WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Antony Blinken as America’s top diplomat, tasked with carrying out President Joe Biden’s commitment to reverse the Trump administration’s “America First” doctrine that weakened international alliances. Senators voted 78-22 to approve Blinken, a longtime Biden confidant, as the nation’s 71st secretary of state, succeeding Mike Pompeo. The position is the most senior Cabinet position, with the secretary fourth in the line of presidential succession. Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration. He has pledged to be a leading force in the administration’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which President Donald Trump questioned longtime alliances. He is expected to start work on Wednesday after being sworn in, according to State Department officials. “American leadership still matters,” Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at his Jan. 19 confirmation hearing. “The reality is, the world simply does not organize itself. When we’re not engaged, when we’re not leading, then one of two things is likely to happen. Either some other country tries to take our place, but not in a way that’s likely to advance our interests and values, or maybe just as bad, no one does and then you have chaos.” Blinken vowed that the Biden administration would approach the world with both humility and confidence, saying “we have a great deal of work to do at home to enhance our standing abroad.” Despite promising renewed American leadership and an emphasis on shoring up strained ties with allies in Europe and Asia, Blinken told lawmakers that he agreed with many of Trump’s foreign policy initiatives. He backed the so-called Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between Israel and several Arab states, and a tough stance on China over human rights and its assertiveness in the South China Sea. He did, however, signal that the Biden administration is interested in bringing Iran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal from which Trump withdrew in 2018. Trump's secretaries of state nominees met with significant opposition from Democrats. Trump’s first nominee for the job, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, was approved by a 56 to 43 vote and served only 13 months before Trump fired him in tweet. His successor, Pompeo, was confirmed in a 57-42 vote. Opposition to Blinken centred on Iran policy and concerns among conservatives that he will abandon Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. Blinken inherits a deeply demoralized and depleted career workforce at the State Department. Neither Tillerson nor Pompeo offered strong resistance to the Trump administration’s attempts to gut the agency, which were thwarted only by congressional intervention. Although the department escaped proposed cuts of more than 30% of its budget for three consecutive years, it has seen a significant number of departures from its senior and rising mid-level ranks, Many diplomats opted to retire or leave the foreign service given limited prospects for advancement under an administration that they believed didn't value their expertise. A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School and a longtime Democratic foreign policy presence, Blinken has aligned himself with numerous former senior national security officials who have called for a major reinvestment in American diplomacy and renewed emphasis on global engagement. Blinken served on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration before becoming staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was chair of the panel. In the early years of the Obama administration, Blinken returned to the NSC and was then-Vice-President Biden’s national security adviser before he moved to the State Department to serve as deputy to Secretary of State John Kerry, who is now serving as special envoy for climate change. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
An Australian gold mining company was arraigned on a slew of environmental charges in provincial court in Dartmouth, N.S., Tuesday morning. Atlantic Mining NS Inc. faces 32 charges under the province's Environment Act related to its gold mining operation in eastern Nova Scotia. Atlantic Mining NS Inc. is a subsidiary of St Barbara Limited, but is better known for its corporate name, Atlantic Gold Corp. The company is accused of "failing to comply with the conditions of an approval" and "releasing substances into the environment in amount, concentration or level in excess of approval level or regulations." The offences allegedly took place between February 2018 and May 2020. Most of the charges are related to the area of Mooseland and Moose River Gold Mines, where the company has an open pit gold mine. The other alleged offence locations named in the charging information are 15 Mile Stream, Jed Lake and Seloam Brook. The company was granted a request to adjourn the case until March 15, when it will enter a plea. Atlantic Gold plans to develop three more open pit gold mines on the Eastern Shore and truck the ore to a central processing facility at Mooseland where it operates the Touquoy mine. The company recently told investors it will proceed next with 15 Mile Stream and Beaver Dam locations. The startup date for its controversial Cochrane Hill site on the St. Marys River has been delayed by several years. There is uncertainty over whether the province will allow the company access to the water supply it wants to use at Cochrane Hill. There is some local opposition because of its proximity to the St. Marys River, home to a remaining Atlantic salmon population. MORE TOP STORIES
