Bright pink cotton candy sky turns into to a dark pink, gloomy-looking sky just a short time later.
Bright pink cotton candy sky turns into to a dark pink, gloomy-looking sky just a short time later.
Armed and ready to go, Taiwan air force jets screamed into the sky on Tuesday in a drill to simulate a war scenario, showing its fleet's battle readiness after dozens of Chinese warplanes flew into the island's air defence zone over the weekend. Taiwan, claimed by China as its territory, has been on edge since the large-scale incursion by Chinese fighters and nuclear-capable bombers into the southwestern part of its air defence identification zone on Saturday and Sunday, which coincided with a U.S. carrier group entering the South China Sea. The base in the southern city of Tainan, home to F-CK-1 Ching-kuo Indigenous Defence Fighters (IDF), frequently scrambles jets to intercept China's air force.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Sarah Sanders, Donald Trump's former chief spokeswoman, announced she's running for Arkansas governor at a time other Republicans are distancing themselves from the former president facing an impeachment charge that he incited the deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol. But the former White House press secretary, who left the job in 2019 to return to her home state, ran the other direction with an announcement Monday that embraced Trump as much as his rhetoric. “With the radical left now in control of Washington, your governor is your last line of defence,” Sanders said in a nearly eight-minute video announcing her 2022 bid that prominently featured pictures of the president as well as some of his favourite targets. Trump, who publicly encouraged Sanders to run, wasted no time putting his seal of approval on her bid. The former president on Monday night backed Sanders' candidacy — his first official, public endorsement since leaving office — and called her a “warrior who will always fight for the people of Arkansas and do what is right, not what is politically correct." The daughter of former Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sanders is the most high-profile Trump official to seek major office and is doing so less than a week after the tumultuous end of his presidency. Her candidacy could showcase just how much of a hold Trump still has on the GOP. “Trump is simply not a liability here,” said Janine Parry, a political scientist at the University of Arkansas. “At least for the time being, we’re in a state where he remains an asset.” That’s even as the Senate is preparing for an impeachment trial over the Jan. 6 insurrection by Trump supporters that was aimed at halting the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory over Trump. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell rebuked the president last week, saying he “provoked” the siege. Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson told reporters days before Biden’s inauguration he wanted Trump’s administration to end, though he also opposed the president’s impeachment. Sanders’ announcement makes a brief reference to the Capitol siege that left five dead, equating it with violence that occurred at some protests last year over racial injustice and the 2017 shooting at a congressional baseball practice that injured U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise and four others. “This is not who we are as Americans,” Sanders said in the video, but not mentioning Trump’s role in encouraging his supporters who stormed the Capitol. She joins a Republican primary that already includes two statewide elected leaders, Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. The three are running to succeed Hutchinson, who is unable to run next year due to term limits. No Democrats have announced a bid to run for the seat. Griffin and Rutledge had already spent months positioning themselves ahead of Sanders’ entry by lining up endorsements, raising money and trying to stake their claims as the most conservative candidate. Griffin has called for the outright elimination of the state’s income tax, while Rutledge signed on to Texas’ ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit challenging the result of the presidential election. Following the riot, Griffin and Rutledge issued statements condemning the storming of the Capitol but not addressing Trump’s role in stirring up his backers. Combined, the two have raised more than $2.8 million for the race. Griffin on Monday criticized Sanders for promising in her video to cut off funding to so-called sanctuary cities that violate immigration laws. He noted a 2019 measure Hutchinson signed into law already does just that by cutting off funding to cities that don’t co-operate with immigration authorities. “It sounds like she needs to catch up on what’s been going on in Arkansas,” Griffin said in a statement. Rutledge, meanwhile, said in a statement the race was about “who has a proven record and not merely rhetoric.” The race could also get even more crowded. Republican State Sen. Jim Hendren, a nephew of Hutchinson’s, is considering a run for the seat and said he hoped to make a decision within the next three weeks. “Right now we have three announced candidates but they all do represent the far right part of the Republican Party,” said Hendren, who has been much more willing to criticize Trump and hasn’t ruled out an independent bid. “The question I have to decide is, is there room for a more pragmatic, centrist type of approach?” Sanders was already well known in Arkansas politics, going back to when she appeared in ads for her father’s campaign. She managed Sen. John Boozman’s 2010 election and worked as an adviser to Sen. Tom Cotton’s in 2014. During Sanders’ nearly two-year tenure at the White House, daily televised briefings led by the press secretary ended after Sanders repeatedly sparred with reporters who aggressively questioned her. She faced questions about her credibility, but she also earned reporters’ respect working behind the scenes to develop relationships with the media. She remains an unknown on many issues and wasn’t made available for interviews Monday, though she staked out some positions in her introductory video that include reducing the state’s income tax. Her introductory video indicates she’s leaning more on her time with Trump, with it featuring images of or calling out those who frequently drew his ire including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and CNN. Republicans hold a firm grip on Arkansas, with the GOP holding all statewide and federal seats. They also hold a majority in both chambers of the Legislature. Trump in November won the state by nearly 28 percentage points, one of the biggest margins in his ultimate loss to Biden. State Democratic Party Chairman Michael John Gray on Monday called the GOP primary a “race to the bottom.” But national party leaders indicated Sanders’ candidacy may draw more resources and attention to a long-shot race that will coincide with 2022 congressional midterm elections. “As we close the book on a dark chapter in our history, we must make sure Trump’s brand of politics stays in the past," Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison tweeted. “Now, Sarah Huckabee Sanders is running on his record." Hutchinson, who has remained generally popular since taking office in 2015, said he didn't plan on endorsing anyone at this time in the race. “I am a voter, so I will follow the campaign with interest, but I have a job to do for the next two years, and I will devote my energies to bring Arkansas out of the pandemic and to revitalize our economy," he said in a statement. ___ Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ademillo Andrew Demillo, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Easing off a stalemate, the Senate moved forward Tuesday with a power-sharing agreement in the evenly-split chamber after Republican leader Mitch McConnell backed off his demand that Senate Democrats preserve the procedural tool known as the filibuster. The stand-off between McConnell and new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had all but ground the Senate to a halt in the early days of the Democratic majority and threatened President Joe Biden's agenda. Schumer refused to meet McConnell's demands. “I'm glad we're finally able to get the Senate up and running,” Schumer said Tuesday as he opened the chamber. “My only regret is it took so long because we have a great deal we need to accomplish.” While the crisis appeared to have resolved, for now, the debate over the filibuster — the procedural tool that requires a 60-vote threshold to advance most legislation — is far from over. Progressive Democrats see the tool as an outdated relic that can be used by the minority Republican Party under McConnell to derail Biden's agenda, and they want to do away with it. They point to the way the filibuster was wielded during the 20th century to stall civil rights legislation, and warn of a repeat. Democrats control 50 votes in the split chamber, with Vice-President Kamala Harris as a tie-breaking vote, and Biden's allies would typically need Republican senators to reach the 60-vote threshold to advance Democratic priorities on COVID-19 relief, immigration or other issues. Even as he dropped his demand, McConnell warned Tuesday of all the ways the Senate business could still be tied in knots if Democrats try to press on with plans to pursue changes to the filibuster. “They would guarantee themselves immediate chaos,” McConnell warned. “Destroying the filibuster would drain comity and consent from this body to a degree that would be unparalleled in living memory.” Usually a routine matter, the organizing resolution for the chamber became a power play by McConnell once Democrats swept to control after the Jan. 5 special election in Georgia and the new senators took the oath of office after Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20. McConnell had been holding up the organizing agreement, which divides up committee assignments and other resources, as he tried to extract a promise from Schumer of no changes to the filibuster. Schumer would not meet the Republican leader's demands, but McConnell said late Monday he had essentially accomplished his goal after two Democratic senators said they would not agree to end the filibuster. Without their votes, Schumer would be unable to change the rules. “With these assurances, I look forward to moving