Ontario Premier Doug Ford reiterated his message on Wednesday to stay at home unless it’s essential, adding “it’s the law and it will be enforced.” He added that what “essential” means for people is different so they should use their best judgement.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford reiterated his message on Wednesday to stay at home unless it’s essential, adding “it’s the law and it will be enforced.” He added that what “essential” means for people is different so they should use their best judgement.
From a global perspective, there was nothing unique about the recent raid on the U.S. Capitol. Both Republican and Democratic administrations have backed military coups around the world for decades.
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia's deputy premier and finance minister says she will leave politics when the next provincial election is called. Karen Casey made the announcement following a cabinet meeting today, saying that after 15 years representing the riding of Colchester North, she is ready to retire and wants to spend more time with her grandchildren. Casey says while she had been pondering her future for some time she only made a final decision over the last week. She had served under Premier Stephen McNeil in the education and health portfolios and was named deputy premier in 2017. McNeil, who is leaving politics next month, says he counts Casey as a personal friend and believes she played an "integral role" in helping return the province to fiscal health. Casey was a former interim leader of the Progressive Conservatives and defected to the Liberals in 2011. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
A natural day-use recreation area near Evergreen Park will be enhanced to better accommodate pedestrians, on-leash dogs, cyclists and equestrians. County of Grande Prairie council approved a management plan for the 99-acre area, christened Evergreen Ridge Recreation Area, during its regular meeting last week. “Over the past year, people have been outdoors, recreating more,” said county reeve Leanne Beaupre. “This (provides) another opportunity for people to get out and enjoy our natural backyards.” Evergreen Ridge Recreation Area is located northeast of Evergreen Park and north of the Peace Area Riding for the Disabled Society (PARDS). It is also near approximately a half-dozen residences in Pine Valley South subdivision to the south, she said. Local people sometimes refer to the area as the “dog park” before the county named it Evergreen Ridge due to its proximity to Evergreen Park, according to administration. The area is Crown land and is leased to the county under a 2018 agreement with Alberta Environment. The natural trail network and sandy dunes are already used by pedestrians and dog-owners and PARDS members use trails as well, Beaupre said. The county means to maintain Evergreen Ridge as a “low-impact” recreational resource. It is not, said Beaupre, part of Evergreen Park. Alberta Environment and Parks requested a management plan be developed. Beaupre added a plan can prevent conflicts between responsible users and others using the area for unpermitted fires or illegal dumping. According to county communications, the plan as approved by council proposes infrastructure improvements to begin this spring. The improvements include new signage and the addition of an information kiosk, as well as fencing around the area’s eastern boundary. The kiosk will be unstaffed and will include more signage, and the information may include trail directions, Beaupre said. The signage may also provide information about local animal species, as well as communicate pets must be kept on leashes, according to the plan. Local wildlife includes mule deer, elk, moose, black bears, coyotes and smaller mammals, but due to heavy human use large animals aren’t common in the area, according to administration. The parking lot is mainly sand, and the county may grade it and perhaps add a culvert as part of the improvements, according to the plan. Funds of under $5,000 for Evergreen Ridge in the 2021 budget are expected, according to county parks and recreation. Evergreen Ridge does not allow overnight stays, off-highway vehicles or unleashed pets, according to the county. Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News
The chief of the Chippewas of Rama First Nation says that the territory's vulnerable people have been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus and he is optimistic the rest of the community will receive the vaccine as soon as possible. Chief Ted Williams said the First Nation has worked closely with the local health unit to prioritize the vaccine rollout. “Our long-term-care staff and residents … have been inoculated already because they are highly vulnerable. We are waiting patiently for our director of health and social services, who sits with the Simcoe Muskoka Health Unit, as plans are made to receive the vaccine here. But that’s going to be some time off,” he said. The chief said that vulnerable residents received their first of two shots last week. He added that he has not heard a lot of frustration or impatience expressed by other community members, as they wait for the vaccine to be made available across the territory. “There is a pecking order as they have indicated. We are patient with that. We know that (health officials) are out there, doing the very best that they can,” Williams said. “Our health director is working very closely with them. We have input and we have instant information.” Rama First Nation has had five COVID cases in total since the pandemic began, none in more than two months, the chief said. He added that all five residents have since recovered. So far, the new provincial restrictions are not causing any new undue stress or hardship on his members, Williams said. “When they talk about the hours of business, we have had that in place for several months. In that regard we are ahead of them. We communicate frequently with our own community. There are provincial guidelines that we follow but there are also guidelines imposed by the leadership here and everyone in our community is co-operating very well,” the chief said. “I’m very thankful that members of our community are adhering to the call to say safe, wear your mask, keep social distancing and stay away from anyone who is not a part of your household.” Williams said that he also hasn’t heard a lot of talk about some Indigenous people being reluctant to get the vaccine, at least in part, because of the troubling history of their treatment by the health care system. “We understand the big picture. Of course there is a time and a place in which we have discussion and dialogue to assist each other in overcoming the challenges that are placed on Indigenous communities. The way you get around that is to have good dialogue with your neighbours and your (health care) partners,” the chief said. “We are all in this together. My focus right now has to be on COVID and working hard with my colleagues on council, with my staff and with my community. I can’t be worried about anything other than that.” Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, said he understands the mistrust some First Nations people have toward the health-care system, adding no one will be forced to take the vaccine. “I sympathize with their concerns and I acknowledge the history,” Gardner said. “I think it is really important that we work with leadership in the Indigenous community about what we wish to do and why. They can be communicators on this. Others in the community, including elders, can be leaders on this. But in the end, it is a personal decision.” John McFadden, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Commentators across the political spectrum spread anti-Islamic rhetoric, insisting that Islam is intrinsically violent and that Muslims are terrorists. But studies show these claims are unfounded.
