sont rétablies. Elles font également état de 20 nouveaux décès, le nombre total de décès s'élève à 10 445. Le nombre total d'hospitalisations a augmenté de 8 par rapport à la veille, avec un cumul de 626. Parmi celles-ci, le nombre de personnes se trouvant aux soins intensifs a diminué de 5, pour un total actuel de 115. Les prélèvements réalisés le 2 mars s'élèvent à 29 151. Finalement, 16 619 doses de vaccin ont été administrées dans la journée d'hier, pour un total de 490 504. Jusqu'à maintenant, 638 445 doses ont été reçues. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday made it harder for longtime immigrants who have been convicted of a crime to avoid deportation. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the opinion for a 5-3 conservative majority that ruled against a Mexican citizen who entered the U.S. illegally and has lived in the country for 25 years. The man, Clemente Avelino Pereida, had been charged in Nebraska with using a fraudulent Social Security card to get a job and convicted under a state law against criminal impersonation. Not all criminal convictions inevitability lead to deportation, but Gorsuch wrote for the court that Pereida failed to prove he was not convicted of a serious crime. Under immigration law, “certain nonpermanent aliens seeking to cancel a lawful removal order must prove that they have not been convicted of a disqualifying crime,” Gorsuch wrote. In a dissent for the three liberal justices, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that the court instead should have ruled for Pereida because he was convicted under a law that includes serious offences, falling into the category of crimes of moral turpitude, and less serious ones. “The relevant documents in this case do not show that the previous conviction at issue necessarily was for a crime involving moral turpitude," Breyer wrote. Immigrants with criminal convictions who are facing deportation can ask the attorney general to allow them to remain in the country, if the conviction wasn't for a serious crime and they have lived here at least 10 years, among other criteria. Based on Thursday's ruling, Pereida can't seek that relief. Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not take part in the case because she had not yet joined the court when the case was argued in October. The Associated Press
Most of us are familiar with the three Rs associated with limiting our waste: reduce, reuse and recycle. As it turns out, there’s a fourth R: renew the recycling licence. During the Feb. 22 regular council meeting for the Town of Pincher Creek, Coun. Scott Korbett formally announced the town would not be renewing its recycling contract with KJ Cameron Service Industries. Come June 30, only empty beverage containers will be accepted at the bottle depot. “The Town of Pincher Creek intends to continue to offer a recycling program,” the town’s official statement reads. “We are currently working with our regional partners to have a smooth transition to a new program by the end of June.” While understanding the town is obligated to make economic decisions when it comes to contracts, Weston Whitfield, owner and manager of KJ Cameron, worries consolidating services on a regional basis might result in an inefficient service to taxpayers. The process of gathering, transporting, then re-sorting material, Mr. Whitfield adds, might decrease the price recycling facilities are willing to pay. “My concern is in the past, places that have done collaborations like that end up with a little bit of contamination and it can affect the resale of the product,” he says. Although no official details have been released, the plan for future recycling appears to involve the Crowsnest/Pincher Creek Landfill Association. Discussion recorded in the minutes of the Jan. 20, 2021, regular meeting of the landfill association includes “Recycling Update” as an agenda item. The minutes describe proposals being sent to each of the municipalities and note that, despite no reply being received, each of the municipal representatives — Coun. Dean Ward from Crowsnest Pass, Coun. Brian McGillivray from Pincher Creek and Reeve Brian Hammond from the MD of Pincher Creek — indicated their respective councils are still considering or interested in the landfill’s recycling proposal. Recycling was also a topic during last week’s council meetings for both the MD of Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass. During the MD of Pincher Creek’s Feb. 23 council meeting, chief administrative officer Troy MacCulloch updated council on plans to move collection bins from outside the MD office to a site off Bighorn Avenue and Highway 507, near the Co-op lumberyard. The site will cover recycling needs for residents from both the MD and town. “This will be a site that the MD will build,” said CAO MacCulloch. “We will cost-share it with the town, and then going forward it would be operated and manned by the Crowsnest/Pincher Creek Landfill.” Plans for the new recycling site are still tentative as the MD is working with the current landowner to develop a lease that would permit the property to be used as a transfer station for garbage and recyclables. The garbage bins by the MD office, he added, could also be removed. This will allow for further development and easier access of the standpipe, which will remain at the location. Meetings with Pincher Creek administration have discussed the possibility of the MD taking over the composting facility, which would be included on the site. Crowsnest Pass council also voted Feb. 23 to direct administration to find a location for their own recycling bin. Ease of access, along with being sheltered from the weather and from travellers’ field of vision, were identified as main priorities. Administration was asked to present a location at the March 16 council meeting with hopes that users could begin dropping off recycling by the end of the month. The goal is to eventually have three sites in the municipality to gather recycling. Beginning with one, said CAO Patrick Thomas, was a good place to “at least start and see what the challenges are,” especially to “see how [building] the fencing and screening goes.” The Town of Pincher Creek’s full official statement regarding the recycling licence can be found online at http://bit.ly/PC-Recycle. More information on Pincher Creek Bottle Depot and Recycling can be found at www.facebook.com/pcbottledepot. Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