ahead with a power-sharing agreement modeled on that precedent,” McConnell said in a statement. He was referring to West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema who have expressed reservations about doing away with the tool. Schumer's office said the Republican leader had no choice but to set aside his demands. “We’re glad Sen. McConnell threw in the towel and gave up on his ridiculous demand," said Justin Goodman, a spokesman for the Democratic leader. "We look forward to organizing the Senate under Democratic control and start getting big, bold things done for the American people.” But the debate over the filibuster, which has increasingly become weaponized as a tool to thwart the opposite party’s agenda, is far from over. A decade ago, then-Democratic majority leader Harry Reid ended the 60-vote threshold to confirm some judicial and executive branch nominees during the Obama administration that were being blocked by Republicans. Reid told The Associated Press recently that Biden should waste little time testing Republican’s willingness to work with him before eliminating the filibuster. He gave it three weeks. McConnell during the last administration upped the ante, and did away with the 60-vote threshold to confirm President Donald Trump's three nominees to the Supreme Court. He wanted to prevent Schumer from taking it to the next level and ending the filibuster for legislation. The details of the rest of the organizing resolution are expected to proceed largely as they did the last time the Senate was evenly divided, in 2001, with any immediate changes to the filibuster, at this stage, appearing to be off the table. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
A giant mass of rubbish that clogged a dam has finally been cleaned up in Bulgaria. Nearly 600 tonnes of garbage and debris were removed from the Iskar river near the capital Sofia.View on euronews
The World Health Organization (WHO) issued fresh clinical advice on Tuesday for treating COVID-19 patients, including those displaying persistent symptoms after recovery, and also said it advised using low-dose anti-coagulants to prevent blood clots. "The other things in the guidance that are new are that COVID-19 patients at home should have the use of pulse oximetry, that's measuring the oxygen levels, so you can identify whether somewhat at home is deteriorating and would be better off having hospital care," WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told a U.N. briefing in Geneva.
IT consulting group Atos and OVHcloud are partnering to offer fully European-led cloud computing services, the two French groups said on Tuesday. The move is aimed at widening the choices for European-based companies and public sector entities in the fast-growing cloud computing sector, which is dominated by Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft Corp and Alphabet Inc's Google.
A Canadian clothing line is helping transgender kids feel confident at the beach or pool with bathing suits designed to maximize comfort without compromising style. Jamie and Ruby Alexander are the Toronto father-daughter duo behind Rubies, a fledgling fashion business that specializes in form-fitting clothing for trans and non-binary girls. Ruby says she's proud to see how the brand is allowing other trans kids to take part in the same activities as their friends without worrying about what they're wearing. "A lot of trans kids just stopped doing what they love to do, because they don't feel comfortable," Ruby, 12, said in an interview. "We wanted to change the kids' lives, and we're happy to do that." Since Ruby came out as transgender at nine years old, Jamie Alexander said fashion has been an important part of how she expresses her identity. But it hasn't always been easy to balance style against concerns for her safety. At first, Ruby wore baggy boardshorts and sweatpants to athletic activities such as swimming, gymnastics and dance, Alexander said. Eventually, Ruby wanted to wear a bikini like her friends, so they got her one at a department store. But as they were getting ready for a vacation in Central America in 2019, Alexander started to worry about what Ruby should wear to the beach in a place where there may not be the same cultural awareness of transgender identity. He looked online for a swimsuit that would allow her to safely have fun in the sun, but the limited options he could find didn't seem age-appropriate. Alexander knew that other families must be dealing with similar struggles, so he set out to launch a company that would offer a solution. He teamed up with Ryerson University's Fashion Zone to design prototypes for bathing suit bottoms that uses a soft compression to provide a worry-free fit. After getting in touch with other parents online, Alexander biked around Toronto to deliver samples, so transgender kids could try them on and give feedback. Some families said their kids hadn't had much exposure to other transgender children, Alexander said, and it soon became clear that Ruby had a gift for connecting with customers. "To say, 'hey, there's someone else out there just like you that understands you and understands what you're going through' is a really powerful thing," Alexander said. "It's really touching to hear the impact Ruby and I can have with these families." Alexander partnered with a Toronto clothing manufacturer to gear up for a launch last spring, but production was set back by the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, Rubies has managed to sell roughly 1,000 swimsuits in its first year, Alexander said. Ruby writes a personal message to accompany every shipment, which for some customers seems to be just as valuable as the product itself, said Alexander. "We've gotten feedback that said some kids will put these postcards under their pillows, like it's this special treasure," he said. Alexander also launched a crowdfunding campaign so Rubies could donate swimsuits to families who many not be able to spend $57 on bikini bottoms. The brand has also expanded its offerings to include T-shirts, and recently started accepting preorders for a line of underwear. Alexander said Ruby has been involved in every step of getting the business off the ground, helping her father keep up with the latest trends on top of the usual demands of homework and chores. While it can be hard to juggle her duties as Grade 7 student and fashion maven, Ruby said it's worth it to see the impact that Rubies is having on kids like her across the globe. "There's other trans kids in the world who need help, and I'm happy to see them smile, and I'm proud to be the person who I am," she said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — These suspects weren't exactly in hiding. “THIS IS ME,” one man posted on Instagram with a hand emoji pointing to himself in a picture of the violent mob descending on the U.S. Capitol. “Sooo we’ve stormed Capitol Hill lol,” one woman texted someone while inside the building. “I just wanted to incriminate myself a little lol,” another wrote on Facebook about a selfie he took inside during the Jan. 6 riot. In dozens of cases, supporters of President Donald Trump downright flaunted their activity on social media on the day of the deadly insurrection. Some, apparently realizing they were in trouble with the law, deleted their accounts only to discover their friends and family members had already taken screenshots of their selfies, videos and comments and sent them to the FBI. Their total lack of concern over getting caught and their friends' willingness to turn them in has helped authorities charge about 150 people as of Monday with federal crimes. But even with the help from the rioters themselves, investigators must still work rigorously to link the images to the vandalism and suspects to the acts on Jan. 6 in order to prove their case in court. And because so few were arrested at the scene, the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service have been forced to send agents to track suspects down. “Just because you’ve left the D.C. region, you can still expect a knock on the door if we find out that you were part of criminal activity inside the Capitol,” Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington office, said earlier this month. “Bottom line — the FBI is not sparing any resources in this investigation.” In the last few weeks, the FBI has received over 200,000 photos and video tips related to the riot. Investigators have put up billboards in several states with photos of wanted rioters. Working on tips from co-workers, acquaintances and friends, agents have tracked down driver’s license photos to match their faces with those captured on camera in the building. In some cases, authorities got records from Facebook or Twitter to connect their social media accounts to their email addresses or phone numbers. In others, agents used records from license plate readers to confirm their travels. More than 800 are believed to have made their way into the Capitol, although it's likely not everyone will be tracked down and charged with a crime. Federal prosecutors are focusing on the most critical cases and the most egregious examples of wrongdoing. And they must weigh manpower, cost and evidence when charging rioters. A special group of prosecutors is examining whether to bring sedition charges against the rioters, which carry up to 20 years in prison. One trio was charged with conspiracy; most have been charged with crimes like unlawful entry and disorderly conduct. Many rioters posted selfies inside the Capitol to their social media accounts, gave interviews to news outlets describing their experience and readily admitted when questioned by federal investigators that they were there. One man created a Facebook album titled “Who’s House? OUR HOUSE” filled with photos of himself and others on Capitol grounds, officials said. “They might have thought, like so many people that work with Trump, that if the president tells me to do it, it’s not breaking the law,” said Michael Gerhardt, an expert on impeachment and professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law. Others made blunders, like a Houston police officer, who denied he went into the Capitol, then agreed to let agents look at the pictures on his phone. Inside his deleted photos folder were pictures and videos, including selfies he took inside the building, authorities said. Another man was wearing a court-ordered GPS monitor after a burglary