Deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo on Thursday delivered an update on Canada's COVID-19 vaccination statistics, stating as of Jan. 28, there are 902,446 vaccine doses that have been administered across the county.
Deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo on Thursday delivered an update on Canada's COVID-19 vaccination statistics, stating as of Jan. 28, there are 902,446 vaccine doses that have been administered across the county.
When the Perseverance rover successfully landed on Mars last month, it arrived with a B.C.-made tool in its figurative tool belt. The six-wheeled, plutonium-powered U.S. rover landed on the red planet on Feb. 18, with a mandate to drill down and collect tiny geological specimens that will be returned to NASA in about 2031. That drilling will be done using a drill bit tip designed and manufactured by a company based in Langford, B.C. "It has great wear and fraction resistance so it is perfect for a Mars application," said Ron Sivorat, business director for Kennametal Inc., during an interview on CBC's All Points West. The drill bit tip is made from K92-grade tungsten carbide blanks, which Sivorat said are one of the toughest grades used for drilling here on earth and he is confident it will be good enough for Mars. According to Sivorat, the company has had a relationship with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 2014, when the space agency first began ordering and testing Kennametal Inc. drill bit tips. In 2018, the company learned NASA wanted to work with it to build a bit for Perseverance. Sivorat said staff built the drill bit to NASA's specifications and then sent it to the agency who finessed it somewhat for its Mars mission. When Perseverance landed safely on the fourth planet from the sun, it was an exciting moment for Kennametal Inc. employees, many of whom watched the landing online and are continuing to check on Perservance's daily progress updates. "We know that we are going to be part of, in one way or another, an historical event that will be remembered for many years to come," said Sivorat. Sivorat said he expects the drill bit built in B.C. to start penetrating the surface of Mars in the next couple of weeks. And B.C. is not the only Canadian province with a connection to Perseverance. Canadian Photonic Labs, based in Minnedosa, Man., manufactured a high-speed and highly-durable camera that played an instrumental role in landing the rover. The Manitoba company's relationship with NASA dates back roughly 15 years, he said — but much of the work that's happened in that time has been cloaked in secrecy.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials began expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines on Feb. 22, opening community clinics for people aged 80 years and older. Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, has said the province's plan is to open another 10 clinics in March for 48,000 people who will be mailed a letter informing them how to book an appointment. Strang said the vaccination program will then expand to the next age group in descending order until everyone in the province is offered the chance to be immunized. The age groups will proceed in five-year blocks. Future community clinics are to be held March 8 in Halifax, New Minas, Sydney and Truro; March 15 in Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth; and March 22 in Amherst, Bridgewater and Dartmouth. The province began its vaccination campaign with residents of long-term care homes, those who work directly with patients, those who are 80 and older, and those who are at risk for other reasons including First Nations and African Nova Scotian communities. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island The province says the first phase of its vaccination drive, currently slated to last until the end of March, targets residents and staff of long-term and community care, as well as health-care workers with direct patient contact at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure. Those 80 and older, adults in Indigenous communities, and truck drivers and other rotational workers are also included. The next phase, which is scheduled to begin in April, will target those above 70 and essential workers. The province intends to make the vaccine available to everyone in late summer and fall. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors on Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. The province says the vaccination of children and pregnant women will be determined based on future studies of vaccine safety and efficacy in those populations. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry also says first responders and essential workers may be eligible to get vaccinated starting in April as the province also decides on a strategy for the newly authorized AstraZeneca vaccine. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
MADRID — It was a tactical change that didn't last more than 15 minutes, but it was just long enough to cost Real Madrid a chance to fight for the Spanish league lead in the derby against Atlético Madrid next weekend. Coach Zinedine Zidane's attempt to push Madrid forward by switching formations midway through the game against Real Sociedad backfired on Monday, leading to a 1-1 home draw that kept the defending champions from getting within range of the city rival going into the derby at Atlético's Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Sunday. Madrid conceded after Zidane changed a 4-3-3 formation to 3-5-2 at halftime, leaving Madrid more exposed defensively. It needed an 89th-minute equalizer by Vinícius Júnior to salvage the draw. “We changed to three defenders because I didn't like how we were pressing forward, but then we changed it back quickly,” Zidane said. “Maybe it hurt us. I was trying to change the dynamic of the game.” The draw halted Madrid’s four-game winning streak in the league and left the club five points from its city rival, which has a game in hand. Madrid has the same points total as second-placed Barcelona but trails on goal difference. A win would have moved Madrid within three points of Atlético entering the derby. “We had our chances but couldn't capitalize on them and in the end we lost two points at home,” Zidane said. “We can't forget that we were up against a great rival and it played very well.” Sociedad, which had won three in a row in the league, stayed in fifth place, six points from fourth-placed Sevilla in the final Champions League place. “We leave with a bad taste in our mouth,” Sociedad forward Cristian Portu said. “We deserved more. Usually an away draw against Real Madrid is a good thing, but not with the way that the game