The dining room in Katie Rioux's Quebec City restaurant has been closed since the fall, and she expected her business would remain a takeout-only operation for weeks to come, if not longer. On Wednesday, though, the owner of Café Krieghoff received some unexpected good news. Premier François Legault announced he was scaling back health restrictions in several regions, allowing Rioux and countless other restaurant owners to serve customers sitting inside for the first time in five months. "Honestly, we could not have gotten better news than this," said Rioux, who also promised to do her part to ensure Quebec City does not go back to being a red zone. "As restaurant owners, we will do everything we can. I think the population is also on our side." Café Krieghoff owner Katie Rioux can't wait to serve sitting customers at her Quebec City restaurant for the first time in five months. (Radio-Canada) However, some public health experts say the Quebec government's decision to roll back restrictions to this extent is too hasty. Following March break, the Quebec City region will be joined by the Eastern Townships, Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Québec and Chaudières-Appalaches as the latest to be downgraded from red to orange zones. In these regions, gyms and show venues will be allowed to reopen, houses of worship will be able to take in as many as 100 people at a time. The government is also dropping the requirement that all primary school students must wear a medical grade mask. The nightly curfew remains, but will kick in at 9:30 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. "I would have preferred to wait until at least one week after the holiday week, because then we would be able to see the impact of the vacation on the increase of cases everywhere in Quebec," said Dr. Cécile Tremblay, a microbiologist and infectious diseases specialist at the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal. "We know that people from Montreal travel to other regions, and we won't know the result of that until two weeks from now." The race between variants and vaccines Legault's announcement came a day after Health Minister Christian Dubé and Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda held a news conference of their own, during which they warned Quebecers about the growing spread of coronavirus variants. "The ocean is calm at the moment ... but underneath there are sharks," Arruda said, "and I'll tell you what those sharks are: they're the variants." The decision to remove restrictions in places outside of the greater Montreal area seems to reflect data showing that variants are gaining more ground in Montreal than elsewhere in the province. On Wednesday, Legault said spikes in cases and hospitalizations were expected in and around Montreal, and those projections played a major role in the government's most recent announcement. But Prativa Baral, an epidemiologist with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says the province is squandering a golden opportunity to deal a crushing blow to the virus. Seniors arrive for their COVID-19 vaccination at a clinic in the Olympic Stadium in Montreal.(Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press) With more and more Quebecers set to get vaccinated, Baral says the government should focus on its inoculation campaign while limiting contacts as much as possible, in an effort to keep the spread of variants under control. "For us to be loosening restrictions now, is too premature. We don't want to be reactive, we want to be proactive for once," Baral said. "At this point, it's more of a virus versus vaccine race, and we really want to make sure that we're pushing the vaccine segment to win, as opposed the variant segment." The province's latest projections for the spread COVID-19 appear to reinforce the importance of winning that race. According to the mathematical modelling published by the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) on Thursday, lowering the province's collective guard could provoke a rapid spike in new infections that could reach between 3,000 and 4,000 cases per day. It also seems possible, perhaps even likely given the presence of infectious variants, that Quebec will experience a third wave. Sticking with the low-socialization and low-contact measures that were in place from January and February might not entirely prevent another peak this spring in terms of daily infections, but it could keep hospitalization numbers and fatalities low. Marc Brisson, the director of the Université Laval mathematical modelling group that conducts the INSPQ's COVID-19 forecasts, said the model doesn't account for the government's latest announcement, but does include increased inter-regional travel and social contacts from March break. "If we can accelerate vaccination ... and follow public health guidelines, then at that point our model is saying we could stay at a number of cases that would be relatively stable. However, if vaccination slows down and there's more contact, then a third wave is predicted," he said. There is some good news in the projections, however. The model supports the government's contention that there are two distinct epidemiological realities in Quebec: greater Montreal, and the rest of the province. The fact there is lower community spread outside the province's largest urban agglomeration means it's less likely the variant strains will spread. "The race is how many vulnerable people we can protect with vaccination and ... can that variant infect the most vulnerable among us?" he said. The key, Brisson concluded, is continued adherence to public health measures, which "would buy time for the vaccine to take its effect."