conviction that tracked his every movement inside the building. A retired firefighter from Long Island, New York, texted a video of himself in the Capitol rotunda to his girlfriend’s brother, saying he was “at the tip of the spear,” officials said. The brother happened to be a federal agent with the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, who turned the video over to the FBI. A lawyer for the man, Thomas Fee, said he “was not part of any attempt to take over the U.S. Capitol” and that “the allegation is that he merely walked through an open door into the Capitol — nothing more." Another man who was inside the Capitol was willing to rat out another rioter who stole House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lectern and emailed the video to an FBI agent, even signing his own name to it. “Hello Nice FBI Lady,” he wrote, “Here are the links to the videos. Looks like Podium Guy is in one of them, less the podium. Let me know if you need anything else.” In another case, a man was on a flight leaving D.C. two days after the riot when he kept shouting “Trump 2020!” and was kicked off. An airport police officer saw the man get off the plane and the man was booked on another flight. Forty-five minutes later, the officer was watching a video on Instagram and recognized the man in a group of rioters. The man, who was wearing the same shirt as the day he stormed the Capitol, was arrested at the airport, authorities said. Even defence attorneys have acknowledged that the evidence poses a problem for them. “I’m not a magician,” said an attorney for the man seen in a photo carrying Pelosi's lectern. “We’ve got a photograph of our client in what appears to be inside a federal building or inside the Capitol with government property,” he told reporters. Police at the Capitol planned only for a free-speech demonstration and were overwhelmed by the mob that broke through and roamed the halls of the Capitol for hours as lawmakers were sent into hiding. Five people died in the melee, including a Capitol police officer who was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher. Trump was impeached after the riot on a charge of “inciting violence against the government of the United States.” Opening arguments will begin the week of Feb. 8. He is the first president to be twice impeached and the first to face a trial after leaving office. Unlike criminal cases, impeachment trials do not have specific evidence rules so anything said and done that day can be used. And several of the people charged have said in interviews with reporters or federal agents that they were simply listening to the president when they marched to the Capitol. ___ Richer reported from Boston. Michael Balsamo, Alanna Durkin Richer And Colleen Long, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — The Trudeau Liberals are eyeing changes to the law governing public service hiring to help make federal departments and agencies more diverse. They also plan to do further research on the makeup of the federal public service and will try to hire more senior leaders with varied backgrounds. Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos and his parliamentary secretary, Greg Fergus, are spelling out the priorities today to foster greater diversity, inclusion and accessibility in the public service. The government says while there has been some progress for Black Canadians, Indigenous Peoples and others who face racial discrimination in the workplace, too many public servants continue to face obstacles. The Treasury Board Secretariat has begun discussions about the framework for recruitment in the public service and is specifically looking at "possible amendments" to the Public Service Employment Act. The act is intended to ensure federal hiring is fair, transparent and representative. The move would complement a review of the Employment Equity Act planned by Labour Minister Filomena Tassi. The government recently released data that provides more detail about the composition of the public service. Duclos and Fergus say the annual public service employee survey will help the government identify more precisely where gaps remain and what is needed to improve representation. The government plans to increase diversity through promotion and recruitment, including introduction of the Mentorship Plus Program to allow departments to offer mentoring and sponsorship opportunities to high-potential employees who might currently face barriers. The government says although progress will take time, the public service can be a model of inclusion for employers across the country and around the world. "In time, we will build a public service that is the true reflection of our pluralism and diversity," Duclos said in a statement. Just last week, Privy Council Clerk Ian Shugart issued a call to action on anti-racism, equity and inclusion in the public service, setting out federal expectations for current leaders. The government has also launched the Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, supported by a budget of $12 million, to create an ongoing discussion about change. "There is much to do before all public servants can feel they truly belong in a public service that values inclusiveness and differences," Fergus said. "Outlining these key areas of focus is a key step in taking concrete action." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Monday Jan. 26, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 23,498 new vaccinations administered for a total of 839,949 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 2,216.267 per 100,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 1,122,450 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 74.83 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 zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 16,500 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 51.81 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,423 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 6,525 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 41.134 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 9,225 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 70.73 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 3,483 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 11,083 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 11.357 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 28,850 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 38.42 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 3,821 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 14,257 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 18.277 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 21,675 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 65.78 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 1,960 new vaccinations administered for a total of 220,715 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 25.795 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 238,100 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 92.7 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 5,537 new vaccinations administered for a total of 286,110 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 19.478 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 411,650 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 69.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 810 new vaccinations administered for a total of 29,751 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 21.606 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 55,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 53.46 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 314 new vaccinations administered for a total of 33,353 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 28.286 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 32,725 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 101.9 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 406 new vaccinations administered for a total of 99,453 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 22.592 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 122,725 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 81.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 9,284 new vaccinations administered for a total of 119,850 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 23.355 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 144,550 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 82.91 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 222 new vaccinations administered for a total of 3,952 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 94.702 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 14,400 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 35 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 27.44 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 14,400 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 32 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 13.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 636 new vaccinations administered for a total of 4,458 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 115.116 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 12,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 31 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 37.15 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. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