WASHINGTON — The Democratic-controlled Congress is moving quickly to install retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as President Joe Biden’s secretary of defence, brushing aside concerns about his retirement inside the seven-year window that safeguards civilian leadership of the military. The House is voting Thursday on a waiver that would exempt Austin from the seven-year rule. All signs point to quick action in the Senate after that, putting Austin on track to be confirmed as secretary by week's end. Austin, a 41-year veteran of the Army, has promised to surround himself with qualified civilians and include them in policy decisions. He said he has spent nearly his entire life committed to the principle of civilian control over the military. While the waiver is expected to be approved, the vote puts Democrats in an awkward position. Many of them opposed a similar waiver in 2017 for Jim Mattis, former President Donald Trump's first secretary of defence. Austin, who would be the first Black secretary of defence, said he understands why some have questioned the wisdom of putting a recently retired general in charge of the Defence Department. Much of his focus this week, including in his remarks at his Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday, has been on persuading members of Congress that although he has been out of uniform for less than five years, he sees himself as a civilian, not a general. Some aspects of his policy priorities are less clear. He emphasized on Tuesday that he will follow Biden’s lead in giving renewed attention to dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. “I will quickly review the department’s contributions to coronavirus relief efforts, ensuring we are doing everything we can — and then some — to help distribute vaccines across the country and to vaccinate our troops and preserve readiness,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee. Under questioning by senators, Austin pledged to address white supremacy and violent extremism in the ranks of the military — problems that received relatively little public attention from his immediate predecessor, Mark Esper. Austin promised to “rid our ranks of racists,” and said he takes the problem personally. “The Defence Department’s job is to keep America safe from our enemies,” he said. “But we can’t do that if some of those enemies lie within our own ranks.” Austin said he will insist that the leaders of every military service know that extremist behaviour in their ranks is unacceptable. “This is not something we can be passive on,” he said. “This is something I think we have to be active on, and we have to lean into it and make sure that we’re doing the right things to create the right climate.” He offered glimpses of other policy priorities, indicating that he embraces the view among many in Congress that China is the “pacing challenge,” or the leading national security problem for the U.S. The Middle East was the main focus for Austin during much of his 41-year Army career, particularly when he reached senior officer ranks. He served several tours of duty as a commander in Iraq, including as the top commander in 2010-11. An aspect of the defence secretary’s job that is unfamiliar to most who take the job is the far-flung and complex network of nuclear forces that are central to U.S. defence strategy. As a career Army officer, Austin had little reason to learn the intricacies of nuclear policy, since the Army has no nuclear weapons. He told his confirmation hearing that he would bone up on this topic before committing to any change in the nuclear policies set by the Trump administration, including its pursuit of nuclear modernization. Austin, a 1975 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, served in 2012 as the first Black vice chief of staff of the Army. A year later he assumed command of Central Command, where he fashioned and began implementing a strategy for rolling back the Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He describes himself as the son of a postal worker and a homemaker from Thomasville, Georgia, who will speak his mind to Congress and to Biden. Robert Burns And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
Mason Galambos was born on August 12th, 2016, to Brighton residents and parents Jared and Alicia Galambos. A few months after his birth, it was noted that Mason was unable to hold his head up. After receiving exome genetic testing, Mason was diagnosed with Allan-Herndon-Dudley Syndrome in January of 2018. Allan-Herndon-Dudley syndrome is a rare disorder of brain development that causes intellectual and physical disability in affected children. As Mason grows, he experiences debilitating muscle spasms and seizures. The 4-year-old boy was recently fitted with a feeding tube due to difficulty swallowing and requires attention and support around the clock. As parents Jared and Alicia exhaust themselves to care for Mason, the prevalence of Allen-Herndon-Dudley syndrome is still unknown. Mason suffers from epilepsy and is non-verbal with low muscle tone, which prevents him from sitting or walking. After having Mason, Alicia was unable to return to work as he needs constant care and monitoring. Alicia provides 24-hour care for her son as he is unable to move well or feed himself. Mason has several seizures a day and requires monitoring at night as Mason does not sleep well due to struggling with swallowing secretions. “My heart breaks for these parents,” said Jared’s aunt Kathy Jackson. “We do whatever we can financially and physically for them, unfortunately, it’s not enough; we can’t take away their pain or exhaustion.”As Jared and Alicia continue to care for Mason, public and private medical coverages along with Jared’s employer benefits don’t cover all of the expenses needed to provide for Mason. The family is anticipating costs of $100,000 or more to give Mason what he needs to live a happy life. One of the largest upcoming expenses for the Galambos family will be incurred by renovating their home to be more accessible, or moving to a more accessible home, as well as purchasing a vehicle that is suitable for the specialized transport that Mason requires. Last year, Mason underwent surgery for G-tube feeding, dental and abdominal surgeries, as well as therapeutic Botox to help with increasing muscle spasticity. As Mason ages, his condition will continue to wear on his body and he will require additional procedures and medications. Mason required a custom wheelchair to support his body, a standing frame to facilitate weight-bearing, custom orthotics and specialized bath seating. As he continues to grow, each of these aids will need to be replaced, and he will always need supplies for his feeding pump. Despite his condition, Mason is an overall happy child who loves snuggles, tickles, twinkling lights and being in the water. After unexpectedly becoming a single-income family, the family has decided to launch a fundraiser to help support Mason’s future. “This beautiful boy is very loved and very well cared for, but we can’t keep up,” added Jackson. “We need to be able to ease some of the ways they live, by making sure they have accessible housing, equipment, and a suitable vehicle. That is the reason I am trying to raise funds and seek whatever help I can find.” For more information on Mason’s story and fundraiser, details can be found online at https://ca.gf.me/v/c/vhqm/masons-story-living-with-a-rare-disorder None Virginia Clinton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Intelligencer