A lot can change over the course of a year. A vehicle crashed through the wall of the Hockley General Store in late Aug. 2019 and as a result, the retailer was closed for an entire year as it underwent renovations. When the store near the intersection of Mono-Adjala Townline and Hockley Road in Mono reopened last fall, things had changed significantly. For starters, there was a global pandemic and retailers have had to integrate new measures to allow them to be agile in a constantly changing landscape. To this end, the store has integrated a new point of sale system to gather more insight into their business and allow for that needed agility. Square for Retail by Square, Inc. has enabled Hockley General Store to sell their inventory online, in-store and on social media. “It’s definitely made our lives, as an essential business, a lot easier,” said Katie Wookey, general manager of Hockley General Store. "It’s super user-friendly. It allows us to cater to our customer’s needs during the COVID-19 crisis.” The store’s original backend systems were antiquated, cumbersome and not user-friendly, The new system allows Wookey and her staff to see what their top-selling items are and what products aren’t. “It’s iCloud-based, which is great for us because it integrates with the other iCloud stuff we’re using as a business, as everything communicates with each other,” said Wookey. As Ontario entered the lockdown, the new system allowed the store to offer their customers options when it came to shopping for essentials. “With the current situation, people can order online and pick up their groceries as curbside,” said Wookey. "That has been another awesome aspect. We can use the website that square has already. That enables us to sell the products that we put up on our website.” Business has been good since reopening, Wookey said. “Our customers have been really supportive in the community, and they’ve been loyal to us." Joshua Santos, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Orangeville Banner
Shortly after the first state of emergency was declared by the Ontario government last March 17, municipal bylaw officers across the province were given power by the province to enforce pandemic emergency orders after “stretched” policing agencies requested assistance. Despite having the option to issue tickets under the Provincial Offences Act for violations of provincial emergency orders, municipal and regional bylaw enforcement officers focused on education rather than enforcement. But that tone has changed after the province handed down additional powers to police and bylaw officers alike to enforce a recent provincial stay-at-home order which came into effect on Jan. 14. Niagara This Week reached out to municipalities, Niagara Region and Niagara Regional Police to find out what enforcement action has been like since the start of the pandemic. Niagara-on-the-Lake has relied the most on enforcement out of the Niagara municipalities approached for data, having issued 66 tickets between March and December of last year, according to a Jan. 5 report to council. Niagara Falls has issued 28 tickets since May; Fort Erie has issued 13 since the initial orders; and St. Catharines has issued two tickets between March last year and Jan. 21. Port Colborne and Lincoln have not issued a single ticket since the beginning of the pandemic. The City of Welland did not provide information for earlier than Jan. 14. City bylaw manager, Ali Kahn, said in an email that no tickets have been issued since the province’s stay-at-home order took effect. Across the peninsula, the region has taken the most enforcement action in the shortest amount of time, according to data provided by communications consultant Andrew Korchok. Between Sept. 18, 2020 and Jan. 22, 2021, region staff have issued 134 tickets. Niagara Regional Police Service has issued 75 tickets between April 5, 2020 and Jan. 22, 2021 — with 14 having been issued since Jan. 13. The “severity” of enforcement action can vary, depending on what charge is laid under the Provincial Offences Act. A Part One offence can be a set fine settled out of court, while a Part Three offence requires a person to attend court where a conviction and penalty can be imposed. According to solicitor general spokesperson, Brent Ross, Part One fines for individuals range between $750 for “fail to comply with an order,” and $1,000 for an offence such as “obstruct any person exercising a power in accordance with an order.” But Part Three offences carry a fine of up to $100,000 and a year in prison. Corporations and their officers face harsher limits. Ross said an imposed fine could be as high as $10 million, if convicted. Those wanting to put on a party or host an event over gathering limits may also face more stringent penalties, Ross said. “On conviction, this offence carries a $10,000 minimum fine.” Niagara This Week also inquired about the amount of warnings given and complaints received, but data is tracked and reported in vastly differently ways across the region. Some municipalities group together the amount of inquiries and complaints, while others don't track certain data, like complaints or warnings, making it difficult to discern exactly how many warnings are given versus tickets, for example. Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Jan. 5 report shows 2,611 inquiries and complaints were received between March and December last year, with a total of 1,475 educational outcomes. Niagara Falls also reported a high number of complaints, at 2,946, but the data also includes “information.” There were 2,142 times where a business or the public were educated. The City of St. Catharines was unable to provide the amount of warnings given, but said 436 complaints had been received. Niagara Regional Police could not provide the number of complaints received, but said they've given 67 warnings. In Fort Erie, “in excess of 200 warnings” have been given, according to enforcement co-ordinator, Paul Chodoba. Jordan Snobelen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara this Week