developed.” Madrid, still without injured players such as Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos, struggled against Sociedad’s well-organized team at Alfredo Di Stéfano Stadium. Portu opened the scoring for the visitors with a header into the top corner in the 55th minute, taking advantage of some soft defending by Madrid left back Ferland Mendy. “There was some disconnection after the change to three defenders,” Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois said. “We were a bit lost and they had more space. In the end, Mendy couldn’t get to the cross in time and they scored a great goal.” Zidane said he made the tactical change because he wasn’t happy with how the team had been playing. “It was only for about 10 or 15 minutes and then I changed it back to a 4-3-3 formation and we played better,” he said. Vinícius Júnior, in his 100th match with Madrid, equalized with a shot from inside the area. Madrid forward Mariano Díaz came close by hitting the crossbar earlier in the game, and midfielder Casemiro also wasted a couple of good opportunities with second-half headers that flew wide. It was Madrid’s first draw at home in the league, adding to three losses. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni Tales Azzoni, The Associated Press
The Senate voted Monday to confirm Miguel Cardona as education secretary, clearing his way to lead President Joe Biden’s effort to reopen the nation’s schools amid the coronavirus pandemic. Cardona, 45, a former public school teacher who went on to become Connecticut’s education chief, was approved on a 64-33 vote. He takes charge of the Education Department amid mounting tension between Americans who believe students can safely return to the classroom now, and others who say the risks are still too great. Although his position carries limited authority to force schools to reopen, Cardona will be asked to play a central role in achieving Biden’s goal to have a majority of elementary schools open five days a week within his first 100 days. He will be tasked with guiding schools through the reopening process, and sharing best practices on how to teach during a pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month released a road map for getting students back into classrooms safely. The agency said masks, social distancing and other strategies should be used, but vaccination of teachers was not a prerequisite for reopening. Cardona, who gained attention for his efforts to reopen schools in Connecticut, has vowed to make it his top priority to reopen schools. At his Senate confirmation hearing last month, he said there are “great examples throughout our country of schools that have been able to reopen safely.” The debate has become a political firestorm for Biden, who is caught between competing interests as he aims to get students into the classroom without provoking the powerful teachers unions that helped put him in the White House. He says his goal of returning students to the classroom is possible if Congress approves his relief plan, which includes $130 billion for the nation’s schools. Republicans have rebuked Biden for failing to reopen schools faster, while teachers unions opposed the administration’s decision to continue with federally required standardized tests during the pandemic. The tricky terrain is nothing new for Cardona, however, who faced similar tension navigating the pandemic in Connecticut, and who has won early praise even from Biden’s critics. Republicans in Congress have applauded Cardona’s efforts to reopen schools in Connecticut, and some see him as a potential ally in their support for charter schools. Teachers, meanwhile, see him as a partner who brings years of experience in education and knows the demands of the teaching. The nomination continues a meteoric rise for Cardona, who was appointed to lead Connecticut’s education department in 2019 after spending 20 years working in Meriden, Connecticut, public schools — the same district he attended as a child. He began his career as a fourth grade teacher before becoming the state's youngest principal at age 28. In 2012, he was named Connecticut’s principal of the year, and in 2015 he became an assistant superintendent of the district. When he was appointed state education commissioner, he became the first Latino to hold the post. Cardona grew up in a public housing project in Meriden, raised by parents who came to Connecticut from Puerto Rico as children. Through his career, he has focused on closing education gaps and supporting bilingual education. It’s a personal issue for Cardona, who says he spoke only Spanish when he entered kindergarten and struggled to learn English. Cardona was the first in his family to graduate from college, and his three degrees include a doctorate in education from the University of Connecticut. He and his wife, Marissa, have two children in high school. His deep roots in public schooling fit the criteria Biden was looking for in an education secretary. During his campaign, Biden vowed to pick a secretary with experience in public education. It was meant to draw a contrast with then-secretary Betsy DeVos, a Michigan billionaire who spent decades advocating for school choice policies. In an increasingly fractionalized world of education, Cardona has vowed to be a unifier. At his confirmation hearing, he promised to engage with “the vast, diverse community of people who have a stake in education.” He added that, “we gain strength from joining together.” As he works to help schools reopen, he will also be tasked with helping them address the damage the pandemic has done on student learning. He has echoed Biden’s call for further education funding, saying schools will need to expand summer academic programs and hire more counsellors to help students with mental health issues. He's also likely to face an early test as he weighs how much flexibility to grant states as they administer standardized tests. Last week, the Education Department ordered states to continue with annual testing but said assessments could be offered online or delayed until fall. The agency also held out the possibility that states could be granted “additional assessment flexibility” in certain cases. Some states are already pushing for that extra flexibility, including Michigan, which is asking to replace state tests with local “benchmark” assessments that were administered this year. It will be up to Cardona to decide how much leniency to provide. Republicans have also set the stage for a fight over transgender athletes. At last month’s hearing, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., raised objections with policies that allow transgender girls to participate in girls’ athletics. It’s the subject of a legal battle in Connecticut, where some cisgender athletes are challenging a state policy that lets transgender students participate as their identified gender. Pressed by Paul to take a stance on the issue, Cardona said he would support the right of “all students, including students who are transgender.” Collin Binkley, The Associated Press
Health Canada approved its third COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, authorizing the jab made by AstraZeneca and Oxford University after a lengthy review of clinical trial details. AstraZeneca was the first to apply for approval in Canada last October and was greenlit earlier in many jurisdictions including the United Kingdom, Mexico, India, and the entire European Union. But Health Canada sought further data from the company before authorizing the new vaccine. Here's what we know about the AstraZeneca product: WHY DID IT TAKE SO LONG TO APPROVE? Health Canada's regulatory team had been reviewing AstraZeneca's application since Oct. 1, 2020, and was undergoing its final assessment of clinical data as of late last month. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said in January the review was "a bit more complicated'' because some volunteers in AstraZeneca's trials only received a half dose at first. IS IT RECOMMENDED FOR POPULATIONS OVER 65? The National Advisory Committee on Immunization said Monday it does not recommend the AstraZeneca product in people 65 or older "due to limited information on the efficacy of this vaccine in this age group at this time." In large clinical trials, the vaccine was not tested on enough people over the age of 65 to draw statistically meaningful conclusions. Health Canada said Friday that real-world data from countries already using the product suggest it is safe and effective among older age groups. NACI says doses of the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna should be prioritized for older age groups and other "key populations" at highest risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19. The panel's advice helps provincial governments determine how best to use the vaccines available to them but provinces can make their own calls about what to do. HOW EFFECTIVE WAS THE VACCINE IN CLINICAL TRIALS? Data from clinical trials suggested AstraZeneca was 62 per cent effective against acquiring the virus when two full doses were given 28 days apart. That compares with the 95 per cent efficacy from the clinical trials of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, the other two vaccines currently approved in Canada. A real-word study published last week showed the AstraZeneca vaccine was 94 per cent effective in preventing hospitalization after the first dose. The findings were based on data from nearly 500,000 people who received the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Scotland. DOES IT WORK AGAINST THE NEW VARIANTS? A group of experts on immunization working with the World Health Organization is recommending the use of AstraZeneca's vaccine, even in countries where variants emerged as dominant. That guidance comes after a small study in South Africa suggested AstraZeneca's vaccine was only minimally effective against the variant first detected there, causing the country to halt use of the product earlier this month. South Africa said it would instead give the still-unapproved Johnson and Johnson vaccine to front-line health workers to see how it protects against the more contagious variant that's dominant there. Oxford University, who helped develop the AstraZeneca vaccine, has said researchers were tweaking their product by inserting a genetic sequence from that specific variant. AstraZeneca's vaccine has some promising early data suggesting it works against another variant first detected in the U.K. Findings based on swabs taken from around 500 volunteers in trials between October and January showed a 74.6 per cent efficacy rate against that variant. HOW DOES THE VACCINE WORK? Unlike Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which use messenger RNA (mRNA), the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is a non-replicating viral vector, using a weakened chimpanzee cold virus as a vessel. Scientists stripped the genes from that virus, which isn't harmful to humans, and replaced them with the spike protein gene for SARS-CoV-2. Once injected, the vaccine shows our bodies how to produce the immune response needed to ward off future infections from the COVID-19 virus. Non-replicating means the virus won’t actually reproduce throughout the body. WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES TO THIS VACCINE? Oxford-AstraZeneca can be shipped and stored at regular refrigerator temperature, unlike Pfizer-BioNTech which requires ultra-low freezers to hold its product before it's injected. Moderna's vaccine is somewhere in the middle, needing a regular freezer to keep the injections at about minus 20 C. From a global vaccination standpoint, the low cost of AstraZeneca's vaccine — about US$4 per dose — gives it another advantage. AstraZeneca, which says it aims to manufacture up to three billion doses in 2021, has pledged to make their product available at cost around the world until at least July. The AstraZeneca vaccine forms the bulk of the stockpile acquired so far by the U.N.-backed vaccine-sharing effort known as COVAX, which aims to deploy coronavirus vaccines to people globally. WHEN CAN WE EXPECT A ROLLOUT TO BEGIN IN CANADA? The Canadian government has already procured 20 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and a rollout can be expected to begin shortly after the first shipments arrive in the country. Canada will also receive up to 1.9 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through COVAX by the end of June. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in early February he believes most of those 20 million doses — enough to inoculate 10 million people — will be delivered before Canada Day. The government has said it plans to vaccinate the majority of Canadians by September. — With files from The Associated Press This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Some of the most active companies traded Monday on the Toronto Stock Exchange: Toronto Stock Exchange (18,299.62, up 239.36 points.) Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU). Energy. Up 32 cents, or 1.27 per cent, to $25.59 on 22.6 million shares. Manulife Financial Corp. (TSX:MFC). Financials. Up 64 cents, or 2.52 per cent, to $26.01 on 8.6 million shares. ClearStream Energy Services Inc. (TSX:CSM). Energy. Up 1.5 cents, or 21.43 per cent, to 8.5 cents on 8.1 million shares. Cenovus Energy Inc. (TSX:CVE). Energy. Down one cent, or 0.11 per cent, to $9.41 on 7.8 million shares. The Supreme Cannabis Co. Inc. (TSX:FIRE). Health care. Up one cent, or 3.51 per cent, to 29.5 cents on seven million shares. Great-West Lifeco Inc. (TSX:GWO). Financials. Up 71 cents, or 2.18 per cent, to $33.28 on 6.3 million shares. Companies in the news: Air Canada (TSX:AC). Up $1.20, or 4.8 per cent, to $26.30. Air Canada is simplifying its regional operations amid COVID pressures by reaching a deal to make Chorus Aviation Ltd.'s Jazz Aviation subsidiary the exclusive operator of Air Canada Express flights. The change means Air Canada will transfer operation of its 25 Embraer E175 fleet to Jazz from Sky Regional, where they have operated for a decade. Jazz will become sole partner for regional flying for aircraft with at least 70 seats until 2025. It will also remove 19 Dash 8-300s from its fleet this year. Air Canada said it expects to save $400 million over 15 years and avoid an estimated $193 million in future capital expenditures. CAE Inc. (TSX:CAE). Up $4.30, or 12.8 per cent, to $37.98. CAE Inc. announced a deal Monday with U.S. company L3Harris Technologies to buy the company's military training business for US$1.05 billion. The L3Harris military training business includes Link Simulation & Training, Doss Aviation and AMI. CAE said the L3Harris businesses will add experience in the development and delivery of training systems for fighter and bomber aircraft, army rotary-wing platforms, submarines and remotely piloted aircraft. To help pay for the L3Harris deal, CAE will raise C$700 million in an agreement with Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec and GIC Private Ltd., a sovereign wealth fund based in Singapore. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. The Canadian Press
Need help with errands or shovelling snow? How about meeting someone for a chat or a walk around the neighborhood? The Community Ninja program helps with all of that and more. It's a newly-formed program through Community and Family Services (CFS), which replaces the Snow Angels program. "It's a 2021 concept," said Chris Woo, community development co-ordinator with CFS. "We started talking about it in December 2020. We wanted to have something that's going to have a little more longevity." CFS staff is working on details, but the program is ready to go. "Jasper’s stealthy helpers are ready to slip on their masks and take on your tasks," Woo said. He explained in an email that participation in the Snow Angels program had decreased over the years. It was a community-based program facilitated by Community Outreach Services (COS) that encouraged volunteers to shovel snow for community members who are unable to clear their own sidewalks. The program would begin after the first snowfall of the year. Residents in need of assistance could contact COS and have a Snow Angels sign placed on their lawn. The program relied on the good will of neighbourhood volunteers seeing the sign and taking the time to shovel the snow for their neighbours. Less use of the Snow Angels program was the catalyst for reimaging the concept. The new program now encompasses more than just snow shovelling. "When we thought about the people in our community who could use assistance with snow removal, we realized there are likely many other tasks that they might require help with," Woo said. "So, we created a program that could help with shoveling, as well as so much more. "Volunteers with the new program are community members who run errands, help with snow shoveling and yard work, meet for friendly conversations and provide companionship on walks.” The program is open to all folks. "Whether you’re currently in isolation, have a compromised immune system, have mobility issues, recently broke an arm or are experiencing loneliness because of the COVID-19 restrictions, Jasper’s stealthy helpers are here to help," Woo said. Woo acknowledged it can sometimes be hard for folks to ask for help. "That’s why we came up with the ninja concept; this way we can keep things stealthy and anonymous," he said. "We achieve that goal in a number of ways. First, all requests for a community ninja come directly to the community development co-ordinator and he personally recruits a ninja to complete the task." Woo emphasized the help is free of charge. If folks want to provide some kind of payment though, "it can be a charitable donation to the Caring Community Fund.” All community ninja volunteers must complete training and sign confidentiality agreements. “Our hope is that we’ll soon have community ninjas heading out all over town doing odd jobs and providing a helping hand wherever they are needed,” Woo said. Many members of the community notice and appreciate the help, such as Jasperite Sheila Couture. "The neighbours on both sides of me generously shovel my walk. When I get out there first, I reciprocate and shovel theirs,” Couture said in an email. "It is also a good time to visit with people that are walking by." Clearing snow on a bigger level is something Couture thinks the town does well. "I really enjoy watching the graders' skilled maneuvering around obstacles (as well as) the snow eating machine that makes such quick work of removing the windrows of snow from the middle of the road into the strategically placed dump trucks and the hands-on employees chipping away at the ice and snow on the cut-aways in the downtown area," she said. If you need the help of a Community Ninja or you want to sign up to be a community ninja, contact Chris Woo at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 780-852-6536. Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
TORONTO — Some Ontario seniors braved frigid temperatures Monday to get a COVID-19 vaccine as several regions in the province moved ahead with their plans to vaccinate the general public. With the broad launch of a provincial booking portal still two weeks away, some local public health units used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. In York Region, where bookings opened Monday morning for shots that could be administered as early as the afternoon, dozens of seniors and their caregivers lined up outside a sports centre to get the vaccine. Some huddled together for warmth - a winter weather advisory was in effect for the region - as the line to enter the centre in Richmond Hill moved slowly. Hassan Abbas Kara was saving a place in line while his grandmother waited in a car. “I don't want her to wait in the cold, so it’s a little thing I can do right now to help her," he said. Atta Hussain, 82, said the process was "beautiful" and well organized, and expressed relief after receiving his shot. "We thank everybody who is participating," he said. York Region said its vaccination clinics were fully booked just two hours after they started taking appointments. A spokesman said approximately 20,000 appointments were made Monday across five locations in the region. Clinics were also offering shots to those 80 and older in Windsor-Essex County, and to those 85 and older at a hospital in Hamilton, where officials warned of long wait times amid high call volumes to its COVID-19 hotline. Hamilton's top doctor apologized for backlog on the phone line and asked people who don't live in the city to not call about appointments. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. "Some of them are already vaccinating the over-80-year-old people that are living within their regions," Elliott said Monday. "I think that's something that we should be celebrating not denigrating." Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said he's happy some public health units are offering shots already, but argued it could cause issues later when health units that have already started making appointments on their own systems have to switch over to the provincial one. The province also said Monday that it has asked the federal government for guidance on possibly extending the intervals between the first and second COVID-19 vaccine doses to four months. It pointed to British Columbia's decision to do so and said there's growing evidence suggesting intervals between the Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses can be safely extended. Monday also saw two Ontario regions - Thunder Bay and Simcoe Muskoka - return to lockdowns as a result of rising COVID-19 cases. Restrictions on businesses and gatherings were loosened in seven other health units: Niagara Region, Chatham-Kent; Middlesex-London; Southwestern; Haldimand-Norfolk; Huron Perth; and Grey Bruce. Municipal officials in Simcoe Muskoka raised concerns about pressure on small businesses and the effects of yet another lockdown on the public during a public meeting with the health unit on Monday. The region's top doctor said he's heard concerns about the strict measures from people in areas with fewer cases. Dr. Charles Gardner said he'll be in touch with the province's chief medical officer about whether a full lockdown is required for the region. In Thunder Bay, which entered a lockdown after reporting more COVID-19 cases in February than all of 2020, a local hospital reported it was expanding its COVID-19 and intensive care units to meet the needs of the community. Meanwhile, a spokesman for federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said the Public Health Agency of Canada was reviewing a funding application for an isolation site in Thunder Bay after the city said it could no longer afford to keep it running. Ontario reported 1,023 new cases of COVID-19 and six more deaths from the virus on Monday. - With files from Cole Burston This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press
A man accused of holding a girl against her will at a remote northern Saskatchewan cabin wants to be tried in Court of Queen’s Bench by judge and jury. Defence lawyer Brian Pfefferle told the Meadow Lake Provincial Court on March 1 that he is in discussions with the Crown about the possibility of running an abbreviated preliminary hearing for Aaron Gardiner. Prosecutor Andrew Clements had indicated that the Crown may go by way of direct indictment. Pfefferle asked the court for a one-week adjournment to see if the defence and Crown can reach an agreement for an abbreviated preliminary hearing. Clements didn’t object. Judge Janet McIvor adjourned the matter until March 8. Canada’s Criminal Code allows for a case to be sent directly to trial without a preliminary hearing through a direct indictment. Direct Indictment is only used in serious crimes and when it’s in the public interest. Gardiner, 42, appeared in Meadow Lake Provincial Court by phone from the Regina Correctional Centre. He has been in custody since his arrest in April 2020. Gardiner allegedly held a girl captive for four days at a remote cabin across from Île-à-la-Crosse Lake. A specialized RCMP tactical unit was flown to the isolated cabin by two military CH-146 Griffon helicopters to rescue her and arrest Gardiner. He was charged with unlawful confinement, assault, overcoming resistance, uttering threats, resisting arrest, possessing a firearm for a dangerous purpose, use of a firearm in commission of an indictable offence, proceeds of crime, and possession for the purpose of trafficking. Three months after his arrest, police added more charges after more alleged victims came forward. There have been numerous adjournments and delays in the case against Gardiner because he has gone through about five lawyers. Gardiner has either fired the lawyers or they have withdrawn from representing him. email@example.com Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Une photo du premier ministre François Legault et de son épouse Isabelle Brais visant à vanter la saison des sucres au Québec a été trafiquée par une microbrasserie pour en faire sa promotion. L'image originale a été mise en ligne sur la page Facebook du premier ministre dimanche matin. On le voit tenir une boîte de livraison de produits d'érable sur laquelle on retrouve le logo de l'initiative «Ma cabane à la maison», lancée par l’Association des cabanes à sucre du Québec. Un peu plus de 24 heures plus tard, la même image s'est retrouvée sur la page de la microbrasserie Farnham Ale & Lager, mais avec les logos du fabricant de bière. L'entreprise a ainsi utilisé sans son autorisation l'image du premier ministre pour faire la promotion de ses produits avec un message faisant référence au couvre-feu en vigueur dans la province pour lutter contre la pandémie de la COVID-19. Au bureau du premier ministre, on confirme que personne au gouvernement – ni M. Legault, ni Mme Brais – n'a autorisé l'utilisation de l'image pour cette publicité. Une demande devait être formulée auprès de la microbrasserie afin qu'elle retire ce montage de ses réseaux sociaux. L'image s'y trouvait toujours en début de soirée, lundi. Au moment de publier, la direction de Farnham Ale & Lager n'avait pas répondu à nos demandes de commentaires. Ugo Giguère, Initiative de journalisme local, La Presse Canadienne
After two full weeks of virtual events and activities, Bonhomme Carnaval has come to an end and the identity of this year's mascot has been unveiled. The annual carnival wrapped up with a virtual concert and unveiling of the Bonhomme last Saturday, Feb. 27. Emma Bertrand, a dance teacher at Dansons La Ronde and Melissa Kelly Dance Academy, was this year's Bonhomme Carnaval. The carnival was held virtually this year. Centre Culturel La Ronde’s executive director Lisa Bertrand said she didn’t expect such a big turnout and she was very happy with how many people tuned in online. “I’m super happy that the community supported (us). With the window contest, teachers and the principals were so supportive and the French community as well,” she said. “When I mentioned doing a virtual carnival to the board, I didn’t think it was going to be as much work as it was but I’m very, very happy with the result.” The evening show featuring the Lapointe family and Dayv Poulin and the reveal of Bonhomme reached 6,794 people on Facebook and garnered 1,770 engagements, 189 comments and 35 shares. Bertrand said the cooking workshops, as well as the Sip and Paint workshop, were a “great hit.” For the next year’s carnival, the centre is looking into offering virtual events again. “If we have our building, it will definitely be at our Centre Culturel La Ronde. If not, I’ll do a couple of events virtually. It was different and we had a lot of participation,” Bertrand said. “It was fun because we did have people from Montreal that joined, a few people from Cochrane, Iroquois Falls.” Hosting the carnival from a technical perspective has been challenging, Bertrand said, but it was also fun getting together virtually, seeing interactions between people and receiving love and support from the community. “It was virtual but we definitely felt the love,” said Bertrand. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
La Fédération canadienne de l’entreprise indépendante (FCEI) exhorte Ottawa à communiquer les nouveaux critères de la Subvention salariale d’urgence du Canada (SSUC) et de la Subvention d’urgence du Canada pour le loyer (SUCL) avant le 14 mars, date de la prochaine période de demande. Selon cette corporation, les nouveaux critères d’admissibilité devraient être connus au moins 30 jours à l’avance pour permettre aux PME de planifier. « Les entrepreneurs font face à une tonne d’incertitudes en ce moment, notamment en raison des restrictions gouvernementales en cours, a affirmé Jasmin Guénette, vice-président des affaires nationales à la FCEI. « La subvention salariale et l’aide au loyer demeurent essentielles à la survie de beaucoup de PME. Voilà pourquoi les propriétaires ont besoin de connaître les règles rapidement afin de prendre les décisions appropriées pour leur entreprise », a-t-elle ajouté. Plus de la moitié des PME (53 %) dépendent toujours de la SSUC et 27 % bénéficient de la SUCL selon la FCEI qui a établi que seulement un quart des entreprises ont retrouvé leur rythme normal au Canada. Dans un communiqué, elle a plaidé pour le prolongement de ces deux programmes au-delà de juin étant donné qu’il est probable que certaines restrictions soient toujours en vigueur à ce moment-là et qu’une bonne partie des entreprises risquent de ne pas avoir encore retrouvé un niveau de ventes normal La fédération a également exhorté le gouvernement fédéral CEI à repousser la date limite pour les demandes du Compte d’urgence pour les entreprises canadiennes au-delà du 31 mars, mais aussi à augmenter le montant accordé par ce compte à 80 000 $ ainsi que la portion pardonnée à 50 %. De janvier à mars, le taux compensatoire maximum de la subvention salariale est de 35 % et le montant maximum de la subvention pour les employés en congé payé est de 595 $. Les entreprises, les organismes à but non lucratif ou les organismes de bienfaisance canadiens qui ont subi une baisse de revenus pendant la pandémie de COVID-19 peuvent aussi avoir droit à une subvention pour couvrir une partie de leur loyer commercial ou de leurs dépenses immobilières jusqu’au mois de juin 2021. Cette subvention doit fournir des paiements directement aux locataires et aux propriétaires de biens admissibles, sans passer par les locateurs. Godlove Kamwa, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Canada Français
VANCOUVER — A lawyer for a group of British Columbia churches that are challenging the province's COVID-19 rules prohibiting in-person religious services argued Monday the orders reflect a "value judgment." Paul Jaffe says the provincial health officer's orders allow secular gatherings such as in-class education and food distribution for people in need to continue, while discriminating against the churches and their congregants' right to freedom of religion. He told the court his clients — which include the Riverside Calvary Chapel in Langley, Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church in Abbotsford and the Free Reformed Church of Chilliwack — have been careful to adopt safety protocols similar to those approved by Henry in places that remain open. Jaffe also argued the province has not provided medical justification showing that the virus is spreading through church services and posing a greater risk to the public than other activities that remain allowed, including outdoor assemblies over matters of public interest or controversy. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told a news conference last month that churches were operating with safety measures in place throughout the summer and fall, but as the pandemic worsened, so did transmission in faith settings. Henry and the province have said they are confident the health orders are in accordance with the law, including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Hearings over the churches' petition are set to continue Tuesday. Jaffe works with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a Calgary-based legal advocacy group that's also asking the court to dismiss tickets of up to $2,300 each for the alleged violations of the health orders by the churches. B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson dismissed an injunction request in February by Henry and B.C.'s attorney general, whose lawyers argued churchgoers who are breaking COVID-19 rules would be more likely to comply with a court order. Hinkson said he did not condone the churches' conduct and he was satisfied with the province's argument that the public could suffer from transmission of the virus where people are unsafely attending gatherings. But he said during a hearing that the province was putting the court in an "impossible position" before the churches' own petition is heard this week. Hinkson said he was also concerned that the administration of justice could be brought into disrepute if an injunction was granted but not enforced if the Crown found it would not be in the public interest to prosecute people who refused to adhere to it. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. The Canadian Press
Donwood Park public school is temporarily shutting its doors because of a COVID-19 outbreak that include four cases of variants or concern. Erica Vella has details.
PINE BLUFF, Ark. — A 15-year-old boy shot and seriously injured a fellow student Monday morning at an Arkansas junior high school, and the suspect was detained in a juvenile detention facility, authorities said. The shooting happened in a hallway at Watson Chapel Junior High School as students were switching classes at about 10 a.m., Pine Bluff Police Chief Kelvin Sergeant said. The school is in the city of Pine Bluff, about 40 miles (65 kilometres) southeast of Little Rock. The school went on lockdown after the shooting. The shooter ran away but was found in a nearby neighbourhood by a tracking dog, Sergeant said. The wounded boy, who was also 15, was airlifted to a Little Rock hospital where he was “in very serious condition,” Sergeant said. His name was not released. At one point, there was confusion about the boy's condition as a police spokesman reported that he had died. Lt. David DeFoor, Pine Bluff’s police spokesman, later retracted that statement and confirmed the boy was still alive. In the subsequent statement, DeFoor said “bad information was released.” The suspect was taken to a juvenile detention centre and prosecutors have not yet decided whether charges will be filed in juvenile or adult court, officials said. His name was not released because of his age. “We don’t have a definite motive right now as to why the incident occurred,” Sergeant said. “However we do believe this was a targeted incident as opposed to a random incident.” Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who had earlier issued a statement mourning the erroneous death report, issued a follow-up statement noting that the boy was alive but in serious condition. “Our prayers remain with the family,” he said. Monday was scheduled to be Watson Chapel’s first day back for on-site learning in several weeks after winter weather and water issues closed the facility. ——— This story was first published on March 1, 2021. It was updated on March 1, 2021, to correct an erroneous report that the shooting victim had died. The Associated Press
Compass, which runs an integrated software platform that serves real estate agents in the residential real estate market, has been lifted by the COVID-19 pandemic as more people prefer to buy and sell homes online. Compass was founded in 2012 by Ori Allon, a former director of engineering at Twitter Inc, and Robert Reffkin, who worked at Goldman Sachs earlier.
A Thunder Beach resident in Tiny Township is hoping to throw some light on three main traffic-related concerns he has for that area. Joel Rubinovich, who made a deputation to council at its recent meeting, said he was speaking for himself when bringing up these issues, but that others would also benefit from a resolution. His first complaint involved the placement of street signs, which he believes is impractical. "There is a lack of uniformity in sign size," reads his letter to council. "Placement of the signs often renders them useless as indicators of where to turn. Signs are often blocked by bushes, etc. Drivers cannot rely on them." Rubinovich said that's not just true for the intersection of Chemin du Loop and Green Point Road, but also for other areas within the township. "Another one that bothers me is Concession 12 East and Overhead Bridge Road," he said. "The sign is hidden behind the bush, it's small and can only be seen at the last minute." And even if there are signs, Rubinovich said, there are no street lights illuminating them for drivers. "When it's dark and you drive down (Chemin) du Loop and come to corner of Green Point (Road) there's absolutely no way you know this is where you turn," he said. "At the end of the street, there's a big yellow sign to indicate the end of du Loop. The turn off is before, you can't see it, and I miss it most every time. The street sign is on the right and the turn is on the left." The last matter of concern Rubinovich mentioned related to debris in the form of pebbles on the roads. "I've been up here, more of a permanent resident before my daughters," he said. "We take the same route to get to each other's homes and there's one particular corner where the pebbles have never been swept up. They did some repair work and there are more pebbles and there are no sidewalks. I'm not asking for sidewalks but as an older citizen, I find it inconvenient to walk on pebbles. I could fall very easily and break something." Rubinovich said he was aware none of this would be looked after immediately but perhaps the public works staff could consider a regulation with respect to street signs and street lights and clean up roads more often. In his conversations with department officials, he said, it seems as if they're on different wavelengths. "One of the things you have to be prepared to do is to to go on site, and it's difficult to do so these days with COVID," said Rubinovich. Tim Leitch, director of public works, said he did visit the site and staff did some corrections, including brushing around the current signs. "The road was swept and we redid the tar and chip," he said. "The lighting was looked at through the dark sky initiative and we feel that we do have consistency. However, we will continue to provide a response to Mr. Rubinovich and look at these three requests and make sure satisfactory answers are provided." Rubinovich said he disagreed with the claims of the clean up. "With all due respect, there's a lot of tar and a lot of chip but nothing has been cleaned up at that intersection in the past five years I've been here, despite what you think," he said. Coun. Cindy Hastings said it would be fruitful to hold some more discussions around this at an upcoming council meeting. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
The United States is expected to impose sanctions to punish Russia for the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexi Navalny as early as Tuesday, two sources familiar with the matter said on Monday. The United States was expected to impose sanctions under two executive orders - 13661, which was issued after Russia's 2014 invasion of Crimea but provides broad authorities to target Russian officials; 13382, issued in 2005 to combat proliferation of weapons of mass destruction - and under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 (CBW), said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has agreed to live in the seat of state government in Charleston, ending a long-running challenge over his residency. A Kanawha County judge Monday signed an order dismissing a 2018 lawsuit filed by a former state lawmaker. Through his attorney, Justice said he intends to reside in Charleston “consistent with the definition of ‘reside’ in the Supreme Court of Appeals’ opinion," according to the dismissal order signed by Senior Status Circuit Judge Dan O'Hanlon. “The parties agree that Respondent’s voluntary agreement to reside at the seat of government within the meaning of the Constitution renders this case moot and that the case should be dismissed,” O'Hanlon wrote. In allowing the lawsuit to proceed in November, the state Supreme Court rejected arguments from Justice that the courts could not force him to live in the state capital. The challenge has been a thorn in the side of Justice, a two-term governor who defended living in Lewisburg even though the state constitution says the governor “shall reside at the seat of government” in Charleston. The justices wrote that courts had the right to compel the Republican governor to comply with the constitution. Justice's lawyers had appealed to the Supreme Court after the lower court declined to throw out the case. Democratic Del. Isaac Sponaugle brought the suit after bipartisan criticism that Justice lived 100 (160 kilometres) miles away from Charleston, near his resort, The Greenbrier. Both sides had argued over the definition of “residency.” Sponaugle claimed the common sense meaning of the word “residency” holds that the governor needs to sleep in Charleston. But Justice's lawyers have said the term was vague and the matter was a political question outside the court's purview. While defending the constitution's residency clause, the justices also said the governor "failed to meet his burden to show that the circuit court exceeded its legitimate powers.” Under the terms of the dismissal order, Justice, a billionaire businessman and richest person in the state who owns a complex business empire of coal and agricultural entities, agreed to pay $65,000 to Sponaugle for attorney fees and costs. John Raby, The Associated Press
Hannah MacKinnon says her symptoms include a headache, sore eyes, sore throat, and runny nose — 'a lot like normal cold symptoms, as well as aches and pains in my body.' Hannah MacKinnon says she always wore a mask when she was supposed to, sanitized her hands so much the skin cracked, limited close contact, and went out only a few times. All that didn't prevent her from contracting COVID-19. MacKinnon, 22, is one of the 11 cases announced on the weekend, and one of P.E.I.'s 18 active cases. She's home in Montague, self-isolating. So far her parents have both tested negative but they too are isolating for the next two weeks. "I'm feeling OK, definitely better than I thought I would considering the circumstances," MacKinnon said in a message to CBC News. Be kind to your neighbour, as you never know the full story from their point of view. — Hannah MacKinnon "I have a headache, sore eyes, sore throat, and runny nose — a lot like normal cold symptoms — as well as aches and pains in my body." MacKinnon said she posted about her condition on Facebook because she wants people to know anyone can catch COVID-19, even people like her who are careful and follow the rules. "Even if you're doing everything right, there's still a chance you could contract it. And that slim chance decided to choose me. "I'm scared, it's very real, and it's hard on my family, but I hope everyone takes this as a lesson — be kind to your neighbour, as you never know the full story from their point of view." MacKinnon's father, Dan MacKinnon, supports his daughter's decision to go public. He said they still don't know how Hannah caught the virus. "We live in a small town. We might as well get out there and tell people the facts so they don't get false information, and just kind of deal with whatever happens," he said in a video interview with CBC's Steve Bruce for CBC News: Compass. Even if you're doing everything right, there's still a chance you could contract it. And that slim chance decided to choose me. - Hannah MacKinnon "So far, it's been very positive. "Not everyone who has contracted COVID-19 necessarily even knows that they have it. You could be walking around for two or three days and not [think] that you have it, and then all of a sudden, symptoms appear." Dan MacKinnon says his family wanted to go public with his daughter's condition to help people understand that anyone can become infected with COVID-19 — even if they follow the rules. In order to protect the privacy of her co-workers, CBC News is not identifying Hannah MacKinnon's place of employment. "Trust me, your health and everyone else's is so much more important than a couple days missed [work]. Better safe than sorry," she said. "I called in sick as soon as I was experiencing cold-like symptoms — and even though I thought I only had a cold, here I am." More from CBC P.E.I.