Since her diagnosis of bipolar disorder, Kristi Allan says, she's been fighting her way through the mental health-care system in Newfoundland and Labrador. During a mental-health panel on CBC's Here & Now on Wednesday, the Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove woman said it's a struggle she's had to face alone. "I feel like I've been on my own, that it's been up to me to fight for myself to get the appointments, just to say what's going on," she said. While politicians are campaigning for votes, she's advocating for long-term solutions — a system that better serves not just mental health emergencies, but chronic, lifelong illnesses like her bipolar disorder. From inside the system, doctors feel there's also room for change. "Like Kristi, I have a wish list that's an arm's length long," said child psychologist Dr. Janine Hubbard. "But there's really three things that I've honed in on that I think could be managed in the fairly short term that could make some real differences in the province." Possible solutions First, Hubbard wants to see a minister of mental health, someone with a primary and exclusive focus on mental health and addictions issues. Since British Columbia created a ministry of mental health in 2017, four other provinces have followed suit, she said. Next, Hubbard wants psychologists to work to their full scope of practice. So if our system is currently drowning, I want you to think about it a year from now. - Dr. Janine Hubbard In the last few years, she said, an emphasis has been put on low-intensity, early entry services, coming at the expense of more chronic, severe and intense cases. "Psychologists are being asked to be case managers. They're being asked to do walk-in clinics as opposed to providing … an evidence-based treatment for something that requires much longer interventions." Finally, she'd like to see an increase of extended health-care benefits for provincial government employees in terms of access to private psychologists. "At the moment, if you're an employee at Starbucks, you get $5,000 a year to see a psychologist," Hubbard said. "If you were an employee of Eastern Health, you receive less than $400." That's a fairly low-cost intervention, Hubbard said, adding that the provincial government could also require companies bidding on large government contracts to have adequate mental health coverage for employees. Housing first For general and forensic psychiatrist Dr. Nazir Ladha, housing is what's most urgently needed. You can't expect anyone to stay well without a decent living situation and other basic necessities, like food, he said. "The Mental Health Commission [of Canada] did a very good study on housing and showed very clearly that if you have proper housing, you decrease chronicity, you decrease the rate of readmissions and you decrease the acute care that's required for people's lives to become more stable." He's seen improvement in the system over the last 12 years, but says more can be done. "Like Kristi said, these are chronic conditions, just like diabetes is, just like hypertension is, and they need long-term care," Ladha said. "We need more organizations that would take care of people within the community, provide supports and provide advocacy for appointments, for treatment support, for access to treatment, for access to housing and so on," Ladha said. A quick fix According to Allan, taking away some of the anticipation with more information is a relatively quick and cost-effective fix. That can be as simple as providing more detailed instructions on the province's mental health websites, she said. According to Allan, for someone with a mental illness, not knowing what to expect each step of the way can be a huge hurdle. It's terrifying to pick up a phone and dial a helpline not knowing what the person on the other end is going to expect from you or what they can ultimately provide you with, she said. "The Bridge the Gapp website has a number, but they don't say you can get counselling. It took me going to a virtual clinic in Toronto to get someone to recommend me for that," she said. "There are little things that we can do for people's mental health that don't cost tons of money." Financial reality Newfoundland and Labrador's debt is estimated at $16.4 billion but, Allan said, the province's workforce is at stake. "We say that the economy is important, which I totally agree, but mental health affects that." So long as there's no definitive commitment to mental illness, mental health will remain the "poor cousin" of medicine, according to Ladha. That's a difficult reality facing the system as Hubbard anticipates and braces for a second wave of mental health concerns resulting from the pandemic. "We have seen an upsurge over the last year, but all of the research is showing that there's a lot of needs that are continuing to develop, and are going to emerge, and needs are being unmet right now. "So if our system is currently drowning, I want you to think about it a year from now." Mental Health research doesn't match well with a four-year election cycle, Hubbard said. Results aren't necessarily immediate, the investment pays off over time. "We have solid research that shows for every dollar spent on psychological interventions, you can save the health-care system five dollars," Hubbard said. "We know that mental illness causes additional physical symptoms that then wind up costing us a fortune in long term health treatment." Where to get help: Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566 (phone) | 45645 (text, 5:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. NT). | crisisservicescanada.ca In Quebec (French): Association québécoise de prévention du suicide: 1-866-APPELLE (1-866-277-3553). Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 (phone), live chat counselling at www.kidshelpphone.ca. Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: Find a 24-hour crisis centre Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alex Doyle was doing his best to follow public health orders and keep himself and his young family free of infection. But last November, Doyle ended up back in Manitoba's Stony Mountain Institution north of Winnipeg after violating parole conditions for a drug trafficking and break and enter conviction. And that's where he may have inadvertently become a superspreader in Canada's worst outbreak so far in a federal penitentiary. Doyle's story, and the experiences of other Stony Mountain inmates who became infected, is part of the testimony being gathered in a class-action lawsuit against the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) on behalf of federal prisoners across the country. There have been more than 1,500 cases of COVID-19 in the federal prison system and more than 5,000 in the correctional system overall, according to University of Ottawa criminology professor Justin Piché, who has been tracking COVID-19 cases in Canadian prisons since the beginning of the pandemic. "The whole range, everyone was mad at me like it's my fault and it wasn't my fault," Doyle, 33, said of his experience in a series of telephone interviews with CBC News. Doyle arrived at Stony Mountain on Nov. 6. He was segregated in an isolation cell known by inmates as the hole. He was tested for COVID-19 nearly a week later and when it came back negative, he was moved to another area of the prison where he said one of the inmates had already tested positive for COVID-19. The first inmate at Stony Mountain tested positive on Nov. 10. Four days later, public health officials declared an outbreak. Inmates were locked down. They were allowed only 30 minutes out of their cells each day — just enough time for a quick shower and maybe a call home, if the lineups weren't too long. On Nov. 20, when his 14-day quarantine was up, Doyle said he was moved to yet another medium security unit. Despite having a cough, he wasn't immediately tested for COVID-19, he said. It was a Friday and Doyle said he was told he would have to wait until Monday. During that weekend, Doyle said he socialized with other inmates during the 30 minutes they were allowed outside of their cells. They were all wearing masks, but in close quarters. "I thought I was good because [penitentiary staff] cleared me to come here and, you know, I was talking to my friends and stuff. That's probably how it got passed around," he said. Two days later, Doyle said his test came back positive. But by then, he said, he may have directly infected at least three people, and they, in turn, infected others. Les Bisson is one of the men who claimed to have developed symptoms within days. He started coughing up blood and had problems breathing, he said. His COVID-19 test on Dec. 2 came back positive. "I literally thought I was going to die a month ago. I sat there, looking at pictures, thinking how I'll never be able to be a father to my kids again," Bisson, 40, said with a break in his voice. He is serving eight years for drug trafficking. "We thought that was just on our range. Now, I know that that's happened on at least two of the ranges.… If it was once, it would be an accident. But to do something over and over and over again, you can't say that's an accident." 'I feel like they failed miserably' At its worst, nearly half of the 744 inmates at Stony Mountain had COVID-19, making it the largest outbreak at any federally run correctional facility in Canada. Piché found all of the infections reported by CSC at Stony in December were linked to the medium-security section of the institution, with more than 75 per cent of those prisoners infected. In December, an inmate died of COVID-19 complications, one of four deaths so far in prisons across the country. CBC News spoke with eight inmates over the past several weeks who said they believe the outbreak may have been caused by Stony Mountain relaxing the 14-day quarantine rules for new inmates and not testing frequently enough. "I feel like they failed miserably. Our range was green, which means no COVID, and they moved a COVID-positive inmate to our range," said 30-year-old Grayson Wesley, who is serving an eight-year sentence for unlawful confinement. Wesley said he was infected at the end of November and sent to hospital because he couldn't breathe. He still has trouble with his memory and worries about getting sick again, he said. "There's a new COVID variant out there. If that comes into the jail, it's going to spread like wildfire," he said. Mike Bourget also started feeling symptoms shortly after Doyle arrived on his unit, but said he wasn't tested for three days. When the results came back, he was positive. "My symptoms were not that bad, not compared to my fellow inmates here.... It is more of the mental aspect right now," said Bourget, who is serving a life sentence for second-degree murder. "My emotions and anxiety is like a roller-coaster." No officials at Stony Mountain were available for an interview, but a spokesperson for the CSC said inmates and staff are tested regularly, even those who are asymptomatic. "All inmates at Stony Mountain Institution were tested as they left isolation cells and before they were moved to a different range," Kelly Dae Dash wrote in an email to CBC News. "All inmates that tested positive for COVID-19 were immediately moved to a separate area of the institution which operated under single cell movement and was specifically designated for COVID-19 cases." Throughout the outbreak, inmates have also had wellness checks by health services staff. Oldest prison in Canada Part of the challenge in containing the virus is the age and layout of the institution. Of the four federal prisons built in the 19th century, Stony Mountain is the only one still operating. The minimum and maximum-security units are the newer areas of the institution. Cells have a door with a tiny window that separates an inmate from the hallway. However, in the original and oldest part of the facility, the medium security units have only bars that open onto a long hallway. It makes physical distancing difficult and there is constant air flow between cells. "These essentially operate as three distinct sites within a shared penitentiary reserve, which is why the outbreak was able to be contained to the original, stand-alone Stony Mountain Institution," Piché said. Saskatchewan Penitentiary in Prince Albert is of the same vintage and layout, and has had similar problems with COVID-19. There have been 247 cases and one death, although there are currently only seven active cases. Inmates in SaskPen's medium security units say they were putting blankets on the bars of their cells, but the correctional officers removed them. "They've ripped down all of our curtains and everything that would protect us from the airborne virus from the guys out there ... sick on the unit," Bronson Gordon, 36, said in a phone call several weeks ago with prisoner advocate Sherri Maier, who shared a recording of the conversation with CBC News in Saskatchewan. Gordon is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder. He said they asked the guard how long they'd have to live under such conditions, without access to mental health services or elders. "But he was just like, 'All you guys are going to be locked down 23½ hours for a ... long time, because until you guys have no COVID-19 on the unit, this unit is going to be run like this,'" Gordon told Maier. Gordon was recently sent to a maximum security unit after a confrontation with a guard. He said conditions there are significantly better because it's a newer part of the prison and cells have doors with windows instead of bars. The CSC said it is looking into Gordon's allegations. Class-action lawsuit alleges negligence Inmates at federal institutions including Stony Mountain and SaskPen are now preparing written statements for a class-action lawsuit launched initially on behalf of an inmate at Mission Institution east of Vancouver. That lawsuit has since expanded to include the whole country except for Quebec, which operates under a different civil law system. A certification hearing is scheduled in Vancouver for January 2022. "Prisoners who are known to have COVID are put with prisoners who don't have COVID. That's by definition negligent," said Jeffrey Hartman, one of the lawyers involved in the suit. Hartman says there is no question the federal government has failed in its duty to protect inmates despite having adequate time to prepare for the second wave. Those systemic failures resulted in loss of life, widespread illness and unprecedented restrictions of inmates' rights, he said. A similar class-action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of inmates at Joliette Institution for Women north of Montreal. There are also two lawsuits launched by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the John Howard Society, alleging the federal government violated prisoners' charter rights by locking them down for so long as part of COVID-19 restrictions. None of the allegations in any of the lawsuits has been proven in court. Lockdown lifted Meanwhile, range representatives from Stony Mountain's inmate welfare committee said they were called to a meeting last week with senior prison management. They were told that with no active COVID-19 cases right now, some of the lockdown restrictions are being lifted. "The point of the meeting wasn't to apologize," said Mulata Ibrahim, 35, a unit rep who is serving a seven-year sentence for drug trafficking. "It was that they're trying to move forward and saying, 'What can we do now to make it easier for you guys?'" After the meeting, inmates started receiving food three times a day instead of just two, and many were able to go outside for the first time in months, Ibrahim said. In a statement, the CSC said it has put in place extensive infection prevention and control measures in its 43 institutions. They include: Mandatory mask-wearing for inmates and staff. Physical distancing measures. Active health screening of anyone entering institutions. Increased and enhanced cleaning and disinfection at sites. Training 250 employees to conduct contact tracing. Carrying out significant testing among inmates and staff, including asymptomatic individuals. The CSC has also completed its first phase of 600 COVID-19 vaccinations, which includes an unknown number of older, medically vulnerable inmates at Stony Mountain. The department had no comment on the class-action lawsuits.
If you've made the trip to downtown Ottawa recently, you've likely noticed the desolate streets and empty storefronts. When we climb out of the pandemic, this city will have to grapple with its impact on the way we live, work and play, but it will also be a chance to think about how to make it better. What could Ottawa look like post-COVID-19? What would it take to get you back to the city's core, once it's safe to gather again? We asked experts in urban planning, design and architecture for their ideas. PITCH 1: Green it and they will come Architect Emmanuelle van Rutten In architect Emmanuelle van Rutten's vision, office cubicles are replaced by multi-use gathering spaces, and there are more green features including living walls and rooftops. In a post-COVID-19 city, many of us will continue working from home, reducing the need for office space, van Rutten said. The focus of the remaining office space will also change. "The need for the office space is less about a stationary workspace, but more about a collaborative space and meeting space," explained van Rutten. The pandemic has also put the spotlight on the importance of green space, especially in dense areas. For van Rutten, urban gardens can help foster that more collaborative working environment. "Green spaces are places of encounter," she said. She suggests upper floors of existing office buildings could be adapted for other uses including gyms and even residential space. The challenge: There are potentially code and structural challenges when implementing green open spaces, as the weight of green roofs and the change in occupancy may be a hurdle. The benefits: Open, green spaces promote better air quality, said van Rutten, and lend more opportunities to add windows, bringing natural light and potentially better ventilation into interior spaces. PITCH 2: Same space, multiple uses Urban planner Sheena Jardine-Olade Asked how to improve Ottawa's core post-COVID-19, urban planner, mom and Kanata resident Sheena Jardine-Olade first thought about what it would take to get people like her downtown after work and parenting duties end for the day. She believes that instead of treating the nighttime economy as an afterthought, people should find ways to use spaces around the clock, transforming the downtown from a mostly daytime destination to a 24-hour one. Jardine-Olade proposes entrepreneurs find multiple ways to use a single space, depending on the time of day. For example, a bookstore could turn into a gallery at night, a co-working space becomes a restaurant, or a café becomes a bar. We already see seasonal examples of this, like when city hall's outdoor plaza changes from a festival ground in the summer to an ice rink in the winter. "We do see that a lot, this idea of having an area zoned for one thing and then possibly changing use based on how people use the area to another usage," Jardine-Olade said. The challenges: Jardine-Olade predicts cost could be an issue as spaces would need to be redesigned so they can be easily transformed. She also said zoning would need to be more flexible in Ottawa, and there may be resistance from neighbours unhappy that the office building next to their condo is becoming a concert venue at night. The benefits: "People feel safer when there's more vibrancy at night," said Jardine-Olade, adding that it could also help bolster businesses struggling post-pandemic. "This might be an opportunity for them to share some of that burden with sharing money with rental spaces, increased traffic or just proximity." PITCH 3: Low-cost parking near the core Geographers Huhua Cao and Haotian Guan As a supporter of sustainability, Huhua Cao said his idea isn't meant to encourage driving. He believes better transit is still the big-picture solution, but in the meantime people still need to be encouraged to make their way downtown. But Cao, who owns a condo downtown and spends a lot of time in the core, has noticed there are few places to park nearby. Although city hall does provide free parking on weekends and evenings, "it's not enough," he said, noting that in 2016 just under 11 per cent of the city's population lived downtown. Cao would like to see improved transit and more parking spaces working in tandem, but he knows there will always be some for whom cars make more sense. Some suburban and rural residents don't have easy access to public transit. Even after the pandemic, some people may still feel reluctant to hop on the bus or train. Cao suggests the private sector could be given incentives to offer parking for free or at a reduced rate. The University of Ottawa has parking lots that are not being put to full use on weekends and evenings, even though they're a short walk from the ByWard Market and Rideau Centre, he said. Often, low-cost or even free parking spaces are out there but aren't well-known, added Guan. "It is definitely one thing that should come into the government's mind to let people know that," he said, suggesting an app could help. The challenges: It may be difficult to convince private parking lot owners to reduce what they charge, so incentives would be required. There's also the cost of developing an app. The benefits: Creating parking near the downtown would also have the advantage of reducing traffic in the core, making it more attractive for pedestrians and cyclists. Which is the best idea to overhaul Ottawa's core after COVID-19? Vote for your top choice in our poll. Or share your big idea with us.
Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny is being used by the West to try to destabilise Russia, a prominent hardliner and ally of President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday, saying he must be held to account for repeatedly breaking the law. Navalny was remanded in custody for 30 days last week after returning from Germany where he had been recovering from a nerve agent poisoning. Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Security Council, called for Navalny to face the full force of the law in comments that offered a glimpse into the mood inside Russia's security establishment after tens of thousands of Navalny's supporters protested against his jailing on Saturday.
TORONTO — The pandemic has its prints all over Canada's winter TV season. While some shows affected by lockdowns last March were able to resume production in the summer and air in the fall, many were held up by restrictions, a lack of COVID-19 insurance, and the development of expensive health and safety protocols with officials and unions. The result is a January and February slate packed with new programming shot over the past few months with much testing, distancing, sanitization and personal protective equipment. The Canadian Press spoke with talent behind some Canadian shows about production challenges, and how positive cases were dealt with on set. "KIM'S CONVENIENCE" ON SHOOTING UNDER DURESS Star Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, who plays patriarch Appa on the family sitcom, says the pandemic pushed the start of production on the new season in Toronto from last May to September. Writers modified some storylines and used fewer guest actors, while the whole team was "fastidious" about their COVID protocols. Away from the set, everyone limited their contact to those in their immediate household, realizing that "like dominoes, if one goes, everything sort of goes." "Mission accomplished," Lee says. "We shot season five under duress, the worst circumstances, but we didn't have one case, knock on wood." Simu Liu, who plays Appa's son Jung, was in Australia shooting Marvel's upcoming film "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" when the pandemic hit and couldn't get back to Toronto to shoot "Kim's Convenience" until near the end of production. The protocols made the shooting process "very piecemeal" and put pressure on the cast to "nail a scene and move on" so they could stay on schedule, Lee says. "Otherwise, it's like a big train wreck: one delay at the beginning makes it a mess at the end. So that was really difficult to do." Lee cites a host of other challenges, including the safety risk of acting without a mask, and not being able to communicate as well while wearing PPE during rehearsals. But he was happy to be working and it all made him "appreciate that much more the professionalism and the quality of the crews." "Every step of the way, I felt safe," Lee says. "Personally, I felt safer on set than anywhere else outside of my home." (Fifth season debuted Jan. 19 on CBC) --- "CORONER" ON INTIMATE SCENES Masks are already a common sight on this show about a coroner in Toronto, but even more so in the new season as it's set during the COVID-19 pandemic. Showrunner Morwyn Brebner says when the pandemic hit, they'd already done a month's worth of writing but realized they would have to "reinvent the season" to address the new reality. "A few of us were really concerned: 'Will we not have a problem with COVID by the time we start to air it? Will it feel a little bit like old news?' Ha! Were we wrong," adds lead director/executive producer Adrienne Mitchell. The writing team penned the new scripts together via video conferencing, limiting the amount of stand-ins and background performers on set. Shooting began in the fall with protocols including daily temperature checks and weekly COVID testing. Departments worked different shifts to limit the amount of people in spaces, which made shooting more time-consuming. Filming took place outside where possible. Actors not in the key cast were distanced from the stars when shooting scenes indoors. With so much separation on set, scenes of intimacy "felt really significant," says Brebner. Eye acting and body movement become more important in scenes where the characters wore masks. "You start to shoot a little looser so you can see body language, because body language adds a lot of information," Mitchell says. While the production had "a few issues" with COVID-19 cases, "they weren't on set and they were easily contact-traced," says Mitchell, noting they didn't have to shut down. "We have had no community spread, and what we had was very little." (Third season debuts Feb. 3 on CBC) --- "HEARTLAND" ON CHANGING THE SCRIPT Star Amber Marshall says the storylines for the new season of the Alberta-shot family ranch story were already written depicting spring and summer vistas when the pandemic hit. When filming was pushed from last April to September, writers had to alter scripts to reflect the fall and winter seasons that would be seen onscreen instead. "There were a lot of things that sprung up on us, even throughout shooting, such as we had certain actors written into certain stories and then they weren't able to travel (to set)," Marshall says. "So of course there this mad scramble of, 'How are we going to continue this story without that character here?'" The "Heartland" set inherently allows for distancing, since many scenes are filmed outdoors. For indoor shoots, each department was put into a certain "zone" that would only work with each other. Producer Tom Cox says COVID didn't ever reach the set. (14th season debuted Jan. 10 on CBC) --- "PRETTY HARD CASES" ON WORKING WITH A SKELETON CREW Catherine Lang, COVID supervisor for the new buddy-cop series in Toronto, says she and the producers pored over scripts to try to minimize risky contact between actors. They also checked with the cast on whether they were comfortable in various scenarios, and held daily morning safety meetings with the whole team. The crew and the cast were "very onside" with their COVID protocols, "because nobody wanted to shut down." "We had debriefs with our department heads just last week, and everyone said that they actually felt safer at work than they did out in public," says Lang. "We had no incident of anyone contracting COVID-19 in our workplace," she adds, noting there were two positive cases that were contracted outside production, caught through testing and had no community spread. Stars Adrienne C. Moore and Meredith MacNeill say the hardest thing was not being able to see people's faces while putting together a brand-new show, especially crew members, whom they view as their collaborators. Moore says she tried to have special moments with the crew and express her gratitude to them, while everyone worked as a team. "In those morning meetings, if there was a problem, if somebody was afraid of something or wanted to do something, no one was afraid to talk about it," says MacNeill. (Debuts Feb. 3, on CBC) --- "PRIVATE EYES" ON DEALING WITH POSITIVE CASES Producer Alex Jordan says the pandemic interrupted the prep period for season 4 of the private-detective show in March and they couldn't start production until August. Filming took place in studio for the first couple of weeks to ensure protocols were solid before shooting outside, which was limited to as many single locations as possible and with fewer background performers. Each department was podded together and had their own bathrooms. Town hall meetings took place in a parking lot. "Our COVID team grew from a handful to a small army," Jordan says, rhyming off a long list of team members specifically dedicated to the protocols, including two medics. The stars and crew who worked directly with actors were known as "the red zone" and tested for COVID more frequently. "Through the testing we caught five positives, but we had no community spread and none reached the floor (of production)," Jordan says, noting they suspected two of the positive cases were a result of viral shedding from people who'd had COVID a while ago and had been cleared by government to return to work. Insurance-wise, "Private Eyes" was considered an "at-risk production," meaning if the show had to shut down, all of those costs would have been on production company eOne. "Entertainment One was very nervous, I was stressed out for the entire shoot until the very last day," Jordan says. "It was probably the hardest thing I've ever done." But they "had zero shutdowns" during the whole production, he adds. "It was nail-biting but we did it." (Fourth season airing on Global) This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — A new report on billions of dollars the federal government has sent to provinces to help safely reopen the economy suggests much of the money is sitting unused.Today's report also suggests that federal efforts to stretch the financial impact of those dollars is falling short as many provinces have bucked cost-matching requests.The analysis by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says six out of 10 provinces haven't spent all the money the federal government has sent their way, including for things like personal protective equipment.Author David Macdonald says some of the money may yet be spent, but notes the longer it remains unspent, the less likely it ever will be spent.Macdonald's analysis is based on a review of provincial and federal spending announcements, reconciling duplications, as well as provincial spending documents. Federal and provincial governments are allocating hundreds of billions in direct spending and liquidity support to help workers, families, front-line workers and businesses make it through the pandemic. The federal treasury has managed the lion's share of COVID-19 spending — accounting for about $8 in every $10 of aid, according to the federal Finance Department's math. "They are the ones spending the money, they're the ones creating the funds and to a large degree setting the agenda of where they would like those funds to go," Macdonald said.Included in the spending is $24 billion the federal Liberals sent to provinces in the fall under the "safe restart" agreement that was supposed to help make it safer for daycares, schools and businesses to reopen.The report notes that money is sitting idle from a fund aimed at topping up the wages of workers deemed essential like those in long-term care facilities and grocery stores. Provincial governments were supposed to chip in for part of the top-up.Macdonald says six out of 10 provinces haven't used the money available to them, with Alberta leaving the most on the table by far at almost $336 million.He also says some return-to-class money hasn't been spent, particularly in Quebec.Other provinces like Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick appear to have ignored a federal request to match funding to cash-strapped municipalities, Macdonald says.There is no immediate explanation for why, but Macdonald says it was possible that the federal government decided to give smaller provinces a break on the cost-matching requirements to ease the strain on their own finances. He notes that larger provinces did pony up matching dollars.Combined, the underspending and lack of cost-matching raise questions for the government about its plan to spend between $70 billion and $100 billion over three years to prod an economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.Macdonald says the stimulus bump from the planned spending could be diminished if provinces don't spend money sent to them, or don't match funding when asked.That may require the Liberals to put tight rules on forthcoming spending, he says."If provinces aren't willing to go along, there may well be provinces that would be left out of, say, new federal spending on child care and new federal spending on long-term care if they're unwilling to go along with federal priorities or federal standards," he said."Otherwise, the provinces are clearly going to call the federal bluff."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Monday Jan. 26, 2021. There are 753,011 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 753,011 confirmed cases (62,447 active, 671,326 resolved, 19,238 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 4,630 new cases Monday from 35,801 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. The rate of active cases is 166.13 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 37,939 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 5,420. There were 144 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 1,118 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 160. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.42 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 51.18 per 100,000 people. There have been 17,086,340 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 398 confirmed cases (eight active, 386 resolved, four deaths). There were zero new cases Monday from 186 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 two 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 78,319 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 110 confirmed cases (seven active, 103 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Monday from 226 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 two 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 zero per 100,000 people. There have been 88,633 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,571 confirmed cases (15 active, 1,491 resolved, 65 deaths). There were zero new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 1.54 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 14 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 200,424 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,151 confirmed cases (349 active, 788 resolved, 14 deaths). There were 27 new cases Monday from 1,071 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.5 per cent. The rate of active cases is 44.93 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 178 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 25. There was one new reported death Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.04 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.8 per 100,000 people. There have been 136,180 tests completed. _ Quebec: 254,836 confirmed cases (16,428 active, 228,887 resolved, 9,521 deaths). There were 1,203 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 193.61 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 10,488 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,498. There were 43 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 434 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 62. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.73 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 112.21 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,695,925 tests completed. _ Ontario: 256,960 confirmed cases (23,620 active, 227,494 resolved, 5,846 deaths). There were 1,958 new cases Monday from 33,192 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.9 per cent. The rate of active cases is 162.15 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 16,596 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,371. There were 43 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 413 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 59. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.41 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 40.13 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,978,001 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 28,810 confirmed cases (3,542 active, 24,464 resolved, 804 deaths). There were 113 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 258.64 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,181 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 169. There were five new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 31 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.32 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 58.71 per 100,000 people. There have been 448,638 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 22,416 confirmed cases (3,272 active, 18,890 resolved, 254 deaths). There were 239 new cases Monday from 992 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 24 per cent. The rate of active cases is 278.6 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,854 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 265. There was one new reported death Monday. 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 0.43 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 21.63 per 100,000 people. There have been 330,694 tests completed. _ Alberta: 121,535 confirmed cases (9,339 active, 110,622 resolved, 1,574 deaths). There were 742 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 213.64 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 4,224 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 603. There were 25 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 127 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 18. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.42 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 36.01 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,061,844 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 64,828 confirmed cases (5,843 active, 57,831 resolved, 1,154 deaths). There were 346 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 115.22 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,381 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 483. There were 26 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 76 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 11. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.21 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 22.76 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,044,931 tests completed. _ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (zero active, 69 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Monday from 13 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 6,229 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 31 confirmed cases (seven active, 24 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 15.62 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 zero per 100,000 people. There have been 9,064 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 282 confirmed cases (17 active, 264 resolved, one deaths). There were two new cases Monday from 121 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.7 per cent. The rate of active cases is 43.84 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 16 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 7,382 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
After Michelle LaFontaine delivered her stillborn twins, Elora and Joseph, at nearly 21 weeks, she was unspeakably bereft. She needed time off to grieve and recover from the birth, and her employer at the time helped her cobble together bereavement leave, sick time and vacation time. "There's a lot of grief work to be done in the early days following the loss of your baby that, you know, having to focus on work is often something that families can't even contemplate doing in the first few weeks," said LaFontaine, who lives in Whitby, Ont. She returned to work after three weeks, but it wasn't until later that she — and her employer — learned she had actually been eligible for more paid time off through federal maternity benefits. LaFontaine said when she did go back to her job, which involved working with families, she asked to be assigned a different caseload so she wouldn't have to face questions from her 45 clients about why she was no longer pregnant. Her employer told her that wasn't possible. "Ultimately, the message that I received was it was coming down to the bottom line that their needs as an organization would trump my needs as a bereaved mother," she said. A researcher at Cape Breton University is studying the experiences of people like LaFontaine who have returned to work full time after suffering a miscarriage or stillbirth. Stephanie Gilbert, an assistant professor of organizational management at the Shannon School of Business at CBU, is researching how workplaces support employees who have suffered a pregnancy loss, and how those supports — or lack thereof — affect pregnant people and their partners. Along with Jennifer Dimoff at the University of Ottawa and Jacquelyn Brady at San José State University, Gilbert plans to interview people and their partners about what challenges they faced after their pregnancy loss and how the miscarriage or stillbirth affected the employee's sense of identity and attitude toward work. The team of researchers is inviting Canadians or Americans who have lost a pregnancy and returned to full-time work within the last five years to take part in the study. Lack of studies Gilbert said there have been virtually no studies on the topic of pregnancy loss and employment. "There's a huge need for more on this because, you know, pregnancy loss is incredibly common," she said. Miscarriage — the loss of a baby up to 20 weeks' gestation — is estimated to occur in 15 to 20 per cent of pregnancies, while approximately eight out of 1,000 pregnancies end in stillbirth, when a baby dies at or after 20 weeks' gestation. In Canada, employees who lose a baby at or after 20 weeks are eligible for maternity benefits. But miscarriages are a "grey area" for employers, Gilbert said. While some employers offer sick days, short-term disability or bereavement leave to help an employee recover, there are no federal regulations providing paid time off for earlier losses. "So the supports offered, I'm guessing, vary wildly between organizations," Gilbert said. Reaction of employers varies LaFontaine left her job after her loss in 2005 and now works as the program manager for Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre's Pregnancy and Infant Loss Network, which supports families in Ontario who have had a miscarriage or stillbirth. She would like to see the government offer bereavement leave specifically designated for pregnancy and infant loss — and one that is not based on the length of the pregnancy. "Grief is not tied to the weeks of gestation, but tied to the attachment that the family has already experienced to the baby," LaFontaine said. She said based on what she hears from families she works with, some employers try their hardest to be supportive and accommodate the needs of people who have had a stillbirth or miscarriage, sometimes even making a donation to a pregnancy loss organization in the baby's name. But others are not as helpful or compassionate. "[Some families] were kind of told, like, 'You should be over it by now,'" LaFontaine said. Getting support can be tricky for people who miscarry in their first trimester, since many have not even disclosed their pregnancy to their employer yet. Employees who work part-time jobs or who lack job security may also not feel comfortable sharing their situation with their employer. Compassion, support are crucial Supporting grief-stricken employees is key to their well-being, Gilbert said. Through her previous research on grief, Gilbert found that employers can help their workers by allowing them to work from home or have flexible working hours, by acknowledging the employee's loss rather than avoiding the topic,+ and by being compassionate and empathetic. Gilbert said supporting grief-stricken employees helps not only their well-being, but also their productivity, as grieving people can have trouble sleeping, focusing, making decisions and interacting socially. "So there's a lot of implications for organizations in terms of work outcomes and a business case to be made for supporting people who have gone through loss," Gilbert said. MORE TOP STORIES
SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — A North Korean diplomat who served as the country’s acting ambassador to Kuwait has defected to South Korea, according to South Korean lawmakers who were briefed by Seoul’s spy agency. Ha Tae-keung, a conservative opposition lawmaker and an executive secretary of the National Assembly’s intelligence committee, said Tuesday he was told by officials from the National Intelligence Service that the diplomat arrived in South Korea in September 2019 with his wife and at least one child. That would make him one of the most senior North Koreans to defect in recent years. North Korea, which touts itself as a socialist paradise, is extremely sensitive about defections, especially among its elite, and has sometimes insisted that they are South Korean or American plots to undermine its government. Ha said he was told that the diplomat, who changed his name to Ryu Hyun-woo after arriving in the South, had escaped through a South Korean diplomatic mission but that spy officials didn’t specify where. Ha said spy officials didn’t provide specific details as to why Ryu decided to defect. The office of Kim Byung-kee, a lawmaker of the ruling liberal party and the intelligence committee's other executive secretary, said he was also told that Ryu was now living in South Korea. Kim's aides didn’t elaborate further. The NIS and South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which deals with inter-Korean affairs, didn’t independently confirm Ryu's defection when reached by The Associated Press. Kuwait’s Information Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A mobile phone number once associated with the North Korean Embassy there rang unanswered Tuesday. North Korean state media has yet to comment on Ryu’s situation. The North has been known to maintain silence about such defections — such as the 2018 defection of its former acting ambassador to Italy — in part to avoid highlighting the vulnerabilities of its government. North Korea has long used its diplomats to develop money-making sources abroad and experts have said it’s possible that diplomats who defected may have struggled to meet financial demands from authorities at home. The North’s long-mismanaged economy has been devastated by U.S.-led sanctions over its nuclear program, which strengthened significantly in 2016 and 2017 amid a provocative run in nuclear and weapons tests. The North Korean Embassy in Kuwait City serves as its only diplomatic outpost in the Gulf region. Pyongyang once had thousands of labourers working in Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates before the United Nations stepped up its sanctions over North Korean labour exports, which had been an important source of foreign income for Pyongyang. In its most-recent letter to the United Nations in March 2020, Kuwait said it had stopped issuing work permits for North Koreans and expelled those working in the country. The UAE said it expelled all North Korean labourers by late December 2019. Oman and Qatar haven’t provided updates since 2019 and 2018 respectively. In September 2017, the Kuwaiti government expelled North Korea's ambassador and four other diplomats following Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests. Ryu reportedly stepped in as acting ambassador after that. It appears Ryu fled months after North Korea’s acting ambassador to Italy, Jo Song Gil, vanished with his wife in late 2018. Ha and other lawmakers told reporters last year that they learned Jo was living in South Korea under government protection after arriving in July 2019. Jo was possibly the highest-level North Korean official to defect to the South since the 1997 arrival of a senior ruling Workers’ Party official who once tutored leader Kim Jong Un’s father, late leader Kim Jong Il. Tae Young Ho, formerly a minister at the North Korean Embassy in London who defected to the South in 2016 and was elected as a lawmaker representing Ha’s party last year, said in a Facebook post that Ryu’s defection would shock members of the North Korean ruling elite because he appears to be the son-in-law of Jon Il Chun, who once oversaw a ruling party bureau that handled the Kim family’s secret moneymaking operations. The Associated Press couldn’t independently verify Tae’s claim. More than 33,000 North Koreans have defected to South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, according to South Korean government records. Many defectors have said they were escaping from harsh political suppression and poverty, while elites like Tae have expressed resentment about the country’s dynastic leadership. Tae has said he decided to flee because he didn’t want his children to live “miserable” lives in North Korea and that he was disappointed with Kim Jong Un, who he said terrorized North Korean elites with executions and purges while consolidating power and aggressively pursued nuclear weapons. North Korea has called Tae “human scum” and accused him of embezzling government money and committing other crimes without presenting specific evidence. __ Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell contributed to this story from Dubai. Kim Tong-Hyung, The Associated Press
Britain will be able to work with the European Union to ensure there is no disruption to vaccine supplies, Health Minister Matt Hancock said on Tuesday, arguing protectionism was not right during a pandemic. German Health Minister Jens Spahn earlier said he backed proposals to restrict vaccines leaving the EU, saying Europe should have its "fair share". The European Commission later said it had no plans to impose an export ban, explaining its proposal would require firms to register vaccine exports.