You can pass through Penville and not real-ize the area was once a thriving village that was settled by early pioneers in the 1830s. The area has no real reminders of a village that would have had all the amenities needed to keep a small town viable at the time. It was located at what is now the 5th Line and 19th Sideroad of New Tecumseth. There are now several houses surrounding the site but almost all are of a relatively recent design. Penville was founded in the 1830s when the area was unpopulated and wild.With no real roads leading into the region, settlers would have had a tough life arriving, probably by ox cart, and building their fi rst home from the materials on the land. The Penfield, Ausman, and Dale families are recorded as being the first to arrive in the area and they began clearing the land for farming operations. They were all Scottish immigrants.Presumably, the Penfield family lent its name to create the village on a map. The village attracted more settlers to the area.So many arrived that a Town Hall was built in 1858 at a cost of $450.00 with the fi rst Reeve being recorded as Robert Cross. Black’s Methodist Church was built in 1850 and a cemetery established in 1858. There is no record of a tavern in the area, however almost every new town in Ontario had at least one local watering hole, and some had several, so most likely some enterprising entrepreneur set up some kind of hotel or tavern in the town. By 1871, the town had grown to a thriving village of 130 souls. By early Ontario standards, that was a sizable population for a pio-neer settlement. Most likely the town would have had a blacksmith, cabinet maker, and a saw mill, which were pretty much standard business in pioneer towns at the time. Like many small towns in Central Ontario, Penville reached its peak in the late 1800s. Over time, residents began to leave to search for more opportunities in other places. By the time the twentieth century arrived, the village was all but abandoned. The church was still standing as late as the mid 1950s, but by that time hadn’t had servic-es in decades and was being used as a granary. The church was demolished sometime in the 50s although the cemetery remains.There are 18 recorded interments in the cemetery, with the last person buried in 1933. After the demolition of the church, the remaining headstones were grouped together in a cairn in the middle of the property. It has been suggested that many of the graves in the cemetery were moved to other cemeteries in the area in the late part of the 19th century, however there is no offi cial record of that. Penville had a good start; however, like many small early settlements, it faded into history as residents moved on to fi nd their fortunes elsewhere. Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times
Bernie Sanders won't be the only one needing warm mittens this week. British Columbians are in for the coldest stretch of the year as a winter high pressure zone settles into place across the province. In Metro Vancouver that means clearing skies and sub-zero temperatures beginning Thursday night. Friday is forecast to be clear with a wind chill of –6 C, according to CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe, with daytime temperatures rising to 4 C. Friday night into Saturday is set to be the coldest night this season at –3 C to –5 C. Saturday stays sunny until a low-pressure system brings in a wintry mix overnight into Sunday, including a couple of centimetres of snow. The snow will change into rain on Sunday — but the long-range forecast shows a chance of more snow falling next week. Vancouver opening warming sites As part of Vancouver's extreme weather response, the city is opening more shelter space starting Thursday to provide people with a safe place during cold winter months. Directions Youth Services Centre at 1138 Burrard St. can provide overnight accommodation for a small number of youth who are up to 24 years old. Shelter spaces for adults will be available at: Evelyn Saller Centre, 320 Alexander St. Tenth Church, 11 West 10th Ave. Langara YMCA, 282 West 49th Ave Powell Street Getaway, 528 Powell St. More shelter spaces are being added on Saturday at: Vancouver Aquatic Centre, 1050 Beach Ave. Creekside Community Centre, 1 Athletes Way. The city says measures are in place at shelters and warming centres to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
PARIS — “I was 9. ... It was my father. He raped me until I was 17.” The French government pledged on Thursday to toughen laws on the rape of children after a massive online movement saw hundreds of victims share accounts about sexual abuse within their families. The move comes in the wake of child abuse accusations involving a prominent French political expert. France’s justice minister said Thursday the government will soon present new legal measures to better protect children, while a draft bill has started being debated at parliament to toughen laws on the rape of minors under 13. The social media campaign was launched Saturday by activists of the French feminist group #NousToutes in reference to the #MeToo movement that sparked a global debate about sexual harassment and assault. The #MeTooInceste hashtag overwhelmed French social media in just a few days. In French, the word “inceste” is widely used to refer to any sexual act between members of the same family, including abuse of children, stepchildren or younger siblings. Hundreds of people shared appalling accounts about how they were sexually abused when they were children: “I was between 11 and 14. It was my brother. I’m now 57 and still a victim of that past." “I was 8. Abused by my grandfather.” “Just one amid so many others. I was 6-7-8 year-old, I don't remember.” Tens of thousands of people responded by sharing and commenting under the same hashtag. Laurent Boyet, 49, was among those who tweeted. A police officer and head of the association Les Papillons ("Butterflies") fighting against child abuse, he published a book in 2017 to tell his story. He said he was raped by his brother, who was 10 years older than him, when he was between 6 and 9. “I really hope society is going to have the courage to face the problem," he told The Associated Press. “We need to stop looking away.” When he spoke to his mother, over 30 years after the abuse started, Boyet said she answered: “I believe you because I had doubts about it.” "All the signals I had sent her, she got them but did nothing," he recalled. "In 2021 we cannot keep quiet anymore, we need to take action,” he added. Boyet's association started in September placing mailboxes in schools to allow children to express their distress through letters. Boyet said some of the written notes have led to legal action, including for alleged sexual abuse. The feminist activist behind the #MeTooInceste campaign, Madeline Da Silva, said “we are convinced that children actually speak out and what’s a very big problem is that no one is hearing them.” Even if children don't say the words, they still show signs that they are suffering “and no one is trained to understand them,” she regretted. That's why, Da Silva said, the movement is not only about improving the laws but above all about introducing immediate, child-centred public policies. “Today we know that when you’re training social workers, teachers about prevention of violence, things are changing: you’re saving lives,” she said. Her #NousToutes group launched a petition urging the government to require systematic training of all people working with children, including teachers, social workers and officials of sports and cultural associations. It was signed Thursday by over 36,000 people, less than two days after it was put online. The debate about France's response to child abuse within families broke out earlier this month amid accusations involving top political expert Olivier Duhamel. A book written by Duhamel’s stepdaughter, Camille Kouchner, accused him of abusing her twin brother during the late 1980s, when the siblings were 13 years old. Some children protection groups are pushing to introduce statutory rape in law, which would state a legal age below which a child cannot agree to a sexual relationship with an adult. Under French law, sexual relations between an adult and a minor under 15 are banned. Yet the law accepts the possibility that a minor is capable of consenting to sex, leading to cases where an adult faces a lighter prison sentence than if prosecuted for rape of an adult, which is punishable by 20 years in prison. Many activists are also in favour of removing the statute of limitations, because the trauma is so deep it can take decades for victims to be able to speak out and face their abuser. The law currently provides that minor victims can file complaints until they are aged 48. The World Health Organization say international studies show that one in five women and one in 13 men report having been sexually abused as a child aged under 18. Experts say sexual abuses are likely to be underestimated amid secrecy often surrounding the issue. Sylvie Corbet, The Associated Press
SEATTLE — Amazon is offering its colossal operations network and advanced technologies to assist President Joe Biden in his vow to get 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations to Americans in his first 100 days in office. “We are prepared to leverage our operations, information technology, and communications capabilities and expertise to assist your administration’s vaccination efforts,” wrote the CEO of Amazon’s Worldwide Consumer division, Dave Clark, in a letter to Biden. “Our scale allows us to make a meaningful impact immediately in the fight against COVID-19, and we stand ready to assist you in this effort.” Amazon said that it has already arranged a licensed third-party occupational health care provider to give vaccines on-site at its facilities for its employees when they become available. Amazon has more than 800,000 employees in the United States, Clark wrote, most of whom essential workers who cannot work from home and should be vaccinated as soon as possible. Biden will sign 10 pandemic-related executive orders on Thursday, his second day in office, but the administration says efforts to supercharge the rollout of vaccines have been hampered by lack of co-operation from the Trump administration during the transition. They say they don’t have a complete understanding of the previous administration’s actions on vaccine distribution. Biden is also depending on Congress to provide $1.9 trillion for economic relief and COVID-19 response. There are a litany of complaints from states that say they are not getting enough vaccine even as they are being asked to vaccinate a broader swath of Americans. According to data through January 20 from Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day rolling average for daily new deaths in the U.S. rose over the past two weeks from 2,677.3 on January 6 to 3,054.1 on Wednesday. More than 400,000 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19. The Associated Press
Une pétition pour soutenir les ainés Si la Covid-19 frappe particulièrement fort chez les ainés, ces derniers font aussi partie des victimes collatérales de la pandémie. En effet, les 65 ans et plus, qui forment 25 % de la population du Bas-Saint-Laurent, souffrent de l’isolement et de la précarité financière induits par les périodes de confinement. Ce jeudi, trois organismes se sont joints aux deux députés fédéraux Maxime Blanchette-Joncas et Kristina Michaud pour lancer une pétition demandant au gouvernement fédéral d’assurer un meilleur soutien aux personnes âgées. Car si Ottawa n’a pas été avare d’aides financières en tout genre dans la dernière année, les ainés font figure de grands oubliés : ils n’ont eu droit qu’à une aide ponctuelle de 500 $ en mars 2020, loin des milliards dépensés en PCU… Cette différence de traitement alimente un « profond sentiment d’injustice », selon M. Blanchette-Joncas, d’autant plus que les personnes âgées doivent composer avec des frais supplémentaires, qu’il s’agisse d’inflation ou de coûts de livraison. Augmenter le revenu des ainés est donc une priorité, ainsi que le martèle le président régional du Réseau FADOQ Gilles Noël : « Nous demandons que le gouvernement mette en œuvre sa promesse électorale faite lors de l’élection