The Peace River Regional District will be going ahead with plans for a new public library in Chetwynd, after board directors voted in favour of issuing requests for proposals for design and construction at their Feb. 25 meeting. The new library is a joint effort between Area E and Chetwynd. A lean-to style building is being floated as one possible option. Costs are capped at $5 million. “This has been going on for awhile, we’re trying to get costs down to something we can afford,” said Director Dan Rose. “We’ve got floor plans and ideas of what it might look like, so they’re not starting from scratch.” He added the library has extensive experience working remotely as a satellite office. "We’re certainly willing to accommodate as many communities as we can, with our services. I’m sure we could make agreements with everybody on how to do that,” said Rose. Fort St John Mayor Ackerman agreed a regional approach could be a good move for libraries in the Peace. “I’m totally open to having that conversation, even though the library in Fort St John is not a municipal library,” said Ackerman. “If you’re suggesting a regional library, I’m on that bandwagon.” Dawson Creek Mayor Dale Bumstead says the city will lend a hand if Chetwynd needs. “I appreciate how busy it is in Chetwynd right now. If they have any trouble at all in locating a site or land for this Chetwynd Public Library, we’d be happy to help facilitate that partnership with them, and construct it in Dawson Creek,” said Bumstead, jokingly. firstname.lastname@example.org Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News
WASHINGTON — A key Senate committee on Thursday approved the nomination of New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland to be interior secretary, clearing the way for a Senate vote that is likely to make her the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved Haaland's nomination, 11-9, sending it to the Senate floor. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski was the lone Republican to support Haaland, who won unanimous backing from committee Democrats. Murkowski, a former chair of the committee, said she had “some real misgivings” about Haaland, because of her support for policies that Murkowski said could impede Alaska's reliance on oil and other fossil fuels. But the senator said she would place her “trust” in Haaland's word that she would work with her and other Alaskans to support the state. Her vote comes with a warning, Murkowski added: She expects Haaland “will be true to her word” to help Alaska. Haaland was not in the committee room, but Murkowski addressed her directly, saying, "I will hold you to your commitments.'' “Quite honestly,'' Murkowski added, ”we need you to be a success.'' Democratic Sens. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Maria Cantwell of Washington state both called the committee vote historic, and both said they were disappointed at the anti-Haaland rhetoric used by several Republicans. Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the panel's top Republican, and other GOP senators have repeatedly called Haaland's views “radical” and extreme. Heinrich said two interior secretaries nominated by former President Donald Trump could be called “radical” for their support of expanded drilling and other resource extraction, but he never used that word to describe them. Under the leadership of Cantwell and Murkowski, the energy panel has been bipartisan and productive in recent years, Heinrich said, adding that he hopes that tradition continues. The committee vote follows an announcement Wednesday by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, that she will support Haaland in the full Senate. Her vote, along with Murkowski's, makes Haaland’s confirmation by the Senate nearly certain. The panel's chairman, Sen. Joe Manchin, announced his support for Haaland last week. Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, said Thursday that he does not agree with Haaland on a variety of issues, including the Keystone XL oil pipeline, but was impressed by the strong endorsement by Alaska Rep. Don Young, a conservative Republican who is the longest-serving member of the House and has forged a strong working relationship with the liberal Haaland. As a former governor, Manchin also said he knows how important it is for a president to have his “team on board” in the Cabinet. “It is long past time to give a Native American woman a seat at the Cabinet table,'' he said. Interior oversees the nation’s public lands and waters and leads relations with nearly 600 federally recognized tribes. Barrasso, who has led opposition to Haaland, said her hostility to fracking, the Keystone XL oil pipeline and other issues made her unfit to serve in a position in which she will oversee energy development on vast swaths of federal lands, mostly in the West, as well as offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska. Barrasso said a moratorium imposed by Biden on oil and gas leases on federal lands “is taking a sledgehammer to Western states’ economies.? The moratorium, which Haaland supports, could cost thousands of jobs in West, Barrasso said. Matthew Daly, The Associated Press
