A lead Ontario agency is warning hospital CEOs they should be prepared to accept patients from outside their regions due to a continuing rise in coronavirus cases. Erica Vella has details on a memo that was released Thursday.
A lead Ontario agency is warning hospital CEOs they should be prepared to accept patients from outside their regions due to a continuing rise in coronavirus cases. Erica Vella has details on a memo that was released Thursday.
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.
Fredericton's City Motel on Regent Street is one step closer to becoming affordable and supportive housing. The City's Planning Advisory Committee approved the project, put forward by the John Howard Society, at Wednesday night's meeting. The plan will see the hotel suites on the third floor of the building converted into 20 affordable, or Housing First, units. The second floor will be converted into 12 peer-supported units, for people who require more help, said Jason LeJeune, the project manager for the proposal. "Peer supported housing would be for people that require a lot of supervision and help and support. There would be two people with lived experience -- the peer supports that live on that floor with the 12 residents -- they're provided salary and free housing to live on-site," LeJeune said. There will also be addiction offices, mental health offices and social work offices on that floor, said LeJeune. The lower floor will initially become a 24-bed emergency homeless shelter. "The long term ambition of the John Howard Society is to continue to monitor the needs of the community in terms of shelter use and convert that over to affordable housing that is unsupported over time," said LeJeune. When the shelter is operational, it's possible it will replace the out of the cold shelter run by the John Howard Society at 332 Brunswick Street, which will then be converted into office space and longer-term housing. The John Howard Society applied for federal funding for the project through the Rapid Housing Initiative. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation has $500 million available for projects such as this across the country. The application deadline was Dec. 31. John Howard should know next month if it was successful. At a previous council meeting the City waived building fees for the project and promised bus passes for tenants.
It's time-out for sports in red zones of New Brunswick. According to the province's red phase of recovery, all organized sports have been cancelled and gyms and fitness centres are closed. For minor hockey players, for example, that means no games, no practices, and no off-ice training, explained Nic Jansen, the executive director of Hockey New Brunswick. And at this point in the season, Jansen said tournaments are probably not going to happen. "Yeah, I think that's certainly a possibility," he said. "In the end, I think it'll be a decision that Public Health makes, but I think that's definitely a possibility." Jansen said Hockey New Brunswick had been waiting on direction from Public Health officials about whether tournaments could resume in yellow. With most of the province now in red, and only a few weeks left in the regular season, it's looking less and less likely, he said. Meanwhile, hockey continues in Zones 5, 6 and 7, under orange restrictions, which means teams can continue to practice together, but there are no games. That's only allowed in the yellow phase. Jansen encourages young players to stay active and do what they can to keep up their skills. "I think if you're fortunate enough to have access to a backyard rink, by all means, get out, use it." In a season that's been unusually mild, backyard rinks and ponds are a little hard to come by, but Jansen said players can continue to work on their skills in their basement or driveway. "And it doesn't have to be hockey. It can be any type of physical activity. Just get outside and play and enjoy the outdoors," he said. Basketball Things have "pretty much shut down everywhere," said Tyler Slipp, Basketball New Brunswick's director of operations. Red restrictions have meant an end to all basketball activity, and those regions still in orange are operating under strict rules that prohibit games and impose physical distancing restrictions on players. So although players in Zones 5, 6 and 7 can continue to practice together, they have to stay two metres apart. Slipp said that means no scrimmages and no defensive drills — leaving a lot of shooting and dribbling practice. He said it's not ideal, especially in a season already hard-hit by COVID restrictions. Since schools haven't allowed outside organizations to use their gyms since the pandemic began, minor basketball leagues across the province had a hard time finding space to run their programs. "I'm still just really sad for all the kids that didn't get a chance to play because of the lack of facilities this year," said Slipp. Last summer, Basketball New Brunswick started working on a project that would help players train on their own through an online program that will launch this Saturday, said Slipp. It was announced less than two weeks ago and 90 young people have already signed up, he said. While it was developed to address the historical short-comings identified in New Brunswick's provincial teams, Slipp said the program can help young players continue to work on their individual skills during the pandemic. He said the Gold Medal Performance Program includes strength and conditioning, nutrition, and sports psychology. Soccer While normally thought of as a warmer-weather sport, soccer continues year-round for many elite players, said Younes Bouida, the executive director of Soccer New Brunswick. But for those in red zones, winter soccer has come to an end. Bouida said many of the elite programs have switched to online tools to keep teams connected and give players at-home programs to stay active and work on their skills. Those in orange zones, meanwhile, continue to be able to practice together, although they have to stay two metres away from each other, which is definitely better than the options available to teams in red zones, said Bouida. School sports and activities All school sports, including intramural sports, are cancelled in red zones. So, too, are all after-school clubs and activities. "Masks are required to be worn during physical education and only activities that are conducive to physical distancing, such as yoga, dancing and moderate walking, are permitted in high school and strongly recommended for K-8 students," explained Education Department spokesperson Tara Chislett in an email Wednesday afternoon. What orange will bring Under the orange phase of recovery, teams are permitted to practice as a group, but the activities are limited to "skills and drills." Scrimmages are prohibited and players are expected to stay two metres apart at all times. Gym, fitness facilities, and yoga studios may operate under a COVID-19 operational plan with additional public health measures, including: Two metres of physical distancing, with masks, in low-intensity fitness classes such as yoga, tai chi, and stretching; and three metres of physical distancing for high-intensity activities such as spin, aerobics and boot camp. active screening and record keeping of patrons. closed locker rooms/common areas. Yellow Sports teams can continue to play, following their operational plan, and tournaments or larger events may be permitted, subject to the approval of a plan. For most teams in yellow, it was business-almost-as-usual, but with added COVID precautions like screening and proper hand hygiene. Red The only activity encouraged in the public health messages is "Exercising alone or with persons in your bubble." Maritime Junior Hockey League On Monday, the Maritime Junior Hockey League announced that seven games would be postponed as a result of Zone 4 going into the red phase of recovery. In a press release, the league said the postponed games would affect the Edmundston Blizzard and Grand Falls Rapids. No further releases have been issued since Zones 1, 2 and 3 went red, but the league's director of communications James Faulkner confirmed by email Wednesday that teams in the orange zones can continue to practice together. All activity has stopped for those in red, said Faulkner. National Basketball League of Canada The National Basketball League of Canada announced in November that it would postpone its season. According to the league's website, the tentative start date is now March 12. Quebec Major Junior Hockey League The league announced Monday that it would postpone regular season games "following meetings with government and Public Health officials of the three provinces of the Maritimes Division." Those in red zones, however, will not be allowed to practice together.