de 2019 en rehaussant minimalement de 10% le montant des prestations de la Sécurité de la vieillesse. » Le bénévolat en déroute Du côté de la Table de concertation des ainés du Bas-Saint-Laurent, on souligne l’urgence de briser l’isolement des 65 ans et plus. « Le gouvernement du Canada doit innover afin de mettre en place un réseau d’aide et de soutien direct aux ainés », explique la vice-présidente Kathleen Bouffard. Il devient difficile de trouver des bénévoles (la majorité ayant plus de 70 ans) pour faire des livraisons ou accompagner quelqu’un devant se rendre à l’hôpital pour passer des examens, et il faudrait donc former des travailleurs de milieu pour aller à la rencontre des personnes vivant seules, qui se sentent de plus en plus abandonnées. De son côté, le président du Carrefour 50 + Richard Rancourt alerte sur la situation des organismes qui font vivre les villages : ceux-ci sont portés à bout de bras par des retraités, et leurs revenus s’effondrent suite à la baisse de leur membership. M. Rancourt aimerait que le gouvernement pense à implanter des mesures de compensation pour assumer les coûts fixes, comme cela a été fait dans d’autres secteurs. La remise en route post-pandémie ne se fera pas d’elle-même, ajoute-t-il : « La culture de la peur s’est installée, il va falloir remotiver tout l’engagement bénévole de nos ainés. » Il sera alors probablement nécessaire d’avoir recours à des professionnels en animation, ce qui aura un coût. Internet haute vitesse et transferts en santé exigées Deux autres revendications plus universelles permettraient également d’améliorer le sort des ainés : tout d’abord, l’amélioration de la connexion au réseau internet haute vitesse, qui pourrait permettre de reconnecter les personnes seules au reste du monde si elles sont en mesure d’utiliser les outils web. Le Bas-Saint-Laurent est la région la moins bien branchée au Québec, souligne le député Blanchette-Joncas. La pétition demande également d’indexer les transferts en santé de 6 %. L’autre députée bloquiste de la région, Kristina Michaud, rappelle que pour « chaque [tranche de] 100 $ dépensé[e] par le gouvernement fédéral depuis le début de la pandémie, seulement 33 cents sont allés dans le réseau de la santé du Québec. » La pétition sera déposée à la Chambre des communes si elle atteint plus de 500 signatures d’ici le 20 mars.Rémy Bourdillon, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Mouton Noir
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador confirmed on Thursday that a witness implicated soldiers in the 2014 disappearance of 43 students in the southern state of Guerrero that rocked the country. The witness, known as "Juan," said soldiers detained a group of the students, interrogated them at the army base in the town of Iguala and then handed them to a drug gang, according to a copy of his testimony reported by newspaper Reforma. Former defense minister Salvador Cienfuegos, recently arrested on U.S. drug charges that were later dropped, long refused to allow investigators access to soldiers at the base over their possible involvement in the massacre.
Windsor-Essex's COVID-19 vaccination rollout is set to hit a milestone Thursday, when vaccines will be administered at the last retirement home in the region awaiting the shot. The health unit's top doctor also expressed optimism about a "slight improvement" in the region's recent COVID-19 case counts. But Windsor-Essex is still seeing the consequences of high community spread, according to Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health with Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. Three new deaths were reported Thursday, and 110 people are currently in hospital with COVID-19. "All these consequences that we're observing right now is a lagging indicator of what happened a few weeks ago or about a month ago," said Ahmed. The region reported 101 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. The three people who died were women who lived in seniors' homes. There are currently 2,216 active cases of COVID-19 in the region, a number that has fallen by about 600 cases in one week. "We are making process little by little. I am hopeful. I am optimistic," Ahmed said, adding that the progress is a result of collective efforts to control the spread of the virus. Vaccinations nearly complete at seniors' homes Meanwhile, the health unit expects to complete the first wave of shots at seniors' homes Thursday, pending vaccinations at one last facility. Residents, staff and essential caregivers in more than 40 homes throughout the region were eligible, though many people still need to be vaccinated because COVID-19 meant they couldn't get the shot. There are 19 homes currently in outbreak, with hundreds of residents and staff infected. On Wednesday, the health unit announced that second visits to follow up with those still needing a first dose are being delayed due to the tight supply of the Moderna vaccine. Supply of a second vaccine from Pfizer-BioNtech, which is being distributed through Windsor Regional Hospital, is expected to be drastically reduced as well. Ahmed said the delay represents a hiccup but that the region is likely ahead of many others in the province when it comes to vaccine rollout. 49 active outbreaks, 11 on farms Theresa Marentette, CEO and chief nursing officer, said there are 49 active outbreaks in the region. They include 11 outbreaks in the agrifarm sector with 57 active cases, 255 people recovered and 104 isolating in hotels. Death toll hits 280 Overall in the pandemic, 280 people in Windsor-Essex have lost their lives to COVID-19. Of the 101 new COVID-19 cases announced Thursday, 18 are connected to outbreaks, 11 are close contacts of confirmed cases while 72 remain under investigation. Out of the 49 outbreaks, five were at hospitals. There were four outbreaks active at Windsor Regional Hospital and one at Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare. A second outbreak at Hotel Dieu's Crisis and Mental Wellness Centre, which was declared on Jan. 9, is now over. The outbreak saw two staff test positive. Two community settings, both Assisted Living Southwestern Ontario locations, were in outbreak on Thursday. Outbreaks were active at 23 workplaces: Seven in Leamington's agricultural sector. Four in Kingsville's agricultural sector. Four in Windsor's health care and social assistance sector. One in Lakeshore's health care and social assistance sector. One in Kingsville's health care and social assistance sector. One in Windsor's manufacturing sector. One in a personal service setting in LaSalle. One in a public administration setting in Windsor. One in a retail setting in Essex. One in a retail setting in Lakeshore One in a transportation and warehousing setting in Windsor There are 19 active outbreaks at long-term care and retirement facilities: Chartwell Leamington in Leamington with one staff case. Regency Park in Windsor with seven resident cases and five staff cases. Chartwell Royal Marquis, with one resident case and one staff case. Harrow Woods Retirement Home, with six resident cases and two staff cases. Seasons Retirement Home in Amherstburg, with three staff cases. Devonshire Retirement Residence in Windsor, with 31 resident cases and six staff cases. Chartwell Royal Oak in Kingsville, with two staff cases. Rosewood Erie Glen in Leamington, with 36 resident cases and six staff cases. Leamington Mennonite Home with seven staff cases. Augustine Villas in Kingsville, with 60 resident and 16 staff cases. Sunrise Assisted Living of Windsor, with 13 resident cases and eight staff cases. Huron Lodge in Windsor, with 46 resident cases and 26 staff cases. Sun Parlor Home in Leamington with two resident cases and 12 staff cases. Banwell Gardens Care Centre in Windsor, with 115 resident cases and 62 staff cases. The Shoreview at Riverside in Windsor, with 29 resident cases and 14 staff cases. Extendicare Tecumseh, with 90 resident cases and 57 staff cases. Berkshire Care Centre in Windsor, with 98 resident and 61 staff cases. The Village at St. Clair in Windsor, with 163 resident cases and 132 staff cases. Village of Aspen Lake in Tecumseh, with 60 resident cases and 30 staff cases. Chatham-Kent, Sarnia Sarnia-Lambton saw an increase of 45 new cases of the virus Thursday, for a cumulative total of 1,730. Chatham-Kent, where cases are trending downward, saw seven new cases, bringing its total to 1,046.
Paved Arts, a non-profit arts organization in Saskatoon, has its Facebook page back up and running after it was disabled for two weeks. The group was shut down earlier this month after a post was put up promoting an upcoming exhibit that critiques social media and QAnon. "Our team reviewed the Page and determined that it was disabled incorrectly by our systems and it's since been restored," David Troya-Alvarez of Facebook's corporate communications in Canada told CBC News in an email. "We apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused PAVED Arts and we appreciate you bringing this to our attention." Paved Arts' page was taken down the same day that rioters descended on the Capitol in Washington, D.C. The organization's news release that day was about an exhibit by Montreal artist Clint Enns called Conspiracies in Isolation. The exhibit is about "thinking through this idea of misinformation, which I think is like the new form of propaganda," Enns said. The exhibit includes a book made up of images Enns found online. Facebook did not give an explanation as to why the page was taken down. David LaRiviere, the artistic director at Paved Arts, said they believe the ban happened because the release had words such as QAnon and conspiracy theory and a photo from the exhibit that may have been linked back to other pages. LaRiviere said the ban happened so quickly that it was likely a bot had flagged the Paved Arts page. In a Facebook post from the now reactivated page, Paved Arts said the experience has provoked a number of discussions. "First and foremost on our minds is the importance of critical dialogue in the arts," the post said. "Censorship, freedom of expression, conspiracy, misinformation and 'Who controls our history/archival information?', and 'Why is this important?' have also been hot topics on Zoom and in chats."
BRUSSELS — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called Thursday on the United States and Russia to extend a major nuclear arms agreement before it expires in less than two weeks, and to later broaden the pact to include more weapons and China. The New START treaty, signed in 2010 by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, expires on Feb. 5. It limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers. It permits sweeping on-site inspections to verify compliance. “We should not end up in a situation with no limitation on nuclear warheads, and New START will expire within days,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov signalled on Monday that Moscow is ready to move quickly to keep the pact alive, and U.S. President Joe Biden, who was Vice-President when it was signed, has also spoken in favour of preserving it. But Stoltenberg also underlined that “an extension of the New START is not the end, it’s the beginning of our efforts to further strengthen arms control.” “We need to look at ways to include more weapons systems, systems not covered by the New START, but also to include China because China is now heavily modernizing their nuclear weapons, and not only modernizing but expanding their nuclear capabilities,” he said. Arms control advocates warn that the treaty’s expiry would remove checks on U.S. and Russian nuclear forces, striking a blow to global stability. Canada and European allies in NATO are also concerned about the slow demise of non-proliferation agreements. In 2019, the U.S. and Russia both withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which was signed in 1987 and banned land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometres (310 to 3,410 miles). Last week, Russia also declared that it would follow the U.S. lead and pull out of the Open Skies Treaty that allows surveillance flights over military facilities to help build trust and transparency between Russia and the West. The Associated Press
FRANKFURT — With more than a trillion euros in stimulus still in the pipeline to the economy, the European Central Bank left its key bond-purchase program unchanged Thursday as the 19-country eurozone endures a winter economic slowdown due to the pandemic. ECB President Christine Lagarde told a news conference that the economy likely contracted in the last three months of 2020 and the outlook going forward faces risks. Coronavirus infections and deaths have risen during the winter, leading to new restrictions on businesses. Germany has extended its partial lockdown until Feb. 14, France has imposed a 6 p.m. curfew, and Portugal has hit multiple records in case numbers. Lagarde said that while the start of vaccinations against the coronavirus was “an important milestone,” the outbreak continued to pose “serious risk to the eurozone and global economies.” She said that the bank's outlook for growth of 3.9% in 2021 was “still holding as we speak.” “We had anticipated the continuation and the lockdown measures that are currently in place... and that leads us to conclude that our own forecast for 2021 is still broadly valid at this time,” she said, while cautioning that short-term risk was “tilted to the downside, no question about it.” She said that “an ample monetary stimulus remains essential” and that if things turn out worse than expected “all instruments can be adjusted and nothing is off the table” in terms of stimulus. The economy is being propped up by massive support from the ECB, national governments, and the EU. The ECB’s decision not to adjust its key programs was largely expected because it added a major dose of stimulus only last month, at its Dec. 10 meeting. The governing council added 500 billion euros to its pandemic emergency stimulus bond purchases, bringing the total to 1.85 trillion euros ($2.2 trillion), and extended the regular purchases through at least March 2022. More than half of that total is still waiting to be deployed. The bond purchases are a way of pumping newly created money into the economy, which aims to raise inflation from levels that are currently considered too low. The purchases also keep market interest rates down so that companies can access the credit they need to get through the pandemic recession. One result of the purchases is that governments can use the bond market to borrow cheaply as their deficits rise through spending on pandemic support, such as paying salaries for furloughed workers to avoid layoffs. Additional stimulus is on the way from the EU’s 750 billion-euro fund established to support the recovery through shared borrowing by member countries — a step toward further solidarity and integration among the 27-member EU. The fund is to support projects that reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas blamed for climate change, and that promote the spread of digital technology and infrastructure. The European Union’s executive commission forecasts that the eurozone economy shrank 7.8% last year. Official numbers for last year are to be released Feb. 2. The bank left interest benchmarks untouched. Those are zero for short term loans from the ECB to banks, and minus 0.5% on deposits left overnight at the ECB by banks. The negative rate is a penalty aimed at pushing banks to lend the money rather than leave it at the ECB. The ECB is the chief monetary authority for the countries that use the euro, playing a role analogous to that of the Federal Reserve in the U.S. It sets key interest rate benchmarks and supervises banks. So far, 19 of the 27 EU countries have joined the euro. David McHugh, The Associated Press
This pet raccoon wearing Pikachu pajamas chows down on some yummy treats alongside his owner. Cuteness overload!
Le bilan lavallois de la COVID-19 est désormais de 1560 cas actifs selon les données émises par le Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) de Laval. Cela représente une baisse de 23 cas actifs par rapport à la veille. Il s’agit toutefois d’une augmentation de 145 cas confirmés, ce qui porte le total à 20 959 citoyens lavallois touchés depuis le mois de mars 2020. Au total, 805 personnes (+2) sont décédées du virus sur l’île Jésus. Parmi les Lavallois actuellement touchés, 94 sont hospitalisés, dont 28 aux soins intensifs. 91 employés du CISSS de Laval sont quant à eux absents du travail en raison de la COVID-19. Vimont/Auteuil est le secteur qui connait la plus faible augmentation du jour avec 15 nouveaux cas confirmés. Il est suivi par Fabreville-Est/Sainte-Rose qui en ajoute 18 à son total. Ce dernier présente le plus bas taux d'infection de l'île Jésus dans les 14 derniers jours avec 489 cas pour 100 000 habitants. À l'inverse, Chomedey (+50) est encore le secteur le plus affecté du territoire lavallois dans les sur cette même période, que ce soit en chiffres absolus (772) ou en taux d'infection (810 cas par 100 000 habitants). Sainte-Dorothée/Laval-Ouest/Laval-Les Îles/Fabreville-Ouest/Laval-sur-le-Lac (+23) demeure quant à lui le moins affecté en chiffres absolus avec 340 nouvelles personnes touchées dans les deux dernières semaines. De leur côté, Duvernay/Saint-François/Saint-Vincent-de-Paul et Pont-Viau/Renaud-Coursol/Laval-des-Rapides constatent 20 nouvelles personnes touchées sur leur territoire respectif en ce jeudi 21 janvier. *** Prendre note que tel qu’indiqué sur le site Web du CISSS de Laval, ces données par secteur incluent l’ensemble des cas des citoyens testés positifs à la COVID-19, qu’ils résident dans des milieux fermés ou ailleurs dans la communauté. Les milieux fermés incluent des milieux de vie comme les centres d’hébergement et de soins de longue durée (CHSLD), les résidences privées pour aînés (RPA), les ressources intermédiaires (RI), ainsi que les centres correctionnels. Les données présentées sont calculées en fonction du lieu de résidence. Le CISSS tarde à déterminer le foyer de 27 cas jusqu’ici.Nicholas Pereira, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
Within the East Kootenay and Kootenay-Boundary regions of southeastern B.C., there are 21 recognized harm reduction sites and a total of 95 Take Home Naloxone Kit sites. The Shuswap Indian Band’s (SIB) health unit received approval to become a safer sex and drug use supplies distribution centre as a designated harm reduction site through the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) for the District of Invermere (DOI) in 2018. The SIB has continued to maintain the credentials to offer the program to Indigenous communities, as well as to provide support for individuals from all nations in the Columbia Valley community, for safer sex and drug use supplies through a regional partnership with the Interior Health Authority (IHA) and the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA). The goal of the safer sex program is to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STI) caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites that can be transmitted to another person during sex or intimate contact through raising awareness with education and supplies. The harm reduction aspects of the program aims to raise awareness about safe usage of drug use supplies and addictions through a science-based approach in an effort to reduce the risk of opioid overdoses in the Kootenays as well as within the province. During the month of December 2020, the SIB reported a surge in requests for Take Home Naloxone Kits in the Columbia Valley with a total of 13 kits being distributed over the holidays as opposed to its usual requests from the community for about eight kits. “On average, we hand out six-to-eight kits per month,” said Danielle Armstrong, SIB health director. “In December, we saw a big increase. Around 13. It was a little bit higher because we had family members coming in from out of town.” As a result of the uptick, here are some resources about the supplies available and what you can expect to learn about the harm reduction site offered at SIB’s health unit. Take Home Naloxone Kits With the mixtures of fentanyl and benzodiazepines becoming increasingly common due to travel restrictions, the continued risks of opioid overdoses from toxic drug supplies have encompassed communities throughout the province. The SIB has joined forces with IHA and the FNHA to provide Take Home Naloxone Kits and training for life-saving training for anyone interested in recognizing the symptoms of an opioid overdose and responding to emergencies for those at-risk. “Naloxone is a medication that reduces an opioid overdose,” said Jennifer Driscoll, Interior Health Authority regional harm reduction coordinator located in the Kimberley Health Centre. “The drug supply is increasingly toxic, so just as an example today (Jan. 8, 2020), we just put out five or six drug overdose alerts because of drug checking services had picked up (mixtures of fentanyl and benzodiazepines), which means the risk of an overdose are much higher… we’re really pushing the message of staying with the person (for a buddy system).” The main goal of the Take Home Naloxone Kit program is to reduce opioid overdoses and to encourage behavioural changes in consumption of illicit substances. First Nations have the opportunity to access nasal response kits through the FNHA since 2018. However, the BCCDC Take Home Naloxone Kit program began in 2012 in an effort to mitigate the risks of a toxic drug supply fuelling an overdose epidemic in B.C. communities. Driscoll added that 145 kits were shipped to the Windermere health services area in 2020. Armstrong added that individuals with a status card could access free kits from any pharmacy, including at Pharmasave or Lambert-Kipp Pharmacy. In addition, the East Kootenay Addiction Services and the SIB provide nasal and needle kits at no-cost. The Aboriginal Response Working Group through IHA, which is composed of Indigenous stakeholders from across the region, have recently developed a label that’s fixed onto the kits with a statement to let people know that they’re not alone with a 1-800-number to get help for mental health and substance use resources. Needles kits come with three doses of naloxone as opposed to nasal kits which contain two doses. “The kits are great,” said Armstrong. “They’re set up just beautifully. There’s new gloves, new needles, there’s instructions in each kit and anybody can administer them. If you can read and follow the instructions, it’s good to go.” The SIB’s safer sex and harm reduction site is open between 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. mountain time from Monday to Friday each week. Those interested in picking up supplies may visit the back door of the SIB health unit during operational hours and knock for supplies, or for the needle exchange collection service. “It’s also really important to know that all Interior Health centres accept used sharps,” said Driscoll. Armstrong added, “You can exchange old needles for new needles, or you can get it without the exchange too. We try to keep 40 (kits) on hand at any given time.” Fentanyl Test Strips It’s essential to check unregulated drug supplies for fentanyl to encourage users to make informed decisions. Armstrong stocks and distributes Fentanyl Test Strips from the SIB Health Centre, with Driscoll’s support for others within the Kootenay regions, while offering 1-1 private training about how to use the safety program effectively. “Even if it shows up as negative, it does not mean fentanyl is not present,” said Driscoll, noting that Fentanyl Test Strips will not give users information about quantity or quality in their test group. In fact, Driscoll explained some fentanyl analogs cannot be detected with test strips. “They will detect if fentanyl but they can’t detect all fentanyl analogs, so even if it tests negative, it doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t have fentanyl in it,” clarified Driscoll. Armstrong added there had been at least three individuals who have returned to the SIB health centre with stories about positive Fentanyl Test Strips where users opted out of using their stashes and changing their behaviour in an effort to stay safe. “I’ve had three different people come back saying the strips have detected fentanyl in them and they chose not to use those drugs,” said Armstrong. “They were very grateful to have those strips and make an informed choice.” The duo encourages users to use the buddy system, to download the Lifeguard App on your phone and to test drive your substances gradually to minimize the risks of drug use. In order to find a harm reduction site in B.C. if you’re travelling, please visit Toward the Heart to search for centres closest to you at: towardtheheart.com/site-finder and be mindful of the hours of operations amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn more about the safer sex program, please visit the Smart Sex Resource at: smartsexresource.com/ for details. In fact, Driscoll explained some fentanyl analogs cannot be detected with test strips. “They will detect if fentanyl but they can’t detect all fentanyl analogs, so even if it tests negative, it doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t have fentanyl in it,” clarified Driscoll. Armstrong added there had been at least three individuals who have returned to the SIB health centre with stories about positive Fentanyl Test Strips where users opted out of using their stashes and changing their behaviour in an effort to stay safe. “I’ve had three different people come back saying the strips have detected fentanyl in them and they chose not to use those drugs,” said Armstrong. “They were very grateful to have those strips and make an informed choice.” The duo encourages users to use the buddy system, to download the Lifeguard App on your phone and to test drive your substances gradually to minimize the risks of drug use. In order to find a harm reduction site in B.C. if you’re travelling, please visit Toward the Heart to search for centres closest to you at: towardtheheart.com/site-finder and be mindful of the hours of operations amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn more about the safer sex program, please visit the Smart Sex Resource at: smartsexresource.com/ for details. Breanne Massey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer