In the first lockdown schools and colleges were given little more than 48 hours to set up remote education. This time they are much better prepared, according to the Association of School and College Leaders.
In the first lockdown schools and colleges were given little more than 48 hours to set up remote education. This time they are much better prepared, according to the Association of School and College Leaders.
While Ontario and Quebec are the epicentres of COVID-19 outbreaks in Canada, people in First Nations are being hit the hardest in Western Canada, where they make up half the number of hospitalizations in some provinces. The rising curve is alarming federal officials, who urged the provinces during a press conference in Ottawa on Wednesday to continue prioritizing Indigenous populations as they roll out vaccines. "So what we're saying to Canadians, to Indigenous Peoples, is now is not the time to let down your guard," Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said. "This is not the time to ease public health restrictions." As of Jan. 19, Indigenous Services Canada was reporting 5,571 active cases on reserves — most of them in Prairie provinces: British Columbia: 580 Alberta: 1,312 Saskatchewan: 1,196 Manitoba: 2,241 Ontario: 93 Quebec: 144 Atlantic: 5 Indigenous Services Canada has reported 13,873 confirmed COVID-19 cases on reserves since last March. More than 90 per cent are in Western Canada: British Columbia: 1,348 Alberta: 4,459 Saskatchewan: 3,525 Manitoba: 3,643 Ontario: 428 Quebec: 462 Atlantic: 8 First Nation leaders and health experts say there are several reasons why infections are increasing in First Nations in Western Canada, including overcrowding, gatherings, people letting their guard down, relaxed restrictions and people driving in and out of communities with road access for goods and work. Lack of housing With COVID-19 caseloads rising all across Canada, the pandemic is emerging in places where it wasn't before, said Dr. Anna Banerji, an infectious disease specialist at Temerty Faculty of Medicine and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. "It's quite concerning that COVID is starting to break into these communities," Banerji said. "They've held the forts for so long." Banerji researched respiratory infections in Inuit communities for over two decades. She said the main risk factors facing First Nations are poor access to health care services, underlying ailments, food insecurity, poverty and overcrowding. Banerji said she fears that when people get sick in First Nations, they can't find places to self-isolate. Onekanew (Chief) Christian Sinclair of Opaskwayak Cree Nation, 628 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, said his community needs 600 more houses. "When you have people living under one roof, anywhere from six to as high as 14 members living under one roof on the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, you can see how quickly that spread can happen," Sinclair said. "We're second-class citizens living in Third World conditions in a first world country." Opaskwayak Cree Nation has had success in preventing and controlling outbreaks by enforcing curfews and monitoring who enters and leaves the community with border patrols paid for by Indigenous Services Canada. The highest funding requests the department has seen for the Indigenous Community Support Fund — which was created to help communities fight COVID-19 — have been for perimeter security, said Valerie Gideon, associate deputy minister of Indigenous Services. Close to 350 First Nations across the country have closed their borders to non-essential travel, she added. But even with the added layer of security in some places, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says 50 per cent of all active COVID cases in Manitoba are First Nations members. Call for stricter provincial measures Relaxed provincial measures are also being blamed for the rise in First Nations cases. The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations in Saskatchewan is calling on the province to close bars and liquor establishments. "We believe alcohol in the bars is a contributing factor," said FSIN Vice Chief David Pratt, who recently recovered from COVID-19. "When you're on alcohol, you're more likely to lose your inhibitions, share drinks and not keep those social distance practices in practices and in check." Grand Chief Jerry Daniels of the Southern Chiefs' Organization in Manitoba is urging the provincial and federal governments to enforce tougher rules to limit travel. Daniels said he thinks caseloads are rising because of people going back and forth from First Nations to urban areas. "I think until COVID is completely wiped out, they should be taking the strongest approach possible," Daniels said. Daniels said nearly 80 per cent of the 34 Anishnaabe and Dakota communities he represents are trying to control the spread of COVID-19. Concern for loss of elders Dr. Shannon McDonald, acting chief medical officer at the First Nations Health Authority in British Columbia, said there isn't enough rapid testing available to test everyone who needs to travel to B.C. First Nations, and some tests can't detect infections in their first few days. "It only takes one person to come in and spend time with people in the community," McDonald said. McDonald fears the pandemic could take a particularly heavy toll on First Nations communties. "I always worry about our elders," McDonald said. "Our elders are our knowledge-keepers, our language holders and they are the human libraries, culturally. So communities are very sensitive to that, but individuals who are choosing not to adhere to public health advice are putting those individuals at risk and I really worry about that." Lawrence Latender, a member of Dauphin River First Nation, has felt first-hand the impact of COVID-19 during an outbreak in his community 250 kilometres north of Winnipeg. He recently lost seven neighbours and friends to the virus, including two aunts and an uncle. "I don't know if I had time to really grieve because it's one thing after the other," Latender said. "It's like you're focused on one death and then you're, well ... 'OK now I got to focus on this one. Ok, this one is gone, now I got to focus on this one.'" Letander, his wife and two young sons also tested positive, but have since recovered. Indigenous Services Canada says that, so far, there have been 120 COVID-19 deaths in First Nations. But with 169 Indigenous communities now administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and more doses on the way, there's hope the chain of transmission will break.
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.
Three landowners from Black Point in Pictou County took their fight over rocks on a beach to Nova Scotia Supreme Court Wednesday. The judicial review is examining the province's approval of a rock retaining wall on James Beach. Legal costs are being covered by a $15,000 crowdfunding effort. "It has been worthwhile for me ... to see the community come together and protect our beautiful beach," said Maryn Lynn, one of the applicants who owns property on James Beach. Wayne and Helen Chisholm built the armour stone rock wall at James Beach, northeast of New Glasgow, in 2017. It crosses the width of the beach, before turning 90 degrees and running parallel to the water. The base of the wall sits in more than a metre of water at high tide, and it's been repaired and expanded as it's damaged by the ocean. After community complaints, the province determined the wall is legal, because Nova Scotia landowners are allowed to replace existing retaining walls even when the shoreline has moved farther inland. The Chisholm family declined to comment Wednesday. Nova Scotia's Department of Lands and Forestry won't comment while the case is before the court. Hoping for a reassessment A judicial review can't order the wall to be changed or removed, but it could send the matter back to the minister of Lands and Forestry if the approval process is found lacking. "We're hopeful that at the very least, the government will take another look at this decision," Lynn said. "This is not about erosion protection, because all of the people in our neighborhood do erosion protection," said Beth Skerrett, another applicant. "We're very much in support of erosion protection. The problem for us is the beach access. So having beach access to walk along the front of any beach in Nova Scotia is really the core of this issue," Skerrett said. Erosion and accretion The lawyer for the applicants, Jamie Simpson, said legal arguments hinge on where Crown land ends and private land begins. Normally, all land below the mean high water mark is owned by the government, allowing public access to the entire length of a beach. If the shoreline moves, so does that boundary. Simpson says aerial photographs dating back to the 1990s show those kinds of shoreline shifts on James Beach. "Sometimes land is added to the sand spit, and sometimes land is taken away.... We see erosion and accretion happening over the scale of years and decades," Simpson said. If private land is suddenly ripped away, Simpson said landowners have the right to fill it back in. But on James Beach, he argues that's not the case. Simpson said the government never gave a "cohesive, logical argument as to why the boundary hasn't moved." "The minister has to come up with a more robust way to make these decisions, not to make what appears, from the outside, to be something of an arbitrary decision," he said. Provincial significance Lynn and Skerret say their legal challenge could resonate for all Nova Scotia beaches. "I think this issue is very important if we consider climate change, which is not going away," said Lynn. "This is about whether or not the general public, and not just coastal property owners, will have access to the beach below the ordinary high water mark." Skerret added: "Today is not whether it was a good decision or a bad decision for this family to build the wall. The decision here is, did the government make the right decision by allowing them to build the wall where they built it?" Justice Deborah Smith reserved her decision at the close of Wednesday's hearing. MORE TOP STORIES
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. There are 725,495 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 725,495 confirmed cases (68,413 active, 638,620 resolved, 18,462 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 5,744 new cases Wednesday from 68,508 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 8.4 per cent. The rate of active cases is 182 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 44,165 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,309. There were 196 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 1,034 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 148. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.39 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 49.12 per 100,000 people. There have been 16,778,780 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 396 confirmed cases (eight active, 384 resolved, four deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday from 280 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.53 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of three new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 77,042 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 110 confirmed cases (seven active, 103 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday from 493 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 4.46 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of seven new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 87,570 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,564 confirmed cases (23 active, 1,476 resolved, 65 deaths). There were three new cases Wednesday from 846 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.35 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.37 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 22 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 198,764 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,025 confirmed cases (318 active, 694 resolved, 13 deaths). There were 21 new cases Wednesday from 1,003 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.1 per cent. The rate of active cases is 40.94 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 189 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 27. There were zero new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.02 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.67 per 100,000 people. There have been 130,711 tests completed. _ Quebec: 247,236 confirmed cases (18,436 active, 219,592 resolved, 9,208 deaths). There were 1,502 new cases Wednesday from 7,554 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 20 per cent. The rate of active cases is 217.28 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,541 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,792. There were 66 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 394 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 56. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.66 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 108.52 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,678,168 tests completed. _ Ontario: 244,932 confirmed cases (26,467 active, 212,897 resolved, 5,568 deaths). There were 2,655 new cases Wednesday from 52,531 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.1 per cent. The rate of active cases is 181.7 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 19,948 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,850. There were 89 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 395 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 56. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.39 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 38.22 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,758,500 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 27,893 confirmed cases (3,137 active, 23,968 resolved, 788 deaths). There were 153 new cases Wednesday from 1,764 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 8.7 per cent. The rate of active cases is 229.07 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,200 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 171. There were five new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 35 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.37 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 57.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 444,550 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 21,112 confirmed cases (3,702 active, 17,184 resolved, 226 deaths). There were 241 new cases Wednesday from 991 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 24 per cent. The rate of active cases is 315.21 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,091 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 299. There was one new reported death Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 20 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.24 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 19.24 per 100,000 people. There have been 324,668 tests completed. _ Alberta: 118,436 confirmed cases (10,565 active, 106,387 resolved, 1,484 deaths). There were 669 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 241.69 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 4,818 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 688. There were 21 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 116 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 17. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.38 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.95 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,020,119 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 62,412 confirmed cases (5,744 active, 55,564 resolved, 1,104 deaths). There were 500 new cases Wednesday from 2,817 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 18 per cent. The rate of active cases is 113.26 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,340 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 477. There were 14 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 73 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 10. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.21 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 21.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,036,509 tests completed. _ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (zero active, 69 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday from 18 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,203 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 30 confirmed cases (six active, 24 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday from 211 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 13.39 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of six new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 8,882 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 266 confirmed cases (zero active, 265 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 7,018 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
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
Some Ottawa parents and teachers are questioning the sustainability of virtual learning as in-person classrooms stay closed with no end in sight. On Wednesday, the Ontario government announced school boards within seven public health regions in southern and eastern Ontario would resume in-class learning on Monday, but boards in Ottawa weren't among them. The province did not say when schools in Ottawa might reopen, only that Ontario's chief medical officer of health will "continue to review the public health trends and advise the government on the resumption of in-person learning," according to a spokesperson for Education Minister Stephen Lecce. Both the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and the Ottawa Catholic School Board say they have not been told when in-class learning might resume. Eastern Ontario's French public school board says virtual learning will continue for its students until at least Feb. 10. 'I'm at a loss' While she doesn't want to put her children in an unsafe situation, parent Neelam Charania said she's "exasperated, frustrated, tired." "At this point, with the information that we have, I'm at a loss. I really don't understand," Charania said, who has two children attending Half Moon Bay Public School. "They miss school. They miss going to play with their friends and I think that they learn better in an in-person environment." "It would be really nice to know how to start planning for safe reintegration or what the measures will be like," said parent Malaka Hendela of the announcement. She said she worries how students, parents and teachers are coping when there's no indication of when schools will reopen. Plan is 'unsustainable': Teacher Meanwhile, teachers are having to pivot again, now having to prepare even more lessons that will have to be taught online. "The amount of time that I am putting into putting my stuff online is unsustainable. It really is," said Rachel Inch who teaches at Broadview Public School. "A lot of time and energy is spent converting things to make them doable online. So without knowing an end date, it's a daunting task. It sort of feels quite heavy." St. Leonard Catholic School teacher Krista Sarginson said she's not sure how much longer her students are able to keep up either. "I'm seeing that my kids are struggling a little bit. They were really looking forward to going back," she said. While Sarginson commends the government for being cautious when it comes to public health, she described the ongoing school closure as "death by a thousand cuts."
Ontario's plan to vaccinate the populations of its most remote First Nations communities against COVID-19 faces many challenges, but Indigenous leaders say that earning the trust of the people must be a priority. Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler of Nishnawbe Aski Nation, a political organization that represents 49 of Ontario's 123 First Nations, said that the most obvious hurdle of Operation Remote Immunity is geography, as those remote communities may not have an airstrip and must have their winter roads built in time for the vaccine to be delivered. But he said that even more important than the physical logistics of delivering the vaccine is ensuring that Indigenous people are willing to accept it. "Making sure that communities are aware of the vaccine, that they understand the vaccine and why it's important so they can consent to getting the vaccine is part of the challenge," said Fiddler. All 31 remote First Nations that are participating in Operation Remote Immunity are part of Nishnawbe Aski Nation, so Fiddler and his staff have been working with Ontario's vaccine task force as a liaison between the individual communities and the government. Communication has had to flow both ways before the vaccines start arriving on Feb. 1. "We're creating material for distribution with our health authorities, creating pamphlets and social media, making sure everything is translated into Ojibway, Ojicree and Cree," said Fiddler. "So our elders can really understand the information that's being sent to them. "Once they do understand it they can give it serious consideration before giving their consent." Fiddler said that making sure everyone understands what's in the vaccine and why it's important to take it is necessary for First Nations people who are living with the trauma of Canada's colonial history. "It's not just the vaccine itself, it's the whole history of the sad, sometimes tragic past of health care and how it's been delivered in our communities," said Fiddler, adding that historically there has been a two-tiered system where Indigenous people received inferior health care. "That's what we're up against. It's a massive undertaking and it's a challenge we know that we have to address as part of this rollout." Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald, who is on the province's vaccine task force, said she was also aware of some reluctance by First Nations people to take the vaccine. She pointed to a history of medical experiments being performed on Indigenous people from the 1930s to the 1970s. "We do know that in the past vaccines were tested in First Nations communities," said Archibald, who added there is no mechanism for polling First Nations populations about things like vaccine hesitancy. "The trauma and experiences from residential schools have left our communities in a state of hesitancy when it comes to trusting Canada." A spokesman for Ontario's Ministry of Indigenous Affairs said that the administration of vaccines has already begun in Ontario's larger First Nations communities, starting with long-term care homes in Six Nations of the Grand River, Mohawks of Akwesasne, Oneida Nations of the Thames, and Wikwemikong Unceded Territory. Vaccinations have also begun at the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority and Weeneebayko Area Health Authority, with a focus on hospital and long-term care and chronic care staff and residents. Spokesman Alex Puddifant said Ornge, the province's air ambulance corporation, is leading the operations for the 31 fly-in First Nation communities, transporting the vaccine from hub cities in Northern Ontario to the reserves. Partner organizations including, Northern School of Ontario Medicine and Queens University, will help provide nurses and paramedics to administer the doses. Fiddler said that NAN is playing a supporting role, ensuring that communities are ready when the vaccines arrive with interpreters, drivers, and a co-ordinator to make sure that all of the residents in a territory consent to the vaccination and receive their dose. Dr. Sarita Verma, the dean of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, said that she and her team know they'll have to build trust with patients who are, or are directly related to, residential school survivors. "Taking a patient-centred approach that's different in Northern Ontario with First Nations communities will be important," said Verma. Indigenous Services Canada reported on Tuesday that there were 428 active cases of COVID-19 among Ontario's First Nations. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press
The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a growing list of music industry professionals to monetise their older work by selling valuable tracks and albums as the global health crisis has all but shut down earnings from live concerts. London-listed investment firm Hipgnosis announced a discounted placement offering of its ordinary shares on Thursday along with the deal, which is at least the fifth for the company this month after agreements with Shakira and Neil Young.
MEXICO CITY — World leaders welcomed into their ranks the new U.S. President Joe Biden, noting their most pressing problems, including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, require multilateral co-operation, an approach his predecessor Donald Trump ridiculed. Many expressed hope Biden would right U.S. democracy two weeks after rioters stormed the Capitol, shaking the faith of those fighting for democracy in their own countries. Governments targeted and sanctioned under Trump embraced the chance for a fresh start with Biden, while some heads of state who lauded Trump’s blend of nationalism and populism were more restrained in their expectations. But the chance to repair frayed alliances and work together on global problems carried the day. China, whose U.S. relations nosedived due to widespread frustration in Washington over its human rights record and accusations of technology theft, expressed hope about the change in the White House. “I think after this very difficult and extraordinary time, both the Chinese and American people deserve a better future,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a daily briefing. Biden “understands the importance of co-operation among nations,” said former Colombian president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Juan Manuel Santos, who left office in 2018. “As a matter of fact, if we don’t co-operate – all nations – to fight climate change, then we will all perish. It’s as simple as that." French President Emmanuel Macron and Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama were among those welcoming U.S. attention to climate change. After Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, Biden reversed the move in the first hours of his presidency Wednesday. With Biden, “we will be stronger to face the challenges of our time. Stronger to build our future. Stronger to protect our planet," Macron wrote on Twitter. “Welcome back to the Paris Agreement!” Other European allies saw a chance to come in out of the cold after strained relationships with the Trump administration. European Council President Charles Michel said trans-Atlantic relations have “greatly suffered in the last four years" while the world has become less stable and less predictable. “We have our differences and they will not magically disappear. America seems to have changed, and how it’s perceived in Europe and the rest of the world has also changed,” added Michel, whose open criticism of the Trump era contrasted with the silence that mostly reigned in Europe while the Republican leader was in the White House. In Ballina, Ireland, where Biden’s great-great-grandfather was born in 1832, a mural of a smiling Biden adorned a wall in the town, where some of the president’s relatives still live. “As he takes the oath of office, I know that President Biden will feel the weight of history — the presence of his Irish ancestors who left Mayo and Louth in famine times in search of life and hope,” Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who formed close ties with Trump, noted a personal friendship with Biden and said he looked forward to working together to further strengthen the U.S.-Israel alliance. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has accused Trump of unfair bias toward Israel with policies like moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, expressed hope for a more even-handed approach from Biden. He urged “a comprehensive and just peace process that fulfills the aspirations of the Palestinian people for freedom and independence.” In Latin America, Biden faces immediate challenges on immigration, and the leaders of the two most populous countries — Brazil and Mexico — were chummy with Trump. The Trump administration also expanded painful sanctions against governments in Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. In Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro's government urged dialogue with the Biden administration, while hoping the new president abandons the avalanche of damaging sanctions Trump imposed to attempt a regime change. Some Venezuelans, however, like retired accountant Jesús Sánchez, 79, said he was disappointed to see Trump leave power. Trump backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó, giving Venezuelans like him hope that Maduro’s days in power were numbered. Carlos Vecchio, Guaido’s envoy in Washington who the U.S. recognizes as Venezuela’s ambassador, tweeted photos of himself at Biden's inauguration. The invitation to attend was touted by Venezuela’s opposition as evidence the Biden administration will continue its strong support and resist entreaties by Maduro for dialogue that the U.S. has strenuously rejected until now. Cuba’s leaders perhaps have a more realistic hope for improved relations: Biden was in the White House for the historic thaw in relations in 2014, and various officials expressed willingness to reopen a dialogue with Washington if there was respect for Cuba’s sovereignty. President Miguel Díaz-Canel railed against Trump via Twitter, citing “more than 200 measures that tightened the financial, commercial and economic blockade, the expression of a despicable and inhuman policy.” In Mexico, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who cultivated an unexpectedly friendly relationship with Trump and was one of the last world leaders to recognize Biden’s victory, read from a letter he sent to Biden in 2012, calling for reorienting the bilateral relationship away from security and military aid and toward development. He urged Biden to implement immigration reform, and added: “We need to maintain a very good relationship with the United States government and I don’t have any doubt that it’s going to be that way.” U.S. allies in the Asia-Pacific region expressed anticipation of strengthening those alliances under a Biden administration. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen and others highlighted their shared values as leaders of democracies. South Korean President Moon Jae-in said: “America’s new beginning will make democracy even greater.” Former Australian diplomat Rory Medcalf said Biden would likely find diplomatic partners across the Indo-Pacific region ready not for American leadership but partnership in “collective action” against Chinese “strategic assertiveness.” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Biden was a good friend to New Zealand and highlighted in particular the words given in his inaugural address. “President Biden’s message of unity as he takes office is one that resonates with New Zealanders,” Ardern said. World leaders also acknowledged the history of Vice-President Kamala Harris taking office. She is the first woman, the first Black woman and the first South Asian to hold that office in the U.S. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Twitter congratulated both Biden and Harris, whose maternal grandfather was Indian. “That is an historic moment and one that, I think as a father of daughters, you can only celebrate," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. __ Cook reported from Brussels. AP journalists around the world contributed to this report. ___ This version has been corrected by removing the reference to the U.S. as the world's largest democracy. Lorne Cook And Christopher Sherman, The Associated Press
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.
Birdtail Sioux First Nation and the Ojibway First Nation have both seen COVID-19 vaccine roll out in their communities this week. Elders in both communities are at the top of the list. But Birdtail Chief Ken Chalmers did say vaccine fear is real. He said at least one person is waiting to see how it works out for others. "But we’re campaigning to get that done," he said, but that vaccine wasn’t wasted as someone further down the list, according to age, took it. Social media, Chalmers said, is the main root of vaccine fear. Chalmers said the community has had a few scares. "We had one case that we isolated. We’re back down to zero," he said, adding the person had travelled to a hospital and that’s likely where the virus was contracted. Everyone in contact with that person was isolated. All tests came back negative and that person is now doing well. Keeseekoowenin Chief Norman Bone said, so far, his community hasn’t seen a case. "We’ve been fortunate to not have any cases, here," Bone said. "We’ve done fairly well since last spring." Bone said the community is observing the fundamentals, as dictated by provincial public health officials — and leadership has communicated those to community members. "We’ve tried to make all the people aware to take all the precautions, in terms of self-isolation, wearing masks, shopping for essentials only," he said. "Whatever it is we’ve done, is working for us." While Birdtail has barriers blocking visitors from entering the community, such is not the case at Keeseekoowenin, due to the community having multiple entry points. Bone has previously said it is simply not possible to blockade the community. At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Indigenous Services Canada associate deputy minister Valerie Gideon said the highest funding requests her department received are for perimeter security. "For communities to be able to try and control that to-and-from traffic into community. We’re close to 350 communities that have closed their borders to non-essential travel, and are really maintaining their resolve in order to protect their community members," she said. However, Chalmers wonders which communities received those funds because he does not have certainty that his community will see reimbursement for roadblocks. While Gideon said those measures are critical, Chalmers said he’s getting mixed messages on that matter, and so far the First Nation is using its own dollars. "We got zero," Chalmers said. "Security costs $90,000 a month. And they won’t tell us who got that money." Chalmers references Shamattawa First Nation, which required an emergency response, which likely cost the federal government millions of dollars. He acknowledges Northern reserves are getting hit hard, but he’s also very concerned about protecting his own reserve. The feds, said Chalmers, told Birdtail is in a low-risk area. But due to the same reasons any reserve is vulnerable, so is Birdtail. "That was a surprise to me. The whole province is in code red," he said. Food security is an issue, and both Chalmers and Bone said that’s being handled. Birdtail has its own store, and is providing vouchers for those who need them. At Keeseekoowenin, fishing and hunting continues to provide additional support. "Last year, we started fishing, doing our own process of getting food to the people that would need. We’re still doing that," Bone said. The community also benefitted from the Fisher River Cree Nation receiving $11 million from the Surplus Food Rescue Program to rescue up to 2.9 million pounds of freshwater fish, which was distributed to more than 75 Indigenous communities throughout Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the North. "We took part in that and we’re still distributing some of that fish," Bone said. The area sees mostly deer, and hunting parties have been out to add that to the community’s food source. "The guys have been going out and providing some of that as a food source for some of the people that require it here in the community," Bone said. "Some of the stuff we’d been doing before. We also making sure potatoes and some basic stuff … We’ve been doing some of this stuff over the years, already. We just carried on with that." But Bone added distribution was increased over previous years. School children are also being protected, as both communities have been going the remote learning route. Bone said that has been working well for Keeseekoowenin. What’s hardest for on-reserve members? Funerals. Gathering to grieve and celebrate the life of a loved one is impossible in these times. Public health orders have limited these gatherings. A funeral may have been the site of some viral spread at Sioux Valley Dakota Nation — the community put out a notice that anyone who attended a particular funeral, and showed signs of symptoms, should get tested. Chief Jennifer Bone did not return a call from The Brandon Sun. Chalmers plans to organize a memorial for all those the community has lost during these many long pandemic months. For now, he just wants to keep all children and elders safe to the fall of 2021. As for Bone, he’s just grateful things have worked out the way they have for his community so far. Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 41,760 new vaccinations administered for a total of 692,899 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,828.264 per 100,000. There were 18,975 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 907,515 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 76.35 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 3,258 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 8,549 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 16.326 per 1,000. There were 2,400 new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 13,575 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.6 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 62.98 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,684 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,910 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 37.257 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 8,250 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 71.64 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 5,344 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 9,175 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.402 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 23,000 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 39.89 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 2,704 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 10,436 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.379 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 17,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 58.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 10,207 new vaccinations administered for a total of 174,260 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 20.365 per 1,000. There were 16,575 new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 237,125 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 73.49 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 13,784 new vaccinations administered for a total of 237,918 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 16.197 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 277,050 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 85.88 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 2,514 new vaccinations administered for a total of 20,265 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 14.717 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 46,290 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 43.78 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 2,658 new vaccinations administered for a total of 27,233 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 23.095 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 29,300 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 92.95 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 2,928 new vaccinations administered for a total of 95,243 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 21.636 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 101,275 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 94.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 5,756 new vaccinations administered for a total of 98,125 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 19.122 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 133,475 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.6 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 73.52 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,347 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 32.278 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 18.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,893 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 41.956 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 26.29 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,545 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 65.718 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 42.42 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
Google and a French publishers' lobby said on Thursday they had agreed to a copyright framework for the U.S. tech giant to pay news publishers for content online, in a first for Europe. The move paves the way for individual licensing agreements for French publications, some of which have seen revenues drop with the rise of the Internet and declines in print circulation. The deal, which Google describes as a sustainable way to pay publishers, is likely to be closely watched by other platforms such as Facebook, a lawyer involved in the talks said.
OTTAWA — The COVID-19 pandemic is about to force another big break from tradition in the House of Commons: MPs using an app on their smartphones or laptops to cast votes remotely. Party whips are still discussing some unresolved details, the most important of which is ensuring Canadians will be able to see how their MPs vote, in real-time, as they click yea or nay. But government whip Mark Holland is optimistic that all parties will give unanimous consent to proceed with the voting app when the Commons resumes Monday after a six-week break. Traditionally, MPs who support a bill or motion are asked to rise in the Commons and then nod their assent as their names are called, one by one, by the clerk. The same procedure is then followed for those opposed. That changed last fall as the Commons adapted to the need for physical distancing and restricted travel to curb the spread COVID-19. Votes by videoconference were introduced, allowing MPs for the first time to vote virtually from remote locations. However, they still voted one-by-one in response to a rollcall so Canadians could witness how each of them voted. Inevitable technical glitches meant a single vote could take up to an hour to complete, during which all MPs were required to stay glued to their seats and on camera. That's about to change — again. In a bid to speed things up, the Commons administration has developed a voting app, using combined facial and fingerprint recognition technology, to facilitate secure, one-click voting. Rather than a rollcall vote, Holland said the plan is to allow a set "time window" — around 10 minutes — in which MPs can register their votes. As always, a list showing how each MP voted would be immediately available after the results are announced. But Holland said the administration has also been asked to come up with a way to let onlookers know what's happening in real-time as each MP registers his or her vote. "It's a little bit different than what people are used to," Holland acknowledged in an interview. He said the administration opted for the time-window approach because it's easier to manage technically and faster than conducting a rollcall. It allows an MP who's having trouble connecting or other technical problems to work it out with Commons staff, without holding up voting by everyone else. It also means MPs can resume doing other work as soon as they've voted. "It means we can get done in 10 minutes what would have taken an hour and if we have eight or 10 votes in a row, suddenly all of that time is freed up to do the work that I think people elect us to do," Holland said. NDP House leader Peter Julian said his party supports the use of the voting app to increase efficiency while minimizing the number of MPs in the Commons as the second wave of COVID-19 ravages the country. But he said it's critical that constituents be able to see in real-time how their MPs are voting. "That's a fundamental principle of democracy. Canadians need to know how their members of Parliament are voting," he said in an interview. "Knowing it after the fact is fine ... but it needs to be in place for when we are (in the process of) voting ... This is how democracy functions, with transparency." Bloc Quebecois House leader Alain Therrien said in a statement Wednesday that his party supports using the app. But he stressed the Bloc also believes the Liberal government must get unanimous consent before deploying it. Conservative House leader Gerard Deltell, whose party has been the most reluctant to depart from traditional procedures during the pandemic, declined to comment. Holland said it's "looking really positive" that the government will get unanimous consent for a motion to be introduced as the first order of business Monday. The motion would reinstate until the end of June the hybrid Commons format adopted last fall — a small number of MPs in the chamber while most participate virtually — with the voting app feature to be added as soon as possible. While the app has been tested with each MP individually and with each party caucus, Holland does not expect it to be used immediately by the Commons because it still needs to be tested with all 338 MPs using it simultaneously. That can't be done, he said, until use of the app is approved. Because there was no agreement among parties before Christmas on how the Commons should resume in the new year, all MPs are theoretically scheduled to be back in the chamber Monday. But Holland said party whips are discussing how to keep the number of MPs to the bare minimum needed for quorum: 20, including the Speaker. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
A mother from Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., is urging people to take COVID-19 — and the health measures in place — seriously, as her son fights for his life. Myrine Kakfwi, 30, has been in an intensive care unit in an Edmonton hospital for the last three weeks. Every day his mother Dolly Pierrot rubs lotion on her son's feet and hands, and massages his legs as he lies on his back in his hospital bed. "We have been talking to him, telling him not to give up and telling him how many people are praying for him. His dad plays music for him and we pray with him," she said in a Facebook post. Not just a bad flu It was over a month ago, on Dec. 5, when Kakfwi told his mom from his home in Edmonton that he thought he had COVID-19 — he was coughing and felt he had a bad flu, Pierrot told CBC News. "I was immediately worried and I was really concerned for him," she said. Just a few days later, on Dec. 7 she heard from her eldest son that Kakfwi was taken by ambulance to the University of Alberta Hospital. Pierrot says that was the same day Kakfwi was diagnosed with COVID-19. "I just wanted to know how serious it was, if he was OK," she said. "My oldest son said that Myrine was coughing up blood." Pierrot says she was also concerned for her eldest, since he was in contact with Kakfwi and was taken to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton to be put in isolation. Luckily, his COVID-19 test came back negative, she said. Pierrot says the hospital then told her that Kakfwi was admitted and being treated in isolation. "He came in with a collapsed right lung and they said that he had ... double pneumonia," Pierrot said. It wasn't until about a week before Christmas that Kakfwi seemed to be recovering. "He was FaceTiming us, he was talking to us," Pierrot said. "He was really regretful that he didn't take COVID-19 seriously. He said he was just not being careful." Suddenly offline But as the days and hours passed, Pierrot said her son's health seemed to deteriorate again. "He was just not making sense," she said of Kakfwi when he was speaking to the family. "And then all of a sudden, he just went offline and we couldn't get ahold of him." They tried calling on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day but still no answer from her son. "I kept calling U of A and nobody seemed to know where he went," Pierrot said. By Dec. 27 she was in contact with the intensive care unit and found her answer. A doctor called Pierrot and told her Kakfwi was "seriously" ill. "He said that he was admitted into ICU … and he had double pneumonia and he had a couple of bacteria in both lungs and he was placed on a ventilator." 'You need to come down' She asked the doctor if she and Kakfwi's dad should travel from Fort Good Hope down to Edmonton. The doctor said they should come immediately. Pierrot said her local MLA, Paulie Chinna, and the Yamoga Land Corporation helped her make travel arrangements. They landed in Edmonton the next morning. When they arrived at the hospital, they were allowed to see Kakfwi right away, she said, and were given 24-hour access to him. The doctors told them Kakfwi no longer had COVID-19, but the after effects were keeping him unwell. Kakfwi had a CT scan on Monday, where doctors found another infection in one of his lungs. One of his lungs has also been leaking air, so a specialist is going to see if a valve can be inserted to close up the leak, she said. "So he's been … fighting back for the last three weeks," Pierrot said, adding they're taking it day by day. Right by his side Pierrot said she and Kakfwi's dad have been staying at a hotel, and splitting their time between there and the hospital. She says everyone has been rooting for a quick recovery for her son. "The doctors told us that he's young and so they're really pushing his body hard … they're not giving up on him" Pierrot said. And neither are his parents. "As long as he's fighting, his dad and I are fighting right along with him, and we're not going anywhere, we're going to stay here and be with him [for] the whole thing." Message to others Pierrot says she is sharing her son's story in hopes that people will take COVID-19 seriously. "It's real, it's dangerous," Pierrot said. "It spreads so quick and so easy, we just have to be so vigilant with sanitizing and wearing your mask and staying home." She said the family has received an abundance of support through messages, phone calls and donations from the community of Fort Good Hope. "Which is really comforting to know that people do care about each other and we feel so supported here," Pierrot said. "Just amazing how people pull together and rallied behind us... it just really helps us stay strong throughout this."
Pet groomer Victor Pundzius was so confused with the new orders that he called the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit to clarify whether or not his service was essential. Turns out it's not. But Pundzuis, who owns For Your Fur Kids in Windsor, says after what he saw following the last lockdown, grooming should be. "It was terrible, the dogs were in bad shape, grooming should have been deemed essential. I think it's unfair the way everything was done," he said. And he wasn't the only one questioning provincial measures. Two local housekeepers told CBC News that they also found the province's stay-at-home order from Jan. 14 unclear on what services could still operate. The rules left them feeling uncertain, especially since Windsor-Essex went through several rounds of new restrictions starting in November that kept changing how and which businesses could operate. Housekeeper Nicole Kersey says the provincial rules in the stay-at-home order issued last week are "vague," so she's being cautious while still trying to earn a living. "I really was [confused] and I kind of still am," said Kersey, who owns Nicole's Quality Cleaning in Windsor-Essex . "It says I'm essential I can still do my job but then it doesn't make sense [because] they don't want you going to other homes." Under the new order, housekeepers are listed as being allowed under domestic services but only for homes with children, seniors or vulnerable persons. After six years on the job, Kersey had built up some loyal clients, but out of fear, she says about 80 per cent of her clients have cancelled or put their services on hold. The lack of work has taken a financial toll on her and she's had to apply for government funding. Adam Morrison, president of Queen of Clean Windsor Inc., which specializes in residential and commercial cleaning, says he's also feeling the hit. On the residential side, about 30 per cent of his clients don't qualify for services under the new order. "It makes any business owner nervous right? We're not in a position where it's hitting us now and we're not necessarily hitting a lot of the requirements for some of the wage subsidies," he said. Meanwhile, Pundzius says if the lockdown goes past a month, not only will it hurt the dogs, but it will harm his business too. At this time, his income is already down as people can't access his services and many aren't buying products despite him offering curbside pickup. "It's just unfair with Costco, all these other big companies, it seems like they just want to hurt the little guy basically," he said.
It's been just over a month since the Saskatchewan government delivered its first doses of COVID-19 vaccine, starting with health-care workers in Regina. Over 27,000 first and second doses have since been administered to people in priority groups in 10 of the regions monitored by health officials, under the first phase of the province's vaccine rollout plan. However, no vaccinations had been done as of Wednesday in the south central region — which includes Moose Jaw, the fourth-largest city in the province — the central west, or the southwest, to the puzzlement of some. How is the Saskatchewan government making decisions on Phase 1 of the vaccine rollout — and exactly who is making those decisions? Here's what we know. The daily COVID updates provide some idea of the delivery schedule Bookmark this page, which is home to the COVID-19 updates provided each day by provincial health officials. The updates are typically released at around 1:30 p.m. CST. Recently, at the top of each release, the day's new cases have taken a back seat to updates about the vaccination rollout, including where doses will be sent. On Tuesday, for example, officials revealed that the week's shipment of 2,925 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses would be divided between the Regina, Fort Qu'Appelle and North Battleford areas, and would be used to continue vaccinating priority populations — health-care workers, people living in northern or remote parts of Saskatchewan, seniors, and long-term care home residents. No specific locations within those communities were disclosed, however. "We have a great deal of confusion when it comes to who is on the list, who's in Phase 1," said Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili. The complete tally of doses administered in the 13 regions is updated daily on this page. Here's how things looked as of Wednesday: Transmission rates, active case loads and outbreaks are key factors The limited availability of vaccines and the logistics of handling the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — which needs to be refrigerated at extremely low temperatures — play a role in determining where the vaccines will go, said Scott Livingstone, the CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority. But so do transmission rates in an area, he added. "One of the other big factors in the distribution is the attack rates, or the current caseload in those areas of the province which also have a high likelihood for us to be successful in … dealing with the most vulnerable," Livingstone said. The Ministry of Health added that locations are prioritized based on "a combination of risk criteria," including an area's outbreak rate. Moose Jaw is located in what the province calls the South Central 2 subzone. As of Wednesday, the subzone, with a population of 43,862, had only 22 active COVID-19 cases. By comparison, the neighbouring Regina and area subzone, with a population of 273,287, reported 575 active cases. Moose Jaw had only three active outbreaks. Regina had dozens. CBC News has asked the ministry what other risk criteria determine where Phase 1 vaccines will go. 4 regional command centres choose where to send vaccines The decisions of two key groups determine where vaccines will go, according to the ministry. "While priority sequencing is determined by the COVID-19 Immunization Planning Oversight Committee, specific locations and facilities are determined by local Integrated Health Incident Command Centres (IHICCs)." These groups are represented on the oversight committee: Ministry of Health. Ministry of Government Relations. Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency. Indigenous Services Canada. Saskatchewan Health Authority. The committee oversees a number of subcommittees, including the COVID-19 Immunization Planning Indigenous Advisory Committee, the COVID-19 Immunization Planning Municipal Advisory Committee and the COVID-19 Immunization Planning Clinical Experts Advisory Committee. These committees "help inform the development of the COVID-19 immunization program in the province," according to the ministry. CBC News has requested a list of the organizations represented on each committee. The regional command centres that decide on specific vaccine shipment locations date back to the early days of the pandemic. There are four of them: Saskatoon, Regina, rural and north, run according to "a military command and control-based reporting structure," according to the Saskatchewan Health Authority. The integrated command centres "must operationalize the sequencing framework created by the oversite committee and determine their clinics," according to the ministry. "Vaccine chiefs" and "vaccine physician co-leads" work with the command centres to review delivery locations, the ministry says. CBC News has asked who is in charge of each command centre and where the vaccine chiefs rank in the pecking order. Vaccines are going to care homes with outbreaks. Some COVID-positive residents are among those getting doses Two facilities run by private home care operator Extendicare have had residents and staff receive COVID-19 vaccines: the Parkside home in Regina, which was the site of the worst long-term care outbreak in the province, and the Preston home in Saskatoon. "Fifty-two of 53 eligible [Preston] residents" were vaccinated as of last Friday, even as other residents were infected, according to Extendicare. All residents vaccinated at Parkside and Preston were either COVID-free at the time or had never tested positive for the virus that causes the illness, according to Extendicare — which is in line with a policy espoused by the Ministry of Health. "You are noteligible to receive COVID vaccine at this time if you have been diagnosed with COVID in the last 90 days," the ministry recently said in a public service announcement touting the availability of vaccines for seniors living independently. But at least one care home in the province has seen COVID-positive residents vaccinated in recent days. Lakeview Pioneer Lodge, a private care home in Wakaw, Sask., had 28 COVID-positive residents vaccinated on Jan. 15, said Michael Lummerding, the home's administrator and CEO. The home has been dealing with an outbreak since Dec. 30. "All residents were given the option to be vaccinated as per the medical health officer," Lummerding said. "Staff members were given the opportunity to be vaccinated to ensure all doses were utilized and none were wasted." Seventeen staff were vaccinated, along with two workers declining, he added. The vaccination of COVID-19 positive residents at Lakeview occurred three days after a letter saying the Standing Committee on Immunization approved of vaccinating long-term care residents infected with COVID-19. The letter was sent by Saskatchewan Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab to medical health officers, public health nurse managers and immunization providers. "Residents of long-term care facilities and personal care homes, and persons aged 80 years and older living in the community, should be immunized, irrespective of whether and when they had SARS-CoV-2 infection," as long as they had recovered from the acute illness and there were no other factors to prevent it, the letter said. "[T]hey are extremely vulnerable and there is no clear evidence on the length of disease immunity among these populations," the letter stated. Cory Neudorf, a professor of community health and epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan, said that may refer to people who are no longer infectious but may still test COVID-positive. He said the move makes sense. "It is still unclear how long immunity from natural infection lasts, and there is some evidence of people who have been infected twice, though still rare at this point," Neudorf said. "In order to speed up delivery of the vaccine and ensure people are not missed later on, it makes sense to try to immunize everyone in a long-term care facility regardless of whether they have had prior infection." The National Advisory Committee on Immunization — from which the province took its cues in choosing priority groups for Phase 1 — made a discretionary recommendation earlier this month stating that if vaccines are in short supply, initial does may be prioritized for those who have not been infected with COVID-19. "In the context of limited supply, to allow for the protection of a larger number of at-risk individuals, vaccination with a COVID-19 vaccine may be delayed for three months [for someone infected with COVID-19], as reinfections reported to date have been rare within the first three months following infection," the committee wrote on Jan. 12. "However, if challenging from a feasibility perspective, jurisdictions may elect to disregard prior infection status and vaccinate everyone in a given target group." Visitations won't resume just because care home residents are getting vaccinated Visitors have been strictly banned at all long-term care homes in the province for months now, with exceptions allowed only for those visiting dying patients. On Tuesday, Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, was asked if those restrictions might be relaxed in homes where people are being vaccinated. Shahab said that while clinical vaccine trials have shown 95 per cent effectiveness, the vaccine may not be that effective for everybody, leaving some residents still susceptible to COVID-19. "Once we have the vast majority of the population vaccinated — especially adults with underlying risk factors, but also broadly all adults — I think then we can cautiously start looking at how we relax our public health measures over the summer," he said.
2020 became the year of the pandemic. Newfoundland and Labrador has managed to keep the cases of COVID-19 low, but the restrictions still affect everyone. Now there's a vaccine delivered in record time. Our series Beyond 2020 will examine the people and issues that are going to dominate the year ahead. One of the founders of St. John's digital security company Verafin says his company's huge deal with Nasdaq late last year is just the beginning for Newfoundland and Labrador's technology sector. Brendan Brothers's company, which helps to detect activity like fraud and money laundering, was bought in November by the global tech giant in a deal worth $2.75 billion US. It's a deal that Brothers says will pave the way for other tech companies and continue to grow the industry in the province. "The one thing that comes out of a deal like the Nasdaq-Verafin partnership here is that I think it creates some fuel in the ecosystem, which has already been bubbling here for quite some time," he said. "You need, I think, a story like this to be able to set an example for other businesses that are going to start here, that are going to start to thrive here, that are going to come out of all the incubators that we have." Momentum growing in tech sector Brothers said those incubators, like Memorial University's Genesis Centre, along with a few recent success stories, are helping inspire future innovation and development. "I think back to when we started our business back in 2003 and we started at the Genesis Centre, but the Genesis Centre was really small at that point in time and there weren't examples like we have right now," he said. "Now there's this group of companies, CoLab, Mysa, all these great examples of companies that are doing interesting things, building great products and services. And it's by everybody starting and being successful that we start to create this momentum." With that momentum now growing, Brothers said the sky's the limit for technology in Newfoundland and Labrador. WATCH | The CBC's Peter Cowan sits down with Verafin's Brendan Brothers: "The benefit of software is that you're only limited by what you can think.… It's not something where you're tied to a natural resource or you're tied to a place; you're really only limited by what you can actually think and imagine and try and find a problem to solve," he said. "If you look at the number of people that are employed in technology in the province, a significant portion of them are within technology businesses like ourselves. But technology people are also required across every other business as well." But to meet the coming demand he expects, Brothers said, there'll need to be increased interest and capacity to train people at the province's university and colleges, for both the continued growth of Verafin and for the founding of new companies. "Verafin alone, we've added 100-plus people for the past several years, and we plan on hiring 200-plus more in the coming years," he said. "We need a pipeline, not only of people to work within these businesses, but I think probably more importantly, a pipeline of people who are going to take a chance and start an entrepreneurial venture and actually jump in and try and create something." Brothers said the pandemic has shown that there is room for tech growth across Newfoundland and Labrador. He said Verafin has had people working remotely around the province and across Canada for about 10 years. "If 2020 has taught us anything, I think it's the fact that you can probably work on any problem from anywhere…. I think what we've learned this year is how to engage and work together regardless of where you are," he said. This is a great opportunity to create more success here. - Brendan Brothers While Nasdaq is a company with offices all over the world, Brothers said he's committed to keeping Verafin based in St. John's. He said he wants Verafin to create "the world's most effective crime-fighting network," but is hopeful for the growth of other local startups as well. "We're trying to catch bad guys. We're trying to stop money laundering. We're trying to stop fraud. It's a problem that is evergreen, it never goes away, so I think as long as we're still having fun and we're excited about what we're doing within Verafin, I think we'll continue to focus on that," he said. "But I think broadly, this is a great opportunity to be able to create more success here.… As long as we continue to invest and as long as we continue to create the structures where people can try, succeed and or fail and try again, then we will be successful at the end of the day." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Annapolis County will apply to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia to rescind a motion made by the outgoing council. The motion was made on Nov. 4 and involved a lease agreement and the conveyance of some land to E.A. Farren, the developer behind the Gordonstoun project. The project aims to develop a franchise of an elite private school based in Scotland at the site of the former Upper Clements Park. The former council has already advanced the developer $1.8 million for the project. A new council was elected on Oct. 17, but the outgoing council met three times and passed the motion before the new councillors were sworn in on Nov. 10. In December, the new council fired its chief administrative officer, John Ferguson, and its solicitor. On Tuesday, the county's new law firm, Cox and Palmer, told councillors that the old council had violated both the Election Act and the Municipal Government Act. "The former councillors, in effect, purported to unilaterally extend their terms of office beyond what is mandated by the legislation," said Alan Parish, the town's warden. "Failure to observe a statutory requirement [is] a ground upon which a resolution may be quashed." But Cox and Palmer did not think the motion should be rescinded by Annapolis County Council itself. It instead recommended taking the request to the Supreme Court. Coun. Alex Morrison supported that idea. "This has concerned citizens and the council for a number of months," said Morrison. "But this issue is not one that council can unilaterally resolve." Councillors voted unanimously in favour of heading to the Supreme Court. Councillors have already scheduled an all-day session on Feb. 5 to talk about the Gordonstoun project. MORE TOP STORIES
MONTREAL — Enterprise software company SAP Canada will open a new research and development office in Montreal for its SAP Labs division and plans to add 30 new employees as part of the expansion. The company said in a new release Thursday that its decision to open the new office, located at Place Ville Marie in downtown Montreal, indicates its commitment to the Quebec market, which it views as a world-class technology hub. “With this new office in the city, we are cementing our position as one of Montreal’s leading employers and a key player in Canada’s growing digital economy,” said Cindy Fagen, managing director of SAP Labs Canada, in a statement. SAP Canada’s new employees will be part of a unit that builds custom technology for consumer-facing businesses. The investment brings the company’s total workforce in Montreal to 1,000 employees, SAP Canada said. While Toronto remains Canada’s dominant tech hub, Montreal has attracted increased investment from technology companies in recent years, especially in the field of artificial intelligence. The Quebec government has devoted a lot of money in its efforts to attract high-tech jobs to the city, announcing in 2017 that it would spend $100 million to lure artificial intelligence startups and research initiatives to the area. The Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, which manages several public insurance and pension plans in the province, has also invested in startups with prominent presences in the city, including Lightspeed POS Inc. and Nuvei Corp. SAP said it is working with Montreal International, an agency that helps businesses invest in the city, on the expansion. SAP’s announcement comes as many companies re-evaluate their office expenditures in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, with some choosing to reduce their physical footprint in favour of implementing more flexible work-from-home policies. SAP Canada expects to move employees into the new office in September. Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said in a statement that SAP Canada’s investment will play an important role as the city looks to recover from the harsh economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The city can keep counting on its exceptional workforce in the digital sector, which is key to the city’s economy and it will certainly play a critical role in its economic recovery,” Plante said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:LSPD) Jon Victor, The Canadian Press