Calgary's real estate board is predicting home sales, prices and new listings will be on the rise in 2021, but their growth will be restricted by the continued impacts of COVID-19 and reduced demand for oil. The Calgary Real Estate Board says in its annual outlook report that overall sales in the Albertan city and its surrounding neighbourhoods will reach 16,928, a five per cent increase from 16,151 in 2020. CREB is forecasting that prices will edge up by 1.3 per cent to hit $423,307. While new listings fell by nearly nine per cent last year and resulted in the slowest year for new listings since 2002, CREB is expecting they will rise in 2021 as owners who delayed sales during the early stages of the pandemic put their homes on the market. CREB says the market will be helped along by low lending rates and pent-up demand for homes, but persistently high unemployment could spell trouble for the region. CREB believes the region's housing supply would see big gains if layoffs continue and people need to adjust their housing to match their new employment situation. The board warns that consolidation in the energy sector is expected to continue, which would hamper employment and housing activity in the higher price ranges. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
Initial doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are set to roll into the country in the next few weeks, and Canadians will be wondering where they stand in the inoculation line.Which segment of the population will get the first doses, once Canada approves them for use, and how long will it take before most of us are inoculated and we can reach that point of herd immunity?The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has already recommended early doses be given to: residents and staff of long-term care homes; adults 70 years or older (starting with those 80 and over); front-line health-care workers; and adults in Indigenous communities — but there's still some debate among experts on whether that's the best strategy for a vaccine rollout.Dr. Ross Upshur of the University of Toronto's School of Public Health, agrees with NACI's recommendations, but he says there's also an argument to be made for vaccinating those more likely to spread the virus first — including people with jobs in the community that can't work from home."There is quite a vigorous debate and ... quite a varied set of arguments about who should go first and the priority list," Upshur said. "And that's because people have very deep and different intuitions about what fairness means, and which fundamental values should illuminate the distribution of scarce resources." Upshur says prioritization, which will fall to the provinces and territories to determine, will depend on the goal of the vaccination strategy.If the main objective is to ensure economic recovery by limiting community spread, essential workers might get vaccinated first, Upshur explained. But if the goal is to limit deaths by preventing our most vulnerable populations from getting COVID, older people, especially those in long-term care, should jump to the front of the line."Each one of those aims leads to favouring a different kind of population," he said. "So priority-setting is a complex task."But because there's going to be a limited number of doses available, choices will have to be made soon."Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday that up to 249,000 doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine will arrive on Canadian soil by the end of the month, with the first doses delivered next week.Canada, which is currently reviewing several vaccine candidates, has purchased 20 million doses of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine, and is set to receive four million doses — enough to inoculate two million people — by March.Kelly Grindrod, a researcher and associate professor at the University of Waterloo's School of Pharmacy, says the concept of prioritizing the COVID vaccine may be hard for some to grasp. Grindrod agrees with NACI's recommendations of where the first stage of vaccine distribution should go, but subsequent stages of rollout become trickier.Certain individuals may perceive themselves to be in a higher-risk group and therefore more deserving of a vaccine than others, she said, and it will be hard to determine for example, if a 50-year-old with asthma who works from home should be vaccinated over a taxi driver."What I always say is: if you don't know anybody who's gotten the virus, you're probably one of the last to get the vaccine," Grindrod said. "So that might mean you have a middle-class income and you don't work in a factory or a grocery store."If you're feeling like COVID is something that's not really in your world, that's probably a suggestion that you're fairly low-risk for getting the virus in the first place."Grindrod says it's important to remember that immunizing the majority of Canadians will take a long time. The first stage alone could take months, she said, estimating that Canada will be able to vaccinate roughly three million people (in a country of 38 million) in the first quarter of 2021. "If we're all vaccinated by next Christmas, we will have done a great job," she said.Upshur agrees that getting to herd immunity will take time, but having multiple vaccine candidates reporting high efficacy rates should speed up that process — at least in theory."As exciting as it is to have these studies showing really good results, there's still a lot more questions," he said. "There's a lot more that needs to be done before we can be sure that these vaccines are going to achieve the goals that we hope."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2020. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
One of the factors that has made COVID-19 so catastrophic in long-term care homes was lack of paid sick leave for low-wage workers.