If there was proof that the snowstorm slamming into eastern Newfoundland was serious, it came Thursday afternoon when the Avalon Mall announced it was shutting down. As the first flurries fell in the St. John's area just after noon Thursday, schools and other facilities in the St. John's area began closing ahead of the incoming storm that would blast the Avalon and Bonavista peninsulas. Both regions remain under a winter storm warning, with 20 to 35 centimetres expected by Friday morning. As of 6:30 p.m., Environment Canada meteorologist Rodney Barney reported 15 centimetres at St. John's International Airport. Some backyard observations from residents — and CBC's Ashley Brauweiler — marked higher totals. The Department of Transportation said on Twitter after 6 p.m. that it took plows off the Witless Bay Line and Route 100, among other Avalon highways, due to whiteout conditions and over concerns about the safety of plow operators. A number of travel warnings are in effect for highways throughout the region as of Thursday evening. The Department of Public Safety has asked all residents to remain indoors where possible and avoid unnecessary travel. Rash of closures The storm prompted all St. John's area schools in the English school district to dismiss their students at least three hours before regular dismissal Thursday, with a decision on Friday's classes to be made at 6 a.m. the following morning. In the French school district, Ecole Rocher-du-Nord closed at noon. The City of St. John's closed its facilities at 2 p.m. ahead of the snow storm. Memorial University closed its St. John's campus buildings at noon. The College of the North Atlantic also closed its St. John's campuses and its Placentia campus. Metrobus halted service as of 5 p.m. Thursday due to the forecast. The Avalon Mall closed its doors at 3:30 p.m., adding it will provide an update Friday morning on whether or not the building will be open. Liquor stores in St. John's, Mount Pearl, Paradise, Conception Bay South, Bay Roberts, Carbonear and Placentia shut their doors at 5 p.m. Plows will be clearing major arteries throughout the night, said City of St. John's Coun. Sandy Hickman. Other streets will be cleared tomorrow as the snow tapers off, he said, adding crews and equipment were well prepared. "We are ready to roll with the full complement," he said. The city is also bringing in a 24-hour parking restriction as of 6 p.m. Thursday evening, outside of downtown and the business district. Hickman said the restriction will continue through Friday, and the city added it won't know when the restriction will be lifted until public works makes the decision. The reasoning is to allow easy and effective snow removal for equipment operators. Vehicles parked on roads during this time may be ticketed or towed, the city said, and an update will be issued when restriction is over. As for sidewalks, Hickman said new equipment with "drop spreaders" for sand and salt will continue to make way for pedestrians. "I think people will see an improvement," he said. "It won't be, likely, a small snowfall, so it will take a little longer of course." Winds are expected to gust up around 80 km/h, and in some places, like Cape Race, top 100 km/h, creating poor visibility. "It will be blizzard-like visibilities this evening and into the overnight periods, but the storm's moving through fairly quickly, so it's not going to be a long-lasting event," said Environment Canada Meteorologist Dale Foote. The storm marks the first major winter weather event for the St. John's area, with Foote calling the storm was a proper nor'easter, "a typical January storm that we'd expect in a normal year." A special weather statement is in effect for a swath of the northeast coast, central Newfoundland and Northern Peninsula, which could see between 10 to 15 centimetres of snow. On the Avalon, Boudreau said, the storm's winds and snow will ease slightly but continue overnight, but the snow should taper off by Friday morning, with gusts continuing until noon. A second weather system anticipated for Saturday probably won't materialize, as it's tracking east of Newfoundland at the moment, the meteorologists said. "If that works out, Saturday should be a nice day for the entire island," said Foote. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Canadian pension funds are seeking to boost their real estate investments, betting the slumping property market will recover as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes and office workers and city dwellers return to downtown properties. In a world of slower economic growth, very low interest rates, volatility in equity markets, real estate offers an attractive opportunity for pension funds, which take a long-term investment horizon, say market participants.
GENEVA — The United States will resume funding for the World Health Organization and join its consortium aimed at sharing coronavirus vaccines fairly around the globe, President Joe Biden’s top adviser on the pandemic said Thursday, renewing support for an agency that the Trump administration had pulled back from. Dr. Anthony Fauci’s quick commitment to the WHO — whose response to the pandemic has been criticized by many, but most vociferously by the Trump administration — marks a dramatic and vocal shift toward a more co-operative approach to fighting the pandemic. “I am honoured to announce that the United States will remain a member of the World Health Organization,” Fauci told a virtual meeting of the WHO from the United States, where it was 4:10 a.m. in Washington. It was the first public statement by a member of Biden’s administration to an international audience — and a sign of the priority that the new president has made of fighting COVID-19 both at home and with world partners. Just hours after Biden’s inauguration Wednesday, he wrote a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres saying the U.S. had reversed the planned pullout from the WHO that was expected to take effect in July. The withdrawal from the WHO was rich with symbolism — another instance of America's go-it-alone strategy under Trump. But it also had practical ramifications: The U.S. halted funding for the U.N. health agency — stripping it of cash from the country that has long been its biggest donor just as the agency was battling the health crisis that has killed more than 2 million people worldwide. The U.S. had also pulled back staff from the organization. Fauci said the Biden administration will resume “regular engagement” with WHO and will “fulfil its financial obligations to the organization.” The WHO chief and others jumped in to welcome the U.S. announcements. “This is a good day for WHO and a good day for global health,” Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “The role of the United States, its role, global role is very, very crucial.” The two men hinted at a warm relationship between them, with Fauci calling Tedros his “dear friend” and Tedros referring to Fauci as “my brother Tony.” John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called it “great news” in an email. “The world has always been a better place when the U.S. plays a leadership role in solving global health problems including the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria, polio and other diseases,” he said. Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke wrote on Facebook: “This is going to have a huge impact on the world’s ability to fight the pandemic. It is decisive that the United States is involved as a driving force and not a country that is looking for the exit when a global catastrophe rages.” Fauci also said Biden will issue a directive Thursday that shows the United States’ intent to join the COVAX Facility, a project to deploy COVID-19 vaccines to people in need around the world — whether in rich or poor countries. Under Trump, the U.S. had been the highest-profile — and most deep-pocketed — holdout from the COVAX Facility, which has struggled to meet its goals of distributing millions of vaccines both because of financial and logistic difficulties. WHO and leaders in many developing countries have repeatedly expressed concerns that poorer places could be the last to get COVID-19 vaccines, while noting that leaving vast swaths of the global population unvaccinated puts everyone at risk. While vowing U.S. support, Fauci also pointed to some key challenges facing WHO. He said the U.S. was committed to “transparency, including those events surrounding the early days of the pandemic.” One of the Trump administration’s biggest criticisms was that the WHO reacted too slowly to the outbreak in Wuhan, China, and was too accepting of and too effusive about the Chinese government’s response to it. Others have also shared those criticisms — but public health experts and many countries have argued that, while the organization needs reform, it remains vital. Referring to a WHO-led probe looking for the origins of the coronavirus by a team that is currently in China, Fauci said: “The international investigation should be robust and clear, and we look forward to evaluating it.” He said the U.S. would work with WHO and partner countries to “strengthen and reform” the agency, without providing specifics. ___ Associated Press writers Cara Anna in Nairobi, Kenya, and Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report. Jamey Keaten, The Associated Press
PARIS — Just like the leaves of its gilded fans, France’s storied fan-making museum could fold and vanish. The splendid Musee de l’Eventail in Paris, classed as a historical monument, is the cultural world’s latest coronavirus victim. It has until Jan. 23 to pay up over 117,000 euros ($142,000) in rent arrears — stemming mainly from losses during lockdowns, otherwise it will close. And with it will go the savoir-faire of its workshop. The studio that teaches design and restoration to a new generation of fan-makers was placed on France’s intangible heritage list last year. “It is a tragedy. I can’t believe Parisians will let a part of their heritage die. I have a problem, because I always believed there would be a miracle,” the museum's 74-year-old director, Anne Hoguet, told the AP. There may be some surprise that France, a country that famously prizes its culture, has not done more to save the museum, especially given that the French public was so eager to help other cultural sites in danger, such as its burned-out Notre Dame cathedral. It might be a question of size. Hoguet said she was “exhausted” by the fight for survival that has hit smaller institutions but spared larger ones, such as Florence’s Uffizi which re-opens this week. “Like all small museums, we had troubles before, but the health crisis has been a catastrophe," she said. Bailiffs are even threatening to seize the museum's artefacts from next Monday, numbering 2,500 original pieces — including historic fans made from turtle shell, lace and silk and adorned with diamonds and rubies. Like many of Paris' 130 museums, Hoguet said her institution — which charges just 7 euros entry and is located in the French capital’s popular 10th district — was forced to close for most of 2020 because of government virus restrictions. On top of that, money coming from the workshop’s fan restorations also evaporated because of the tightening of spending during the pandemic. “The aristocratic families who send me their fans to restore all fled to their country homes in lockdown, so I had no more commissions. They wanted to save their money.” She said she would previously have charged between 500 and 600 euros per fan to restore them to their original state using traditional materials, and she used the income from that to pay the rent. Even when the museum briefly re-opened last September, Hoguet had trouble getting the same levels of footfall as before. “Because people were preoccupied with the virus, culture and heritage got forgotten — and dangerously,” she said. Hoguet is the fourth generation in charge of what is Paris’ last original fan-making workshop. She has trained directly or indirectly five young fan-makers, whom she hopes will carry the torch of the storied craft. The making of fans, traditionally with wooden sticks and painted paper leaves, has been considered sacred in many ancient cultures. But in France, its golden age was in the French court of 18th-century Versailles, where women used fan as forms of communication to flirt expertly or to hide modestly behind. The images painted on them would often chronicle the current affairs of the world around them. To this day, they remain part of France's fashion heritage DNA, featuring elaborately in couture collections by Chanel, Dior and Jean Paul Gaultier. Hoguet's father bought the museum’s impressive collection of fans in 1960. It spans the period from the Renaissance to the 20th century, including “advertising” or “illustrated” pieces, as well as vellum, kidskin and feathered fans. She is very much an eccentric of the old school. A staff of one, she has no cohesive fundraising tool set up other than email, but her efforts to rally support since 2019 have been valiant. She says that she has been so failed by French authorities that she now has trouble sleeping. She had rallied the French Culture Ministry and been in talks with Paris City Hall, but it has, she said, made no difference. “What is the point of marking us out as intangible heritage if they will not protect us?” she asked. Paris City Hall did not immediately respond when contacted by AP. “The problem with savoir-faire, is that it can very quickly die," Hoguet said. ___ Adamson reported from Leeds, England Thomas Adamson And Michel Euler, The Associated Press
ROME — The missing piece for AC Milan in its decade-long quest to return to glory — and financial stability — could prove to be a 34-year-old striker who hasn’t played in nearly a year. Mario Mandžukic’s signing this week is tantamount to a statement of title intentions. Hitherto having maintained that its goal was returning to the Champions League after a seven-year absence by securing only a top-four finish, Milan now appears firmly set on winning Serie A. And standing three points clear of city rival Inter Milan nearing the season’s mid-point, why not? It’s just that having exceeded expectations all season — for all of 2020 actually, or since Zlatan Ibrahimovic returned last January — it’s been a slow process in terms of building the belief that a title run is possible. Juventus has ruled Serie A for nine consecutive seasons and Milan has finished no better than fifth over the past seven years. Whereas hedge-fund owner Elliott Management has for the most part prioritized signing younger players on the rise with bright financial prospects, Mandžukic is a veteran scorer looking for one last turn in the spotlight. “The history of Milan tells us to be ambitious and get back to where we should be,” Milan coach Stefano Pioli said. “His arrival goes in that direction. … He’s an extra weapon.” Mandžukic knows Italian soccer, having scored 44 goals in 162 appearances for Juventus before spending last season in Qatar with league champion Al-Duhail. He could perform as a reserve for the 39-year-old Ibrahimovic or play together with the Swede in a supporting role. “There will be two of us to scare the opponents now,” Ibrahimovic said. Milan is also reportedly in talks to sign centre back Fikayo Timori from Chelsea and left back Junior Firpo from Barcelona, with midfielder Soualiho Meïté recently loaned in from Torino. “We are almost halfway through the league and now the games are starting to be more difficult,” Ibrahimovic said after scoring both goals in a 2-0 win over Cagliari on Monday. “It will be a very tough season. But now with Mandžukic and Meïté — and I don’t know if others will arrive — we will have more players available for the coach to rotate in.” By winning Serie A, Milan could grab millions more in Champions League money from UEFA — funds that are desperately needed to provide relief from financial fair play sanctions that resulted in Milan voluntarily withdrawing from last season's Europa League. Mandžukic could make his Milan debut against Atalanta on Saturday, with the team needing only one point to secure the mostly meaningless halfway title. Then he could be of even more use three days later in a derby with Inter in the Italian Cup quarterfinals. “Looking at the schedule there will be some rotation as we’ll need to preserve energy, not run risks or have too many injuries,” Pioli said. “Having some extra choices is important. I’m happy with the club’s choice.” ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Andrew Dampf is at https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf Andrew Dampf, The Associated Press
BERLIN — Germany is seeing a promising decline in new coronavirus infections, but must take "very seriously” the risk posed by a more contagious variant and will have to be cautious whenever it starts easing its lockdown, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday. Merkel and Germany’s 16 state governors on Tuesday decided to extend the country’s lockdown by two weeks until Feb. 14 and tighten some measures, for example requiring surgical masks — rather than just fabric face coverings — in shops and on public transportation. On Thursday, Germany’s disease control centre said that 20,398 new cases were reported over the past 24 hours, nearly 5,000 fewer than a week ago. The number of new cases per 100,000 residents over seven days stood at 119, the lowest since the beginning of November — though still well above the level of 50 the government is targeting. There were 1,013 more deaths, bringing Germany’s total so far to 49,783. The new variant, which has been detected in Germany and many other European countries, isn't yet dominant there, but “we must take the danger from this mutation very seriously,” Merkel told reporters. “We must slow the spread of this mutation as far as possible, and that means ... we must not wait until the danger is more tangible here,” she said. “Then it would be too late to prevent a third wave of the pandemic, and possibly an even heavier one than before. We can still prevent this.” Merkel said that Germany won't be able to open up everything at once whenever the lockdown ends, declaring that schools must open first. “We must be very careful that we do not see what happens in many countries: they do a hard lockdown, they open, they open too much, and then they have the result that they are back in exponential growth very quickly,” she said. She pointed to Britain's experience in December, when the new variant took hold. The Associated Press
A Kelowna man who lied about his qualifications as a social worker is facing a new proposed class-action lawsuit for allegedly failing to inform a former client about the existence of a program designed to help young adults age out of the foster care system. In a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court earlier this week, Zachary Alphonse claims Robert Riley Saunders and a colleague at the Ministry of Children and Family Development were required to tell him about the Young Adults Program when he turned 19. Instead, Alphonse, who is now 29, claims he only learned about the program's existence when the ministry contacted him last summer. But by then, he was too old to collect benefits that could have provided him with up to 48 months of financial support a decade earlier. "If [Alphonse] had been informed of the existence of and his eligibility for the Young Adults Program and had been provided with assistance in applying for the program, [he] would have started his adult education and advanced his work goals at a better pace," the lawsuit reads. 'Kind of languished aimlessly' Saunders has already been the subject of one successful class action, filed on behalf of dozens of former foster children who accused him of isolating them in order to siphon funds meant for their care into his own pocket. Last summer, the ministry agreed to a multimillion dollar settlement that will see at least 102 former foster children, the majority of them Indigenous, collect thousands of dollars intended to cover both their financial loss and trauma they suffered as a result of Saunders' actions. According to court documents filed in relation to the settled claim, Saunders faked a social work degree. The Kelowna man is also facing multiple criminal charges of fraud and breach of trust for the same alleged behaviour. Jason Gratl, the lawyer who represented the first group of claimants, also represents Alphonse. He says the target of the latest lawsuit is primarily the government. "It turns out the Ministry of Children and Family Development hasn't been telling children about the existence of this adult education program at or near the time they age out, so lots of foster children are falling between the cracks," Gratl told the CBC. "Not knowing about the program, they kind of languished aimlessly." 'Thousands of former children' Alphonse claims he became homeless after turning 19 in August 2010. At that point, he says he had only completed Grade 9 and lacked the resources to work on a graduate equivalency degree. "For a period of approximately one year, [he] could see no future for himself, felt hopeless and unable to advance his interests," the lawsuit reads. Alphonse claims he began working part-time jobs but was held back by his lack of education. He says he got a technical certification in computer repair at age 27, while working full time. He now needs only three courses to complete his Grade 12 equivalency in order to graduate from high school. "We do know there are thousands of former children in care who did not enter the adult education program to which they were entitled, but we don't know exactly the proportion of those who weren't notified of the existence of the program," Gratl says. "But the general idea of the class action is to encourage the Province of British Columbia by means of a court order to restart the clock on those benefits." Alphonse is seeking damages which include the cost of future education as well as aggravated and punitive damages. The ministry has not filed a response to the lawsuit and neither has Saunders.
As Sweta Daboo frames it, Tuesday was the last day that there had never been a woman of colour in the job of vice-president of the United States. "As of yesterday there is now precedent. This will be normalized and this is something incredible to look forward to," said Daboo. Daboo is a woman of colour living on P.E.I., and the the executive director of the P.E.I. Coalition for Women in Government. "It was absolutely incredible and very surreal," she said of watching the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris on Wednesday. UPEI biology Prof. Marva Sweeney-Nixon, also woman of colour, was watching as well. "It was emotional, it was gratifying, it was just a really powerful and exciting experience," said Sweeney-Nixon. "I just sat there and thought about how powerful it was for women and for girls and for people of colour to see this. I thought about just how inspiring she is." 'Not the last' Daboo said her favourite moments of the ceremony included the poem by Amanda Gorman and the fist bump between Harris and former president Barack Obama, but it was Harris's actual taking of the oath of office that struck her the most. "I thought about a quote that she had earlier which was, 'You may be the first to do many things, but make sure you are not the last.'" she said. "Watching her take this oath, and thinking of all the little girls, all the children of colour, all the youth around the world that were watching this moment happen, it was easy to believe that she would not be the last." But both Sweeney-Nixon and Daboo said this is just the beginning of a difficult road for Harris. "People are going to be watching her and expecting more from her just like they did with Barack Obama," said Sweeney-Nixon. "If you make a mistake or you stumble, oftentimes that can be used to say this is why people of this or that group should not be in positions of power," added Daboo. And, they added, the experience of Obama's presidency and what followed also showed electing someone to high office is not enough to change society. "There's a lot of change that needs to follow," said Sweeney-Nixon. For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here. More from CBC P.E.I.
Summerside's sewage treatment plant is back in compliance following what city officials describe as a "glitch," which pumped higher than normal levels of effluent into the city's harbour for more than three weeks. Bruce MacDougall, the councillor responsible for the water and sewer utilities, says staff noticed the higher than acceptable levels last month. He said federal and provincial officials were immediately notified and the shellfish fishery in the harbour was shut down. "Late December, we had a little glitch in the system and whenever staff noticed it they notified the provincial and federal officials," MacDougall said in an interview with CBC News. "We do testing every day and that's how we noticed it. So once we noticed the higher readings, we had to put an action together to bring those readings down." 'It wasn't raw discharge' The problem was noticed Dec. 13. The levels did not return to normal until Jan. 6. City officials say these events are rare ever since it invested more than $19 million into upgrades at the plant in 2008. The last time something like this happened was more than 10 years ago, the city said. Morley Foy, an engineer with the Department of Environment, said operational issues created the higher than normal levels. He said the sewage was still being treated but the amount of solids being released into the harbour was higher than normal. "It wasn't raw discharge by any means, but it was above the limits," said Foy. "The UV system that's in place, the ultraviolet light that does the portion of the treatment for the disinfection was able to manage those high levels, and throughout the whole period when the facility was not working the way it should have been working, it was still performing very well for bacteria reduction." 'Changes to processing plants' Foy said there was "very little impact" to the harbour. "The time of year was very fortunate for this event in the sense that there was no recreational activity taking place within the harbour nor was there any fishing activities taking place within the harbour," said Foy. Despite that, a shellfish closure was ordered Dec. 14. A spokesperson with the federal Department of Fisheries said, "Signs were installed and the fishing industry was notified. No fishing activity was taking place in the area at that time. "The area will remain closed until the beginning of the spring fishing season." Greg Gaudet, Summerside's director of municipal services, said the city began work immediately to correct the problem. But he said the fix took some time. 'Back into the safe zone' "It usually takes about a 10- to 12-day time period, you got to realize all that liquid … has to work its way through the whole process of the plant," said Gaudet. "What we believe may have happened, there may have been some changes to processing plants in Summerside in December, they may have had some shutdowns, in which case they weren't putting out any biological oxygen demand into the sewer system, which gave our system that we had fine-tuned a little burp. "Basically, it upset the process." Gaudet said they plan to improve communications between the city and its biggest sewage customers. "When they change their operations, we have to change ours." The Summerside sewage treatment plant not only treats sewage from the city, it also treats waste from people's homes throughout Prince County. When somebody has their private sewage tank cleaned, that waste ends up at the Summerside plant. MacDougall said these events are rare and the city works hard to ensure they don't happen. "Everything has been brought back into the safe zone," MacDougall told city councillors during a meeting on Monday night. "We've got the all clear now." More from CBC P.E.I.
When Diogo Dalot signed for Manchester United, the excitement was mixed with regret at missing out on the chance to play with Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The veteran striker had departed for what appeared to be a career swan song at the Los Angeles Galaxy just before a teenage Dalot arrived at Old Trafford three years ago. “It was a little bit of a sad moment for me,” Dalot recalls in an interview with The Associated Press. “When you play football, you always want to play with the best players and, of course, Zlatan was a reference.” The opportunity had been missed, or so the Portuguese defender wrongly assumed. As the right back struggled for game time in Manchester, a loan move was needed at the start of this season. Now the 21-year-old Dalot is at the heart of the defence of an AC Milan side which has been propelled to the top of the Italian league by the 39-year-old Ibrahimovic. With 12 goals in eight league games, the Swede’s enduring quality is undisputed — and inspirational for a teammate giving his career a lift in Italy. “He’s very demanding on ourselves,” Dalot said in a video call from Milan. “He’s always one of the first to come in to training ground. So these kind of things help us to see that maybe we need to be as professional as him because, if you want to win as much as he won, you need to be doing this for a long time. “And this is a very good way to see how you want be a success in football, how you want to be in 10 years or in 15 years. And it’s been a very good surprise to work with him.” Surprising because Dalot had not envisaged leaving United — even temporarily — so soon after being acclaimed as the “best young fullback in Europe” when Jose Mourinho brought him to United from Porto in 2018. “It was one of the sentences that I keep with me until this day,” Dalot said. “Coming from him was even more special because we all know that is a fantastic coach, one of the best ever, and it gave me a little bit more responsibility.” A change in manager produced a change in circumstances and Dalot fell down the pecking order under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Ibrahimovic is helping Dalot believe in himself again and improve his game. “He can give you the confidence when he thinks you need (it),” Dalot said. That sometimes means being brutally honest. “'You’re not doing good enough to be at this level'” Dalot says Ibrahimovic will tell players in training or games. "Coming from him we need to listen.” Especially about what it takes to win titles, something Milan has not done in Serie A since Ibrahimovic lifted the trophy in 2011 before eventually moving on to PSG, United and the LA Galaxy. Almost halfway through the season, a resurgent Milan enjoys a three-point lead over city rival Inter and has an unexpected 10-point advantage on Juventus, which has slumped to fifth after eight successive titles. “It will be more special (winning the title), not just because of beating Juve or Inter ... but to put Milan back on the top again, winning titles after so many years,” Dalot said. “We like this kind of pressure. We like to have people down there pushing us and paying attention to us to see, ‘OK, if you lose, we are there.’ So we like these kind of challenges.” Dalot’s focus is on the Serie A prize. But there will be some uncertainty when the season-long loan expires whether he returns to United or secures a longer stay with Stefano Pioli’s Milan. United is also going strongly this season, sitting top of the Premier League and looking to end its own title drought stretching back to 2013. “I am completely focused on what is going on here,” Dalot said. “When I go home and I can rest, I can see Manchester games, Porto games and be happy with them, because they are winning and they are doing fantastic.” Dalot is delighted to be back on the field regularly again, playing 15 times since October and being a key part of a defence that has not conceded in four of the last five games. “I’m a confident person. I know my qualities. I know what I can do, but then if you don’t play that’s not enough," Dalot said. "Feeling the grass again, feeling the games again, winning games and playing 90 minutes ... it’s been fantastic.” ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Rob Harris, The Associated Press
As Ontario approaches the end of its fourth week under a province-wide lockdown, epidemiologists say declining new infections prove the measures are working, but they warn we are still far from ready to reopen non-essential businesses, schools, and other heavily restricted activities. Ontario reported 2,655 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday. The seven-day average fell to 2,850, marking 10 consecutive days of decreases from a high of 3,555. Ashleigh Tuite, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health, says the declining average is a "positive sign," but only part of the picture officials are looking at when considering the province's next steps. 'Small victories' "I think it's important to look at those numbers and, you know, celebrate the small victories, but also recognize that we're going to be at this for a while longer," Tuite said in an interview. On Wednesday, the province reported 1,598 COVID-19 patients in Ontario hospitals. 395 COVID-19 were admitted to intensive care units and 89 additional deaths were reported, matching a previous record. Tuite and other experts say that those indicators remain far too high to consider easing lockdown measures. Getting to that point will require weeks, not days, of progress. "What we want to see is that every week that goes on, there's a steady decline," Tuite said. "I would say you probably want to see about a 25-per-cent decline week-over-week. When you see that trend, then you can start talking about opening things up again." No magic number Earlier this week, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said easing lockdown restrictions will require reducing new infections to "around or below" 1,000 per day. However, other infectious disease experts tell CBC News reopening won't be such a simple calculation. "There's not necessarily a magic number in terms of number of cases," Tuite said. Dr. Jeff Kwong, a senior scientist and infectious disease specialist at University of Toronto, says 1,000 cases per day is too high to consider lifting restrictions. "I'm not sure where Dr. Williams got a thousand cases per day. I've heard we should be aiming for one [new daily infection] per million people. Ontario has a population of about 15 million people. So that would be 15 cases per day," Kwong said in an interview. "Fifteen and 1,000 is quite a big difference.". Williams also singled out reducing the number of ICU admissions to 150 as another threshold for reopening. On Wednesday, Ontario reported 395 COVID-19 patients in the province's ICUs. As for reopening schools, Kwong says it's a "really tricky call." Keeping them closed may help reduce the spread of COVID-19, but it's harmful to children. Kwong says more time is needed before returning to in-person learning, but in the meantime, he'd like to know what criteria the province is considering for reopening schools. "We haven't identified any targets," he said. Avoiding another lockdown Even if infection, hospitalization and mortality rates can all be reduced to the point of reopening, is it just a matter of time until that very reopening causes them to shoot up again? Pretty much, according to experts. But a vicious lockdown loop can be avoided with proper supports in place to test for, trace and isolate COVID-19 cases. Tuite says rolling out more rapid testing will be key for a safe reopening, as well as ensuring employees have paid leave to stay home while they're sick. Isolation hotels should also be maintained so COVID-19 patients won't infect other people at home. "We have to do everything we can to ensure that once we get case numbers down, they stay down, and we have all of these other supports in place so that we can keep cases at a manageable level," Tuite said.
Turkey and the European Union have started the year positively and steps to restart talks with Greece over hydrocarbons in the Mediterranean are welcome, but the EU remains concerned about human rights, the bloc's top envoy said on Thursday. "We have seen an improvement in the overall atmosphere ... we strongly wish to see a sustainable de-escalation in the eastern Mediterranean," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters alongside Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu before their meeting. "We remain concerned about the (human rights) situation in Turkey," Borrell said.
Union heads ensured Liberal Leader Andrew Furey and his team received a friendly reception in Arnold's Cove Wednesday, following a taxpayer-funded lifeline last week for the idled Come By Chance refinery. "He'll get a warm welcome," Glenn Nolan, president of Local 9316 of the United Steelworkers, said just before the Liberal bus pulled up to the union office late Wednesday afternoon. "Due to the fact that we just received money from the government, we're pretty optimistic about it," he added. The drab union boardroom was quickly filled with a crimson glow just after 4 p.m., as Furey and a squad of red-jacketed Liberals piled into the room — remaining mindful of the pandemic protocols for physical distancing. There were offers of hot coffee and cold pizza, then bantering about favourite hockey teams. Despite the cloud of economic uncertainty that has been darkening Placentia Bay for months, no one was expecting any tension. Nolan is confident that the nearly $17 million in public money announced on Friday — the same day Andrew Furey pulled the chain on a provincial general election — saved the refinery from total shutdown, and avoided a devastating blow to the provincial economy. "It would be very damaging," said Nolan. North Atlantic Refining Limited has not refined any fuels at Come By Chance since last April, when the owners, New York-based investment management firm Silverpeak, decided it was no longer viable to operate amid a pandemic and collapsing oil markets. The refinery has been in idle mode ever since, with at least two potential sales collapsing, dashing hopes that a new owner would swoop in with big plans to re-start the 130,000-barrel-per-day complex. Silverpeak had lobbied the government for months for financial help to keep the lights on at Come By Chance, rather than trying to market a mothballed refinery to potential buyers or investors, or expose sensitive processing equipment to a Newfoundland winter. Finally, amid a flurry of highly charged political announcements late last week, the Liberals declared it had reached a deal to keep the refinery in what's called warm idle mode. It came in the form of a $16.6 million grant to North Atlantic, on the condition that the company increase the workforce to 200 people — a third of the normal complement — and keep up with critical maintenance. Prior to Wednesday's meeting with Nolan, Furey defended the cash payment at a time when the province is facing a financial crisis that existed long prior to the arrival of the pandemic last winter. "We thought the best way to support the women and men who work in this industry right now is to keep this in a warm idle position, so it's perfectly positioned as oil rebounds to either restart or be sold for a high value," Furey explained. Furey skirted the question when repeatedly asked whether Silverpeak had threatened to turn out the lights unless the government opened its wallet. "We've been working with companies endlessly, and we arrived at a deal before the election," he said. Not everyone back to work: union The union says there are 153 people — a mixture of union and non-union positions — working at the site. Another 56 people will start receiving calls as early as Thursday, telling them to report for work as early as next week. Nolan said his phone has been ringing steadily, with sidelined refinery workers — many struggling to pay the bills and worried about the loss of health benefits — asking whether they'll gain from the injection of government cash. "Two hundred jobs is a great thing. Unfortunately, not everybody is going to get back," said Nolan. The government cash is expected to last until the end of June, and Furey hopes for a positive outcome by then. "We got six months now, and the pressure is on the company and other companies to come together to make a commercial deal that is ... the best value of the people of the province," he said. Meanwhile, an analyst who keeps a close watch on the North American refining industry has serious concerns about the future of Come By Chance. Marc Amons is with Wood Mackenzie, a natural resources research and consulting firm. Speaking from his office in Houston, Texas, on Wednesday, Amons said the pandemic has pinched refiners around the world. He said demand for fuels such as gasoline, jet fuel and diesel is still "well below" pre-pandemic levels, and refiners are adapting by decreasing throughput and coping with shrinking profits. What's more, he said, Silverpeak is not the only refinery owner marketing their assets to prospective buyers. "There's other refining companies looking to sell or reposition their assets. So it's likely that any buyer looking to enter the space would have a choice of assets to purchase," he said. As for the decision by the Liberals to throw cash at the refinery, Amons said that might not be such a bad idea. He said there's a strong chance that the markets will rebound later in the year as COVID-19 vaccinations increase, and demand for fuels rebound. But, he added, "as we stand here today, there is still a fair amount of reason for pessimism for the outlook." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
More than 14,000 students stayed home from school on Wednesday, as three more zones moved to the red level of COVID-19 recovery, attendance records show. Two schools in the Saint John region saw more than half of their student body not show up. This data does not include any high school students in two of the anglophone districts because their attendance is recorded on a period-by-period basis. Nor does it include any students at schools in one of the francophone districts, which did not respond to a request for information. The attendance records indicate only that the students were absent from school, not the reasons why. But Anglophone South School District superintendent Zoë Watson suspects the "spike" in absences that saw nearly a quarter of students across her district not attend classes "is most likely correlated to the Red Phase announcement" Tuesday. Premier Blaine Higgs announced the Moncton region, Zone 1, Saint John region, Zone 2, and Fredericton region, Zone 3, would be bumped back to the more restrictive red level from orange, as of midnight Tuesday. The Edmundston region, Zone 4, has been at the red level since midnight Sunday. Earlier that day, Education Minister Dominic Cardy announced K-12 schools will now remain open at the red level, under new guidelines. If a positive case of COVID-19 is confirmed at a school, the school will be closed for a minimum of three days to allow for contact tracing. A petition launched Monday by a mother in Oromocto, calling on the government to revert to the plan to close schools in red zones and move to online learning, has garnered more than 21,000 signatures so far. Public Health reported 21 new cases of COVID-19 In New Brunswick on Wednesday, pushing the total number of active cases in the province to 317. Two people are in hospital, including one in intensive care, and 1,953 people were self-isolating, as of Tuesday afternoon, either because they've tested positive for COVID-19 or been in close contact with a confirmed case. On Wednesday, 5,072 of the 22,282 students enrolled at the 69 schools in the Anglophone South School District, or 23 per cent, were recorded as absent, said Watson. "It is important to remember that this is 'absent,' it could be illness, it could be an appointment (medical/dental)," she said in an emailed statement. But the absenteeism rate did jump from 14 per cent the previous day. "This would be expected," said Watson, "as we have consistently seen a spike in absences, followed by a quick and steady return to normal attendance in the days following each orange phase announcement or, at the school level, notification of a confirmed case at the school." The overall district absenteeism rate Wednesday was actually lower than the 28 per cent the district saw the day following the Saint John region's first move to the orange level, she noted. The highest absenteeism is at schools in the Hampton and Saint John areas, said Watson. "Interesting to note these are the areas where there have been outbreaks." Princess Elizabeth School, which announced a positive case on Tuesday, had the district's highest absenteeism rate Wednesday at 57 per cent. That was actually down from 67 per cent the day before. Belleisle Elementary School, which had an outbreak last weekend, with one confirmed case, had the second highest absenteeism rate at 53 per cent, up from 38 per cent Tuesday. Millidgeville North School, which also had an outbreak last weekend, with one confirmed case, had 40 per cent of students absent on Wednesday, compared to 34 per cent on Tuesday. And Quispamsis Middle School, which had an outbreak on Sunday, climbed slightly to 27 per cent absent Wednesday, from 26 per cent on Tuesday Attendance has been stronger in the St. Stephen-St. George area, where there have been no outbreaks, said Watson. The absence rate at St. Stephen Elementary School on Wednesday, for example, was 14 per cent, St. Stephen Middle School, 15 per cent, and St. George Elementary School, 15 per cent. Anglophone East sees nearly 23% absent In the Anglophone East School District, nearly 23 per cent of its K-8 students — 2,521 of 11,030 — were absent Wednesday. This excludes students from Edith Cavell School and the Grade 6-8 students at Caledonia Regional High School who were home learning, the records show. The attendance of high school students is not included. "We could not pull the high school data because that is done on a period by period case," said spokesperson Stephanie Patterson. The district continues to work closely with Public Health and the Department of Education "to do our best in ensuring your safety, health, and well-being," superintendent Gregg Ingersoll said in an email to families Tuesday night after the move to red was announced. He encouraged all families to be "more diligent than ever" with wearing masks, hand-washing, and social distancing. "These actions can make a major impact on keeping our schools, children, and communities safe," he said. 18% absent in Anglophone West The absenteeism rate in the Anglophone West School District Wednesday was 18 per cent — 3,939 of 21,822. That's up about six per cent from Tuesday, "despite the enhanced safety measures," said spokesperson Jennifer Read. "We have seen a trend in decreased attendance on the first day of a new COVID-19 related announcement, for example a confirmed case in a school or an alert level change, which is then followed by a gradual increase in attendance in the following days," she said in an emailed statement. "We are hopeful that parents will continue to send their children to school and have confidence knowing that their children are in a supervised environment with strict health and safety protocols in place. "Our students and staff have done an exceptional job following directives and staying safe." Absenteeism in Anglophone North at 13% In the Anglophone North School District, 13 per cent of its K-8 students — 553 of 4,099 — didn't make it to classes Wednesday. Grades 9-12 are not included because they have attendance taken by period and not the entire day, said spokesperson Meredith Caissie. At least two of the four schools the district has in the red alert level of Zone 1, in the Rexton area, "witnessed a significant increase in absenteeism," said superintendent Mark Donovan. These include Eleanor W. Graham Middle School (40 per cent) and Rexton Elementary School (37 per cent). "This is consistent with what we have seen provincially, over the past five months, when schools and/or regions have seen spikes in COVID-19 case counts or have gone back a phase in the recovery plan," said Donovan. "It is important to remind all stakeholders that when schools are open, they are safe places for both students and staff," he said. The district will continue to work with the Department of Education and Public Health to ensure that safety remains its "highest priority," he added. 8% of Francophone South students no-shows The Francophone South School District saw an absenteeism rate of eight per cent Wednesday — 1,280 of 15325 students. That's up from six per cent on both Tuesday and Monday, before the move to red, the records show. "In these circumstances, the figures are positive and show a good level of commitment from our students and families," said superintendent Monique Boudreau. The district supports the government's decision to keep schools open at the red level, she said, noting there have been "very few" reported transmissions of COVID-19 in the province's schools and none in the district. Attending school has many benefits for students, not only in terms of learning, but also in terms of their well-being. - Monique Boudreau, Francophone South "This proves the effectiveness of health measures put in place and well respected by students and staff," Boudreau said in an emailed statement. "We understand that this transition to the Red level may be a concern for some people, but it is important to remind parents and students that schools are safe. In addition, attending school has many benefits for students, not only in terms of learning, but also in terms of their well-being." If school closures become necessary, the district will follow Public Health recommendations and do everything it can to promote successful learning at home, she added. Francophone Northeast absenteeism around 12% The absenteeism rate at schools across the Francophone Northeast School District on Wednesday was around 12 per cent, said spokesperson Ian-Guillaume DesRoches. That's about 1,050 of the 8,755 students enrolled. "It is similar to a normal absenteeism rate in the winter season," he said in an email. The rate among schools in the red-level Restigouche area ranged between 10 and 15 per cent, said DesRoches. "We aren't observing a dramatic surge like in October," he said. District general director Marc Pelletier acknowledged the government's decision to keep schools open at the red level did take the district "a bit by surprise." "We are aware that the decision was a bit last minute, but when you take into account the volatile context of the pandemic, decisions must be made to ensure the safety of all," he said in an emailed statement. The district is confident the schools are safe and that they can ensure the safety of their students and staff members due to the strict health and safety protocols in their operational plans, said Pelletier. The COVID-19 situation currently appears stable across the district, including the three schools affected over the past two weeks, he said. "We anticipate that our students who had to continue their learning from home will be coming back to the classroom next Monday." Francophone Northwest School District spokesperson Denise Laplante did not respond to a request for information.
Millions of us have been living with severe restrictions and orders to stay socially distanced. But this can lead to 'touch starvation'. Find out more. View on euronews
A global pandemic and a winter that hasn't seen much snow are causing headaches for an industry that relies on travel and 'white gold' in northern New Brunswick. The Nepisiquit Snowmobile Club in Bathurst has approximately 1,500 members, with 600 of those from Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. And many of the 900 or so other members come from all around New Brunswick, according to the club's vice president, David Brewster . "These are people coming to northern New Brunswick to take advantage of the tremendous snow amounts that we get here with a beautiful trail system," Brewster said. The club has three groomers — used to maintain a 300 kilometre trail system — which log about 2,500 hours a year. Brewster said the trail system is a huge tourism draw to the area. "Our winter tourism is our main tourism for the whole year," Brewster said, adding that the spinoff effect from the industry is important to the region. "We depend on that, that's our main source of jobs right now for our area," he said. But it's been a rough start for the industry so far in 2021, according to Brewster. Up until last weekend, the region didn't have much snow, preventing the club from grooming an important trail that connects Bathurst to the larger trail system. Brewster admits that's frustrating, but not completely unheard of for January, as winter gets off to a slow start once every ten years or so. But, it's the issues surrounding travel because of COVID-19 restrictions that are worrisome to the club. The now defunct Atlantic Bubble means more than a third of the club's members haven't been able to travel to the region so far this season. "A lot of them have bought their pass — which is a couple hundred dollars," Brewster said of the club's members outside of the province. He said members aren't happy with not being able to travel to the area, but understand the situation. "It's like buying a membership into a golf club and you can't use it because the club is closed." Members from other parts of the province, in particular from southern New Brunswick, also can't visit the region right now because of COVID-19 restrictions. Earlier this month, the province reverted back to the orange phase of recovery limiting travel between regions — and this week the majority of New Brunswick is in the red phase. That's not trending in the right direction for the winter economy in the north of the province. Keith DeGrace, owner of the Atlantic Host Hotel in Bathurst, said the hospitality industry is feeling the pinch of not having the snowmobilers in town this year. "We do see a definite drop almost immediately," he said of the change to tighter restrictions. "We're already more like 35 to 45 per cent off what our market originally was last year at this time — it's quite a blow," he said. Normally DeGrace would have more than 50 people on staff right now, but at the moment he said they're down to 38 people. "We have had our excellent years, and I guess we can expect a tough one once in a while," he said. Both DeGrace and Brewster are optimistic that the season can still be salvaged. The recent snowfall has laid the foundation for better snow conditions, which Brewster believes will only get better over the coming weeks. Both men hope COVID-19 restrictions will revert back to the yellow phase of recovery within a month, and allow for people to travel between zones for the latter half of February and March.
B.C. is seeing a rise in radicalization and extremist views spurred by COVID-19 and an increasingly tense political atmosphere, experts say. White nationalism and extreme-right and incel ideologies are of particular concern, says Garth Davies, an associate professor of criminology at Simon Fraser University. He says B.C. is not immune to the kind of radicalization that has led to violence like the riot at the U.S. Capitol. "I worry about exactly what they worry about down in the States," Davies said. "For us to believe we don't have the same problems, we are incorrect. We have right-wing extremists up here, we have incel extremists up here. And we've seen upticks in that during the COVID pandemic." Davies is an executive board member with Shift, a B.C. risk-reduction and violence prevention program that seeks to provide support to those at risk of radicalization. He says the pandemic has created a perfect storm for radicalization: people are spending more time online while facing mental, physical and financial difficulties. They're searching for ways to cope and feel connected to others and finding a barrage of misinformation online, like QAnon, anti-mask and anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. "People are afraid, they're scared, they're nervous," he said. "Originally, they were out there looking for information. Now they're looking for explanations." New research from Canada's Department of National Defence suggests the longer the pandemic continues, the stronger right-wing extremism and other threats are likely to become. The federal Liberal government has identified the rise of right-wing extremism and hate as a major threat to Canada. There are at least 130 active far-right extremist groups in Canada, a 30 per cent increase since 2015, according to Barbara Perry, director of the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism at Ontario Tech University. Social media playing on people's vulnerabilities Former white supremacist Tony McAleer says an alienated sense of self made him susceptible to radicalization. The B.C. man and his racist former allies at one point fought for the West Coast to be a whites-only enclave. He is now an author and co-founder of Life After Hate, an organization focused on helping people abandon far-right extremist views. He says a person's vulnerabilities can lead them to intertwine ideology with identity. "When I came across the skinheads and later these neo-Nazi groups, I got acceptance when I felt unlovable, I got power when I felt powerless, and I got attention when I felt invisible. And with these things lacking in my life, it sure felt fantastic," he said. McAleer left the white supremacist movement in the late 1990s, but says social media in the 21st century is being used in the same ways that drew him toward hatred: playing on people's fears and insecurities to weave a false narrative, and whipping up feelings of loss and aggrievement in the face of a changing, more inclusive society. "Things like ... diversity and inclusion get spun into, 'you're being excluded, you're losing a place at university to someone who's more diverse than you ... somebody is taking your jobs," he said. Increase in hate crimes during pandemic Cpl. Anthony Statham, who works with the B.C. RCMP's hate crimes unit, says there has been a "significant" increase in such crimes since the pandemic began. When it comes to online radicalization, he says police cannot act unless the material meets the threshold for a criminal investigation, otherwise they could be violating a person's right to free speech. Asked whether this means police have to wait for violence to happen before acting on hate speech, he was not specific on what exactly would compel police to act. He said it's a "legally complex" area, with radicalization being legally "impossible to define," but they can act if someone's words show a clear threat to public safety. "We can't go scanning the Internet and looking for things that we think are offensive ... we're potentially inhibiting people's charter rights," he said. "If something is very obviously violent, we can conduct an investigation into that simultaneous with [a social media] platform taking some kind of action." Kasari Govendor, B.C.'s human rights commissioner, says there are no laws in B.C. or Canada that deal with hate speech in a human rights context, and there is no "easy fix" when it comes to extremism. She says British Columbians can play a personal role in reducing violence by acknowledging Canada is not immune to racism and by looking inward. "When we see the impacts of these stereotypes, we have an obligation to ask ourselves what biases do we hold and how can we become actively anti-racist," she said. Censorship not the answer Both Davies and McAleer say social media censorship is not necessarily the solution to getting a handle on extremism in Canada. McAleer says pushing misinformation off Facebook or Twitter doesn't make radicalized ideas go away — instead, they'll find their way to smaller platforms with less moderation. They also say telling people their views are wrong can make them lean further into extremist beliefs. Davies believes the problem of extremism will get worse before it gets better, and it will take "years of conversation" to re-establish basic ideas of what constitutes truth, fact, and validity. "As long as the really harsh political divides are going on … this conversation isn't going to get any better. Because right now, we're not talking to each other. We're talking past each other," he said.