A mechanical whir fills the room as a sling slowly lifts a patient out of her hospital bed. "Wow, it's fun to see you like that," says nurse Caroline Brochu, as the woman is lowered into a chair. After spending nearly two weeks on a ventilator, severely sick with COVID-19, the patient had been extubated a few days earlier. She's slowly being weaned off the oxygen and has regained enough strength to start physiotherapy. In her early 70s, the woman was admitted to the intensive care unit at Cité-de-la-Santé hospital in Laval in early February. Like many of the patients the hospital has treated, she was generally healthy before she contracted the virus. "No comorbidities," said Dr. Joseph Dahine, an intensive care specialist. "Just high blood pressure and a little bit of asthma." Psychologists regularly check in with the ICU staff to see how they are coping with the exhaustion and emotional strain of COVID-19.(Dave St-Amant/CBC) The unknown road ahead In mid-February, CBC Montreal was granted exclusive access to the hospital's intensive care unit. A year into the pandemic, it's still difficult to predict who will only need a few days of oxygen to bounce back and who will be on a ventilator for weeks. But what is clear is the virus spares no one. The ICU has treated severely ill patients as young as 24. Back in January, about two-thirds of the patients were under 60. At the time of CBC's visit, there were five patients. Over the past 11 months, the ICU has treated a total of 175 patients. Twenty-five have died. During that time, the ICU has worked in uncharted territory, with personnel at times risking their own health to ensure those suffering the most severe COVID-19 complications get care. WATCH | Staff inside the ICU talk about the cases that still haunt them and the unknown road ahead: "Trying to keep the morale has been the hardest aspect of all of this," said Joanie Bolduc-Dionne, the ICU's head nurse. "Right now, we have some fantastic psychologists that come day, evening, night to support the team." The psychologists visit to get a sense of how staff are coping, and what they might be struggling with, she said. Family has to stay at a distance Life inside the ICU can be an emotional roller-coaster — for the staff, the patients and their families. The daughter of the woman who was recently extubated has arrived for a visit but she has to stay outside the room because her mother could still be contagious. The distance is painful for both of them. Exhausted from the effort of sitting and eating, the woman is back in her bed. Her eyes fill with tears as she looks at her daughter through the glass door. "It's harder to see her now, like this," said the daughter, turning to a nurse. "When she was intubated that was bad, but at least she didn't realize she was in that situation. Now, she knows what's going on. Dr. Joseph Dahine, pictured at right, consults with the ICU team at Cité-de-la-Santé Hospital in Laval. Treating COVID-19 patients requires constant re-calibration to pinpoint what may be causing a patient's deterioration.(Dave St-Amant/CBC) Startling deterioration Following CBC's visit, the woman had an unexpected setback overnight. During her sleep, her heart started to race. The ICU team managed to bring her heart rate back down, but the doctor on shift is concerned about her breathing, which is rapid and shallow. "If we can't give you enough oxygen and you are tired with the mask, and if we don't intubate you, well, it's death," Dr. Dahine tells the woman. With a resigned nod, she agrees to be re-intubated as a last resort. As she continues to deteriorate over the next few days, doctors have no choice but to put her back on a ventilator. It's a sobering reminder of just how unpredictable this virus can still be. At the beginning of March, the patient was brought out of the induced coma, but still needs a ventilator to breathe. She had to undergo a tracheotomy. She can only communicate with her family and the staff by blinking. "She still has a long way to go to recovery but at least she is no longer in a coma," said Bolduc-Dionne. At the height of the first wave, Cité-de-la-Santé Hospital had 22 COVID-19 patients in the ICU. The week CBC visited, there were five. Although the number of cases appears to be stabilizing, health officials are worried variants of the coronavirus could trigger a third wave.(Dave St-Amant/CBC) Although the number of COVID-19 cases may appear stable, the volume of cases linked to variants of the coronavirus is rising rapidly. 'The fight is not over' On Tuesday, Quebec's health minister continued to warn people to remain vigilant over the March break. This week, Laval's ICU accepted two new patients to the red zone, which is strictly for those who are severely ill with COVID-19. "The fight is not over," said Bolduc-Dionne. As the vaccination effort in Quebec gathers steam, staff here hope people don't forget there's a parallel battle being fought in the ICU, a battle the public doesn't see. "I hope they realize that [the virus] is really dangerous and that you can infect people you love," said nurse Caroline Brochu.
Rails End Gallery and Arts Centre seeks to help bridge the gaps between people with its first-ever online exhibition launched Feb. 27. Titled “Connection,” the show presents submissions from its members, featuring a wide array of mediums. Besides a physical gallery still viewable at the centre under additional public protocols, it is also available on the centre’s website, with a guided virtual tour. Curator Laurie Jones said she learned about the format from the Ontario Society of Artists and it was a way to improve access. “Not everybody’s comfortable yet with being around, especially in public spaces,” Jones said. The exhibition is an annual salon show, drawing from local talent, Jones said. The pandemic prompted the move to an online addition – and the theme for the show itself. “It came up out of my own cravings for connections and missing people,” Jones said. “In many ways, we’re looking for alternate ways to connect.” Artist Rosanna Dewey’s exhibition piece depicts one of those ways. It is an oil painting entitled “Zoom Room” depicting a call on the online meeting platform. She said the show’s theme was poignant. “It’s so hard to be connected,” Dewey said. “It really made me think about what was going on and what my connections were.” She said she had some skepticism about the online concept but found it turned out appealing. “You want to be able to get up close to the artwork and you get more of a sense of the piece,” Dewey said. “But I found that people were still interested. People still needed to go and experience art, even if it was through a Zoom format.” Arts and Crafts Festival on pause But the community will miss one big way to connect with art in the summer. The Haliburton Art and Craft Festival – the gallery’s flagship event and fundraiser – is cancelled for the second straight year due to the pandemic, Jones said. She said it would be too logistically challenging to ensure safety amidst the pandemic. “We don’t want to introduce any risk to our volunteers or staff or vendors or patrons,” Jones said. “Maintaining sanitary conditions would be impossible.” Jones said the centre needs to decide early to inform artists and give them time to plan. She said there might be alternate programming, but that is being worked out. For now, the Rails End is still putting on exhibitions and bringing arts to the community. “We’re not trying to sell anything. We’re trying to provide an experience,” Jones said. “Hopefully, they feel the connection with the creative arts.” “Connection” runs until April 17 and is available at the centre itself or railsendgallery.com. Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
LATCHFORD – Latchford Mayor George Lefebvre has let his frustration be known when it comes to the current situation surrounding insurance for municipalities. Municipal insurance rates have been on the rise and the matter has been a growing concern across the province. One specific area that Lefebvre says he has an issue with is the fact that the legal system allows municipalities to be sued for accidents that occur on major highways, which he feels shouldn’t have any bearing on the municipalities. Lefebvre says those frivolous lawsuits alone are enough to help drive up the rates when the insurance companies are forced to defend the municipalities. A highway accident is “something that has absolutely no bearing (on us) whatsoever,” he said at Latchford council’s regular meeting on February 18. “We all know, we’ve seen a number of these accidents recently. Two of them have occurred in Temagami on Highway 11 and they’re suing the Town of Latchford. It’s just absolutely ridiculous. Some people on an ATV (all-terrain vehicle), crossing the railroad track and caught trespassing on the pipeline and trespassing on the tracks, flipped the ATV and sued the Town of Latchford. Now where the hell is the justice in that?” The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and the province’s Attorney General have been looking into the matter of rising municipal insurance costs for the past couple of years, but actions were delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. One municipality reported seeing their premium increase from $120,000 to $225,000. Englehart was among the lowest, seeing their insurance rate go up eight to nine per cent this year while the Municipality of Charlton and Dack saw an increase of 36 per cent. Latchford clerk-treasurer Jaime Allen told The Speaker in an email message that the town’s rate increased by 13.5 per cent. “We had to change our provider several years ago to attempt to control the increases, so (we) fully appreciate and support the effort by the other municipalities,” said Lefebvre later in an email interview. Back at their regular meeting on January 21, Latchford council passed a resolution to support Charlton-Dack’s resolution that stands up against rising municipal insurance rates. Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker
TRURO, N.S. — A Canadian undergarment company that quickly retooled its factory last spring to make personal protective equipment is laying off 150 workers after failing to win a new federal contract. Stanfield's Ltd. of Truro, N.S., famed for its long johns and boxer shorts, switched to making medical gowns for front-line health workers at the outset of the pandemic. The company's $27.9-million federal contract was a small piece of the $1.87 billion Ottawa has spent on hospital gowns as of Dec. 31. A new request for proposals for "disposable medical isolation gowns" closed Nov. 20. But in a Facebook post, Cumberland-Colchester MP Lenore Zann says the company was not successful in their bid on the new tender for medical gowns. She says she's "terribly concerned and disappointed" to hear about the layoffs at Stanfield's as a result. Local MLA Dave Ritcey calls the loss of 150 jobs in the largely rural area "devastating." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — Major League Baseball will hold its first Lou Gehrig Day on June 2, adding Gehrig to Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente on the short list of players honoured throughout the big leagues. Each home team will have “4-ALS” logos in ballparks to mark Gehrig’s No. 4, and all players, managers and coaches will wear a Lou Gehrig Day patch on uniforms and may use red “4-ALS” wristbands. Teams that are off on June 2 will observe Lou Gehrig Day on June 3. MLB said Thursday that the day will focus on finding cures and raising money for research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, which is known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, the legacy of Gehrig and others who died of the progressive disease that attacks nerve cells controlling muscles throughout the body. June 2 marks the 96th anniversary of when Gehrig made started at first base for the New York Yankees in place of Willy Pipp, starting his record streak of 2,130 consecutive games played. The mark stood until September 1995 by Baltimore's Cal Ripken Jr., who played 2,632 consecutive games in a streak that ended in 1998. Gehrig died of ALS at age 37 on June 2, 1941. He was elected to baseball's Hall of Fame in 1939. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement that Gehrig's “humility and courage continue to inspire our society” and “the pressing need to find cures remains.” MLB's committee includes Oakland outfielder Stephen Piscotty, whose mother died of ALS; Colorado outfielder Sam Hillard, whose father has been diagnosed with ALS; and Milwaukee catcher Jacob Nottingham, whose family includes six people who died of ALS. MLB teams and players helped raise millions of dollars in 2014's ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The New York Yankees often mark the anniversary of Gehrig's farewell speech on July 4, 1939. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
County of Haliburton council decided not to up its 15 per cent corporate emissions reduction target despite staff presenting options for higher goals. It targets a 15 per cent reduction in emissions from 2018 levels by 2030. But McKay presented other options such as increasing that figure to 30 per cent to align with federal and provincial targets, or 45 per cent to follow the best science and help further limit global warming. McKay provided examples of similar municipalities aiming for different goals, from Sault Ste. Marie at 10 per cent to the District of Muskoka targeting a 50 per cent reduction by 2030. “We are seeing unprecedented levels of action by all levels of government, shifting from incremental action toward transformative action,” McKay said. “Experts are warning us this is the critical decade to maintain a livable climate … A 45 per cent reduction is one that is based in science. "Cutting our emissions essentially in half would require bold leadership but we would not be alone in this endeavour.” Councillors expressed concerns about upping the target. Deputy warden Patrick Kennedy said the County faces pressure with more people moving to the area permanently. “Fifteen (per cent) is still an admirable goal to achieve with what’s coming,” Kennedy said. Coun. Carol Moffatt said the municipalities passed budgets and she would want more information on financial implications before approving a higher target. “I would like a multi-year rough projection of what it’s going to do to our budget so we can plan and prepare for it adequately, as opposed to taking a leap of faith for the good of the world,” Moffatt said. “We need to do both.” Environment Haliburton! vice-president Terry Moore said he was upset by how the conversation played out. “The financial budget, they’re not going to matter much when we don’t have a climate that’s conducive to civilization,” Moore said. He said there is not enough of a community movement on the issue versus a place like Muskoka. He lamented the County’s approach to finish a corporate plan before beginning consultations for a separate community plan. “There is nowhere near enough pressure. Council’s not going to lead on this,” Moore said. Warden Liz Danielsen said council will look for more information from McKay as she continues her work. “We’re all recognizing it is a moving landscape,” Danielsen said. “Just because we’re not making a change today, does not mean we won’t do that down the road, and even not too long from now.” Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander