Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller updated the public on the speed of the vaccine rollout to Canada's remote northern First Nations communities.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller updated the public on the speed of the vaccine rollout to Canada's remote northern First Nations communities.
Premier Doug Ford expressed frustration at the news that Canada will not receive any new doses of the Pfizer vaccine next week, though the general overseeing Ontario's vaccine rollout plan remains hopeful the distribution delay won't impede plans to immunize the general population by early August. Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Ford called the news that Canada will receive no new Pfizer vaccines next week "troubling" and "a massive concern." "Until vaccines are more widely available, please stay home, stay safe and save lives," he said. The news comes as the province recorded another 1,913 cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, with officials cautioning that Toronto Public Health — which consistently logs the most new infections each day — is "likely underreporting" its number of cases. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health said the artificially low total of 550 new cases reported by the city was due to a "technical issue," but did not provide any further details. For reference, over the three previous days, Toronto Public Health logged 815, 1035 and 903 cases, respectively. Other public health units that saw double- or triple-digit increases were: Peel Region: 346 York Region: 235 Durham Region: 82 Windsor-Essex: 81 Waterloo Region: 79 Middlesex-London: 73 Halton Region: 71 Hamilton: 63 Niagara Region: 52 Simcoe Muskoka: 48 Ottawa: 41 Huron-Perth: 37 Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 31 Lambton: 28 Southwestern: 22 Eastern Ontario: 14 Chatham-Kent: 13 (Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, because local units report figures at different times.) Over 200,000 Ontarians vaccinated so far At a technical briefing for media Tuesday morning, members of the COVID-19 vaccination distribution task force offered a rough breakdown of which groups received a first dose of vaccine: About 83,000 long-term care residents, staff and caregivers. About 25,000 retirement home residents, staff and caregivers. More than 99,000 health-care workers in other sectors. With the more than 200,000 vaccines administered, Ontario has completed the first round of immunization at all long-term care homes in Toronto, Peel, York and Windsor-Essex — the four regions with the highest transmission rates of the virus. The first round of immunizations has also been administered at all long-term care homes in Ottawa, Durham and Simcoe-Muskoka. Still, Minister of Long-Term Care Merrilee Fullerton cautioned, "The rise of community spread during the second wave is posing a serious threat to our long-term care homes." The province aims to finish vaccinating those at all remaining long-term care homes by Feb. 15. At Tuesday's technical briefing, members of the COVID-19 vaccination distribution task force also addressed how the province is responding to Pfizer's announcement last week that it was slowing down production of its vaccine, resulting in delivery delays for Canada. WATCH | An exasperated Premier Ford appeals to incoming U.S. president for vaccines: The impact in Ontario will vary week to week, officials said, with an 80 per cent reduction in the number of doses that were originally expected the week of Jan. 25; 55 per cent the week of Feb. 1; and 45 per cent the week of Feb. 8. In turn, the province will reallocate its available doses of the Moderna vaccine to more regions, while also extending the interval between doses of the Pfizer vaccine in some situations to ensure that everyone who has had a first shot will have access to their second. Residents and staff at long-term care and high-risk retirement homes who have received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine will receive a second dose in 21 to 27 days, the province says. All others who receive the Pfizer vaccine will receive their second dose between 21 and 42 days after the first. For those who receive the Moderna vaccine, the 28-day schedule will remain in place. As for whether the province still expects to immunize the general population of Ontario by late July or early August, General Rick Hillier said that will come down to whether there are any further hiccups with vaccine availability, but that he remains optimistic. Toronto to halt operations at mass vaccination clinic Following the announcement of the delay, the province asked the City of Toronto late Tuesday to immediately stop operating a "proof-of-concept" mass vaccination clinic at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The clinic, which began operating only on Monday, had aimed to vaccinate 250 people per day, but the city noted that was entirely dependent upon vaccine supply. People scheduled to receive the shot at the clinic over the next three days have had those appointments cancelled, Toronto Public Health said in a statement. "The City's Immunization Task Force is continuing to plan for city-wide immunization clinic roll-out and will continue to work with the province to determine next steps once vaccine supply is re-established," the city said. Just over 34,000 new tests processed Meanwhile, Ontario's network of labs processed just 34,531 test samples for the novel coronavirus and reported a test positivity rate of 6.8 per cent. Testing levels often fall over weekends, but there is capacity in the system for more than 70,000 tests daily. The seven-day average of new daily cases fell to 2,893, the lowest it has been since Jan. 4 this year. For the seventh time in eight days, the numbers of cases reported resolved outpaced new infections. There are currently about 27,615 confirmed, active cases of COVID-19 provincewide. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health said there were 1,626 patients in hospitals with COVID-19. Of those, 400 were being treated in intensive care, the most at any point during the pandemic, and 292 required a ventilator to breathe. Notably, a daily report generated by Critical Care Services Ontario and shared internally with hospitals puts the current number of ICU patients with COVID-19 at 418, with 303 still on ventilators. Public health units also recorded 46 additional deaths of people with the illness, bringing the official toll to 5,479. Twenty-nine of the further deaths were residents of long-term care. A total of 254, or just over 40 per cent, of long-term care facilities in Ontario were dealing with an outbreak of COVID-19. The province said it administered another 14346 doses of COVID-19 vaccines yesterday, and that 224,134 people have been given a first dose. A total of 25,609 people in Ontario have gotten both shots.
WASHINGTON — Hours from inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden paused on what might have been his triumphal entrance to Washington Tuesday evening to mark instead the national tragedy of the coronavirus pandemic with a moment of collective grief for Americans lost. His arrival coincided with the awful news that the U.S. death toll had surpassed 400,000 in the worst public health crisis in more than a century — a crisis Biden will now be charged with controlling. “To heal we must remember," the incoming president told the nation at a sunset ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial. Four hundred lights representing the pandemic's victims were illuminated behind him around the monument’s Reflecting Pool. “Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights into the darkness ... and remember all who we lost,” Biden said. The sober moment on the eve of Biden's inauguration — typically a celebratory time in Washington when the nation marks the democratic tradition of a peaceful transfer of power — was a measure of the enormity of loss for the nation. During his brief remarks, Biden faced the larger-than life statue of Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War president who served as more than 600,000 Americans died. As he turned to walk away at the conclusion of the vigil, he faced the black granite wall listing the 58,000-plus Americans who perished in Vietnam. Biden was joined by Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris, who spoke of the collective anguish of the nation, a not-so-subtle admonishment of outgoing President Donald Trump, who has spoken sparingly about the pandemic in recent months. “For many months we have grieved by ourselves,” said Harris, who will make history as the first woman to serve as vice-president when she's sworn in. “Tonight, we grieve and begin healing together.” Beyond the pandemic, Biden faces no shortage of problems when he takes the reins at the White House. The nation is also on its economic heels because of soaring unemployment, there is deep political division and immediate concern about more violence following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Biden, an avid fan of Amtrak who took the train thousands of times between his home in Delaware and Washington during his decades in the Senate, had planned to take a train into Washington ahead of Wednesday's Inauguration Day but scratched that plan in the aftermath of the Capitol riot. He instead flew into Joint Base Andrews just outside the capital and then motorcaded into fortress D.C. — a city that's been flooded by some 25,000 National Guard troops guarding a Capitol, White House and National Mall that are wrapped in a maze of barricades and tall fencing. “These are dark times," Biden told supporters in an emotional sendoff in Delaware. "But there’s always light.” Biden, who ran for the presidency as a cool head who could get things done, plans to issue a series of executive orders on Day One — including reversing Trump's effort to leave the Paris climate accord, cancelling Trump's travel ban on visitors from several predominantly Muslim countries, and extending pandemic-era limits on evictions and student loan payments. Trump won’t be on hand as Biden is sworn in, the first outgoing president to entirely skip inaugural festivities since Andrew Johnson more than a century and a half ago. The White House released a farewell video from Trump just as Biden landed at Joint Base Andrews. Trump, who has repeatedly and falsely claimed widespread fraud led to his election loss, extended “best wishes” to the incoming administration in his nearly 20-minute address but did not utter Biden's name. Trump also spent some of his last time in the White House huddled with advisers weighing final-hour pardons and grants of clemency. He planned to depart from Washington Wednesday morning in a grand airbase ceremony that he helped plan himself. Biden at his Delaware farewell, held at the National Guard/Reserve Center named after his late son Beau Biden, paid tribute to his home state. After his remarks, he stopped and chatted with friends and well-wishers in the crowd, much as he had at Iowa rope lines at the start of his long campaign journey. “I’ll always be a proud son of the state of Delaware,” said Biden, who struggled to hold back tears as he delivered brief remarks. Inaugural organizers this week finished installing some 200,000 U.S., state and territorial flags on the National Mall, a display representing the American people who couldn’t come to the inauguration, which is tightly limited under security and Covid restrictions. The display was also a reminder of all the president-elect faces as he looks to steer the nation through the pandemic with infections and deaths soaring. Out of the starting gate, Biden and his team are intent on moving quickly to speed distribution of vaccinations to anxious Americans and pass his $1.9 trillion virus relief package, which includes quick payments to many people and an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Biden also plans to unveil a sweeping immigration bill on the first day of his administration, hoping to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status. That would be a major reversal from the Trump administration’s tight immigration policies. Some leading Republican have already balked at Biden's immigration plan. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is often a central player in Senate immigration battles. Many of Biden's legislative ambitions could be tempered by the hard numbers he faces on Capitol Hill, where Democrats hold narrow majorities in both the Senate and House. His hopes to press forward with an avalanche of legislation in his first 100 days could also be slowed by an impeachment trial of Trump. As Biden made his way to Washington, five of his Cabinet picks were appearing Tuesday before Senate committees to begin confirmation hearings. Treasury nominee Janet Yellen, Defence nominee Lloyd Austin, Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken and Director of National Intelligence nominee Avril Haines were being questioned. Yellen urged lawmakers to embrace Biden’s virus relief package, arguing that “the smartest thing we can do is act big.” Aides say Biden will use Wednesday's inaugural address — one that will be delivered in front of an unusually small in-person group because of virus protocols and security concerns and is expected to run 20 to 30 minutes — to call for American unity and offer an optimistic message that Americans can get past the dark moment by working together. To that end, he extended invitations to Congress' top four Republican and Democratic leaders to attend Mass with him at St. Matthew's Cathedral ahead of the inauguration ceremony. ___ Madhani reported from Chicago. Associated Press writers Darlene Superville, Alan Fram and Alexandra Jaffe contributed reporting. ___ This story has been corrected to show that flags on the National Mall represent people who couldn't come, not COVID deaths. Bill Barrow And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
Brandon Sun readers request specific questions be asked about COVID-19. QUESTION: if a person from Rapid City, for example, were to test positive at the Brandon site, would they not be added to Brandon district numbers? PROVINCIAL SPOKESPERSON: Numbers are tracked by home address — i.e., the address on the Manitoba Health Card is where that case will be attributed to in our numbers, not the testing location. As to your example, if that person’s home address were to show as Rapid City on their health card, that’s where we would consider the case to be from, not the testing location (Brandon). QUESTION: I understand Moderna’s vaccine efficacy in participants 65 years of age and older appears to be lower than in younger adults 18 to 65 years — 86.4 per cent compared to 95.6 per cent. Considering First Nation elders are top of list for vaccination — is this on your radar at all as an issue? The question would apply, as well, regarding any personal care homes using Moderna. DR. JOSS REIMER: We are constantly looking at the data that’s provided by the companies, as well as by other jurisdictions. We will be sure to analyze it on an ongoing basis. What we have right now shows it as a very effective vaccine and we are confident that it will be beneficial to those who are receiving it. QUESTION: People who work at a COVID testing site are eligible to receive the vaccine. Why aren’t people who work directly with COVID-positive clients at alternative isolation accommodation sites included in the eligibility criteria? REIMER: We have looked at a number of different issues when it comes to determining the eligibility criteria. We looked at issues like whether or not the people would potentially be exposed to the virus in the workplace. We’re also looking at how vulnerable the patients or clients in that setting might be. So for example, for personal care homes, it’s essential that the staff be immunized so that they’re not a source of infection or the individual living in that setting because they’re more likely to experience severe harm. We’re also looking at where we’ve seen evidence of outbreaks and disease transmission, particularly between staff and residents or patients. We’re looking at where we have a specialized workforce with specialized skills or those where any work disruption would be quite critical to the system. All of those factors have to be considered at the same time. So one of the reasons that the COVID immunization clinics became a priority was around that workforce issue. It is critical that these clinics be up and running with as many people as we need in order to give every vaccine as fast as we can. So it was important that not only that we have the eligibility in there to help recruit some of the workers to that batch location, but also to prevent that from ever becoming a source of infection. The last thing we would want for Manitobans is to have one of our vaccine clinics become the site of an outbreak, and so we wanted to ensure that we were protecting everyone who was working there, as well as protecting everyone who is coming through to get their vaccine. Do you have a question? Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: Readers Ask. Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
NEW YORK — Stevie Wonder, whose advocacy helped make the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a national holiday, is urging the incoming Biden administration to form a national commission on equality. Wonder released a video message Monday in the form of an open letter to King, who was assassinated in 1968 and whose birthday was made a federal holiday late in 1983. Wonder met King when he was a teenager and later wrote the tribute song “Happy Birthday," which urged that the government formally establish a Martin Luther King Jr. Day. King was born Jan. 15, 1929, and his birthday celebrated on the third Monday in January. “For 36 years, we’ve had a national holiday honouring your birthday and principles, and you would not believe the lack of progress. It makes me physically sick,” Wonder said in his message. “It is time for all to take the only stand. We can not be afraid to confront a lie and a liar. Those in leadership who won’t or don’t acknowledge the truth should be held accountable. Dr. King, these times require courage, as they did when you lived and paid the ultimate price.” The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Nearly half of Canadians who plan to make an early return to concerts, theatres and other mass cultural experiences say it’ll take a vaccination before they feel comfortable to do so, according to a new survey.A report commissioned by the charitable organization Business/Arts, which links the businesses and arts communities, and conducted by Nanos Research, found respondents highlighted the vaccine as an essential step in their return, more so than a previous survey last summer.Forty-six per cent of those polled in November said that while they plan to attend indoor events within five months of reopening, they would still want a vaccine first.That’s an increase from the 28 per cent of eventgoers who said so in a survey conducted by the organization last July.Respondents who answered on the prospects of returning to mass outdoor events felt similarly, with 44 per cent saying they’d want a vaccine first, versus 15 per cent in July.The survey, conducted in partnership with the National Arts Centre, highlighted that safety and exposure to COVID-19 remain the key obstacles for a return to normalcy in the arts community, while people not respecting health measures was also mentioned.About one in 10 respondents said they do not currently have any obstacles to attending an in-person cultural event.The survey polled 1,096 Canadian adults by phone and online between Nov. 26 and Nov. 29, 2020. According to the polling industry's generally accepted standards, online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
TURIN, Italy — Torino hired former player Davide Nicola as coach on Tuesday to replace the fired Marco Giampaolo. Giampaolo was let go on Monday after a poor start to the season left Torino 18th in the league standings, a point from safety. Nicola is known as a coach who can rescue teams from desperate situations, notably at Crotone in 2016-17 when the team secured 20 points from its last nine matches to secure another season in Serie A. Before the start of that season, the club's first in the top flight, Nicola had vowed to ride 1,300 kilometres (800 miles) from Crotone to Turin on a bicycle if the team avoided relegation. He duly obliged, arriving some nine days after he set off. The 47-year-old Nicola also helped Genoa avoid relegation last season. Nicola, a former defender, spent the 2005-06 season at Torino as a player, scoring the goal that earned it promotion to Serie A in extra time of the playoff final. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Hallie Knight, a high school senior from Jacksonville, Florida, has some well formed ideas about where the country is and how she'd like to see it change. The 17-year-old has won a contest organized by the Academy of American Poets for which students under 18 wrote their own inaugural poems in anticipation of Wednesday's swearing in of President-elect Joe Biden. Applicants for the Inaugural Poem Project were urged to submit work that reflects “on the country’s challenges, strengths, and hope for its future," according to the guidelines. Knight says she "wanted to acknowledge the greatness of the potential for our country at this present moment, and the opportunity we have as citizens to choose what it becomes out of all this chaos.” Inspired by works ranging from W.H. Auden's “As I Walked Out One Evening” to Adrienne Rich's “Storm Warnings,” Knight crafted a piece called “To Rebuild” that likens the U.S. to a house that has been severely but not hopelessly damaged. The work is not complete until The walls protect all who live there, No exceptions. Abandonment of all Unnecessary despair. Knight will receive $1,000, and her work — along with the poems of two runners-up — will be featured on Poets.org and in American Poets magazine. The official inaugural poem will be read during Wednesday's ceremony by Amanda Gorman, the country’s first Youth Poet Laureate. She is 22, just a few years older than Knight. “She is proof to people of all ages, but especially those younger than her, that there is no need to wait to make an impact,” Knight says. A former inaugural poet, Richard Blanco, served as judge for the contest finalists. Blanco said he was impressed by Knight's imagery, likening it to Abraham Lincoln’s famous warning that a “house divided against itself cannot stand.” He added that he was taken by the level of craft Knight and others demonstrated, and by their remarkably unbroken idealism. “Even after everything we've been through the past few years, they're not giving up," says Blanco, who read at the 2013 inaugural of President Barack Obama. “We don't want to sugarcoat what's going on and be a Hallmark kind of poem. We're looking for that balance of truth and hope.” Mina King, a 17-year-old from Shreveport, Louisiana, came in second for “In Pursuit of Dawn," in which she wove in the common American theme of rising from poverty. My stepfather created opportunity from the destitute nothing he was dealt, consoled only by the American dream that came as whispers under snow-dappled stars. And from these muffled mumblings he bettered his situation. The third-place finisher is just 12 years old: Gabrielle Marshall, from Richmond, Virginia. Her “The Power of Hope” acknowledged the country’s profound divisions, and possibilities: Today’s hope is peering beyond the lingering barrier, but still recognizing the diversity in ourselves. Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
The lawyer for the younger teen accused of murdering a Calgary police officer has been notified that if convicted, the prosecution will seek an adult sentence. A bail hearing got underway Tuesday morning for one of the two young men charged with first-degree murder in the death of Sgt. Andrew Harnett. Prosecutor Doug Taylor is opposing release. Harnett, 37, was killed on New Years Eve when he was dragged during a traffic stop by a fleeing SUV. Police charged two teens with first-degree murder: a 17-year-old, who turned 18 last week and was the alleged driver of the SUV, and Amir Abdulrahman, 19, who police say was the passenger. Although he is now 18 years old, the young man is prohibited from being identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. CPS officers, the accused's mother and sister and members of the media were in the courtroom for the hearing. A publication ban sought by defence lawyer Kaysi Fagan protects her client's right to a fair trial. That means no details on arguments or evidence presented at the bail hearing can be published. Fellow officers tried to save Harnett Around 11 p.m. on New Year's Eve, Harnett pulled over an SUV, police say. After speaking with the driver, who police allege is the 17-year-old youth, Harnett was in the process of issuing traffic tickets related to the driver's graduated licence and headlights, which were not on. CBC News previously reported that Harnett was dragged 400 metres before he was flung from a fleeing SUV. Other officers and paramedics tried to save Harnett, but he died in hospital nearly an hour later. Harnett's own body-worn camera footage — which Taylor previously said would be played at the accused's bail hearings — is expected to be critical evidence for the Crown. Court documents show Abdulrahman was wanted on four warrants, including one for assault and three for failure to comply with court orders. The bail hearing will continue on Wednesday. The judge has indicated he will likely reserve his decision.
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa's trailblazing Black food writer Dorah Sitole's latest cookbook was widely hailed in December as a moving chronicle of her journey from humble township cook to famous, well-travelled author. The country's new Black celebrity chefs lined up to praise her as a mentor who encouraged them to succeed by highlighting what they knew best: tasty African food. Now they are mourning Sitole's death this month from COVID-19. She was 65. In “40 Years of Iconic Food,” Sitole engagingly described how she quietly battled South Africa's racist apartheid system to find appreciation, and a market, for African cuisine. Her book became a holiday bestseller, purchased by Blacks and whites alike. Sitole's career started in 1980 at the height of apartheid when she was hired by a canned foods company to promote sales of their products by giving cooking classes in Black townships. She found that she loved the work. In 1987, Sitole became the country's first Black food writer when she was appointed food editor for True Love, one of the few publications for the country's Black majority. The magazine, and its competitor Drum, were known for giving Black writers, photographers and editors the freedom to write about the Black condition and experience. With stories that were about much more than food, Sitole described how traditional African dishes brought pleasure to families and communities in troubled times. She was known for her distinctive takes on well-known recipes and tips on how to make them on a budget. She won an avid readership and became a household name, even as South Africa's townships were roiled by anti-apartheid violence. When apartheid ended and Nelson Mandela became president in 1994, Sitole found new opportunities. She trained as a Cordon Bleu chef and got a diploma in marketing. She travelled across Africa to learn about the continent's cuisine, producing the book “Cooking from Cape to Cairo.” In interviews, she pointed out her East African fish dish with basmati rice that she developed while travelling through that region, and the seafood samp recipe, which is basically a paella using chopped corn kernels instead of the traditional rice. In 2008, Sitole's success was acknowledged when she was appointed True Love's editor-in-chief. Sitole's warmth and generosity is credited with opening doors for many Black chefs, food writers and influencers who are thriving in South Africa today. “Mam (mother) Dorah’s approach to food was a mixture of things. First, it was something that was driven by her background, she was very true to who she was," said Siba Mtongana, one of South Africa's brightest new chefs, who started out as food editor for Drum magazine and now has a television series and cookbooks. “She would take what we grew up eating and add a twist to them, and add flavours that we would not ordinarily have thought of putting together,” said Mtongana who has opened a restaurant in Cape Town, featuring food from all over Africa. She said Sitole imbued her with a passion for exposing the world to Africa's many cuisines saying she loved describing to her readers what others enjoy eating across Africa, and around the world. Another chef who credits Sitole for assisting her is Khanya Mzongwana, a contributing editor for food retailer Woolworths’ Taste magazine. “Mam Dorah wore so many hats — she was a writer, a creator, a mother, a friend, a real artist. I remember just how awesome it was to see a Black woman blazing trails in food media. Nobody was doing that," said Mzongwana. “What made Mam Dorah the best was definitely how she could fill a space with pleasantness," said Mzongwana. “She was so generous with her resources and wanted to see all of us — her daughters — win. Paying it forward in meaningful ways is something I saw Mam Dorah do first," she said. “She loved and respected everybody and made what seemed like such a wild dream appear so reachable and normal. She was one of the most impactful Black women in the food world.” Sitole received numerous awards for her contribution to South African culture. In one of her last interviews, Sitole said the highlight of her four-decade career was her trip across the continent. “I had always wanted to travel through Africa and I had no clue what to expect," she said on Radio 702. "It was almost like you don’t know what you are going into, and then you find it. I loved every moment and every country that I went to, I loved the food and the experience." Sitole is survived by her children Nonhlanhla, Phumzile and Ayanda. Mogomotsi Magome, The Associated Press
CENTRE WELLINGTON – Centre Wellington council has approved allocating slots revenue toward two arts and culture groups’ capital projects. Based on Centre Wellington policy, five per cent of OLG payments received in the previous year can be put towards arts, culture and heritage purposes. A report by Dan Wilson estimates approximately $46,000 in eligible funds from 2020 OLG revenue. With casino closures, Centre Wellington saw a $2 million decline in OLG funds in 2020. At Monday afternoon’s council meeting, councillors were presented with an option to give funding to the Elora Centre for the Arts (ECTA) and the Fergus Scottish Festival, or to retain the funding and allocate it in 2022. Councillors spoke in favour of allocating funding towards the two groups who had delegated at a December budget meeting with asks for funding. The ECTA requested $20,000 to help with ongoing maintenance that has been identified through a building audit. Some repairs noted in a ECTA presentation included: The Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games requested $50,000 for infrastructure projects at the CW Sportsplex. A letter to council said the festival is looking to improve fibre communications infrastructure, pavement improvements and campground upgrades at the sportsplex. The two requests couldn’t be fully met but council approved a suggestion from councillor Ian MacRae’s of $17,000 to ECTA and $29,000 to the Fergus Scottish Festival. Council approved this recommendation in a 6-1 vote with councillor Kirk McElwain against. McElwain said he felt the ECTA made a reasonable ask and wanted to fulfill their request. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
MILAN — AC Milan signed 34-year-old Mario Mandžukic on Tuesday, giving 39-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic support in attack for the Italian league leader’s title challenge. Milan said the Croatia veteran “agreed on a deal until the end of the current season with an option to extend the contract for the next one." Mandžukic returns to Serie A — where he won four straight titles with Juventus from 2015-19 — after a spell in Qatar with league winner Al-Duhail. Milan is seeking a first Serie A title for 10 years and leads by three points from city rival Inter. Milan is also in the Europa League round of 32 and faces Red Star Belgrade next month. Mandžukic will wear the No. 9 shirt, the club said. He won a Champions League title with Bayern Munich in 2013 and scored for Juventus in a 4-1 loss in the 2017 final against Real Madrid. Mandžukic is also the only player to score for both teams in a World Cup final, in Croatia’s 4-2 loss to France in 2018. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
As authorities in southern Germany and in Austria make FFP2 masks mandatory on public transport and in shops, we ask an expert what difference these masks make.View on euronews
Family members of a Roberta Place resident who died Friday evening say the Barrie long-term care home was clearly in need of help. “They’re so woefully understaffed,” said Jennifer Raedts. “It’s like a ghost town in there.” Her mother-in-law, Jean Raedts, passed away Friday evening at the age of 79. She had medical complications prior to being diagnosed with COVID-19 the previous Sunday. Over the weekend, the NDP called for the military to be summoned to help out at the Essa Road facility in south-end Barrie. Also over the weekend, Simcoe-Muskoka medical officer of health Dr. Charles Gardner issued an order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act to ensure Roberta Place's long-term care home gets the support necessary to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak, which was declared on Jan. 8. Staff from Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital will take a lead role. As of Sunday, nine COVID-positive Roberta Place residents have died. The health unit reported on Monday there were also 63 positive cases of the virus among residents at the home as well as 53 confirmed cases among team members. Gardner’s order also directs that there be “sufficient staffing at all times to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak at the institution and ensure the development of an effective staffing recruitment plan for if/when same is necessary.” Meanwhile, 71 Roberta Place residents who were not cases or ill, as well as eligible staff were vaccinated against COVID-19 on-site Saturday through the health unit’s mobile immunization unit. Staff and essential caregivers of all long-term care homes in Simcoe-Muskoka have been receiving their vaccination at the COVID-19 Immunization Clinic in Barrie, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit advised. Members of the Canadian Red Cross have also been at the Essa Road facility assisting in the COVID outbreak. Additionally, staff from Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) were on-site last week and members of its infection prevention and control team are on site today. RVH's swab team is expected to return on Tuesday. On Twitter today, Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman said he was heartened to hear that a major effort is now underway to provide co-ordinated support, which also includes the Ontario Ministry of Long-Term Care, the County of Simcoe and Georgian College. “While extensive support is being provided, it is an incredibly difficult time for the residents, staff and families of Roberta Place," the mayor tweeted. "I can only imagine the pain for all involved. The best thing we can do to help is do our part to stop community spread so it doesn't reach (long-term care)." Jennifer Raedts said the care her mother-in-law received at Roberta Place has been wonderful since she first arrived there following a stroke about 18 months ago. And that care continued during the last two days of the senior’s life, although Raedts said she saw only one of the regular staff members she’s come to know, and those who were working there were clearly quite busy. Raedts’ husband, Gary, became his mom’s essential caregiver in December and was the sole family member permitted to see her and help her in her room until a full lockdown was issued and visitors were prohibited. “They’ve been wonderful about sending emails… to keep us updated,” said the daughter-in-law. As the deadly virus entered the facility, family members were notified and visitations stopped on Jan. 8. The Raedts were also asked if they could once again test Jean for COVID-19. The following Sunday, they received a call that Jean had tested positive for the virus and she was placed in isolation. She had a low-grade fever, but it was gone the next day and there were no obvious symptoms. On Thursday, however, Jean took a turn for the worse. Roberta Place staff reported to the family that her health was declining and they were permitted to spend her last moments with her, providing her with comfort care. Four of her five sons, along with Jennifer Raedts, were permitted to go into her room two at a time, “which was very nice, for all of us to say goodbye and spend some time with her," she said. “And the staff was amazing.” When family members entered the facility Thursday and Friday, they had to undergo COVID screening accompanied by a questionnaire and had their temperatures taken. They were instructed to sanitize their hands and phones and then given masks, shields, gowns and gloves and instructed to go directly to Jean’s room. Over the course of those two days, they followed the strict protocol every time they entered and exited the facility, leaving only to go to their car to wait while the other family members went inside to spend time with Jean. “Someone was always with her the last two days,” said Raedts. Jean Raedts, born Georgina Kinsella, had spent her entire life in Barrie. Her husband, Harry, came here from Holland during his teens and passed away 37 years ago, leaving Jean — as she was known — to raise the boys on her own. “She was a pretty amazing lady,” said her daughter-in-law. Jean met Harry when they were both teenagers working at the General Electric plant in Barrie, but Jean spent most of her career as a receptionist in a local real estate office. “She was the quintessential mother,” said her daughter-in-law. “She loved her children and her grandchildren and would have done anything for them.” Raedts said her own family was blessed to have Jean living with them for 18 years before she moved into Roberta Place where she was comfortable and well cared for. Marg. Bruineman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, barrietoday.com
Setting money goals in 2020 was likely an exercise in futility. Maybe you’d been saving for a trip abroad, but the pandemic kept you at home. Or you wanted to save up for a down payment on a house, then the recession left you out of a job. The pandemic made achieving yearlong goals a challenge for many last year. In fact, 29% of Americans with financial goals for 2020 said COVID-19 forced them to put some of those aspirations on hold until 2021, according to a NerdWallet survey conducted online in late fall by The Harris Poll among over 1,700 U.S. adults with 2020 financial goals. Although the pandemic is still part of our daily lives, the new year offers an opportunity to craft fresh money goals — and perhaps the trials of last year can help you clarify your financial ambitions. KNOW YOURSELF AND YOUR PRIORITIES Before you set your goals, think about your current financial situation and your priorities for the new year. “Take an inventory of where you are and more importantly who you are,” says Jordan Awoye, an equitable advisor based in Long Island, New York. First, dig into the state of your finances, including your income, monthly expenses and emergency fund. Understand where you are right now to get an idea of where you could be in a year’s time. Then think about your personal priorities and values — and how they may have shifted as a result of the pandemic — to pinpoint what you want from your finances. Maybe you want to get back to a baseline of where you were in early 2020, before a year of financial challenges. Or maybe you want to use the money you saved while staying at home to put a down payment on a house. “Start with an understanding of the why behind your goal,” says Kristen Holt, CEO of the non-profit credit counselling agency GreenPath Financial Wellness. “A great goal is ‘I want to get out of debt,’ but go deeper and ask why. Will you be able to sleep better? Will you be able to enjoy life more? Get clear on your why, because that can be motivation to stick to your goal.” CRAFT SMART(R) GOALS With the foundation of your priorities and motivation settled, it’s time to establish the framework to build your financial future. That means crafting your goals in a way that makes them easier to achieve. The SMART template for goal-setting can help: — SPECIFIC: Make your goals as specific as possible. If you want to curb your spending, for example, pin down how much you spend on unnecessary items each month. Then set an exact dollar limit for such spending. — MEASURABLE: Choose a way to track your progress. If you’re paying down debt, think about using a debt tracker. Or if you want to save a certain dollar amount, consider visualizing your goal in a savings progress chart that you’ll colour in as you go. — ATTAINABLE: Your goals need to be something you can accomplish within a year. If you’re paying off $10,000 in credit card debt, for example, find what you can realistically pay monthly, multiply that by 12 and use that amount as your goal. — RELEVANT: Choose goals that are meaningful to your personal values. Similar to finding your “why,” choosing relevant goals helps ensure that your 2021 financial plan is connected to your life goals. If you want to retire early, think about upping contributions to a retirement account so you’re on track to accomplish that multi-year goal. — TIME-LIMITED: Setting a deadline can keep the pressure on. And think about breaking up your overarching goal into smaller pieces that you’ll achieve on a monthly basis. Hitting monthly goals can provide a steady feed of accomplishments, which can keep you motivated. Take the SMART acronym a step further by tacking on an “R” for “reward.” Plan rewards for yourself as you make progress. The more enjoyment you get out of the process, the more likely you are to keep working at it. Say you want to reduce debt. For each $100 you pay off, find a way to treat yourself, maybe by making a nice dinner or having a DIY spa day at home. TACTICS TO BOOST YOUR PROGRESS Finally, here are a few simple tips to build momentum: — AUTOMATE: Taking a “set it and forget it” approach can make accomplishing your ambitions easier. For savings goals, try direct depositing a portion of your income into a high-yield savings account. And for debt payoff, set up automatic payments for an amount above the minimum due to ensure you’re making progress. — CUT YOUR INTEREST RATE: If less of your payment goes to interest, more of it goes to debt payoff. You may be able to reduce your rate by refinancing your mortgage, student loan or car loan. If you have credit card debt, see whether you can qualify for a debt consolidation loan or a balance transfer credit card with a 0% APR promotional period. _______________________________ This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Sean Pyles is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @SeanPyles. RELATED LINK: NerdWallet: Money goals in flux under pressure of pandemic http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-pandemic-money-goals Sean Pyles Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
KABUL — Some 10 million children in war-ravaged Afghanistan are at risk of not having enough food to eat in 2021, a humanitarian organization said Tuesday and called for $1.3 billion in new funds for aid. Just over 18 million Afghans, including 9.7 million children, are badly in need of lifesaving support, including food, Save the Children said in a statement. The group called for $1.3 billion in donations to pay for assistance in 2021. Chris Nyamandi, the organization's Afghanistan country director, said Afghans are suffering under a combination of violent conflict, poverty and the virus pandemic. “It’s a desperately bad situation that needs urgent attention from the international community,” he said. The latest round of peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government negotiators that began earlier this month in Qatar has been slow to produce results as concerns grow over a recent spike in violence across Afghanistan. The pandemic has also had a disastrous impact on millions of Afghan families. In 2020, the World Bank estimated that the pandemic had hugely disrupted imports, including vital household items, which in turn led to rapid inflation. The added health and economic strains of the pandemic have deepened the humanitarian impact across the country. Many Afghans also blame runaway government corruption and lawlessness for the country’s poor economy. The U.N. and its humanitarian partners will seek $1.3 billion in aid for 16 million Afghans in need this year, U.N. secretary-general spokesman Stephane Dujarric, said this month. That’s up from an estimated 2.3 million people last year who needed life-saving assistance. “It’s a huge increase in people who need aid,” he said. Nyamandi said that with no immediate end in sight to the decades-long conflict, millions of people will continue to suffer. “It’s especially hard on children, many of whom have known nothing but violence," he said. According to the U.N., nearly 6,000 people — a third of them children — were killed or wounded in fighting in Afghanistan between January and September last year, Nyamandi said. The violence continues to force hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes every year and limit people's access to resources including hospitals and clinics. In a Save the Children report in December, the group said more than 300,000 Afghan children faced freezing winter conditions that could lead to illness and death without proper winter clothing and heating. The organization provided winter kits to more than 100,000 families in 12 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces. The kits included fuel and a heater, blankets and winter clothes, including coats, socks, shoes and hats. Nyamandi said the plight of the Afghan people is threatened by inadequate humanitarian funding pledged by wealthy nations at a conference in Geneva in November. “Aid to Afghanistan has dropped alarmingly at a time when humanitarian need is rising. We’re now in the unsustainable position where aid falls far short of what’s needed to meet the needs of the people” he said. The London-based Save the Children report cites 10-year-old Brishna from eastern Nangarhar province as saying her family was forced to leave their home and move to another district because of the fighting. “Life is difficult," she said. “My father, who is responsible for bringing us food, is sick.” Brishna said she and her brother collect garbage for cooking fires and it has been a long time since they had proper food and clothes. “My siblings and I always wish to have three meals in a day with some fruits, and a better life. But sometimes, we sleep with empty stomachs. During the winter we don’t have blankets and heating stuff to warm our house,” she said. ___ This story has been corrected to show that the aid group is calling for $1.3 billion, not $3 billion in aid money. Rahim Faiez, The Associated Press
Those surprised at U.S. president-elect Joe Biden’s intention to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline permit might want to take a look at the incoming administration’s plans for environmental justice. In addition to Biden openly vowing to cancel the controversial project if he won office, the pipeline has faced stiff opposition from some U.S. tribes. Ignoring these Indigenous groups in the context of fossil fuel development would seem to go against Biden’s “climate crisis strategy,” specifically designed to support tribes as well as states and territories. Experts say if Biden follows through with his intention to kill Keystone XL, it should be seen in this broader context, as the incoming U.S. administration gets set to put Biden’s overarching “plan to secure environmental justice and equitable economic opportunity” into motion. “Climate justice is the idea that, rather than just looking at climate change as just an environmental or physical issue, it recognizes there are so many aspects to it that are also related to justice,” said Lindsey Bacigal, director of communications at Indigenous Climate Action, in an interview. “Capitalism, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, anti-migrant sentiment, Islamophobia, anti-Indigenous sentiment, racism — all these things really help to uphold climate change, rather than work to fix it,” she said. “Rather than looking at these systems of power that have got us to where we are right now, how is it that we can work from the grassroots up, rather than from the top down?” Bacigal said ending Keystone XL would be “far from the only fight — it’s definitely a step in the right direction, but we’re far away from climate justice yet.” Environmental justice addresses the fact that in many parts of the world, the places where pollution is generated, toxic chemicals are processed or garbage is dumped tend to be near marginalized or low-income communities. Often, these communities have no power over the fact that they are exposed to threats to their health or safety. Environmental justice seeks to ensure that no community should be forced to endure this kind of exposure just because of its particular demographic makeup. The Biden campaign pivoted towards this approach after the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated “how profoundly the energy and environmental policy decisions of the past have failed communities of colour,” it stated in its plan. The administration intends to direct 40 per cent of clean energy spending towards “disadvantaged communities” to address the idea that “communities of colour and low-income communities have faced disproportionate harm from climate change and environmental contaminants for decades.” The plan says the administration will use a “climate and economic justice screening tool” to identify which communities are disadvantaged or “threatened by the cumulative impacts of the multiple stresses of climate change, economic and racial inequality, and multi-source environmental pollution.” The president-elect’s team has picked Cecilia Martinez, for example, the co-founder and executive director of the Minneapolis-based Center for Earth, Energy, and Democracy, to be senior director for environmental justice at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Also joining the team is Stefanie Feldman, who was national policy director for the campaign, worked on Biden’s climate plan and will now serve as deputy assistant to the president and senior adviser to the director of the Domestic Policy Council. Feldman is credited with securing support from environmental justice advocates during the presidential race. Tim Gray, executive director at Environmental Defence, also said he thought a decision to cancel Keystone XL should be seen in the context of environmental justice, and he expected to see more action on that front from the administration. Gray noted that Biden had nominated North Carolina environmental regulator Michael Regan to run the Environmental Protection Agency following a campaign by dozens of advocates to block the candidacy of Mary Nichols, who chaired the California Air Resources Board, over concerns she did not adhere to recommendations from environmental justice bodies. “Many urban areas and non-urban areas in the U.S., where a lot of fossil fuel manufacturing is occurring … a lot of those are disproportionately impacting marginalized communities,” said Gray. “I think you’ll see a lot more attention on that from the Biden administration, for sure.” Carl Meyer / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer Carl Meyer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
“Before She Disappeared,” by Lisa Gardner (Dutton) Frankie Elkin is a nomad. Owning only what she can carry, she wanders from town to town hunting for missing people whom the police have been unable to find. She is neither a police officer nor a private detective. She has no training for this work and asks nothing in return for it. But in the ten years or so since it became her obsession, she has become good at it. So far, she has found 10 missing people. Sadly, none of them were found alive. As Lisa Gardner’s “Before She Disappeared” opens, Frankie is hoping to break that string of bad luck in the largely Haitian neighbourhood of Mattapan in Boston. There,16-year-old Angelique Lovelie Badeau has been missing for 11 months, never making it home after school one day. Frankie, who can’t afford to eat unless she works, talks her way into a bartending job in the neighbourhood and introduces herself to the missing girl’s family and the Boston detective working the case. None of them are pleased to see her, but Frankie’s unflinching honesty and her ability to ask questions that open new avenues of investigation gradually win them over. Sometimes working alone and sometimes with the detective, she gradually uncovers a tangle of fake I.D. forgers, street-level drug dealers, counterfeit cash passers and human traffickers who may or may not have something to do with the girl’s disappearance. Still worse, mid-way into the investigation the missing girl’s best friend also goes missing. This book, the bestselling author’s first stand-alone novel in 20-years, is a sharply-written, tension-filled yarn full of twists readers are unlikely to see coming. The most compelling element, however, is the character of Frankie, a recovering alcoholic whose obsession with the missing is a penance of sorts for the burden of guilt and grief she carries over a past trauma that took the life of a man she loves. ___ Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, is the author of the Mulligan crime novels including “The Dread Line.” Bruce Desilva, The Associated Press
Brock University is joining the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business as a member. The council will provide Brock with a conduit to more than 1,000 businesses operated by Indigenous peoples and access to diverse programming, tools and training. Acting vice-provost of Indigenous engagement Robyn Bourgeois said joining an organization meant to support Indigenous businesses illustrates how everyone plays a role in the university’s decolonization and Indigenization efforts. “It’s such a great example of how we can operationalize what we mean by that pillar of fostering a culture of inclusivity, accessibility, reconciliation and decolonization and showing our support for Indigenous peoples,” she said. Chuck Maclean first suggested that the university join the council. Maclean, who helps units across the university with purchasing, said he learned about it at a conference and realized the school could benefit from joining. “If Indigenous businesses can give us like services and a good value, why not be supportive of them when it’s appropriate?” he said. “It’s a great collaboration. We’ll start from a foundation and build up, introducing these businesses to the university and the value of their work.” While 2021 marks Brock’s first full year as a CCAB member, it has a connection going much further back. One of the CCAB’s founding members was Suzanne Rochon-Burnett, who died in 2006. She was an important figure in Brock’s history who served two terms on the board of trustees and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the university in 2002. The Suzanne Rochon-Burnett Scholarship at Brock has helped opened the doors to post-secondary education for more than two dozen Indigenous students. Michele-Elise Burnett, a trustee and co-chair of Brock’s Aboriginal education council, said her mother would be proud of Maclean’s vision. “My mother always believed Brock University would lead by example and become Canada’s Indigenous school of excellence, raising the bar for all universities to emulate.” Bourgeois hopes Maclean’s example will help lead to others thinking about what role they can play in Indigenizing the university. “Quite often, when we think about Indigenizing, we think in siloed terms,” she said. “In reality, that commitment to Indigenization and decolonization should be infused throughout the university, and that means all levels and areas could be involved.” Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org Sean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
PRISTINA, Kosovo — A court in Kosovo on Tuesday acquitted a dozen former government officials of misusing public money in benefits payments to people who hadn't fought during the 1998-1999 war. The Pristina court said that the 12 defendants, who included former ministers and lawmakers, couldn't be blamed for the illegal payments to around 19,000 fake war veterans, as the prosecutor’s office had charged them in 2018. The prosecutor's office said the state budget suffered 68 million euros ($79 million at the time) in losses claimed improperly from people falsely presenting themselves to be war veterans. Kosovo offers benefits to former fighters of the 1998-1999 war for independence from Serbia. A NATO-led air campaign in 1999 forced Serb troops out of Kosovo where an armed uprising by the ethnic Albanian majority population fought for independence. At the time, Kosovo was run by the United Nations until 2008 when it declared independence that Serbia refuses to recognize. The Associated Press
The Ontario government plans to ramp up inspections at big-box stores. But confusion over the rules remain. Marianne Dimain reports.