Movies US charts: 1. Tenet 2. News of the World 3. Promising Young Woman 4. American Skin 5. The War with Grandpa 6. National Treasure 7. Honest Thief 8. The Croods: A New Age 9. National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets 10. Let Him Go Movies US charts - Independent: 1. Promising Young Woman 2. Our Friend 3. MLKFBI 4. The Dissident 5. No Man’s Land 6. Some Kind of Heaven 7. Love Sarah 8. Assassins 9. Kajillionaire 10. PG: Psycho Goreman The Associated Press
An RCMP project to build two new detachments in Faro and Carcross, and renovate another one in Ross River, Yukon, is on track to come in $6 million above its initial budget, according to documents obtained by CBC News. An October briefing note prepared for Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee says a funding shortfall was known since at least November 2019. In September, the project management team told government officials "the program budget remains at $11.69M and [is] currently trending at $13.4M." Justice department spokesperson Patricia Randell said in an email that the combined cost for all three detachments is now nearly $17.7 million. But she said the RCMP moved money around within its capital budget, which means there won't be any additional costs for the Yukon government. "Typical projects start with a preliminary concept and then move through planning, design, procurement and construction phases," Randell wrote. "As projects move through these phases, different options may be considered and decisions are made to keep costs within the assigned budget." Randell said the Yukon government's share of the project costs remains approximately $9.9 million. The federal government is contributing $7.8 million New detachments to be green buildings Randell said the Carcross detachment is forecast to cost $8.2 million and the Faro detachment $5.5 million. The current Ross River detachment is slated to undergo renovations at a cost of around $3.9 million. The three projects fall under a five-year capital plan that expires in 2022. Construction is scheduled to be completed by that year. Assessment documents filed with the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board (YESAB) for the Faro project say the new detachment will be built on the site of the existing one. The building is to be built with modular components and will be net-zero carbon emissions, with solar panels and geothermal energy. No YESAB applications have yet been filed for the Ross River and Carcross projects. The briefing note says the Yukon government urged the RCMP to "consider a smaller detachment in Carcross that align with the current staffing model." The government also requested that the Faro detachment be built as a "community policy office" linked to a "hub policing model based in Ross River." The Yukon RCMP did not respond to a request for comment.
Nonfiction 1. A Promised Land by Barack Obama, narrated by the author (Random House Audio) 2. Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey, narrated by the author (Random House Audio) 3. How to Train Your Mind by Chris Bailey, narrated by the author (Audible Originals) 4. Atomic Habits by James Clear, narrated by the author (Penguin Audio) 5. Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana K. White, narrated by the author (Thomas Nelson) 6. Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins, narrated by the author and Adam Skolnick (Lioncrest Publishing) 7. Caste by Isabel Wilkerson, narrated by Robin Miles (Random House Audio) 8. Becoming by Michelle Obama, narrated by the author (Random House Audio) 9. Fast This Way by Dave Asprey, narrated by the author (HarperAudio) 10. Keep Sharp by Sanjay Gupta, MD, narrated by the author (Simon & Schuster Audio) Fiction 1. 1984 by George Orwell, narrated by Simon Prebble (Blackstone Audio, Inc.) 2. The Duke and I by Julia Quinn, narrated by Rosalyn Landor (Recorded Books) 3. When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal, narrated by Sarah Naughton and Katherine Littrell (Brilliance Audio) 4. The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn, narrated by Rosalyn Landor (Recorded Books) 5. The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis, narrated by Amy Landon (Blackstone Audio, Inc.) 6. Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline, narrated by Wil Wheaton (Random House Audio) 7. Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner, narrated by Hillary Huber (Brilliance Audio) 8. Dragon Blood – Omnibus by Lindsay Buroker, narrated by Caitlin Davies (Podium Audio) 9. Dispossession by Tayari Jones, performed by Gabrielle Union (Audible Originals) 10. Extinction Shadow by Nicholas Sansbury Smith and Anthony J. Melchiorri, narrated by R.C. Bray (Blue Heron Audio) The Associated Press
It was a bit chilly as Dave Vettese, his son Matteo and daughter Maya were dashing around an ice rink Tuesday afternoon. The young family was one of many laughing joyously as all six skating ponds opened up at the Island Lake Conservation Area for the season. “Outdoor skating on a natural lake or pond is different from a man-made rink in terms of that skating may not always be available,” said Sandy Camplin of Credit Valley Conservation (CVC). “If we get warmer weather or certain precipitation, snow can build up and create slush around the rinks.” Crews have to monitor the conditions of the ice surface, plow snow off and ensure there’s no flooding. Three rinks are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, while three other ones are open for a $20 reservation. To book, visit the conservation authority’s website at CVC.ca or call 905-877-1120. No same-day reservations can be made. “We’re asking people limit their time to an hour if there is anybody waiting for a rink because there is only the five people limit,” said Camplin. “If you are at the rink with someone outside of your household, we ask you to wear a mask while on the rink as well, because you can’t guarantee your proximity if someone happens to skate by you.” The authority planned to have another surprise in store, but weather conditions have not been favourable. “We are working on a skating trail around our new natural playground, but winter has not been super co-operative to us this year with the lack of snow,” said Camplin. “That is still under construction right now. Hockey is not allowed, at this time, as all municipalities in the province remained under lockdown. “That can change depending on what the province says with certain advisories and recommendations,” said Camplin. “We’re following everything the government has put in place." Residents are able to leave their home to skate on the pond as exercise is considered essential by the provincial government. Joshua Santos, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Orangeville Banner
Be careful what you wish for, they say. Community volunteer Robbie Jones is celebrating his 57th birthday today as a Town of Mattawa council member. Jones, who was the first runner-up in the 2018 municipal election, fills the seat left open after deputy mayor Corey Lacelle resigned at the end of November 2020. See: 10-year veteran resigning from Mattawa council Mayor Dean Backer said appointing the next in line candidate is the "fairest and most logical" way to fill the seat and council is getting a “great guy” who has volunteered for many years with minor hockey and a number of other initiatives. “It’s prudent we get Robbie on board as soon as possible,” Backer said, noting there is a lot of work ahead for council this year. Jones garnered 285 votes in the last election, 31 more than the next person on the ballot, Bernie MacDonald, and 58 votes behind Councillor Laura Ross, who earned the last of six seats with 343 votes. “I’m happy to get the opportunity to work with my fellow councillors and looking forward to see what we can accomplish,” Jones said Tuesday morning. Other than five years in the 1990s working out west, Jones has been a resident of Mattawa for his entire life. He worked in the rail road business for 30 years before changing careers to drive a logging truck to be closer to his family. He and his wife Lise have one son, Casey, 14, who runs his own landscaping business. The inaugural meeting for Jones will be Feb. 8 or earlier if a special meeting is called before then. Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada. Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
PepsiCo and Beyond Meat are creating a joint venture to develop snacks and drinks made from plant-based proteins. The companies didn’t reveal what kinds of products they will make Tuesday, saying they’re still in development. But the collaboration sent Beyond Meat's shares to their largest single-day gain since they began trading in 2019, jumping by more than $50 each to $209.17. The join venture gives Pepsi access to one of the leading plant-based meat companies at a time when consumers are increasingly cutting back on meat consumption and looking for healthier, more sustainable foods. Beyond Meat's burgers, sausages and chicken, which are made from pea protein, are sold worldwide, including at Starbucks in China and Pizza Hut in the U.S. Beyond Meat gets access to to Pepsi’s distribution system and broad product line. Pepsi, in addition to drinks, makes Fritos, Cheetos and Tostitos, as well as Matador beef jerky. It's a shot in the arm for El Segundo, California-based Beyond Meat, which had been struggling to convince investors of its growth opportunities as competition increased. Beyond Meat shares plummeted in November after retail sales slowed and McDonald's hinted that it might work with another supplier on a new plant-based burger for the U.S. market. Food companies are increasingly jumping into the plant-based space. In 2019, Chobani introduced coconut milk-based yogurt and Nestle brought out plant-based burgers and ground meat. Meat giant Tyson Foods, which used to own a stake in Beyond Meat, now has its own line of plant-based meats. “Plant-based proteins represent an exciting growth opportunity for us, a new frontier in our efforts to build more sustainable food system,” said Ram Krishnan, PepsiCo's global chief commercial officer. Financial terms of the deal weren’t released. The joint venture will be managed through a new entity called The Planet Partnership. Dee-Ann Durbin, The Associated Press
More than two weeks after Canada implemented a rule that incoming airline passengers must show a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding a plane, the country still appears to be seeing some travel-related cases and the federal government is exploring ways to make it harder to go on trips. As more transmissible variants of the COVID virus emerge across the globe, experts say tightening the leaks around travel becomes even more important, and that the new testing requirements are not likely to catch all cases. COVID projections from Caroline Colijn, a mathematician and epidemiologist with Simon Fraser University, show a potentially grim picture for the next few months, with a skyrocketing spring wave fuelled by community spread of a more contagious variant. Colijn says clamping down on travel is her "top recommendation right now." "There's still a good chance that we can prevent — or at least really delay — large numbers of this high-transmission variant coming into Canada," she said. "And if we can push that peak out to September, we may be able to avert it if most of us are vaccinated by then." Colijn says essential travel needs to be more clearly defined by leaders, and quarantine rules more strongly enforced once people arrive. More stringent restrictions on land border crossings and further limitations on travel within the country will also help, she adds. While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said Canadians should cancel all upcoming non-essential trips they may have planned, other options the government is looking at include implementing a mandatory quarantine in hotels for returning travellers. On Jan. 7, the government implemented a requirement that airline passengers entering Canada must show proof of a negative PCR test that was taken within 72 hours before their flight. Colijn and other experts are hopeful this rule is catching a large number of positive COVID cases, but the 72-hour window — necessary to ensure people have enough time to get results back — also allows the virus more chances to wiggle through. In some cases, very small amounts of the virus, which could grow to infectious levels days later, aren't picked up in testing. Others cases could contract the virus between taking the test and boarding the plane. Dr. Christopher Mody, the head of the microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases department at the University of Calgary, says PCR tests offer "a snapshot in time," meaning the result is only valid on the day the test is taken. "A positive test means you're infected, but a negative test doesn't absolutely exclude infection," Mody said. A Government of Canada online database that keeps track of possible exposure on domestic and international flights shows that since Jan. 7, hundreds of planes have had at least one passenger on board who tested positive for the virus days after landing, and may have been contagious on their flight. Dr. Zain Chagla, an associate professor of medicine at McMaster University, says while the negative test requirement is likely helping on a large scale, "it's gonna miss a few people for sure." "Clearly it isn't a perfect system, but there are also a number of people who have been rejected for flights based on their tests," he said. "This just isn't enough to say everyone coming into Canada is completely not infectious at the border." Some experts have suggested the use of rapid antigen tests at airports, either right before boarding or right after landing, as a potential way to ensure positive cases aren't travelling between countries or regions. Dr. Don Sin, a respirologist and UBC professor who's co-leading a rapid test pilot project with WestJet at Vancouver International Airport, says rapid testing could offer a measure of insurance — a second step to be used in addition to the PCR negative test requirement. Rapid antigen tests, which turn results around in 15 minutes, aren't as sensitive as the PCR nasal swab, Sin says, but they work very well in catching positive cases. "If you test positive on the antigen test, you'll test positive with a PCR," he said. "So I think the public can have confidence in the ability of these tests to accurately pick up those who are infectious." Experts say testing can only be part of the strategy to contain the spread of new cases though. The mandatory 14-day quarantine period, which Canada is still implementing, needs to be followed properly. Mody says people also need to understand that a negative test taken days before flying isn't a free pass to skip that isolation period. "We are in a very tenuous time with these variants," Mody said. "If there is community transmission of the variants, we will be in a very serious situation." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version erroneously reported that travellers flying from city to city within Canada must show a negative COVID-19 test. In fact, the requirement is for air travellers coming from international destinations.
SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. — The former mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and critic of former President Donald Trump's hurricane relief to the island, Carmen Yulín Cruz, will take a one-year post at Mount Holyoke College. Cruz, who has had a relationship with the college established by prior speaking engagements, will hold a fellowship at the college's Weissman Center for Leadership, the Hampshire Daily Gazette reported on Monday. She will design “leadership programming at the Weissman Center — inviting truly exciting special guests to speak through virtual and on-campus visits, working with local community organizations and mentoring and supporting students in myriad ways,” Amy E. Martin, the centre's director and a professor of English, said in a statement. “Speaking truth to power comes with its challenges, but when it is done out of sheer conviction and profound respect for the lives of others, we understand that raising our voices in times of need is not a heroic act,” Cruz said in a statement about the fellowship at the private women's college. She served as mayor of San Juan from 2013 through 2020, was a co-chair for Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and was a nominee for TIME Magazine’s 2017 Person of the Year. She clashed with Trump over the federal government's response to the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017. Most recently, Cruz ran as a candidate in the election for Puerto Rico's governor and lost. The Associated Press
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times eastern): 10:45 a.m. Another 1,740 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Ontario today, along with 63 more deaths related to the virus. More than half the new cases are in the Greater Toronto Area, with 677 in Toronto itself, 320 in Peel Region and 144 in York Region. The province says more than 30,700 tests have been completed and more than 9,700 vaccines administered since the last daily report. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
The Ontario government may have temporarily paused the demolition on several heritage buildings in downtown Toronto, but a challenge to stop the work won’t be easy. Matthew Bingley looks into the powers of minister’s zoning orders and why a court challenge may not be enough to save the heritage buildings.
A Halifax church has been helping newcomers to tie the knot, with a twist of traditions from their own culture. You may think that Christian weddings at a church are all the same: mutual vows that end with till death do us part, a priest or pastor presiding over and declaring the official finalization of the ceremony. But a Halifax Christian Church begs to differ. “We get traditions that each culture has that are important to them, and we get to enjoy that experience,” said Greg Nicholson, lead pastor at Halifax Christian Church. Nicholson said the church has hosted weddings for over 40 couples from all over the world, including couples from Nigeria, the Philippines, Indian, Ukraine and many more. “They are still Christian weddings, because I'm performing them. But we're able to implement some of the different things that people have in their own culture,” he said. The pastor has presided over weddings for couples with a Hindu background where the bride was actually seated and The Seven Vows, an element in a traditional Hindu wedding that symbolizes the unity of two families, was performed. Since the church welcomed its first Filipino family, it is now the place of worship to newcomers from over 25 countries. “They will check online before immigrating and a few families have noticed pictures of others from their nationality and they decide on us. A lot are then invited by the ones already here,” he said. Carlos Medrano and his wife Grace Flores-Medrano are among the many newcomers the church helped. The couple are originally from El Salvador and had their wedding with the help of the church in 2016. “It's just amazing how many different types of backgrounds we have in the church. And you will think that it's really hard to have that mix of people in a row (or) we have nothing to talk about. No, we just we have something (in) common.,” Medrano said. Medrano said the couple lost their jobs before the wedding ceremony and it was the church that helped them to stay in Canada. “We finally found our family here in Halifax and the family that we have is a family from Halifax Christian church,” he said. Lu Xu is a local journalism initiative reporter, a position funded by the federal government. Lu Xu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle Herald
P.E.I. has no new cases of COVID-19 to report, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said in her regular weekly briefing on Tuesday. The Island has had 110 confirmed positive cases since the pandemic began in March. Six cases were still considered active as of Tuesday morning. Morrison said that despite the low number of active cases in P.E.I. and Nova Scotia, it is too early to consider a bubble involving just those two provinces in which residents could travel back and forth without self-isolating — a partial Atlantic bubble, as it were. She said non-essential travel off P.E.I. is still strongly discouraged. While Nova Scotia has just 15 active cases, New Brunswick has not been as fortunate. It currently has 348 active cases. We learned that this virus is not easily contained and that half measures are not effective. — Dr. Heather Morrison "While we all yearn for a time when we can travel more freely within Atlantic Canada and elsewhere, now is not the time to leave P.E.I. unless it is absolutely necessary," she said. "We learned that this virus is not easily contained and that half measures are not effective." Hockey team must self-isolate Morrison said anyone who leaves the province — including the Charlottetown Islanders hockey team — must self-isolate for 14 days upon return unless they receive an exemption. Morrison said the team can apply to work-isolate, which means they can go directly back and forth to the rink for games and practices, but must self-isolate at all other times. That would rule out players, coaches or team staff going to school or off-ice jobs. So far, Morrison said, 85 people have been charged for violating public health measures during the pandemic, including eight new charges in the past week. She warned that people will continue to be charged if they fail to self-isolate when required. If a restaurant looks too crowded it likely is. We all have a responsibility to make good choices. Do not enter an establishment if it looks too crowded. - Dr. Heather Morrison Morrison also said there will be additional evening inspections at restaurants to ensure COVID-19 health protocols are being followed. She has heard concerns about crowded restaurants where social distancing is not taking place. "If a restaurant looks too crowded, it likely is," she said. "We all have a responsibility to make good choices. Do not enter an establishment if it looks too crowded." More vaccines next week Morrison said new shipments of the COVID-19 vaccines are due next week, and the province remains on track to have all front-line health-care workers, as well as staff and residents of long-term care facilities, vaccinated by Feb. 16. As of Saturday, a total of 7,117 doses had been administered. The province is now posting vaccine data online showing the breakdown between first and second doses; the dashboard shows that 1,892 Island adults had received both doses as of Jan. 23. Morrison told the briefing that a phone number will be set up next week for people over 80 to call to set up vaccine appointments starting in mid-February. Marion Dowling, P.E.I.'s chief of nursing, also took part in the briefing. She urged people visiting patients in Island hospitals to not bring food or drinks to their loved ones, and keep their masks on at all times. She also asked that visitors not congregate in waiting rooms after visiting patients. Reminder about symptoms The symptoms of COVID-19 can include: Fever. Cough or worsening of a previous cough. Possible loss of taste and/or smell. Sore throat. New or worsening fatigue. Headache. Shortness of breath. Runny nose. More from CBC P.E.I.
Le conseil des maires de la MRC de La Haute-Côte-Nord, réuni en séance ordinaire le 19 janvier, a présenté un projet de règlement permettant la création d’un fonds de roulement de 200 000 $ qui servira d’outil de financement pour des acquisitions ou immobilisations futures. À ce jour, la MRC ne possède aucun fonds de roulement et l’article 1094 du Code municipal du Québec lui permet de s’en constituer un d’un montant maximal de 2 200 000 $, soit une somme n’excédant pas 20 % des crédits prévus au budget de l’exercice courant. Les fonds nécessaires seront puisés à même le surplus accumulé du 31 décembre 2019, selon le rapport financier adopté en mai dernier. « À cette fin, le conseil peut, par résolution, emprunter à ce fonds des montants dont il peut avoir besoin et qui ne dépassent pas 200 000 $ sur une période n’excédant pas 10 ans », est-il expliqué dans le projet de règlement. Pour pourvoir aux dépenses engagées relativement aux intérêts et au remboursement en capital des échéances annuelles de l’emprunt, le règlement prévoit prélever annuellement, à même le surplus accumulé de la MRC, les sommes requises pour maintenir ou ajuster la valeur du fonds de roulement en vigueur chaque année dans les prévisions budgétaires de la MRC. L’entrée en vigueur de ce nouveau fonds de roulement se tiendra après l’adoption du règlement à la prochaine réunion publique du conseil des maires. PSPS Dans le cadre de la Politique de soutien aux projets structurants (PSPS), la MRC de la Haute-Côte-Nord a accordé une aide financière à deux projets. Tout d’abord, comme la Ville de Forestville a dû modifier son projet Modernisation des infrastructures aéroportuaires, la MRC a accepté de lui verser les fonds prévus de 20 000 $. « Le projet rencontre toujours les critères d’admissibilité de la PSPS et le comité consultatif a analysé la modification apportée au projet et il est toujours favorable à l’octroi de financement », indique la résolution adoptée par le conseil des maires. Quant au deuxième projet accepté, il s’agit de l’aménagement de la cour de l’école Notre-Dame du Sacré-Cœur. La MRC de La Haute-Côte-Nord participera au projet pour un montant de 50 000 $. PDZA La MRC de La Haute-Côte-Nord s’est lancée en 2020 dans l’élaboration d’un plan de développement de la zone agricole (PDZA). Pour ce faire, elle doit former des comités directeur et consultatif composés d’intervenants du secteur agricole et agroalimentaire. « L’accompagnement d’expertises et l’appui des autorités compétentes sont essentiels pour l’accomplissement de ce mandat », a mentionné le directeur général Paul Langlois, lors de la séance du conseil des maires tenue le 19 janvier. Participation au PMVI La MRC de La Haute-Côte-Nord est admissible au Programme de mise en valeur intégrée (PMVI) en raison de la réalisation par Hydro-Québec du projet de ligne à 735 kV Micoua-Saguenay sur son territoire. Une somme de 1 906 921 $ lui a donc été allouée dans le cadre de ce programme. Par résolution, elle s’est engagée à utiliser cette somme pour réaliser, via un fonds de développement régional, des initiatives qui relèvent de l’un des domaines d’activité admissibles et respectent les conditions générales de réalisation du PMVI. Système de ventilation Le conseil des maires a accepté de lancer un appel d’offres sur invitation pour effectuer le nettoyage et la désinfection du système de ventilation de son centre administratif situé aux Escoumins. « Le bâtiment a été construit en 2003 et le nettoyage et la désinfection du système de ventilation n’ont pas été effectués depuis ce temps », a déclaré Paul Langlois. Dons et commandites Depuis 2015, la MRC de La Haute-Côte-Nord octroie des aides financières aux organismes de son territoire via sa Politique sur les dons et commandites. Cette année, deux appels de projets seront lancés comparativement à un seul habituellement. Le premier appel, qui a pris fin le 30 novembre, a permis de remettre 5 000 $ sur un budget total de 9 750 $. Action-Chômage Côte-Nord reçoit 1 000 $ tout comme Centraide Haute-Côte-Nord Manicouagan, l’Organisme des bassins versants de la Haute-Côte-Nord (J’adopte un cours d’eau), la municipalité des Escoumins (175e anniversaire) et la municipalité de Sacré-Cœur (Fjord en fête). Les promoteurs qui devront reporter leur événement en raison de la pandémie pourront conserver l’aide financière octroyée. Toutefois, ceux qui seront contraints d’annuler complètement le projet devront rembourser le montant reçu par la MRC. Fusion de Desjardins Tel qu’annoncé par l’Assemblée des MRC de la Côte-Nord le 18 janvier, le conseil des maires de la MRC de La Haute-Côte-Nord a entériné son opposition à la fusion de Desjardins Entreprises Côte-Nord avec Desjardins Entreprises Saguenay. « La MRC de La Haute-Côte-Nord appuie la démarche initiée par la MRC de la Minganie, et s’oppose à cette fusion ainsi qu’à ce transfert d’expertise financière, et dénonce les effets et pertes qu’elle engendrera pour l’ensemble de la Côte-Nord », dévoile la résolution.Johannie Gaudreault, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Haute-Côte-Nord